SHADOW FIGHTING

Further thoughts on the blog of a few weeks ago titled “go in”. When I teach a Krav Maga class the way I see it I have 45 to 55 minutes to make people as safe as I possibly can. I do not like any time wasted! Even in warm ups we are keeping our hands up, throwing techniques such as elbow to the rear to warm up arms instead of just doing arm circles, etc. One of the things I see done in warm ups at almost every Krav gym I’ve been to is “shadow boxing”…and it’s a pet peeve. What are we doing when we shadow box? We are pretending to be in a fight, yes? The fight we are pretending to be in is a sports fight in a ring. When we shadow box we are changing levels, going in and backing out, throwing a three or four punch/kick combination and moving, etc. These are all fine if you are learning MMA or boxing. In Krav Maga we are learning only to win an attack started by someone who is trying to hurt us. The moving in and out, throwing short combinations, etc. will get us hurt on the street. Even if we are a better fighter than the attacker this “sparring” type of fighting drags things out too long and, as a wise man once said, “Every asshole has an asshole friend close by”. We need to end things asap and beat feet out of there…not fight for ten minutes while the idiots three friends show up.

Practice shadow fighting. In my classes i don’t want to see a three of four punch combination, I want to see total destruction. Go in and throw and throw until the attacker has been rendered unconscious! I don’t want to see a four punch combination and then circling. I want to see a front kick into a throat punch into a clinching of the back of the head with one hand and elbows to the face with the opposite elbow into clinching and kneeing until they are on the ground into an achilles stomp. This is what we should be practicing in warm ups because this is what we should be training ourselves to do when faced with danger. Sound brutal? Your brutal is my effective, i didn’t start this and if he gets through me what does he plan on doing to my family? This is Krav Maga.

While I’m on it be careful how you do mitt work. The person holding the mitts should have their hands up where they would be if they were actually defending themselves not against their chest or anywhere else. To hold them in the wrong place when your partner is the one “doing the work” is spending half your training time learning something that will get you hurt. When under the stress of an attack which half of your training will you remember, the half where your hands were in the right place or the half you spent with them somewhere else? How about just keeping them in the right place every minute of your training. Oh, I could go on forever with how to train in class for the real world…maybe i should start running instructor training courses(uskma.com). BE SAFE!!

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IT MADE SENSE AT THE TIME

Those that follow this blog know that I was a fourth degree black belt in a traditional martial art. I say was because I believe if you haven’t kept up with or practiced something for years you can’t claim it any longer. Anyway, I have blogged many times that most martial arts may be good exercise, good stress relief, a good way to meet people, etc. but they are far from effective self defense. Why would the masters thousands of years ago have developed arts that weren’t really self defense? Well, when they developed them they were self defense. Examples;

-Learning to use martial art weapons such as the sai and kama may be fun but have no practical application today. When they were developed the peasants were not allowed to own weapons. They learned to protect themselves with farming implements. That is what these “weapons” really are. It made sense at the time.

-In the days of the Samurai the Samurai sword was the ultimate in weapon technology. If you were the best with the sword you were virtually unbeatable. Today anyone taking a good weekend handgun course (such as Combat Focus Shooting) would defeat the best Samurai…all day long. Today learning the Samurai sword is a hobby but…it made sense at the time.

-There was a time that martial arts training was forbidden. Forms made sense to remember all the moves that the student knew. Since there usually weren’t partners around and definetly were no heavy bags, focus mitts or kick shields forms made sense for practice at the time. Speaking of forms, have you ever seen forms where the practitioner moves their hands in quick circles and then places their palm on their forearm and slides the palm? This was from a time when the aristocrasy showed their wealth by wearing long sleeves. That part of the form actually represents pushing their sleeves up before they can attack. Not overly practicle to practice today. It made sense at the time.

-When I was in the martial arts we spent a lot of time in front stances and horse stances. When I found out the history behind those stances I wondered why i had wasted so much time with them. The front stance was for balance when fighting aboard a ship. The horse stance was from a time when peasants had very few options for getting out of poverty. One option was to join the military. The military fought from horse back. The peasants couldn’t afford horses so they practiced their moves in a deep squeat, PRETENDING that they were on a horse. It made sense at the time.

-Peasants knew that they would be fighting attackers who were on horse back. They developed high flying kicks to knock attackers off of their horses. Learning those made sense at the time.

-Judo started out as a combat art, not a sport. Judo flips and throws were developed to quickly put down (with out following them to the ground and being attached) attackers who were in armor. Crashing someone to the ground with an extra 100 pounds of armor usually ended their attack. It made sense at the time.

-The uniform that most martial artists put on weren’t really uniforms when developed. They were a cheaper, unbleached copy of what they wore every day. No sense in messing up your good clothes. The “black belt” represented excellence but wasn’t awarded, it was just a dirty belt. The longer someone wore their belt to practice in the dirtier it got (this was waaaay before washing machines). By the time it was black you had put some serious hours into training.

All of this made sense in it’s day but for self defense now make very little sense. Today we are attacked by blades, sticks and handguns. If you are looking for pure self defense for today traditional martial arts just doesn’t do it. A system developed for the IDF in the past sixty years would look like a better bet to me! BE SAFE!

GETTING KRAV

When we teach law enforcement officers krav maga’s knife or handgun defenses the line officers usually love the techniques. They love how easy and effective they are and that they “come out” under surprise attack because they mimic actual body reactions. If we get questioned about another technique being better it is almost always from the defensive tactics trainers. Now, don’t get me wrong, i love these questions and comparing other techniques. If the questioner is verbalizing why they like what they do better and can give reasons, that’s a good trainer. I listen and sometimes tweak what we are doing because they have a good point. Usually, when I explain what Krav’s main concerns are they come around.

A certain technique may have merit. It may be a legitimate technique and may (if you can believe it) be better than what we are showing for the scenario it was meant for. Here is where Krav differs. I tell that trainer that for them personally what they are doing is a better technique. Here is the epiphany moment; the trainer practices twenty hours or more a month and is very proficient with that technique because they have put the time in. The trainer is teaching a bunch of cops something to save their lives with who may only be training defensive tactics six hours a YEAR! To show a technique for one scenario that would take twenty hours of practice to get it to where it would work isn’t good for the line officer. We have one technique that takes an hour or two to get fairly good with that will work if the handgun is in front of them, if they are on their knees, if the handgun is at the side of their head, if they gunman is sitting on their chest, if the gunman is in their guard or if the gunman is standing over them while they are on the ground. If that particular officer was only going to commit to ten hours of training this year which technique do you think would be the one he or she should work on?

One cool compliment I got at a law enforcement seminar we did last summer was from an ex British special forces officer who now owns a security company. He said “I have taken a lot of edged weapon disarm seminars, seen a lot of techniques and even teach the stuff but I’ve never seen anything so simple or easy to learn before. Instead of worrying about making my arms an X or finding a pressure point I block as good as I can while I’m beating holy hell out of the idiot. I like this.” Simple, easy to learn, easy to remember yet effective. Those Israelis know what they are doing!

We see so many “gym techniques”. They look good, work well with a partner in a gym and may be fairly legitimate but they ignore too many things. They don’t take into account the effects of stress or the adrenaline dump on the person doing the technique. They don’t think about the officer may have been surprised and taken damage before attempting the technique (does it work if you only have one arm to work with, if already bleeding, etc.?). They make them too complicated to remember unless a lot of hours are put into training that one technique. They rely on only being attacked by a certain angle, speed, power, etc.

If it’s easy to learn and remember yet brutal as all get out…it’s probably Krav Maga. Be safe!!

DON’T DANCE, GO IN!

One of Imi Lichtenfied’s students tells a story about the time that there was a TV on with a Bruce Lee movie playing. The student asked Imi “what do you think of Bruce Lee”? Imi said “Well, the boy is very good, however, if he has time to duck he has time to go in and finish….but that would make for a short movie I suppose.” Krav Maga training has a technique that is very unique called “bursting.” We push off of a foot like a sprinter leaving the starting blocks to put our whole weight behind an attack or block and to get inside. We want to be inside because we never think that one punch, elbow, etc. will knock out the attacker (it indeed may but we can’t take that for granted) so we want to be close to clinch and attack and attack again until the bad guy is done.

A person in a sparring match can move, strike, move some more, circle, strike again, etc. This works because in a sparring match there are two evenly matched opponents competing with a set of rules. In the real world fighting like this only works if we are better, stronger, aren’t worried about a second attacker, have time, etc. In Krav Maga we realize we don’t have those luxuries so we want to burst in, hit the bad guy many times, finish him as quickly as we can and never give him the chance to strike at us more than once. In a choke, for instance, getting the bad guy’s hands off or our throat and then backing off, squaring up to fight and then throwing punches would only work if we are the better fighter. Instead we remove the attacker’s hands, simultaneously kick his groin, land forward, clinch the attacker and throw non stop knees & front kicks until he is done.

We show this concept from the very first intro lesson at our gym. We show a front kick, let the new student do a few, and then stop the student to teach Krav philosophy. We tell them that their kick was fine (it’s an easy technique) but not to kick and put their foot back where they started. If they kick and put their foot back they have to kick again to get back close to the attacker. We show them to kick and put their foot down forward because then the attacker is right there for a knee with the other leg or they can just clinch the attacker and deliver multiple combatives.

When there is a weapon involved this becomes even more important. If we can’t run or pick up something to smack the attacker with we want to go in. If it’s a handgun we direct it off of us and go in and beat him unconscious. In the case of a knife or stick the attacker expects us to back up. Backing up puts us in greater danger as we are going to the most dangerous part of the stick (the end) or into the arc of the blade. In the case of the stick going in keeps us from being hit by the part going the fastest but instead takes us into the hand or forearm of the person swinging the stick. There isn’t much damage the bad guy is going to do to us there. We aren’t just moving in to escape the danger but when we do get in we deliver a strike. This strike has a lot of power as our whole body was behind it. While inside, after this first strike, we clinch and throw knees, elbows, head butts, etc. until we are safe.

The point is that you can dance and prance if you are in a fair fight. If you are fighting for your life go forward, get in deep and beat on the bad guy until he’s done! BE SAFE!