The Truth About Personal Self Defense Weapons

Sorry I haven’t written anything for a while folks, but these days it seems like there’s more on my to-do-list then there is time to do them. In fact, my daily travels are what inspired me to sit down and write this letter today.

It seems like everywhere I go these days, I get asked the same questions about self defense weapons. Are they legal? Should I carry one? Do they really work? (And assuming they really do work for self defense)… How do I know which one is really going to work for me?

The truth is, there really is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It’s a personal question, which has a personal answer for each individual. So I’m going to do what I can to help clear some of the fog on this topic, and we’ll start with a simple definition for the term “self defense weapon”.

Self-defense: The act of defending one’s person or interests from harm by the use of physical force or argument.

Weapon: Any instrument or device used to inflict harm on another, either for attack or defense.

So for the purpose of this article, we’ll consider a self defense weapon to be any instrument or device used to defend yourself from physical harm or attack… Simple enough.

Personal defense weapons come in many shapes and sizes. In fact, just about anything you use to defend yourself could be considered a self defense weapon. So rather than creating a list of self defense weapons (which is practically endless), I’ll just go over some of the concepts that are common for all of these devices.

First let’s talk about what a self defense weapon is NOT…

A self defense weapon is NOT an animate object with a mind of its own. In other words, it doesn’t think for itself, and it doesn’t sit there coiled up, waiting for the opportunity to strike at someone. A self defense weapon is a tool, no more. And being a tool, what it does depends entirely on what you do with it. A weapon can be very useful for keeping you safe. However, you’ve got to remember a few certain things…


Once you have a weapon, it doesn’t mean you’re automatically safe. So, don’t go walking into a bad section of town, in the middle of the night, carrying a big handful of money. And don’t flip off the local gang leader just because you have a weapon in your pocket


And even more important, you need to have confidence in your ability to use it. Just having a weapon doesn’t mean it’ll be any help at all. This is actually a big problem among the uninformed; Military and law enforcement research confirms that people who lack confidence in a technique or device will not resort to it in a stressful situation.

Many people have been seriously hurt in violent encounters with a personal self defense weapon right in their hand. In the stress of the moment, they didn’t think to use it or doubted its’ ability to impact the situation. Perhaps they were afraid that it would only make matters worse.

So if you’re thinking of carrying a personal self defense weapon, make sure you’re prepared to learn how to use it. And practice to become skillful with it. You also need to be prepared to use the device aggressively on a predator, to protect yourself. Never carry a Personal Safety Weapon with the intent to “bluff” your assailant. This is one sure way to have your weapon taken away and used against you. So if you are not prepared to use it decisively, don’t carry it!


You’ve got to keep your eyes open and pay attention, and you need to know how to carry and use your weapon of choice, cause if you don’t, you may not get a chance to use it. A gun doesn’t help if it’s still in its holster, and a pepper spray or a stun gun isn’t too useful if it’s still in the bottom of your purse or in the kitchen drawer at home when you get attacked. So when you carry a weapon for self defense, make sure you can get to it quickly if the need arises.

People seldom leave their homes thinking, “Gee, I think I’ll go out and fend off a mugger, or a rapist today!” What happens to most self defense weapons is the novelty wears off and they’re quickly forgotten, then they find their way to the bottom of a purse, the glove box of your car, or the back of a kitchen drawer. They won’t do you much good there! So ask yourself, is the device you are considering something practical enough to carry with you all of the time.


Over-inflated claims and quick-fix promises are everywhere in the self-defense business. Many gadget salespeople and wannabe self-defense experts exaggerate the benefits and capabilities of their systems and products.

You need to understand, and acknowledge the limitations of a self defense weapon, and have a back-up plan. Keep in mind that nothing is ever 100% effective all the time. Even a gun is only 99% effective. Sometimes people get shot, but they still don’t go down. Yet, I don’t know anyone who would say a gun isn’t effective.

So knowing that nothing works 100% of the time means no matter what self defense weapon you decide to carry, you should still have a back up plan for defending yourself… just in case


Lots of laws. Starting primarily with laws about guns, the use of guns, carrying a gun, etc. but there are also laws about stun guns, pepper spray, knives, batons, etc. Mostly having to do with when weapons may be used, and under what circumstances.

Do what you can to learn the laws about weapons in your area, but more importantly, use a bit of common sense. Pulling a gun on a guy because he cut you off in traffic is a no-no, and shooting someone in the face with pepper spray because they took the last donut at the meeting is not using good judgment. So when learning to use your self defense weapon, also learn the laws regarding the weapon, and when you can and can’t use it legally.

So there you have it, a few basic truths about self defense weapons.
I could go on for another half hour about personal defense weapons, and never run out of things to say, but this article has already passed the one thousand-word mark, so I’ll end it here. The bottom line is, if you’re going to carry a weapon for self defense, make sure you know how to use it, and are prepared to use if the need arises.

Until next time, Stay safe and stay alive.

Football Drills for Defense End

Probably the most important job of a defensive end in football is to rush the quarterback. It’s important that the defensive ends get good pressure on the quarterback. Otherwise the quarterback will have time to stand back behind his offensive line and complete passes to his receivers. Football drills for defense end help a player develop strength and explosiveness so he can get to the quarterback quickly. There are also many drills that help a defensive end develop moves to get to the quarterback.

Firing Off the Ball

If a defensive lineman doesn’t fire off the ball at the snap, then he will have a hard time rushing the quarterback and disrupting a running play. So, football drills for defense end always have to include working on firing off the ball.

The drill is very easy. Since a defensive linemen needs to look in and watch for the ball to be snapped (for them to fire forward) during a game, that’s what they do for this drill. The defensive linemen get into their three point stance and a coach simulates the snapping of the ball. When the coach snaps the ball, the defensive linemen fire forward.

Specific Moves

There are a few different moves that defensive linemen can use to try to beat an offensive lineman and get to the quarterback. For each move there is a drill that helps the defensive lineman perfect the move. Two of the better football drills teach the Swim Move and the Bull Rush.

The Swim Move

The Swim Move involves a defensive end making a swimming move with his arm in order to knock the offensive lineman’s hands down. What an offensive lineman wants to do is get his hands on the defensive lineman to shield him away from the quarterback. So, by raising his arm up and knocking the offensive lineman’s hands away (using a Swim Move), the defensive linemen can get to the quarterback.

The Bull Rush

The Bull Rush is a move that has the defensive end running directly into the offensive lineman and trying to knock him off balance and then out of the way.

A great drill to work on the Bull Rush requires 2 players, one to be the defensive end and the other to provide resistance. The defensive lineman should place his helmet and his hands into the back of the player providing resistance. At the whistle, the defensive lineman will begin pushing the other players while that player provides resistance. Then, when a signal is given, the player providing the resistance will try to sit down. The defensive lineman must hold-up the offensive lineman and continue to drive the o-linemen back. This forces the defensive end to use his hips and his upper-body strength.

The Benefits of Football Drills for Defense End

Football drills for defense end are great because they teach a defensive end how to play the position the right way. The drills teach a defensive end how to fire off the ball and the drills also teach the defensive end specific moves to beat the offensive lineman and get to the quarterback. Two of these drills teach the Swim Move and the Bull Rush.

Swoosh Defense! Can Young Players Learn the Flat Back Four Zone Defense?

I was recently asked, “Coach Hardy, why are you coaching youth soccer teams
to play a flat back four zone defense?” The perception being that a sweeper/
stopper system is a ‘safer’ defense for younger teams. First of all, any defense
will have its strengths and weaknesses. A knowledgeable coach will know those
weaknesses and will encourage their team to break it down. All disclaimers
aside, the flat back four is the preferred system of most modern teams. A
youth soccer coach should emphasize the development of players within the
context of modern soccer.

When properly executed, a flat back four will provide excellent
defensive pressure, cover and balance. Young soccer players should be
developed to play at their highest potential level and nearly all higher level
teams play a flat four or three system. Coaching a flat back four defense gives
players a foundation for future success in soccer. Even a team as young as U11
team can successfully play a flat back four zone defense. A team may give up
‘break-away’ goals in the short term, while they learn the system, but in the
long run they will have the ability to confidently step into a modern defensive

A team can successfully play a flat back four after just a few training
sessions and a handful of games. I use the pre-season practices, tournaments
and scrimmages as a time for a team to learn the player roles and team shape
of a flat back four zone defense.

To help players visually understand the team shape of the defense I
call it the ‘Swoosh’ defense. As the back four defenders shift left and right
across the field, the shape of the defense unit looks like the Nike “Swoosh”
logo. If the players drift out of shape I can just say “Swoosh” and immediately
the players know where to position themselves. As the players feel comfortable
with the system they will remind each other to “Swoosh”. Here are four basic
ideas to be aware of when coaching the Swoosh defense.

1. Swoosh Defense

The back four defensive shape will prevent the other team from having
‘break away chances’ by making sure the far-side outside defender and the
far-side central defender shift and cover diagonally behind the pressuring
near-side defenders. It sounds complicated but it’s actually pretty simple. The
defenders shift diagonally to the position of the ball.

With this correct positioning the ‘Swoosh’ defense is denying ball
penetration, the dangerous attacking players are marked and the covering
defenders will ‘sweep’ any ball that gets played through. If the ball is switched
to the far side of the field, the defending four players will shift the ‘Swoosh’
accordingly. I have found that young players can easily remember to ‘Swoosh!’
more that ‘Pressure, Cover, Balance’.

It is important for players to remember that the diagonal cover shape
is why the team doesn’t need a sweeper. The most common defensive mistake
is for the team to stand totally ‘flat’. This is especially common at the half-field
line when the team with the ball has been maintaining possession in the
opponent’s half of the field. Which explains why teams that are learning the
Swoosh defense will usually give up their goals from half-field breakaways.

If the defenders stand flat at half field then any ball played behind the
defense will result in a breakaway race without anyone to stop a goal but the

2. Marking A Man In Your Zone

In addition to the Swoosh shape, the four defenders need to become
aware of the attacking player in their area of responsibility. Young players
often focus all of their attention on the ball. This bad habit is called ‘ball
watching’. Young players will often ball watch until the ball comes near them
and only then will they try and get it. But getting the ball is only part of the job
of defending. The Swoosh defense requires that players be in a good defensive
position while marking the opponent ‘goal-side and ball-side’.

When defenders ‘ball-watch’, opponents will move into unmarked
positions. The basic rule for defenders is to mark the most dangerous player in
your zone and stay ball-side and goal-side of them.

The break-aways against the Swoosh defense usually happen when a
defender is “caught flat ” and doesn’t react to the open opponent in their zone
until it’s too late. If a defenders waits until after the pass is played forward to
move towards the mark in their zone then there is often a foot race to the goal.
90% of good defense is positioning away from the ball.

(Note: Another reason I use the “Swoosh” term is to because young players will
often stay “flat” if the defense is called a “flat back four”.)

Ball watching
is pretty normal behavior for young soccer players, however, a defender is a
very important position and that player must be alert and mature enough to
not ball watch. Learning to mark correctly is a skill that will come with
commitment to learning.

3. Line Of Restraint And Compactness During Transition

The basic principle of good defending is to create ‘compactness’. I
encourage the defense to create compactness when we transition to offense or
when the opponent passes the ball backwards. We do this because (a)
compacting the space that the other team has to work with creates pressure
and (b) we can catch them off-sides. I do not encourage a sophisticated off-
sides trap below U14, but moving up the field to create compactness will catch
unaware forwards off-sides.

If we are slow in our own transition to offense (for example, after we
just cleared the ball from the defensive third) and our defenders just stay deep
in our own half then we are giving the other team lots of room to move the ball
back towards our goal. The general rule I coach is if the ball goes up the field 5
yards then we move the defense up 5 yards – 20 yards up the field means we
move 20 yards up the field. This is true until we cross half field. At half field,
the back four step a few yards into the opponents half of the field.

If our defense stays back in our own half of the field then there is less
pressure and with less pressure the other team will spend the game in our half.
I believe it is a better idea to try and defend the half line than your goal.

The key to successfully compacting the space is that all of the
defenders must move up together. If just one defender stays back then the
other team will exploit that. The line of defenders moving up the field is called
our ‘Line of Restraint’. Our goal is to have our ‘Line of Restraint’ no more than
35 yards from our forwards until our defenders reach the half line.

Again, a secondary bonus of compacting the space during transition is
that the other team is often off-sides because their forwards are caught
standing around after the ball has been cleared.

4. Off-Sides And Referees

A common concern when playing the Swoosh defense is that referees
can make mistakes with the off0sides call and the other team will have easy
break-aways. As far as the referees missing offsides calls, well, that’s the
nature of the game. The key is to control the controllables. As coaches, we
can’t control the referee’s decisions but we can control the team’s ability to
have good positioning and marking. Furthermore, if a team plays good defense
and scores goals then they will not be in a position that will allow the referee to
determine the outcome of the game.

In summary, if we coach to have defenders compact in transition, get
in our proper ‘Swoosh’ shape, and mark their opponent goal-side and ball-
side, then I am confident that the flat back four zone defense can be successful
even with young teams.

Now that my current U11 team is comfortable with the
Swoosh defense, we have moved onto the role of the attacking outside
defender and their ability to move forward to join the attack.

Self Defense Weapon Pros and Cons

Choosing A Self Defense Weapon
If you don’t have military or police background, and aren’t a big fan of that movie where people purposely hurt themselves, you probably have never seen a stun gun, taser, or pepper spray.

While I believe it’s always best for a citizen to learn practical and effective empty-hand self-defense methods first, in some cases you may not have access to an instructor. And in other cases, it may not be practical for you to take a self defense class, due to physical limitations.

If this describes you, then you probably want some sort of self defense weapon that you can use right now to protect yourself. I understand, so I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you shouldn’t buy something to use for that purpose – because it’s your RIGHT to defend yourself!

But, if you don’t really know what each device does, you may have a hard time deciding which product best fits your needs. So, here’s a brief run down of each product category and what their capabilities are…

Self Defense Weapons And Their Pros And Cons
Defense Sprays – (a.k.a., “Mace”, pepper spray, tear gas)

This is my number one recommendation for a simple self-defense tool that almost anyone can use effectively. If you’ve used an aerosol can, you can use a defense spray.

Defense sprays are chemical sprays that incapacitate an assailant by their irritant or inflammatory effect. The defense sprays that most sites offer mainly rely on an extract of hot pepper plants for their effectiveness. This extract is called Oleoresin Capsicum (OC). OC is an inflammatory agent that has an instantaneous effect when sprayed into the eyes and face of an assailant.

The heat from pepper extracts is measured in Scoville Heat Units. The typical jalapeno pepper rates at about 2,500 Scoville Heat Units, while the some of the sprays on this website rate at up to 2 million Scoville Heat Units. So, to get an idea of the effect of getting sprayed, just think about the last time you rubbed your eyes after handling a jalapeno pepper, and multiply that feeling by about eight hundred times!

Probably the best thing about Pepper Sprays is the fact that you can hit someone with a good spray from several feet away, and although it usually takes 20 to 30 minutes for the effect to wear off, there are no long-term ill effects from being sprayed.

If you do decide to purchase a defense spray, make sure you get a good, quality brand like Mace, and that you replace it every six months to ensure your spray will work when you need it.

Stun Guns –
A stun gun is a device that relies on a pulsed electrical current to incapacitate an assailant. They are highly effective at stopping an assailant in their tracks, and the loud crackling noise that they make when you hit the “on” switch can be very intimidating to a would be attacker.

As effective as they are, stun guns do require you to make actual physical contact with the assailant. The stun gun must be brought into contact with the assailant’s body to exert its effect.

Also, a stun gun (like any weapon) can be turned against you. In addition, thick clothing can sometimes lessen the effect of the stun gun on an assailant.

For these reasons, I recommend you choose a good defense spray over a stun gun as a first line of defense. But, at close range where there is no room to spray the assailant without risking spraying yourself, a stun gun could possibly allow you the chance to escape.

Tasers –
Tasers are basically stun guns that work at a distance. Tasers fire a barbed dart (ouch!) that penetrates the assailant’s skin. The dart is attached to the handheld unit by two wires that deliver the electrical impulse that disables the assailant.

Most have a fifteen-foot range and come in two designs. The first design looks a lot like the “phasers” that you have seen on Star Trek. This design costs less and is probably easier to aim if you have never fired a pistol. If you have ever used a remote control to change the channels on your TV, you can probably aim this type of taser.

The second taser design resembles a pistol, and operates in much the same manner, but is equivalent to the standard taser in all other respects.

There are two main drawbacks with tasers:

1. You have to hit your target.

2. You may only have one shot and one chance to do so.

Also, tasers tend to be expensive. The fact is, pepper sprays are easier to use, so when in doubt, just buy a can of pepper spray.

Other Self Defense Weapons –
Kubotans – A kubotan (also known as a “pocket stick”) is a handheld device that attaches to your keychain. The effectiveness of the kubotan in delivering short, powerful strikes to an assailant’s vital target areas is unquestionable… if you know what you’re doing with it. Get training in empty-handed self defense first if you plan to buy a kubotan for self defense.

Personal Alarms – Personal alarms are devices that emit an extremely loud and high-pitched “whistle” when activated. Some include hidden switches that can ensure only the owner can deactivate the unit.

They are mainly useful for drawing attention to you if you are attacked, because the loud noise they make can bring unwanted attention to an attacker. No criminal wants to get caught, so the last thing they want is attention. At 120 to 150 decibels, personal alarms definitely draw a lot of attention.

Having said that, my take on them is that they are close to useless for self defense. My advice is to just buy a good alarm system for your home, and carry pepper spray with you in an easily deployed place on your body (preferably, on a key ring that you carry with the Mace can in your hand, ready to go).

Knives and Firearms – Are they effective? Of course. But, if you decide to carry a knife or firearm for personal protection I strongly encourage you to research and become familiar with the laws of your state first.

If your research leads you to believe it is a legal option in your area, the next logical step would be to seek expert instruction in their usage before you start to carry one for self-defense.

In future, we’ll be offering advanced courses in knife defense and hand-gunning for home defense at select Self Defense Black Belt Program locations, so be sure to sign up for our newsletter on our site to stay informed on when those courses become available.

Criminal Defendants on Trial – Raising Major Defenses

Defenses to the charges are always an appropriate area to explore and raise early on in the litigation process. Some of them will require special documents to be filed and witnesses to be listed in a timely fashion or they will be deemed waived by the Court. The defenses listed below are general denials and are always open to be argued by the Defense at trial.

“I didn’t do it!”

“The State can’t prove a case against me beyond reasonable doubt!”

“No crime was even committed!”

Specific defenses that will need to be proven affirmatively at trial in order to be complete defenses raise other considerations for the Defense. Examples of these are discussed so that you can better understand the terminology and their significance. An affirmative defense is one that must be disclosed to the prosecution before trial and it requires the Defense to offer proof through testimony or real (physical) evidence at trial.

· Alibi

To many people the word “alibi” implies a trick thrown in just to “beat the rap.” It is often thought of as being any excuse, a connotation that trial attorneys need to dispel. An astute trial attorney will address this during jury selection so that the true meaning of the word alibi is clear in the minds of potential jurors. He/she should emphasize the meaning as defined in Webster’s Dictionary, “in law, the plea or fact that an accused person was elsewhere than at the alleged scene of the offense with which he is charged.” The law recognizes that if a home invasion occurs in Miami but the defendant was in Chicago, that he has a true Alibi defense and clearly is not guilty.

The rules require the defendant to file a Notice of Alibi no later than 10 days prior to trial. That notice must reveal the names of all witnesses that the Defense may call to prove the alibi. If there are any documents that would prove the defendant was in Chicago and not in Miami at the date and time of the alleged crime, copies must be given to the prosecutor. These documents might include hotel receipts, airplane receipts, meeting agendas, etc. Producing these will give the prosecution an opportunity to drop the charges before a costly and time consuming trial.

Like all affirmative defenses, Alibi is a complete defense. The jury will be instructed that, if they find that the defendant was not present when the crime was committed (had an alibi), then it is the jury’s duty to find the defendant not guilty.

· Self-Defense {Justifiable use of Force}

A man walks out of the movie theatre with his date. They almost get to their car when three guys appear. One swings a tire iron at the gentleman who quickly ducks, causing the attacker to lose his balance. As he does, the gentleman grabs the tire iron and hits the attacker on the head knocking him unconscious. The other two would-be attackers run off. The gentleman waits for the police and describes the event. Did he act in a justifiable way to protect himself and his girlfriend? What happens if the unconscious attacker is pronounced “dead on arrival” of the paramedics?

The law recognizes that a person is justified in using force against another when he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to “defend himself or another person against the attacker’s imminent use of unlawful force.” In many states, including Florida, a person is justified in using deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat. He can stand his ground against an attacker. He is justified in using deadly force to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm, or to prevent a forcible felony such as robbery or rape.

In addition, force is justified in defense of your home and (to an extent) in defense of other persons. There is (in Florida) no duty to retreat provided you are in a place where you have a right to be. In these cases, the law makes self-defense a complete defense to a crime of wrongful violent attack. Of course, the Defense Attorney must affirmatively prove certain underlying facts at trial to sustain his argument that this case involved self defense.

· Insanity

An issue might arise during a case regarding the defendant’s sanity during the time the crime was committed. This will require affirmative proof much of which will be from mental health professional expert witnesses. There is a two-part test in determining if the defendant was insane. First, can it be proven that the defendant had a mental infirmity, disease or defect? You might expect long testimony by several experts as to conditions such as bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, or other quantifiable disorders and how they might be affected by lengthy alcohol drinking or cocaine, lack of sleep, food and water deprivation, etc. Once these conditions are defined and described, however, there is more that is required in terms of proof.

Second, directly related to this disorder, can it be proven that the defendant did not know what he was doing or that he didn’t realize the consequences? Even if he did know what he was doing and realized the consequences, did he know it was wrong?

The law presumes people to be sane. This means the burden is on the Defense to prove the defendant was “not sane” or “insane.” It is an incredible burden to prove insanity. What the lawyer is telling the jury is that, “Everything the State says happened actually did happen-it is all true. However, you should not find him guilty of it because he was insane when he did it.” The murder or the rape of the child occurred, but you should find him the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity.

If the jury’s verdict is not guilty by reason of insanity, the Court will have jurisdiction over the defendant for the entire duration of the permitted sentence had he been found guilty. Instead of sentencing him to state prison, the Judge will place him in a psychiatric lock-down facility. The conditions of such a facility are far worse. The Defense cannot describe this to the jury directly during trial. For this reason jurors think that an insanity verdict means the defendant will simply walk out of the courtroom and onto the streets. As you can tell, the defense of insanity is very difficult to prove successfully. It is generally reserved for only the most difficult cases such as first degree murder or death penalty litigation.

In this article we have discussed the three major affirmative defenses that might be raised by the Defense in an appropriate case. Remember, in order to be able to argue at closing argument that one or more of these defenses apply, the Defense Attorney must be able to point to specific facts supporting these defenses from the record of the case.

Self Defense – 8 Phases of an Effective Self-Defense Strategy and Training Program

By far, the greatest thing missing from most martial arts and safety programs focusing on self-defense is a structured and systemized outline that helps to keep the student on track with what he or she needs. Not to be confused with the step-by-step self-defense moves taught in the preset techniques or kata of different styles, or a curriculum that spells out what skills and techniques the student will be learning at what level, what I’m talking about is a formula or outline of the areas of action that make up a complete system for real-world self protection.

There are 8 phases, or elements, to a complete self defense strategy. Each element is important in making sure that you have as many options as possible for handling as many different threats and dangers as possible. But, each can be seen as a piece of an overall strategy that allows you the freedom, skill, and ability to control and predict the flow of a dangerous situation and, not only be able to handle it effectively if things get physical, but you’ll also be able to:

1) Have many more options for attempting to de-escalate the situation through the use of non-physical self defense

2) Use effective cover, concealment, and escape techniques to avoid being targeted by an attacker, and…

3) Survive the post trauma and possible legal issues that may come up in the aftermath of a self defense situation

As I teach my serious students looking for self defense mastery, regardless of whether they are focused on traditional ninjutsu – the art of Ninja – or on modern, street fighting self-defense, the 8 Phases of an Effective Self-Defense Strategy and Training Program are:

1) General Awareness – awareness of and education about:

a. Danger exist in the world and CAN touch you
b. The types of dangers that you are likely to encounter
c. The environments where you are most at-risk

2) Situational Awareness – paying attention to and observing the elements and changes in:

a. Your surroundings (what weapons, obstacles, and dangers exist or are available to you?)
b. The actions of others (who is acting suspiciously, out of character, or is being overtly threatening?)
c. Your state and well-being (are you alert, healthy, and well or nervous, ill, distracted, or otherwise emotional unbalanced?)

3) Escaping to safety – awareness of and pre-planning to be able to:

a. Physically escape from a dangerous environment
b. Hide or conceal yourself from a potential attacker
c. Use barriers and other shields that will protect you from incoming gunfire, thrown objects or other weapon attacks

4) Psychological Distraction Tactics – confusing or otherwise distracting the attacker’s attention from you as a target. You can do this through the use of:

a. Acting (like faking a heart-attack, etc.)
b. Feigning Ignorance (like pretending that you didn’t hear or understand his threats or orders)
c. Using Humor (tell a joke or otherwise act as if the assailant is only playing around or that you’re too easy of a target for him and not worth his effort)

5) Dissuasion Tactics – confronting the attacker with direct, committed, verbal and body language cues that both give him a last chance to change his mind, AND communicates very clearly that you will not be an easy target and will not allow him to continue with his attack without resistance.

6) Physical self defense – using the properly applied and appropriate skills to avoid, evade, and counter your assailant’s attacks as outlined with the:

a. “5 D’s” of Effective Self Defense Strategy
b. 3 Keys to Effective Self Defense Action
c. 3 Core Strategies for Effective Defensive Action

7) Regaining Composure and Control – effectively handling and neutralizing the effects of post-trauma stress so that you can acknowledge that your attacker gave you no choice but to take the actions that you did in Stage 5. Contrary to popular belief, as it is generally applied in the psychiatric and counseling worlds, this stage is actually practiced and prepared for long before self defense action is ever needed.

8) Defend Against Any Legal Issues – this is the stage that gives a logical, rational, strategic reason to have stages 2, 3, 4, & 5, and to use them if possible before being forced to resort to physical action at stage 6. While self defense is legal, you will have to show that you did everything in your power to avoid physical aggression if you are to really convince many members of the legal system, or even administrators at your place of work, that you are not a martial artist or student of self-defense because you “like” fighting.

I have found over the years that most schools and programs focus primarily on physical techniques. While they are necessary, the true warrior or professional expert understands that strategic thinking and having a goal other than the conventional idea of “winning” as seen in the competitive fighting styles, allows for a sense of control over situations that physical techniques alone cannot provide.

That’s why I teach these 8 Phases of self-defense listed here. Each provides different options, but each level also adds techniques, tactics, and “intensity” to the defensive response not present in the previous levels. Having a complete understanding and control of this structured, 8-stage outline gives you a real sense of “mastery” and the ability to control and stop any assailant who would attack you.

Do you want to learn more about the way I do it? I have just completed my brand new online ecourse to self-defense success, “Foundations of Self-Defense Mastery”

Basketball Defense – Coaching Team Defense

Basketball defense is the foundation of any successful basketball team. Building a solid defense foundation is just as important as having an effective offense.

By executing the proper fundamentals, rotations, and communication strategies, your team will be able to anticipate their opponents’ moves and prevent them from scoring.

Defense can begin at any point on the court, depending on the opposing team’s strengths and the situation.

Full-court: pressing defense where defensive players guard opponents all over the court
Three-quarter: defensive players guard after the first inbounds pass, usually near the free throw line or at the top of the circle
Half-court: the most common defense level, where defensive players start guarding opponents at midcourt (this is the best approach to teach beginning players)
Quarter-court defense: guarding begins at the top of the defensive key (usually used when the opposing team has exceptional individual players)

There are three types of defensive categories: player-to-player, zone, and combination player-to-player and zone.

Player-to-player: This is the basic form of defense that all players should master. Each defensive player is assigned one offensive player to guard. Because this type of defense depends on the individual skills of each player, it can be both extremely challenging and rewarding.
Zone: This strategy assigns defensive players to specific areas of the court to guard instead of individual players. The size and shape of the zone should be altered to match the court as the ball moves to different areas.
Combination: This strategy involves some defenders assigned to specific offensive players and other players assigned to zones on the court. The Box and One is a common form of combination “D.” Combination defenses are often used when the offense has a particularly talented player who should be guarded exclusively.

Basketball Defense Tips

Every team should have a primary defense in which they excel. The focus for beginning players should always be player-to-player (man to man).
Encourage players to view defense as an area where they can shine. Beginning players often develop offensive skills at different rates, but any athlete can excel at defense if they want to.
Practice against all offensive situations so that there are no surprises on game day
Teach your team to think both offensively and defensively during game play to anticipate opponent’s moves.

3 Advantages of the 4-3 Defense

The 4-3 Defense is undoubtedly the most popular defense in football in recent years. Most NFL and College football teams use the 4-3 Defense. A good number of High Schools use it as well.

The proliferation of the 4-3 Defense is for 3 reasons. It can be adapted to defend all modern offenses. Using a 7 man front makes your choice of coverages very flexible. The 4-3 Defense is known as a run stopping defense too.

Adapting to the Other Guys

The 4-3 Defense was originally built to stop the downhill running game of the Wishbone offense. Because of this, it is a favorite scheme to stop the Option and other 2 and 3 back offenses. Aligning your players in the 4-3 Defense puts you in the best position to stop the I, Wing-T, Split Back Veer, and of course the Wishbone.

Watching so many teams using Spread offenses today, this would seem to be a disadvantage. But the 4-3 Defense is simple to adjust. We know that you have a 7 man front (4 defensive linemen and 3 linebackers), so you have an additional player in your secondary compared to most defenses that are 8 man fronts.

Along with being able to line up in man coverage on 4 receivers, you can align one or both of your Outside Linebackers out to strengthen the coverage. The design of the defense lets you use only one true Linebacker, the middle backer. The outside linebackers can be great athletes who are smaller.

Running Multiple Coverages

All coaches should use man coverage. Most defenses have to use Cover 3 coverage. With the 4-3 defense, you can do both of these and much more.

The initial 4-3 Defense ran Cover 2, but I am more inclined to run Quarters. It is tough to run Quarters in an 8 man front defense. It is not natural. But Cover 2 and Quarters are natural matches to the 7 man front of the 4-3 Defense.

It is no problem to roll a safety down to the flats and play Cover 3 when running this defense as well. You can also use one of your talented linebackers to lock on one on one with a slot receiver, and use a Cover 1 coverage.

Stopping the Run

As I have already said, the 4-3 Defense is a excellent run stopping front. You only need two defensive linemen, your tackles, and one legit linebacker in the middle, to stop the run.

Your Defensive Ends should be great athletes. They play on the outside of the line and are not subject to double teams. The ends should use their abilities and always be running.

The Outside Linebackers are shielded by the tackles. The Mike Linebacker is reading the nearest back to him (the fullback, usually), and attacking to whichever side he reads the run to. He is a 2-gap player. Because of this, your outside linebackers sparingly have to take on a tough downhill run like a dive play.

The Mike linebacker takes care of the dive back in the option, allowing the Ends and Outside Linebackers to be responsible for the Quarterback and the safeties run to the Pitch.

Teaching Defense for Basketball – Why Defense Is Important in Basketball

When teaching defense for basketball, you should start by teaching stance. You should begin your instruction by teaching your players to slightly stagger their feet, with one foot ahead of the other. Their feet should be at least shoulder-width apart, and their weight equally distributed on both feet. This will help the players maintain their balance during the game. The knees should be bent, with the thighs at about a 45-degree angle to the floor.

It is really important that you teach your players to stay low while in the defensive stance. This will make them quicker, stronger, and more explosive. A player’s back should be fairly straight, and their head should be up and directly over their shoulders. This will also help with balance, which is the key to a good defensive stance. Anything that takes away from a player’s balance detracts from their defensive ability.

When teaching defense for basketball, it is also important that players know that they should keep their hands in front of their body with their palms up. This gives the dribbler something to worry about. Players should not attempt to reach in and steal the ball because doing so destroys their balance and their ability to contain the ball.

Once your players have the proper stance, you should teach them the steps necessary to contain and pressure the ball handler. Players will need to be able to perform these basic steps to fulfill their defensive duties. The defensive duties in basketball include retreat step, advance step and swing step.

Let’s talk about each of those steps for a moment. They are really important to stress when teaching defense for basketball.

What is the retreat step? This is the first defensive footwork skill that you should teach. The retreat step is essential for defending a player who makes a right or left move toward the basket.

The player should begin in the proper defensive stance with one foot slightly in front of the other. The player then executes the retreat step by pushing off their front foot, taking a step backward with the rear foot, and then sliding the front foot back to reestablish position and balance. A defender must stay low while taking the retreat step and never bring the feet any closer together than shoulder-width. While retreating, the player should not do anything to destroy their balance, such as bringing their feet together, rising out of their stance, or hopping instead of sliding the feet.

The next step that you should concentrate on when teaching defense for basketball is the advance step. The advance step will allow your players to control and dictate what the offense does. The offensive players will be too concerned about reacting to the defense to initiate any moves against your defensive players.

The advance step is, simply the opposite of the retreat step. It is performed by pushing off the back foot while stepping forward with the front foot, then sliding the back foot forward. Again, players should keep their feet shoulder-width apart to maintain good balance.

When taking the advance step, a player must also be prepared to immediately execute the retreat step to stay between the dribbler and the basket. Both the retreat step and advance step are based on two simple movements. They are step and then slide.

By taking the advance step, the defensive player will force the offensive player to dribble the ball.

Emphasize to your players that you want them to use defensive footwork to control, rather than just stay with, their player. You want them to force the opponent’s offense to play a certain way. Proper execution of the advance and retreat steps increases your player’s chances of shutting down the opposition.

The third step when teaching defense for basketball is the swing step. Most offensive players are instructed to drive in the direction of the defensive player’s front foot. The swing step is a defensive maneuver to counter this attack and also counter an offensive player’s change of direction. This move will help defenders avoid getting beat by an offensive player slicing to the basket.

Players execute the swing step by pivoting on their back foot while swinging their opposite elbow and front foot in the direction taken by the offensive player. From this action, the defensive player regains offense-defense-basket position and continues to stay ahead of the offensive player. Teach your players to stay low while executing the swing step. If they come up and out of their stance, they will be slower to react and more likely to be beaten by the offensive player.

These are the beginning steps in teaching defense for basketball.

When teaching defense for basketball, you need to use a step-by-step process. Concentrate on individual techniques first. A team defense will be only as good as the individual defensive skills of the players on the team.

The Self-Defense Seminar Industry

A large portion of my income comes from conducting seminars and it has been for over 10 years. For me conducting seminars is a love/hate kind of thing. It is primarily a “love” kind of thing in that I love the teaching, I love meeting the people, I enjoy the travel, but hands down the number one reason is that I truly feel I’m helping people. Where the “hate” aspect comes in is the perception a lot of other people have of what I do, or perhaps even more the perception that most people have of my industry. Most of the seminars I do are self-defense seminars and when people find out what I do for a living they automatically mentally lump me in with a large portion of the industry that isn’t focused on helping people and brush me off with a platitude.

Over the 25 plus years I have been in the martial arts I have found that the industry of self-defense seminars isn’t fully respected by either martial artists or by the general public. The reason for this is that self-defense seminars have been around forever and most people have had a mediocre to poor experience with them. When I ask people about their experience with them what I hear over and over is that they’re too expensive, they’re too cheap so they can’t be any good, they’re too short and you can’t learn anything in an hour or so, the instructor wasn’t competent (they either weren’t knowledgeable, didn’t answer their questions, or they couldn’t preform what they taught and made themselves look bad), and by far the most common complaint is that they didn’t learn anything… or at least anything useful. I understand every one of these complaints and I have seen them firsthand. When I was a teenager I went to more than one self-defense seminar in my area and they were laughable at best.

The way I see it there are two main problems with self-defense seminars, and the first is that most instructors aren’t qualified to teach them. Most of the seminars I’ve seen over the last 25 plus years were taught by some guy who has a black belt. Contrary to popular belief having a black belt doesn’t necessarily qualify you to teach self-defense. One of my black belts is in Songham Taekwondo (ATA style); based solely on what I learned from the ATA I would never dream of teaching someone self-defense. Most instructors with the limited knowledge gained in “just” having a black belt end up teaching a karate class instead of a self-defense class, with techniques ranging from white to yellow belt level. Walking down the floor doing high blocks, reverse punches, and front snap kicks is not self-defense.

I think a a key problem is that people in the martial arts confuse the martial arts with self-defense and see them as one and the same. The thing is that they’re not; most martial arts schools teach their art as an art-form and focus on teaching a student their art-form instead of teaching their student to best ways to defend themselves. I, for example, have three black belts, I’m a “master instructor”, and the main art I study focuses on self-defense and pretty much nothing in it is appropriate for tournaments… yet most of what I teach during a self-defense seminar I learned outside of my martial arts training.

People need to know a lot more than simply how to punch and kick, they need to know how criminals pick their targets, how they commit their crimes, where the most dangerous areas are and what the most dangerous situations are, and exactly how they should be aware. What is going to be of most benefit to people, especially people who don’t intend on committing to regular training, is to be educated on who criminals are, how they work, how to spot them, how to establish boundaries and deal with someone trying to get too close to you, and then how to cause the most injury to the body with the least amount of effort. I’ve spent years and thousands of dollars studying this and I don’t know any traditional martial arts school that teaches it. Knowing how to do a high block and throw a really good side kick doesn’t qualify you to teach someone how to defend themselves.

The other big problem is that, from what I’ve seen, probably about 95% of self-defense seminars are actually not designed to teach people to defend themselves. Most self-defense seminars are actually taught for marketing purposes. Many martial arts schools offer free or low cost seminars to introduce people to their style of martial arts and then pitch them on enrolling in their regular classes. These seminars are marketed as a means for an average person to learn to defend themselves but in reality putting on a quality seminar isn’t their intent. I have friends who charge $25 for a one and a half hour seminar and they spend most of their preparation time looking in the mirror and working on their sales pitch. As a fellow professional martial artist I absolutely understand thins, however, this does a huge disservice to the general public, the martial arts, and yourself in the long run. If that is the kind of seminar you’re going to hold then that is fine but don’t tell people you are going to teach them to defend themselves, be honest with them and call it an “introductory martial arts seminar” or something like that.

Another problem is some people hold seminars that are just all over the place. I saw someone get interviewed on TV who was pitching a three hour long women’s self-defense seminar she was holding. When asked for specifics she said the first hour was actually all about fitness and would be a fitness boot camp, the second hour would be self-defense, and the third hour would be about mind/body experience so they would be doing yoga. That is not a three hour long self-defense seminar and shame on her for pitching it as such.

While there are people out there actually providing a public service, trying to teach people usable information, and actually caring about the well-being of their clients this is only a very small percentage of the instructors out there who are holding self-defense seminars. When I design a seminar I say to myself, “OK, my teenage daughter is coming to me for an afternoon of training and right after she is going to be violently assaulted. What does she need to know right now?” and then put pen to paper.

I understand the difficulty of making a living teaching martial arts and marketing a martial arts school in general. It is not easy and there is a lot of competition. Most instructors set out wanting to share their wonderful art-form with the world and end up being a glorified day care center until they have to start dipping into their savings account to pay the rent of their school. Despite this we need to honest with both our students and ourselves.

I don’t blame people for not holding the industry of self-defense seminars in high respect. In my experience I don’t hold them in high regard either. The world is full of fly-by-night pepper spray salesmen conning college girls with expired products and “rape whistle jockeys” saying, “Scream ‘NO!’, kick them in the groin, and blow your whistle. That will be $30.”