FLAWED TRAINING

“Instructors, if you aren’t putting everything you teach under stress and exhaustion you are teaching self defense techniques, not self defense. There is a big difference.” M. Slane

Some self defense training is better than others but ALL training has flaws. The flaws are built in on purpose. Think about it, we are training to beat down someone until they are no longer a threat. How often do we do this in training? Never. It is truly like teaching people to swim but never getting in a pool.

Now I am not advocating hurting each other in training. We must have built in flaws, but we must recognize that they are flaws. The person attacking you in the gym is a partner who is there for your mutual benefit. They want you to be able to go to work tomorrow, want you to train with them next week, care about you and looks out for you. This is not the same person that will be attacking you on the street. When we accidently do make contact with our partner in the gym what is it that we usually do? We stop and apologize. This isn’t the reaction we should be ingraining!

We train too often with pre conceived notions of what will work and what will happen in a fight. We get used to throwing three knees, dumping our partner to the ground and then starting the next rep. How do we know that those knees would have been devastating in a fight? He may well get up and come at us harder. In the real world people take pool cues to the head, stabs to the heart, multiple gun shots to the chest, etc. and keep coming. In training I’ve even heard students bawl out their partners with things like “I kicked you in the balls, you would have went down and been done”. This may be a true statement but I’m not willing to bet my life on it.

In the gym we purposely pull our punches and kicks to not make contact. Again, what kind of training is that when the goal is to kick and punch people? If we pull our combatives 1,000 times in training under stress we will probably do exactly what we practiced. I knew a young man who practiced our headlock defense in class always smacking his partner’s inner thigh instead of his groin. His partner appreciated it but he once had someone put him in a headlock on the street who was trying to hurt him and he did the defense…smacking the attacker on the inner thigh.

We fight in a gym that we keep open. padded and uncluttered for safety. When you’re jumped the surfaces will be hard and there will be obstacles everywhere. The cop who is the USKMA’s co-lead instructor, Brannon Hicks, swears he’s gonna bring coffee tables and shrubs into his gym. He says every time he is in a fight one of those two things are in the way! The difference between a hazard and a gift is who sees it first. We need to train to see that curb or corner of the bar and use it…our gyms don’t have these things!

We are told that we are training for life and death situations, forgetting about the in betweens. It could be life, it could be death, it could also be a colostomy bag, a wheelchair for life, blinded, brain damaged, etc., etc. We train with what Hollywood thinks is fighting in mind way too often! If we think about these other likely endings of a self defense scenario maybe we wouldn’t be so macho, maybe we’d spend more time talking about how to avoid violence in the first place.

How do we mitigate the flaws in our training? The old adage “you fight like you train” is a lie unless (as SGT Rory Miller says in his books) you trained blind, deaf, stupid and clumsy. There is no great way to prepare for the chemical dump, emotions, freeze, etc. that a real world violent attack will create. We run drills to exhaust people and put them under some stress in our Krav classes but the student knows that they are in a class, they aren’t really going to get hurt, they knew what was coming, etc. We cannot completely train for what is coming…that’s just the way it is. Here are some things we do in our Krav classes to keep our training flaws at a minimum;

-Hit things hard…all the time! In our classes we spend the majority of our training time hitting focus mitts, kick shields, heavy bags, padded up people, etc. I have one rule in class when it’s time to work combatives and that is once you have the technique down (and this is very soon after being introduced to it) you must always hit your hardest. If you are working punches, knees, kicks, etc. in my class I expect full out, knock someone the #$%^ out power. If you are pulling combatives and always going half power during training why would you expect to do it different under stress?

-Forget techniques. I don’t have time in a real world violent attack to remember techniques. If I have a philosophy and a “flinch reaction” to go forward with rage, go hard and swing for the fences I will be much better off than working any technique. As Rory Miller says “100 counters to 100 attacks work for fighting, not for ambush…and it takes years to get good for that fighting. Techniques aren’t important, what’s important is training reflex.” My awesome techniques do me know good if I haven’t practiced for real world violence. I will freeze and take too much damage before any of those techniques come out of me.

-Train how you want to perform. Techniques will degrade under stress big time. If I am anal in training about keeping my chin down and head covered it will kinda come out of me under stress…if I was sloppy in training it won’t come out at all under stress. Similarly, I don’t warm up with shadow boxing, I warm up with shadow fighting. I am not teaching boxing. In boxing we throw a few combinations and then back out, circle, look for openings, etc. I do not want to do this in a violent attack as his buddy is coming to hit me from behind as I do all that dancing. I want to go forward throwing ten or twenty combatives and then get out of there. Which part of my training am I going to remember when under a real attack…the self defense or the dancing? I don’t want to take the chance that I’ll remember training that wasn’t self defense so I avoid it!

-Exhaustion drills. These are the most important thing we do in our classes for self defense. Whatever we learned that day is going to be put under stress and exhaustion. If what you are using for self defense hasn’t been put under stress and exhaustion how do you know it will work for real world violence? I can guarantee you that if you are fighting for your life there will be plenty of both stress and exhaustion. Think about how you are training, be honest about the flaws and BE SAFE!

ANATOMY OF A TECHNIQUE

“When any person, idea, technique, school, piece of gear, team or tactic is put on a pedestal, we risk stopping progress.” Rob Pincus

Today’s blog will give our readers an insight on the USKMA’s thought process when we tweak, change or delete techniques from our curriculum. None of our techniques are untouchable. If something comes along that is easier to perform, easier to remember and/or more effective we will change to that technique in a heartbeat.

For example, most Krav Maga organizations that I know of have this technique as their “go to” handgun disarm;

A few years back we changed our “go to” handgun disarm to this one;

There are several reasons that we like this “cupping” technique over the first one. In fact, we have taken that first technique out of our system entirely. I do not like having two choices for a handgun in my face (see Hick’s Law).

-If I have a group of law enforcement officers (for example) at a two hour seminar to learn handgun techniques whom I’ll never see again I would need the full two hours to teach them an effective punch. I can show them the kick to the groin in two minutes. This is a move most everyone can do naturally.

-The first handgun disarm I believe I can do very effectively. However, I am six foot and two hundred ten pounds. I do not have faith that a small female can pin the handgun on a gorilla’s hip and punch him effectively. I believe he would muscle out of this defense and do her harm. I like having two hands on the weapon verses the gorilla’s one, I can win that battle. I feel that I can hold onto the weapon much better with two hands thus having better leverage on the weapon the entire technique. Also, we can’t take for granted that we will be in a nice dry gym as the weapon could be slippery from rain, blood, etc. and easy to pull out of a one hand on the barrel grip.

-The “cupping” defense is much more ambidextrous. I can push the handgun either way and still kick with the same leg. With the other I am forced to punch with my left hand when going opposite. Most of us don’t have a great off hand punch.

-We think this takeaway is much more effective and easier to learn. Most who teach this “cupping” defense have a different takeaway then the one we teach. I like that we merely teach to “bring your forearms into your body, your right against your stomach and your left against your side”. The student doesn’t even have to know that it’s a takeaway. If they rip their forearms in to touch their body the leverages take the handgun from the gunman. Other takeaways they must consciously think about twisting and taking away. We also like that the takeaway is done in close to the body and not with straight arms away from our body. The thought is that when we open a pickle jar we don’t hold it out at arms length, we bring it in to our body where we have more power and leverage.

-With the “cupping” we kick to the groin and strike to the face with the piece of metal they just gave us. This is more effective than punching for most of us.

-The number one thing we love about this technique is that one defense covers several positions. In our seminar we spend some time learning the cupping technique with a gunman standing in front of us with the handgun in our face. The next five we can speed through because it’s the same defense for side of head, kneeling, mounted, gunman in our guard and gunman standing over us. If the handgun is in our face it doesn’t matter whether we are lying on the ground, on our knees, etc. Having only one defense to think about speed up our reaction considerably.

An added bonus for you loyal blog readers: Why we recently changed our long gun disarms;

Submitting isn’t the answer…ask The Walking Dead folks!

“After initial contact all plans go to hell.” Gen. Patton

This kinda goes along with my last blog about The Walking Dead and Self Defense. Once Rick & the rest decided to lay down their weapons and submit it was out of their hands.

I am kinda anal about a few things when it comes to self defense. I just saw an ad for a two day seminar on what to do when you are bound (how to break zip ties, how to get out of the trunk of a car, how to escape and fight with hands bound, etc.). I have seen Home Invasion seminars that take an hour or two to work on this same thing. This, to me, is a fairly worthless thing to train. If I were at a seminar where they started working on this I would step out. You see, I have already made up my mind that I will never be bound. This is one of my “go buttons”. To work on this would put it into my mind that it could happen. I refuse to think of this as an option. If I have the choice of going against ten guys with machetes (or guns…make up your own worst case scenario here) or to be bound I will go forward like an animal even with slim odds of surviving. The other choice is to be bound…and then options and decisions have been taken away from me. I would only survive if the scumbags decide I will survive…I would have no say.

Now I have been asked “Well, what if you get knocked out and wake up bound”. This kinda goes against our “target principle” of training. I must spend most of my training time on what is likely to happen (the bulls eye). When I get really good at defending the most likely attacks I can move out a ring (train the next most likely attacks). The “wake up bound” is way out there on the outer rings…it just doesn’t happen. If you were to get a newsfeed on all of the violence that happens in this country for the next month you would read about a lot of beatings, stabbings, shootings, etc. but I doubt you would find one case of someone getting knocked out and then waking up bound.

Two scenarios where this may happen would be sexual assault and home invasion. Let’s look at violence to women first. It is a major rule in self defense to never be moved to a secondary location. If you are going to be bound and moved you must take your chances and fight back now while you aren’t bound. Things don’t get better as you wait. There is no “better” time to react so waiting for that better time will get you into trouble. You certainly don’t stand a better chance after you have been bound and moved. In fact, things have just gotten much, much worse. The scumbag now has privacy and time. As I say during one of my lectures “if a group of terrorists busted into this room right now the only chance any of us would have to escape is this very second. We would scatter and go out doors and windows. If we wait one minute they have us surrounded, another minute we are all sitting with our hands bound…waiting takes away options.”

The home invasion scenario is where it is most likely that you will be bound. These scumbags use threatening your family to get you to comply. Again, I have made the decisions beforehand that I won’t let this happen. If the scumbag has a gun to my child’s head I will go forward and fight. This sounds horrible but I see only two scenarios. One is that I fight the idiot now and hopefully he aims the gun at me instead of pulling the trigger. The other is that I get bound and watch my family be tortured for hours and killed before my eyes. Yep, this is why I will refuse to be bound.

Think about what you are training and always mind set. If you have thought about what you are going to do in any given situation you won’t freeze and hesitate. Your plan will come out of you. BE SAFE!

MEAN AS SIN!

“Hey man, what art do ya study, what system you in, what techniques do ya know, who’d you learn from….wow, you’re a tough dude!” No, being a tough dude makes you a tough dude. Going forward, going hard and being mean as sin is what wins a violent confrontation, not what you know. It always makes me laugh when someone asks me who would win a fight between an (insert martial art here) vs. an (insert other martial art here) expert. I also get a chuckle when told that someone who studies (again, insert whatever here) would take a Krav Maga practitioner in a fight. I always tell them that the Krav Maga practitioner could well lose. It’s not about the art studied as much as it is about the individual fighter and his/her mindset. Watch this Youtube video;

The guy who wins this fight is doing a very flashy martial art. I see 50 things what would make his art something I wouldn’t want to fight with. Holy cow, he can’t move very fast all spread out like that, his front leg is asking to be stomped and broken as that front leg would get kicked all day long, his blocks are a longer motion than the punches he is blocking, he is standing bladed and would have no power with his strikes, etc. But…he won. True, it helped that the other guy didn’t have a clue but still, with all those problems, he won. The point is that the art isn’t as important as the mind set. If this guy had been a practitioner of bjj, muay thai, krav or anything else he would have still won. This is exactly what we are talking about when we tell people that there are no magic techniques. Krav has the best, most battle tested techniques anywhere but they won’t make anyone unbeatable. What wins a fight is an aggressive “I will not lose, I will keep fighting no matter what” mind set.

When I am told that someone doing (insert) hasn’t lost a fight, is a bad ass, etc. I always reply that they would be a tough person and a good fighter no matter what they were using as a defense system. It’s way more about the fighter than the system. A tough guy with a “won’t lose” attitude is going to usually win no matter what he is doing. A high level Krav Maga instructor recently made the statement that the toughest guy he knows, the guy who has been in and won more fights than anyone he has ever met has no training whatsoever. He went on to say that he is studying this guy more than he is studying any techniques from any system right now…it will make him better.

It’s all about attitude, aggression and craziness. I have said many times that if you ask a cop whom they would rather face A) a very proficient martial artist or B) some nutso who wants to rip off their face and chew on their eyes they would all pick the martial artist A good example of this is a story the co lead instructor of the USKMA, SGT Brannon Hicks, tells about his toughest fight ever. The one who was kicking his ass (and he’s in more fights in any given month than most of us are in in our lives) was a fifteen year old, 90 pound female meth head. He says she was as mean as sin! She clawed his face, tried to bite his groin, spit on him, kicked and punched non stop and was doing more damage to him than about any other person he ever fought. Good thing he had backup!

The point is, what you know, what you studied, how much you practice, etc, etc. is nice but in the real world what saves you is swinging for the fences and being “mean as sin”. When i am asked what my definition is for self defense i say “Being able to go from overwhelmed, uncomprehending and terrified to instantly going forward with hatred and rage to do the maximum damage in the minimum time possible…and then getting out of there.”

Why krav? We learn great techniques but also let our students know that techniques aren’t magic. We spend a lot of time developing the “can’t lose” mindset. Making people aggressive when they need to be, developing the “flinch” reaction of “go forward and go hard”, finding the switch to flip to go from overwhelmed, afraid and frozen to attack mode is what people need to be safe. Techniques are secondary! BE SAFE!