Tim Ferriss Getting His Ass Kicked + How to Survive a Physical Attack (Video Series)

This post might seem odd, as it starts with a random sequence from a random skill. There are three reasons for this:

1) I like to expose readers to things they’ve never explored.

2) The best long-term policy for keeping a blog fun to read (and write) is to cover things that subsets of your readers love, not things that everyone merely likes.

3) I think all of you should know how to respond to a real physical attack.

Keeping these in mind, I hope you enjoy a lil’ taste of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, often nicknamed “human chess.”

If it’s not your thing, I still suggest you skip to the end, where you can see the free (and short) video series I did with Dave Camarillo on defending against real-world attacks of various types. I had these videos up at one time in 2007, but the code became corrupted, so I’m updating them here.

One of the last videos is of me getting thrown on my head, or heels-over-head, repeatedly.

Enter Dave Camarillo

Since the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) came to prominence in 2005, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) has been the most sought-after skill-set in the marital arts world. There are many world-class athletes, but there are only a few world-class teachers. Dave Camarillo, who’s coached UFC fighters like Cain Velasquez, is one of them…

I’ve known Dave for nearly a decade and trained with him at AKA in San Jose, CA. I also had the chance to be a crash-test dummy for his new book, Submit Everyone, which is the book I always wanted him to write. It is (finally) a principle-based system for learning submissions and game strategy, as opposed to a hodge-podge of random techniques. Dave, though he’d never admit it, used to teach chess in addition to BJJ. It comes through and, as of this writing, his book has 100% 5-star reviews on Amazon.

For grappling fans, the below pass will give you a submission to try at your next practice. This scenario comes up a lot on the mats.


PHOTO 1: SUBJECT CAMARILLO is approaching the open guard of CONTACT FERRISS, TIMOTHY. As always, Camarillo does not delay in establishing control of Ferriss’s heels. At this point, Ferriss is focused solely on defending these grips and has been momentarily taken out of his previous mindset.

PHOTOS 2-4: Without delay, Camarillo pushes Ferriss’s legs overhead and waits for him to rock back in defense. As Ferriss falls into the first trap, Camarillo steps inside of his seated guard. Ferriss does not wait and grabs the single-leg to gain advantage and attack.

PHOTO 5: However, Camarillo realizes that the single-leg is the most common reaction and is already cross-stepping backward with his left leg before Ferriss can execute a sweep or takedown. Due to his perfect timing, Camarillo does not have to wait for Ferriss to establish a stronger defense of the backward cross-step.

PHOTO 6: Having reached Ferriss’s left side, Camarillo now focuses on the arm by securing a figure-four kimura lock on Ferriss’s exposed (from holding the single-leg) left arm. [TIM: See third pic here for hand position] Camarillo’s right leg is still technically inside of the guard, but Camarillo has little concern for it; he is completely focused on the finish.

PHOTO 7: To break Ferriss’s posture and initiate the final sequence, Camarillo jumps his left foot to Ferriss’s left hip and sits down onto Ferriss’s left shoulder. This collapses Ferriss toward the mat and sets him up for the submission.

PHOTO 8: As Camarillo falls to his back, he slides a belt line hook with his left leg and uses his right foot as a hook to steer Ferriss away from his trapped arm. This keeps Ferriss planted to his back where it is far more difficult to defend.

PHOTO 9: Ferriss locks the triangle on Camarillo’s right leg, but it does not matter. Camarillo’s right leg blocks Ferriss’s right arm from making a proper defense and his triangle makes it impossible to roll to either side to escape.

Camarillo stretches Ferriss’s arm for the finish.

The Videos

First, before the instructionals, here is me getting thrown over and over again. I did this video to illustrate the importance knowing how to fall (ukemi) without getting injured. The music is a bit loud:

The instructionals follow. If you want to skip around, they cover, in order: punch defense, choke defense, bottom defense, and bottom defense/offense. Women should focus on the latter three, especially the last two.

Originally filmed in 2007, most take place at AKA in San Jose, where Dave coached at the time:

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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156 Replies to “Tim Ferriss Getting His Ass Kicked + How to Survive a Physical Attack (Video Series)”

  1. Epic. Always something new on here. Was considering a Mixed Martial Arts class this year. Now I really wanna do it. Maybe after I get into better shape!

    1. Cart before the horse Coleman. Start *TODAY*. You’ll get fit in the process of learning valuable physical (and mentail) skills.

  2. Once I saw the second UFC in the 90’s I understood that most fights went to the ground and BJJ or grappling skills in general would be important. Bruce Lee shows a bit of it in one of his movies.

    I took it in 2003 and really fell in love with. It’s a great workout and boosted my confidence. I weighed 170 and with six months of training, was able to control,but not submit, a 230 college football player.

  3. Hey Tim, Cool series! I really enjoyed all the throwing… One comment on those punch defenses: they’re great for boxing and kickboxing, but if your attacker had a broken bottle or knife in their hand that you didn’t notice (because it might be down at their waste before it came at you), the block would be… bloody, no? What do you think?

    Some other martial arts–like krav maga and wing chun–advocate some different styles of blocking as the default for this very reason.

    Thanks again for the awesome blog post.


    1. Brian,

      One thing ive learned in my short time learning martial arts is that whenever a bladed weapon or any kind of sharp object is introduced into the fight, someone will be cut, its extremely difficult and improbable to get out of a knife fight unscathed.

      But at the end of the day, a couple cuts on the arm is better than one bad cut where it counts. Hope this was helpful!

      1. Indeed. My instructors have always given the same sage advice for dealing with a knife-knife-weilding combatant – RUN!

    2. Theres different techniques for empty hand vs armed opponents.Like in Kali for a stab @ the neck.You would pivot(hip out) and block w/opposite forearm,fingers toward sky and then blast them as move the knife in a circular motion and then attempt a disarm. As opposed to a boxing style shield vs a hook.That would transition into a severe abdomen cut.Hope this helps john.As they say in a knife fight”He who trickles wins,he who gushed loses”

  4. I wonder how young one has to be to start practicing BJJ, I’m 26 and I’ve thinking about it as sport and discipline. Not looking to win any championship. Nices videos, a little old though! :p

    1. Joel:

      Look up John Danaher. He is one of the most respected BJJ teachers. I first heard about him through Dave C. He called John one of the greatest BJJ instructors. He put on white belt at age 28.

    2. Joel,

      My teacher’s teacher is Guru Dan Inosanto. He is 75 and can do some insane BJJ moves.

      It is NEVER too late to start. Just make sure you don’t go more then 1% past your physical limits and give yourself ample recovery time after a workout.

    3. If you just want to do it for sport, discipline or fun, it doesn’t matter how old you are. If you wanted to compete, it might be a different story…:) One important thing to keep in mind is that the human body can preserve the same strength until 55 years of age with regular exercise.

      I started practicing American Jiu Jitsu when I was 27 and BJJ when I was 30. I love it and am still doing it! 🙂

    4. Joel, you’d be young in the sport. There are a lot of people much older than you. Jiu Jitsu attracts a lot of “professionals” among others so it’s very common to find people in their 40 and 50s rolling on the mat.

  5. Joel, you’re definitely not too old. If judoka can go until their 90’s, you can certainly start now! Just learn from someone who relies on technique vs. attributes and you’ll be in good shape. Position before submission.

    1. Hahaha, I watched that DVD entirely a few years ago.

      If you’re not interested in self-defense, it’ll still make you laugh.

      1. It definitely has useful information, but Bas is such an charismatic guy it’ll still be a good watch without.

        One thing he brings up over and over, is to ‘AVOID going to the ground’ and in essence taking much BJJ out of the scenario.

  6. Dave Cam rules!

    Had the opportunity to train under him and receive my belt from him a few years ago. Great mentor, teacher…

    I have used the move above in sparring many times. The trickiest part for me has been locking kimura grip, while the guy is holding on tight to you leg. Also I have kept my left leg outside and put my shin against the bottom guy ribs, squeezing knees together while failing back to finish the arm. Jumping on the opponents and putting the left leg cross body is awesome. I am going to play with it.


    Are you training regularly these days? It would be great if you drop in for some friendly sparring at 10thplanetsf. It’s Denny P school and he is awesome teacher and good bunch of people

  7. One thing BJJ enthusiasts seem to miss in terms of real world fighting and self defense is its close range vulnerability to biting, skin tearing, eye gouging, etc.

    1. You’re exactly right, but it’s not just BJJ that misses this. Many of these skills work well in the setting of MMA/UFC and the like where it is a controlled environment (limited rules…but still rules – no groin shots, eye attacks, trachea attacks etc.) and the fighters are both secure in this knowledge and have gone into the fight mentally prepared.

      Often a street attack will occur out of nowhere, leaving the victim scrambling to mount a protection/defence. This often renders fine motor skills or complex movements pointless and the brain somewhat fuzzy thanks to flight or fight adrenalin.

      This is why I am such a proponent of military hand to hand combat training (CQC/CQB). It teaches largely gross motor coordination (that is easily remembered as muscle memory when being attacked) and how to use the weaknesses of the eyes, groin, throat, central nervous system etc as primary ‘threat elimination zones’. It’s pointless as a fighting sport skill, but deadly as a self protection skill. Also it is built around a foundation of commonality in all things, meaning that defence moves against hand strikes can be utlised against knife attacks etc.

      1. And most martial arts leave out the skills out how to deal with knives, guns, and other weapons.

  8. @Simon

    Exactly, but in my opinion he’s right. I rather avoid going to the ground than to fight some BJJ-nutcase on the floor.

    1. I honestly don’t remember why the hell I did that, although it’s a bit of an instinct after getting knee barred a fair amount in Japan. In this case, since I’m having my arm snapped, it doesn’t matter much 🙂

  9. Hey Tim, it’s awesome seeing a blogger and fitness guy like yourself embrace MMA/BJJ for it’s self-defense applications.

    Your stuff helped inspire me to start my own blog with the intention of making a positive change in people’s daily lives through mixed martial arts, so just leaving a big thanks!

  10. Great stuff Tim! Any time you’re in Melbourne, Australia, and want to have a Judo practice let me know. Would be great to have you on the mat for a session or two.


    Miki (4th Dan Black belt – Judo).

  11. Although BJJ is great for the use in the octagon or in any other controlled environment unfortunately it is not that very good for the use on the street.For anyone wanting to protect themselves on the street (without the use of any weapons) I would strongly advice to learn the basics of boxing and either freestyle or greco-roman wrestling.

    I would not rely on BJJ on the street for the following simple reasons:

    1.You never want to end up on the ground in the street.You are gonna get a kick in the head or into any other vital organs with a heavy object such as a shoe or a boot.Most streetfights rarely include 1 on 1 confrontations.Whilst you are putting an armbar on the aggressor his friend is stomping onto your head.Besides, BJJ does not deal with eyegouging, biting, small joint manipulation and other pesky little things which happen in real life.Easiest way of getting out of someone’s guard is pushing a finger into his eye or elbowing the groin area.In addition to this the real life environment is full of other objects which can always be used as weapons once you both hit the ground and there is no way of evading a brick to the head for example which could still be evaded in a stand-up phase of the fight.

    2.Even if it is a 1 on 1 confrontation and you do get your opponent into an armbar/kimura/omoplata or anything else you will have to finish the job and either break your aggressor’s bone/tendon or put him into sleep because there is no such thing as tapping out on the street.The problem arises that later on in court you will have to prove that breaking someone’s elbow or causing braindamage/death due to asphyxiation was a reasonable response to the aggressor’s actions.Therefore if you get into a brawl with some harmless drunk, overestimate the level of threat and accidentally kill him by locking on a triangle choke for too long you are going to be in a world of legal trouble.

    3.BJJ is practiced in comfortable clothes in the gym where there is a lot of free space.Most of the fights which go to the ground in real life happen in a spatially limited environment and often the combatants wear jeans or other uncomfortable clothes which doesn’t allow enough flexibility to be able to use even the most basic arsenal of moves.

    In my opinion the best method of self-defence without using any weapons is boxing and freestyle/greco-roman wrestling.Boxing will let you hold your own if you have to deal with more than 1 opponent and wrestling will actually help you to stay on your feet.Once you are taken down to the ground in a real life confrontation the chances are immediately against you.Therefore do not go to the ground at any costs.

    Loved your book “4 Hour Body” by the way, Tim, keep up the great work!

    1. Nickolay,

      Agree with Boxing and wrestling being very effective and also you’re point about multiple opponents is a good one – however, I don’t think points 2 and 3 that you raised were valid. To be honest though, I thought the same way until I started training BJJ two years ago (now a blue belt 3 stripes).

      2) If someone who practices BJJ gets a hold of a limb.. the LAST thought going you’re mind is “let’s poke him in the eye”, ” let me just elbow him in the balls”… For a real life example – UFC 1, 2 & 3. Pretty much no rules at all – ball shots were allowed etc. Even with dirty, street moves allowed, Royce Gracie was able to beat everyone and win the events.

      2 moves that back up the point: Mata Leao (rear naked choke). When you do the rear naked choke, you’re effectively tucking your head/ face away from the opponent

    2. Nickolay,

      Agree with Boxing and wrestling being very effective and also you’re point about multiple opponents is a good one – however, I don’t think points 2 and 3 that you raised were valid. To be honest though, I thought the same way until I started training BJJ two years ago (now a blue belt 3 stripes).

      2) If someone who practices BJJ gets a hold of a limb.. the LAST thought going you’re mind is “let’s poke him in the eye”, ” let me just elbow him in the balls”… For a real life example – UFC 1, 2 & 3. Pretty much no rules at all – ball shots were allowed etc. Even with dirty, street moves allowed, Royce Gracie was able to beat everyone and win the events.

      2 moves that back up the point:

      i) Mata Leao (rear naked choke). When you do the rear naked choke, you’re effectively tucking your head/ face away from the opponent – leaving no real points for them to hurt you with (unless you cross your feet and get footlocked in the process)

      ii) Armbar – if you see a proper armbar applied, there leaves no real way to elbow the person in the nuts (I assume that when you were referring to someone being elbowed in the nuts, it was in relation to an armbar?) I had problems with setting up my armbars when I first started, and would always crush my own nuts, but after learning to keep your knees tight etc. etc. you realise that there is no possible way someone could effectively elbow you when you have them in that position. If they tried, all the would be doing would be cranking their own arm.

      Point 3 – the clothing part. I can see why you would think that jeans etc. could get in the way of using BJJ on the street, but if you think about it – most schools train with a Gi… having uncomfortable clothing could only be more helpful to the guy who has trained “jacket wrastling” 😉

      In any case, you do bring up some good points, and whilst BJJ isn’t the be all and end all of self defense, it sure as hell helps a lot!

      Also – check out Gracie combative – awesome resource for “Street JJ” 🙂



  12. I just enjoyed this post and watched the videos with my 13 year old. With just minimal training I can see how these techniques would be effective against some amateur throwing punches with the bar fight mentality. I think an interesting post would be looking into adults 35+ who have recently acquired a new physical skill set that are excelling in it. Thanks again Tim for always keeping the blog fresh and interesting.

  13. I hate to say it but this is terribly irresponsible. There’s is something called an adrenaline dump that happens when your life is threatened. Anyone serious about their own safety should look it up on the internet. Don’t take my word for it. What happens is blood is drained away from your brain. This takes away all of your ability to do fancy moves. Your blood mainly goes to arms and legs to be used in the fight or flight response. Your left with gross motor movements and target awareness if you train for it. There is nothing fancy or pretty about survival. Ask any experienced police officer attacks can be exteremely fast and brutal. Ask them how easy it is to do intricate moves when they are trying to arrest someone who has no qualms about killing or harming them.

  14. Yo Tim,

    When’s the “Lessons learnt in 2011” post coming?

    I love hearing your reflections on your year and your crystal clear definition of what you have learnt.



  15. Tim, what about handling a knife attack? Any tips or videos there? I was recently rammed off my motorcycle in the middle of the night, surrounded in pitch black (and rain) by 3 young thugs here in Thailand, confronted with a machete… probably at least a foot long. (Worst and most confrontational incident I’ve had on my travels, and 3 years in Thailand)

    1. Someone holds up a knife to you? “Give them your money” is the best response.

      I personally know heroes that tried disarming knives and guns and paid the price. You just get cut, if you’re lucky.

    2. @Cody,

      that’s when you hand the nice gentlemen your wallet and say thank you very much, and have a nice day. Because a 3 on 1 when they have knives is not going to go well for you unless you are a VERY seriously trained martial artist that has been doing it for years at an intensive level and with real street-fights mixed in for realism. And even then you are most likely going to get killed unless you are one of literally a few dozen guys in the world, which I have probably trained with at some point.

      I have trained that way and have worked as a bodyguard etc. and have had more than a few streetfights, but if I was suddenly faced with three guys that have knives, as long as I was alone, that is not trying to protect my wife or child or something like that, if it was possible to run away at any point, that is what I would probably try first, whilst looking for a nice couple of bricks/rock as I go, to even out the odds if they give chase. If that was not possible I would try to play along unless I felt they were going to stab me anyway, in which case I would hit as viciously and as hard as possible in a way to cripple the first one as badly as possible. I would also use the fact I am 6’2″ and Thais are usually smallish to my advantage as much as I can, but the last thing I would want to do is get in a clinch with one of them. A machete is actually not as scary to me as a small knife as it’s mostly useless unless there is room to swing it, and I will take it away from you if I have one or two seconds alone with you, but that’s a long time in a streetfight.

      3 on 1 with knives, the best you can do is survive it. And if that means giving your money or whatever, then do so.

  16. Tim, just a heads-up, you said “marital arts”. While I wouldn’t necessarily disagree that BJJ is a much-needed skill in these arts, I’m not sure it’s what you were going for 😉

  17. Been doing jiu-jitsu for 15 years on and off with Rickson’s first American black belt Chris Saunders. He recently introduced me to Gracie Ccombatives which is taught by Ryron and Rener Gracie and is designed for self-defense and not sport jiu-Jitsu. Needless to say, I will never go back to sport jiu jitsu.

  18. >>This post might seem odd<<

    Oddly enough, it was actually very timely from my point of view. I'm trying to integrate mind/body/spirit/relationship development, and have always neglected the body part. Self-defense is particularly timely topic. I'd like to integrate it with flow-state training.

    Thanks, Tim.

  19. Great stuff Tim- great to see BJJ & Martial Arts get more & more exposure.

    How you think we could get into some grade/high schools?

    After a good BJJ class, I’m sure ADHD rates would be down! 🙂

  20. Do you know a channel called Street Fighting Secrets? The guy teaches a lot of the psychology and “game” of fights, It’s really interesting.

  21. I would have to agree with @Nikolay. In a real street fight, falling/taking a fight to the ground is suicide.

    Having been in several street fights and jumped multiple times, you are rarely fighting someone 1-on-1. The reason for this is that most bullies/street thugs are cowards and won’t fight unless they have friends backing them up.

    Falling to the ground tempts them to kick you while you’re down. It’s not pretty. I know, I’ve been on the receiving end of a kick to the face with a boot.

    Your best defense is your intuition. Almost every single time before a scuffle happens you can sense it- it’s primal. Prolonged eye contact, a group looking in your direction talking about you, you know they’ve singled you out as a target.

    Leave the vicinity if this happens.

    If a fight is inevitable, during the confrontation, keep you left hand scratching your chin. This is a non-threatening pose, but keeps your arm ready to throw that block Tim demonstrates above if they do attack, and follow up with an elbow to the ear. The reason you aim for the ear is that instinctively, they will turn their head down and away. If you aim for the jaw/temple you will miss. If you aim for the ear, you will make contact with the face knocking the opponent out.

    After that, split!

    Great vids Tim! Keep being the most interesting man in the world!

  22. The first video makes me want to take up Judo again. I always loved that there is actual contact, it’s not just katas thrown into the air around you, never getting a feel for the actual weight and force of the would-be-attacker. Thanks for the reminder of how much fun it is!

  23. Man Dave is one creative mofo…what a slick armbar!

    May I humbly add what a huge boost in confidence learning a legit fight sport gives you. It’s truly transformative.

    Of course it doesn’t make you bulletproof and people can still kick your butt. But at least you’re not on pins and needles in tense situations because you’re not afraid to throw down and if anything, it makes you more amenable to finding non-violent solutions.

    Not sure why that is, but many of my training partners and friends training around the world confirm this phenomenon.


  24. I think there needs to be a massive divide put in place between martial ART and self defence.

    Firstly the most inportant aspect of self defence is in no way physical. The vital thing that is always missing is avoidance and awareness. Learn from nature. How often do you see mice playing around the eagles nest. You are far more likely to end up in a violent confrontation if you frequent venues where violence is more like to occur. The best self defence is not to be in these places in the first place. People will often say they feel more confident taking the shortcut through the park late at night after they have done a self defence course but if the course quality was good and the person really listened they would understand that the real self defence would be taking the long way!

    With regards to awareness the best thing you can reference is coopers colour code.

    White = Unaware – This is the state that most people are in when they are attacked. 99% of people are completely unaware of their surroundings and what is happening so attackers or professional criminals will see them as easy targets.

    Yellow – You are aware or switched on. This is not being paranoid. When you put a seatbelt on when you get in a car it is not because you are paranoid about being in a crash it is because you are aware that there is a possibilty that you may be in a crash. It is the same with violence…there is a chance you may be attacked or in a violent confrontation so you should be aware of that. In advaced driving courses they teach you to give a running commentary as you are driving to make you more aware of what is happening. This is a great way to become more aware in your day to day life. Give a running commenary in your mind of what is happening. Eventually you will be more aware without having to do that.

    Orange – Threat evaluatuion. If you are walking down the street and a gang walking the opposite way cross to your side of the street you evaluate tyhe threat. You look at the situation to see if there is a possibility that a violent confrontation may occur. Notice. You have to be in code yellow first otherwise you wouldn’t even know there was a threat to evaluate.

    Red – The situation has become live i.e. there is a definate threat and it is imminent. This is where fight or flight will kick in. You will get adrenal dump which will give you feelings that are very similar to fear. You have to make the decision to stand and fight or run. Remember with self defence, if there is an option to escape you take it. Adrenaline will make you stronger, faster and dull pain but it will also overwhelm you if you are not used to it. If you understand that adrenaline will mask itself as fear you are already on the path to being able to overcome the feelings. The fight or flight instinct comes from pre-historic man. Don’t prentend that it will be easy to over ride if you have to fight.

    So if you get into the Red code and the situation is live but you feel there is no way to accept the flight instinct and run then you have to fight. We are not talking about being able to have a fight here. We are talking about creating an opportunity to escape.

    The only thing that is guarenteed to work in real situations is Pre-emption. As beautiful as blocking and trapping etc. is beautiful…it is ART not reality. The only way to truely remove a threat is to cause unconciousness in the opponent which (believe it or not) is not as difficult as you think. To do this you need to be able to learn to hit hard and control space.

    Use The Fence (you hand) to control the space between you and your opponent. The person who controls that space controls the fight.

    Ask a question. Even when training on a punch bag ask a question before you strike. This creates an action trigger for you. Whenever you ask a question you srtike. If you do this enough it will start to feel natural. As well as acting as an action trigger for you the question (when put to a real opponent) will engage the opponents brain giving you a small window in which to strike. Because the brain is engaged the opponent will not see it coming. When the brain is engaged it will also relax the jaw making a knowckout easier.

    The strike/knockout – The easiest way to cause a knockout is to hit the jaw. Anywhere along the jaw line is fine. The further down the jaw (closer to the chin) you hit the bigger the knockout. By hitting the jaw you shake the brain and this will cause a knockout. It doesn;t matter if you are a man or women who is 8 stone or 18 stone. To be able to make this work you need to learn to use your body weight in order to be able to hit very hard. if you learn to use 8 stone of body weight to hit someone the question will not be if they will be knocked out it will be if you kill them. Once the knowckout is cause that is your cue to escape.

    I know some of you might be under the impression that you shouldn’t hit first or you should block and counter etc but believe me it won;t work in a real situation especially if martial arts isn;t your full time job. The law supports pre-emption in cases of self defence.

    A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances for the purposes of:

    -self-defence; or

    -defence of another; or

    -defence of property; or

    -prevention of crime; or

    -lawful arrest.

    In assessing the reasonableness of the force used, prosecutors should ask two questions:

    -was the use of force necessary in the circumstances, i.e. Was there a need for any force at all? and

    – was the force used reasonable in the circumstances?

    (this is english law but pretty sure the us is very similar)

    English law on pre-emption also states

    ‘There is no rule in law to say that a person must wait to be struck first before they may defend themselves, ‘

    The techniques Tim has shown are great but they should be used as a support system. Grappling, Judo, BJJ etc are some of may favourite arts but they should only ever be used in the street if you have made a mistake in the street. If you end up on the floor (groundwork) in the street then BJJ is exactly what you need to know but that may not help if the friend of the person you have fight puts his boot in your face. Also with clinch work, it becomes very difficult to be aware of what else is happening around you if you are clinched up.

    What I am talking about here is how 99% of violent confrontations will occur. Match fight etc are a different story and probably a much longer commet (god forbid) MOst confrontations are avoidable. Self defence if you are being mugged may be to give them your wallet and being able to deal with the damage to your ego.

    I know this is a long comment but I am really passionate about educating people on this and I think it is great that Tim is putting it out there.

    (Sorry to go on Tim)

    My reccomendations for books to read on this subject.

    Dead or Alive – Geoff Thompson (GeoffThompson.com)

    The Fence (one of the techniques discussed above) – Geoff Thompson (Geoff Thompson.com)


    The GIft of Fear – Gavin De Becker (amazon)

    Thanks guys,


    1. Superb post Louis, and dead on. Having trained in Martial Arts and realizing the lack of utility in my chosen discipline I have come to believe devotees of all disciplines that believe theirs is the one that will work are misguided. Humility and caution are the best self defense. Those who train love and respect our trainers and our art and as a result feel the need to defend both. But if we have good trainers they have trained us spiritually and mentally and given us the severely limited benefit of physical ability. The former are much stronger weapons

      The best trainer teaches you to avoid the fight and in the words of mine “love your enemy,” which means do yourself and your attacker a favor and escape confrontation by an means necessary, to hell with your ego.

      Great conversation in general but I believe Louis has hit the nail on the head. Make a clear distinction between Martial Arts and Self Defense, your brain is your best weapon in the latter, your ego your greatest liability.

  25. Great post, I was thinking Tim. You should try going pro in the UFC and using your skill of taking/findng shortcuts to circumvent the normal framework just like you did fighting in Asia…. I can smell a new book coming, Four Hour UFC!! 🙂

    A nice ring to it I think… Keep up the good work mate, love the way you mix your posts up..

  26. I have spend the last 10 years researching and training Ryukyu Kempo and Modern Arnis along with other Okinawan and Filipino martial arts strictly aimed at self defense. We have incorporated a lot of BJJ into the mix, because in a real streetfight (when all hell brakes loose) there is over 50% chance, that it will go to the ground.

    But we must not fool ourselves (and we are the easiest person to fool) by thinking that taking 1 guy to the ground and putting a lock on his extremeties (whichever it may be) will prevent his 3 buddies from kicking your head in.

    Just a thought 🙂

    Sincerely, Buyseech

  27. If you want to learn street self defense learn Krav Maga. They taught us things that wouldn’t fly in bjj like throat punches, kicks to the groin, digging into someone’s nostrils to get out of a headlock, etc. It’s real survival fighting, not tournament martial arts.

  28. Hey Tim, cool video series, wheres the HD my man?

    I love BJJ, but always hated how it was traditionally taught with the Gi, if you intend on using it outside of the dojo, you should dress that same way.

    Any who, a lot of of BJJ guys I train with get stoned before training…they said it helps them flow better. Do you concur?


  29. Tim,

    What level belt are you and how long did it take , did you use the 80/20 principle to get there ?

    I heard no touch knock-outs were quiet good for self defence, what do you think??

  30. I am reluctant to get into a discussion about a certain style’s validation in the street.

    I’ve been doing BJJ for a year, and I sometimes see this types of posts about it not being useful in a real life situation. I have never been a real altercation in my life, nor do I wish too.

    I don’t think learning BJJ makes you unable to eye gorge, bite, rip in hair, kick, punch or elbow. Neither do I think a BJJ artist would just go to the ground. Lots of moves can be done from standing. BJJ is derived from Judo after all.

    I think a real life fight should be avoided at all cost. The chance of knives, guns, or friends of the aggressor will lessen your favor. From what I have seen in altercations in the night life, even people with sometimes several years of boxing experience are able to punch or kick a guy moving around. BJJ is not an offensive art, and most BJJ that is being taught now has a focus on winning in the sport aspects or use it as a supplement in MMA to make you a well rounded fighter.

    To me the greatest benefit of training grappling like Sambo, Judo, BJJ and Wrestling (I think they are all great. It’s more important to find a good school and you will do fantastic in all four arts) is the full contact sparring. When you walk into a MMA or Muay Thai gym you can’t spar head on from the very first day to injury. But you can in these grappling arts, and to me this is the fun.

    I don’t know if I would be able to win against someone wanting to fight me. I’m 6’4 and pretty heavy, but I never want to fight. I see BJJ as a means to escape. If I get jumped, or tackled, I think / hope that BJJ would allow me to get them off me, or put them in a control position so I could get up and run away. Anything else is unrealistic in the unpredictable nature of fighting without rules. Whatever fantasies one might indulge themselves to kick someones ass at a house party, I don’t think it ever actually turns out that way. The best bet is that people fighting probably end up on worldstarhiphop to the amusement and shrugging of others. That’s my take.

    I love BJJ and I recommend it. Don’t think that you are too old to start in your 40s or 50s either. You can do it, but you need to be smart about not over training and you need to work your joints. People have told me that BJJ is somewhat less stranious on the body as in Judo you really feel the wear and tear on all the takedowns, and in Wrestling the fighters are amazingly strong. There are lots of lazy guys who do BJJ who win by mastering technique even though they are physically feeble and weak. That to me is one of the most fascinating things. I get owned constantly by someone literally half my size and weight. It reminds me that I can’t judge someone by their stature.

  31. Hey Tim!

    My name is Amber and I manage the Pacific Beach location of OTM Fight Shops. I’m a huge fan of The Four-Hour Body and have had to buy 3 copies because I’m always loaning it to people and letting them loan it to their friends when the finish. Currently we do carry books in the shops and like to keep it to 1-2 titles per genre, so we really only pick what we consider to be the best and most applicable for each. I’d absolutely LOVE to bring Four Hour Body in, I think it would do great and I know a lot of our MMA/BJJ guys would think it was great. Let me know if you think you’d like to make a move towards this demographic! You have my email…

    PS Nice shorts and rash-guard you have there :]

  32. Good stuff Tim.

    I liked one of your earlier posts about how real world attackers count on social behaviors in main stream society to gain the advantage.

    Like trying to placate an attacker instead of trying to get away. Thinking you can just get in the car now so you won’t get stabbed or shot and get away later. When in reality once you are removed from your location chances are you will be dead next.

  33. I know nothing about formal self defense, but in my experience, being a small guy(5’7″, 130 lbs.) I tend to go for the legs and go to the ground. I have no choice but to use my speed since most guys bigger than me will be stronger. Great post Tim…do you think these moves will come naturally to you in a real-life situation?

  34. The best idea is to never get into a physical confrontation. My observation after 30 years of practicing martial arts is that most any martial arts practice will make you safer on the street because it will change the way you relate to your own body and to the space around you. After a couple of months of practice, you will get 90% of the benefits by standing straighter and moving with awareness. Those are traits that label you as not a good candidate for a street attack.

    Many people walk around as if they are uncomfortable in their bodies and don’t pay attention to the people around them or their own personal space. This makes them marks for those who are looking for victims. A few months of training in almost any martial art will change that for you.

    As a side note, if you look closely, you will see that most Americans bounce when they walk. They have no connection to the ground and no root. That disappears when you practice a martial art.

  35. Awsome!! Thanks you for showing something diferent, please post more often!!

    Keep the good work.

    Regards from Seville, Spain. Come and pay us a visit!!

  36. I love BJJ and Martial Arts and it is great to see that you are doing a post in this topic!

    When I chose to start training (5 years ago), it was one of the best decisions in my life. It’s not only a great workout, but it teaches you a lot of different things, such as coordination, patience, discipline, etc. It’s a whole new playing field and it opens your mind.

  37. Hey Tim,

    awesome series and tips, once again.

    I used to do Krav maga, but due an undetected predamaged kidney, i lost it totally after training.

    Do u have any knowledge in general how often kidney damages come due Martial Arts training? I really dont want to stop training at all, but am pretty afraid for the other healthy kidney.

    Cheers Chris

  38. Great series, Tim. I’m 32 and have been training for a little less than a year in BJJ. I would recommend it to anyone regardless of age because as Tim said it is physical chess. There will always be debates about whether any martial art has practical street applications for self defense. What it does offer is the chance to use both your body and mind against an opponent. This challenges and tests both physically and mentally. It also requires complete concentration which takes you out of the distracting thoughts most of us are plagued by all day long.

    Tim, have you found anything that has shortened your learning curve like you did with dancing, lanaguages, etc.? The sport is so much about muscle memory and reacting almost without thinking that I was just curious if you had found a better method of learning than just pure mat time and studying. Thanks.

  39. Great post Tim, It’s always good to see a positive light on BJJ and even MMA as a whole. Everybody should take a BJJ class at some point in their life. Learn to swim, learn to protect yourself, the basics.

  40. speaking of kicking ass, how did you beat down your plantar fasciitis?

    Orthotics? Prescription pain killers? Night splints? Stretching? Icing? Alternative medicine?…None of this has worked for my chronic decade-long pain. All I want for my 22nd birthday next month is some direction for action, as my doctor and I are both at an impasse.

    Would love a reply

  41. Cool video’s and a good teaser for anyone interested in BJJ. Even if BJJ isn’t AS practical for street fighting, its better than nothing and helps you get a working knowledge of the weak spots and manipulations of the human anatomy.

    BJJ is especially useful for those who fall below the 175lb mark. I’ve seen a very little man control a very big man with techniques he learned on the mat.


  42. *kicking self in the arse* I used to live near San Jose and my buddy kept telling me to check out AKA. If I knew I would’ve had a chance to meet Mr. Ferriss @ AKA I would have been there everyday! Would have been epic to train with you Tim! (for me) 🙂

    I had to relocate to the ebay and now I do some training at Combat Sports Academy. I mostly work on my military style mixed martial arts. It features a bunch of Krav Maga techniques, but it also implements techniques from a variety of disciplines.

    I’m putting together a self defense program featuring some of those techniques. Your videos gave me some ideas. I filmed the techniques for the first level of training, and I just have to sit down and do some editing.

    Thanks again Tim for another great post!

  43. Cool videos, i havn’t been done much BJJ, but i’ve done kickboxing for years. If your interested in reality based self defence (RBSD) check out some of Richard Dimitri’s (Senshido) stuff, its GOLD! You can find them on youtube!

  44. Dave C is a BJJ and judo legend – all respect to him.

    Tim, I was taken aback when someone pointed out that on your website you state that you have fought in MMA competitions in Japan and have “vanquished 4 world champions”.

    I was impressed so I tried to look you up. For some reason Sherdog has no record of you ever competing Tim. I’m curious – Who were these world champions and how did you vanquish them? Could you please post a link to your fight record.

    – Grant

  45. Timmy – AWESOME stuff, brutha. I think this stuff is CRITICAL to expose peeps to, good on you. I have a good feeling many of your readers:

    – travel often

    – live in the city

    – enjoy night life

    ALL of those things bring exposure to attacks… but truth be told, it can happen in your hometown….

    I WISH I took JUDO when I was in high school, as you know, I was about 15 -20 min. from Cranford JUDO and it woulda made me a helluva wrestler…. MORE importantly, the reason why my comment will be drawn out is because when I was 16 1/2, the fall of my sr. yr. in high school I was jumped by a large group of guys…

    I thought it would end up being a “mano y mano” style fight, and his friends would watch, and I had NO CLUE how to do anything except wrestle…

    NO clue how to throw a deadly punch, NO clue how to block a punch and NO clue how to fight from my back….

    To save the details, after I hit my attacker with a double leg takedown he shouted “Help me, Help me, Get him off of me!!”

    In a split second I had 8 pairs of boots kicking me all over….

    The moral of the story…. get involved with some form of combat, Judo, Muay Thai, BJJ…..

    It’s unfortunate to say but sometimes, shit happens, and when shit does happen, you want to be ready, NOT in shock and unprepared…..

    Timmy Ferriss, U da man, brutha, GREAT stuff, I hope your training is kicking ass my, brutha.

    Be cool!


  46. Whilst mma and ufc have catapulted martial arts into the mainstream, which I for one love, I would like to point out that they are still sports, greats sports which I do partake in, however Street confrontations are horrifically violent, ugly and brutal and training for sport (even mma) doesn’t not prepare you for street encounters. there are no rules, no arenas other than the pavement arena.

    I have seen too many times peoples heads being kicked off by passers by wanting a go who weren’t even involved in the tussle. Rolling around on the floor in a real situation is suicide!

    I am not having a go at this I just wanted to highlight that the best form of defence is awareness and avoidance. Hardly testosterone fuelled, but it can and will save lives. If you do find yourself in a confrontation though, escape should be your first thought, if not then pre emptive striking is the only thing I have seen consistently that works, ask a question of your adversary, engaged their brain (switching them off momentarily) then levelling them.

    Do not make the mistake of following through with your attack, they could recover and it becomes a match fight, which you could get seriously hurt in, not only that, it becomes harder to prove self defence if the Police get involved.

    grappling is great for recreational and professional sport, of the 3 ranges I love this the most, the skill level is amazing. However it is best learned as a support system for self protection, but again the understanding is that so you can escape.

  47. Tim,

    Great post and thanks for the advice. Didn’t know you were a BJJ guy. Next time I am being choked out by a woman I now know what to do 🙂 enjoy it.

    If your ever in the DC, MD, VA area and need a BJJ session let me know.

    Quick question; I have been training hard and my joints are sore (knee, wrist, elbow). Any suggestions about how to help the ol joints out? Suppliments, prehab, exercises? And please don’t say “take a brake” like some of friends say. They just don’t get it.

    Keep Calm And Grind On

  48. Nikolay – are you really going to wheel out those tired anti-BJJ arguments?

    I’ve heard them all so many times, and most often they reveal an ignorance of the art on behalf of those making the claims. I could write so much in response, but I’ll try and keep it short.

    No BJJ student worth their salt is going to let your arms get in a position where small joint manipulation or groin strikes are going to be possible. Tell me how you attack the groin when I have your head and dominant arm controlled. With your other arm? Nope, my legs can take care of that very easily? And as for biting, you are more likely to get bitten in a stand-up Thai clinch.

    I do agree with you that boxing is the best all round defense when standing, however if you go to ground you want to be prepared for it, if only to get up safely and get out of the situation.

    Every few weeks my training partners and I train “dirty sparring” (we just made up the term ourselves) where we put on protection and spar with everything allowed. You will be suprised how unlikely a close quarters attack is, particularly to the groin. Try it yourself, it is a good education.

    If you train BJJ, then keep training but if you don’t then educate yourself about the art before you wheel out the same baseless arguments that plague message boards everywhere.

  49. Some of you guys might be interested in the fight times website http://www.fighttimes.com/ .

    The main author is a special forces unarmed combat instructor, but also covers a lot of MMA/Martial Arts stuff. It’s a bit of a pain to navigate around, but many of the articles are brilliant and original, especially those on street self defence and the psychological aspects of hand to hand combat.

  50. Really good post Tim. I’ve not had time to read through all the comments but got the general theme about how BJJ is not designed for street defence. No its not, because MMA has rules and if you train for street fights then in the heat of a fight you’ll use these things instinctively and it won’t be pretty. As a few people have already said, it’s a case of adding in some strikes/pokes in nasty places like groin, jaw, eyes, carotid artery, stomach, kidneys etc. This helps to distract and maybe even disable the attacker. The best defense however is always to be aware of your surroundings, and if possible, to run as fast as possible away from the situation.

    I know about this because I used to train in Jitsu in the UK. This is japanese jiu jitsu so the grandaddy of Aikido and Judo. It has the throwing, locking and grappling elements of both, but also teaches how to use striking to help distract or weaken the attacker, i.e. no rules when someone’s trying to attack you. It’s not a primary way of attacking but can help things along. The style I learnt is taught as self-defence from the off, so if anyone is looking at martial arts primarily for self defence I can thoroughly recommend it. And the best bit is it doesn’t matter what size or shape you are, how fit you are or if you’re male or female.

    You get taught the basics and you adapt it for you, i.e. I’m a short arse so I use throws where I’m already lower than the person, so easier to do, rather than things that require a long reach. You also get taught lots of ukemi (falling) from day one, which I can personally attest to being very useful just in every day life (like how to roll backwards, rather than fall on your arse and whack your tailbone!)

    Another main principle which some of the comments spoke of is the importance of staying on your feet. That’s where the throwing and sweeping is really useful. If you stay on your feet you’re ready for the next attacker or to run the hell out of there!

    I’m now remembering how much fun it was, but unfortunately no Jitsu clubs in UAE where I am at the moment, so will have to make do for now.

  51. Tim, I’m a big fan. It seems that lately you haven’t put much time into your posts…. new girlfriend got you busy? Anyway, I learn a lot from your blog and i really enjoy it. Step it up man.

  52. Dave is the man but far less “street” fights go to the ground that the BJJ crew think. It’s all cool and people should train in what they like.

    From what I can see as a MMA coach, most fights end with one person on the ground Koed and the others standing above him.

    Love this blog.

    Kind Regards


  53. I heard an interview with Dave Camarillo and he mentioned Tim being in his book. Dave is a master of BJJ and has the record to back it up.

    I have to agree with some of the comments that BJJ while incredibly valuable in MMA, could get you hurt in a real street fight. If you are training for the sport of MMA, then learning BJJ from a guy like Dave C would be amazing. If you are just looking for ways to defend yourself on the streets, then a discipline like Krav Maga would probably serve you better.

    Tim, would love to get your take on Krav Maga in a post or in a comment sometime. Thanks for the blog – I’ve been a fan for years!


  54. I practice and love BJJ, Muay Thai, grappling, wrestling, boxing, etc. … they do provide a great base for self defense, however, looking into a hand to hand combat (combatives) system is also a great idea. Combatives will help you deal with 1) armed opponents 2) bigger opponents 3) multiple opponents …. Combatives will also teach skills that martial arts don’t in relation to injuring and killing attackers in a life and death situation …. which are great tools to have in your toolbox! 🙂

  55. Nice article !

    The chess and combat analogy is really cool and I think this is what make the difference : the one who stay calm (who breath, observe) thinks about a strategy to win, not hitting as hard and fast as he can. It’s THE thing to think about in everything we do : what’s my strategy to achieve it..

    Loved your books by the way (as it’s my first comment on your blog, I wanted to say it).

    Peace, Thomas

  56. Great post Tim. I actually saw most of those videos online a year or so ago and I’m glad to see you working them into a blog post. I also just bought Dave’s book. I’m looking forward to getting it and and applying it in my BJJ classes.


  57. Hi Tim

    You clearly understand the difference between training for self protection and the difference between training for Combat sports (I love the “loop hole” exploits in the chinese kickboxing tournaments you won in FHWW!) however Im not sure many people do recognise this when training for self defence. Lots of people believe MMA is the best self defence simply because it works well on a sport level however real violence is nothing like the cage fights on tv. I would love to see your thoughts on this. I’m not bashing UFC or MMA but as an instructor myself I see the same sports techniques that works in a one on one even sporting event being taught as self defence for situations that could include weapons multiple attackers hard unforgiving sufaces etc.

  58. BJJ and MMA is a sport, not a self-defense martial art. The claim of “99% of all street fights end up on the ground” is a great marketing tool, until you realize that 100% of all fights start standing up. The aim of martial arts should be to protect yourself and others; you can’t do that if you are rolling around on the ground. You can’t protect yourself from multiple attackers, you can’t adequately defend against a person with a weapon, and you certainly can’t protect your wife and child.

  59. Solid info, self defense is always a good skill to have. Even if you might not use it often, it primes your mind and gives you added mental confidence points.

    Oh and by the way, I know your OCD would hate to leave the phrase “marital arts” in the post. That is a completely different subject 😉

  60. Tim. I finally understand why your blog drives me nuts and your book did too!

    I never understood point 2 until now (The best long-term policy for keeping a blog fun to read (and write) is to cover things that subsets of your readers love, not things that everyone merely likes.)

    It makes sense to me now when I read some of your stuff and I wonder why I’m reading it and I read other stuff you write and it changes my life. It’s a principle I’m going to be implementing myself as of now.

    I am definitely the subset of your readers that loves this article. I can’t believe you got to train BJJ one on one with Dave Camarillo. You lucky #$%^&*!!

    I’m also shocked I hadn’t heard of that book of his. It’s just moved to top of my list to buy.

    The armbar is awesome. Rest assured I will be working it like crazy. Camarrillo is such a great technician.

    Very worthwhile reading and loved the videos too.


  61. Hey Tim, great post.

    no matter if you train martial arts (as sport), martial arts (as art) or self defense… all types are good for body & mind – no matter how old you are!

    With our family self defense method – NAUKA Fighting, I show people how to protect themselves from modern violence.

    @Tim – Hope I will have the chance to introduce NAUKA Fighting to you!

    Greetings from Germany


  62. “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) has been the most sought-after skill-set in the marital arts world.”

    Despite the misspelling, this makes perfect sense.

  63. Hi Tim,

    if you’re into self-defence you should really check out Krav Maga. It is a self-defense system (NOT a martial art, because it has no rules) that was designed by Imi Lichtenfeld to defend him and his friends from the nazi-gangs in the 1930s in Bratislava.

    He combined movements and techniques from boxing, wrestling and jiu jitsu. Krav Maga uses the most simple and effectiv motions to block and counter-attack any attacker.

    I’ve been studying it for over a year now and I learned a lot. But even in the very first lesson I could get out of the chokehold of a professional wrester. It’s amazing!

    All the best


    1. Follow up:

      I tried some of the moves mentioned above in Krav Maga class today. They’re some good moves and will help you in a fight. But I think against a trained opponent and if you are (like me) not trained in BJJ you still could get into trouble.

      For example defending the punch: when you have your hands around the attackers head, your body is open to any attack, especially to the groin. When using the Krav Maga 360 defense showed in this video (here they call it bursting) you deflect the attack, counterattack with a punch or a palm heel strike, but you give your opponent no time or room get to your body or groin: http://bit.ly/wAj136 (the first 30 secs show the bursting)

      Plus: if the attacker happens to have a knife in his hand, as shown in the video above, you survive the attack and maybe not even get hurt.

      Don’t get me wrong, BJJ ist a great sport and if you’re good at it you probably

      don’t need Krav Maga. But for everybody else, I think, it’s easyer and more efficent to learn Krav Maga for self-defense. And training is fun – after a while you start feeling like Jason Bourne 🙂

  64. Hey Tim,

    Great stuff. Although I’m wondering on the chock hold video, why you had a video of a weaker opponent. Would be far more practical to see a woman escape from the man.

    As you know, it’s better to train with those who are more powerful and skilled than you are because if you are attacked, it’s a good chance it will be by someone more powerful than you.

    Just a thought,

  65. Tim,

    great as usual, I like the content and I think it’s definitely valid.. having done martial arts myself for 20 years and being a former police officer, the advice you give here is definitely sound! As you mentioned, when it hits the fan, you can’t rely on complex movements and fine motor skills.. they go out the window.

    Keeping it basic and something you can remember in an emergency is critical.. doesn’t matter how many moves and techniques you know if you can’t execute them when it really counts..

    Kudos for mixing things up, and for demonstrating how to live such a full life. I’d love to be able to experience 1/2 the things you’ve done already.. 🙂


  66. Great post and looking forward to getting that e-book. I would of loved to have written a self defense book on Jiu-Jitsu.

  67. Tim. Another great post. Thanks for this. I remembered you talking about being a champion in this sort of thing in the 4HWW. So I appreciated getting to read more. (I just finished the book and loved it.)

  68. Hello Tim,

    Is AKA the American Karate Association? Do you know Sei John Sharkey? Just wondering, I trained with him in Chicago about 20 years ago.

    I didn’t know about any branching into Judo / BJJ but I lost touch a while ago.


  69. BJJ is interesting because many disciplines do not teach ground fighting extensively. The assumption is that once you are on the ground, you are pretty much dead as it limits your mobility quite a bit. However, training does increase your chances. It’s also interesting to see how BJJ has evolved from it’s original form of japanese jiu-jitsu.

    As for the street effectiveness of any martial discipline, it is so hard to judge which is more effective than the others. Mainly because it is quite pointless. There is a old saying that luck plays a big roll in battle. Anything can happen, which is the “way of fighting”. Past warriors who are worshiped as literal gods today, met their end because they slipped, fell asleep, were stabbed, poisoned, trapped or shot. Just because you survived does not mean you were superior, and just because you lost does not mean you were the most unskilled.

    However, the debate continues as boasting, bragging, bravado and actual blood feuds also continue.

    One thing that is a disappointment of MMA is that many practitioners are not very disciplined in their behaviors. Hoodlum attitudes are rampant. I’m still surprised when MMA practitioners yell and scream in dojos, even if they are cheering. I miss the serenity of practicing martial arts. It’s just a sign of getting old I guess.

  70. Got to agree with Nikolay. BJJ has its good points as does any martial arts system, but it is by far not an end all. It can be a deadly mistake to make that claim.

    I’m the original coach of Spencer The King Fisher of UFC fame. I also studied with Dan Inosanto, Larry Hartsell (Bruce Lee’s proteges), as well as Thai boxers, BJJ black belts, catch wrestlers, boxers, etc.

    Spencer’s comments after beating many BJJ black belts is: “When I punch you in the face, your black belt becomes a brown belt. After punching you in the face again, your brown belt becomes a blue belt…”

    I am also curriculum director of the Police Survival and Defense Institute. We are quite aware that an officer’s chance of survival is less than 2% if he hits the ground and stays there.

    BJJ has its place, but it also has many limitations as it gets highly technical in delivery of techniques. One of BJJ’s superstarts is Marcelo Garcia. He is an absolute master of the art and has won the championships at Abu Dabi, but he has gotten crushed in mixed martial arts (MMA).

    The Gracies, the inventors of BJJ had their arms snapped, literally broken, via Kasushi Sakuraba, a Japanese catch wrestler. Point is, we shouldn’t make an art like BJJ into something more than it is. It has its good points, but boxing is more effective in the hand range and can keep a good grappler at bay. This is why MMA has evolved, but that’s a good thing.

  71. I have no fighting experience and little training, but Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu looks errr fun! Getting Dave’s book.

    With your broad understanding of fighting and relationships with expert fighters, what type is best suited for real street defense?

    You hear many schools tout their method as being number one. In my research, Krav Maga aka Jason Bourne (beat the shit out of them in 1 second) seems best.

  72. There’s much truth in what Nikolay, Louis Thompson and Peter Freer has posted. Sport fighting attempts to optimize techniques, tactics and strategy to suit the sporting environment and a given sporting rule set. In real life, there are no rules, you don’t get to choose a suitable environment where the encounter takes place. There are no referees, nicely structured rounds with breaks in between and doctors and medics to immediately attend to you.

    Going to the ground in a real life physical attack must be avoided if at all possible. Leaving aside the multiple attacker scenario, where other assailants attack you when you’re occupied with one assailant on the ground, you can also seriously injur yourself when falling/rolling on the ground where there could be broken glass, various other sharp fragments, bits of hard objects and other hazardous material. It’s not going to look like rolling around in the ring or on a nice matted training hall.

    The most viable strategy for survival in these situations is to avoid them in the first place through situational awareness and personal risk management. I could not emphasize this enough. This is the most important. But this is also the least addressed.

    Failing this, if you end up actually being attacked, create a strong enough diversion as quickly as possible and run for help. Any hand to hand combat techniques or weapons should realistically only be considered as a diversion or simply a tool to create and opening for you to escape. Nothing more. If your family is under attack, you may well be that diversion. Teach your family to run for help in this type of situations. Good hiding skills can also come in handy when running is not an option. Invest in maintaining a good level fitness and running ability. Always know where the closest help is. Keep emergency help number on speed dial.

    Beware of the false confidence that various martial arts techniques or weapons bring. Most people who don’t train explicitly to fight/survive has no clue how to use what they’ve been taught in a real life encounter. All they have is a dangerous false confidence based on their results in highly controlled training conditions where there is no real danger. Learning to use hand to hand martial techniques or weapons in real life situations is not a casual leisurely activity. It requires serious time and training commitment. If you haven’t trained specifically in this way, don’t kid yourself – what you will probably end up doing is physically escalating the situation onto a level you’re completely unfamiliar with and end up being seriously injured.

    Be it your wallet, your MacBook, your iPhone, your fancy car or whatever it is that you think you can’t live without, trust me, losing any of this pales in comparison to losing an eye or ending up in a coma let alone dying. None of these things are worth risking your life for. If you are so concerned about losing these so called valuables, at the very least, have a good insurance policy. No point in getting yourself killed over these things.

    Most importantly, once again, learn to be aware of your environment and don’t put yourself in unnecessarily risky situations.

    Be safe,


  73. I see this is a very popular subject here. I’ve been reading your blog for a while Tim and I enjoy it immensely. On this subject I have to fervently disagree with BJJ and most other organized martial arts as adequate tools for self defense. I’m not speaking from a place of ignorance. 5 yrs of Shorin Ryu Karate Kobuto, 4 of Tae Kwon Do and MCMAP training as well. I believe that the most critical aspect of defending yourself is knowing what to expect. Understanding what it is to be hit and to be able react to that threat with unrestrained aggression. Most martial arts allow for some kind of full or partial contact sparring which gives individuals a sense of being struck however I don’t believe this is enough. I have noticed a lot of MMA gyms and clubs springing up using very minimal gear. I like seeing this. I noticed one commenter indicated that you never want to take a street fight to the ground. I am with that person on that. From a self defense aspect I am in favor of the overwhelming force technique. If the state you live in allows you to carry a firearm do so. Train, train, and get more training. Force on force training and close quarter hand to hand combat.

  74. Well I have to say I have been telling my wife about you for 3 years (since reading your 1st book) and she would always blow me off. Gave her your new book for Christmas and made her watch you on Dr Oz. Now you are the health guru for our entire neighborhood. Thanks

  75. These look interesting, but I noticed in the last two videos, the guy on the ground had his legs free. If you’re taken to the ground unaware, I would suspect that they would straddle your legs — and then you wouldn’t be able to use either technique to defend and get away or attack. So how do you make sure you keep your legs free as you’re falling? Or how do you get out if they straddle your legs?

    1. @ Jessica

      A big portion of BJJ is learning how to keep someone from straddling or escaping if someone does.

      Just being aware that you don’t want that to happen can go a long way in helping to prevent it, even without knowing the specific techniques.

  76. After seeing this videos I truly want to get back to boxing and MMA, I was going but now the gym is pretty far from where I work and live, and I’m still on the road of obtaining freedom, man now I really want to go and start punching my bag xD

  77. “Since the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) came to prominence in 2005, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) has been the most sought-after skill-set in the marital arts world.” I’m not sure triangle choking your spouse was what the Gracies had in mind when they developed BJJ, but it’s certainly reassuring to know you’ve found some practical application for your training in the “marital” arts, Tim.

  78. Wow, this takes me back Tim. I trained and competed with Paragon’s team in Santa Barbara for 6 years. I miss it like crazy. Been meaning to find a good academy in SF for a while now. What do you recommend in town? Jesse Jacobs suggested the Gracie Academy on Market.


  79. Another approach to countering the rear choke:

    Turn towards the hand, instead of the crook of the elbow (the crook of the elbow across your neck is where the choke becomes most effective). By turning toward the hand, you move away from the most potentially lethal position. At the same time you turn the choke into a much less dangerous headlock.

    1. I concurr. Actually, I wouldn’t call it “another approach” but “the right approach”. Have a look at this video which give an okay example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDdbgmSSd-M

      Also, when you are getting choked from behind you don’t try to grab a finger. You grab as much as you can, because you don’t have much time before you pass out.

      This is how I would describe the right technique:

      1. As soon as you can, turn your head on the side of the attacker’s hands (ie *not* the side you show on the video).

      2. At the same time, reach up with *both your hands* as high as you can. If you touch/punch the face of the threat, it’s just a bonus.

      3. From there, pull the opponent’s wrist with as much impulse as you can. If you come from further behind, you should have more strength than your opponent.

      4. Come out of the choke on your opponent’s side (ie definitely not what you show in the video), head close to his chest and below his right arm – assuming it is the arm he used to choke you.

      So, although I very much appreciate the intention of these videos I think nobody should consider them as “right”, because this precise technique (for instance) is completely wrong. It would never work again someone who is as strong as you or stronger. If a technique is right, the woman you see on the video should be able to use it against big guys such as you and *who don’t let go off her*. As much as I like reading you and have taken your advice on a few things (I am getting fitter every day thanks to the Slow-Carb Diet, thanks!), your self-defense skills seem to be perfectible 😉

      If the subject interest you, I definitely suggest you look into Krav Maga, which is passionating.

  80. Thanks for the videos Tim! I use a lot of media to teach fighting skills to my wee lads of 7 and 4 years old. Gonna use these for our sessions this week. I talk about you so much with the books and such, they’ll enjoy seeing you get thrown around.

  81. I enjoyed this post. Among other martial arts I practiced Krav Maga for a year and it was an absolute blast.

    I think my main takeaway for self defense was:

    “When in doubt, kick them in the crotch and run.”

    The other most important concepts were things like…scanning for additional opponents (nobody comes to the bar alone) and going from 0 to 100 instantaneously.

    So I’m no self defense expert, but I’m a little unsure about the whole…delivering the arm bar when on the ground in a self defense scenario. Seems like you’d be better off going with the escape (in the video above which is exactly like the one we studied in krav), then getting the f*** out of there.

    Anyway, thanks for the fun post.

  82. “Want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”This quote was on my list of items I can’t influence on my Anxiety Balance Sheet. It frustrates me to think that I cannot get going due to factors I feel are outside my control. It feels like a brick wall at times. After reading 4HWW and signing up for E-myth courses I am more committed than ever at moving this quote into an area that I can influence somehow. I feel once the process is outlined it should be only work effort to get it going.a day with Chip would be a great touching point of what I want through someone who has done it. It would be strong encouragment to keep building a franchise, marketing my first information product and allowing my wife to leave her job. It would be inspirational! Cheers!

    Kind regards,

    Kurt Killen (<300)