It happens suddenly.

One second you are walking home with your significant other and the next you are jumped on by a group of attackers.

Your face is getting smashed with a fist, and suddenly you see a flash of light, you have never felt it before but in your head, the world feels fuzzy.

For a second the world goes sideways and only the grazing sensation from the concrete on the side of your face tells you that you are on the floor.

The sound is muffled, but you can hear your partner screaming. Then like a dark cloud a shape appears in front of your field of vision and your head rocks backward. It was the attackers big boot kicking you in the face.

You start to feel numb but the trickle of blood goes into your eyes but your vision is clear enough for you to see the attackers foot swinging once more towards your face…… and then nothing.

You are gone.

It is the moment that anyone who trains self-defence fears. The moment our skills were tested and they failed us, or more importantly we failed our loved ones.

But what went wrong? How did our years of training fail us? In this article, we will show you 5 factors that will cause you to lose a self-defence situation.

1. Alcohol

Alcohol is a part of society, and I enjoy a drink, however, alcohol affects the brain and body. Many people who drink on nights out do so because it encourages confidence and reduces inhibitions.

From the self-defence practitioners point of view, it dulls your senses and situational awareness.

You will struggle to see attackers approaching, and you will fail to assess the situation correctly.

There is a saying in Jiu Jitsu that if you hit a black belt in the head, he become a brown belt.

Well if a black belt has a pint of Stella Artois he  becomes a brown belt and after 6 pints he falls asleep!

2. Under And Overestimation of Skill

A quick scan of Facebook tells me one thing. The guys that are doing a lot of talking about self-defence and how ‘easy’ it is have had few real altercations.

The biggest factor in modern self-defence is the ridiculous underestimation of the skill of an attacker and the overestimation of the skill of the student/ instructor.

Everyone has a view of self-defence that is entirely dependent on their experience and that is their reality.  And everyone thinks they are better than they are.

The ability to stay grounded in self-defence training is the key to success because out there are people with little or no training that are dangerous.

They hit hard, are strong and have zero respect for you. They have not grown up, they were dragged up and have seen violence their entire lives.

They do not over complicate training; they have a few devastating techniques which are straightforward, and they have a high success rate with their attacks because they are cunning in their set up.

Do not underestimate people. No matter how good you think you are and this means always look for a peaceful solution to any situation.

3. There Is No Substitute For Power

In boxing, people say “A good little guy will never beat a good big guy.”

There is a reason that sports like boxing, Judo, Kickboxing, and BJJ have weight divisions and sadly a lot of people forget this.

I see a real common issue with self defence students in that they cannot hit with force. Their strikes are really poor and lack power and this will cause you issues against a bigger attacker.

Sure smaller guys can be effective, and I have seen this a lot but if you face a bigger opponent that has skills you are in for a serious issue.

But this again begs the question how do you know if a big guy has skills?

You don’t.

So you need to be careful about biting off more than you can chew. However, you don’t have an option of picking the size of an attacker so what do you do?

You need to be able to hit as hard as you can!

There is no substitute for power, and this is an area that we see so many neglecting in martial arts. Invest in body mechanics and the cultivation of power in your strikes and this is an investment which will pay off in the long run.

So if you do get attacked by a bigger and stronger attacker, you make every strike count!

4. Clothing

You train in comfortable clothing,  shorts, Trouser, T-shirts, rash guards, and hoodies.

You get attacked while you have your nice clothes on, shoes that have hardly any grip, jeans that make it difficult for your legs to move and bend.

Fashion is great, and no one is saying you should go out for drinks with your training kit on. However, you need to understand that your clothing really affects how your body performs in combat.

And more importantly, your attacker’s clothing makes a difference to how they perform.

Rings that look and work like knuckle dusters, steel toe, capped boots

even kevlar gloves with knuckle protection can be seen on the streets these days.

So what is the answer?

Think about mixing fashion with performance. When you pick a pair of jeans in the shop, you need to ask yourself if you can bend and flex in them? Or when you choose a new pair of shoes to make sure the sole of the shoe has decent grip.

People rarely consider that attackers actually dress to help them to achieve their goals, so you need to make similar choices.

5. Lack of Strategy

This is the weakest area for most people. Having little or no strategy.

So a person comes to you and threatens you, what are you go to say?

Or a group approach you and demand money. What do you do? Same if a guy pulls a knife or a bat on you. You need to think about strategy.

Think about what you are going to do and say. What would your first strike look like, what is your most effective entry technique?

If you wait until the time of the attack to think about strategy, it will be too late.


You may be training at a club or school that talk as if the attacker is someone that is easily dispatched.

In truth that is not correct, the attacker is often very determined, very aggressive and has the deck stacked heavily in their favour by their design.

The best solution to self-defence is to look for a non-violent solution. The second you enter into violence you might lose.  This is a truth you need to accept.

By choosing to realise that the attacker may be better than you, less intoxicated, more skillful and stronger, you instantly make looking for a non-violent solution more appealing.

Avoid at all costs but always be prepared.

Until next time.