This is a review for the Self-Defense Training Network (aka myselfdefensetraining.com) formerly known as SDC Insider, which is run by Damian Ross of the Self-Defense Company based in New Jersey. The program is currently offered as an online subscription or a one-time fee, and has been available as a set of DVDs in the past.
At The Popular Man, when we work with new clients, one of the questions we ask on our assessment is whether a guy can defend himself adequately without a weapon. I have nothing against weapons and support the right of law-abiding people to carry weapons, but the point of our assessment question is to see how physically tough a guy is. Can he “handle himself?”
We ask this because to be a successful guy, and to attract women, he has to have a certain level of masculinity, conveying to women that he can “provide and protect” her. The ability to defend oneself and others relates to this, and is a remarkably attractive and admired trait. In fact, the most attractive thing to a woman is power, and conveying that to her.
A few years ago, Jonathan and I started looking for a program we could recommend for our clients if they needed to “toughen up” some. As a high school teacher, when I was first starting teaching, I worried about possible physical altercations in the classroom (I was at a public school at the time), which caused me some anxiety. I know that this translated into insecurity and me coming across even weaker than I felt. If a guy knows he can “handle himself” in altercations, this is just one more way he will be mentally confident.
This was a very important concept as we developed our newest book, Size Doesn’t Matter, which is geared toward shorter guys. Short guys often feel at a disadvantage because of their small size compared to other guys, guys who could get aggressive if shorter guys stand up to their bullying.
So, how could we help guys get more confidence that they can handle physical altercations if need be? I thought about an episode of Penn and Teller’s “Bullshit” I had seen about martial arts. It covered Damian Ross and his Self-Defense Company.
When I look for any self-development program, I look for practicality. Does it work? Can it be applied in the “real world?” “Is it so thorough that if I want to know something, it is there, even if I don’t use it?”
The Self-Defense Company seemed to have all that going for it, so I signed up for the program, and I am glad I did.
Overall, the instruction is extremely practical and simple. It is about straight fighting to win…period. There is no martial art “mumbo jumbo” or learning 20 defense moves for 20 different attacks. While all of that might be intellectually stimulating enough, it isn’t streamlined enough for me. Ross is all about either getting you out of the situation or getting the upper hand, period.
Ross relies heavily on the edge of the hand (a chop). While he admits it has critics, it can fit just about anywhere and is reasonably flexible. Even in my limited use of it in training, I can say it is much better than using a punch.
While some people have criticized Damian Ross as being a blowhard, I like his style. He has always been very pleasant, helpful, encouraging, and cool when I have contacted him for various reasons, including when during a discussion he asked me to appear on his podcast. If you join the My Self Defense Training Network, you can interact with him (and others) through the forums, as well as through the “Contact” section. You even have access to instructors who will help you in the process.
When you join you get access to the basic “Combatives” Video course. This includes 12 sections of instructional videos (with roughly 20-50 videos per section, varying in length from a minute to seven minutes each), with included pdf manuals. The drills are dispersed throughout the sections along with the training itself.
The sections are:
1. Essential Self-Defense – A very helpful basic introduction to stances, striking techniques (including knee strike and chin jab), places on the body to attack, Ross’ basic philosophy, etc. After completing this section alone I felt a hundred times more confident that I can defend myself in most situations.
2. Advanced Methods of Striking – This section covers advanced ways to strike someone, like the “chin yolk,” “rear elbow swing,” and “finger tip jab.” Ross also goes over things like head butts and different types of kicks.
3. Ground Fighting For Keeps – This module explains how to fight on the ground, and defend yourself in a variety of “on the ground” positions, including on your back. This section also includes various “strangle” techniques.
4. Defense Vs. Mugs and Holds – This section covers head butts, hand grabs, elbows, and other techniques to break a grip someone might have on you.
5. Escape and Evasion – This module covers getting out of situations and defending against an attacker or multiple attackers, including a technique known as the “finger dart” that everybody should know.
6. Body Conditioning – This isn’t so much about getting in shape, as it is getting your body used to the stress of fighting. I found this section the least interesting, but nonetheless, it is probably important.
7. Combat Physical Training – This is basic physical conditioning. If you are already in shape and have a workout routine that combines cardio and strength like I do, this will seem very basic and probably unnecessary.
8. Weapons Defense – This is an important section, where Ross explains how to deal with attackers with various weapons, such as knifes, long guns, and handguns. Obviously, avoiding situations where weapons might be pulled are the best, but if you ever get into a situation where someone is using a weapon, having a way of defending yourself is important.
9. Weapons Offensive Tactics – This section explains the proper way to attack with knives and clubs.
10. Combat Throws And Take Downs – If you want to subdue a guy (or finish him), getting him on the ground is important. This module, with 26 videos, covers this important tactic.
11. Old School Weapons and Tactics – I wasn’t familiar with many of these weapons (except perhaps brass knuckles and the ice pick), but they are ancient weapons that can be used for some deadly results.
12. Quick Kill and Deadly Finishes – Ross emphasizes there is no secret martial arts “death touch” like you see in certain movies, but there are ways to attack the body that can cause shock and death. Obviously, this isn’t something anyone should ever hope to use, but if you are being attacked by a drug-fueled guy double your size, some of these techniques might be necessary.
The full program also gives access to some cool pdf books, related to self-defense, martial arts, and general crime prevention. You also get access to bonus video programs (depending on your subscription level), including:
The Family Safe Program – These short videos are designed to help kids defend themselves.
60 Minute Self-Defense – This is a short, condensed version of some effective self-defense techniques.
Guardian Defense Tactics -This is a helpful series designed for police officers and those in the military. It is a nice bonus if you want some more advanced concepts that can be applied when dealing with criminals or enemies.
Protector: CSI – Taught by a police officer, this nearly two hour video covers some basic self-defense any citizen can use, designed to deal with crime, with citizens working along with police.
To subscribe, visit The Self-Defense Training Network. Note that we do get an affiliate finders fee if you join, but we pursued this option after using the program ourselves and with our clients. This review is completely honest.