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!

GET 2 FREE DVD’s FOR CHRISTMAS!

USKMA AFFILIATE GIFTS for website

Order anything from our pro shop and get 2 free dvd’s!

Order any book, dvd or t-shirt (including our new t shirt design via VIP TEEs…”Violence of motion trumps technique”) and get our new Handgun Disarms Seminar DVD and Order the new Knife Defenses Seminar DVD!

Knife Defenses Seminar – Seminar led by Mark Slane, lead instructor of the USKMA, covers all techniques, philosophy and drills of the USKMA knife defenses. The same seminar taught to thousands of students and law enforcement personnel. Regularly $19

-Handgun Disarms Seminar – Seminar led by Mark Slane, lead instructor of the USKMA, covers all techniques, philosophy and drills of the USKMA handgun disarms. The same seminar taught to thousands of students and law enforcement personnel. Regularly $19


Go to USKMA.com and click on “Store”. Or; http://unitedstateskravmagaassociation.com/store/
Nothing extra to do, just order anything between now and Christmas and we will add the free dvd’s.

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!

GET IN, STAY IN!

One of Imi Lichtenfied’s students tells a story about the time that there was a TV on with a Bruce Lee movie playing. The student asked Imi “what do you think of Bruce Lee”? Imi said “Well, the boy is very good, however, if he has time to duck he has time to go in and finish….but that would make for a short movie I suppose.” Krav Maga training has a technique that is very unique called “bursting.” We push off of a foot like a sprinter leaving the starting blocks to put our whole weight behind an attack or block and to get inside. We want to be inside because we never think that one punch, elbow, etc. will knock out the attacker (it indeed may but we can’t take that for granted) so we want to be close to clinch and attack and attack again until the bad guy is done.

A person in a sparring match can move, strike, move some more, circle, strike again, etc. This works because in a sparring match there are two evenly matched opponents competing with a set of rules. In the real world fighting like this only works if we are better, stronger, aren’t worried about a second attacker, have time, etc. In Krav Maga we realize we don’t have those luxuries so we want to burst in, hit the bad guy many times, finish him as quickly as we can and never give him the chance to strike at us more than once. In a choke, for instance, getting the bad guy’s hands off or our throat and then backing off, squaring up to fight and then throwing punches would only work if we are the better fighter. Instead we remove the attacker’s hands, simultaneously kick his groin, land forward, clinch the attacker and throw non stop knees & front kicks until he is done.

We show this concept from the very first intro lesson at our gym. We show a front kick, let the new student do a few, and then stop the student to teach Krav philosophy. We tell them that their kick was fine (it’s an easy technique) but not to kick and put their foot back where they started. If they kick and put their foot back they have to kick again to get back close to the attacker. We show them to kick and put their foot down forward because then the attacker is right there for a knee with the other leg or they can just clinch the attacker and deliver multiple combatives.

When there is a weapon involved this becomes even more important. If we can’t run or pick up something to smack the attacker with we want to go in. If it’s a handgun we direct it off of us and go in and beat him unconscious. In the case of a knife or stick the attacker expects us to back up. Backing up puts us in greater danger as we are going to the most dangerous part of the stick (the end) or into the arc of the blade. In the case of the stick going in keeps us from being hit by the part going the fastest but instead takes us into the hand or forearm of the person swinging the stick. There isn’t much damage the bad guy is going to do to us there. We aren’t just moving in to escape the danger but when we do get in we deliver a strike. This strike has a lot of power as our whole body was behind it. While inside, after this first strike, we clinch and throw knees, elbows, head butts, etc. until we are safe.

The point is that you can dance and prance if you are in a fair fight. If you are fighting for your life go forward, get in deep and beat on the bad guy until he’s done! BE SAFE!

Permission to Strike First!

This blog by guest blogger; Matt Kissel – 2nd degree USKMA black belt and Law Enforcement Officer

Permission to strike first!

Traditional martial arts often wait for the first punch. We don’t live in a traditional world. Your attacker is not raised with Honor, Discipline and Respect for others. He has chosen you as his victim and wants to prey on you.
The attack comes on fast and brutal. Sometimes without our ability to even see it. A full on ambush from your blindside and you enter the fight from the worst possible time. You’ve been hit, cut, knocked to the ground, swarmed… But not all attacks start this way. I want to discuss the ones that start a bit more slowly.

We have all heard of the X. The place the attacker has chosen. He is waiting for his prey to arrive at it. Your there and he approaches. The setup, The attacker may use a ruse to gain your attention or distract you from their real intent. “Do you have some change.. Know what time it is.. I lost a puppy. “. No matter how benign it may sound you have to trust your guy. Is this guy legit or setting me up?

The confrontation. His real intent comes out. He produces a knife or gun. Maybe he just grabs you or blocks your way. Now is the time to ask your self. “Can I get away?” If you can run! The attacker is looking for “easy prey”. Your running metamorphous you into the difficult prey or better yet ” an opponent”. If you can’t, should you do what he demands. He can have my money, there isn’t much there anyways. He can use my credit cards. The detectives will get pictures of him buying gift cards at the gas station. Someone will know him. He will get caught. It’s my immediate job to get home to my wife and family.

But what if I can’t get away? What if giving him what he wants won’t satisfy him? What of he wants something from you like rape? What if he wants to take you somewhere? You are going to be in a fight very soon.

I say start it. Be the one that hits first, knocks him to the ground, ambushes him. Come in strong, fast and brutal. In Swat we call it the trinity (speed, surprise and fierceness of action). It must have all three to be an effective counter attack. If you lose one of them you have to work very hard to get back in control of the situation.

Make witnesses that see and hear you with your stance, open hands palm out, yell “stay back” back off, call 911. “. Criminals never yell these things. We need witnesses from near and far. Someone that will point out my actions before the fight starts so the police will list me as the victim. Get to a safe spot, Be the first to report the attack.

We as instructors have to give permission to strike first. Those that trust us to teach them to protect themselves also trust us to tell them the truth. You can not block all the attacks. You can not always absorb the first punch. If you wait to be struck first you may be too late and not survive the attack. Tell your students it’s O K to strike first. Use roll play with attackers and let them explain their actions afterwards.

Bottom line; If you identify the setup and confrontation and decided you can’t get away without becoming physical. You have permission to strike first.

A story from my job as a police officer; We had a criminal attempt to rob a pizza delivery driver. The driver saw the knife and slapped the knife hand and delivered a right cross that knocked the robber out. Bet he didn’t see that coming. We never solved the robbery but we never had any more either.

In law enforcement we have a saying to each other ” be safe!” I say ” be dangerous!” Be the most dangerous prey he ever crossed.