SELF DEFENSE…NOT!

If it’s complicated…..it ain’t self defense. Real violence is more sudden, more terrifying, closer and faster than any of us can train for. If whatever you do to fight back isn’t instinctual, if it isn’t something that comes right out of you, it will not keep you safe.

If it teaches you to fear no man & to charge into a knife, stick or other weapon……it ain’t self defense. Any good self defense system will tell you to RUN! We aren’t injury proof and we’d rather not have to defend ourselves. We’d rather not be there. We need to run, talk our way out, pick up an object to whack the scumbag with then, only as a last resort, use actual self defense techniques. Self protection is using awareness and avoiding. Self defense means you weren’t paying attention and are already in a bad situation that you now have to fight your way out of.

If it involves fine motor skills….it ain’t self defense. With stress and the adrenaline dump blood pools to our core. This makes our limbs weak, heavy and numb. There is no way we are doing finger manipulations in the face of real violence.

If it is regimented…..it ain’t self defense. There are arts where a choke defense, for example, has steps A through F that are followed and practiced every time. When, in the real world, the attacker doesn’t do what we expect and the technique derails at step C we will be lost.

If it is totally ground based….it ain’t self defense. Being on the ground takes two things for granted. That there isn’t a weapon involved and that there is only one attacker. Theses are two things that we should never be thinking won’t happen.

If it is practiced with space….it ain’t self defense. All knife defenses, for example, work when the attacker announces himself from six feet away. Whatever you are learning has to work late, after you’ve been surprised and have already taken damage. Another angle on this is if I am taking big circular steps in my technique, stepping several feet to perform a throw, etc. I am taking for granted that I will never be attacked in a crowded area, never in an aisle of a bus, etc.

If it isn’t a workout, isn’t developing cardio…it ain’t self defense. We have black belts in other arts come to our gym quite often. They almost never can make it through a class and almost never come back. How can you teach people to be safe if they can’t fight hard for more than a few seconds? We’d love our fights to be over in a few seconds but we can’t take that for granted. If the fight does drag out fatigue will get us hurt. We must be able to keep going until the danger is over.

If it relies on katas to develop skills for fighting off multi attackers…it ain’t self defense. We learn to fight multi attackers in Krav Maga by having multi attackers pad up and smack us around! Sounds logical to us!

If you spend most of your time practicing sword, chuks, kama’s and the like…it ain’t self defense. You think you’re gonna have those handy when violence finds you? Using those farm implements to defend one;s self made sense hundreds of years ago. Today any punk with a handgun will defeat your hundreds of hours of practice. When we in Krav spend time with weapons we’re on a shooting range.

If the system brags that it hasn’t changed in hundreds of years…it ain’t self defense. We aren’t attacked by armored soldiers on horse back anymore. The scum bags have changed tactics, we had better change our answers for them.

If it takes years to become proficient…..it ain’t self defense. If you knew that you would be attacked five years from now it wouldn’t matter what you studied. You’d be pretty good by then. Do you know when you’ll be attacked? It could this week, couldn’t it?

If it is sparring….in ain’t self defense. Despite what Hollywood leads us to believe real world violence is never like sparring. Sparring has rules, flow, set ups. Violence is a knife slashing at you non stop, three people standing over you stomping your head into the curb, someone grabbing you by the hair and throwing haymakers at your face. It is not feinting, changing levels, going in, backing out and throwing combinations. Sparring teaches some good skills, it just can’t be relied on to get us ready for real violence.

If you are studying something strictly for self defense make sure that it was developed strictly for self defense! BE SAFE!

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STRESS & EXHAUSTION!

I’ve blogged about putting whatever you are learning for self defense under stress and exhaustion before and how if you aren’t training that way you are learning self defense techniques…not self defense. When I first went to Krav Maga training back in ‘98 I was blown away by the drills they put us through. They were rough, exhausting, vomit inducing and yet…the coolest thing I’d ever seen. It was an epiphany for me to see the way the Israeli’s were training for real world violence. At the time I was a 4th degree black belt in Taekwondo and thought I was training self defense. What I was doing wasn’t even close.

Why do we need to put techniques under exhaustion, stress, run scenarios and learn to do things when we are terrified? Our brains have 3 basic areas. The cognitive is the logical thinking part of our brain. The Middle brain is the emotional part. The Reptilian brain is the lowest, the part where our fight/flight/freeze responses lie. Under stress, exhaustion and fright our brain functions decrease a bunch. We get put into our Reptilian brain because this is where we need to be…deciding whether we need to fight, beat feet or freeze. All we are capable of at this time are gross motor/whole body motions. Everyone, from those who have never trained to combat vets, will freeze when stress overwhelms us. The difference is those who have never trained will be stuck there and those who have trained will have a plan surface quickly.

The U.S. Rangers and other special forces soldiers do this the best. These soldiers in combat will lose function like the rest of us under stress but they will regain function much quicker because they train correctly. They are stress inoculated. In their training to ready them for combat they have had all five senses assaulted under stress. They are torn down and made to fail. After they have failed up front (the beginning of their training) the trainers now have their undivided attention. Most are tough guys who win at everything and thought they would eat the training up. They are brought to failure, every one of them, then they can be rebuilt. The next thing the trainers will work is muscle memory. When they are put under stress in real life or death situations their blood pools to their core and they will lose fine motor skills, finger movement, vision, hearing, etc. just like the rest of us under stress. They have worked their muscle memory and mental memory skills so many times that the functions of fighting, loading and firing weapons, etc. will still be able to be performed. Their formula is 1) fail/frustrate with scenario based drills, 2) slow muscle memory drills and 3) scenario based drills mimicking actual combat and the jobs they must perform.

This is what we do in Krav. We learn gross whole body movements by the numbers, slowly and precisely. We then work them with a partner slowly, then faster as we get better. Lastly we put them under realistic attack scenarios and stress inducing drills. Studies shows that a person’s brain doesn’t recognize the difference between training and real attacks when it is under stress, exhausted and in a frightened state. So it goes to reason that if any one of our gym’s members are attacked, say by a choke from behind, their brain will think they have done this for real hundreds of times and they will react. There will be no thinking or freezing, what they have done so many times before will come out of them. They will get rid of the hands on their throat and beat the attacker into the ground…without thinking. This is what they trained for and what their brain thinks they have done for real hundreds of times!

Again, when someone comes to you for self defense training they are literally putting their lives in your hands. Don’t’ teach crap from a system just because it’s your system. Train them right, put them under stress & exhaustion and let their brains live “the fight” so that if it happens on the street they have “been there and done that”. BE SAFE!

KRAV MAGA IS WORTHLESS!

Krav Maga is worthless if you are just learning techniques. There are no magic techniques, no “guaranteed to save you” or unbeatable techniques. We are teaching the most battle tested, best and most effective techniques that we have found but techniques won’t save your ass in real world violence.

We get people in our gym who want to take one on one lessons from us. They want to just learn the techniques…not do drills or be ran into the ground. I turn them down flat. Krav Maga isn’t just techniques. The whole mind set and philosophy that we teach make it a complete system. The philosophy of go forward, go off, go hard and destroy is what will save us in the real world.

If you ask a cop who he would rather face A) a very proficient and talented martial artist or B) some untrained psycho who wants to tear their face off and see them bleed they will always pick A. He/she would rather face someone who has awesome techniques than someone who is just going nuts. Doesn’t that say a lot?

We are teaching the philosophy of never quit, do major damage and go hard with everything we do in Krav classes. We would never just show an outside defense and practice that in class for a while and then move on to the next thing on the lesson plan. We will do two or three outside defenses then have that become an outside defense and two punches. Then it’s the outside defense with four punches, then six, then six with an elbow then clinch to throw knees and dump the attacker on the ground. Now, when we are attacked on the street our muscle memory doesn’t just produce the outside defense and then stop but we will throw that defense and keep going…attack, attack, attack. The technique of the outside defense won’t save us, the philosophy of go forward and go hard and go until the attacker is done will.

One thing I say often in class (especially weapon disarm training with law enforcement) is that I would much rather you do an incorrect technique but do it now and go crazy with it than I would you do the correct technique with hesitations and thinking about making it perfect and not full out. Violence of motion trumps technique! Be the crazy who is clawing eyes and ripping and tearing skin…that makes up for a lot of technique mistakes. Aggression, attitude, meanness, a never quite attitude and looking to do major damage is what keeps us safe. Krav Maga techniques without these things are worthless. BE SAFE!

THEY DIDN’T KNOW FEAR!

I just got done reading a book I highly recommend titled NO GREATER ALLY by Kenneth Koskodan. This was the untold story of Poland during World War II. Very informative and a travesty that the story has been largely ignored and hidden. The one theme that the book mentioned over and over was how the German’s hated coming up against the Polish troops. The Poles were notorious for ignoring their own safety to kill Germans. They would charge through the teeth of the battle, ignore the machine gun fire and artillery (that had other troops turning back) to kill their enemy. They volunteered for the dangerous assignments and cheered when they got them. In the air the Germans’ always knew when it was the Poles flying against them because they would do things other airmen wouldn’t. They would fly straight at the German aircraft through withering fire and not fire themselves until they were closer than any other pilots dared be. They wanted to make sure their bullets were effective. When they were outnumbered it didn’t effect them whatsoever, as others fled they fought on.

Why did these men have no fear? The truth is that they probably felt fear as much as any other men. They felt fear but their great rage and hatred for the Nazis overshadowed the fear. They weren’t any braver than other soldiers but they had family in Poland being raped, tortured and slaughtered by the Nazis. The Germans were especially brutal in Poland. Upon advancing in Poland they executed anyone they thought was influential. They killed every military officer, clergyman, teacher, professor, priest, business owner, etc. the minute they found them. They raped and pillaged the land and sent young people to slave labor camps where they would be worked to death. If one German soldier was assassinated by the underground they would round up a hundred men, women and children and execute them in public for payback. The Polish soldiers knew every second they could shorten the war by killing these hated people the more Polish lives they would spare.

This is what I have talked about in the past few blogs…going off with “hatred and rage”. SGT Samford Strong’s great book STRONG ON DEFENSE talks about this very idea. He has interviews with many crime victims in this book and states that the one’s who seem to have the greatest odds of avoiding the horrendous crime are the one’s who fight back with hatred and rage. Those who ignored the injury or the threat of injury and got mad were the ones who fought back with such ferocity that they got away. The Scum Bag is looking for a victim, not a fight. When it’s go time we have to go with such rage and anger that there is no room for fear. One story in the SGT’s book is about a woman who woke up in bed with a would be rapist on top of her and a knife against her throat. She ignored his “do what I say or I will kill you”, grabbed the blade of the knife with her hands and fought and kicked and screamed until he eventually fled. As she was being taken to the hospital to get her hands stitched up she was asked if she were afraid. She said that if she was afraid she would have just laid there and been a victim. She says all she felt was anger and rage that someone would do this to her and she became a crazed woman who would have to be killed before she would submit. This is what we are talking about!

The martial arts and their Zen way of thinking makes sense in some areas. The training on techniques and the slow pace of classes has it’s benefits. Self defense just isn’t one of them. We train the way we do in Krav for a specific reason. There is a saying “Violence of action trumps technique”. I often say in class that I would rather you go off right now and hard with the wrong technique than hesitantly use the correct technique. Going “loony” and “animal” is much more effective than doing a perfect technique half assed! Violence of action absolutely trumps technique…every time! We exhaust people, run stress drills and run testing past most people’s breaking point for a reason. We train them to not look at how big or mean the bad guy is, or how many there are, but to get mean, look at only targets and attack, attack, attack! When they need this mental attitude in the real world they have been there. BE SAFE!