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Is this the single best move for self-defense?

If you only taught someone one technique for self-defense, what would it be?

This article is one piece of an ongoing effort by The MMA UnderGround to understand what really works in martial arts. The focus is not on what happens in the arena, but rather what happens on the street. If you enjoyed it, check out more stories on:
1. Martial Arts on The Street
2. Style vs. Style
3. Dojo Storms

One day someone sent me a video of a little guy named Kyle Abramyk, from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It opens with Abramyk clearly having agreed to mutual combat with someone far larger. His opponent has a shaved head, sagging designer jeans, shirt off, and way bigger muscles. In other words, the fight is over before it starts - Abramyk has zero chance based on sagging designer jeans alone.

However, in very rapid succession, the smaller man feints a right while moving his head out of the pocket, secures a body lock, gets an outside trip, advances to mount, and then ... HOLY F@$%ING $#!@. 

Watch it! What did you think?


The moment I saw it, I thought, "if you only taught someone one self-defense technique, this should be it, a headbutt!"

I came to conclusion in reverse. It instead would have been rational to start with the question - if you only taught one, single technique for self-defense, what would it be?

What's The Single Best Self-Defense Technique?

The two answers offered by the Walter Mitty set are probably an eye poke or a knee to the groin. Unfortunately, both are much harder to land than they appear to be in demonstrations.

One of these videos is a parody.



Another obvious answer would be a straight right, as it has in all likelihood won the most unarmed fights in the past 100 years. But there have been a lot of broken hands, too. And it's a technique usually significantly dependent on size. Other common answers are likely an elbow (unfortunately, you need great footwork to make elbows work) or running (great answer, but cheating), or a gun (also cheating).

If you're not yet swayed by the headbutt answer, check out another video. Here a Scottish guy tries to break up a fight, is threatened, and responds with a Glasgow Kiss. Scotland enjoys a culture that has raised head butting to an art form.


Yes, that was the sound of a nose breaking.

Head butts cause so much damage they are banned in all striking combat sports but one, Lethwei, from Myanmar.


If you get interested in headbutts and want to learn their use and application, ignore all the LARPers in fatigues teaching "combative" techniques, never having thrown or defended against one in actuality. Instead, turn for instruction on headbutts to the King of Lethwei, Canada's Dave Leduc.


Here's another excellent video on head butts, from great Canadian combat sports coach Samir Seif. 


So what's the right answer? If you only taught someone one technique for self-defense, what would it be?


h/t cover image via SpotterUp