BE SAFE Seminars at your gym!

Mark Slane, lead instructor of the United States Krav Maga Association, is available for BE SAFE seminars at your gym.

One Day Training Seminars;
-Home Invasion 1 hr 15 min
-Pre Violence Indicators Lecture 40 min
-Active Shooter 1 hr
-Confined Space Self Defense (Planes, Trains & Buses) 1 hr

Two Day Training Seminars (the above is day 1) 2nd day;
-Handgun Disarms Seminar 1 hr 45 mins
-Real World Violence Lecture 1 hr
-Knife Defense Seminar 1 hr 45 mins

Be Safe Seminars are great for special events at your gym, community outreach, staff training, gym money maker, etc. No prior training is necessary. Simple, effective training that can save lives! E mail Mark at Info@uskma.com with questions or to schedule.

ABOUT MARK;
Mark Slane is the United States Krav Maga Association founder and chief instructor. In 1999 Mark Slane was a member of the very first group of outside instructors ever trained at the Krav Maga National Training Center in Los Angeles. He then went on to open one of the first half dozen Krav Maga schools in the United States. To become a black belt in Krav Maga is difficult. Prior to 2007, instructors who wished to become black belts must have been personally invited to test in Los Angeles by Krav Maga Worldwide. Krav Maga Worldwide tested, on average, only four or five for black belt each year. Mark became a black belt in November of 2003 (one of only thirty in the U.S. at the time), tested with the USKMA to Second Degree Black Belt in 2009 and to Third degree in 2012 and received 4th degree black belt in 2016. Mark has trained in Israel with the founder of Krav Maga’s heir, Grandmaster Yaron Lichtenstien.

Mark has studied the martial arts for over twenty five years. Mark started his training in Tae Kwon Do and holds a fourth degree black belt in that art. In Olympic style Tae Kwon Do he won a national championship in sparring in the light weight division – 33 to 40 year old age group. He has taught martial arts to hundreds of students in various schools over the past twenty years and has coached and trained dozens of national medalists, national champions, U.S. team members and World medalists. Mark has also trained in boxing for several years with Olympic Gold Medalist, Jerry Page and has spent years studying Muay Thai, BJJ, and Mixed Martial Arts as well.

Mark retired early from his firefighter/paramedic job to devote his life to making others safer. Mark founded the United States Krav Maga Association to spread Krav Maga throughout the U.S. the right way. No politics or egos…Just real world self defense training. Mark is also the author of Be Safe! Self Defense for Women In the Real World, American Krav Maga, Defending the Barrel & the Blade and Krav Maga For Law Enforcement with SGT Brannon Hicks.

WHY DO WE ‘PLUCK’ IN KRAV MAGA?

The first technique a student learns when attending one of my krav maga classes is the front choke with the pluck. I love to show this one first because all of the concepts of krav maga are included. The first concept is to get rid of the danger is quickly as possible. When we feel pain our hands automatically go to that pain. When we are choked our hands start for our throats even before we know what’s going on. This cuts down on practice time, is more likely to come out of this under stress, etc. A natural reaction is always going to be quicker than a learned motion. The second concept of krav maga is to always defend and attacked simultaneously. The person choking us probably doesn’t have their legs crossed but is standing wide open. As our hands are busy doing the defense our legs are free to send that front kick to the groin. Not only have we gotten our first attack in (keeping the attacker in the OODA loop) but that attacker’s going to loosen the grip even that much more because of that groin kick. The third concept is to go off like a bomb and beat the idiot down until we are safe. So the pluck is in our defense because it is a natural motion that comes out of us and has that extremely effective groin kick to loosen up the attacker that much more. Before the attacker is recovered from that kick we are already into elbows to the head, kicks to the knee, knees to the throat etc.

I have seen several Krav Maga and organizations take the pluck out of their choke defenses. They give several reasons for this. One is that they do not like having several different choices for a choke defense. I totally agree with this thought however, all chokes aren’t created equal. Are we being choked in place? Is there a lot of momentum that has us being thrown forward or backwards? Is the choke from the front, behind, side, or some other odd angle? Lastly, how do we know that we will be standing when we are choked? We can certainly be laying in bed, on the ground, sitting in a car where we have a seatbelt on with doors closed.

One reason that i have heard to get rid of plucks is that standing still and being choked is an unrealistic attack, that we will always be pushed backwards with force….they seem to think that we have to suspend reality because, in their understanding, no one would “stop” when they choke you. As SGT Brannon Hicks (the co-lead instructor of the USKMA) says “The reality is that they are revealing inexperience with attacks in the real world. The reality is that in my career, one of the most common attacks in domestic violence in particular occurred when a man would choke a woman and pull her in close, like face to face to intimidate and terrify. The bicep to ear movement doesn’t work well in that instance because the attacker collapses in and bears his weight forward. It also makes it nearly impossible for a much smaller or weaker person to generate any significant rotational power, whereas the groin kick is easily accessible and the pluck does enough to buy fractions of a second and precious air. So they are right about the pluck not working well if you’re being driven backward. I point this out all the time. Again, regrettably, they’re teaching people from a point of inexperience that a very real and common attack is unrealistic.
If they rely on small muscle groups to do the pluck, they are doing it wrong. Their understanding of the pluck appears fundamentally flawed.”

I have heard several instructors talking about the groin kick being ineffective. This always makes me shake my head. Again, quoting SGT Hicks “On the matter of striking the jaw rather than going for a groin shot, this thinking is exceedingly narrow. Who is attacking and who is being attacked? Am I to believe that if my 12 year old daughter “cracks” a 200 lbs man in the jaw, she’s going to do enough damage while being choked that this will exceed the damage caused by a groin shot? I’ve crushed a lot of guys nuts on the street and found it to be incredibly effective. Conversely, I’ve beaten guys about the head until my hands and elbows nearly broke and swelled up by grapefruits. Keeping in mind that i’ve knocked a lot of men out in sport competition. I’m not sure what his balls are made of, but human balls are incredibly soft targets lol So, yes, striking to the jaw against a man of similar size might be very effective. Would that be the same if a 5′ woman were doing that against a 6’3″ man? Could she even reach him? I doubt it. I’m confident that she could kick him in the nuts though. I have heard instructors making a point about guys being cracked in the jaw during sports and they stop as opposed to taking groin shots and shaking it off. I don’t know what sports they are watching but MMA is 15-25 minutes of guys getting cracked in the head and pressing on to keep fighting, but if they take one good groin shot, we know what happens. Break time. They fall down.”

I guess my point is that there is no one size fits all technique and to talk in absolutes is usually a mistake. Our litmus test when trying any technique is how will it work for a very small female against a very large, strong male. The rip at the choke as she kicks to the groin is still the best we’ve seen in that situation. Too many organizations do what works for the head honcho and forgets that they are teaching small females to defend against that honcho! BE SAFE!

Training the Brain!

“…under sudden life-threatening stress, individuals will likely exhibit behaviour based on past experiences that they will automatically produce without conscious thought. This means [that there is a necessity to] not only [train] officers in appropriate tactics but also [to provide] sufficient repetition under stress so that new behaviours will automatically take precedent over any previously learned, potentially inappropriate behaviours that they possessed before becoming an officer”. Ken Murray

I recently watched a cool documentary on the brain. It was shot at the Navy Seals Special Warfare Command. It talked about how those in Seal training are introduced to chaos from day one because historically mistakes on the battlefield are almost always associated with fear and panic. At this training they are trying to find mentally tough soldiers more so than athletic studs. Each class has 140 men and only an average of 36 pass. They have had Olympic athletes fail while they once had a one hundred and forty pound farm boy from Nebraska who had never seen the ocean until training pass. Needless to say, they take neuroscience seriously.

Researchers have found that a part of the brain no larger than a finger nail called the Amygdala controls emotions, especially fear. The Amygdala instinctly pushes the panic button because this part of the brain gets impulses two times faster than the frontal lobes, which is where our rational thoughts and synchronized activity comes from. When something such as a loud noise startles us the Amygdala has our pulse rising, gets sweat started and has us moving before the Frontal lobes figure out whether it is something that we should be afraid of or not. If we relied only on the frontal lobes we would freeze until we figured out what was going on. The Amygdala gets us ducking, moving and orienting ourselves towards the danger immediately.

The Seal training exposes the soldiers to many scary situations. This helps them to get used to the danger and gives them a been there, done that feeling. This training helps to minimize delay by generating fast and accurate reactions to situations that they will face in combat. For example they fail more candidates in the pool competency training than anywhere else. In the pool competency training the candidates have on their tanks and breathing apparatus. While underwater on air the instructors mess with the candidates for up to twenty minutes by taking their tubes out of their masks and tying them into knots, shutting off their tanks, throwing their masks off of them, etc. They are without air as much as they are on air and must control the fear of drowning as they do the proper procedures to get back on air. When this happens in battle it won’t be nearly so scary as they have been in this position before, many times.

The Seals have a four step mental toughness program that include 1) goal setting, 2) mental rehearsal (mind setting), 3) self talk (they have found that we talk to ourselves by using between 300 and 1,000 words per minute. Those with positive self talk, the “you can do this” succeeded at a much higher rate than those who told themselves “this is impossible”) and 4) arousal control. This is the use of deliberate and slow breathing, especially long exhales. Since they started teaching this the Pool competency training pass rate has gone from ¼ to 1/3.

Watching this documentary had me standing in awe of Krav Maga’s founder, Imi Lichtenfeld. Imi was figuring this stuff out back in the 40’s and 50’s! The drills we do, the way we test and the general thoughts behind Krav training are in line with what the Seals are doing today. We train real, mind set and put students through rough times so that if they are ever attacked on the street they have that “been there, done that” feeling. How cool! BE SAFE!

The Power of Awareness!

USKMA Black Belt, Karissa Walton gave a speech this week at her school entitled The Power of Awareness

The speech is this weeks blog. Thanks, Karissa!

Are you aware that…
– …Phoenix is considered to be the kidnapping capital of America?
It is currently ranked #1 in the US and #2 in the world, next to Mexico City
370 recorded cases last year  on average, at least one victim goes missing each day
– …Phoenix is known as the “largest drug gateway into America”?
In 2013, AZ DPS reported 18,334 drug-related arrests in Maricopa County alone
1 in 4 felons serving drug sentences in US prisons are not US citizens – they are the foot soldiers for the Cartel
– …With drugs comes violence?

Overall crime rate in Phoenix is 45% higher than the national average
I’m not sharing this information to frighten or dishearten you, but rather to make you aware of the harshness of reality. I think that as naturopathic students, it is so easy for us to get caught up in exams, clinic shifts, and trying to live a healthy lifestyle that we often lose sight of what goes on beyond these walls. We become unaware of the world that surrounds us.

About 7 years ago, I began my transition to awareness through a system called Krav Maga. Some of you may be thinking “what did she just say… Kraw McGraw? That must be one of another one of those weird martial arts… That’s just not my thing.” Well, the thing I love most about Krav is that it doesn’t have to be your thing. It is a philosophy-based system that was designed for to be effective for anyone and evolve over time.

Krav Maga was first developed before WWII when the Nazis invaded Poland. The Jews were disarmed and left defenseless. At that time, Imi Lichtenfeld, an Olympic boxer and wrestler, developed a system for the Jews to defend themselves on the streets. When Israel became a country after WWII, Imi was put in charge of the combatives training for the Israeli Defense Force. He was able to refine the system and teach to students from around the world. One of his students, Darren Levine, brought Krav to the US in the early 1980s. He passed the training on to the instructor who eventually passed it down to me.

People often ask me why I practice and teach this “Krav Maga.” Why have I spent countless hours in the gym training to complete exhaustion with nothing in return but some bruises and sore muscles? However, that is not the case at all… In return, I have gained an invaluable gift that I can now share with others – a little something I like to call “awareness.”

In Krav, we train for the worst case scenarios. In doing so, we must accept that the worst can happen. The direct byproduct of this acceptance is awareness. Once you become aware of what is around you and what can happen to you, you begin to carry yourself differently. You begin to prepare. You begin to find strength inside yourself that you never knew you had. This doesn’t mean that I walk around sticking out my chest proudly as if I’m looking for a fight. This also doesn’t mean that I walk around cowering as I anxiously scan every little thing around me. It means that I walk with confidence and mindfulness of my surroundings. I am mentally prepared to defend myself or my loved ones if the need ever arises.

As a Krav Maga practitioner, you are constantly coming up with new ways to exercise techniques under stress. As all of us here are aware, when your body is in a sympathetic state, fine motor skills are one of the first things to go. Knowing this, we train to exhaustion (and beyond) in order to induce a realistic simulation of being attacked. During these “stress drills,” you become aware of the physiological changes that your body experiences. You learn to maximize the effect of your natural responses and find power you didn’t think you had left. The more aware you become, the more you can train your “fight or flight” response to fight if necessary and get away as safely as possible.

Since my journey of awareness began, I have noticed changes in the way others approach me as well. While filling up at a gas station or walking through parking lots, I used to constantly be approached by people who were looking for more than an innocent “hello.” Now, it is a very rare occurrence. If you are alert and observant, you simply don’t look like a target and people will recognize that. This has saved me from many unwanted encounters that could have escalated to a dangerous situation quickly.

Not only have I been able to see this transformation in myself, but I have witnessed it in those I teach as well. It has been so rewarding to see the confident yet humble presence of those who have become aware. I have trained women who were previously unaware and unfortunately became a victim to physical or sexual abuse. With a heightened level of awareness, these women have been released from an unspeakable past. They are now able to maintain their composure under stress, while having a much deeper appreciation for the safety of themselves and loved ones. They are empowered.

As Imi (the founder of Krav Maga) once said, “People respect power, and it comes in many forms, Krav Maga is power, and people will respect you for knowing it.” There are many forms of power, so even if you don’t decide to take up Krav Maga tomorrow… I hope that you find power in standing up for what’s right. Find power in not victimizing yourself. Find power in awareness.

Overcoming Experience!

From Guest Blogger and USKMA co-lead instructor, Brannon Hicks

As I walked out of the 24 hour Walmart and into the dark parking lot, I saw a large man (I’ll call him Jon) walking hastily and looking about nervously. The only other person I saw was a smallish woman (I’ll call her Sally) in her mid 40′s looking at her cellphone and presumably texting as she walked toward the store; oblivious to her surroundings. I turned my attention back to Jon, as his apparent nervousness kicked in the instincts I had developed over the years in Police work. He approached Sally and asked if she had the time. I noted that he was wearing a watch. She stopped, startled, and looked up. I started toward them and called out, “It’s about 2:30 buddy,” as I looked Jon in the eye and stopped walking. He looked back at me for a moment, then back at Sally before walking off without saying another word. Now, was he going to rob, rape or abduct her? I can’t say for sure, but my experience has taught me that strangers who nervously approach others in dark parking lots don’t always have good intentions. Sally had likely never been attacked in a dark parking lot; otherwise I’d wager she would have been much more attentive to her surroundings.

I teach a course entitled “The Tactical Crystal Ball” to law enforcement, and a similar course entitled “Misfortune Telling” for civilians. The overall course focuses on the processes that humans go through in detecting threats and the actions we can take to evade or deter the threats. In that course, I try (hopefully I succeed) in illustrating the point that we rarely rise to our best; rather we fall to our most effective training. Not our highest level but our most effective.

The human mind, under stress, will generally rely upon our primary or most recent training or experience during stressful events. In other words, we search our memory banks for the primary response (what we usually do), or we react as we did with our most recent response. Now if Sally had been attacked by Jon in that parking lot, which would she have gone to; primary or recent response? Herein lies the problem. The freeze reaction is often a result of never having experienced such an encounter before (no recent response) and/or never trained for such a response (no ingrained or primary response). Many people have described the phenomenon of their lives “flashing before their eyes.” Sgt. Rory Miller writes at length about this phenomenon in his book “Meditations on Violence.”

Miller believes that the phenomenon is literally the mind searching through its vast data bank of experiences for the most appropriate response to the situation. This my friends, is the real benefit of effective training. Effective training allows us to access the skills we develop almost instantaneously. Hicks’ law of stress management states that the more choices we have to make under stress, the longer we will take to make them. In Krav Maga, we follow the KISS rule. Keep It Simple Stupid. All of our reactions should be trained from a position of disadvantage and most importantly; under stress and exhaustion. Our concepts are simple and direct, because complexity often breeds confusion, and therefore inaction under stress.

In the Law Enforcement community, we often review videos of officers engaging in deadly force encounters for training purposes. Far from “armchair quarterbacking,” we are relying upon the experience of others to build up our own responses; to sharpen the sword so to speak. Just as often, we see Police Officers killed or severely injured when a good tactical response is delayed by the fact that the officers had never encountered such violence before or been effectively trained to respond to it. As individuals, no one is more responsible for our safety than we are. In my estimation, Sally had never prepared herself for a violent encounter. I wager no one had ever attacked her beforehand. If Jon had wanted to victimize her, it likely wouldn’t have been difficult for him, precisely because Sally’s experience thus far in life left her in a position of disadvantage. Don’t leave yourself in the same position.

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 Pissed!

“the problem with most martial arts is that they take a logical and cerebral approach to a chaotic and visceral situation ” SGT Rory Miller in MEDITATIONS ON VIOLENCE

“When things are at their darkest and it seems like there’s no hope of surviving, well, that’s when you gotta get mad dog mean” The Outlaw Josey Wales

Different “arts” and systems seem to take different approaches on how they view emotion. In sports fighting we are told that you can’t fight mad, that you must be under control. Most martial arts preach Zen-like attitudes and to be calm under pressure. We root for the martial arts hero in the movies who seem calm and at peace as they whoop butt.

These things just don’t transfer to the real world. Fighting mad in sports makes you go hard and wear out…and you have several rounds to get through. The not fighting mad makes sense in that arena. The magical martial arts and their Samurai code are cool to study, great for self-discipline, fairly good exercise….and are fairly worthless when it comes to real violence.

When attacked on the street by a couple of scum bags who want to do you and your family harm going off with all the rage and hatred you can muster and fighting like an animal is the best chance you have of surviving. In SGT Samford Strong’s must read book STRONG ON DEFENSE he interviews dozens of people who have made it through horrible, unimaginable crimes. His main points that come through again and again are that the people who survived these horrible attacks had two things in common. 1) they worried more about the crime being done to them than they worried about injury. They accepted injury and pain and decided to pay it back to the attacker ten-fold. 2) the ones who consistently fought back and won were those who went off with anger, hatred and rage.

The thought “how dare you think you are going to harm me, I will tear you apart” and then attacking like a wild animal has a much greater impact on survival than any techniques, system or art. We cannot worry about staying fresh for a prolonged fight as we want to destroy the attacker as quick as we can and get out of there. We certainly can’t live by a “never strike first” or chivalrous code because the attacker’s don’t.

I tell student’s all the time that Krav Maga will not save you, it is not magic. Mixing our techniques (which are easy to learn & remember, use gross, whole body motions and are designed to do as much damage as possible) with going off like a bomb brining out all the anger and rage you can muster is the best chance you have of surviving violence. Ask any law enforcement officer whom they would rather face; 1) a very proficient and talented martial artist or 2) some crazy who wants to claw off their face and chew on their eyes. They would much rather face the martial artist. If we can be both the crazy person and be proficient with our techniques we will be a scary opponent indeed.

We bring this out in our classes by not just learning techniques but by putting what we learn under stress and exhaustion. We run drills in our class that wear people out and make them want to quit. At that point it is all heart that gets them through it and heart on the street is worth more than any technique or system. We encourage people to yell and cuss during these drills. Not the “hiiiiii yaaaa” of those oh so controlled martial arts but we call the attacker a “son of a bitch”, etc., etc. This may sound over the top but if we can see the scum bag in training, yell at him and hate him we are much, much safer on the street when it’s for real and we have that “been there, done that” feeling.

The scum bags use violence as a tool, we must perfect that tool and wield it better than they do. If your butt is ever on the line get mad, get mean and fight with rage and hatred. It’s the best chance you have. BE SAFE!