4 Hacks To Improve Your Self-Defense Mindset


Ox here…

The response to Tuesday’s article on the Coyote vs. Moose was great. Several of you signed up for training, commented on the article, and emailed in.

One of the comments reminded me of 4 lessons that I’ve learned over the years training with Tim and Chris.

The commenter said, “piss on the rules, when it’s me or you, it’s been nice knowing you” and I get the mindset 100%. I’ve been there. I’ve had the same mindset. But what I found through the years is that you can make slight tweaks to that mindset that make it much more effective dealing with violent attacks.

If you’ve been through TFT training before, you’re going to like this. It’s probably a slightly different take than you’ve heard before. If you HAVEN’T been through TFT training, then this could simplify and completely change the way you look at self-defense.

  1. First off, I don’t “know” anyone who would attack me. At the instant when someone starts physically attacking me, I no longer have a relationship with them.They have decided to stop acting in a social, moral, and ethical manner and any relationship that did exist must be paused temporarily.

    Love, hate, and anger are not in the picture. If they are in the picture, they are a distraction that serves no useful purpose.

    You must become emotionless, and view your attacker as a machine and not as a person. They no longer have a name, and simply need to be “turned off” so that they no longer have the ability to hurt you.The goal is to physically stop the threat. Not to kill, rip their head off, teach them a lesson, or anything else emotional…but to dispassionately stop the threat as quickly and efficiently as possible with whatever tools are available. (more on this in a second)

  1. Effective targeting beats brute force. A lot of people have attitude figured out, but need help with targeting and optimizing their weight transfer during strikes.

    My 40 pound boys have accidentally “taken me out” temporarily by clapping my ears, poking my eyes, hitting me in the back of the head/neck, kneeing me in the temple, and hitting me in the groin all while playing together wrestling.These have been accidents and they weren’t trying to hurt me, but if you teach a 100 pound woman the most effective impact points on her body, how to pick high leverage targets on her attacker, and transfer all of her weight through them, she can take out a 250-300 pound attacker hopped up on speed, bath salts, spice, or other drugs with her bare hands.

    It’s not a match-up that I’d willingly put myself into if I were a 100 pound woman, but there are proven techniques to level the playing field in situations like this.

    This is key. The ear is a great target, and if you simply clap it like my boys have done to me, it causes minor discomfort. But if you not only clap an ear, but put all of your bodyweight behind the strike and move the head 1-2 feet in the process of hitting it, it’s like hitting the “reset” button on a computer and it gives you a few seconds for additional strikes.

  2. Don’t feed the beast. Many people mistakenly believe that you want/need to get “worked up” or “amped up” and adrenalized when you flip the switch and go from “church mode” to wolverine in a self-defense situation.The exact opposite is true. You want to be in “classical music” mode rather than “heavy metal” mode.

    You see, contrary to the image of a “Berserker” or a UFC fighter screaming and posturing before a fight, emotion is poison in a fight for your life. A little adrenaline can put you in an optimized state, but if you release too much, your fine motor skills go away, your higher level and creative thinking goes away, and you get mental vapor lock.In a surprise violent attack, it’s almost guaranteed that you will start to release adrenaline (and noradrenaline, cortisol, etc.) within 1/100th of a second of being surprised…and your body will release more than you need by default.

    That part is a given, and there’s no way that I know of to control that initial response, but you do have control of what happens after this initial release of adrenaline.

    Roughly .1 to .25 seconds into the attack and the release of adrenaline, you’ll start making choices, both consciously and unconsciously, that will affect how things go from that point forward.

    You’ve got the reality of the situation and the adrenaline that your body has already released, but at this point, your mind is a lens that you’re going to look at the situation through.

    Just like with a magnifying glass, you can’t make the situation go away, but you have the choice to mentally make it seem smaller and stop/slow the release of adrenaline or you can make the choice to blow it out of proportion and keep releasing more and more adrenaline.

    If you habitually get amped up when practicing self-defense, practicing martial arts skills, and/or responding to stressful situations, then you’ll probably amp yourself up even more. The result is oftentimes adrenaline overload, and decreased performance.

    Another way that you can approach this is to practice being cold and emotionless when thinking about and practicing for self-defense situations. It took me years to figure out why Tim & Chris teach this way, but once I did, I realized the uniqueness and brilliance of their approach. It helps slow the release of adrenaline in a life or death situation and helps you stay in control.

    Think about it this way. If your child is scared of the dark, they probably have a negative emotion about the dark and a positive emotion about the dark “going away” when the light turns on, but there is no emotion about the mechanical act of flipping the switch.

    They don’t have to get amped up to flip the switch. They just get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Taking it one step further, the more they can stay in control of their emotions in the dark, the more likely they’ll be able to hit the switch on the first try and get rid of the darkness.

  1. Many people confuse stopping a threat with killing. Sometimes stopping the threat has the end result of killing the attacker, but that should never be the goal. For one, it personifies the attacker and there’s no value in that…to you or them.

    Second, if the soundtrack in your head continually repeats the thought of “killing” a violent attacker who’s trying to cause you great bodily harm, it stands to reason that you’d be more likely to “kill” them than if the soundtrack in your head continually repeats the thought of “stopping the threat.”This isn’t a hard and fast rule and there’s obviously overlap in both directions, but in general, it’s highly advisable that you think, write, and talk about stopping the threat rather than killing.

    People who have used Target Focus Training in life or death situations have repeatedly said that they caused their attacker to no longer be a threat with 1 or 2 strikes and that there was absolutely no need to strike again.

    They were able to do this because they had a clear outcome in mind in their subconscious before they started–stopping the threat. They knew how to strike specific targets to get predictable reactions and knew how to immediately and unconsciously evaluate the effectiveness of their shots on the fly and decide whether or not more strikes were required to stop the threat.

    In many cases, it’s fair to assume that this training not only kept them alive, but helped them avoid wrongful death lawsuits.

So, at this point, there’s 2 ways you can go:

First, if you haven’t been through TFT training yet, I’d strongly encourage you to check it out more by going >HERE<   The strikes and techniques may be similar to what you’ve seen before, but the neuroscience behind the training makes it way more effective than traditional self-defense training, whether you’re in the prime of your life or not. Everyone who’s aware of the need for self-defense should see this, but it’s especially true if you happen to be a self-defense instructor.

Second, if you have been through some TFT training materials in the past, I want to suggest that you check out this training that Tim did with members of the Australian SAS and 2Commando. It’s cutting edge training that seamlessly combines empty hands, bladed weapons, and pistols. I know and am friends with some of these SAS guys. They are some of the most elite fighters on the planet and it’s incredibly rare to get training from warriors of this level. Check it out by going >HERE<.




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  • M. Smith

    Reply Reply May 1, 2015

    Really good stuff. I’ve also seen the need to combine some level of hand-to-hand (TFT) and tactical handgun training together for true self protection skills. It seems that TFT and you are the few that get it. I’ve been through some of the TFT dvd series. Would be great if we could put together like-minded folks in different t cities so we could train together in this fashion for protection of ourselves and our families.

  • Mark Luper

    Reply Reply April 30, 2015

    Great advice Ox. Another step in the right direction.

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