Karch Bear hug yellow belt testEvery once in a while a certain debate about a certain subject arises at UTKM. The debate between which belt test is more difficult, the yellow belt test or the orange belt test.  The simple provocation to answer that the orange belt test would be more difficult since it is the higher ranking belt test would be too easy of an answer. Where my argument would atone that the yellow belt test was the harder of the two since most people (including myself) are not mentally ready for the physical and mental exertion of their first UTKM belt test. In which by no means a simple feat, and one should feel damn proud after completing one. On March 31st of this year, I had the great pleasure of receiving my orange belt and my assistant instructor certification with 2 fellow students, the journey was not short I had many lessons and bumps that I had to experience before I was anywhere close to being the person I am today, my story begins like anyone else in the martial arts world: white belt.

the variable situations where shit can immediately hit the fan are many to infinite.

June 9th, 2016. The Beginning:

Was any other hot summer day, the birds were out chirping, the children were out playing, and people were getting their groins kicked out at UTKM. Just another regular day, right? June 9th, 2 years ago was the day I decided to join and try out this so-called “Krav Maga”.  At this point in my life, I had stopped doing Martial Arts and or anything combat related. I was having a difficult time trying to find a self-defense system that made sense. Now you must be asking what I mean by a self-defense system that makes sense, well a lot of martial arts assume and practice situations that simulate a predetermined situation. For example, the idea that criminals or desperate vagrants will attack you fairly that they will fight with “honor”, where in reality we’re not fighting inside a ring and anything can happen, someone could pull out a knife or a gun, there could be multiple assailants, someone might have past experienced in martial arts, the variable situations where shit can immediately hit the fan are many to infinite. This is where I believe Krav Maga really shines, it takes all these what-if scenarios and simplifies them to the base core of what all self-defense should be: the prioritization of survivability and common sense. Which brings me back to my first day of Krav, where a group of students and myself were told to surround another student who was about to do there yellow belt test. Each student that was outside the circle was given a move to perform whether it was straight punches, an overhand attack with a knife, and the student in the middle was supposed to defend against all incoming attacks. After 5 minutes straight of attacking the poor soul that was stuck in the middle and getting my groin severely kicked a couple of dozen times the only thought that went through my mind was “holy shit, this is crazy”, I knew exactly that this was what I wanted to practice. I wanted to be that badass in the middle of the circle being able to defend himself from what this crazy world had to throw, so began the training.

I personally believe that those 70 hours were some of the most crucial and important lessons you will carry with you in your life and if you choose to continue down the path of a Kravist.

White Belt:

252000 seconds, 4260 minutes, 70 hours. 70 hours is the minimum length of time of training you must acquire before you are asked to do your yellow belt test. This is not including achieving the acquired amount of time you need sparring, volunteering in a yellow belt test, and being able to prove to one of your instructors that you are ready to try and survive a UTKM belt test. I personally believe that those 70 hours were some of the most crucial and important lessons you will carry with you in your life and if you choose to continue down the path of a Kravist. Here are some of the challenges and lessons I learned in those 70 hours:

  • Stay humble, seriously I cannot stress this one enough. Leave your pride at the door, this doesn’t only apply to the UTKM gym but everywhere else you go in life. Someone is always going to be a little better, faster, younger, smarter than you, accept it. That’s life. You’ll learn more if you accept the fact that you might not know everything this world has to offer.
  • Stay standing, stay alive. It’s as simple as it sounds. The ground will do you no favors, your movements become restricted. you lose sight of your environment which brings me to my next point.
  • If there is one bad guy there is a good chance that there is 2 more. I mean what kind of bad guy fights without his henchmen?
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. If you know whats going around you, you could avoid a dangerous situation entirely.

if your fundamentals are weak you will definitely have a difficult time mastering the new techniques.

Yellow Belt:

The yellow belt is where all the basics you’ve learned comes and merges together. Not just techniques but also all the basic principles of how you should be thinking when you’ve been placed in a situation where you must defend your self. During this stage of your UTKM training, you will continue to perfect your training while learning more advanced techniques.  And after another grueling 70 hours, you will eventually be tasked with taking on the orange belt test, but first, what did I manage to learn in those 70 hours of yellow belt:

  • The basics are important if your fundamentals are weak you will definitely have a difficult time mastering the new techniques.
  • Still, continue going to white belt classes.
  • If you’re a smaller person (like myself) you will have to up your aggression, out-crazy the crazy. Physics will not be your friend here. Do not stop fighting ever.

Orange belt and now:

And now we have reached the present. I have overcome many challenges in the past 2 years that I have been with UTKM, and I expect more to come. The training and the people I have met have changed my perspective on life and generally how I view things. I can walk confidently down the street knowing that I have the tools to protect myself and those I care about. I can walk into a classroom and write an exam with zero anxiety, knowing that I have overcome greater challenges and this is just another challenge I will conquer.

Stay fearless, and walk with pride so that you too, may walk in peace. Until the next time

Karch T.

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Situational Awareness

Whether it be for Krav Maga, real self defense situations or just life we always need to be situationaly aware and assess, re-assess and assess some more to ensure at any given moment we are making the correct decision bases on the information we currently have. Short of being clairvoyant it is unlikely that in anyone point in time you will have all the information to make the perfect decision. Yet, we still need to make a decision and when it comes to self defense it is a decision that needs to be fast. All this while processing all the factors in the use of force decision tree and more, while dealing with our fight, flight, freeze mechanisms and attempting to act before our assailants.

As to our knowledge humans have not developed superpowers, the best way we can make the best decision is as mentioned to constantly assess for new information. In a self defense scenario we have to rely on our senses and experience to collect this information.

  • Sight – Can you see another assailant? Can you see a weapon? Can you see a clear exit path to safety? etc…
  • Sound – Can you hear another assailant? Can you hear police coming? can you hear gun fire? etc..
  • Feel – Can you feel the assailant resisting more or less? can you feel your control of your body or loss of it? Can you feel injury?
  • Smell – Can you smell fire? can you smell the release of toxic chemicals? etc…
  • Balance – do you still have good balance? is your balance compromised due to trauma or substances? etc…

Though you should not limit yourself to just these senses, they are most likely the ones you will rely on the most in a self defense scenario. At any point a scenario can go from fine (safe) to not fine (not safe).

Maybe you had the situation handled with one person as you effectively deployed stage 2 self defense (Diffusion) and talked the person down but then their friend showed up and they now have a higher than before self confidence and become more aggressive with the help of their friend. Now the situation is quickly changing into something worse. If you fail to assess correctly and avoid (run) or pre-emptively strike you may find yourself at the end of a sucker punch or worse.

Often, new students get so fixated on the techniques they forget that they may need to adapt in the moment based on new information.

For example a common mistake for beginners is they forget to disengage and create space even after they have clearly lost control of the situation. Yet they continue to attempt to gain control even though the tactile information (sense of touch – feel) has told them they can no longer safely control the person. This is because they know they are suppose to gain control by moving through the situationaly appropriate ranges but forget that new information has changed the strategy from attack, to avoid.

Whether new student or experienced failure to accept new information from constantly assessing the situation as it unfolds can mean going from a “successful”* violent encounter to an un-successful one.

So remember, Assess, Assess, Assess but don’t take to long to make a decision as after all, hesitation could mean death.

*Really, a successful violent encounter is to avoid it in the first place but in the absence of this possibility, a successful one could be considered one in which you escape alive and with minimal damage to yourself or loved ones.

**Topics under any principle category (EX. Krav Maga Principles) may be updated from time to time so always check in every few months to see if the posts have been updated.

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Gross motor movement over fine motor movement

Posted: July 31, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles

By now you should know that when taught correctly Krav Maga should be a principle/Conceptual based approach to self-defense (Other styles can be as well, such as BJJ). These are of course guidelines who to move and think for optimal results. Sometimes these principle’s clash and this is one of them sort of.

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Gross or fine motor movement?

One of the big ideas in Krav and well, life is to Keep things simple and rely on natural body movements. One of the most natural movements we have is to Grab. It is after all a big key in the human evolutionary process when we developed the opposable thumb. This means our hands, and bodies are wired to grab. The problem with grabbing is that it is a fine motor movement and as a general rule we prefer gross motor movement over the fine motor movement.

First, let’s define the two:

Fine motor skill (or dexterity) is the coordination of small muscles, in movements—usually involving the synchronization of hands and fingers—with the eyes. The complex levels of manual dexterity that humans exhibit can be attributed to and demonstrated in tasks controlled by the nervous system. Fine motor skills aid in the growth of intelligence and develop continuously throughout the stages of human development.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine_motor_skill  (Accessed July27th2018)

Gross motor skills are the abilities usually acquired during adulthood and older age as part of a child’s motor learning. By the time they reach two years of age, almost all children are able to stand up, walk and run, walk up stairs, etc. These skills are built upon, improved and better controlled throughout early childhood, and continue in refinement throughout most of the individual’s years of development into adulthood. These gross movements come from large muscle groups and whole body movement. These skills develop in a head-to-toe order. The children will typically learn head control, trunk stability, and then standing up and walking. (Humphrey) It is shown that children exposed to outdoor play time activities will develop better gross motor skills.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_motor_skill  (Accessed July27th2018)

So why if grabbing is a natrual movement should we avoid it if we can?

The issue with fine motor movement is that when the Fight, Flight, Freeze mechanism kicks in, and our blood starts flowing, pupils, dilated and the adrenaline starts pumping our fine motor movement starts to decline in its performance ability.

This means that if we are surprised, or startled for most people fine motor movement may fail in that moment. Because of this Grabbing should never be a primary motion, but a secondary or tertiary. We cannot completely ignore grabbing because it is so ingrained in our physiology but under duress just like eye site it can fail use due to the speed and stress of the situation.

As mentioned in a gun disarm video analysis, this is a time when we must grab but as a secondary movement. A gross motor re-direct should be done first as the primary movement then the grab as a secondary movement. Often under speed, it will look like just a grab for beginners it should be noted it should not be.

This can also apply with knives or any other weapon. When we reach to grab we are often too far away to be effective and have most likely compromised our balance but had we relied on our gross motor movement and a burst to overcome as primary movements we will most likely be in the correct range even if we mess up. Sounds complicated we know, but just trust us.

We have worked with many Krav Maga organizations from around the world and have noted that when things speed up, it is far less about grabbing and more about aggressive speed and yet the techniques we see (Especially with weapons) often involve a grab.

But if we know fine motor movement can fail us, and we know stress and speed reduce the chance of success why not practice from the start with a focus on gross motor movement as the primary movement. If you do, you will most likely start to see higher and higher success rates for the average person no matter what the technique. Of course, like much in Krav Maga, if you don’t know how to turn on that Fight, no technique or concept will help you in the moment.

So remember, when it comes to self-defense being gross is the more appropriate action…

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A while ago, this video about gun disarms popped up on my feed, and while I think their disarm are a little sloppy overall this is a very well made video for many reasons. Because of the recent pistol attack in Toronto where 12 were injured and 2 were killed I thought this was as good a time as any to analyze this video.

On a side note, compared to USA Canada has very strict gun control laws and yet this can still happen. Making laws stricter does not stop people from getting weapons to do harm to others. In high school, I knew individuals who could get illegal handguns for $500. Some people, do not care. The reality is, it is the duty of the community and police to identify high-risk individuals and keep them off the streets or away from the public. If it’s not guns, they will just use some other means to cause harm. At the end of the day, should loan wolf attacks happen that cannot be predicted the only thing that can stop them is the people who are there in the moment. The faster the threat is stopped the less damage can be done.

With this being said, I DO NOT consider gun disarms to be beginner techniques as you need to have base firearms knowledge and be fully capable of using your body as a weapon. If you can barely punch or kick or move or think or react to changing circumstances then as you can see by the video gun disarms can easily be fatal. Before I say more watch this video.

First off thanks for the video and the guys at UF PRO, production wise it’s excellent and I appreciate the effort these guys put into this video and I wish more people would do similar things. One day, with enough financial support I hope to put out such videos regularly, but until then the internet will be full of hit and miss videos…pun intended.

Ok, so let’s talk gun disarms in general. They only work if the person takes away their main advantage of range. Most trained individuals will be very difficult to disarm as they will be keeping the gun away from you unless they are attempting to conceal the weapon from witnesses. A person who is foolish enough to get close to you within arms reach may not always know what they are doing or are underestimating you completely. With this being said, any person with a gun can panic and pull away the moment you make your move. This reaction is normal with regards to any weapon, whereas if you go for it and failed to distract them they will attempt to keep it away. This and many factors again make gun disarms not a beginner skill. Though from a technical standpoint gun disarms are easy the reality around them is not.

After all good gun safety starts with assuming the gun is always loaded and ready to fire.

At 13 seconds they hold the slide and shoot a round. With most modern semi-automatic pistols this works just fine and is perfectly safe. Remember, if there is a chambered round it can still fire once and then will have to be manual re-cocked. Do not think just because you have the barrel it cannot shoot. After all good gun safety starts with assuming the gun is always loaded and ready to fire. However, I have yet to see a person attempt this with a revolver as it may not be a good idea. With modern pistols, you are not actually grabbing the barrel or chamber but the slide and body. With a revolver, you will be grabbing the actual barrel, which would be hot and may end up putting your hand around the cylinder which is ejecting the hot gas. As such, while it is preferable going for the gun over the hand/arm given the choice with revolvers going for the gun itself may be a bad idea.

Above: On the left is a single action, 1911 and on the right is a double action Glock. Dont worry if you can’t tell the difference as they both have slides.

When it comes to Krav Maga at least we want to avoid fine motor movement when possible. That is the use of the fingers and grabbing as under stress this can fail you. The problem is grabbing is very natural and keeping things natural is also something we want to do. This brings up a bit of a contradiction when it comes to gun disarms. As generally, we want to use gross motor movement. Big motions in simple linear paths. Of course, as mentioned it is preferable to go for the gun rather than the weapon arm which means we may need to end up with a grab. 

My solution to this is focusing on the re-direct first, as a primary motion then the grab as a secondary or tertiary movement if there is a bursting motion needed. This is hard to explain in words I know, but maybe one day I will do a video explaining it. But in my experience, this makes a world of difference against someone aggressive who is retracting their weapon arm.

Which brings us to the stages of gun disarms at least as I teach it. No matter which technique you are using you should follow these three steps in order if you expect to be successful in any disarm.

  1. Re-Direct and get off the center line of fire.
  2. Control the gun/weapon arm or person if needed
  3. Disarm the firearm.

With gun disarms though at any point we can disarm the gun we should as speed is of the essence especially if we have not caused the weapon to malfunction due to our actions, like grabbing the slide or covering the ejection port.

Ok, now I’ll actually get to the video. This video is good in the sense it makes a differentiation between a single action gun and a double action gun. What this means is how many mechanical actions the gun takes to fire from a trigger pull. Without getting into to much detail, a single action means a trigger pull only releases the firing pin but does not cock the hammer, while a double action does both. Because of this single actions can and usually do fire quicker due to a shorter trigger pull. The video does discuss the fact it is easier to disarm a double action than a single action. Of course, unless you are knowledgeable on pistols just assume its a single action when it comes to disarms so you learn to move faster.

At 36 seconds the first disarm is shown. This motion is fairly standard in gun disarms although the way they are doing it is not something I would teach. The first thing I want to mention that the gun is fairly close in the first disarms this can make it very difficult to speedily and accurately get the gun. When they are touching or very close to I dont always think its a good idea to go for the gun first, rather re-direct the weapon arm to control to get your self to safety first. The other thing I dont like, is he is not moving or blading his body very much or at all. His arm is also fully extended, which I suspect is for dramatic effect but this takes away your ability to follow up if needed. Generally, you should keep a bend in your arm at 95-100 degrees so that if they retract you can drive in to stay off the center line of fire. In the follow up with the double action these were successful due to the longer trigger pull, I suspect with some clean up of technique they may also have a higher success rate with the single action as well.

In the next series starting at approx 1:33 they looked at the gun to the head with six trials total with both single and double action 3 were successful and 3 were not. The funny thing was though he was 1/3 on the single action and 2/3 on the double action in both casses there was a fatal shot. Did I mention I dont think gun disarms are for beginners?…

One thing to mention is that if a shot does go off but you survive you may be startled by the fact guns are loud and you may have a very annoying rining in your ears for quite sometime.

This disarm or something very very similar (cleaned up) is one I teach, though I know many people dont like it. Again if the gun is touching your head it may be to close to realistically go for the gun first so again focus on the re-direct. In all of the successful ones, he didn’t just go for the gun but also moved his head off the center line. Remember grabbing the gun does not stop the chambered round from firing. You must get off the center line of fire and in this case, simply re-directing is not fast enough. The way I teach this technique is by going for the gun I also move my head to one side and start to drive forward so that I am both re-directing the gun with my hands and moving my head and body off the center line increasing the changes. I also drive forward to maintain structure in my arms and avoid locking them out. One thing to mention is that if a shot does go off but you survive you may be startled by the fact guns are loud and you may have a very annoying ringing in your ears for quite some time. However, you cannot let this throw you off as when weapons are involved hesitation means death.

At 2:48 approx we look at gun disarms to the lower back. I teach essentially the same movement for both guns and knives with some technical differences. But fundamentally if something is behind we can’t always know what it is. But in this case, all were successful because he focused on getting off the centerline FIRST! and then control. Funny how that principle works….

With the previous disarms there was a focus on the control a little bit more than the re-direct and getting off the centerline which meant a lower chance of success. Principles do matter when it comes to these things so dont forget.

Again All in all Great video though.

One thing I can say is that when it comes to gun disarms I have seen it all, but when it comes to the techniques there is often dispute as to the best option. While I have my preferred methods as I teach no matter the technique so long as they follow the principles mentioned above if the technique doesn’t get you killed it should be fine.

If you want to learn from me dont forget I often teach gun to disarm seminars, so check out THIS LINK to see when I am teaching my next one.

No matter what, the more you train the better you will be able to avoid these kinds of situations in the first place but if you can’t avoid, be happy you practiced, practiced, practiced.

 

 

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Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, believe or wish life just doesn’t go according to plan and the path to where we want to be is full of discomfort and possibly pain and hurt and yet if we wish to achieve or goal we have to take that path.

Sometimes the answer is just to embrace the suck!

A few weeks ago I went on a hike with someone. Now we had planned to do this hike weeks before. It was a long weekend of which sat and Sunday I was doing 18 hour days both teaching and at an event. This left the Monday. We woke up later than we wanted to because well I was a little burnt out. Then we found out there was a leak in a property that we had to check out. This delayed us heavily.

Normally when you do these kinds of hikes in BC you want to get there no later than 10am. Unfortunately, we didn’t even leave until noon or 1ish. Start the 1.5 hour-ish drive to the hike start.

Of course, the place we went to Garibaldi Park in BC is a very popular destination so our first struggle was to find a spot. Eventually, we found one, a good walk away from the trailhead.

My plan had been to test out the new and mildly expensive backpack that I plan to use when I start hunting. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that, Oh shit…where are my hiking boots….

You see its summer and I like flip-flops. Normally my boots are always in the truck, along with running shoes. But due to the event, the day before I had taken everything out and I guess…shit happens.

I dont know about you but I am not doing a 20km hike in flip flops because I feel like that’s asking to break an ankle.

Now the person I was with was not thrilled. The suggestion was to drive back to the nearest town, Squamish or Whistler and get shoes. However, if we did this by the time we started the hike we would not have time to come down before sundown which was not an option.

Again, they were not thrilled….

To avoid catasrtophy I made the snap decision. Ok not to worry, I won’t take my backpack, Ill just take my light jacket with water pouch and do it barefoot.

“Wait what? No, you cant do that. I won’t let you.” is what I was told or something like that. At first, they were reluctant.

“Not to worry I said, I’ve done barefoot hikes before.” I am fairly sure I claimed confidently. Though the truth is the last time I did it, it was on a soft moss covered path that was well actually not very long at all, maybe only 15 minutes. They, of course, didn’t know this at the time and after I told them,

“If you dont come I guess I’m doing a barefoot hike by myself.” they reluctantly decided ok we can do this.

Mild stretching of the truth aside I made this decision to make someone else happy. I knew it was going to suck, and it kinda did. But I also knew that it would be worth it in the end, which it was.

It for sure took us longer than we wanted to and several fairly in shape elderly individuals with hiking polls passed us on many occasions but we made it. 3 hours up, and surprisingly 3 hours down.

Down is always harder and was actually worse on the feet than up. Not to mention my bad knees.

Anyways, I Often try to teach my students that what you think is difficult may actually not be as hard as you think. The truth is you dont know until you try. The other thing is even if you were right, at least you know your baseline so you can grow.

Also, people have a hard time breaking social norms. Doing a hike barefoot is not normal and may seem crazy but really wasn’t that bad. Though the number of comments made by people passing us was quite high. Because I mean who else would willingly do this barefoot?

But the moral is, that sometimes you have to make hard choices or take harder paths because it is the right thing to do. Too often nowadays, we always want to take the easy path but this is not always the right thing to do.

Just like in Krav Maga. Sure you can take that Krav seminar once in a while and say you know Krav Maga, but really that’s just bullshit. If you want to learn it properly you must, like anything, come often and train with the serious intent of getting better.

Of course it will be uncomfortable and of course, you will be challenged, but if you can never overcome what is uncomfortable or hard you will never truly earn anything worth earning.

So, learn to embrace the suck and be a better person for it.

With out a tough journey the reward will not be quite as sweet.

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