Training Kids To Become Ultimate Fighters

Training kids to be effective in self defense is very different from teaching them to become ultimate fighters. And this isn’t just a subtle element that’s lost on those not in martial arts… it’s a major factor into determining what will be effective in self defense and what will not.

The Associated Press did a story the other day on an MMA studio in Arlington, VA that teaches kids self defense… and while there are a few things shown that I have issue with, the core of this video are right on. However I think the producers didn’t really understand the difference between sport fighting and self defense.

Here’s the video for you to watch…

The Problem With Takedowns and Sport Fighting

The first thing that came to my attention was that these kids were practicing takedowns. This is where you find a way to essentially trip or throw your opponent to the ground.

The basic idea of taking an opponent to the ground is sound – you let gravity do the work of injuring your attacker. But getting into a grappling match – which this video shows – is silly for both adults AND kids.

In an even more basic sense – takedowns are impractical for children. Takedowns are only really effective when similar body sizes are in play. When a smaller person tried to takedown a much larger person they often fail because they don’t have the relative strength to position their opponent to a point where they can use leverage effectively. In other words – the window where they have effective leverage on a larger attacker is rather small if there at all.

Kids MMA for self defenseThis is one of the key reasons jiujitsu and wrestling sports matches have weight classes. Even in MMA size matters… and often the larger person has an advantage in reach and strength.

In contrast we teach our kids that there are quicker and more effective self defense tactics that they can use to cause enough injury so that they can remove themselves from that situation. The nice thing is that they don’t have to think about whether this bully is too big for them to grapple with or if there are two or three of them.

Head Injuries Beware

Head injuries are a very serious issue and it’s the light being shed on concussions throughout scholastic sports is well placed. Kicks and punches to the head and falls that cause a head impact can be serious. This is where any sparring that allows intentional full contact to the head should be avoided. However the head is a legitimate target in self defense… in fact there are close to 20 targets on the head that can sustain very threatening injuries beyond just a concussion.

In our self defense training we teach all of our students – including our kids – that strikes to critical targets can have very debilitating effects. They learn when and only when it is appropriate to strike those targets. To put any target off limits is irresponsible from a self defense perspective.

In our school we train with safety in mind. We use the appropriate safety equipment and limit full out person on person sparring. In fact we don’t free spar or point spar at all. We have adapted training methods from military combatives that allow our students to train the various aspects (technique, speed, power) of our curriculum without unnessesary injury. Do bruises happen? Yeah, sometimes. But we’ve never had a serious head injury as a result of the way we train.

Come join us…

If you want your child to have more confidence in the world they are growing up in give us a call. We would love to have you stop by our New Albany studio to watch a class and talk with some of the kids and parents that attend our school.

How I Became A Reluctant Black Belt

New Albany Black Belt

What’s your image of a black belt? Young, male, fit?

Yep – I had that same thought. I don’t fit that image… Nearly forty, female and a wimp.

Here’s my story – the story of the Reluctant Black Belt.

When I started with Dynamic Self Defense, it was to be involved in an activity with my husband. He had always wanted to get into a martial arts and liked the idea of earning a black belt. Me, not so much… I was somewhat reluctant. I wanted to be with my husband and learning self defense was just a bonus.

Over the first few months I got to know all the adults and to my surprise there were women there! Most of us adults were not the young and fit type either. I found a place that I could be comfortable, work up a sweat and have fun.

As I progressed, I found a sense of confidence about the skills I was learning and I really impressed myself with these new abilities.

This doesn’t mean there were times that I wanted to quit and be done with it – because there were many. Sometimes an injury would make me frustrated and achy or I would feel totally overwhelmed with the rest of my life and feel that I needed a break. But, I had the support of my classmates – all of them having similar issues and many of whom are now black belts too!

There was a point when I realized that I wanted that black belt. I determined that I was worth the struggle and I was going to push through and earn it.

Now, with a black belt around my waist, I look back at the 3 years of training and I am so proud of myself. I accomplished something I didn’t set out to do but turned it into something worth doing for myself.

The Belt Curriculum Curse

scott blackbelt

Belt Curriculum’s in the Martial Art world have been highly scrutinized as nothing more than a money making idea, allowing the Instructor to squeeze every dime out of their students.

Many believe the belt system derived from ancient times. When a Martial Artist trained, their clothing would become worn and dirty thus changing their color especially the cloth they used to tie around their waste. Color of the cloth signified how hard the individual was training. Supposedly the darker the color the more skilled the individual. Others suggest it started in the states under the Tae Kwon Do Art for tournament purposes. Both are debatable with no clear winner. However the purpose of this blog isn’t to try and figure out where exactly Belt Curriculum’s originated from but why they can hold some value, given taught and explained logically.

Sadly many schools have destroyed what I feel is the true reason behind Belt Curriculum’s. I cannot speak for every Style out there but for Dynamic Self Defense, our Belt Curriculum serves some unique and important purposes. Here are a few regarding our program.

The first thing to understand is the Belt of the student DOES NOT in any way state their skill level! I have discussed many times that skill solely lies in how hard you train and how much you train. By giving 100%  in every training regiment you do and making Self Defense a daily routine, can you ever hope to advance your skill level.

Second is the Belt of the student shows where they are in their training. Having a structured Belt Curriculum will help students be able to effectively learn at a pace comfortable for them. It makes no sense training someone an advanced drill when the key foundation of targeting, technique, footwork and awareness have not had an opportunity to develop. Classes would become a swirl of chaos, confusing and frustrating beginners as well as holding back advanced students ultimately wasting everyone’s time.

Third is the Belt holds a form of goal setting for the individual. Society today holds goal setting in just about everything we do from work projects to sports! Self Defense training is no different. Setting goals for a certain rank insures the student stay focused on the objective working hard to meet that set goal.

Lastly the Belt shows a sign of respect. Dynamic Self Defense teaches that respecting those of a higher level is a sign of discipline and humility recognizing what that student had to endure and work for in order to obtain said rank. As any student of mine can tell you, I don’t give belts away in my school. I do not hold nor condone”feel good sessions”. We are all about training you to be strong and focused in any situation and with that comes some hard training exercises, not just physical but mental as well. With that said any Belt achieved in Dynamic Self Defense is one that has been well earned.

I invite you to come in and experience a different, and maybe for you, a more beneficial way of training in Self Defense. A Belt Curriculum may not be what you had wanted but after observing what Dynamic Self Defense is all about, you might want to give it a try.


Why dealing with “Keyboard Warriors” can be a good thing!

In today’s age, the internet seems to be the best way to get out to the masses what your wanting to say, sell or show. With that type of audience comes those who wish to shut you down or at-least annoy you to know end without the threat of being known and having to deal with you face to face. These types of individuals are known as “Keyboard Warriors.”

A fellow Martial Art practitioner of mine, Faron was in training recently preparing for a huge sparring tournament and wanted to show to his friends and family how his performance was doing. Like most of us, Youtube provided the means for him to post his videos and show everyone what he was up to. Unfortunately that’s when the “Keyboard Warrior” strikes and the ensuing derogatory posts begin. What was supposed to be an informational video for those interested in Faron’s interests, soon became a battle of words.

This is an all to common tale and usually leaves the one who posted the video or blog, frustrated and distraught, taking their eye of the original plan and losing focus on what their main intent was. But can these “Keyboard Warrior” posts be something we can turn around and use to our advantage?

Of course the “Keyboard Warrior” mentality goes way beyond our computers. Companies have been bad mouthing their competition for years. One of the most famous was the battle between Burger King and McDonald’s some time ago when Burger King came out with several commercials demeaning the McDonald’s  brand. One in particular showed three young adults eating Burger King when one says that they all need to get back to work to which all three of them put on their McDonald’s hats. And what was the public reply? According to Forbes*, McDonald’s is the #1 ranked fast food chain with Burger King being 6th!

In the eye of Martial Arts in general Dynamic Self Defense (DSD) is just a minnow in the big pond yet DSD gets heavily attacked on our beliefs of proper training tactics and theories. We however encourage such onslaughts! It means we the minnow, can cause concern for big fish forcing them to be accountable for what they teach and re-evaluating what and how they run their program! DSD is making the public think past the dazzle of the school and skilled trainer. We encourage the public to look at the curriculum itself and wondering “Is this really Self Defense? Can I really use this in a street fight if needed?”

There will always be that “Keyboard Warrior” mass out there and we openly accept them for it allows us to educate people in what we do and what we are about, providing an articulate answer with statistics and facts based on our research. McDonald’s took the commercials about them with good humor and replied to Burger King thanking them for the free advertising! We take the ridicule the same way just hoping they spell our name right!

Keeping It Simple Yet Effective

Self Defense Eye Gouge From GroundSelf Defense training shouldn’t be just for the in-shape cardio health fan, physical strong man or for the incredibly flexible . A Self Defense curriculum should be able to cater to anyone regardless of age, size or disability for ANYONE can be a target of crime.

In my time researching other possible affective techniques for my students, I get amazed at the overwhelming amount of misinformation that seems to cater to the “Dazzle” of a move rather than if the technique in question would actually be affective in a real life scenario. As an Instructor I not only have to look at whether the technique is practical but also if the technique can be applied by the common person.

When training with any technique, I also compare the maneuver with muscle memory response as well as how and when the technique can be used. I also look at several scenarios. Am I in a situation with multiple attackers or one? What if there is only one way out, What if I am in a tight space or there are obstacles around me, limiting my movement?  You see a technique is more than the visual appeal. You have to look at the whole picture!

When looking at the big picture, simple techniques like eye gouges, elbow strikes and kicks below the waist while basic and not very eye appealing, deal massive amounts of damage to the target and are easily applied by even the most non-athletic person out there!

When learning anything, the student should always apply not just the maneuver but also the way it is applied to any potential real life situation and ask themselves “Is this something practical for me..”

Dynamic Self Defense is a program designed to adapt to current situations, sorting out what works and what doesn’t. By applying simple techniques anyone can use, allows for a more affective training regiment for anyone whether it be the 22 year old triathlon runner or the over weight 45 year old with bad knees.

To see first hand how Dynamic Self Defense can help you contact us today.

Welcome To McDojos: May I Take Your Order?

Is your karate school a McDojo?Martial Art Schools are like any other small business. They market a product in hopes to draw in potential customers and make a profit to survive. The popular the product, the more successful the school. The more successful the school, the more the competition strives to mimic what their doing.

It is at this point many schools offer a wide range of options outside their normal Art as if to say “My style is missing something so let me offer what is working across the street to get people to come here.” Another example would be a school trying to cater to very need which in turn can cause confusion amongst the students. It is in these examples that the term “McDojo” is generally used. And with that name comes negative press.

An example of the poison a McDojo can emit is hiding the true nature of the so-called “Special Deal”. It isn’t until the individual is reviewing the terms with the Martial Art School that they find out that if you want to participate in the grappling class, or kick boxing session that the “Special Deal” has now turned into a car payment. Many people end up feeling let down or highly pressured into signing up for something they truly are not sure about especially when their child is dazzled by the glamor of the school setting or uniform they get to wear. Some call it good business I call it deceit.

Another example would be the Instruction of the classes. Many owners with a nice collection of awards and degrees, dazzle the prospective student into signing up with the thought of the student being trained under them, only to turn around and have other students teach the classes. Turns out Instruction of the Head Instructor is available but only for private sessions which is an additional cost to the student.

One of our posts titled “The Best Martial Art for Self-Defense” is an article I urge all potential students to read in order to help them make a decision on what they are looking for in a school. Having the right questions to ask the Martial Art school will save in becoming succumbed to the “McDojo” trap.

We work very hard to sway away from the “McDojo” realm which is why Dynamic Self Defense has a no nonsense policy. Our curriculum is purely self defense based covering all areas of defense whether it be on the ground or on foot. We are not a tournament nor cage fighting style school. We don’t pressure parents into signing long term contracts nor confine students to certain days of the week to train. Even though the school has an excellent Assistant Instructor staff, the Master Instructor handles 99% of the schools class instructions.

For more information about Dynamic Self Defense and its views please check out our additional blog posts and website sections, contact us online or phone 614-304-1406

The Best Martial Art For Self Defense

Adult Self Defense ProgramsLook around the Internet and you’ll find articles that rank various arts for self-defense or extol the virtues of modern styles like Krav Maga over more traditional styles like Karate or Tae Kwon Do.

But the argument is actually false in it’s nature and usually self-serving.

To understand this argument it helps to understand that all martial arts once originated as methods of self defense. In Okinawa, for example, Karate evolved to counter the Samurai. The Samurai were armored and armed while the Okinawans had only farm tools and their bare hands.

Over the centuries Karate as with most martial arts developed into 3 distinct components. And to understand what makes a martial art it’s important to understand these 3 components.

The Demonstration Side

Most martial arts have a display or exhibition side to it. Shaolin Kung Fu for example is an impressive display art. Shaolin Monks actually tour the world with their martial arts demonstrations showing incredible athletic and mental stamina. However much of what you see – like the acrobatic butterfly kick – has lost most of it’s combat value.

Tai Chi is another example of a demonstration art that’s beautiful to watch and has even been proven to provide healthful benefits for practitioners yet has no role in practical combat or even ring competition.

The Ring Competition Side

Most traditional martial arts have evolved from lethal force to adopt a competitive aspect. The traditional JuJitsu of the Samurai for example has become almost exclusively a competition sport in Brazilian Jiujitsu. In fact it’s the most trained martial art in MMA – a sign of it’s competition dominance.

Tae Kwon Do is another example of an art originally developed to counter the feared Samurai that is now best known as an Olympic sport just like Judo and Greco Roman Wrestling. Likewise, French Savate started as a self-defense style for merchant sailors and is now one of the most aggressive kickboxing sports.

While competition sports certainly have their value in developing and testing skill, they also come with rules attached. In fighting both participants know that they are going to fight, both have been trained and the rules allow both to know what to expect. This makes sport training of only limited use when it comes to combat or self-defense.

In Tae Kwon Do and Karate competitions safety gear is often used and punches to the head are forbidden. Even in the roughest of MMA matches, lethal or crippling strikes (to the spine, groin, back of head) are not allowed.

The Practical Combat Side

What was practical in medieval rural Asian countries isn’t necessarily what is practical today. This is how sword and spear techniques for example migrated from combat purposes to demonstration. It also explains why only about half of martial arts schools surveyed teach self-defense.

In today’s world ‘practical’ involves dealing with empty hand attacks and often with multiple attackers. This means that to be practical an art has to be able to deal with one threat quickly and move on to the next.

Practical self-defense isn’t about fighting…

The average person can take a lot of non-specific trauma – hits to the face, gut etc. This is the realm of sport fighting. Self-Defense is about shutting the attacker down in the quickest way possible while limiting injury to yourself. This means striking very specific targets that accomplish this objective and doing so reflexively.

Some martial arts have tried to blend all three aspects of martial arts into one curriculum. This is often the root of confusion for the average person that believes all martial arts are about self defense. To some degree I think even practitioners can fall victim to this mindset.

The Best Martial Art For Self-Defense

Ultimately while one art or style may indeed be more practical than another when it comes to self-defense in the modern world, in the end only an art that you can execute reflexively is worth anything at all.

The argument then isn’t about Wing Chun vs. Jeet Kun Do or any other such nonsense but rather about knowing your own objective in training in a specific art or style.

While it’s possible to learn techniques you can use starting on day one, on average it takes about 6 months of training to build a solid base for self-defense. It may take years to become an expert. This means committing yourself to a school for some time.

If you are looking for a self-defense curriculum ask yourself…

  1. Does the curriculum focus primarily on self-defense?
  2. Are the movements something that I can learn to do?
  3. Is the training built around real world scenarios?
  4. Is the school environment positive and are the people the kind I want to associate with?

I would welcome you to schedule a time to stop in and view a Dynamic Self-Defense class at our New Albany school. We’re located in North East Columbus between Westerville and Gahanna – right off 161 at Rt 62 in New Albany.

The Top 5 Self Defense Skills Students Struggle With


Self Defense Women's Classes at DSDWe make no bones about it: Dynamic Self Defense is not your typical Martial Art School. Our curriculum and staff keep things as real life as possible in our drills and techniques, applying real world applications to multiple conflicts.

These real world applications are known as “drills” that work specific parts of our defense system whether it be skills dealing with Awareness or understanding the importance of footwork when defending oneself. With Dynamic Self Defense striving to be number one in not only providing the most realistic form of self defense training, but also in educating and helping our students and potential students in some struggles they may deal with in their training! It is with that I bring to you my top 5 list of “Skills a Self Defense Student Struggles With”.

TOP 5 Self Defense Skills

  1. Taking the Hit – The body is capable of sustaining damage without getting injured. It’s all on where your getting struck. Take for instance blocking. The arm connects with a fist preventing it from striking your face. Sure it may hurt but not enough to take you out of the fight! DSD works several drills to help combat the need of wanting to freeze up, squint the eyes or cower into a ball in situations like this. In the long run the more your body gets used to the impact reality the better your able to focus on your attack response and situation your dealing with.
  2. Having a Quick Response – This is a very important skill for having a quick response will greatly alter a situation in your favor. This doesn’t just cover your attack response but also your DEFENSIVE response whether it be blocking, weaving etc. Drills that force you to think on your feet help in creating a fast positive response skill.
  3. Controlling the Situation – This skill is referred to as Awareness. Simply having good technique and a good physique is not enough! When facing several potential threats, having a proper Awareness skill can be all the difference in getting beat up or getting away. Even though we train for multiple attacker scenarios doesn’t mean I’m ready to take them all on. Using my Awareness skill by surveying the situation, controlling one opponent and pushing them into the others allowing me to escape seems the more logical choice
  4. Proper Footwork – Footwork helps with stability and balance. We take our footwork skills from the field of Boxing. Keeping your feet separated and knees bent, allows for more maneuverability and makes it difficult for the attacker to get you to the floor. Drills that help defend against attackers with Wrestling or Jujitsu training is best given these types of styles focus on getting their opponent to the ground.
  5. Keeping Hands Up – While this may seem simple, many students struggle with this skill set simply because we don’t normally keep our hands up past our waist in a normal situation. It’s easy to drop your hands when not thinking about keeping them up which results in exposing the face and ribs to the attacker. Drills DSD uses to help with this skill include our “Pattern” and various “Focus Mitt” drills.

I invite you to watch the video below to give you some insight on some of the drills mentioned above and skills talked about. For more information on our self defense classes and times please email us in the contact section above.


Children’s Self Defense Classes in Columbus Ohio Make Kids “Bully Proof”

Children's Self Defense Classes Columbus Ohio10TV News was out at our self defense school in New Albany recently. Their segment shows how our children’s self defense classes in Columbus Ohio can help make kids bully proof.

The segment talks about a major concept in self defense – that bullies look for easy targets.

This is where self defense training can play a major role in preventing attacks in the first place.

The first step is of course knowledge. Knowing the right moves, when to apply them, how to strike, where to strike and so on is a big factor in being able to defend yourself physically. But it’s not everything… and I would argue not even the most important part of self defense training.

The most important part of self defense training comes when kids are taught to use their knowledge under stress. At Dynamic Self Defense we do this by adding reality elements into our training. Making kids deal with multiple attackers, role play in scenarios and focus while doing intense drills helps give them the confidence that they can indeed use what they learned if they had to.

Ultimately it’s confidence that helps prevent bullying. When kids are confident in their physical ability they are not threatened by words alone. This is something I have observed myself with DSD students. Once they are confident in their physical skills they can shrug off verbal comments much more easily. They can also look a larger bully in the the eye and tell them to back off without hesitation or feeling afraid. This level of confidence is what we strive to build in our students.

Fighting is always a last resort. But the irony is that fear can lead to more fights than solid confidence. Bullies don’t want to fight – they certainly don’t want a fair fight much less one where they think they might get hurt. What they want is an easy target that helps them stoke their ego and improve their social rank. And in this way DSD really can make your child bully proof.

See our segment on 10TV

If you are in NE Columbus or one of the suburbs or surrounding communities – Westerville, Gahanna – we invite you to schedule a time to watch one of our classes in action. See for yourself if we’re the kind of people that you want your child to be a parts of.

Jujitsu Self-Defense Myths Exposed

My 12 year old nephew (DSD Green Belt) was watching the news with his mom last night when a story came on about Brazilian Jujitsu being the “ideal” form of self-defense for all people… especially women.

It didn’t take him long to turn to his mom and tell her that this isn’t very practical at all and wouldn’t go very far in a real fight.

He’s right!

Jujitsu based ground defenseHere at DSD we use a lot of Jujitsu moves in our ground fighting (grappling). Where we diverge is in the fact that the street and the ring are two very different scenarios – so they require very different goals and training approaches. Our goal is never a submission and we never waste time getting wrapped up with a single attacker.

In the ring you are often matched with someone of similar size and usually similar athletic ability. It’s an athletic competition with clear rules and it pits skill against skill.

In self-defense there are no rules. Often your attacker wants to kill you or at the least cause serious injury to you. You don’t get to choose the size of your attacker or whether or not they have a weapon. And many times there will be two or more attackers, not just one.

When it comes to joint manipulation or the next step, join breaks, Jujitsu is remarkably efficient. However, because the moves are often very technical, they become impractical for the average person. You see the more technical a self defense move is, the more you must train itin order to be able to use it.

As you watch the video below, consider what my young green belt recognized…

  • Attackers don’t wear a Gi (martial arts uniform) and neither do you on the street. Jumping guard and other high athletic events just don’t work like that when you are wearing street clothes.
  • Attacks never start in a clench (a stance where both opponents grab each others Gi) nor do they stand still and allow you to throw them or choke them out. While you are doing this they may be unloading a magazine of bullets into you or beating you into unconsciousness with a piece of re-bar.
  • Many Jujitsu grappling moves only work within a certain size differential. A lot of things change dramatically when your attacker is 50% bigger than you – something sport Jujitsu simply does not train for.
  • You will rarely face a lone attacker. Even if you are really good at Jujitsu, and you get a guy locked up, you yourself are locked up too. All another attacker has to do is kick you in the head or pull a weapon – you are an easy and mostly immobile target. Sad part is that I have heard this very scenario first hand at least three times – each case ending in very serious injury to the Jujitsu expert.
  • Jujitsu techniques have their place on the “street” but not in place of more practical techniques that assume multiple attackers and the fact that your performance will suffer from stress, fatigue and possibly an already sustained injury.

Sport and competition martial arts have their place, but they should not be seen a synonymous with self-defense. Unless you train extensively for self defense situations, you will revert to sport martial arts when in a self-defense situation. Statistically speaking, applying sport martial arts to an encounter where someone literally wants to kill you or do serious bodily harm, is like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

If you want to train in 100% self-defense (including practical striking, grappling and multiple attackers)… schedule a time to stop by our school in New Albany and see if Dynamic Self-Defense is right for you or your child.