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ARTICLE | 10 TOP TIPS TO OPTIMISE YOUR SELF DEFENCE TRAINING | by Orjan Pettersen

Updated: May 19, 2022

There’s training and then there’s training.

The difference between just showing up and going through the motions - or being intently there - is vast.

The truth is; your progress is largely down to you, or rather, your mind and approach to what you do.

What are some of the great advice that will help you elevate your self defence skills to the next level and maximise the output of the time you’ve already committed?


Here are my top 10 tips.


Listen to your instructors. What they say, how they move, why they do what they do. This means staying focused. Soak up the knowledge. Ask questions if you need to. Then listen.


Focus and repeat. And repeat more. The old mantra of fearing 10,000 repetitions of the same kick has validity. This is how you get capable. Faster.


Be consistent and regular. It takes 21 days to for a habit and only 3 days to break it. Build a routine with your training. Stick to the schedule. You’ll be rewarded with a flush of endorphins. Ever felt bad after completing some physical training? Exactly.


Respect your body. Push yourself hard, but listen to it. If it tells you enough is enough or that specific injury or illness is too much, let it recover. This is a long game. Play it that way.


Kill your ego. Or let it just be fighting yourself to get better than yesterday. If only by 1%. Self defence training involves fighting or drills with others. The aim is mutual learning. It’s NOT a competition. There are no trophies here. Don’t be that guy or girl. Be the one that’s recognised for collegial altruism in training.


Set yourself some goals. Maybe practicing for a training event or a test? Or just to improve a certain aspect of your training? Having a goal permits your mind to have a purpose - and to release a regular flow of reward hormones which strengthen resolve each time you train for it. Use your mind to work with you.


Keep your mind right. Some days things flow great. Other days everything appears to go wrong. Training feels hard. Your technique may be poor. Your mental focus is lacking and energy flows are low. This is just a learning experience - and biology. And life affecting you. Consistency becomes stronger with time. You’ll never be perfect. Accept it. Improvement is your ultimate goal.

Work with different people all the time. You’ll learn something new from all. Different tenure and capability students will add more reality. Different sizes, ages and genders will bring variety in styles. Can you choose the criminal perpetrator in real life? If not, better get used to any and all of them in training.


Keep your diet sensible. Vary it with enough protein, carbs and good fats. Drink lots of water. Take in food regularly and before training. Everything in moderation, especially at weekends and the big party occasions.


Do stuff outside the training. Add in different elements. Sprint training will help your evading skills. CrossFit will aid your strength. Yoga will help your flexibility. Simply sitting in public and reading people will aid your body language skills. Turning the light on with a slow but precise hand strike or opening the door with a similar dry drill kick is maybe odd, but if you can? Assessing environments as you’re entering premises or just walking about will develop your situational awareness. You can train all the time if you want to. Take a break occasionally, though.


The opportunities to get better and better are endless - and the great news is; they are all in your control. Have fun - and apply them.

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