BEYOND BLACK BELT

I’ve been looking at other organization’s curriculum for 2nd degree black belt and above. A lot of it looks like they thought they had to have something cool for the higher ranks to learn…even if it makes no sense for self defense.

KNIFE VS. KNIFE; Most knife defenses are wishful thinking. A knife is scary and there isn’t much that is going to work against one! About the only thing that will keep us alive is to block the attack as good as we can while smacking the attacker as hard as we can in the noggin and groin. The knife on knife that a lot of organizations teach we just can’t justify. It’s Krav if you have a gun against a knife…a knife against a knife is an even fight. Even fights are stupid, we want to cheat and win! We have basically one group of offensive knife techniques in the USKMA. It is simple and as effective as can be. To think that a knife on knife technique is worth practicing forgets the old saying that “the winner of a knife fight is the one who dies tomorrow”. Our one group of techniques will give us a chance against the way 99 percent of attackers will use a knife against us…slashing and flailing out of anger. For that one percent who know how to use a knife we are in trouble. If we had a lot of offensive knife on knife training we would still be in trouble. We would have to put a lot of hours into our knife to be able to even come close to being as competent as a person who has studied knife fighting. We will get cut no matter how much knife we have done as the expert has put a lot more hours of training into it. This is why I carry a gun. If not a gun I’d want a ballbat against knife, that would be worth learning. Reach and blunt trauma are way better than hoping I’m better at knife fighting than the attacker!

STICK VS. STICK; We believe this is way too complicated in most systems. I have so much faith in our unarmed stick defense I’d probably just throw my stick at the attacker and do that technique. I believe that would work against 99 percent of the people who swing sticks like almost every surveillance video I’ve seen. Again, the guy who knows stick fighting I’m not going to beat even if I have stick on stick techniques in my system, he’ll always have more practice time in. What I would rather have is a chair. Stab the four legs at the attacker and kick to the groin under the chair. Better for me than hoping I’m a better stick fighter than the attacker. Of course, I’d rather have that gun.

MILITARY/URBAN WARFARE TRAINING/VIP PROTECTION, ETC.; If someone needs this training for their job we’ll teach it. For the average person? I’d rather spend the time learning to kick to the groin, punch to the throat and knee to the body better.

We in the USKMA are a bit guilty of this as we have some jumping and spinning kicks in our curriculum for black belt. This was a recent addition after spending time with Grandmaster Yaron Lichtenstein who is one of only twelve that Imi trained to black belt and the only one still teaching Imi’s original curriculum. We thought that if Imi thought jump and spinning kicks were so important that we would honor his memory with keeping those techniques in our Krav. This is how I justify it anyway!

The one thing we have in our curriculum that a lot of other organizations don’t? Handgun. To test for black belt a student must attend the NRA handgun safety course. We also highly recommend a course such as Rob Pincus’ Combat Focus Shooting. Seems to me that ten hours of training in this will defeat the dude with hundreds of hours of training in knife or stick.

We in Krav are lazy…just give us the bare minimum that will actually work. BE SAFE!

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THAT WON’T WORK!

I have blogged on this before but I just heard another “expert” talk about how bad Krav Maga’s handgun defenses are because we grab the barrel of the handgun. He went on about what a bad idea that is, how nobody is fast enough to do this, etc. Here is an article on our main defense for handguns:

http://www.personaldefensenetwork.com/articles/tactics-defensive-issues/krav-maga-handgun-disarms/

Sigh…..First off, anyone who has practiced these can see for themselves that a person is definitely fast enough to redirect the weapon before the assailant can fire it. We’ve done this with airsoft, pellet, bb, etc. guns many times. After people work on these techniques at our seminars the main question that we are asked is if we will get burned or cut while grabbing the weapon. I have three stock answers. One is fairly serious, the other two are smart aleck!

Answer 1: Yep, you may well get burned or cut by the handgun. Supposedly Myth Busters showed that a revolver has enough gas discharge to take off a finger. The thing is, you won’t know it until after the incident. With the adrenalin dump and the stress it will be much later when you notice that you are bleeding or burned. We’re not teaching magic tricks and never said you’d be unscathed.

…then again, it may not;

Answer 2: Well, we were trying Jedi mind tricks but kept getting people shot. You gotta move the barrel so that it isn’t pointed at you when the thing goes boom! The hand seems the logical thing to use to get the friggin thing offline!!

Answer 3: Yep, you’ll burn your hand or maybe get cut. The other option is to take a bullet…seems a no brainer. Is grabbing the barrel of a handgun that is being fired something I would want to do? Nope. That’s a crappy thing to do. The problem is that if a handgun is being pointed at me and fired I am in a world of crap. I have a list of only crappy answers. Standing there and getting shot is at the bottom of the crappy answer list, grabbing the handgun and getting it offline is at the top of the crappy answer list. The only good answer is…don’t be there with a gun pointed at you!!

…and that’s the way it is. BE SAFE and have a Merry Christmas!!

TO PUNCH OR NOT TO PUNCH…

It is common training with law enforcement officers to teach palm strikes and avoid punching. Officer’s are told not to punch because 1) they can easily break their hand and not be able to access their handgun or other weapons and 2) punching is against a lot of department’s policies. Well, for years I taught like everyone else and dissuaded law enforcement officers from punching. Then, out of the blue, I realized that I am an adult who can think for himself! If I believe something will keep officers safer, even if it’s against conventional wisdom, I better be teaching it.

Let’s look at that number two reason first, it’s against policy. I have heard of several departments that consider an officer punching to be a use of lethal force but for some illogical reason don’t consider someone punching at their officer’s to be using lethal force. I can certainly understand not punching in most instances but when an officer’s life is on the line he or she must know that they have permission to punch! When the USKMA teaches law enforcement seminars we mainly show lethal force scenarios. We show handgun, long gun, knife and blunt object disarms. If an officer in that situation is legally allowed to fire on the assailant it is certainly legal for him or her to punch. A palm strike has to hit the assailant in the nose or throat to have much of an effect but a punch cuts and does tissue damage wherever it hits. When we punch during weapon disarms our goal is to knock out the attacker. This video is from a blog a few weeks ago. Watch what a realistic knife attack looks like;

If an officer is faced with that attack the options are few. If he/she decides to access their handgun while being attacked they will take several stabs before they can fire. What the officer should do is block the weapon with their left forearm and attempt to knock out or otherwise disable the attacker with their right hand. In that situation why would you want to use a palm over a fist? It is much easier to knock someone out with a punch than a palm strike. When was the last time you watched the UFC and saw a palm strike lead to a knock out? I’ve seen plenty of punches do the trick, however.

Now, about those hand injuries. You can certainly get a boxer’s fracture from punching a skull but palming isn’t exactly guaranteed to be injury free. If you throw a palm to a skull or torso you can sprain or otherwise injure your wrist fairly easily. While palming you can also catch your thumb wrong and tear the thumb ligament. A boxer’s fracture isn’t going to keep an officer from accessing and firing his handgun. The officer will likely not even feel it until much later when the adrenaline dump has dissipated. We would have to fracture most of the bones in our hand to keep us from accessing and firing a weapon. Fractures from punching are almost always the metacarpal bones on the pinky side of the hand. The pinky doesn’t have much of a function when firing a handgun. I had a boxer’s fracture years ago that I got at the beginning of a third degree black belt test in the martial art I was in at the time. I went on to test for a few hours afterwards and, other than pain, it didn’t affect anything that I had to do with my hands.

I have had a few officers tell me that the reason they aren’t allowed to punch is that if they break their hand it means six to eight weeks off of work and someone having to be paid overtime to replace them. This I believe!

When an officer’s life is on the line he or she needs to know that they have permission to punch! We have to punch in training if we expect it to come out under stress. BE SAFE!

MEANWHILE, DOWN AT THE GYM…

Sigh…I just left the gym I work out in. While there I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the adult Karate class going on in the corner. They spent forty five minutes working on knife defenses. The “attacker” would get into a deep front stance and hold the knife by their belt, waiting for the “attackee” to get ready. They would then take a huge front step forward and thrust out the knife (with their loud “HiiiiYaaa”) and then just stand there with a straight arm. The defenses (several for the same attack) were a lot of grabbing wrists and moving the attacker’s arm in a big circle to take them to the ground and then using joint locks to have the attacker submit. I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!

I’m not putting down martial arts for adults. If the adult is doing the art for exercise, stress relief, because it’s cool or for the camaraderie I’ve got no problem with it. When you break out the knives you are teaching self defense. Whatever you show your students had better be the most battle tested, realistic techniques and tactics you can find. Your students are literally putting their lives in your hands…and what I just saw was pathetic!

Hey instructors, here’s an idea. Get on friggin Youtube and look for videos that actually show how people are attacked with a knife:

There are no techniques that will keep you unscathed against a knife. We don’t even call it knife defenses in Krav Maga, we call it knife survival! When we show “knife survival” in Krav Maga it isn’t technique as much as it is philosophy. Basically your best bet is to block and redirect the knife as good as you can while punching the attacker in the throat and kicking & kneeing his groin. Attack the attacker, it’s hard for him to keep stabbing when he’s balled up on the ground unconscious. Teach that and you may save a few lives. Keep teaching grabbing the wrist and twirling around and you’ll get people killed. BE SAFE!

ON KILLING

I have a stack of books that I am slowly getting through. Every now and then I read one and then think “I should have read that book years ago”. ON KILLING by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman was one of these. This was a fascinating read.

This book is written mainly for and about military but there are a lot of good lessons for us in the self defense field. Basically, it talked about how killing is so against everything that is inside of us that most of us will freeze or simply accept our own injury or death rather than strike out at others. I was amazed to learn that all of the World War II movies I’ve seen are full of crap when they are showing battle scenes. Eighty to Eighty five percent of soldiers on the battlefield would not shoot their weapons. They were not cowards, they would just find other things to do. They would get ammo to the fifteen to twenty percent of men who were firing, tend the wounded (often heroically), etc. rather than fire their own weapon, even when someone was trying to kill them. This was found to be about the same percentage (and story) in all wars throughout history up to that point. They found many rifles on Civil War battlefields that had several slugs and powder charges loaded into the same barrel. Men were acting like they fired and reloading so that it looked like they were firing to their officers.

This is why people like my wife had told me “I don’t think that I could ever shoot someone, even if they were trying to hurt me.” This always amazed me that anyone could possibly not want to hurt someone who was trying to hurt them but it makes more sense to me now.

By the war in Viet Nam the firing rate had been raised to ninety-seven percent. What did they do differently in training that raised the firing rate so dramatically? Well, in WWII the training for firing a weapon was to lie on a grassy field and shoot at a bulls-eye target. By Viet Nam they had soldiers firing at man shaped targets that popped up on a course that the soldier was traversing. When they got a hit the target would drop backwards giving instant positive feedback and reward. Soldiers who got their first kill in the battle were often heard to say “it was like the course, a torso popped up and I fired”.

With training people’s attitudes of “can’t hurt someone” can change. My wife, for example, has been to good training and now believes that she could and would fire at someone trying to hurt her. The fact that she has trained and has a child to protect now has me convinced that she would.

When we train for self defense we must stop hitting static pads & targets and working single techniques. Drills where we are being pushed and smacked while we are exhausted and stressed are training for what we will see in violent encounters. Doing handgun or knife defenses against a partner who is standing and holding a weapon on us as if they were a statue is worthless training. Having that partner with the weapon push us, kick us, yell and cuss while never holding the weapon in one place makes much more sense. When training this way we aren’t just working techniques but working the realistic scenario. When this happens in real life we are much more apt to respond as we have been there and done that.

As an aside, they also “desensitized” soldiers with films of violence, talking about how great killing was, etc . Practicing simulated killing and being desensitized by violence makes it much easier to kill. Lt. Grossman has another book entitled TEACHING OUR CHILDREN TO KILL. Violent video games and the violence in movies is exactly how they are teaching soldiers to kill…and we are doing it to our kids without any safeguards. Something to think about! BE SAFE!