Every now and then I get asked what my favorite technique is. I always answer that I try my darndest to not have a favorite technique. My thought is if I have a favorite technique I will practice it more than anything else, it will be the one that my mind goes to when I am in trouble and it will be the one that comes out of me no matter what the situation. Say my favorite technique is clinching and throwing knees. If I am in a bar fight that will probably work. If there are two attackers maybe it’ll work if I keep the one being clinched between myself and the other attacker. How about if there are three or more attackers? I don’t want clinching one to be what comes out of me. I would need to be thinking of escaping and picking something up to whack with! How about if the guy is a wrestler or good at bjj? My clinching would probably get me taken to the ground. If there is a blade involved I want distance, not a clinch. If someone is shooting at me from twenty feet away I sure had better not be thinking of clinching, I better be running (although there is a famous martial artist who teaches a dive roll at the gunman to come from under the gun and disarm……sigh)!

The problem is that violence isn’t ever going to be what we expect. When one person thinks about a violent attack they may be thinking bar fight while another thinks of a soccer riot while yet another thinks of being shot at. If that vision of violence is what they work their favorite technique to counter they then have to hope that if violence ever finds them it is exactly like they thought it would be. There are so many variables. Were you surprised or were you alerted? Was this a mutually agreed on fight that you had some time to plan for or a sucker punch? Do you have good footing or are you on an uneven surface? Are you injured or bleeding? One big variable would be is lethal force prudent? Probably so if three attackers are coming at you with knives, probably not if one guy is slapping you in a bar. So what should I practice as my favorite technique? Lethal may be needed in one instance and not in another. How about if I have my kids with me? Running may be the best option if I am alone but it isn’t an option at all if I’m not. Does my favorite technique work if I’m taken to the ground before I even know I’m being attacked? Put in a choke hold? Knocked silly from the first punch? My favorite technique would only work if I am attacked exactly the way I thought I would….and what are the odds of that? As SGT Rory Miller says in Meditations on Violence “An incapacitating blow may be what you need but sometimes the goal is to break away or create enough space to access a weapon or just enough get air to scream for help. If the goal changes, so does everything else. If you have only trained for one goal, you will be hampered when the goal is different.”

My thought is that I want my “flinch” reaction to be “go forward and go off”. When others are stuck in the loop asking themselves why they are being attacked and what should they do I want to already be going in and going hard. As far as a favorite technique goes……nah. BE SAFE!


1 Comment

  1. Mark, Very, Very Thought Provoking……..

    What a significant amount of people don’t understand is that violent events are dynamic events. Your blog completely establishes that. I once attended a large Krav Maga training camp a couple years ago and was shocked at a question someone asked Darren Levine. The question was something to the effect, “We learn all these awesome Krav Maga techniques, but what will happen to us if we use them on the street”? Hopefully that student’s instructor was in the room and was embarrassed by the student’s question. As an instructor in self defense, it is imperative we not only focus on techniques for the body, but also for the brain. Training in escalation/de-escalation, state use of force statutes and what I have been reading in your blogs are just as important as teaching the technique to the student. Keep up the good work! Nick

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