“No matter how enamored a commander is with his plans he must from time to time consider the enemy.” W. Churchill

Time to talk about one of my favorite subjects again…stress and what makes good training. My passion the past couple of years has been to learn as much as I can about real world violence and the stress responses it produces. If you study these two things in depth you’ll really start to notice that 90% of what’s taught for self defense is (there’s no nice way to put this) bullshit.

Under an attack on our life (and there isn’t anything that produces more stress) we will not have the same brain that we have now. SGT Rory Miller in his must read books on the subject Mediations of Violence and Facing Violence calls it walking through the looking glass. We will not be able to think, to come up with a plan, to strategize, etc. The first thing we will do is freeze. We will not want to believe that what is happening is happening. We will want to stand there and ask “why”. Our brains will work for us and scan our entire lives to see if we were ever in this danger before and how we got out of it. Our brains will scan our entire lives to see if we ever planned for this event and access that plan. Our brains will screw us over if we have no plan…even if we are cowering with our head between our legs our brain will say “I haven’t died doing this yet so I will keep doing it”. All the BS that was taught to us as self defense will be exposed as BS…now that we need it and it’s too late.

We absolutely must train with exhaustion and stress. Practicing handgun defenses, for example, with our partner standing there like a statue pointing a gun at us does us no good when in the real world the gunman is waving the handgun, hitting us with it, smacking us, kicking us, cussing and yelling. When we train handgun disarms we suit up and have our partner do all of these things. Then when it happens in the real world we have that “been there, done that” feeling and the defense will come out of us. Examples of training that doesn’t consider the effects of stress…

The first one is from law enforcement training. Years ago they were discovering that officers who died in shoot outs had their spent brass in their pockets. This made no sense at first. They then realized that every time the officers shot on the range they always took the spent shells out of their revolvers, put the brass in their pockets and then reloaded. Why? Because the range masters told them to not dare drop their brass on his nice clean floors, he didn’t want to have to pick it all up! Officers in a life or death fight were taking the extra time to put the brass in their hands, then to their pockets and then reloading. An even more horrifying story is of an officer who died in a shootout in a bar and with his last breaths crawled to the bathroom to put his spent brass into a toilet bowl. WTF? You guessed it, at his departments firing range the officers always unloaded their empties and placed them in a bucket of solvent that was by them on the range. Again rules to keep a clean range.

The second one is from law enforcement as well. This is still going on but we are trying to change this with the way we train officers. We have seen on dash cams an attacker trying to knife an officer and the officer is blasting away at the attacker with his handgun…with both hands on the gun. It would make a lot of sense to fire one handed and block with the other but the officer has shot thousands of rounds at the range with his/her two handed grip and has never practiced firing one handed. He isn’t going to change and come up with a better plan under stress.

True story about a police officer in California. He practiced handgun takeaways with his partner a lot. He always handed the gun right back to his partner to practice again. Sure enough, he was in a bank while off duty and had a gun put in his face. He took it away perfectly, handed the gun back to the criminal, got shot and then took the gun away a second time. We want to shake our head at such a story but the truth is that our training will be our plan and come out of us under stress…exactly how we practiced it.

When BJJ was getting popular a lot of police departments started changing their training to ground based stuff. It looks cool and all but the ground is where you don’t want to be. When he has a blade or a friend (two things most scum bags have) the ground is dangerous. Get them handled, cuffed and get the heck up. It is interesting that BJJ teaches to pin an opponent face up. This was to give the person being pinned a better chance of escaping so that the competitions were more exciting. Law enforcement should be pinning the bad guy face down. Don’t let the real world get in the way of cool training I guess is the thought.

I recently talked to a guard at a prison who was telling me that when they train for a group of them to enter a cell and take down a trouble maker that they train on a person wearing a red man suit that is easy to grab hold of but every time they have to do it in real life the prisoner is naked and usually wets himself down and soaps up to make it hard to grab him. The logical question for me was “Why in the world aren’t you training that way? Spray that darned red man suit with cooking spray or smear baby oil on it.” People get caught in a training idea and can’t see the forest for the trees.

I spent hundreds of hours when I was a martial arts student doing “one step sparring”. This was a drill where my partner would step back with his right foot into a deep front stance, do a lower block and yell. When I would yell he would step forward with his right foot into a front stance and punch with his right hand, leaving it out for me to do one of my 50 “defenses” for the attack. We had all kinds of cool defenses. Why it never dawned on anyone to question that 1) a front stance was designed for stability on board of a ship, we weren’t on a friggin ship, 2) not many people step right and punch right, this is an awkward attack, 3) the attack didn’t come until we yelled…we were in charge of when the attack started…that’s just stupid and 4) there aren’t too many idiots in the world that will punch and then just leave their arm outstretched. Really, hundreds of hours. Wow. How about putting gloves on the attacker and let him go crazy on us…combos, trying to really smack us, moving, etc. Ya think we may have been a bit more ready for an attack in the real world? Again, don’t let the real world mess with your awesome training.

…and no, I don’t think I’m all that. Until a few years ago I taught a realy cool Knife Defense Seminar. We taught our way cool knife defenses for an attack with the knife being stabbed straight in, the one where the knife comes from down to up and last but not least, the overhead “ice pick” stab. There ya go, you are safe now. After looking at actual knife attacks, reading about what kept people alive who were attacked and talking to prison guards and cops who see this stuff a lot I realized that I should probably teach for the real world. We now teach to run. This is the only guaranteed “you won’t get cut” defense that we have! The best defense when you can’t run? Don’t worry about a defense at all, just punch the idiot as hard as you can in the head. Oh, we still teach our cool defenses but we spend most of our time on the shank and the hockey punch. The way people are attacked in the real world with a knife isn’t by seeing it from five feet away. We will likely be stabbed by a sneak attack from behind two or three times before we even know we are being attacked. We have to have a defense for this! The hockey punch is when we have a wrist grabbed and then the attacker rapidly knives us over and under our arm. Our traditional Krav knife defenses do nothing for these. Oh yeah, whenever there is a knife involved there is guaranteed to be a lot of blood. No reason to train with a dry knife, we take KY jelly and lube everyone up from elbow to finger tips. Now, we are giving them a fighting chance!!

Again instructors…when people come to you to learn self defense they are putting their lives in your hands. Don’t teach crap from a system because it’s your system. When they need what you have taught them it had better be the most scientific, battle tested and true to life stuff that you could find to teach!! BE SAFE!


“Humans usually don’t want to hurt another human. It’s inefficient and dangerous. Whether the human seeks respect or fear or status or money, it is much easier and safer to scare someone into submission than to beat them into submission.” SGT RORY MILLER in Facing Violence.

I have written a bit about this subject before but reading SGT Miller’s book has given me more insight. This is cool stuff! If we ever lose a fight it is because we gave up out of fear. Fear of more damage, fear of death, etc. Unless we have had our brainstem shut down or have had every long bone in our body broken we can still continue to fight. This is the same with a war. Unless every able bodied person in a country has been killed they could have continued to fight. People and nations are almost never beaten…they give up.

Now those who have read my blogs know that I am not recommending that you fight. If we can we run. Next option is to de-escalate. After this we find a weapon to use from the environment that we are in. If we have to fight, we go all out. In this blog I am talking about an assault and the fact that we will not lose if in a fight for our life!

The scumbags use this tactic all the time. When they puff up, get loud, threaten us, etc. they are trying to win the fight without fighting. If they can scare us into submission there is no risk for them. They may have lost a fight with us, may have won but taken damage, may not have gotten what they were after. It is just natural when a large, belligerent and angry man demands something from us that we do it to out of fear. We believe that if we don’t give in we will take a beating. Once you know the strategy that the idiot is using it is much easier to not be intimidated. Realize that they are acting so tough, giving that hard look and acting like they can do major harm not necessarily because they are or can but because they are a coward who doesn’t really want to fight us. Keep in mind that we are not fighting bodies but minds. Losers of a fight rarely had their body’s capability to fight taken away, they had the will to fight taken away.

This is why bodyguards and bouncers are usually huge muscle heads. They may have no skill (and the one’s I have trained can’t fight for more than 45 seconds because they have no cardio stamina) but they look like they can do major harm. This is all they need to portray. If people think the huge guy can beat the snot out of them they won’t ever try to see if they really can!

A great example of the tactic of winning by intimidating from SGT Miller’s book is Napoleon’s army. They used what was called the “Napoleonic column” when in battle. This was an inefficient way to use musket men. The math doesn’t work as there is a relatively small front line and an enemy putting a line of muskets across the column had a definite numeric advantage. These columns worked very well for a long time because they looked very intimidating. Superior forces with better tactics would run away.

Another example SGT Miller uses is the fact that until the mid 1800’s the bow would have actually been a much better weapon to use than the muzzleloader. The bow was much more accurate and could be fired up to 4 times per minute faster. But the bow didn’t make a loud boom, blow smoke…didn’t intimidate men and scare horses!

From the U. S. Marine’s manual “Warfighting”…We see that the aim in maneuver warfare is to render the enemy incapable of resisting by shattering his moral and physical cohesion…rather than to destroy him physically.”

Keep in mind that the winner of any conflict isn’t the person who is bigger, stronger, more athletic
or meaner. The winner of any fight is the last one to quit! Think about any sport fight you have seen,
whether boxing or mixed martial arts. I can point to many instances where the guy who took the worst
beating, the guy who was the most bloodied, the guy who was on the ground constantly still won. He
did this because something inside of him wouldn’t let him quit. The winner may have ended up in the
hospital after the fight while the loser of the fight was fine and went out partying but the winner was
the winner because he made the other guy quit. He was just more stubborn. He wasn’t going to lose
even if the other guy beat the crap out of him. It was all about his attitude. He got the surprise knock
out or forced the other guy to tap out even after taking a beating.

Another great but tragic example of this is the Vietnam war. The U.S. troops in Vietnam were definitely stronger, better equipped and had much more devastating weaponry. The U.S. tragically lost over 60,000 brave men. Vietnamese losses, however, have been reported as up to THREE MILLION! By those calculations it certainly looks like the U.S. won that war. As we all know, the U.S. didn’t because the winner was the last one to quit!!

When it is go time it is go time. Don’t look at how big he is, how mean, how good of a fighter he seems to be and certainly don’t listen to a thing that’s coming out of his mouth. Look at targets…see only targets. BE SAFE!!


Most self defense systems, martial arts, etc. fail to one extent or another in that they don’t consider what effect real violence has on the one being attacked. As Winston Churchill said “No matter how enamored one is with their plans, from time to time one must consider the enemy.”
A real world attack will be at such speed (the attacker knew what was coming, you didn’t) and so violent that it will overwhelm us. It is not uncommon for the person being attacked to just freeze. Mix in the fear of injury, the “this can’t really be happening” thoughts and the fact that we may have taken damage and been dazed before we know what’s going on all work very much against us.
Mind Setting is the best thing that we can do to prepare for this random, sudden violence. Mind setting is rehearsing and visualizing actions in your mind. Military and Law Enforcement do this all the time. Very interesting is the fact that as violence in the U.S. has skyrocketed in the past few decades murders of citizens have also skyrocketed but murders of police officers since the mid 1970’s have decreased by 43%. This is attributed to what law enforcement started preaching and training at that time……Mind Setting. Mind Setting is making a plan for whatever the attack is. For example, think about what you would do right now if someone were to kick in your front door, what you would do if you opened your eyes in bed at 2 a.m. to find someone standing over you, if you were suddenly surrounded by three large men in the parking lot at the mall, etc. etc.
Decisions about what you are going to do in a violent attack must be made well before the attack happens. The people who survive violent attacks are those who go off with rage….and do it immediately. When you are watching the news, reading the paper, etc. and come across a violent crime don’t think “poor person” and move on or worse, “that couldn’t happen to me”. Think about exactly what you would do in that situation. I’m not talking about thinking how you will devastate four attackers with spinning high kicks (that is dreaming) but think about how you can escape (either right away I am running or I will smash this guys face and then run….if i am blocked i will kick and punch and hit with anything i can find on the ground until i can get out of there, etc.). Go over and over “what would i do” for every situation possible. If you think it can’t happen to you, you won’t plan for it. The U.S. government’s own Justice department states “Every U.S. citizen now has a realistic chance of being a victim of random violence.”
When attacked Mind Setting gives us the “been here, done that” feeling and gets us moving into action. When mind setting 1) visualize you being in the crime. Not watching….in the crime. 2) visualize your actions to escape and 3) visualize being shot or stabbed or hurt in some way and still escaping (the subject of another blog…very important).
Why Krav? We do drills at the end of every class. We hate doing them because they wear us out but these drills are the most important thing we do in class. What is a drill? Think about it. In a drill we are being the victim of an attack. There are usually two or more partners pushing us, we are fighting back, we are going all out, etc. This is Mind Setting…..but doing it physically. When attacked in real life by two or more the “been there, done that” comes out as we have been there and done that!!
“You are not paranoid when you worry about people out there who might try to kill you when there are people out there who might try to kill you” SGT Strong


When I lead training and say that knives are the last thing I want to come across on the street, that I’d much rather have a handgun pointed at me I usually get knowing nods from those who have had training and perplexed looks from those who haven’t! Knives give us a lot of problems Knives are a danger because they are so concealable (most who get stabbed never saw the knife, they thought they were being punched), everyone has one, small angle changes in the attack make for large angle changes in the defense and any idiot can kill you with one. Also, think about the mindset. A handgun is a distance weapon. They can just close their eyes and pull the trigger. Someone with a knife wants close, wants to see you bleed. I’ll take a fight with a very competent martial artist over a nutso with no training but the desire to kill any day!

Most of us think that if we have a gun vs. a knife that we are pretty safe. This isn’t what happens on the street. A knife vs. gun usually ends up in a tie, we both end up in the ER or dead. We don’t like ties. Watch the video below:

We do this very drill with law enfrocement officers in our LE training. We have one officer with a training knife five feet away draw and sprint towards the other officer to see if he can get his handgun out of the holster and trained on the attacker before being stabbed. We then repeat at ten feet, then fifteen. When we finally move the attacker back far enough that the officer can get his sidearm out and trained on the attacker we remind them that one shot isn’t going to knock the attacker off his feet. We have videos we show where an attacker takes ten or more shots mid body and keeps stabbing and slashing. Most officers know that they need to be twenty-one feet away to have a chance of stopping a knife attack. This number has actually been moved to thrity feet, twenty-one feet was where the officer was winning half the time. They finally realized they needed a number where the officer was winning most of the time! The key is we must move away at angles, get one hand off of our weapon and block with that arm as we fire one handed. We keep moving and firing until the threat is done.

Interesting stuff that is good to know! BE SAFE!