TRAINING FOR WHAT WE’LL SEE

“If you are not putting everything you are doing under stress and exhaustion you are learning self defense techniques, not self defense.” M. Slane

I have blogged on this subject several times. It amazes me that self defense arts and systems teach techniques that look effective but have never been put under stress, exhaustion, the adrenaline dump, etc. If we are ever violently attacked I can guarantee that there will be plenty of each of those. I see this often with handgun and knife defenses. The attacker stands there like a statue in a warm and dry gym and the practitioner practices a technique. On the street there is blood (that makes the weapon slippery), the weapon is moving constantly, the attack was a surprise, the attacker is hitting, kicking and cussing us, etc. IF we had not practiced for any of those things we will be lost. If we train with stress and exhaustion we will have a “been there, done that” feeling and our training will come out of us. This is what a realistic knife attack would look like;

Slather your arms with KY jelly to mimic the slippery blood and have your attacker come at you like the above…after you have ran sprints and sparred to where you can’t catch your breath and are so tired you can hardly stand up. That’d be way better training for real life violence than just working on a technique, don’t ya think?

The following paragraph is from a blog by the USKMA’s co lead instructor, Brannon Hicks;
“If I want to win BJJ tournaments, I should go to a BJJ school. If I want to win Muay Thai boxing matches, I should train at a Muay Thai gym. While my training at both of those gyms might be outstanding and produce the result I sought out, neither would adequately prepare me for the street. I train mixed martial artists as well, and Krav Maga is not what I use toprepare them for the cage; it simply would not produce the desired result. So, if I am a LEO who will have to fight a subject into handcuffs, or perhaps face multiple attackers with and without weapons in a violent encounter where I don’t win titles but I do win my survival, why would I only train in systems designed to win tournaments or sporting events? It is clear to me that when I train, the way that I train must prepare me to win the types of situations I may face.”

I couldn’t have put it better. If we are training for real violence on the street it makes no sense to practice a sport centered art or system. There are also those who seem to think rank is more important than actually having performed under actual violent attacks. For example, I can have someone teach Muay Thai who has been in the art for several years. They are proficient and know the techniques but haven’t sparred much. The other choice is someone who has been in the art only half of the time as the “master” but has been in dozens of fights. I’ll take the guy who has done it under stress and exhaustion over the master any day. I am not worrying about pretty techniques, I am worried about survival. Another example, I have a choice of who I am going to learn ground fighting from. The first choice is a BJJ master who is very proficient and a good instructor. My other choice is a police officer who has no real rank in BJJ but who is on the ground every month or so fighting a thug who is trying to kill him (or at least do great bodily harm). I want to learn from the guy who’s actually fought for his life, who has done it under stress and with great exhaustion. Theory and proficiency are great but i’ll take the guy who has done it under extreme exhaustion and stress in real violent encounters every time!

The point is rank is nice but if it’s just proficiency of techniques that have never been put under stress and exhaustion how do I know it’ll save my butt when my butt needs saved? I go with the doers and could care less who has what rank. BE SAFE!

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WHAT KRAV MAGA DOES BEST

You will never hear us say that krav is better than any other system. They all have some merit. We only claim to be best at getting people from zero self defense skills-wise to being able to truly protect themselves faster than anything else. When I am shown other handgun or knife defenses, for example, I see some that are good and make sense but would need too many hours to become proficient with. The IDF only had soldiers in boot camp for six weeks…and they had to become proficient enough at everything to not get killed by the end! Most martial artists would admit that if you would spend three months in their art that you wouldn’t be very good, that you would need more time. Three months in Krav Maga will get you to the point where you can test into level two…and you are pretty darned good when you get that far and could truly take care of yourself in most bad situations.

If someone had 20 hours to train for a knife attack that they knew was coming they would train knife and maybe learn some more advanced techniques than we are going to bother with in Krav Maga. What a bummer if at the end of that twenty hours they were attacked by a handgun wielding maniac instead! Krav doesn’t get into anything complicated but teaches things that are easy to learn, easy to remember and, most of all, effective. We believe that we can’t put a ton of hours into any one thing because in the real world we can be attacked so many different ways. We want our students good at choke defenses, fighting, handgun disarms, knife defenses, stick defenses, long gun disarms, sucker punch defense, kick defenses, ground fighting, head lock defenses, full nelson defenses, hair grab defenses, etc., etc. There are different “arts” that focus on each of these things that together will get you very, very proficient at all of the above. You could go from one art to the next for several years to be an expert at defending yourself for all of these. At the end of those several years you will be one bad person!! Or, you can take Krav Maga and in six months maybe not be an expert but be able to defend all of the above.

How does Krav do it? We don’t teach techniques per se but philosophy. A knife system that I once learned had 30 techniques for a straight stab coming at your gut. To learn all of these took many, many hours. Krav teaches to block the knife, smack the attacker hard and often and control the knife when you can or push off and run and/or pick something up to smack the attacker with some more!! We train our mindset with drills so that we can turn on aggression and fight with rage. When it comes time to be afraid in a real life attack we’ve kinda been there, done that where the technique guy has learned techniques but always used them in a controlled, static environment. The stress of “I’m gonna die” does amazing things to the unprepared brain!!

As far as our techniques go, we use natural body reactions in our defenses. Because it is something that our body does automatically it doesn’t take much practice or memorization. For our choke defense we “pluck”…our hands go to the wrists of an attacker and we rip their hands off our throat. People tell me often that they have a better defense for a choke. I tell them they don’t have an easier one…it is natural to grab the wrists of the attacker because our hands go to where the pain is. We have started our defense before we even realize that we are being choked. As far as weapon defenses go, we try to have one that works for many different positions and attacks. Our handgun defense, the cupping technique, works for a handgun in front, to the side, while on our knees, mounted, attacker in our guard and attacker standing over us. When a handgun is pointed at us we don’t have to think about which defense is needed…they are the same defense. We want to have one answer for many questions.

Again, we don’t claim to be the best at anything besides getting people proficient quickly. We’ve been called simple and brutal among other things. That is usually said as a slam but we see it as a compliment. In a real world, violent attack simple and brutal is all that’s really going to work! Be safe!!

WHAT WE CAN LEARN ABOUT SELF DEFENSE FROM THE UFC!

Those who know me know that I am a big UFC fan. There was a time I wouldn’t miss a fight (until they started putting them on every two weeks) nor would I miss an episode of the Ultimate Fighter (until the last two seasons when they decided 85% of the show should be extreme close up interviews with fighters who have nothing intelligent to say). I was teaching Krav Maga long before I got into watching the UFC. What I have noticed over the years of watching fights confirm some things I knew…and surprised me with what I didn’t.

-Knockouts! We train to knock people out. If I am attempting a handgun defense, for example, and I can knock the idiot out…the defense is done! Watching the UFC has allowed me to see how friggin hard knocking someone out can be. There are a few guys with one punch knockout power, but they are rare. The best bet for a knockout is to stun the dude and then hit him over and over again until he goes down. Don’t hesitate or let him recover. We teach this!! Go forward with rage and hatred and hit the scumbag over and over until you are safe!

-Knees. We train to clinch and knee a lot in Krav Maga. A knee to the head is a pretty significant strike. I was surprised to see so many dudes taking these to the noggin and keep fighting. This isn’t the for sure knockout that I always assumed it was.

-Ground. Those that are good at ground are sweet to watch. The thing that I notice mainly is how long it takes to submit. On the street if we factor in the guy’s buddies running up to help we wouldn’t have the time to submit. I still don’t want to be on the ground…ever!

-Cardio. Exhaustion makes cowards of us all. The muscle heads usually lose! There are guys who look unbeatable in the first round that slow down later in the fight and get whooped. I have heard Israeli instructors state that if your Krav Maga gym has cardio classes it isn’t a real Krav Maga gym. This is a stupid statement! If you can fight hard for a longer period of time you are safer. I do not see how this can be argued!

-Fear. You can see it in some of the fighters. They usually talk big and say things like “He’ll have to kill me before I stop”, etc., etc, blah, blah. They then get in the ring and freeze before purposely giving up their back so they can tap. I tell my students to think only of going forward with rage and swing for the fences. Don’t look at how mean or big the dude is, just look at targets.

-You have to be well rounded. It took the UFC for fighters to realize this. The first events were one style against another. When the Gracie’s won they all decided they had better learn ground. Imi was preaching this in the 40’s and 50’s. A man ahead of his time.

-Everyone can be whooped. After the baddest man on the planet, the unbeatable Brock Lesner lost twice in a row he retired. Anyone can be beat. Very few fighters in the UFC are undefeated. Again, if attacked by a big, mean looking dude don’t see the dude, see only targets.

-Cheat! No matter how big and strong the fighter is he flops on the ground like he’s dying if he gets kicked in the groin or has an eye poked. There is a system being taught that says to never kick to the groin, it is a wasted strike. Say what? All I have to do is watch a fight…those groin shots look pretty effective. The things that are against the rules in MMA fighting are exactly what we want to do on the street. They are against the rules because they do damage and end fights too quickly. Doing damage and ending fights quickly is what we’re all about!! If you are in a fair fight your tactics suck!

Watching sport fights and teaching self defense…I have a good life. BE SAFE

OVERCOMING FEAR!

I just got done reading a book I highly recommend titled NO GREATER ALLY by Kenneth Koskodan. This book tells the (until now) untold story of Poland’s struggle during World War II. Very informative and a travesty that the story has been largely ignored and hidden. The one theme that the book mentioned over and over is how the German’s hated coming up against the Polish troops. The Poles were notorious for ignoring their own safety to kill Germans. They would charge through the teeth of the battle and ignore the machine gun fire and artillery (that had other troops turning back) to kill their enemy. They volunteered for the dangerous assignments and cheered when they got them. In the air the Germans’ always knew when it was the Poles flying against them because they would do things other airmen wouldn’t. They would fly straight at the German aircraft through withering fire and not fire themselves until they were closer than any other pilots dared be. They wanted to make sure their bullets were effective. When they were outnumbered it didn’t effect them whatsoever, as others fled they fought on.

Why did these men have no fear? The truth is that they probably felt fear as much as any other men. They felt fear but their great rage and hatred for the Nazis overshadowed the fear. They weren’t any braver than other soldiers but they had family in Poland being raped, tortured and slaughtered by the Nazis. The Germans were especially brutal in Poland. Upon advancing in Poland they executed anyone they thought was influential. They killed every military officer, clergyman, teacher, professor, priest, business owner, etc. the minute they found them. They raped and pillaged the land and sent young people to slave labor camps where they would be worked to death. If one German soldier was assassinated by the underground they would round up a hundred men, women and children and execute them in public for payback. The Polish soldiers knew every second they could shorten the war by killing these hated people the more Polish lives they would spare.

This is what I have talked about in the past few blogs…going off with “hatred and rage”. SGT Samford Strong’s great book STRONG ON DEFENSE talks about this very idea. He has interviews with many crime victims in this book and states that the one’s who seem to have the greatest odds of avoiding the horrendous crime are the one’s who fight back with hatred and rage. Those who ignored the injury or the threat of injury and got mad were the ones who fought back with such ferocity that they got away. The Scum Bag is looking for a victim, not a fight. When it’s go time we have to go with such rage and anger that there is no room for fear. One story in the SGT’s book is about a woman who woke up in bed with a would be rapist on top of her and a knife against her throat. She ignored his “do what I say or I will kill you”, grabbed the blade of the knife with her hands and fought and kicked and screamed until he eventually fled. As she was being taken to the hospital to get her hands stitched up she was asked if she were afraid. She said that if she was afraid she would have just laid there and been a victim. She says all she felt was anger and rage that someone would do this to her and she became a crazed woman who would have to be killed before she would submit. This is what we are talking about!

The martial arts and their Zen way of thinking makes sense in some areas. The training on techniques and the slow pace of classes has it’s benefits. Self defense just isn’t one of them. We train the way we do in Krav for a specific reason. There is a saying “Violence of action trumps technique”. I often say in class that I would rather you go off right now and hard with the wrong technique than hesitantly use the correct technique. Going “loony” and “animal” is much more effective than doing a perfect technique half assed! Violence of action absolutely trumps technique…every time! We exhaust people, run stress drills and run testing past most people’s breaking point for a reason. We train them to not look at how big or mean the bad guy is, or how many there are, but to get mean, look at only targets and attack, attack, attack! When they need this mental attitude in the real world they have been there. BE SAFE!