tim-larkin-quote-injuryPeople talk about self-defense technique as if it is the foundation of fighting and violence. And sure, technique is essential to learning how to fight effectively, such as knowing a specific joint to target and how or practicing a certain punch or strike so it’s ready when you need it.

But self-defense techniques are also seen as a specific answer to a specific problem — as in, “If he does X, I’ll use technique X+1.”

While technique may be the foundation of fighting, injury is the foundation of violence. Going punch for punch may work in the ring, but it doesn’t mean a thing if you’re fighting a killer.

That’s not to say that learning fighting technique isn’t useful. They absolutely have their uses in the training cycle — just not at the beginning. And there is a very good reason for why that is:

A typical technique involves striking several targets to cause injury and set up favorable conditions for one or more joint breaks and perhaps a throw followed by one or two additional targets once he’s down. But the fighter is learning the technique in a context that he or she will never see again. The trained move will never come out spontaneously in free fight. And that means it is lost to them in actual violence.

Does this mean self-defense techniques are worthless, or even detrimental?

No. It just means that techniques are better left to the more advanced practitioner. Once you’ve learned and mastered the bulk of the targets on the human body, as well as rudimentary joint-breaking and the basics that underlie throwing (drop and hip throws), you’re ready for techniques.

Once you reach the point where you know how to injure people — reliably, permanently, and without hesitation — it’s just a matter of doing it more efficiently.

Techniques, as practiced by those well-steeped in the basics, give you a framework within which to hammer out the rhythm and timing required to execute it all flawlessly, with little effort.

Therefore, techniques are a professionalizing tool. They are only useful at the top end, and worthless at the bottom. Techniques should only ever be used to teach rhythm and timing, not targets, joint breaks or throws. Self-defense technique must be mastered on its own, stripped of any context but injury. Only then will techniques truly help you.


Tim Larkin

Self-Protection Expert & Founder of Target Focus Training
Author of When Violence Is The Answer

Scroll to Top