Street Self Defense with Bjorn Friedrich
Longtime martial arts practitioner and instructor Bjorn Friedrich, recently released a new instructional video on effective street self defense titled Control the Chaos and we recently caught up with him to get some of his thoughts.
So here are Bjorn's thoughts on self defense philosophy and myths:
My Philosophy of Self Defense
My philosophy of self defense goes far beyond fighting techniques. I would say fighting should be the last resort and should be avoided at all costs because the risk is far too high and usually no good things come from fighting in the street.
My philosophy is based around awareness which is something many people have lost in their lives nowadays. We are running around looking at our smartphones all the time and don't even realize the world around us. We are not in the now but in some kind of dream state focusing on virtual things while moving to our real live. So on the first level it is awareness. You walk around and you realize your surroundings. The people that walk by, the vibes you get from them, the spots where someone can hide and surprise you....
I am not talking about being a manic guy expecting that everyone is attacking you. Just a natural awareness like animals have them too. This doesn't just help for self defense situations but also for all other surprising things that may happen to you.
After awareness comes body language and communication skills. The way you walk, the way you talk and present yourself to others plays a big role in how potential situations may turn out.
If your behavior is arrogant, tensed maybe aggressive you will be much more visible to other people and draw their attention to them. On the other side if you are fearful and tensed this will also draw attention to you and often attackers look for people with a “victim vibe”.
If you are calm and emotional detached from the people around you chances that people are just overlooking you are pretty big. Tension seems like a magnet that draws attention to you. I remember a seminar with Vladimir Vasiliev who is maybe one of the most relaxed martial artists I ever met. Whenever I was looking for him it took me a while to find him in the seminar crowd because he was moving around naturally without being tensed.
Communication skills are also very if you can feel your potential opponent and can talk to him in a confident but relaxed way without triggering his aggression but also without making yourself a victim you can deescalate a lot of “bully type” situations. Of course it all depends on the attackers motivation. If he is really obsessed with hurting you and maybe mentally psyched up or insane all the talking stuff will not work.
The last tool you have is your physical work. I believe whenever you decide to use physical violence there should be a clear decision and no hesitation in your movements. Do what you have to do without thinking too much. It is a high risk situation and once the decision to fight is made there is no time to think or hesitate you have to react to deal with the threat as fast as possible .
The Biggest Myths of Self Defense
I think the biggest myth is that a self defense situation is a cool and heroic thing like in the movies. Whenever you use physical violence you can expect problems. You can injure yourself. You can injure others and people can press charges against you. People can looking for revenge. All kind of bad stuff can happen.
Also the ability of what a person can do in a self defense situation is often pretty unrealistic. Just because you are doing martial arts you can't beat up 3 or 4 guys or fight against weapons. I would say the most realistic scenario for someone who trains should be a unarmed one on one situation.
Everything beyond that requires not just a lot of training but also a lot of luck. Yes you should train stuff like knife defense and multiple opponents but you should be aware of how risky these situations are and avoid them at all cost. Hollywood does create fight scenes in the movies and in fact I did some fight scenes for the movies which is great fun but it is not the reality and we should all realize that.
Also the believe that you don't need physical fitness for self defense is a myth. Self defense is chaos you might have to run, jump, hide, crawl whatever and fitness is always a great asset to use in real life fighting situations.