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!!


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