I've recently watched the movie You're Next where main character Erin, who grew up in a survivalist compound, manages to defend herself against 4 military trained killers.

I'm sure some things have been stretched since it is fiction not reality after all, but it made me wonder at least from the self defense perspective how realistic this character actually is portrayed based on the training she has had.

In parts of this video you see that she is knowledgeable of how to stay safe in several dangerous situations: here, here, here & here.

I've never been to a survival school nor know anyone who has so I am just curious how much actual self defense would be taught there? I can accept how knowledgeable Erin is, but could someone with this sort of training really be competent enough to defend themselves against 4 military trained guys?

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    It varies. Some of the ones that take the militia approach basically do military CQC drills, What is more unusual, and hints at a darker nature to her survivalist upbringing is how casually she executes the kills. Now, horror movie characters typically don't deal with shock or hesitation, but this film handles the trauma of killing and viewing death more realistically than most films, which suggests that Erin has not only trained in combat against resisting opponents, but also that she's gone through some desensitization training to get accustomed to killing (or possibly, she's a psychopath). Nov 5, 2021 at 4:15
  • @MacacoBranco hmm very interesting point about the desensitization. Are you able to point me to somewhere where I can learn more about different types of survival schools?
    – FrontEnd
    Nov 5, 2021 at 7:16

2 Answers 2


First, there may be an issue of difference of comprehension. You mention schools, which brings to mind a summer camp kind of setup, or maybe just a seminar of a few days. Living in a survivalist compound is sometimes a lifestyle choice, with people bringing their families in and living there for years in preparation for what they believe to be an imminent disaster, with a strong correlation to anti-government militias and doomsday cults, both of which often do train in preparation for armed resistance.

That said, combat is trained in paid survival camps, although I'd argue that it usually hits the level of classes of recreational martial arts rather than serious training for combat situations.

We will cover common strikes, avoidances, basic footwork and counter strikes that will give you a clear upper hand when using a using any type of staff like object for defense.

There is no experience needed to take this class and all fitness levels are welcomed as the movements will be efficient. Don’t miss out on Stick combat 101 – Basic Tools for Winning Non-projectile engagements.

As I commented above, when the killers appear, Erin acts decisively and kills with very little hesitance or remorse. Assuming she's not just a natural psychopath, this suggests that she has trained in actual combat scenarios, whether simulated or real (not necessarily mortal, but where pain and injury is possible and you're expected to try to inflict the same) and some degree of desensitization (a fair amount of modern military training involves teaching soldiers to treat enemy combatants as targets and to aim to kill or disable without considering the opponent as a human being). This further suggests that the compound she grew up in was one of the lifestyle type where she would have been trained in combat.

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    FWIW, such lifestyle compounds typically don't last too long. You can only maintain a state of constant readiness for so long in the absence of imminent threat, and so these compounds typically either collapse due to members deciding that the apocalypse is not at hand, or they run afoul of the government when they cross the line from preparing for armed insurrection to planning it. And, of course, as children grow up, many will decide they no longer wish to follow the path of their parents, which may bring in the government, who often object to children being "kidnapped" to such camps. Nov 5, 2021 at 13:27
  • I didn't realise the difference between survival schools vs compounds, thanks for clarifying that
    – FrontEnd
    Nov 5, 2021 at 13:53

There's 3 types of martial arts

  1. Conventional: Karate, Taekwondo, etc.
  2. Spiritual: Tai Chi, etc.
  3. Modernist/Militaristic: USMC fighting program, etc.

Let's focus on the last... in more modernistic, survivalist martial arts, often for sake of survival, technique is less important than efficacy. They often involve dirty fighting (groin attack, face digging, eye gouging, biting, stomping), weapons from random objects, stealthy takedowns.

  • I don't think you've answered their question, just commented on there being "three types". Nov 8, 2021 at 12:38
  • This reads pretty uninformed when it comes to modern survival/hand to hand combat systems. For example, efficacy is provided by technique, it's rather that they take versatility over specificity to minimise the number of techniques to learn. That's not to maximise efficacy but to minimise time to learn and memorise. Also, dirty fighting isn't exactly part of the systems or trained in them (except grain shots maybe), it is only advised to use any means available. What "stealthy takedowns" should even mean i cannot fandom. Nov 8, 2021 at 19:19
  • My guess would be that "stealthy takedowns" involves attacks when the other fellow doesn't know that there's a fight, or even that you're there, possibly also emphasizing avoiding the target being able to cry out for help and attract others. Of course, there's a part of me now remembering class when, after our teacher showed us some self defense techniques against mugging, told us that now that we know how to mug someone, we had no excuse to not have our tuition ready... Nov 9, 2021 at 12:53
  • There's a chapter in a US Army document teaching about sentry removal...stealthy takedowns? Maybe that's what it is :)
    – user11733
    Nov 13, 2021 at 2:12

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