Friday, July 28, 2017

Advice for Self-Defense in Europe

Hello Ferfal.
I have read your "surviving the economic collapse" book and it was very interesting.
Now I want to learn self defense.
I'm from Austria / Vienna.
The problem is, almost all self defense schools I found in Vienna... they dont do sparring at all.
Our culture here in Austria is very pussyfied these days, and in sparring people could get hurt (LOL) so they dont do that.....
So what would you recommend me to do ? I dont think (like you wrote) that it makes sense to take some classes without sparring.
Also our gun laws are very restricted, you are allowed to own a gun but you are not allowed to have it with you when you are out.
Dont really know what to do at this point, and would like to hear your advice ?

BR & thanks in advance, Martin.

Hello Martin,
Thanks for your email.

I believe many people have your same questions, in different European countries but also towns in USA where finding a good martial arts/ self-defense school isn’t always easy.

For unarmed self-defense you want to include striking and grappling tools to your tool box. Boxing in simply the most refined form of hand striking. Yes, today evolved into an Olympic sport but make no mistake: In a street fight a good boxer will make short work of most opponents. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a fantastic martial art which gives you precious grappling skills, especially when the fight goes to the floor as it often does, this is why its practically mandatory for mix martial artists to be proficient grapplers and know how to counter them. But don’t mistake MMA with street fights. In a street fight there will be other people around you, there will be objects, there may be weapons and they rarely are one on one. Time and again it’s been proven that an effective 1,2 can put an opponent down before the fight even starts in his mind. This is why boxing is so valuable in a street fight, especially against multiple opponents. An example:

The last clip (black & white security camera) involves a professional boxer. The first man he KO died after hitting his head during the fall.

Boxing is a fairly common sport and even in friendly neighbourhood gyms they are likely to spar. Now you don’t need to become a professional boxer, not for self-defense purposes. Also remember that boxing is one of the most damaging contact sports to the brain. Even if you use sparring headgear and gloves and don’t mind getting punched in the head, it does cumulative damage to your brain. Train a lot, do “gloves” with light contact here and there and only sporadically spar a round or two. That will be enough to keep your hands and reflexes fast, know what its like when someone wants to KO you, yet avoid most of the downside of boxing. BJJ is even better for sparring given that it works around submission and you can practice, spar and compete without nearly the amount of risk of injury involved in boxing.

I understand that time and money are limited and we can’t do it all. Ideally you would find a mix martial arts gym where you have the opportunity to train and spar in various disciplines. At the very least there’s sure to be a Box or BJJ class around town.

In some cases Krav maga seems to be almost ideal given that it borrows from different martial arts applying it to defense. The problem I’ve seen with many KM schools is that a) they are either too commercial, very expensive and installing a sense of proficiency and skill that isnt actually there b) they don’t spar against a non-cooperative opponent. Meaning your first REAL fight will be a life and death one on the streets (and you’ll probably lose it) That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show up to a local KM school in town if available and see what they are about.

You will be better served joining a MMA, Box or BJJ school and then taking some self-defense seminars to compliment them. Sometimes you get to meet like-minded people in these classes and get together for more training.
For this kind of realistic fighting, Dog Brothers do gatherings in different European countries
Something similar happens with firearms.

Instead of worrying too much about what you can’t do, do the things you can.
Get a Glock and a rifle and learn how to shoot them well. Yes, a defensive shootings class is needed and it can be a bit harder to come across in some countries but if you get involved in the local shooting club you’re likely to come across instructors, some of the ones involved in local law enforcement or military. Just like with martial arts, you can complement what you learn in defensive shooting classes with practice from sports shooting like IPSC so as to maintain hand-eye coordination, shoot fast and accurately.

It sounds overwhelming but it really shouldn’t be. Just take advantage of what you can find locally and make the most of it as time and money allows. Getting a Glock though and learning how to run it would be top of the list for me.  Even if you cant carry it, at least you’ll have it and know how to operate it proficiently.Different countries in Europe have different laws, but if legal to do so I’d look into carrying a folder and OC spray.

Fortunately violent crime all across Europe is noticeably low. Chances of being a victim of a violent crime aren’t that high, and should be reduced even more by practicing some common sense things such as avoiding dangerous places and getting involved with the wrong people.
Good luck!
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you are interested in self defense, learn to use a weapon and carry it with you. At all times. Self defense is not a sport. It is serious and bloody. In real life, it might start when your nose is broken and you have a cracked rib.

In you Europe you are probably not allowed to carry a gun. So carry a knife, a kubotan, pepper spray, whatever is allowed. When you have defend yourself, you don't want to do it with bare hands, if at all possible.

That said, it is still very advisable to learn a martial art. Sparring is useful and important. Wheter you have a knife or a stick, you have to learn how to move, how to react, dodge or block blows. It is also useful if you have experienced being hit or kicked (wear protectors!). This reduces the risk of "freezing" in a real fight.

Get used to violence, mentally and physically. Otherwise a weapon is useless. If you are not prepared to use your weapon, it will just make a dangerous situation more dangerous.

Lastly, it not that important what martial art you choose, karate, boxing, jujutsu, muythai, krav maga, kali or whatever. It is much more important that you practice it regularly for an extended time. To do that, I recommend a dojo that is close, where you like the people and have fun. Otherwise you will probaly not persevere.