The self defense moves that actually work

Let us watch 2 videos. I’m going to plant my pre-planned conclusion into your head by saying that, when watching these videos, I want you to see how ineffective a punch can be.


Cop fighting thug (you know you’ve seen this one before)

Video 2 (hard to put a decent description for this one – maybe a Monkey Dance)


Enter the punch

Punches are effective at what they do. But what is it they are designed to do? Typically a punch is designed to cause pain while inflicting fairly minimal damage. You’re using the brittle bones of your hand and smashing them into the not so brittle bones of the face. Just compare the phalanges and the cranium or jaw bone (mandible) in the picture of a skeleton – which looks bigger and stronger? The reason for this is species survival. Punching is used in social conflicts like Monkey Dances where dude 1 is getting in the face of dude 2. Name calling ensues. Some punches are thrown. Friends pull them apart. Social dominance issues are resolved. The species continues. The bar fight/school yard fight is designed to allow men to determine the social pecking order in their tribe, without anybody dying. If someone died in every school yard fight, then humans wouldn’t have survived this long. Enter the punch: a way of causing pain, a bit of damage and looking ferocious in a fight, but not weakening your tribe.


Communication by hand

Think of a punch as an extreme communication tool. It’s a way of saying “yes, I am serious. I think I’m more dominant than you, and I’m so alpha that I’m willing to hit you to prove my alphaness. The other guy punches back to say “No, I’m more alpha. Here’s proof.” Can punches kill? Yes. Shit happens. People slip and fall on hard surfaces and hit their heads. But a punch is typically a tool of communication, albeit just a bit further down the road of violence than most are used to.


What is you need to cause damage, but proper?

This one’s for all the guys doing MMA as a way of training for self defense (not a bad idea, as long as you keep in mind the limitations). The following list is from the Wikipedia page for MMA fight rules. Let us bear in mind the following 2 standards for a self defense encounter:

1 – avoid the conflict and get out/away as soon as possible

2 – if you can’t, then end it fast


Now, read the following list and see if anything sounds like it might be useful in a violent conflict.



As set out by the Association of Boxing Commissions:[8]

  • Holding or grabbing the fence
  • Holding opponent’s shorts or gloves
  • Butting with the head
  • Biting or spitting at an opponent
  • Hair pulling
  • Fish-hooking
  • Intentionally placing a finger into any orifice, or into any cut or laceration of an opponent
  • Eye gouging of any kind
  • Groin attacks of any kind
  • Downward pointing of elbow strikes (see12-6 elbow)
  • Small joint manipulation
  • Strikes to the spine or back of the head (seeRabbit punch)
  • Heel kicks to the kidney
  • Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea
  • Clawing, pinching, twisting the flesh or grabbing the clavicle
  • Kicking the head of a grounded opponent (seeSoccer kick)
  • Kneeing the head of a grounded opponent
  • Stomping on a grounded fighter
  • The use of abusive language in fighting area
  • Any unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to opponent
  • Attacking an opponent during a break
  • Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee
  • Timidity (avoiding contact, consistent dropping of mouthpiece, or faking an injury)
  • Interference from a mixed martial artist’s cornerman
  • Throwing an opponent out of the ring or caged area
  • Flagrant disregard of the referee’s instructions
  • Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his or her head or neck (see Piledriver)
  • Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat


Here’s another list from further down the Wikipedia page:

Illegal actions[edit]

  • Strikes to the neck, throat, spine, kidneys, joints, groin, knees and below
  • Kicks and knees to the head in ground position (from either athletes)
  • Elbows to the head
  • Hammer fists
  • Stomp kicks
  • Intentional breaking of bones or joints (i.e. not giving the opponent’s enough time to tap in submission situations)
  • Head butts, malicious cross faces
  • Biting
  • Eye, ear, or nose gouging, fish hooking
  • Pulling of hair, nose or ears
  • Spikes (i.e., standing throws onto the head or neck and landing onto the thrower’s knee)
  • Slams in defense of submission attempts and if opponent’s body is above waist level
  • Back splashes from standing position
  • Combination of joint locks and throws
  • Use of the fingers for throat/trachea choking techniques 19
  • Inside or outside heel hooks
  • Chin ripping
  • Neck cranks (crucifix, full-nelson, can opener, etc.)[citation needed]
  • Small joint manipulation
  • Holding fewer than 4 fingers or toes
  • Coating the skin with any kind of substance or using gauzes or any kind of protective materials without the authorization of the Head medical officer and in agreement with the referee
  • Intentional grabbing of competition uniform and protection gear
  • Initiating an attack once both competitors are out of bounds
  • Argument/insults towards anybody present in the competition hall
  • Pretense of injury


See a pattern yet?


I especially like the one where they say “No causing injury or damage to your opponent”. Why would this be in MMA/cage fighting/UFC rules? Same reason guys punch in a fight – keeps the tribe stronger. Imagine how quickly people would drop out of the sport if people started getting hospitalised or dead in every fight. Remember, UFC is a sport designed for entertainment, and drawn out fights are more entertaining than someone getting a broken bone in the first few seconds of the first round.

1 thought on “The self defense moves that actually work”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s