A couple of months ago someone wrote a bad/one star review of my first book, The Ultimate Guide to Unarmed Self Defense, on Amazon.com. There are two unfortunate aspects to this review. First, it is entirely wrong. And second, it caused my book sales to immediately drop by about 75%. I’m going to address the points this person made in the review here on my blog.
You can see the bad review here.
I think the main reason he disliked the book was due to his misunderstanding regarding this sentence that he wrote: “The author’s insistence that sport based fighting form the base for real world self defense was also highly suspect.”
On both my website and in my book, I explain that the foundation of unarmed physical self defense training should be what I call the MMA Base, which is simply training punches, kicks, knees, elbows, and wrestling against an uncooperative opponent. If you do not train these most common techniques against an uncooperative opponent, then you cannot learn to defend against them. Period. Many martial arts practitioners do not realize this. It should be entirely uncontroversial, but unfortunately it isn’t. In order to learn to defend against something, you have to actually train against it!
But the MMA Base is not self defense, and I’ve never said that it is. The MMA Base is one small part of self defense. Self defense involves a combination of strategy, training methods, and techniques that include awareness and prevention, unarmed physical self defense, and armed physical self defense. The MMA Base is only one part of unarmed physical self defense training and techniques. Awareness and prevention are far more important than the MMA Base, for example. It is for this reason that the MMA Base section of my book is in Chapter 6 and not Chapter 1.
Before I get to the MMA Base in the book, in Chapter 1 I cover the difference between self defense and martial arts, pointing to the fact that self defense and MMA/sport based fighting are not the same. The first chapter of my book points out the opposite of what this reviewer claims I insist upon. The second and third chapters are all about violence, avoidance, awareness, and prevention – part of the strategic side of self defense. I write in the book that this should be all you need for 99% of self defense. Again, this is the opposite of saying that sport based fighting should form the base for real world self defense. Chapters 4 and 5 cover more aspects of self defense strategy, along with functional training. In Chapter 5 one section is titled “Self Defense: Beyond the MMA Base“, which includes this:
“The techniques and systems of the MMA Base are designed primarily for one-on-one sport based fights between people in similar weight classes, in an area designed for safe fighting, where both participants know what is about to happen. There are rules that prohibit some of the most effective and damaging techniques from being used, and by removing those techniques from the equation, unique and effective footwork, perfect for self defense, is also neglected. For the most efficient and effective physical self defense, we must go beyond the MMA Base.”
I proceed to explain why sport based fighting is not enough for physical self defense.
After Chapter 6, on the MMA Base, there are chapters on Functional Self Defense, Environmental Applications, and Physical and Mental Fitness – all important components of self defense that have nothing whatsoever to do with sport based fighting. So I’m not sure what book this reviewer read, but it doesn’t appear to be mine!
The reviewer also wrote, “I did not find any new or original material and/or insights inside this tome.” Again, he must not have read the book. I have hundreds of martial arts and self defense books myself, and spend time at least looking at every new book that I come across. I can guarantee this reviewer that he has never seen some of the concepts, strategies, and techniques that are covered in my book. There absolutely are new and original material and insights in my book.
What frustrates me about this review is not so much that this one person missed just about everything in the book, although that is frustrating, but that his misguided review has caused many people not to buy the book. (This is most likely due to the book ranking worse because of his review, although I’m sure some people have decided not to buy it after reading what he wrote.) And the primary reason I am frustrated about people not buying the book has nothing to do with me making money by selling it. I made this website and wrote the books because I genuinely care about people knowing what works and what doesn’t in terms of self defense. It is a passion of mine. This is not what I do for a living. I don’t need the money.
I receive emails almost every day from people who have either read my books or spent time on my website, telling me how much they have learned from the material. Most of them have practiced other martial arts, and many are martial arts instructors. Just as I was taught ineffective material and thought it was effective, these people have done the same. Reading my books and training the material in them has allowed people to see what actually works and what doesn’t, to really learn self defense, and to make their training much more functional and realistic. It frustrates me that this one bad review from someone who clearly either didn’t read my book or somehow didn’t see most of what was in it, has substantially decreased the number of people who have access to realistic, functional material.
So I have a favor to ask. Many of you reading this have purchased my books. Many of you have emailed me to express how much you learned from them. If you’ve read the books, please take a minute or two to write a review on Amazon. Doing so will help other martial artists and self defense practitioners who won’t see this material otherwise. Thank you!
Update: Changes Ahead
I haven’t posted or sent out any emails/updates in several months now. I’ve been very busy with a number of big changes. At some point early next year things will settle down, and I have plans to add more videos to my website in addition to possibly offering instructional videos. I’ll also get back to posting more on this blog. I have a backlog of at least a couple hundred emails, and I apologize if you’ve written and I haven’t written back. I’ll try to respond soon!
i agree with the self defence. the arts change every day.agree with you
i see your point about the differences.my situation is this: i am 65 yrs old and sparring or mma training causes me injuries. still i need to know how to disable the bad guy if i have to. thats why i have moved toward the target focus training model. what are your thoughts on this? if training injuries do more harm than good……..thx bill
Bill, this blog post isn’t the place for a discussion about TFT, but I can tell you that it is 99% BS. It is indeed unfortunate, but saying that you cannot spar but still need to know how to disable a bad guy is similar to saying I cannot dive but I want to practice high diving. It’s possible to get lucky and hit a guy in the eye/groin/throat/etc. and have it work, but self defense is about so much more than that. If you want to go beyond getting lucky you actually have to train against fully resisting opponents. There is no magic solution that can get you around that. BUT, with awareness and prevention you can avoid the vast majority of situations, and you can use weapons to help you where that fails, particularly if you are physically disabled in some way. TFT though…it’s the magic pill…doesn’t exist.
Far too many people read (or hear) only the portion of a dialog they want to. Too bad.
Amazon should offer you a chance for rebuttal.
OTOH – I’m 85 and understand Bill’s concern. One of the cane defenses or short stick arts (like Yawara) might create a path for him.
A practice dummy won’t strike back, but it will let you refine moves… and strikes.
Pepper spray or a gun (in some situations) might be an even better option…with sufficient training.
Another thing to keep in mind is that everything just isn’t possible in real life. Sometimes you can find yourself in a situation where there is no good option. That’s just the way life is, unfortunately!
I read up on your bad review and do not agree with it.” You’re absolutely correct when you say if you do not train against something then you cannot defend against it.”
And, awareness is 90% self defense and 10% physical.
Anyone who studies Self Defense should well aware of this motto.
A very comprehensive and well-thought-out website on self defense David, and I am sure your books have the same quality as your website does. The area I live in is quite safe and I have yet encountered a physical attack myself, but I realized the need to make self defense and prevention a habit after I chanced to see a book on the subject sometime ago. The author of the book raised a lot of fundamental points similar to yours (prevention over fighting, awareness, etc.), and has worked as a law enforcement officer for over 10 years, during which he had and resolved various dangerous physical encounters. I believe that your book will be an excellent complement to what I have read so far as it covers some other aspects and discusses critically how to apply some of the arts I look forward to learning to self defense. Most importantly, however, it echoes with the idea that good self defense is about not getting yourself into danger in the first place.
Hello david, sorry to hear this here is an idee go an meet the guy for a sparring session,so you can convince him of the FSD system and get a good work out he,anyway that guy does not now what he is talking about and i’m supprised that the selling drops by one stupid revieuw ,,but you got my support and a lot off others peoples take care greetings tom