The Olympics are over. But it seems you still can’t get on the internet without seeing some story about knucklehead Ryan Lochte, the Olympic swimmer who lied about getting robbed in Rio.
While Lochte’s story was false, there are true stories of athletes getting mugged or attacked while out and about in the streets of Brazil. Most notably, the story of Olympic bronze medalist Dirk Van Tichelt, who was attacked on the beach while celebrating his medal win.
Dirk isn’t a swimmer or a runner or a cyclist.
He’s a judo champion.
Which is why — after he was attacked and had to go to the hospital — people asked how in the world does a judo champion get beat up by some petty criminal on the beach?
The answer is actually rather simple. And it’s one of the most important factors of self-defense.
You see — judo, boxing, karate and other similar sports have rules. If you punch someone below the belt, you can get disqualified. If you punch them in the throat, you can get disqualified. And if you try to gouge their eyes, you can get disqualified.
Since these athletes have trained for thousands of hours, the rules are ingrained in their psyche. When they come under a real-life attack, they revert to their training, and their subconscious tells them they’re not allowed to punch or kick their attacker in any way that could really do them harm.
Obviously, this is not the reaction you want to have if someone is pointing a gun at your head or if someone is trying to beat you up on some beach in Brazil.
This is why I’m a firm believer in training myself to react how I would if I turned around at an ATM and found a knife to my chest. Or if I were walking through a parking lot late at night and someone popped out from behind a car and started throwing punches.
I train for no-rules environments. Which means I won’t hesitate to shove my thumb in an attacker’s eye, or give them a quick knee to the groin, or punch them directly in the windpipe.
I realize these things don’t sound pretty and might make a lot of people squeamish. But remember, I’m talking about defending yourself against someone who may be attempting to kill you.
So if you happen to train in a sport with rules, remember that it’s just a sport. You’re not training to fight in a life-or-death situation.
If you’re interested in learning real self-defense, you need to find a system that has no rules.
There are a million and one self-defense systems on the market these days. One of the easiest ways to weed out the ineffectual ones is to ask if there are any rules. If the answer is yes, you know you need to keep looking.
One system that has no rules that I am a fan of is Krav Maga, a self-defense system originally created by the Israeli military. Do an internet search for “Krav Maga” and the city you live in to find a training center near you that teaches you the self-defense skills that will work when your life is on the line.
Skills like how to stop someone who is throwing brutal punches at you… what to do if someone puts a knife to your throat… and what to do if someone grabs you from behind and tries to drag you into a waiting vehicle.
These are all real-life scenarios that happen all over the world each day. So if you choose to take self-defense training, you need to buck the rules and find a system that will ensure you come out alive.