Self Defense on a Budget

With fears of an impending recession, you might be thinking of how you can cut back your budget in entertainment or luxuries which you’ve enjoyed for a while. However, the one thing that you should not cut back on is your safety and security. If you’ve been training for years or are just getting started, here are a couple of tips and methods to help you train inexpensively, while still building and maintaining your personal safety skills.

The government charges tire companies to dispose of used tires, and this gives you an opportunity to get some free equipment. Simply ask these businesses if you can have one, four or six used tires. You can either stack them up to make your own heavy bag or hang one to use as a moving target you can practice your punches or weapons strikes against.

Flooring companies are constantly pulling up old carpet from homes, and replacing it with new stuff. Ask these companies the next time they pull up decent carpet to let you take it. Cut several bigger pieces from it, and make your own padded surface for grappling or throws.

As a savvy self-defense practitioner, one of the first things you should always be doing after you either sense a threatening situation could happen, or you actually are attacked, is to be aware of any improvised weapons you can use to defend yourself.

Because you have no clue when or where you will be attacked, the variety of weapons within reach could range from a beer bottle to a broom or folding chair to a scrap piece of metal. Each “weapon” will have it’s own weight, balance, length and size. My advice is to go out to dumpsters and do a little “dumpster diving training”.

Whether you want to simply observe what you could randomly use in a fight, or actually pick up the “weapons” and pretend to defend yourself with them, you’ll gain quite a bit of knowledge and have fun doing it. This unique training session can build your awareness of what you can use, while also teaching you “how” to use a variety of weapons.

Never underestimate the most economical training equipment, other humans. Fancy weight machines, the best heavy bags and even expert instruction isn’t as important as having another person to practice moves with and experiment with different real life scenarios. These “training dates” are free, and obviously fun. Partner up with someone to go over previous instruction you might have taken separately or review videos you find online (more on this to come).

When you’re on a budget, sticking to the fundamentals in any kind of training is key, and the same goes for self-defense. Although this next point won’t necessarily teach you how to throw a punch better or learn a new knife disarm, it is just as important. I’ve written previously on the importance of good physical conditioning, and with that topic you can’t get more fundamental than running and calisthenics.

It is easy to get distracted by fancy gyms and the “flavor of the month” workout programs, but keeping it simple many times is the fastest way to progress, and the most economical. Here is an example: Run one mile, and every quarter mile do ten push ups and ten sit ups. Too easy? Try two miles, do 25 reps of push ups, sit ups and, jumping jacks and pull ups every quarter mile, then repeat the whole cycle when you get back.

Or, find a park or jogging path which has simple fitness equipment on it, and use that. We’re not talking about being complex here as you can see, but the point is to add on to the reps and distance every week. There are few things which disappoint me more than having a knowledgeable practitioner with no strength or cardio vascular stamina.

I’ve saved this one for last, because it has the potential to make me cringe. Since the advent of the internet, there is now an incredible variety of training videos on every self-defense topic known to man online. Unfortunately, the majority is worthless, hence my aversion to mentioning this resource. Therefore, do your due diligence in checking out the instructor and I would even include the point of finding someone online who has created a “program” (i.e. an organized curriculum so you have progression) over someone who just throws up a video such as “the best way to block a kick”. However, if you find a credible instructor with a well organized, muli video program, it can definitely be an asset, especially when mixed in with the options above.

Sifu Matt Numrich

Sifu Matt Numrich is a martial artist and self-defense expert, renowned for his training in Krav Maga, Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Martial Arts.