How many techniques are enough?
Maybe the title for this article should be "How many techniques
are too much." Here is the point: Can the average person who is
being attacked and under a full adrenal rush recall his self defense
techniques? Are most systems too complicated, involved, or requiring
way too much fine motor skills to pull off in a real attack?
Let's look at an attack scenario. Suppose our intended victim
is going to his car late one night in a several story parking
garage which has a number of cars parked in it and there is no
Suddenly he notices movement out of the corner of his left eye.
He turns to see someone approaching him quickly between two parked
cars. The guy asks him a question as he approaches. "Have you
seen a black BMW on this level?" The question is designed to distract
the victim as the attacker closes the gap. In another second the
guy is within three feet of our friend and a half second later
is all over him, grabbing him around the waist and arms and lifting
him from the ground.
Fear strikes hard and our victim freezes in his tracks. His heart
beat is approaching 150 in a matter of seconds as he is under
a heavy adrenaline dump.
He has had about two years of formal martial arts training but
somehow everything is happening so fast he can't recall the specific
technique he has practiced many times in class.
Panic insues. Another second goes by and he realizes he is being
throw to the ground. He hits hard shocking his body and dulling
his senses. He barely feels the punches now raining on his face
as he goes into a state of shock and disbelief that this is really
happening to him.
Within a few more fleeting seconds his wallet is taken and his
attacker is running down the exit ramp.
So what went wrong? Two years of training two or three times
a week and he gets his butt whipped in a couple of shocking seconds
without landing a blow. Worse, he never even attemps a single
For one thing, he was totally unaccustomed to this strong fear
induced adrenal dump. He didn't know how to react because he had
so many self defense techniques in his head and with his cognitive
thinking blurred (one major effect of adrenaline) he was not able
to pull up a single one to use in the few split seconds he had
We see this all the time in our adrenal stress response training
Defense). We have even had very experienced black belt instructors
freeze up or flail inefectively the first few times they were
subjected to a good dose of adrenaline.
This why we try to limit the techniques we use to a handful or
so. Additionally we "stack" these techniques so that they are
used in similar attacks. I call this a "build on factor". This
simply means that one technique builds upon another and that a
few simple sequences are able to be used for a number of different
We use these principles and techniques in Street
Self Defense 101.