Matt’s 7 Tips to Self Defence Success

EPiC Yate’s Reality based self defence instructor Matt Roberts has spent some time this week giving some advice on how to be a successful practitioner in the art of self defence. By successful there are several meanings but generally it is reflected in your approach to training and how you would realistically handle a real-life situation. So here goes:


Matt Roberts (Left) with Andy Cleeves (right)

1- My first tip is always to remain focused on what you are training for and to not get too carried away with unimportant questions. Typically in a good school your instructor will answer most of the questions you will have as you learn, just pick one thing up at a time. There are many questions that waste alot of time such as “what ifs” and “how comes” the real question is why you are learning it and the best person to answer that is yourself. You will be there for your own reasons and a good instructor will set different drills and moves which will improve your skills in many different areas. Remember talking will take time away from repetition, the best time to do repetition is when an expert can give you tips- questions are for after class but make sure they are the right questions. REMAIN FOCUSED.

2- The second tip for self defence would be to cover the basics at home outside of class because when you need to learn the basics properly in a system that revolves (you cover different things in blocks that cycle) you will need to keep fresh with all the important basics. Other than the fact that it will help push you towards gradings, the basics are what will statistically keep you safer in a real life nasty scenario. The more complex a move it then the higher chance of messing it up on the street and in certain situations where your life may depend on making no mistakes, this will ultimately cost you. KEEP IT SIMPLE.

3. Next on the list would definitely be to make sure your instructor knows what he or she is doing. Research their background and go for the free trial (if they don’t offer one that’s concerning in itself) before joining and signing anything. Take time to look at alternative training in the area because let’s be honest, why should you pay for something that could be second rate training? We all want value for our money. This is true for every part of your life and any form of training should follow suit. Before you sign up look at reviews and ask the instructor for proof of certification, insurances and necessary DBS checks if your children are going to be training too. Don’t just ‘do it’, make sure you are investing in something worthwhile. KNOW YOUR INSTRUCTOR.

4. Tip number 4 is that you protect yourself from letting an ego build up as you get better at what you do. Learning self defence is important and I personally believe that it should be taught to children in schools as a life skill from a young age (watered down to be relevant obviously.) The flip side to the coin is at people are at risk of being better inside their head than they are in physical skill. Why does this matter? Well a lot of training for survival is about psychological strength and once this is lost its a steep slope consequentially, if you have built up too high an opinion of yourself this will fall faster when things get real. Also it will distract you from the vital things- training basics, fitness training, psychological conditioning and also your personality within the class will change. Your attitude affects those you train with and the way you conduct yourself can also affect your control in training with others. You are far more likely to injure someone if you think you’re better than you are and the main reason is because you will try more complex moves faster and ignore learning them properly. STAY EGO FREE!

5. Another thing to remember when you’re training self defence is that you need versatility, in your training and in your answers to situations. Training one single movement will get you so far but what you’ve got to remember is that real life situations aren’t like they appear in classrooms. Several factors change; the adrenaline rush is huge and will restrict your physical and psychological responses, the amount of force will be far superior to what you face in class and this can overwhelm you very quickly and the amount of damage you will take can stop you in your tracks in a split second. Versatility in movement, versatility in releases and strikes and also the ability to change what you’re doing and escape very quickly are all vital attributes in survival. So make sure you keep an open mind and once you’ve got comfortable with a move try and find (or ask) for alternatives. Another reason why you need versatility is because everybody is a different size, strength and shape which means in simple terms that a move you learn may work on 95% of people but what if you’re attacked by a member of that 5%? Exactly.. LEARN TO BE VERSATILE.

6. Train with many different training partners would be tip number 6! This is vital because there are people stronger than you and there are people weaker than you, there are people taller than you and people shorter.. You need to get to terms with them all. The way you react to people will depend on your personal threat identification and natural responses, this will vary depending on what you are comfortable and uncomfortable with. So if you can lose fear of certain types of people due to training with them (properly with resistance) then you will have the answers for if a situation occurs with a person of this stature in real life. There are many different ways to train too, depending on which skill set you are trying to improve and you need to mix this up too. You are doing this to potentially save your life and limit damage for reality, not to have a meeting with one training partner each week- that’s what pubs are for! MIX UP THE TRAINING.

7. My final tip to be successful at self defence is that you need to learn to be aggressive. Controlled aggression is single handedly the most effective way to deliver a physical response to a nasty situation. Be loud, be assertive and if the situation calls for it countering violence needs to be done aggressively or you will come away a lot more hurt than you could have been. Self defence is all about the element of surprise, Attackers won’t expect you to react and fight back and if you are effective and fluid at your responses then you will psychologically (and hopefully physically) overwhelm your enemy- this is a major turning point in any situation. Loud noises and shouts from close range can startle the assailant and also draw near by attention from onlookers and passers by, which then gives you witnesses. If you display an unnerving assertiveness when confronted then there is also a chance that you can turn the situation on its head and talk a would-be attacker out of doing anything physical. However I must stress that you should always be prepared for the worst and that way you won’t beat yourself psychologically if the worst comes to worst and you have to use physical force back. LEARN TO USE CONTROLLED AGGRESSION.

We hope you find these tips helpful, these were the seven things Matt found useful on his journey through learning Krav Maga.

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