I love reading self-defence posts on Facebook, forums and blogs that are wrong with everything they say and do, why? Because it reminds me of just how bad the advice out there is.

I should be angry or saddened about this, but I am not, those days are long gone, the online battles in forums and groups made me realise that you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink!

So what makes people wrong? The number one factor, in my opinion, is that they have a vastly overinflated view of their ability when compared with an attacker.

Yep, that is pretty much it, they all think a fight will be over in seconds and with them as the victor.

It is not their fault, this feeling of superiority has been growing for a long time within them. It starts with the training they have and then it can be cemented with a  few ‘real life’ experiences.

The truth is that there are a lot of people out there with serious skills and that your future attacker could be one of those who is a better fighter than you.

In this article, we will be explaining how to deal with one or many of these dangerous opponents.

Ready, let’s do this.


Why Skilled People Fight

‘People with skills stay at home’. This is a quote a coach of mine says, and he is true, for the vast majority of individuals, if they have skills they tend to be cool guys and girls, and they do not want to fight.

However, there are three factors that turn this idea on to its head.

  1. People With Some Skills Tend To Fight More
  2. Young People With Skills Will Fight If The Opportunity Presents Itself.
  3. Not All Skilled People Are Martial Artists

Ok so this is deep so let me explain.

When people first start training, they soon gain a lot of new skills. They punch harder; they get fitter and realise they have the skills to cause someone quite a bit of harm.

This is the basis of martial arts, we allow newcomers to get into the structure of the art slowly, they are never thrown into the deep end from day one, or they would never come back.

The result is you have a human being who has ‘enhanced’ their natural fighting ability.

At this point one of three things happen, the student quits because they don’t like it anymore, they quit because it starts to get a lot tougher as they start training and sparring with more experienced martial artists or they stay and carry on with their journey in the Martial Arts.

Martial Arts are not easy, and there are thousands of people who got to brown belt and gave up, or they did ‘some MMA or boxing’.

It is these people that I have found who are quick to get into fights because they have ‘some skill’.

The other group are young people. It does not take a genius to figure out that young people get into fights because they are going to try and prove themselves to others. I have seen a lot of people in their late teens or early twenties that have skills ‘devastate’ unskilled people that ‘crossed their paths’ in the wrong way.

Finally, we have the most dangerous group of skilled attackers that can cause you issues. This group I often refer to as the product of their environment.

These are people who have not had formal training yet as result of how they have been raised they are both skilled and have issues with anger.

These are the children that grew up in a violent home, or in an area where it was survival of the fittest. They have learned through trial and error, watching videos and YouTube how to grapple and punch, and they are experienced in real life violence having seen it and used it themselves.

It is these people that you meet up in the town centres on nights out. These are people that you would never meet normally except in a pub or club.

Ok so we know that people with skills can and do fight, how are you going to deal with them?

Well first off you need to be able to spot them.


How To Spot A Skilled Attacker

As a police officer deployed in the city centre a lot I was able to observe the behaviour of thousands of people, this gave me an unusual insight into self-defence.

What I learned was there is a pattern to highly skilled attackers that you can spot.

Here are some ways:

1. Physical Appearance

Anyone who trains regularly or has done should have some physical signs, not always but often. These tend to be broader shoulders, and they have an athletic appearance.

There are other signs to look out for such as ‘broken noses’, cauliflower ears if you have excellent eyesight perhaps you can see disfigured fingers or knuckles.

There are often more subtle signs as well. The way they carry themselves is a clue. They move in a different manner, oozing confidence as they walk or stand. Over time you learn to spot this ‘look’. It reminds you of how a Lion walks.

2.  Play Fighting

Yes, I know this sounds a bit odd, but these people actually try and play fight when they have had a drink. This playful sparring gives a lot of clues away, and you can start to see skill level easily.

3. Eye Stalking

A violent predator with bad intentions will be looking for an excuse and a target. You can tell in their eyes and a good way to spot these is to find them in the corner of a bar or club with their eyes looking around them at the same time as being in a  ‘bladed stance’.


How To Handle A Skilled Attacker: When They Want To Attack You

Ok, so we know how to spot these people but what happens if you have an experienced opponent wanting to fight you?

The first thing you have to become is a difficult target. By creating angles, using body mechanics and movement you will change the game.

This is a unique part of Defence Lab. If you have ever trained in DL, you will have seen the crazy angles, shapes and unusual strikes. A skilled attacker usually has a set type of experience, and this gives you an edge.

You will have heard ‘never grapple a grappler or try and out strike a striker’. The same applies in street fights/ self-defence situations. Never play their game.

If they are trying to drag you to the ground so they can kick you in the head (an often used tactic by street fighters), do everything you can not to go down even if you have superb ground skills.

If they are throwing haymakers at you, cover up (use your Shapes) and use the shapes as your weapons.

If they are coming straight at you, move to the side.

The first response most people try and do in a self-defence situation is to fight fire with fire. They hit you; you hit them back, they try and kick you, guess what you do the same, they want to go to the ground, you try and take them down.

Try and do the opposite and you will find that this takes them out of their game.

When you make the fight ‘harder’ for the opponent, this is a real ego killer because they will have believed this was going to be an ‘easy victory’. They never saw themselves having problems, and with only the slightest amount of effort, you can easily make them re-think.

Of course, this requires you to have a good level of ability yourself.

The next aspect in a street fight with a skilled attacker is to make them respect your power.

This sounds easy, but you want to hurt them in a way that sucks their ego and makes them think ‘oh no, what have I got myself into’.

If you are training DL techniques, elbows into the nose and mouth will do the trick as you smash and enter, but if not consider that a broken nose or tooth quickly gets their attention.

So if you think about it, you have refused to ‘play their game’ and just got the first ‘points on the board’ and inflicted harm.

Do you see how this is a better strategy than just saying ‘I would knock them out, or hit them hard’?

So what happens next?

By this point, (and it happens in split seconds) you will have totally destroyed the ego of a skilled attacker, and in my experience, they often look for a ‘bail out’.

They will back away and rethink, often looking for an excuse not to fight you.

This is where you need to stop legally because if you start to attack them, it becomes very difficult (in UK law) to justify self-defence.

Now I appreciate the negative people out there will say you should ‘go for the knockout’. Firstly that is absurd; you do not need to KO someone to win a street self-defence situation, you need to place them in a position where they are beaten and know it.

Secondly, not everyone can be knocked out easily. These one punch KO’s do not happen as often as people think.

So you need to be selective about your shots!



So there you have it, a quick look at how to deal with a skilled attacker.

There is no such thing as a 100% effective technique but you can really reduce the skill of anyone by refusing to go with their plan, fight back in the opposite fashion and you will find that their skill levels are not as impressive as they seem when things do not go to their plan!

Thanks for reading