In the self-protection training environment, anything works as long as we all agree it does. On the street, the only things that work are the laws of physics.

If you don’t get an injury, nothing changes in your favor. Nobody’s going to “respect your technique” just because they’re supposed to. People will keep going as long as they can think and move.

Remove one or both of those, and you stop the man. Affect neither and it’s the same as if you did nothing at all.

Break somethingYou can do the move, execute the technique, and touch the target — but if you don’t break something important, it doesn’t matter. And suddenly what worked so well on the mats is completely ignored by the guy you just did it to. If the other guy doesn’t make the same mistake, he just might finish it in his favor by injuring you.

“Lucky” is what you call it when two people come together with the intent to cause harm but end up getting into a sparring match because nobody really knows how to cause injury — there’s a lot of commotion, a little blood, torn clothes, but everybody goes home just fine, if tired.

If someone happens to line it up just right, one square inch on one square inch with enough mass-in-motion and follow-through to bust something important, we get an injury and have a winner.

It goes without saying that we can’t afford the luxury of luck in life-or-death violence. You’re either right on the money or you’re dead.

This is why we take a critical look at everything we train:

  • Is the target valid?
  • Does that injury show up in trauma literature?
  • What ability do we strip from the man?
  • Is the mechanism for that injury within the grasp of the human machine? (In other words, can we do it with our bare hands?)
  • Can we generate enough force and drive it far enough through to cause that injury?

If a technique can’t adequately answer all of those questions, it’s fantasy.

A nice idea for a cool move that really has no business outside of movies, video games or dance. It’s best left in the dumpster labeled “Stuff That’ll Get You Killed.”


Tim Larkin

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

Scroll to Top