Posts Tagged ‘self defense’

If you have not already figured it out from the title this post was inspired by The Game of Thrones episode 3, Season 8. At this point, it should be an obvious Spoiler alert but you know what it has been more than two weeks so if you are a GOT fan, to damn bad, you should have seen it already. In particular its this scene and quote that inspired it.

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In the scene, the red priestess, Melisandre is in a room that Arya Stark and company (The hound) barricaded themselves in to hide from the Wights (Undead soldiers of the night king). Melisandre has a habit of mostly correctly predicting the future and it is clear to Arya that she had predicted certain things in her life security. This advice is a foreshadow for a following scene where Arya is the one who kills the Night King.

To me, the entire episode and this scene reminded me of the nature of self-defense. So let’s get some context or a reminder of the episode.

The entire episode was a lesson on how not to plan for battle as basically everything went wrong. A large portion of the defending army got wiped out cleanly in the first 5 minutes of battle. (I bet if Genghis Khan was leading the battle this would not have happened to the horde) and every line of defense was inevitably overwhelmed to the point of futile efforts. I won’t get into the details of what I didn’t like about this episode or battle (The battle of the bastards was a far better episode in almost all ways) but this feeling of absolute dread and futility might be what you feel should you ever find yourself in a self-defense scenario.

Let’s start in the Macro. In the days when wars were fought out of survival or necessity often it only takes one person who is brave enough, bold enough and crazy enough to do something so unpredictable it changes the tide of war. If you look into any of Israels earlier wars where they were literally fighting for existance you can find tones of such stories in every battle. In this case, that crazy person was Arya whos training and skill finally paid off. Though how she snuck up on the night king with everyone surrounding him is beyond me but ok…

Now let’s take it to the micro. Where you have now been attacked, overwhelmed and you feel helpless and weak. Survival means doing something so crazy, so bold that it is completely unexpected by your assailant. All you have to do really is fight back, fight hard, fight to win and destroy them in the process so you can stop them as a threat and get to safety.

You see as overwhelming as being attacked can be I can most certainly guarantee they attacked because they thought you were not a real threat. For when people see you as a real threat those who are smart will rarely attack head-on. Predators attack the weak, both in nature and in the human world. Those who can fight back, or are perceived as having the ability to fight back are less likely to be attacked.

Krav Maga teaches you to turn the tables on your opponent using pure raw aggression in a controlled and strategic fashion in order to disrupt your opponent’s ability to continue their attack. Then you either escape to safety or you finish them off as needed.

To me, this is what this long-awaited episode of GOT symbolized. The spirit of the warrior defending themselves to win against all odds. The spirit it takes to defend your self when all seems lost. The spirit to know that if you do give up all is lost so you must keep fighting until there is nothing left but the victor.

This is what it means to learn to defend your self either in war or in a simple mugging gone wrong. The weak shall prevail over the strong because they were never really weak in the first place.

So train hard, train smart, overcome your fears and you too can defeat your night king (Demons).

P.S. I hope you never have to use such skills in self-defense but if you do channel your inner Arya and not your inner Jon Snow…

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I have a feeling this post is going to have many cliche’s. As much as we like to hate on cliches because they are unoriginal, they have much truth to them. They are cliches because they are the things we know but choose to ignore because we are a curious species always pursuit of more. And besides who likes being given the answers directly? According to psychology, no one. People generally prefer to be guided to find their own conclusion rather than be given the obvious answer. As an instructor, it is a difficult thing to swallow and yet its how we operate. As I grow older I seem to be letting people find their own path a little more and I hope one day to have the wisdom to know right away who will learn how.

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On my path to find that wisdom I am re-listening (Yes, I do audio books, so much more efficient) to the Jocko Willink‘s book The Dichotomy of Leadership, the best selling sequel to his original book Extreme ownership. The second book as far better than the first as it clarifies somethings from the first one, but dont believe me even Jocko thinks its better.

As they say if at first you dont succeed, try, try again. Or if you make a mistake it’s ok, just learn from it and do better next time. See Cliches.

Anyways, back to my point. In listening to the book again a line stuck out at me. Since it was an audiobook and I can’t remember the time stamp I am going to paraphrase.

It goes something like this, People often want to learn the advanced tactics over building solid fundamentals. 

This is something I have seen many times, especially in the Krav Maga world. I am fairly sure I have written about this before but since it came up again I guess its time to write about it again.

Krav Maga is known for its firearms and knife related self-defense. These are the things people always want to learn, yet they are not the fundamentals no matter who sells it to you.

Occasionally I will get a student who has a previous Krav Maga or Martial arts background. The question is often, when do I get to do the weapons stuff. Or the stuff I saw online? I usually ask them about their background first and go from there.

If you are from another background, dont you think you should take some Krav Maga classes first to get to know what’s different between the styles? Also just because you saw something online dont presume to understand Krav Maga without actually practicing it. First, unless you have been training for 10+ years it is unlikely you are as good as you think you are. Second I dont go to other martial arts and expect to start anywhere other than the beginning. If you want to take regular classes then do so, if not I suggest private lessons, though I am picky who I teach what.

If you are from a Krav Maga background then I hope you can understand that not all Krav Maga curriculum is the same. Many people don’t know this because they dont usually train outside of one or maybe two organizations. If you did you would know what I teach at UTKM is an amalgamation of different organizations curriculums simplified to be more efficient. Which means no matter your Krav Background if you want to rank up under me then you have to learn the UTKM way. Of course if after assessment it turns out you are as good as you think you are in Krav then I will gladly reduce your hours between each rank. But you still need to understand how UTKM works first.

Either way, the scenario is the same. They dont want to spend time working on the basics. The basics you must remember are the foundations of everything. To me, if you can barely punch, kick, move or fight the gun disarms are not as easy as you might think. You must be sure of your foundations less you regret it later.

Speaking from personal experience learning BJJ I can say not learning and mastering fundamentals early is something you will regret later. In my earlier belts, White and Blue, I jumped around gyms, did open mats and had little structure to my training. I was also injured at blue belt which meant limited training. All these things meant I missed out on developing solid fundamentals, as such now at purple belt I am struggling to catch up to those at the same rank. Don’t get me wrong I fully intend to catch up and train more but its something I could have easily done in the past had I trained properly and focused on the fundamentals.

So, fundamentals are important even if you dont think so. No matter your experience or background when you walk into a new place respect their fundamentals. If you don’t like it then go somewhere else if you do then train and do so humbly.

Another cliche is to lead by example. So I will give you an example. Recently the local Krav Maga Global club held an open seminar for group fighting and multiple attacks. The Instructor was GIT Expert 2 Natasha Hirschfeld who was a wonderful instructor. Both she and the other instructors noted that there were so many new students they were most likely going to start with simple Krav basics. They seemed apologetic but it didn’t matter to me, for when you teach a lot sometimes you dont train as much as you should. Though I couldn’t stay for the whole time I enjoyed reviewing some basics. I even picked up a new warm-up game or two.

You see if you go in with an open mind even if you are practicing the fundamentals you will always learn something new if not simply move your way closer to the 10000-hour mastery principle.

There is a reason that in most martial arts even ones where a black belt takes 8-15 years to get on average that they also say the same thing. That they started to learn more at black belt than they did in all the training before. I think this is because they finally mastered the basics they can see other things they missed before.

The basics like any skill take a lifetime to master in any style yet they are what matter the most. Especially in Krav Maga as its the basics that will most likely save your life should you ever find yourself in an unwanted violent conflict.

So if you regularly train, or are coming to train, respect the basics and practice them until you achieve mastery no matter how long it takes.

 

 

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on these topics, it is simply a run through of what was covered and some of my own thoughts on the matter.

Every once and a while Facebook’s creepy targeted ad actually shows me something useful. In this case, it was a talk to be given by former CSIS head Richard B. Fadden hosted by the CIC. And yes, it is CSIS, NOT ISIS. I say this because I know there are many Canadians or other individuals reading this who may have never heard of CSIS. For those of you who do not know CSIS stands for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or to give you a better idea, they are the Canadian CIA. This means one of two things, either Canadians know less about how their own country works than they think. Or CSIS is very good at what it does in protecting its citizens on the down low.

This was one of the points that Richard opened up and closed with. Canadians feel too safe and do not feel the need to fund things appropriately. Or as I am not paraphrasing, If you dont feel thretened you won’t give the governments permission to do what they need to do.

Hard times...jpgFor me, if Canadians don’t feel threatened then they won’t sign up for Krav maga because they feel they do not need to learn self-defense. (The ability to defend yourself is something you should learn regardless of whether you live in a dangerous place or not, for it is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.) While not a perfect analogy I think it stands true. Whether you like it or not there is the saying. Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. Weak men create hard times.

Or more precisely if you have to face adversity you will be more resilient to adapt and do what needs to get done to survive.

A good example in Canada is that the Canadian military struggles to find the money for procurement of new equipment. However, in modern times even when we were at war, and yes Canada was in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria (Mr. Fadden confirmed this if you think otherwise…), Canadians don’t really feel it at home because we are safe. Just so you know, all parties in Canada struggle to justify military spending to the public who has no taste for it. To me, and my friends in the military this is a terrible strategy for any country in the long run.

At this point, you may be asking, what was the talk actually about. Well, good question.

The actual title of the talk was:

Threats to Canada’s National Security: Russia, China, and the Leaderless West.

Any guesses what he talked about most?

Russia

It’s all Russias fault!?, no I am just kidding. What he suggested was that when it comes to western global security China is a much bigger threat than Russia. To paraphrase. Russia is a rogue state, but it is still containable through sanctions and other diplomatic channels. They have a weak economy but still, have a nuclear arsenal which keeps them a global player.

I would also say at the moment at least their biggest asset is Putin as a statesman. And despite what westerners may think, and Mr.Fadden confirmed this, is that Putin is very popular in his own country.

Evidence suggests that yes, Russia does mess around in global affairs. While they did not “HACK” the 2016 US elections as was suggested by the media. This would mean they physically change the election results, which is not what they did. Instead, they used legal avenues and shenanigans on Facebook to manipulate some public opinion. A strategy that was first tested out on their own population regarding the Crimea annexation and possibly the semi-civil war in eastern Ukraine. Which by the way is the first time a state straight up annexed another state since WWII, yet without going to war there wasn’t much anyone could do about it.

I would think Russia has shifted to this strategy because as the cold war showed, from an economic standpoint they cannot realistically keep up in a traditional military sense. Nor would I suspect they would win that war. Mr.Fadden indicated that this is indeed true by the fact that the Russian military is shrinking, though it is improving and upgrading the skills and technology which means smaller groups can be more efficient and harder to deal with. Beyond the standard military operations, they seem to focus more on psi-ops for the dissemination of information that is misleading or incorrect. Something I should add that many western media are adopting, though I suspect it is more for the income generated by the click bate nature of their articles. As Mr. Fadden suggested, this kind of shenanigans would have occurred regardless of Trump running for president. Despite what the media and the public sphere seem to think, this is more Russia being Russia than anything.

He also briefly mentioned Russias role in Syria suggesting that they were more of an annoyance and slowed the progressed in the eventual defeat against ISIS, which according to the media has recently fallen. And that yes, Russia is Mucking about in Venezeuala which goes against the Monroe doctrine which is why the west (America) is so uncomfortable about it.

With regards to Russia, unless you are a former USSR state in eastern Europe then Russia is more of an annoyance trying to stay relevant in an increasingly crowded world. If we in the west really wanted to stick it to russia we would move faster away from fossil fuels and natural gas and more towards renewable energy as without the demand from the west, and China Russia’s economy would most likely collapse again. (FYI Nuclear Energy is the best for global climate change, but if you don’t trust me, ask a scientist…)

China

This brings back us back to China. As Mr. Fadden explained they are a true adversary at this point. They are incredibly economically strong and can affect the economies of the west through trade. Have a strong military power and the main power in Asia regardless of whether you like it or not. The issue with China is that in many ways they can play by their own rules.

For example, if a company in Canada or US is looking to do a deal with a company in China it is the resources of the western company vs the resources of the Chinese company + the resources of the state. As Mr. Fadden explains that in China, especially when it’s dealing with international deals, the moment the government of China wants to get involved it will and as a company in China you are obliged to let them. So a company in the west must stick to the rules and regulations of the land regarding their deals and the Chinese companies can essentially do what they want. It is my understanding that despite what you think of Trump on the topic of China and their trade practices he is most likely right.

Unfortunately, as China is a real threat to global security many politicians are perhaps too afraid to stir the already awakened yet crouching tiger in fears they release the hidden dragon.

Mr. Fadden also explained that when it comes to espionage, mostly digital, China is king. They do so with little regards to what the west thinks and the west has little power to stop them much of the time without going to war. Which, no one wants, including China and Russia. This means every time China, or Russia does something there is little the west can do to correct them. As mentioned sections have much more effect on Russia than China due to the differences in trading needs and the economy overall.

So what has China done that Mr.Fadden could openly talk about without us having full clearance?

Over the last few years, there has been over 1 Trillian USD, stolen from IP related attacks that are mostly from China. A Canadian fighter plane design was stolen then a replica or near identical version was produced (I didn’t even know Canadians did fighter planes anymore, which makes me think it was stolen from Bombardier). There is the noted case where a Saskatchewan Pot Ash company was looking to do a deal with a Chinese company and they had their servers hacked, their Lawyers servers hacked and government agencies hacked all regarding the company by China. This, of course, killed the deal.

China through both legal and illegal means is expanding its power mostly through economic means. They are the key power of influence in Asia and are a big financial sponsor of Africa loaning out money they know will never be repaid. Which asks the question, to what end are the doing this? Power, Control, or resources? Probably all of the above.

There is also the tension regarding the South China Sea between China and all its southern neighbors in which China basically says it’s theirs and other say not but if China really wanted to take it out right it could. Which makes everyone very uneasy.

And of course, if you pay attention to the news Canada is caught in between the spat of the US, China, and Huawei as we are currently detaining one of their executives on behalf of the Americas. In America, most major carriers dont carry their phones as they are worried about spying software. This according to Mr.Fadden is a legitimate concern and perhaps Huawei phones should not be allowed in Canada in a similar fashion. Yes, the phones look amazing though I suspect its mostly stolen tech and full of foreign spyware. Although Google and Apple basically do the same thing at least they still have to follow the laws.

The question you have to ask your self regarding China is if the intelligence and economic community think its a bigger threat because generally, they do what they want. Why is the media so silent on this matter. Why do most of the public, and media focus on Russia? This is a question I am not sure about though I am sure it has something to do with money and politics.

Global Terrorism

This is a topic that seems to have been quieted publically as the media seems to focus more on the idea of white supremacy as a problem rather than just a general terrorism as a problem. Mr. Fadden focused more on Islamic Terrorism and how it is less of a problem now but still a big problem.

He mentioned a magazine called Inspire, which is an Al Qaeda magazine in circulation. Remember Al Qaeda. You know, The perpetrators of 9/11 and who Osama Bin Laden was part of? Yes them. They are still around, in various forms globally and are still a problem. Unlike ISIS which was localized Al Qaeda is compartmentalized globally so still has not gone away and is still a problem.

One thing he mentioned that for a while the advice of such magazines was that if you want to help their global cause, dont go to Syria to help ISIS, Don’t go back “home” but stay in the country you are in and cause trouble. That means if you are a Canadian who wanted to fight for ISIS, rather than do that then stay home and cause havoc. This could be one of the reasons we saw the problems in many western countries where the attackers lived in these Countries, such as the US, France and to a lesser extent Canada.

He did say though, that the last Non-Muslim Country the west entered was Grenada in the 1980s. So he can understand why the Muslim global community is annoyed with the west as it seems that they are the only group being targeted at the moment. Which brings us to the last topic. Canada.

Canada’s roll in the world

In most countries, Canada is well respected and liked. In the 20th Century, we had major roles in both World wars and were involved in major global events.

He suggested that while Canada was once an upper tier Middle global power we are now a lower tier middle power. This is because Canada is very poor at building foreign relations and really is not doing much to help the world in an active way. An example was the poor decision recently to leave the Mali mission despite the complaints from the military and what I can imagine would be most sane advisors. An no I dont believe simply throwing money at other counties or problems (like is currently happening) is in any way strong or good leadership. Real leadership should always be something active not passive.

I think this issue is related to what was stated near the beginning in that, Canadians feel too safe and do not feel the need to fund things appropriately.

Canada may actually be at least for the time being one of the more functional democratic western nations. We are relatively physically isolated from other countries globally with the US to the south for some safety. Though Russia does regularly test our Sovernty with regular tests to our airspace scrambling Canadian fighter planes all the time to push the Russians back (An annoying and stupid global game of cat and mouse). Despite perhaps what some politicians might want you to think, Canada is a very safe place as compared to other countries. We have someone decent socialized health care (though I don’t know how much longer that will hold up with the way it’s being managed) and we have many other benefits that other countries would love to have. Because relatively Canada is a great place most Canadians find themselves in their selfish little bubbles caring little of the world other than to simply travel and post photos for the Gram.

I dont think we need to be some major global player like the US but I think that Canadians should care a little bit more about what their government’s foreign policy is or lack thereof. When I talk about these topics with most Canadians they seem woefully misinformed or woefully uninterested. Which for such an educated country is fairly sad.

Mr. Fadden said that when he traveled the world, as a representative of Canada, Foreign dignitaries always welcomed him politely but were dismayed that a Canadian PM never visits or at the very least high-level Cabinet ministers. From a foreign policy standpoint we generally dont bother, but I suspect it because the Canadian public really doesn’t like this kind of global spending so most politicians oblige by not bothering.

I know most of this doesn’t matter to you, although if you have read this far perhaps it does. But if you do not want Canada to fade into obscurity in the long game perhaps you should care a little bit more about the world around you. (DO remember, Much like the Dutch East India Trading company, for a time the Canadian based Hudsons Bay company was a major global economic hub in the western world, thus historically Canada at times played major rolls.)

Wrap Up

So as always I do, I try to relate things back to Krav or self-defense. Most students roll their eyes or insult me in their heads when I go on a rant in class for the million times. I do this because I care. I understand that real self-defense is not just Kicking or punching. It is understanding the world around you and all its complicated intricacies. Canadians love to travel but often travel without the thought of what is going on the countries they are visiting. Didn’t know there were minor political problems going on in the country you are in? Oh well too bad now you are stuck in the middle of a civil war? Didn’t know the country you are in doesn’t care that what you just did is legal in your country, oh and by the way there no extradition treaty. Now you are stuck in a foreign jail for 20 years…FUN!. Or my favorite example (ROLLS EYES HEAVILY), someone I know said they felt unsafe traveling to the US because you know Trump and racism so instead decided to go to Jamaica, Which is so much safer…It is not. The same individual also mentioned their hostel had an 8pm curfew…hmm I wonder why…

I have often heard even from those close to me that they don’t care what is going on in the rest of the world, the country or over there because it doesn’t affect them directly. Unfortunately, this is a failure to understand how interconnected everything is. What China does and how it acts matters because it definitely affects trade. Remember, if everything is made in China which makes it cheap they could mess with it forcing our governments to act or vice versa thus things become more expensive. Or perhaps you are a citizen of both countries and now you are stuck in the one you least prefer because of some global shenanigans that you thought didn’t affect you.

Being good a defending your self is not just physical, it’s about being informed, educated and using appropriate critical thinking skills so you can navigate this complicated world and come out better than you were yesterday and in one peace.

I hope that this commentary has given you some food for thought and hope that today you may walk in peace.

The guys at UF PRO have some great videos. Previous I looked at their gun disarm video and gun vs knife videos. A student sent me this and asked me to break it down.

Many of the techniques or concepts in this video are similar or close to what I teach regularly albeit with some differences.

One of the most important things they are doing in this video which I and many others 100% agree on is that once a bladed weapon is drawn if you cannot run (the best option) you must first get control of the weapon arm and then go after the person as a combative. Without control of the army and quick or rapid movement can be catastrophic to your self or others. Other than this I will break down my thoughts on each sequence.

0:22 – Upward stab (prison shank style)

There style with the grabs is the only thing I am not a fan of. Yes, it’s a natural reaction but if you have already identified enough any grabbing as an initial movement can be very risky especially under duress. We generally prefer gross motor movent over fine motor movement, especially for an initial movement. Inevitably as we are designed to grab you might have to but only in secondary or tertiary movements. Other than that the strategy of getting the knife arm and controlling it is great. What you do after that really depends on your style I suppose. In this sequence all attempts were succesful. Keep in mind he knew the knife was there and what attack was coming which could change the outcome if you were not expecting it.

1:11 – Slashing (We call “blender mode”)

In the first version, he inevitably takes cuts to the arms on multiple sides. This is to be expected in such a case especially if you stay in slashing range. I also am not a fan of putting palms and the soft tissue of the front of the arm towards the attack. While it is unlikely to be fatal it may limit your ability to deal with the attacker after. I would much rather take slashes to the sides or backs of the arms. In this case, as their strategy is to gram the arm then it does make some sense. Still getting get in the arms no matter where is far better than taking it to the face or neck.

At 1:41 the second version of this attack is launched. When they slow it down you can see why it is so hard to grab as an initial attack. Another reason why grabbing can be problematic. It also looks like he took a slash/stab to near the brachial artery which if severed can be a big problem.

If you take to long your attack can wise up and escalate there attack. If you are going to go in go in aggressively, with your hands up of course protecting your neck and face. Otherwise, you may be relying too much on the attacker making a mistake. Personally, I would much rather be out of range in the first place before I make a move. Yes, I know timing will still be a big factor.

At 2:05 they start the third attempt of this technique. Again you can see trying to grab trap or pass at speed is very difficult. There is a reason we call these attack blender type because if you try to follow the knife it can be very hard and if you look closely if the attacker or defender even tripped or misstepped the defender leaves their body quite open to a stab.

Don’t get me wrong, in the event you need to use this defense and it works with minimum damage then its great. It requires a great bit of skill, confidence and the right level of thinking at the moment to succeed. For beginners who encounter this kind of attack after you have identified it defend appropriately but create space and run. Use weapons of opportunity if you can. If not, attempt to attack disrupt, off balance or cause pain. A tool we use is the low line sidekick to get a pause in the attack so that we can gain control of the weapon arm. Again, waiting for the attacker to mess up may be too late, try to cause your own opening. The kick also requires skill but keeps your vitals well out of the way. I understand this option may not be preferred by many but personally, I wouldn’t stick my hand in a blender. Would you?

2:30 – Slashing & Stabbing (We call  the “Decepticon blender mode” or the “Game over man”)

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In Israel real knife defense is to shoot them… just saying.

Let’s just say this is a worst case scenario, they start slashing rapidly realize they haven’t killed you yet and rapidly change to the stabbing.  This would be like if your blender unsatisfied you did not stick your hand in it, gave up its ruse changed into its true form a mother f**king Decepticon and started shooting lasers at you.

 

In the first attack series when the switch happens there is a slowdown or hesitation, which allows the defender to get the arm. This would be the best case scenario but is not always what will happen. This might have been a subconscious reaction or an on purpose to let them get control. Who knows. Also, the position of the knife right at the groin, once he does get control, makes me nervous. Some of my more vicious students would most likely remind you as they stab you while laughing hysterically in the groin multiple times…

3:08 round two. This time he gets stabbed which as I mentioned above is likely if they dont slow down. YAY DECEPTICON BLENDERS!

3:34 Round three. hmm, notice a pattern. This is the most likely scenario with this attack pattern if you are unsuccessful in getting the weapon arm immediately. Another reason why it is preferable to create a lot of space because your margin for error is slim to none otherwise. Also why we prefer that low line kick. A smart and aggressive attacker will vary their attacks to counter your defenses, your decision-making time to act is a very, very small window.

4:05 – Attacking from a drawn knife

My first comment is, always assume they have a weapon. If they are fidgeting or moving near their belt line this is a good indicator. If this is accompanied by aggressive behavior it’s better to act before they can draw a weapon. Don’t wait. Strike first and justify after. In these videos, you can clearly see a knife in which case if you are a civilian you should have run already and if you are LE or military if you did not already verbalize to get down on the ground then you may be engaging first. Of course, if they aren’t trying to stab you yet lethal force is not recommended. As soon as they go for that knife then it would be.

The first attack is easily defended, although thats because he knew the knife was coming at some point. Again outside of the demo, I would have engaged in takedown and control options prior to them being able to draw. The hesitation after the draw made the defense easier. In this case, the kind of hesitation is certainly a possibility.

Rounds 2-4 are all the same. Each scenario the aggression escalates but there is a relatively clear draw. Allowing the defender to get the weapon arm.

6:05 round five. The attacker is charging ineffectively off balancing and overwhelming the defender, who then misreads the situations and goes for the wrong arm allowing the attacker to succeed. This is a likely scenario with an aggressive attacker. It can be hard to get the weapon hand especially if you were not expecting a knife at all. You can deal with the opponent on the nonweapon hand but requires getting behind them which is very hard against aggressive attackers.

This is why the advice will always control them before they can draw. Attackers will usually but not always indicate via body language that they have a weapon if the situation starts from a static scenario. If it is not static is can be very difficult so you must be sharp with your movements and your decision making.

Bottom line is regardless of what scenario its really best not to go empty hand against enough.

I hope you enjoyed this breakdown.

PS. If you are local I will be doing a seminar on April 20th in Surrey where I will be looking at a few of these scenarios as well as some basic gun disarms.

 

 

 

To Act or Not to Act.jpgHesitation can often lead to embarrassment or post scenario guilt or worse. It could lead to much more serious consequences such as permanent disability or death.

For some it can lead to thoughts of why didn’t I make my move, I really liked them. To Act. Or the opposite, why didn’t I do anything to stop them, what they did was not consensual. Not to Act.

In both above examples, there is only regret and/or shame. But when it comes to failure to act in a violent confrontation it can lead to catastrophic consequences.

To Act (Action), or not to act (Inaction) are the dichotomies of Action vs Reaction and Avoidance as well as self-defense in general. In the face of Violence, an action is faster than reaction. One can Act first, to avoid a reactive action. Or you can Choose inaction as an attempt to avoid the scenario altogether. It can be a tough decision, but for Krav Maga, action is usually preferred over inaction even if that means running.

Krav Maga is known for its aggression in the face of violence but aggression is only a tool and means nothing if a person fails to “turn it on”. If in that moment of need, that second you had to strike first or to block or to simply resist you choose inaction then it could lead to your own demise both literally or figuratively (psychological trauma).

Often when teaching students even under light stress they often hesitate to act. Or as is quite common they “screw up” the technique and stop. I will tell them or yell at them “keep going, don’t stop” because that moment of hesitation is all it takes for the attacker to re-coup and re-engage offensively.

When training people, we need to train their aggression to be appropriate and well timed so that when the moment comes no matter what happens even if an error occurs they can fight through and survive. However, if they hesitate and instead of channeling that aggression through retzev, techniques and other strategies and principles their training and aggression is for naught.

This is why situational and high-stress training is very important in Krav Maga or any good self defense training so that we can train the brain and nervous system to recognize situations or scenarios and act or react quickly without hesitation.

To act without hesitation often means to act with confidence. Without confidence in one’s skill then it can be harder to act.

One of the easiest ways to build confidence in your skill, speed or timing is to practice more and practice often. With practice also comes the knowledge of what you are capable of and will help you better recognize when you should avoid scenarios all together so that action or hesitation is not even a factor.

To act or not to act that is the questions, but hesitate to act in the moment of decision and it might not matter at all, philosophically or otherwise.

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Again, thanks to the guys at UF PRO for their awesome video. See our previous break down of their Gun Disarm video.

In this video, we see in close proximity a person with a holstered gun and a person with a knife. It should be obvious to those reading but the advantage of a gun is range and whenever it is not drawn in close quarters may not be enough to save you. While the advantage of a knife is close quarters which gives it a big advantage. This is already known in the standard 21-foot rule, whereas a person with a holstered weapon is at a distinct disadvantage if the attacker is charging and you are under 21 feet. Mythbusters TV show famously did a sequence on this that you can see HERE.

While both Guns and Knives are extremely dangerous to deal with personally I would rather have a gun in my face than someone pulling a knife on me. Guns usually get worse reps due to the optics as portrayed by the media but the reality is knives do far more damage and kill far more people on a daily basis than guns do.

OK to the video:

At 0:25-1:00 approximately the defender is standing with no movement with a close knife attack. In all attempts, he gets slashed most likely fatally in the neck prior to even having the barrel of the gun pointed at the attacker. Additionally, his arms are in a crossed position initially which is a terrible place to be when this close to a person you perceive as a threat (Orange). Really he should have already created distance with hands up in Semi-Passive, or Interview stance (as he has a gun). Of course for the demo I know they did this purposefully, but it highlights action vs reaction smoothly in that if you are totally unprepared the attacker will get you most of the time. Unless you have hyper fast reflexes which let’s be honest most of us do not.

I cannot stress enough that having the second free hand available for defending yourself will often mean the difference between life and death

At 1:00-1:43 the defender is allowed to step back. In all cases, the attacker either cuts/slashes or stabs them even if the defender gets the line of fire on target. Which means one or both may both be severely injured or die each time. Although I will say on sequence 4, or the first of these the count a slash on the arm as a fail and the defender clearly avoids the potentially fatal stab which to us would have been a success. The reality is in any knife scenarios the goal really needs to be don’t die. Or more precisely do not take any fatal wounds. Because there is no guarantee no matter what your skill is that you won’t get cut or stabbed. So really it about minimizing damage. So to me, the first of the sequence would have been a success. The next two, however, were not so fortunate. The other thing is, this sequence highlights the importance of the non-shooting hand in defending yourself. Too many armed individuals believe their sidearm makes them invincible. I have personally talked to police who believe they are skilled enough to draw and shoot anyone no matter what though I highly doubt that these individuals had such skills.

I cannot stress enough that having the second free hand available for defending yourself will often mean the difference between life and death as is clearly shown from sequence 4 vs 5 and 6 where he does not use the hand to defend and is clearly given a fatal slash. This is why when I teach I build fundamental hand to hand combat skills first, prior to teaching firearms skills as when it comes to self-defense these can be more important the later in close quarters scenarios. Especially if you are caught off guard.

At 1:53-2:38 the starting point is now 10ft or 3m giving distance for the defender which increases reaction time. Though if you did watch the Mythbusters video..well you will know this is not always enough.

This time the defender gets the shot off every time but again because the second arm is not defending he still gets slashed most likely fatally. Because of the less than accurate shot placement each time there’s no guarntee, the same will be for the attacker.

At 2:39-3:10 the defender is allowed to move back and is successful every time even getting a few shots on target. No matter the scenario if someone is attacker you with intent to kill especially with a blade you should be unloading as many rounds as you can until they no longer are a threat. Of course, ignore this if you need to conserve ammunition for a mission or tactical reasons in which guess you better start getting good at shot placement under extreme duress.

At 3:19-4:16 they now start at the 21-foot range. Unlike mythbusters, it is clear that the individuals in this video are far more skilled with both pistol and knife creating more clear-cut results (Pun intended). During this sequence, the defender is not allowed to move and while he gets shots off every time, I see a little bit of an issue. As the rounds progress the attacker gets closer and closer and if you were trained to just stand there even though you shot the attacker it is possible they could still stab or slash you fatally even if accidental. This would because they already have forward momentum and the direction they were traveling. Though this time around it is likely the attacker would be far worse off each time than the defender. See the difference distance and time make with regards to reaction time.

At 4:18-5:15 we see 4 more sequences. This time in sequence 5 and 7 the defender is clearly overwhelmed by the sprinting attacker. This could simply be due to “battle” fatigue or do to an increased speed of the attacker. As you can see moving backward still at 21 feet will not always make you infallible. So again, you better train properly and be ready.

So, clearly if you want to maintain your advantage with a holstered firearm, keep your distance well in advance. If you suspect an issue, draw your weapon prior to engagement but remember if you are not willing to use it lethally then drawing it is pointless. Additionally, even if you have the distance make sure you start to move as quickly as possible and still be prepared to use your free hand to defend, but only if it is not feasible to get a two-handed grip which is the ideal scenario. Lastly, if you are going to move against a charging opponent and you are prepared to use lethal for do not just go back. If you have the ability to do so get off the center line.

Generally, in the Krav Maga world, firearms training is considered a natural part of the basic training. For me, however, it is not for beginners. As you can see from most of these tests, basic hand to hand skills in addition to firearms training would have dramatically increased the succes rate. Although I suspect in this video the shooter was holding back for the purpose of the demonstration.

While I fully believe that competent and trained individuals should be allowed to carry firearms for the purpose of self-defense I just want you to remember having a gun may increase your chances of success but it does not make you unbeatable.

BONUS: 

Here is a video of two masters discussing this topic. I will leave this one without comment because well its Instructor Zero and Doug Marcaida

Learn to walk in peace

Posted: September 4, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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When asked what the purpose of Krav Maga was and what he hoped for his students, Imi Lichtenfeld Quoted as saying,

“so one may walk in peace.”

To us at UTKM, this means so much, in such a short sentence. As Einstein also famously said,

If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself

or more precisely, if you can’t explain it simply, you do not understand it. So for Imi to explain so much in so little means he really must have understood what he was doing.

To us walking in peace means you have balance and security in your life so that you can walk day to day knowing you have the knowledge and skill set to deal with anything life might throw your way.

The obvious to this is the physical. By attending Krav Maga classes you are literally learning the physical skills you need to know where you stand in a physical confrontation.

The less obvious is the mental aspect. Krav Maga can help train your mind and nervous system to become accustomed to stress so that when you are really stressed you are no so overwhelmed.

For some people taking classes is not enough, perhaps you are coming to learn the physical skills to overcome a past traumatic experience. If the class is not enough we of course always recommend you work with an appropriate mental health professional, and of course, with your permission, your Krav Maga instructor and mental health advisors can work together to help you become stronger.

walking in peace could also mean how you look and feel. While Krav Maga’s goal should never actually be fitness, it is certainly a secondary factor or any regular physical training. The more you train Krav Maga, the fitter and healthier you will be. This will, of course, make you feel better on the inside and be confident knowing you look better on the outside. No matter what your stance on such things, it is never wrong to be fitter and healthier.

So no matter your goals, know that the main goal is to teach you to have not just outer peace but also inner peace, albeit Krav Maga’s methodology is a little different than say meditating on a mountaintop for 10 years but they are effective none the less.

So ask your self, are you ready to walk in peace. If so, come, train, be consistent and you will be happier, healthier and know you have the ability to defend yourself both mentally and physically.

Create Space

Posted: August 28, 2018 by urbantacticskravmaga in Krav Maga Principles
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A Push Kick is one method of creating space

Creating space may be the difference between successfully defending yourself or unsuccessfully defending yourself. This is because of the concepts of Action vs Re-action in that action is always faster.

Creating space gives you time and time allows you to have more time to assess and make a better more appropriate reaction. After all, in our 3-dimensional world, don’t forget that time makes our 4th dimension and thus all movement whether it be action or reaction is dictated by such physics concepts. Who said you didn’t need to understand concepts like E=MC^2 but now at least you can make a connection with the practical application.

In the stages of self defense the order is important as the earlier in the stages there is more time and more space for better decision making but as you go down the scale there is usually less space and less time to react thus making it more difficult.

For example in avoidance (A) running or walking the other way will give you space. In Diffusion (D) stepping back with your hands up will create space, though be aware of whats behind you as stepping back might not always be an option. In pre-emptive self defense (PE) techniques will help create space but this may also escalate the scenario. Techniques such as the push kick, educational block or throat jab etc are things that will cause pain, off balance and disrupt enough to effectively create space in a quick manner. Of course, if creating space has only escalated the scenario and we have now gone into full Fight mode then we can no longer create space and as we go on the offense must maintain tight control to prevent the attacker from being able to use space to reset and go on the offensive.

Another way to discuss this is through grappling terms. If I am on the defensive, I need to create space to get to my feet (technical stand up) or create space using wedges and levers to re-guard. Contrary if I am on the offensive I need to take away space, while maintaining pressure and control to achieve my desired results.

Remember, if you can create space, so can the attacker. In the end, whoever acts the quickest with the best most effective strategy will come out on top most of the time. But at least if you have space you are more likely to make the correct decision.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again All in all Great video though.

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Saying you don’t want to learn to fight to a self Defense instructor is like saying you don’t want to learn at all. Empty your mind, then you will be ready to learn.

I know I have definitely talked about this before, so I don’t know why I am surprised this statement keeps coming up:

 

I want to learn self defense but I am not interested in fighting or learning to fight

Meteor hitting earth.jpgEvery time I hear this statement from a new student or someone eager to learn to defend themselves I want to smash my face against the desk so hard it causes a meteor to be knocked out of orbit and smash me and the surrounding area into nothingness because I’ve died a little more inside and lost even more faith in the human race.

Ok, enough of the melodramatic truth…

One of the biggest uphill battles faced by any legitimate Krav Maga instructor who is actually interested in teaching people to defend themselves is to ride their students and the public of all of their blatant misconceptions when it comes to violence, Use of Force, and Self Defense.

No, I am not here to teach you to be a ring fighter. No, I don’t want to you be a fighter for the sake of fighting. Yes, I am here to teach you to learn to defend your self. and YES!, I am going to teach you how to fight.

The worst is when people actually think they can learn to defend themselves without hurting other people. Or as I have been told by another instructor once in a while, when law enforcement or security agencies ask to learn defence techniques with no physical contact. Thankfully the later of the two never occurred to me otherwise the original melodramatic statement could have the meteor replaced by a black hole so large it could destroy the universe.

Can you tell when presented with the ideology that somehow fighting and self-defence are separate from each other is extremely frustrating to a legitimate Krav Maga Instructor?

Essentially a big part of Krav Maga is Aggression (though it is often wrongfully no thanks to Israeli attitude perceived as the only part) which is really about teaching you how to turn on the internal “fight” switch. Because the reality is, under stress, pressure, fatigue etc… techniques begin to fail and it is through aggression and your pure will to fight that will save you. And you cannot ever forget that.

Yet in many more “peaceful” cities like Vancouver were relative to other big cities there is very low rate of violence out in the open, people tend to get sheltered from the realities of violence. The people I have met from countries where violence is much more open or a day to day thing are far more ok with, and understanding with using violence to fight violence.

Truly, most normally wired human beings when put under duress will fight flight or freeze, and it is our goal to teach you to control and use the fight or flight mechanisms without activating the freeze. The reality is though the best self defence is to run, it is not always an option which leaves the Fight option.

So if you “don’t want to learn to fight” then you are going to have a very hard time learning to defend yourself. Because that fight mixed with training, skill and aggression is the only way you will every overwhelm a larger stronger opponent long enough to actually find your escape to live to survive another day. And in some more extreme violent cases, you might have to Fight so hard to overcome the attacker that you have to incapacitate or use lethal force because that is the only way to stop the threat.

So do you really think if you don’t want to fight you are going to defend yourself against a serious threat? I think you need to take your head out of the clouds or as the saying goes in Hebrew, Ata Chai B’Seret or you are living in a movie.

If you cannot overcome this belief of not wanting to learn to fight then perhaps you simply aren’t ready to actually learn to defend yourself by learning Krav Maga.