Hi reddit, my name is Tim Larkin.

In the past 25 years I’ve trained more than 10,000 people in more than 50 countries in how to deal with imminent violence, including elite combat units, celebrities and high-status executives, law enforcement agencies, and high-net-worth families.

I train people to avoid violence whenever that is an option. Most of what you see every day is social aggression. This is the two fraternity guys fighting at a bar, or the person behind you flicking you off in traffic. Social aggression is avoidable—and you should avoid it. Deescalate and live another day.

There are times however when avoiding violence isn’t possible. I like to say that violence is rarely the answer, but when it is, it is the only answer. To survive these you must must render your attacker: incapacitated, unconscious, or dead. I know it’s uncomfortable to think about a moment like this. But it’s also uncomfortable to think about your house getting destroyed by a hurricane...but that doesn’t stop you from getting insurance does it? Seventy percent of my students come to me after surviving an act of violence. Which is a shame.

That’s why I spend so much time trying to get my clients comfortable with and trained for moments of violence before they happen. How to stop an attacker dead in his tracks by inflicting crippling pain from injury to easily damaged body parts. How to break someone’s wrist, take out their eyes, crush their throat.

As you can imagine, that training isn’t without controversy. I’m banned from entering the UK by now Prime Minister Theresa May.

My most recent book When Violence Is The Answer came out this week. It’s the breakdown of what I’ve taught for years. How to think about violence and how to think about using violence. It has everything from what I learned from gang fights to how to break a joint. You can check out more here if you’re interested this article.

I hope I can answer questions here to help change you how think about violence before anything ever happens. AMA

PROOF: http://imgur.com/a/KNX3r

Comments: 363 • Responses: 23  • Date: 

ryiarose54 karma

Why are you banned from the UK? Self defence is taught here

MrCartmenes48 karma

At the bottom of the article you can see he previously held a class in how to "maim and kill in self-defence".

Naturally the local community was outraged, because if your intent is to maim or kill, you cannot even begin to argue self defence. Now downvote me to hell I don't give a shit.

TimLarkin13 karma

Yeah not how I describe my training. Nor how I teach but you have little control over how a reporter writes or an editor creates a headline. I have a 20 year history of training in th eUK. It was never a problem until the riots and my comments on the UK self defense laws.

PartnerMattBrown47 karma

At what point do you know violence is the answer? Do you wait until attacked?

TimLarkin90 karma

It comes down to choice, do you have choice in the situation you are thinking of? If there is choice then the choice is always to leave.Violence is only the answer when you are devoid of choice and facing imminent grievous bodily harm. This is the difference between social aggression and asocial violence. Social aggression still contains choice (albeit very unpleasant at times) Asocial Violence is imminent and can only be met with violence.

Jdaddy2u26 karma

I realize that a combination of mma is preferable, but which style is most effective for hand-to-hand combat (without weapons) in your opinion?

TimLarkin45 karma

Another way to think of it is "What are you training for, competition or destruction?"

Competition is amazing but requires dedication, immense amounts of training and athletic ability. This is because competition in order to work has to gamify violence. the last time I looked the UFC had 31 roles 27 of those rules dealt with injury to the human body. The goal of competition is to pit skill against skill to similarly sized biters with similar training in the competition designed to see who is a better athlete. There is no room or place for injury to the human body to exist in a competition. Injury by its very nature ends competition.

The skill set of destruction is a simple one that anybody can learn. The beauty of it is a can bypass a bigger stronger faster threat because it focuses on similar areas of the human body that are susceptible to trauma. The learning curve for distraction is very short compared to competition. Destruction is a perfect skill set for when you're facing imminent grievous bodily harm from a bigger faster stronger threat.

It's disconcerting to know that the best people in the world that murdering other humans with their bare hands or improvised tools have almost to a man zero training in combat sports or martial arts. These individuals reside in our prison system and living environment of a social violence.

If you choose a path the competition which is extremely noble it is a path that has a very steep learning curve and does favor the more athletic and genetically gifted amongst us whereas the skill sets of destruction are easily accessible to all of us even limitations to our human machines as long as we can think in move we can put an injury on another human being.

Neither competition nor destruction is better then the other it's just what tool do you need for your training goals if you're concerned with self protection than destruction is a direct path to go in your training. Do not take this as a criticism of MMA or any sort of combat sport in the competition world of nothing but admiration for those amazing athletes. Many of them come to me and asked how do you use the skills they learned to protect themselves in the street and with very little alteration unable to show them how to turn a submission move into an injury a strike into an injury or a throw into an injury. Again it's the right tool for the right job so rephrasing the question to what are your training goals is the best way to answer for yourself.

snorlz8 karma

why, then, to my knowledge is the unarmed combat taught in the armed forces not significantly different than what youd learn in MMA? obv they have to account for and train with weapons too, but the actual hand to hand stuff is basically the same. Also, just because competition bans something doesnt mean the MMA fighter doesnt know how to do it.

It's disconcerting to know that the best people in the world that murdering other humans with their bare hands or improvised tools have almost to a man zero training in combat sports or martial arts. These individuals reside in our prison system

felons arent the best at killing people, theyre simply the only ones willing to.

TimLarkin9 karma

Unfortunately, most of what's taught in the armed services these days is a competition-based approach utilizing combat sports and martial arts. This is because most of the decision-makers in the military see hand-to-hand combat is an opportunity to build esprit de corps rather than real combat skills. It does provide a great workout and does teach people esprit de corps but it also often causes hesitation in a close combat situation where one side is trying to kill you and you're trying to arm bar your enemy.

Again this isn't denigrating combat sports but in order for it to be a combat sport, you have to outlaw injury to the human body. Some of my best students are MMA competitors they appreciate learning the difference between competition and destruction. They're very capable and understand the difference destruction has no place in a competition and the opposite is just as true.

When your life is on the line you want to rely on the skill sets of destruction not competition whether it's just your brain and body or if you have the luxury of having additional tools like edged weapons and firearms. I want any soldier or sailor trained by me to feel just as competent with his brain and body to inflict lethal injury on his enemy as he does with any of his ancillary tools.

rottinguy4 karma

How do you prevent yourself from providing the bad guys with this same training?

What if my bad guy has also taken your training and is larger and faster than me?

TimLarkin14 karma

To answer your question the people that need this information are people like you, law-abiding citizens that don't really have a good understanding of violence. Criminal predators already have this information and know how to use it. The real challenge comes in trying to explain the subject of violence to people and then let them understand when and where would ever be appropriate to use a tool of violence for their own self-protection.

Understand when I say that the criminal predators already have this information I don't mean my specific methods and principles but they understand how to use violence and how to use it effectively. Violence for them is a way of getting what they want from you at any cost. Whereas law-abiding citizens need to use a tool to protect themselves from imminent grievous bodily harm.

So my concern is not that the criminal predators will get this information it's that not enough good people, like yourself, won't get it and that's why I like to share this information.

rottinguy4 karma

Sorry Tim, but I am far from a law abiding citizen and have never once claimed to be a good person. It is good of you to assume the best in others though.

TimLarkin6 karma

Yeah, its a default to assume that I hope I didn't offend you with such language...

ManLeader23 karma

How many students have come back to you after suffering an attack equipped with your training? Alternatively, how many tell you that they were able to avoid a confrontation using your training?

TimLarkin9 karma

I've had many on both ends of that spectrum. I'm most happy when it is the latter situation where a client was able to use his/her training to recognize a potentially violent situation and get out of the area.

larry_is_not_my_name14 karma

What do you think of Rex kwan do and why do think it's superior to other forms of self defence?

TimLarkin17 karma

I wear the american flag training pants often... Also am fond of telling clients "There's no more flying solo"

Arkaedrian12 karma

How does your training differ from more traditional marital arts like Karate, Krav Maga, Wing Tsun etc?

TimLarkin20 karma

All of the reality self-defense systems and martial arts you listed have lots of positives to them. As I stated in the earlier question, another way to ask this is to focus on what you are training for when it comes to your self-protection. When I train people I assume the following:

1) The threat they are going to face is bigger faster and stronger 2) The threat will carry weapons 3) There will be multiple attackers.

Therefore the most direct path that makes the biggest difference in your self-protection is learning how to put injury on the human body. My approach to training is to only focus on delivering injury to a human body with your human tools and any ancillary tools such as a knife, a club, or firearm... all as extensions of your primary weapon which is your human brain.

The systems and martial arts that you listed all have the potentiality in some of their training to achieve injury to the human body as I describe but often is an indirect path to that goal. So if you're going to ask what is the main difference is I believe that my system's principles and methods provide the most direct path to the needs of your self-protection in the three areas identified above.

Daimo9 karma

What was the specific reason given by May and her cronies for the ban?

TimLarkin24 karma

After the UK riots, I was interviewed by numerous UK media sources. My comments were about the limitation on citizens to protect themselves with the current UK self-defense laws. At the end of one BBC interview, the reporter asked me if I was going to visit any of the riot sites when I came to the UK the following spring. I said that yes I was in was invited by some of my clients who are going to show me areas of the cities where they noticed the potentiality for asocial violence and they were able to get themselves and their loved ones out of there before anything happened.

This was reported very straightforwardly by most of them use sources except for the mirror. The Mirror put on an article that said "Larkin to Lead Riot Tour" and basically said that I was promoting a vigilante approach and was attempting to rabble-rouse citizens to go hunt down criminals. I laugh it off because it was outrageous and of course nobody else covered it that way, yet that article was the impetus for then Home Sec. Theresa May to issue a travel ban for me citing I was encouraging vigilantism.

The UK justice system is very different than the US and I was not able to get my case heard because of a technicality saying I didn't respond within the initial 90 day period from when the ban was ordered. Even though the government acknowledged that they doing they didn't deliver the band to me in the prescribed time the UK High Court still sided with the government in the band was enforced with a three to five-year hold.

Since this accession of Theresa May to Prime Minister spot, I've been advised not to try to resurrect the case until she is out of office.

derekcanmexit6 karma

I just listened to your recent interviews on the School of Greatness and Art of Manliness podcasts - great content and thanks for sharing. At what age do you think it is good to start enrolling children in self-defence classes? Which style of self-defence would be a good start - karate, boxing, judo, etc? I'm not a believer in violence, nor do I want my children to be either - but I do want them prepared when violence can not be avoided.

TimLarkin24 karma

Glad you like my podcast interviews. When it comes to training kids combat sports a martial arts are excellent. The most important things that you find the right instructor. You don't want to put them in a school that treats the likely Lord of the Flies or survival of the fittest contests.

I have twin four-year-old daughters in a seven-year-old son all of them will be trained by a local Brazilian jujitsu instructor because he is excellent with kids and it will be a very positive experience for them. So for the athleticism discipline, and, lottery combat sports and martial arts provide excellent opportunities for young children. Just don't confuse it with self-protection.

Child predators are excellent at manipulating young minds. Even though martial arts and comments portray might improve a young child situational awareness it does very little to overcome a well thought out predator and his approach to getting little children to do what they want. There were many disturbing news reports of children that are put through some form of self-defense training. Then when put in the field exercise with role players almost all the children end up either getting in a car or leaving with an unfamiliar adult they just are mentally capable to overcome a predator.

My eldest son is in his early 20s and he was introduced to my system of self-protection just before his 18th birthday. I wanted him to navigate high school without the information of how to injure the human body it's been my experience that teenage males are almost uniformly too immature to be trusted with such information. Whereas I will train young girls at 11 to the threat of sexual assault against women.

When women experience violence it's the real thing there is no locker room confusion that men go through on whether or not this is a social use of violence or criminal use of violence. When women experienced violence is always criminal. Therefore it's often much easier to teach women principles and methods of destruction because they don't try to use strength, or inter male aggression or any of the things and make it harder to train men. They usually get the principles and methods quickly and clearly understand when would be the only appropriate time to ever use such information.

So in closing I'm very big on combat sports martial arts with the caveat that you find the right instructor for children. When it comes to self-protection maturity matters.

DarthNaseous5 karma

When people ask you for a "go to" violent move, I've read where you've compared that to getting the answer of two random numbers multiplied together. Is that correct and, if so, why do you think that?

TimLarkin20 karma

I have a principle-based training system versus the technique-based training system. In a violent confrontation, principles will save your life whereas techniques will get you killed. The example you cite is one that I try to use when speaking to new groups.

If you think of multiplication you understand how ridiculous it would be to memorize just three equations and claim you know multiplication. You could say I know 72×57, 38×29 and 72×112. I would memorize those answers until they were embedded in my head and I'd feel really good about myself.

The only problem is the first time I actually need to solve an equation it would be two integers I've never seen in my life and I'd be lost as to how to get an answer. That example shows the failure of a technique-based approach.

Whereas if I learned how to multiply by learning the principles of multiplication, I would be able to answer my questions regardless of whether or not I had seen those particular integers before... why? Because I know how to multiply.

and you're right many times I get the question hates them were the top three moves I need to know to save my life? I understand the thought process it's a comfort zone we all want because self-protection is a daunting subject. But just like you don't want to rely on a few equations when it comes to math you surely don't want to bet your life on a few memorized techniques.

What you do want is to know the principles of injury and how to inflict trauma on the human body. That way no matter what position you find yourself in as long as you can think and move you'll be able to see an area of the human body that you can inflict trauma and get an injury. So Principle-Based training is the only way you can guarantee you have the best chance at real self-protection.

Fiorella154 karma

What's your take on the recent violence in Charlottesville?

TimLarkin21 karma

When you look at a case like Charlottesville it's easy to get diverted because of the emotion, the politics, and all the drama. From my perspective of the violence we saw there, I would say, came down to a matter of choice. There both groups had opportunities to de-escalate numerous times and chose not to.

This is not about who is right or wrong this is about what might lead to violence and unintended injury because when antisocial aggression crosses the physical plane into violence we have no idea how the results will turn out.

So my view on this is very different than most people's view. I see this is an incident where two sides went into the demonstration with their own agendas and continued "to debate" each other until one side decided to use violence. When human discourse turns to antisocial aggression it usually doesn't take much to hit a tipping point to get to asocial violence.

My goal is to make sure that all of my clients understand the potentiality for violence and if you have a choice to de-escalate and get yourself out of their prior to anything like the incidents we saw in Charlottesville.

To be clear this answer is not equivocating both sides nor saying both sides were morally equal. This AMA is about how to deal with violence and the potentiality for violence. My goal in this answer is to look at a purely from that perspective so you can make better decisions for your own personal self-protection.

recourse73 karma


As a bjj guy I have to ask. Do you train any grappling?

TimLarkin2 karma

I have and have lots of friends in the BJJ world. That answer your question?

recourse71 karma

Cool! Are you belted? Do you recommend people take up bjj or judo or any of the other grappling arts?

TimLarkin4 karma

My kids are starting off with BJJ. I'm not belted in BJJ did a lot of judo as a kid and wrestling. Grappling is solid training.

hoovegong2 karma

Hello Tim I like the emphasis you put on deescalation. But I wonder if you can see at least some of the logic behind the decision of UK govt, which I would guess is as follows: - the UK has a lower rate of violent crime than the US, and thus the "need" for this kind of training is lower. - That "need" is itself debatable, because one must balance the benefit of well trained persons who understand deescalation with the risk of poorly trained imitators and those who would misuse your techniques - The UK is different from the US in as much as that we hold less to the ideas of self sufficiency and more to the ideas of community and state. Given all of that, I wonder if you can see the point? Even if, ultimately, the government had to balance the risk of public safety with that of providing you with notoriety, and all the free publicity that that can engender.

TimLarkin1 karma

The UK had very effective Self Defense laws until the First World War. Then in the 50's the laws were changed again in response to some gang problems in the UK. I have trained in the UK since the late 80's and never had an issue until the riots. I can tell you there are many in the UK training to participate in avoidable social aggression situations. My principles and methods fit very well into the UK self-defense guidelines. The ban was a knee jerk reaction to the riots and not due to any factual study of my program and its principles and methods.

PMnewb2 karma

What law enforcement agencies and "elite combat units" have contracted you to provide training for them?

Or did you just mail them one of your DVDs?

TimLarkin6 karma

Most NATO Spec OPs Units, Federal and Municipal SWAT teams. Trained in over 52 countries lots of PMC training.. FBI, FLETC ... but I hope they bought products as well...

Kinkycouple4982 karma

At what age would you teach a child you're views on violence?

TimLarkin2 karma

Answered above

Truthlaidbear2 karma

Is there value in an approach like Clouseau's Cato from the Pink Panther? I guess, restated, is surprise violence what you prepare for? Or do you focus on violence that escalates?

TimLarkin5 karma

I haven't thought about the Pink Panther movies in years so thanks for that.

I'm going to put your question in the context of something that's really big in reality self-defense right now and that is "scenario-based training" which is the big buzzword. I also think it's one of the worst approaches to training people.

in social media and online I often see videos of people going through these ridiculous scenarios where there basically taught to fear. They're put through ridiculous scenarios with people yelling and screaming lots of chaos and very little good instruction. The strikes I see are often wildly ineffective and wouldn't stop any dedicated predator. There often done at blinding speed with very little power or accuracy. This basically teaches you that chaos rules the day and you're not effective unless you're wailing about wildly and screaming at the top your lungs.

Proponents for this type of training love to tell you that it's the real deal that this is a rates can it be when he hits the fan to you better be able to handle the adrenaline dump! But then I have to ask the question "what is more intense with blinding speeds and potential lethality that a gunfight?".

Yet how do we train for a gunfight? What is one of the main mantras that most new people learn from instructors when the learning how to shoot a firearm? "Slow Is Smooth, Smooth Is fast"...

In the Special Operations Community, the popular training methodology used throughout is called "Crawl, Walk, Run". So we can agree there's nothing more dynamic and intense than a gunfight yet when we look at the training methodologies we see the first thing everybody looks at his accuracy and correctness not speed. And certainly, no good firearms instructor would advocate adding velocity until the person is accurate and correct first.

Nor would he prematurely put a student into a force on force situation with a firearm until they really went through the "crawl, walk, run" stages and at any point where you lose accuracy and correctness you dial down the velocity. If you try something at run and are inaccurate you go to walk, then can't do it at walk, you default back down to crawl. ( Just to be clear, "force on force" means you go into a shoot house and people are shooting back at you (using simunition or paintball).

I have a good friend in the Australian SAS who recently got back from Afghanistan and he was remarking about how they always defaulted back down to crawl any time there were any problems with accuracy and correctness. He talked about how the training that he got with my system worked excellently with all his firearms training.

Understand there's a time for stress testing your skill set. Unfortunately, with the reality-based self-defense culture that seems to have been lost, there are far too many students who have little accuracy and correctness being stress tested in scenario-based training and locking in all the wrong information.

So does a Cato style surprise attack have a place in training? Yes, but it is a lot less needed than some the experts would have you think.

Brendan8312 karma

Hey Tim,

Do you guys plan on re-launching any certification programs and/or distance learning? I know for a while you had the mastery program and there was talk of a "trained fighter" certification that would take I believe two years.

TimLarkin6 karma

in the middle of redoing all of the training platforms. Stay tuned.

Snarkwaffle2 karma

Hi Tim, thanks for taking the time to do this AMA. My question is about your book- as far as I can tell, it seems to be more of a mindset training/ defense of your personal philosophy on violence than a manual. Would you ever consider creating a "beginning manual" or introduction to self defense text?

If not, do you feel as if that would devalue the information, or would it intrude on your line of work?

Thanks again!

TimLarkin2 karma

The book is about changing your mindset and understanding how to come to grips with the tool of violence and where it might fit in your life. I have plenty of products that achieve the other areas you ask about but this isn't the correct format to discuss those products.

SteamBoatBill10221 karma

Who taught you how to type?

TimLarkin3 karma

my teacher had two fingers and I learned well

ExpatJundi1 karma

The BBC article says you trained as a US Navy SEAL. What does that mean?

TimLarkin2 karma

Yeah, they got it wrong if they implied that my whole story revolves around how injury prevented me from completing SEAL training and becoming an intelligence officer.