Self Defense/Training Equipment


QUESTION: What sort of training equipment do you think is necessary/nice to have/completely useless?

ANSWER: Sorry for the delay getting back to you, I'm in in middle of writing a book call "Everything You Know About Self-Defense Is Wrong" and it's been a major brain drain -- as well as time consumer.

That actually is a very difficult question because it depends on the kind of training you are doing.  For years I just got by with a  combo of hanging bag (still my preference) a tree, poles and some rope. The bag for impacts, but I'd tie the pole to the rope in various positions to make a mook jong (wooden dummy).  Then years later I built my own mook jong. Still years later I taught at schools that didn't have hanging bags, but 'wavemasters' and "BOBs."  To this day I still don't like the things.

Over the years I've collected focus mitts and kicking pads. I don't own any, but I've seen 'ground bags' -- some even with arms you can wrestle and pound on from the ground. Or you can just lay your heavy bag down. I've seen makawara boards, or you can just punch trees (Hint, don't hit EITHER without supervision or correct training). I don't have too many FMA sticks, but we train with real swords (with the edge taken off). I posses rubber knives (I prefer them over the hard ones or blunted metal because we stabbing and rip instead of slashing.)  We have the kids in the karate class wear head gear and other pads, the adults in my class don't wear equipment but we are not hitting intense (We practice really brutal things, really, really slowly)When we do go at speed, we do it on the bags and mitts. Then we go back to moving slowly when we do the same moves on each other.

I don't like BOB/wavemaster because for the kinds of attacks we do, we spend more time picking the damned things up than hitting them. But there are *great* for impact intensive training. A BOB in an Aikido schools would just gather dust. A BOB, however, can be useful for helping people get over their hesitation about attacking a human. Some claim they're good for accuracy and targeting, but price sticker dots on a heavy hanging bag do the same.

Simply stated the best training equipment is the human body. Nothing moves like it. Nothing reacts to force like it and nothing is as mechanical like it (there are four types of joints in the human body, you manipulate them differently) Knowing how to move the human body is way more important than having equipment.

Basically, my approach to equipment is that it's for all the stuff you don't want to do to your training partner. Judge the effectiveness/need vs. useless/ designed to get your money based on that standard.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: When going at speed, are you working an entire "three moves or less" sequence, or just individual parts of it? What sort of things are better practiced on the bag, and what's better with mitts? And is a Mook Jong, or something similar, useful outside of Wing Chun training?

Thanks for taking time out from your book. I look forward to reading it.

Rick Hernandez once told me "A grab is just a hit that hangs on"

I make the distinction between an impact and a drive. An impact comes in, delivers force and withdraws. A hit. The physics definition of impact involves the time of the energy transfer. It's the speed of the retraction that makes for the impact.

Otherwise it's a push. The problem is that most people try to hit by coming in and then they stall. They don't withdraw, they just leave it there too long. And it gets ... mushy.

In contrast a drive doesn't come in and stall. It comes in and keeps going, pushing whatever is there in front of it. Basically you're moving whatever it is to where ever you want it to be. But because it keeps on pushing -- even though a drive has a degree of impact -- is NOT an impact.

Yet when done right, they'll ring your fuckin' chimes, before they push your ass in front of an oncoming train. A preferred strategy of mine is to drive the guy into a freight train of an elbow. When it crashes into him he's twisted up and can't bleed off the energy. That's the stuff we DON'T do at speed. But we practice the mechanics of it. We slow down the mechanism of the drive so it still moves the guy, but it doesn't break the dude when the elbow comes in as a gentle push. Doing it at speed would injure our training partner.

So yeah, it's a big part of three moves.

As for the mook jong, I have wing chun in my background. Doing my form on the dummy is a big part of ingraining getting off line. Against a log with arms, there's no ego involved in staying there, so you ingrain getting off line. It also teaches you to deal with 'limbs' as you close in. If you can find it there's an old book of Yip Man doing the form on the dummy.

The mook jong is strongly associated with WC, but it isn't exclusive to it. So yeah, you can learn a lot of good stuff by playing with it. Including how to block like a freight train. To this day people still go "THAT HURT" when I block

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

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