BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

“If you are not putting everything you are doing under stress and exhaustion you are learning self defense techniques, not self defense.” M. Slane

I have blogged on this subject several times. It amazes me that self defense arts and systems teach techniques that look effective but have never been put under stress, exhaustion, the adrenaline dump, etc. If we are ever violently attacked I can guarantee that there will be plenty of each of those. I see this often with handgun and knife defenses. The attacker stands there like a statue in a warm and dry gym and the practitioner practices a technique. On the street there is blood (that makes the weapon slippery), the weapon is moving constantly, the attack was a surprise, the attacker is hitting, kicking and cussing us, etc. IF we had not practiced for any of those things we will be lost. If we train with stress and exhaustion we will have a “been there, done that” feeling and our training will come out of us. This is what a realistic knife attack would look like;

Slather your arms with KY jelly to mimic the slippery blood and have your attacker come at you like the above…after you have ran sprints and sparred to where you can’t catch your breath and are so tired you can hardly stand up. That’d be way better training for real life violence than just working on a technique, don’t ya think?

The following paragraph is from a blog by the USKMA’s co lead instructor, Brannon Hicks;
“If I want to win BJJ tournaments, I should go to a BJJ school. If I want to win Muay Thai boxing matches, I should train at a Muay Thai gym. While my training at both of those gyms might be outstanding and produce the result I sought out, neither would adequately prepare me for the street. I train mixed martial artists as well, and Krav Maga is not what I use toprepare them for the cage; it simply would not produce the desired result. So, if I am a LEO who will have to fight a subject into handcuffs, or perhaps face multiple attackers with and without weapons in a violent encounter where I don’t win titles but I do win my survival, why would I only train in systems designed to win tournaments or sporting events? It is clear to me that when I train, the way that I train must prepare me to win the types of situations I may face.”

I couldn’t have put it better. If we are training for real violence on the street it makes no sense to practice a sport centered art or system. There are also those who seem to think rank is more important than actually having performed under actual violent attacks. For example, I can have someone teach Muay Thai who has been in the art for several years. They are proficient and know the techniques but haven’t sparred much. The other choice is someone who has been in the art only half of the time as the “master” but has been in dozens of fights. I’ll take the guy who has done it under stress and exhaustion over the master any day. I am not worrying about pretty techniques, I am worried about survival. Another example, I have a choice of who I am going to learn ground fighting from. The first choice is a BJJ master who is very proficient and a good instructor. My other choice is a police officer who has no real rank in BJJ but who is on the ground every month or so fighting a thug who is trying to kill him (or at least do great bodily harm). I want to learn from the guy who’s actually fought for his life, who has done it under stress and with great exhaustion. Theory and proficiency are great but i’ll take the guy who has done it under extreme exhaustion and stress in real violent encounters every time!

The point is rank is nice but if it’s just proficiency of techniques that have never been put under stress and exhaustion how do I know it’ll save my butt when my butt needs saved? I go with the doers and could care less who has what rank. BE SAFE!

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FIGHT FAIR?

“If you are in a fair fight, your tactics suck!” -unknown

Every now and then I get comments about how fighting dirty isn’t right. These comments always remind me about a group of martial artists that I overheard at a conference a few years ago. One of them told the others that Krav was just a system of cheap shots, that it had no honor and was basically cheating. This made me laugh out loud as I basically agreed with what they said but thought it was a good thing. One of my favorite all time qoutes on the subject comes from SGT Rory Miller’s great book MEDITATIONS OF VIOLENCE. “Listening to the average martial artist talk about real world violence is like listening to ten year olds talk about sex.”

When I teach new instructors I have a lecture I give about real world violence. One of the things that I talk about is that we aren’t trying to instill a code of ethics, chivalry, honor or rules. If we have “honorable” rules like “never strike first”, “never inflict more harm than needed”, “always fight with honor”, etc. we are putting our practitioners behind the eight ball. If the scum bags don’t have rules we are hampering ourselves if we do. If the bad guys are going to use violence as a weapon we need to perfect that weapon and be more ruthless than the scum bags. If we are in a fair fight our tactics suck indeed!

When I hear talk about fighting right, with honor, etc. I know that whoever is saying it has no concept of real world violence and the kinds of human garbage that is out there preying on society. Here is a quote from a prison guard that I came across on the internet;
“Having these criminals on the streets should make you scared, very scared. If we don’t have a means to defend ourselves from criminals, we are prey. I am not joking by any stretch by telling you these criminals are animals. There are still those bleeding hearts who believe in the integrity of man and the desire to do the right thing when presented with a choice. I have now seen firsthand that there are people who are bad, and they are unfixable. They will take the low road every time, they will lie, steal, rape, murder and feel wholeheartedly that they are entitled to do whatever they please without respect to anyone else.”

Yes, there are bad people out there who the world would be better off without. Read about the human pieces of crap that perpetrate home invasions. They are recividists (hardened criminals who have been in prison for violent crimes and then let back out) who don’t look at you and your family as humans but as entertainment. They will rape, torture and slaughter your family and then go have a hamburger. What honor and rules should you use if faced with these people?

Cheating, cheap shots and not fighting fair is the only way to survive a violent attack, especially when outnumbered or outgunned. One great example of this in history is The Battle of Stirling Bridge of the First War of Scottish Independence on 11 September 1297. William Wallace was vastly out numbered and the enemy had much superior armor and weaponry. How did his force win? They cheated and faught dirty! At the time fighting honorably and fair meant that armies would allow each other to set up before battle. They would wait as the other army crossed a bridge, etc. and got totally ready before the battle would begin. William Wallace’s army attacked the English while they were crossing a long and narrow bridge and wiped them out. There was no honor in this. It was cheating and fighting dirty. They lived while the enemy died.

The only way to face ruthless, violent people and come away alive is to be more ruthless and more violent. This is why we do what we do in Krav Maga. Our classes, drills, testing, etc. is designed to get people past their breaking point and to make them ruthless, never say die, hard fighting, never quitting maniacs if they are ever in a life or death violent situation. BE SAFE!

DRILLS!!

At the end of every one of our Krav Maga classes at our gym we run “hell drills”. They only last about 1 minute but they are the most important thing that we do for self defense. In these drills we do things like a round of punching mitts our hardest, when the instructor yells “switch” we sprint to the other side of the room where we knee our hardest and then sprint back on command to punch again, over and over. Members generally say they hate them…with a smile on their face. I have never seen another system or martial art that incorporates this kind of training. Why do we do those “damned drills“?

-They mimic a fight! Members are always amazed that the drill is only a minute, it seems like five. It is hard to believe that you can get that worn out in one minute. We tell them this is like the fight, the stress and all out work in a fight will have them huffing and puffing within seconds.

-They get you into fighting shape! Do these for just a few weeks and they start getting easier, you get into much better fighting shape. We tell our members to let the bad guy be the one huffing and puffing after 15 seconds….as we go on to whup his ass!

-Not just technique but reality! If you are only training techniques you have no idea how they will work under stress and exhaustion. Guess what? In real world violence there is a lot of both!! One thing that happens often is that I will be standing two foot away from a person participating in the drill and yell “sprint” at the top of my lungs (the cue to run to the other pad holder) and they don’t hear it. After the drill we point out that this is one thing that can happen under stress. Audio exclusion, not seeing things correctly, not feeling things, etc. happen under stress and it is a good lesson to point this out in a drill. Just that little bit of stress and these things happen. Imagine how much more pronounced they will be under the stress of someone is actually trying to kill you!

-They build attitude! After you have done a ton of these drills you know you can push on through exhaustion, pain, puking, etc. You will not stop when it counts because you have been trained to keep going.

-They mindset for us! If you ever get into a 2 on 1 confrontation or any other bad situation you will have the “been there, done that” feeling. You will have trained for that very situation. You have trained to go forward, be brutal and never quit! This eliminates the “freeze” and will come out of us without thinking about it. That is good training!!

If you are teaching self defense without these type of drills, without putting what you are doing under stress and exhaustion, you are not teaching self defense. You are teaching self defense techniques. There is a big difference! BE SAFE!

MILITARY HAND TO HAND…WOW!

It amazes me how “military hand to hand combat techniques” have such an aura about them. I get a lot of people asking if I teach “military krav maga”. People somehow assume that military techniques must be the most lethal and, therefore, the best to learn. Military hand to hand combat training is great…if you are in the military.

Military hand to hand combat is for the battlefield. Soldier’s goals are totally different than a citizen who is trying to survive random street violence. In the military they train with a lot of gear on. All that gear they carry makes a lot of Krav Maga’s techniques useless. They train generally assuming they have buddies around to help…they train as a team. They train to use their knives, long guns, etc. as adjuncts to the techniques. In other words, not a lot of empty hand but always grabbing a shovel, butt stroking with their long gun and using an improvised weapon they are carrying to smack people with. They train to kill and keep moving towards their objective. They don’t look to flee or worry about being sued or arrested for too much force. They are learning to attack offensively, preferably taking out people who never knew they were there. You do that as a civilian and I would think you’d spend a lot of time in prison.

Civilian Krav Maga is about learning to stay safe when suddenly attacked by one or more scum bags. Our main goal is to go off like a crazy person doing as much damage as possible in as short amount of time as possible while always looking to escape. Stay safe no matter what and then get the heck out of there before his buddies show up…with knives. We teach (in this order) to stay away from bad places, to run away, to de-escalate and, lastly, to fight when there is no other choice. This is about as opposite of what the military teaches as possible!

So when I am asked “do you teach the military krav maga” I always ask “why, are you in the military?”. Why learn something that is designed for the dangers that military personnel face on a battlefield when we should be learning defenses designed for the dangers that us regular folk will face on the street? It’s beyond me.

I see most who do actually teach “military hand to hand techniques” teach class in bdu’s. Makes them look more military I suppose. With all those pockets down the leg I’d sure as heck be carrying weapons in them and wouldn’t need much krav! BE SAFE!