Self Defense & Egos!

“Martial Arts and self defense are tricky, because for most practitioners wether they work or not will never really matter. It will never be tested. They can learn and believe any foolishness they want. Then, occasionaly, it will matter very much to an isolated individual. The stakes are high.” SGT Rory Miller

If you search “Krav Maga” on the internet one of the top (paid for) results that comes through is a system who’s slogan is “Fear No Man.” If there is one point that these blogs has gotten across I hope that it is you had better fear man. This Fear No Man system may be legit and there may be some good things that I could get out of it but I’ll never know. I wouldn’t try it if they paid me! Anyone who teaches others to be safe and makes claims like “you will fear no man,” “how to defeat multi-attackers easily” and “easily win all fights…even if they have a knife or handgun” is, in my humble opinion, BS that will get people hurt. It shows me that the founder has never studied, and is clueless about, real world violence.

I get many surprised responses and unbelieving looks when I write and say the things about Krav Maga that I do. Look back at the past blogs and you will read “Run from a knife, those things are scary,” “Run from multi-attackers, it’s hard enough blocking one person’s punches and I don’t have enough appendages nor am I quick enough to block multi-attackers,” “Don’t go to stupid places with stupid people to do stupid things,” “Any untrained idiot with a blade can kill ya,” “The effects of stress and adrenalin will make you much less effective on the street than you are in the gym,” “You will be hurt and have to fight that way,” “I carry a knife and, when allowed by law, a handgun even though I am an “expert” at Krav Maga,” “We teach crappy answers for handgun defenses. You are in a world of crap and only have crappy answers of which our defense is at the top. The only good answer is don’t be there with a gun pointed at you,” “a slightly trained person with a weapon will beat an unarmed, highly trained expert more often than not” …etc., etc.

There is so much bluster, ego and BS in self defense and martial arts. I guess as I get older (much older) I am turning zen-like in my thoughts on self defense and violence. I realize that it is best to learn self protection over self defense. We truly teach 1) don’t be there in the first place, 2) run, 3) pick up an object to whack an attacker and then as a last resort, 4) krav techniques. That doesn’t sound a lot like anything else being taught, does it? Anyone who is just teaching techniques and hasn’t studied real world violence and who doesn’t put the techniques under stress, exhaustion, the handicap of having only one arm to use, a second attacker always being around, etc. is teaching people to defend in a gym (to prove how great the system is) and not preparing them for real world violent encounters.

The head honchos of most systems, for some reason, have to come off as unbeatable, super bad asses. Some of them are but I think they would no matter what system they were touting. They are tough as nails, strong and quick people. The problem is, they may be unbeatable but how does that translate to their five foot nothing, one hundred pound female student? I am the head instructor for the USKMA but I’ve never claimed to be a bad ass. I believe that most of the instructors I have trained, and several of my students, could take me in a fight! This makes me happy because I don’t claim to be a tough guy, I claim to be a very good teacher of a defense system that will make people safer.

If you are teaching self defense read books like STRONG ON DEFENSE by SGT Sanford Strong, MEDITATIONS ON VIOLENCE by SGT Rory Miller and THE GIFT OF FEAR by Gavin DeBecker. They are eye openers. BE SAFE!


In 1982, an underwater archaeologist discovered a ton of third century Roman vases in the harbor of Rio de Janeiro. They dug around a bit more and discovered two rotting Roman-style ships. This discovery was amazing. It seemed to prove that Brazil was discovered by the Romans, not the Portuguese. How did the Brazilian government handle this situation? They buried the discovery with sand! The government said “By Golly, Brazil was discovered by the Portuguese and we aren’t going to let facts stand in the way of what we believe!”

When I argue with anyone over techniques, systems, nutrition or even my rogue opinions about our great medical system in the U.S. I am amazed why people believe what they believe. My opinions are generally based on hundreds of hours of study. Most other’s opinions seem to be based only on what they want to believe or because they were told what to think by someone else.

I was on a forum recently where someone had posted that Krav Maga was training instructors all wrong. He stated that in Krav Maga they are bringing outsiders in for a week and making instructors of them. The Asian martial arts are doing it right. A student trains under a master for years and learns the intricacies of the art. They are brought along very slowly and are experts before they ever teach anyone else. Well, most people in my shoes would think “this is BS, the guy’s an idiot” and move on, or even post a snotty reply. After all, Krav Maga is my life and I make money off of it. For most instructors to even admit that someone else could be right just isn’t going to happen. My problem with this way of thinking is that anytime a person turns themselves off from anyone else’s thoughts or ideas they are claiming that they know it all, couldn’t possibly be wrong and close themselves off from learning and growing.

So I thought about what I read. There were some decent points in what the guy was saying. After deliberating I came up with my answer to his thought with no anger, name calling or emotions. Every now and then thinking deeply about why you believe the way you do can be an eye opener! My thoughts are that the man was right…for martial arts. Most martial arts have a couple of thousand techniques. They break them up into fifty or sixty techniques a belt and it will take time to perfect them all. They believe that they magic is in the technique. It would take a lot of time to get all those techniques down. On the bad side of this way of training, I have seen major cult of personalities take root in the martial arts. I have seen students bowing and scraping to “masters”. I’ve seen students washing the master’s Benz, constructing entire buildings and I even saw a small female carrying three master’s luggage through an airport, while they went empty handed. I’m an American for crying out loud! This stuff doesn’t fly with me.

Why do I think that we can train people in one week and send them out as instructors? First, it isn’t like they are leaving as a “master of the system” in one week. They can teach level 1 after one week. Level one is basic. If I bring in talented instructors in other systems or arts who will work hard I believe that thirty hours is plenty. I am getting the philosophy in their head, the techniques themselves are easy. Once they embrace how we teach and what we believe self defense is they can leave as strong teachers indeed. The proof is in the amazing instructors that we have turned out.

The point is to think for yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should think. Our system would be pathetic if years ago we believed we had all the answers and refused to listen to anyone else or look into what anyone else was teaching and why. BE SAFE!


Did you know that Imi Lichtenfeild awarded only ten black belts to students that he personally trained from the beginning to black belt? One of the things that awed me when I first started training in Krav Maga was how difficult it was to receive a black belt. I was amazed to see how tough the training was, how tough the testing was and the fact that you had to be invited (and at the time could only test in LA) was totally different than anything I’d ever seen. For years there were a total of only four or five people testing for black belt per year! When I tested in 2003 I was one of only thirty or so black belts in the nation.

I am ashamed to say that the martial art I came from had a different system. The asian martial arts used to be respected. A black belt in “Karate” back in the sixties and early seventies was feared! We now have six year old black belts…not a lot to fear. Our gym was all about getting the kiddies in the door and making them like what we were teaching. Games, black belt clubs, high fives and calling kids “sir” is what made a gym owner money. If the kid came to class and took every test (and we couldn’t flunk them on a test…that would be bad for their self image) they would be a black belt in under three years. Almost guaranteed! Looking back I am ashamed that I listened to the “experts” in the field instead of to my own common sense. In about ten years time in our martial arts gyms we must have tested 50 people for black belt. I know of instructors who have hundreds of black belts…just in their one gym. Wow. Please look up the system and book INSTRUCTOR REVOLUTION by Kelly Muir if you have kids and want to see how a martial art should be taught!

One of the many things that I respect about BJJ is how difficult and what a long journey it is to achieve a black belt. Students are in the art for years before they are even considered. Then, there is no test. The black belt master who is promoting them just one day hands them a black belt. This sounds like the way it probably was with all martial arts hundreds of years ago.

Testing a group of four for second degree black belt a few weeks ago brought this topic to mind. I have been teaching Krav Maga since 1998 and have promoted exactly eight black belts. Matt Kissel, John & Sue Burton, John Lovins, Scott Howard, Terri Rosen, Jason Holt and Aaron Jannetti. Eight. I probably have ten others who could test at our gyms in Ohio but that’s the point. You have to be mentally and physically prepared for the test. It takes month to get your body ready for it. It has been described as “running a marathon with people beating on you the whole way”. There just aren’t that many people willing to put themselves through it. But I can tell you one thing, at the end of that test you are considered a bad ass! BE SAFE!

To read about what one of our black belt tests was like go to:


I just received an e mail ad for a self defense system “so devastating that the government, gangs and thugs don’t want you to know about it”. Sigh…I’m calling this blog “Shenanigans” because the headline “Bullshit” isn’t reader friendly. Here are a few quotes from the ad with my professional opinion after each;

“How to “trick” your attacker into opening up his most vulnerable targets, practically begging you to take him out with one single strike! (He won’t even know he’s being set up…and won’t see his mistake until he’s lying on his back in sheer agony!)” Good Golly, if only someone in the UFC would buy this book and dvd…they’d be unbeatable!! BTW, I doubt he’ll see his mistake even then, what with the sheer agony and all.

“Rip your opponent to shreds in close quarters combat! You’ll have complete control over his body once you combine this simple hand movement with a nearby wall to break bones, cause concussions and render your attacker helpless. “ If you aren’t near a wall you’re screwed however. BTW, the “ripping to shreds” is easier if you let your finger nails grow really, really long.

“Become a bare-knuckled brawler! Cushioning your hands with padding and gloves doesn’t work on the street. Discover the “knockout technique” that’s proven countless times (in bars and real street combat!) to be more effective than your heaviest haymaker at dropping an opponent to the ground like a bag of dirt.” Again, please someone in the UFC get a clue and buy this guy’s stuff…unbeatable I’m telling ya!! And for those stopping to put gloves on for a street fight…this is why the other dude is landing the first seven punches!

“How to “drill” into soft tissue spots like an oil rigger to cause instant and uncontrollable panic in your attacker and shut down his ability to fight!” OK, enough of the UFC unbeatable stuff…but really, think about it!!

“A 3-inch “hidden-in-plain-sight” target that no one – not even elite spec ops soldiers – recognize as one of the most debilitating spots on the human body! (Yet the one simple move I’ll show you is so easy to pull off that even a 6-year old little girl could leave an attacker in a bloody mess, screaming in pain! No joke…no hype!)” Those damned idiotic special ops soldiers!! They’ll get owned by a six year old girl…serves them right for not letting this dude’s system replace what they are doing for hand to hand!! And, dear readers, enough with the three inch groin jokes already!!

“A strange “split-second/instant pain” move that requires absolutely no skill or practice to master…and works even BETTER against bigger attackers with some meat on their bones! (You can even test it on YOURSELF!)” Now we’re talking! Self defense for chubby lazy people! No skill and no practice…sign me up!!

“You’ll Be Amazed As You Find Yourself! Quickly Mastering Them…Practically OVERNIGHT!” The scary thing is that there are actually people eating this up!!

“Sometimes the most powerful moves are also the simplest. That’s why, in addition to learning what moves to perform, you’ll also get “fast track” drills you can even practice alone and shock yourself in how easily these powerful tricks are literally programmed into your “muscle memory” like a computer…ready to come to your aid in an instant should you ever find yourself in a “do-or-die” street fight!” Now wait one daggum minute! You told me no skill or practice needed!

“How to use a street thug’s head like a bowling ball to overwhelm his central nervous system and throw him like a ragdoll over a table, chair, or into his buddies who are running to answer his screams of pain!” I don’t even know where to begin with this. I roll a bowling ball down an alley…we ripping heads off now? I would think a thugs buddies would laugh at his screams and call him names… not run to make sure he’s ok. Maybe they are sensitive, caring thugs!!

“The convenient “handle” on your attacker’s body (no, it’s not his “package”!) that gives you instant leverage to drag him to the ground or throw him 30 feet in any direction you want! (This little “trick” even works when your attacker is straddling you on the ground and pounding away at your head from high above! Nasty!)” Thirty feet. Really? Thirty friggin feet!? And this handle isn’t his “package”? I am mystified!

“The “ripping technique” that’s as easy as opening a bag of potato chips…but will make everyone watching turn their heads in shock (including your opponent’s friends who may be thinking of jumping in to join the fight)!” Again with the sissy friends!!

“How to deliver an “under the radar” crushing blow so quickly and efficiently that it will ruthlessly dislocate joints and tear ligaments so that you can tear into the next assailant or escape with your life.” So…the fact that I’ve never seen this done (and I watch a lot of youtube) shouldn’t worry me, should it?

“Make their muscles work AGAINST them! Big, beefy guys with a chip on their shoulder love to throw all their upper body strength at you with this common attack. I’ll show you how to disable them immediately with an old school British “gutter brawl” move that will leave them howling in pain!” This is why those friggin tough azz Brits won WWII. Well, that and a lil help from Russia and the US of A!

“How to “short-circuit” a kick before it gains the speed and power to slice you in half – You can stomp right on their strategy and keep them from using their most powerful moves with the right kinds of counter attacks!” Holy crap, the “don’t get sliced in half” defense. I can only hope they have overnight shipping available!!

The “magic techniques” are wishful thinking. As I’ve blogged about before, surviving real world violence is more about the person than the techniques. I’ll take an untrained person who gets mean and goes forward with ill intent over anyone proficient in “killer” techniques. This is why Krav puts way more emphasis on teaching philosophy (go forward, go hard, go mean and destroy) than on any techniques we teach. “Violence of motion trumps technique”…unless it’s from the system that the government and gangs don’t want you to know!! BE SAFE!


This is gonna be a boring blog for most of you (well, more boring than most) but I just gotta thank some people. Last weekend I tested for my third degree black belt in the USKMA. I’m not a rank seeker so this is probably my last test but it made me think about everyone who has been part of getting me to where i am today. Some of those I am about to mention I have had fallings out with and some I have come to view as shysters but I can still be appreciative and realize that they helped develop me.

At the test I told those present that I have certainly wasted a lot of my life. I am approaching fifty years old and the only things I have to show for my life are my four kids and Krav Maga, specifically the USKMA and all those I have taught. I figure in the five years of Ohio Krav Maga & Fitness and having over twenty affiliates in the USKMA I have had an impact in making over 4,500 people safer and healthier. Good for me, but none of it was just me. I have a lot of people to thank.

I thank, first and foremost, my black belts (some who just tested for second degree) from Ohio Krav Maga & Fitness. Matt Kissel, John Burton and John Lovins were my very first students when I started teaching at my good friend Joe Wile’s gym seven years ago. They are still with me and John B. and Matt just helped run me through my test last weekend. I couldn’t be prouder of how good they are at Krav and how much they have put into the system. The system isn’t what is is because of me but because of input and arguments from these guys and the rest of “my” black belts. Sue Burton was next to join. The toughest woman I know and one of only half a dozen female black belts in the nation that I know of. My good friend Scott Howard and Jason Holt were next. Both just tested for second degree and made me proud. Terri Rosen was the next to join OKM and become a black belt. A crossfit fool and talented black belt she is. Aaron Jannetti rounds this group of black belts out, one of the most talented people I’ve ever taught. I would stack this group of black belts up against any system’s in the world!

I had the priveledge of training in Israel a year and a half ago with Grandmaster Yaron Lichtenstein and his son, Rotem. I have more respect for the Grandmaster than I do for any other single person in Krav Maga. Imi’s true heir and the only one teaching Krav Maga the way Imi wanted it taught. He’s largely unknown in the U.S. but he is the only one telling Krav Maga’s true history. I look at him as a mentor and appreciate his kindness and the time he spent with me answering questions and telling stories.

When I started Krav Maga in ’99 the only place to learn was L.A. I was taught there by very talented instructors that changed this Taekwondo sport fighter into someone who could actually answer the question “what is self defense”. Darren and Marni Levine, Johnn Whitman, Londale Theus, Michael Margolin, Howard Whalen, Sam Sade and many others opened my eyes to how self defense should be approached and taught. A big thanks to Chuck Heacock for teaching me how to run a business. For my ten trips to L.A. and my black belt test my partner was Denise Balnoshan. My pal Ernie Kirk has been with me since those days…one of the few who is still a pal!

I have to thank the one who started me on the journey way back in 1984, my Taekwondo Master Sang Ki Paik. I had never been very athletic at anything but the hours and hours spent on TKD made me a much better learner for everything that was to follow.

I have many great affiliates in the USKMA who were already running successful gyms and who were very talented in what they were teaching but knew they could do better for self defense, and weren’t afraid to admit it and give me a call. My regional managers get a big thanks. My South manager Brannon Hicks has become one of my best friends in the World and I’m lucky to have found him to team teach USKMA’s law enforcement seminars with. Alan Condon runs the Northeast and Mark Howard runs the West for the USKMA, great guys both! I am lucky to know them. Jesse Tucker, Mike & Denise Choate, Guy & Barb Bruno, Scott Lorenz, Danny Caudil, Will Schneider, Dennis Cregier, Doug Chapman, David Inman, Travis Dill, Jason Jannetti, Scott Hewitt, Floyd Kish, James Bailey, C. Charles, Juan Acosta, Dennis Kreiger, Jeff Gears and 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist in TKD Arlene Limas are awesome affiliates whom I appreciate very much!

I am blessed to have known every one of those listed above. I thank God for the wife he gave me who doesn’t complain when I travel around and work with my affiliates. I certainly need to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for giving me the opportunity to have worked with every one of these people. Life is good. BE SAFE!