Reality-based self-defense training for men, women and organizations

The TFT Blog

Lethal Self-Defense vs. MMA

R. R. writes:

“My concern is facing someone who is trained in MMA or some reality-based system.

“I’ve followed you since the beginning — and it all makes so much sense — but I still wonder ‘Can I do what these guys [TFT] are saying to do?’

“I have a family member who’s been training for almost three years in MMA and he’s the kind of guy who shouldn’t be allowed to train in any system. I’ve read your book and I need some additional insights just in case I have to fight with this family member.  He thinks he’s the toughest guy around.

“I’ve already had an altercation with a MMA guy and even though he didn’t beat me up he still got an ankle lock while I was standing and it bothers me to this day. I hope you can help me out with what to do and go into some detail about facing an experienced martial artist or athlete involved in MMA.”

Chris Ranck-Buhr answers:

You bring up a number of issues; I’ll do what I can to address them all.

Facing Someone Who’s Trained

You can compete, or you can destroy.  To compete, all you have to do is go strength-to-strength, skill-to-skill and will-to-will with someone.  If you’re stronger, more skilled and want it more than him, you’ll win.  If not… he’ll get you on one or more of those.

Or you can cheat and just take his eye.

There’s a reason they don’t allow that in competition — it blows the competition all to hell.  If you’re serious about injuring the man I recommend you do all the things they don’t allow in the ring:  eyes, throat, groin, stomping the neck and head of a downed man, etc., etc.

Training for competition has two primary goals:

  1. To make for entertaining fights, and
  2. To ensure that fighters can have actual careers.

If we allow the gouging of eyes, etc., bouts are over in moments, and people just aren’t going to pay good money for five-second matches.  Also, serious, debilitating injuries like that are going to cut careers down to a single fight.

In order for MMA to make money fights need to be exciting, dramatic competitions that pit fitness, skill and heart against another man’s, with the best of the best prevailing and the losers having the opportunity to improve themselves and return for another chance at glory.

Facing someone who’s trained is only going to matter if you throw yourself against their training and try to overpower, out-maneuver, or outlast them.

Regardless of fitness, skill and desire, everyone’s eye comes of their screaming skull the same way.

(This is why Tim & I don’t walk around like badasses — there’s nothing about Tim’s size & strength or our training and willingness to use it that prevents us from being injured. Training makes you good at injuring people, but does nothing to prevent it from happening to you. Imagine a world where everyone has a gun but there’s no such thing as ballistic armor and you’ve got a good picture of the reality of laying hands on people.)

All you have to do is look at MMA videos online where a serious injury ended the fight — the most prevalent being concussions that cause unconsciousness, but also things like torn knees, accidental fingers in eyes, etc.  What we’re saying is that you should start there rather than going the five rounds preceding the fight-ending injury in the ring.

Specifics?  Take his eye.  Crush his groin.  When he’s down kick him in the head as hard as you can.  The real question is: does the situation warrant this?

Can I really do it?

If you’re having doubts about whether or not you could seriously injure someone, it’s because on some level you realize it’s inappropriate for the problem at hand.

For the situations we’re actually training for — life-or-death violence where what you do will determine whether you live or die — there is never any question.  If you had a gun, you’d shoot the man (or men) to death.  But you either don’t have one, can’t get to one immediately, or the one you have has failed.  That’s the time to do the work of a bullet as best you can with your bare hands and boots.

We’re not training to best someone, change their mind or overpower them without any serious social repercussions any more than we’d expect to be able to do those things with a firearm.

A firearm is not a universal or even multi-use tool.  It does just one thing really well:  killing people at a distance.  When skillfully employed it causes debilitating injury that leads to the shutdown of the brain (or an interruption of the brain’s ability to control the body), whether by opening up the circulatory system and causing the person to bleed out or by the direct destruction of the Central Nervous System.

With TFT we are training specifically to do this same job — cause debilitating injury that leads to the shutdown of the brain — only using our bare hands.

Because we use our own bodies to do this work it is often confused with fighting, competition and the mistaken belief that we can do it without really hurting anyone.

Here’s the deal:  tearing into the other guy to seriously injure him and stomp him to nonfunctional — being willing to take it all the way — is where the real power is.  In actual use this approach allows you to stop as soon as you recognize he’s nonfunctional, without having to kill him.  But it only works like that if you step in to do it 100%.

If you go in half-assed because you don’t really want to hurt him, don’t worry — you won’t.  And you’ll have a real fight on your hands.

The answer is, yes, you can really do it, the same way you can point and fire a handgun.  The only question is one of appropriateness.  And just as the need to shoot someone during your everyday activity with your family is thankfully rare, so is beating a man into unconsciousness… or to death.

Fighting With a Family Member

If you take all of the above commentary, hopefully the answer to this one is clear.

If the use of violence can be avoided, then you must avoid it.  Period.

If you wouldn’t use a firearm to kill him, then you wouldn’t do what we train!

It sounds like he’s into social domination and pushing others down to push himself up.  Classic bully behavior.  If it can’t be worked out in a social context, with words, then stay away from him.  You’ll have to find a way to deal with what he will inevitably say about such behavior, ignore it and get on with your life.

If you want to play his game then start lifting weights and training in MMA.  If you’re going to compete with him, then train to compete with him.

Personally, I don’t recommend you play his game.  It’s stupid antisocial bullshit.  I’m sure you’ve got better things to do.

Find a way to minimize it, get around it, and move on using your social skills.

Suboptimal Altercation

Any situation you make it out of alive and intact is a win.

Our baseline assumptions for using violence are that…
…you will get punched and kicked…
…if there’s a knife you’ll get cut…
…if there’s a stick you’ll get hit with it…
…and the gun always goes off…

…And it’s always armed multi-man (multiple attacker) until proven otherwise.

The goal is to break people, shut them off and get the hell out of there — not to walk out without a scratch.  (If you do make it out without a scratch it wasn’t that you were good, just lucky.)

A couple questions you have to ask yourself about the situation:

  • Was it avoidable?
  • Did you work to defuse it?

Or did you help bring it to blows by choosing to engage with threatening language?

What you have to understand about what we train is that it’s for seriously injuring people — doing things that will, in all probability, give them life-long issues.  If you’re not willing to do this, then, no, it doesn’t work.

The number one reason for not being willing to do it is because you realize the situation at hand doesn’t warrant such an apocalyptic response.

What we do does not make you a badass or the best fighter in town.  It doesn’t solve social problems or improve your social standing.

It just means you can seriously injure people if you need to.

It’s kinda depressing, actually — being fully briefed on this whole violence thing means you can’t play the games anymore, can’t “teach people a lesson”, or kick ass to make a name for yourself.

You’re stuck avoiding the avoidable… while training for the unthinkable.

Personally, I prefer it that way.  I don’t have to play the games, or even engage; besides, I’ve got better things to do with my time than bet my life on a mere ass-kicking, ruin my clothes and good looks and spend the night in jail — and that’s if I win.  (And I completely forgot about the civil suit from the loser!)  None of that is worth my life.

When I use what I know it is because I have no choice and the situation not only warrants, but requires, serious, life-long debilitating injury.

Injury works identically on the trained and untrained; if you’re unwilling to use it with all necessary force, “pulling punches” or putting certain targets off-limits then it’s either because you realize the situation doesn’t warrant violence or you would really rather compete with the man.

Both cases are something completely other than what we’re working on here.

Hope this helps.

–Chris Ranck-Buhr

121 comments… add one
  • Haydn February 21, 2011, 1:11 am

    Thank you very much for that Chris. That is the best explanation about applying lethal self defense that I have read in over 20 years of studying Martial Arts.

    “You’re stuck avoiding the avoidable… while training for the unthinkable.”

    If my Japanese Jujutsu instructor could speak English could speak English that is exactly what he would utter when we ever got into discussions about defense vs what he called ‘sports.’

    I have since dropped formal martial arts training since purchasing TFT information and seeing that most other ‘systems’ are futile when faced with true life-or-death violence.

  • Dave February 21, 2011, 1:35 am

    Spot on.

  • John Watson February 21, 2011, 1:40 am

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for yet another thoughtful article. Just one question.

    A trained MMA fighter is probably skilled enough to avoid any attempt to injure them by attacking the eyes, throat etc. Does TFT train students in the skills necessary to inflict any kind of injury on someone who has the awareness, speed,balance, fitness and avoidance skills to keep well clear of injury attempts even if they are full on attempts?


    John Watson

    • JBB February 21, 2011, 3:04 am

      Actually, I think you’ve got it exactly backward — a trained MMA fighter is, in fact, trained to *avoid* doing exactly what TFT is aimed at doing — debilitating injuries. How many MMA matches are ended (with a disqualification) because someone accidentally poked their opponent in an eye?

      As such, their training has some obvious holes — they don’t train to cause *or have to avoid* fingers to the eyes. They expect a kick will land on their shin or thigh, not on the side of their knee. And they expect you to submit when they get you in a painful lock, not cause a serious injury to some easily damaged part of their body. Best of all, they’re trained to release you immediately when you tap out. Trained martial artists have been seriously injured in street fights after their training told them to let someone go when they tapped out — only to be stabbed repeatedly because the other guy isn’t interested in playing by the “rules.”

      TFT isn’t designed around keeping you from being hurt. In a life-or-death situation, you will get hurt. Chris mentions that in his article. It’s designed to teach you how to cause an injury (look into what he means when he says an injury, it isn’t just being hurt), and use that to cause another injury, and another, until you’ve shut the guy down. This isn’t a competition, it isn’t a game, there’s nothing social about it, no such thing as a fair fight. Someone’s going to the hospital or the morgue, and someone else is probably going to jail until the police sort out what happened. I know which of those last two options I plan to be. That’s what TFT is about.

      • John Watson February 21, 2011, 4:10 am

        Thanks for your reply to my question JBB

        I have had an accidental finger poke to my eye and a black eye from an accidental stick to the eye in training in Karate and Kali So have not a few martial artists. I would therefore be on the lookout for any attacks in the direction of the head or eyes and take great care to avoid them.

        Again many martial artists have had ‘accidental’ kicks to the side of their knees in ordinary training. They are usually told that it is their responsiblity to avoid possible accidents and train with the awareness that they might be badly injured by clumsy or careless training partners. They should be able to avoid
        an injury causing attack by someone who has not done much training for speed and deception.

        They are also told not to treat street fights in the same way as competitions
        although as you say some of them have been killed by treating submissions as genuine.

        Anyway, thanks again for your comments

        John Watson

    • Todd I. Stark February 21, 2011, 7:04 am

      @John: That’s a great question that I was wondering about too, and I suspect from my own experience that if you end up in a fight with a better fighter, you’re usually going to get beaten up. The kinds of skills I see in TFT courses don’t really seem intended for fighting in that sense. If an attacker doesn’t take you out quickly and you happen to get lucky enough to get in something nasty during a pause, then maybe. I don’t see TFT talking about fighting at all, I see them talking about hurting people. The idea is that you recognize when you’re in danger and act first, or that you’re lucky enough to be capable of acting after an initial assault and can hurt them. Rather than squaring off, which would be fighting. I don’t see this as a fighting method at all, I see it as knowledge and skills specifically for inflicting injury when neccessary. Just my perception of it. A way of thinking about violence and using it as a tool, not a way of fighting.

      • John Watson February 21, 2011, 11:41 am

        Thanks for the comment Todd. I agree with most of what you say.Knowing how to cause serious injury is not the same as being able to actually perform that injury.

        Preemptive attacking which you mention is one way to do this but again most martial arts or reality self-defence students are fully aware of this kind of attack and will maintain a distance and awareness which makes a preemptive attack difficult.

        I find TFT fascinating and well worth studying but it does raise some questions which it probably answers somewhere along the line. I have just bought some TFT videos which I look forward to studying Best wishes

        John Watson

        • Todd I. Stark February 21, 2011, 12:02 pm

          @John: Thanks John, you make great points. From the materials I’ve seen so far I don’t see them trying to *replace* anyone’s martial arts skills and strategies, I see them trying to give people _additional_ tools for extreme situations.

          • Chris Ranck-Buhr February 21, 2011, 12:12 pm

            Bingo. Injury is injury, regardless of who gets it or how. Any technique or approach that reliably causes debilitating injury — breaking things inside of people — is useful.

  • Paul Lynch February 21, 2011, 2:22 am

    Yes great read, Thanks Chris!

  • MFurey February 21, 2011, 3:39 am

    Is studying Jeet Kun Do an acceptable way to train when we can’t find other TFT practitioners around?

    • Allan S. February 21, 2011, 4:42 am

      Avoidance is the best defense in a case like this.

      You do not want to kill a family member or a relative,unless of course your life is in jeopardy.

      You must only use TFT skill when you do not have any other option, but kill or be killed.

    • Brian February 21, 2011, 8:24 am

      I train in Jeet Kune Do. Maybe your teacher will be able to help you with street techniques. All I know is that cross training in MMA and street self defense makes you a much more complete fighter. Actually, training MMA will help you develop strength and faster reflexes to better apply what you learn here! Cheers

  • Uzzo February 21, 2011, 4:52 am

    Chris……Consider this…A trained TFT person is in an enclosed room with a Bigger,Stronger,Well Conditioned,Trained Fighter…who happens to be a sociopath intent on destroying you. The two of you are squared where to run. How to get in that INITIAL INJURY…This is what concerns me. Both of you “starting in neutral”

    I work in a Correctional Facility. When violence erupts,it happens quickly. That is,bodies are in motion. When bodies move,you have the oportunity to assess,pick a target,and strike. A Trained Wacko.Ready,Willing,..and Waiting,troubles me.

    • David February 21, 2011, 9:53 am

      I think Dan Millman said, “If you face just one opponent and you doubt yourself, you’re outnumbered.” Don’t run negative scenarios in your head. Only vision positive outcomes using realisitic solutions based on the tools you possess.
      Take Care.

    • Joe33 February 22, 2011, 7:53 am

      I remember one of the statements that stayed with me after taking TFT. Tim said, “You have to realize that there are simply some situations when you are just f$#%ed. : )
      There are alot of questions about, “what if this, what if that?”. TFT is not the hand of God. It is what it is: a reality-based system of close quarter combat that trains you to close with the enemy with overwhelming violence of action. Rotate and penetrate through the targets the avail themselves and don’t stop until you get the desired result. This is not directed at anyone on this board etc., but there seems to be a certain amount of handwringing, if you will when it comes to TFT. The odds are, in a violent encounter, we will get hurt. We may get hurt severely (i.e. the enemy causes injury to us), and we may die. The point is that TFT almost certainly GREATLY enhances our chances of surviving, and perhaps thriving, in the encounter. Again, it is what it is.

      • Tim Larkin February 22, 2011, 11:35 am

        Well said Joe.

        • Joe33 February 24, 2011, 6:33 am

          You taught us well, Tim. : )

    • Master Matt Suitor March 2, 2011, 8:14 am

      @How to get in that INITIAL INJURY…This is what concerns me.Both of you “starting in neutral”

      Get out of neutral and GO OVER and get the f-in’ thing! That’s what the inmates will be doing… Do it first or be done first.

  • Kosta February 21, 2011, 5:27 am

    “There’s a reason they don’t allow that in competition — it blows the competition all to hell. If you’re serious about injuring the man I recommend you do all the things they don’t allow in the ring: eyes, throat, groin, stomping the neck and head of a downed man, etc., etc.”

    Great response!

    The only point I think is important is that kicks to the head are banned in MMA for the potential danger they pose, not because they are high percentage. In other words they are dangerous but very unlikely to land, even on a downed opponent who is already injured.
    Kicking the body of a downed opponent, although less dangerous, is alot more likely to land and will still cause damage.
    This doesn’t mean the head should be forgotten, just realise that it’s very likely you might miss.

  • Michael T February 21, 2011, 5:54 am

    I’ve recently received the TFT DVD package. I’ve read the book and the manual and am halfway through the DVD series and I plan on taking a class this summer. But, I’ve had the same concern R.R. has about, i.e., can I really do this…not physically but mentally? When “should” I employ these skills? Do I really want to permanently “injure” someone?

    Chris’ quote below really helped me to answer those questions and clear my mind. He states, “If you’re having doubts about whether or not you could seriously injure someone, it’s because on some level you realize it’s inappropriate for the problem at hand. For the situations we’re actually training for — life-or-death violence where what you do will determine whether you live or die — there is never any question. If you had a gun, you’d shoot the man (or men) to death.

    For me, at least, this was very clarifying! Thanks Chris.

  • B.E February 21, 2011, 6:02 am

    Wow, i REALLY believe chris nailed it all down with one blow, pardon the pun.

  • Todd I. Stark February 21, 2011, 6:53 am


    There are all sorts of games of threat and counter-threat that we have to learn, in order to deal with people who play them even if we don’t like playing them ourselves. This kind of explicit thinking about violence cuts through the games in some sense. Not that it enables us to avoid the games entirely, we still often have to find ways of dealing with bullies without plucking their eyes out, but I think it does helps us think more clearly about what the stakes are.

    Thanks for your efforts clarifying the concepts of TFT as well as teaching it, I have learned a lot and been positively impacted by your articles and courses even though I haven’t needed to use violence and hope never to need to use it.

  • Bob Barker February 21, 2011, 7:01 am

    Very informative article full of true information.

  • Houston February 21, 2011, 7:39 am

    Mr. Rank-Buhr did an excellent job of interpreting that little voice in your head. In life, hesitation will get you killed. If you go into a life-threatening situation armed with all the knowledge you need to survive, but only half the will to employ your ultimate weapon (your mind) then you only have a 50 percent chance of survival. But who wants to bear the mark of Cain? If you have a mentally damaged cousin- stay away. This neanderthal trains to be a better bully, and only aspires to having his name inscribed into the annals of the Criminal Justice System. Don’t be a witness or a victim to the manifestation of his bellicose nature. Thugs don’t need hugs, they need to be avoided or put down hard. A good key is to run a scenario in your mind several times and identify “trip wires” that serve as turning points in a scenario. If Billy Badass puts on a choke hold of ANY kind, you take his f’ing eye out. Clear plan for a bad situation.

  • John Andras February 21, 2011, 7:41 am

    I’ve lived the Bushido way my entire life. Everything you presented is point on. Your students are priveleged to have you as an instructor. It is the way of the true warrior. Well written. Regards.

  • David February 21, 2011, 7:44 am

    Outstanding article. THX

  • Dave Akell February 21, 2011, 7:49 am

    If more people understood the realities of violence, then less people would dance around the fringes with social violence. Unfortunately one can become the other in the blink of an eye. This is also one of the reasons we in the law enforcement profession are perceived as over reacting to situations. It all comes down to the fact that no one can possibly know another persons ultimate intentions when they act physically aggressive towards you. It leaves you in a lose-lose position because of the legal climate we find ourselves in.
    As usual, you hit the nail on the head with your observations and explanations. Thank you for sharing your incites in such a clear and concise fashion. This is truly one of the few no BS zones in this field, which is unfortunately filled with charlatans and gimmicky sales pitches. I always enjoy your posts. Keep up the great work.


  • Ollie February 21, 2011, 7:50 am

    You know, I find that even at 39 years of age what Chris says is true; it IS a bit depressing even now. There is still a part of me that would want to “put a guy like that in his PLACE” and now that I am a practitionor of TFT I can’t.

    One thing that puts me more at ease is a man named Rory Miller wrote a book called Meditations on Violence. Great book that I reccomend. Anyway in it he states that beating the ass of a guy like that does’nt teach him that supposed lesson anyway-just teaches him to bully people more brutally in the future.

  • Scott Brown February 21, 2011, 7:55 am

    I find it amazing how many people struggle to understand that what you offer isn’t a parlor trick that you brag about the next day at the office. This is the “Nuclear option.” Just as you can’t “undrop” the bomb, there are no take backs, mulligans or better luck next times. We don’t nuke people for any old reason. It is a tool in the arsenal, an awful, terrifying, unfathomably destructive tool that no sane person ever wants to employ, yet is necessary precisely because we share a planet with persons of questionable sanity. I desire this information so that if living Hell and its demons ever visit my family, I am equipped to fight fire with fire. I have insurance I have no desire to use, yet would not want to be without. I see this training in much the same light: necessary, not popular conversation material but an asset you will be devastated to find yourself without when it is needed and grateful for as you stand over the motionless form of a sadistic assailant whose unwarranted aggression you halted and survived. Thanks for all you do.

  • Ray February 21, 2011, 8:13 am

    This should be required reading for all junior high boys. I am not sure they would get it, but if only one, or a few, did it would would be worthwhile. Excellent treatise.

  • Chip Hawkins February 21, 2011, 8:15 am

    Thanks for clearing things up on this question. I’m due this Sat (26th) to attend a class with you, Tim and Torn in Boston. Today’s blog was like our country. We have nuclear capabilities but we don’t employ them because the situation doesn’t warrant it. And we have been provoked a number of times to think about it, but we walk away. Unfortunately, we have been drawn into the competiton arena and have lost, gotten dirty, and messed up our good looks, by confrontations in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Rusty Green February 21, 2011, 8:21 am

    TFT in a nutshell! Excellent! Thanks again Chris.

  • Tim Vanech February 21, 2011, 8:31 am

    Fantastic summation. I’ve trained with you in Washington, DC when you and Tim came to town, and have been working with your material when Tim was filming it on VHS back in the late 80s/early 90s.

    I’ve had to fumble my way through explanations that don’t approach the clarity of this blog; people seem encultured toward ‘fighting’ as a blurry version of what training for violence is truly about. I’m printing this for reference.


  • Randy Zales February 21, 2011, 8:39 am

    I have been training in TFT since its inception and the question of “could I do it” and when can I use deadly/lethal force is consistently asked in training and forums. The answer to the first is “YES YOU Can” and it requires you to train yourself mentally, emotionally and physically to prepare for what may be considered the unthinkable. Read LTC David Grossman’s On Killing, On Combat and listen to his audio program called Bullet Proof.
    I am not a lawyer but have been through multiple training sessions on the Use of Force by Law Enforcement Officers and they have to use deadly force in accordance with their departmental policy and/or in accordance with Federal Law (Graham vs. Conner and Tennessee vs. Garner). Now there is only ONE context in which the average citizen is permitted freedom to attack and use lethal force and that is called Imminent Danger! This varies by state but is typically referring to a person whose behavior is life-threatening or threatening to the life of someone nearby. The danger has to be imminent, or just about to occur. Someone who shouts, “I’m going to kill you or kick your ass,” and starts walking away cannot be attacked with lethal force. The threat isn’t imminent, or it would at least be hard to make a suitable defense that an immediate threat was present. If you injure or kill a person and the danger is not immediate and life threatening, you will end up in prison living with a bunch of weight lifting hobgoblins who want to get to know you better.

  • Raphe O'Geaney February 21, 2011, 8:51 am

    Well said, Chris. I’m a former boxer, full-contact karate participant, Marine,and duke-it-out fighter. I say former with the following reservation: because of now having a minimal grasp of what Tim has created, I’m afraid of getting into a fight. I will avoid at all costs, well, almost all costs. I know that I can, and may well, kill.

  • Bill February 21, 2011, 9:11 am

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for putting TFT into real perspective. I’ve seen more of these situations than the average guy. See my website to understand this claim. I saw a guy do the eyeball thing when I was 17 (1959) and it etched that image into my mind permanently. Everything came to a complete stop and it was the absolute end of the fight. The guy who did the deed was named Little Jerry because of his size. I dated his sister. Nobody ever thought of giving him a hard time after. He was not a badass. He didn’t want to fight anybody. He never picked a fight, but he sure ended it.
    Your philosophy is on spot. Thanks for all the positive mindset. It is always better to avoid violence than to engage the response.

  • David February 21, 2011, 9:37 am

    Great article, Chris, as always…

    I have come up with a great self-defense move for when you just want to “shut somebody up”: Get into a comfortable stance, raise your fists, firmly extend just the index fingers, put your hands on either side of your head, extend your elbows out to both sides, rotate your wrists slightly, and…stick your fingers in your ears.

    If you can still hear the other guy, try this mantra:

    “La la la, I’m not listening…”

    • Ollie February 21, 2011, 11:12 am

      LOL! I’m going to!

    • Ben/ChiliDogg February 21, 2011, 4:01 pm


  • Bryan February 21, 2011, 9:42 am

    About RR’s question about what to do when confronted by a belligerent MMA guy whose a family member: Chris’s response about taking the guy out with TFT techniques However, if the MMA guy lives & is still capable of violence, he may seek out RR for revenge.
    Reminds me of dialogue in the movie “Casino” when, after Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) seriously beat up a guy in a bar for insulting Ace (Robt. DeNiro), DeNiro’s voice-over then stated “Didn’t matter how big the guy was, Nicky would just hit him…..if you beat him (Nicky) with your fist, he’ll come back with a bat. You beat him with the bat, he comes back with a knife. …beat him with the knife, he come back with a gun. And you better kill him ’cause if you don’t, he’ll keep coming back & back & back ’till one of you is dead.”
    This MMA guy’s actions seems to apply to an antisocial situation that can easily turn into asocial, such as the example illustrated above. Volatile, socially complex situation since the MMA guy is family. Then again, it may come down to his life or RR’s…
    Plz comment.

  • Christopher February 21, 2011, 9:59 am

    Excellent explanation. As far as the avoidable situations I have found that the principals I learned in Dale Carnegie’s book “HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE” very useful.

  • Jared February 21, 2011, 10:18 am

    What a great post. I firmly agree with your words about “If you wouldn’t use a firearm to kill him, then you wouldn’t do what we train!” A violent, bullying family member can easily be handled by talking to the rest of the family, seeing if they feel the same way, and then having a sort of “intervention” with the offending family member.

    If that doesn’t make the point to him then everyone can just avoid the jerk. I train myself in things I hope I never have to use. But if the time ever comes, you can bet I’ll be the one coming out on top and alive. Thank you TFT team!

    • Ben/ChiliDogg February 21, 2011, 4:11 pm

      ChiliDogg says a “BIG 10-4” to that. Having an ongoing undertone of a perceived situation/threat in the family arena gets old!!! Bring the family together, ask the bully straight out, but politely, “what’s your problem?
      Then he has to make the situation right or he is “out” of the family inner circle, so to speak. I have a similar situation, ‘cept NoBody likes him!!!

  • Bill Houston February 21, 2011, 11:26 am

    Great advice. It is exactly whay you state at the beginning of your seminar but you cannot say it often enough. It is important. Thanks.

  • Otto February 21, 2011, 11:33 am

    I agree with all of the above. The question of being a family member raises many permutations not occurring when the potential attacker is a stranger, acquaintance, or “friend”, however, including, but not limited to:

    1. How close in “family” is this person? Is this a family member who can be reasonably avoided? This would include the possibilty of moving your family to a more-distant part of the country.)

    2. If he can’t be avoided, just how likely is he to act out within the family?

    3. If he WOULD act out with a family member, is he just one who feels he has to be “top dog”, is he truly a physical bully, or is he actually asocial?

    My answers would be:

    1. If he can be avoided, do so.

    2. If he can’t be avoided, but is unlikely to attack a family member, your anxiety level can be reduced- but still remain alert, just in case.

    3. If he needs to be top dog, let him. Your self-esteem doesn’t depend on him.

    4. If he is a bully, and is likely to physically attack you, assess how likely he would be to avoid conflict if you were to do damaging but nonlethal injury, should he attack you. Most bullies will not re-attack someone who they know can defeat them, much less even injure them seriously. They usually choose the perceived weakling who appears to be no physical threat to them.

    5. If he is the type who would come back with a second, stronger attack to “prove” he’s better, or he’s truly asocial, you must be prepared to either bring charges against him after his first attck, and get him into “the system”, where police, lawyers, etc., will make his life a living hell, or be prepared for the possibility of doing fatal injury. As he’s “family”, either action will probably have permanent consequences to family relationships, in addition to any possible legal consequences. If you’re married, and he’s on your spouse’s side of the family, this could mean divorce.

    So, assess the situation, figure out the most likely scenarios, and do EXTRA mental & physical preparation to deal with them, over and above the TFT training you’ve achieved to deal with an unanticipated threat.

  • Chuck Stury February 21, 2011, 11:41 am

    That is some of the best advice I have seen you give. I am 71 and it wasn’t until several years ago that I started to carry concealed. That in itself changed my way of thinking about engaging another person. I am now a practicing Tai Chi and it has really calmed me down as well as kept me limber, upright, and walking. As far a carrying a gun, I train and train and train. I shoot weekly and attend as many professional gun classes as I can. What I have really learned from my training is the art of disengagement. It really works and allows me to sleep at night.

  • Randy L. Johnson Sr. February 21, 2011, 11:54 am

    Loved this article. My life and training have been based on what my father taught myself, and my brothers, since we were small. If you ever start a fight, you will have another one when you get home and you will lose that one. By the same way, if you ever run from a fight, that cannot be avoided, i.e. the other person starts swinging-to keep it simple, you will again have another fight when you get home and again one you cannot win. In other words–avoid a fight at almost any cost, but when forced on you–take the other person out any way possible to put them out of commission and then get away. Sounds like the type of training you guys stress.

  • Bob C February 21, 2011, 12:03 pm

    This all reminds me of a comment I once heard. Somebody on TV was interviewing musician John Mellencamp, and he repeated something his grandfather supposedly told him:

    If you’re going to hit somebody, kill him. If you’re not willing to do that, walk away.

  • Joanne Yankovich February 21, 2011, 12:58 pm

    Best thing I’ve read yet from the Poet Laureate of lethal violence.
    “If you wouldn’t use a firearm to kill him, then you wouldn’t do what we train.”
    Pretty much closes the book on this particular question.

  • Muhjesbud February 21, 2011, 1:07 pm

    This was bound to come up sooner or later with all so-called ‘specialty’ survival hand-to-hand combat methodologies claiming to be the ultimate solution to and the MMA phenomenon. Concerning this, Chris and Co. have bred the martial arts ‘animal’ to the highest evolution of the species. And many of you very atute practitioners of hand warfare below are quite intelligent on the subject where the ‘understanding’ of reality is often a better weapon than the technique or training itstelf.

    Here’s the dirty litte secret. We live in a physical world possibly with an unlimited quantum mind potential, but with a severely limited organic matix presentation. Our success and even survival in this physical world is based on the perception of a only few physical receptors like sight and muscle reflections. Most of which are severely limited by comparison to other organic examples or mechanical replications. This is the subjective conclusion.

    Any andvantages or disadvantages or disparities in this limited sensory projection effect the phsycal momentum of objects in motion. One way or the other, often extremely. Period.

    No amount of ‘training’ can mitigage that to any certain assumtion of success. In other words,

    Two persons of totally equally ‘trained’ experience and skills, but one can bench 350 pouonds, has reflex timed to diminishing peaks, (consistant fastest human responses of 2 tenths of a second) has reach (leverage) and kinetic energy advantages of size and weight in terms of 6’2″ 230 pounds compare to your 5’7″ i60 pound stature, with only a 160 pound bench….

    but remember otherwise you both have exactly the identical skill levels and training and demonstrated proficiency right down to the number of repetitions of strikes and moves practiced…

    Who do you think you want to bet your life on in a deadly encounter? All other things, being relatively equal, interms of knowledge and experience in life???

    Oh, of course, but your mind is your primary and best weapon. Yes. I would suggest you train it first to recognize such things first and formost.

    And this is not to be confused with a lack of self confidence or a self limiting evaluation which diminishes positive visualization. You can visualize yourself as superman. But that doesn’t change the reality of you being a mortal who might ‘know his shit’, but nowhere near as ‘in shape’ as the guy who works out every day on a speed bag and can break your nose five times in a row with the highly ‘undesireably fisted hand’ before even the thought of poking him in the eye finds its way into your brain.

    Bottom line is that successful survivability depends on so much more than anyone thinks, or even trains for. Not the least of which is experience, knowledge, and good intution.
    Throw in keeping a cool head under pressure, and creative thinking, and your primary mind weapon might then give you an advantage over the physical one that can make all the difference in the world.

    So until one reaches and maintains, at least a level of above average physical and tactical superiority, especially if he is not naturally physically advantaged’, Along with serious training such as TFT, the ‘mind weapon’ whould be mostly used in terms of intentional ‘tactical avoidance’.

    So I vote don’t get into it with your moron MMA family member under any circumstances. If he threatens to ‘kick your ass to prove his skills are superior and embarrasses you in front of everyone, just say, “look dude, You’re a trained fighter, You practice a lot. I’m not, I’m sure you’d kick my ass in a throw down, But this isn’t the octagon, So I don’t get into fights at family gatherings. Some innocent bystanders might get hurt. Someone has to attack me for me to fight. But I’m not totally defenseless, I’ve trained in a few things. I’m going to try to avoid any confrontations so if you want to assault me go ahead. I will try walk away to defend myself and if you persue me which i will then interpret to be an intent to harm me and i will fear for my life which will force me to defend myslef with ‘texmex judo’…

    (oh yeah, what’s that?)
    “joo doane know if i gotta a knife, or joo doan know if i gotta a gun…?

    Then just smile, and leave and you’ll have ‘saved face’ and everyone will think he’s a scrote wipe and you were cool…

    This is similar to what I told to a moron who was in my face at a wedding a couple years ago who recognized me from my old days in the Chicago tournament Circuit when I kicked the shit out of his sensei or some silly stuff…when this moron was just a punk green belt or whatever…

    now he was a big bad black belt and this was his chance to avenge his schools honor by saying that i was a dirty fighter and cheated in the match with his sensei.

    I didn’t didn’t know if i was fast enough (with 4 three finger Scotches under my black belt) to grab the finger he was pointing at my face for emphasis quick enough to bring him to his knees to apologize for his disrespect, so I said, You know son, you are right. I did cheat with your Sensei, I had a special secret ninja advantage. I apologize, here, lemme show you something…

    While I was distracting him with my humble submissiveness, I reached behind his shoulder in a gratutiouos fashion to indicate ‘lets be buddies’ with my left hand, (which palmed the compact but high powered stun gun) , while his eyes followed my right hand to my pants pocket.

    Magically he fell to the floor as i put my hand on the back of his neck and as i quickly pocketed my mini stun gun, nobody even guessed what happened. When he came around I
    said, ‘It’s called Dim Mak, Moron. The next time you force me do it, you’ll die a horrible and excruciating death.’

    Then I left him standing there with a dazed and frightened WTF idiot look on his face and winked at a few in the crowd who were quite pleased at the incident. as i left.

    Don’t try these stunts at home though. Not until at least you are so good, that you know you could have easily kicked his ass, in any event. If I was worried that he could really hurt me, or that I would have to really hurt him to win, I would have left immediately. But probably my best skill after all these years is determining these situations due to maturity and experience of all the been there’s and done thats. So even though you think your mind is the sharpest katana in the group, it still must be tempered and honed to do its best work…

    So I prudently opted for the ‘mentorship of lessons’ role in the higher scheme of things… maybe i taught him something his stupid sensei should have included in his canned sphagetti arts training. Like, You never know for sure, who you are messing with… maybe that prevented someone from getting hurt in the future.

    ” Be polite, Be professional . And have a plan to kill anyone you meet. In time, no one will remember the details of the weapons or tactics. They will only recall who lived.
    Always cheat, Always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose…”

    Oh by the way for you ‘eyeball’ affecianados… Saw a guy once take a piece of micro shrapnel in the eye from a grenade and continue to fight and shoot without losing a beat…(actual warfare). He just fired using the other eye. I guess thats why we got two of them?

    • Michael February 21, 2011, 4:15 pm

      I don’t have a micro thumb. Just sayin.

      • Muhjesbud February 22, 2011, 10:51 am

        I’ll bet any amount you would prefer four gorilla thumbs in both eyes instead of one searing hot jagged eighth inch grenade fragment- micro, or not- ripping into one of your eyes…just sayin.

        The point i was trying to make, like Norm said below, is that there might be way too much ’emphasis’ placed on the ‘eyeball’ lately, instead of the ‘cueball’? And you’ll wind up setting yourself up for a broken wrist, if your lucky and he lets you off with that, especially if you try to do a sticky face thumb to the eye and you are a little slow, he is very fast, or/and he is a very skilled joint manipulator. You grab the wrong guy’s throat or face with your hand for a thumb in the eye and it better kill him in split second, or you might wind up looking like a skid loader did a river dance on you.

        Eye shots in martial arts are nothing new. 50 years ago in canned spaghetti Hard style Isshinryu formal training the nishiken was a preferred four finger jab strike used to potentially hit both eyes at once. Later this was morphed into the military basic hand to hand strike called the spear hand, off the leading side of the body. Same as a knife thrust, but with more elbow snap, supposedly for speed, instead of shoulder.

        Now why did they change it from a split fingers two eye/at least one, hand position to a tight fingered ippon type strike? Realistic follow up testing and actual combat proved that one slight miss invariably broke the fingers when hard bone was hit instead of the eyes. Which occured mord often than not due to the small target the eyes present amidst the rest of the face and head. And even more difficult to hit, even by skilled and trained strikers, when the head is in motion. (why you see so many missed hits in MMA to the head when everyone is in motion, even slightly, even when on the ground.)

        The military trainers thought that by reinforcing all the fingers of the hand tightly and rigidly into a point (of the spear) you have possibly helped the extended fingertips self injury problem somewhat.

        But that still doesn’t solve the problem of hitting the target. the reality is that the eyes, especially at other than easy arms reach, and especially when in motion, are simply not the easiest target to hit. Period.

        For Basic military hand to hand and basic self defense it might be one of the tetter moves in the ‘better than nothing’ category in most applications, for the least amount of training. And again, unless you miss and hit other parts of the head or face, it remains a soft targe not requiring the additional skill of power impact training. just a poke will do to cause the ‘so-called’ desired effect. But that’s what many simply don’t go far enough to understand completely, ‘the desired effect’, hence my ‘grenade fragment’ illustration.

        It seems that too many people think the eyeball shot is the end all one stop bus ride home in any confrontation?

        Here’s the inside truth of eyeshots. If you can ‘blind’ a person in both eyes, you definately have the immediate ‘upper hand’ (pun intended) especially if it done quickly and is relatively permanant during the time of your ‘situation’.

        Having said that. Going for this shot as an upfront primary strike to dominate the ‘situation’ might be a tactical misconception, unless for some unlikely reason, an ‘only’ choice, and hopefully not a fatal mistake. Your fatal mistake.

        Reality statistics have demonstrated the results of attempted eyestrikes as significantly less than successful, contrary to popular mythology.

        As much as i enjoy giving free lessons in fighting, i don’t have anymore time today to go into to real detailed physics and pragmatic applications. So for now, just be advised of three things:

        1. A poke in the eye, even a hard poke that damages the cornea and blocks sight, is not necessarily a debilitating fight ending strike. In reality it is usually only pain causing ‘stunning’ blow. It is not a serius concussive one interupting brain function.

        The nature of the human binocular system is to provide immediate back up in the event of singular loss. Even Immediately after a sudden traumatic removal of one eyeball or blinding damage to only one eyeball. The other one instantly takes over. Therefore, if the stun effect of the intital pain distraction is over, which can be very fast, and by the way, the eye pain is not necessarily the most severe out of other ‘ideal’ targets, especially when adrenalin and other individual physcial factors are concerned,
        …the fight can continue very quickly after a ‘thumb to the eye’, especially if that thumb hand/wrist is quickly viciously bitten in reaction or ripped off the face and broken by someone with naturally good or trained pain resistance and flinch response, creating a pain, by the way much more severe than a poke to the eye.

        2. again, without going into extensive training, if the eyeshot was such a good technique. Why is it almost never an injury factor in the huge numbers of brutal fight scenarios going on every day everywhere, and those even winding up in the emergency room? Think about it, and if I get time I’ll explain it another time more thoroughly.

        3. In Life or death street survival fighting, there is much serious debate over the precision striking methodology of fine motor skills, especially after adrenalin kicks in, and the natural instinctive gross motor functions, of which is being touted as an ‘easier’ and possibly more effective way to fight in an emergency if you are not a Navy Seal hand to hand instructor, UFC champ, or Bruce Lee reincarnated.
        This is good information to study. If you subscribe to fighting with highly trained formatted precision skill, then you should know that many of us are from the school of thought that to maximize your target interception potential to a reasonable level of predictable success, requires a certain amount of continuous, non lagging practice, that might present more of an effort in time and labor, than most people taking only ‘self-defense’ courses or training, would want to experience…just to be able to poke someone’s eye out on the first shot. Which of course, is probably the only one you’ll get. In otherwords, the effort required to maximize the success of a not so effective target might not be worth it in the greater scheme of things for certain people. Again, think about it. The same principles apply to pro atheletes. That quarterback better hit that tire hole 8-9 out of ten times if he wants in the superbowl. Even then, that won’t guarantee that he wins.

        Point is if you don’t want to practice enough until you can do it with a very high level of proficiency, if not amazing expertise, then don’t try it at home. The problem is that flawed human nature always looks for the easy way, the instant cure for the problem…

        “Sorry Charlie, only the ‘BEST’ tuna…(and now you know why they took that highly successful commercial off the air. nobody wants to believe stuff like this)

        If you don’t want to commit to training but still want ‘something for the eyes’? Get one of those Bear Blaster pepper/mace cans. They’re almost the size of a can of spray paint! You can hose the moron and probably drown him with it if nothing else! You can just hold it behind you and spray in the general direction while you’re running away and have a better chance of ‘eyeballing’ the attacker, at least slowing them down enough to get away, rather than trying to bust a move that you’re not good enough to do. …just ‘sayin’…
        …so someday you don’t have to be ‘prayin’…

        • RJ February 22, 2011, 1:33 pm

          Muhjesbud, you make some valid (and sometimes entertaining) points, but damn, take a breath…

        • Jerry G. February 23, 2011, 10:06 am

          Your last paragraph said it all if you don’t want to commit to training, then don’t try to fight. Break out that pepper spray and run !!

        • John February 24, 2011, 4:09 am

          Boy, you like to over-analyze. I’m sure you enjoy competing, but it has changed your mindset. Your friend who got a hot sliver in his eye didn’t get even 150lbs punching through his groin during his reaction. And he didn’t get 150lbs striking through his temple with an elbow during the reaction to that…and a goal kick to the kidneys on the ground to open him up to 150lbs stomping through his throat. My son was punched in the eye by a thug. During his cover up, the thug continued to hit to the head, now totally ineffectively, and my son recovered enough to grab him blind, turn him upside down, and drop him straight down on the top of his head, aided by my son’s weight-trained 210lbs. That did NOT work because my son was very strong, fast, fit. It worked because the other guy was an idiot, and my son(who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about being a badass)went straight for injuring the other guy using the planet as an impact weapon. I think you really should avoid trouble, like the rest of us. You are still thinking of competition. That makes it more likely you play the other guys game, exposing yourself to unnecessary danger. Also makes it more likely your behavior during encounter with asocial violence will be less than effective. I wish you luck.

        • Master Matt Suitor March 2, 2011, 8:39 am

          You are not fighting an eyeball. You are trying to shut down a human being. You break what he gives you to break whether he gives you his eye or his foot. then you break something else and continue breaking until the machine does not work. trying to decide whether or not you can get the eye is training to fail. Go get your eye – however you need to. If you are going to take out someone’s eye, trust me, your training and whether or not you can get a particular injury will be the last thing on your mind, otherwise, it may be the last thing on your mind.

    • Joe33 February 22, 2011, 8:32 am

      Freaking awesome post. “Tactical thinking” i.e. Situational Awareness i.e. The mind/brain IS the most powerful and important weapon etc. Absolute truth. I have started teaching these concepts to my sons at 5 and 7. Not in those exact terms, but my 7 year old can define for you what “situational awareness” means. “Dad, it means: Where am I? Who am I with and who is around me? How do I act?”
      TFT establishes the proper foundation and that is why it works.

  • Don February 21, 2011, 1:28 pm

    Excellent response

  • Ben/ChiliDogg February 21, 2011, 1:31 pm

    Chris, you are spot on in my book. Quote, “You’re stuck avoiding the avoidable… while training for the unthinkable.”

    As an OTR (over the road) trucker, I face occasional situations where some bada** thinks he has to prove himself to the world in order to be a man. I walk big circles aound these situations for several reasons. I’m a 60 yr old family man, with 9 grandkids. I am a professional and have been around long enough to realize, ultimately, I won’t win. Oh! I’ll likely win the situation, as I’ve studied you and Tim and the rest of your crew. So I stomp his a** and the others say “yes officer, that’s the other guy who did this. Then, I go down and jump thru the hoops at the station, Miss my load, get fired or suspended, lose my contract, etc, etc, etc. As a Christian, I’m supposed to turn the other cheek. As a intelingent person, I quit proving myself, when I turned a man/father. I’ve spent many an hour studying TFT principles, have practiced and feel confident. I walk circles any day to avoid the potential conflict. I know who would win. as you said, “you realize the situation doesn’t warrant violence”.
    Thank you for the opportunity to share.
    Ben Paulsen/Chilidogg

  • Chris N February 21, 2011, 1:45 pm

    ” I recommend you do all the things they don’t allow in the ring: eyes, throat, groin, stomping the neck and head of a downed man, etc., etc.”

    A few months ago I googled up the rules of cage fighting in my state and printed off the list of ‘prohibited blows’.I recommend everyone to do the same if you aren’t confident of what works to really end a fight.My thinking was ‘if it is banned in cage fighting it HAS to work’ I think we are on the the same here Chris.

  • Diogenes February 21, 2011, 2:30 pm

    Another mandatory set of wise words from Chris. I have only one quibble:
    re: Here’s the deal: tearing into the other guy to seriously injure him and stomp him to nonfunctional — being willing to take it all the way — is where the real power is. In actual use this approach allows you to stop as soon as you recognize he’s nonfunctional, without having to kill him. But it only works like that if you step in to do it 100%.

    I think that final sentence needs more emphasis and explanation, because otherwise some students might get an idea in their head that they can look for a stopping point when engaged in tft, to avoid killing the enemy. That may get them to train to think 2 thoughts when in combat instead of the only allowable thought-‘injure them now.’ They shouldn’t be looking for a stopping point, they should just keep injuring until they happen to notice that the enemy is no longer responding and they are sure he won’t be responding. If he is dead or alive at that point should not matter whatsoever to them at that moment.

    Also from a legal consequences perspective, what’s the difference between 10 years in prison for malicious wounding and attempted murder and 12 years for murder? Not much, so that’s not a concern either. Students should understand that even if the enemy happens to be alive at the end of their assault, if they made the wrong decision in using tft they will probably be going to jail for about 10 years. You only use it when you are literally forced into stopping a credible immediate threat to your life and have no means of escape.

    • Diogenes February 21, 2011, 5:23 pm

      Since this is a great article, I wanted to add what I think are,if anything, the only 2 missing things from tft:

      1. The color code of awareness from frontsite, as both a useful skill, and to emphasize that one does everything possible to avoid situations requiring tft.

      2. what to say to 911 and the police after maiming or killing a criminal attacker: (from a gun magazine)
      1. on 911 call ‘oh my god, send an ambulance fast, I was afraid for my life and couldnt escape!’ Don’t say anything else but that or similar concerned words to that effect. This establishes you sought to avoid any harm possible, your life was in danger and you couldnt escape, all essential points to avoid going to jail.

      2. When the police arrive, say absolutely nothing at all but the above information. Literally don’t say a single word at all about anything but the above. If they say they need more of a statement, say you will give that after you talk to your lawyer. If they arrest you that’s ok, as long as you say not one single word except the above and that you must speak to your lawyer before making further statements. The police and prosecutors are paid to put people in jail and it’s up to the accused to defend themselves. By saying literally a single word but the above you are drastically increasing the chances of going to jail:

      • Diogenes February 21, 2011, 5:42 pm

        Here is another great video on why one should never say a single word to the police,refuse to sign any papers whatsoever and wait in jail while under arrest for a few days for your lawyer before speaking if you need to:

        -and don’t tell a single soul any information about the incident until the statue of limitations are up, which for potential murder charges is never.

      • Bob C February 22, 2011, 11:41 am

        Excellent point, D! When I went thru my CCW training, they gave us a sheet, created by a couple attorneys, to keep by our bedside phone. The gist of it was: Call 911. Tell them “there’s somebody coming into my house. I’m in my room, with a gun. Please send help, as I fear for my life”. Then stay on the line, and when you hear the person at the door, yell loudly (with the phone right in front of you) “Don’t come any closer, or I will be forced to shoot you. Please stop, as I fear for my life”.

        Especially here in Michigan, that’s almost a guaranteed get out of jail free card.

    • Tim Larkin February 25, 2011, 10:21 am

      @ Diogenes – We cover those issues extensively in live training and DVD’s.

  • Jay February 21, 2011, 3:10 pm

    I highly agree. If you can’t go to that place where it’s you or him, go home or leave the room. I live by how my Dad taught me, “Life never dicates it’s coming full force, better to be prepared than fall victim to un-preparedness”. This is our code we live by, my Dad, my brother and myself as well as my son and soon his.

  • Street February 21, 2011, 3:30 pm

    Excellent response.

  • Mark Richards February 21, 2011, 3:37 pm

    Thanks Chris;
    Again, I’ll state; when we take out all the “what ifs?” and the emotion, all that remains is the motion.

  • Mark Richards February 21, 2011, 3:38 pm

    Thanks Chris;

    Again I’ll state; when you take away all the “what ifs?” and the emotion, all that remains is the motion.

  • Norm February 21, 2011, 4:06 pm

    Well, that’s an intelligent article, Chris.It seems there’s a lot of paranoid people now who go around threatening to poke a person’s eye out.I know of 3 individuals already who have threatened to poke my eye out for no reason at all. The last one who did that, I grabbed his wrist and twisted it.Next time maybe I’ll break it.

  • Clyde Adams February 21, 2011, 4:25 pm

    I appreciate this response from Mr. Ranck-Buhr very much. I feel it did an excellent job of answering my questions and I was relieved to note that his conclusion is the same I drew after studying your publications. I find an interesting parallel here to the fighting in the Middle East where trained solders and pilots are not able or willing to fire on their countrymen. I find the same interest delima when considering what would happen if this country again entered into civil war.


    Clyde Adams

  • Juan Sanchez February 21, 2011, 4:30 pm

    Thank-you Chris, this was by all means one of the best TFT Blogs that I have read. It is realistic and factual telling it like it is “being willing to take it all the way is where the real power is”. But follows right up with the idea of disciplined self control that “allows you to stop as soon as he is nonfunctional”. You also mention in this case avoiding the family idiot that casues these problems.

    Hopefully I will never be in any of these situation but if I am TFT has taught to -be willing to take it all the way.

  • Steven Kent February 21, 2011, 4:44 pm

    This is the truth about self defense. It’s more appropriately called “self-offense”. Once you go through a TFT training session (even the 4 hour intro.), you will understand the difference between fighting and fighting for survival. No matter what the other person’s training, they can be disabled quickly. A TFT training session will remove the hesitation to do serious damage to another human being, but, it will also tie your hands from any confrontation that is not an immediate life threat. If everyone knew TFT, people would be a lot less likely to commit person on person crimes. Much as if we all carried a gun. It also might re-initiate a period of social civility.

  • shihan jacov bresler February 21, 2011, 5:36 pm

    very good advice .can not sayit any bether,dont fight but if you have to try to be the one making it home..sjb

  • Tim February 21, 2011, 6:41 pm

    Excellent! After training in tft now for a couple of years I no longer say or teach “self-defense”.
    It’s now “self-preservation” or just “survival”.

  • TDLewis February 21, 2011, 7:45 pm

    Well done, Chris. Looking forward to my next class.

  • Barry Smith February 21, 2011, 7:47 pm

    have you concidered a sort of phase 2 TFT w/ sand bags held in various ways to simulate targets for full blast attacks?

    • Joe33 February 24, 2011, 8:57 am

      Sandbags cannot and do not react the way the human body’s nervous system reacts, which then makes the body do very predictable things when undergoing trauma. A critical part of TFT is learning how the human body reacts to various kinds of injury/trauma. Sandbags don’t instinctively have hands that fly up toward the face when a thumb goes into the eye. They don’t bend over at the waist with a chin up in the air when kicked in the testicles. They don’t crumble in a certain way when when a knee gets rolled etc. And each reaction by the body (being in the “effect state”), such as those described above, then can allow you to choose another target, if need be.

      IMHO, sandbags would be pointless.

  • tom February 21, 2011, 8:22 pm

    great stuff. That’s why TFT is the best and I have practiced and studeied many SD methodologies.

  • LTC James T. Collins February 21, 2011, 8:27 pm

    Comments are dead on and as suscinct as possible. I feel too many people train as an ego trip, learning just enough to get themselves hurt. Chris defined the question. When you answer it, you either figure out a way to avoid trouble or you go all out to disable the criminal. A good offense is always the best defense.

  • remoran February 21, 2011, 10:01 pm

    Excellent piece. Differentiating between real violence and macho breast beating was really well done here. Even though I have not taken the course, I have learned a great deal via the online videos and the newsletters. I have two brothers who were former Navy Seals and what I have learned from meeting many of them was the fact they are not macho or gung ho but rather extremely professional and well aware of what life and death encounters are all about. I am glad to be associated in indirect fashion to what TFT is all about.

    ‘Nuff said

    Bob Moran

  • bob February 21, 2011, 11:36 pm

    i have read your articles, i have purchased your dvds, i have seen a man pull a knife on a middle ranked martial artist, who through what he was taught in class, an in to out wheel kick, to kick the knife from the attackers hand.
    he was cut from calf area up to his hamstring, and he was hamstringed. ive seen a man get challenged to a fight, and immediatley drop into a front stance with classic hand on hip one lead forward, he got hit once and knocked unconscious, ive seen a man chased till he had no place left to run tackled put on the ground believing he was going to die, fight for everything he was worth mutilate his attacker, not with punching, but palms,slapping ,scrathing eyes, tearing flesh, and walked away…bruised but alive..i know someone who was beaten at gunpoint, hit over the head 33 times consecutivley with a 5 lb weight, who said he couldnt stand cause the lights kept trying to go out, so he inched towards the one shot he knew would count, and from the floor crushed the groin and palmed the chest, he’ still alive…he had a cuncussion , lost 1 quart of blood, 32 staples to his head, and the assailant was who faced 20 plus charges walked away with i year of jailtime after work,after gym time, release to travel to see family…if i learned nothing else from these dvds i learned what we all know is the truth, one is when it happens the only one whose gonna save youre sorry butt is you, the graveyards are full of women who screamed for help only to have neighbors lock thier doors,pull down thier shades or turn up the music..the streets are lined with people left for dead daily, and yet people see these things happen , just watch the news how many people are willing to tell the newscaster just what they saw…and yet who asks, so why didnt you help?
    i have been a student of martial arts for over 30 yrs. i always got in trouble for asking questions, how does this block work effectivley, or does this block work if the bad guy doesnt punch to 6 inches away from your head, meaning what if they truly aim for your eyes, nose,throat…after viewing my dvds i get to see the answers to those questions, as i always said, they arent meant to be blocks, they are in fact attacks, and tft proves that,
    it isnt the throw that injures the attacker it the sudden stop of the earth, if you have to have a seperate tech for a knife, then a gun, or a simple punch, you die. and what you train for you will do…i once had an instructor teach a rape prevention class, he said rule number one yell very loudly, dont….stop…. it gets everyone looking. in the assaults your sight has shown that didnt help anyone who became a victim…screaming,pleading,begging doesnt stop somone who has the will to hurt you..
    these dvds in my mind taught and teach somthing more important than the techniques, they teach you the truth.nobody is going to help you, but you..and you may find the day you are all that stands between a knife or gun and your wife, or children, then what?
    i was busted up pretty bad yrs ago from a drunk driver, found many limitations to my martial arts training. i came on a new program yrs ago i liked, i believe tim was in that.
    i saw later he began this tft, i was happy. i research things alot before i send for it.every dvd i bought has taught me new ways that even with my issues, well as bruce lee once said, having no limitation as limitation..tft has helped overcome limitations for me, and i for one am thankful for that.

    • Joe33 February 22, 2011, 8:09 am

      Sounds like you may need to get some new friends! haha Dude I’m totally kidding. Honestly, great post.

  • john February 22, 2011, 11:02 am

    I enjoyed reading your article, I am in the same boat with you. I have practiced martial arts for almost 20 years and have never to use my physical skills, instead I have learned to descalate confllicts, walked away from possible fights by swallowing my pride.

    To bad western martial arts can’t teach what the after math of a real fight looks like, it certainly does not end in the street the way a sparring match ends in the dojo.

  • Dean Gates February 22, 2011, 1:08 pm

    Perhaps it is best to always carry a gun.With a gun, you might be lucky enough to aviod using it brecause when your assailant sees it, he may be deterred from further aggression. Just a thought. I know that when criminals have seen a pistol pointed at their head, they have altered their aggressive tendencies.If they are on drugs and out of their mind, that might not work.

    • RJ February 22, 2011, 3:09 pm

      Dean, owning and being properly trained and prepared to use a firearm is definitely a smart choice (just make sure you also have a valid concealed weapons carry permit before carrying it around with you). That being said, I strongly recommend against using the firearm as a “tool of intimidation” by brandishing it to the criminal and hoping they will change their mind and leave you alone. Firearms (handguns in particular) are made only for killing, so don’t show it unless you are going to use it. Apply the same ideaology to your firearm (and TFT) as the Samurai did to their swords. When the sword was unsheathed, the decision had already been made that someone was going to die that day; no exceptions.

      • Paul O'Connell February 23, 2011, 10:36 am

        You’ll just make him made if you brandish your weapon!

        You pull it out, YA BETTER USE IT!! PERIOD!!!

    • Lance February 22, 2011, 5:41 pm

      Dean, you’re describing an ideal scenario, one in which you have time to threaten the killer with a firearm. When you’re surprised by knife puncturing your lung and an arm choking your neck, your gun-waving scene falls apart.

    • Joe33 February 24, 2011, 6:59 am

      I have my concealed carry license and I use it. Firearms certainly have their place. But relying on them implicitly in a life or death situation is folly. As Paul and RJ advised, I would NEVER draw my sidearm unless I was fully prepared to use it. Brandishing a gun, unless you can prove you felt your life/family’s life was in clear danger, is a big no-no. More importantly, study after study shows how quickly an enemy can close the distance and start injuring you, regardless of whether or not you are pointing a gun at him. Ask any cop about that scenario. An assailant standing 10 feet away with a knife can be on top of you, stabbing away, in the blink of an eye. Are your shooting skills so prolific that you are going to get a heart or tip of the nose- head shot at a rapidly moving target in one second or less? While your body is going through absolutely inevitable fight or flight metamorphoses? (i.e. tunnel vision, lack of hearing, racing heart, degradation of fine motor skills that are REQUIRED for accurate shooting)? The best shooters in the world cannot consistently be held to that standard. I was shooting last month and had 3 misfires in 2 boxes of Federal 9mm ammo. 1 misfire when dealing with an asocial individual rapidly closing the distance can be a real big inconvenience.

      Don’t get me wrong. I am all for firearms possession and CCWs. But way too many people place way too much confidence in their firearm and their ability to shoot accurately and effectively.

      I have been in one situation, since I took TFT, where I thought I was going to have to call on those TFT skills. Thankfully, it did not come to that. But I was AMAZED at my brain’s ability to recall what was taught to us by Tim and Co. while my body and brain were under major stresses. I was scared shitless, adrenaline surging etc., yet I was able to “calmly” start to pick out targets on Mr. Bad Guy’s body as he started to close the distance between us. It works.

      • Ymarsakar February 26, 2011, 6:18 am

        Any ranged weapon is at a disadvantage when a person gets within the range. The same is true for a spear.

        People who have confidence guns, must be aware of this issue. If they aren’t, their confidence is false.

        • Ymarsakar February 26, 2011, 6:20 am

          To clarify, range weapons have an optimal range. Whether it is 5 meters to 10 meters or 40 meters to 5000 meters.

          If the target is beyond the lowest effective range, if he is 4.5 meters or if he is 39.5 meters, then the range weapon has just become far less effective in neutralizing the threat before the threat neutralizes you.

  • Chris Turnbull February 22, 2011, 3:38 pm

    Are you actually serious when you advocate taking someones eye physically out if their skull?

    Have you any idea how hard that would actually be?

    • Lance February 22, 2011, 5:25 pm

      “Take out the eye” means to wreck it, not remove it from the skull. If you’re an inch from losing your life, this would be a non-issue, anyway. His eye, or your life. Take your pick.

    • Chris Ranck-Buhr February 23, 2011, 10:45 am

      I’m advocating “going for it as if to do so”—that’s what will cause the injury (tearing of the optic nerve) and blind the man. “Gouging it out of the skull” is hyperbole meant to reflect the effort and work you need to put into it to get that injury. No, it won’t necessarily come out of the skull. The closest we can get is the appearance that it has done so if the lids and powerful bands of muscles that protect the eye close reflexively behind the bulb of the eye as it is pulled forward.

      For example:

      Image: [NSFW]

      • Ymarsakar February 26, 2011, 6:16 am

        Good pics, Chris. Will have to save them up for later when I need to show em rather than tell em.

    • Joe33 February 24, 2011, 9:03 am

      @Chris Turnbull:
      Let’s do a football analogy. Players like Ditka and Tatum would say that their goal, when hitting someone, was to drive their shoulder pad through the offensive player’s chest and out their back. They literally pictured their shoulder pads coming out of their back, with a broken spinal cord and blood all over their uniforms etc. They knew this could not literally happen. But the intention to do resulted in a mindset. Not all that different with the “taking of an eye” mindset.

  • Jerry Garcia February 22, 2011, 6:40 pm

    Hey I’ve had some experiance with mma wanabes.
    The training they are talking about above will defenitely
    save you, if you have to defend your self against anyone trained or not. But there is alot to learn, lines of movement, timing,distance and your technique has to be instant reaction.Keeping your distance is one of the best ways to keep yourself safe. This also gives you time to react,if someone try’s to tackle you don’t stay still and let them do it. But like they said above you don’t play your opponents game. Here’s a simple rule, keep them at legs length distance, if they are close enough to touch you they are too close. If they punch at your head, go low, drop on one knee a little to the side and punch them in the groin, if they try to tackle you step back and grab their head with both hands and slam their face into the ground , just a suggestion!! Your family members trainer must be teaching him to be overly aggrassive as is the case with alot of mma trainers, but as was said before it is a sport and you have to be agressive to win. Beleive when I say he will probably get HIS from someone else on the street who doesn’t care who he is or what he knows. One street thug with a knife will totaly ruin his day and teach him a valuable lesson if he lives through it. You may want to get some TFT training, this training is very good from what I’ve read and seen. I’m a master in a very similar self defense form such as TFT. It works!!

    • Chris Turnbull February 23, 2011, 12:58 am

      Attacking the eye is enough to end a fight?

      • Chris Ranck-Buhr February 23, 2011, 10:22 am

        No—it’s just one injury. Serial injury is required to render the man nonfunctional.

      • Jerry G. February 23, 2011, 10:24 am

        Yes attacking the eye will end the fight, but you have to get there first, and the human brain’s natural defense
        reaction will kick in instantly, so you might not be succeed unless it’s total surprise.If you talk to a trained fighter and there are a lot on this blog, they will tell you they have probably hit some one every where except the head! Most street fighters are head hunters and that is their weakness. Hope this helps you out.

      • Ymarsakar February 26, 2011, 6:14 am

        Attacking the eye will render the opponent with a blind spot. Exploitation of that blind spot with effective strikes, will then end the fight.

    • Paul O'Connell February 23, 2011, 10:34 am

      My suggestion learn and understand how to use weopens. (Stick, knife, guns) In order to defend yourself against them you’ll want to know how to use them as well.

      • jerry garcia February 23, 2011, 5:39 pm

        You are so right, become proficient with weapons, a well rounded form of fighting will use the same techniques for weapons.The form i teach and study uses the same techniques for stick or knife fighting.Gun is a long range weapon but you can strike with it if you have to, such as hammer fist with the butt of the gun to the nose,
        ribs or any other place you can strike.If someone grabs your gun pull the trigger he will let go beleive me. i’m not talking about a static grab like krav maga videos i’m talking life or death struggle.

    • Joe33 February 24, 2011, 11:38 am

      @jerry garcia:
      Jerry, your post about “mma wannabes”- I’m not sure I understand. All of your advice concerning staying at leg’s length, lines of movement, dropping low etc. etc. have absolutely nothing to do with TFT. If you are talking about mma/other fighting techniques, then I apologize and please disregard my post. But as far as TFT goes, you DO NOT need to know any of those things. All the dancing around, staying at a distance, assessing etc. is all sport fighting. TFT is the antithesis of that- polar opposite. No dancing, no assessing, no “safe distance”. You close with the enemy and destroy targets, period. And you would only do so in a life or death situation, not a street fight, antisocial event.

      • Jerry Garcia February 24, 2011, 12:43 pm

        Hi Joe,
        All I meant by MMA wannabes is some people want to be like the pros they see on tv.I never said anything about dancing around Bruce Lee style.Keeping your distance (just out of reach) is a tried and true strategy to keep your self safe from an attack . You close as your opponent
        closes on you. You ever been in real street fight ? I Have and I have used that exact technique to drop more than one person. You go chest to chest with someone and you will be nailed. A street fight is a life or death situation, when the other person won’t take leave me alone for an answer they make that decision for you. And you don’t have to kill them if your skilled enough. In the form of fighting that I know which I can’t name because it is so close to TFT it isn’t funny, Mr. Larkin would recognize it immediately and I have total respect for him and TFT by the way, we work off a neutral non threatening position, however you stand in a normal conversation.All forms of fighting have ways to move, step to left step to right on a 45 degree angle step straight in etc.They are all in the techniques, break a technique down and see for yourself. This form has nothing to do with sport fighting at all, self defense only.Your right if you have to fight close and destroy targets !!
        Nice talking with you.

        • Joe33 February 25, 2011, 5:51 am

          Ok I understand Jerry. Just for the record, I have never trained in MMA, so I was not remotely offended by the “mma wannabe” comment. I see these guys at my gym everyday. : )
          I was just trying to get more of an explanation from you about your post. I’m sure you have a world of experience that I don’t have when it comes to close quarter combatives etc. I was just thinking how TFT is very simple (not simplistic) in its methodology and doesn’t get into some of the details that you mentioned- that’s all.
          To answer your question- yes I’ve been in a street fight. Hope I never have to experience real, asocial violence. Thank you for the explanation and cheers.

        • Tim Larkin February 25, 2011, 10:36 am

          @Jerry- Don’t censor yourself here feel free to name any system you train in. We don’t pretend we’re the only game in town. I’ve read what you posted so far for training methodologies and it’s definitely a very different approach from TFT but that doesn’t mean you can’t name it here. We encourage civil dialogue on the subjects in our blogs. you won’t be criticized or attacked for training in other MA/CS/RBFS in our blog.

  • Charlie February 23, 2011, 3:58 am

    Simply put, “if it’s not worth dying over, it’s not worth fighting over.”
    Thanks for all the good thought provoking info you guys put out.

    • Jerry Garcia February 26, 2011, 1:19 pm

      Thanks Tim,
      I appreciate your openness, it’s nice to see someone who is open minded in the martial arts community. As so many are not !I hope to attend one of your seminars in the future ,I can always learn something more!! From what i’ve seen TFT is very effective. Salute !

  • Trey Ayers February 23, 2011, 6:50 am

    Well said Chris. One of my main goals is to control my ego. Knowing what very little I do know (now that I have this information)I know that it is my fear of being somehow thought of as “chicken” that I can now be free of. I hope I never have to engage in violence and if I do it is because I have to and not because of fear and foolish pride.


  • Paul O'Connell February 23, 2011, 10:30 am

    Chris,I wish I could have read this when I was getting brutalized by upper classmen when I was a freshman in HS. Because there were many times when I could have been injured seriously. I was ganged up on and punched to the floor in the bathroom (and still got suspended, even though I didn’t do anything!), along with quite a few sqirmishes that happened in the locker room.
    I had trouble identifying what kind of force for me to use would have been justifiable. I help educate those who are bullied. I will keep reading!


  • jeff February 23, 2011, 12:04 pm

    Tim as always you guys tell it like it is theres a difference in boxing and fighting this guy will get hurt if he doesnt know that he’s playing his relatives game it’s easier to walk away if you can. Once i got jumped and felt i was a wimp and asked an instructor what i should have done i was shocked by his answer, he said i did everything perfect when hit from behind i rolled got up swung my breifcase cleared room and ran i thought about it and realized kicks and stances don’t scare thugs you got to fight to kill or get the hell away.

  • Anderson, gj February 24, 2011, 10:18 am

    Here here. That is the crux of the bisquit.

  • Daryl February 25, 2011, 2:08 pm

    Well put. I have three grandsons from 17, to 21 that I would dearly love to get into training with you folks. Great kids, but unskilled in this type of asocial encounter. Unfortunately, unless you have experienced the terror of an unprovoked attack, and survived by pure luck, as I have, there is little motivation to learn this stuff. They are still hung up on believing they can handle any situation. I understand this, I was the same way at 21. The most important lesson is for them to learn the “Avoidance Skill”, which you folks stress over, and over. Hopefully, they will never need this training, but I continue to educate them when I can. Keep up the great work

  • Ymarsakar February 26, 2011, 6:11 am

    There are many targets that are accessible.

    Ribs, kidneys, liver, spleen, as well as targets that have higher probabilities of death and crippling injuries.

    The question is whether it will work. It has the highest chance of working to get rid of him, if you intend and include death as a consequence. If you lack the experience of doing a liver shot right, and try to do it without full intent, mistakes can happen. And then you will lose in a physical conflict.

    So it’s a force continuum. Use negotiation or threats to make people back off. If they don’t believe you, for a number of reasons, go right up the force continuum until you reach lethal force. When it works, stop. If it doesn’t work, keep going.

  • John February 26, 2011, 11:44 am

    As always, another great post. As a kid I was bullied and went home tattered and battered most of my youth. After going through the information provided by TFT as an adult, I have a peace I haven’t felt in many years. I can walk away and endure the “sissy talk” with a grin. I have a better grasp of the anti-social vs. asocial. I know that, if necessary, I can send someone to the hospital – or worse. Walking away is actually kind of fun now. It has changed my life and I’m forever grateful. I’m not looking for a fight. I’d rather buy the guy and his mates a few rounds. If that doesn’t work I can almost guarantee not to be the only one in the ambulance.

  • Chris March 5, 2011, 9:02 am

    Long story short, it’s reassuring to know that I am on the right path of thought.
    In the military deadly force is taught. Not just application but the definition and necessity of deadly force. To me it says everything there is to be said about TFT.
    “That force which a person uses with the purpose of causing or which he knows or should know could create a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily harm. Deadly force is justified only in cases of extreme necessity or as a last resort when all lesser means have failed or can not reasonably be employed.”
    I try to live by this rule in any potentially violent situation; normally I can talk my way out of it as a lesser means.

    Like you said in the article, it is useless information in a social setting because once you understand it, you can’t/don’t need to use it to raise your social status. It makes us responsible for avoiding violence in a social setting. Put your hands on me in a bar and they are going to get broken but I’d much rather buy you a beer before it gets to that point.

  • allsaints January 16, 2012, 12:44 pm

    Hello, constantly i used to check weblog posts here in the early hours in the morning, as i love to gain knowledge of more and more.

  • Shannon Sporleder April 9, 2013, 8:46 pm

    Main thankies for the post.

  • Isaiah Pablo November 16, 2016, 6:44 pm

    I agree with what you said about Self Defense as opposed to MMA. Self Defense should only be used for the preservation of self. Do whatever it takes to diffuse a situation. Many times, i’ve seen alot of MMA fighters escalate a violent encounter further by fighting instead of backing down which is safer.


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