Our Training Has Flaws…On Purpose!

Some self defense training is better than others but ALL training has flaws. The flaws are built in on purpose. Think about it, we are training to beat down someone until they are no longer a threat. How often do we do this in training? Never. It is truly like teaching people to swim but never getting in a pool.

We must have built in flaws, but we must recognize that they are flaws. One of the most unrealistic things in our training is our training partner. The person attacking you in the gym is a partner who is there for your mutual benefit. They want you to be able to go to work tomorrow, want you to train with them next week, care about you and looks out for you. This is not the same person that will be attacking you on the street. The exact opposite type of person will be attacking us on the street!

When we accidently do make contact with our partner in the gym what is it that we usually do? We stop and apologize. This isn’t the reaction we should be ingraining!

We train too often with pre conceived notions of what will work and what will happen in a fight. How do we know that those knees or that elbow would have been devastating in a fight? He may well get up and come at us harder. In the real world people take pool cues to the head, stabs to the heart, multiple gun shots to the chest, etc. and keep coming. “I kicked you in the balls, you would have went down and been done”. This may be a true statement but I’m not willing to bet my life on it.

In the gym we purposely pull our punches and kicks to not make contact. Again, what kind of training is that when the goal is to kick and punch people hard? If we pull our combatives 1,000 times in training under stress we will probably do exactly what we practiced. I had a high school kid who every time in training for a head lock defense would smack his partner on the thigh instead of the groin. I am sure that his partner appreciated this but the one time he had to do it for real when someone put him in a headlock at school he hit the attacker on the thigh. The defense still worked fine, he was just upset that the groin strike didn’t come out of him. I had the discussion with him that whatever we train is going to come out of us when it’s for real.

We fight in a gym that we keep open, padded and uncluttered for safety. In the Real world there are obstacles everywhere! My good friend and retired police sergant, Brannon Hicks, swears that he is going to bring coffee tables and shrubs into his gym. He says that it seems like every time he had to fight with someone on the streets one of those two things were and the way! The difference between a hazard and a gift is who sees it first. We need to train to see that curb or corner of the bar and use it…our gyms don’t have these things!

The old adage “you fight like you train” is a lie unless (as SGT Rory Miller says in his books) you trained blind, deaf, stupid and clumsy. There is no great way to totally prepare for the chemical dump, emotions, freeze, etc. that a real world violent attack will create. We cannot totally train for what is coming…that’s just the way it is.

Training for life and death is what we are doing, forgetting about the in betweens. It could be life, it could be death, it could also be a colostomy bag, a wheelchair for life, blinded, brain damaged, etc., etc. We train with Hollywood in mind way too often!

How do we mitigate these training flaws?:
-In class, always hit targets, pads and bags your absolute hardest.
-Forget techniques. Train your flinch reactions …go hard, go forward, go crazy!
-Train how you want to perform!
-Put everything under exhaustion and stress.
– Don’t waste time on anything that doesn’t totally agree with what you were teaching. In my classes we never warm up with shadowboxing. Boxing is throwing two or three punches, circling, moving in and out coming to throw two or three more punches… by the time you’re doing all of that in a violent encounter the scumbag’s buddy got there and hit you in the back of the head.

We must have a system which teaches to go from a relaxed to aggressive state without hesitation. We go hard in class and especially tests for a reason. The defense must work when we are at our worst, when we are exhausted or it isn’t a good defense. If you can pick when you are attacked, don’t be there! If we are ever attacked we’ll have a been there, done that feeling…and this keeps us from freezing!

BE SAFE Seminars at your gym!

Mark Slane, lead instructor of the United States Krav Maga Association, is available for BE SAFE seminars at your gym.

One Day Training Seminars;
-Home Invasion 1 hr 15 min
-Pre Violence Indicators Lecture 40 min
-Active Shooter 1 hr
-Confined Space Self Defense (Planes, Trains & Buses) 1 hr

Two Day Training Seminars (the above is day 1) 2nd day;
-Handgun Disarms Seminar 1 hr 45 mins
-Real World Violence Lecture 1 hr
-Knife Defense Seminar 1 hr 45 mins

Be Safe Seminars are great for special events at your gym, community outreach, staff training, gym money maker, etc. No prior training is necessary. Simple, effective training that can save lives! E mail Mark at Info@uskma.com with questions or to schedule.

ABOUT MARK;
Mark Slane is the United States Krav Maga Association founder and chief instructor. In 1999 Mark Slane was a member of the very first group of outside instructors ever trained at the Krav Maga National Training Center in Los Angeles. He then went on to open one of the first half dozen Krav Maga schools in the United States. To become a black belt in Krav Maga is difficult. Prior to 2007, instructors who wished to become black belts must have been personally invited to test in Los Angeles by Krav Maga Worldwide. Krav Maga Worldwide tested, on average, only four or five for black belt each year. Mark became a black belt in November of 2003 (one of only thirty in the U.S. at the time), tested with the USKMA to Second Degree Black Belt in 2009 and to Third degree in 2012 and received 4th degree black belt in 2016. Mark has trained in Israel with the founder of Krav Maga’s heir, Grandmaster Yaron Lichtenstien.

Mark has studied the martial arts for over twenty five years. Mark started his training in Tae Kwon Do and holds a fourth degree black belt in that art. In Olympic style Tae Kwon Do he won a national championship in sparring in the light weight division – 33 to 40 year old age group. He has taught martial arts to hundreds of students in various schools over the past twenty years and has coached and trained dozens of national medalists, national champions, U.S. team members and World medalists. Mark has also trained in boxing for several years with Olympic Gold Medalist, Jerry Page and has spent years studying Muay Thai, BJJ, and Mixed Martial Arts as well.

Mark retired early from his firefighter/paramedic job to devote his life to making others safer. Mark founded the United States Krav Maga Association to spread Krav Maga throughout the U.S. the right way. No politics or egos…Just real world self defense training. Mark is also the author of Be Safe! Self Defense for Women In the Real World, American Krav Maga, Defending the Barrel & the Blade and Krav Maga For Law Enforcement with SGT Brannon Hicks.

WHY DO WE ‘PLUCK’ IN KRAV MAGA?

The first technique a student learns when attending one of my krav maga classes is the front choke with the pluck. I love to show this one first because all of the concepts of krav maga are included. The first concept is to get rid of the danger is quickly as possible. When we feel pain our hands automatically go to that pain. When we are choked our hands start for our throats even before we know what’s going on. This cuts down on practice time, is more likely to come out of this under stress, etc. A natural reaction is always going to be quicker than a learned motion. The second concept of krav maga is to always defend and attacked simultaneously. The person choking us probably doesn’t have their legs crossed but is standing wide open. As our hands are busy doing the defense our legs are free to send that front kick to the groin. Not only have we gotten our first attack in (keeping the attacker in the OODA loop) but that attacker’s going to loosen the grip even that much more because of that groin kick. The third concept is to go off like a bomb and beat the idiot down until we are safe. So the pluck is in our defense because it is a natural motion that comes out of us and has that extremely effective groin kick to loosen up the attacker that much more. Before the attacker is recovered from that kick we are already into elbows to the head, kicks to the knee, knees to the throat etc.

I have seen several Krav Maga and organizations take the pluck out of their choke defenses. They give several reasons for this. One is that they do not like having several different choices for a choke defense. I totally agree with this thought however, all chokes aren’t created equal. Are we being choked in place? Is there a lot of momentum that has us being thrown forward or backwards? Is the choke from the front, behind, side, or some other odd angle? Lastly, how do we know that we will be standing when we are choked? We can certainly be laying in bed, on the ground, sitting in a car where we have a seatbelt on with doors closed.

One reason that i have heard to get rid of plucks is that standing still and being choked is an unrealistic attack, that we will always be pushed backwards with force….they seem to think that we have to suspend reality because, in their understanding, no one would “stop” when they choke you. As SGT Brannon Hicks (the co-lead instructor of the USKMA) says “The reality is that they are revealing inexperience with attacks in the real world. The reality is that in my career, one of the most common attacks in domestic violence in particular occurred when a man would choke a woman and pull her in close, like face to face to intimidate and terrify. The bicep to ear movement doesn’t work well in that instance because the attacker collapses in and bears his weight forward. It also makes it nearly impossible for a much smaller or weaker person to generate any significant rotational power, whereas the groin kick is easily accessible and the pluck does enough to buy fractions of a second and precious air. So they are right about the pluck not working well if you’re being driven backward. I point this out all the time. Again, regrettably, they’re teaching people from a point of inexperience that a very real and common attack is unrealistic.
If they rely on small muscle groups to do the pluck, they are doing it wrong. Their understanding of the pluck appears fundamentally flawed.”

I have heard several instructors talking about the groin kick being ineffective. This always makes me shake my head. Again, quoting SGT Hicks “On the matter of striking the jaw rather than going for a groin shot, this thinking is exceedingly narrow. Who is attacking and who is being attacked? Am I to believe that if my 12 year old daughter “cracks” a 200 lbs man in the jaw, she’s going to do enough damage while being choked that this will exceed the damage caused by a groin shot? I’ve crushed a lot of guys nuts on the street and found it to be incredibly effective. Conversely, I’ve beaten guys about the head until my hands and elbows nearly broke and swelled up by grapefruits. Keeping in mind that i’ve knocked a lot of men out in sport competition. I’m not sure what his balls are made of, but human balls are incredibly soft targets lol So, yes, striking to the jaw against a man of similar size might be very effective. Would that be the same if a 5′ woman were doing that against a 6’3″ man? Could she even reach him? I doubt it. I’m confident that she could kick him in the nuts though. I have heard instructors making a point about guys being cracked in the jaw during sports and they stop as opposed to taking groin shots and shaking it off. I don’t know what sports they are watching but MMA is 15-25 minutes of guys getting cracked in the head and pressing on to keep fighting, but if they take one good groin shot, we know what happens. Break time. They fall down.”

I guess my point is that there is no one size fits all technique and to talk in absolutes is usually a mistake. Our litmus test when trying any technique is how will it work for a very small female against a very large, strong male. The rip at the choke as she kicks to the groin is still the best we’ve seen in that situation. Too many organizations do what works for the head honcho and forgets that they are teaching small females to defend against that honcho! BE SAFE!

IS THIS PERSON RATIONAL?

One great lesson that I’ve learned from the co-lead instructor of the USKMA, Brannon Hicks, is to ask “Is this person rational?” He leads a great RBT class and when critiquing A scenario the question he asks over and over to the officer is “Was this a rational person?” Thinking in those terms helps the officer to make decisions much quicker.

I taught a third-party protection class recently where one of the scenarios was that they were walking a spouse/significant other and a belligerent person came up threatening the spouse. The student playing the belligerent person never laid hands on the spouse but kept coming forward and yelling threats over and over. Because there was no actual contact many of the students were confused on what they should do. After the scenario I would ask them “Was this a rational person?” Would a rational person be belligerent, keep coming forward even though you’ve tried to walk away and threaten to do harm to another person? When the answer was “no, this is not a rational person.” the solution seemed to show itself. It is not rational to threaten a stranger and to keep coming forward as if to do harm. My thought was if I know this isn’t a rational person and I have clearly try to get away and leave the situation and de-escalate, if that person keeps coming forward I probably need to strike first. I can justify in my head, and in a court of law, that I believed this was not a rational person, they were threatening to do harm, and I was not going to wait on them to draw a knife or to follow through with your threat. Again, I would have witnesses stating that I was doing the rational thing. I was trying to leave I was trying to de-escalate I was trying to break contact with this person

SGT Hicks shows a video of a law-enforcement officer who waits way too long to put hands on a criminal. The first thing the officer does is point a taser at the man and tell him to stop coming forward. The man continues to come forward. If this officer would have just thought “This is not a rational thing. I am a law-enforcement officer giving a command and pointing a weapon at this person and yet they keep coming forward”. If he would have decided right then and there that he was dealing with an irrational person and did something about it it would’ve saved him a lot of trouble. It ended up that this criminal drew a knife and stabbed the officer and the officer had to shoot and kill this man.

In my mind setting I tell myself over and over to ask that simple question. Is this person rational? Again, a rational person would not threaten a stranger, act violently, put himself in my face, or any other such thing. Unless we thought about this in our heads ahead of time we may end up frozen thinking “Why is this person doing this, do I know this person? I need to de-escalate this, I need to keep giving orders, keep giving commands, I need to talk my way out of this.” It goes without saying that you’re not going to talk an irrational person out of anything. In my opinion, it is time to go hands-on if I’ve tried to leave, de-escalate, etc. and it’s not working. Any rational person is not going to do the expected. An irrational person is a dangerous person.

In any situation ask yourself that question. Is this person being rational? If they are rational we can talk. If there irrational it may be time to go hands-on. Be safe!

GETTING STARTED WITH THE USKMA!

USKMA Affiliate; How to grow your program

Thanks for being part of the USKMA family. At our first krav maga gyms in Ohio we loved it when members told us that they feel like they are part of a family and that we really care about them. We want our affiliates to feel the same way. We care about you and want you to grow as quickly as possible. We took our Krav Maga gym from scratch to over 750 members in under four years. Below is exactly how we did it, we share everything!! A lot may need to change from what you are currently doing. Those who fight change don’t grow! Most who join us and want to add Krav Maga or want to run their Krav Maga program better contact us because they need to make more money, what they are doing now isn’t cutting it. Here is a view into the Class & Marketing System of the USKMA;

Get the biggest slice of pie; Look at your city’s population on a pie chart. Cut a slice that’s 1/3. That’s about how many are 16 to 40 years old, which is your target audience. So if you started with 200,000 we now have 66,000 to try to get into your gym. Of that group you can forget half….they are the lazy, those that can’t afford it, those that don’t have the time and those who just wouldn’t ever consider doing such a program. So we are down to 33,000 to try to get to join your gym. Why do anything to make that number smaller? If you don’t play the type of music that we recommend you lose a sliver, if you mandate being called “master” you’ll lose more. If you insist on uniforms you’ve probably cut the number in half. Run it like a martial arts class with all the above, and your 33,000 could well be down to 3,000! Don’t cut the number of potential members down any more than you have to!!

First and foremost take a look at the name of your gym. If it’s Smith BJJ & Hard Style Karate and you are adding Krav Maga, change the name to Smith’s Self Defense & Fitness. If you are mainly a Krav Maga gym, name it Smith’s Krav Maga & Fitness. Anyone who wants BJJ and Karate has found you…and will continue to. If you ask 1,000 people, “Who wants to learn to ground fight or to get out of a choke?” maybe 50 will say they do. If you ask that same 1,000 people, “Who wants to lose 10 lbs?” 950 will say that they do. Why aim your gym at 50 out of 1,000 when you can aim it at 950 out of 1,000? You need to run very fast paced classes (like we showed you in training) so that you can honestly tell people that it’s a workout, the workout that can save your life! We tell customers who compare us to much less expensive big box gyms “What are you learning there, how to walk on a treadmill? I learned to walk when I was 1! We have a workout where you wll learn a skill that you can use to protect your family.” If you think you can’t take the word “karate” or any other style-specific word out of your gym’s name, I ask why not? Are you the vanguard of that system? Is that system paying you to keep it’s name out there? Your family, and feeding them, is more important than anything else. Is this a sell out? If we believe that what we do is good for people and will keep people safe isn’t it better to help the most people possible? These martial arts names keep people away.

Add some fitness classes to your gym. CardioMMA, CrossFit (or Kravfit), etc. This is very important. You are now not only the “martial arts school” but a fitness and self defense Mecca!!

Start ’em out right; The biggest mistake gyms make? They throw new people into a regular class for their “intro”. You have seen the USKMA intro in your instructor training. Prospective members get a half-hour intro and stay to take a level 1 class right after. Then, while they are totally worn out because it was a great workout, you talk to them about signing. The intro isn’t teaching…..it’s selling. Don’t do the intro on one day and the class on another because they may not come back. If they leave after the intro they’ll think that was like a class and wasn’t much of a workout.

Charge $19 for the intro, class and a t shirt. Do not do free intros! Anyone who won’t pay $19 for the intro won’t pay $100 per month for the lessons. You can get t shirts made for $6. In the years we’ve been doing this, we’ve given out thousands of t-shirts. That’s thousands of mini billboards walking around the city! Put your web site on the back!! A trick to get your intro numbers boosted by 50%…..anytime you have an intro tell them they can bring a friend with them for free, that you are running a two-for-one this month on the intros!!

Keep treating ’em right; Be all about the customer! No matter how big you get have a family feel, let the members know that you care about them. Before and after classes, make your rounds and talk to members, shake hands and let them know that you are glad to see them. Everyone on your staff must do this….no assistants standing in the corner and talking with each other. All members must get attention in class. Make sure you or an assistant help every single person in every single class. One of our selling points is it’s like a personal training session without the high cost. Add some extras for them. We give a free weapon disarm seminar every other Friday evening. We also give a once a month Saturday morning free women’s self defense class for the community that male members send their significant others to.

Would you invite your mom?; This should go without saying…keep the gym clean and organized! I’ve been to some mighty messy gyms. If it smells like a sweat box or is a mess people don’t join!

Spin the right Web; Your web site has one job and one job only…to get people in to take your intro. Nobody cares who trained you, how great you are, or even what you teach. They want to know what it will do for them! Check out Newworlddf.com, Alaskakravmagafitness.com & SJkravmaga.com. There is a reason for everything on it. You need to put your intro special on there, tell them how they’ll lose weight and get into shape with a workout that could save their lives as well as their loved ones. Make it easy to navigate and figure out how to contact you. Stay away from detailed class descriptions (like “you’ll spend 15 minutes on combatives, then 20 minutes on a self defense technique, and we rotate the lesson plans every 14 days”)…some may read that and decide they know what classes are like and not call you. Another big thing is the word “fight” or “fighting”. Get rid of it! We are self defense and fitness. NOT self defense, fitness and fighting. Sure, we teach good fighting but if it’s on the site 90% of women who were going to call don’t!! Also, be careful of what pictures are on your site. Look at ours on the above listed sites. We don’t have anyone in martial art uniforms ever. We don’t have a picture of a guy getting punched in the face or kicked in the groin. We have a very attractive fitness model! Girls want to look like her and guys want to just look!!

Don’t talk dollars; On the site and on the phone NEVER tell them your prices. The only thing they hear is $19 for an intro. If they keep pressing give them a range: “memberships range from $80 to $130 depending on too many variables to make clear right now…I’ll go over it all in detail with you after the great intro class!” If you mention prices you will have your intros drop by 30%. People will think it sounds too high. After your awesome intro and class, they will be blown away at how cheap it is because you BUILT VALUE FIRST!!

Get help; Get a marketing person. When someone calls us they rarely get the voicemail, it is a live person answering. This person gets into businesses, figures the ad budget (you need one of those), answers phone calls and e-mails, talks to intros, signs them up, etc. The great thing about this is it costs you nothing. Give your marketing person $10 for every intro they get in and $50 for every sign up (we charge $19 for an intro and a $59 set up fee for sign ups). Don’t take the first person for this job that you find, in fact, when you hire tell them it’s for a month. If they do well, it’s permanent. We train the marketing aspect of gym operation in our instructor training. Get the right person in there and it makes all the difference!

Get more help; Enlist a billing service. This is a must. Don’t do this yourself. They can charge from 3 to 8 percent but they make you more than that in the long run. We recommend Member Solutions as their software will get your whole gym automated. We’ve got a deal for better rates than their off-the-shelf rates, so go through us to get into Member Solutions.

Advertising works; You must spend on advertising. We spent $2,000 a month for our three gyms in Ohio. If we sign 2.5 people to 12 month agreements in that month because of these ads, they paid for themselves. We sign many more than 2.5 per month! You have to spend some money on advertising but don’t waste money. You want to do the free (or near free) stuff, flyers, snipe signs, demos, etc. Definitely advertise weekly on Craig’s list and other such sites under friendly headings like weight loss, exercise/fitness and self defense instruction. I have run gyms since ’92 and have tried just about everything advertising-wise. The only thing we put money into anymore is car wraps and billboards (see update on advertising below). That’s all that seems to work. We’ve got a print ad and billboard creative available to affiliates.

Be the highlight of their day, not their whole day; Classes have to be awesome. You saw the USKMA classes. Keep them moving (it is way better to under talk than over) and sweating. Blast the heavy metal and put drills at the end so they leave panting and telling you what an awesome class it was! At our training you saw how to run a great class in 45 to 55 minutes. I see gyms with 90 to 120 minute long classes. This is a mistake. People have a life, most people do not have 2 to 2.5 hours (with drive time) to give up three nights a week. Long classes will keep people from joining!

Be competitive; Beat the competition by having a lot to do and charging only one price for it all. Affiliate with CrossFit or Monkey the like…..or teach KravFit. We recommend adding CardioMMA as well and at least one boxing, MMA, BJJ and Muay Thai class a week. Here’s our thoughts on pricing: Our Ohio gyms were as big as they were because people see the value and appreciate that we don’t try to take every dime that they have from them. We don’t charge for add-on programs, we have a “one price to do it all” philosophy. In Ohio we charged $96 a month for a 12 month agreement and $132 a month for month-to-month. We go against the “experts” who tell you to be the most expensive gym in town, to be the Rolls Royce. Anyone who has been to our classes know that we are the Rolls Royce AND we are affordable. They appreciate this and tell all their friends. Why have an exclusive clientele and small classes? Huge classes are so much more fun to teach, more energetic and prospective members think that you must really be the place to join because so many people are there!

Hire the best people; Let your staff know that you expect them to be sharp. They should be studying extra things like Muay Thai, boxing, etc. We get members who are masters from other systems and competitive MMA fighters who see Krav and want to know it. If they are watching a class deciding whether to sign up or not and see my instructors hitting focus mitts or sparring, you want them to think, “they really know what they are doing!” not “they aren’t very good on the mitts,” etc.

That’s not all… If you are a gym who has not yet started operation please contact us about lease negotiations and grand openings. E-mail me any questions at mark@uskma.com

Thanks again for being part of the USKMA!! We look forward to a long and successful relationship!!

SOME BLOGS I’VE WRITTEN FOR AFFILIATES OVER THE YEARS;

THE USKMA SYSTEM

When I talk of “the system” I am referring to exactly what we did with Ohio Krav Maga & Fitness to grow to 750 members and sign an average of 48 adults per month over a two year period. Here is exactly how we are doing this:

-It starts with getting people in the door! Advertising is a must. Do all the free advertising you possibly can such as demos, “deal of the day” internet promotions and snipe signs. The only two things we recommend spending advertising dollars on are social media (big time) and car wraps. There is much more about these two things towards the bottom of this “Start Here!” e mail.

-Another part of getting people in the door is answering the phone and e mails. Hire someone to do this! They have the gym’s phone forwarded to their cell so anyone that calls talks to a real person. They check e mails a couple of times an hour and get right back to people. They get paid only on who they bring in and sign. This is a must!! Everything (phone calls, your web site, e mail answers, etc.) is geared towards getting people in for an intro. Prices are never, ever given out until the customer has done an intro!

-Your web site has one purpose…to get people in for an intro. They don’t care what you have done, who trained you, etc.   You must highlight losing weight and getting into shape. No pictures of people in uniform, people getting punched or kicked, etc. but only of a fitness model. See previous articles on what your web site should be. Also, see SJKM.com to see what a site should look like.

-When the customer comes in for an intro the person who they talked to is there to sign them up for the intro, give them a tour and introduce them to the instructors. After the intro they are there to show them the schedule and sign them up.

-People who want to try our gym have one option and one option only…an intro and a class with a t shirt for $19. No free class, no bringing them back for a second visit, etc. If we do our intro and class correctly they will never be more ready to sign than right then! BTW, if they won’t pay $19 for the intro how do you think you will get $100 a month out of them? The intro has two purposes. 1) We show them some basic skills. We don’t throw people into a class without an intro as they will feel lost and stupid…lost and stupid do not equal signing up. 2) It is selling! They will hear how scientific Krav is, how it makes sense for them (great for the small female, great for the muscle head, etc.), what a great workout it is, etc. Pair them up with a member who has been there awhile who will help them in class.

-Our classes all follow the same template. We keep classes moving and fun. They sweat and smile! They should be huffing and puffing by the end…“the workout that can save your life”. Even if your class is mostly new people run it the same…full bore. Tell the new people to take breaks when they need them, that it is our job to get them into shape.

-We offer Krav Maga, Crossfit, CardioMMA and one class a week of boxing, MMA, BJJ and Muay Thai at our gyms. We are a Krav gym but if that’s all we offer we are competing against only other martial art gyms. IF we have fitness we are now competing against LA Fitness, Gold’s gym, etc. We offer all of this for ONE price. People are amazed at all they can do for one price and we get a lot of sign ups because of all we offer.

-Customer service is a must! We are competing against the big box gyms who charge $19 a month. We can beat them by overwhelming our customers with service! The big box gyms sign people and hope they don’t show up. We want people to know that we are happy that they are there. Everyone gets greeted and talked to. We give everyone personal attention in class. We answer questions patiently and happily. If you see ego in an instructor cut them quick!

 

GOTTA HAVE FITNESS

In the last section we talked about adding fitness classes to your gym. This is something we preach on often and really believe is a must. If you don’t have fitness classes you are basically a martial arts gym with a cool Krav class. You are competing against other martial arts gyms for adults…who are running from martial arts anyway! When you have fitness you are going after a whole different crowd, and it’s a huge market. You are then competing with Gold’s gym, LA Fitness, etc….and we do a much better job with customer service than they do.

We highly recommend both Crossfit (or Kravfit) and CardioMMA classes. Crossfit is so well known now that people are looking for it and your prices will be less than most Crossfit gyms (and you offer more). CardioMMA is for the women who are looking for ramped up Taebo as well as the guys who want “fight fitness” and we love that it’s only a thirty minute class.

The first step is to schedule the classes. You can start off with two weeknights and Saturday morning. You eventually want classes every week day and Saturday morning. We actually schedule classes: 5:45 CardioMMA, 6:30 Krav Maga and 7:30 Crossfit. This gives members several classes to come to all evening long…every evening. LA Fitness doesn’t tell members they can come in for class only two days a week during a specific one hour time frame…neither should we.

Go to Crossfit.com for ideas on Kravfit and to the affiliate page of our site for ideas on CardioMMA. We recommend taking Crossfit instructor training even if you aren’t going to be an affiliate to see how they run classes. At a minimum join a crossfit gym in your town to see how it’s ran.

Always have a “one price for everything” policy. People are used to having to pay extras for add on programs. They appreciate one price to do it all and it is a very good selling point.

Having these classes gives you a whole different demographic (a much larger one) to go after and to advertise to. At our gym those testing in Krav looked ten times better once we added the fitness classes. Fitness definitely makes your members safer!!

 

Be a Gym, not a Dojo

I have seen a few martial arts “dojos” add our Krav Maga class and get only a small bump in membership. I have seen several gyms add our entire system and double their adult enrollment within a month. If you are a martial art dojo who adds a Krav Maga class you are still going after the same people. You are competing with other martial arts dojos for those interested in martial arts. You are hoping that there are some people out there who have heard of Krav Maga and are looking for it. When you add our system with the Krav Maga, CrossFit/Kravfit and CardioMMA you are now competing with World’s gym, Gold’s gym, LA Fitness, Life Styles gym and all the other big box gyms. Your audience of potential members goes up tremendously

You have heard me say many times if you ask 1,000 people in your community if they are interested in learning to punch & kick correctly and how to defend themselves you will have 50 or so raise their hands. If you ask that same 1,000 in your community “who wants to lose ten pounds?” you will have 940 of them raise their hands. There are a ton of adults joining fitness gyms and very few joining martial arts gyms.

We aren’t looking for the twenty-something guy who wants to learn MMA. That is a small audience (without much disposable income anyway). We are looking for the same audience that the fitness gyms are going after…most every adult! We want the housewife who was going to join a gym and walk on a treadmill to come in and try one of our intros. That is when it is our time to shine and win her over. She sees that she can do it, that it is fun, that it is a much better workout than any treadmill and that we are professionals. We tell her “why go somewhere to walk on a treadmill, what are you going to learn there? I’ve been walking since I was 11 months. Come in and learn how to defend yourself and your family. What you learn here can save your life”.

Here is the cool thing. We charge five times more than the box gyms and have basically zero overhead. We actually brag about how sparse our gym is, how it is a real workout and how we don’t have a juice bar or Zumba or equipment. Think about it, the box gyms have to have multi-million dollar buildings, half a million dollars worth of equipment, extravagant locker rooms and showers, dozens of plasma tv’s, etc, etc. just to compete. We have basically a warehouse with some mats on the floor. We have plain locker rooms, maybe one shower in the whole place, no juice bars or any or that crap. But…we have a lot that they don’t. We have classes that actually teach something. We have professional staff with black belts and years of experience teaching CardioMMA, Krav Maga, etc. and not just jazzercise instructors who went to a weekend cardio Karate instructor seminar. We are experts who know exercise physiology and not just a staff member telling members how a piece of equipment is supposed to work. We don’t try to sign up thousands and hope that they don’t come but instead build relationships and look at members as family.

There are now over 760 members at OKM&F. The way that they have grown is to look like a fitness gym and not a dojo. Some things to think about as far as that goes:

  • Look at how your gym is decorated. You don’t see a bunch of Asian motif or pictures of people in uniforms at our gyms. You see MMA posters, CrossFit posters and pictures of us with fitness big wigs and UFC fighters.
  • Box gyms don’t have kids running around, neither should we. We attempt to schedule kids classes early in the evening so our adult classes never see them. We for sure try to schedule our intros during kid free times!
  • Box gyms don’t tell members they can come two days a week during a one hour time frame. We have something that members can come to every week night and Saturday morning all evening. We may have a CardioMMA at 5:30, a Krav Maga class at 6:30 and CrossFit at 7:30 during weeknights. We want to fit people’s schedules, not make them fit ours.
  • Box gyms don’t force people into 12 month contracts or have a “black belt club” so neither do we. We do have a year contract that saves members money but we also have a straight month to month with no commitment.
  • People wear shorts and t-shirts to work out in at the box gyms. This is what our members wear as well. We do not mandate a school shirt, a color that must be worn, etc. because the box gyms don’t. Why give people hoops to jump through?
  • An instructor at a box gym isn’t bowed to or called “sifu”, “master” or even “sir” nor do they tell members to do push ups if they are late, etc. Why would we do this to adults at our gyms?

 

Is this a sell out and watering down the “art”? I don’t believe so. If you have seen our Krav Maga classes you know that they are real deal and real self defense. People are learning something that can save their lives. In the fitness classes they are doing things that will add years to their lives. If we are making people safer and healthier why would we want to put hoops to jump through in place to where we are only affecting a few dozen people when we can do the same for the masses? The only answer I have for that is “baggage from the way we were taught… and egos.”

 

RUNNING THE GYM

Here are our thoughts on how we run Ohio Krav Maga & Fitness.

-What do we pay people? We have a lot of instructors who teach a few classes a week for us at one gym or another. They get $25 per class. In each gym we have a manager. When we start a gym they are expected to teach all of the classes, make sure it’s clean and do whatever it takes to run that gym. They get $1,000 a month for the first on hundred members that the gym has. At one hundred and twenty five members they get $1,250, at one hundred and fifty members $1,500 and so on. This, to me, gets them involved in the marketing because they need more people in to make more money.

-We generally try to have someone to clean each gym ($10 an hour or so) and a have someone sitting at the desk to greet people, answer questions, etc., again for $10 or so an hour.

-Every gym should have a marketing person. This person has only one job, getting people to sign up. They answer all phone calls and e mails as well as be at the gym for intro night to sign people. The cool thing is that they pay for themselves as they get ten dollars per intro (we charge $19 per intro) and fifty dollars per sign up (our sign-up fee is $79).

-Classes are Monday – Thursday and Saturday morning. Nobody shows for Friday night classes but we keep this open for tests and seminars. Note: some areas are just different. One of our Florida affiliates can’t get people to show up on Saturday’s because everyone goes to the beach!

Intros are one week night and Saturday morning.

 

-We try to have locker rooms and a shower at our gyms. People expect this as we are competing against the big box gyms with their million dollar buildings. In the same breath, don’t try to compete with their building. We sell the bare bones, serious workouts only look. Don’t put a lot of money into decorating or looks but keep it clean and “serious” looking.

-In that same vein, do not put workout equipment in your gym…ever! I once had a manager of one of my gyms move a bench for bench presses into our gym, and another bring in a treadmill.   I had them take them right back out! If we start putting in equipment we will look like we are trying to be a Gold’s gym or an LA Fitness. We will lose that comparison! They have million dollar equipment budgets. We must embrace the “bare bones” look. Brag about the garage type atmosphere and how it’s not powder puff (like the gyms) but serious working out!

-Start and end on time!   You look unorganized when a group of people are jamming the hall because their class should have started but can’t because the previous one isn’t over yet.

-We absolutely want members to have many choices of classes every day we are open. LA Fitness doesn’t tell people they can only come to two classes a week and neither do we! Mon. through Thursday we have a 5:45 CardioMMA, at 6:30 a Krav Maga level 1 and at 7:30 a Crossfit class. We do the same thing on Saturday morning. When we talk to potential members it helps to have so many choices for them to attend class.

-We have an early morning class at one of our gyms and two days a week we have an 11:30 class at all three but our advice is don’t add these until you need them. You don’t want to be teaching day classes for one and two members when you can be out marketing. When we had a good ten people tell us they needed these classes to make membership worth it we added them.

-We don’t nickel and dime people. There is very little gear that they need to buy. We have a package for level two including gloves, headgear and shin guards and that’s about it. We do come up with new t shirts often, and these are big sellers but our gym shirt isn’t mandatory. As long as they have sleeves, any shirt will do. I have seen Krav gyms that have mandatory pants (crappy nylon ones) and mandate their gym shirts. Gold’s gym doesn’t do this and neither should we…people appreciate this

 

WEB SITES

Quite a few of our affiliates have changed their web sites after joining the USKMA and hearing our advice. There are a few out there that still aren’t great…and that is costing those gyms money! Your website has one job and one job only…to get people in to take your intro. Nobody cares who trained you, how great you are, or even what you teach. They want to know what it will do for them! Yes, you need two sites if you have a kids program. The stuff on your kids site is a turn off for adults and vice versa. The cost isn’t much…and it makes you much more than it costs! On your adult site get rid of any pictures of uniforms, people hitting and kicking or being hit or kicked, classes standing in strict lines, etc. On Ohio Krav Maga’s site our pictures are of a fitness model. Men are interested because she looks fit and beautiful and women are interested because they want to be fit and beautiful.

There should be a reason for everything on your site. You need to put your intro special on the home page and tell prospective members how they’ll lose weight and get into shape with a workout that could save their lives and help them protect their loved ones. Make it easy to navigate and figure out how to contact you. Stay away from detailed class descriptions…some may read that and decide they know what classes are like and not call you.   Another big no-no is the word “fight” or “fighting.” Get rid of it! We are self defense and fitness. NOT self defense, fitness and fighting. Sure, we teach good fighting but if it’s on the site a large percentage of people who were going to call you won’t!!

IF you want a site to be used by your members for communication, schedules, etc. get yet another site or a special page. Your site isn’t used for them, they are already in and paying! Your site, again, has only one purpose… to get people in the door to see your way cool intro and class! For the love of Pete, do NOT have any price on the site except that of the $19 intro!

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Look at Ohiokravmaga.com and steal our ideas. I will be glad to critique your site, just e mail me and ask!

 

 

THE SYSTEM OF KRAV MAGA

Another system to talk about is our system of techniques and philosophy. We want to keep the system pure and our affiliates do a pretty good job of doing this as they are teaching Krav Maga the way they were taught. We believe in the system and absolutely know that it has saved lives. In keeping Krav Maga pure:

-It is your gym and you can certainly teach other techniques that are not Krav Maga. Always make sure your students know that the particular technique you are showing isn’t in our system but is just something cool you want to show them.

-In whatever level you are teaching make sure every technique gets tested on. During a test it’s tempting to skip a few of the easier or less useful techniques but don’t. They are all in there for a reason.

-Make sure you aren’t teaching that the techniques are magic. Techniques save no one. Philosophy is what will save someone in the real world. Specifically the philosophy of go off, go forward, go hard, go mean and destroy. I’ll take someone with an “I won’t lose, I will hurt you” attitude over a Master of any martial art any day!

-With the above thought on philosophy trumping technique always keep classes fast paced. Slowing down and teaching techniques is merely teaching self defense techniques and not self defense!! I don’t care if their block is a few degrees off of a perfect angle if they block and then go right into six punches, a kick in the groin, a clinch with knees and then stomp the idiot into the ground. Absolutely run every technique, after just a few reps, to the end as if it were a real attack.

-Always run drills in class. This will be the best thing we do for people if they are ever attacked! Again, a technique will not save them but going hard out lasting the attacker will. You are conditioning them to not quit, ever. This is gold! One thing that I see that I am not a fan of in drills is pushups, jumping jacks and other calisthenics.   I understand that these are to wear people out but I would just as soon wear them out fighting…throwing punches, kicks, sprawling, etc.

-Teach and talk about avoidance. We should, in this order, 1) not be there (stay away from trouble), 2) run, 3) de-escalate, 4) pick something up to use as a weapon and finally 5) Krav Maga. Self defense is a limited number of techniques and tactics that might save your butt after you’re already screwed!

-Train to fight with the adrenaline dump, being exhausted and wanting to quit, a realistic attacker and not a statue holding a weapon, with an arm tied to your body simulating injury, etc. Those that only train techniques and are always fresh and comfortable in a gym freeze when real violence finds them on the street.

-I hope that all of your instructors are looking at the technique dvd’s at least once a month and train together as a group a couple of times a month. It is very frustrating for members if one instructor is teaching them one way and another tells them that way is wrong. Instructors should also be the most in shape person in the class!

 

EXTRA $$ IDEAS

We make money for the gym from member payments, intros, pro shop and testing. What else can we do to bring in some cash? Here are my ideas;

-First off, make sure testing is done right. Gear everyone towards testing up. We run these every six weeks at our gyms. Those that have the three months in and are ready can test and those who aren’t quite ready don’t have to wait three more months since tests are ran every six weeks. Make sure everyone is invited to the workshop part of the test whether they are testing or not. We charge $15 for the workshop and another $40 for the test.

-Seminars. Special seminars every quarter are a good money maker. We have lesson plans for Home Invasion, Women’s self defense, handgun, knife, stick, long gun, advanced techniques, etc. seminars on the site. We usually run these two hours and fifteen minutes and charge $39 per person…bring a friend and it’s $35 a piece.

-Private lessons. Most of us just let our assistant instructors run their own private lessons in our gym. We are running a business and we need to have all of the income sources that we can. We need to have ALL private lessons scheduled at the desk. Charge $55 (or whatever) for an hour private lesson and pay staff $35 an hour to teach them.

-CCW permit class. Find an NRA instructor who is willing to teach a large class of your members and have him kick the gym back 25% of what he charges. This class is mandatory for anyone testing for black belt.

-Nutrition seminars. Bring in an expert to talk to your members about nutrition or any other topic you can think of.

-CPR classes. Our instructors must have this anyhow so bring in an instructor instead of sending your people to other places. Charge a bit more than the instructor charges for the gym’s share.

-Do some leg work for a one time seminar or an ongoing class at local businesses. Real estate agencies are one place (they have a lot of female agents who meet strangers at houses), security guard companies, bars (bouncers love this stuff), bus drivers, taxi drivers, etc.   A lot of large corporations bring people in for health and fitness seminars, etc. Go find them!!

-We’ve been approached by many instructors (dance, yoga, pilates, etc.) about renting space at our gyms. Make it worth your while money wise! Have them clean up after themselves and don’t schedule during a time you need or eventually may need. This can bring in a couple of hundred bucks a month.

-Offer the free monthly self defense for women seminars and even free law enforcement seminars. They are free at the time but they always bring in members in the long run!

 

FACEBOOK

Some of us are probably into Facebook big while others of us probably hate it and avoid it. For your business to grow to its full potential we have to use Facebook, but use it correctly. Here are some great ideas (shared by one of my affiliates) that you should implement as soon as you can.

-Set up a personal Facebook page. People want to connect with people, not with your gym’s Facebook page. You will then set up two separate groups. You will want to make these “secret” groups rather than those that can be found by just anyone.

-Group one is your gym’s group for members, potential members and staff. This is a positive, cheering section that brings members together with a family feel! You get members excited about this and posting daily. “Shout” people out by name and encourage. When anyone calls you to schedule an intro you ask them if you can friend them on Facebook and add them to this group. They look at this page before ever stepping into your gym and already see how positive the gym is and how much of a family atmosphere it has. After their intro you post and mention them by name and talk about what a great job they did. Make posting at least twice a day part of every staff member’s job on this page (encouraging a member by name, talking about the great class they just lead, a cool uplifting video, etc.). This is farming, not hunting…don’t try to sell anything on this page or seem like you are after any money whatsoever. The cool thing is whenever anyone “likes” anything on your page it posts on their page and thousands of people will see your gym’s posts! BTW, if anyone posts a gripe or complaint e mail them direct and ask to discuss it between just you and them.

-The second group you start is a staff only group. This is where communication with your staff takes place. Schedules, questions, positive messages, problems, drill ideas, etc. all go here. For example, staff can ask for coverage for a class they were supposed to teach on this page. You can post things like “Weapon Disarm Seminar a week from Saturday, bring up and push at the end of every class” or whatever else needs announced.

 

MORE ON ADVERTISING – UPDATED; Times change…we all know this. Therefore, we don’t want to keep doing things that are no longer effective when it comes to running our gyms. The USKMA has advised for years that, as far as advertising goes, the only things worth using are 1) all the free things (groupon, craigs list, snipe signs, etc.), 2) billboards and 3) tv ads. Technology is changing the way we need to market our gyms! Think about it, the groupons of the world have over marketed, I don’t even click on them anymore. When you see someone stopped at a red light do you see them looking up at billboards? Nope, they are looking down at their smart phones! DVR’s make it so that we can skip commercials. There is really only one form of advertising that is increasing in popularity…a bunch! Social Media, especially on mobile. Over 1 billion people are now on Facebook and YouTube reaches more U.S adults 18-34 than any cable network. We absolutely spend our advertising money on Facebook and the likes now. We boost posts and target them to the audience we pick. This is how to grow your business, how to connect with people today. We have one of the best in the business advising our affiliates, Andy Taylor. Andy is the USKMA’s advisor for social media. He’s also agreed to design web sites, social media sites, etc. for our affiliates at a much reduced rate compared to the corporations he handles these things for.   

Another idea brought to us by Andy; Reward your members for coming to the gym. For every check in at the gym on facebook, you donate 35 cents to charity. The more check ins, the more exposure. Instead of paying 70-90 cents for ads, you can have your members promote the gym at a third of the cost. If you get 300 check ins in one month, that’s $105 and thousands of people will see it. Put up a white board and flyers announcing you will donate to whatever charity for every check-in & then remind them at the end of each class as well.

As for billboards, I still believe that they can bring people in but we have a less expensive and probably more effective method we recommend now. Car wraps. Our Jacksonville, FL affiliate (and co lead instructor for the USKMA) Brannon Hicks is using them and they pay for themselves…within two days he’s found! Wrap your vehicle with a fitness model and what your gym can do for its members along with web address and phone number and you have a permanent, rolling billboard. Brannon paid $1,400 for his and signed two people (who only heard about his gym from the car wrap) to a year agreement each within two days of having the wrap done. Drive it all over town and, when you are out of town or not needing your vehicle that day, park it in high volume parking lots and along high volume streets. Affix a slot that will hold flyers somewhere on your car as well. Pay for the art once and don’t have that monthly charge for a billboard. It works!!

 

CRAIG’S LIST; There are 3 categories on Craigslist and each week I rotate the listing from one to the other. Craigslist does not allow multiple postings in different categories at the same time. The categories are all under community…classes, events, and general.

Your write up should be something like this:

Want to lose weight? Get in shape? Learn how to defend yourself? Krav Maga will do it all and you will have a blast training with us! Learn from one of the top Krav Maga instructors in the country, Mark Slane. (Here you can put in a little of your bio.) Contact us today for more information or to schedule your intro! (Put in phone number, email address and/or Facebook page.)

I usually include a picture as well and I change the picture each week.

CUSTOMER SERVICE;

We are competing against the big box gyms, not martial art schools! The Gold’s, LA Fitness and Bally’s of the World have million dollar buildings, close to that in equipment and big advertising budgets…and charge only 1/3 as much as we do. How do we compete? We have two things going for us. First off, we are teaching something valuable. Getting in shape while learning to defend ourselves and our families is big. The other thing…customer service. The box gyms sign people and hope they don’t show. We are the opposite, we treat people like family, talk with them every time they come to class and care about them. As big as my gyms in Ohio got I still heard “this is like family” from members. That was music to my ears. When someone does quit give them an exit survey. They will always say “I just don’t have the time” or something like that. If they loved it and wanted to really do it they would make time. Let them know that they won’t hurt your feelings if they tell the truth and that you want to make the gym as customer service oriented as possible. They are doing you a favor by telling you every little negative thing they can think of because you can then fix it. Swallow your pride and listen!

When you do get complaints there is only one way to handle them. Whether the person has a point or is just a negative jerk who is being difficult they get the same answer. “We are totally about customer service, we love and appreciate our members. We apologize that this happened. We will fix it immediately. Please take this ______ as a gift from us and let us know what else we can do for you.” Even if you are right and they are just a trouble maker, be nice and take care of it. If you get a negative review on a social media site you type in this same answer and get hold of them personally with the same message. Even if they remain negative anyone who reads or hears your answer will be on your side. Again, don’t argue, justify what you did, say that it is policy or anything else. Show yourself to be all about the customer to difficult members and that is the perception everyone will have.

 

 

GEAR WE USE; Most from Century, call to set up a wholesale account. Most wholesale prices are close to half off.

Head gear we use;  http://www.centurymartialarts.com/Sparring_Gear/Headgear/UFC_MMA_Headgear_14369P.aspx

http://www.centurymartialarts.com/Sparring_Gear/Headgear/Century_BRAVE_Open_Face_Headgear_149151.aspx

http://www.centurymartialarts.com/Sparring_Gear/Headgear/Century_DRIVE_Full_Face_Headgear_142007.aspx

 

shin guards we use;  http://www.centurymartialarts.com/Sparring_Gear/Shin_Guards/Krav_Maga_Shin_Instep_145006.aspx

http://www.centurymartialarts.com/Sparring_Gear/Shin_Guards/Century_DRIVE_Shin_Guards_142004.aspx

 

boxing gloves;  http://www.centurymartialarts.com/Sparring_Gear/Gloves/Krav_Maga_Boxing_Gloves_145003.aspx

http://www.centurymartialarts.com/Sparring_Gear/Gloves/Century_DRIVE_Boxing_Gloves_142003.aspx

 

focus mitts I like (Longview martial arts give these out if a person signs the night of their intro…good idea);  http://www.centurymartialarts.com/Targets_and_Shields/Targets/UFC_MMA_Punch_Mitt_14350P.aspx

http://www.centurymartialarts.com/Targets_and_Shields/Targets/Century_BRAVE_Curved_Punch_Mitts_149051.aspx

Ring 2 cage has some good mitts as well.

Shields for knees;

http://www.centurymartialarts.com/Targets_and_Shields/Shields/Powerline_Slammer_Shield.aspx

For the curved kick shields and tombstone shields we use revgear. Revgear will give uskma affiliates 10% off wholesale. Tombstone shields are item 41002, curved kick shields are item 41110

 

BJJ & Self Defense

“However beautiful the strategy, one should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill

Let me start out, as usual, by saying that I absolutely respect BJJ. BJJ is like chess on the mat, the practitioners have to be very smart and in awesome shape. Most of the instructors at the Krav gyms I owned did BJJ with my blessing. I had a BJJ black belt teaching BJJ classes at my gyms. I believe that we have to be well rounded and know what the heck we are doing on the ground. My son takes BJJ at a gym and I love what he is learning! I could have him in any discipline but I chose BJJ for him. There is nothing better for a school yard, one on one fight.

What slays me are the people advertising BJJ as the ultimate in self defense. I just ran across a web site for a bjj gym that said “Krav Maga will get you killed”. They actually said that statistically most fights are one on one bar room type fights with no weapon ivolved so it is a waste of time to train for anything but this type of one on one fighting. Even if this is a true statistical statement do we ignore any other type of attack because it is in the minority? Weapons certainly exist, run a daily google search for knife attacks or shootings across the country. Your in box will be full! People do get attacked by multiple attackers, people do get shot or stabbed and sexual assaults do happen. Because 50,000 of 80,000 daily attacks in the U.S. don’t involve a weapon or multi attackers that’s good enough reason not to train for weapons and multi attackers? What kind of logic is that…oh yeah, it’s the “I make money off of what I teach” kind of logic.

BJJ is an awesome sport but to train it alone for self defense absolutely ignores real world violence. It is absolutely betting the practioners life on the fact that there will only be one attacker and there won’t be a blade involved. BJJ’s philosophy is to patiently control an opponent until they can be submitted. In the real world every scumbag has a scumbag friend near by. We should always be looking to end things as quickly as possible and to get the heck out of there. I have a friend who told me about a buddy of his that went to a “BJJ for the street” gym. He got into an altercation in a bar and pulled guard on his attacker like he was taught. The guy drew a knife and stabbed him seven times. Another friend told me of a BJJ black belt who wrapped a guy up in a bar in just a few seconds, looked awesome doing it…right up until the guy’s buddy kicked the black belt in the face, broke his jaw and knocked him out. If you are on the ground tied up with someone you are absolutely making the assumption that he doesn’t have a knife and doesn’t have a buddy. These are not assumptions that will keep you safe.

Have you ever tried bjj on concrete or blacktop? I’ve had friends who have and they inform me that there is no good position. Being on the bottom gets you ground into hamburger. Knees and elbows get torn to shreds when in side control. The mount sounds good until the opponent starts bucking and your knees slam over and over into the pavement.That magic mount is such a strong position in the MMA ring. In the real world the dude on the bottom puts you in a big bear hug until his buddy can get over to ya and kick your head off. I had a friend who was a bouncer at a bar years ago. One night he took down a thug and broke his arm at the elbow with an armbar because the thug kept fighting. After breaking the thug’s arm he let loose, started to sit up and got cold cocked by the guy’s other fist. Broken bones and joints suck, but they aren’t an end all. Self defense ain’t over til you are safe and out of there.

I hate seeing women’s self defense instructors teach women to hit the ground. Women should be fighting with one goal and one goal only…to escape. Being wrapped up with the scumbag on the ground makes escape harder. Bad plan in my opinion. Worse yet is all of the law enforcement training I see being done with BJJ alone. Do you know why BJJ practitioners pin their opponents face up? To give the opponent a better chance of escaping. Law enforcement officers should definitely be putting suspects on their face, worrying about weapons and expecting a scumbag’s buddy to jump in. Trying to patiently control until you can submit isn’t smart in that context.

A while ago we did some training on a bus. Multiple attackers, blades, handguns, etc. We had some BJJ guys in the training. How much of their BJJ do you think worked in that situation? The only way anyone got on the ground was to fall just right in the aisle. Aisles are pretty tight, there was no room to move once there. They ended up just wailing on the attacker with fists, biting and head butting because that’s all they could do.

I will hear “but we can practice against a fully resisting opponent, that makes us the best.” BJJ practitioners are training against someone fully resisting a grappling match, not fully trying to kill you with a knife, kick to your head while you’re down, shooting you, etc. Yes, fully resistant attackers are a good training model but only if you are training for what you will find in a real life violent situation. If you are going full out on an opponent who is fully resisting and you both walk away unharmed what good could what you are doing possibly do you on the street when you need to put someone down, go through more than one and get the heck out of there? Self defense is going forward with rage and aggression, doing maximum damage in minimum time and getting to safety. IF you can go all out and the opponent is going all out and this “training” lasts for more than fifteen seconds that should be a red flag…you aren’t doing anything that causes damage!

I’ve got news for you, unless you are breaking limbs and tearing ligaments you are not going 100% all out and being realistic with a fully resisting (fully fighting back) opponent. You stop before you injure for safety reasons. I can certainly kick a shield full out and then, when kicking my partner to the groin, pull it at the end so as to not do damage. If we are going full out in training we would run out of training partners in a hurry. All training has limitations, there is nobody who trains purposely hurting people. If we carry this line of thinking to the next step they are saying that nobody training a knife art can really be getting good training unless they are actually slicing and stabbing their training partners, that the best way to really learn to shoot a handgun is to shoot at people who are shooting back at you. Do the special forces in our military go to boot camp to actually shoot at each other, throw grenades at each other, knock each other unconscious in hand to hand training, etc.? Of course not, yet these guys are the best of the best and are trained very well. A good couple of reads on how the military (and anyone else) can train effectively without going 100% with their techniques causing damage is Sharpening The Warrior’s Edge by Bruce Siddle and Training at the Speed of Life by Kenneth Murray .

I get grief for stating what i think is an unarguable point. That is that if a system says it’s against the rules to eye gouge, slam a head on the pavement, bite, kick to the groin, punch the back of the head, stomp on an Achilles, knee to the throat, etc., etc…that system isn’t teaching self defense but is sport oriented.

Again, I am not bad mouthing BJJ at all. I am bad mouthing those who are telling students that BJJ is all the self defense they need for real world violence. I believe BJJ is a great PART of a total self defense system. Now, instead of name calling and talking about my dear mama in the comment section how about we have a discussion we can all learn from where the above points are refuted? BE SAFE!

Training the Brain!

“…under sudden life-threatening stress, individuals will likely exhibit behaviour based on past experiences that they will automatically produce without conscious thought. This means [that there is a necessity to] not only [train] officers in appropriate tactics but also [to provide] sufficient repetition under stress so that new behaviours will automatically take precedent over any previously learned, potentially inappropriate behaviours that they possessed before becoming an officer”. Ken Murray

I recently watched a cool documentary on the brain. It was shot at the Navy Seals Special Warfare Command. It talked about how those in Seal training are introduced to chaos from day one because historically mistakes on the battlefield are almost always associated with fear and panic. At this training they are trying to find mentally tough soldiers more so than athletic studs. Each class has 140 men and only an average of 36 pass. They have had Olympic athletes fail while they once had a one hundred and forty pound farm boy from Nebraska who had never seen the ocean until training pass. Needless to say, they take neuroscience seriously.

Researchers have found that a part of the brain no larger than a finger nail called the Amygdala controls emotions, especially fear. The Amygdala instinctly pushes the panic button because this part of the brain gets impulses two times faster than the frontal lobes, which is where our rational thoughts and synchronized activity comes from. When something such as a loud noise startles us the Amygdala has our pulse rising, gets sweat started and has us moving before the Frontal lobes figure out whether it is something that we should be afraid of or not. If we relied only on the frontal lobes we would freeze until we figured out what was going on. The Amygdala gets us ducking, moving and orienting ourselves towards the danger immediately.

The Seal training exposes the soldiers to many scary situations. This helps them to get used to the danger and gives them a been there, done that feeling. This training helps to minimize delay by generating fast and accurate reactions to situations that they will face in combat. For example they fail more candidates in the pool competency training than anywhere else. In the pool competency training the candidates have on their tanks and breathing apparatus. While underwater on air the instructors mess with the candidates for up to twenty minutes by taking their tubes out of their masks and tying them into knots, shutting off their tanks, throwing their masks off of them, etc. They are without air as much as they are on air and must control the fear of drowning as they do the proper procedures to get back on air. When this happens in battle it won’t be nearly so scary as they have been in this position before, many times.

The Seals have a four step mental toughness program that include 1) goal setting, 2) mental rehearsal (mind setting), 3) self talk (they have found that we talk to ourselves by using between 300 and 1,000 words per minute. Those with positive self talk, the “you can do this” succeeded at a much higher rate than those who told themselves “this is impossible”) and 4) arousal control. This is the use of deliberate and slow breathing, especially long exhales. Since they started teaching this the Pool competency training pass rate has gone from ¼ to 1/3.

Watching this documentary had me standing in awe of Krav Maga’s founder, Imi Lichtenfeld. Imi was figuring this stuff out back in the 40’s and 50’s! The drills we do, the way we test and the general thoughts behind Krav training are in line with what the Seals are doing today. We train real, mind set and put students through rough times so that if they are ever attacked on the street they have that “been there, done that” feeling. How cool! BE SAFE!