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Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture
Monties Law

READ THIS! Wim superbly articulates one of the key elements of physical self-protection (and by extension the application of kata). It’s always your go until you’ve gone! Anyone who has trained with me will recognise a lot of common ground between my approach and “Montie’s Law”:


All the best,


Wastelander's picture

Very important stuff! This is actually one of the big things my Sensei would stress--taking away the enemy's turn. It is also the reason for one of old-style karate's guiding principles, kobo ittai (simultaneous attack and defense), since employing that princple effectively does take away the enemy's turn. Too many people get into the "block then strike" type of rhythm, which just devolves into a war of attrition until someone gets the upper hand.

Marc's picture

A good and convincing article - and an important concept for self-defense.

Also very much in line with Motobu Choki's statement: "One cannot use continuous attacks against true karate." (source)

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

One of my requirements for bunkai is that every motion must:

1) Create Advantage

2) Maintain Advantage

3) Exploit Advantage

Following the first technique, we need to ensure we are “trading up” such that we are creating a greater advantage with each motion i.e. we will surrender control of the arm to gain control of the head. We also need to effectively transition between methods such that there is no gap for the enemy to have their turn (advantage is maintained). There is also no point in having the advantage if we don’t do something with it. We therefore need to be continuously damaging the enemy. As Wim points out, the act of doing damage also contributes to the advantage held. Neither you nor the enemy wants the other to have their turn. It is therefore vital we ensure it is us who has the lead and that that lead is continuously improved upon.

Marc wrote:
Also very much in line with Motobu Choki's statement: "One cannot use continuous attacks against true karate." (source)

Motobu was definitely a fan of Montie’s Law:

“There is a saying ‘no first attack in karate’ …To be sure, it is not the budo spirit to train for the purpose of striking others without good reason. I assume that you already understand that in karate one's primary goal must be the training of mind and body… But when a situation can't be avoided and the enemy is intent on doing you serious harm, you must fight ferociously. When one does fight, taking control of the enemy is vital, and one must take that control with the very first move. Therefore, in a fight one must attack first. It is very important to remember this.” – Choki Motobu

The bottom-line is self-protection is nothing like a consensual duel. We don’t want the enemy to get their turn.  As John Steinbeck so eloquently said, “If you end up in a fair fight, your tactics suck!”

When it comes to self-protection, the enemy does not want a “fight” and neither do we. The criminal’s goal is best achieved through overwhelming us with violence. Our goal of creating the opportunity to escape is also best achieved with continuous action.

I think one of the biggest mistakes martial artists make when it comes to physical self-protection is approaching it in the expectation of something akin to a standard “spar”. As one of my teachers put it, “Martial artists approach self-protection like a person sitting down to play chess, and then they are surprised when the criminal throws the pieces at them and hits them over the head with the board”. “Chess skills” don’t come into it. Just as martial arts duelling skills don’t apply to self-protection.

Wim’s article is really great in expressing all of these issues.

All the best,


JD's picture

Hi All, 

Great article for the uninitiated and firm reminder for the initiated too. I'm completely in aggreeance with the article and everything written above by Iain, Marc and Wastelander, sadly a lot do approach an agressive self defence situation with the sparring mindset, I make my move and you make yours in return, now I make two moves and you fire back with yours again, this attack and defence, to and from mindset can get trained martial artists hurt against the untrained brawler who's only thought is ''smash''. 

A good visual account of this thread topic is to watch a boxing or UFC match were a fighter gets that lucky (or skilled) shot on an opponent and, upon realising they have the advantage, opens up and rains down with overwhelming shots to hopefully finish the already off balanced and shook opponent. 

It's sometimes difficult and even a trained martial artisit/self defence practitioner can be unlucky and be on the receiving end of a first shot (albeit should be highly unlikely if trained correctly) and in such an event they should be trained as a fail safe to cover tight and clinch/hold an opponent in an effort to regain composure if possible. Back-up plans, fail safes, recovery measures, whatever you call them should be trained as standard in my opinion too.

Me personally, if I can't walk or talk my way around through or out of a potential scenario, resort to my favourite technique which is a straight right with a slight lift on my elbow to allow it to arrive to the bottom and side of the jaw, no sooner am I throwing that shot, I'm thinking of left arm getting to work and so on with hopefully a chance of some gedan and possibly chudan geri's thrown in were applicable. I don't want to breach the line of excessive force, however, I find that in them situations with adrenaline and blood pumping them lines can become slightly blurred and when it comes to self preservation I'd rather do too much than not enough; obviously withing reason, head stomping etc. is too far but if they're standing and able to fight it's game on surely? Unless a suitable escape route becomes available of course.

So for me I love the idea of it's my turn and you don't get one, the concept is an extremely important one for sure. Cool topic, I enjoyed reading and look forward to further posts on this matter. 

All the best... JD