Archive for the ‘Krav Maga Principles’ Category

When in doubt: Head or Groin

Posted: July 10, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles, UTKM Principles

So you’ve been practising Krav Maga, self defense or another style for a while and you are starting to realize that sometimes under distress you cannot get the technique to work. Sometimes, it’s because the technique you are being taught works for most people but not you. Other times it is a matter of a physical size difference. And other times its because in the end of the day under distress techniques can fail.

It is not that they are bad techniques, they are good high percentage techniques but the truth is techniques can and do fail even if they are more likely to work than not.

A key thing to remember is that Techniques in themselves are the last step to any good Krav Maga or self defense approach. Before you have to actually use techniques you should have practices things like critical thinking and the stages of self defense.

But if you ever find your self either in practice or in the street struggling to do the technique you were taught. Don’t worry just remember this simple principle.

When in doubt hit the groin or the head.

Football in groin.gif

No matter where you are even if you are dazed and confused orient your self-based on which is easiest to access. If you are going for the head, punches, palm strikes and hammer fists are all good options. Remember that go for the eyes in particular.

If you are going for the groin punches, palm strikes and you guessed it hammer strikes are also appropriate. If you can you can also grab hard but just know this may cause a panic response from the person where they try to end you, rather than a hit and release response.

Either way, if everything goes wrong, remember techniques are at the bottom of the self-defense totem pole and they can fail so always fall back to simple principles like this one.

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Simultanous Defend & Attack

Posted: June 12, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
Andrew does 360

360 defense in action

Defending and attacking is not a concept to specific to Krav Maga but it is something that one should try to do when possible. The reason is simple. Efficiency.

The quicker you can overwhelm your opponent by off-balancing, causing pain and disrupting while applying Retzev and protecting yourself from the initial attack the more successful you will be.

Of course, it is not always possible to do both for if you were not paying attention and were in condition white it is likely you may only be able to defend initially until you can fully “activate” and enter into full Krav (“Fight”) Mode.

The concept of defending and attacking simultaneously is the ideal scenario and can often be seen in such techniques as the 360 defence where we try to both block, burst and strike as closely together as we can.

Whether you can or cannot totally depend on your readiness level, skill level and general physical response times. The more techniques you can apply simultaneously (or close to) defence and attack principles the more likely you are to survive a given situation.

It should be remembered, however, that if you are applying this concept you are at stage four self-defence, Reactive, meaning you failed or were unable to apply the previous stages.

Like many of the Krav concepts or principles this is a guideline and while it should be applied where possible you still must be able to adapt when circumstances change. At the end of the day what you do in a violent confrontation will be considered a success if you managed to make it to safety with minimal damage.

**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.

Hard on Soft, Soft on Hard

Posted: June 5, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles

Hard on soft, soft on hard is a simple concept in Krav Maga.

If you are going to hit a hard object or let’s say a hard part of the body then you should use a soft part of yours, contrary if you are going to hit a soft target or part of the body then you should use a hard part of your body.

punch-to-nose.jpg

In the Street, of course, this would be bare-knuckle and would be hard on soft.

This, of course, is more of a guideline to help you avoid injury to another important aspect of Krav Maga.

The classic example is if you are going to hit someone in the face say to the nose you should hit them with a closed fist with the hard 2 large knuckles. However, if you notice they are tucking their chin to change the target to their hard forhead you should switch to a “soft” palm strike instead. Again the main goal is to avoid injury more than anything as if you were to punch with the knuckles to the crown of the head full force it is likely you will break your knuckles as the forehead is harder.

You could make the argument that this is similar to tai chi yielding concepts. You could also make the argument that you can simply toughen up your body using hardbody training techniques seen in classic Okinawan Karate or other similar styles, however, this takes far to long for the average Krav Maga practitioner. To properly do hard body training to kill the nerves on the surface and increase bone density it takes dedication and time often in the length of year and years to get the desired result. As Krav Maga is supposed to have a quick and easy learning curve most schools would not want to wish to take the time to do such things.

Again the Hard on soft, soft on Hard is a guideline more than a rule but it can save you to fight another day by preventing injury. For defending yourself for survival is great, but in the modern world breaking a hand in the process could become problematic for anyone who needs them to work.

Keep your Hands Up!

Posted: April 26, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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Keep Your Hands Up! Keep Your Hands Up! Keep Your Hands Up!

 

Passive stance.jpg

Hands up in a Semi Passive Stance.

 

If there’s one thing you need to learn on your first day of class when learning Krav Maga other than avoiding the fight it is KEEP YOUR HANDS UP!

Keeping your hands up to protect your head, face and neck is such an important principle that it changes how we do a lot of techniques in Krav Maga as compared to other styles.

A boxing Jab or Cross and thrown from certain boxing guards may be faster or more powerful but they leave your head exposed (such as a low guard) and unless you are a master of head movement it is foolish to drop your hands in this fashion.

The same principles of Cause Pain, Off Balance and Disrupt the mental process we apply to our assailants can also be applied to us. Therefore we must do what we can at all times to protect our head, face and neck.

If we assume there are multiple assailants, this changes how cautious we need to be in keeping our hands up. Your skill as a striker may be sufficient to drop your hands against one opponent but now with your hands down, it is easy for their friend to sneak up and punch you in the side of the face.

The other thing is, keeping your hands up is an easy basic defence if you do not have the skill to apply other methods or strategies. At least you can protect your head, face and neck long enough to fight your exit and escape.

Note: keeping your hands up should never obscure your vision to the point you can no longer see the threat. If you lose track of the threat then your reaction time will be dramatically slower when attempting to deal with it as you must not re-identify the threat via the mental processing model which takes the time you do not have.

If you have never had your Krav Maga instructor tell you Keep your hands up then perhaps you need a new instructor.

As mentioned this concept is so important it changes how we train, as we will sacrifice speed or power in order to maintain at least one hand up at all times. If your hand is not punching, or controlling or doing something to cause pain, off balance, or disrupt then it should be up protecting the vitals as repeated many times.

This idea becomes even more important when knives are involved as that hand up protecting your neck and face could be the difference between life and death as one sharp blade across your carotid artery could mean the end of everything.

So if you haven’t gotten the point yet. KEEP YOUR HANDS UP!

Critical Thinking – The first step to self Defense

Posted: April 24, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles

What is Critical Thinking? Well according to Wikipedia it is this:

Critical thinking is the objective analysis of facts to form a judgment.[1] The subject is complex, and several different definitions exist, which generally include the rationalskepticalunbiased analysis, or evaluation of factual evidence. Critical thinking is self-directedself-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposed assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command to their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities, as well as a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism[2][3] and sociocentrism.

It could also put into different terms like this graph does:critical-thinking-worksheet

To me as it relates to our application it is probably one of the most undertaught skills not just in Krav Maga and self-defense but also in the education system in general.  The truth is about reality principle based self-defense systems like Krav Maga is that we understand we cannot actually give you all the answers. Because in that moment of violent confrontation we cannot be there to whisper in your ear to technique 1a then switch to 3 c etc…  If you as a practitioner has not learned to critically think under pressure in that moment of need to make the most correct possible decision to avoid injury or death then there are not enough techniques in the world that can save you. While we can pretend that techniques alone are infallible this would be a lie. There are simply too many factors to consider such as opponent size, speed, and skill. Other things to consider is your own body and nervous systems reaction to the stressful situation which may help or hinder your response times.

Some students come in and already know how to critically think, but most do not. Some can learn and get the idea as thing go along others need to be spoon-fed the information bit by bit. While there is nothing wrong with having a different learning style or pace you must understand that if you cannot get your head away from the what if questions then you may not truly understand how to critically think.

The What if this…line of questioning happens for two reasons. Either,

  1. You are new and are eager to learn, but fail to understand that though krav maga is easy to learn there is still a learning curve and it could take weeks, or months to get your head around the concepts or principles
  2. You simply have not for whatever reason developed critical thinking skills through training even after many years.

At Urban Tactics, if you cannot critically think there is a good chance you may be stuck at the white or yellow belt for quite some time.  This is not meant as an insult but is meant to protect you from your self. If you think you are more skilled than you are and you attempt to do things or deal with situations you may not ready for then you will most likely get hurt or worse. Again it is nothing personal but know that those who always ask what if, you cannot wait to understand the whole process, or just have difficulties with conceptual learning then you are going to have a harder time learning what Krav Maga really is in the first place.

Critical thinking, however, is not just specific to self-defense situations it can be applied to all things in life. The better you are at critical thinking the less likely you are to be scammed. Or to accept a bad deal or a myriad of other things. Critical thinking is not just the bases to self-defense, as the definition suggests it is the most complete method or strategy to quickly problem solve an issue even if it is something you have never encountered before.

Remember, while the first step of any good self defense program should be avoidance, you can only avoid situations no matter what they are by applying critical thinking based on the information you have and which is being presented to you in the moment. Failure to critically think (or to pay attention) is often the reason you failed to avoid the situation in the first place

So before you are too hard on your self as to why you just are not getting it, or your instructor is getting mad at you, know it may have less to do with your technique than you think but more to do with your lack of understanding as to your application. But the only way you will know is by critically thinking in the first place. Then you will know if its really your instructor, or if its your self that is causing the block in your progress.

Critical thinking is the key to good Krav Maga, Good Self Defense, and good problem-solving. So like everything, you must first start with your mind and work your way out.

So remember, you are not just learning a set of techniques, you are really learning to think for your self to have high-level problem solving so that you can avoid and or deal with any violent or nonviolent situation that may come your way so that you truly may walk in peace both mentally and physically.

**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.

Recognizing the attack type of your opponent and understanding how to react appropriately will greatly increase your ability to defend your self. Generally, we don’t have to much time in a split second attack to identify if there is a weapon or if its an unarmed attack but what we can quickly identify what kind of attack is it generally.

To keep it simple and practical we have two general attack type. Straight Line attacks and Circular or peripheral attacks.

  • Eye Flick

    Example of a straight line attack. Eye Flick

    Straight Line Attacks – Straight line attacks are exactly as they sound. Any attack that is a straight line from the attacker to you. If telegraphed these are the lunge type attacks, though they don’t have to be telegraphed.  These attacks are often quite fast as they have little time to travel as it is well, a straight line.

    • Solution – With all straight line attacks you must re-direct, and get off the centerline if possible. With these attacks, we have 300% option. 100% re-direct the attack with, for example, a vertical sweep. 200% Move your body at an angle to get off the centre line. 300% burst at a 45-degree angle to the side of the attacker. Each one of these in the moment will avoid the attack but it is best to do them all, as you just never know.
    • Examples: Straights, and Jabs, Straight knife attacks or lunges, straight kicks, like push kicks or groin kicks.

 

  • Roundhouse Kick No Pad 4.jpg

    Example of a circular attack. Roundhouse kick

    Circular Attacks – These attacks come from an outward angle towards the centre of the body. These are often, but not always considered power shots with the intent of generating as much power as possible.

    • Solution – With all circular attacks you must block first, especially if there is a knife. While you can just move out of the way, blocking directly stops the initial attack pattern. After which we usually must burst into the opponent attempting to apply Retsef and off balance cause pain and disrupt. How we block is also important as we must yous the biomechanical strength of our body by creating angles with the bone structure to deal with the amount of power that is generated by circular attacks.
    • Examples: Haymakers, Hooks, Roundhouse kicks, knees

Training & Muscle Memory

Posted: March 27, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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Muscle memory.jpgHow you train in the gym is how you will react in the street. The more you repeat a movement, the more your body will know how to do it. The more you practice, the faster you will react. There is a saying; a true master forgets all he knows. This is due to muscle memory. (It should be noted that it is actually your neurons, and nervous system getting trained how to fire and when, which intern activates the muscles) The more time you take to think on how to move or react, the more likely a situation can go from bad to worse.

Bruce Lee famously said,

I fear not the man who has practised 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practised one kick 10,000 times. [yes, this quote again]

By continuing to practice the basics over and over your body reaches a point that you will act without fear, instantly dealing with a situation to which you hope never happens but for which you have practised over and over.

Of course, there is some negative aspects to muscle memory. If you practice incorrectly for too long this also will become your muscle memory. Because of this, it is better to practice slowly but correctly than fast and incorrectly. As well, muscle memory may cause you to act in a way that can be inappropriate. The reason we always say to look first prior to attacking is so that you do not just react arbitrarily. You must always identify if something is a threat or not prior to acting. Failing to assess properly and relying solely on muscle memory could result in you injuring your friends or family as they attempt to simply hug you.

We also tell the famous story of the police officer who got himself killed due to muscle memory. He taught how to disarm guns and knives regularly. After every drill, however, they would pass the gun or knife to their partner without even thinking about it. This action was repeated over many years of training. One day an individual pulled a gun on the officer, he disarmed the individual and then without even thinking passed the gun back. The officer was shot and killed. (This story, or versions of the story have been repeated by different agencies all over the world. So it happens.)

Muscle memory is how we get good at the movements but we must always remain conscious of all our actions. Be alert, be observant and always take that split second to decide if an action is appropriate.

For Kravists, a big part of training muscle memory isn’t about just drilling the techniques but training the mind to function under stress. While it is important to first learn the technique and how it works, you must also train the environment that you expect to practice it in as well. Most self defense scenarios are stressful, you may be tired, you may be sore, you may be drunk but you will most likely not be expecting it, and will probably be stressed or have a rush of adrenaline. This is something we must also train into muscle memory.

If your Krav Gym looks more like a Karate class, with Katas all the time, no active sparring and very little stress testing you need to look elsewhere. Good Krav Maga is not just technique, but also strategy and mental training. As our motto says, we Turn Lambs into lions. So know, that to properly train your muscle memory we WILL push you to your limits and expect you to function. Because failing to be able to do so, may mean the difference between life and death.

So train hard, train properly, and train yourself to the point when you can act without thinking and still make the right choice.

wheretohit.jpg

Groin

You have probably heard the expressionno groin, no Krav Maga”. Of all of the vulnerable points on the body, this is one of the easiest to access and is one of the more sensitive areas, especially for men. One quick kick, knee, punch or anything to the groin can possibly stop your opponent outright. It can also be reached from all ranges: long, medium and short.

Pros Cons
§  Highly sensitive for both men and women

§  Relatively exposed to a leg kick

§  People are more aware of this vulnerable point

§  Attacks are more likely to be blocked

§  Some may be desensitized to groin strikes

Suggested moves against groin: Groin Flip Kick, Straight Groin Kick, Push Kick, Knees, Palm Strikes, Punches

Abdomen

A well placed shot to the abdomen can potentially drop your opponent, especially to the liver or solar plexus. However, it is not always a guarantee as many people can condition themselves to take hits to this region.

Pros Cons
§  Many vulnerable parts: liver, solar plexus, stomach, floating ribs, etc.

§  Well-placed shots can cause severe pain

§  High damage to opponents

§  Strike must be strong and well-placed

§  Pro fighters usually train their abs to take hits

Suggested moves against abdomen: Knee, Front Kick, Straight Punch, Uppercut

Throat

The throat is another major target that can stop anyone in their tracks. However, it can be a dangerous target if you do not know what you are doing. Seven lbs of force on the throat can cause windpipe collapse and ultimately kill a person. Be careful with this one.

Pros Cons
§  Easy to access

§  Highly effective

§  You might accidentally kill your opponent

Suggested moves against throat: Straight Punches, Elbows, Strike with the webbing between your thumb and index finger.

Neck

The neck contains the spinal column, the carotid artery which supplies blood to the brain, and the jugular vein which takes blood from the brain. If anyone of these were severed a person could die anywhere from rapidly to instantly. Restricting blood to the brain with a technique like a choke hold can take only 6 seconds for a person to pass out. Also, the back of the neck is extremely sensitive to impacts, and strikes to this region can be very effective and possibly deadly.

Pros Cons
§ Attacks on C3-C7 could paralyze a human

§ Attacks on C3-C5 could disrupt nerves signals to the diaphragm, necessary for breathing

§ Neck contains the brain’s major blood supply, the carotid artery and jugular vein run along the sternocleidomastoid muscle (from the clavicle to behind the ear)

§ Difficult to access unless opponent is bent over, or already softened up

 

Suggested moves against neck: Downward Elbow, Downward Hammer Punch, Guillotine Choke, Rear Naked Choke

Chin 

One solid strike to the chin can be the end for many, but not all. This is a target for more experienced confident strikers, and one can, at any time, knock someone out with a well-placed shot.

Pros Cons
§  Vulnerable against forces from the side

§  Shockwave will cause concussion

§  Ineffective if opponent tucks their chin and has hands up

Suggested moves against chin: Hammer Punch, Elbow, Hook Punch

Nose

The nose is one of the easiest targets on the face to strike and it can be very effective. As well, the nose is very close to the eyes and the tear ducts. A solid strike can often cause a person to cry in response. In addition, the nose can be broken or caused to bleed fairly easily which may stop your opponent for both pain and psychological reasons.

Pros Cons
§  Highly sensitive area

§  Could stop opponent’s movement

§  Could gain control of their head

§  Difficult to access if opponent’s hands are up

Suggested moves against nose: Straight Punches, Forward Elbow, Grab, Palm Strikes

Eyes

The eyes are, without a doubt, the single best target to strike on a person. Any person who has even accidentally flicked themselves in the eye knows how unnerving this can be. In addition, if you take out a person’s sight, if only temporarily, you can put them at a severe disadvantage as sight is considered our most important sense.

Pros Cons
§  Most sensitive sensory organs on body

§  Even light touches will stop one’s movement

§  With enough pressure, you can control the opponent’s head movement

§  Difficult to access

§  People would naturally protect this area

Suggested moves against eyes: Eye Gouges, Straight Punches, Finger Flicks

Hair

For those who have long enough hair to grab, it can unfortunately be used against you by assailants. However, this also means you can use it against others. Hair can be used to control a person’s head movement and thus their body using pain compliance. This is the reason many martial artists choose to have short or no hair.

Pros Cons
§   Allows you to control opponent’s head and subsequently the whole body §   Some people may have short or no hair

Suggested moves against hair: Grab or Pull

Ears

The ears are often an overlooked target. But like the eyes, if you strike just right it could end the fight on the spot. But as it is on the head, an opponent that is actively defending themselves may make it difficult to strike these small targets.

Pros Cons
§  Can stop the threat quickly as it attacks not just hearing but balance and coordination §   Might be hard to hit in a manner that disrupts the senses

§   May cause permanent damage, so you must be able to articulate why you did it.

Suggested moves against hair: Hook punch, Ear smash/pop

Knees

Knees are one of the most important joints on the body for mobility, but because they are a hinge joint and only like to move in a specific way can be injured easily. But, they are excellent targets especially on larger opponents as if you take out their base effectively the fight is ended. Remember, the bigger they are the harder they fall.

Pros Cons
§  Easy to target on an unsuspecting opponent

§  A well-placed shot can be extremely effective at reducing the opponent’s mobility

§   Requires considerable skill with well-placed kicks and timing to hit accurately

§   May cause permanent damage, so you must be able to articulate why you did it.

Suggested moves against hair: Round House, Oblique Kick

Feet

Though not as effective a target as the knees, feet can be the best choice when there is no other option. These targets often present themselves in grabs and holds where your options are limited

Pros Cons
§  Easy to target on an unsuspecting opponent

§  Low risk to you, as your heel is unlikely to get damaged even in bare feet

§   Shoes may restrict damage

§   Not always a realistic target unless you already screwed up.

Suggested moves against hair: Foot Stop

Do not forget about these vulnerabilities. While they are the areas we target in Krav Maga, never forget that attackers can use these same points on you. There is a reason why in class we keep telling you to keep your hands up, chin tucked and to be aware. Preventing your opponent from accessing any of these points on you before you access them on your opponent can make the difference between having a good or bad day.

**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.

The Body: Weapons & Ranges

Posted: March 13, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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If you seriously intend on learning to defend yourself you must understand range. Range means how close you have to be to another person in order to use your body’s weapons.

  • Long range (LR) – Kicks etc..

 

 

Groin Flick Kick 3

Example: Groin Flick Kick/Groin jab. All kicks are long range.

 

 

  • Medium Range (MR) – Punches etc…

 

Eye Flick

Example: Eye Flick. All punch or attacks with extended but not completely locked out arms are medium range attacks.

 

  • Short Range (SR) – Elbows, Knees, Grabbing etc…

 

Krav Maga Knee 4

Example: Knee Any attack that can be done from a clinch or control point is a close range attack

 

  • Control point (CP) – Reference point 1, Reference point 2, Point of Dominance etc..

 

Reference point 1 takedown grip 1

Example: Reference point 1 control, or live side control. Controls are positions in which you have broken down the opponent and are controlling their body in some way.

 

As much as you can you should keep your distance in the long range region prior to conflict. This allows you to assess the overall situation while still being able to attack your opponent if you need to.  If you need to pre-emptivley (PE) Strike, you should usually start from your long range as you properly assessed and kept your distance. If you decide you need to fight instead of run, attack in whatever range you are in and begin closing the distance. Once you have done this, you can control, and disengage or control and take down, depending on your skill, objective and what will most effectively stop the threat for the situation.

One of the best ways to become effective at closing the distance and learning your ranges is to spar. While learning self defense techniques does not require sparring, it is a MUST if you are serious about your training.

**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.

Avoid Injury

Posted: March 6, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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Another important founding idea of Krav Maga is to avoid injury.

 

Avoid Injury.jpg

This is of course in jest, but no seriously…

 

It is both a fundamental principle and expectation that you will do your best to avoid injury in both training and in real life. In the gym, we train hard. We kick, punch and spar, but at no point in training is it permitted to intentionally hurt your training partners or instructors.

On the street, hopefully, all the knowledge you gain in the gym will help you avoid outright fights. However, should you find your self in such a situation you must remember, you probably have a day job. Unlike professional fights who make tens of thousands and sometimes millions to fight. They can afford to take months off to heal, you cannot. If you throw a punch in self defense and break your hand, but you require it to do your job, you may have survived the conflict, but you affected your self negatively because of it.

It is because of this Krav Maga prefers techniques that minimize (but not eliminate) the risk of injury during the conflict.

The most common example of this is how we punch. Kravists should be punching with 45 Degree Knuckle.jpgtheir first 45 degrees in relation to the ground, not overextending their elbows and using their bodies to generate the power. Unlike boxing where there is gloves and which it is acceptable to over rotate the fist for more range and arguably more power. Or wing Chung which uses vertical fists to increase the speed. Kravists choose the middle ground between power and speed so that our punches are more likely to land with the larger two knuckles.

Another example is the concept of soft on hard, hard on soft in which we use hard parts of our bodies on the soft parts of the attacker’s body and soft parts of our bodies on the hard parts of their bodies. An example of this would be switching to a palm strike if we are fast enough to notice they have lowered their head exposing the hard part of the skull. Punch this with bare knuckles and you may break your hand, but a palm strike will deliver the same effective force with limited damage to yourself.

So remember, both in training and practical application a Kravist will always take the past with the least chance of injury to themselves.

Note: Of course it must be remembered, that Krav Maga literally means contact combat of close combat, and accidents do happen. As such it is unrealistic to expect through years of training you will never get hurt. Choosing not to practice or train because of fear of injury is not good at all. This is a common thing as people accidentally get injured and then create a mental block from training. Just remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and the faster you bounce back the happier and healthier you will be.

**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.