FREEZING

We have all heard of “fight or flight”. It’s actually “Freeze, flight or fight”…in that order. When an animal in nature sees a predator they freeze, the predator looks for motion. If seen they flee. They only fight when grabbed. We don’t magically turn into fighters when danger finds us.

The freeze is a common phenomena reported by nearly all who have faced real violence….and is totally ignored by most self defense systems. It will happen! There are a couple of reasons why we “freeze”.

1) When a horrible situation happens that puts us in extreme fear for our lives our brain will work for us. If we had not trained for the attack, or had never even thought that the situation could possibly happen, our brain will look at the violent attack and literally scan our entire life to see if this situation had ever happened before and how we got out of it. It does this faster than any computer but it takes time. In previous blogs I talked about mind setting. For facing real world violence mind setting is priceless. If we had planned for this situation the plan will surface quickly. An interesting quote from Meditations of Violence by SGT Rory Miller…“The closer the events reflect previous experience, the less time it takes to orient. If the event is completely new there is nothing in the past to orient to, which explains the effectiveness of Judo in 1888, Jujutsu in America in the 1920’s, Karate in the 1950’s and BJJ in the 1990’s.”

2) Almost as bad as no training, as far as the freeze is concerned, is the wrong training. There is something called “Hick’s Law” which states that the more options you have, the longer it takes to choose one. I remember reading an advertisement for a martial art that bragged that they had 7,000 different techniques! What kind of selling point is that? If you have more than one choice in an attack your brain has to choose one! In the martial art I took years ago we had 30 different defenses for a straight stab knife attack. I am sure that in the real world I would have taken several stabs as I tried to choose which one to use! In Krav Maga we have one philosophy for that straight knife attack…block the knife and hit the scumbag!

Another example of the wrong training is techniques that are too regimented. If we train a defense that has six steps and it derails at step number two we have a hard time orienting because the plan isn’t being followed as we practiced.

3) The attacker’s words. We expect people to be reasonable like we are. We expect people to be truthful like we are. When the predator is telling us to obey him and he won’t hurt us it causes us to not spring into action because we reason that if we do what he says he will keep his word. Most people in other bad and very dangerous situations such as a natural disaster or an accident jump into action to save family, friends or themselves much quicker than they would in a violent attack. The predator knows this, he knows what works. Always remember, if he had any humanity, would have any remorse, had any good in him at all, he wouldn’t be attacking you in the first place.

How do we break the “freeze”? It starts now, mind setting is a must. Constantly be planning. Right now think “What would I do if someone kicked in my front door right now? What would I do if I woke up tonight with someone standing over me?” etc, etc. When you read about a violent attack or see it on the news think “What would I have done in that situation?”

If you are ever attacked and feel yourself doing nothing tell yourself that you are frozen and tell yourself to do something. Then tell yourself to do a second thing! Recognize it and force yourself into action.

Train correctly! Why Krav? What makes Krav Maga such a great real world self defense system is that it isn’t technique based, it is philosophy based. One of my instructors years ago loved saying “if I learn 1,000 techniques, with my luck, I will go out on the street and be attacked by number 1,001.” We want our first reaction, our “flinch” reaction, to be GO FORWARD AND GO OFF. When the surprise violence starts, when most people are freezing, we want our reaction to be to go forward with great violence….we don’t want to even think about it. Our drills, everything we work on in class and our whole philosophy is to keep it simple, to go right now and to make it as violent as possible. This isn’t brutal, it is effective! BE SAFE!

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Krav Maga vs. the Clowns!

I have been asked several times lately about the psycho clowns that are in the news and all over social media. If you haven’t heard about this, it is basically groups of people (generally teens) that think it’s fun to randomly appear out of nowhere and scare people/chase people with weapons. Most of these are just copycats that want to scare people but there are a few psychopaths who are using this to stab people and to do other acts of random violence. People are asking me what to do like random idiots attacking people is a new phenomena. Random violent attacks are pretty much what we’ve been training people to defend against since Krav Maga was founded…this crap happens all the time.

What should we do about it? Well, first and foremost have a plan. It’s kinda nice that it is all over social media because people are aware of it, talking about it and thinking about it. These same people, before this hit the news, never thought about a random violent idiot picking them out. Again, this didn’t just start happening! Now that we are thinking about it we can mind set!

My advice about avoiding the clowns is the same advice I have given in Krav Maga classes for fifteen years! First and foremost, don’t go to stupid places with stupid people to do stupid things! I wont’ come across gangs of attacking clowns because I live in the country….I’m lucky to see four people in a day! Now I realize we all aren’t that blessed and we must live and work in cities but is there ever a reason to go to a bad part of town? If your job doesn’t make you go there why go there to shop, eat or anything else? Avoiding areas where this is happening cuts your odds of being attacked way, way down.

If a random idiot is going to attack you (clown or just a scumbag) there isn’t much you can do about it before hand. Being vigilant when you are out is something you can do. If a stranger is going to pass you, keep an eye on him/her and have a plan about what you will do if they do lunge at you. Even more relevant would be if a group of strangers are going to pass you, keep an eye on them and have a plan about what you will do if they lunge at you! I have heard several police officers quote the saying “Be polite and professional with every person you come across…and have a plan to kill them.” This is being safe. Yes, be a good person but always have a plan to beat someone down if they do turn on you. There isn’t a person I walk past that I don’t look at out of the corner of my eye looking to see if they might burst my way. I am planning on blocking an attack and simultaneously punching them in the throat or kicking them in the jimmies! Is this paranoid? It sounds like there are a bunch of hurting folks across the nation that wish they had been a bit more paranoid.

Back when the “knockout game” was the thing in the news i would tell people to have a plan but have a realistic plan. To think that you will draw a handgun or knife misses the point of what a sucker punch is. A sucker punch is a punch you don’t’ see!! You don’t have time for this! Your flinch reaction must be (if you see it at the last second or feel someone closing on you) to tuck your chin. This is all you are going to get out of you but to take a punch on the top of the head/forehead is way better than taking one in the soft part of your face. Now, go forward and make them pay!! If you have a bit more warning block that punch and attack…and then access a weapon.

Notice that I said I watch everyone I go by? This would mean not texting or otherwise farting with a smart phone as you go down the street. Ya think the scumbags/clowns might be looking for the oblivious person who is absorbed in something else and not paying attention? I’d bet they are. Be alert at all times.

If you have a gut feeling that something is amiss there is no reason not to make a scene yelling your head off or to start beating feet in the opposite direction. If three or four guys are approaching you and start to spread as if they are wanting to all get to you at different angles, alarm bells should be going off in your head. Don’t wait to see if those feelings you had were right…react right away! If you’ve told someone to not approach you and they keep coming…that someone needs hit hard. Hitting first is smart…don’t wait. Why would someone not stop when you have told them to? Because they have good intentions?

My personal “mind setting” plans? If see anything resembling a hiding clown and I feel there’s something amiss I will cross the street or otherwise change the path I was headed in. If they then change directions it’s on. I will run if I have the distance and time. If they are a bit closer and I think running won’t save me I plan on putting my back against the wall, drawing the big knife I carry and act like I’m cleaning my finger nails…all the while making eye contact so they know that I know what’s going on. If it’s last second and I have no time for either of these things, and I feel there is no other recourse, I will start the fight…i will put a scare into the clown! I will take some clowns out and get out of Dodge! BE SAFE!

KATAS

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill

“Instead of facing combat in it’s suchness, quite a few systems of martial art accumulate “fanciness” that distorts and cramps their practitioners and distracts them from the actual reality of combat.” Bruce Lee

I am often asked “does Krav Maga have katas (forms)?”. My response is usually “why would it?”.
Before I get into what I think about katas let me give you a little of my background so you know I’m not just yapping about things that I know nothing about. I was a fourth degree black belt in Taekwondo at one point in my life. I knew dozens of katas, knew dozens of “weapon” katas, had made up several “creative” katas and spent hours (and hours) practicing them. Even then I didn’t think much of them.

What is the goal of a kata? If it is just something in your art that you must learn to test for the next belt, something you enjoy doing, something that you win trophies with at a tournament I say more power to ya. If you think it is self defense training…wow, do you need to study up on what self defense really is.
I have been told that katas have many purposes. Some of what I have been told include;

PRACTICE DEFENSES AND STRIKES; Why would I want to do this to the air? If I am blocking/redirecting/defending a combative it would help a lot if someone were actually throwing a combative at me. Imagining an attack will do nothing for my timing, I can’t feel the impact or see what it does to my body, can’t see what the follow up would be because I wouldn’t know where the limb is actually going to go after impact, etc. As far as strikes are concerned throwing them to the air is what we do in warm ups. To perfect these strikes I need to be hitting something. We hit targets, shields, heavy bags ,etc. when we practice and the big rule we have is that anytime we are hitting something we are hitting it as hard as we possibly can. Under stress when I fall back on my training I have always practiced hitting things hard so that is what will come out of me.

PRACTICING COMBINATIONS; Ugh. Most of my forms were a 30 to 40 move combination. The attacker must have only moved in straight lines because that’s about how all of our movements were. Ten blocks and attacks this way, ten that way, etc., etc. One problem with most martial arts is that they are so regimented. IF my move is always practiced “A” through “F” I am going to get in trouble in the real world when the attacker does something different on “C” and derails my attack. I will be lost and freeze because this isn’t what I have engrained in my mind and muscle memory.

TIMING AND FLOW; The flow was always paced in my katas. If I am defending my life I better be going forward with anger, rage, hatred and aggression striking hard and often. Katas are not getting people ready for this. Katas are getting people good at….doing katas. I never hit the ground in a single one of my katas. This is going to be a problem in a real attack as I can pretty much count on being knocked down, slipping, taken to the ground, etc.

FIGHTING MULTIPLE ATTACKERS; This is where I really call shenanigans. Katas are generally done going all four directions like a plus symbol, representing having four different attackers. If this is your training for multiple attackers you are being attacked by slow idiots. If you study violence and see what tactics gang attacks compromise of you would see in a hurry that forms are worthless for this. You are training to keep your back to several attackers and focus on one until they are defeated. Really? Let me know how that works out for ya. If I am hitting the first guy ten times his buddy is smacking me in the back of the head during it if he has even half a brain. Do you know how we practice for multi attackers in Krav Maga? We gear up several people and have them attack us. Kinda lets us know that we better be moving, hit whoever is closest as hard as we can, not let anyone get behind us, stack the attackers, etc., etc.

It always torqued me that at tournaments the ones who always won the Kata trophies were always those who were the most flexible. Kicking straight up was pretty in a kata. In the real world kicking to the head isn’t smart…unless the attacker is lying on the ground. If I kick to the head and miss I will almost always land in a bad position. If I kick to the groin and miss I usually land in a fighting stance. In self defense a good rule is to never kick above the waist. Kick to the groin, knees, etc. Head kicking is high risk/high reward…and that is only if you spent hundreds of hours developing a decent head kick. The fact that most street attacks never let you have enough space to even attempt such a kick should tell us to spend those hundreds of practice hours on something else.

Or, I could be wrong. Go to the 1:25 mark of this vid…maybe doing a kata will make the attacker freeze and watch so you can whoop him!!

BE SAFE!

NO LIMITS!!

“if it has limitations it isn’t self defense” M. Slane

I see a lot of “self defense” systems that come from the “non-lethal” angle. They put limitations on what their practitioners can do. This always makes me shake my head. Several of these systems claim their goal is to “restrain or stop an attack while causing minimal injury to the attacker”. I also see systems that use adjuncts such as sticks, canes, leather straps, etc. to “strike non-lethal targets to make the attacker back off”. My thought is that if you are a bouncer, school teacher, cop or the like this may be what you need to learn for your job. These people are learning a system that make them personally not as safe, they are trading keeping themselves safe for what they need to know for their job. IF you don’t have to learn such a system for your job why in the world would you learn it at all?

Quite a few martial arts take this same approach. They have a “never strike first” or a “never do more harm than necessary” warriors code of ethics. Even BJJ (which I respect immensely) has the philosophy of “patiently contain until you can submit” while allowing no punches to the throat, eye gouges or groin strikes. None of this makes sense to me! To put limitations on self defense is to put people in danger! The scumbags don’t have these codes or philosophies, aren’t worried about being non-lethal or restraining. To teach our students such things puts them behind the eight ball. The bad guys are using violence as a weapon. We must take this weapon of violence, perfect it and weald it better than they do!

Most systems and arts can teach whatever bullshit they want, it will never be tested in the real world. Heaven help their students if it ever is. I don’t know how instructors that teach these things could sleep at night if one of their students ever got hurt bad with the crap they are taught. As I tell my instructors “when someone comes to you for self defense they are literally putting their lives in your hands.” To show a small female one of these systems where they are taught to restrain and not do “too much damage” is setting them up to be badly hurt or killed. When the attacker is bigger and stronger than you, when there are more than one attackers, when you are ambushed, etc. the only thing that has even a little bit of a chance of getting you out alive is to fight like a cornered animal with all the rage, aggression and hatred you can muster. You must become a crazy person thinking only of doing the maximum amount of damage you possibly can and then to get away. You must gouge eyes, slam into throats and groins, bust knees and put people down! To teach anything else is to set people up for failure.

My favorite quote from Rory Miller’s books is “Listening to most martial artists talk about real world violence is like listening to ten year olds talk about sex”. When I do instructor training during one of my lectures I ask “who is teaching self defense?” Most raise their hand. I then ask them who has studied violence, who has studied how the scumbags think and attack? Who has read Rory Miller’s Meditations on Violence & Facing Violence? Who has read Col. Grossman’s On Combat & On Killing? Who has read DeBecker’s Gift of Fear or SGT Strong’s Strong on Defense? I usually see zero hands raised at this point. I then tell them “If you haven’t studied violence, studied how the scumbags attack, know what a realistic attack is, know what stops people or know what group strategies they use, how the hell can you think you are teaching self defense?” BE SAFE!!

VOICES IN MY HEAD…

Did you ever get an uneasy feeling about someone after just a glimpse of them? There are reasons this happens, don’t ignore your brain, it’s pretty smart! Malcolm Gladwells’ book BLINK is about this very phenomenon. Our brain is like a super computer, it picks up on things that we don’t consciously see or realize. We often get bad feelings and don’t know why so we ignore them, sometimes to our peril. As an example Gladwell tells the story of a statue that was supposedly thousands of years old and worth millions of dollars. The tests all showed that it was really that old, was from the area of the world that was claimed, etc. Three different experts took one glimpse at it and said that it was a fake. When asked why they thought this they said that they didn’t know, they just had a gut feeling. These experts were ignored because the “scientific” research said that it was real and a museum bought it for millions. It ended up being fake. The expert’s brain knew something that they didn’t even know that they knew!

Another discovery that Gladwell talks about in his book is that of our brain seeing “thin slices”. He believes that things can actually happen so quickly that they can’t be picked up by our conscious can still be seen by our brain. An example that he uses is a video of a married couple talking about their relationship. It sounds like they are very positive and have a good relationship when the video is only listened to. When it is watched he and others who were studying with him had a feeling that the couple was in trouble. They ended up divorcing shortly afterwards. When Gladwell played the video in slow motion and looked at it frame by frame he saw negative body language….rolling eyes here, looks of disdain there. He was fascinated that these things that happened too fast to notice were actually picked up on by the brain.

One of my own students had a horrifying illustration of this. As he was opening up his shop he saw two guys pass by the window. He thought “if I had to describe those two to the police, what would I say”? He didn’t have any idea why he would have thought such a thing. Sure enough, a few minutes later they were in his shop and had a gun to his head.

Ladies, this is exactly what “women’s intuition” is. Listen to it every time. For example, a guy gets on an elevator with you when you are alone. Something doesn’t feel right but you know that if you get off before the door closes he’ll be offended. Who cares? He is a stranger who, even if he is offended, will have forgotten about it five minutes later. If you stay on and were right you will regret it for much longer than five minutes. Men know they make women uncomfortable. If a guy gets on an elevator and there is a woman there by herself he will automatically go as far to the opposite side of the elevator as possible. We may never have consciously thought about this but this is why if he gets closer the “women’s intuition” kicks in. Animals listen to their intuition every time. There are no rabbits thinking “he looks like a nice fox, it would offend him if I ran away”! There are no deer thinking “I am just being silly, it looks perfectly safe. I’ll just stay here for awhile.” We humans alone ignore our intuition.

There are reasons for uneasy feelings, for bad feelings about someone or for being “creeped out” by someone. Our brains are noticing everything and computing the data for us in split seconds. Listen to these gut feelings and stay out of trouble. BE SAFE!