Posts Tagged ‘conflict’

You may only have a few precious seconds in which to prevent a violent explosion(source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

So… you were unable to avoid that threat you identified. At least you were able to see it coming and have not been taken by surprise. Congratulations, but there is now some fast work to do. Welcome to Stage 2, De-escalation!

I am neither a psychologist nor a hostage negotiator, but, over my 42 years, I have figured out a few tricks for talking to people and getting oneself out of ugly situations. The two tactics I have employed most often throughout my life are “Tactical Empathy” and “Reframing” (though I didn’t know the names for what I was doing at the time):

Tactical Empathy – In his book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, ex-hostage negotiator Chris Voss describes tactical empathy as “understanding the feelings and mindset of another in
the moment and also hearing what is behind those feelings so you increase
your influence in all the moments that follow.” Figure out what is motivating the other person, then leverage that information to shape the encounter by expressing common understanding.

Reframing – A “frame” is someone’s point of view and expectations of what is normal in a given interaction, based on their beliefs and emotional state. If you walk up to someone shouting angrily, you expect them to react with either fear or their own anger. Reframing involves changing the narrative and redefining what normal is for the interaction. If the person you are shouting at reacts with a smile or a friendly laugh, your brain’s plan for a heated exchange has been derailed; your frame has been “broken” and now you have to stop and reconsider the rules of engagement in that encounter.

Of course, both of these methods require an understanding of people, a willingness to engage people verbally, a bit of creativity, and a whole lot of confidence, but, as with any skill, they can be improved through practice.

Developing these skills can be handy in all sorts of non-threatening situations as well. I’ve leveraged tactical empathy and reframing to get into bars for free, skip lines, dodge fees, etc., though in mundane contexts it is less about “tactics” and more about finding common ground and being friendly.

I’ll illustrate these tactics using two examples from my past in which I talked my way out of potentially disastrous situations:

The International (Football) Incident

In 2014 myself and a friend traveled to São Paulo, Brazil to attend the 20th FIFA World Cup tournament. We had done our research ahead of time; we were advised to avoid wearing flashy clothes and jewelry (so you don’t look affluent), carry a “drop wallet” (a secondary one, with some fake cards or small bills, that you can toss down to distract muggers in order to flee), and stay out of the favelas. Also, we learned that Brazil has two major religions, Catholicism and Football, so you have to be careful what neighbourhoods you go into when wearing a specific team’s kit (they were a bit forgiving during the World Cup)

The sixth game we attended was a Round of 16 match between Argentina and Switzerland. The emotions were already tense in the crowd as we slowly mobbed into the packed stadium; this is the knockout round, whoever loses this game goes home. This is further fueled by a longstanding rivalry between the national teams of Argentina and Brazil (Argentina would love a chance to defeat the host country)

We arrived in our section, and suddenly realized we’d made huge mistake. Not wanting to sport a Brazil jersey in a rival crowd, and not having a vested interest in either team’s success, we chose to wear our Canadian (Women’s) National Team jerseys to the game… not for a moment considering the fact that they are red and white… the same colour as the Switzerland kit.

Our seats happened to be right in the middle of a sea of rowdy, drunken, Argentina supporters (borderline hooligans); there are white and blue striped shirts EVERYWHERE, and only two “security guards” in sight. The beer-fueled shouts of “hijo de puta” started flying at us! As we walked up the steps all I could think was, “great, we are going to be responsible for the 2014 World Cup riot.” We reached our seats and the guys all around us started sarcastically chanting “Up, SWISS!”

I had to defuse the rising tension, fast, or this was going to be a less-than-enjoyable experience. If Argentina loses (or even gets scored on), it could turn deadly. I face the guy doing the most taunting in English, and say, in a friendly manner, “It looks like you boys are pretty excited about this match.” He chuckled at my comment. I had him!

I extend my hand “I’m Corey, this is Homan, we’re in from Canada.” He shook it and introduced himself and a few of his friends. But there were still a few on either side, behind him, and behind us, who looked unimpressed. Looking at them specifically, I ask “Are you all from Argentina?” One guy offered up that he was from a town on the border with Paraguay and it took 20hrs to drive here. I replied, “Buddy, that’s hardcore, we had to save for four years to make this trip!” I then stated something to the effect of “this is do or die time, eh?” Which was met with a chorus of passionate tales of Argentina’s highs and lows in the recent past. We then talked about our jerseys and I went on to make a few jokes about how what little Spanish I knew was mostly swearing and talking about women.

By the end of the match they were buying us beers, we were sharing pictures of our kids, and, fortunately, were celebrating Argentina’s victory with them. (Argentina narrowly made it to the final but was defeated by a stellar German squad.)

How did we go from targets of hatred and derision to friends?

As we entered that section of the stadium, I was in mental colour code Orange, as the rowdy Argentina fans’ presence was a potential threat (we’d done our research!) In this scenario the threat could not be avoided; we had ticketed seats, there was no standing area, and I was not about to walk away from a World Cup match that I traveled to another country to see. Their behaviour essentially put me into mental colour code Red, as, even without our participation, we were in a verbal conflict. I had to de-escalate, and I had to do so immediately, before mob mentality kicked in and one of our harassers is inspired to move from verbal to physical.

The source of the conflict came from the assumption on the Argentinian’s part that we were going to return the same aggression they had shown us. My goals became; 1) Reduce or eliminate their aggression, 2) Remove their desire to harm us, and 3) Bond with them to solidify the “peace.” As a bonus 3.5) Make them see us as worthy of protection from other aggressors.

My path toward those goals was as follows:

  1. I started by immediately “breaking their frame.” They expected we would either return their vitriolic team pride with our own, or cower and be a source of amusement all game. By engaging them with humour, rather than anger or meekness, I disrupted their angry passion narrative. (similar to physically disrupting and off-balancing an aggressor with your own action). If you can get someone to laugh, it tends to shift their opinion of you toward the positive.
  2. In that moment of disruption I replaced their “hooligan” frame with the groundwork of my “comradery” frame: I named us and offered a handshake (thus humanizing us instead of remaining generic “rival fans.”)
  3. I then spotted the doubtful ones and kept them engaged with a trivially simple question that invited them to exert their pride, while at the same time (hopefully) opening up about themselves: “Are you all from Argentina?” This led to a more personal connection, as they have confirmed a part of their identity to me. It also created an opportunity for establishing common ground.
  4. “…we had to save for four years to make this trip!” Not specifically true, but it establishes three points in common: A shared passion for football, we aren’t locals, and we are regular, working class lads (what I call “economic camouflage.”)
  5. The above statement also satisfies their egos a bit by indicating that A) I’m impressed by their commitment, and B) we aren’t wealthy North American jet-setters.
  6. Bringing up their team’s “do or die” potential, again affords them an opportunity to exert their pride, passion, and identity, in a positive way. It also incorporates Dale Carnegie’s advice, “You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them, than in two years by making them interested in you.”

By the time I’m asking them to regale me with the history of Lionel Messi and La Albiceleste, I’ve accomplished goals 1 and 2, and I am deeply into goal 3! While there were still hostiles in the area, whom we kept an eye on, the way the boys in our immediate vicinity were interacting with us deterred aggression. As the bonus 3.5 goal was not assured, we beat a hasty retreat to the exit the second the match ended!

Ego-Driven vs Predatory

In the above example, the threat was a bunch of drunken football fans looking for a hit of dopamine by way of national pride, they sought it through intimidation and I gave it to them, instead, through jovial comradery. (Dare I say that I might have chiseled away at their preconceived notions a bit?)

When considering your tactics, be aware that what at works for ego-driven threats won’t necessarily work for predatory threats.  The former can be manipulated by either feeding the ego or reframing it. By “feeding”, I mean that de-escalation could be a simple as saying “I don’t want to fight, you’d kick my ass!” or “yeah, I was looking at your hot wife, but she’d never take me over you, buddy.” For reframing, re-read the above! (In discussing “Fight or Flight,” the Hard2Hurt crew notes “submit” as a possible alternative.)

As always, be aware of variables such as culture, context, and the demeanour of the threat. Looking weak or submissive may actually escalate the situation in some regions or contexts, whereas in others meeting a challenge head on is an act of de-escalation (as counterintuitive as that may seem). Whatever option you choose, do it with confidence!

However, a predatory threat is more complicated, as the assailant may be dead set on harming you for reasons you may not be able to account for (eg. they are high, mentally/emotionally unstable, desperate, a habitual offender, etc.). It may be that your attempt at verbal de-escalation is really a distraction to buy you time or set you up to strike first.

Gun(Bar)fight at the Not-so-OK Corral

I have an eclectic taste in music, but I over the years I’ve tended toward the numerous varieties of Metal, Punk, and Industrial. Spending (or misspending) most of my youth in Alberta, these genres were sometimes hard to find, and one inevitably ended up at Country bars more often than not. But that’s okay, because I can three-step and line dance with the best of them (raised in Alberta!).

Let’s break this one down as we go along:

On one such evening I found myself with a group of friends in Southern Alberta, at a popular bar called the Corral (there were many with that name over the years). Everything was going well, the music was as good as it could be considering the genre and the drinks were flowing like water. Going well, that is, until one innocuous trip to the bathroom.

I turned from the urinal to find that I’d been followed in by five “cowboys” (I come from a farming/ranching heritage, and these boys didn’t look like the real thing). Regardless, we are alone, it is five on one.

At this point it bears mentioning that in my teens and twenties I had hair down to the middle of my back and generally dressed in band shirts with torn jeans or fatigue pants. In this case I knew I was going into a potentially unwelcoming place and had not adapted to the local customs (because I didn’t give a fuck.)

The defacto leader spoke first; “we don’t appreciate f*gs in here.” (It is Southern Alberta after all, the nexus of the farm belt and bible belt.) Under the surface, this threat is clearly ego-driven, they are insecure men, but their actions are predatory, ie. they stalked me and intend me harm for a specific reason. I need to stall long enough to either get to the door or be lucky enough that someone else comes in as a distraction.

I play dumb, “If I see any I’ll let you know” and start moving to the door. Unsurprisingly, they blocked me. “Why do you look like that?” he asked. It becomes clear that they don’t want to just kick my ass, they want to intimidate me first in order to “send a message” (or, perhaps more likely, they are cowards and no one wants to “start it.”)

My next gamble was to keep them talking while edging toward the door and keeping calm, making it clear I’m not weak or intimidated (I didn’t know the trick of “humanizing” back then.) I this situation, with these people and in the given context, being submissive would have encouraged them. I keep my hands up in a semi-passive position and I asked, “What about what about this looks gay?” One of the guys shouted “Your f*ggy hair!”

I saw an opportunity to defuse/reframe with humour. I replied, “I’ve heard that criticism before, I’ll consider it. Surely one of you boys can think of something more original?” It got a stifled laugh from one guy, but not enough to indicate that I had shifted the mindset of the group. Fortunately, another one shouted said “and it’s ugly!” I tried again with, “This guy cares what I look like? Now who’s gay?”

Bad move. There are effective ways to turn insults into reframing tools, but shaming or prodding the already emotionally unstable ego is NOT how to do it! But I was young and stupid.

They have an even more heated reaction; swearing and gesturing, one guy even started wrapping his belt around his knuckles. My final chance to reach the door involved a risky reframe; I said, “Woah, I’ve got piss on my hands, mind if I wash them first?”

THEY LET ME!!

At the sink I had a clear path to the door, but, tragically, it opened inward. I also noted that I had created a secondary (thought terrible) option by getting close enough to a stall that I could bail into it and at least bottleneck and align my attackers if escape proved impossible. Again, buying time!

I didn’t know how to fight at this point in my life, but my instincts regarding herd mentality were to square myself to the “leader” and try to drop him first in hopes of scattering a few of the others. (However, now I know that in group fight scenarios you go for whomever is CLOSEST). I kept edging toward the door but made sure they were still all in front of me.

At that point, the door opened. A bouncer was doing his rounds. He looked at them, looked at me, saw our positioning and body language… “All of you, get the fuck out!”

I head straight back to my friends and introduce the idea that it is time to go home.

Overt Predatory Threats

Fortunately (unfortunately for this post), I have never had to de-escalate a “overtly predatory threat.” That is, situations in which the attacker is deeply committed to the threat and is in your face so fast that you are starting at a disadvantage (eg. being mugged at knife point, getting jumped without warning, etc.). I’ve either managed to avoid them, albeit narrowly in a few cases, or talked them down before they made their intensions clear. Though, in my travels I have picked up a few pieces of advice that apply in most predatory scenarios, and in many ego-driven encounters as well:

  1. Don’t Argue – Do you really want to aggravate someone who is already in the middle of a poor decision? If someone demands your wallet, are you willing to get stabbed over a few bills and some replaceable cards? Again, submission MAY be the safest de-escalation, but you have to know your context. Otherwise, if you see a chance to reframe or employ tactical empathy, do it.
  2. Don’t Go to a Second Location – Allowing a predatory threat to take you somewhere else greatly increases the chances that things are going from bad to worse (sexual assault, murder, kidnapping, etc.). Yes, this conflicts with #1, but it is more important.
  3. Don’t Demand – When someone is angry, insisting that they “calm down” NEVER WORKS! If someone is trying to exert power over you, meeting force with force is unlikely to have positive results. Speak calmly and with confidence, “Please leave me alone” rather than “Fuck off!”
  4. Do Get Trained in Self-defence!
Further Considerations

Whether you managed it by roguish charm or clear and confident statements, just because you talked yourself out of a bad situation doesn’t mean that the threat has been stopped. The threatening party may change their mind if you look weak as you leave, or if you present them with an irresistible opportunity for a sucker-punch (you prevented the situation by being alert, don’t squander that now!).  When you remove yourself from the situation, assess once again; are you now on “good terms” with the potential threat, does their body language indicate that they are barely holding back, are their friends looking at them expectantly or chastising their inaction? 

Either way, now that you have the chance to get away, do so confidently (not arrogantly), and keep your eyes on the threat, directly or indirectly. Depending on the situation you may need to walk backward, cautiously, maintaining awareness of the threat and your surroundings, with your hands up in a semi-passive stance, until you are clear to escape. It may be that you simply need to keep an eye on the threat in the reflection from a store window, or take a quick look over your shoulder as you cross the road (which you should be doing to immediately create space!).

Understand that, until you are completely clear of the threatening person or situation, you MUST still be thinking and acting in mental colour code Orange. Situational awareness, as always, remains important; are they about to regroup and chase you, has frustration led them to pull out a weapon?

Be prepared, at any time, to move immediately to stage 3…

Written by Corey

On January 29th, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette implemented a Lone Wolf attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City. Regardless of your opinion of Islam, in a country like Canada, this kind of thing should not happen yet it does.

I look at these kinds of events, as horrific as they are, and I am reminded why I teach Krav Maga for a living. The reality is that no matter how safe you think you are, it only takes one person to rock the boat and remind you that humans can be violent regardless of societal norms or laws.

So one may walk in peace.

The other thing I am reminded of is how little the general public seem to know about, well, a lot of things. I also knew that Canada’s media would immediately, or soon after the attack, take a strike at the already strict gun laws in Canada. In this particular event, the amount of BS I have seen on the internet within hours of the attack were quite shocking. Generally, I give the Canadian media some more points than the American media, for the Canadians tend to wait a little longer for facts to come in the midst of such chaos before spewing out nonsense. However, in this case, they also get the initial details wrong.

Not all terrorist attacks with a single attacker are Lone Wolf attacks, but all Lone Wolf attacks are considered terrorist attacks (most of the time)

Right away, I started seeing politics thrown around and read several articles about the topic of Lone Wolf vs terrorist attacks, with many claiming this attack to be purely terrorist and not Lone Wolf. This tells me that writers of such articles know little about conflict, violence, and terrorism. Aside from the fact that the perpetrator will most likely be charged with terrorism, his attack was most definitely a Lone Wolf attack. The distinction is very important.

As stated, a lone attacker does not signify a Lone Wolf attack, but a Lone Wolf attack is usually terrorism in nature (but not always). To me, a clear distinction is whether or not they had help. If they had help, it is most likely part of a larger terror network, such as Al-Qaeda or some nefariously well-hidden Muslim brotherhood affiliate. Or, to be fair, could also be  is part of some right-wing Neo-Nazi group planning their “big return.” If they did not have help, it is most likely a random guy who woke up one morning and decided to go on a rampage (of course, this is an understatement).

If your general definition of terrorism is simply “to cause terror,” then any violent attack such as a simple murder in a home could be called a terrorist attack since it definitely causes terror in a community. But does this now make such situations terrorism? I am not a big fan of word policing, but sometimes definitions matter, especially when there is so much confusion about specific things.

When a Lone Wolf attack becomes terrorism

Attacks targeting these groups can be considered terrorism:

  • Cultural
  • Ethic
  • Political
  • Religious

Also, if the attack was premeditated in any way, it can also be considered terrorism.

Definitions are important because the right or wrong word can be the difference between accurate or misleading information. Attacks that come from a single person who just snapped one day would be more appropriately termed “mass murder” which is an attack resulting in 5+ deaths depending on the regional definitions. If the media calls a mass murder situation a “terrorist attack,” it would most likely cause public terror since there could be the potential for another attack. However, in the case of the attack in Quebec, while the attacker turned himself in later, it is fairly safe to say it was a terror attack.

Another important reason for distinguishing the concept of a Lone Wolf attack is that it tells you whether or not law enforcement could have done more to stop it. Whenever a terrorist attack is not Lone Wolf and there are links to larger networks, it shows a failure in law enforcement agencies to do their jobs effectively in that particular case. However, in the case of a Lone Wolf attack, it is often unreasonable to blame law enforcement for lacking effort in prevention regardless of whether it is deemed terrorism or mass murder. The fact is Lone Wolf attacks are not on the LE radar and incredibly difficult to predict, especially when it’s by an individual with no criminal records like the Quebec case. Of course, the community could take responsibility to notice the behaviour of those close to them and recognise erratic behaviour in days leading up to an event. For example, family members should pay attention to each other and teachers should pay attention to their students, react appropriately, and possibly report to LE. However, sometimes Lone Wolf attacks can happen without warning.

 

alexandrebissonette

Alexandre Bissonnette

 

The only thing people can do to prepare for the unexpected situations like a Lone Wolf attack is to acquire the skills to protect themselves. The goal of getting people home safely every day is why I’ve dedicated my life to Krav Maga and training people how to avoid fights and how to end conflicts. In the moment of an attack, the people who can really do something to stop the violence are the people hiding in the building. The unfortunate truth is that waiting for LE to show up can be too late.

The political nature of attacks and terrorism

The word “terrorism” in modern times usually refers to Islamic terror, but it isn’t always the case. It is undeniable that Islamic terror is one of the biggest problems in the world, and people who refuse to believe it are incredibly naive, but it is also wrong to think that Caucasian people and Christians don’t participate in terrorist activities. However, there is a difference between the two. By and large, terrorism from Caucasians and Christians nowadays are Lone Wolf attacks by disgruntled and, sometimes, racist people. On the other hand, Islamic terrorism is usually more systematic and linked to large terrorist groups capable of repeat or other attacks.

Again, if you are going to pick a side, then you must understand the distinct and general difference. If you want to get into history, there was a time in which Caucasians had large organized terrorist groups, such as the IRA in England or the Basque in Spain. However, to be realistic, these groups are not a problem at the moment and the immediate threat is Islamic terrorism.

To the left-wing people in Western North America, please stop pretending that Islamic terror is not a problem.

To the right-wing people in Western North America, please stop pretending that Caucasians do not sometimes create plans to cause terror.

 

oklahoma

Oklahoma Bombing

 

A perfect example of the latter is the Oklahoma City Bombing, one of the largest domestic terrorist attacks in American history. One April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols blew up a Federal building, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds more (which combined with the 9/11 are the largest terrorist attacks on American soil in modern times). This shows how Caucasians can be as dangerous as Islamic terrorists. Over the last several years, there have been numerous attacks in America, such as the Sandy Hook shooting, San Bernardino shooting, and the Charleston S.C. shooting. Notice the trend?

Terror attacks, mass murder, and guns

The anti-gun bandwagon becomes more popular after such attacks, especially when the people with a political motive and the media, for numerous reasons, often jump on the opportunity to blame these attacks on guns. However, the important point to remember is that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The weapon is nothing without a wielder. If you think about the two largest terror attacks that were just mentioned, they were not perpetrated using guns but with explosives: a massive fertilizer bomb and giant planes.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

While the option of using planes as weapons has now become considerably harder with increasingly strict post-9/11 security measures, it is certainly still possible. The option of using IEDs is even easier and more effective for doing greater damage in a shorter amount of time because anyone with a little bit of chemistry knowledge can create an explosive. As such, firearms as a weapon of terrorism should be the least of people’s concerns. Immediately jumping to the anti-gun rhetoric post-terror events simply shows how little people truly know about violence, conflict, and firearms use.

In addition, Canadians and Americans forget how lucky they are to live in such relatively peaceful countries. In other parts of the world where the violence rate is high, the average person uses guns to defend themselves and the gun culture is very different. People living in North America easily become complacent about safety and security.

Gun laws in Canada

It drives me nuts when Canadians talk about gun laws as if they are living in America, which they are not. In Canada, if you would like to own a gun, you must pass a firearms safety course for non-restricted (rifles) and/or restricted (pistols) firearms, submit your test results to the RCMP, and wait for them to complete a criminal record check on you. If you have no criminal record and have never been committed for a mental illness, then you should receive your license soon after.

In addition, restricted firearms such as pistols are governed by mandatory safe storage laws, which usually require a trigger lock and a locked storage container. While bureaucratic in nature, these gun laws have drastically reduced accidental firearms-related deaths in Canada. (Notice I said “accidental” deaths. Due to these laws, suicide using firearms and death involving children gaining access to firearms have dropped.) Specifically, according to all the data I have seen, the two parts of the laws that have helped reduce firearms-related death are the background checks, including the mental health aspect, and the safe storage regulations. In the case of the Quebec shooting, Bissonnette had no criminal record and had not been committed for mental health issues and have not been reported for unusual behaviour.

With that being said, it is clear that the Brass at the RCMP and many politicians have an anti-gun agenda. They also regularly target the law abiding citizens who own guns (ie. Alberta’s High River Gun Grab in June 2013), so please do not say that gun owners are paranoid about getting their guns stolen and taken away because they are not.

Getting rid of guns would have stopped the Quebec attack, right?

 

niceattack

Lorry used in the Nice attack

If someone is truly committed to performing an attack, they would find a method. Remember the Nice, France attack on July 14, 2016?  Firearms were not the primary method for death, instead, a truck was used. Bissonnette could have just as easily taken a vehicle and driven into the mosque potentially killing and injuring even more people. Guns are not the problem.

 

People think that firearms are the most dangerous way bad people use to take out large groups. This is a myth that people believe because they do not get enough knowledge about violence and conflict. Shooting people in large groups is not the most effective way for mass murder. People have this idea simply because they are fed so much anti-gun propaganda that they believe it. If guns inherently make people wake up and decide they need to cause terror, then death rates would skyrocket in most Western countries because, well, there are a lot of guns there. The average person doesn’t wake up one morning and decide to commit murder.

People are fed so much anti-gun propaganda that they believe it.

Another issue that is more problematic than guns is mental health. It’s hard to deny that majority of the individuals who have committed mass murder in America since 9/11 had some kind of serious mental health issue. Either that or they were part of some gang violence, criminals shooting at other criminals, and thus the media never picked it up.

Finally, one more point about weapons is that people underestimate knives as a danger. I, on the other hand, am more wary of knives than firearms. Any idiot can pick up knives and use them as weapons. Only people with some kind of training can operate firearms to do significant damage. Bissonnette could easily have entered the mosque with a knife, locked the doors, trapped people inside, and started stabbing away. Firearms run out of ammo fast. Knives do not need ammo. He would have had an unlimited method of killing with a knife. For example, the Kunming knife attack in 2014 is a reminder of how quick and easy it is for a knife to yield significant damage. I emphasize this every time I teach knife-related self-defense.

The only one who can protect you is you

I wish that one day, humans would all decide they don’t want to hurt each other and then live in peace. Unfortunately, we are far from that as a species, and people attack each other all the time. What I hope for more is that, more importantly, people would wake up and recognize that humans are humans. You cannot use laws to regulate human nature and fix people’s desire to hurt others. Thus, the thing that people don’t seem to be able to grasp but need to understand is that the real weapon is the human being. The person committing the attack is the real threat and real danger, not the weapon they use. It doesn’t matter if they hold a knife, a gun, a bomb, or drive a vehicle. If a person wants to do something big and bad, they will find a way.

walkinpeaceThe best thing people can do to take real action against this issue is to acquire the skills needed to protect themselves. Whether it’s a mugging, a terrorist or Lone Wolf attack, or a school shooting, only you can protect yourself. To start, practice being alert, vigilant, and aware of your surroundings and situation (aka situational awareness), learn to identify threats immediately and get away (aka avoidance). Otherwise, you would always find yourself as a victim. Situational awareness and avoidance are tactics that people in fairly peaceful places like North America tend to forget. Just because we don’t have drug wars or tribal warfare or civil war doesn’t mean it is safe and that we shouldn’t be wary of danger.

You truly only have yourself.

It doesn’t matter what the media tells you, what you hear, and what you read about terrorism and mass murder. The most important thing you need to know is that in the moment of an attack, you truly only have yourself. Denying yourself the skills to survive is a risk. Are you willing to take that risk?

 

Locked ‘n’ loaded in Tel Aviv

Posted: September 27, 2016 by urbantacticskravmaga in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

 

I have traveled around the world, encountered and observed many places, and from my experience, there is no country like Israel. Once, I was sitting in a cafe in Tel Aviv’s central bus station on a Sunday morning, and looking out I can see uniform-clad young men and women carrying weapons returning to their bases. Tourists watch in awe at the sheer amount of weapons being carried on the streets. Residents pass by without even seeing it.

It is a normal part of their lives.

Taking a closer look, I see that not every weapon is the same, nor are their owners. Each weapon is different. Some have carrying handles, some have flashlights, some are old, some are new, some are made out of plastic and some are made out of metal. Each soldier is also different. Their colorful unit shoulder tags, strings and berets tell people which unit they belong to and what kind of specialty they possess. Some soldiers wear their uniform like pajamas and others iron their shirt straight and tight.

A soldier’s personality is shown through his or her rifle

Throughout history, soldiers everywhere have put effort into decorating their swords, bows, knives and other weapons. It is not just for the sake of art, but to make a statement and show one’s character. However, none of these warriors of the past could have imagined that in today’s Israel, weapons would be part of the youth culture. In Israel, weapons take the place of the backpacks and sneakers worn in North America.

Soldiers with an antique model belong to either an armor or artillery unit, but in battle they use tanks or cannons, not their rifles. They are saying, “I only carry this rifle around because I have to, I do not think I will have to use this old piece of junk.” Soldiers with newer models are saying, “I am a first-line combat soldier and this is my pride and joy. I am cool because my rifle is the newest.” Additional gadgets, such as sights or an extra tactical foregrip, become a statement telling everyone, “Look! I am different from rest of you guys.”

It’s just like taking your phone with you

These young troops don’t just carry their weapons to and from the bases. They also have it on them while performing their ordinary daily routines: shopping, walking on the street, sitting down for lunch, or even kissing loved ones. I once saw a young soldier at a cafe using a laptop – she held her rifle between her legs to protect it, while drinking coffee and surfing the internet. Another intriguing sight was a young male soldier wearing a sleeveless tee, sandals, a backpack, and his rifle. The whole picture was an oxymoron. Is he relaxing? Or is he getting ready to fight? His outfit tells me he could be merely taking a stroll, heading to the beach, or waiting for a train, but his loaded weapon tells me otherwise.

In a country like Israel, carrying a weapon is a statement of youth. Rifles are often a statement of toughness and machismo, but in a place where being dauntless and courageous is everything, the warrior ethos is unisexual. Even before the creation of this nation, both men and women fought side-by-side here, protecting their homeland.

Once, I asked a young Israeli woman who had her rifle slung across one shoulder and her purse on the other, what was inside her purse. She said, “You know, the usual girl stuff: make-up, lipstick, tissues, and my extra M16 magazine.” In that moment, I realized that the Israeli saying was true, “If you are going to break a girl’s heart, make sure to do it when she is not carrying her rifle.”

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via GIPHY

Gun culture is a normal part of growing up in Israel

Seeing these young soldiers with their duffle bags, rucksacks and weapons, I was violently awakened from the peaceful illusion of Tel Aviv. This country is at war. After a few days of comfort in their homes, these youth – barely old enough to buy a beer in Canada – are going back to their posts, checkpoints, tank turrets, jeeps, or the streets of Gaza. In contrast, most Canadian youth know nothing about self-sacrifice and giving some of their best years to serving their nation.

I know for sure that these young Israeli soldiers would prefer not to spend those three years of service in khaki uniforms, receiving less than $40 a month, and dealing with dangerous terrorists or boring paper work. They would rather use that time to do whatever they want, like travelling, working, or studying as young Canadians do. However, despite the hardship and dangers, every Israeli I have encountered tells me that he or she would do it again for their country.

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Watching Harjeet and Roger throwing punches at each other while both evading Josh’s stick attack, I was truly amazed how far these reserved gentlemen have come from the day they first stepped into our dojo. One of the most amazing transformations I have witnessed is seeing timid, shy and quiet people turn into warriors as time progress.

Different schools attract different characters. We, however, attract everyone and anyone. We have many LE and Military personnel and top athletes from other sports or disciplines, but the majority of our students are average Joes and Janes. They just want to learn how to defend themselves.  Sometimes these Joes and Janes have very interesting and at times difficult progress in their development. Some of these students seek permission to strike and be aggressive, while others find their inner hulks and shock the whole class and themselves. Another instructor of UTKM, Josh Hensman, often describes “that society links aggression with anger, but that should not always be the case”. Prior to stepping into the UTKM dojo most of these students have never had a chance to express their innate aggression and fight instincts because society and  education have oppressed these types of behaviors; however, for their own reasons they need to seek it out again or to build it from scratch here in our school.

Process

The process of building a person’s aggression is a balanced art. If you develop it too much then you are abusing the student, too little and there is no effect.

First step: Link anger with aggression. This does somewhat contradict what I mentioned above, but it is the fastest way to bring out inner aggression from students. Any violent encounter is usually emotional and anger is generally one of these emotions. Phrases such as “this man is going to hurt you and hurt your family”, along with swearing generally get a rise out of students.

Second step: After students can function normally and do the defense techniques they learnt under extreme pressure, we simply remove the link between anger and aggression by enhancing and rewarding aggression (we don’t reward violence – there is a difference). After a hard sparring session, we complement the students on a job well done and let them know they were in control of the situation.

Third step: Link aggression with the idea that having to be aggressive in order to stay safe is simply a job that needs to be done. Remember the first time you drove and how nervous you were? Some of you were probably very emotional because of fear and the unknown. Some people even get angry. Defending yourself is exactly the same thing. In the beginning students might experience the same emotional state as a first-time driver, but as time progresses they will come to the conclusion that this is just like any other day in the office. UFC fighter John Jones was once asked if he is afraid step into the ring. His response: “a postman does not get scared when he steps into a post office does he?“

After merely 100 hours of training our yellow belt students have performed incredibly under stress against other students. I recall the times these students break down in tears, lose control of their emotions, get short of breath, and sometimes even get injured (you can never eliminate all the risk). I often tell them: “it is better for you to experience this here in a controlled environment, than out on the street”. We don’t teach Self Defense here in UTKM, we use Krav Maga to turn someone into a lion. A lion does not fear getting into a fight, for it knows it is the biggest and baddest creature out there.

Control:

Last but not least, living in a peaceful society people often do not know how violent they can be in the right circumstance. A student once told me that after he defending himself against a home intruder he could not remember the process. When you know your limits and what you are capable of, you tend to be able to control your power. It is like driving instructors who recommend to their students to find an empty parking lot and just push their car to the limit so they know the limitation of their vehicles.

I always ask students ” in sparing are you allow to strike the back of the head ? ”

students reply :” no ! you are not ”

I reply ” of course you can this is Krav Maga but you do it in gently and lightly to remind your opponent that they have been strike in the back of the head and if you have to do it in real life you simple just have to increase the forces to neutralize the threat ” ( it does not take much force to cause affect or permanent damage to strike the back of the head ) Seeing students like Harjeet and Roger transform into who they are today makes me realize that not anyone can transform others into fighters who enjoy fighting, but everyone and anyone has the potential to become a warrior who will fight so they can walk in peace.

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Recently I had a conversation with Dimitrios Andritsos from KMG Beligium. We were discussing the type of KM instructors out there in this community and the differences between them. We both agreed that although many people teach KM, everyone teaches it very differently.

This interesting phenomenon is in part due to the process of becoming a KM instructor. Generally KM instructors are trained through intensive 4  to 20 day courses; approximately 8 hours each day. Although that is enough hours to teach an experienced martial arts instructor the techniques of KM, it is not enough to change their behaviors and thinking, or provide full knowledge, tactics and the skill set of a KM instructor. For those who are fortunate enough to continue their training with a good KM lead instructor or organization in their local country, this issue is solved. These local organizations produce many pure blooded KM instructors with extensive knowledge of KM, field tactics, firearms, shooting etc. Israel and Serbia are the two countries that produce the purest and scariest KM instructors I have personally known.

Those who chose not to continue their KM education have to fill the knowledge and skill gap with their previous martial arts background. Hence, the KM world is diverse and different from school to school and instructor to instructor. Here are the three types of KM instructors out there:

  1. Soldier

Due to KM’s origins and ability to be adopted into military training, many soldiers around the world were attracted to the KM community. These type of instructors have the correct mentality and tactics when comes to KM, but the skill set and techniques are generally not the sharpest. Hand to hand combat is a very different special set of skills. It needs years of training to indoctrinate these into a person’s body.

  1. Fighter

Here I mean both martial artist and sports fighter. Most KM instructors come from this group and some are superb at transferring KM techniques and systems into their existing training database, but some bring their past martial art training into KM training. Some of these systems are compatible with KM’s mentality and training methods. Some are not. In general, I find instructors with a sport fighting background have good training methods for their students.

  1. Fitness Guy

Some fitness professionals with limited martial arts experience also start teaching Krav Maga classes. Their classes are a hybrid of Krav Maga and a fitness workout. This is the norm for most Krav Maga classes in North America. After all, this type of class attracts the most consumers, who want to get fit doing something that is fun; however, this type of class has little value when it comes to enabling one to walk in peace.

KM is not supposed be a system that requires a long period of training, but comprehensive training should not be as fast as some schools claim. The reason why Israelis do this is because:

  1. This is how the army does it – it takes from 1 to 3 months, depending on the unit, to develop an IDF Krav Maga instructor.
  2. Many Israeli organizations do not have the patience to stay in other countries and tutor pupils from beginner to instructor.
  3. Israeli people, generally speaking, are meant for KM. Do not forget, the majority of Israelis do their national military service of 2 to 3 years. The military train people both mentally and physically. A smaller amount of instructor training will work for countries that have a more militant background like Serbia, Russia, Poland etc., but for countries where average citizens do not serve and have limited access to firearms, a shorter period of training will not be sufficient.

In essence, we are all different, but one goal should be the same: that is to continue educating ourselves in every possible way on the subjects of Krav Maga, fighting, psychology, teaching, sports science, firearms, shooting, bladed combat etc. We need to recognize our strengths and weaknesses and become a hybrid of all three subject experts.

situational-awareness

While Krav Maga is by no means new, it is still new to many people, especially in North America. When I am asked, which is often, what is Krav Maga, I usually go into some long unending history of it  to the unfortunate individual who was silly enough to ask me that question. I usually say it’s complicated, but it is basically self defense that works with an Israeli twist. However, I think I can simplify it even further. It is the art of awareness.

After being asked to describe the importance of awareness in sports psychology, the first thing that came to mind was Krav Maga. As most Krav Maga practitioners should know, Imi Lichtenfeld,the man essentially responsible for creating Krav Maga famously said, when asked what Krav Maga was created for, “So one may walk in peace.” Add this to something I picked up from Nir Maman, “You win 100% of fights you are not in,” You begin to realize that the essence of Krav Maga is awareness. You may walk in peace because you know avoiding the fight is the best way to be safe and the only way to do this is by being aware.

Situational and environmental awareness is probably the most important thing you should get out of a good Krav Maga school. If you are only learning a set of moves, or just losing weight you should probably start looking for a new instructor or school. Now granted, being situationally aware may sometimes be seen as paranoia, it really is not. On the awareness colour code originally created by Jeff Cooper, being slightly aware is where most animals are at the yellow awareness level. This means you are calm, but still paying attention, while a person who is paranoid spends most of their time at the orange level which for most people would simply burn them out.

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Being aware simply means paying attention to what is going on around you. In today’s modern world, largely due to the smart phone,most people spend their time looking down at some kind of digital display and not paying attention to the world around them. This means that countless generations are losing that spatial and situational awareness that was crucial to early human survival in the wilderness. While I understand we are not in the wilderness anymore, the world once again is getting very violent. Being aware of your surroundings could literally be the difference between life or death. This means that if your Krav Maga training has made you aware of what’s going on around you then it is doing its job. I would like to think that we at Urban Tactics have put together a good program to get our students thinking. I mean I guess we are, since I regularly have students tell me that they are now paying attention to things they never used to. As teacher, educator, instructor, this makes me happy. It lets me know that my students are truly learning to be aware so that they may walk in peace. To sum it up, in the future when someone asks me what is  Krav Maga, I can now answer with ‘It is trained awareness for self defense, or simply awareness.” I realize that I will most likely end up giving another Krav Maga history lesson as it is my passion but I think it’s a good place to start.

Written By: Jonathan Fader

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Florian Garel is an old friend and training partner of mine.  He is a seasoned Muay Thai, grappling, karate practitioner, instructor and active MMA fighter signed under “One FC“.  Before you step into the dojo you can see the classes though the clear glass. You can see either a bunch of little kids doing kicks and punches alone with Florian in a Zendoaki Karate gi, or you will see a bunch of MMA fighters boxing each other and doing take downs.

In truth, I have rarely seen any dojo  has such an open view to the outside world as Florian’s gym. Many times people will stop and just watch the practice in amazement, especially in Taiwan, a society that values harmony and peace over aggression and prowess of fighting. Children were often taught not to be physical with each other and keep their hands to themselves. Wrestling with friends in mud is an image that only exists in Hollywood movies, but the society is changing. More and more of these audiences are jumping into the practice of MMA and Full Contact Karate.

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The dojo is not big and is about 1000 square feet. There is no lavish equipment but only the necessary gear such as mats, punching pads and other important stuff. It reminds me of the old school MMA gym, and people are here to train and to fight.  Florian’s regular MMA class is not big, generally 5 to 8 people, but many local Taiwanese Pro and Amateur MMA fighters train there with Florian. This speaks to the quality of Florian’s teaching. I participated in several of Florian’s MMA classes and I have to say that Florian has excellent instruction when comes to takedowns. This might surprise you, but the first time Florian and I fought was in 2008, and I was the one taking him down with my superb Judo skill. Now, after years of Sambo and pro-MMA fights, I am the one who can benefit from Florian’s teachings.

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Florian’s take down and grappling style is based more on Sambo and wrestling instead of grappling. It is more active and focuses on getting on top of the opponent. It is also a very MMA focused type of grappling instead of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that I practice and see. The tempo is much faster and techniques are less refining but brutal – Russian style. This is the beauty of Taiwan. It seems to attract styles from around the world instead of limiting to one style.

The teaching style of Florian’s class is considered as Linear Teaching. Florian would teach one technique and then the modification, defense, and so on and so on. From my experience this is the best method of teaching, and Royce Gracie used the same teaching method at the seminar where I was his assistant. Students spar and perform takedowns against each other using the right amount of force and technique and no one has an ego there. Students’ behaviors in sparring reflect the instructor’s attitude and ego, and I have to say Florian does a better job than me.

It is a true United Nations at Florian’s school. You will spar with Pilipino migrant workers in boxing, roll with Canadian MMA fighters, and do ground-and-pound with local Taiwanese students. Martial Arts truly bring people together and bridge the gap of language.

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Zendokai Karate Association in Japan was founded in 1999 by a great Karate Master Mr. Takashi Ozawa. Zendokai Karate is a type of sophisticated Multi-Martial Art based on Japanese Karate that includes punching, kicking, grappling, throwing, and joint locking techniques, while standing and fighting on the ground.  The easiest way to describe Zendoaki Karate is that it is MMA in a gi with some karate moves.

1147749_613530242023622_1767328248_oAt every Saturday Open Mat you will see guests from other dojos coming to train at Florian’s school and he would train with other gyms as well. This is Taiwan. It has a small population when it comes to Martial Arts and even a smaller population when comes to MMA and grappling, but the people are really close and there is a brotherhood among everyone and seldom will you will see rivalry between gyms as you sometimes see in North America. When the community is this small people need each other to survive. For Taiwanese people, it is a far cry from “don’t make physical contact with others”, to rolling on the ground trying to tap each other out. A lot of things have changed and, in my opinion, for the better. I hope…no,I know Florian’s MMA and Karate dojo will prosper in Taiwan because this is what we need.

Written By: Borki Yony

Photo By: Zendokai Karate ( Taiwan ) & Florian Garel

Zendokai’s website & facebook : https://www.facebook.com/taiwan.zendokai?pnref=lhc

If I say Urban Tactics Krav Maga is one of the most diversified and dynamic Krav Maga schools in North America, I think there would be very little dispute. Other than having been certified under 4 International Krav Maga Federations, one of our specialties is firearm training and Krav Maga techniques related to firearms, from firearm disarms, tactical shooting to military Krav Maga. We are privileged to have extensive knowledge from our military background as combat arms soldiers and shooting instructors in the Defense Industry.

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50 cal, the author’s favorite gun during his service with CDN Army

However, sometimes when we ask our civilian students at our Krav Maga school here in Vancouver if they would like to participate in some of Krav Maga seminars related to firearms or Firearm Possession Course, some of them ask “Why? What’s the point to learn about guns ? I will never use it.“  ” what’s the point of using guns as cold steel weapon? I will just shoot the guy. ”  Many Vancouverites do not own firearms nor have an interest in it. I was amazed with these students’ response that they do not want to participate because they think any form of firearm training is not useful in a real life threat.

Let us be clear about something:

  1. Armed robbers or other bad guys do not attack their targets with their bare hands. They always want to achieve superiority by having either a knife or a gun; only honorable people fight in equal amount of forces and let their skill determine who the winner is. Bad guys are not looking for a fair fight; they are looking for an easy pay day. If, unfortunately, you end up at the end of barrel and you faint at the first sight of a gun, the chance of you acting calmly is pretty slim. Knowledge is key to calmness and being collective under pressure. To know what type of firearm and the condition of the firearm is vital to survival in dealing with an armed assailant.
  1. If you disarm someone‘s firearm you need to know how to use it, even if you want to disable the gun to prevent the bad guy from using it again. You need to know how to do so fluidly and accurately under stress. Over and over again I see Krav Maga schools or other Krav Maga instructors teach people how to disarm attackers with a gun, but their immediate actions after the disarm makes my heart skip a beat.  Most of them clearly do not know how a real firearm functions, different functionality between a revolver and semi-automatic pistol, nor how to point the gun at the person if they chose to take lethal action. Just because you point a gun at an attacker does not magically make this person stop from taking the gun back or to attack you again. Do you have the will and skill to fire a gun if you chose to and, if you can hit accurately the bad guy, without hurting the bystanders or yourself? If you do not wish to shoot someone, how do you use guns as cold steel weapon and combine with Krav Maga moves ?
  1. Since almost most Israelis have served in the IDF; firearms have always been part of general Krav Maga curriculum from Day One in Israel. After all, almost every 18, 19 old Israeli youth can take apart, put it back a M-16 and be confident with it on the range. Most North American Krav Maga students and instructors cannot rival Israeli Krav Maga student and instructors’ firearm experience. Nonetheless, In order to learn the full system of Krav Maga, you better be good at firearms. You need to learn how to shoot it, disassemble it, then finally disarm it if you have to. Firearm training is a serious issue and takes lots of training time; more so than any other aspects in Krav Maga. People generally need lots of range time with guns to eliminate the fear of the “Boom Stick“, but also be confident that guns are merely tools and be comfortable with them as extension of their limbs.

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Are you Ash or Villagers ?

Last but not least, we do Krav Maga for a reason. We do it not for fitness or completion but to protect our lives. My friend, you want to ask yourself: Is there ever enough training when it comes to protecting your lives, especially about the most efficient killing tool created by man?

Written By: Borki Yony

Edited By: Warren C

In this video there are four of my buddies from Military Krav Maga Instructor course. I have to say this is probably one of the best demo video I ever seen. The quality is superb.

You guys can read about my Serbian adventurous at here.

http://urbantacticskravmaga.com/2013/09/17/from-serbia-with-love-military-krav-maga-instructor-course-in-belgrade/

By: Borhan Jiang