Marc MacYoung on the Goals of Self-Defense

Self defense isn’t about empowerment, personal gain, winning, revenge or teaching those who have hurt you a lesson. Those are the motivations of an attacker. Self-defense is about effectively ending an attack, quickly and with minimum damage to yourself. If you have those other motivations, then you aren’t defending yourself, you’re fighting. And if you are fighting, you are just as guilty of misconduct as your so-called attacker, because you are both operating from the same selfish motives.

Marc 'Animal' MacYoung

Marc “Animal” MacYoung is an internationally renowned personal safety instructor, and the author of more than a dozen books and videos on the subject of self-defense, including The Professional’s Guide to Ending Violence Quickly.


  1. Isn’t that a rather hypocritical statement? In a self defense situation the only outcome is someone walking away and someone being carried away and if their another possibility you shouldn’t be defending yourself. Your choosing your own welfare over another’s so yes “self” defense is selfish but what other choice is there?

  2. You are using “self-defense” as a euphemism for counter-attack. Marc is using it in a more literal sense: protecting yourself from harm, no more and no less.

  3. The best defence is a good offence. If an unfriendly enters your personal space. A 3 foot circumference. You should attack first. #1, never make a direct strike, use a fake or “half commitment” making the aggressor react, then as soon as he does capitalize on any openings with accurate controlled full commitments. always through a several strike combo. This will almost ensure at least one solid contact. Do not stop striking until your opponent is on the ground. Most all street fights wind up on the ground, so learn jui jitsu! as well as striking. MMA is the best combination of styles. I personally recommend that sort of training.

  4. In 100% of situations on ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. So the first step is to try to avoid getting into a “self-defense” situation in the first place. Strangely enough, this is *NOT* what people learn first in a self-defense class. This would be what makes a difference, though.

    If one failed at the first step getting away is the most important thing. Learning how to get away quickly is way more important than fighting techniques.

    What if one cannot avoid to fight and cannot get away? Then, mixed martial arts, ground fighting, knife fighting and dodging bullets (yes, unfortunately, in a self-defense situations not everybody will play by the dojo “rules” of your class, so if your instructor forgot the dodging bullets lesson, you’d better find a better one) come to play.

    Well, how much training time have *YOU* invested into each of these steps?

  5. I think it makes good sense. Self defense is what it is. It has nothing to do with being a warrior.

  6. don’t under estimate any opponent! Fighting isn’t about pride or being tough. It’s about winning @ all cost. No matter how much u train, no one can fight more than 3 people at once, carry mase or pepper spray & don’t be 2 proud to use it if you r out numbered or in a danger zone. The Ninja have the best philosophy on fighting I’ve ever heard!!!

    [Edited. –Administrator]

  7. In New Jersey “self-defence is legally considered “simple assault” carrying a penalty of up to $1000 fine + court cost $ toward the victims of violent crimes and up to 6 months in county jail. So in this ass backward state I guess the “cops” expect you 2 take a beating or worse.

    [Edited. –Administrator]

  8. Hey josh, wake up & smell the sweat!

  9. As you say Mike, fighting is not about being tough or pride. Another thing fighting is not about is self defense. The two are barely related at all.

    I’ve seen a lot of fights on the street and in bars. I have more than one friend who is old biker gang enforcement and I know at least 5 people who have worked bar and club security. The idea that most fights go to the ground is one I am gonna say is pure myth. Any fight can go to the ground, it isn’t uncommon for that to happen, but most I have seen and the vast majority I have heard about did not go to the ground.

    MMA systems are for sport fighting and have several huge flaws for self defense. Comparing them to martial arts is like comparing a paintball gun (MMA) to a .45 caliber handgun. With one you are gonna get some bruises and it involves a contest that doesn’t have to happen. With the other someone is going to die or be seriously injured. Reality, unlike MMA fighting, has no rules such as “no unsportsmanlike conduct”

    I think MMA is a great sport fighting system, but it is not practical for real self defense. When Larson adopted the Gracie system for US army combatives he wrote that the person who wins the fight is the person whose friends show up first with guns. The whole goal of army combative is oriented around sport fighting competition between groups. It was said that the old methods of combatives were far deadlier and more effective, but they were not being employed or learned. The army switched to the sport fighting methods because that allowed people to get the moves down, not because the moves were better in the martial context. This is all according to Gary Larsen the man who wrote the manual for the army.

    I know of many fights where someone took another person to the ground, and then the person who did the take down, who would have won in a sport fighting ring, was, kicked, hit or stabbed while they were on the ground by another person. The BJJ stuff is ineffective outside of controlled settings that take place in the ring. It is fighting, but it is not a martial art.

  10. I couldn’t agree more with Josh Young on this. Fighting is nothing to do with self defense. Fighting to me is thuggery, fuelled by selfish, egotistical motives. Self defense is just the opposite. It’s based on survival and a real need to protect the self. Ego doesn’t come into it.

    I also agree with Josh on his comments about MMA. Somehow MMA is being thought of as a superior self defense system as well as a superior fighting system in general, both of which are untue. What works in the ring (sorry “cage”) won’t nessecarily work on the street for all sorts of reasons, the least of which is the fact that MMA fighting is a controlled sport with it’s own rules and boundaries that can’t be crossed, neither of which exist in the street. There is no guarantee that these moves will work outside the cage and to assume so only goes to illustrate the arrogance that underlines the whole sport.

    And MMA is a sport. There is no debate here. It has nothing to do with martial arts except for the fact that it physically mimics certain moves. Everything is surface with MMA. It lacks the depth necessary to have it even related to martial arts.

    Check out my blog for two articles that critique MMA and discuss its dubious connection to martial arts.

  11. Self-defense is about empowerment. I’ll have to shake my head at the very first line. The rest settles well with me, as do the comments above about self-defense not going to the ground.

    But empowerment…yeah…most people will need some if they’re gonna pull off self-defense, especially to recover from shock if they’re struck.

    One need empowerment to act in ways that prevent confrontation too. That’s the biggy, me thinks. To vie for cooperation in the face of confrontation takes some guts.

  12. well josh If u r that desperate that u need a gun that don’t say much about u! second u must of missed #7 where I highly recomend carring mase or pepper spray no matter how advanced your training may be! you obviosly haven’t been in many street fights. I have been in more than I can count. I’ve lost plenty & “won” plenty. remember son, noone wins in a fight! in time you’ll figure it out.

  13. well neal, u obviosly r another unexperienced fighter, MMA is the best training, however I will direct u to #7. that should answer any of your misconceptions of what I am saying, like I told josh, wake up & smell the sweat… let me guess your a kung fu guy or something ineffective like that right?! lol

  14. josh & neal, My mistake, direct your attention to remark #6, not #7 then maybe u boys might get it.

  15. Hey Mike. I actually train in Kempo Ju Jitsu, not Kung Fu and I’ve fought in a number of sport Ju Jitsu competitions (not that far removed from MMA). I also spent two years working as a bouncer in some pretty rough clubs so I’m not that inexperienced when it comes to fighting. I have hit and been hit. I really don’t think style comes into it were self defense is concerned. Although my style could be classed as “RBSD” I wouldn’t necessarily use the majority of the techniques I practice. I’m a firm believer in keeping things as simple as possible in real situations. Why take the chance?

    I also still believe your mindset has everything to do with how many altercations you run into in everyday life. People like yourself (and others like Gary Spiers and Nick Hughs ) seem to get a buzz out of fighting. That tells me you seek these situations out. That’s your call of course, but I prefer prevention. Geoff Thompson has often said he used to live and breathe violence until he realized that you attract into your life what you emotively think about on a regular basis. Now, after years of engaging with violence everyday, Geoff concentrates on his writing. Violence doesn’t come into it anymore for him. He calls this metaphysical self defense.

    We are what we think.

  16. well good 4 u neal, & yourt absolutely right. I love fighting! there is no other feeling like dominating or knocking someone out cold! It makes you want to beat your chest like King Kong!! & remember the best offence is a good defence!
    Here r a few statistics 4 u. 7 out of 10 people who through the first punch win, 9 out of ten who make a solid connection win. go ahead & wait to b hit, it’s your face not mine

  17. hey neal, why don’t you go hug a tree or something,
    Hey Marc Mac young I want out of this sissy parade your running here, & stop editing me!

  18. hey neal MMA is an evolved fighting system that uses the most devasting teqnigues in the world, I think you r jelous ’cause yoou can’t hang w/ the badboys!!! I’m outta here ,

  19. And by the way Mike if the situation warrants it I will hit first. That isn’t the same as being cocky about it.

    I’m off. There are trees out there that need my attention.

  20. Well Mr. Feldmen.

    Self defense isn’t about fighting, it is about surviving. I’d have no problem ending your life if you put mine at risk just like I’d have no problem protecting your life if it was at risk.

  21. Feldman, you can look up the MMA rules if you want. They clearly show you to be wrong.

    If you were talking Vale Tudo it might be different, but then the gracie system was put in its place back then from time to time too. Once people did die in the ring, but that was not the MMA of today. I kind of think you likely don’t even know the history of where the MMA came from, otherwise you would not have such a poor understanding of it. I suggest you go find an MMA fighter to talk to so you can learn more about it.

    To review MMA is typically oriented at achieving the submission of the opponent, while you speak of sissies I can’t think of something more homoerotic than MMA. Two macho guys trying to get the other to submit? Of course the popularity of the sport with latent homosexuals is undoubtably responsable for how popular it has become.

    On top of that the rules list over a dozen moves that are banned. Does that sound like a sport with devastating moves? More like one that will not allow a devastating move.
    What about rounds?
    Fights don’t have rounds, they don’t have rest periods. MMA sportfighting does have rounds and rest periods. Weak.

    And what else does a devastating martial art need? That is right a point system, because we all know how the point system proves a martial art to contain the most devastating moves in the world. (again weak)

    MMA fighters cannot grab, pinch or claw the flesh. All of those moves are reserved for real martial arts with real devstating techniques,
    They are not allowed to cause injury to the opponent on purpose, this is a rule directly against devestating an opponent. How Mr. leadfist, does a martial art that bans devastating techniques, contain them? Clearly you should go find someone involved with MMA and learn more about the sport, which is what it is, a sport.

    If you are going to defend a sport as a martial art, it helps to know what the sport contains and is.

    [Edited. –Administrator]

  22. I noticed that Mr. Feldmen has a blog about how he doesn’t want to get ripped off when he buys steroids. If you think I am kidding you need to google the name he signed the posts with and read his blog.

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