FIGHT OR FLIGHT

My right hand man at the USKMA, Aaron Jannetti, is today’s guest blogger. Here is an article he wrote for Liftbigeatbig.com on why those work out freaks should add self defense.

Why Train in Fighting or Self Defense?

First and foremost it’s 2012 and whether you like it or not, all humans are NOT great people. Sorry to break the news to you. I live in Columbus, OH. In 2010 in the state of Ohio there were 476 murders and 3,699 rapes. That means on average everyday at least one person was murdered and 10 were raped. As an overall, there were over 36,399 violent crimes. Every day in 2010 in the state of Ohio roughly 100 people experienced some form of violent crime. Phew that sucks! Luckily for my man Brandon in Washington, only 7 people get raped each day and every other day someone gets killed. Defending yourself isn’t important though right? Interested to check out your own states crime rate? Visit http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/

Now I know what you are thinking. We on this website dedicate our lives to getting big and lifting heavy stuff, so in turn I should be able to easily beat the snot out of a would be attacker, correct?!? Unfortunately that is not exactly true. Strong hips from MOAR SQUATZ will without a doubt give you the ability to develop more power on your hitting, and being the size of our man Frank Burton will surely scare off a good percentage of those violent offenders, but unfortunately size isn’t all that matters.

Bad guys are smarter than the general population gives them credit for. They aren’t going to go out of their way to attack someone they feel threatened by. They will always stack the deck in their favor. They will go after the men and women who look like they lack confidence, are alone, and are unaware of their surroundings: The people that are smaller or weaker than them. In most cases they will attack in pairs or groups and if they are going to attack a larger individual it will be at gun or knife point. I don’t care how many times you’ve seen Rambo, Enter the Dragon, or Bad Boyz, knives and guns are scary as HELL and they are a reality. If you have never trained for any of these scenarios, or any type of attack in general then you are going to be at a severe disadvantage if you are ever the target of these crimes.

I train people in defensive tactics everyday and I travel around the country putting on seminars and trainings for the United States Krav Maga Association, alongside a brilliant man named Mark Slane. Both of us will tell you truthfully that no amount of training can guarantee your safety, but training can sure raise your chances of avoiding those scenarios or getting out safely if you can’t.

Finding a good self defense gym should be just as important to you as finding that right Coach who will get you that 800# deadlift. I don’t ever say that I have all of the answers, but I will say if you can find a Krav Maga gym in your area, it will be the closest thing to realistic training you can get without joining the CIA (who also train in Krav Maga). I took Karate when I was younger and it was great, but it’s not practical in real life by any means. I have yet to see a crane kick in a knife fight on YouTube, so let’s be real. You’re looking for someone who will train you how to punch, throw kicks to the groin, gouge eyes, bite, headbutt, stab with pens, etc… The real fighting style. If you can’t find a Krav Maga gym, look for gyms that legitimately specialize in defensive tactics, NOT MARTIAL ARTS! If you still can’t find one, you’re next best bet is to find a good Muay Thai gym and learn to hit and hit hard. It may not be geared directly at defensive scenarios, but being able to kick hard enough to tear a large human being’s ACL is a good tool to have in your back pocket.

If anyone ever tells you to wait for the first punch to be thrown or says something “always happens this way”, immediately leave. Fighting in real life sucks, it really does. Things can go terribly wrong in a heartbeat; you need to be prepared for the unknown and the unknowable not only in the gym but outside. (Think I owe Glassman for copyright infringement?!) Things don’t go the way you plan, if you are attacked, it will undoubtedly be when you weren’t prepared for it. If you’ve never trained under these stresses, I highly suggest it.

I know it isn’t feasible for everyone to find amazing training and dedicate themselves to that program, so in closing here are a few immediate tips/strategies to help make yourself safer:

– If you can’t afford training, splurge for a heavy bag and start beating the piss out of it. Think hips. If you punch, power comes from the hips, if you kick, power comes from the hips. Good thing we do all of those squats, deadlifts, and Oly lifts eh?

– Remember this order of operations to survive….

1) Don’t be there

2) If you are there, RUN!

3) If you can’t run, pick up something to use as a weapon

4) If you have no weapons THEN you are stuck with hand-to-hand fighting

5) Get aggressive and primal and beat that person until you see the opportunity to get to safety, but run as soon as possible

– Small weapons are great, but only if you mean to use them. Ladies: pepper spray does you NO GOOD if it’s in your purse. Have it in your hand when you walk places and point it the right direction (yes, people have sprayed themselves in the face under stress!). If you’re looking for a great weapon that is legal to use and carry without a license, buy a small, heavy, metal flashlight that sticks out roughly one inch on either end of your hand when you grip it with a fist. Preferably one with a bright light and a push button on the end. Use it to see around dark corners or in/under your car. If you get attacked, shine it in their eyes then bash them in the face with it!

– If you own a gun, do you really know how to use it? Are you willing to use it? You don’t learn how to shoot bad people in your CCW or NRA class, you learn to shoot paper. If you own a gun, find a defensive firearms instructor who specializes in personal self defense. Seriously!! It will keep you out of lots of trouble. Look up I.C.E Training, they have top of the line instructors.

– Mindsetting: everywhere you go take 5-10 seconds. Look around; find all of the exits, all of the things that could easily be used as weapons and all of the shady looking people.

Knowing these things and being aware of them will be huge when things get stressful. Make a plan in your head. “If someone busts through that door, I’m going to grab my chair, throw it then bolt out the back hallway.” YOU CANNOT FORMULATE GOOD PLANS UNDER STRESS. Attacks happen in a split second, don’t think you’re going to be MacGruber under stress. In the same respect, don’t become paranoid! Look around, find the exits, weapons and bad people and then go about your business, just be aware, not scared.

If you have any questions, concerns, or anything else pertaining to defensive tactics please feel free to contact me at Aaron@uskma.com

KRAV MAGA & TRADITIONAL MARTIAL ARTS

I re-post this blog about once a year. I have gotten more comments on this blog than any other one.

First and foremost we in the USKMA never bash any other system. Blogging about this topic by one system is almost always self serving and a put down to others. A few statements; 1) I was/am a 4th degree black belt in a traditional system. 2) I will say right off that any system can be used effectively if proficiency is achieved. We just don’t believe it is prudent that achieving proficiency takes years. When we in Krav Maga think self defense we believe it has to be easy to learn, easy to remember, come out of us instinctually and be effective. We believe this because of our study of the adrenaline dump and the effects of stress on a person.

There are many talented martial artists. I know of Tai Chi masters who could whip 99.9% of us. I especially admire BJJ. Those guys are the most in shape, best conditioned people I know. If my son was to do a martial art I would want him in BJJ. But….BJJ’s philosophy is to patiently control an opponent until they can be submitted. Add a second attacker, a knife, etc. and that philosophy isn’t self defense. I have often said if masters from other systems came into my gym and challenged me in front of my students most would probably kick my butt and make me look stupid. However (and this is self defense) if that same guy was in my house and going to hurt my family I would not lose. I would come from behind, break a chair over the back of his head and then take one of the broken shards and see how far into his throat I could ram it. I would not lose. Krav Maga is doing what it takes to be safe, and refusing to quit.

Martial arts are great for kids. It teaches them manners, respect and a host of other good behaviors. For adults martial arts are great exercise, great stress relief, great for socializing and meeting other good, hard working people. However, I personally cringe when a traditional martial art calls itself the ultimate in self defense. All martial arts were designed to overcome the problems that the founder was facing. Some martial arts were designed for the battlefield, some for unarmed peasants to overcome soldiers wearing armor, some for using anything found in nature to make a weapon of, etc. I spent countless hours in my traditional martial art in a front stance only to discover that the front stance was designed for balance when fighting on board of ships. I spent even more hours in a horse stance to discover that that stance was for peasants who were too poor to own a horse to practice for the calvary! Krav Maga was designed by the Israeli Defense Forces to keep people alive in modern times against enemies with handguns, rifles, knives, sticks, throwing fists, throwing knees, choking them, grabbing their hair, etc., etc. We have a friend from another system whom we train with who just doesn’t like Krav Maga. He over thinks everything and wants pressure points, joint locks, etc. What he does is better than Krav Maga….for him. He doesn’t get that he is an unusual person who wants to spend hundreds of hours a year for many years getting proficient. He loves working on the stuff. Krav Maga is only concerned with getting people as safe as possible as quickly as possible. Are we the best at knife defenses? Maybe not but instead of spending hundreds of hours getting awesome at a knife defense only to have a handgun shoved in our face we want to learn enough of a knife defense to keep us safe and alive and then move on quickly to learning the defenses to the other hundreds of ways a person can be attacked. I think most martial artists will admit that if someone takes their art for three months and quits that they aren’t very good and won’t be able to defend themselves very well. Three months in Krav Maga gets a person almost ready to be tested into level 2…and you are pretty darn good when you get that far.

Most martial arts made sense in their place in history or are now being designed by one man for modern problems. These that rely on one “founder” worry me. Techniques are designed in a gym with students as the attackers. I have seen a system that taught a straight knife defense as a crescent kick to the knife and a back kick to the attacker (you better have a quick crescent and a devastating back kick!!). I have also seen a system that taught it’s students a handgun disarm that consisted of doing a forward roll towards the gunman and then coming up from under the gun and twisting it away (with his students mesmerized at his awesome technique…scarey!!). A handgun defense that looks like it should work, and works with simunition guns, is being taught as gospel. Has the founder ever had someone try to shoot them, stab them, bash their head in with a brick? Krav Maga was designed by an entire military system. The bullshit didn’t make it through because there is no Grand Poobah who has an ego, there is no tradition to honor….there is only keeping people alive, period. When I hear someone say they have a way better handgun defense than what Krav Maga has I laugh. If their defense was easy to learn, easy to remember and effective it would be Krav Maga, we would have stolen it already. We don’t have a system that has to guard its traditions. We’ll switch to another technique in an instance if it works better. Keeping people alive and safe is all we’re about.

A lot of systems work for the head instructor. I can think of several systems where the head instructor is awesome and totally unbeatable (he’d kick my butt!) but the question is can that same system work as well for a 100 pound unathletic female as it does the six foot two, two hundred fifty pound instructor? In Krav Maga any technique that we use or add has that exact filter to get through. Will it work for our smallest, weakest practitioner?
A lot of martial arts are technique based while Krav Maga is philosophy based. For example, when a knife is coming towards our mid section we want to deflect it, counter at the same time if possible and then either get the heck out of there or control the weapon and beat the idiot senseless. The traditional martial art I took had of 30 different techniques for a straight knife stab. Hick’s law states that when we have more than one choice it takes time to decide between them. How much time do you have when a knife is being thrust into your gut? Another problem is a lot of techniques have many steps. If in practice I always must do A through F I get lost in real life when it derails at step C. One other big problem I have with martial arts and real violence is students buying into what they are taught and having it be bad training and getting them hurt. SGT Rory Miller in his great book Meditations on Violence talks about the time he visited a martial arts school and was sparring with one of the black belts. He got punched in the nose and threw a technique back at the black belt. The black belt stopped and bawled him out saying that they train realistically and that if he broke Rory’s nose in a real fight the fight would be over. Rory told the black belt that he has had his nose broken from a punch three times in his life and it never ended the fight, that he did indeed go after the puncher even harder! If that black belt is ever in a real fight he’ll deliver a nose punch that he was taught would devastate the other guy, stop fighting, and get creamed!

One last thought about martial arts and why some of them do not make sense for us today is “assumptions”. Too many martial arts make assumptions. For example, an art that teaches to take an attacker to the ground is assuming that you will only ever be attacked by one person. An art that relies only on joint locks and joint manipulations assumes that you will always have two hands. What happens to those techniques when you break an arm in the fight? We have our students at higher level tests put one hand in a belt that is tied around their waste and figure out how to defend themselves with one arm. Easy if you have a philosophy of “get rid of the danger and beat the attacker senseless”, not so easy if you are technique based. Another art may rely on high, jumping and spinning kicks. What do they do if they break an ankle first thing in their fight? Lastly, way too many knife and stick defenses that I’ve seen totally rely on the attacker coming from a distance and the practitioner seeing the attack coming. It is wrong to assume that you will always see the attack coming from a distance! We throw out any knife or stick defense that doesn’t work late (when you don’t see the attack until it is inches from striking you).

MMA? These guys have the Krav Maga philosophy for training. Be ready for anything. If you are great on the ground but are facing a stand up guy or vice versa you are in trouble. It makes sense to be good no matter where the fight is. The UFC has taught us that there is no unbeatable martial art but that you have to be good at several. The main problem with mma training is that it is for sport. One of my instructors carries around the rules for MMA in his bag and when someone asks him what we do in Krav Maga he shows them the rules and tells them “We want to do everything that is illegal in MMA fighting”. We want to bite, head butt, poke eyes, kick to the groin, etc. These are illegal in MMA because they cause damage. Causing damage is what we want to do in self defense. Really, self protection and self defense in MMA would be to bring a knife with you into the ring, to hit him from behind before the bell or to know that your fight is Saturday afternoon but find your opponent on Thursday morning, bring some friends with ball bats, and have at him. I certainly don’t condone this but the point is a fair fight means your tactics suck!!

Again, we are not bashing any other system. We just believe that when it comes to self defense people need to think about what real violence is. Flashy techniques, training incorrectly, training for situations that no longer exist and complicated moves get people hurt. Remember, if it is complicated it isn’t self defense. Our number one rule in Krav Maga is BE SAFE.

KNIFE STUFF

Things my partner and I said while teaching a knife defense seminar to a bunch of cops last week;

“we don’t even call it knife defense, we call it knife survival.”

“We don’t need to tangle with a knife wielding maniac, smack them to create distance and draw your sidearm.”

“There are really only two things to do, get an arm up to block and hit them as hard as you can.”

“We are seeing handguns stuck in holsters too much. Double tugging and even looking at your holster will get you killed. Every duty shift when you are putting on your belt do five draws (safely). This is getting you practice on 100 draws a month.”

“An officer wants that gun of his/hers. They will think of nothing but drawing it as they take stabs. Teach them to block and attack first, draw when it’s safe.”

“We teach to push off and draw. Being tangled up attempting a knife take away or trying to subdue while by yourself is a mistake. You would have to let go when their buddy shows. Every asshole has an asshole buddy nearby.”

“You will get cut….no doubt. Any instructor who tells you different is blowing smoke up your azz!”

“The defense for a punch and a knife must be the same. Most times you don’t see the knife and think you are being punched.”

“Pick up something to smack them with, we don’t need any hero BS!”

“During a shank go for the arm pit. The arm pit doesn’t move, the wrist is traveling six foot back and forth and is hard to grab.”

“I can’t tell you when to use lethal force but if I’m stabbed and by myself I take for granted that I’m about to go unconscious.”

“Any system that relies on you being able to move is a bad system. What if you are in a hallway or the aisle of a bus? The only two spaces you are guaranteed is the space you are in and the space the attacker is in.”

“The top ten knife experts in history all died the same way…knife wounds. If they got stabbed how am I going to tell you that you won’t?”

“I’d rather face someone with a gun than a knife if they are close. When the gun is directed off of me I am safe. The mindset of someone with a knife is they want to get close, want to cut and rip. I’d rather face a very proficient martial artist than a crazy with the will to kill any day!”

After our last drill where we slather ky jelly all over their arms and have them work on what we just taught…”What did we just learn? Blood is slippery and everything we worked on today was BS! What did you want to do with that slippery attacker? Push off/smack them to create distance and draw. The first and most basic thing we worked on today is what will save your butt!”

BE SAFE!

KRAV FOR KIDS?

A discussion on our forum a few weeks ago brought up teaching Krav Maga to kids. Our kids program has some krav maga in it, with bjj, Muay thai and some escrima. We have talked for years about a straight krav maga program for kids but the mix we have is a little better for them in my opinion. Straight Krav would be a hard sell for most parents but my main concern is we don’t BS people in Krav and tell them techniques will keep them safe if they won’t. Kids just don’t have the size or strength for most combatives, plucks, etc. to be effective. Think about it, have you ever seen a 9 year old who’s punch or round house kick to the body would hurt you enough for you to let go? To show them choke defense, headlock defense, carotid choke defense, buck and roll, etc. when they weigh 50 pounds and tell them that it would work would be blowing smoke up their you know whats! That’s something we won’t do!! The same would go for most of our knife, stick and handgun defenses. A four footer that weighs 70 pounds couldn’t use these defenses effectively. A lot of systems would have kids practice these and tell them that they would work. I don’t know how they could live with themselves when one of those kids get hurt in real life. We pride ourselves in the fact that Krav Maga is one system that tells it like it is. As you’ve heard me say in the past always put common sense and self experience before the majority opinion or a self appointed expert when it comes to your personal safety….or that of your kids.
For kids the stranger danger courses are great. I’ve had parents get upset with me when I teach their kids that there are bad people out there who may try to harm them. What are they doing in the martial arts if not to learn some self defense? Ignoring things won’t make them go away. If one of my students ever have someone attempt to abduct them I would think the parents would be mighty glad that we practiced for just that scenario. Teach kids to not put themselves in a bad situation of course, but teach them that bad things can still happen. Head butts to the soft part of the attacker’s face, kicks to the groin and punches to the groin would be effective even at their size. These must be taught as a way of escaping, not having them believe that these strikes would devastate the bad guy. I teach my son to just flail and be a hard target, kicking and punching to the groin, head butting the face, biting, scratching, screaming, etc. until the bad guy’s grip lets loose….then run like crazy! The movies where the little karate kids are beating up adults and knocking them over with kicks make me wanna puke!!
Use common sense, think for yourself and BE SAFE!