In This Hub:
Are Martial Arts Self-Defense?
Crime Is A Process
Economy & Stress Violence
Fear vs. Danger*
Frequently Asked Questions
High Risk Behavior*
Home Invasion
Low Impact Personal Safety
Myths About Defense
Our Approach To Safety
Pride, Self-Defense & Fighting
Problem Neighbors
Provoking An Attack
Self-Defense Explained
Using This Site
Violence ISN'T What You Think
What's With the *?
Why Do We Get So Wordy?

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Expert witness, self-defense

RESOURCES at THE ZERO : The Official Website of Andrew Vachss

Go to RESOURCE section!

J Curly Associates
Investigations /
Expert witness
New York

Violence Dynamics

Terry Trahan


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

Another Chance to Get it Right
Andrew Vachss
Abuse recovery /Fiction

Zero Sum
Barry Eisler

A Bomb Built in Hell
Andrew Vachss
Burke / Fiction

Andrew Vachss
Graphic Novel / Fiction

Lost Conscious
Alain Burrese


Righteous Mind
Jonathan Haidt

Inside the Criminal Mind
Stanton Samenow
(Criminal mindset)

Sex Crimes
Alice Vachss
(Sexual abuse, prosecution)

Arm Locks for All Styles
Iain Abernethy
(Non-striking control)

Child/ Domestic / Animal Abuse
Ascione F/Arkow P

A Time To Kill
Greg Hopkins
(Christian Self-Defense)

Protect yourself ...                    
  your loved ones ...
                         your property

On this page:
Violence isn't complicated... if you take out all the hard bits * | What's covered? | Why No Nonsense? | Cure Worse Than The Problem? *| Why Is Crime Simpler Than Interpersonal Violence? | New Pages


A basic rule of salesmanship is you market to the people who have the money.

But, a raw truth is: When it comes to personal safety most people don't think about it until they have a need. This pressing need is usually combined with the lack of thousands of dollars to buy a high-tech security service, hire a lawyer or a bodyguard.

This site's for people with such a problem.

We will provide you free, easy-to-use information to keep you safe from crime and violence. Our goal is to give you common sense information you can use right now to ensure your personal safety and protect your property. This site isn't about marketing or making money off you, it's about giving you the information you need to keep safe.

Violence is real, so are the consequences. What we're going to do here is to help you handle both.


Violence isn't complicated... if you take out all the hard bits
Having said that, there are no 'you just do this' fixes. Yes the information is free. But applying it requires understanding. And the price of that is skullsweat and self-honesty. If you're in a situation, it took you time to get there. It's going to take time and effort to get out -- including changing behaviors that helped create the situation. That's a hard pill to swallow. But there it is.

Statement of fact: Violence doesn't happen in a vacuum. Nor does it 'just happen' or 'come out of nowhere.' The lead up to violence (and even crime) is a study in the choices, behaviors and communication between ALL the people involved. That means -- contrary to what you might think -- you have a lot more power and control over what happens.

Unfortunately, this is a two edged sword. Yes, you can prevent most violence with your words and actions, but you can also provoke it. One of the most common mistakes people commit is thinking that 'what they meant to do' with that action is the only possible outcome. For example, NYC's Nicole DuFrense. Her last words to a mugger and his pack were, "You got what you wanted! Why don't you leave? What are you going to do now? Shoot us?" 

Well, now that you mentioned it.

Comfortably sitting and reading, that seems the height of stupidity, Who'd be dumb enough to say that to an armed mugger (especially one who'd just pistol whipped her boyfriend and robbed them)?

However, we can understand her words if we consider that verbal aggression was how she normally 'defended herself.' In that light, you can understand through she was trying to end the situation and ensure her friends and hers' safety. Do this through words and attitude alone.

Still sound stupid? Let me ask you: How do you normally 'chase away' someone you don't like? 

Usually by showing attitude, challenging them, showing contempt and lack of fear. That approach is especially common among city dwellers -- often to the point of reflex. It normally works. Except, these were not 'normal' circumstances. Now in case you're thinking you're too smart to do that, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts Ms. DuFresne thought so too.

Her fatal move wasn't from stupidity. The roots were in adrenaline, fear and habitual responses. And that's a mistake most people -- who aren't used to dealing with dangerous situations -- would make. Odds are good, you would too.

Something you need to know. There's part of your brain that will be screaming at you to be the most provoking, insulting and hurtful you can be to the other person. This is especially true when you're afraid or angry. (Two of the most common emotions around violence.) While that behavior often works in situations where physical violence is off the table, it provokes someone who is physically violent.

While we're listing things you also should know, what you do in the build up has major influence on you being arrested and convicted. This isn't the old whine about being "arrested for defending myself." This is how things work in a world that not only has crime and violence, but laws, police and courts. Self-defense involves a whole lot more than your fears and emotions. Remember that part of the brain that wants to insult and hurt? If you listen to it, it's not only going to provoke physical violence, but that behavior will be used to convict you for illegal violence. That's part of why this site isn't just about the physical. We spend a lot of time focusing on the build to violence (and how to avoid the common mistakes people make). We also spend a lot of time focused on helping you deal with the aftermath of having to physically defend yourself -- whether that aftermath is legal, a vendetta or both.

Sound complicated? Well it is. As a therapist friend of mine is fond of saying "Humans are messy." We are complex multi-layered, inconsistent, hypocritical, self-justifying, often contradictory, emotional creatures. That really applies to violence - - especially when it comes our own. Violence is very much a human behavior (we're biological animals after all.) A lot of what we're conditioned to believe about violence denies this, as well as our own 'wiring.' That often leaves you trapped between your biology and social conditioning and the law. We're here to help you get out of that trap. At the same time, the very fact that you're human, is really going to help you understand and navigate these complexities. You do this kind of stuff all the time, we're just going to make you more aware of what you already know about people. Like I said, common sense.

Let's talk about so-called 'self-defense' programs claiming to sell easy, this-is-all-you-need-to-do fixes. There're a lot of them out there. They make their money offering you simple solutions to complex problems. Solutions that while they might work in a certain type of situation, fail miserably in others. However, the marketing for these, often expensive programs, is the promise of universal application. That's not self-defense, that' salesmanship. Salesmanship that if you buy into will get you hurt. Otherwise good information (that works in specific capacities) is sold as "All you need to know...". You are outright told this works everywhere and for everything. Often to the point of being taught fantasy solutions to fantasy problems Ever seen weapon disarms taught in martial arts classes? (Hint, other than saying 'You ain't got the guts,' those are the fastest ways I know of to get shot.) You pay for these simplistic answers, not knowing where they don't work. Worse, most of what you think you know about violence is from the movies or this kind of marketing. Marketing that will either get you killed or thrown into prison if you try to use it in a self-defense situation.

Now does this mean I'm against physical training? Of course not. Physical training is very much a part of what you need for self-defense, personal safety and crime avoidance. My point is: Self-defense is much more than just physical. It's all that other stuff -- stuff you won't get from just physical training -- that we cover here. So even though the information is free, the price you're going to have to pay is skullsweat and time. If you know what you want to learn, go ahead and skip there. If not, keep reading. I said, that's going to take some time and skull

What's covered?
This a large site with lots of information covering a wide variety of topics -- not all of which you'll need. So pick and choose what topics apply to your needs. We've included information on personal safety, discussions on home security, property protection, robbery prevention, safe dating and self-defense. We also discuss what self-defense is and isn't, finding good self-defense training, survival in high-risk professions and introduce you to the facts, complications and aftermath of violence. We don't just say self-defense is about more than just punching and kicking, we'll show you what else is involved -- including how easy it is to step outside of it and into illegal violence. That's why we have the saying, "You'll only have two problems if you have to use your self defense training. 1- It doesn't work. 2- It does work." Our goal is to help you with both.

Why No Nonsense?
There's a reason this site is called 'No Nonsense Self-Defense.' Although it says 'self-defense' in the title, we're not here to sell you our ultimate fighting system. We don't expect you to 'kung fu' your way out of a dangerous situation. (Besides, by the time it's gotten to that point, odds are it's too late.) Nor are we going to try to sell you some kind of deadly force gadget will solve all your personal safety concerns.

We're here to give you straight information on staying safe.

We show you how crime and violence work, how situations develop and why they happen. There are a lot of Hollywood-fueled misconceptions about violence. These misconceptions mixed in with other factors often result in otherwise intelligent people, not just walking, but rushing into the lion's jaws. (We strongly suggest you read Why Is Crime Simpler Than Interpersonal Violence? section below).

This site is to inform you about what's involved in your personal safety. We aren't just about self-defense. We also go into conflict resolution, negotiation in potentially violent situations and life skills. We do this because these are the elements that usually lead to violence.  Elements that if you don't consciously control them, will put you into serious danger.

A huge focus of this site is what you can do to avoid putting yourself into potentially dangerous situations in the first place. The same information not only steers you clear of violent situations, but safely guides you out if you do find yourself in one.

You should also know, we address many different levels of these subjects. How deep you delve into a topic is up to you.

The needs of a person who is concerned about the rise in crime is going to be different from a person who is being stalked. As the needs of a martial artist differ from a law enforcement officer. We cover all of them; that is why this is such a large site.

To help you navigate, we recommend you visit the Using This Site page before you start. If you know what you're looking for, general topics are listed at the top of every page (under the NNSD banner). Clicking on the links will take you that topic's hub.

If you're not exactly sure, what you are looking for, we have a Vague Questions page. We recommend you take a quick trip to the misconceptions about self-defense to help you get the most of from perusing this site. Staying safe is a much less daunting a subject if -- from the beginning -- you know what you are looking.

But do get a cup of coffee (or glass of iced tea), you'll be here for a while.

The Cure Is NOT Worse Than The Problem
When it comes to personal safety, many people fear the solution may be worse than the problem. And quite frankly with the large number of 'paranoia pimps' trying to sell you their 'ultimate self-defense system' it can look that way.

Do you need to become a martial arts master to defend yourself? Do you need to become a paranoid survivalist in order to be safe? Do you need to buy a stock pile of guns?


Are you going to have to use a little common sense? Yes. And that isn't that hard. But in order to have common sense in the first place, you must understand what's actually involved in the problem. Once you have solid information, then making the right decisions for a situation is easy.

We take what we call the 'low impact approach' to personal safety. The object of this exercise is to improve the quality of you life, not degrade it. With this in mind, we suggest you read What Do I Have To Do To Be Safe? to get an idea of what you don't have to do to achieve personal safety.

Why Is Crime Simpler Than Interpersonal Violence?
We mentioned earlier there are a lot of Hollywood-fueled misconceptions about crime and violence out there. What Hollywood doesn't show -- and you may not consciously know -- is: Most violence occurs between people who know each other.

When you think about it, this makes sense. Those around you are the ones you're most likely to come in conflict with. When was the last time you had an argument with a total stranger vs. when did you last have an argument with someone you knew? This is what makes dealing with interpersonal violence more complicated than just avoiding a crime.

Interpersonal violence IS personal.

Quite frankly, an outright crime is much easier to avoid. In fact, if you know what to look for, crime is really easy to prevent. He's not coming after you personally. Since robbing you is just as easy as robbing someone else, the criminal doesn't care who he selects. The easier the target the better.

It is with interpersonal violence that things become complex. That's because criminal violence has a recognizable and external goal. Interpersonal violence is filled with all kinds of internal and subjective standards, goals and emotions. Usually what you are protecting, trying to achieve or fighting over in such conflicts, ISN'T physical.

And yet, conflicts can -- and often do -- escalate into physical violence.

Such violence IS usually 'personal.' Not only from the standpoint of it IS directed at a particular person, but that it is often a form of punishment. That person is seeking physical revenge for the emotional hurt you caused him or her.

With this in mind, realize: What you say and do has a HUGE effect on whether or not you are physically assaulted. You do have power and control over whether or not you are attacked. Teaching you how to exercise this power is what this site is mostly about.

Where things get really complicated is that there is NO ONE simplistic strategy that you can use in every situation. What works to resolve a conflict with one person will provoke another into attacking. You may think what you're doing will scare him away, but often you're actually pouring gasoline onto the fire. Knowing when to do what and when NOT to do that are another reason why things get complicated. Personal safety is less about punching and kicking and more about people skills.

Large sections of this site are dedicated to looking at the nature of conflict, including the difference between assertiveness and aggression, how we behave under stress, the psychology of conflict, why violence occurs and how not to provoke a physical assault. These are all elements that will cause a conflict to escalate to physical violence.

What you say and do has a major influence on finding yourself involved in violence. This fact does not magically disappear because you are upset, angry or arguing. When you are emotionally caught up in a conflict, it is easy to not only provoke an attack from someone else, but it is appalling easy for you initiate the physical violence.

As unbelievable as it may sound, you can do this without even realizing you did it until the person counter attacks. Even easier is to say something so hurtful and insulting that the person flies into a rage and attacks. Over 2,000 years ago Horace wrote "Anger is a short madness (insanity)." You can be so angry, emotional or upset that you don't realize what you are doing. But that doesn't mean you aren't doing it.

Realize this is a two-way street, the same thing can be happening with the person you are in conflict with. But in fact, violent people are violent because they lack the self-control NOT to act on these impulses. This lack can be circumstantial, physiological, psychological or simply because the person chooses to behave this way. While anyone can be pushed too far, some people believe violence is a fast and easy way to get what they want.

Because so much violence arises from conflict, it seriously complicates the subject of self-defense. If you participated in the creation, escalation and mutual physicality of the situation, that really isn't self-defense.

Most people call it fighting. In case you didn't know it, while self-defense is legal, fighting isn't.

You should also know this is why so many people are  supposedly arrested for' self-defense.' "Go to prison for defending myself" is a common wail. The truth is, most the time the weren't defending themselves, they were actually fighting.

But when you are emotional, angry or scared, everything you do seems like self-defense. That big bad person was attacking you! While that is your perception, that isn't necessarily what was happening. Nor is is necessarily what you were doing. Your brain under extreme emotion and stress sees things differently than when you are calm. And those perceptions can lead you to chasing someone down the street slashing them with a knife thinking what you are doing is self-defense. It isn't.

It is their inability to tell the difference -- not unjust laws -- that gets most people into trouble. And in more ways than one. It's also what causes a situation to go from verbal violence to physical violence. This is also why we give a layman's explanation of what self-defense is and when what you're doing stops being self-defense.

Believe it or not, personal safety is less about what you do than it is about what you don't do -- especially in certain situations.

The 'why you don't do that' is what makes both the subject of violence -- and this site -- so big and complex. Once you understand 'why certain behaviors will lead to violence' you greatly lessen your chances of unwittingly doing them. Not only will this keep you from being arrested for fighting or assault, but it greatly reduces your chances of being raped, assaulted, beaten or even killed.

There are no simple answers when it comes to interpersonal violence. That is because YOU are a major factor in whether it happens or not. Your choices, your behaviors and what you say, have major influence on whether or not physical violence occurs.

So you DO have control over whether violence happens to you -- or not.

But it starts with you controlling your emotions, instead of your emotions controlling you. The reason this is important is that the person who resorts to physical violence the fastest is almost always being driven there by HIS out of control emotions. If you aren't willing to go faster and further down that road than he is, then you will lose that race.

Oh, by the way. This information will also go miles for improving the quality of your life, lessening conflict in your life and help you get along with other people. This site isn't just about self-defense, it's also about developing every day people skills to make your life easier.

New Pages
This site is huge and it keeps changing.

The newest page is Why So Much SD Training Is Off The Rails. (And yeah, this page is going to piss off a lot of folks. But what's more important is it can keep you from getting killed or thrown into prison for trying to defend yourself.

The next newest page is Home Invasion. Whether it's a robbery, break in rapist, serial killer or you surprised a burglar, strangers in your home are not good.

After that is Disneyland State Of Mind/Hermit Crabs. It's a look at how an entitled mindset create a nightmare attitude well known to violence professionals, but at the same time very dangerous to average people, especially teens and young adults. Drunk, self-righteous, reckless and an eyeblink away from fury those in the DSOM cause all kinds of trouble.

 Then comes Don't Make It So Your Children Are Afraid To Call You For Help. Teens do the dumb. It's a fact of life. However, often small solvable problems are compounded into life altering crisis's by stacking more and more bad decisions. Decisions made because the teen is afraid of you getting angry. 
(As I write this, I am sitting a quarter mile away from where a teenage girl and her stalled car were hit by a train. She lived, but she isn't just paraplegic, she's nearly a Steven Hawkings level of crippled. She didn't jump out of the car. Instead she stayed and tried to get it started because she was afraid of what her dad would say if something happened to the car. I'm pretty certain the car was less important to him than his daughter.)

It's older, but still worth a read. What's the biggest Pre-Attack Indicator of them all.

What are the behaviors that lead to violence? In this Martial Secrets podcast, Kris Wilder interviews Marc MacYoung about Conflict Communications and why violence happens

The HUGE difference between Fear Management and Danger Management. The difference is one actually keeps you safe. The other not only puts you in more danger, but makes you feel better about it.

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

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

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

101 Safety and Self-defense Tips
Alain Burrese
(SD, crime avoidance)

Calling the Shots
Jenna Meek
(Pistols, concealed carry, WSD)

Gift of Fear
Gavin Debecker
(Mental preparation, psychology)

7 Things you MUST Know Before You Draw a Gun
US Concealed Carry 
(Firearms, use of force law)

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

Nasty People
Jay Carter
(Boundary setting)

Surviving Workplace Violence
Loren Christensen
(Active shooter, mass shooter)

Street Smart
(Firearms, crime, safety)

Writing Violence 
Defense (Vol: IV) 
Marc MacYoung e-book
(Defensive action and failure)

Meditations on Violence
Rory Miller
(Difference between MA and actual violence)

Hard Truths
Andrew Vachss
(Interview, crime, predation)

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

Survivor Personality
Al Siebert
(Emotional resiliency)

Evil, Violence & Cruelty

Leading the Way
Tim Bown
(Martial arts instruction)

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