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Self Defense/How easy is it to KO or kill your target with a completely unexpected sneak attack from behind?


This is something I seen frequently from the Reality-Based Self Defense community and their criticism on martial arts. The gist of it is that so many RBSD instructors emphasize the sucker punch as the ends it to all by street fighters in quickly dispatching their next target. More details here in this link.

Even you emphasized so many times in your NNDS website that real street gangs almost always start their attacks with sneak attacks.

I am curious though would this be enough to actually incapacitate someone? As one of the response to my yahoo answers question stated that in the "Knockout games" thats been played by punks quite in the recent years, despite the victims being UNTRAINED INNOCENT bystanders who are likely out of shape, very few attacks have resulted in a KO or murder (even with punks whacking their victims hard several times).

I mean with Hollywood glamorizing sucker punches as the be-it-to-all to ending fights against much tougher opponents and even the RBSD community overemphasizing it as the BIGGEST thing to look out for in self Defense to the point some schools emphasize entire class days on learning how to react to sneak attacks, this seems to be the most recent craze like the "knife fighting fad" you criticized so much in your site. To the point like I stated in my thread, movies show UNTRAINED farmers who never wielded a knife before in their life suddenly killing soldiers or police with the skill of a commando  despite not even hitting vital points simply because they snuck up on them! Battle of Algiers is an excellent example of what I am talking about and its a common cliche in recent crime movies.

First of all, if the RBSD folks are pitching sneak attacks as a tactic, that ain't self-defense. That is flat out ambush, assault and bushwhacking. Fighting is bad enough, if they're teaching how to hit from behind likely to kick the charges against you up to aggravated or attempted murder (depending on your state)

Second of all 'real street gangs' don't 'almost always.' Usually most attacks involve them walking up from the front and getting in someone's face. Then they swarm. This isn't too hard because most people try to get into either a dick measuring contest or show how ruff n' tuff they are to stand up to a gang. Meanwhile the gang gets into attack position and creams the dude. When they do hit from behind, it's usually because the target has tried to walk away. It's the 'victim' who sets up the attack from behind, not the gang.

Hell, even most robberies involve coming up behind the person and saying "Excuse me" or "Hey what's up?" This so the target turns around and sees them See, a surprised person is easier to intimidate. Which is what the criminal (normally) WANTS to do because the charges of threatening someone, even with a weapon, are less than actually using it.

The knock out game got too much publicity and ain't nothing new. They were called "Flash mobs" a few years ago. Wolf-packs 20 years ago and I forget the Latin term for young thugs going around the streets of Rome and attacking strangers. Like I said, ain't nothing new. So people going on about how to defend yourself against them are usually just trying to sell you something.

As to the possibilities of someone dying or getting knocked out, there's no real well to tell. I've seen people savagely beaten by mobs get up and walk away. I've also looked at bodies when the person slipped on ice and cracked their heads open. It's impossible to call because there are so many variables. Generally speaking though for death to occur there has to be specific set of circumstances -- especially bad health (like when a young punk punches an old person).

Most people doing sneak attacks do NOT have the skill to create these circumstances without a weapon.

Now here's something that is a major thing to consider. If you're letting the guy into attack range, you haven't just screwed the pooch, you've fucked the dog. This has been a long standing beef of mine with people claiming to teach RBSD. They come up with thousands of imaginary solutions to imaginary problems.

Bit of news, real hard asses DON'T let people they are having a problem with get up into sneak attack range. Because they know that up close, bad shit happens. I call this 'compression' and one of the signs of an experienced player is that when he tells someone to stop before they get up close, they're ready to rock and roll if the dude takes one more step. You DON'T let someone with evil intent close the distance.

The reason why is simple. If you let him close, it's too late. And if the RBSD crowd is teaching this, then they're charging you to teach you the thousand different ways you can handle falling off a cliff. Sorry, 10,000 creative ways are no where near as good as "Don't fall off the cliff in the first place."

Don't worry about Hollywood. Don't listen to people telling you how you can survive falling off the cliff. Learn to recognize when you're being set up for a sneak attack (a.k.a. don't fall of the face of the cliff in the first place).

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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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