HIT WITH ALL YOU’VE GOT!

Krav Maga uses body weight to generate power more than any other art or system I’ve seen. While other “arts” are spending hours upon hours learning to snap at the waist, bend knees and twist just right to generate power for their elbows (as an example) in Krav Maga we basically spend twenty minutes learning to burst off of our back foot like a sprinter leaving the blocks. They both use body weight to generate power into the elbow, it’s just that in Krav we’ve learned to do this in a fraction of the time it takes the “art”.

Can a one hundred pound woman hit as hard as a two hundred pound man? No, if they are both using all of their body weight. If he is just arm punching and she is sending her hip to twist and generate power she is hitting harder. While his twenty pound arm is behind his punch her entire one hundred pounds is behind hers.

In Krav we have two rules for throwing a combative. 1) Hit as hard as possible and 2) hit many, many times. If we can justify hitting someone we can justify winning the encounter with whatever it takes. Every combative that we throw in class (hence, in the real world if needed) is thrown at full force. If we are ever in a violent situation where our safety is threatened we will not dance, change levels, go in and out and attempt to “set up” our attacks. We will go forward and swing for the fences. The longer we allow the encounter to last the more likely the scum bag’s buddies will show up. We need to destroy and then vacate the area. This is why we don’t have a “jab” in Krav Maga. We have a “front hand punch” that we twist our hips with and try for knockout power. In sports they can jab because their life isn’t on the line and they are attempting to win by scoring points. This just doesn’t work on the streets.

How important is getting our body weight into a combative to generate maximum power? Krav Maga techniques are fairly worthless without it. If we get a scumbags hands off of our neck but don’t kick hard he/she just attacks us again. If we block a knife but don’t hit the scumbag hard he/she just stabs us again. If we redirect the handgun but don’t deliver a strong combative we are in a wrestling match. The strike is what makes the technique effective. This is why half of each krav maga class is spent on combatives.

Krav Maga was designed to get people from zero to being able to defend themselves faster than any other system. This is why transferring body weight into an attack is done as simply as possible. Most practitioners in martial arts aren’t very good after only three or four months but in Krav a student is testing into level two after three or four months…and are pretty darned good by then.

Below is an old Human Weapon episode explaining knock out power. BE SAFE!

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If It’s Complicated…It Ain’t Self Defense!

If it’s complicated…..it ain’t self defense. Real violence is more sudden, more terrifying, closer and faster than any of us can train for. If whatever you do to fight back isn’t instinctual, if it isn’t something that comes right out of you, it will not keep you safe.

If it teaches you to fear no man & to charge into a knife, stick or other weapon……it ain’t self defense. Any good self defense system will tell you to RUN! We aren’t injury proof and we’d rather not have to defend ourselves. We’d rather not be there, run, talk our way out, pick up an object to whack the scumbag with and, only as a last resort, use actual self defense techniques. Self protection is using awareness and avoiding. Self defense means you weren’t paying attention and are already in a bad situation that you now have to fight your way out of.

If it involves fine motor skills….it ain’t self defense. With stress and the adrenaline dump blood pools to our core. This makes our limbs weak, heavy and numb. There is no way we are doing finger manipulations in the face of real violence.

If it is regimented…..it ain’t self defense. There are arts where a choke defense, for example, has steps A through F that are followed and practiced every time. When, in the real world, the attacker doesn’t do what we expect and the technique derails at step C we will be lost.

If it is totally ground based….it ain’t self defense. Being on the ground takes two things for granted. That there isn’t a weapon involved and that there is only one attacker. Theses are two things that we should never be thinking won’t happen.

If it is practiced with space….it ain’t self defense. All knife defenses, for example, work when the attacker announces himself from six feet away. Whatever you are learning has to work late, after you’ve been surprised and have already taken damage. Another angle on this is if I am taking big circular steps in my technique, stepping several feet to perform a throw, etc. I am taking for granted that I will never be attacked in a crowded area, never in an aisle of a bus, etc.

If it isn’t a workout, isn’t developing cardio…it ain’t self defense. We have black belts in other arts come to our gym quite often. They almost never can make it through a class and almost never come back. How can you teach people to be safe who can’t fight hard for more than a few seconds? We’d love our fights to be over in a few seconds but we can’t take that for granted. If the fight does drag out fatigue will get us hurt. We must be able to keep going until the danger is over.

If it relies on katas to develop skills for fighting off multi attackers…it ain’t self defense. We learn to fight multi attackers in Krav by having multi attackers pad up and smack us around! Sounds logical to us!

If it takes years to become proficient…..it ain’t self defense. If you knew that you would be attacked five years from now it wouldn’t matter what you studied. You’d be pretty good by then. Do you know when you’ll be attacked? It could a month from now, couldn’t it?

If it is sparring….in ain’t self defense. Despite what Hollywood leads us to believe real world violence is never like sparring. Sparring has rules, flow, set ups. Violence is a knife slashing at you non stop, three people standing over you stomping your head into the curb, someone grabbing you by the hair and throwing haymakers at your face. It is not feinting, changing levels, going in, backing out and throwing combinations. Sparring teaches some good skills, it just can’t be relied on to get us ready for real violence.

If you are studying something strictly for self defense make sure that it was developed strictly for self defense! BE SAFE!

Listen To Those Voices!

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!

BUT IT LOOKED GOOD IN THE GYM…

“No matter how enmeshed a commander is with his plans he must from time to time consider the enemy” Winston Churchill

In Krav Maga every technique in our curriculum has been put under stress, exhaustion and realistic attack scenarios. Techniques that look good in a gym may completely fall apart in the real world. Techniques will degrade under the stress of real world violence anyway and, unfortunately, many techniques that are embraced and believed in may well be worthless.

When we do our handgun disarms with a partner who is standing like a statue we can look pretty effective with the technique after a few reps. In our class we would then have the partner act like an actual attacker and wave the gun around, strike and push the defender while screaming and cussing all the while. With just this one change the defense suddenly doesn’t look so good, the defender suddenly doesn’t look as proficient. If we have only trained with a partner holding the handgun like a statue we will not react properly when, in a real world attack, the gunman is hitting us, the gun is never still, etc.

We have actually had techniques that we believed in that were part of our curriculum be taken out after seeing them fail under stress and realistic attacks. In our level 1 curriculum we now have a choke defense called “one hand pluck”. This is a useful technique under certain circumstances. This technique used to be called “choke with a head butt defense”. When done in class it looks like a great technique. You pluck the choke with one hand and send the other hand as a palm attack to the attacker’s face and then go into the clinch with knees and kicks. It looks effective with a training partner in the gym. We noticed time and time again during a drill where the defender closes their eyes and the partner grabs them for any choke defense (behind, side, front, front while rearing back for a head butt, chokes with pushes, headlock, etc.) that all defenses came out of the defender except the choke with a head butt defense. The student almost always just did the two hand pluck choke from the front defense and never saw the head butt coming. I used to bawl out the class that nobody noticed the head butt. Well, after studying stress, the adrenalin dump, etc. I learned to quit bawling out the class and realize that under a realistic, surprise attack this defense simply won’t be done. Therefore, it is a bad technique. Looked great one on one in the gym, never comes out of anyone when under stress. If this technique had never been put under stress, exhaustion and realistic attacks it would still be taught…and it would get people hurt.

The techniques I see in other systems that really scare me are the knife defenses. They look great on the videos. The instructor looks great taking that knife away. In Krav we have put those defenses under realistic attacks, stress and exhaustion and have found very, very few that would be even slightly effective. Take whatever defense you believe in and run it through this simple drill; Spar for at least a couple of rounds (or crossfit for awhile or anything else that will get your pulse rate way up), then have several people grab kick shields and jostle you around. Next have the knife attacker yell “knife” to let the pad holders know to get out of the way and then attack you with a sewing machine needle type of attack. Oh, by the way both the attacker’s arms and your arms are slathered with KY jelly (which represents the blood that is always present during a knife attack…and is one slippery substance). If your knife defense works after all of that it’s a good one. We’ve pretty much found that blocking as good as you can as you punch the attacker’s face or kick his groin and then bear hug the arm with the knife as you attack with all you got is about all that even comes close to working. Again, what may look great with your buddy attacking half assed in a gym just ain’t gonna hold up through all of that. “All of that” represents reality. Why learn something if it hasn’t been tested?

This, to me, is where most martial arts fail. I was a fourth degree black belt in one and don’t remember anything we did ever being put under stress, exhaustion or an attack that was anywhere close to realistic. If it hasn’t been tested it’s just a pretty gym technique…that will get people hurt when they need it the most. BE SAFE!

Mass Shooting & Terrorist Attacks

I have had a couple of people hit me up with “what would you do” questions about the mass shooting in Orlando a few weeks ago. This tragedy is being politicized by all sides to the point that it’s sickening. I’ll give ya my advice on how I’d take care of it…then I’ll give you more realistic advice that anyone can implement.

As far as schools go I like what Texas is doing…arm teachers. Taking guns away from everyone will have only the psychos and criminals having access to guns. They will still get them because they ignore the law. Schools are “no gun” zones…that law didn’t stop the scum bag. If a few teachers were highly trained and had access to guns in the schools these psychopathic idiots wouldn’t have free access to roam the halls and shoot for as long as they want. “But that isn’t the teacher’s job” is what I hear. Well, the principal and a few teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary rushed the scum bag empty handed. They weren’t going to let anyone harm their kids. They were killed in the process because a rifle beats empty hands every time. The point is, these heroes wanted to do something and they did do something. They just had the odds stacked against them.

Now advice for if you are ever in such a situation that is a bit more realistic. The best thing you can do is to have thought about it before hand and have a plan in your head. I have written about stress and mind setting in previous blogs. Under the stress of someone shooting at you it is impossible to come up with a plan. Your brain will go to “mid brain”, which is also called the “animal brain” under this stress. This is why you hear stories like that of Luby’s restaurant in Texas where people sat at their tables frozen as the gunman walked around shooting. Under that stress your brain is scanning to see if anything like this had ever happened before and how you got out of it. With no plan in place, no practice and no experience the brain will not come up with a plan but will continue to scan, freezing you in place.

I believe if everyone carried a weapon and trained (especially RBT) mass shootings would be a thing of the past. Read that again, I didn’t say if everyone carried. The training part is the most important. Training comes out of us and we don’t freeze in place when some fool starts shooting.

What plan should we have for these mass shootings for those who don’t or can’t carry a handgun? I have a very good friend who is a cop that tried to get into his local school system a few years ago with plans/drills for the high school students. The administration wouldn’t even sit through the video of Columbine that he had with him, yet alone talk to him about implementing the plans he had. Their heads were buried in the sand, they couldn’t possibly implement such a thing.

The plan is that in a crowded room when someone starts shooting everyone throws whatever they can get their hands on at the scum bag (books and laptops if you are at school, dishes and glasses if in a restaurant, etc.). As these objects are striking the shooter everyone then rushes him and dog piles on top of him. He may get a couple of people but these twenty and thirty person mass murders wouldn’t happen. Such a thing would take training, which is exactly what we do at our gyms. We actually sit people at tables with plastic plates and cups, have someone come in firing a blank gun and have at him.

These tragedies are horrible and, instead of knee jerk reactions and blaming everyone and everything except the psycho who pulled the trigger, we need education. If every school had active shooter drills where the above plan was practiced the students would be safer. Schools have fire drills several times throughout the school year but don’t practice for active shooters (correctly anyhow). There have been more school shootings than deadly fires in schools over the past fifteen years, by far. BE SAFE!