Podcast Episode 68: Self-defense tips for young men

A few years ago I did an episode on Self-defense tips for young women. Back then I mentioned I might do one for young men too, so here it is. Enjoy!

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Podcast Episode 59: Interview with Mike Janich

I had a great time interviewing Mike Janich and we talked about all sorts of topics: his Martial Blade Concepts system, his training in many different martial arts, what it was like to work at Paladin Press and so much more. We also recorded a bonus episode on Patreon, in which he answers questions and you can listen to it here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/48741261


The links mentioned in this episode:

Thanks for listening!

Like, share and leave a review!

You can support the podcast in various ways right here

Subscribe to the podcast and automatically get the latest episode:




The realization that changed my self-defense training forever

A long time ago, I had a paradigm shift that changed my martial arts and self-defense training forever. To explain this correctly, I need to give you a little bit of background information:

Many years ago, I started reading the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. Though these books take place in a fantasy world, the stories are deeply rooted in our own. If you haven’t read them, go ahead and give them a try. They’re tons of fun. Here’s the reason why I bring this up:

Mr. Pratchett wrote a series of accompanying books called “Science of the Discworld“. These books alternate a story set in the Discworld universe with chapters explaining how science works. In one of these books, he mentions “emergent dynamic systems” and “complex systems”. These concepts are complicated and hard to explain quickly, but I’ll post some resources at the end if you want more in-depth information.

For a layman’s explanation, you can view it like this:

Complex systems examine how the multiple components of a system interact with each other and cause the system to behave a certain way, but also how the system interacts and forms relationships with its environment.

The “emergent” part means that complex systems and patterns are formed out of relatively simple interactions.

When you combine these two, it means you can look at a system and create laws and theories of what you see happening and these may be true.

However, you cannot recreate an outcome from these laws and theories alone.

The specific elements involved and their interactions can give rise to radically new dynamics and behavior, completely unpredictable from previous occurrences. Or put differently, new patterns (and therefor laws and rules) become apparent as the system keeps going, instead of sticking to the previously established rules.

My paradigm shift was viewing fighting and violence as an emergent dynamic system. Here’s why:

We all form a theoretical model of violence when we train for it and after experiencing it. The problems start when we believe our model is the only possible reality. As human beings, that is exactly what we are wired to do, because violence affects us on such a deep level, it creates its own truth. We can easily convince ourselves that our model is universally true, like for instance gravity: we know it’s real, we experience it 24/7 and know that if we drop something, it will fall.  We accept the laws of physics as a given.

The issue is that the laws of physics alone aren’t enough to map out violence, let alone predict it or give your model the right structure to handle it. This brings us to emergent dynamic systems.

More on models later, but first, let’s look at how this works?

How does this work in Combat Sports?

Picture an MMA or boxing match:

  • You know the rules and allowed techniques upfront.
  • You know the strengths and weaknesses of both fighters
  • You know their past performances.
  • You can even do a statistical analysis of all these factors.

Yet despite all that, you can never predict with 100% accuracy who will win.

Because differences in seemingly insignificant elements or unexpected developments can alter the outcome completely: [Read more…]

How to FILL a HEAVY BAG: The RIGHT and the WRONG way

Ever since I released my book The Fighter’s Guide to Hard-core Heavy Bag Training and its accompanying instructional video Hardcore Heavy Bag Training, “how to fill a heavy bag” is perhaps the most common question I received. It’s a good question and it deserves a decent answer.

How to fill the heavy bag?

Take a look at this video first:


The wrong way: how not to fill a heavy bag.

Sand is a horrible choice to fill a heavy bag. It inevitably settles and becomes hard as a rock. That’s because it is made of rock, so it shouldn’t surprise you. Now you might think that’s not a big deal and a lot of (young and inexperienced) practitioners enjoy hitting hard surfaces. I used to. But with advanced arthritis in all my shoulders, ankles, and knees, I can assure you it’s not worth it. Especially as there are better alternatives to fill a heavy bag that give you just as much intensity, without the risk of permanent injury.

Same thing when you use heavy objects to fill the heavy bag and don’t secure them. Sure, bricks and other things will add the weight you want, but if you don’t secure them correctly, they move around inside the filler until they are just underneath the surface of the bag. You won’t see that of course, but you will definitely feel it when you punch or kick full force and injure yourself. So make sure to wrap those bricks up in cloth or foam, put them in a strong plastic bag and wrap them up with plenty of strong duct tape. Then place them in the center of the bag with plenty of filler around them.


The right way to fill a heavy bag.

There are several options, ranging from free to cheap to a bit more expensive. Let’s start with free.

Old clothes

Go through your closet and take all the old clothes you won’t wear anymore anyway. Ask everybody you know to do the same thing and give them to you. Failing that, go to a thrift shop or use old sheets and other types of cloth you can find. Make sure there are no zippers or buttons on them. Then just stuff them into the heavy bag until it’s full.  Hang up the bag and do a few rounds on it so the clothes settle. Take the bag down and add some more clothes because it will have free space on top now. Repeat until the bag is full from top to bottom.


how to fill a heavy bag

Use old clothes to fill your heavy bag

Shredded cloth

A better alternative is shredded cloth.  Many shops, manufacturers, and factories work with cloth. They usually have leftover material that is useless to them and throw it away or shred it and get rid of it. Look around for those and offer to take some of it off their hands. Then you might have exactly what you need for free.

how to fill a heavy bag with shredded cloth

Shredded cloth to fill a heavy bag is even better

Shredded leather

My personal preference for heavy bag filler is shredded leather. Same deal as with cloth, find places where they use leather to manufacture products and check what they do with leftovers. Get enough of it and stuff your heavy bag with it. It will be markedly heavier than when using cloth, so there is usually no need to weigh the bag down. Leather also doesn’t stick together, even after prolonged use, so less need to empty out and refill the heavy bag all the time:



There are other filler materials and you have to experiment and see what works for you, but the above are cheap and easy to get. The alternative is to buy a pre-filled bag, and nowadays, many manufacturers offer those kinds of heavy bags. There are also lots of other kinds that have foam built-in, use a water core, or are filled with only water. These are great, but they are usually more expensive. So if you are on a budget or already have a regular bag, see if the explanation above helps you out.

Good luck.

For more information on how to get the most out of your heavy bag training, check out my book and instructional video.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like my other How-To guides for martial arts and self-defense.