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Self Defense/Self Defense Instruction for Beginner in His Fifties


Hi Mr. MacYoung:

First I want to thank you for your site,, I have read it closely, and understand that the situational, social and legal aspects of violence are the most important thing to master.

I have lived a large part of my life in not the greatest neighborhoods, and only do so when I don't have to choice to get out. I have picked up some of my own ways for dealing with avoiding a fight without anyone losing face, but always have had sticking areas that were mostly solved by ideas I picked up on your site. (I think I have been making challenges and threats without knowing that is what I was doing.)

So I am making some good progress on the mental aspects of it all. My problem is that I haven't been in a fight since I was in the fifth grade, and do not have any real physical moves to fall back on if the psychological stuff doesn't work. This makes me uneasy.

My question then is this:  What school or method would you recommend for a 53 year old man in reasonably good shape who  is willing to commit from 1 to 3 hours a week to learning a martial art or combative technique.

I will also add because of a sports accident, I am missing the ACL in my right knee, and although this causes me no problems walking or running, it would be a liability in a fight.

There are, as you have pointed out, so many methods and schools out there, it can be overwhelming to separate the claims from the realities, and I was wondering what you would suggest for a person with my limitations.

Finally, I read somewhere, can't remember where now, that in years past, Irish fishermen weren't taught to swim that they might keep their respect for the sea. Perhaps I am in a similar situation?

And it is the fact that I know so little about actual fighting, and have learned to talk my way out of problems, that has kept my respect for the problem of violence, and having a few moves might be the worst thing for me and lead to unearned cockiness?

Would appreciate your thoughts. Also, to anyone reading, go to his site, lots of gold there.



If you're looking to learn how to fight, don't bother.

The Irish solution will be your best one.

Let me start by saying that I'm so lazy I married a woman with children. I tell you that because I ended up stepping into the middle of some teenagers lives. On several occasions I told them "Look there are stages in life. These are ages that by this time you're expected to know and do certain things. You're also not supposed to still be doing other things. Things we tolerate from those who are younger. If someone is still doing them at a certain age, something is off."

I tell you that, because 'fighting' -- as most people think of it, not as martial artists, self-defense instructors use the term -- isn't something that a 54 year old man should be doing. That is not 'socially' normal.

It is assumed that by 54 you'll have other resources, other means, other ways of handling conflict and dealing with social challenges, insults, etc. AND most importantly, that your social status will be established.

Fighting is an issue for people trying to establish dominance. To 'prove' something. To stop unacceptable behavior. So 'not fighting' is less about the psychology working, than don't do stuff that would result in fighting behaviors. This is a lesson that young people haven't always figured out, so as a society, we give them some slack. It is, however, a lesson we expect older people to have learned.

Having said this, it is a two way street.

You don't 'fight' older guys (unless they're getting in your face and trying to dominate/ control/ tell you off). There is no 'glory' in fighting an old guy. There is no status to be be gained over threatening, dominating or fighting an older guy. One on one fights with an old guy? Nah.

Having said that, the kind of violence that IS launched against older people is often asocial predatory

You don't 'fight' against that kind of stuff. And calling a style 'combatives' doesn't mean you're not teaching fighting behaviors.(Mixed Martial Arts, krav maga, kapap, reality based self-defense all those systems are fighting with other names glued on)

There is no system that has everything you need. If someone claims they do, they're lying. The best you can do is find a teacher who knows his stuff and who is teaching elements of application  

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Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

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Too numerous to list here. My CV (for my expert witness work in court) is at

Read "In the Name of Self-Defense" the streets don't give a Ph.D in scuffle.

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