ANIMAL

The theme of many of my blogs has been that techniques don’t save anyone…fighting with hatred and rage does. Fighting like an animal does. Krav Maga won’t save you. Krav Maga with rage and going first, going hard & going forward will.

Freddie Roach Jr. tells the story of being attacked by three guys at once in his younger days. He dropped the first guy with a punch. The next two had him on the ground and were on top of him before he could react. He went “animal” and actually bit one of the guys eye lids off. He says that he had eyelashes and skin in his mouth, actually thinks he bit the guys eye ball. It was over. The dude screamed and rolled off, his partner fled as well. The boxing technique saved him from the first guy, fighting like an animal saved his life.

From SGT Samford Strong’s great book STRONG ON DEFENSE he talks about a horrible situation that was gotten out of by going “animal”. He talks of a family camping in Mexico. Some local scum woke them up at night, got them all on their knees and had knives to all their throats. One of the scumbags made it apparent that he was planning on raping the nine year old daughter. Well, the mom went “animal”. She grabbed the blade of the knife with both hands (surgery later) and went so ballistic that she actually got loose and in the confusion her husband also got loose. He went for his weapon he had in the tent and the whole family was saved. Mama didn’t save them with any cool martial art or Krav techniques. She saved them by being an animal and being willing to fight to the death for her girl.

In the same book he talks about a woman who was awoken in bed by a man over her with a knife. She decided right then that she would rather die and that she would fight. Fight she did. She grabbed the blade of the knife (again, surgery later) and fought…not with any technique or training but like a cornered animal. She ended up doing some pretty major damage to the scum bag.

There is a beautiful illustration of this in Chuck Holton’s book BULLET PROOF. The following is a couple of paragraphs from the book; “Capt. Brian Chontosh, found himself leading a patrol through the small town of Ad Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad. In what seemed like a single heartbeat, his unit was hit with a coordinated attack of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and machine-gun fire. Chontosh knew immediately that it was a near ambush…and that he and his men were in the kill zone. Retreat was not an option. Dying was.

But Captain Chontosh wasn’t about to let that happen to his Marines. The love he felt for each of them instantly transformed into rage at those who would try to kill his men. He ordered the driver of his Humvee to plow directly into the enemy trench, and with a violence of action he leaped from the vehicle and attacked the attackers until his rifle ran out of ammo. He then pulled out his pistol and continued killing the enemy until that, too, ran dry. He picked up an enemy weapon and continued fighting. Then another. Then another. When it was over, more than twenty enemy fighters were out of commission and his men were saved.” Capt. Chontosh didn’t do what was expected. He didn’t look for cover or run. He went “animal” and charged. That is what saved him.

I hope that we are learning that surviving real world violence isn’t done by learning any marital art, self defense system, etc. if we are only learning techniques. We survive with heart. We go forward, go hard, go off and win no matter what. The scum bags use violence as a tool, we need to perfect violence and wield it better than they do. Be an animal to survive against animals. BE SAFE!

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IT WORKED IN THE GYM…

“No matter how enmeshed a commander is with his plans he must from time to time consider the enemy” Winston Churchill

In Krav Maga every technique in our curriculum has been put under stress, exhaustion and realistic attack scenarios. Techniques that look good in a gym may completely fall apart in the real world. Techniques will degrade under the stress of real world violence anyway and, unfortunately, many techniques that are embraced and believed in may well be worthless.

When we do our handgun disarms with a partner who is standing like a statue we can look pretty effective with the technique after a few reps. In our class we would then have the partner act like an actual attacker and wave the gun around, strike and push the defender while screaming and cussing all the while. With just this one change the defense suddenly doesn’t look so good, the defender suddenly doesn’t look as proficient. If we have only trained with a partner holding the handgun like a statue we will not react properly when, in a real world attack, the gunman is hitting us, the gun is never still, etc.

We have actually had techniques that we believed in that were part of our curriculum be taken out after seeing them fail under stress and realistic attacks. In our level 1 curriculum we now have a choke defense called “one hand pluck”. This is a useful technique under certain circumstances. This technique used to be called “choke with a head butt defense”. When done in class it looks like a great technique. You pluck the choke with one hand and send the other hand as a palm attack to the attacker’s face and then go into the clinch with knees and kicks. It looks effective with a training partner in the gym. We noticed time and time again during a drill where the defender closes their eyes and the partner grabs them for any choke defense (behind, side, front, front while rearing back for a head butt, chokes with pushes, headlock, etc.) that all defenses came out of the defender except the choke with a head butt defense. The student almost always just did the two hand pluck choke from the front defense and never saw the head butt coming. I used to bawl out the class that nobody noticed the head butt. Well, after studying stress, the adrenalin dump, etc. I learned to quit bawling out the class and realize that under a realistic, surprise attack this defense simply won’t be done. Therefore, it is a bad technique. Looked great one on one in the gym, never comes out of anyone when under stress. If this technique had never been put under stress, exhaustion and realistic attacks it would still be taught…and it would get people hurt.

The techniques I see in other systems that really scare me are the knife defenses. They look great on the videos. The instructor looks great taking that knife away. In Krav we have put those defenses under realistic attacks, stress and exhaustion and have found very, very few that would be even slightly effective. Take whatever defense you believe in and run it through this simple drill; Spar for at least a couple of rounds (or crossfit for awhile or anything else that will get your pulse rate way up), then have several people grab kick shields and jostle you around. Next have the knife attacker yell “knife” to let the pad holders know to get out of the way and then attack you with a sewing machine needle type of attack. Oh, by the way both the attacker’s arms and your arms are slathered with KY jelly (which represents the blood that is always present during a knife attack…and is one slippery substance). If your knife defense works after all of that it’s a good one. We’ve pretty much found that blocking as good as you can as you punch the attacker’s face or kick his groin and then creating distance is about all that even comes close to working. Again, what may look great with your buddy attacking half assed in a gym just ain’t gonna hold up through all of that. “All of that” represents reality. Why learn something if it hasn’t been tested?

This, to me, is where most martial arts fail. I was a fourth degree black belt in one and don’t remember anything we did being put under stress, exhaustion or an attack that was anywhere close to realistic. If it hasn’t been tested it’s just a pretty gym technique…that will get people hurt when they need it the most. BE SAFE!

WE’RE BETTER!

I am often told (by well meaning folks who are proud of their art) that a certain technique they are doing is better than what we teach in Krav Maga for a particular situation. I am even told that entire systems or arts are better. My response is “It may well be but what exactly do you call ‘better’”. In Krav Maga the only thing we claim to do better than any other system is to take people from zero to being able to defend themselves quicker than anything else. So to us, quicker is better.

Take Krav Maga’s knife defenses for example. I am often told that there are way better knife defenses out there. I say that there may well be better, but at a trade off we can’t do. Say that I have a grouping of Knife defenses that are indeed a bit more effective than what we teach in Krav Maga but they take 100 hours of practice to be proficient with. My other choice is some pretty simple yet fairly effective defenses that can be pretty much mastered in four hours. In Krav we take the quicker to learn. Most adults don’t have years to dedicate to perfecting an “art”. They need the basics to protect themselves with now. What if in hour 99 of practicing knife defenses someone puts a handgun in my face? The way Krav is set up in that 100 hours of practice time I’ve gotten down knife, stick, handgun, unarmed attack and many other defenses.

The next thing to worry about with the other guys “better” defense is for whom it’s better for. It may work fine for that big ol’ ex Navy SEAL instructor but how does that translate to the five foot, hundred and two pound female in his class. Whatever we teach in Krav Maga has to be effective for the smallest, weakest and most un-athletic in our classes. To have defenses that use size or strength to be effective is ignoring those who need self defense the most.

Back to knife defenses. I hear often that doing the Krav Maga outside defense against a very trained knife fighter is a mistake because he will pull back and cut the arm that we blocked with. I ask them, well, what would work with an experienced knife fighter? I would guess nothing much. To dedicate years to being good with a knife isn’t going to pay off if you come up against a guy who is better. I have heard that the top ten Filipino knife masters of all time all died the same way…from knife wounds. Ya know what we have in our system? A handgun course. I’d argue that you are better off with ten hours of good range time than 100 hours of training with any other weapon!

Now, when I am told that there are better handgun disarms than what we teach I get a bit lippy. I tell them that if what they do is better, more reliable, quicker, easier and more effective than what we teach that It would already be Krav Maga. We would have stolen it from them!!

When people say what they are doing is better it usually boils down to one thing. It is what they do…so it has to be the best. I always laugh because if, when they were six, their mama’s would have put them in a different dojo then that art would be the best! When asked “doesn’t that apply to what you do” I say “nope, we don’t have a system that is unchanging and must be blindly followed. We have the luxury of ditching a technique and adding something new if it is easier and more effective”. We in Krav Maga actually use critical thinking, look around for better and put everything under stress and exhaustion to see how it would hold up in the real world. BE SAFE!

HE SEEMED NICE…

From my book, Be Safe; Self Defense For Women In The Real World

There have been so many women after an attack who have stated “but he seemed so nice.” It is only later, when they have time to analyze, that they realize they had an “uneasy” feeling about the attacker. The “uneasy” feeling is called intuition. We as humans alone justify ignoring intuition. We think things like “I’ll seem rude” or “I can’t live in fear” or “I’m just being silly, he seems nice.” Animals don’t do this. If they have even a remote feeling that something is wrong, they run! Can you imagine how many fewer deer there would be if they sat around thinking “I’ve been eating here everyday for a month, nothing has gone wrong, I’m just being silly with this uneasy feeling.” How many less rabbits if they thought “I can’t live in fear. He seems like a perfectly nice fox. I can’t appear rude.” No animal ever thinks “it’s probably nothing.” We have a lot to learn from creatures that always follow intuition! Listen to yourself every time. The root word of intuition is “tuere” which means “to guard, to protect.” Intuition is knowing without knowing why we know. Our brain is miraculous, it picks up things subconsciously that we don’t think we notice. It picks up facial signals that last a fraction of a fraction of a second…picks up words that are said that we didn’t really listen to. Always remember that intuition is 1) always a response to something and 2) always looking out for your safety.

The scumbag seems so nice because nice works. Nice has been perfected. He knows nice will get him what he wants. Gavin DeBecker in his must read book THE GIFT OF FEAR states “Remember, the nicest guy, the guy with no self-serving agenda whatsoever, the one who wants nothing from you, WON’T APPROACH YOU AT ALL. You are not comparing the man who approaches you to all men, the vast majority of whom have no sinister intent. Instead, you are comparing him to other men who make unsolicited approaches to women alone, or to other men who don’t listen when you say no.”

The scumbags have a plan. They are good at the plan. The plan has worked for them many times. If you know the plan you can see it when it is being used on you. The nice guy things he does all have a reason. The following things are what to look for and to recognize.
–He makes it sound like you are part of a team with him. He uses “we” a lot. “We seem to be abandoned by our friends,” “We are in the same predicament,” “Now we’ve done it,” etc. He knows that this is hard to rebuff without you feeling like you’re being rude. Notice when this happens and realize that it is always done for self serving reasons and that it is always inappropriate for a stranger to talk this way to a woman who is alone.
-He is going out of his way to be charming and nice. A smile is the most used way to mask emotions in the world! Nice does not equal good, ever. Nice is a strategy, not a trait we’re born with. Charm is the same in that it is a strategy. When someone is using charm don’t think “He is really charming” but think “he is trying to charm me, why?”
-He will give you too much info. Instead of saying something like “I’m just waiting on a friend” he may say “I’m just waiting on a friend. The guy is always running late. Shoot, just last week….” When you or I are telling the truth we don’t feel like we have to use extra info to back up what we are saying. When someone is lying it may sound credible to us but it doesn’t sound that way to them, so they keep talking. Always remember that whoever this yappy, charming person is they approached a strange woman who is alone!
-He will put you on the defensive so that you have to prove yourself. He may say “oh, I guess you’re a rich snob who doesn’t talk to us commoners” so that you will prove to him that you are a good person by talking. Again, think about why a stranger would say such a thing to a woman who is alone.
-He’ll do something for you. Buy a drink, pick up something for you, help you with a heavy load, anything so that you may subconsciously think you owe him. Always be thinking “he approached me” and “I didn’t ask for any help.” Nice is an act!
-Not listening to the word NO. This is a biggie that is common sense, and we ignore it. If he asks if he can grab that package you dropped and you say “no” and he picks it up anyhow and says something like “well, I can’t leave a lady in such a predicament, etc.” we may think that he’s just being nice. We ignore the fact that we said “no” and he didn’t listen. The problem is we’ll say “no” several times, and it gets a little weaker ever time. We might as well just say “I’m a victim and you can control me” when we do this!
-He will say “I promise.” “I’ll just carry this to your car and leave, I promise.” Why do we fall for this? Do you go around saying “I promise” all the time? Promises are used to convince us of intention. Think “why does he need to convince me of intention?” when you hear this word.

A stranger who approaches a woman while she is alone may be a good person, but probably not. A good person doesn’t approach a woman when she is alone, we know it scares her. Always, always keep in mind that anyone who does approach you is a major danger and that charm, niceness, etc. are the weapons he is using to harm you. BE SAFE!