Monday, March 19, 2012

"No Holds Barred" - Damian Ross, The Self Defense Company

Once every year I have to repeat myself. This is when the Brazilian jiujitsu and MMA guys start coming out of the woodwork talking about how their kung fu in better than my kung fu. The latest comes from some guys on the SDTS FACEBOOK page. I have the forums not only to help those training, but to have a place of open discussion and in part to defend the merits of what we do.

The typical response that always winds up with some kind of "challenge". Like, if you're ever in Southern California, come on down to "XYZ Dojo" and we will fight you. Or send an SDTS Practitioner over here to fight us in a "no holds barred" match. These statements tell me two things about the person saying them. First, their notion of self defense let alone a real fight, has not evolved past middle school and second, their idea of "no holds barred" and the SDTS idea of "no holds barred" are two totally different ideas.

A "fight" in our world is when someone is trying to rape, murder or assault us or someone we care about. We respond to that attack by whatever means necessary to legally defend our lives and well being. That can and will range from a variety of close quarters weapons, firearms, nonlethal technologies and empty hand techniques. We will use improvised weapons, any form of gouge, kick, strangle, rip, dislocation or strike that will enable us to gain the tactical edge. In order to be morally and legally justified to do that, we must be in a situation where we feel we will get seriously injured or killed. This isn't the school yard, this is alone, in the parking lot or on patrol.

"No holds barred" in the SDTS includes all kinds of weapons, firearms, friends basically anything imaginable. I don't what to come off as an extremist, just a realist. Bad people do bad things and you must be willing to do some bad things if you want to survive. The choice is yours, live your life and hedge your bets or prepare to do whatever it takes if that's what's called for.

If I were to stay true to SDTS protocal and I knew I was going to be attacked by an expert in MMA, Boxing or anything else it would go against logic not to arm myself in a way that I would defeat said expert. I'm mot bringing a knife to a gun fight, I'm bringing an Abrams Tank.

What these knuckleheads fail to realize is that we're NOT a martial art. We're a tactical response to violence. The mere notion of a challenge match indicates that these guys don't know what real violence is, or they just haven't thought it through. The other thing they don't know or care to acknowledge is that I'm a combat sport guy!!! How many black belts and trophies does a dude need to earn to get the point across?!?!?! If I thought wrestling, judo and kickboxing were the best methods of self defense I would have created a system that resembled those arts. Instead I chose to teach what works best and what has been proved to work the best under real world conditions. Incidentally, Cestari, Fairbairn, O'Neill and myself all have one thing in common...JUDO!! And if Judo was the best means of self defense (Pre WWII Judo- Look at the book M. Kawaishi, My Judo for all the leg locks and neck cranks you could ever hope for) then that would be the method of choice.

The problem is this, what has become known as "traditional" martial arts systems don't work. More to the point, the way that they're taught over the last 30 plus years has made them all but useless. The only ones worth a damn are MMA, Judo, Wrestling, BJJ, Boxing and kick boxing. At least here you get to ply your trade against a completely resistant opponent. I can clearly see why they would try to lump us into the "martial arts" category.

To belabor the point...The SDTS Combatives Program is NOT a martial art. No more than firearms training is and it can't be viewed in a martial arts context. A challenge match is absurd when our doctrine dictates we use "any means, fair or foul." On a personal note, unless you're attacking me or my family, I wouldn't think of causing harm to another human being, the idea actually gets me a little sick, mainly because I'm not a psychopath but if you cross the line, and put lives in jeopardy, I will do what I have to do to survive.

There is a reason the people who usually seek us out have dealt with violence in their lives. They know the difference between sport and reality and have the insight to recognize the gaps and inefficiencies in their training. As an aside we do recommend that you can supplement supplement your training with judo. We chose judo because it trains you to stay on your feet and gain a dominant position. You learn submissions and pins (as well as how not to get submitted!!!) and you learn to fight with a sense of urgency that will enable you to implement the SDTS methods faster and more effectively. BJJ is a second choice but the issue we have there is that it trains you to go to the ground and teaches you to wait for openings which puts you at a severe disadvantage in the street. Being on the ground waiting leaves you vulnerable against the hard surface of the ground, weapon and third party attacks.

I don't know why they (MMA et all) feel threatened by us? We're not saying don't do those things. Combat sports have their place, but the SDTS isn't meant to be a combat sport or a martial art, it's a tool against violence.
Train Honestly,
Damian Ross
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Damian Ross is CEO of the Self Defense Company and developer of The Self Defense Training System, the most lethal and effective self defense system in the world, The Guardian Defensive Tactics Police Combatives Program, 60 minute Self Defense and the Family Safe Program. Mr. Ross also founded the Self Defense Instructor Program that helps people develop their self defense careers from the ground up. Mr. Ross is originally from Ridgewood, NJ where he was a High School Hall of Fame Athlete in football and wrestling as well as a varsity wrestling coach. He then went on to Lehigh University where he was a varsity wrestler and football player. Mr. Ross has 3 black belts, 4th Degree in Tekkenryu Jujutsu, 2nd Degree in Judo, 2nd Degree in Tae Kwon Do. In addition to his martial arts experience, Mr. Ross spent 8 years in the professional security and personal protection business. He is internationally recognized as one of the foremost authorities in reality based self defense.


Anonymous said...

So you're saying that your empty hand material is not enough to deal with an MMA guy on the street, and that you have to resort to weapons to handle them?

Might as well just just train in MMA then, and supplement that with weapons training.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was good, Mr. Ross. As a former police officer and current security professional, I appreciate the Self Defense Company. I hope to be at your Summit again this year.
Charles C

Damian Ross said...

Not exactly anonymous. But you could do MMA and supplement that with the SDTS (

Anonymous said...

damian, your excatly right i have been involved in boxing for 15 years, and have friends that are involved in both boxing and mma,boxing and mma are great sports but that is what they are SPORTS! with rules and regulations. self defence training as in your program is a whole different picture,keep up the good work!juan h.

Steve Drake said...

The SDTS is defined by not only physical parameters of the techniques it chooses to employ it is mostely defined by the attitude to them by its student.

A good Motto that I very much like is ... Si vis pacem, para bellum is a Latin adage translated as, "If you seek peace, prepare for war". The source of this adage remains unknown;[1] however, it is universally believed, rightly or wrongly, to be based on a quotation from Roman military writer Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus: Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.[2] The saying is one of many from or based on his work, Epitoma rei militaris, possibly written around the year 390 AD.

I like to use this story, and discuss implications with my students. In the mid eighties a leading sports presenter on American TV was interviewing a group of the up and coming Tennis Pro’s and asked them how come Bjorn Borg was considered head and shoulders above them all and could still run rings around them at his age. Its easy, they said. “We are playing tennis. He is playing ‘something else!”

Good story. And I make the same point about SDTS.

We are not looking for a fair fight and a decent exchnge of blows with the attacker.

Emphasize that key distinction in everything I teach. They can play tennis – we can play what the hell we want. Turn up to the tennis match with a baseball bat and have fun. Take a gun to the knife fight but when fighting in a phone box, maybe a grenade is not the best tool.

SDTS starts with thinking different all the time. It will shape your practice and performance and outcome.

Important when explaining SDTS to others. - The SDTS is NOT just a
subsystem or ‘style’ or Martial Art. Not a hybred. It is a very different way of viewing the whole areana of self protection. It cant be defined purely by its ‘moves’.

It is to be considered as an Algorythm of combat. A Skill. A solution to a situation. –(Someone kicks off, you apply the skill on them, end of situation. Simple as. )

In mathematics, computing, linguistics, and related disciplines, an algorithm is a definite list of well-defined instructions for completing a task; that given an initial state, will proceed through a well-defined series of successive states, eventually terminating in an end-state.

For me the SDTS is: The art of not getting caught between the dog and the lamppost.

It is an ‘anti virus’ programme for life. It is as neutral and emotive as that.

Think of it that way and ‘run the programme’ and trust in the programme when you press that button. No emotion involved like when you purge the computer. Its nothing personal.

Consider the difference the expression difference createad between getting pawed by a cat or Clawed by a big cat. Different picture, different feeling.

Thoughts become things. Utilising Transformational linguistics while teaching and talking about SDTS. (Especially when talking to yourself when practicing)

We don’t ‘block’ a strike. We ‘CUT INTO’ a strike or attacking limb.

We don’t arm or wrist ‘lock. We arm CRUSH or wrist or neck crush.

We also SMOTHER, tear and render limbs. We don’t pat we slap.We BURN through. We don’t jab or poke. We destroy or blast or stab.

We don’t ‘step on’ a foot. We SPIKE or SPEAR a foot etc.

In the end, like Damian said, Bad people do bad things.

Stephen Drake