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The TFT Blog

Topics in Self-Defense: It’s Not About Him

Wanna know The Secret that every serial killer, sociopath and neighborhood ass-kicker knows?

Repeat after me:

“Me, me, me.”

Winning in violence has absolutely nothing to do with the Other Guy, and has everything to do with you, and you alone. It’s not about you trying to stop him from doing the things he wants to do — it’s all about you doing those things to him.

The usual rebuttal to this idea is “But what if he–” and is followed by some technique, maneuver, or simple action. And I always ask the same question in return:

“Why will it work for him?”

“Because he’ll hurt me.”


So you need to turn that around. Put yourself in the driver’s seat. If he’s going to be successful, it’s because he doesn’t care what you do — he has made hurting you his sole focus. Your best bet is to train to be as single-minded and ruthless as he is. As anyone who is successful in violence is.

But just to make sure you get what I’m talking about, let’s go ahead and make the other guy really scary — he’s 6’2″, 240 lbs., a black belt in Jujitsu, and has killed two people because he just plain doesn’t care. Yet:

  • If you crush his groin, none of that matters.
  • If you grab him by the eye ball, none of that matters.
  • If you wrestle him, well, most of that’s going to matter. A lot.

In one of my favorite news stories along these lines:

An 84 year-old former Marine kicks a knife-wielding kid in the groin as both the start and end of the violent act. He knew he couldn’t go toe-to-toe or overpower or prevent the kid from doing harm… so he did it first. He wasn’t interested in wrestling with or disarming him — a tough proposition with almost 70 years over the other guy.

But what he did learn in all those years is that injury favors the one doing it.

This may be an extreme example, but it’s still apt. If you have to go against the monster I built up earlier, and you do anything other than injure him, you’re screwed.

If he’s bigger, faster, stronger and you rely on things that make those matter — trying to manhandle him strength-to-strength or otherwise out-compete him, you’ll lose. If you try to grapple him skill-to-skill, he’ll win.

In other words, if you do anything that lets him have a say in how it’s going to go, he’ll take you. If you worry about what he’s going to do, then you’ll get to watch him do it.

If, instead, you decide that what you’re doing to him is all that matters — you, hurting him to the exclusion of all else — well, then you’re operating like the winners in violence do.

They don’t fight, they don’t counter, they don’t do anything other than hurt people. And right or wrong, that’s what gets the job done.

It’s either all about you, or all about him.

And which one you pick decides the winner… ahead of time.

–Chris Ranck-Buhr

6 comments… add one
  • Jim Guest October 22, 2010, 5:36 pm

    This is a GREAT blog. I’m sure I would have gotten a lot out of it anyway, but since I just completed a weekend of TFT live training, it means so much more. I highly recommend the training.

  • Chip October 22, 2010, 6:03 pm

    I like the way Tim put it in the NY training…

    {Paraphrased} “I don’t memorize all this stuff. I just hit the first thing that moves and take it from there.”

    I also liked that Tim and the TFT staff train people for multiple-person intense attacks, and then say we can always “turn it down to whatever level” we need at the time.

    Wise words indeed in my opinion…


    • Tim Larkin October 22, 2010, 2:51 pm

      Thanks Chip!

  • Gary Owens October 23, 2010, 9:28 am

    Many years ago when my oldest son was dating a popular girl I noticed him getting a cut-off axe handle out of my garage. I ask him what that was for. He said some guys kept harrassing him and the girl and he wanted to show it next time he was caught in the open. After I ask him how it would help. I decided he needed a little instruction, so I told him if the situation got serious then break bones, do not just swing to injure.I said like a home run hit. What did I not do?

    • Tim Larkin November 1, 2010, 2:37 pm

      Good job Gary. I’m sure that caused him to pause and ask if he really wanted it to go there.

  • ryan October 23, 2010, 11:18 am

    I like the example, but have another one. If a wrestler, grapler, etc. grabs or pins your arms it’s a lot easier to stomp on his knee and run than to use any of the typical defenses which I usually see as one thing, struggling.


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