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How to Defend Against a UFC-type Assailant
November 10, 2005
Hi ""

November 9th, 2005

From the Desk of
Jeffrey M. Miller



I was watching TV the other night and came across a UFC show. It is tagged with having the "ultimate in mixed martial arts fighting." I watched a little bit of it and noticed that most of the fights went like this:

Stalk around the ring in a boxer like fashion. Jabs and crosses thrown back and forth. One person tries to shoot for a leg in a wrestler take-down fashion. Then they wrestle for a bit till one or the other can choke the other guy out.

Since this is becoming popular on TV, and most people like to imitate what they see on TV. What are some good tips or advice you can give to effectively deal with a UFC style attacker whose ultimate goal seems to be to get you on the ground in a pin or choke hold?

Sincerely, Eric White


Hey Eric!

What an awesome question!

Your email is loaded with so many good points. Let's see, you touch on...

1) The way martial arts is typically marketed to pull people into a certain reality

2) The almost "cookie-cutter" approach taken by even skilled fighters

3) The fact that people actually watch TV shows and movies designed for "entertainment" believing that they can learn from these sources instead of an actual teacher

4) And finally, your recognition of number three and the possibility that you might be attacked by someone who fights this way.

Wheeewww! Way to go man!

Okay. So...

Let's take these points one at a time.

First, the marketing message. Sticking with your UFC (Ultimate Fight Championship) example of "ultimate in mixed martial arts fighting," we need only look at the way this phrase is loaded with attractive and compelling "buzz-words" for the right mindset (that's what marketers do - they learn how a certain group thinks and then writes ads and messages that will be almost magnetically attractive to that group).

Words like... "Ultimate" ... And of course, "martial arts" and "fighting"... All have a certain allure to people who look for this type of thing as a sign of power and prestige.

But, for those who are outside of that particular reality, like yourself, it's easy to see how that "ultimate mix" is really a mish-mash of tactics thrown together by marginally proficient tacticians at best.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not in any way saying that these guys can't fight. They can.

But, as you've seen, the fight very often goes to the stronger or more agressive of the two. Not unlike any other fight, right?

And, again, what's obvious to those who know what to look for, is that there seems to be a general formula to what all these "expert fighters" are doing.

To be honest with you, I haven't seen a UFC match since Steve Jennum (sp?) (a ninjutsu practitioner by the way!) Won in number three. The marketing back then was that this event was a way for everybody to see which martial art was best. What it turned out to be was a way for a group of folks who had been studying and perfecting their jujitsu ground-fighting tactics (the Gracies) to get everybody in the martial arts world to try to beat them using grappling and ground-fighting tactics! But more on this and why it's the most stupid thing you could ever do in a minute.

Anyway, what I saw that made me decide to never watch another one of these "tough-guy" matches ever again was this...

... Instead of looking within their own art to see what tactics were available for winning against the tactics of another art, practically every fighter either fought like they were in a sports event against someone else who practiced their art (they ignored the tacics being applied by their opponent - we call this "dojo syndrome" - if you really want to know what this dreaded disease is, write to me and I'll talk about it in another newsletter)...


... They completely threw away everything they had studied for years and went after their opponent just like a wild animal or, at best, a street fighter with little to no formal training.

Most, if not all, used little to no strategy or responsive tactics that matched their opponent's attacks in a way that would have allowed them to take advantage of weaknesses or mistakes.

Sorry, I just get very heated about this UFC/WWF crap that is really about making money and entertaining people who need "man-style" drama in their lives and the way people buy into them. But then, that's why they're still around. Many of us can't help but to "buy" into them.

Now, before I bore everyone to sleep with my ranting, let me move on quickly to your next point, which is...

... the almost "cookie-cutter" approach taken by even skilled fighters. Actually, I think I talked about this a little as a part of the last point but, as always, I can always add more.

Let me just say that, what you're seeing is what I call the "boxed approach" to fighting. It's almost like a cancer really, where everybody has seen a fighter fight and immediately thinks that that's the best way to do it. They think, "ahah! That guy's tough, he mixes things up, and he gets into a great position and just has to wait out his opponent." So...

... They end up fighting like everybody else.

So, the game is...

... Who can do this the best?

Not, who is the better fighter but, who is faster, stronger, etc. Sounds like a contest, because...

... It IS a contest!

But, it's NOT self-defense. And you, along with everyone else who regularly attends my classes, seminars, camps, and personal training sessions know that, a self-defense situation is a very different creature altogether.

If you are to win without all of the wear-and-tear that these guys go through, you MUST think "outside" the box. (another great topic for a newsletter, what do you think?)

Again, more on this in a minute...

Next. Your observation about the fact that "most people like to imitate what they see on TV," was brilliant! And, unfortunately, it's TRUE!

I remember doing the same thing when I was growing up. I watch the kids who come to our school trying to imitate the Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles. On one level it's just natural I guess but, the disappointing thing is that...

... People - rown adults - actually believe that they can learn self-defense moves from movies and TV. And while often you CAN learn a few tricks and techniques if you can get past the "movie magic" and "game-playing," the problem is that most of these folks do it from their recliners with their favorite beverage in one hand and their favorite snack in the other!

The same is true when it comes to the information that I, and other experts, have available. Can you imagine the number of books and videos (including their electronic counterparts) sitting on a shelf or harddrive collecting "dust?" I can only guess at the number of people who sit at their computers "reading" about self defense on my website instead of taking that information and practicing with it or coming to one of my seminars. If nothing else, they owe it to themselves to make sure that I'm not full of "you know what!"

But, they don't. So...

...that leads the rest of us to your "ultimate" question...

"What are some good tips or advice you can give to effectively deal with a UFC style attacker whose ultimate goal seems to be to get you on the ground in a pin or choke hold?"

Again, let me congratulate you on your ability to "ask the right question."

I mean it. This question is great. Not because of content but because of the way it's asked.

I wish that all of my students could ask questions like this (hint, hint...) LOL!

You're question is very specific. It highlights a specific attack against a certain type of assailant. In short, it creates a very specific paradigm within which we can get very specific.

Everyone should remember that a vague question (i.e. "How would you beat a UFC fighter?") Will only produce a vague, general answer (i.e. "I would know at least the fundamental tactics of his "style" to be better prepared to lead him into areas that he was not comfortable in and then take advantage of his mistakes when he makes them").

Before I answer your question though, here's the disclaimer:

This is my answer. It's based on my experience and my NOT being in the situation right now against any particular fighter with his or her own unique experience and "favorite" tactics.

That being said...

The first thing I would do is...

NOT use HIS tactics to beat him!

Do you get it? Remember what I said in the earlier points?

I wouldn't wrestle a wrestler, that is, at least not until I had him in a position where he couldn't "wrestle" with ME. (If you don't get this, you really need to get to a seminar or camp!)

Sounds pretty simple but it's true... Don't wrestle a wrestler... Don't box a boxer... Don't get into a sparring match using only kicks against a kickboxer.

It's just stupid. Why?

Glad you asked. Because...

The tactics your assailant is using are ones that they are VERY good at. And chances are, they're better at them than you. They've been doing them longer than you have and therefor they have lots of practice at making them work!

I consider myself a very effective puncher and I think that most of my students would agree. But, I would not allow myself to focus on trying to beat a Golden Glove Boxer with a punching strategy. Stupid.

So the first thing is...

Don't try to wrestle this guy or get in close enough for him to get a hold of you. If he's trying to shoot in to wrestle, keep your distance (remember the use of the kukan "space" between you) and keep him at striking distance.

Another thing is to remember that...

... You live in a 3-dimensional world.

What that means is...

... Don't fight like everybody else with simple front-back or side-side body movement - even if he grabs you. (Again, for those of you who have not been to a camp or seminar, or at the very least seen one of my videos, this is virtually impossible to explain in the context of this newsletter).

Remember to use angles, tricky timing, sudden shifts (not those goofy looking, eratic, "look-how-cool-I-am" fancy-footwork manuevers that are used by those who "play" at fighting), as-well-as slippery, evasive tactics that suddenly shift off of the assailant's power line causing them to have to adjust to you.

Another thing to remember is that, since your assailant IS very good at these techniques - because they ARE his favorites...

...he will be fixated on them.

This creates a sort of tunnel-vision that ill allow you to surprise him when you don't respond like everybody else. And...

...once he's distracted by your initial surprise attack or counter, this will set up an ongoing spiral for him down the path of confusion, panic, and ultimately... loss!

There's so much that we could talk about but, you know, a lot of this is covered in the 2004 Spring Ninja Training Camp DVD and others soon to be released. It's also the central topic of a product that will be coming out that focuses on one of the nine martial lineages that we teach as-well-as an upcoming Seminar on ground-fighting and escaping from fighters who use primarily grappline and wrestling attacks.

If you haven't seen the 2004 Camp Video, go here: and get a copy. It's less than twenty bucks when you order online and it comes as a two DVD set with literally more information than practically any other self-defense or martial arts video out there. Literally hours worth of info. I'm serious. Go there right now and get it!

If you do have it, watch it again - pay particular attention to the overall feel of the way I control my attackers. You might also want to pay particular attention to the multiple attacker session that is literally overflowing with control principles that work great against an assailant who's trying to grab or otherwise pin you down in a fight.

Not only will you get more out of it and pick up some really useful stuff, but...

... I know that, after watching it, you'll be sending in some really specific questions, comments, and insights that we can all learn from in an upcoming issue of this newsletter!

Video aside though, there REALLY is nothing like participating and learning in a live training event. So...

...the following events are scheduled over the coming weeks and months where I will be covering these and many more strategies for effectively dealing with a dangerous situation against an assailant with some training and experience under his or her belt.

Make it a point to put these on your calendar and plan to be there for some really great training!

Kubotan Self-Defense Keychain Workshop: Friday, Nov. 18th from 7:30 - 9pm at WCI Central Academy

Sword Defense vs. The Long Staff: Saturday, Nov. 19th from Noon to 5pm at WCI Central

Note: Those who are in town for both of the above events will be permitted to take the Saturday Morning classes at the Academy for no additional charge. Call the Academy for information about area hotels and accomodations.

Also, there's the annual...

DAIKOMYO-SAI - Birthday Celelbration Commemorating my teacher, Soke Masaaki Hatsumi's Birthday. The event will be held Friday Night, December 2nd thru Sunday, December 4th, 2005 at WCI Central.

This year, we'll be incorporating the Japan Recap and exploring some of the powerful lessons that I learned from the Grand Master and other Master Teachers during my recent trip to Japan for training.

And finally, for those who still have not attended an EDR: Non-Martial Arts Defensive Training Course, I will be leading a Basic Intensive Program December 10 & 11th at WCI Central. To check out more about EDR and why you should get certified, go here:

Space for these events is extremely limited so that everyone gets plenty of hands-on attention with me. Flyers will be up this week as well as the ability to register and pay for the events online for your convenience.

So check the website often for updates.



Can't seem to make it to my events here at WCI Central Academy? No problem! Why not take the initiative and bring the knowledge to you're area?

Send me an email at and put "Sponsor Info" in the Subject box.

I'll send you information for sponsoring a seminar in your local area and how you can get your training for free and maybe even make some extra money for yourself in the process!

Now, who can beat that kind of situation?!


Again, thanks for your great question, Eric. I hope this helped.

The most important thing for everyone to remember is to make this training very personal. Make sure that you are getting what you need and sewing up any loose ends in your own training, skills, and overall ability to handle yourself... least in the most common situations that YOU are likely to encounter in your life.

Remember that...

...if it bothers you and you want to be able to handle a certain type of situation, others probably want to know also. So, get personal and start the ball rolling by asking about it. Don't be like everyone else who is sitting there on their duff waiting for everyone else to ask the questions!

Well, until next time.

Here's wishing you Peace, Happiness, and much safety...

You're Friend on the Path,

Shihan Jeffrey M. Miller



Just a quick reminder to all of you who attended this year's Fall Ninja Training Camp and helped to make it the awesome experience that it was...

Please send in those testimonials and comments. Many of you tell me on a regular basis why you come and how I'm doing. NOW it's time to tell everyone else!

Seriously. It sounds very conceited and "sales-like" when I say how great something is but, when YOU say it, people take notice and listen.

Why? Because you are a student just like them. You are the ones who return year after year (many of you coming in for private lessons with me separately from Camps and Seminars). This says something about yourselves but, it also says something about what you believe your getting from me and these powerful events.

So, please. Send me something to post so others will know what they're missing.


Want to send me a question or comment....

Enter the word "QUESTION" or "COMMENT" in the subject box and email it to me at

Please keep your submission short and to the point. Any submissions that stray from topic, require too much in the way of editing (please use the spell-check and grammar check functions on your word processor - after all, you paid for them!), or are self-serving and abusive will simply be deleted.

I'll try to answer your email personally, especially if it's of a personal nature but most submissions will be answered here.

Talk to you soon.

Talk to you again in a few days.

Be Safe!

Jeffrey M. Miller, Shihan
10 Degree Black Belt
Founder and Director
Warrior Concepts International

Self-Protection & Personal Development

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