In This Hub:
Adrenal Decay
Best MA for SD?
Commercialized MA*
Cults in the MA
Stress & Violence
Evaluating a MA
Fighting Facts
Fighting vs. Self Defense
Four Focuses
Is It REALLY about SD?
Know Your Tools
Krav Maga
Lethal Force and Training
MA and SD*
MA Biz
MA Lies
MA Pirates
MA Short Cuts, et all
MA Subculture
Mental Preparation
Mixed Martial Arts
Real Fighting
Repercussions of Violence
Sanity in MA/SD*
Sports Martial Arts
Strike Enhancers*
Technique, Don't Dismiss It
Threat Displays
Traditional MA vs. Self-Defense
Tough Enough?
Violence Geeks
Walking the Talk
Weapon Disarms
What From MA?
What If Monkeys
What's With the *?
Why We Do It
Criminal Mindset Hub
Martial Arts Hubs
MA Training Hub
Psychological Survival Hub
Self-Defense Hub
Streetfighting Hub
NNSD Home Page

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Vague Questions

New Pages on NNSD

Marc MacYoung?
Dianna Gordon MacYoung?
Animal E-list
Crime Avoidance Lectures
Colorado Classes
Contact Us
Hosting A Seminar
Crime Prevention
Expert Witness
Knife Defense
Martial Arts
Movie Consulting
Our Linking Policy
Train with MacYoung
Terms of Use

Self-defense expert witness

Legal Aid/Training
for self-defense &
firearm use

Terry Trahan

Rory Miller


Some of the authors listed in non-fiction also write fiction. In many ways it's easier to learn application of this information in that context.

Andrew Vachss
Burke / Fiction

Clean Kill in Toyoko
Barry Eisler

Lost Conscious
Alain Burrese

Loren Chirstensen

Andrew Vachss
Graphic Novel / Fiction


Trauma Aware Self-Defense
Anna Valdisseri
(SD instruction, abuse)

Real World Self-Defense
Jerry Van Cook
(SD, street, dealing with cops)

Left of Bang
Patrick Van Horn
(Thinking during crisis)

Safe in the Street
Marc MacYoung DVD
(Crime recognition/avoidance)

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, 
by the wise as false, and 
by the rulers as useful. 
                               Seneca the Younger

Martial Arts Culture

On this page:
Best MA for SD* | Bullies* | Business Practices of MA | Commercialized Schools* | Cults in the Martial Arts | Disrespecting the MA | Evaluating a Martial Art | Fantasy Self-Defense | Fighting Facts | Fighting vs. MA | Four Focuses of Martial Arts* | Grappling | Is (Fill in MA Style Good for Self-Defense? * | Is It REALLY About Self-Defense? | Know Your Tools | Lethal Force and MA | Martial Arts Lies | Martial Arts Pirates | McDojo | Message to School Owners/Instructors* | Sanity | Self-Defense | Short Cuts, Ultimate Fighting Systems and Cheats* | Sports Fighting | Strike Enhancers* | Subculture? | Technique | Threat Display* | Tough Enough? | "Traditional" Martial Arts vs. "Real" Fighting | Violence Geeks Blog | Walking The Talk | Weapon Disarms* | What do you want out of this training? | What If Monkeys | Why Do We Say This?


In a career filled with controversy, nothing I have ever done has created such extreme responses as this section of the NNSD Web site. I regularly receive e-mails expressing kudos, grateful acknowledgements, encouragement and sincere thanks for what I present here.

I also receive e-mails expressing hatred, condemnation, personal attacks, insults, accusations about my motives, all levels of threats -- including death threats -- and, in one case, even told "burn in hell." 

These radically different responses are especially interesting in light of the intention of this section, namely: Consumer awareness.

That's right. It's not about you learning some mystic and deadly martial art. It's not about me selling you my ultimate fighting system (namely because I don't have one). It's not about me telling you why the martial arts are either useless or the greatest thing since sliced bread.

These pages are about you being a satisfied customer (whether you or your child are enrolled).

Although oriental martial arts may have their roots in the East, the business of the martial arts is strongly influenced by western capitalism. Do not ever forget:
1) That, as a business, a martial arts school is about making a profit.
2) A profit that comes from your pocketbook.
3) Quality often suffers under mass production.

As such, we strongly feel that martial arts instruction is a service industry. If you are paying for it, you ought to get your money's worth. If that isn't happening, something is wrong.

This section takes a long, hard look at the questionable behaviors, attitudes, myths, fantasies, fads, organization and business practices rampant within the martial arts culture. A lot of those behaviors take on entirely different connotations when you look at them from other points of view; points of view -- like consumer satisfaction, business, marketing, psychology and social conduct.

There is a lot going on under the name of "martial arts." Some good, some not so good. It is because of these issues that your experience with the martial arts will be either richly rewarding or a devastating failure. Simply stated there ARE good martial arts programs out there, but there are a lot more bad ones.

Also, as a parent whose child is enrolled in a program this hub will help you put into perspective issues that have probably been bothering you. If you can't say what exactly but wrong, you know something isn't right ... then you've come to the right place. Profiteering is often disguised as ancient traditions and 'for the good of the child.' And then of course, there's all those unexpected costs that keep on cropping up in these programs.

It is a buyer beware market. The only way not to 'get taken; is to be an informed consumer.

Note to martial artists about what I say here...

Best Martial Art for Self-Defense?
Sounds like a reasonable question doesn't it? If it weren't for the fact that it is based on misconceptions based on advertising and marketing, it might be. Find out why this isn't a legitimate question.

Attracting bullies' attention
Since so much of what attracts people to the martial arts is 'self-defense,' we thought we'd give you an outside perspective on the problem. Have you ever wondered why bullies pick on some people but ignore others? There is an entire complex set of behaviors and signals that are going back and forth. Unfortunately, many people who think that they are showing the bully why the bully should leave them alone are sending an entirely different message. A message that instead of warning him away, attracts the bully over to get in your face.

The Business of Martial Arts
As we say in the beginning of the MA Business page, a lot of the information we talk about in this hub probably doesn't jell with the student's experience. On this page we explain why we say the martial arts is a business. And why you have the right to demand much more.

Commercialized Martial Art Schools
Start with the fact that a commercial school (one where the instructor is making his living from the school) is a business. In order to stay in business, you have to follow the rules and standards of business, not the martial arts. That and many other factors are going to affect what you are being taught. Before you pay, know the issues that WILL affect what you will be taught in such a school. (See next section)

Disrespecting the Martial Arts
We are often charged with 'disrespecting' the martial arts for what we say in this hub. On the MA Biz page we show you some of the sleazy business practices, behind the scenes programs, money making schemes and fakery that we base our statements on. Note: These aren't our words, they are the words, advertising and programs common within the business of martial arts. A business that we're supposedly 'disrespecting.' In fact, we show you stuff, your instructor really doesn't want you to see. While it may or may not be happening in your school, these kinds of practices rule the majority of commercialized martial arts programs.

Cults in the Martial Arts
In some cases, the behaviors of certain martial art groups goes beyond legitimate business practices and blurs into cults. These cults offer the promise of teaching the ultimate fighting system, training you in ancient warrior traditions, learning reality-based fighting and fulfilling countless other fantasies to entrance the dissatisfied spirit into their grasp. Martial arts cults have some very specific ways of doing business. Compare a group's behavior against these danger signs.

Evaluating a Martial Art
How can you tell something is "good" if you don't know what you are looking at ... or what you are looking for? There are key points to look for when evaluating a martial art's effectiveness.

Fantasy Self-Defense
There is a tendency for martial arts instructors to promote themselves as competent to teach self-defense. Find out why that is not necessarily true and why you are risking your life if you accept what they are saying without carefully looking into the subject beyond their simplistic fantasies.

Fighting Facts
Just a few things you should know about the realities of fighting before you tell yourself that your martial arts training is good for self-defense.

The Difference Between Fighting and Self-Defense
This is perhaps one of the most misunderstood concepts in martial arts training. But it is one that will totally affect where you end up with your training. Much less, whether or not you end up in jail. There is a big difference between fighting and self-defense.

"The Four Focuses of the Martial Arts"
In attempting to become all things to all people, United States martial arts schools have perpetuated a dangerous misconception: Martial arts equal self-defense. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and it is the student who will bleed while discovering this deception. While there are many reasons to study the martial arts, there are basically four main focuses. Each focus is valid and worthwhile. Each is extremely specialized and tailored to achieve a certain goal. It is by recognizing the four different focuses that allows you to select the school, style and focus that best suits your needs.

Is ______ Good For Self-Defense?
This is the most common question I am asked by people seeking advice on what style to study. Putting it bluntly any style can be used for self-defense. What people do not understand is the important distinctions between fighting, assault, combat and self-defense. Distinctions that will get them in deep trouble if they don't understand them before they start training -- much less use a fighting system on someone.

Is It REALLY About Self-Defense?
A lot of people get into so-called self-defense training for reasons that have nothing to do with actual self-defense. On the Is It REALLY about SD? page we take a hard look at an elephant in room that people don't want to admit to.

Is Krav Maga the Ultimate Fighting Style?
I have been asked this question SO many times that I finally just wrote a single page to address the issue. On it, I explain why most of what you think you know about Krav Maga isn't knowledge or fact, but advertising. I address the marketing, myths, misconceptions and out right propaganda that goes into selling this ' deadly commando fighting style' -- including how the military actually uses hand to hand training.

It's not that I am against ground fighting. Through some brutally earned experiences, I have some seriously controversial views on the subject of grappling and submission fighting in the streets. While it IS a good sport system, AND it has its time and place, trying to use it in a serious altercation can and will result in grave injury.

Know Your Tools
Martial artist who use their training only face two problems:
1) If it doesn't work and
2) If it does work.
The former puts them in the hospital, the latter in jail. The simple truth is that you can avoid both if you've invested a little skullsweat. By this we mean examining not only your assumptions about self-defense training, but understanding what has influenced what you were told was a certain type of training.

Lethal force
Let's start with the fact that if you're in a weapons system, you need the same training on legal issues/use as if it were a gun. Flat out, no questions asked, blades are lethal force weapons. Beyond that we have seen everything from snapping someone's neck from behind, to attacking an unarmed attacker with a knife, to informing students "tell him three times you don't want to fight and it's legally self-defense." These are all fast tracks to the prison showers.
Before you accept your MA instructor's information about using your training in 'self-defense,' there are a few things you ought to consider about the legalities of using force

Martial Arts Lies
There are some serious misconceptions that are being intentionally promoted by those in the martial arts. You might want to take a look at some of these Martial Arts lies

Martial Arts Pirates
There is a lot of looting, pillaging and pirating in the commercial martial arts world. This page explains how to tell if you are dealing with a martial arts pirate

There are many reasons a school can turn into a McDojo. The biggest problem is the poor training that they provide can burn you out on the martial arts. However, if you leave a belt factory for better training, a different problem arises. You'll face an unexpected problem arising from having learned a watered down system. That is that McDojo training makes it difficult to relearn a movement -- but, in an effective way Your old way of moving will not only keep cropping up, but the different ways of moving will conflict with each other. Instead of having to relearn everything, learn how to spot a McDojo.

Message To MA School Owners/Instructors
Fads, fashions and trends affect what is taught as martial arts. However, we suspect there is something looming on the horizion that will not just have an effect on your teaching, but that if you don't adapt to it, it will crush your business. The Open Message to MA School Owners/Instructors is to give you a chance to prepare for what we see is coming as the future of martial arts.

Bad news ... not everyone in the martial arts world is playing with a full deck. In fact, there are a lot of dysfunctional people using the martial arts as a form of 'self-medication' instead of seeking therapy.

For a business that prides itself on how good it is for self-defense, most of the people teaching have no idea what Self-Defense actually is -- or what is involved in the process.

Shortcuts, Ultimate Fighting Systems and Cheats
There are a lot of instructors out there willing to sell you some kind of wonder system that will make a 'Master of Disaster' or 'Master Martial Artist' in an astoundingly short time. There exists a symbiotic relationship between these hucksters and people who are looking for quick, simplistic, easy fantasy answers. One's willing to pay for tripe, the other is willing to sell it.

Evolution of Sports Fighting
What few martial artists understand is how significant changes in boxing have affected their art. Those changes, combined with business and insurance requirements have greatly influenced what is being taught as martial arts.

Strike Enhancers
Why -- regardless of what you may have heard -- they aren't the greatest thing since sliced bread. Starting with what you'll be charged with if you use them.

Why do we call the martial arts a subculture? Well when you know what a subculture is the martial arts certainly looks like one.

It's time to take a long hard look at what you think a technique is. What does a technique do, what doesn't it do? And what do you need to be focusing on when you teach a technique?

Threat Displays
Before you go all killer kung-fu commando on someone using your deadly fighting system, you might want to understand the difference between an attack and threat displays.

Traditional Martial Arts vs. "Real" Fighting
Are the martial arts really ancient warrior traditions? Is the current fixation on reality-based fighting systems and extreme fighting competitions a way to prepare for a 'real' fight? Does being a skilled sports fighter prepare you for that mythical 'real' fight? There are some serious misconceptions about what the traditional martial arts are and what they prepare you for. Traditional martial arts training does not address modern elements necessary for complete self-defense training, nor should they be expected to.

Tough Enough? Making You a He-Man/Tough Chick
There are many physically intensive programs that promise to make you as much of a stud/tough chick as the person in in the ads. What's wrong with this idea?

Walking the Talk
Contrary to what many internet warriors, mixed martial artists and so-called deadly martial artists will tell you, there is a huge difference between the skill sets you acquire during training and applying them in a live-fire situation. We've dedicated a section to what is involved in making the transition from training to application. And while it may not look like that big of a step from the safety of the training hall ... if you haven't addressed these issues, you can easily fall into the abyss.

Violence Geeks
I wrote a blog that defines a subculture that is largely overlooked by the mainstream. Although you will not find the term Violence Geeks in the DSM-IV these people are very real. And they pose a legitimate danger to people who run across them.

Weapon disarms/Facing a Weapon
Unfortunately there are many people who have never faced a weapon in their lives telling you what works to 'save your life' when weapons are involved. The problem is that most of these techniques will get you killed. Or, if you're extremely lucky, merely hospitalized and maimed for the rest of your life. We take a hard look at the fantasies and the realities of Weapon disarms.

What Do You Want From Training?
While the martial arts can have great benefits, let's make sure your expectations are realistic

What If Monkeys
It seems that no matter what seminar you attend there is always someone asking "What if it doesn't work?" This page is, by and large, written for martial arts/self-defense instructors, giving them advice on how to handle WIMs

Why do we do this?
Generally speaking we find that there are two kinds of people who get upset about what we say on these pages. One group seems more upset that we BBQ'ed their sacred cows. They've invested a lot of time, effort and money into what they thought was legitimate martial arts/self-defense training. (And god bless them real good, they have). But, instead of looking at these pages as roadmap to continue on in their martial arts journey, they feel threatened and get "defensive."

The second group are the ones who have not only bought into the toxic environments we describe, but are having the time of their lives living out their dysfunction. What we do with this Webpage is blow their little fantasy boats out of the water. And when that happens, they tend to get nasty.

We liken their behavior to street hustlers who get caught in the middle of a scam and try to bluff their way out -- usually by blaming the person who caught them. In light of the fact we've just revealed the underbelly of their business practices, that usually means they will do everything in their power to discredit us ... and by extension the information.

Well the problem with that is that the information we provide stands on its own. That's because it usually comes from outside sources other than the MA/SD/WSD/RBSD/DT/combatives/street fighting/knife fighting markets. Face it, a trip to the library's reference section can prove that self-defense is a legally defined term.

That only leaves attacking the source of the information.

These people will tell anyone else who will listen what OUR motivations are for saying the things we do. Well, here's a chance to hear our motivations --straight from the horse's mouth -- instead of from people who are upset with us for revealing the behavior they claim is MA/SD/WSD/RBSD as something else.

Return to top

Note) I am often accused of 'hating the martial arts' because of what I say here. Let me state, I love the martial arts. The martial arts literally saved my life. They did so not because of the fighting/ self-defense aspect, but because of their teaching life skills such as self-control, self-discipline, respect and commitment. 
Those aspects were instrumental in me getting out of " the life" -- not my ability to fight (that only got me further into it). Those values also have provided benefits I never dreamed of, much less would have understood, in my youth. I am still fascinated and awed over the breadth, width and depth of the 'martial arts.' After 50 years of being involved in the arts, the only thing I am absolutely convinced of is how much more there is to learn. The subject is that big. However, like religion, the martial arts can be twisted and used to manipulate people for personal gain. Pointing out the behaviors of those who have twisted the subject for their own benefit is not the same as attacking the martial arts themselves. Return to Text

In the Name of Self-Defense
Marc MacYoung
(Violence, crime & aftermath)

Martial Arts America
Bob Orlando
(Business of Martial Arts)

Law of Self-Defense
Anthony Branca
(Legal issues of SD)

Feet of Clay
(Cults and gurus)

Emotional Abuse
Zak Mucha
(Emotional self-defense)

Sensei, Mentor, Teacher, Coach
L. Kane/K. Wilder
(Teaching and coaching)

Training Sudden Violence
Rory Miller DVD
(Training drills/physical)

Writing Violence, IV
Marc MacYoung e-book
(Defensive action and failure)

Recovery from Cults

The Sociopath Next Door
Martha Stout
(sociopaths, antisocial disorder)

Ape In the Corner Office
Richard Conniff
(Human animal behavior)

Freedom from Fear
Peyton Quinn
(Psychology, overcoming abuse )

Complete Idiot Series
(Boundary setting)

Leading the Way
Tim Bown
(Martial arts instruction)

Canadian SD Law
Ted Truscott
(Self-defense, legal)

In Sheep's Clothing
George Simon
(Manipulative people)

Henry Cloud

Victims No Longer
(Men, sexual abuse

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