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A Master Ninja's Self-Defense Lesson: Show Your Weakness To Win
December 11, 2008
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REMEMBER: "Successful people invest at least 3 times more in the way of time, effort, and money to be successful than everyone else."

- Soke Masaaki Hatsumi

self-defense expert Jeffrey M. Miller

From the Desk of:
Shidoshi Jeffrey Miller
Thursday, December 11th, 2008
7:53PM EST Time


Feature Article...

A Master Ninja's Self-Defense Lesson:
"Show Your Weakness To Win"

by Shidoshi Jeffrey M. Miller
(C) 2008, Warrior Concepts Int'l, Inc.

Far too often, self-defense students and experts alike tend to give away their tactics and strategies to their opponent. The unconventional and advanced idea of "showing your weakness as a strength" is a powerful strategy that gives you the advantage and forces an attacker to play by your rules. Unfortunately for him, he won't know what's happening until it's too late.

In the world of self-defense and the martial arts, everyone seems to have this or that favorite technique or strategy. Everyone likes to show what they're good at. They like to show their strengths. I've even heard some students and teachers admit that, if they can't start out with a certain move, they're lost.

And then you have those who can't resist the urge to tell everyone what they do if this or that happens. Whenever a conversation turns to martial arts or someone starts talking about self-defense, they can't help telling everyone about their "guaranteed" winning move.

Are you kidding me?!

Why would you do that?

Why would you either tell everyone you know what you're going to do if they jump you? Or, why would you strategically move around in a fight or a self-defense situation showing all your cards?

In the Japanese art of Ninjutsu, there is the concept of kyojitsu tenkan ho, or "the interchanging of truth and falsehood." Kyojitsu tenkan is a major factor in what separates the men from the boys, so-to-speak, or the masters from the delusional in Japanese warriorship.

Basically, this principle says that you should show your opponent or your attacker "things" in a way that are the opposite of what's really going on.

Some people might refer to this idea as the 'old psych-out.' But, in reality, this principle strategy goes far beyond the childish game-playing or adolescent tricks that are often seen in martial arts sparring contests or amateurish fights. The principle, just as with the lesson it teaches, is not what it appears to be.

Strength As Weakness - Weakness As Strength

To most fighters and self-defense practitioners, the idea that I'm describing is limited to feinting and tricky moves that distract and confuse the attacker. An example of this way of thinking would be to feint with a left leading punch only to punch with a solid right cross.

And, while this idea is part of the overall kyojitsu tenkan strategy, it is basic at best.

If we look deeper - beyond the physical techniques being used - if we look at the psychology of the attacker, we can see that there is a more powerful technique available to us. One that doesn't rely on whether or not the assailant falls for our trick or not. We can use the attacker's own mind and interpretation of reality.

The concept I'm talking about here is in helping to create your attacker's perceptions even before he or she launches their attack on us.

Let me ask you a question. What if:

  • You could make the attacker run right into your strengths - right into your best techniques - because he actually thought they were your weaknesses?

  • You were able to keep the assailant from attacking your weak areas - your weak side, an injured limb, whatever - because he thought they were your strengths?

  • You could control your opponent's perceptions, as-well-as the perceptions of any witnesses to the point that, once the attack happened, they would be so confused by what they ran into - by what they saw and experienced - that they'd still be trying to make sense out of what happened long after the attack was over and you were long gone?

This can be very difficult to wrap your head around but, once you understand it, becomes a powerful weapon in and of itself. And it's this kind of high-level, strategic thinking that separates warriors from fighters, masters from simply advanced students, and real experts from somebody who "knows a few self-defense moves."

As a simple example of this type of strategic thinking, let's say that you're a Golden Glove boxer. The conventional way of thinking is to move around and fight like a Golden Glove boxer, right?

Of course.

And what is your opponent going to do when he sees you in a boxer's stance, shuffling your feet like a boxer, and holding your arms and upper body in position for fighting "boxer-style?"

Right. He's going to respond appropriately and prepare to deal with a "boxer."

And why shouldn't he? After all, you're giving him everything he needs to make your job harder and his job easier. You are doing everything right - if you want him to fight "you-the-boxer."

But, what if, instead of moving around and "acting" like a boxer, you did just the opposite? What if you did something you're not good at? What if you were terrible at wrestling and grappling?

It would make sense.

After all, people who are good at one thing, like boxing, generally don't wrestle too.

I know all about the mixed martial artists, but if you watch most of these guys fight, each one is definitely better at punching or grappling but usually not both. And when they're going at it, they punch and kick when the other guy is, and they grapple with the opponent when they are being grappled with.

But then, I'm also not talking about being a fighter that everyone can watch and review the videos of your past fights, either. I'm talking about self-defense and being in a situation where your attacker probably knows as much about you as you know about him.

So, again, what if you're lousy at wresting but, instead of staying away from wrestling, you actually move around like you "are" a wrestler and not a boxer?

Do you see where I'm going now?

What if, instead of shuffling your feet and poising to jab and cover, you move around like a wrestler - someone who is very good at grappling?

Right. Your attacker would respond appropriately (well, at least to him), and attack you in a way that would be appropriate for dealing with, you guessed it - a wrestler.

Imagine his surprise when he runs right into your rock-solid punches and finds that he has positioned himself perfectly for exactly what you need to beat him! He would never have put himself there if he knew that you were a boxer.

The same scenario can be easily reversed for the wrestler, or adapted to cover situations where you have an injury, or any other variable or condition in a fight. When you are entering for a throw for example, you can apply pressure to one arm, knowing that the attacker will react to defend it, and then take his other to execute your technique.

The point here is to be able to think outside the box. And, that requires more than just physical skills, tricky moves, and cool techniques. It requires that you think strategically and use everything at your disposal to win. It means attacking your opponent's "unseen" targets. And there is nothing more "unseen" to most people, than their own perceptions of reality.

You don't have to be a good wrestler to "look" like you're good, or at least appear to like wrestling. You don't have to be a Tae Kwon Do black belt to "appear" to be able to fight like you are.

And THAT is the secret. Learn to present your strengths as weaknesses. Learn to present your weaknesses - your limitations - as strengths. Get over your own ego and desire to prove something.

Do this, and you will already be in control of the situation long before your opponent realizes that he or she has lost it.

You'll be able to see and practice this principle in action at this year's Daikomyo-sai Seminar & Celebration, January 9th - 11th, 2009. For details and to download the event flyer, here's the link:

And, of course, you can also see it in action in any of the following training dvds:

Takagi Yoshin Ryu Shoden no Maki

Spring Ninja Training Camp 2004

Fall Ninja Training Camp 2005

F*ree Self-Defense Videos!

I've just done something that is a major first for me. And that is to put together a series of 20 self-defense videos that cover a wide range of topics. And the best part is that...

...I'm giving them away for fr*ee!

You can check out the self-defense video page for more information about how to get them. You can also do a search for a few samples on YouTube or In fact, to save you the trouble, here's the first one in the series.

If you like what you see, just go to the registration page, complete the form, and I'll send you the other videos in the series.

Just a quick note though. The video below is a shortened version of the full video that you'll get when you register. It's missing about 4 or 5 minutes of information due to space and download limitations.

Here's the registration page again for the rest of the self defense videos.

One Final Note...

I've been invited to speak on 1 Radio Network, an internet-based radio talk show. I'm being interviewed by Patrick Timpone, the show's host, and the subject will be on Warriorship - my favorite topic!

We're still working out the details but, as soon as I know what, when, and where - I'll make sure that you get all the details.

In the meantime, you can check out the website at

Want to send me something?

You may send questions, comments, or "what-if's" for inclusion in the newsletter using the CONTACT form on the web site - or cut and paste this link into your browser:

Just remember to keep your communications clear and to the point (limit each correspondence to ONE point, please). Any comments or questions received that are not easily understood or rife with spelling and grammar errors will be deleted. It's not that I don't want to answer but, if I can't understand your point or what you mean, I can't answer in a way that will be beneficial.

Until next time.

Peace and Happiness.

Jeffrey M. Miller, Shidoshi
Warrior Concepts Int'l
Self-Protection & Personal Development
362 Market St.
Sunbury, PA. 17801
(570) 988-2228

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