Posts Tagged ‘critical thinking’

Episode 63 – Blogpost Series – Covid-19 and Critical Thinking
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In this episode Jon goes over the blog post series written by Jonathan Fader on Covid-19. It is approach from the basis of critical thinking and how most peoples interpretations of it have been on extremes and most people expert or layman are not being reasonable or rational. It was based on the following posts.

Additionally some things were read and although there probably should have been far more research on this unfortunately many of the papers etc that this knowledge was drawn from were not in the book mark bar any more. There are more links for all of these arguments in the specific blog posts. They are in no particular order.

https://torontosun.com/news/provincial/pandemic-shutdown-of-small-businesses-unfair-ontario-judge-says?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1607360048

https://www.mondaq.com/canada/litigation-mediation-arbitration/934488/pursuing-legal-claims-after-the-lockdown-ends

https://www.menshealth.com/uk/health/a34517222/how-likely-you-are-to-catch-coronavirus-at-the-gym/?fbclid=IwAR35uAtjKNgvpd5h-09YtSe_phzNz1gvKY-15g_ja44xAuajRpaQDLCPa1A

https://www.ajc.com/life/study-vitamin-d-deficiency-found-in-over-80-of-covid-19-patients/A6W5TCSNIBBLNNUMVVG4XBPTGQ/?fbclid=IwAR22TCeB0pVCGC6D3Ew1b_aXlfeFSf35WHcQwNByYTf0Lwo0QTvmN0Z2rII

https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4425/rr-31?fbclid=IwAR3v7V1vSoUzVgM3vYWtHSb3Bw5eeRg9dmd2PzQxRQHOAtUjjs-Pqnhds9s

https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4425/rr-31?fbclid=IwAR3v7V1vSoUzVgM3vYWtHSb3Bw5eeRg9dmd2PzQxRQHOAtUjjs-Pqnhds9s

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-16/norway-vaccine-fatalities-among-people-75-and-older-rise-to-29?utm_content=business&cmpid=socialflow-facebook-business&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR1zgDNYZXkEnmASlF1reYoRqefGfiT7LmZdHRzIe6KZDp5nPAolZZUXJTk

https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2021/01/14/two-arthritis-medicines-prove-effective-for-covid-19?utm_campaign=editorial-social&utm_medium=social-organic&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR2oQqbgRcgBM8QmtGnxHjfCEGdOWwv1GWuGYC9aSqcQa9Ch-jGOsmuIRJI

Antifragile:

The benefits that vaccinations provide to humanity far outweigh the potential harms from the exceedingly rare side effects. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

Okay, as this is a topic that will be discussed ad nauseum this year, I thought I would apply some basic critical thinking. This is, of course, part of a series, the first being The Initial Response and the Virus and second being Context, Masks and Stats.

I thought I would also clarify (if it wasn’t already clear) why I write about topics that often many people think have nothing to do with self-defence. I believe that Krav Maga is truly about learning to walk in peace (as originally intended). This approach, should be clear in my series Self Defense is not just physical. This means that when I hear students, friends, collogues or family making grossly incorrect comments, on either side of the political isle, or others simply expressing confusion about some basic reality that is affecting their mental health (among other things), I feel it is my duty to do or say something. Either to quell there fears, or to educate them with more correct information (most up to date).

To those who believe that everyone should “stay in their lane”, I respectfully disagree.

One thing is for sure, COVID has applied immense pressure to society, and the confusion and non-nonsense, FROM ALL SIDES, conspiracy theorists to experts to politicians, is a big part of the problem.

So, if my writings help you, then wonderful, if they just make you hate me then, by all means. And, like many, while I may be extremely annoyed at how many governments have handled the situation and decisions they are making, it does not mean that I am also anti-science or anti-Vax. In fact, the importance of vaccines cannot be stressed enough, but that does not mean there are no issues with them.

Vaccines in General

I am just going to go ahead and say it: If you are outright against vaccines or fall into the “anti-vaxer” category, then you are not applying critical thinking at all. This is not actually a political thing. In case you have forgotten, much of the anti-vax movement started relatively recently in California from very Left-wing people. It just happens that now many of the anti-vaxers reacting to this specific event tend to be on the Right. This means it is an apolitical issue, so please stop accusing “the other side” of being stupid.

No, vaccines are not going to give your kid autism (that whole rumour started with one fraudulent paper). Historically vaccines are responsible for ridding most of the world of many previously horrible ailments, for example small pox, measles, polio, etc.. In fact, they have been so effective at snuffing out of many of these diseases which plagued humanity, that in many Western countries they do not even give the vaccines at all anymore. I’m actually kind of upset that I never received vaccines for some of these illnesses, because, you know, what if shit hits the fan and I’m not vaccinated against these something that suddenly becomes a problem? GIVE ME MY VACCINES DAMMIT!

With that being said, to sit here and pretend that vaccines are not without drawbacks is also foolish. There have been, and will continue to be, lawsuits, periodically, not just for vaccines, as in the US alone they have paid out over $4 billion in compensation. In fact I recently listened to the podcast Kill Tony, a comedy podcast, in which one of the participants suffered nerve damage due to vaccination, so it does happen.

The general attitude is that the benefits outweigh the potential harm… by a long shot.

For the COVID-19 vaccine however, even if there are some risks (which may include death) many governments are not allowing financial recourse for any damages, which is morally wrong. So, before you call someone names or insult them because they have concerns about vaccines recognize that these concerns are not entirely baseless.

Additionally, pretending like pharmaceutical companies are not morally corrupt corporations, with a very questionable history, is also silly. It can easily be seen in the recent $8 Billion lawsuit against Purdue Pharma related to Oxycontin’s role in the opioid crisis in the US. (To be fair, the responsibility also lies on the shoulders of any corrupt doctor whom prescribes something when they know better.)

With regard to the current vaccine for COVID-19, it has been said if you suffer severe allergic reactions then perhaps it may not be advisable for you.

Vaccines and other medications are very expensive to produce and as a general rule companies won’t even bother unless they think they can recover their expenses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Which makes sense financially, but for the betterment of humanity’s health makes little sense. But it is what it is, and the concern from the producers is a legitimate concern, this doesn’t mean someone is a conspiracy theorist.

Again, as a general rule, MOST of the time vaccines have done more good than harm, BUT, don’t pretend there are not potential negatives for some people.

How Do Traditional Vaccines Work?

I thought I would do a short section on the science behind vaccines, as many people really do not understand how these things work. They hear or read something online that sound ominous, or they don’t understand, and that’s why they decide they don’t like vaccines. First things first; TRADITIONAL vaccines have been used for a long time now and have a long track record of success overall. However, in the early days I bet lots of things didn’t go as planned, because we just didn’t understand enough. So if you dig, you will always find some negative examples. But, again, we don’t have polio, measles, and other horrible viruses/diseases (for the rest of the article I am just going to say “viruses,” but some afflictions that vaccines have helped with may be from other sources) on mass, in general anymore because of them. So overall, fairly good.

Vaccines introduced the virus an Active form, Passive form and other types into your body in a controlled fashion. This is intended to train your immune system to fight off the actual virus should you encounter it in the future. Yes, that means they do inject a small bit of the offending organism, along with other “science stuff,” into your body. If it is Active, it’s a reduced viral/bacterial load (ie. not enough to take hold and give you the illness). If it’s Passive, they use an inactive (dead) form. Other methods employ a part of the virus, etc.. (click on the link for better description)

All to teach your immune system how to deal with it if you were to ever get it.

If you were to encounter something like Smallpox, you may have immunity after having it because your body has now learned how to fight it off. But that’s assuming you are still alive, and most likely you are now severely disfigured. This is why vaccines teach your body how to deal with it before it is encountered. Your body is like, “Hey, I know this! Go away!” and either you are mildly sick or don’t notice it at all. With some illnesses you can only catch it once before you are messed up with disfigurements or dead. Hence you can’t just “get it” in order to develop immunity. Thus many illnesses that require vaccines are those with which the consequences are simply too dire.

Yes, you can get slightly sick after getting a vaccine, exhibiting mild symptoms of the illness or experiencing some minor side effects. This is largely due to the fact that genetics, and humans, are complicated and there is no way of knowing who will react to what. Some people’s immune systems will react more severely than others. I can remember receiving one vaccine as a child that was so painful I could barley move my arm for several days. This does not mean, however, that you are dying or that they injected a microchip into you! It does mean however that our medicine and science is not at the point where we can be so precise that we can have custom doses for each person and we probably wont have for a long time.

Stop expecting perfection, it does not exist.

The COVID-19 Vaccine

Enter the Covid-19 vaccine, which is NOT a traditional vaccine but rather a mRNA-based vaccine.

Just so you know, DNA and RNA are different structures life on this planet is based on. Coronaviruses, like the common cold, are RNA-based, which essentially means they can evolve and change at a pace our medical science has yet to keep up with. This means that, so far, we have never completely eradicated a RNA-based virus and vaccines for them require regular updates (eg. an annual flu shot).

Unlike traditional vaccines they essentially use a “key,” a protein or RNA-type thingy (yes, very scientific word), that teaches your immune system to fight off the virus.

Something to remember about the mRNA vaccines is that they are a relatively NEW technology and there is no longitudinal data, on mass, from which to assess how this will affect us in the long run. Which is a legitimate concern, as, historically, there have occasionally been issues with new technologies when they have not been tested on a wide enough population over a long enough period.

With that being said, numerous studies (one such study) have been carried out globally, on exceptionally large test groups (in the tens of thousands), which is really good, considering traditional test groups are considerably smaller.

However, a legitimate concern from many is, what was the make up of these test groups? Was it a diverse group of people, with thousands of people from White, to Black, to Asian? Or was it, as many studies are, limited to a particular group of people? It’s a legitimate question, as the medical field often ignores the genetic differences in groups when developing things because that would make research more expensive, or the politics of race and culture complicate the matter. But nevertheless, it is a concern and something worth considering. I would hope, as this is a global endeavor and studies have been done all over the place, that this is something that was taken into consideration, but without reading the data from the studies, indicating the makeup of these groups, it will be hard to ascertain.

Another issue is some people actually have been advised not to take the vaccine, that is, individuals with severe allergies. This group essentially has immune issues, for a variety of reasons, which means no vaccine, no normalcy. This was specifically for the Pfizer vaccine, but who knows, it could apply to the other vaccines from the variety of companies producing it, but, as always, without further investigation we may not know until much, much later.

What concerns me most about the vaccine is how numerous governments (Link 1, Link 2, Link 3) have limited or blocked the ability to seek proper compensation should things go wrong, especially if it is made mandatory. If I was a citizen in such a country this would be very concerning to me, as it goes against historic precedence and is extremely immoral and unethical. For many the fact that the companies producing the vaccine are protected from liability is a concern, though a moral argument can be made, on both sides, as to why or why not this should be allowed.

So let’s assume that the vaccine, in its various forms, does what it says it is going to do, which is to provide a 94-95% barrier to stop you getting, or spreading COVID-19 after both shots (less so if you only get one dose). Then within reason lockdowns and mask mandates should disappear. If they do not I would be very, very concerned.

If it does work as they say, preventing the spread of COVID, then the idea that EVERYONE MUST get immunized against COVID to help promote some kind of herd immunity is actually quite silly. This is because, as has been made clear, MOST people under 60, who are reasonably healthy, will not have significant issues should they contract the disease. Which means those who are vulnerable or at risk probably should get vaccinated, and everyone else should if they want. However, to claim everyone MUST take it and that it’s MANDATORY, actually seems very un-scientific to me. Whether asymptomatic people can transmit the virus and how many people are asymptomatic seems to be up for debate, as numbers range between 20%-80% of those who test positive. One thing is for sure, the vast majority of people under 60 who encounter this virus are not at risk of severe complications or death. Thus the idea that if you don’t get vaccinated you will die or the world will end makes no sense to me.

If, for whatever reason, the vaccines are not as effective as they claim, then our options are really to learn to live with this and learn to be healthier in general. We will not know, however, until this thing is rolled out and the next year is upon us. So buckle up and hold on.

While the speculation around COVID herd immunity numbers are up in the air, it should be evident by now that this may be irrelevant at this point, with most people being relatively fine; especially if COVID becomes another annual virus (being RNA-based). Normal herd immunity, by the way, for something like measles requires something like 95% of people to be immune to prevent mass outbreaks. So really, protecting the vulnerable and accepting that most people who get COVID will be just fine is probably the way to go.

Either way, I really want the fear mongering to stop.

No matter the virus what we really need is to see a greater push toward healthier living and better dietary choices, as well as more preventative medicine options in the Western medicine world.

Something I have yet to see from most major world leaders…

Testing

I’ll keep this short, but testing throughout the entire pandemic has been a source of confusion. Most governments did not do widespread testing early enough, particularly where it mattered, at points of entry. Some countries did not even do widespread testing at all, favouring instead targeted testing, and had great success (like Japan). But how testing is used, and it’s results measured, can greatly affect the perception of how bad the pandemic actually is. So it’s worth noting.

In Canada, we are using 3 types of testing: PCR, Point of Care, and Antibody tests. PCR is the most widespread, but also the most problematic and the source of many of the issues, whereas antibody tests are hardly being used at all.

The PCR test, to keep it simple, checks to see if you “have something,” as in are you sick, did you have the virus, is there any virus in there at all? Even the creator of the PCR test said it’s not a good test to get accurate numbers (he did not say it cannot test for the virus, it can). This means this test can produce false positives, meaning you may have the cold and you might test positive. Or you could have had COVID weeks ago, didn’t even know it, are fine now, not contagious, but you would still test positive. This means that it is likely, as most of the world is using PCR, that the positive rate is being presented as higher than they actually are. This is why as soon as you saw mass testing, the positive rates SPIKED dramatically in the second wave, yet the hospitalization rates, while they rose to, didn’t spike through the roof at the same rate.

Scientists and governments may prefer an artifactually high number, to make people take the situation more seriously, but, as I mentioned earlier, I prefer honesty over fear mongering. While COVID is a serious problem it should be obvious now that, either because of the widespread use of the PCR testing or politics of COVID, we will never know the real number of active COVID cases. Just like we will never know truly accurate numbers for the flu and common cold.

But, since it is a global issue, I really think they need more accurate numbers so that better policy decisions can be made. Just my two cents.

Conclusion

While I, like many people in the Krav Maga world, am very against the way governments are reacting and behaving I still support genuine science, that is to say actual reality, not what is being portrayed. NO, I do not believe COVID is as bad as it’s being presented to us; many of the problems are to do with failed policy, reactions, overreactions, etc. As I have made clear in this series, numerous governments got it right, unfortunately most did not.

But when it comes to vaccines, while there are obvious concerns even from a scientific perspective (it was produced rapidly and mistakes could have been made, it’s a new technology, it has no long term data, etc.) vaccines, on the whole, have been positive for humanity.

Personally I never get the yearly flu shot; because I am young and healthy and it’s not a big deal if I get the flu, when I am older, however, I would re-consider this stance. This is because flu and cold vaccines are very different than, say, those for measles, because of that tricky RNA thing.

So on this same logic, when it comes to the COVID vaccine, I am in no rush to get it. HOWEVER, if you are over 60 or an at risk individual, I would definitely consider getting it as soon as you can (from a little poking around I would prefer the Moderna one over the Pfizer) as you are the ones who need it. IF the vulnerable are protected the the death rate from COVID should be negligible, even if only half the population gets it. ESPECIALLY if it turns out that it is going to be an annual shot, then, logically, it will be just like the cold and flu shot; those who are at risk get it, and everyone else do what they feel is best for them. So, no, I am not for mandatory vaccination for this particular virus, it doesn’t make sense to me. If we were facing aerosolized Ebola however, I would be Kraving my way to the front of that line!…JK.

The point of this series was to give some perspective from the eyes of critical thinking. Experts, politicians and those on either side can sometimes get tunnel vision and stop thinking clearly in a broader perspective. On some issues I fall on one side of the isle, and on others the other side of the isle; this is how it should be if you are practicing proper critical thinking. To entrench yourself in the camp of LOCK DOWN, LOCKDOWN, or in the camp of HOAX, then you are not operating with any critical thinking at all.

COVID is not a hoax, it’s just really, really, really, poorly managed by our “dear leaders.” BUT given that many countries that have done well barley lockdown, like Sweden (though they admit they should have been a little more cautious), or countries like Japan didn’t do mass testing, means that perhaps the camp of LOCKDOWN also isn’t applying critical thinking.

So, I hope this series has been of help to you, either to open your eyes to one side or the other, teach you something you didn’t know, or clarify something you thought you knew, then I am glad.

Just remember, self-defence is not just physical, it is everything that comes together so that you can learn to walk in peace, be it physical, social, financial, mental, or spiritual. In these crazy times, sane voices and rational discussion with critical thinking must be our priority, lest we all go mad and fail to learn to walk in peace.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

A variety of masks are available, some are better than others. (source)
Critical thinking and COVID-19 – Context, Masks and Stats Audio by Jonathan Fader

First of all, happy new year! Though given what’s going on I am not sure it will be too much different from 2020, at least during the first few months. Rather than doing some new years resolution post which is, let’s be honest, cliché, I am simply going to continue with my series on Critical Thinking and COVID-19. The first being initial response and the virus.

I would like to first start with the fact I believe Western governments have been lying and gaslighting the public since the beginning. Not for the health and safety of the general public, for what is best for the “System”; medical and political. I believe it’s actually quite easy to prove.

In my previous post I discussed the fact that there is NO WAY Western governments did not have pandemic plans in place after SARS hit in 2003. In fact, in Canada even mainstream media has picked up on this, as can be seen in this Globe and Mail article from April of 2020 (which itself is being far to kind to the government). In it, the author reminds the public that CPHO Dr. Theresa Tam (Canada’s version of Dr. Anthony Fauci) co-wrote a paper in 2006, discussing pandemics with regard to Canada specifically. In a 2010 documentary “Outbreak: Anatomy of a Plague,” Dr. Tam can be seen in recordings discussing very Orwellian methods for controlling the public in the event in pandemics. Which, again, shows there were plans, which basically every Western government failed to implement even at a basic level. Which, as previously mentioned, should have started with closing the boarders to anyone who tests positive, or some variation of border restrictions at the very least.

So why do I say governments globally are gaslighting? They are constantly blaming the spread of the virus on the public failing to do what they are told. For all the Karens, unhealthy people, or those with anxiety, this has been the talking point: “Just do as you are told.” Yet it is morally wrong on all levels, because had governments actually implemented their plans back in Jan/Feb 2020 we would have not needed lockdowns at all; which don’t even seem to work, as many places with extreme lockdowns, like NY, LA, and England, are still seeing massive spikes.

So, did any one in the world get it right? Yes, for sure. The best examples are Taiwan and South Korea. There are many reasons for their overall success, one of which is, it seems, their medical systems are not overly corrupt like ours are (but I won’t get into that). For the purpose of this article I am going to talk about Taiwan. First I would like to acknowledge that Taiwan is an island, which, like other island nations (like Australia), makes it far easier to control who’s coming into the country. Countries like Canada and the US never actually closed the land boarders, allowing more than 7,000,000 border crossings, not knowing if people are positive or negative. So, YES, islands had a much easier time restricting travel, although it’s also policy related.

So what else did Taiwan do? The first thing is… they implemented their pandemic plans that they had developed post-SARS; they were hit hard in 2003 (like TORONTO, in Canada) and they learned their lessons then. They immediately closed there borders, implemented testing when it was reasonable and possible, and told the public to wear masks. In fact, they even worked with private companies to ensure that masks were available for everyone. (More about this can be heard on the NPR Planet Money episode from Dec. 23d, “Fork The Government“)

Yes, that’s right, masks.

If you remember, at this time you were being told by Fauci, Tam, and the World Health Organization that, “No, you should not wear masks because you don’t need them.” All of whom later changed there minds, with Fauci even going on record to admit that he had lied.

Seems Taiwan did the right thing early by shutting down travel and telling people to wear masks. So why did global experts lie? In Fauci’s admission he rationalizes that it was a decision to protect the medical community plain and simple. This was due to fears surrounding supply chain issues, which, again, were common knowledge as I have previously discussed. Like all COVID decisions it seems they were solely based on a “protect the medical system first and the public next” mentality (something that is open for debate). This is an approach that, as we have seen, has created poorly thought out, garbage policy. The same methodology can be found in the overuse of ventilators early on, which, allegedly, was done to protect medical staff from the chance of the virus aerosolizing. While ventilators certainly are needed for those who cannot breath on their own, those with severe symptoms in the hospitals were put in medically-induced comas and put on ventilators, which later was found to cause a higher death rate and not actually have the desired affect. Yes, that’s right, early in the virus the high death rate, even for younger people, was due to… a lack of actual understanding. (But they will never be recorded as such, of course.)

This means that they lied, for their own benefit, and while you can make an ethical case for their methods it really seems this “system first” protection failed to achieve any reasonable results and just caused chaos. But, you know, “it’s the publics fault for not doing what you were told.” They screwed up, but its your fault! Gaslighting at its finest. Add to that the constant shifting goal posts and changing information, and they wonder why large groups of the public have lost faith in the experts. (Side note: if experts wonder why people don’t want to listen to them a lot of the time it’s because of this kind of garbage.)

Masks

Ok enough ranting, let’s actually talk masks. If you recall I briefly addressed masks in a post way back in the beginning of 2020. (Assuming you won’t read it, a reminder: Way back in 2008 I completed a two year program in Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S), within which there was a lot of discussion of masks for the workplace, how to use them properly, and what the different ratings are for.)

So let’s start with this. The best argument for wearing masks is a simple one: In general, they can’t hurt.

Yes, there are some people who can’t wear them for whatever reason, but for the most part they won’t hurt. (In most of those cases, we have several variations of non-contact face shields that are still better than nothing) I also agree they are a pain to wear all the time, as personally I find it difficult when I have to wear them for more than an hour or so. Let’s not pretend it’s, not as they are very unnatural feeling. The other thing is, I am against outright blanket mask mandates (for COVID at least), as I never like top-down control to this level of daily life. Arresting one person in a store because they don’t wear a mask is an absurdity. If it bothers you, don’t go near that person.

Whenever I see a person outdoors, by themselves, walking with a mask on, it drives me nuts as these people don’t really get how masks work. However, if you are in a confined space for longer than 15 min with people, such as a small room, especially those whom you do not know and will be close to, then masks probably are a good idea. Where social distancing is possible then I’m not a fan of mandatory requirements.

So how do you know they do work as a general concept? Well, countries that implemented masks early are doing much better, by a long shot. They didn’t even need to do massive lockdowns. Yes, I am aware that countries like Taiwan have a far more complaint populous, but that makes it all the more important that politicians and experts must stop lying; as this is what degrades our trust.

You can also anecdotally assert that masks work, seeing as hospitals have been using medical masks for years for a reason. For viruses like COVID, which are spread via particulates (spit, breath moisture, etc.), medical masks will work just fine when you are close to people.

As mentioned previously though, N95 masks are better, and respirators even better still.

So when don’t masks work? Well, if in fact COVID-19 was aerosolized than the first two options wouldn’t really be effective. Which is probably why despite clean procedures in hospitals germs still spread through the building. If COVID was in fact as bad as they were claiming you would need a half face respirator or better.

When it comes to respirators you have two general types; open systems and closed systems. A closed system is more like hazmat suit with a built in oxygen tank (the kind you see in movies), which is what you would want to wear when dealing with, say, Ebola or other deadly things. An open system one is a respirator which still allow you to breath freely with the air around you; a filter doing the work when you breathe in or out. The reason why medical masks and N-95 mask don’t work 100% is because they are not perfect seals. Which means you could still come into contact with the virus under the right circumstances, especially if it was aerosolized.

One of the things experts were saying at the beginning to justify not wearing masks was that the average person won’t wear them properly anyway. Which, while true, is an arrogantly silly stance.

Why?

In OH&S you have something called “fit testing”. It is a training method to ensure individuals know what their mask feels like if they are wearing it properly with the correct filters. They make sure you put your respirator on with the right fit, and then crack a banana oil ampule which smells HORRIBLE. So bad you can’t fake the response unless you have no sense of smell. Why is this important? Well, if you are on a worksite that has, say, H2S gas, and there is a leak, and you don’t have a proper seal on your mask, you can drop dead.

The fact you don’t need a respirator or better for COVID means it’s not as bad as they have making it out to be, as it should be obvious by now you will not drop dead on the spot for getting COVID. But masks will, as a general rule, reduce transmission. To what degree? Who knows? But I would definitely wear them if I am close to vulnerable people; aged 60+, obese, and those with diabetes or similar issues. Even if they were only 10-20% effective, then they would still worth wearing when appropriate.

But screaming about masks after lying about them, then saying “I am sorry, you are just being a Karen,” especially if you don’t even understand how they work, that is unacceptable!

Imagine a world in which they had followed their plans and got masks to the public early, where those who wanted to wear one did and those who didn’t didn’t, you most likely would have seen a different world today.

Stats

Okay, since this post is fairly long I am going to keep things fairly short here. I will expand further on this information in the next post.

I am going to start with this great (mobile only) presentation from CBC (similar info here):

https://ici.radio-canada.ca/info/2020/06/deces-morts-covid-19-coronavirus-provinces-repartition-visualisation-3d/index-en.html

One thing they did was be honest. They presented the information, which included breaking down by age, in an easy to understand graphical comparison; something governments seemingly refuse to do. This was compiled after the first wave in Canada, as of June 8th 2020, and I find it highly likely that you would find similar ratios globally, as an indication of who the vulnerable groups are. But let’s look at the numbers as they were at that time.

  • As of June 7 at 3:30 p.m., 95,699 Canadians have been diagnosed with the Novel Coronavirus, but only 35% are still considered sick. 57% have recovered and 8% have died.
  • With 7,848 deaths, COVID-19 is on track to be the sixth-highest cause of death this year in Canada. In only five months, the disease killed as many as the flu, pneumonia and bronchitis do combined in an average year.
  • The elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are most at risk of dying from COVID-19. The deaths are grouped by age: 80 and older60 to 7940 to 59 and 39 and younger.
  • Those who are 80 and older account for 72% of deaths in Canada. But only 18% of cases are in this age group.
  • Those 40 to 59 and 39 and younger only make up three per cent of deaths — despite accounting for 65% of cases.

There is more for anyone willing to read it, and, of course, this is older data, however, it is clear who the vulnerable groups are. It is not the general public, yet you are still being told it is. If you are under 60 and healthy (ie. not obese, not diabetic, etc.) you are probably more likely to die by car than anything else. If you are under 40 and die you probably are just as likely to win the lottery (I didn’t do the actual math, but you get the idea).

Now, I cannot seem to easily find numbers on the Canadian CDC website, which is shocking. But on the BC CDC website (which is up to date) they do not discuss age. Weird huh? They say “listen to the experts, look at the data!” then completely ignore that data.

Let’s do a comparison. If I simply google “BC COVID Data,” I actually get the Canadian data (again very hard to compare accurate data when the data is presented differently everywhere); I get a chart that basically shows the positive test rate for Canada. It doesn’t show the data by age, doesn’t show the hospitalization rate, doesn’t show the death rate. (Did I mention there was a higher death rate for people under 80 in the first wave due to the overuse of ventilators…)

Accesses January 4th 2020.

Now you see much higher rates of infection, which make it look bad even though the death rate has more or less stayed flat (“flatten the curve”). The reason the rate is so much higher due to the second wave, is because…. more testing… but the overall death rate is actually down. But it looks scary right?

In the case of British Columbia, though deaths spiked, almost all of them were in Long term Care homes or among the elderly… but, you know, everyone is still dying of this thing right? It’s actually something like 80% of people who died were in the older population. It is unfortunate, but it is what it is. Yet government policies don’t address this, they just shut down everything, or most things, because it’s easier.

So why do they focus on the infection rate not other factors? One, it’s easier. Two, it creates more fear in the public by inflating the overall risk; which then gets people to comply and enrages the Karen army.

But science and data right? When policy isn’t being made based on the data but more to protect the medical personnel and the system this indicates they are not actually being scientific. After all, look at Taiwan, they implemented simple plans early and they can continue doing what they want, including martial arts.

Before I wrap up this post I would just like to point out in the second wave there was a MASSIVE drop in COVID rates on Dec 25th and Jan1st. Not because COVID disappeared, but because (I assume) testing stopped for the most part. This shows the effect testing has on the numbers. If they had testing early that first spike probably would have been epically massive. But since governments really screwed up they didn’t have testing ready, which resulted in the accusations that the numbers were too high or too low. The infection rates were most definitely too low in the first wave, as measured by the numbers, but the death rate was probably way too high due to how they were recorded. Again, the medical community is not likely to admit that the overuse of ventilators (medical error) was the cause of death for many of the early patients. It was totally on COVID.

But, again, it’s all the publics fault…

Conclusion

I know these posts are long, but the constant attempt to oversimplify these things in a tweet or photo, without exploring the facts properly is a reason why the situation is so screwed up in this world. Not just because of COVID, but because no one wants to actually educate themselves anymore: You just re-tweet, re-post, and don’t follow up.

Teaching Critical Thinking is my thing, as it is a principles first approach. I know it’s hard, but if you want to navigate this confusing world and topic you must think for yourself sometimes. That requires knowledge, critical thinking, and, well, honesty.

To sum up this post: You have been lied to and Gaslighted. Governments in the West have failed to do their ONE JOB! (well, one of many). Masks do work as a general tactic. Manipulating data is BAD. Of course, if you only read this part you failed the critical thinking.

The next post will be on vaccines, testing, and probably more data.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

When it comes to teaching Krav Maga, I do not think of techniques as the starting point of self-defence, but rather critical thinking. This is because critical thinking is a skill which translates into more situations, allowing a person to better walk in peace. This skill, however, can be a very difficult one to teach, as some people have developed ways of thinking and processing information that are totally devoid of critical thinking (which is a hard habit to break), while others may have never been taught to think critically, and, of course, there are those who do not even care to think at all. This is all part of the complex concept that we call the human condition.

Enter COVID-19 and 2020. This year has clearly been a trying one, for many reasons, especially when you are attempting to apply critical thinking and rationality to everything that is going on, while many of those around you simply cannot be bothered. But I remain undeterred, and I will apply some critical thinking skills to analyze the goings-on of this most interesting year as we approach the beginning of 2021. Though to what end, I am really not sure. (You can take it or leave it but it’s really up to you to apply your knowledge, skills, experience, and even trust, to make up your own mind one way or another.)

I am separating this analysis into a three part series, employing my “non-expert” knowledge and experience to break it all down a little bit. This post will be on the initial response to the pandemic, next week’s will be on masks and testing, and the following week will look at vaccines. So, love me or hate me, these posts are coming.

Preparedness (or Lack Thereof)

In case you live in a cave somewhere, COVID-19 popped up in late December of 2019 and was identified and announced in early January of 2020. (Though there are claims that the highest level of government knew earlier, I am not going down the conspiracy rabbit hole.) By March we started to see governments panicking and moving toward full closures of borders or communities in order to “flatten the curve.” Remember that “only 2 weeks, to flatten the curve” lockdown pitch? So much for that!

But let’s take a step back and talk about pandemic procedures. We should start with this; when I studied Occupational Health and Safety I learned about the field of “Emergency Preparedness.” Said field is a subfield of OHS that was so complex it grew into its own specialty, “Emergency Management Planning,” and requires extensive comprehensive training (way beyond the basics) to be proficient in it. I came across this back in 2006, and I expect it was known outside of my training experiences, so, while planning for a pandemic is a monumental task, the requirements of such a plan were on Public Health’s radar for quite some time now.

Thus I find it highly unlikely that Western governments, the UN, NATO, and other such organizations, did not have pandemic plans on paper prior to 2020. In fact, if they did not I would say this is unforgivable negligence. FYI, my understanding is they all did…

Now, with my non-expert knowledge of pandemics, and emergency preparedness planning, let me just take a stab at a basic plan:

I’ll begin by defining a pandemic:

Pandemicadjective – (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.

Now, a potential plan, made my a layman:

  1. Identify a potential virus or outbreak that has the potential to become a pandemic.
  2. Start the process of doing science stuff to learn how to defeat said virus.
  3. Isolate the region in which the initial infection is located, limit travel as needed.
  4. If and when it spreads, limit travel to the region and test anyone entering or leaving the country (where realistically possible).
  5. Surrounding countries should start preparing emergency plans for hospitals.
  6. If and when it jumps to another country stop travel to said newly infected country while science is done and solutions are planned.
  7. If and when it jumps to further countries, close boarders, implement testing, and post updates on how to identify the infection. Prepare hospitals for potential influx and prep for the possibility of needing field hospitals to offer increased capacity. Start preparing emergency caches of supplies and increasing strength of the supply chain. Re-direct government finances to bolster hospitals, first responders, and infection response teams.
  8. If needed due to high death counts or EXTREME negative symptoms, limit travel inside countries/regions and make widespread, ACCURATE, testing easily available. Implement health procedures needed to decrease exposure risk in various industries. Restrict activities as needed (within reason).
  9. If outbreak worsens and death count increases, implement lockdown procedures until a better solution is sorted.
  10. When governments fail due to chaos, get your guns… (learn how to use them before you need them.)

This, of course, is just a basic idea of what might be a good strategy. If I, with limited knowledge, can come up with something (implementation is obviously more difficult and an expensive logistical nightmare) why did governments get things so wrong in the initial stages?

Well, they resisted shutting things down because at the time, the claim was limiting travel to China would be a racist action. Wait, racist? What does this have to do with a pandemic? Nothing. It’s purely political. A virus like COVID-19 doesn’t care much about race, though differences in genetics and socio-economic status do affect how a given virus will impact certain groups, but racist? Nope. (Practical? Yep.)

What would have the world looked like if governments across the globe had actually implemented the plans they had on paper, and immediately limited travel restrictions and testing rather than screaming about the appearance racism? Probably a more functional 2020. (A few nations have managed to avoid COVID)

With that being said, from what I have seen many experts assert that this virus would have spread regardless. See Alanna Shaikh‘s “TEDx” talk from 2019 (and pay attention to what else she says). Some were convinced of this virus’s inevitability to the point of basically saying “don’t bother closing boarders because it won’t make a difference.” This attitude seems very morbid and not very forward thinking, because of, and we all know this, the people factor. But, hey, an expert in pandemics is an expert in everything else; like economics, or psychology, right? Clearly coming from the perspective that the virus will spread anyway so what’s the point? The point would have been simple: Governments are slow and inefficient. Thus the more time they have to prepare the less likely they are to be overwhelmed, and the less the general public would have been punished for their incompetence.

Why do I say incompetence? Well, let’s take the widely accepted claim, from many leaders, that “no one could have seen this coming.” This is simply a giant pile of crap and a failure of our leaders and governments to take responsibility for their actions, or lack of actions in many cases. How can I make such a claim? Consider that experts they are now using to shove restrictions down our throats are the very same experts who were telling politicians, for years, that due to “climate change, massive urbanization, the proximity of humans to farm or forest animals that serve as viral reservoirs” pandemics are coming and we need to prepare.

Epidemiologist (ie. pandemic expert) Michael T. Osterholm, who was the guest The Joe Rogan Experience, episode 1439, wrote a book called the Deadliest Enemy in 2017. This was a response to the SARS and MERS outbreaks, in 2003 and 2012 respectively, the fifth and sixth coronaviruses humanity has encountered. (here is another piece talking about what we learned from that outbreak and how to prepare.) There were many other experts telling our leaders to prepare, so what happened to “listening to the experts” back then?

In this book he talks about the seriousness of pandemics and the general lack of preparedness, even going into specific details such as identifying the issue with modern medical supply chains. Yes, that’s right. The whole “don’t wear masks” at the beginning was actually a lie to ensure the medical system had priority access to PPE, rather than sound medical advice. But I will get into that in the mask post. To keep it short here, it basically means governments didn’t properly prepare. Period.

A local example: After the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto, governments in Canada and Provinces spent loads of cash on PPE, etc. for first responders. Awesome right? Well, medical gear expires. So guess what happened? It expired. Unfortunately, governments generally did not replace equipment because of ignorance, cost-saving measures, and the attitude of “that’s a future government’s problem.” Enter COVID-19, and, hey, with the crappy supply chain (based in China) first responders were left for weeks or months without proper equipment (this was confirmed by sources close to me).

So, while this was a short analysis it is actually very easy to prove that the assertion “Nobody could have seen this coming” and “we couldn’t have possibly prepared for this,” is simply a lie to coverup government incompetence.

The Virus, the Politics, and the Data

Wait, Jon, did you say there was more than one coronavirus!? Yes, there are many members of the Coronaviridae family, which includes “the common cold” and several flu strains. Some are worse than others, SARS (SARS-CoV) and MERS (MERS-CoV), for example, tend to have a higher death rate, around 20-40%, but spread much slower than COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). An initial comparison of COVID-19, SARS, and influenza can be found here.

You may recall there were many at the beginning saying it was “flu like” or closely comparable to the flu. Well, it is in the same family of virus, so saying someone who repeats that is an idiot isn’t completely fair. Though COVID-19 does spread at a far more rapid pace than the common cold or flu, with significantly higher morbidity rates in elderly populations and those with co-morbidity factors, the vast majority of people, probably 80-90%, will experience mild to medium symptoms (much like a cold or flu.) It is, after all, a virus with a 95-99% survival rate, depending on age and other factors. Considering the amount of elderly who are hospitalized for the cold or flu, who then develop pneumonia and die, comparing COVID-19 to the flu, albeit a bastard cousin with a reliable, easily available vaccine, was somewhat reasonable. (Notwithstanding the fact that, in Canada at least, COVID-19 has, at the 10 month mark, taken out almost four times as many people than the seasonal flu does in 12 months [13,779 vs 3,500])

Yes, as it should be common knowledge by now, age groups 60+ are generally at a MUCH higher risk from having issues, short and long term, due to COVID-19. This isn’t really debatable, but they are still trying probably to instill fear in young people by bringing those numbers up every single time a young person dies. Yes, it can happen but that is true for most viruses or diseases. Some people, no matter their age or good health, are just screwed. Your own immune system may overreact to cause more problems than the virus itself due to a “cytokine storm.” It’s like winning the unlucky lottery that you played simply by being born. It is unfortunate, but it is what it is. Statistically, however, you are not likely to die of COVID-19 by a long shot if you are under 40, and less so between 40-60 than if you were older.

So why did they demonize this comparison? Well, again, politics. Because the system had failed they wanted to use fear to make people take it more seriously so that people would “listen to them” (ie. the government). While some politicians are legitimately trying to save lives, others may simply be incompetent; but instead of being honest and open with the science, both would rather lie, manipulate, and talk down to you.

I have read articles reporting on young people who had a terrible experience with COVID and it is often presented as “you see, young people have problems too.” But buried further down in the information is a note that “oh, they had diabetes,” “oh, they were overweight,” or “hey, they had a health issue they didn’t even know about.” Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and call that manipulative; they are encouraging fear to encourage obedience.

By the way, obesity, old age, and general poor health are some of the main factors that will lead to death if you get COVID-19. So, you know, staying healthy is a good way to keep yourself farther from death… in general… all the time. Oh, and also, vitamin D deficiency can cause complications, which many, many, many doctors have confirmed, but, you know, vitamin D is cheap, easily accessible, and does not need governments or pharmaceutical companies to be involved in a solution. I want to be clear: Vitamin D is NOT a cure, but rather can help your immune system do it’s thing so that if you do get COVID-19 you are considerably less likely to experience severe symptoms (unless you have health problems.) The link above was from Ben Greenfield’s podcast, but there have been many others talking about COVID-19 and other issues. For example on another episode with Dr.Zach Bush he discusses how those on statins or comparable drugs (for heart problems and obesity) are more likely to experience complications with COVID-19 than the average cancer patient (different meds). Weird huh?

Despite the INSANE amount of evidence about how being healthy and strengthening your immune system helps vs COVID (again, not a cure, but a solid preventative medicine against general ailments and the slowing of the inevitability of death), governments have largely only focused on the expertise of ER doctors and epidemiologists. Individuals whom are, in fact, not experts on preventative medicine. In general, Western medicine barely focuses on preventative medicine at all, aside from the generic advice of “maintain a good diet and exercise.” Considering this virus was supposed to be the death of us all… shouldn’t they want to give all reasonable, scientific advice to help people survive? I guess promoting good health and wellbeing isn’t good advice? Or, at least, not good advice with regard to money for the medical system, because, you know, people are healthier… but I digress.

Let’s go back and talk about the concept of flattening the curve. Initially, in Canada, this meant a two-week, partial lockdown, in order to slow infections and space out those that required hospitalization, to avoid being overwhelmed, and also to allow the overall system, medical and government, to make preparations. This is reasonable (although, had they prepared properly it might not have even been needed). I accepted this premise, as, if the hospitals are overwhelmed then, yes, many more would likely die. Except that many hospitals, for the most part, were never overwhelmed in the first wave (in the case of Toronto, the hospitals were filled to bursting prior to the pandemic!). Some ERs had very busy nights as can be seen in numerous articles or ER personnel venting their emotions to the media. Something I consider professionally inappropriate; these doctors should be mad at governments for failing to do their job in maintaining appropriate staffing of doctors and nurses, and providing adequate funding overall. (But, hey, it’s the public’s fault apparently.) I sympathize with frontline workers, this has sucked, but their emotional distress due to being overworked should not translate into bankrupting thousands of businesses.

So, based on frontline doctors panicking, despite the fact that most hospitals were not overwhelmed, the government’s knee-jerk reaction of two weeks turned into months. Goodbye, many other peoples livelihoods and lives! Hello, increased suicides, increased abuse, etc…the list goes on. Lockdowns were not a good idea for this virus, one with a high survival rate for the majority of the population, and yet they still justify it. Anyone saying it was a bad idea was called a “conspiracy theorist,’ yet now, months later, the data is in and it appears that more damage was done, physically, financially, and emotionally by lockdowns than the potential deaths that would have occurred had we stayed open with some restrictions. But hey, now some places are still doing lockdowns. So much for data and science driven decisions.

Infection rate vs hospitalization rate vs death rate. The confusion between these points when presenting data, and manipulation of its presentation, is how they keep you down. But Since I have already gone on enough, I ll expand on this in another post, probably the mask one..

Appeal to Authority

Since “experts” aren’t avoidable let’s talk about them.

“Trust me, I am an expert” is a statement you should always be very skeptical of. Unless those words are combined with the specialized knowledge, valid credentials, or sufficient experience that make someone an expert, quite often they are not as expert as they think. Assuming someone is an expert in everything just because they have some letters after there name isn’t as safe as one would think. It is also important to understand that some of those letters may have been “earned” doing research that is not repeatable, yet they get a pat on the back for it. This is not to say that there are not legitimate experts to be found in every field, because there are. Unfortunately in our society people who want attention get it, leaving those who may be far more qualified to speak on a topic toiling in some poorly funded lab somewhere, all because they won’t step into the spotlight or refuse to play the game of politics.

Another consideration it that experts and scientists are STILL HUMAN! Period. Meaning they are fallible and prone to error, ego, and chasing the funding. Some may even have their intentions corrupted by attention seeking. They are not the god-like, invaluable individuals the media (or they themselves) would have you believe. Also, whose experts? Because I can find an expert in anything to say anything on anything, because, you know, hoomons.

So, who should you trust? The experts saying “keep locking things down” or the experts saying “lockdowns serve no purpose.” Many politicians will listen to whoever they think makes them popular, rather than the actual science and data. This often includes politicians who say the words “science” and “data” repeatedly without actually understanding anything they are talking about. Don’t accuse others of being populist when you are doing the same thing. Anyway.

I do listen to experts who make valid, well-thought-out arguments, based on research and data that has been thoroughly worked through. We should listen when a reasonable argument is made. However, you must always apply critical thinking to what you hear, watch, and read, and know when you are being misled.

Sometimes experts, intentionally or unintentionally, assume you are too stupid to understand so they leave details out. One such example is another “hot mic” incident where the truth comes out when “top Ontario doctors” got caught saying (perhaps jokingly) “I just say whatever they write down for me.” Regardless of intent, this is not a great approach, especially when they go on to express anger at the average person being very scientifically illiterate (which I agree with). They just treat you as such rather than attempting to properly educate you with simple, well-thought-out arguments that are actually backed by clean, unbiased data; the so-called “democratizing of science” (ie. making it accessible and considerate of common people.)

I like experts who don’t like to give black & white answers because answers with nuance are more likely to be true. A working theory isn’t 100% fact yet, so saying things definitively is not always correct. However, they are advising politicians and politicians need to make decisions that are usually based on minimal evidence, because they need to know now. Sorry, science doesn’t work like that, and cherry picking experts to make you look good is unscientific and unethical.

Here’s the other thing with experts; they may in fact be an expert in their field, but when it comes to decisions that affect everyone you should also consult experts in other fields. For example, seek out information from those who know about economics, psychology, etc., in order to get a fuller picture of consequences and knock-on effects. Essentially, experts in other fields were ignored with regard to lockdown policies… because it probably made the decisions too hard.

You should listen to experts when their arguments are well-made, have significant evidence to back them up, are informed by more than just their own study, and include consideration for other areas that may be affected by their advice or decisions. Being too specialized means are very good at what you do, but you sacrifice the ability to give sound advice beyond a specific scope of knowledge.

In defence of scientific experts on COVID-19, I would say that many of the “spokespeople” are acting more like politicians than they are scientists, which is not the appropriate way to deal with major issues. I am sure more of the behind-the-scenes types would be better choices if they stood up and voiced their knowledge and concerns more publicly.

So before you listen to the government appointed person because they are an “expert” or have Dr. in front of their name, ask yourself “am I actually being given the entire, factually accurate truth, or am I being selectively told things to get a desired result?” (A very, VERY, unscientific methodology by the way.)

Conclusion

This is, of course, a only a small portion of the things I could say regarding COVID-19 and critical thinking in general, but I am not writing a book here. My goal is to encourage you to think for yourself and ask “are the things I am being told based in reality or just because it’s easier for those making the decisions at the top?”

While it is easy to say “it’s all about saving lives,” which is an emotional appeal (appeals to emotion should make your Spidey-sense tingle), the reality is that, while some may believe their own intentions are genuine, it has clearly been spun into a complicated web of politics and control.

I despise when people believe what they are told outright, because this shows a complete lack of critical thinking. It also saddens me to see how powerful “groupthink” can be when people perceive their own safety to be at risk.

I do plan on addressing the issues of masks and vaccines as a layman, and, as an outright statement, I am not against either of these things. I will, however, as always, apply critical thinking on these two topics.

I hope I have given you something to think about, so that you can learn to critically think and live your life freely while also considering others.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit at www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

Apply a bit of crazy to crank up your aggression and stop a threat before it stops you. (source)

I regularly encounter the belief that “if I learn Krav Maga it will make me really aggressive, because it’s just about going crazy and fighting.” Not exactly. While aggression and an understanding of how fights work are components of learning Krav Maga, these in themselves are NOT Krav Maga. Remember, Imi Licthendfeld, the founder of “modern” Krav Maga, when asked what its purpose was, said “so one may walk in peace.” Does this sound like the words of someone who wanted people running around being aggressive and messing people up? I think not.

While you certainly cannot learn Krav Maga without learning to attack with purpose and aggresion, if you think you are always going to walk into a Krav Maga class and go 100%, trying to kill each other, you are completely wrong and probably need to spend less time on the internet (or get better sources).

More accurately, Krav Maga teaches you to understand, and respect, the reality of violence, with the additional understanding that times change and so do people. Especially in a modern world in which laws matter and cameras matter, making self-defence more complicated, you need to have a more holistic approach to your Krav Maga.

So let’s expand.

Yes, being aggressive is a fundamental of Krav Maga. However, we aren’t talking about aggression in personality or attitude in everyday life, what we mean is, when forced to, you must attack with everything you have in order to overwhelm the threat, and you don’t stop until the threat is stopped. Though it probably isn’t the original expression Kravists used, we like to sum it up as “crazy beats big.” Or rather, the person willing to do greater violence with greater ferocity (while applying wise tactics) is most likely to win any given fight. We also have to remember that Krav Maga came out of a need for survival in a literal life or death situation. Of course, if you are in a life or death situation with another human then, by all means, have at it; be as aggressive and as violent as you need until the threat is stopped, even if that, unfortunately, means lethal force.

The thing is, unless you are in such a situation (ideally avoided via the first two stages of self-defence), then being so aggressive that they die is going to result in dire consequences legally, emotionally, socially, etc.. The days of going full on in all situations are basically over in most places (at least in the Western World) and the reason is simple: Accountability.

How so? As one of my many teachers Amit Himelstein of IKF said, and I’m paraphrasing, “Guys, it’s the 21st century, Krav Maga can’t be about being insanely aggressive anymore; everyone has cameras or there are cameras everywhere.”

This means that if you are overzealous in your violence somebody probably saw it or it was filmed. Best case scenario it’s on YouTube, worst case scenario you are in jail for the rest of your life (or worse depending on where you are).

The reality is our modern societies have modern laws and modern social standards.

Let’s take Canada for example, our self-defence laws are as such that you may employ “equal force” in the moment to stop a threat. Now, in theory this is simple, but, in practice, when looking at the results in a range of court cases, you might as well flip a coin. Cases I thought were clearly self-defence ended in a guilty verdict, and cases I deemed aggravated assault were came out not guilty.

The truth is the jury process really isn’t about peers, it’s simply about citizens, who, on average, are not experts on use of force and have little understanding of how violence works. That is, sometimes you need to be more violent than onlookers may think; because they aren’t the target of the threat itself and therefore cannot feel the actions or resistance of the aggressor, or grasp what’s going on for you internally.

It means that, in reality, you actually need to be very careful how much force and aggression you use, which can be quite difficult without significant training.

If your default is always be super aggressive and destroy the attacker, (especially for men, even more so larger men) you may find yourself regularly on the wrong side of the law. Even if you, and others, feel you were in the right, based on actual knowledge of use of force and self-defence.

I am going to tell a story about an “alleged” student I once had: They came in and were quite aggressive, to the point that all the instructors and students complained. I asked this student about it and they told me “but Krav Maga is all about aggression and that if they weren’t being aggressive in class then it wasn’t Krav Maga.” This individual is the only person I can recall to whom I’ve had to give a written warning and probation (most people who don’t fit the style of the school just leave on their own.) I told them they had to train safely or they would be out. They kind of disappeared until the probation period was over and came back thinking it was lifted. I guess they didn’t understand how it worked. From what I’ve heard they ended up bouncing around a few Krav Maga schools that I know. One day I got a visit from one of the more serious police squads. It seems this individual may have not have gotten the hint, or may have just been a psycho, and may have stabbed someone a few years later. They claimed they learned it all in Krav Maga and that I taught them to be super aggressive. This claim, of course, was false; they were just unstable and were looking for somewhere to be violent. Which is not Krav Maga, and is certainly not “learning to walk in peace.”

While some people (psychos aside) thrive on aggressive, hard training, and only want to do Krav Maga if it is this, I must constantly remind people that this, in itself, is not Krav Maga, but rather an aspect of it.

If you only want to train because it’s hard, aggressive, and you get to go crazy, then you may in fact be missing the point.

Krav Maga is truly about learning to walk in peace, knowing you are capable of violence, if you must, but that you would rather not, in true warrior fashion. Warriors of old knew this because, once upon a time, it was always life or death, and the wrong encounter would mean your death not theirs. Or worse, a crippling injury with no medical system, which meant your family starved and you died anyway. This, perhaps, is a lesson we have lost, since it’s not all about life or death anymore, but it is one we must never forget.

So, whether it’s because our laws keep us in check, or because the wrong fight means death, just know that aggression is only one part of Krav Maga. It is meant as a tool to counter someone else’s extreme violence, not a state of being or a default.

Use your aggression along with your strategy, your technique, and your control, all while trying to avoid conflict altogether. But know that when fire meets fire, you may have to go full flame on. BUT ONLY IF YOU MUST.

Ask yourself, are you learning to be aggressive and go ham in Krav Maga, or are you actually really learning to walk in peace as Krav Maga was originally intended for?

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit at www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

Mr. Miyagi employed novel methods to teach karate to an impatient a teenager in the ’80s. (“The Karate Kid”, Columbia Pictures, 1984)
Krav Maga Myths and Misconceptions – “It Should Be Taught As It Was By Its Creators” Audio by Jonathan Fader

Many organizations and individuals still take a “traditional martial arts” approach to Krav Maga. They say, “this is how I was taught by the Master so-and-so, thus I should I teach it to my students this way as well.” This is patently wrong and actually goes against some basic principles of Krav Maga. That is, if it doesn’t work, don’t use it! Inherently, by the fact that the times change (and so do people), attacks will change, tools will change, and knowledge will change, so too must the techniques and strategies change.

I have met individuals from various organizations and countries whom are training Krav Maga as it was taught 30 years ago, and they told me “only this is Krav Maga.” I suspect many of these instructors have lost their connection to those at the forefront of Krav Maga. Or they have simply been tricked by their own ego.

Just like with the principle of “Situational Awareness,” instructors must look at their system and their methods, then assess, assess, and assess. Further to that point, as a student you must know that, periodically, techniques may (and should) change. This might come in the form of additions or subtractions in the curriculum, modification to the way techniques are executed, or new approaches to how techniques and principles are taught.

Let’s expand on this.

One thing to remember is that, at its core, Krav Maga is, and should be, principle-based rather than technique-based.

Some of the original principles of Krav Maga were:

Do you see a specific technique listed here? The answer is, No. These principles are mostly about strategy or the application of techniques, not specific ways of doing. These principles were developed based on logic, biomechanics, and the philosophies of Imi and other Krav Maga pioneers. Since their original inception, however, if a technique or principle doesn’t work in most scenarios, the norms of what is acceptable in society have changed, or we discover a more effective idea, we rethink, re-assess, and make changes. The principles are core to the system, but they too are not set in stone.

What this means is that there is quite a lot of interpretation regarding what is the best technique or approach… and this is where the trouble starts. In many ways it’s about credibility and ego. That is, an instructor or organization doesn’t want their students to know that their current curriculum may not be as up-to-date or as effective as the instructors claim it is.

Fact: Common attacks will vary from place to place and time to time, therefore requiring adaptation of techniques and approaches.

Fiction: What worked 20 years ago will work now (at least as a 100% hard statement)

This means that, over time, things will change and refine to maximize efficiency for the most people. For the MOST people! Krav Maga tries to leverage natural reactions and movements wherever possible, but some people, unfortunately, will always need to put in more training and practice to gain efficiency, no matter the technique (bodies, abilities, temperaments are different).

Occasionally I will have students who come from a school or organization that was teaching Krav Maga as it was 30 years ago. Their techniques often fall apart under stress testing, which says a lot. Their “instructors” may have been, unwittingly or not, conning them.

Now, with that being said, there actually shouldn’t be TOO much variation in the solutions for specific attacks, for a simple reason: We have a head, a groin, two arms and legs, that really hasn’t changed much over time. Thus techniques and approaches from place to place should actually look reasonably similar, so long as they follow the core principles. If they don’t look even close to other Krav Maga schools it’s probably not Krav Maga; be that due to the teachings being outdated or infused with too much “other stuff.”

In the Krav Maga community, much like in other styles, there is… politics. So, if you only ever train with one organization and it never exchanges ideas with outsiders, change is unlikely. Which means it is unfortunately likely that you are not being taught the best options in the wider Krav Maga knowledge base.

I personally started my Krav Maga journey with one of the major organizations. While they have updated their curriculum a little over time, I found myself thinking their arsenal of techniques was somewhat bloated and not exactly up-to-date. As I explored various other organizations I realized that some schools had developed better solutions for one problem and others for another problem. As a result the UTKM curriculum has changed over the years, as I get more information and training myself, and as we stress test techniques with a variety of students.

Occasionally I will see students struggling with one technique consistently. Sometimes I can solve the problem myself, but on some occasions I need some input from outside sources; maybe that is from another organization, maybe it’s from another style of self-defence or another martial arts system.

As long as the techniques fit in smoothly with the other techniques and follow the core principles then it will work. However, what I will never do is add a random technique for its own sake.

All these changes can be annoying, I know. Very annoying. Trust me, I know! Sometimes I even have students complaining that they have to learn something new. But, guess what, that’s Krav Maga!

So, regardless of the technique (though there are garbage ones out there), the reality is that the obsession with lineage and “this is how it was then,” really isn’t the Krav Maga way. The goal is efficiency, to stop the threat, and that means changing and adapting. With that in mind, if you are still doing it the way it was “in the old days,” then don’t be surprised if your techniques quickly fall apart under duress (Especially if the training was “easy” the whole time).

Ego has no place in developing Krav Maga, yet, as it involves humans, it will unfortunately always find its way in. As an educated student or instructor it is up to you to constantly remind yourself that well-thought-out and well-planned change is, in fact, the way.

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit at www.utkmu.com. If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at www.urbantacticskm.com

If you didn’t Avoid, couldn’t De-escalate, and chose not to Strike First, you are Reacting!
Audio by Jonathan Fader

Finally, we are here. The last, and least desirable, stage of self-defence. If you have reached this stage you have failed to follow the previous steps and advice, or your attacker simply had better tactics and skills than you. In which case, why did they want to attack you and why did you allow such a situation to happen in the first place?

Too often people think that they should wait for the other person to start the fight for legal reasons, but this isn’t always true (and definitely isn’t safe!). If it is justifiable, and you can explain that, you should strike first.

The worst case scenario for this stage is that you have already been punched, kicked, or grabbed, and you are now forced to react; fighting fire with fire. However, you must understand that you should only use as much force as is required to stop the threat (in most cases). When they stop, you stop. If they don’t stop, or they escalate the violence, then you must keep going using retzef and other principles, or you must either escalate the violence yourself or find your exit.

Remember, at this point there is the possibility that you have already been, or are about to be, overwhelmed. This means your reaction needs to be fighting with everything you have; digging deep inside for aggression and sheer willpower, not stopping until you are safe.

Something to consider with this stage: If you have lots and lots of personal stories involving you having to react to violence, then you have repeatedly been making bad decisions and have not improved your verbal or awareness skills. So, unfortunately, the stories here are limited because, you know, while bad decision making brought me to these stages, smart decision making limited the violence.

  1. It was high-school (again) and, to be honest, I don’t recall what had been said (probably a “he said, she said” situation), but here I was in a local community centre, minding my own business, when a group of people, whom I knew and was friendly with, surrounded me. I wasn’t at all expecting an attack because, after all, I thought we were friends. However, they were from a different ethnic group, and though some of them had told me that they respected me, if it ever came between me and someone of their own background, even someone they didn’t know, they would always support the latter. This is a lesson I learned early; while it is not popular to discuss, different groups of people can operate by different social and cultural rules. Even if you live in the same country. So you really should be culturally and socially aware, in order to understand that what you thought was “no big deal” might be interpreted completely differently by other people. Anyway, back to me being surrounded. I was legitimately confused; as far as I knew (at the time) I hadn’t said or done anything out of order. It seemed like another person, or persons, whom didn’t like me was trying to get me jumped. The largest of my aggressors, maybe 300lbs, was the defacto “ring leader” (though I knew he wasn’t really the one I should be afraid off). He made some comments and then promptly punched me hard in the solar plexus. I smiled, then asked if that was all he had. Plus one for building up my abs the previous few years, I guess it paid off. It also goes to show the difference combative training can make, though he was big, he didn’t actually know how to use his weight affectively in a punch. (Otherwise I would have been on the ground getting my head kicked in.) Here is where you probably think I immediately started swinging back and fought my way out because this is reactive self-defence. WRONG! Remember, I was literally surrounded by a circle of people who were looking for a reason to do some damage. It probably would have been a terrible idea to return the aggression at that moment. If you know anything about use of force models, you know that you must always try to go back down the scale whenever possible. So I jumped back to stage 2 and tried to de-escalate. Obviously, the fact that his “hard” punch did little, and my reaction being that of amusement, threw them off completely, as this is probably not how this scenario had played out for them in past. I used it to my advantage, saying [whatever it is I said in the moment], managing to convince them it must have been some kind of miscommunication by someone else, and it was over. Though for a hot minute I was definitely freaking out (on the inside). They left, possibly pondering the overall situation, and I went on my way to safer and hopefully greener pastures… well, not really, I probably just went back to hanging around at school or home… So remember, react last, but if you are clearly in a bad spot try to scale it back down the stages of self-defence to give yourself better odds. – Jon
  2. Another reactive situation occurred not in high-school, but rather in an allegedly more adult and serious environment, ie. the army (the IDF to be precise). For much of my time in the army, I was not really in a good place mentally. Not because of the army, per se, but due to the manner in which the difficult environment exacerbated my depression (which had not yet been diagnosed and therefore I had no tools to deal with) That difficult environment came in the form of little to no sleep, crappy Hebrew fluency, and even worse people skills. This meant I didn’t get along with most people or didn’t like most people enough to bother getting along with them. I generally kept to the small group of close friends I had made; usually those who spoke English and were, I thought, a little more intelligent than the average soldier. Others, whom I felt lacked discipline or intelligence, and was shocked they were allowed into the army at all, were the ones I often had arguments, or worse, with. Most of the time people just thought I was the “slightly older and kind of crazy Canadian,” but I was respected on account of being a volunteer, while they were drafted without a choice (service is mandatory for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18). However, some people I just couldn’t stand and made it clear they were neither my friend nor someone I could care about at all. Some people got it, some did not. One individual whom I did not like and whom often didn’t get the hint, failed to fuck off on one too many occasions. Sleep deprivation and a foreign language, combined, resulted in poor decision making and even poorer understandings of how things may translate differently. For example, in English if you say “son of a bitch,” most people (at least where I am from) don’t take it too seriously. Whereas saying “son of a bitch” in Hebrew, in particular to a Mizrachi or Sephardic Jew, usually didn’t go over so well. One time, during a heated argument with the aforementioned individual, who was annoying the shit out of me, again, I called him a “son of a bitch.” He dared me to say it one more time. So I did. He threw a hard, wide, hook punch. Luckily, I was well-versed in 360 defence and blocked it, bursting in and stopping just short of his face with my fist. I knew he wasn’t really a threat, in addition, the moment I moved in I could feel that he was pulling his punch (realizing his mistake). I told him he was a moron and walked off. But imagine if I had not had my hands ready, what would have happened? He probably could have knocked me out. Though the escalation was likely my fault, and I was tired, and pissed off, he threw the first punch. Something I should have seen coming by his body language, but I didn’t. Nevertheless I was ready and I defended it without injuring him (other than a bruised ego). Once again, I was also lucky that he wasn’t much of a fighter and didn’t immediately follow it up with something else. At this time my skills were limited, though I often convinced people they were more than they were, which, combined with my still unstable reactions to things, usually kept me out of serious trouble. Had it escalate further it is possible we would have had to stay on base when everyone else was off, or worse, army jail. These were the only reasons I stopped at the time, but looking back, it was the wise decision anyway. – Jon
  3. I was out drinking with a buddy one night, in my misspent youth, and he had overindulged by quite a bit, so we headed back to his apartment to drink some more (logically). Unbeknownst to me, at some point in the night he had got it into his head that one of the women I was talking to at our regular bar should have been talking to him instead. An unseen anger had, apparently, been welling up in him all night (because that is certainly a healthy way to deal with emotions and friendships). At his place we cracked a few beers and were chatting about the events of the evening when he suddenly hit me with a right hook. No warning, no outburst, nothing! It wasn’t a hard hit (seemingly a common theme in those who open with sucker-punches), more surprising than impactful. I looked at him, confused. He threw a second one, I blocked it with an inside tan sao and pushed him onto his couch. I had no idea what was going on, but for whatever reason my immediate instinct was to shake up the beer bottle I was holding and spray him head-to-toe with it (perhaps to discourage further action?). I turned, walked out, and never heard from him again. – Corey

It is interesting that most of us do not have many stories involving stage 4 self-defence. Those we could think of were over quickly, as, when your are “playing catch-up” in the encounter you must react swiftly, with intent. This, of course, is a good thing, as it indicates we either live wisely or we are all efficient in stages 1 and 2 (occasionally 3). Consider that, if you find yourself always on the tail-end of someone else’s first strike, you are failing, in a fairly significant way, to follow good self-defence principles, and are making seriously bad decisions on a constant basis.

With that being said, there is a common element between all the stories that were told through out this series: In almost all, if not all, we were under the age of 25…

This should say something. Science has suggested that we reach adulthood, or rather brain development stops, around the age of 25 and not 18 (as we often legally define adulthood). It is also a known fact that young males under the age of 25 are also more prone to making bad, rash, or more extreme decisions. Usually they are of the social and physical nature told in these stories. Sometimes they result in severe injury or jail, and worse they lead to a death(s). It is as though, at least according to nature, this impulsiveness is expected under the age of 25; we frown upon it but seem unsurprised by it. Beginning in the 25-30 range there is far less forgiveness for such acts because you are now adjusting to your more stable brain chemistry. After 30, however, it’s not cute anymore. If you haven’t figured your shit out and, outside of job requirements, still find yourself in stage 3 or 4 self-defence regularly, you are doing it wrong, plain and simple.

I hope that this series has provided you better insight as to how to apply each stage of self-defence. Though the stories told are limited, the reality such that, if we spent the time to compile stories from more people, it is likely we would have tonnes of examples to choose from. The theories, concepts, and principles of Krav Maga and self-defence are sound ones, which apply most of the time. But they, like most theories or ideas, mean nothing if you, as an individual, do not know how to contextualize and apply them in real life.

I hope that, at the very least, this series has helped you to better understand the reason behind the definition of the stages, and their unique challenges, and how you may better use them to stay safe and walk in peace.

Written by Jonathan Fader

Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book (1894)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

As some of you know, or are just finding out, there is a process when dealing with conflict. On the Macro (Political Science, Sociology, etc..), it can be quite complicated and nuanced, on the Micro, well, it still is. However, the process is simple enough that anyone can easily learn the basics.

Pre-Emptive is the 3rd stage of self-defence; when you have failed to Avoid or De-escalate (Diffuse), it’s Time to Act! This series incorporates personal stories from UTKM instructors and students to provide context and examples for what these concepts look like in the real world, the various ways they can be applied, and how different approaches may play out.

Pre-emptive is a tricky one, because, sometimes, it may look like you were the one who initiated the conflict. This often leads to people being hesitant to “throw the first punch” even if they sense they are in imminent danger. Particularly if you grew up in Canada where (at least when I was in school) there were emphatic about never hitting, EVER! Unfortunately, this stance is somewhat delusional, and quite silly, given that in many cases teachers, or the school, will not step in if there is conflict between students. Or if they do, they have little power to sort out complicated situations. This means they are, at least in my opinion, affectively removing empowerment and the ability for individuals to learn to solve their own problems. They tell kids, “you can never strike someone,” and if the other options don’t work they are fucked. Its wrong, plain and simple. As you will see from this collection of personal stories, from several authors, and as Krav Maga has learned, sometimes you MUST strike first.

Part of this comes from the fact that, despite what many believe, Humans are still animals, and though we are omnivores we are predatory in nature. This means that those who are powerful, or worse, feel powerful, will rarely pick fights with those they perceive as stronger than them. Just like lions on the savanna, predators will target the old, the very young, and the weak in the herd. Because the strong ones will either fight back or stick together for strength, but in the wild predators CANNOT afford to take significant damage, as it means the beginning of the end.

Unlike predators in the wild, however, human predators will rarely (at least in modern times) face life or death for picking the wrong target, which can embolden them. Striking first will, at the very least, let them know, “Hey, asshole, you picked the wrong fight today!”

Of course, if you do strike first and then immediately realize you should have run, then it’s time to run. So make sure you train hard, assess, and be smart; you will know when to strike first and when to run. It can be hard for most people to know when to make the right decision, but one thing is for sure, if you hesitate you may look weak and then you will end up in the last stage of self-defence, reactive, or worse. So, to help you learn and contextualize the idea of striking first, here are some personal stories, from several individuals, to illustrate the decision making process:

  1. I must have been out of high-school already, as parties were not really my thing back then. But, like many, once you hit adulthood and decisions are solely on you, it is time to explore. Several of my friends at the time were already living on their own, or with roommates, and several of them liked to party. Which meant, so did I. One friend had a place fairly close to where I was living at the time, which was great because it meant I could walk to her house, and therefore let loose. Like many parties at the time, they were held at peoples houses that were considered “the party houses,” so, while there were those who were invited, it usually meant random people showed up; sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. In this particular case it was a mixed bag of nuts, so anything and everything could have happened; from salty tears to the hard crunch of teeth breaking. This story is, of course, alcohol and ego fueled, and driven largely by my big mouth. (Meaning it was completely avoidable but it happened nevertheless.) Typically, striking first is a result of the actions of someone particularly predatory, but, sometimes it comes from you getting into a situation of your own creation. In this case, I fully acknowledge it was the latter. A few (or many) drinks in, I started a conversation with an individual whom I was not familiar with. He had a tattoo on his arm in a language I wasn’t sure of, so I asked about it. He said something along the lines of, “It’s Latin, because I’m Latino and it means…” Of course I found this both hilarious and stupid: While Spanish, English, French, and other Romance languages have their routes in Latin (and others), being Latino in the modern sense is not exactly the same as being someone who knows and speaks Latin. Unsurprisingly, he was not fluent in Latin; as few people, outside of classical scholars and academics, are even remotely verbally competent in ancient languages. Me being me, couldn’t resist mocking this man. Not to his face of course, because that’s just rude! But, rather, to a friend of mine on the other side of the party. Somehow, at what point I am not sure, he heard; and he didn’t take to kindly to it. Later on he got in my face, not just by himself but with two tall and broad individuals, one on each side. He called me out for mocking him and then started to front by saying “do you know who I am?” blah. blah. blah. His claim was that he was in a gang etc… I counter that with, “No, but do you know who I am? NO, so it doesn’t matter does it?” I was trying to bluff, using aggression and intimidation. No, posturing is usually not the appropriate way to de-escalate, but it can work, especially if you make it believable. It can work simply because the other person, the predator, may think you are a bigger predator and you might be far more trouble than your worth. Just know: It doesn’t work for those who cannot at least look like they are a killer. Even back then, if not more so, I had the crazy eyes and a bit of a reputation for being an un-predictable nut, so for me this strategy often worked (don’t try this at home, follow the strategies as laid out in the de-escalation post). Despite my posturing the thoughts in my head were that of panic. Aside from the leader, who was my size, the other two could probably pick me up like I was nothing. They were all standing with their backs against a pool table. I had some space behind me and then a set of stairs with one of those half-walls to prevent people from falling down. I knew I had to do something, as these types can only be bluffed for so long. Action was needed. So I threw a HARD elbow into the leader’s chest, which caused him to stumble back and fall partially onto the pool table. After you act, you must be ready to act further. I was preparing to grab one of the big guys by the nuts and (attempt to) toss him over the wall, down the stairs. Luckily neither of them made a move, my bluff worked! I mean, what kind of crazy person strikes first when he is out numbered and out gunned? Me apparently! It’s important to note, at this time I really didn’t know how to fight, yet I instinctually knew to strike first even (though I generally avoid it at all cost on account of not being a very large person). In their shock they decided to throw more insults rather than responding physically. That’s when my friend, the host of the party, herself a short loud mouthed (and even more aggressive) individual, came like a bat at of hell screaming. “WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE PICKING FIGHTS WITH MY FRIENDS AT MY PARTY!?” talking to the three individuals (she was crazier than me in many ways). In some weird twist the three guys ended up apologizing to me, shaking my hand and it was over. I am not really sure, what would have happened if I had not have struck first, but I know that it worked. Afterward I learned how badly it could have gone; at least one of them was carrying a pistol tucked in their pants. I didn’t have the experience or training to know to how to look for this type of thing first. Imagine had they pulled it out? It would have been a bad day. This is why it’s always best to stick to the first two strategies; Avoid and De-escalate. But had I not acted, it is possible they simple would have collectively jumped me, so at the time, and given the results, it would have seemed my instincts were correct. – Jon
  2. There are many more stories I could tell that are far more exciting, but this is pertinent to the many individuals who are bullied in one way or another in school: Back in my day (I can’t believe I’ve started saying that), physical bullying was all you had to worry about. But, today it’s both physical and digital, so keep that in mind. I can’t recall exactly what I was doing, but I was standing in the hallway in high-school not paying attention, when I felt a hot, burning, sensation under my chin. One of the kids who ran with the “popular” guys had put a lighter under my chin and ignited it. This pissed me right off (justifiably so)! I had a few choice words (the specifics I’ll leave out), which caused their friend, a kid who was dumb as a brick and quite scrawny, but a known brawler and quite popular, to get up in my face. He was attempting to protect his lackey, who was smaller than me and held the lighter. One thing led to another and, once again in sheer panic, I kicked him as hard as a could in the groin. He dropped like the brick I thought he was. They were not expecting it, and is probably one of the many events that gave me the reputation of being unpredictable. No, I could not fight. No I did not have reliable “backup” who could, and would, fight, and, although many people knew who I was, I was certainly not a popular kid. This ended the conflict right there and then. Furthermore, it had some lasting effects. Cleary, though popular, these individuals were bullies. AND the kid I kicked was in fact one of those who would engage in organized scraps at least once or twice a year (you know, those high-school fights where you say “meet me at the park at this time” and everyone encircled to watch?) which made it even more interesting. In any future conflict between me and him, I would take a step forward or similar and he would often step back. One time, if I recall correctly, he even told someone else to get me instead of doing it himself. Fascinating isn’t it? This is a story that emphasizes how, when it comes to bullies, they may not stop until you let them know you are not an easy target. EVEN if they could easily beat you in a fight, you have made it clear that an altercation with you will not be without consequences. So you see, humans are animals, predators, and will usually only target those who we can feel we can engage or overpower without risk of repercussions. Thus the attitude of “never strike first,” is simply wrong. It may in fact be the best and right option. It works, simply because though the human condition is complex, we are still animals. – Jon
  3. My experience with having to, or at least making the choice to, strike first was when I was in my mid-to-late 20s, at which time I had been training Krav Maga for about 2 years. I had just finished work, closing at a restaurant in the city of Perth (Australia), so would have been somewhere after midnight. I had about a 5min walk from the restaurant to the paid lot where I always parked my car; this walk involved crossing through a large park by the river. The park was only semi-lit before you reach the open air car park, which was lit and, if you believe the signage, security patrolled (though I never saw any security the whole time I parked there). So here I am walking across the grass, on my phone but with enough of my peripheral vision working that I saw two people approaching from a comfortable distance off. They were coming from the direction of my car, and thus in-between me and my car; though being we were in a large, grassy area there were escape routes in all directions. As they got closer to me I put my phone back in my pocket as if it was a natural thing I was about to do anyway. They both looked a little younger than me, say late teens to early 20s, and they looked like, let’s be generous and just say, “juvenile delinquents.” I looked toward my car, kept an eye on them without making eye contact, and adjusted my path a little so that I would go around them to get to where I was going if neither of us changed course. When they got to be a few meters away (maybe 12-16ft for all you North Americans), they started to engage with the usual approach of “Hey, have you got the time?” or “Can I bum a smoke?” or something to that effect. I replied politely with a “Nah, sorry” or “About 12:30 (or whatever the time was),” but the changed direction, coming toward me. Now, my thinking at this time was basically; just be polite and don’t do anything sudden or to draw attention or look frightened. The particular local type I pegged these two as had a reputation of being somewhat cowards and not picking on people that stood up to them (know your local and regional context!). I simply kept walking and they kept closing the distance ’til one was in front of me and the other was just off to my right. At this point it turned into hands out towards me and “Hey, have you got any change?” Running wasn’t really an option now, given their close proximity (though it might have been a minute ago), and it seemed like they had decided I was worth there time. I replied, again simply, with a “Nah, sorry mate just my card.” Then, before they could start asking for, or demanding, more, I explosively shoved the one in front of me with both hands in the chest. He fell backward and at the same time (in my mind at least) I side-kicked the one to my right, somewhere in the mid-thigh to groin area. He also fell backward, then I ran to my car, got in, and drove off. I didn’t stop to look back and see if they were following me, I’m pretty quick so they may have tried for a second before realizing they wouldn’t catch me. Tactically, I guess you could say I made some mistakes getting into the situation in the first place, but it was resolved with little effort on my part and quickly. Could I have simply ran to my car as soon as I saw them? Sure, but that may have been unnecessary, or worse, it may have made them chase me, thinking I had something worth stealing. Could I have run at any other point as they closed in on me, or when they initiated contact? Again, sure, but same reason as above but they’d start their pursuit closer. Could I have simply chosen a different career or job that didn’t require me to walk home alone at night? Sure, but why live in fear or let others dictate my life choices? What I definitely did right was training in martial arts and self-defence, so that I had an understanding of the situations I might end up in and how to deal with them. I kept my cool and didn’t end up in mental state Black. I identified that a physical confrontation was unavoidable after after attempting to avoid, and, well, not making great attempts to defuse, but not engaging them overlong. Once that threat was identified I pre-empted it; I struck first and quickly, but with only the amount of force needed for me to escape the situation. I didn’t stick around to fight it out (or to “finish it”), and I didn’t open with something so big I might end up facing assault charges if, say, I had gotten it wrong and the threat was only imagined. And lastly, I made a quick escape without turning around. – Evan

As you have read from the above examples, sometimes, whether due to circumstance or ego, the time for stage one or two either passed, or was not appropriate. And the next stage, pre-emptive action (good old striking first), was the next logical step. Be aware, however, that it often requires a good read of the situation, the ability to strike first with maximum affect, and the understanding that it may fail so you must be ready. When it fails, you must be prepared to either run or continue to fight, applying all of the techniques and strategies you know. This is why, despite its effectiveness, you must always try to avoid the fight and de-escalate whenever possible. But when the time comes, know that it is always better to strike first than to be struck first.

Written by Jonathan Fader

Knowing how to avoid danger increases your chances of survival dramatically! (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

The “4 stages of self-defence,” as taught by UTKM, is the basic order of operation for what you are doing when presented with conflict; be it physical, social, or otherwise. The order, moving from best option to worst, is; Avoidance, De-escalation (Defusing), Preemptive Self-defence (Strike First), Reactive Self-defence (React Last). Understanding the basics is easy, but, like all concepts, understanding when and how to apply them correctly can be trickier.

The major reason for this is the simple fact that if you do not truly understand what you are doing and you lack the experience to make a quick and correct decision (and you do not have your instructor whispering the answers into your ear), the real world situation is suddenly more complicated than it was in training.

Grasping the nuanced application of a technique, how and why it works, and when to employ it, can be the result of you being fortunate enough to possess an innate ability to understand intricate contexts, or, as is more common, it can be accomplished through consistent training. Consistent training makes up for talent by internalizing the details, purpose, and application of a given technique (or reaction in a scenario), to the point that your nervous system and decision making process will, more often than not, fire correctly under duress.

To help foster a better understanding of these key concepts, I, and others at UTKM, will be sharing real world experiences relating to the four stages. Each week we will expand upon one of the concepts and give examples.

This week it is the first and arguably most important stage: Avoidance.

“You win 100% of the fights you are not in.” – Nir Maman

First you must accept the fact that you cannot always avoid. For example, applying avoidance as a self-defence tactic for interpersonal conflict will most likely result in further problems. The concept of Avoidance simply suggests that it may be better to avoid than to confront in most situations However, and this applies particularly when it comes to bullying or active violence, sometimes the best option is to directly confront the source of conflict. After all, Krav Maga was built on the idea that sometimes running is not an option. So, please, do not interpret this stage as permission to be passive-aggressive or to never deal with life’s problems, that is not the correct application of this concept (and, honestly, if avoidance is always your chosen option in life, this may be indicative of other, deeper problems you are struggling with.)

So, lets start with some examples from my youth:

  1. It was Halloween night, and, like most young teens (I was maybe 15 or 16), I wanted to go out. In our area, big house parties were not a common occurrence, but what was all too common were hoards of teens and young adults roaming the streets like a hungry packs of wolves, looking for fun and perhaps trouble. I was with the group of friends I usually ran with at the time, and we ended up crossing paths with another pack of teens. Walking together with them, in costumes, masks, and painted faces, with candy and fireworks in hand (legal then, but illegal now, likely due to these same ravenous packs of ne’er-do-wells getting up to yearly mischief) we were on the boredom-fueled prowl. Some confident and bold, others just trying to fit in. In my case, the latter seems like it was the appropriate category. I mean, is that not what one of the best features of Halloween is; You get to dress up and pretend to be something else, something grander, something more powerful? It is after all, “All Hallow’s Eve,” where dressing up as something scary was meant to fend off the roaming spirits and demons that walk the earth on this night, every year (so the legend goes). But masks and make up can only mask you for so long. One of the older boys in a mask, I did not recognize. Clearly a leader, out front, loud and obnoxious, identified himself to me. It turned out this masked individual was someone whom I had issues with in the past. He was also dangerous, in the literal sense, much like that of a hungry alpha. He regularly got in fights (and won), regularly had police interactions, the circumstances of which were anything but innocent fun, and he “may or may not” have had ties with even more violent individuals who were known to police. He was also much bigger than me, a good bit stronger, and far more athletic. Which, through a child’s eyes, was a terrifying thing, even though I considered myself tougher than perhaps I was and, like most males, overestimated my skills. I had no training and no experience, just an over inflated ego. It was, of course, dark, and I did not like the things coming out of this guy’s mouth, nor the energy in the air. The feeling of fun turned to a dread and an uneasy churning in my gut (yet to be filled with candy.) It was uncomfortable. Concerned that the hoard was full of individuals who did not in fact like me, not to mention the de facto alpha, this was not ideal for an enjoyable night. So I decided to listen to my instincts; it was time to leave. My pace slowed, I fell to the back of the crowd, then quietly, but swiftly, faded into the dark, walking to my home a few blocks away. Later, when I was asked by my cohort where I had disappeared too, I made up some plausible story. The reality is, it was probably the right decision. Those uneasy feelings we have may be wrong sometimes, but it is often better to err on the side of caution, as we never know how things will escalate. There is one thing for certain; if you are not feeling your best, or you are uncomfortable, it can be easy to do or say the wrong thing and cause a situation to quickly shift from manageable to disastrous. So, in that case, with those personalities, avoidance was the best choice. No harm, no foul, no hospital.
  2. I was an awkward teen with no sense of who I really was yet. Which meant I was not so great with the opposite sex. So, when female friends came into the mix, it was always a joy, and an uneasy excitement (the kind only a teenage boy knows.) For a time, I frequently hung out with two girls who were a year or two younger than me. Feelings were always mixed, as I liked them each at a different time; which meant I would often go out of my way to spend time with them. Lacking experience and confidence, of course, things never went the way I had imagined. Nevertheless, it was fun at the time. Like many youths lacking good mentoring and guidance, I had trouble controlling my temper. I would never hurt anyone, but it was obvious to those all around me. Like a tornado striking down in an open field, I was loud, boisterous, and, to some, terrifying, as the fear that the destruction might come your way. (This is something I still work on daily, though with calmer mind, maturity, and fewer raging hormones it is much easier to manage.) One of these girls had a cousin, equally attractive in my eyes. Someone who I had met previously, at a random community party. She was troubled. If I am informed correctly those troubles continued to impact her in adulthood. Whenever she came around to join us, it never went well. I was POSITIVE she would intentionally say or do things to illicit my temper and unleash the tornado for her amusement. I was cold, dry air, she was warm, humid air, the inciting words and actions were the required updraft. Everyone said I was either crazy or imagining it. Nonetheless, there came a point at which I could no longer stand to be around her. So the strategy I employed was avoidance. Anytime she randomly showed up, I would find a reason to leave. If she was already there with my friends, I would make other plans. Everyone thought I was being unreasonable. However, I did not like having my fun outings turned into episodes of anger, thus, to me it seemed like the better choice. It also prevented me from hitting a breaking point and actually doing something I would regret. Despite the fact it made me look even more weird and unstable, socially, in many respects I probably made the right decision by practicing avoidance. (In hindsight, and perhaps re-framing the situation, it turns out that this girl may have actually liked me. I was told by someone, later down the road, that she was very likely trying to illicit my aggression on account of a secret, let’s say, fetish for violence. Had I been more confident, then perhaps I would have handled it differently and allowed my cold dry air to meet her warm humid air, but given my lack of knowledge at the time, avoidance was still the best strategy. Lest the tornado met the hurricane and all hell broke lose. It probably wouldn’t have been good for anyone.)
  3. If you think bullies disappear after high-school you may have practiced avoidance a little too much, and may in fact be a shut-in who is living in a perpetual state of self-imposed exile. As the internet has shown us, most people are not as stable and confident as you think, and many have bully-like tenancies at the very least; trying to use force, intimidation, or aggression to get what they want. Or, they simply have not learned to manage their anger like others and emotionally lash out at people when they are challenged, or whenever things do not go their way. I learned to deal with these people early in my youth, and as an adult I tolerate it even less. I, of course, generally employ Stage 2, deescalation, as much as I can; using my words and avoidance, as Stages 3 & 4 (outside of physical violence) are not at all appropriate in day-to-day life in a Civil society. Which means, as an adult, mastering the first two stages is that much more important. Especially when you live in a strata (eg. a condo or townhouse). Personally, I despise stratas, as it is all to easy for a bully, or someone who has a bully-like attitude, to get on the council and try to tell others how to live or act, or has a personality that leads them to take issue with being challenged (due to their perceived powers.) I personally think stratas have been nothing but a disaster, and will go the way of the dinosaurs eventually, but until then, you, like me, will likely have to deal with them at some point. Without getting too detailed, there was some conflict between me and those on a strata council. Whether I was in the wrong or the right isn’t important, sometimes I was, sometimes I wasn’t. However, several members of the council seemed to think it is acceptable and appropriate to yell and scream at people when they don’t like what was said or done. This is, of course, utterly inappropriate, and in the adult world could constitute bullying and harassment. Obviously, this is something I will not tolerate. Extensively researched, well-worded letters where sent! The goal of these letters was not to demand compliance one way or another, but rather to make it clear that I am not the kind of person to pick a fight with, verbally, physically or otherwise. Initially they got the hint and basically stopped bothering me. Later, another incident occurred where a member of council, once again, decided to scream at me. After making it clear that this was an inappropriate (and futile) tactic it didn’t seem to matter, they saw me as a threat to power, and continued. As an adult, I made the decision that, clearly, these individuals are old, unstable, and have never resolved their personal issues. I understand, but I still have no patience for it. I privately told another, calmer strata council member that their fellow’s outbursts were boarding on harassment. Moving forward, I just ignored the problem individuals and do not engage. Clearly they have problems, and those problems are not mine to solve. I made it clear that I will not be pushed around, they all seem to have gotten the hint. I avoid conflict with them, they avoid conflict with me, and we now all live in a cold peace where, so long as we don’t bother each other, all is well. While it is certainly not an ideal situation, I would rather have good relations with my neighbours, it is, in modern times, often quite impossible to get along with everyone. So, practicing a peaceful yet aware avoidance strategy will, in the end, help keep things calm, and less stressful.

Whether you are a teen, an adult, or a senior learning to practice good avoidance (and when to move to the next stage) can be extremely useful, not just in literal sense of physical self-defense, but also to help you manage the hardest part of life: Other people. These skills can be innate or learned. In my case, it seems to be more of the former, though through practice I refine them as I go along. Perhaps as an Ashkenazi Jew it is in my genes to be cautious, and avoid whenever I can, as thousands of years of oppression and living in fear is likely to impact your genetics a little bit. (Think Woody Allen, the stereotypical, nervous Ashkenazi Jew, albeit a extreme case.) Regardless of how you come to learn these skills, learning it early, and learning it well, will only mean one thing; a happier, more peaceful life. One in which your visits to the hospital due to violence are low, and your conflict related stress is that of calm waters rather than a raging storm. For if you find yourself raging too much, too often, you may find yourself battered, bruised, and broken; because you failed to manage your mental state (see awareness colour code.)

Written by Jonathan Fader