DISAGREE WITH ME!

“When any person, idea, technique, school, piece of gear, team or tactic is put on a pedestal, we risk stopping progress.” Rob Pincus

If you’ve picked up on one thing about me through my blogs it’s that I don’t like egos! I get along with about any type of person in the world, my only exception being those with egos! In the self defense (and martial arts) field there are plenty of egos…drives me nuts. When I talk to these guys it amazes me how many take offense if you have a different opinion on a technique or tactic. My thought is that nobody can possibly be right 100% of the time about everything and if we think that we are we shut ourselves off from learning because we think that we are THE authority and know it all. Sheesh.

Our system gets better because people question me, show me their answer to a problem and generally disagree with something. We have made many changes in our system because someone brought up a good point or had a technique that was better than what we were showing for the problem that was presented. One thing I respect about my group of instructors is that we want to learn, want to get better and don’t think we are “it”. If we wanted to make our group look like “the authority” we wouldn’t change or take advice. We honestly are here to make people safer. We do not make people safer by thinking we have all the answers and don’t need to look at how anyone else is doing things.

I just finished teaching a Krav Maga Law Enforcement Instructor course in Colorado with my good friend (and super cop) Brannon Hicks. The group loved us, it was really good training. Guess what, Brannon and I each learned a couple of things this week from this group that we are adding to what we teach. We had a group of good cops and security people who had been exposed to other training and who did a few things differently. We could have acted like our system was THE answer and didn’t care about what they knew. Instead, if we saw something different we asked them to show it to us again, we wanted to learn. We found a few new things and now we can make our law enforcement students even safer!!

When I teach new instructors I always make the statement “If you have a question or another way of defending what we are showing please speak up. This is how we learn and make changes. You may have a better way and we’ll steal it from you. I only ask that if you have another way of doing something that you be able to articulate why it is better. Because this is the way you have always done it or this is the way you have practiced it for years isn’t a good reason.”

Instructors, if you look at questions as being disrespectful and a threat to your authority I really think you need to examine why you are teaching. Be open, listen, don’t dismiss things offhand but give them a try. This is how you evolve and learn. When people come to you to learn self defense they are literally putting their lives in your hands. Don’t teach bullshit from a system because it’s your system! The one time a student needs what you taught them to save their lives it had better have been the most up to date, scientific and battle tested stuff you could find! BE SAFE!

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INTERVENING

Want to get torqued off? Watch this vid clip:

I almost called this blog “WTF is wrong with people?”! The video sets up an abduction scenario with actors to see how people will react. There is a seven year old girl being grabbed by a man and she is yelling “help, help, this is not my father” and time after time people just walk by and ignore her. It says that nobody helped for two hours. Really? These same people who walked by her would be the first to cry and complain if something happened to them and nobody helped I would bet.

There is a time when we need to intervene! Too many people are afraid. They won’t risk anything, even to save a life. They realize that it is dangerous to help others, and they prefer to live a life in fear rather than having principles, things that they won’t put up with. Even worse are the people who won’t help because they may be liable. These people would watch someone be beaten to death rather than take a chance of being sued or going to jail. What happened to caring and watching out for each other? Wow.

There are things worth risking life and limb for. It seems that most of America doesn’t want to risk anything for anyone. In SGT Strong’s book STRONG ON DEFENSE he talks about a woman who was abducted and tortured for weeks. She escaped once from the scumbag’s car on a highway as she was being moved. She ran down the highway and he chased her, grabbed her by the hair and pulled her back to the car. Not only did nobody stop to help, nobody even called the police! There are times to intervene…but it is dangerous to do so. I’m not talking about standing up for a lady’s honor in a bar because some biker slapped her on the rear. You aren’t the protector of the world. However, if someone is being seriously injured, even if a stranger, it is probably time to jump in.

When you do have to intervene, there are things to keep in mind.

1) Just like with self protection when it is go time you go with all you have. You go extreme and you go ballistic. If you think that your response may be too extreme you shouldn’t be intervening. Keep the pressure on and go until you and whoever you are helping are safe. This is usually when the scumbag is knocked unconscious! We aren’t looking to restrain or put in a “come along” type of joint lock. If that is all that needs done nobody was in very much danger. What are you going to do after you have them in a joint lock….walk them to the courthouse? What do you do when his buddy shows up, let go and have two to worry about? Unless you are law enforcement, a bouncer or a school teacher don’t “control” with a joint lock! Do major damage with the goal being to get the heck out of there.

2) Keep the attacker in sight but don’t have tunnel vision. It makes sense not to take your eyes off of the threat. Watch his hands, are they going to his pocket for a weapon (keep in mind that every scumbag carries at least a blade)? Is he heading for the pool cues? Does he appear to know how to fight? Although you have to watch him you can’t have tunnel vision and see only him. Everyone, even scumbags, have buddies. When you jump in they will jump you. Again, go hard with the goal being to get yourself and the victim out of there.

3) Be safe. Anything goes. If you are in a fight to save a life (and it’s yours that you are trying to save as well when you insert yourself into the problem) anything goes. If the situation calls for it hit them with the car you are driving. Pick up a brick. Use whatever you can get your hands on. Again, if you think what you are doing may be too extreme, the situation wasn’t bad enough to put yourself into.

When you have no choice but to put yourself into a bad situation to save another; be smart about it. Look at the threat as targets. If you look only at targets it doesn’t matter how big they are, how mean they look or even what they are doing to you. You see targets that need hit…and hit them as hard as you can. Remember to constantly be looking to disengage and get yourself and the person you are helping to safety. BE SAFE!

THE THREAT OF VIOLENCE IS A GIFT

THE THREAT OF VIOLENCE
“No intelligent man has ever lost a fight to someone who said ‘I’m gonna kick your ass’.” SGT Rory Miller

The threat of violence is a gift. The scumbag doing the threatening is giving us time to react. Sudden violence is a hit in the back of the head or a knife in the gut before we even knew that there was trouble around. The threat of violence is an idiot giving us the gift of time. With this gift we should either be moving or attacking.

If someone says “I’m gonna ______ (fill in the blank) to you, why wouldn’t you believe it and act on it? Law enforcement and military units would love to have this kind of advance intelligence! When a threat tells you that they are going to punch, kill, beat, kick your ass or anything else believe it and act on it…do not wait to see if they were telling the truth! “Threats of violence” aren’t always verbal. Be on the watch for anything telling you that trouble is coming. Is he reaching behind his back (for a weapon in his belt), reaching for his pocket, taking off his jacket, walking straight at you with his eyes burning a hole through you, picking up a bottle, pool cue or similar? Act quickly and decisively, he gave you the clues that he meant you trouble. Also pay attention to his body language. Are his shoulders rising, neck veins bulging, teeth clenched, hands clenched and or is he shaking? Again, act on this threat of violence.

Think about the “monkey dance” bar fight scenario. It starts with one over testosteroned dude looking at another. Words are passed. They both puff up and chest bump for a bit. Then a punch is thrown and the fight is on. Ego pulled them right along the same path that has been travelled many, many times. The problem is that one is expecting the other to know the rules. Many have died thinking they were in a fight only to have the other believe that they were in combat. When we do this “monkey dance” we don’t know what the other is thinking, if he has weapons, if he has killed before.

I was told about a tragic incident in a club in Florida. For some reason this club decided, on the same night, to have country and western on one side and hip hop on the other. One of the good ol boys was stabbed and killed by one of the hip hoppers. It turns out that the good ol boy was known for bar fights. His fun was going to the club on weekends and getting into a scrap. He started a fight with a guy and believed that everyone knew the rules to a bar fight. It was just two guys having fun and beating on each other a bit. The hip hopper came from a different society. A fight to him was combat and somebody usually got killed….he was gonna make sure it wasn’t him. The man who died believed he was in a bar fight with the usual “monkey dance” rules and his opponent believed he was in a fight to the death. Only one of them could be right.

If these young men used the threat of violence tactically there would be more of them around. As soon as someone is looking at us funny, says something threatening, is heading for us, etc. we should be doing something besides going into a fight. We need to create distance, pick up something to defend ourselves with or attack the attacker before he gets a punch in. This is what keeps us safe. Standing there waiting for a fair fight against someone who we cannot possibly know wants a fair fight is stupid, and can get us killed. If you are in a fair fight, your tactics suck. When it comes to protecting yourself and your family be proactive, not reactive. BE SAFE!

FEAR AND THE BRAIN

I just watched a cool youtube video from a 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!