Here’s my interview with self defense expert Nick Drossos. You can read the full transcript (unedited) below. Check out Nick at CodeRedDefense.com for realistic self defense training programs.
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Eddy: [00:09] This is Eddy from Ultimate Man Builder and I have Nick Drossos from Montreal, who has a lot of experience in conflict as a doorman and an extensive following of more than 63,000 on YouTube. This has grown quite substantially because I’ve been following Nick’s content for quite a while, and it was a lot smaller than 63,000 more than a year ago.
Nick, welcome to the show.
Nick: [00:20] Thank you. Thank you, Eddy, for having me.
Eddy: It’s awesome to have you on; I’ve been watching your stuff for a while and you teach real self defense. It’s nothing fancy; I know you do a lot of stuff, a lot like conflict resolution or preemptive strikes (which details we’ll get into here, in a bit), but I’m really curious, as will our listeners be, what is your story? How did you originally get into martial arts in the first place? Were you bullied, as a kid, or was this just something of interest?
Nick: [1:11] You know what? It really started with that. [what? unclear]
I grew up in a fairly poor, pretty tough neighborhood: [verify, sp phon] Brooklyn Park exit and Montreal. Being bullied as a kid at eight years old, I just told my parents that I wanted to start taking kung fu and martial arts.
I took kung fu for about eight years; then I did a little taekwondo, a little bit of boxing, kick-boxing, some [inaudible word 1:42] self defense, worked with a lot of different instructors and, a lot of my experience also came from working in nightclubs.
Seven years working in clubs really allowed me to learn a lot about real self defense. What actually happens in real life versus working in a [inaudible word 2:11] gym are, what I call, two completely different animals, because that’s what it is.
Eddy: It’s really cool that you bring that up, because I tried kung fu for a year when I was twenty (a long time ago now) and there was kind of a disconnect between the reality and the kind-of stereo-safe and friendly environment in the upper-middle class–well, I don’t know if it was upper–but, middle-class neighborhood.
I remember when I was doing it that; when I was sparring with guys, it was kind of touchy, tappy and I left to go do boxing. But when I was sparring with guys, some would still get scared and curl up and turn around, even though they weren’t being drilled and just having punches thrown at them.
I wasn’t, by any means, any good then, but there was still all this inaudible word 2:53]
I thought it was kind of funny and wanted to do something more real, so that’s why I went to boxing. So, what have you seen in your own experience as being the disconnect between martial arts and what’s seen on the streets? How do you learn this?
Nick: [3:09] You know what? I realized very quickly that a lot of the techniques, memorization, fancy kicks, and a lot of the stuff that’s going to work in slow motion when the guy’s not committed, when you’re training with a partner, when you’re in a safe, controlled environment, and you know the person’s not committed.
I always talk about the story where I was training reality-based self defense and I had a gun put to my head. I’m in there, trapping the gun in the gym and I’m pointing the gun and felt like a superhero. Everybody around said, “Wow–that was super fast! Looked so cool.”
Then I remember working in the club and having a gun put to my head. I remember just staring at the guy in his eyes and just, for a split second, I thought, “Okay. You just went blank.” Critical focus and you lose moments in time, like holy shit. My hand’s going to come up; I didn’t pull anything fancy, I just stayed calm and remembered telling myself, “Nick, shh… Just start talking. Start talking. Start diffusing. Start de-escalating. Don’t be a hero even if you trap this gun, even if he is super nice.” (There were about a hundred people in line, waiting.)
So that’s where the difference and knowledge and experience comes in; it’s what I like to teach people. A lot of [my] self defense is not only physical; a big part of this is verbal diffusion. You can avoid 90% of the situation by diffusion. It’s just by being aware and the other 9% by diffusing them because a lot of them are ego based. [NOTE: that’s 99% is there another 1% somewhere?]
Other than being ambushed for some particular reason or someone’s out to hurt you, that’s obviously… [incomplete statement] If somebody wants to or has the intent to hurt you, eventually, it could happen. But a lot of it is awareness.
When I did martial arts for a number of years and I loved it because it gave me some great tools, but we never talked about diffusion or awareness and stuff like that–little things like that to add diffusion, that kind of thing.
Eddy: So, not stopping to pull out your $5,000 camera when there’s a “wrong neighborhood” kind of thing?
Nick: [5:34] (haha) Yeah.
Eddy: I was in Mexico one time with one of my exes, visiting family, and it wasn’t in the nicest area. She pulled out her nice, shiny i-PAD or something and started taking pictures. I quickly told her to put it away because a lot of it’s just being aware of what’s around you. (Obviously, that’s a big start.)
Nick: [5:59] Totally. Totally. And, I believe self defense has to be simple! You have to keep it as simple as possible. Under a high-stress situation, your body will not be able to remember all the blocks, all the techniques. There are too many variables and patterns to have an A-B-C sequence. Do you know what I mean?
[6:18] Let me give this example: If you do the same scenario five times and change it each time, say, just by adding another person with a knife, you’re going to get a different outcome.
[6:33] It’s very hard. When I look at anything that’s very technical, very sequenced or has a 1-2-3 pattern where I move this way, he moves that way… you don’t know how your attacker’s going to move. That’s really the difference.
You said you did boxing. I trained at the Knock-out Gym for about a year-and-a-half and I worked with pros. Just to work on my boxing. It’s the skill that you acquire through boxing: the difference between hitting closed fist or open hand. Those are the little, small things you can do.
Has the guy got a knife? I’m not going to box the guy with a knife. But you do have to learn what you can do. On the outside, I can use my legs: I can perrier, I can strike; I can trap. I can also use an improvised weapon and, a lot of times you won’t think about it, but I can try.
There might be an improvised weapon–(especially after looking at my training videos)–you’ll start to look around you for anything around you to throw or use as a shield. So, that’s the difference, you know?
Eddy: Yes, you mentioned earlier that time–or maybe it was the first time–I don’t know how many times– a gun has been pulled on you. But, if somebody put a gun up to your head, you might’ve, as fear kicked in, just froze there and just thought, “Okay; I’m going to start talking.” How can people actually overcome their fear in a situation where—[incomplete statement] It’s easy to talk tough and be the cool guy until you’re in a situation. Then, everything changes, right?
Nick: [7:58] Totally–and this is why I’m going to answer your question. When I look at a lot of self-defense videos, I say to myself, “Okay. We are responsible for people’s lives. When people are watching these videos, they’re trusting me to protect and do what I teach them.” So, when I see a guy put a gun to their head, pull a fast move and say, “Give me the money.” I think, “Give him the money.” One wrong move: one wrong move! If he flinches, you could be dead! The guy could be on crack. Don’t be a hero! Unless your life is worth more than money–that’s a question you’ll have to answer.
As to how to overcome fear… that’s the greatest question I get. For me, if I’m found doing a lot of scenarios–full-out scenarios–[incomplete statement]
The first time I got in a ring, honestly, I was afraid to get punched. It’s normal. The more you do it–even though you’re afraid–step in, get out of your comfort zone. Start very light and work harder. For example, start with bigger gloves and go light. Get a good sparring partner and do drills. Try to overcome the fear of getting hit. Doing scenarios 2:1, 3:1. Try to experiencing a small rush of adrenaline through scenarios.
You’re never going to replicate reality, but you want to get as close as possible to what it may feel like. I remember when I used to do…[incomplete statement] I was training at one gym at…[incomplete statement] I was at Knock-out Gym and I had four or five guys training at the same time. One of the guys was doing scenarios for the first time. When I put his helmet on, he was shaking from adrenaline. He told me, “I’m scared, man!” and I told him, “Hey, it’s normal! We’re two guys who are about to jump you and you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Try to experience this in a controlled environment. In the street, the reality is that you don’t know, really, how you’ll react. You just try to prepare through doing the scenarios and just building your confidence. It’s a slow, slow procedure.
Eddy: So it’s basically exposing yourself to the things that cause your fear in the first place, so you can handle it more effectively?
Nick: [10:24] Totally. It’s like being in the Army; they train using scenarios that closely match what you’ll experience. They train using real bullets, with you on the ground. That’s the closest similarity, though I made a video where I have a guy trying to punch me in the face and he’s 6’7″.
I was wearing a mouthpiece and gloves, and he was swinging at me. I thought if it got any more real, I would have to remove my mouthpiece and gloves and tell him just to try and knock me out. Obviously, you want to train smartly and safely.
Eddy: I remember that video, actually; as it gave me nostalgia about a time when I was sparring with a guy who was also about that height. That was really difficult.
Nick: [11:13] It’s a killer. I know we want to try and tell people that “size doesn’t matter”. It does matter. It’s a factor. It’s not the only factor, but it’s a factor. For you to neglect it, because there are categories in every fighting sport, it’s just 15-20-25-30 times the difference. And, height: it makes a difference.
Eddy: Well, even ten pounds can be…[incomplete statement]
Nick: [11:38] Yeah. Totally.
Eddy: There’s a quote on your Web site: “Everyone has a plan. So, I get punched in the mouth by Mike Tyson… [inaudible 11:48]
Nick: [11:54] Oh, that is my favorite one! It’s funny because it’s not only about self defense; it’s about life, also. You go in with a plan.
I always tell people that when you’re faced with a potential attacker, you have two options: either verbally diffuse, escalate or go preemptive. You didn’t start the fight with them; they came to you. You try to talk your way out of it but if that doesn’t work and you don’t have a choice, you hit first. But, to say that, don’t anticipate; don’t go in with a pre-plan. Anything can happen. If you go in thinking, you might just end up with a surprise attack because you’re thinking and planning, the guy’s just going to sucker punch you and, that could be it, you know?
Eddy: Yeah, that could be the sucker punch in your mouth that changes your plan.
Nick: [12:41] That actually happened: I had one of those. I got sucker punched in the face and I remember my face just flushed so hard. It was like somebody took a bag of bricks and hit me in the face. The guy was so big: it was like 8:1 or something.
It was outside a club and I remember it was the first time, and I thought, “Oh, shit.” (I kind of felt good because it had been a while since anyone had landed anything.) But I just remembered, “Oh, shit. Okay, I gotta start, you know? [unclear, incomplete thought 13:10]
There’s always someone who’s bigger, faster, stronger. Anybody could knock out anybody, any day.
Eddy: Yeah; you never know. It could be the smallest, inconspicuous guy who takes you out.
Nick: [13:30] You never know. It could be a 16-year-old, skinny little kid who could stab you ten times and you won’t even see it. That’s what people–[incomplete statement]
[13:43] I do a lot of “knife stuff” because that’s what I understand: the dangers of a knife in close quarters. I worked with somebody who got stabbed and another who was slashed. They both commented how fast it was and that, “You don’t see it!”
In one situation where a guy got stabbed, we didn’t even know who had the knife! That’s the reality of it; we had no clue! “How did you get stabbed? By whom?”
That’s why we made a lot of videos and scenarios in our self-defense videos where you don’t know who has the knife. I wanted them to be as real-to-life as possible.
Eddy: That sounds like a ninja attacking there.
Nick: [14:38] But it’s that quick in the street, and it’s scary because, in the case where a person has a knife, his size doesn’t matter. You know what I mean? It could be a small, little, psycho person who’s just out on drugs and has a knife. He could be the most unorthodox fighter, but he could do just as much damage as the expert knife fighter to me. (That’s my personal belief.)
Eddy: I got charged by a squirrel one time–[Nick: haha; inaudible 15:09], so maybe, the rabies… so I just jumped out of the way. [inaudible 15:14]
In the knife-fighting scenarios, you’ve seen, there’s probably a lot of fantasy about knife fighting. You know, in the movies, where James Bond breaks his arm, what, typically, would happen when somebody pulls a knife?
Nick: [15:36] You know? Most times, you won’t see the knife. You won’t see the knife. Again, this is through experience and, other than working in clubs, I’ve been in, perhaps, one or two situations. Most of the altercations I’ve been in occurred in small, crowded environments.
Both times, we had no clue who had the knife. It’s dynamic, it’s fast, it makes no noise, it’s chaotic. The person doesn’t pull out a knife and stare at you. Most of the time it’s a flash! (It could happen, but most of the time it explodes into a fight.)
If a guy’s going to pull out a knife, you won’t even see who has it. Here’s the difference between a gun and a knife: I remember in one club where I worked, someone pulled out a gun and shot in the air. [imitates gun’s explosion] Man! Everybody just [imitates sound effect] jumping out, people were on the floor. We were thinking, “What the hell? Who’s got it? Where’s it coming from?”
I guess those are the realities versus some video show; that’s what I try to do in our self-defense videos. Yes, you have the static knife attacks or, the attacker places the knife somewhere on your body. You have those types of situations if you’re the type of person who goes out to bars or clubs. In those situations, rarely do you see anybody just pull out a knife and say, “Hey; I have a knife.” It doesn’t happen like that.
Sometimes I see videos where knife fighters are going head-to-head in one. I guess there are some drills where that could happen. But, again, that’s the main difference I see.
Eddy: Yeah; you’re probably not going to have a gentleman’s battle; it’s going to be more like somebody just pulls it out and stabs you and you don’t know what the hell it was.
Nick: [17:58] Yeah; you won’t even feel it under your adrenaline. A sick thing I saw was somebody being stabbed with a pen. It was right outside the club and there was this big brawl and this guy walks up to him and I could see he was dazed. He had scars on his face and I thought, “Shit! He just got stabbed with a pen!” (You know what I mean?)
[18:23] I could see all the stuff around and I…[incomplete statement] Again, a sharp object. And he probably didn’t even see it, so that’s the reality. You know what I mean?
I focus on awareness and facing an attacker. Where is his hand? Is it on his pocket? What’s in his hand? (Those are probably the most important parts of self defense that we miss.) Don’t cover the knife after it’s been pulled out and it’s at your throat; cover the knife when the person’s following you and it’s dangling or he’s reaching for his pocket and he’s getting close. Think, “Okay, why’s he reaching for his pocket?” “Why’s he coming so close?” “How fast am I ready to move?” “Where can I get?” “Is an improvised weapon close to me?”
That is self defense. That’s what I teach. That’s what I think is a strong point and other systems do teach it but I emphasize it more because I know the importance of being able to intercept that knife or that attack, the sucker punch, or his friend coming off to the side.
Eddy: So, a lot of awareness goes into it, then? Just actually knowing what’s around you? Any movement. You have to see everything.
Nick: [19:37] Totally, because it helps you be proactive! It helps you move a few seconds before your attacker. Why give him a head start?
If I’m thinking he’s going to attack me and I see him reaching for something, am I going to wait until he pulls out the knife? No; I’m going to go preemptive. I don’t have a choice! Once that knife comes out and he starts swinging, you only have a few seconds to trap it before you get slashed six–seven–eight times, maybe. (That’s the reality of it, depending on how much you train [unclear what “it” is that was trained] it.)
I’ll look at people who take a self-defense class two or three times a week. Twice a week they’re going to do forty, fifty…[incomplete statement] How much knife trap training do they actually do?
Picking up those signs and those cues are very important.
Eddy: What’s the psychology behind it when you’ve obviously talked yourself out of a lot of situations? Again, with the story of the gun, where he’s talking down…[incomplete statement] What is the psychology [unclear. who’s psychology?]?
A potential attacker, if he actually backs off when you’re–[incomplete – and unclear – statement]just by your words?
[unclear question: what WHAT “kind-of” goes into what?] What kind-of goes into that? Like, if he (going to the other side, there), but what is going through an attacker’s head? Is he thinking, “Okay, I’ll just kind of back off now.”?
Nick: [20:52] You become his best friend. You become his best friend. It’s like, “Look, man; let’s talk about it. Whaddya want?” (You start to negotiate with him.)
You have to find a way to be diplomatic. You have to put your ego aside. That’s the main thing: ego.
I’ve seen people take beatings and, one I remember, in particular, was when the ambulance came to get the gun. All he had to do was apologize and he refused! You have to put your ego aside.
You don’t know who you’re messing with in the street: it’s not a ring fight. You don’t know your opponent. You don’t know if he’s been in prison. You don’t know if he has a weapon. You don’t even know–he might be psycho enough to come back in six months and get you.
That’s the difference. I think when you’re faced with these types of scenarios, you have to start. You have to put your ego aside and talk to him. You have to listen and communicate with everything he says, verbally. You have to engage him in conversation. You could say, “Let’s talk about this. Nobody needs to get shot today.” (You need to find a way to make the situation not get physical.)
Eddy: Have you ever become friends with somebody after having a scenario like that? Like, in real life, afterwards?
Nick: [22:13] With one guy, yeah; not friends, actually. More like acquaintances. It was more like after you’ve worked a scene, you don’t want to make enemies with these people. You know who they are and you find a way to befriend them, be polite and, at a certain point, there’s a level of respect that grows between you. And that’s it.
[22:52] In one case, yeah; I was able to diffuse and nothing went physical. There was a mutual respect and I thought, “That’s it.”
I believe this outcome could occur with everyone out there when faced with a situation. There’s a lot that can be done, verbally, and pulling people aside. Unfortunately, the ego gets caught up and people want to prove themselves and show their strength, and that’s what gets in the way. I would say that that’s what’s going to get you killed. Put your ego aside even if the attacker calls you a “fuckin’ pussy” or says, “I’ll fuckin’ kick your ass!”
If you’re walking away, that’s fine. But, if you come in my face too closely, you’re either going to get hit (because you’re in my range, my comfort zone), but if they’re fifteen hundred feet away; that’s fine, they can call me whatever they want. You won’t get a response from me. You can call me a “fuckin’ chicken shit” and I won’t do anything, but some people will; I’ve seen stupid fights like this and I think, “Really? You got in a fight because a guy said, ‘your mom is XYZ’?” It’s stupid! Really stupid. And it’s ego based.
But, like I said, you have to put it aside because you don’t know your attacker! That’s the difference between getting in the ring where you’re mentally prepared, you know who your opponent is and how he fights. The worst there is you could get knocked out. Right? Big deal. There’s a paramedic right there. You’ll be fine.
In the street, if you’re knocked out, you have no way to stop him. He could pull out a weapon and stab you or kick you in the face. That’s the thing! You’ll be injured.
Eddy: Yeah; I know guys who’ve been punched in the face and, that wasn’t so bad, but when they dropped and hit their heads on the pavement, that was the bad part.
Nick: [24:59] You see? That’s something that people don’t talk about: that is something I saw once where a guy got hit and he went to the pavement, but his head hit on a step and split open–whoosh! and I was like…[incomplete statement]
It’s really funny–(no, it’s not funny, actually), but the more you see that stuff, the more you actually hate violence. I’m so much more proactive about self defense.
That’s what I try to teach people in my videos on YouTube. Just try to teach yourself, empower yourself. Feel confident, strong and change your complete image and stance, so people don’t see you as someone who’s easy to pick on.
That’s where a lot of it starts.
Eddy: That’s totally true. I saw a–kind of a service level or preliminary study where videos were shown to violators in prison. They were asked which type of victim they would choose to attack–or mug, or whatever. It was funny [really? “funny”?perhaps, “interesting”], 85% of the people who were asked had been prior victims of assault or robbery. People were chosen based on the way they walked, their body language and the way they carried themselves.
Some people appeared to say, “hey, attack me” while others, who were never attacked, walked about, holding themselves well.
Nick: [26:44] You know what? Totally! People, who develop a victim mindset, start walking like victims and predators can “smell” that. You know what I mean? It’s in their body language; they walk, looking down. They could turn around and face them or they could just keep walking straight, thinking he’s going to go away. But, just as soon as people do the latter, an attacker’s going to think, “Hey, once I knock her down, she’s going to do anything I say.”
But, if that person turned around and faced the attacker and queried, “Are you following me? Do you need something?” He’s not suddenly going to become an attacker if he wasn’t planning to attack you. He’ll likely apologize (say, “Hey, I’m really sorry”) and cross the street or go the other way. It doesn’t mean I’m not still going to keep my eyes on him or his whereabouts.
Those are the two different choices people have and what attackers look for. That’s why I tell people that self defense is so important, because you will change your behavior as a person. Not just in the way you walk down the street but also in the way you work and live.
Eddy: Was there a turning point for you when you realized your confidence level had increased?
Nick: [28:32] It was probably around age sixteen or seventeen. Until about age thirteen, I was the smallest, scrawniest kid in school. I had braces… and I was bullied all the way through high school.
At age 16, I finally skyrocketed to 5’11” 180 lbs. and I started lifting weights and training. I started changing everything about me to become what I wanted to be. I’d fought a few times but I decided to change the complete direction of who and what I wanted to become.
Slowly, I changed completely, and when I started working in the clubs, I did gain confidence from being in live situations, and training at the same time, so it’s just a combination of everything.
Eddy: It sounds like more of just a martial arts form of self defense, it’s more like a journey, here.
Nick: [29:42] I believe it is for most people. Like I said, most people have been bullied at some point in their lives. It’s not the bullies who are going to go take self-defense classes. It’s just somebody who, at some point, was picked on–was bullied.
[29:57] We talk about being bullied in school but it could be at work. You could be at a bus stop; you could be outside. Learning self defense will empower and slowly help you build confidence and be able to stand up to everything and everybody around you.
[30:17] There’s a whole approach to it, I believe; more than just learning how to throw a strike. Without getting too [inaudible word 30:23], I mean, you don’t need to sit and meditate. (I don’t do it–it’s not for me.) There’s more to it than just a confidence that we build on a daily basis, but slowly. It just gradually happens; that’s my belief.
Eddy: No, I’m in line with that, totally. I think the more famous people went down that road, as well. VanDamme was bullied when he was a kid and that’s why he started training in martial arts. Obviously, he’s ended up in much different places, now.
And, in starting boxing or martial arts, I, myself, understand it wasn’t an overnight change at all. It’s more of a foundation that you always have there in the back. You feel you can back yourself up or somebody else. Like you said, you hold yourself differently so you feel better about yourself.
Nick: [31:27] Totally; like you took boxing and just by going to the gym and hitting a pad or hitting a bag, you started to feel changes in your body.
You get in the ring the first time and you get scared.
The first time you get hit in the face, you think, “Oh, shit.” You’re bleeding, maybe and you start getting scared. The tenth, fifteenth… maybe one hundredth time you get punched in the face you think, “Okay…” (You start to break the fear slowly and you realize you’re no longer scared as much.) That’s the whole thing.
[32:00] So you think, “Now I’ll do some kick-boxing.” “Now I’ll do some grappling.” “Maybe I’ll try some MMA.” (You slowly build your confidence like that.) It’s not something that’s instant. Like I said, I believe it’s a full approach and there’s a full life change to it. (I’m not just saying that; I sincerely believe that. I always tell people that there’s nothing we have that’s more precious than our lives.)
[32:30] There’s nobody who’s responsible to defend our lives better than ourselves! Nobody can do it. Police are not going to be there; the chances of a cop being at your house when you’re being attacked are very “slim to none”. When people are attacked in the street, people turn around and walk away. What does that tell you? You are responsible for your life. You need to learn self defense.
There is nobody who can defend your life better than you. I say this in one of my videos: I totally believe that you can’t count on anyone to be there. Just believe in yourself.
Eddy: Probably, “on the same token” there, you might agree, if you build up your confidence and self-defense skills, you don’t have to be that person who walks away when somebody else is attacked who is disadvantaged.
Nick: [33:17] Totally. There was a YouTube video I saw where a person was being stabbed on the Metro. This was so close. I mean, the guy’s was filming himself being stabbed with the knife from the ground! There’s blood everywhere and you could hear this, solely. I was like…[incomplete statement] Everybody’s there and nobody was doing anything!
[33:37] I can understand the shock and fear that people get; I can’t understand how nobody called the cops, ran away, hit him with something. Again, that is an extreme situation, but we have a habit of turning away. Yes, that is self defense but these videos will give you the confidence to step in and say, “I’m going to protect this person.” Or, “I’m going to step in and help this person who’s being bullied by two others.” My stepping up to their faces and saying, “Look. That’s enough,” might be enough to stop the whole altercation, the whole fight.
So, yes, you learn self defense for yourself, but I believe it’s also to protect others and we have that duty. I believe that when something that you need to do something to help. That’s my philosophy, altogether.
Eddy: It’s a great philosophy. I recall a story, now, that a woman told me about while she was on the sky train.
It’s funny that you say that you could just go up and diffuse the situation. You don’t necessarily have to be a Mike Tyson or a super-tough guy.
Nobody on this sky train was helping this woman and there was a drunk guy harassing her, who was getting right up in her face. The only person who’d stepped up to help her was this little, tiny, old guy, who’d stepped inbetween them.
Nick: [35:20] You see? That’s a great example! Just somebody stepping in was enough to create and change the momentum of the whole situation. That is a great story; a great example.
Eddy: Yeah; no fighting was involved. The drunk just kind of yelled in the old guy’s face, too; then, he left.
Eddy: But nobody else helped her but this short, old guy.
Nick: [35:46] I saw something similar, but it was at a bus stop where this guy was screaming at (I’m not sure whether it was) his girlfriend or wife. He was screaming and swearing at her. I was across the street and everyone else went whoosh! The scattered everywhere.
It had begun a fairly normal conversation, but then he was screaming and the whole thing was getting higher, and I thought, “Okay, it’s time for me to get involved.”
It is a touchy situation when you decide to get involved. (I had one situation where I tried to get involved and the woman just turned around and told me to “mind my own fuckin’ business”.)
But, in this case, I jumped and went over to them and, by talking to them for a few minutes, I was able to diffuse the whole situation.
Eddy: There are situations where you have to just mind your own business.
Nick: [36:33] Yeah.
Eddy: Was she actually being physically assaulted or–?
Nick: [36:36] No. The woman told me to mind my own business.
Eddy: But was she getting assaulted at the time?
Nick: [36:41] Well, it was like just a verbal assault, probably a girlfriend / boyfriend conflict. When this happens, I literally will sometimes just go and stand right by them. Just your presence; just seeing a woman being verbally assaulted by another man and your going over and standing next to them–it just changes the dynamics, right away.
[37:24] You don’t even need to say anything sometimes. Just your standing there adds a certain confidence to the person [which one?] and often that’s all it takes to diffuse the situation.
Eddy: That’s really cool. Again, if somebody doesn’t have training, they have the confidence to go over there.
Nick: [37:37] Yeah; I always tell people they don’t need to be a hero. They don’t need to go in and punch him; they could just go in and ask if the people need help. Again, that, to me, is self defense. It’s a way to diffuse the situation. It’s not only physical. Using verbal and having the courage to get in there and talk helps diffuse, de-escalate or change the dynamic so the conflict is resolved. That’s a fight won. That’s the way I look at it.
Eddy: It almost seems like a lot of the martial arts or self defense techniques that you teach almost help people in getting a backbone. They don’t necessarily apply to the technique; it’s more knowing they can back themselves up if a situation does arise, then, they can step in and sort of be, without even being violent.
Nick: [38:42] Totally. That’s why I try to keep it as simple as possible. Just by watching–not even by doing–you will learn so much!
You will learn that, if an attacker pulls out a knife in an elevator–that’s a close environment. (I’ve made many videos and tested it out where I show how to trap the knife in a close-quartered environment.) Just by watching you’ll have some understanding. Chances are you might get caught once or twice, but, yeah; just by you knowing, understanding–at least you know you don’t have to do any kick-boxing. You just have to know to try and trap the knife and bridge the gap.
Just by you watching and knowing how to do this, it’s going to register somewhere in your head so that it could, potentially, save your life. Even just knowing that you could use an improvised weapon like a chair–or a school bag…[incomplete statement] All I need to create is some space for me to run. Just get out! To me, that is survival.
I tell people if they want to fight to go to a boxing ring, go do some MMA–you know, win or lose fights. There isn’t winning or losing; it’s all about you going home in one piece, you going home to your family. That’s what I teach people.
I’m not a hero, myself, and I don’t promote any superstar moves because I know I don’t want to get anybody killed and tell people, “Oh, yeah, you see this technique is a one-two-three. It’s very simple; you can do it.” Then you try to do it and you get stabbed. And you realize, “Well, I thought I could do it.” Well, no, when a person could attack you at full speed, full out, he’s not going to come the way you just asked him to come (like in the video), he’s going to come any way. That’s a scary and dangerous thing. That’s why, in our videos, we’ve developed a lot of drills to teach you strategies, principles and skills, as well as developed drills to teach you how to track a knife and how to pin it, how to trap it, and how to strike back.
Again, that’s the difference between what you’ll face in the street and, sometimes what you do…[incomplete statement] I’m not saying there are not some really good systems out there, but there are also some systems out there that I see that I think can get you killed if you try them. I think you have a better chance of just going berserk on your instincts instead of on some fancy move.
Eddy: Yeah, your brain would probably freeze you, anyhow, when you’re trying to recall a sequence when somebody’s trying to knock your head off. You probably wouldn’t have enough time to recall a sequence.
Nick: [41:39] Totally, because your body’s going to go into automatic pilot. [fight or flight mode]
[41:51] I can tell you (from experience) that when you go into the ring, you’re in a clear state of mind. When your opponent is moving, he’s breathing, you’re breathing…[incomplete statement] In the street, he’s not. You have a couple of seconds. A couple of seconds!
In the street, your best weapon’s to hit big. Hit the biggest target; don’t go for anything specific. Use your palms, your knees; grab the guy’s hair, slam it. Whatever you can find–improvised weapons. Just keep it simple and get out as quickly as possible.
[42:25] You’re not going to think about anything specific, anything precise. You want to punch him in the forearm and grab his ear. (It happens too fast; you just want to hit him, palm him, neck crank him. If you go into his eyes, go into his eyes. If you don’t get his eyes, just grab his head; slam it on the floor.
Use your environment! It has to be simple. It has to be fast. The longer you stay in there (as I tell people), the fewer your chance of surviving.
Eddy: [46:21] In reality you’re not going to be able to use your finger for the death strike, right?
Nick: [42:20] (haha) No. You’re not going to find it.
The fact that I’ve been in there a lot, been in different situations, your body kicks in the adrenaline, the fight or flight mode. There’s a lot of stuff happening at the same time, so anything complex won’t work… unless you’re training daily and doing scenarios where you might be able to–through a lot of training–think a little more clearly in the moment.
If you don’t have all that training, everything’s going to seem very foggy, very fast. A great example of that is, through my years of working at clubs, I actually learned how to become completely clear and focused, and breathe and control my adrenaline. I had a certain control of everything that went on, whereas , at the [inaudible place 43:39] I remember I’d had a certain situation where I panicked. I was screaming, I was all over the place; I was out of control and suddenly lost all the skills I’d practiced. All that training kind of went down the tube.
[44:09] In time, I regained control and learned how to use it in a prize-fight situation, because I was faced with it on a regular, regular situation. I would get two a night, just something stupid like kicking off when some kid is drunk.
But you don’t know what’s going on when you get told, “Come down, now.” Your adrenaline goes from zero to one hundred in a second as you’re running down there, wondering what’s wrong.
You have to make fast decisions, adrenaline and fear are kicking in because you don’t know what’s happening.
I’d imagine that someone for whom this doesn’t happen on a regular basis would be so overwhelmed. This is why, again, it’s important to learn self-defense, important to do some training, to do some scenarios and experience a little bit of that adrenaline.
[45:02] A lot of times, people mistake adrenaline for fear. I tell them, “No, no; that’s adrenaline. It’s good; trust me, you need it. That’s what’s going to keep you alive.” (Every time you’re going to get punched in the face–that’s adrenaline.)
I remember a friend who got stabbed in the club didn’t even realized it until he’d driven halfway home because he hadn’t felt it. Even though it was just a small stab, his adrenaline had kicked in and kept him from feeling the wound.
[45:39] Lots of times the same thing goes when you get hit and they realize, “Oh, shit.” (You know what I mean?) People who’ve been stabbed or slashed, it’s only afterward the adrenaline goes away that they start seeing the blood or guts or feeling the cuts or the punches, and they start thinking… they start freaking out. (You know what I mean?)
Eddy: That’s interesting you’d say that about how your friend got stabbed and got halfway home before he realized it because we all know when you get a paper cut and how painful, that is, right?
The fact he could be stabbed and not realize it just shows how adrenaline’s a major anesthetic in your body, I guess. It’s there for survival, obviously; so it’s just numbing–[incomplete statement 46:17]
Arright, this is Eddy Baller and I’m back with Nick [Drossos]. Yeah, my computer just shut off for no reason at all, because it still has power… I’m not a technical guy so I don’t know how to prevent that. I think I just need a new computer.
Nick, I’ve forgotten where we left off, but this is going to be the continuation of the video with the guy, there. I wanted to mention your new site.
[new topic] I think we might’ve been talking about conditioning yourself and putting yourself through different scenarios. (I’ve been watching a lot of them on YouTube channel. I really like them because I do have some martial arts experience and more boxing.)
Everything just seems to flow very naturally. The actual technique that you show you don’t need to be super flexible for. You don’t have to do anything like flipping kicks or anything crazy. It’s just super powerful stuff.
But you have a new site up now because you just launched a new product. What is the new site and what is it all about?
Nick: [47:30] Our new site is called Code Red Defense. Basically, we have 14 self-defense videos. It’s a complete package. My partner, Pat, said, “Let’s make a complete self-defense package of A-to-Z videos that people can learn from, themselves.”
The first one is Awareness; the second is Verbal Diffusion, the third one is Fighting Sense. There’s a sequence to all of them.
Within each, we have a section where (basically) I’m teaching; then, part two has live drills (that I’m going to teach you) to give you the skills and drills that you can do with a partner or alone, at home. They will teach you skills like trapping a knife or using an improvised weapon. Third, we have scenarios where we have attackers coming at me at full speed. They’re wearing a [sp phon 48:32] huns. They’re going full out.
They’re [the videos] very dynamic. Literally, we’ve dissected everything! When people watch the videos, I want them to learn everything they need to know. And, the videos are simple: like I said, there are no fancy kicks. You can be 16, 60 or even 70 years old because what we teach is very simple. There are simple concepts and strategies that you can adapt to your own life and your capabilities.
Like I said, there’s nothing fancy about them. They’re simple, very real and dynamic. None of our attackers are martial artists. I wanted specific; I didn’t want that in the video. I wanted real attackers who would not come at me slowly.
Using a knife as an example, I have Marco who’s 6’4″, 250 lbs. He’s coming at me full speed and I have guys who are my size coming at me, just to show the various attackers and that not just one technique will work with all of them.
Within these videos, we’ve covered really all you need to know about self defense to defend yourself, to defend your loved ones, to empower yourself, and, basically, just give you confidence.
Just by watching them, you will learn a lot. Even if you don’t physically do them, you’ll realize you can use improvised weapons–like your belt, or use a chair in that way–or, I could throw something at the person–like the bottle of water (or anything else you have) in your hands.
And, sometimes, you might not do it, but you’ll have this in your brain and you might remember something and you’ll realize you have that option. It’s a complete self-defense package that can be downloaded or streamed. Again, they’re very exciting and have really good material. They’re very good videos.
Eddy: Yes. Even from your YouTube channel there’s really awesome stuff. [inaudible sentence 50:50] I’m looking forward to checking out your new content there on the new site.
I know, even from watching boxing or the UFC fights when I was training in past, even seeing something once, I was able to remember and apply it when I was sparring. This is kind of the same thing, right? It’s amazing what the mind can recollect.
Nick: [51:15] Totally; that’s just what it does. As I said, just from watching them, you will pick up stuff. We do have specific drills so if you have a training partner…[incomplete statement] Or there’s certain stuff that you can do alone to train and practice.
[51:38] Now, if you’re already a self-defense instructor, you could just take what you like and put it in your repertoire and just create it and make it your own, or find a way to incorporate it and put it in your training.
Eddy: And if somebody wants to get hold of you or contact you directly, what’s the best way to do that?
Nick: [51:57] Through Code Red Defense dot com, they could just write to me; yeah, CodeRedDefense.com. That’s the best way.
Eddy: I’ll be sure to include some links at the bottom here.
Nick: [52:32] That’d be awesome.
Eddy: If people want to check out you or your content through your YouTube channel or your Code Red Defense, they’ll be able to do that easily.
Nick: [52:20] Awesome.
Eddy: Awesome, well thank you, very much, for coming on here.
Nick: [52:23] Eddy, thank you, very much, for having me.
I'm the founder of Conquer & Win, and since 2011 I've been helping guys get into great relationships, build their core values as men, and become confident. I'm published on Lifehack, Order of Man, POF, Psychcentral and many more. I want to help you become a better man and live to your full potential. Feel free to contact me here.
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