How to be ready for anything

One of the many, many good things about real martial artists who study real martial arts is that their wisdom and experience translates to pretty much every possible aspect of life. Take this, for example. Joe Rogan's advice on street fighting needs to be heard often and understood thoroughly, as there is a very great deal of wisdom to be gleaned here:

He is right, on a number of very important points.

First, the sad fact is that most people are utterly unprepared for any kind of physical fight. The vast majority of Westerners have never had to face a serious threat in the form of someone- or several someones- getting in their faces, screaming at them, threatening them, presenting them with a real and terrible danger to their possessions and their lives. Most people simply will not know what to do when things go very badly wrong.

This leads to his second point, which focuses heavily on the need to study and understand truly effective forms of self-defence. And in order to to that, you have to leave your ego out of it. As is discussed in that video, most people never face physical danger or pain, and so are totally unprepared for it when it happens. A few of those people recognise the problem, and attempt to better themselves by seeking out self-defence instruction.

The trouble with most self-defence classes, though, is that... well, they're mostly BS.

Don't get me wrong, taking a basic course in unarmed self-defence still leaves you better off than about 95% of the population in most Western nations. Learning how to poke someone in the eyes and kick him in the nuts over the course of a 4-hour intensive training session, or a 5-day pack of courses, is not wasted time.

However, against trained killers- which are the types of people who are actually going to be trying to hurt you- so-called "street defence" courses will prove less than useful.

To get really good at self-defence means, quite simply, learning how to hurt other people. That is literally what self-defence comes down to. It is a euphemism for inflicting pain and suffering upon someone who intended to do the same to you first. And getting to be good at it takes years of practice and dedicated training.

And in order to do this, you have to leave your ego behind- in all aspects of your life.

The great thing about a real martial art, like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, is that it forces you to leave your ego behind. It's very easy to let your ego get built up during the day, especially if you're the kind of person that constantly seeks to improve yourself. If you are driven to be better at something than you were yesterday, sooner or later you are going to find that, in certain things anyway, you will reach the top of your field very quickly.

Most people find this in their professional lives. You walk into work and you're doing the same thing every damn day. You get to be very, very good at it after a while- especially if you're lucky enough to find yourself doing something that you enjoy. You will discover that things which take others weeks or months to master, are trivial for you. You will come to feel constricted and cloistered unless you find new challenges and new things to learn.

That feeling of being in control, of knowing your stuff cold, of being the best, is wonderful, no question. But if you are not careful, it will destroy you.

All too many of you will find yourselves getting comfortable sitting in a rut, unwilling and unable to change for fear of losing that feeling. You don't want to know what it's like to be hungry for success, to face your own failures and weaknesses, and to conquer them all once again.

That is where a real martial art comes in. In jiu-jitsu or muay thai or sambo, there is ALWAYS someone better. And sooner or later, you are going to get your ass kicked by someone with greater skill, more experience, superior footwork, more refined technique, or a combination of all of those things.

Such a thing is a very humbling experience. But it teaches you one of the most important lessons in life: you must always have a beginner's mind.

And if you do that, no matter what life throws at you, there is at least something that you can do to be ready for it.

If you approach every endeavour with a novice's hunger for knowledge and a willingness to accept your own lack of skill as a deficiency to be overcome, you will never lose that hunger and that drive to keep winning. It will stay with you forever, and will propel you to ever greater heights of achievement and success.

But, because you think like a beginner, you will never take that success for granted. You will always find yourself asking, "what could I have done better?". Or, "I'm simply not good enough to have figured it all out- what did I miss?" Your mistakes will be corrected next time, and your end result will always be improved, because you maintain an outward focus due to your inward mindset.

And if all of that sounds a little too highfalutin for you, try this instead: step onto the mat of any good martial arts school in a beginner's class, and see what happens when you try to roll or spar with an experienced and skilled higher belt. The ass-beating that you will receive, will stand you in very good stead.


  1. I agree 100% and was recently thinking the same thing. How most men wouldn't have any clue how to fight back or protect themselves or their woman if push came to shove. I have spent about 9 years of my life learning this stuff - wrestling, judo, BJJ, muy thai, boxing. All I do these days is punch/kick the heavy bag, but my roots are deep if I ever need to use these skills. I have never been in a fight, but in one "joking" altercation with a would-be bully who was 6" taller and 50 lbs heavier made it apparent to all that size doesn't matter if you have these skills.It is hard to convince men to get out of their comfort zone though, since they don't believe a physical altercation would happen to them.I feel at peace knowing this isn't an issue for me, sounds like you do too.

    1. Basically, yes. I know I'll never be a mixed martial artist or cage fighter. I know that my odds of successfully defending myself against a knife or a gun are slim. But the critical difference between us and most other soft, coddled Western men is that we know our weaknesses and have actively worked to take our egos out of the equation to make ourselves better. And I am, as you say, at peace with the fact that, even though I'll never be the very best at self-defence, I will still have at least some idea of what to do if something ever goes down.

  2. It helps to be a veteran. Simply in attitude. veterans know that a fight can erupt quickly, and have no illusions about someone else's willingness to do damage to them or end their own, very personal, life.

    I always figure 90% of a fight is knowing that there is a fight before the other fellow. Even a trained martial artist, a trained killer, can be taken out if it happens before he realizes he is in a fight, The difference is that those who are trained have a much smaller window in which they can be taken out before they are in fight mode and beating your ass.

    I have, in the course of my life, taken down (and been taken down) by guys who are considerably bigger than me. I am a boxer, not a muy thai or KM or any other kind of guy, and I have found repeatedly that "He who contacts with the first hit, assuming they know how to hit effectively, is almost always the winner, regardless of level of training."

    That's one of the reasons I support unemcumbered self defense. If someone makes you fear for your life, there are few 'hits' as likely to end the fight as three rounds in the center of mass.

    1. This is a good set of points and entirely in line with my own experience. Our teacher is literally a hardass Israeli ex-paratrooper- he served in the Golani Brigade during the '82 war against Syria- and you can always see the difference in attitude between him and his civilian high-ranking instructors. All of the latter have been martial artists their entire lives, but there is no question that, as an actual veteran, his entire attitude toward war and fighting is very different from theirs.

      His argument always is, "in a fight, YOU are the attacker, not the other guy- he just THINKS he's the attacker". Get the first hit in if at all possible, keep hitting, and get the hell out- that's the basic philosophy of self-defence, and it is strikingly effective.

      Of course, all the martial arts skill in the world is a poor match for a man with a .38 aimed at your chest from 20 feet away...

  3. Didact, how's it going bro?

    Solid post!

    And thanks very much for the linkage, I appreciate that.


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