IS THIS PERSON RATIONAL?

One great lesson that I’ve learned from the co-lead instructor of the USKMA, Brannon Hicks, is to ask “Is this person rational?” He leads a great RBT class and when critiquing A scenario the question he asks over and over to the officer is “Was this a rational person?” Thinking in those terms helps the officer to make decisions much quicker.

I taught a third-party protection class recently where one of the scenarios was that they were walking a spouse/significant other and a belligerent person came up threatening the spouse. The student playing the belligerent person never laid hands on the spouse but kept coming forward and yelling threats over and over. Because there was no actual contact many of the students were confused on what they should do. After the scenario I would ask them “Was this a rational person?” Would a rational person be belligerent, keep coming forward even though you’ve tried to walk away and threaten to do harm to another person? When the answer was “no, this is not a rational person.” the solution seemed to show itself. It is not rational to threaten a stranger and to keep coming forward as if to do harm. My thought was if I know this isn’t a rational person and I have clearly try to get away and leave the situation and de-escalate, if that person keeps coming forward I probably need to strike first. I can justify in my head, and in a court of law, that I believed this was not a rational person, they were threatening to do harm, and I was not going to wait on them to draw a knife or to follow through with your threat. Again, I would have witnesses stating that I was doing the rational thing. I was trying to leave I was trying to de-escalate I was trying to break contact with this person

SGT Hicks shows a video of a law-enforcement officer who waits way too long to put hands on a criminal. The first thing the officer does is point a taser at the man and tell him to stop coming forward. The man continues to come forward. If this officer would have just thought “This is not a rational thing. I am a law-enforcement officer giving a command and pointing a weapon at this person and yet they keep coming forward”. If he would have decided right then and there that he was dealing with an irrational person and did something about it it would’ve saved him a lot of trouble. It ended up that this criminal drew a knife and stabbed the officer and the officer had to shoot and kill this man.

In my mind setting I tell myself over and over to ask that simple question. Is this person rational? Again, a rational person would not threaten a stranger, act violently, put himself in my face, or any other such thing. Unless we thought about this in our heads ahead of time we may end up frozen thinking “Why is this person doing this, do I know this person? I need to de-escalate this, I need to keep giving orders, keep giving commands, I need to talk my way out of this.” It goes without saying that you’re not going to talk an irrational person out of anything. In my opinion, it is time to go hands-on if I’ve tried to leave, de-escalate, etc. and it’s not working. Any rational person is not going to do the expected. An irrational person is a dangerous person.

In any situation ask yourself that question. Is this person being rational? If they are rational we can talk. If there irrational it may be time to go hands-on. Be safe!

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Women’s Self Defense….

I am in Arnold MO at Hahn’s MMA & Fitness teaching a self defense for women seminar today for about 80 ladies. Something they will be hearing 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!

See It Before It Happens!

“On October 16, 1991, 35-year-old George “Jo Jo” Pierre Hennard, an unemployed merchant seaman who was described by others as angry and withdrawn, with a dislike of women, drove his blue 1987 Ford Ranger pickup truck through the front window of a Luby’s cafeteria at 1705 East Central Texas Expressway in Killeen. Yelling “This is what Bell County did to me!”, Hennard then opened fire on its patrons and staff with a Glock 17 pistol and, later, a Ruger P89. He stalked, shot, and killed 23 people while wounding another 20 before committing suicide.” Wikipidia

It was reported that the majority of people shot and killed were sitting at their tables. Very few rushed the gunman or did anything to secure their safety. I would think he would have killed less than twenty-three if everyone would have started winging dishes at him and dog piled on him, but under that stress and fear people can’t come up with a plan…they freeze.

The reason people do this “freezing” under stress is that they aren’t thinking, their brains are stuck in “mid brain”. Under stress our brains will scan our entire lives to see if we had ever been in the situation before and, if so, how we got out of it. Our brain will scan to see if we have a plan for the situation. If our brain finds none it will simply keep scanning, and we will keep sitting there like a statue. We aren’t going to come up with a plan at that time but training will come out of us.

I have written blogs on minds setting in the past. One thing that law enforcement officers have practiced that has saved many lives is that in the mid seventies law enforcement agencies started preaching mind setting. As the officers were patrolling throughout their day they were taught to ask themselves or talk with their partners about the “what ifs”. “What if we stop at this light and a gunman approaches from your side…from my side…from behind”. “What if we walk into this business and a guy attacks you with a knife…attacks me…is attacking someone else”, etc., etc. Lives were saved because they constantly thought about plans.

In Krav Maga classes our drills are getting people ready for violence. We are physically working on plans for someone trying to hurt us, for multiple attackers, for someone trying to cut us, hit us with a stick, shoot us, etc., etc. We also want our practitioners to think. We tell them when they read about a violent attack or see one on the news to not just think “poor person” but to think “what would I do if in that situation”. So, ask yourself:
-What would I do if I were watching TV in my house and someone kicked in the front door?
-What would I do if I woke up in my bed and someone was standing over me?
-What would I do if driving and someone was standing in the road trying to get me to stop…or blocking the road with a car…or trying to run me off the road with a car?
-What would I do if I saw three guys trying to surround me in the mall parking lot?
-What would I do if someone forced their way into my car?

You can think of many, many others. Please do. If you think about a situation you are much more likely to have that plan surface if the situation happens to you. There is a lot more to being safe than learning some techniques.

One more thing to think about…your planning does your family no good if it isn’t shared with them. Have plans and talk about them with your spouse and kids. Practice “home invader” drills. Have a plan if at a mall and a gunfight starts. Have a plan for when you are in the car. Plan, plan, plan!! BE SAFE!

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!

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