IT AIN’T SELF DEFENSE!

If it’s complicated…..it ain’t self defense. Real violence is more sudden, more terrifying, closer and faster than any of us can train for. If whatever you do to fight back isn’t instinctual, if it isn’t something that comes right out of you, it will not keep you safe.

If it teaches you to fear no man & to charge into a knife, stick or other weapon……it ain’t self defense. Any good self defense system will tell you to RUN! We aren’t injury proof and we’d rather not have to defend ourselves. We’d rather not be there, run, talk our way out, pick up an object to whack the scumbag with and, only as a last resort, use actual self defense techniques. Self protection is using awareness and avoiding. Self defense means you weren’t paying attention and are already in a bad situation that you now have to fight your way out of.

If it involves fine motor skills….it ain’t self defense. With stress and the adrenaline dump blood pools to our core. This makes our limbs weak, heavy and numb. There is no way we are doing finger manipulations in the face of real violence.

If it is regimented…..it ain’t self defense. There are arts where a choke defense, for example, has steps A through F that are followed and practiced every time. When, in the real world, the attacker doesn’t do what we expect and the technique derails at step C we will be lost.

If it is totally ground based….it ain’t self defense. Being on the ground takes two things for granted. That there isn’t a weapon involved and that there is only one attacker. Theses are two things that we should never be thinking won’t happen.

If it is practiced with space….it ain’t self defense. All knife defenses, for example, work when the attacker announces himself from six feet away. Whatever you are learning has to work late, after you’ve been surprised and have already taken damage. Another angle on this is if I am taking big circular steps in my technique, stepping several feet to perform a throw, etc. I am taking for granted that I will never be attacked in a crowded area, never in an aisle of a bus, etc.

If it isn’t a workout, isn’t developing cardio…it ain’t self defense. We have black belts in other arts come to our gym quite often. They almost never can make it through a class and almost never come back. How can you teach people to be safe who can’t fight hard for more than a few seconds? We’d love our fights to be over in a few seconds but we can’t take that for granted. If the fight does drag out fatigue will get us hurt. We must be able to keep going until the danger is over.

If it relies on katas to develop skills for fighting off multi attackers…it ain’t self defense. We learn to fight multi attackers in Krav by having multi attackers pad up and smack us around! Sounds logical to us!

If it takes years to become proficient…..it ain’t self defense. If you knew that you would be attacked five years from now it wouldn’t matter what you studied. You’d be pretty good by then. Do you know when you’ll be attacked? It could a month from now, couldn’t it?

If it is sparring….in ain’t self defense. Despite what Hollywood leads us to believe real world violence is never like sparring. Sparring has rules, flow, set ups. Violence is a knife slashing at you non stop, three people standing over you stomping your head into the curb, someone grabbing you by the hair and throwing haymakers at your face. It is not feinting, changing levels, going in, backing out and throwing combinations. Sparring teaches some good skills, it just can’t be relied on to get us ready for real violence.

If you are studying something strictly for self defense make sure that it was developed strictly for self defense! BE SAFE!

The WALKING DEAD & “GO BUTTONS”?

“It is better to avoid than to run. It is better to run than de-escalate. It is better to de-escalate than to fight. It is better to fight than to die.” SGT Rory Miller

If the good folks on the season premier of The Walking Dead had prepared “go buttons” in advance they wouldn’t have had to sit there and watch poor Abraham and Glen get their brains smashed in (without putting a fight, may i add). The time to react and fight is before you have been incapacitated. When they had weapons in their hands, no matter how badly out numbered, was their best chance of fighting back. If they had thought of “go buttons” and one of them was “never be subdued or give up weapons” that would have surfaced, and the outcome would have been in their hands. After being subdued they had no control over the outcome. They could only hope the crazy man wouldn’t beat them to death. Hope isn’t a plan. For example, if we several of us were in a building and some “terrorists” broke in with “assault weapons” the only chance we would have of getting out would be right that second. Scatter and go out doors and windows. Waiting thirty seconds would have us surrounded, thirty more seconds and they are starting to tie us up. Waiting on a good time to react will never happen…the only time, no matter what the odds, is right away. Hence, a go button is that in that situation we react as soon as we see trouble.

Fighting is down the list a good ways but when it is “go” time, we fight with all we have inside. If you look back at my blog on mind setting you will see that you should think about and plan for every and all situations. Your plan should include avoiding, running, de-escalating and “go”. What is going to push your “go button“? By “go button” I mean when will you decide that things have gone far enough and you are going to destroy the Scum Bag in front of you without hesitation? When is it that you will fight knowing full well that you are going to be injured and possibly killed? This is something that you must think about so that when it is that time you do not hesitate and get into an even worse position. Here are some of my pre determined “Go Buttons”;
-I will always “go” if someone is attempting to tie or cuff me.
-I will always “go” if someone threatens a child or woman with a weapon.
-I will always “go” if there is even a possibility that my children will be harmed.
-I will always “go” if a woman or child, stranger or known, is about to be led away.
-I will always “go” if a child, stranger or known, is being beaten.
-I will always “go” if someone is trying to move myself or a loved one to a secondary crime scene.
-I will always “go” if I see a law enforcement officer not obviously winning a fight with a suspect.
-I will always “go” at the split second I notice a stranger in my house.
-I will always “go” when I am outnumbered, even before the threat becomes apparent.
There are things worth fighting for. List what they are. Once you have made a list you are now “mind setting” your “go buttons”. You must vow to yourself that if any of them are pushed you will act ruthlessly, decisively and without hesitation. You cannot second guess yourself, ever. BE SAFE!

DO YOU LOOK LIKE A VICTIM?

The next time you are at the mall, restaurant, bar, your workplace or any crowded area do this little exercise. Look at the crowd like a predator would. If you needed money right now with the least risk to yourself who would you go after, how and why? Guess what, there are people in nearly every crowd that you are in looking at you the same way! We need to train ourselves to see what they are seeing. So look around and figure out who has money, who looks distracted, who looks weak, who looks timid. Look for things like posture, who is by themselves, who looks overwhelmed, who looks scared or who looks too drunk to put up a fight. Furthermore, who can you get close to? Start looking for the unsupervised child (shocking and sad how many you will see), the frazzled mom of a toddler, the elderly by themselves.

Now look around at who you wouldn’t mess with. We automatically think of the big, muscular man but how about the confident woman who isn’t texting or on her phone but is looking you in the eye? You will be able to pick up on who is confident, aware and believe in themselves!

Now, of course, decide which one you are closest to…..and get yourself to the “don’t mess with them” group! When you are out, pay attention! It amazes me how many of us don’t do this. We are on our phones, engrossed in conversation, sitting at a diner looking down at our food and basically oblivious to our surroundings. In our Krav Maga classes we talk about things like this. We notice as members are with us for awhile they become different people. Not only do they pay more attention as they become more knowledgeable about violence but as they learn to defend themselves and get into much better shape their whole personality moves towards the “don’t mess with me” group!

Other things to think about to be in the “don’t mess with me” group are:
-as soon as you get into a restaurant or bar scan the crowd and look for who you think could be trouble, know the exits and sit close to one with your back to a wall facing the front door.
-When at the mall, etc. walk around with your head up, looking at people. It’s amazing how many people don’t do this! Stay off your friggin phone! How many really important texts do you send in a day? Quit doing this in public!!
-when driving keep the windows up and door locked and look around. Again, the phone is a no no! Keep your head on a swivel.
-Drunk is for your buddies house, not out in public. Drunks at bars couldn’t be an easier target!
-Ladies, A lot of predators in crowds will “accidentally” touch you inappropriately to see what the reaction will be. Those who stay quiet because they don’t want to make a scene are exactly the ones he is looking for. Make a scene! Yell “do that again and I break your face” loudly and firmly!
-We were all told by our mamas not to be rude…..we are no longer kids. Quit caring if you come off as rude! When a stranger approaches you and wants to start a conversation or ask a question do what I do, put your hands in front of you palms out (a ready stance) make eye contact and say “no”. This is pretty rude and maybe they really did have a question but i’ve noticed the ones who make a big deal and talk about how rude you are are the ones you were right about. Think about it, how many strangers do you walk straight at and ask questions or try to start a conversation with? As I said in a previous blog aimed at females, don’t judge the stranger approaching you based on all the men you know (most of whom are good people) but judge him on the men who approach strange women in a parking lot to strike up a conversation (most of whom are scum bag pieces of crap)! Remember, charm is an act. Charm takes work. Nobody is born charming.

BE SAFE!

TAKE IT SERIOUSLY

Instructors, I have blogged on this topic before but…..when people come to your facility for self defense they are literally putting their lives in your hands! In the past few months I have had a member show me his bullet hole scars, had a member tell me about having his store robbed and being forced onto his knees with a gun pressed up against his forehead just waiting to die and had a member recently get mugged at gunpoint. The first two happened before they joined the gym. The last one the member said he was calm and had a plan. He didn’t act because there was two of them but if it became “go time” he knew exactly what he was going to do. No fear, stayed calm and thankfully the scum bags just took his wallet and ran. The last Law Enforcement class I taught when we were showing the technique for an officer on his back, bad guy mounted with a handgun pointed at the face one of the officers said “that brings back memories, I was there, knocked the gun offline just as he fired.”

Instructors….please, please, please, don’t teach crap from a system just because it’s your system. I see a lot of crap being taught and it upsets me greatly. Most of the time whatever you are teaching will never be put to the test so it doesn’t matter what you are showing but for that every once in awhile when the shit hits the fan I don’t know how you can possibly live with yourself if you didn’t teach that person the most up to date, battle tested and scientific tactics and techniques possible. I respect the dedication and practice it takes to be an expert at one of the Asian martial arts. I was a fourth degree black belt in a very traditional martial art. If you are teaching for the sake of having people learn an ancient art, for exercise, to make them better people or for concentration and focus I applaud you. If you are telling people that your art that hasn’t been changed in hundreds of years it the ultimate in self defense for today’s society I am repulsed. You are putting money and/or your pride in front of people’s safety.

Don’t get stuck in a system and close yourself off. As far as I am concerned we at the United States Krav Maga Association teach the most battle tested, up to date techniques and tactics that there are. Guess what, we are still scouring the internet and looking at what everyone else is doing. We read everything we can get our hands on about real world violence. We attend seminars for other arts and even other Krav seminars (and that’s saying a lot with the politics in Krav)! We talk to law enforcement and ask them what they are seeing, what is working for them, etc. An example of this is how we recently changed the way we teach handgun defenses. We generally taught with the handgun pointed at mid body and then for a few reps at the end had the gun point at the head. I talked to a couple of law enforcement officers who both told me that any video they have seen of a gun being pointed at someone and, more importantly, anytime they have pulled up on the scene with one person pointing at another the gun is always, 100% of the time, pointed at the head. Well it was epiphany time. If it’s always pointed at the head we better spend 99% of our handgun disarm training with the friggin thing pointed at our heads!!

When you are teaching techniques you must put them under stress & exhaustion and put as much realism into the training as you can. Just doing handgun disarms back and forth isn’t learning self defense….it is learning self defense techniques and there is a big difference. When we do handgun disarm training we start with the technique until we have it down. After this we run exhaustion drills. An example is having the student punching focus mitts, sprinting to the other end of the gym and throwing knees, sprinting back to punches and at any time a handgun is put on them and they must do the disarm and then go back to the drill. Run this for two minutes at a time and see what it does to the defense. Lastly, we put realism into the training. A gunman isn’t always going to walk up, stand still and point an unwavering handgun at you. We have the student put on sparring gear. The gunman than hits, kicks, pushes and slaps the student. The student is told at any time the handgun is presented to do the defense. Now when this happens in real life the student doesn’t freeze because the only way they had done defenses is standing still in one place with a statue as an attacker. As a recent real life example of how this will shed light on what you are teaching we had someone tell us their handgun defense was to stick their finger through the trigger guard behind the trigger…..really! Yes, this does make it impossible for the bad guy to pull the trigger but for crying out loud, a little common sense please!! Do this after the drills and with the gunman smacking you and not standing frozen…..you know, like it will be in real life. Sheesh!

Really, your students are putting their lives in your hands. You are looked at as an expert…be an expert! BE SAFE!