K.I.S.S.

“If it’s not simple, it’s not self defense.” R. Hoover

Keep It Simple, Stupid! In Krav Maga we want to have the fewest answers to the most questions. Our weapons defenses, especially, rely on simplicity. In our handgun defenses seminar we show a “cupping technique” that we learn for a handgun from the front that also works for handgun from the side of head, from a kneeling position, from a gunman in the guard, a gunman mounted, a gunman standing over us, a gunman across a bar or table…you get the picture. We have changed our long gun defenses so that one defense works from the front with the weapon aimed high, from the front with the weapon aimed low, with a slung weapon, from behind, etc. Same with our knife. We wrap the arm and beat on the attacker whether the attack is overhead, under/upward, straight stab, shank, slash, etc.
This is gold when we teach law enforcement officers…or anyone else for that matter. A lot of LEO’s that we teach are mandated a whopping four hours per YEAR of unarmed training. They are not going to spend much time practicing what we show them…they have a lot of other things to do. To show them one defense that will work for several different attacks saves lives! They do not have to think of which defense works for that situation, didn’t have to practice it much for it to come out of them and get good at the defenses with much fewer reps.

From time to time we get someone who believes that they have a much better stick, knife, long gun or handgun defense. I tell them that what they are showing me may well be better…but think about it. That defense you show me for, say, a handgun from the front may indeed be five percent better…a touch more effective, a touch quicker, etc. Now when you show me your handgun from the side and then from kneeling they are as different as night and day. Completely different muscle memory. Maybe one in sixty officers we teach are the type who love training, will spend hours working your different handgun defenses and get good with them. The other fifty-nine your five percent better defense made forty percent less safe! They won’t practice, will hesitate when a handgun is shoved in their face thinking about which one of their twenty defenses they should use and will screw it up because they have so many defenses in their head.

Let’s say you have a knife defense system that is just awesome but it takes 150 hours of work to be fairly proficient with it. What if on hour 148 someone puts a gun in my face? The only thing that we claim to do better in Krav Maga than anything else is to get people from zero to being able to defend themselves quickly. In four two hour seminars we can get people proficient enough in handgun, long gun, knife and stick to be able to defend themselves and live through an attack.

We are not in a Hollywood movie! We want to avoid flashy. Learning one simple defense with as few moving parts as possible that works in many situations saves lives. This is Krav maga! BE SAFE!

E mail us at Mark@uskma.com for info on our upcoming Law Enforcement Instructor training Oct. 27-31 in Columbus, OH and Missouri City, TX.

S#!*’s ABOUT TO GO DOWN!

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

We in the USKMA preach to avoid bad situations…don’t go to stupid places with stupid people to do stupid things. Next we tell people to run when they see a violent situation. Thirdly, pick up something to use as a weapon and strike first if that’s what it takes. Finally…use your Krav Maga. You can see how far down the list actually using what we teach is. If you get to that point you missed some things!

In our instructor training, as well as our law enforcement training, we show a dash cam video of a law enforcement officer in a deadly force scenario with a big, belligerent man who tries to knife him. The scenario plays out and the cop ends up getting stabbed and shoots and kills the criminal. A sad ending that could have been avoided. We go through the video a second time showing the group how many signs the attacker gave that it was about to turn ugly. The officer misses five or six things that should have made him go hands on and diffuse the situation. Some are really obvious and makes you want to yell at the video!

We should be reacting as soon as we see a sign that an attack could be coming, not waiting for the actual attack. Hitting first is proactive. So is running. Waiting on the idiot to swing first is reactive and puts us behind the eight ball right off the bat.

Things the idiot in front of us will do to show his intentions (that aren’t good) would include;

-Not listening. This is an obvious one that shouldn’t be missed, but is. If a female (or anyone else) holds her hands up and says “don’t come closer” and the idiot takes another step…this is a bad sign. She should kick him in the groin right then and there. Ignoring you and continuing to close on you is a bad sign.

-The person in front of you offsets his feet, one in front of the other and bases out. Why would you get in that stance? I do that when I’m going to hit something. It’s hard to punch with my feet beside each other or close to each other.

-Face starts to flush, pulse visible and jumping in the neck, teeth clenched, forehead scrunching and fists start to ball. Any one of these should be a cue for us to do something. All at once is a sure sign that he/she’s agitated and about to go off.

-Other signs of stress and agitation including voice getting higher & louder. Fast talking, increased breathing rate, restlessness, etc.

-Grooming. This is when the person you are having words with run the back of their hand across their nose, fingers through hair, wipe their brow, etc. This is a big sign. It generally means they just came to a decision on what they are going to do…and it caused stress. On the video when the criminal is coming across a highway railing he pauses, wipes his palm across his forehead, and then resumes. That was the exact moment he decided he would attack the officer.

-Standing bladed. You hide one side of your body when you don’t want the person in front of you to see what you are doing on the other side…like accessing a knife.

-For law enforcement especially we talk about target glancing. If you are talking to someone who glances at your sidearm a few times…do something. He’s about to lunge for it. If a suspect keeps glancing past you or behind them they are looking for a good path to run from you. If any of us see someone approaching and glancing back and around…look out. They are about to strike and are checking one last time to make sure there are no witnesses.

Watching out for any and all of these things will keep us safer. Realize why the person is acting the way they are and take appropriate measures. Avoid situation where you have to use Krav Maga…that’s good advice! BE SAFE!

BE SAFE!

From my book, Be Safe; Self Defense For Women In The Real World

There have been so many women after an attack who have stated “but he seemed so nice.” It is only later, when they have time to analyze, that they realize they had an “uneasy” feeling about the attacker. The “uneasy” feeling is called intuition. We as humans alone justify ignoring intuition. We think things like “I’ll seem rude” or “I can’t live in fear” or “I’m just being silly, he seems nice.” Animals don’t do this. If they have even a remote feeling that something is wrong, they run! Can you imagine how many fewer deer there would be if they sat around thinking “I’ve been eating here everyday for a month, nothing has gone wrong, I’m just being silly with this uneasy feeling.” How many less rabbits if they thought “I can’t live in fear. He seems like a perfectly nice fox. I can’t appear rude.” No animal ever thinks “it’s probably nothing.” We have a lot to learn from creatures that always follow intuition! Listen to yourself every time. The root word of intuition is “tuere” which means “to guard, to protect.” Intuition is knowing without knowing why we know. Our brain is miraculous, it picks up things subconsciously that we don’t think we notice. It picks up facial signals that last a fraction of a fraction of a second…picks up words that are said that we didn’t really listen to. Always remember that intuition is 1) always a response to something and 2) always looking out for your safety.

The scumbag seems so nice because nice works. Nice has been perfected. He knows nice will get him what he wants. Gavin DeBecker in his must read book THE GIFT OF FEAR states “Remember, the nicest guy, the guy with no self-serving agenda whatsoever, the one who wants nothing from you, WON’T APPROACH YOU AT ALL. You are not comparing the man who approaches you to all men, the vast majority of whom have no sinister intent. Instead, you are comparing him to other men who make unsolicited approaches to women alone, or to other men who don’t listen when you say no.”

The scumbags have a plan. They are good at the plan. The plan has worked for them many times. If you know the plan you can see it when it is being used on you. The nice guy things he does all have a reason. The following things are what to look for and to recognize.

–He makes it sound like you are part of a team with him. He uses “we” a lot. “We seem to be abandoned by our friends,” “We are in the same predicament,” “Now we’ve done it,” etc. He knows that this is hard to rebuff without you feeling like you’re being rude. Notice when this happens and realize that it is always done for self serving reasons and that it is always inappropriate for a stranger to talk this way to a woman who is alone.

-He is going out of his way to be charming and nice. A smile is the most used way to mask emotions in the world! Nice does not equal good, ever. Nice is a strategy, not a trait we’re born with. Charm is the same in that it is a strategy. When someone is using charm don’t think “He is really charming” but think “he is trying to charm me, why?”

-He will give you too much info. Instead of saying something like “I’m just waiting on a friend” he may say “I’m just waiting on a friend. The guy is always running late. Shoot, just last week….” When you or I are telling the truth we don’t feel like we have to use extra info to back up what we are saying. When someone is lying it may sound credible to us but it doesn’t sound that way to them, so they keep talking. Always remember that whoever this yappy, charming person is they approached a strange woman who is alone!

-He will put you on the defensive so that you have to prove yourself. He may say “oh, I guess you’re a rich snob who doesn’t talk to us commoners” so that you will prove to him that you are a good person by talking. Again, think about why a stranger would say such a thing to a woman who is alone.

-He’ll do something for you. Buy a drink, pick up something for you, help you with a heavy load, anything so that you may subconsciously think you owe him. Always be thinking “he approached me” and “I didn’t ask for any help.” Nice is an act!

-Not listening to the word NO. This is a biggie that is common sense, and we ignore it. If he asks if he can grab that package you dropped and you say “no” and he picks it up anyhow and says something like “well, I can’t leave a lady in such a predicament, etc.” we may think that he’s just being nice. We ignore the fact that we said “no” and he didn’t listen. The problem is we’ll say “no” several times, and it gets a little weaker ever time. We might as well just say “I’m a victim and you can control me” when we do this!

-He will say “I promise.” “I’ll just carry this to your car and leave, I promise.” Why do we fall for this? Do you go around saying “I promise” all the time? Promises are used to convince us of intention. Think “why does he need to convince me of intention?” when you hear this word.

A stranger who approaches a woman while she is alone may be a good person, but probably not. A good person doesn’t approach a woman when she is alone, we know it scares her. Always, always keep in mind that anyone who does approach you is a major danger and that charm, niceness, etc. are the weapons he is using to harm you. BE SAFE!

IF YOU’RE GONNA TRAIN…DO IT RIGHT!

I’ve blogged about putting whatever you are learning for self defense under stress and exhaustion before and how if you aren’t training that way you are learning self defense techniques…not self defense. When I first went to Krav Maga training back in ‘98 I was blown away by the drills they put us through. They were rough, exhausting, vomit inducing and yet…the coolest thing I’d ever seen. It was an epiphany for me to see the way the Israeli’s were training for real world violence. At the time I was a 4th degree black belt in Taekwondo and thought I was training self defense. What I was doing wasn’t even close.

Why do we need to put techniques under exhaustion, stress, run scenarios and learn to do things when we are terrified? Our brains have 3 basic areas. The cognitive is the logical thinking part of our brain. The Middle brain is the emotional part. The Reptilian brain is the lowest, the part where our fight/flight/freeze responses lie. Under stress, exhaustion and fright our brain functions decrease a bunch. We get put into our Reptilian brain because this is where we need to be…deciding whether we need to fight, beat feet or freeze. This is exactly what animals do…in this order; Freeze, maybe the predator didn’t see them. Flee, get out of trouble as fast as they can. Fight, a small animal will only fight if grabbed. We don’t become awesome fighters under this stress, we just lash out as a last resort. All we are capable of at this time are gross motor/whole body motions. Everyone, from those who have never trained to combat vets, will freeze when stress overwhelms us. The difference is those who have never trained will be stuck there and those who have trained will have a plan surface quickly.

The U.S. Rangers and other special forces soldiers do this the best. These soldiers in combat will lose function like the rest of us under stress but they will regain function much quicker because they train correctly. They are stress inoculated. In their training to ready them for combat they have had all five senses assaulted under stress. They are torn down and made to fail. After they have failed up front (the beginning of their training) the trainers now have their undivided attention. Most are tough guys who win at everything and thought they would eat the training up. They are brought to failure, every one of them, then they can be rebuilt. The next thing the trainers will work is muscle memory. When they are put under stress in real life or death situations their blood pools to their core and they will lose fine motor skills, finger movement, vision, hearing, etc. just like the rest of us under stress. They have worked their muscle memory and mental memory skills so many times that the functions of fighting, loading and firing weapons, etc. will still be able to be performed. Their formula is 1) fail/frustrate with scenario based drills, 2) slow muscle memory drills and 3) scenario based drills mimicking actual combat and the jobs they must perform.

This is what we do in Krav. We learn gross whole body movements by the numbers, slowly and precisely. We then work them with a partner slowly, then faster as we get better. Lastly we put them under realistic attack scenarios and stress inducing drills. Studies shows that a person’s brain doesn’t recognize the difference between training and real attacks when it is under stress, exhausted and in a frightened state. So it goes to reason that if any one of our gym’s members are attacked, say by a choke from behind, their brain will think they have done this for real hundreds of times and they will react. There will be no thinking or freezing, what they have done so many times before will come out of them. They will get rid of the hands on their throat and beat the attacker into the ground…without thinking. This is what they trained for and what their brain thinks they have done for real hundreds of times!

Again, when someone comes to you for self defense training they are literally putting their lives in your hands. Don’t’ teach crap from a system just because it’s your system. Train them right, put them under stress & exhaustion and let their brains live “the fight” so that if it happens on the street they have “been there and done that”. BE SAFE!

IT AIN’T THE SYSTEM, IT’S THE MIND SET!

“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 art or system) 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 effective self defense i say “Having a switch that enables you to go from overwhelmed, uncomprehending and terrified to going forward with hatred and rage to do the maximum damage in the minimum time…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!