I don’t watch much TV…mostly history channel and the food network. My favorite show? Chopped! I am in to cooking…but that’s not important. What is important is what we can learn from this show (which is about people using “mystery” ingredients to cook something good in 20 to 30 minutes) about self defense. It seems like in every other episode one of the chefs cuts themselves with a knife. They are professionals who use knives every day. They almost always say something like “what an amateur move, I haven’t cut myself in the kitchen in years”…and yet it happens on this show time after time. What is the difference for them cooking in this competition compared to cooking at their restaurants? Stress. They are nervous, trying to hurry, stressed and often their hands are shaking. So, these motions that they can do in their sleep become much, much harder under stress. They screw up, can’t do fine motor skills and make mistakes.

This reminds me of the first deer I tried to shoot. I’m not a big deer hunter but I’ve my brother in law is trying to teach me. When we were sighting in the rifles I could hit a dot on a paper plate every time at 200 yards. Just put the crosshairs on the dot and pull the trigger, piece of cake. The day I had a buck in my sights was a bit different. He was walking away so all I saw was his butt & didn’t really have a shot and that’s probably a good thing…because the crosshairs were jumping all over the place. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t aim. Aftewards I realized that my hands and forearms were aching. I was evidently squeezing the rifle so hard that I couldn’t hold it still. Stress had effected me to where I couldn’t do what I had trained to do…and that was just a deer!

It was just a deer that I was hoping to shoot. It was no threat to me, it wasn’t attacking me, it wasn’t scarey and yet, a big adrenaline dump and stress. Imagine the stress of someone trying to slash you with a knife. Knowing that you may be dead in the next few minutes, fighting for your life, worried about what he does to your family if he gets through you. I have blogged a lot about real world violence and how stress effects our bodies. Blood pools to our core making our limbs heavy and numb, hearing and vision get messed up, odd thoughts enter our mind, we can get stuck in a loop where we keep doing the same technique over and over even when it’s not working, time can distort, we’ll could well lose bladder and bowel control, etc, etc.

You can probably guess where this is heading. Those who teach self defense have got to keep everything simple using gross motor skills and train everything they are showing others under stress and exhaustion. There are a lot of cool looking things taught in martial arts and self defense classes. Cool doesn’t translate to being able to pull the same technique off when it’s for real. Krav Maga teaches aggression, gross motor skills, whole body movements and to go forward with all you have and end the attacker any way possible. Any techniques that relies on joint manipulations, fine motor skills and precision will fall apart in a real attack. Those fancy, complicated defenses just don’t work under stress.

I once saw a handgun defense taught that included sticking your finger behind the trigger, between the trigger and the trigger guard. Yes, technically that will keep the gun from being able to fire. This worked for the instructor as he demonstrated it with his assistant who stood there like a statue. If done in a real attack with the stress involved the chances of this defense being pulled off is right around zero. Trying to hit that small target while not being able to judge distance, hands shaking and arms feeling heavy is an impossible task. Yet, it was taught to others by a “professional”. This kind of thing pisses me off to no end! This “professional” instructor is teaching things to people that will get them killed. Not realizing the effects of stress, exhaustion and adreniline while showing people “gym techniques” is unexcusable. If it’s your job to show people how to be safe you had better study this subject ad nauseam. BE SAFE!!



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

Oh, let the fun begin. I run this post once a year…it gets more comments than any other blog I have written. Let me start out, as usual, by saying that I absolutely respect BJJ. BJJ is like chess on the mat, the practitioners have to be very smart and in awesome shape. Most of the instructors at the Krav gyms I owned did BJJ with my blessing. I had a BJJ black belt teaching BJJ classes at my gyms. I believe that we have to be well rounded and know what the heck we are doing on the ground. My son takes BJJ at a gym and I love what he is learning! I could have him in any discipline but I chose BJJ for him. There is nothing better for a school yard, one on one fight.

What slays me are the people advertising BJJ as the ultimate in self defense. I just ran across a web site for a bjj gym that said “Krav Maga will get you killed”. They actually said that statistically most fights are one on one bar room type fights with no weapon ivolved so it is a waste of time to train for anything but this type of one on one fighting. Even if this is a true statistical statement do we ignore any other type of attack because it is in the minority? Weapons certainly exist, run a daily google search for knife attacks or shootings across the country. Your in box will be full! People do get attacked by multiple attackers, people do get shot or stabbed and sexual assaults do happen. Because 50,000 of 80,000 daily attacks in the U.S. don’t involve a weapon or multi attackers that’s good enough reason not to train for weapons and multi attackers? What kind of logic is that…oh yeah, it’s the “I make money off of what I teach” kind of logic.

BJJ is an awesome sport but to train it alone for self defense absolutely ignores real world violence. It is absolutely betting the practioners life on the fact that there will only be one attacker and there won’t be a blade involved. BJJ’s philosophy is to patiently control an opponent until they can be submitted. In the real world every scumbag has a scumbag friend near by. We should always be looking to end things as quickly as possible and to get the heck out of there. I have a friend who told me about a buddy of his that went to a “BJJ for the street” gym. He got into an altercation in a bar and pulled guard on his attacker like he was taught. The guy drew a knife and stabbed him seven times. Another friend told me of a BJJ black belt who wrapped a guy up in a bar in just a few seconds, looked awesome doing it…right up until the guy’s buddy kicked the black belt in the face, broke his jaw and knocked him out. If you are on the ground tied up with someone you are absolutely making the assumption that he doesn’t have a knife and doesn’t have a buddy. These are not assumptions that will keep you safe.

From a thread on our old web site by my friend Aaron Jannetti; “If you understand the nature of violence, and how easy it is to harm someone, you will quickly understand that two places you don’t want to be are on the ground or wrapped up with someone.

There are some very impressive techniques which would absolutely get you f’d up with a violent individual in an icy parking lot.

Don’t believe me, fine. Here is the experiment. Find someone who you think can kick your ass with their grappling. Tell them to grab you up. Your only job is to see how many times you can stick your fingers on their eye brow ridge or grab the inside of their leg next to their testicles. Every time you can touch their eye brow is a time you could have gotten a finger in to their orbital socket. Every time you touch their leg is a ripped sack or torn off junk. You will quickly find the limitations of someone trying to hold you down on the floor.

Second experiment, grappler vs edged weapon. Take a magic marker, put it in your pocket. Have your ass whupping grappler put the ju-ju on you. Your only task is to get to the marker, and touch them with it. Their job is to shut you down. Much learning will take place.”

Have you ever tried bjj on concrete or blacktop? I’ve had friends who have and they inform me that there is no good position. Being on the bottom gets you ground into hamburger. Knees and elbows get torn to shreds when in side control. The mount sounds good until the opponent starts bucking and your knees slam over and over into the pavement.

That magic mount is such a strong position in the MMA ring. In the real world the dude on the bottom puts you in a big bear hug until his buddy can get over to ya and kick your head off. I had a friend who was a bouncer at a bar years ago. One night he took down a thug and broke his arm at the elbow with an armbar because the thug kept fighting. After breaking the thug’s arm he let loose, started to sit up and got cold cocked by the guy’s other fist. Broken bones and joints suck, but they aren’t an end all. Self defense ain’t over til you are safe and out of there.

I hate seeing women’s self defense instructors teach women to hit the ground. Women should be fighting with one goal and one goal only…to escape. Being wrapped up with the scumbag on the ground makes escape harder. Bad plan in my opinion. Worse yet is all of the law enforcement training I see being done with BJJ alone. Do you know why BJJ practitioners pin their opponents face up? To give the opponent a better chance of escaping. Law enforcement officers should definitely be putting suspects on their face, worrying about weapons and expecting a scumbag’s buddy to jump in. Trying to patiently control until you can submit isn’t smart in that context.

We just had training at our affiliate weekend on a bus. Multiple attackers, blades, handguns, etc. We had some BJJ guys in the training. How much of their BJJ do you think worked in that situation? The only way anyone got on the ground was to fall just right in the aisle. Aisles are pretty tight, there was no room to move once there. They ended up just wailing on the attacker with fists, biting and head butting because that’s all they could do.

Again, I am not bad mouthing BJJ at all. I am bad mouthing those who are telling students that BJJ is all the self defense they need for real world violence. I believe BJJ is a great PART of a total self defense system. Now, instead of name calling and talking about my dear mama in the comment section how about we have a discussion we can all learn from where the above points are refuted? BE SAFE!

Best All Time Self Defense Quotes…Part 2

“you must train in chaos in order to thrive in chaos”. Hock Hochheim

“Violence of motion trumps technique” Unknown

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

“If you want to control variables, hit first. If you don’t or aren’t able to hit first, you better know how to fight” R. Hoover

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

“The only defense against violent, evil people are good people who are more skilled at violence.” SGT Rory Miller

“Surviving violent encounters is a matter of mastering fundamentals, being meaner than a junkyard dog and getting lucky.” SGT Brannon Hicks

“Krav Maga is my support system for when my sucker punch didn’t work.” R. Hoover

“Self defense is recovery from stupidity or bad luck.” SGT Miller

“Self defense is a short list of techniques that may get you out alive when you’re already screwed” SGT Miller

“Instructors, when someone is coming to you to learn self defense they are literally putting their lives in your hands!” M. Slane

“When self defense becomes complicated, it is no longer self defense.” R. Hoover

“To manage fear you only need to believe you can do things. To manage danger you must be able to do things.” SGT Miller

“No intelligent man has ever lost a fight to someone who said ‘I’m gonna kick your ass’.” SGT Rory Miller

“Your instructor, system, art and cool techniques won’t save you. Going forward, going hard, going now and going off with all the hatred and rage you can muster will.” M. Slane

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

“Don’t hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft.” Teddy Roosevelt

“It is much easier and safer to scare someone into submission than to beat them into submission.” SGT Rory Miller

“Danger, if met head on, can be nearly halved” W. Churchill

“If I learn 1,000 techniques with my luck I’ll go out on the street and be attacked by number 1,001.” J. Whitman

“Every asshole has an asshole buddy nearby.” M. Slane

“They’ll eventually let ya out of prison, you’re in the casket for good.” M. Slane

”after initial contact all plans go to hell” Patton

“The wicked flee when no man pursues but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1

“No matter how enmeshed a commander becomes in his plans, it is occasionally necessary to consider the enemy” W. Churchill

“You do not get to pick what kind of bad things will happen to you.” SGT Miller

“We don’t call it knife defenses, we call it Knife survival.” SGT MJR Nir Maman

“Everybody’s got a plan until they get smacked in the face” M. Tyson

“If ya ain’t cheating, ya ain’t trying” Various sources

“Home intruders are terrorists without a political agenda.” SGT Sanford Strong

“If you’re in a fair fight your tactics suck!” Various

“Krav Maga, so that one may walk in peace.” Imi Lichtenfeld

“Self defense is the ‘flinch’ reaction to go from overwhelmed, terrified and uncomprehending to moving forward with rage and aggression to do the maximum amount of damage in the minimum amount of time.” M. Slane

“Ask any police officer whom they would rather face…1) a very proficient martial artist or 2) a crazy who wants to claw their face and chew on their eyes. They take the martial artist every time”. SGT Miller

“If the scumbags are going to use violence as a weapon we must perfect this weapon of violence and weald it better than they do”. SGT Miller

“I don’t have takedown defense? My fist is my takedown D!” S. Slane – 5 y.o.

“When it comes time, sheep bleat, but the knife falls anyway. Do something to survive.” Rocky Warren

“First class training is the best form of welfare for the troops…the more you sweat in training, the less you
bleed in battle.” Irwin Rommel

“Give me a ball bat and an attitude over a black belt in any system.” M. Slane

“When things are at their bleakest and there seems no way to survive, well…that’s when ya just gotta get mad dog mean.” The Outlaw Josey Wales

“If talking is going to get you killed, it’s time to stop talking.”- SGT Rory Miller

“You are not paranoid for thinking that there are people out there who may try to kill you if there are indeed people out there who may try to kill you.” SGT S. Strong

“When a wolf bites a sheep the sheep bleats, rolls over and die. When a wolf bites a sheepdog the sheepdog gets pissed off and bites back.” Col. Grossman

“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

“You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don’t have time to think about how many’s with him; he thinks about himself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that’s about to set down on him.” Rooster Cogburn

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt

“Don’t be there in the first place because that means you messed up bad. Now it’s all how bad you want to survive!” Tim Fisher

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” G. Washington

“Violence should, if justified, be used with neither hesitation nor regret.” Cowan

“We are all immortal on every day but one.” Rory Miller

“Listening to the average martial artists talk about real world violence is like listening to ten year olds talk about sex.” Rory Miller

RBT – Reality Based Training

We just finished the USKMA Pistol, Patrol Rifle and RBT (Reality Based Training) Development Course for law enforcement officers in Colorado this past week. The shooting at the range was fun….the RBT training will save lives.

In RBT we padded up, used sim rounds and set up scenarios. Very fascinating to watch! Adding realism and the stressor of pain (those sim rounds sting) equaled stress, adrenalin dump, and exhaustion in those participating. The first time through everyone got stuck in the loop, saw things that didn’t happen, had time compress or expand, got clumsy, did things that didn’t match up to their training and, generally, performed poorly. It was an eye opener for all to see what that stress and adrenalin did to us. Listening to the description after the scenario by those involved was amazing. They thought they saw things that weren’t there, described that they “fired when he reached for his weapon” but clearly didn’t on video (the bad guy fired first), didn’t have a clue how many rounds they fired, stated that it seemed to take over a minute for their round to go from the barrel to the bad guy, etc., etc. This was amazing training!

The cool thing is that the more we repeated scenarios the better the officers performed. One comment after a scenario that involved an innocent who jumps out of a doorway showed this training to be gold. The officer stated “I aimed at the innocent but didn’t shoot because I had been there before and recognized it.” The first day he shot an “innocent” who surprised him. By the third day his reaction saved the innocent because he had been through that before…two days earlier. The scary thing is that a lot of departments don’t practice this way. The first time the rookie officer sees a scenario is when he is living it. How crazy is that? Everyone involved absolutely made mistakes the first time through. If the first time through is for real it can cost lives.

SGT Brannon Hicks, who taught this course and is one of the top RBT instructors in the U. S. says that in SWAT school they did a week of nothing but scenarios like this for 15 hour days. The first time through they all sucked…and they were SWAT operators. By the end of the week they were a well oiled machine…even with the total exhaustion.

Thoughts when designing RBT scenarios;

-Go from simple to complex. The first time through we wouldn’t put an officer through several stressors and three assailants. We would start with 1 static role player (RP). Then we would go to two static role players. Then one static and one dynamic RP and finally two dynamic RP’s.

-Clear scenarios that teach a specific lesson. The RP, for example, may be told that if the officer leaves cover you raise your weapon and fire. IF the officer stays behind cover you stay compliant.

-The officer wins. Do not run no win scenarios. The RP’s job is to lose. IF the officer makes mistakes we reset the scenario and run through it until he wins.

-Mistakes will be made. We don’t “teach” by saying “you should have done this!” We ask leading questions so that the officer comes to their own conclusion. This will keep them from being defensive and feeling that they are being picked on. Approach it with questions like “Who did it benefit when you left cover, you or the assailant?” They can’t argue when they are the ones who make the statement.

We have got to train for what we’ll see! We must put everything we are doing under stress and exhaustion. This is what we do in USKMA krav maga classes. The fast pace, the drills and the way we test is centered on creating stress, exhaustion and the adrenalin dump. When someone is attacked on the street by an aggressive, angry, screaming idiot we want our practitioners to have the “been there, done that” feeling. Practicing handgun defenses, for example, against a partner smiling and standing still like a statue isn’t what we’ll see on the street. When we pad everyone up and have the partner swearing, threatening, striking the practitioner, waving the handgun around and being aggressive we are creating what the practitioner will see on the street. Now, when it happens it isn’t the first time they have seen such a thing. Again, the beauty of RBT is that when it happens to us we will have been through that aggressive attack many times in training, it will not be our first time through the scenario. Train right, train often and BE SAFE!

Here are a few scenarios we ran but be warned…the role players had potty mouths;


At last weekends Krav Con one of our seminars was “Krav on a bus”. We set this up after blogging this about training flaws a few months ago…“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. An LEO friend of mine 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!”

Lessons learned from defending on a bus;

1)There ain’t no sparring. Sparring is footwork, changing distances, moving, etc. On the bus there was no room for footwork whatsoever. It was close in, clinch and flail away. When kicks were there at all they had to be linear. No looping roundhouses, spins, etc., just straight kicks and then not with power because there wasn’t any room. Basically it looked like a hockey fight.

2)Ground…what ground? Our BJJ guys found out there was ground techniques only if we fell perfectly down the isle and hit the ground…and then we were wedged and not exactly able to change positions. If you were mounted, you stayed mounted! Some of the attempted arm bars, triangles, etc. worked every now and then…until there was a second attacker. BJJ, like sparring in general, goes out the window on the bus.

3)Krav Maga’s choke defenses, bear hug defenses, hair grab defenses, full nelson defenses, etc, etc. didn’t translate well to those close quarters. There was NO room to move, to throw the attacker away from us, to get side clinch to throw knees, etc. the way we can if we are in a gym. Hence, the reason for all the preaching that techniques can’t be relied upon. The philosophy of “get rid of the danger and destroy the attacker” paid off. Those being attacked figured it out. They got the attacker’s hands off their throat and turned the tables with fingers in the eye, biting, elbows in the groin and the like. They made me proud!

4)The same goes for knife and handgun. Many of those techniques didn’t translate to “I am pinned to the window in my seat by the moron sitting beside me who froze as the guy behind me is stabbing me in the head”. As with chokes, etc. the techniques weren’t there but the philosophy was. If it was a knife it was “don’t get stabbed, hit the idiot”. Block that blade as best you can and punch the idiot in the throat, ram a finger in his eye, elbow his head so hard he looks like a PEZ dispenser. In most videos we watch of those being attacked by a knife the poor person getting stabbed fixates on the knife trying to grab the attacker’s wrist and never attempts to hit the attacker. Again, we were proud of what we saw! With the handgun it was point the barrel somewhere besides at me (or others) and hit the idiot. Technique didn’t happen but that philosophy kept people alive!

5)Scenarios. These were cool. In a bus full of people I would point to only one or two and tell them they were Krav students and everyone else on the bus was just going to sit there and scream. We would have one or two attackers board the bus and attack with a knife or handgun. Sometimes the attacks were random and directed at everyone, sometimes they had a specific victim. We saw some cool things. The Kraver figured out how to get to the attacker through the rabble and neutralize the attacker. Some things learned were;

-going for the knife hand was hard, that hand is swinging up to 5 feet as the attacker slashes or stabs. The arm pit stays in the same place. Start there and slide to lock up the rest of the arm.

-Wrapping the knife or handgun arm and waiting on the crowd to jump in and beat the attacker works….unless the frozen goof balls don’t help. Then it’s a fight!

-The attacker that jumped on the bus with a hand grenade threw us all for a loop. Nobody said it was going to be only a knife or handgun! Even the kravers kinda froze for a bit there. Wrapping the hands before the spoon was released was one of the few options but it wasn’t easy. Hoping to beat him down to the ground with the thing under him when it went off was sometimes the only thing to attempt. Don’t ride the bus was what we mostly learned there!

-We aren’t the savior of the world. When the scenario was two obvious gang bangers got on the bus and started knifing a passenger that was an obvious gang banger as well we still had the kravers going to rescue the one being attacked. I talked a lot about knowing what your go buttons are beforehand. If I see that scenario I am going out the back door. I will then point to the lady with the kid and tell them, come on, I’ll help you off, then the next lady, then the next person, etc. from outside of the bus. Why would I put my life in serious jeopardy to stop what was obviously gang related? I wasn’t going to save the dude’s life, he would have taken 30 stabs by the time I got to him. My go buttons tell me that if it’s a woman or a child being hurt in any way I will intervene. If it’s obviously an innocent being ambushed by more than one, I’ve told my self I’ll do something in that event as well. If a law enforcement officer isn’t obviously winning a fight I will jump in and help. However, if it’s two dudes beating on each other or something that looks gang related, I’m not putting myself into that.

We had a bunch of fun and learned some good lessons! BE SAFE!