The Four Pillars of Self Defence | Martial Arts Plymouth | Free Trial

The Four Pillars of Self Defence

When most people think of self defence they think only in terms of defending against an attacker. However, at Masters Academy we like to think of self defence a little differently.Four pillars

Of course it’s important to know how to defend yourself against an attacker, but what about against negative peer pressure, toxic foods, or any unwanted outside influence?

In our martial arts classes we aim to teach four distinct areas of self defence, that we call the 4 Pillars of Self Defence. They are;

  1. Physical Self Defence
  2. Emotional Self Defence
  3. Nutritional Self Defence
  4. Situational Self Defence

In a moment I’ll explain more about each pillar, but for now I want you to imagine them just like the legs of a table. What would happen if a table was missing one of it’s legs and pressure was applied? You guessed it, the table would collapse.

Well Self Defence is much a lot like this. If just one of those pillars is missing then you could crumble under pressure.

Let me give you an example; You fit, strong. You know how to defend against physical attakcs and you have strong self confidence, but your don’t take care of what you are feeding your body. As your diet is poor you aren’t getting the right nutrients and this leads to illness, or weak bones.

Clearly in this situation you have not defended yourself. The same would be true if any of the four pillars is missing.

You don’t physically defend yourself by stretching, mobility, or load bearing exercise, so you body cant physically perform under pressure. You don’t defend yourself emotionally, so any negative comment sets you on a spiral of depression and anxiety. You don’t learn to defend yourself against an attacker, so put your life in danger.

I hope by now you’re starting to see that if any of these pillars are missing you are not putting yourself in a position of power and ultimately aren’t living life to the fullest. So now lets look at each of the four pillars in more detail.

Pillar #1 – Physical Self Defence

Physical Self Defence is all about making sure your body can physically perform in any situation. This includes flexibilty, mobiltiy, load bearing exercise, and cardio-vascular exercise. If anyone of thses area’s is missing then you aren’t defending yourself physically and your setting your body up for a fail.

So how can you assess you Physicall Self Defence Level? That’s actually pretty easy.

At Masters Academy we hold fitness tests. There are many different elements that go into them but one of the main ones is the McIntyre Test. This is a really simple test that requires very little equipment and can be done at home, but will give you a good measure of your physical fitness. The McIntyre test is;

Max Press Ups
—2 min rest—
Max Pull Ups
—2 min rest —
Max Squats in 2 min
—2 min rest —
Max Sit Ups in 2 min
—2 min rest—
Max Squat Thrusts in 2 min
—2 min rest—

This will give you a good idea of the weakest area of your body, your mobility as each exercise should be performed through the full range of movement, and your muscular endurance.

Record your results and retest every few month’s. If you are doing any form of physical activity this will allow you to monitor your progress.

emotional self defence

Pillar #2 – Emotional Self Defence

This is probably the most overlooked area of self defence. Everyone knows you should be looking after you body, eating right, and knowing how to defend yourself against an attacker is a good idea.

Every few people think about defending themselves emotionally. Emotional Attacks can come in many different forms including: negative peer pressure, low self confidence, lack of self discipline, etc

There are many tactics to emotional self defence. One of the most important is eliminating negative self-talk.

Everyone has a continual dialog going on inside their heads, but what that little voice is telling you can have a big impact on you emotional well being.

Take a few moments and think about what it’s saying to you. Is it saying positive things like “you can do anything you set your mind too” or “you can conquer any challenge life throws at you”.

Or is saying negative things like “you’re not good enough”, “no body likes you”, or “why do you even bother”

If its saying negative statements then you need to work on that. Think about it like this; you’d never allow a stranger to say those kind of things too you, so why say them to yourself.

Here are a couple of other ways to start eliminating negative self talk.

1) say the opposite – if your little voice says something like “you can’t do that” immediately counter it with the opposite positive statement “I can do anything I set my mind to!”. Even better is if you can relate it to something you’ve done before.

2) give a £1 – everytime you have a negative thought about yourself give the closest person to you a pound. You’ll quickly start talking to yourself more positively.

nutrition for martial arts

Pillar #3 – Nutritional Self Defence

Of all the pillars of self defence, this one can have the biggest impact, as it will effect every other pillar.

The better your diet the healthier you’ll be and reduce the risk of illness. You’ll be able to perform better physically. You’ll be emotionally happier, and more balance.

Actually nutritional Self defence is the easiest pillar to achieve, after all no one can force you to eat or drink anything, it’s your choice. So make that choice a healthy one.

The only problem with nutritional self defence is that there is a huge amount of information and miss-information out there about diet and nutrition. Everyone seems to say a different thing.

However, it doesn’t need to be that complicated it you follow a couple of simple rules.

Rule #1: Eat every few (3 – 4) hours.
Rule #2: Include protein in each meal and snack. Your minimum protein requirement is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, if you’re training it should be as much as 2 grams per kilogram of body weight
Rule #3: Eat Vegetables with every meal. Try to eat local, seasonal vegetables. It’s better for you and better for the environment
Rule #4: Eat carbohydrates mostly after training. – Your minimum carbohydrate intake should be 130 grams per day
Rule #5: Eat healthy fats. About 30% of your diet will be fat. This should approximately 1/3 Saturated, 1/3 mono-unsaturated, and 1/3 polyunsaturated.
Rule #6: Drink Plenty of Water. You should try to drink approximately 1 litre of water per 20kg of body weight
Rule #7: Avoid all processed foods.

Simple right. Of course you can get far more complicated if you want but follow those and you won’t go far wrong.

To learn more about a healthy sustainable diet and gain a better understanding of nutritional self defence, access our Free Nutrition Course at https://martialartsplymouth.co.uk/start/nutrition-for-martial-arts/

Self Defence classes plymouth

Pillar #4 – Situational Self Defence

It is an unfortunate fact of life, but more than likely you will find yourself in some sort of physical confrontation at some point in your life. Whether this actually comes to physical blows or not will probably depend your ability to deescalate the situation, and attitude.

Awareness is one of the most important concepts to understand for self defense. The more aware you are the less likely you are to be in a self defensive situation. After all bad guys don’t pop up out of thin air, normally they walk up to you.

You will only recognise you’re entering a dangerous situation if you are aware of your surroundings and the people around you.

One simple strategy to use is Coopers Color Codes. Colonel Jeff Cooper was in the US Marines and was one of the worlds leading fire arms experts.

According to Cooper neither weapon or martial skills are the most important factor in surviving a lethal confrontation. The primary tool is the combat mindset, as set forth in his book, Principles of Personal Defense.

He devised a color code system on your state of mind. This has subsequently been applied to tactical awareness and alertness levels.

As taught by Cooper, it relates to the degree of peril you are willing to do something about and which allows you to move from one level of mindset to another to enable you to properly handle a given situation.

Cooper did not claim to have invented anything in particular with the color code, but he was apparently the first to use it as an indication of mental state

Coopers Color Code system originally had four states of awareness.

White – unaware, not paying attention
Yellow – attentive, but relaxed
Orange – focus is directed, there is an immediate potential threat
Red – there is a definitive threat

More recently a fifth state has been added, and is defined as; Black – you are actively fighting, this is where your training kicks in and you respond accordingly.

Always remember that awareness and avoidance are the best self-defense strategies. Awareness of your environment, attacker rituals and your instinct comprise the majority of self-defense. Your first line of self-defense against a violent situation is to avoid it.

Trust your instincts and do not hesitate. If you cannot avoid the situation, then mentally prepare, have a plan and execute with full conviction and purpose.

Your goal should be to remain in the yellow state at all times but ultimately, the more aware you are, the more you will prevent an attack. Practice using the Color Codes daily and integrate them into your training and daily living.

On Friday19th December we will holding a Self Defence seminar. For all the information visit https://www.facebook.com/events/708216335914103/



While much of this may seem like a lot to be aware of with small changes to your lifestyle it can be relatively easy to make the necessary adjustments. After all missing one of these pillars could have a big impact on your health and well-being.

Martial Arts is an excellent way to develop all four pillars of Self Defence. In the classes at Masters Academy Plymouth you will learn how to effective self defence skills. You’ll develop you fitness and learn about a healthy lifestyle.  They are a great way to alleviate stress and build self confidence.

For more information about our self defence classes and your Free trial call 01752 262233 or visit https://martialartsplymouth.co.uk/how-to-join/