The Art Inventory

Thugs Beware! People Learn Practical Self-Defense In Fremont

by Todd ‘Oly’ Olsen, posted 23 January 2013


Learning to hit someone with power can be the first step in 'practical' self-defense. Seen here, Todd Olsen gets out of the way of Tina Olsen's flying fist. Photo by K. Lindsay, Jan '13

You don’t have to look any farther then the daily news to understand how important it is to be able to protect yourself.  Your first reaction to a threat is going to be the most important.  Thinking your way out of a problem situation sounds like good advice, but in reality, if you are attacked, you must react.  You must strike hard and fast.

Learn Three Basic Techniques

I teach practical self-defense.  The word ‘practical’ is intended to be literal.  Students can use what they learn, if necessary.  Having good skills and reaction time are key elements to protecting yourself. You don’t have to study for years, and learn proficiency in any one discipline.  You do however need to learn basic boxing, kicking, and ground techniques.

It’s important to emphasize to students that it isn’t about violence but about protecting yourself.  As an instructor, I am asked, “What do you do if someone comes up and pushes you?”  My response is, “How were they able to push in the first place?”

How many times does it take for someone to invade your space and get the drop on you?  The answer is, “one time.”  Once is all it takes to change your life.  If someone with bad intentions can reach you, they are too close.


Defense can mean using your fists, and your feet. Tina Olsen, in the blue gloves, defends her face from Dawn Johnson, but not her right thigh. Photo by K. Lindsay, Jan '13

In my program, boxing plays a major role because most attacks will start at a standing position. In the book ‘Championship Streetfighting:  Boxing as a Martial Art’ by Ned Beaumont, he writes, “In every real fight, win, lose, or draw, in which I’ve participated or watched, the issue was decided by a punch, usually a punch to the head.”  The ability to keep hands up, throw straight hard punches, and block and slip punches can’t be denied by an attacker.


While boxing may be the first line of defense, you also need to use basic kicks. Well placed kicks to targets such as the vastus lateralis (right above the knee), the rib cage, and the solar plexus for example, can definitely get your attacker’s attention.

Fancy spin kicks and such are of no use to the average person in a real life situation. The most practical kicks are:  the front kick, the left roundhouse kick, and the right roundhouse kick.

Ground Techniques

Another practical skill is how to avoid a takedown (being taken off your feet). If you are taken to the ground, however, it’s better to be on top.

Learning 'practical' self-defense also includes learning what to do when cornered - like student Dawn Johnson practicing protecting herself while extracting herself from teacher Todd 'Oly' Olsen. Photo by K. Lindsay, Jan '13

If you don’t get the top position and you are on your back, you must trap the power arm of your attacker and decrease the distance between them and you. An arm bar or triangle choke are two practical holds that can then be used to subdue an attacker from your back.

Quite often the news reports, “He grabbed her.”  When you are aware and confident in your ability to defend yourself, no one will be able to get the drop on you because you are always ready.

Also, those confident and possessing ability give off an aura that says “Don’t mess with me.”  Thugs generally look for easy targets.  Those with skills will not be an easy target to anyone.  This confidence can also transfer to other aspects of life, and help avoid a life lived in fear.  Instead, it is possible to take on any situation that life may throw at you.

Todd ‘Oly’ Olsen is a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer, a trained self-defense instructor, a professional wrestler, a former USA Boxing Official, and a former competitive bodybuilder.  He trains clients, in personal fitness and self-defense, at Anytime Fitness-Fremont, through his business ‘Physical Goal.’  For more information, call 425/319-0476

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©2013 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.


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