There is a term in self-defence and it is called ‘legally compliant’.

This term has been around for a long time now, and it refers to the simple process of looking at the actions you take in self-defence and seeing if they were within the law.

So, for example;

If someone attacked you, you defended yourself, and they were now lying helpless on the floor.

So you kicked them in the head.

That would be likely to be deemed in a court of law as an attack.

Yes, you did defend yourself but they no longer posed a threat, and as a result, you have now become an offender.

As a former police officer, I saw this situation happen more often than you could imagine.

And so, self-defence has walked a fine line of teaching legally compliant techniques.

Techniques that are taught on the side of caution.

But in this article, we will look into the abyss and stare at the dark side of self-defence.

And we will answer two questions….just how violent should your training be?

And how far should you be prepared to go?

No One Complains About Grappling


There is a strange aspect of Martial Arts.

People would be shocked if you taught a student to stamp on an opponents head or limb, yet in grappling arts such as BJJ, Judo and Sambo people train to choke out and break limbs.

The very act of a choke can quickly kill someone.

Especially in the heat of real combat.

And other techniques such as heel hooks, kneebars and Omoplatas cause incredible damage to the human body that would likely require surgery to fix.

But because it is played as a ‘game’ in training these aspects are not seen as shocking.

In fact, these techniques are cheered for.

If you were to tell someone who doesn’t fo Martial Arts that you train in grappling and tell them that you practise choke holds and arm locks they wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

But if you were to tell someone that you train in self-defence and learn to use things such as limb destructions they would be shocked.

But this ‘double standards’ is what you will have to face.

I once spoke to a high-level solicitor who told me that violence on CCTV looks far worse if it is strikes than ‘grappling’.

And this is an issue you will face should you ever find yourself needing to justify your use of force to a court or the police.

Violence looks terrible on camera and to witnesses if it is striking.

Grappling looks like you are trying to stop them from hitting you and are holding on!

But here comes the issue, any professional in self-defence will tell you that the worst place you can be in a fight is on the ground.

So, should we train with this in mind? Should we focus on trying to look non-violent in case the incident?

Train For The Worst Outcome Not The Best


One of the fundamental mistakes I see with training online is what I refer to as ‘under training’.

The type of training where a person strikes the pad a few times and then runs off.

Or a student waves a knife about and then goes down easily when the student tackles them.

This is a direct result in the over-reliance in ‘legally compliant training’.

People are training for the CCTV cameras, the witnesses and of course training for how they want it to be.

Yes, you should consider these things, but your training needs to be geared for fighting in the worst possible situations.

Surrounded by 3 and not 1 on 1.

That is why so many systems never look at multiple attackers; it is because they wish for the ideal attackers.

So, I believe that your training should be intense, evil and geared for wreaking havoc.

Your techniques should be delivered with ‘bad intentions’.

You should be thinking of breaking that arm and smashing that collar bone.

You shouldn’t be training for attackers who will give up easily.

But that still begs the question….. just how far should you go in reality?


Where Do You Stop In A Fight

This is the ultimate question, at what point does defence become offence?

It is a good question and only one you can answer.

Because in actual truth it is your intention that matters, not what you do.

If you defeat your attacker and they fall to the floor, injured and dazed, do you let them up or finish them off.

Well, it turns out that this is all down to ‘why you took your action’ and not what you do.

‘I stomped on his head because I had my kids with me and I was too tired to fight back if he got up.’

‘I continued punching him on the floor because he had a dropped a knife, and if he had managed to grab it then he could have attacked me, I needed to make sure he was out cold.’

These are not sure fire ‘get out of jail’ excuses.

Every case is different, and you must do what you feel is right.

To make this clear, it is your fight both in the street and afterwards in a court of law if required.

But you can’t be in a fight in the courts if you don’t survive the fight in the streets

So, to answer the question on how far do you go in a fight?

You go as far as you must, as far as you think is right and as far as you can justify to yourself and others.

The dark side of self-defence is indeed grim.

But you must face that darkness if you wish to survive.


Self-defence is indeed a dark activity, but violence is dark.

And sometimes darkness needs fire.

Fire in your training, fire in your approach and fire in your minds.

You need to train this fire.

You need to train for the realities of the world where you reside.

You need to train in a system that has focused on the reality of street combat.

That is why Defence Lab exists, to take you through the darkness of violence and into the light.

Thanks for reading.

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