Posts Tagged ‘self defense’

Most attackers are known to you, in domestic abuse they are likely repeat offences. (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

Last week I wrote the article, “If you were attacked, was it your fault?” Though it shouldn’t be, it is quite a controversial concept, as who wants to take responsibility, even partially, for being attacked? Usually no one. We tend to prefer our understanding of things from to be binary, we apply a black and white perspective to some categories, yet often, and simultaneously, we adhere to a belief in “grey areas” and “a spectrum” for others. The thing is, you have to pick; in reality most occurrences fit the bell curve model and are not so black and white. Ideally, all events in our lives should be analyzed case by case, but this is an energy intensive way of looking at the world (mentally and emotionally), so, as we are human and prefer easy answers, we apply blanket logic, even when it is the most inappropriate.

That being said, when you are mugged, robbed, or otherwise attacked by a stranger, it is considerably more black and white than when you are attacked by someone you know. As martial artists we often focus only on the former, even though most of the time it is actually the latter that is a problem. One Glasgow University study found that, of the 991 sexual assault victims they interviewed, almost 90% knew their attacker (with only 9% being victimized by strangers).

One of the reasons we don’t talk about it openly, on average, is because it’s difficult, messy, emotionally charged, and so grey (full of various shades) that it is like being colour blind and then trying to tell the difference between red and green.

Yet, as a self-defence instructor, both in my personal and professional life I have encountered many, many, many individuals who have experienced any combination of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Yes, it is mostly women who have lived through these scenarios, but I have also met men who have had such experiences.

As a society, while some people are willing discuss “violence within social circles,” family violence, or partner abuse (often politicized), the general attitude is to pretend like everything is alright, when, if you know where to find it, you can witness the worst of humanity.

To emphasize this point I would like to relate an experience I had dealing with “hoarder houses.” No, not some TV show, but rather what I have actually seen while working for company that handled large scale junk removal. Much to my surprise, extreme examples exist in an area like Metro Vancouver. In fact, they were far more numerous than one would think, and often these houses looked no different then the ones next to them, from the outside. One of the most unfortunately memorable and disturbing cases was a home in which a man, who was clearly a heroin junkie and single father with several kids. Our best guess, based on the conditions we encountered and the items we removed, was that this individual routinely locked his children under the stairs, in cages, leaving them to defecate in yogurt bottles while he got high.

Yes, you read that right.

Abuses by family or friends are very much like these hoarder houses; individuals, both victims and abusers, often go to great lengths to hide the fact that it is happening. This could be due to fear, shame, misguided loyalty, or any of various other reasons why silence occurs. One thing I know for sure is that in most cases society fails to reasonably deal with these horrible situations.

For adults, getting out could mean losing financial stability, shelter, and social support from friends and family. For children, it is far more complicated.

Of the abuse victims I have met, several have admitted privately that they “didn’t say anything” because they did not want it to break the family apart. For others it’s simply shame and fear of judgement. The responsibility to protect yourself, however complex the situation may be, is more on the victims themselves (and, yes, I understand the psychology involved is also quite grey).

When it comes to children the fault is primarily on the “responsible adults” in their lives, the ones who are often choosing to ignore the obvious signs of abuse.

Regarding adults, an example I encountered in my own life was a friend I had long ago. They regularly made bad decisions, even though they knew it was bad (they had a pathological case of cognitive dissonance). One time, late at night, they called me asking me to pick them up because their partner was being abusive. I showed up, and as they were walking to the car their partner started sprinting toward the vehicle. I pulled a move that I wish I had filmed. As I opened the passenger door, grabbed their hand, pulled them into the vehicle. I sped forward and did a 180, while their partner was punching the driver’s side window so hard they left bloody knuckle marks. My friend called the police and they asked if we wanted to press charges. My friend did not. (I could have, and I honestly don’t recall why I did’t.)

Later that night my friend asked me to take them back…

They were out and could have easily chosen to leave permanently.

One month later, their partner was stabbed and killed in a fight (after pulling their own knife in a struggle). The newspapers reported “what a saint this guy was” on account of him being a volunteer firefighter, and his mother couldn’t understand why her “lovely son” died. Except, I, like others, knew the truth. They ignored the fact that he was violent, had a criminal record, and was, quite frankly, a piece of shit.

When it comes to children it’s even more complicated, largely on account of what happens when it is deemed that they should be removed from their parents or guardians due to abuse. Well, they often end up in “the system”, a Child Welfare system in which in many cases is worse for the child than their own home. Yes, the home in which they were being abused.

Horrible, I know. The reality is, with kids or adults, one of the best things you can do is try to offer them sanctuary and, if possible with kids, try to gain some form of guardianship. Of course, “the system” doesn’t make this easy either.

If at this point you are having difficulty reading this, it is okay. It’s a dark subject (and I am barely even scratching the surface). Yet, while the world is currently the best place it has ever been to live (ignore the fear-mongering), there is still evil and darkness out there, even close to home.

We as a society have a tendency to only focus on that which can be politicized rather than that which is obviously wrong with what we have built. The simplest thing we can do is help those in our lives who may be at risk; by doing whatever you can. Whether that means paying for their self-defence lessons, providing them with shelter, or giving them financial support, you can do more than you think. Whatever you decide, know that you are probably better help than the system.

The government and the justice system have completely failed on this matter, at least in the West. In other countries there isn’t even a system to help those who are or would be abused.

For many the world is better than ever, for others it is still a nightmare.

When we talk about these topics we must be honest and not jump on one-liners, slogans, or broad statements. It must be case by case, requiring sincere consideration.

If you know someone, female, male, or other, adult or child, who you think is being abused, ask yourself, “What can you do to help?”

Written: by Jonathan Fader

Advertisements
Have you assessed this situation critically? Is the short cut worth the risk? (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader with additions

Being assaulted, attacked, robbed etc… will always be a horrible, unwanted experience. Yet, at any given time, all over the world, it is happening to someone. For the purposes of keeping it simple I am only going to be discussing basic assaults (eg. muggings). This subject will, of course, become more complex with regard to domestic disputes, or when the assault involves close friends, relatives, or mentors; such situations are impossibly complicated, as they are interwoven with emotion, personal connection, betrayal, and often shame. Perhaps “domestic and close relationship violence” could be a topic for another time (likely requiring another series)

For our discussion, imagine you were attacked while walking home, or you were mugged at an ATM. These are terrible experiences, and yet they are often somewhat avoidable. If you still watch the news or follow trends, you may often hear the term “victim blaming.” Discussing fault is typically frowned upon as it is considered cruel to say the person who got attacked was (even partially) to blame. Particularly in cases where it may have seemed unavoidable, taking responsibility for what happened, for most people is a daunting and heart wrenching task.

Before you jump down my throat, know that no one has the “right” to attack you and that these attacks are inexcusable. In most countries there are laws against such things, some of which have been in place for thousands of years. Yet this has not stopped assault, robbery, rape, and other garbage behavior. The idea that laws will protect you outright is, in many cases, delusional. If someone is trying to rob you, will you be able to call the police? Probably not. Even if you are somehow able to call 911, the response times can range from 5 minutes to no response at all (especially in today’s anti-police climate); which means that, when it comes to your own personal safety, you are the only one who can prevent immediate physical harm or death.

Of course, size matters. And if you are underage, with less life experience, it matters even more. If your attacker is bigger than you and decides to target you, fighting may be considerably more difficult and risky.

So what do you do, and why may it be your fault that you got attacked?

Simple, the best self-defence is avoidance. Though Krav Maga teaches to fight with all you have, this is really meant for when running is not an option. The goal, however, should always be to take a step back, think critically, and try to make good decisions and assessments so that you do not even have to make a fight or flight decision.

Hearing or even thinking that being attacked was, in one way or another, your fault, is a difficult idea to swallow and yet, if you don’t want such things to happen in the future you will have to make some changes. (Again, we are not talking about assaults involving partners, friends, or relatives)

The concept of personal responsibility or “ownership,” (made more popular these days by Jocko Willink in his books “Extreme Ownership” and ‘The Dichotomy of Leadership,” and by others in various publications) is a difficult concept for many, even in the best of times. You see, we have this thing called an Ego, and it wants to protect us and shift blame elsewhere. So if someone did a bad thing to us, we rationalize that it must be completely their fault. Yet, when it comes to self-defence and protecting yourself, that may not be entirely true.

Were you walking in a way that made you seem like an victim? With your head low, shoulders rolled forward, for example, are physical indicators that will lead an attacker to believe you are an easy target. Or did you, as Jordon Peterson would say, “stand up straight, with your shoulders high.” It may seem silly, but this simple change will take you from “easy target” to “potential problem” in the eyes of the attacker.

I, myself, am not the largest person, being 1.6m tall and (in the past) around 65-68kg. Yet I managed, despite my big mouth and tendency to offend people, even when I was younger and did not know how to fight, to not get jumped, or attacked, or worse (much to my surprise). In my case, it’s an explainable confidence that probably kept people guessing whether it was a good idea to attack me or not. I managed because I talked big and looked the part. Of course, occasionally I would recognize that I said the wrong thing to the wrong person, and I was immediately aware of that instinctual feeling: “It’s time to leave.”

Knowing when you are about to get in over your head, in any situations, is difficult. But knowing when you must leave (early “flight” indicators) will save you great pain and hardship. Failing to recognize that you, A) just pissed off a bunch of people, B) are probably in over your head, and C) failed to avoid further conflict, means that you are largely responsible for the resulting hospital trip. You failed to manage a bad situation, you stayed in that bad situation, and you allowed it to get worse.

Another example is the classic “taking a short cut through a dark alley.” Didn’t your mother tell you not too?! You can say all you want that “the person who robbed you shouldn’t have!” And you are right, they shouldn’t have, but your attacker doesn’t care; they are operating on a different moral scale then you are. Even if they are just trying to survive, they don’t have the right to take from you. But it really doesn’t matter in the moment, because now you are in the situation, and they are doing it. Failing to recognize that you were making a bad decision, a decision that put you in the position of being an easy target, makes it your fault. Failing to maintain situational awareness, to know when to run when you must, might be your fault to.

You might say, “Wait a second, for some people their body will cause them to have paralytic fear, causing them to freeze up and prevent any decision making that will be beneficial. So how can it possibly be their fault?”

Well, why did you go into the dark alley in the first place? Even if you knew it was a bad idea? Failure to recognize that decision as your fault may cause you to make it again and further compound any psychological trauma you may have experienced from the results of the first bad decision.

Furthermore, what did you do to prepare for violent situations? For most the answer is “Nothing.” Which would then be your fault. You assumed it would never happen to you and when it did you may have found yourself asking yourself, “why didn’t I do more?”

Prevention is the number one way to stay happy and healthy, which includes the ability to defend yourself. If you never learned even the basics of defending yourself, and you didn’t keep your body in good health so that you can run, it is again your fault.

We can say all we want that “people shouldn’t attack people” (which they shouldn’t) and “it’s their fault,” but we cannot control other people, we can only control ourselves, which means our personal safety is on us and us alone.

This, of course, doesn’t apply to small children, but as a parent you can teach and inform your children, in age appropriate ways, to give them the best possible chance of survival in any situation.

So, do you want to be the victim? Or do you want to take a proactive approach to self-defence, taking full personal responsibility. Learn to make good decisions, avoid people who might be problematic in your life, and learn to defend yourself.

Remember, it’s your life and your responsibility. While others contribute to who you are and why you are the way you are, when it comes to assault, in that single moment of time, all the blame on society, your parents, your significant other, are completely irrelevant. In that moment it is only you and them.

Did you do everything you could to avoid that horrible situation, or did you do nothing and wait to be the victim?

Written: by Jonathan Fader

OK this is the LAST ONE! I promise…for a while. This is the third in a series I like to call “What Pokémon Taught Me.” The first being “What Pokémon Taught Me About Losing“, and the second being “What Pokémon Taught Me About Being OK With Who I Am.

When I was young, I was out of shape and overweight. Eating properly wasn’t a foreign concept in my house growing up, but, based on my knowledge now I can say it really wasn’t put into practice. In the ’90s it was very common and acceptable to eat a lot of prepackaged, sugary snacks, because they were cheap and easy for parents; as, in that decade more than ever, it was common to see households with two working parents.

At one point one, I’m not certain what age, the most frequent meal I ate was macaroni and cheese (YES IT’S DELICIOUS, BUT SO BAD) and several cans of Coca-Cola. Kids can be mean, and, of course, I was always seen as that chubby kid. I was by no means obese, but carried enough extra weight for it to be noticeable. In 8th grade I made a mental shift; I stopped eating so poorly. Though my eating habits weren’t perfect, I still ate crappy school cafeteria burgers, I did manage to stop drinking Coke for several years. BUT, some improvement is better than nothing. I also spent that Summer working out every day. The difference was noticeable, I felt good and I was happy.

This change came from within, not from an example set at home (I often wonder where it came from). Now I am not saying it came from POKEMON, but I am also not saying the opposite. On this one though I think it might have actually come from Pokémon. In September of 1998, when I started grade 6, the series came out on TV in North America. At the end of grade 8 it would have been 2001, which means I was exposed to the Pokémon tv show three years at that point. Which, if memory serves, might have been one of the few shows I watched that actively discussed nutrition in it’s content, albeit casually.

You see, in order to be a good pokémon trainer (the thing I really wanted to be, but knew I couldn’t), you needed strong pokémon. This meant eating well and training hard. The training component is obviously the main component of the show, but as early as the first season Pewter City Gym leader Brock, a friend of the series’ protagonist Ash, regularly discusses the fact that what you feed your pokémon makes them stronger.

While some pokémon do not want to evolve to their next form (see previous post). The ones that do will first need to be strengthened through training and nutrition (unless of course they need an “evolution stone,” which is fine, some people need a little external help sometimes too.) This means that to be the best version of your pokémon-self you can be, you must eat the proper food and train regularly. This message, it seems, got into me, and after enough exposure it clearly clicked in my head.

So, as mentioned, at the MINIMUM I cut out the foods I knew were not great for me. I still did not know how to cook (which makes a HUGE difference), but I was still making progress in a positive direction. Later, when I was getting ready for the Army, many years ago, I started taking meal plans a little more seriously. In addition to continuing my regular training.

Just like a pokémon, you need to be fairly consistent with your diet and exercise in order to grow stronger and healthier. Of course, as with pokémon, your training and “battling” needs to become a lifestyle. Doing something you hate will not be a happy process, which means it is likely to fail. While you may realize, logically and rationally, that you need to change your diet and exercise regime (which should be obvious if what you have been doing isn’t getting you what you want), it also needs to be enjoyable.

This is why even in pokémon you see them eating sweets sometimes, but usually they are eating fruits, vegetables, and “pokémon food” designed specifically for them. Make the new routine enjoyable, and you will be more likely to stick to it.

I think you get the point. If you want to be heathier and happier (in most cases a scientific connection), then you need to make smart dietary and physical choices, to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

So, channel your inner pokémon, whether it’s Pikachu, Magmar, or Articuno, and make the changes you need today.

Yes, it’s another Pokémon related post. (It’s not likely to be the last.)

Pikachu’s electrifying personality (source)

I have always had an unusually rational and explainable confidence (though it’s origin remains unknown): Just DO things. Now, I am not saying it came from Pokémon, but, I am not saying it did’t come from Pokémon. One thing is for sure; I have always stood out as someone a little different. Maybe it’s a bad case of cognitive dissonance or maybe it was my love for Pokémon. Who knows?!

One thing for sure though, having confidence in oneself, who you are and your abilities, can go a long way in life. It’s not for the benefit of other people, it’s for ourselves, and how we view ourselves internally.

In Pokémon, protaginist “Ash Ketchum” has an unusual characteristic; he never forces, or even encourages, his pokémon to evolve into their higher forms. In the most famous example, his pikachu was offered the chance to evolve into a Raichu early on, using an item called a “Thunder Stone.” Most trainers would jump at the chance, because isn’t the more evolved form stronger and, therefore, better? Well, Ash and, more importantly, Pikachu did not think so. (It should be considered, though, that this may have been a marketing-based plot decision, as Raichu isn’t as “cute” as Pikachu and might have hurt the series’ brand, considering Pikachu was, and still is, the face of the series.)

For whatever reason, Pikachu decided he did not want to change for the sake of others; he was comfortable with who he was. Later in the series it was the same case for Ash’s Bulbasaur. It was captured by other Bulbasaurs and taken to the secretive “evolution ceremony.” Ash’s Bulbasaur decided, despite all his peers evolving, not to evolve again; he, like Pikachu, was comfortable with who he was. As it turns out, they both developed into stronger versions of themselves internally, becoming strong leaders in their own rights, despite not evolving into more powerful creatures.

While at the time I did not think much of it, hindsight often allows us to see where we might have learned lessons that were not directly taught to us. In today’s world there is increased pressure to conform to the narrative of society or our peers. Similarly, society told Ash to evolve Pikachu and peers told Bulbasaur to evolve. In both cases they were confident and comfortable with who they were, which afforded them the self-assured mindset to become the best versions of themselves whether or not they later choose to evolve.

While you should always be the best version of yourself, that does not always mean the version other people want you to be. This DOES NOT mean you don’t ever have to change! It just means that how you view yourself is one of the most important aspects of personal happiness (or personal destruction): it will inform your confidence (or contribute to a lack thereof) and inspire (or deter) your ability to be comfortable with yourself, and therefore your ability to experience strong growth.

So long as who you choose to be, and how you see yourself, is not destructive, dangerous, or extremely disruptive to the health, safety, and well-being of others, then you should be who you want to be and you should let yourself be happy with it.

Of course, if you are not happy with what you see in the mirror, or in your thoughts and actions, then you always have the power to change into what you want. In other words, you can choose to “evolve,” as is common when most pokémon are ready to change; either because they want to for personal reasons, because they have decided it would be in the best interest of their team’s success. Regardless of the motivation, the change is a choice to take action.

So, whether you want to be something else, or you want to be what you are, if you view yourself in a positive light you will have a much fuller, happier life.

What are you waiting for? Channel the confidence of Pikachu today, and be the best version of yourself that you can; so that you too can electrify the world around you.

During the Covid-19 lockdowns many people have found a lot of time to do a variety of things they might not normally had the time to focus on. For me, as many of the things I would like to do are not available or are sold out, I decided to reacquaint myself with one of my childhood passions.

POKÉMON!

Don’t lie, if you are under the age of, let’s say 40, there is a good chance that you too, at one time, wanted to be a “pokémon trainer” when you grew up.

Unfortunately, like many childhood dreams, this is one of those aspirations that is impossible in real life. Sigh, I can still dream.

Aside from the many cute pokémon, like Pikachu and Togepi, and the addictive nature of trying to achieve that lofty goal of “catching them all,” coupled with a brilliant cross platform global strategy, there are numerous reasons that Pokémon was, and is still, great.

While I did not think much of this as a kid, as I re-watch the original seasons, as well as the many, many, many seasons I missed (and they are still making new ones!), one of the great lessons the show teaches is that it is, in fact, OK to loose.

Even as a child I often thought the lead protagonist, Ash Ketchum, was a terrible pokémon trainer. This is mainly due to the fact that, in the original few seasons, he didn’t actually earn many of the gym badges by winning battles, but rather by foiling the plans of the “evil” Team Rocket. This means he probably didn’t actually deserve much of his respect as a trainer. So what did make him such a good trainer?

I think it’s the fact that win, loose, or draw, he would always keep going; he stayed consistent and kept a reasonably good attitude. Compare this to so many other cookie cutter kids shows or superhero series, where the protagonists always win in the end. I think Pokemon was a refreshing change, as it was far more based in reality than most other shows in regard to “winning.”

In most cases, these kids’ shows always result with the protagonist winning, which shelters young kids from one of the most important life skills; learning to fail. Pokémon, in contrast, showed you could win, loose, or draw, and still come out stronger.

For it is only in your losses that you can learn to improve. Only through adversity do you realize you need to change. If you only ever win, and only ever achieve the best, then you may not know how to truly assess and improve yourself.

A good, real life example of someone who clearly can’t handle loss would be Jon Jones. An amazing fighter who is one of the very best, yet is chronically having issues with the drugs and the law. Perhaps, had he faced a loss, or true adversity, he might have learned to be a better person as well as a better fighter. Maybe, had he been a pokémon trainer, this is a lesson he might have been forced to learn.

Whether you love Pokémon or hate Pokémon, the fact remains that it was and still is a worldwide phenomenon, one that experiences a resurgence in mass popularity every few years with some new version of the game. If you pay attention, you may realize that it’s a much better TV show for your child to watch than so many of the other cookie cutter junk out there; as it portrays the challenges of life (though in a fictional setting) in a much more realistic way.

So, whether it’s for your child, or yourself revisiting your childhood love, perhaps it’s time to look at Pokémon for some of it’s deeper lessons. Then learn to internalize the truth that it’s okay to lose, so long as you learn from it, and use that lesson to move forward and grow.

No matter what your endeavors are, keep going, stay consistent, and perhaps you too will metaphorically “catch them all,” as you will have built yourself up to the very best that you could be, a little bit at a time.

By: Jonathan Fader

This is the second of three sections expanding on the original piece titled, Self-defence is Not Just Physical.

Audio by Jonathan Fader with added content

In the modern world, being financially stable can be harder than ever, especially when the vast majority of people are living paycheque to paycheque. One of the biggest mistakes the average person makes is not thinking long term, but rather choosing instant gratification; getting something now and having nothing for later. A common belief is that our school systems do not spend enough (or any) time on financial literacy. Basic education should include simple things like how to put together a rudimentary budget, how to prepare your taxes, or how basic investing works.

While we often blame the rich for getting richer as the poor get poorer, one of the reason this trend continues is that either “the rich” understand how to make their money work for them, understand the financial system and how to protect their money, or they have the resources to hire the people who do.

For most of us though, it’s really a matter of understanding we are starting with less. So unless you happen to have the next “big idea” it’s going to be a long term thing. Work hard when you are younger and invest smart, then maybe you can retire in your 40’s or 50’s.

While I am no expert, I can certainly tell you the things that I have learned (mostly from screwing up and being broke). What I can say for certain is that part of personal self-defence is the ability to be ready, financially, to deal with the inevitable financial blows that life will throw at you. Even if that means you had solid enough financials to have a line of credit on hand in case of emergencies. Though having money in the bank is ideal, having financial buffers will save you from the deep hole that is financial ruin. So be smart, and include financial planning in your self-defence plans.

Don’t Spend Past Your Budget

As a martial arts instructor teaching a style that is not overly popular in my region, living on a tight budget is something I have become used to. However, as the world is increasingly difficult to survive in with less money, managing what little you have is key.

A question I often ask myself is, “how do people who make 4, 5 or 6 thousand dollars a month, after taxes, still manage to be broke (or at least say they are)?” It’s probably because they seek instant gratification and buy everything they can rather than preparing for the future. They seek experience and the “now” over anticipating the future. While that’s fine sometimes, do it too much and you may be on the path to financial disaster.

Of course, the less money you have the harder it can be to stick to your budget, because you may have to make important decisions on what to buy or which bills to pay (especially in with complications like Covid-19).

It’s at these times in life when budgeting comes in handy, or rather it would have had you done it. One of the hardest things for people to do, especially when they don’t have much money in the first place, is to include in their budget a “rainy day fund” and retirement savings. They may not seem important now, but they are! (I’ll come back to this.)

A basic budget should include necessities such as housing, food, and, in most cases, transportation. Anything beyond that, at least according “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,” may in fact be a luxury. If you have the money to spend more, then have at it. But if you don’t, think, do you really need the newest iPhone?

Ok, so enough talk. In the absence of credit, a budget is simply the act of planning your finances so that money coming in can cover the costs of money going out. If you have no credit, or options similar to this, then a budget is a MUST. If you do not create and follow one, then you may find your self not eating.

Lets look at something simple.

Mike has $3,000 after taxes every three months.

  • Rent = $1,200
  • Food = $500
  • Transportation = $800

After the basics are covered Mike has $500 extra a month. Most people would spend that on eating out or “toys.” A smart planner would take some of that and put it away, even if it’s only a little. Lets say he puts $100 a month away into retirement savings and $100 into a emergency fund, that now leaves $300 for entertainment and toys.

What if Mike works hard and earns a raise? He now has $3,200 every three months. If Mike was already financially stable, why not put the extra money directly into savings or investments. If he was doing fine without it, then he will have a $200 boost in savings without noticing a change in his lifestyle.

While most people these days do not like to operate in a frugal mindset, in the long run planning investments and emergency funds into your budget is crucial; so that in the hard times you are not destitute. So be smart, start early and reap the later benefits of a well planned budget.

Invest Early and Consistently

Assuming you manage to put something away for investments and retirement, the earlier you do it, the better. Have you heard of something called “compound interest?” Essentially it’s interest on the interest. This is the key to long term savings and building your early retirement.

If I put $100 into my retirement savings, and it averages a 3% return annually, then after one year it’s $1236 (depending on the frequency interest is compounded). The next year I put in another $1200, which would also receive the 3%, but so would the original $1236, resulting in $2509 rather than just $2,472. Which basically means that first $36 in interest, which you didn’t invest from your pocket originally, is continuing to grow for you. The earlier you do this the more the interest stacks, and the longer you have the more you earn.

If you started saving for retirement in your 20s vs your 30s the difference in the end number can be quite staggering. The amount of money you would need to put in during your 30s, to get the same results you would have gotten if you started modestly in your 20s, is quite a lot more than you think (the math is out there). I say again; Start early, even if its only $50 per month.

The best way to start early is of course as a parent. Start saving for your child’s future, (and not just for school) in a trust and your child will have an amazing head start. of course don’t just give it to them when they turn 18, make them wait and ensure they have learned financial literacy and good spending habits early.

Another important consideration in favour of investing early, and consistently rather than lump sum, is the ability to average out your costs of purchases across lows and highs in the market. The idea of “buying low and selling high” really isn’t what you think. Even the worlds greatest investor Warren Buffet, doesn’t try to time the movements of the market; he does his research and plays the long game.

Even when the market crashes it can be an excellent time to buy, if you are planning for the long term, that is, if you are buying more conservative “blue chip” funds, rather than trying to play the actual stock market. Which is not advisable, unless you have lots of disposable income and really know what your are doing. For the record, most people I know who play the regular market with only a few thousand dollars (which they can’t really afford to lose) typically lose. So play the long game and be smart about it.

Remember, even if you had invested in Apple, Microsoft, or Amazon early on, only to sell a year later and make some money, it is nowhere near the amount you would have made if you had held on. Of course, there is also no way of knowing which companies will be the next big ones, so if you aren’t sure I suggest leaving it up to the experts.

Nowadays, due to online banking, you can manage your money on your own. That being said, buying the professionally managed funds, in the long run in most cases, is going to give you a higher return than simply guessing and playing the lows and highs. Why? Compound interest and people who know better than you.

So start early, be consistent, and don’t just gamble, play the long game.

Diversify

Unless you happen to get lucky with the next big stock, and cash out just in time for you to see the crash, it’s best to diversify. In reality, even the best investors can’t time the market and may lose billions in one big market swing or crash. Those who come out on top tend to do so because they play the long game and have diversified portfolios, they still have money working for them, somewhere, when a crash outright destroys others.

Diversifying basically means “do not put all your eggs in one basket.” Even if you are playing conservatively and sticking to large professionally managed funds, you should have your money spread out between a variety of categories. Though what percentage is split how is totally up to you. Maybe you have 50% of your money in funds tied to your country, 30% to precious metals, and the remaining 20% in highly volatile, high-risk-high-reward, stocks. Maybe you have a different break down, really it’s up to you and your money managers to decide based on your own comfort and goals. Diversifying will almost always give you more protection if one area does poorly, and can help you with that dollar-cost averaging in the long run, making you come out on top even if times are tough.

Remember, the Dotcom bubble of the ’90s, or the more recent Crypto currency bubble? People lost everything because they put everything into a single venture and lost it all. Consider that if you are hearing about it on the news chances are the people who made the real money are already out and you are just a sucker.

Of course, if you want to put 20% of your money into such risky endeavors, no one is stopping you. You may make a killing, but it is all about when to sell, and most people sell too late. But, if the rest of your money is tied up in safer funds, then at least that 20% loss wasn’t everything.

Be smart, diversify, and (you guessed it) play the long game.

Conclusion

I should remind you at this point that finances are not my expertise, and I, admittedly, I do not have much money. These ideas are based on the lessons I have learned the hard way. Wisdom that only now have I realized I should have known and acted on years ago. But, if you don’t have a lot of money the banks rarely give you the best advisors; you usually only have conversations with sales people at the lower level. If no one in your family or circle of those who you look up has a good grasp on financial literacy, you may find yourself drowning in debt.

The earlier you learn these skills the better. Remember, most “get rich schemes”are just that, schemes. They fail for almost everyone and result in large financial loses. So try not to get swept up in the hype.

Protect yourself and your finances through smart financial self-defence. This includes knowing enough to know when someone is feeding you bullshit. For if you simply give your money to someone to manage outright, and you don’t know enough to check, you could actually find yourself losing it all to the next big Ponzie scheme (read up on Bernie Madoff).

Become financially literate, learn enough to play the long game, and start early. If you do, you will be in better shape than the majority of the population.

Remember, self-defence is not just physical. What other skills might you need to properly defend yourself in the modern world?

Written by: Jonathan Fader

Have you ever heard of Goodhart’s Law? I had not until a few months ago, when I heard it explained on Tim Ferriss’ podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. The concept made such an impact on me that I made a note of it, something I rarely do.

Coincidentally, a colleague of mine posted the above graphic (from Sketchplanations) on their podcast’s Instagram page, BJJ Mental Models, and I decided to expand on this for my own students.

Goodhart’s law discusses the natural human tendancy to meet the standard being measured. As the graphic demonstrates, if you say you will be measuring (or perhaps paying a bonus on) the number of nails made, the subject will make as many nails as they possibly can with a given amount of material. Conversely, if you are measuring success by the weight of the nails, then it would be easier for the subject to meet the measure by making a few, very large nails. Focused on the measure, the subject has misunderstood that you actually wanted a specific type of nail.

This means that if you do not set clear expectations and standards then people will simply meet what they are being measured on, interpreting that measure as the abstract target for success. In one or both of the examples above, the results are unlikely to have been what the boss wanted.

For martial arts this law can be easy to see.

The people “making oddly sized nails” are called “belt chasers.” That is, a person who is simply seeking belts because they represent progression in the form of a tangible measurement system. Thus the “belt chaser” believes that simply receiving a belt is a measurement of their skill, and therefore they expect that they have achieved an understanding of concept and application by merely demonstrating the techniques required for that belt level.

The truth is, it is not always about the belts but rather an individual’s ability to improve and progress. Some people may take longer than others, especially when there are clear and specific standards in place.

My approach to belts and promotions is that, if a person is simply seeking the next rank but lacks the nuanced skill, I would hold them back; because they have failed to understand what is actually being measured. This often means they have met the minimums, performing the techniques, but have failed to show what is actually expected, conceptual understanding.

This individual may be distaught when they are held back, as they will say “I have met the minumums thus I deserve to be tested/promoted.” They are falling prey to Goodhart’s Law. They are focusing on what’s on paper, a list of techniques at this belt level, what is being measured, rather than what was actually expected of them to learn.

For Krav Maga, the goal is making people capable of defending themselves, and a belt on its own does not do that; you need the skill, the concepts, and the ability to apply both. In the world of Krav Maga, simply being a “belt factory” is far more catastrophic than for other styles, as our focus is specifically self defense and not sport in any way.

This means that if you are a school that would rather promote someone because they are belt chaser, and you want to keep them as a customer, rather than delaying until they are actually where they should be, then you will be doing your students a great disservice; they may not be able to defend themselves as well as they think they can.

So, if you are a belt chaser, stop and think about the fact that you may be failing to understand what is actually being measured. While the tests and belts are literally about measurements and standards, a good Krav Maga school (or any martial arts for that matter), while be looking for far more than just techniques before they consider someone ready for a test or promotion.

Consider this, might your school be assessing other qualities like:

  • Physical Skills improvement
  • Mental Strength
  • Verbal Skills
  • Social Skills
  • Dedication to the school or sport

While these may not seem like things that should be measured when it comes to Krav Maga or martial arts, the real goal is self improvement; physically, mentally, and spiritually.

If you simply seek the belt, then perhaps you are not in fact ready and you are falling into the black hole that is Goodhart’s Law.

Are you a good training partner?


Are you the guy that as soon as the instructor says pair up everyone looks at hoping you will train with them or are you the guy the people avoid making eye contact with until everyone else has pared up and you get a reluctant partner. So, what makes a good training partner? Here is a list of what I find to be some of the most important points.

Turning Up


In my experience training martial arts as well as working with teams of people in the construction and hospitality industries first and foremost the thing that makes a good partner in any situation is turning up; not just being there, but being mentally focused and physically active. Especially in martial arts, where someone not paying attention can mean injuries, you need to be focused on the task at hand, knowing what both you and your partner are expected to do and executing those duties with enthusiasm and commitment. No one wants to train with the guy who is constantly asking what they are supposed to be doing or just lacks physical commitment to the training; whether that means holding pads or playing an aggressor.

Listening to the Instructors


Secondly, once you have turned up pay attention to your instructor and listen to instructions! There is nothing worse than performing a combination or series of techniques and your partner isn’t where they are supposed to be or isn’t reacting appropriately. I experienced this recently, while practicing getting up from the ground as an aggressive attacker approaches you. The drill goes like this: the attacker pushes the defender with a kick shield, the defender falls to the ground and performs a break fall, the attacker then walks towards the defender, the defender stabilizes themselves and kicks at the attackers knees (of course protected by the kick shield), keeping them at distance, and then gets up, facing the attacker in a fighting stance. My situation was that my partner pushed me with the kick shield, but, as I performed my break fall, stood 4 feet away from me and didn’t move in. So it was impossible for me to complete the technique because my partner was a) in the wrong place and b) standing static not moving forward; all because they didn’t listen to the explanation of the drill by the instructor.

Pad Holding


There is somewhat of an art to holding pads well, and it does take a little time to learn, but there are some basics that you need to grasp; not just to give the best experience to your partner, but also to avoid injuries (yours or theirs).

The two main types of pads we use are focus mitts and kick shields, so I will limit my discussion to these. When using focus mitts, the mitt itself typically represents your opponent’s head, but in some cases their body or groin. With that in mind, hold them in a position that corresponds to those body parts. For example, if your training a jab/cross (1,2) punch combination keep the pads at your head height, and close to where your head would be (though not right in front of your face, as you risk a blow to your face with the back of the pad.) Avoid holding them more than shoulder width apart, as this is not a realistic target for your partner and is a good way to injure you own shoulder. As the strike connects with the mitt treat it like catching a ball; you want to add a little forward force so there is resistance for the person punching, which helps them to avoid hyperextending their elbow.

Kick shields, as the name implies, are typically used for striking with legs and feet. The key with this type of pad is to hold it tight and close to your body. People have a tendency to try holding this type of pad off their body, assuming that the shield will absorb all the force, but what really happens is the shield is slammed back against your body. This also allows for a lot of movement in the shield and often results is your partner’s kicking foot sliding off at an unexpected angle; possibly hitting you and/or causing a ankle or knee injury to your partner.

Providing a Realistic Attack


Providing a realistic attack is another key to being a good partner. If you are training to block a punch to the head I’m not suggesting you try and knock your partner out, but if they do nothing, or offer a weak block, you should make light contact with their chin, nose, or cheek bone (depending on where you were aiming). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve faced punches that were falling short (by several inches) or landing way out to either side of my head. This is obviously not a realistic attack. As a result I have to perform a different movement to “defend” the attack, and this isn’t the muscle memory I want to train. Similarly, if you are putting chokes or holds onto your partner use enough force that they have to fight to get out of it. If you offer no resistance to the defense they are training they will be stuck wondering why its not working, and probably really shocked at how it feels, if it ever happens in real life.

Watch Your Distance


Everyone’s range is different, and all of your natural weapons (legs, elbows, kicks, knees, punches, headbutts, etc.) have different ranges. You need to match your range to the range of your partner and what they need for the weapons they are using. So, if you are working with someone much taller or shorter than you, don’t stand where your range is, stand at, or hold the pads at, their range; so they can correctly train the strikes they are practicing. It is also important to maintain this range when we train in a dynamic mode; if your partner moves in, move back to match, if they move back, move in to match.

Watch Your Power


Power control is one of our most important training concepts, especially when sparring but also when working with pads or holds and grappling. Often, rules set out a 10-15% power limit, but, if you are much larger or stronger than your partner, remember that your 15% is likely more than theirs. So, try to let your partner set the power level if they are smaller or less experienced. Likewise, if you are using pads and unload on a kick shield held by someone 40lb smaller than you, you will probably send them flying across the room.

Final Thoughts

I will elaborate further on each of these points in subsequent blog posts, but the basics are here. If you want to be a good training partner, and always have people happy and wanting to train with you; turn up, listen to your instructors, hold your pads wisely, provide realistic attacks, watch your distance, and watch your power.

And please, for anyone that trains with me, please call me out if I’m not being a good training partner. I promise I won’t take it personally.

Written by: Evan J

UTKM: Yellow Belt

Krav Maga – Weapons of Opportunity

Posted: February 13, 2020 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
Tags: , , , ,

Krav Maga – Weapons of Opportunity: A basic Guide

In any martial arts there is a lot of time spend developing the unarmed hand to hand combat components of they style. The reason for this is that in most cases the lack of weapons whether for practical or legal reasons makes this kind of scenario the most dangerous situation requiring the most amount of training.

Some styles even work on specific weapons uses from pistols to bow staffs. In many cases carrying such weapons for self defense may be illegal or may be a simpler matter of it is not practical to walk around with a bow staff in modern society.

This does not mean however, that there are not weapons to be found. In fact weapons of opportunity as we call them in Krav Maga are only limited by your imagination, your willingness to use them and of course the legal ramifications of the specific choice of weapon.

When opportunity arises, weapons of opportunity should be used if it is appropriate and avoids further harm to your self. For the sake of simplicity we divide weapons of opportunity into a few categories. “Sticky”, “Whipy” “Pokey” “Throwy” & “Smashy”

Sticky

These are weapons that can be wielded like a stick, they could literally be a stick made for it like a Kali/Eskrima Stick or something close enough. Below are some examples of objects that can be used as stick like weapons:

  • Umbrellas
  • Rolled up Magazines
  • Rolled up News Papers
  • An actual stick (from a tree)
  • Batons

Whipy

These are weapons be used in a whip like fashion whether it be an actual whip or something more like clothing. Because their weight is not balanced and they are usually have a great level of movement and flexibility these can be hard to control but are quite readily available. Below are some examples of objects that can be used as stick like weapons:

  • Jackets
  • Sweaters
  • Belts
  • Purses
  • Backpacks
  • Ropes
  • Towels

Pokey

These are weapons be used in a stabbing motion, weather they are literally able to penetrate or not is less important but know that if they can break skin then they may be lethal. With these types of weapons the eyes are your best target. Below are some examples of objects that can be used as stick like weapons:

  • Umbrellas
  • Sticks
  • Fingernails
  • Jewelry
  • Keys
  • Pens/Pencils
  • Chair legs

Throwy

These are weapons are anything you can and more importantly are willing to throw. Generally you should be throwing it at their head or eyes as this will get the best results. However, throwing could be relative and this could also mean pushing or shoving things in the path of would be attackers. Below are some examples of objects that can be used as stick like weapons:

  • Keys
  • Coins
  • Bags
  • Chairs
  • Rocks
  • Cups

Smashy

These are weapons are anything you can hold that gives your striking power more bang for its buck. Just know depending on the mass of the object and where you hit your opponent with they can be quite lethal. Below are some examples of objects that can be used as stick like weapons:

  • Rocks
  • Bricks
  • Bugs
  • Bottles

Legal Considerations

It should be noted that the authors of this are not legal experts and this does not constitute legal advice.

While we cannot speak for every country we can assume that many westernize countries have similar laws than that of ours in Canada.

Carrying weapons for self defense can be a very risky thing here. If you use something that you had on your persons for self defense that was designed as a weapon then it is likely that if you face court then they will attempt to make the case that you had intent [to seriously injure, maim or kill] even if it was in self defense.

This is why it is a safer bet to use things that were designed for other purposes and are not obviously a weapon. For example a purse which would be a “whipy” thing if used from the strap would not generally be considered a weapon on its own but rather a “weapon of opportunity”.

However if you were to say add a brick to the purse then as this is an odd choice to carry in a purse it could again indicate intent. As adding the brick added mass and the likely hood of doing serious damage to any attackers.

“With a pencil”

Consider an alternative. Lets say you are a student and you need a pencil case for your pens (if you still use those things), then perhaps a pencil case that is hard cased with some mass. The intent of it being in your purse would be for pencils or pens but it can increase the ability of your purse to do damage with out seeming suspicious or out of the norm. Additionally, you now have some pens or pencils which are also great albeit somewhat deadly weapons of opportunity.

After all the boogeyman, John wick himself is known for killing several men with a pencil.

The Importance of realism

Posted: January 31, 2020 by evanjex in Krav Maga Opinions
Tags: , , ,
Surprise! Attackers can be anywhere.

The importance of realism in Krav Maga, Martial arts and self-defense training

Whether your goal for training in self-defense or martial arts is to be able to defend your self on the street, competition fighting or merely to get into shape or learn a new skill one thing that should be present in your training for it to be in any way successful is realism with in your training.

Now there is a time and a place for this along with other aspects of your training for it to be successful and I am not suggesting sacrificing one for the other. When a new technique is being learned at first taking things slow and easy is the best way often to figure out body movements, dynamics and train mussel memory but then comes time to drill and stress test.

Now as anyone who has been attacked in the street can tell you it is extremely uncomfortable and stressful both physically and mentally, and for you to be able to react effectively in a real-life situation you must be able to train under conditions as closely resembling those in real life as possible. Like wise if you are training for a competition whilst the stakes might not be life and death you can guarantee your opponent is going to be giving it there all and expecting you to do the same. And if your goal was simply to get into shape the metabolic demand of an energetic and committed opponent is going to be a lot higher than that of a luck luster one.

Witch brings me to my point I have trained with lots of different people over my years in the martial arts world ranging from security and law enforcement to the odd soldier (or ex-soldier) and even a few pro fighters, and then everyone else from the committed students to the casual attendees. One thing that makes the biggest difference in my experience as to Whether or not your training partner is helping you get the best out of your training is there ability to bring realism to the situation or technique, and by this I mean if you are training to get out of a choke they better be putting a good choke on you or your training isn’t going to be doing that much for you.

Once again there is a time and a place for everything and if you are a seasoned practitioner and your training with a newbie or less experienced partner I don’t mean go balls to the wall and leave them without any hope of actually executing the technique they are supposed to be learning, you obviously have to match your power and intensity to an appropriate level but make sure it is challenging for them, there is usually less of a problem here for the more experienced person but as the less experienced person you better be bringing your all to the drill. I can’t tell you how many times I have had a newer person try to put a hold or choke on me the more resembled a neck massage or hug and then as soon as I started to resist at all they just completely let go.

This becomes very frustrating as the whole drill becomes largely useless for the person being attacked, it doesn’t remotely resemble a real attack for those wanting to learn to defend themselves or jump into a competition fight and as far as getting into shape or learning something new goes, your burning little to no calories and not learning much either.

So, here’s a word to those whom I’m talking about

  1. People come to classes to learn to fight that means the expect to get grabbed kicked punched your not going to offend anyone by being physical
  2. Use this time when you are playing the attacker to work on your own punches kicks grabs foot work look at the technique from the other side and what you might be having trouble with or how you can improve.
  3. If you are going to hard your partner will tell you as long as there is mutual respect this shouldn’t be a problem.

As a new person this can take a minute to get used to and figure out but don’t take to long because in the meantime you’re not doing yourself or anyone else and favors

Written by: Evan

UTKM Yellow Belt