Principles of self-defence

Principles of self-defence

  1. Be good, be kind. 
  2. Breathe.
  3. Be efficient. Use as little effort as possible. Relax. Keep it simple. Use bodywaves.
  4. Be water. Flow forward or down.
  5. Be fire. Flow up.
  6. Accept. To see the situation objectively you have to accept it. To use opponent’s force, you have to accept his force.
  7. Synchronise. Merge with opponent.
  8. Get out of the path of the strike.
  9. Make a shallow angle to the line or plane of the strike / Strike perpendicularly.
  10. Smile.

(Feel free to discuss about it, or add your’s principles:


  1. Out / Into range.
  2. Active / Passive.
  3. Flow / Stay still.
  4. Keep an obstacle or not.
  5. Grounded / Free legs.
  6. Facing your opponent and move behind him / Flow through any position.
  7. Yin / Yang. (e.g. Pull to push / Push to pull; or strike soft tissue with hard tissue & hard tissue with soft tissue.)
  8. Work with the bodywave (momentum/kinetic energy).
    Feel wave, see wave, use wave, hide wave.
    Pendulum force (in phase / out of phase*, loop, constructive / destructive interference*).
    Wave from core / to the core. Bouncing power.
  9. Redirect, yield, absorb, rebounce or crash force.
  10. Linear / Rotational motion.
  11. Balance / Unbalance.
  12. Close to core stronger / Further from core quicker.
  13. Expand / Contract.
    Expand your peripheral vision – watch whole picture (not just weapon, lips or one attacker).
  14. Keep contact / break contact.
  15. Variety (training wide variety of strike or any movement)
  16. Creativity (let body create movements; think out of frame, express yourself). Play.
  17. Tension. Relax / rigid / flexible / plastics / stick.


Tactics and guidelines

  1. Bend your knees.
  2. Give him a problem back.
  3. Disguise (mask) you action movement behind normal movements (don’t activate his alarm). Don’t telegraph it.
  4. Flow – Go to the zone.
  5. Don’t do a final step. Step such, that you can continue to another step.
  6. Don’t put yourself down to say: ‘I cannot do it’.

Video lessons – Principles:

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Master Cameron’s fighting principles

Manage the distance.
Control the chaos.
Strike strategically.
Survive efficiently.

Master Andrew Cameron 
Wing Chun, Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Boxing background

Wing Tsun fighting principles


  1. Go forward (問路尋橋手先行) Advance immediately in order to attack the opponents attacking action, IF contact is made with the limbs use reactions developed from chi-sao(allowing for Chi Sao reflexes to take over) or — even better — to strike first. This counter intuitive reaction will often surprise the attacker, and moves the fight into a close distance in which tactile reflexes will dominate over visual reactions, where the Wing Tsun practitioner is likely to have an advantage.

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  2. Stick to the opponent center, not their hands or arms(手黐手,無埞(地方)) If you are unable to strike and disable your opponent try to turn them on their axis. do not maintain constant contact with his arms, how can he launch an attack at you without your knowing? This applies for the time only when the opponent is blocking your shortest way of attack. Once there is opportunity, you give up sticking, and go in with your attack (flow).
  3. Yield to a greater force (用巧勁,避拙力即借力) Since one cannot expect to be stronger than every potential attacker, one must train in such a way as to be able to win even against a stronger opponent. Chi Sao teaches the reflexes necessary to react to an opponent’s attacks. When an attack is simply stronger than yours, your trained reflexes will tell your body to move out of the way of the attack and find another angle for attack.
  4. Follow through (迫步追形) As an extension of the first principle, if an opponent retreats, a Wing Tsun practitioner’s immediate response is to continue moving forward, not allowing the opponent to recover and have an opportunity to reconsider his strategy of attack. Many styles that rely on visual cues prefer to step back and wait and time their attacks, as commonly seen in sport and tournament fighting.


Wing Tsun energy principles

  1. Give up your own Force One needs to be relaxed in order to move dynamically and to react to the actions of an opponent. When you are tense, your “own force” acts as a parking brake—you must disengage it first before you can move quickly.
  2. Get rid of your opponent’s Force This is similar to the third fighting principle. When an attacker wants to use strength to overpower a fighter, the response is not to try to overcome strength with strength but to nullify this force by moving your attacker’s force away from you or to move yourself away from it.
  3. Use Your Attacker’s Force against him Take advantage of the force your opponent gives you. If an opponent pulls you toward him, use that energy as part of your attack. Or if an opponent pushes the left side of your body, you can act as a revolving door and use that force in an attack with your right arm.
  4. Add Your Own Force In addition to borrowing power from your attacker, you can add your own force in an attack when your hand is free.



Systema principles

1. Form
‘Form’ means to make yourself comfortable and to align your body by supporting it using the balance of the skeleton rather than muscular tension. This puts the body in the strongest, steadiest position and allows ease of movement, relaxation and normal breathing.

2. Movement
The body is designed to move and should do so continuously when you seek to physically take action with others. You must be able to move each part of the body precisely and independently, but with the whole body and psyche working together as one unit. This makes it possible to keep the form of the body, helps relaxation and aids circulation and breathing.

3. Breathing
The way we breathe affects us physically and mentally. This becomes obvious when mental or physical changes coincide with changes in breathing. Understanding and control of breathing processes allow constant movement, correct form through control of mental stress (pain or fright) and aid relaxation. Once you start to understand breathing, it is even possible to control the heart beat and blood pressure in different parts on the body.

4. Relaxation
The natural tension of the body is different in every person. Precise, creative and economical movement is only possible within a relaxed body. Good breathing is also only possible in a relaxed body. Thus we can restore normal breathing by relaxation and vice versa. Constant movement and proper form are achieved by relaxation and ridding the body of unnecessary tension.

How can one prepare for real life? The answer is to make the training environment correct. For example if someone falls over it is likely be on concrete – so one must learn to fall safely on a hard floor without mats. This allows development of an accurate approach to falling and avoids the mental unpreparedness of transferring skills from an artificial to a real environment. The use of boxing gloves, pads and other protective equipment is also avoided. Every opportunity should be taken to experience things in a way that is as close to reality as possible.

Sam Benson and Charlie Evatt 28.11.2003


Breathing principles

7. Relax
The best breathing is relaxed.

Tension restricts your breathing and other movements.
To feel the force you should be relaxed.
The force flows better through a relaxed body.
Unnecessary tension is wasting your energy – relax makes you more effective.
Being relaxed and breathing properly helps you to cope with stress, fear, panic, pain.
You feel happier when relaxed!

1. Inhale through the nose & exhale through the mouth
Your body has better control of the volume & speed of intake air.

The nose also performs important filtration & temperature regulation of incoming air.

2. Breath leading
Start any activity with relaxed breathing.

Use your breath to pull or push all physical motion.

3. Intake sufficient volume of air
Breath normally. Avoid over-breathing – it causes tension.

Inhale as much air as your body needs at a particular time, for the work you are engaged in.
Pass your breath smoothly through all parts of your body.

4. Continuity of breath
Your breathing should never be stopped, interrupted or suppressed.

Stopped breathing is producing tension.
Consider some real-life situations when stopping and suppression of breathing occur. It might be a ‘BOO’ or a similar scary sound or abrupt movement. If you drop down or try to touch something high, inserting tread into a needle, of if you are late, in cold water or if you feel pain… Study it, feel how the tension comes and when you stop breathing.
Then focus on reprogramming your subconscious reactions to immediately restore continuity and keep calm & relaxed.

5. Cycle (pendulum)
Nature often changes in cycles, e.g.: summer/winter, day/night, your heart beating or your breathing.

A cycle doesn’t stop, but smoothly continues to other phases like a wave.
Do not begin to exhale before you complete your inhalation, and vice versa.

6.  Breath independence
Physical action shouldn’t be linked to breathing.

You have to react without hesitation with exhaling and inhaling.



Escrima principles

1. Always go to target!
2. Always remain behind your weapon!
3. When attacking, move the weapon first, then your body!
4. When you are attacked, move your body first, then your weapon!
5. Your live hand is always ready to attack!
6. Both hands work together!
7. Keep your hands raised (normally no higher than your shoulders)!
(Defined by GM Bill Newman)



Karate principle

never give up!


Louie Earle principle’s

1) If it’s bent, turn it. If it’s straight, hyper-extend it.
2) If your martial art only works on your buddies, it doesn’t work. Seek open mats, new partners, and find out what doesn’t work and why.
3) Train with different goals in mind. The four I use are working to escape, working to injure, working to submit, and working to kill. Working to submit is the hardest.
4) Damage his soft bits with your bony bits.
5) Hits that aren’t expected hurt a lot more than hits that are.
6) Most fights don’t end because of injury or knock out – they end because one guy gave up. Attack their mind as much or more than you attack their body.

Louie Earles background: systema, TKD, JKD, catch wrestling