What is a victim
Is it a person who has been attacked and hasn’t survived? Is it also a person who has been attacked or abused several times? Is it a person who hangs their head low while walking down the street in a fear stricken and submissive state in anticipation of violence and abuse? Is it a person who looks a certain way, lives a certain way, talks a certain way? Is it a certain personality type, psychological or social profile, or is it a mindset, a perception of oneself? It’s hard to say really, if you ask most people a victim is everybody else but themselves.
Why am I on about this? Well, most of the time when I approach a person about taking personal protection classes, or more specifically a woman friend about one of our rape prevention seminars I always get the: “I don’t need cause it’ll never happen to me.” array of speeches. Whether they are referring to their lifestyle, hairstyle or who they know it seems that most women are impervious to the depravity of others. Lucky aren’t they? I also get, when speaking to more learned or spiritual people, the: “I don’t act like a victim, have that mindset or project that image.”, speech. Incredible the number of self-actualised people on the face of this earth. Please do not take my cynicism the wrong way. If I’m being sharp with my words it’s because I care, and because I understand the importance of safety for ourselves and our loved-ones.
So what is a victim? I believe it’s is a person, for one reason or another takes no responsibility for their actions or the actions of others that directly affect them. In essence it is the person that blames everyone else and has willingly given up their personal power and made themselves helpless to the world around them. Sound familiar yet? How about the person that says it’s not my fault, it’s because she said this and he said that. Or the person who believes that can’t do anything to change anything in their day or life because he or she controls this or that and therefore makes it impossible for me to do anything. It is that person that we hear whining incessantly about what this or that person has done to them, and how it’s not fair, life isn’t fair and if only things were different. Wait a minute, isn’t this all of us? Maybe not all the time but at some point or another in maybe our day, week, month, year or life we have each sounded like this. So are we in danger? You tell me. The only time we can be sure of what we feel, what we know and what we project is in the here and now. There is no way for any manner of person to know what their state of mind will be every minute of every day for the rest of their lives, and even more so where they happen to be at those minutes. What if you are walking down a deserted street, late at night, with your worst nightmare waiting around the corner when it so happens that you’re carrying yourself like a victim. Can you tell me beyond all certainty that this will never happen. Because if you know with certainty the things will and will not happen to you from this moment until you pass on, by all means please call me and tell when and if I’m winning the lottery, cause I could really use a new boat.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that when people get attacked for any reason that they have done anything wrong, or made some mistake. On the contrary, they were being what we all are and can never escape, human. So all those that are not human at this time may stop reading this piece and please refer to my extensive works of extra-terrestrial assaults and what not. Moving right along, when anyone decides to violate you in any way, never should you say you had it coming, or you deserved it, for it is their mistake, and just think what a mistake it will be if you have a plan of action.
But what of the attacker? Why attack you, what propels any human being to want to defile another, destroy another in some measure. Surely, you think I’m referring to a sociopath or run of the mill nut job rapist. But I’m not; I’m still talking about the same people who are victims now and again. Haven’t we all done or said hurtful things to others and especially loved ones. Haven’t we all screamed, yelled and berated the odd stranger, friend or sibling. Haven’t some of us raised our hands against these same people? I know I have, I’ve said things to people I love I wish I could have taken back seconds later or traded blows with a friend over something stupid, or picked on my little brother because he was just that, little. Am I a monster, were they all victims? Who knows?
But not to stray too far from the point let’s get back to why, I or any of you might behave this way. A very famous buzz word in the psychoanalysis and psychotherapy vernacular comes to mind, projection. By that I mean to take whatever feelings or perceptions we have about ourselves (good or bad) and projecting them onto another person, in effect holding them responsible for whatever our state of mind may be (funny where it seems this is going). There is also transference, where we superimpose certain dynamics of a relationship we may have with a certain person, onto another relationship because of similarities between each of these people. If light bulbs aren’t going off yet, let me coax your higher reasoning with an example: think of a person you don’t really know that well, that you hate, I mean that you can’t stand, that really irritates you, that you would like to see take a nasty fall only to double over laughing at this sight. Whether it’s your boss, a friend of a friend etc… Don’t be shy, now why does this person annoy you? Do they talk too loud, are they arrogant, do they never give you a straight answer or are they too brutally honest? Anything will do, I’m sure you can all think of at least one person, or at least a person you do like or love that gets on your nerves in one way or another. Now tell me why it makes you nuts that they are one way or another? In the case of the person you don’t know that well, how can you pass judgment on them, you know nothing about what makes them the way they are. What if you did? Would you be so hard on the person you may find arrogant if you knew that his parents had verbally abused him/her or their whole life, taking every opportunity to make them feel like nothing, convincing them they would amount to nothing. Now it’s understandable isn’t it, it’s acceptable, they are human too and have a right to be how they are (you moral consciousness might be telling you). So why did they get under your skin in the first place, it wasn’t personal, and they didn’t act like this just to piss you off did they? Could it be that whatever made you angry is within you, that you either saw within them an unresolved issue with a closer relationship, or an aspect of yourself you’re not comfortable with or in complete denial about? Maybe.
Let’s move away from my pontificating and use myself as an example. I have always disliked, or had trouble with emotional people. By that I mean people who can’t help but communicate every single feeling they have in a one minute time span, and who seem to, in that one minute experience a ridiculous variety of emotions. Yes, I may be exaggerating but just to make my point and I will freely admit that I am getting annoyed just thinking about it. I mean these people; every little thing is an event: they cry, the laugh, they scream a million times per day. JEEEEEEEESUS!!!! So why does it piss me off, because growing up, I wasn’t allowed to express what I felt, I was stifled, and as I grew I was told that as a man I had to be stoic and bottle everything I felt, never sharing or finding relief. If not, I would have failed those who had painted this image for me and this was most unbearable. As a result I thought that those that lived a 24hour drama were weak, selfish and I looked down on them. But as I grew older, and read enough books, spoke to enough people, I came to understand all this psychobabble I’m going on about, on different levels. But still, they piss me off. Because now, though I understood why they may be the way they are and me the way I am, I began to envy what they had that I couldn’t seem to achieve, the simple expressing of one’s emotions. So in reality, I was never angry with them, but with myself, I did only hurt them with my words or actions but myself as well. I watched Fahrenheit 9/11 the other day and a U.S. soldier, years younger than I, had understood this and said something I found remarkable; that every time we take life we kill a part of ourselves. Well isn’t it the same when we lash out at others?
So back to my initial point as to why a person may attack us, provoke us etc… Barring certain exceptions (only because I believe that all rules or statement of fact especially when opinionated has at least one exception). It could be that this person looks at you and on some level sees what they hate in themselves, and so they chose you, they project onto you: Maybe it’s because your tall, or you look like you have money, or simply your of a certain gender or race, and your attacker is going to take all the dissatisfaction they feel in their life at that moment and make you pay for it convinced you deserve it somehow. Sounds like a victim trying to make victims doesn’t it. When you think of a person antagonizing you, trying to escalate a situation like this they can become violent, on some level its like they want you to feel what they feel, like this they can take a good look at themselves in you eyes and then tear what they see apart. Richard once said in one of his articles that you have to take everything into consideration when approached in a hostile manner: where is this person coming from?
Does that imply compassion on some level for all manner of aggressor’s? Maybe. But remember that compassion for others can never come before self-love and by that I mean the appreciation for your existence and the subsequent will to preserve your life there from. Should we feel some measure of compassion for even the sickest, nastiest of criminals? I think so, especially after we hear how they got that way. Does that mean that it is up to us to save them and therefore allow our compassion not override the necessity to commit violence in order to protect ourselves?
ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! Do you think that by allowing any kind of attacker or abuser, get the better of you on any level, does them any favours, or encourages them to change their ways now that you have so freely given them your power, now that they have seen the wrong they’ve done? If that were the case, criminals worldwide would be handing themselves in to the police or seeking therapy en masse. Besides if most of us can hardly figure out what’s best for ourselves how can we possibly be qualified to know what’s best for others. It seems to me, in any event, that you show more compassion to them and yourself, defending yourself (whether by diffusing or if you have no choice, fighting) than by giving in to them; because you send that message to them and to yourself that it’s not okay for anyone to strip away your humanity so they don’t have to face themselves. Anything less, is self-hating at best.
I just want to conclude by saying that though I didn’t directly quote anyone other than one thing Rich said, I can’t take sole credit for the structuring of my opinions, many of the things I’ve said (if not all) have been said before. So let me say that this was inspired by the writings of people like Dostoyevsky, Carl Jung, Dan Millman, Thich Nhat Hanh and a host of others. But my true inspiration comes from the people in my everyday life who in many cases are wise and learned. So I thank my family, the people at Senshido, and my close personal friends (you know who you are).
Martial artists in general still don’t fundamentally understand the concept and extreme importance of pre contact psychology. It’s amazing to see forum after forum; message board after message board, all that is being discussed is ‘techniques’. Which technique is better, which techniques would you use against an armed attacker, multiple attackers, a grappler, a huge individual?
Bruce Lee said “The height of cultivation lies in its simplicity”. Simplicity works. During the adrenal stress stage, fine and complex motor skills perish. Complex motor skills only play an important role if you are the attacker or once you establish mental and physical dominance over your opponent. The more technique, dexterity, or practice is required the less likely a technique will function in a high stress situation against an enraged attacker.
Elaborate submissions, compliance techniques, certain locks, pressure points, high kicks all require a great deal of inner calm and a high level of skill which in turn requires decades of consistent training, all of which are luxuries we do not have when faced with extreme aggression at an inopportune time. Relying on gross motor skills and reflexive responses based on realistic training strategies will enhance any fighter’s tactical edge.
When a potentially violent confrontation arises, our parasympathetic nervous system picks up on it and our survival instinct kicks in leading our sympathetic nervous system to take over. We immediately evaluate the threat and proper personal protection requires that one trust their intuition. A presence of danger instilling sudden fear is where most people begin to visualize defeat, which in turn destroys one’s confidence regardless of their level of skill.
This is where most people lose the fight, the moment they begin to hesitate and doubt their skill, their training and themselves. This is where the psychological portion of a fighter’s arsenal comes into play. Fear and stress management, confrontation management and manipulation of human behavior skills, are all integral elements (more so than the physical) to a fighter. Never, ever undervalue the mental side of your training.
The communicative aspect of hand-to-hand combat is grossly undervalued by so called “martial artists” or “self defense experts”. Dialogue will highly influence most violent confrontations and street fights. As Dan Millman said, the conventions of language play an enormous role in the ways we view the world. Words are used to convey messages, which create images that affect an individual’s behavior and perceptions. Threats, profanity, challenges and other verbal attacks will affect one’s perceptions and response. How you’re spoken to and how you mentally perceive the way you are spoken to will have an impact on your physical responses.
How you feel in that moment will alter those perceptions as well. Are you having a good day, bad day, are you ill, did your best friend just pass away in a car accident? Are you one hundred percent healthy etc?
Dialogue will also alter the fighting range you are in. (For example: an individual stares you down, suddenly, he approaches you and asks you “What the fuck are you staring a?” then he pushes you…). Using the simple example we just gave; our attacker went from kicking to Boxing to trapping range using a verbal initiator to enter to the physical confrontation range.
This all becomes critical information to the complete fighter if he is to fully develop his combative arsenal. Verbal defusing strategies, choice speech, congruous behavior and de-escalation tactics are used to defuse the confrontation or “set up” the attacker for an effective physical retaliation.
Using the body’s natural survival reflexes that include flinching, ducking, spontaneous blocking, develop your physical retaliation principles based on whatever position you ended up in. This way, the impulse of your reaction is a reflexive response making it the quickest and most natural response because its nucleus is your reflex. Look at what you instinctively do without training, and then work your combative tactics from there. Your spontaneous and natural options will be faster developed without any stylistic interference.
Your combative arsenal must coincide with your behavioral and psychological arsenal so that your entire being (mind, emotions, body and spirit) fully cooperates in the total defense of the self. Since defusing and de-escalating through negotiation is our secondary objective (secondary because the primary objective is avoidance through awareness and intuition), the physical arsenal must emerge from natural and non-violent stances allowing for deception and spontaneous retaliation without telegraphing your intent.
To fully understand “mind” one must research the mental side of confrontations and how the human mind works on our perceptions. To fully understand “body”, one must understand how the “mind” interprets and perceives things and how that plays with our “emotions” and in turn, affects our physical presence.
The sum of the whole “mind, body, emotions” in turn work together or apart to form the spirit. If the three are in tuned then the spirit is at peace; if they are not then there is havoc on the spirit. Einstein once said that if we can continuously have the “mind body and emotions” working as one then we are in “heaven”, but if the mind is in turmoil and the emotions react to that turmoil then the body follows and we are in “hell”. James O’barr went on to describe it as such: “We do not recognize our souls until they are in pain.”
How unfortunately true.
Back to the physical side: knowing thousands of moves and techniques will create major problems in the natural flow of spontaneity during a real life extreme violent attack. In real life, it’s the surprise or “sucker” attack which counts. All other confrontations are not entirely “real” personal protection/self defense situations since they allow for some sort of preparation.
If it isn’t a “sucker punch” (by sucker punch we refer to any attack that catches you off guard completely) then you somehow participated in the escalation of the attack. In which case you have to take into consideration the more dangerous moments of a confrontation, such as extreme stress or fatigue when your cognitive thought process and hand eye coordination aren’t functioning one hundred percent. This is where reflexive responses pay off the most.
Understanding and using reflexive responses will allow one to spontaneously react, maximizing their perception time and minimizing their reaction time since there is no memorization involved since the skills are forever with you. The defense mechanism is imbedded within your reflexes. In turn it will give you more faith in your discipline, combat abilities and confidence level.
Mythology, Mysticism and Martial Arts – Part 2
It's amazing what people are willing to believe without seeing, willing to believe what they hear and willing to believe it all without experiencing. You cannot build a reputation on what you are going to do. Theoretical fighters are just that. Foundations built on words.
A friend of mine who works the midnight shift in security at Burger King in the heart of the city has survived countless violent confrontations. He's 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs no more than 145 pounds (66 kilos). He's faced multiple attackers and armed attackers. He has no black belts, he's no master nor does he teach any kind of martial art… yet he can teach a thing or two to and wipe the floor with most of the martial arts instructors in the greater Montreal area including those who preach "street wise".
However, being a great or experienced fighter doesn't automatically state that you are a good teacher either. One must also possess teaching skills in order to properly and accurately transmit the information accordingly. Sugar Ray Leonard who was a world champion and pound for pound at the time, the greatest Boxer of his era turned to teaching and coaching once retired. He never produced a champion. He was not capable of transmitting his knowledge and ring experience to others.
There's something I don't get. What's with the scams? What's with all the ego battles? What's with the "I'm the best in the world and could kill 73.5 men in 0.002 seconds using only my pinkie while blindfolded and intoxicated under water"?
Do these people seriously think that they can teach the entire planet on their own once the entire planet realizes that they are truly the best and everyone else sucks? Why don't we see this kind of ego crap in ballroom dancing or Tennis? Because the frail martial artists have to hide their insecurity of the fact that they can't really fight or defend themselves by boosting their false bravado and embellishing their resumes and credentials with such crap as the examples mentioned above. Sounds harsh? It is. I am not generalizing nor am I condemning the qualified hard working instructors who are truly trying to make a difference in this world by giving people the gift of confidence, personal protection and/or a traditional style with values and philosophy.
The con artists, charlatans, masters of verbal diarrhea and money hungry fraudulent make it very difficult for the proficient and qualified to get their teachings across. After all, whom are you going to believe?
There are a handful of qualified teachers, masters, instructors and coaches out there both in the traditional realm and eclectic circles. They are hard to find among the wannabes and charlatan's as the latter use the same lingo and marketing tools to promote themselves as the qualified do. Be weary of marketing scams and promotional tools. Seek not the self-promoted schools but rather those with experience, look at the students the school has provided and not so much the instructor's skills verbally spewing their curriculum.
If there's a skip in beat between the upper paragraph and this one, it's because a guy and his buddy just walked into my school as I was writing this, asking for information. I decided to write about this because I was fascinated by the ignorance (Ignorance: lack of knowledge on a given subject) and stupidity (Stupidity: a conscious restraint of knowledge imparted with the ignorant) of the two individuals and it is pretty much on the topic of what I have been discussing thus far.
One of these clowns had trained in wudokan kung fu for a year and a half and was looking for more sparring experience since in a few traditional arts, sparring is rather limited. He arrogantly stated that one of his friends had come into my school years back and put one of my guys down.
Now, I don't like getting into this game of who's genitals are bigger than who's but if I had a penny for every idiot who put me down I'd have a home in Switzerland and a Mercedes 500SL parked in my San Fernando mansion.
I proceeded on clarifying this matter by informing this gent of the errors of his statement and we continued talking. After telling me how effective his style is, and I just don't believe unless I see for myself, I took a wooden knife and placed it at his carotid artery demanding his money. I asked him what he would do in such a case. He proceeded on trying to grab my arm in a downward swooping motion to which I immediately slit his throat. I asked him to try again. Same result. He said there's nothing anyone could do when the knife is that close, so I obliged him to hold the knife up at my neck. After a subtle psychological distraction, I disarmed him and simulated ripping his eyes out in one flowing move.
He was stunned. I had him try again and again. 5 times in total to which I disarmed him every time while simulating ripping his eyes out of his skull. His brilliant friend (Brilliant: in this case, sarcastically stated implying "No s#$% Sherlock!") then gets a stroke of genius and says "But your messing his mind with words first". I wish I could have nominated this fu#!%ng Einstein for a Nobel prize for the incredible level of intelligence he had just displayed.
I then let him try to disarm me again, 4 more failures. Then… then the excuses began to flow freer than a natural spring river as it thaws from the winter's grasp (damn poetic don't you think?). Here they are, word for word. "If this was real I would have…" "If you wanted my money, well, I would have pretended to give it to you and then… blah blah blah." "Point being", I told him, "you can give me all the excuses in the world pal, in reality, your blood would be spewing out your neck and you'd be talking to God".
After what seemed like he understood, I told him to take a wooden knife and place it at his wudokan instructor's neck and slice the charlatan's neck as soon as he moved aggressively. I believe he was finally convinced in the end because he said he was going to be back to take some private instruction. His Einstein friend however, well, bright boy might be a deterrent to his coming back because every hero who doesn't walk their talk unfortunately continue to walk and talk.
Why did I tell you this story? Because it unfortunately illustrates allot of what goes on in the martial arts world. Because I've seen and heard the above story umpteen times in thousands of variations. Because, amazingly enough, even after physically disproving these individuals, they still think they're right. Because a professional Thai Boxer walked into my school once and challenged me to a no holds barred match because he was convinced that Thai Boxing was the most street effective art. I left him semi conscious lying on the floor in his own drool after approx. one and a half minutes of the fight in front of 22 of my students and my father. This guy, after wiping the drool off his face, had the unbelievable gall to say he still thought he was better. I asked him if he wanted to try again and he declined. I wonder why?
Because a Tae Kwon Do Olympics candidate insisted he could use his art successfully in the street and that he could beat me easily. Because I choked this Tae Kwon Do expert out 6 times in a row, 4 of which we were still standing after every single time he said "I wasn't ready". Because you're always 100% prepared and ready for a surprise attack in the street. Because 2 months later, a guy who's in my school asking for information tells me how a Tae Kwon Do buddy of his beat me in my school. I couldn't help but laugh when I later that week saw him cycling on a stationary bike in the Gym above my school. I walked up to him and asked him about that time he beat me loud enough for everyone within a 5-foot distance from us could hear. The guy turned white and said that his friend made that up. I asked him if he was sure and that we could go again right now, right here and have it videotaped. He declined. I wonder why?
A year later, I get a call from a friend of mine who's at a restaurant and hears this cook bragging to all the waiters that he beat me in my own school. I rush over there and low and behold; whom do I find shooting his mouth off once again? Same Tae Kwon Do guy. So, I walk over to him and ask him to recount the story again in front of the waiters and this time around, the waiters hear a different version. He goes on saying that Tae Kwon Do and Senshido are just different and none is better or worse. Fair and true enough when taken in the context that a Senshido practitioner fighting in a Tae Kwon Do tournament following the Tae Kwon Do rules would get his ass kicked and that a Tae Kwon Do practitioner would get his butt whipped in a real street fight. But the waiters aren't satisfied, they go on to tell me that Mr. TKD was bragging about kicking my butt which he automatically denied in front of me and the waiters. That was enough for me, so I left him there looking like an idiot coward in front of his peers.
What do you call someone who claims the world is flat and is shown scientific evidence that it 's round but he still insists it's flat? Faithful? Stupid? What?
If and when someone beats me or shows me different I will embrace the new found knowledge and add it to my repertoire (as I have before). This is not about ego; it is about truth, knowledge, experience and saving lives. I know what we do works not because someone told me it did and I blindly accepted it but because I have seen it work. I have used it myself and I have countless testimonials of those who have successfully used it to defend themselves in potential rapes, armed muggings, bar fights, security situations and much more.
I do not claim to know everything nor do I claim to be the best and have the best system around, I'm not, there are many excellent instructors out there and I am still learning. Senshido is in constant development and state of progression. It is not the same system it was 5 years ago or 2 years ago for that matter. But we, like many others out there are on the right track. So research what you're getting into and make sure you are getting what you want. But don't let yourself be diluted by manipulative salesmen and charlatans who are out for your hard earned money.
Train intelligently and diligently.
Mythology, Mysticism and the Martial Arts – Part 1
Currently, the world is plagued with tens of thousands of fraudulent self-proclaimed masters of martial arts, hand to hand combat and self-defense experts. For the most part, these are charlatans taking advantage of people's fears and insecurities, their desires to emulate their heroes on the silver screen and their need for empowerment. The cause of this unfortunate state of the arts is commercialism. The media. By the time the Asian martial arts exploded into the US in the late 1950's early 60's, they had become so exploited and distorted that they had no bearings of resemblance to the true arts. They had merely become commercialized clones, and bad ones at that.
To make it in North America, one cannot get by on talent alone… you have to be a salesman. Marketing will get the students. And so, the con-artists were born. For example: There's a commercial Karate school in New York City that advertises that it doesn't take everyone who applies, but if you read between the lines you'll find that they only take those with money.
Then there are the ones who have mastered the art of verbal diarrhea. John F. Gilbey writes in his book "The Way of a Warrior" (although the book should be taken with a grain of salt as more of an entertainment piece of literature rather than educational, it does offer some valuable insight) about a mantis boxer who allegedly can throw a soccer ball into the air and before it hits the ground, can put his fist through it (yes, a fully inflated one). Or the guy from Syracuse who printed up a bunch of business cards stating how deadly he is after completing a 20-hour course in something or other. Called in the street once, he reaches into his back pocket to get his wallet so he can give his attacker a card, and the guy used this convenient moment to drop a right cross and knock the guy out flat on his ass.
Even the so-called qualified have resorted to stupidity. Aikido master M. Mochizuki from Paris told how a 3rd dan in Judo surprised a saber-armed burglar in his pad and warned him of his devastating power and rank in Judo. Apparently, the burglar was so scared he lunged at the Judo master and cut off his arm.
At a no holds barred event I attended with a few of my students in 1995, we had run into a group who was competing. This group, were practitioners of pressure point debilitation techniques. I looked at them and chuckled much to their dismay, which immediately prompted a demonstration. One of these jokers (a black belt no less) picks one of my students to demonstrate on. He then goes into a 10 minute prep, lifting my student's left arm all the while searching for that mystical point that would supposedly leave my student a paraplegic. He then finds it (after at least 4 failed attempts no less) to which my student wiggles away begging him to stop because it tickled. Needless to say, they didn't do too well at the competition.
It is said that some masters, with their bare hands, no doubt… can penetrate a human's epidermis or chest cavity and extract from them the heart or intestines. Does someone here watch too many movies while smoking grass through a vodka filtered Arabic pipe?
It is impossible folks. Have the next con artist who tries to feed you this horse shit attempt to spear his way through a slab of beef or deer carcass thrown up against a wall or hanging off a meat hook. The only thing he'll manage to do is break every finger in his hands.
Another Karate master claims to have beaten bulls in the ring. Yep. Bulls. In Spain, during the real bullfights, they never, ever let the same bull fight twice. The animal learns too quickly and would make porridge out of the bullfighter. Not to mention the fact that the bullfighter is armed, the bull slowly bleeds to death by way of stabbing and is finally killed with a sword; definitely not with bare hands. If you ever hear of an event where a man fights a bull barehanded, put your $$$ on the bull.
There's a guy in the mid west who used to call himself a "4 skull master", he calls himself that because he allegedly keeps the 4 skulls of the men he killed up over his mantle.
How about the 20 year old 7th degree black belts? How about the black belts in Chinese Boxing? (Since when did the Chinese give black belts?) Nowadays any Chinese or Asian individual can claim he's a master on his nationality alone and presto, everyone believes him. What is up with that? Then there's the black belt who claims he fought in 3 or 4 death matches, when allegedly asked if he lost any he apparently looked puzzled.
I know of a local (Montreal) martial arts "master" who jumped for joy the day he got 3rd place in a kata championship. There were 4 competitors including him. He now proudly displays his trophy at his school. Another local fellow claims he has the fastest hands in the world and advertises that his system is considered to be the most effective system taught in Montreal. When called and asked what he based this on, this pillar of virtue stated that it was his opinion.
A Tae Kwon Do expert in Bristol jumped over 8 men smashing 4 one inch boards and shattered the dojo door landing, on his feet none the less, outside in the alley.
Pick up martial arts magazines, flip through the advertisements, you'll find such garbage as "Devastating secret fighting techniques of the Russian armies", "Learn to hit a man 15 times in 11 seconds", "Secret military Navy Seals combat tactics now revealed to civilians" These are actual ad titles... *sigh*
Then you've got the almighty internet. Since technology advanced and we got access to the world through a 15 to 17 inch screen in the privacy of our homes, the myriads of then unknown masters, killer street fighters and martial kings have emerged. These are known as keyboard or internet warriors. They are everywhere, usually armed with a Hotmail or Yahoo account and an anonymous name proclaiming their experiences and mastery of combat yet no one has ever seen them or heard of them before. They are on every forum at all hours of the day and night with hundreds of posts and aliases preaching their mantra to whomever will listen. They claim experience and high degree of combative abilities yet they are on the internet 20 hours a day 7 days a week. When do they train? When do they research? When do they have the time for anything?
I've met and encountered countless "experts" who have never been in nor witnessed for that matter, a real fight. Yet, they are teaching fighting systems. One particular guy, who preaches to teach a streetwise system, has never been in a real street fight. His system is solely based on theory and research but absolutely no practicality. He goes as far as saying, to back up the fact that he's never fought, that it doesn't matter since most of the famous Boxing coaches in the world never fought either but produced such great champions as Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leanord.
The simple fact that Boxing is a sport with rules, rounds and referees seems to have slipped his mind. Sports with rules can be easily learned under the parameters and limitations of their faction. Reality poses a much vaster range of gray area that only experience can make one truly understand. Knowledge is simply information understood, experience is information applied.
Not to say that research alone cannot produce a wealth of information. But when dealing with life and death, would you rather be operated on by a doctor who "knows" what he's doing and is operating for the first time or by a doctor who's performed at least 50 successful operations prior?
Take the likes of Sammy Franco, Geoff Thompson, Gavin DeBecker, The Gracies… these men teach from research and experience. I myself have been involved in numerous confrontations, both through unfortunate timing, I.e. wrong place, wrong time, involving myself to help another in need and through work.
I understand fear and stress. I'm very familiar with the rage attack. I know the effects of drugs and alcohol on the frail male ego. I learned the hard way what Marc MacYoung refers to as, if I remember correctly, "The poker ante" (sorry if I misquoted ya Marc!) where both parties have too much invested in the ego battle and inevitably, the weapon comes out and then it's too late to back down. I understand through experience what the first shove of a fight is. I know the dynamics of a knife attack. I know the feeling of a blade cutting my skin, a broken bottle opening up my face, I've worked with ex-street gang members and have been tested by them on a number of occasions; I know how they work. Compiled with all that, I've trained in the martial arts for over 26 years. I have had the pleasure to work, train and learn from many innovators, fighters, philosophers and teachers. My experience combined with my research speaks for itself.
Oh, and one more thing... many experts who've never 'been there and done that' will state that if you have fought than you don't know how to defuse or de-escalate a situation and therefor have no business teaching self defense... I disagree. Here's why. That is a very myopic and judgmental statement. There are those who are victims of racial violence because of where they live and have too physically fight to defend their very lives almost daily. There are those who work in high-risk environments. To simply pass judgment without knowing all the facts is ignorance. Not to say that there isn’t trouble makers and bullies out there but don’t pass judgment until you’re equipped with all the facts.
Another thing is, as a trained fighter we pick up on subtleties that regular folk don’t pick up on. Intention to action... the pre contact phase of an assault in the making. Once that is picked up on, any Good Samaritan would immediately intervene and come to the aid of the defenseless or potential victim. This will put us in an immediate confrontation, which cannot necessarily always be defused. To be an 'expert' in our field and not see these signs, well, then you're not truly an expert... to see them and ignore them makes them socially irresponsible. To deny the fact they exist and simply state 'those who've been there and done that look for trouble' is either a statement of clear misinformation and lack of experience or a downright lie to excuse the fact that they have no experience of their own... so... you make the call.
Probable Worst Case Scenarios
Here's an ugly scenario; you are out with friends, you are assaulted, and out of your group of three, you are the only one versed in self-protection… Ouch! This is a very likely scenario.
Here's another one just as ugly; 3 of you, separated when the proverbial poop hits the oscillating turbine, you are taking care of business, the problem is: your bud is not, and is about to get shanked from behind. He is stunned and you need him to turn around.
You want more? I knew it! You can escape, so can your bro… the problem is, bro # 3 is down… you have to think up and implement a strategy in a matter of seconds to execute a "combat rescue" so you can get him help.
More? You are trying to get home from the middle of a riot or a massive rumble. Your friends and you get separated… Yada yada yada…
On the battlefield, communication is paramount. Infantries, artilleries, air support cannot operate without it. The street is a micro version of this. It is inevitable, if more than one guy gets jumped, communication between the 2 or more, can play a large factor in your survivability. Imagine if the others are untrained, you are baby sitting, trying to get them out alive…. Wow… what are the chances without the proper training?
This is part of the challenges of surviving a street set up. Shit… one more thing to learn, to program… you are right! It never stops. The people you socialize with are all upstanding citizens (I hope) and, despite that fact, they might or might not share your ideas, beliefs and values regarding self-preservation. Maybe for some, self-preservation is a karate class at the local YMCA while for others; SD training is futile since it "does not happen to people like them". Bottom line is: You will have to assume leadership instantly. Ruffling feathers is not a concern. Being sensitive and apologetic will waste valuable time… you owe no explanation to anyone; the situation dictates that you take charge immediately.
After asserting yourself as the instantaneous leader, just like putting the mask on yourself before your child in an airplane, you need to tactically position yourself so you can act and do the job of saving your butt and your friend's DESPITE him/herself. Tangles at this point are your worst nightmare, grappling; any position forcing you to "tunnel" in on your opponent is to be avoided. You need, at this point, the ability to deal with your immediate threat, while diffusing your detection systems (sight, auditory) onto the scene of the altercation.
As a "general" at this point, there is no grey… It is black or white. You can't afford to guess / assume / hope / wish etc… If you have to direct people, it is an order and vocalized as such. The "order" has to be acted upon instantaneously. Be forceful. Hesitation on your part will breed hesitation on theirs. Do not waste time on justifications, explanations and such.
Your goal is escape, plain and simple… bottom line. If more than 2 people, make sure you don't leave anyone behind (Obvious ain't it? Not when knee deep however, this is a classic common occurring fuck up). If a member of your group is uninvolved, involved them! They might not fight but they can dial, run or get help!
Man do these scenario ever suck. After securing your group, keep them together, survey… is anyone hurt? Nobody leaves the group without checking with you. The last thing you need is to have to go fetch "John" who went back to teach them a "lesson".
The choice to wait for law enforcement is yours. Do not wait if the scene is not secure. Wow, all this is overwhelming… imagine if firearms are deployed? Or just toss a few weapons like bats, chains, bottles etc…
"That's fine muthafako, but how the hell will I train for that?" Easy… scenario replication training!
Scenario replication training is a great way to test your tactical confidence. It permits you to pressure test your skills on an emotional / psychological and physical level. Your training should prepare you for worst-case scenario. It's imperative to not 'act' but to instead 'be' yourself in the moment you created without anticipation, without prior thought except to the ones natural for the moment created.
Where does your mind naturally wander and what does your body want to do naturally in that moment, then bind your combative strategies to that moment. Your workouts must always duplicate a combative situation even when weight training, you must weight train for functional strength as opposed to simply building 'mirror muscle'. Consider the work out's association on a psychological and emotional level to your goals. Everything you do has to have a philosophical reason behind it or else you are strictly 'working out' the body. In order for the training to be efficient on all levels, it needs to take into consideration all variables.
Sparring in separate ranges such as grappling, boxing, kickboxing and even mixed martial arts sparring are but physical tool developers and are definitely a necessity, however, they are but a means to an end. Scenario replication is the totality which allows you to explore the emotional, psychological and physical links together.
Train intelligently and diligently
Marc Ste. Marie & Richard Dimitri
Freedom from the Limitations of ‘Styles and Systems’
"Once the combative mind frees itself of the obstructions from necessity (primarily caused by the fixation with technique), it will evolve to its highest state of absorption and enhance its moment to moment capabilities with refined accuracy. The 'fight' from its earliest point, to its state of incompleteness is so vast that any attempts at locking onto specifics deludes our chances of survival from the minimal... to the extreme."
- Richard Dimitri
This was part of a reply I gave someone on my forum a while back. I got several emails telling me how profound and enlightening these words were to some and others asked me to explain the quote to them.
Let's take the first part of the quote and work from there.
"Once the combative mind frees itself of the obstructions from necessity (primarily caused by the fixation with technique), it will evolve to its highest state of absorption and enhance its moment to moment capabilities with refined accuracy."
The majority of combative systems today, traditional and modern alike rely either solely on or 90% of the time on physical tactics. It's either about grappling or striking, or about which 'technique' is most efficient under which attacks etc.
When the fight isn't bound by rules, codes or previous agreements such as sparring or athletic events, then human behaviour becomes the primary source in which information is filtered. The state of mind in which the individual is in at the moment, based on the time and events of the day or week's occurrences, will have a predominant effect in his reactions in that moment.
We cannot change an individual's core behavioural components but it is possible to activate quicker tactical reactions to behaviourally rooted situations. 'Freeing the combative mind' of necessities implies being open to spontaneous improvisation. Each element of a confrontation will require a different tactic.
For instance, fighting or defending against an unarmed man requires different tactical implementations then fighting or defending yourself against two armed men. If you possess but a solidified technical response then you will be consistently prompted by your 'mind' to perform that response whether the situation calls for it or not. If the situation presented happens to be outside of your combative comfort zone then you possibly may either freeze up or radically fail at successfully defending yourself.
When sparring or competing, we are in a 'prepared' state of mind. When exiting a funeral of a loved one who passed away at a sudden early age, we are not. If unfortunately confronted during such a traumatic event, our state of mind and perception time will be much slower and more difficult to shift. Anger may inevitably take over but it won't be controlled. Emotional inertia will have an impact on both your mental state and physical retaliation.
For example, a Russian martial arts expert was walking his wife home one evening in NYC from the subway when muggers killed him. "Oleg Bosenko, 38, used his martial arts training to kick the gun from one thug's grasp and scuffled with the man, but the thief's female partner reacted quickly. She didn't hesitate as she blasted the hard-working immigrant with two shots from her own .380-caliber pistol, police said."
No doubt had it been a one on one situation, this man would have probably survived. It was his training that was faulty. His immediate reaction was a physical one fuelled by emotional inertia rather than tactical thinking. His awareness failed him, he had no pre-contact psychological skills, and there was no attempt at defusing or de-escalating the situation. His physical arsenal failed him. His situational awareness also failed him. His intuition however, was right on because (as the story explained) he walked his wife home all the time due to the very fact that he was concerned about something ever happening to her.
In a nutshell, if you're fixating or limited within the factions of a 'style' or 'system', anything that happens outside that realm will not necessarily be handled properly. Majority of these sport systems do not take into consideration behavioural elements or tactical awareness.
It's not about a take down, an arm bar, a choke, a kick or a 3-punch combination, techniques are INCIDENTAL. Emotional inertia and behavioural filtration are the delivery system that allows these technical applications to succeed. The wrong tool at the wrong time can get you killed.
We're not talking about the drunk at the local watering hole either. A fight is just a fight, you win, you lose, an ego is bruised, a nose is broken, and it's over. This is the commonness that creates presumption that sport combat is fully functional... under these types of 'common' situations, sport combat is highly functional. But what if the level has been upped a couple of notches?
Majority of sports fighters will state the impossibility of defense against such situations. I really like what Paul wrote on Sammy's forum regarding that issue. He made reference to Cicero's 6 mistakes of man, one of them which states that insisting that something is impossible just because YOU cannot accomplish it. It really irks me when people impose their failures and limitations onto others... "If I can't do it, no one can." This is the statement of a loser, plain and simple. If every innovator, creator, scientist etc. believed these losers then we'd still be in the dark ages. Thank God some people don't adopt other people's failures as their own.
Let's examine the second part of the quote.
"The 'fight' from its earliest point, to its state of incompleteness is so vast that any attempts at locking onto specifics deludes our chances of survival from the minimal... to the extreme."
As stated above, a fight isn't purely a physical phenomenon, it is one that involves psychological warfare, emotional contingencies, tactical and situational awareness as well as intuitiveness and an ability to read the 'future' based on an accurate perception of the past and present.
A 'fight' per say, only ends when both parties agree that it is over and that bygones will be bygones. Other than that, the 'fight' or situation isn't necessarily over. Even if you killed your opponent. For example: An acquaintance I used to go to college with had gotten in a fight outside a bar. He and three of his friends beat a Vietnamese guy to a pulp. Once the man was completely incapacitated, they left him out cold lying in his bloody mess outside the club and called it a night. A few months later, my acquaintance was walking out of a movie theatre with his girlfriend, walking hand in hand. The Vietnamese guy he beat up month prior was also there and recognized him. This time however, the Vietnamese guy pulled a knife out, rushed my acquaintance and his girlfriend from behind and began stabbing them both in the back several times then ran off. My acquaintance survived but had to spend a number of weeks in the hospital. His girlfriend didn't. His girlfriend passed away because of a fight he got into a few months earlier. His mistake was assuming the fight was over the night he beat the guy up.
There are several questions one has to ask himself after a fight.
Will my opponent seek revenge?
If I kill him in self-defense, will his family, friends seek revenge?
Is my opponent 'connected'? Does he have 'friends' in high places?
Were there witnesses? If so, what did they see?
Will charges be placed against me?
Do I know what my legal rights are?
Do I know what to say and what not to say to a LEO, a lawyer, a judge, a jury?
Do I already have a criminal record? How can it be used against me?
The answers to these questions are crucial and require strategic implementation. If you survived the encounter and no LE was involved afterwards, there are several steps that need to be taken. For one, elevating ones state of awareness to code red for at least 3 months. Avoiding the neighbourhood and/or surroundings where the encounter took place. Making a few changes to your look (growing or cutting hair, growing or shaving facial hair, not wearing the particular clothes or similar looking clothes that were worn on the day of the encounter - nothing that could trigger a memory of the evening to your opponent). Paying closer attention to anyone or anything out of place (profiling people and environments).
This may sound paranoid but I bet you my acquaintance would have loved to know this information back then. Hindsight is always 20/20.
Imagine the following: You're out with your girlfriend (fiancé, wife) and this guy starts to hit on her in front of you. She politely declines and he insists, saying "Why don't you leave this fag and come with me so I can show you what a real man is like." And he shoves you off your stool where you lose your balance and fall to the floor. You get back up and confront him and before you can go pre-emptive, his friend grabs you from behind and beat the crap out of you to the point where you need re-constructional surgery.
Would you not seek revenge? Most would. Especially the high ego, insecure type (you know the type… most men).
Each and every physical altercation whose roots aren't sport oriented has a pre-contact stage, a physical stage and lingering aftermath. One must be prepared for all 3 eventualities. As a reality based system, at Senshido, the first thing we do is help redefine an individual's belief system into one that is more congruous to their objectives of survival. We then impart them with the necessary skills (profiling, situational and environmental awareness, intuitive radar, pre contact cues and indicators, tactical threat assessments etc.) to avoid a potential threat or confrontation. Then we arm them with pre-contact psychology (fear and stress management, adrenal stress condition, physiological and biological results, enhancing perception time, decreasing reaction time, etc.) in order not to necessarily move 'faster' than the opponent, but earlier. The third step is the physical portion; we cover all ranges of combat (contrary to popular belief, we're not all about eye gouges and groin strikes). We rely heavily on athletic ability, conditioning the students through functional combative strength training. We cover tool and target development in the kicking, boxing, close quarter combat, grappling and ground fighting game. I separate grappling and ground fighting because you can grapple standing up. All the ranges are then worked together through (if I may quote Matt Thornton here) 'alive' drills, sparring and scenario based training.
I fundamentally believe in Matt's approach at training 'alive'. If you're not sweating, bleeding, invoking stress on a physical, psychological and emotional level in your training, then you are not training for reality. The last step (not necessarily in training time but for explanation purposes) is to teach them the legalities of their actions. It is important to look at the legal, moral and ethical aspects of self-preservation as you don't want to end up being someone's bitch in prison because you put some drunk in a coma through excessive force.
All these elements are pieces of a complete puzzle. When it comes to survival, you don't want to have a chink in your armour.
Train diligently and intelligently.
To Shred or not to Shred…
Since the term Shredder was coined, it has raised many eyebrows. The most common mistake made regarding this concept is that it is a technique or a set pattern of sequential moves that can be trained like a boxing combo. It isn't.
Let me clarify a few misconceptions regarding the Shredder. For one, although I have been accused of doing so… I have never stated that it is the end all or be all of personal protection training, not at all actually. I would like to state however, that every single individual who has 'experienced' the Shredder first hand both on an offensive and defensive level, have made it their choice conceptual tool. If I, or anyone swears by it, then it is our choice and our prerogative. Nowhere do I force it upon anyone; you want it, we'll teach it to you, you don't, no worries, it's all good. When I speak of 'experiencing' the Shredder first hand, I don't mean reading about it on a forum, a magazine, an article, or even viewing it on a tape for that matter.
Very simply stated, if you like the Shredder and it works for you, then by all means, use it. If you've experienced it and it didn't work for you, then by all means, don't use it.
Let me tell what you the Shredder is not: It is not a technique. It is not a pattern of sequential moves or a combination of any sorts. It is not a tool you decide to use at anytime of your choosing. It is not this millennium's new 'Straightblast'.
The Shredder's forte is not in it's technical retaliatory properties, it isn't about how it breaks a nose, gouges out an eye or breaks a jaw. The Shredder's forte is in its psychological traumatic abilities. It is designed to completely disorientate and unbalance (both on a physical and psychological level) an opponent. Once in motion, each improvised tool based on your opponent's reactionary movements will find their mark rapidly and savagely. Your opponent will literally have no time whatsoever to react except reflexively by attempting to do whatever is in his power to just not be there. This is largely due to the fact that the timing between each choice retaliatory tool is based on less than a half beat. Each choice tool is delivered in a fluid (flow like manner) on a quarter beat.
Imagine for a moment, sticking your face in the propeller of a helicopter in full motion… this is akin to being Shredded (metaphorically speaking of course). The beauty of the Shredder is that it can also be applied with minimal force and cause little or no injury and still be effective at subduing your opponent as it will maintain its disorienting and unbalancing features. Once in motion, the Shredder cannot be stopped or countered or intercepted by the said opponent.
I have personally done the following demo, live, dozens of times (matter of fact, it can be seen in our Get R.E.A.L. video series) where I give a participant a real blade and tell him to put it in his pocket and pull it out at anytime to stab me with it as soon as we enter the clinch zone. As the Shred begins, it is impossible for the opponent to do anything else except try and get away. Why? Because the Shredder bypasses all cognitive processing and causes instant panic and havoc. It bypasses your opponent's reflexive response and flinch mechanism due to the repetitive onslaught.
The Shredder uses tools from a spontaneous barrage of gross motor skills where the targets are manifested by your attacker's panicked attempt at defensive disengagement. It gives you a 'ghosting' (A term I borrowed from Sammy Franco) type of effect because while Shredding, you completely and totally overwhelm the individual while at the same time shifting out of his power-box leaving you virtually risk free of being struck.
The Shredder can shift you from close quarter combat to grappling with ease if you so desire. It is a perfect companion to a grappler's tool box especially when using the said range in a real fight as in coincides with any and all close quarter application type combat I.e. grappling, ground fighting, close quarter combat, and even in close boxing.
What tools are utilized in a Shred? Any and every tool at your disposal during a high stress situation. (I mention 'high stress' because all fine motor skills during a perceived threat and imminent danger are unusable due to the bypassing of the cognitive brain by the mid brain). Gross motor tools include: spitting, biting, hair pulling, clawing, raking, elbowing, kneeing, head butting, palm striking, neck cranking, rear naked chokes, etc. etc.
How do you practice the Shredder? With a training partner. The only inanimate object remotely useful to train solely the physical portion of the Shredder on is the BOB Dummy. Heavy bags, focus mitts, etc. don't do it. Since tactile sensitivity is a primary principle of the Shredder and you grossly rely on reactions, solo training the Shredder becomes for the most part… obsolete. You can however shadow Shred if you're visual enough a person to do so, this will however focus more on biomechanical application.
So… is the Shredder 'the best' thing you can do? Is it 'unbeatable'? Is there anything better out there? It depends on whom you ask. For many, including myself, it is a concept that has yet to fail. I have personally used it in almost every violent confrontation I have encountered that turned physical and it worked exactly the way I described it. So for me, I have yet to find something that suits me as well. It may not be for everyone as everyone is different; it's all a matter of personal preference I believe. Just do yourself and me a favour though, don't pass judgement on it (good or bad) until you've experienced it yourself with someone who's trained directly with me or one of my crew.
I hope this shed some light as to what the Shredder is. Please understand that the written word is left to interpretation through filtered perception, it is but 10% of communication… we do not have access to tone or body language.
Note: The Shedder is explained in detail in both the Get RE.A.L tapes and the Strategic Stick Fighting tape available through our shop section. Thank you.
Train diligently and intelligently.
Imposing our failures onto others
Martial artists in general seem to think that just because they can or can't do something, then the same goes for everyone else. That's not only narcissistic, but self-centred as well.
The main difference between reality based systems and mixed martial arts (besides the hundreds of apparently not so obvious ones) is that reality based systems are geared more towards general population and Joe/Jane average, whereas mixed martial arts are geared more towards athletic men (more so than women).
Majority of sport oriented martial artists don't seem to grasp that not everyone concerned about their personal safety is interested in winning the next UFC. How many times have we heard "If he's so deadly then why doesn't he enter the UFC?"
The answer is simple… for one, it's not a matter of being 'so deadly' and because people who train in reality-based systems would use tools and tactics that are forbidden in the UFC. This includes the will to do whatever it takes to survive and go home as intact as possible. If you took these tools and tactics away, you would be left with a mixed martial art. Therein lies the difference. When the UFC first started, it was much more realistic it terms of a 'street fight' then it is today. Back in the early 90's, there were no weight divisions, there were no time limits and there were 2 rules and 2 rules only: No eye gouges, no throat strikes.
Today is much different. Today there are weight classes, time limits, several holds have been barred (which makes me wonder why it is still referred to as "No Holds Barred"???) and due to this, the training of these athletes have had to have been modified to fit the environment they are competing in.
So imagine training in a martial art that automatically restricts several tactics and holds. How beneficial is that in reality?
For example: One of my students, Dave, came to see me for private lessons in grappling, as he was about to enter 2 separate grappling tournaments. I began to train him and as we were going along, he stated that in his division, there were certain submissions that were not permitted. He also stated that there was a time limit and that one could win on points. Well these 2 particular 'rules' changed the dynamics of his training. No longer could he train certain holds and finishers but we also had to train him to win on points by establishing certain positions in case he got tired or was facing a better grappler.
This type of training is extremely counter productive to surviving a real fight. After a few weeks of strictly training in grappling, my student began to develop bad habits in the group classes.
In our PHASE 2 classes, all the students conceal a training knife on them and are instructed to attack anyone at anytime during the class from the moment they walk into the school to the moment they exit the school. So during the warm up session of one of our classes, another student jumped Dave from behind and pulled his blade out. Dave reflexively went for clinch and a takedown but was stabbed multiple times in the process, he got up and realized it afterwards and was very disappointed in himself.
(Now in contrast to this, so those of you who like to cut and paste my articles on other forums in order to criticize them and whine about how impossible it is to defend against a knife and this type of training proves nothing), every other student who was also jumped by surprise and had a knife pulled on them did fine. Not to say none of the fights ever hit the ground, not true, some did, and the student's grappling skills were imperative in aiding them in surviving such an attack but the point is, they didn't solely rely on grappling or mixed martial arts tactics. Their training was 'limitless' and not bound by any rules or codes of conduct or sportsmanship. They did whatever it took.
This is not a bash grappling or mixed martial article. If I were to write the piece in reverse, I would give you the same amount of reasons why a reality based fighter wouldn't fare as well as a mixed martial artist in a UFC style bout. Two different arenas, two separate set of tools, tactics and strategies.
Don't get me wrong though, I would put my money on Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture or Frank Shamrock any day of the week in a street fight but how many Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture or Frank Shamrock's do you know? Regardless of how hard your mother trains, she will never acquire the skills, strength or stamina that any of these pros have, even if she quit her job, quit being a housewife, quit being your mom and trained 6 days a week for 5 hours a day, she would never acquire such level of proficiency. So wouldn't you prefer your mother arm herself with psychological warfare and some down and dirty true no holds barred tactics that will allow her to stun and run a potential rapist rather than attempt to get him in a mounted position and ground and pound?
Please… before you go off thinking there's no way a 40 or 50 or even 60-year-old mother could defend herself against a rapist, keep in mind that women have been doing so since the dawn of man and without any training whatsoever. Tony Blauer always said that there are far more people who have successfully defended themselves in the history of mankind with no prior training whatsoever then there are martial artists who have used what they've learned to defend themselves. This because of their will, beliefs and mental arsenal.
A woman and her 12 year old daughter in British Columbia (sometime around 1991, or 1992) caught a burglar in their apartment by surprise, he was over 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighed over 220 pounds as described by the news. Not wanting to get caught he grabbed a fire poker and began beating the mother with it, he cracked he skull open, broke her arm and wrist. Her daughter jumped on the man and he grabbed her off his back and smashed her face into a wall knocking her flat out. The mother saw this and freaked. She attacked the man with an intense ferocity that caused him to panic and take off.
How could this be though? But she wasn't a BJJ black belt? She never competed in the UFC?!?! How odd! Gees, if she's so deadly, why doesn't she compete in the UFC? I mean, this woman just took out a man twice her size and with a split skull, a broken arm, and wrist none the less! It wasn't her technique that saved her and her daughter's life. It wasn't her arm bar, her chokehold, her ground and pound or how adept she was in her footwork or clinch work. It was her mindset. It was her sheer will to survive.
The idea behind reality based training, is in helping regular folk get back in touch with their 'killer instinct' if you will, to give them the necessary tools to be able to avoid a potentially violent confrontation through environmental awareness and profiling skills (both people and locations). To provide them with the necessary skills to defuse and de-escalate a potentially violent confrontation through choice speech and the understanding of behavioural aspects in relation to violence. To provide them with the necessary physical tools that won't get them into a 3 to 10 minute brawl with a potentially armed attacker, but instead arm them with the proper tools to stun and run if possible or debilitate someone long enough to flee.
This compiled with mixed martial arts training provides the average citizen with an enhanced chance at surviving violence. There are certain reality based trainers out there however who only advocate eye gouging and groin strikes and they think that this will stop a decent grappler, obviously, they have never fought a grappler. Statements like these make those of us who teach a holistic curriculum look bad and group us together.
Mixed martial arts and reality-based training are intertwined; you cannot take away the mixed martial arts aspect from reality-based training but you can take away the reality based training from mixed martial arts, hence the difference between sport and street.
Train diligently and intelligently.
"The conventions of language reveals the ways in which we see the world." - Dan Millman
Techniques as described by Webster's II New College Dictionary goes as follows:
Technique: 1. The systematic procedure by which a complex or scientific task is accomplished. 2. Procedure, system, routine; method. 3. The degree of skill or command of fundementals exhibited in a performance.
All 3 of these definitions do not relate to personal protection as we all know that fine or complex motor skills go out the window. Tool and target development based on strategies and tactics is NOT a "systematic procedure".
In martial arts today, the term "technique" is expressed as a physical response to an attack. For the most part, it is looked as "If someone does this, you do that." If we're to take a look around at the majority of martial arts forums, you'll see threads like (the following are actual threads found on various popular martial arts forums)
- "Which technique would you use against a grappler?"
- "What's your favourite technique?"
- "Best self defense techniques."
The problem with 'techniques' in the contexte provided above, is that those who use them look to them for a specific result (in order to establish their next technique) as opposed to the reaction from their attacker as the consenquence of their chosen action. The problem lies within the lack of ability to see the 'fight' outside 'the box', outside of the technical applications, since the individual using it cannot choose if the technique worked or not (especially the way it was designed to function). Your opponent will always dictate what your next 'move' is going to be based on their reactions... behaviour, state of mind, state of being, will dictate.
The mere term "technique" conjures up the image of memorized sequential tactics as a response to a given attack. Take boxing for instance, they don't teach techniques, they teach tools. Imagine if in Boxing, they taught that everytime your opponent jabs, you do an outside slip and counter with a left hook. That would be a technical application. We all know that there are countless ways to counter a jab, and what does it depend on? Position, distance, momentum, mind set, delivery speed etc. So, we teach personal protection and hand to hand combat within the similar frame that Boxing is taught. Tool and Target development, Strategies and Tactics.
Marc Ste, Marie went on to explain it as such:
"Trying to memorize a solution for each possibilty is ridiculous. Pre-planned scenarios applied to situations affected by multiple variables are useless..."
And I couldn't agree more. Everyone looks at it from a purely physical perspective. They have a difficult time understanding the holistic approach behind the contexte in which the technique should be used such as the behavioural aspects, the emotional aspects and the variables that surround the situation.
Here's a question I ask every martial artist who walk through my doors to illustrate my point. I ask what would you do if someone grabbed by the neck and pinned you to a wall? The response? Always and without fail, a physical response. "I would wrist lock and jart kick" - I would parry and punch" - I would grab the hand and kick" etc. etc.
Then I ask: What if the person grabbing you is a pissed off waitress who mistook you for the asshole who just pinched her butt at the diner? What if it was 6 foot 4 biker who's friends were standing behing him and they were armed? What if it was a drunk guy in a bar and 2 of his friends were standing at each of his side? What if at the same time, you were with your girlfriend who was a little drunk and began to mouth off?
The Point of the matter is, is that techniques are incidental. Techniques relate to fixation. Tools in contrast offer diversity and diverse ability. Techniques are easily dismissed in certain situations. Tools aren't. A tool will be used when it is called upon allowing for creative spontaneity moment to moment, a technique will not due to the faction in which it was created. For instance, a hammer is a tool. Primarily designed for hammering in nails but the diversity of this tool is widespread and its functions exceed 'the nail'. A technique will fixate an individual on its use and they hinder creativity.
Semantics? Maybe. However just because everyone has the wrong definition of 'technique' doesn't mean I have to succumb to it and go along with it.
There are no absolutes
The following article first appeared on my forum as I was inspired to write it after reading several threads which were very specific in nature.
It is critical to understand that there are no absolutes. There is no black and white in combat or defense, there is no 'always' or 'never', there is nothing but an infinite amount of shades of grey, speculations, maybe's and IT DEPENDS!
How long does a street fight last? 10 sec.? 25 sec.? A minute? A minute an a half? Honestly...? Who fucking cares? It will last as long as it will last... the question is, will you? How conditioned are you? Do you understand the effects of emotional and psychological stress and how it affects your performance? What are you prepared to do?
I train my students overkill. They are prepared to go 5 minutes straight if they have to, 10 minutes or half an hour of that is what it takes. So they don't care if the average is 10 seconds or 3 minutes. That is a concern they don't have to even think about because they are prepared to go on and on until they are safe, whatever it takes. I am often asked why our workouts in our classes are so grueling, why I allow the fights to go on for 20 minutes non stop sometimes, why the overkill if a street fight only lasts X amount of seconds... because you never know. Prepare for the Terminator so everyone and everything else will pale in comparison.
"When you throw a kick (or punch or strike or whatever you wish to insert here) where do you land after?"
It depends. What was your opponents reaction? Did your strike have the desired effect? What was the result of your choice?
"When someone throws a straight punch, I was told to always move to the out-side and never to the in-side, is this correct?"
It depends. Does your opponent have a friend standing on his out-side? Are you leaning against a wall which is 'his out-side'? Is the hand or arm you are 'supposes to' block, parry, jam whatever with functional that day (I.e., is it in a sling, broken wrist maybe, sprained, tendanitis in the shoulder?)
"When defending against a knife ALWAYS stabilize the weapon hand before attacking." - When defending against the knife, NEVER stabilize the weapon hand just attack, attack, attack!"
It depends. Where's the knife? Close, far, stabbing you? What is your opponent doing? Is it a static attack? Is it dynamic? Is he leadng with the knife or coming at you Folsom prison style? Does he have a friend? Is his friend aremed?
Do you see what I am getting at here? There are no absolutes!
"DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE WHEN IT IS CALLED UPON." - Senshido Adage - This philosophy will help create clarity in the moment. Fixation on this or that may get you killed. There are no black and white answers.
Train your defenses in various scenarios to find out what you will do. Meaning: You want to work on defense against a static knife attack at the throat? Good. First work the principles and concepts, then the physical defenses until you are comfortable with them.
Next. Take that situation, the static knife attack, and do it under the following cnditions;
- You're alone.
- A love one is with you when it is occuring. (This one alone can be done in various ways, your loved one can become hysterical, cooperative, none cooperative, faint, scream, cry, grab your arm, hug you, threaten the mugger etc.) each of these will require a different tactical solution.
- Your attacker has a friend. (Again, you can play with this one, his friend is armed as well, his friend is passive, agressive, drunk, hyperactive, trying to convince the mugger to just kill you and take your stuff, trying to convince the mugger to forget about it and just leave etc.)
- Your good arm is an a sling.
- Your left ankle is badly sprained (put thumb tacks in your shoes to simulate a sprain, see if you feel like putting weight on your ankle then )
The list can go and on and on... see if your "technique" remains the same through out. See if the results are the same every time...
There are no absolutes.
This is why we do not teach techniques but conceptual guidelines, tool and target development, strategies and tactics...
Why We Do…
"Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world. Work without love is slavery."
The dichotomy of my work is that I teach people, if necessary to protect themselves, to hurt others in doing so. It is truly unfortunate that the need for the line of work I am in exists. I wish that it could only be for leisure, health, fun and sport but alas, the world we live in has dictated otherwise. I wish that I could stick to the other elements of my work but something inside of me burns and I have chosen the enhancement of survivability as my primary path. At the risk of opening myself up to criticism, ridicule and mockery, I honestly do what I do because I care.
Are we driven by money? No, but money helps us continue our work. Without it, we couldn't provide the information, the instruction, the materials we provide. Is money the primary concern? No, if it was, I would be doing something else that was much more financially rewarding or I would have succumbed to the demands of franchises and easy certifications.
Are we driven by ego? No. Although this industry promotes gurus and masters, cult mentalities and hierarchies, I believe that we are but guides. What we do isn't anymore special than the work a garbage man does, your math teacher did/does, the firemen do or any other endeavor. There is honor in all work as long as the work is honest and done well. Without the garbage collectors, we'd be swimming in our own filth. Did your math teacher convince you that his math was the best?
Are we driven by fame? No. Fame is a non issue. Fame doesn't bring happiness or feed our children or put a roof over our heads. The quality of our work does. Do we care to have a good reputation, yes, but that again is based on the quality we provide and the personal attention we give to those who seek us out.
The essence of the martial arts had much to do with peace, harmony and spirituality. Courtesy was the cornerstone of all virtues. It is this virtue that is required of any human being in order for them to maintain a peaceful co-existence with the world. Justice is also one of the martial codes that have lost its meaning. People embarked on their martial journeys to improve themselves and enhance their survivability both through the practice of self protection and the health benefits provided through the training and healthy living.
Why do you do what you do? Don't answer this question too quickly. Reflect upon it well and answer it truthfully, not with a political agenda or the expected time honored response, but with the truth. Answer it for yourself and not for anyone else to hear. Why do you do what you do?
I am reminded of Mother Theresa's words engraved on the wall of her home in Calcutta:
"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway."
Religious connotations not withstanding as your beliefs are yours and mine are mine, the true essence of the martial arts is in the improvement of the self and in the aid of improving others. Therefore the existence of the system or style in question must promote their truths as truths and your reasoning behind seeking them out should be clear, concise and honest regardless of the reason whether it is for health, sport, competition, art, discipline, self defense or a combination of all. Passion is more important than the financial reward for the true reward is to be found in the help you provided through your guidance that improved and/or possibly saved someone's life. There is nothing wrong with making a good living out of it either as long as it isn't at the expense of integrity, honesty and quality.
So if what you do truthfully and honestly works for you, who is to say it is wrong? Keeping an open mind in this field is a difficult task because it is easy to shut something out that we've never even experienced as a defensive reaction to another's attack on our ways or their nay sayings. One should have the strength and courage to think for themselves but unfortunately, the martial arts industry rarely caters to such openness. Trust in oneself is important, trust in another is earned. So regardless of who says what and what guru, master, coach or teacher said about something, (myself included), and regardless of the arguments they presented for the pros and/or cons of it (logic preceding of course) seek it out for yourself and form your own opinion on it, regardless of the outcome. You'll be glad you looked for yourself because the knowledge will now be yours and not another individual's who simply imparted his filtered opinion to you.
What is a victim?
Is it a person who has been attacked and hasn't survived? Is it also a person who has been attacked or abused several times? Is it a person who hangs their head low while walking down the street in a fear stricken and submissive state in anticipation of violence and abuse? Is it a person who looks a certain way, lives a certain way, talks a certain way? Is it a certain personality type, psychological or social profile, or is it a mindset, a perception of oneself? It's hard to say really, if you ask most people a victim is everybody else but themselves.
Why am I on about this? Well, most of the time when I approach a person about taking personal protection classes, or more specifically a woman friend about one of our rape prevention seminars I always get the: "I don't need cause it'll never happen to me." array of speeches. Whether they are referring to their lifestyle, hairstyle or who they know it seems that most women are impervious to the depravity of others. Lucky aren't they? I also get, when speaking to more learned or spiritual people, the: "I don't act like a victim, have that mindset or project that image.", speech. Incredible the number of self-actualized people on the face of this earth. Please do not take my cynicism the wrong way. If I'm being sharp with my words it's because I care, and because I understand the importance of safety for ourselves and our loved-ones.
So what is a victim? I believe it's is a person, for one reason or another takes no responsibility for their actions or the actions of others that directly affect them. In essence it is the person that blames everyone else and has willingly given up their personal power and made themselves helpless to the world around them. Sound familiar yet? How about the person that says it's not my fault, it's because she said this and he said that. Or the person who believes that can't do anything to change anything in their day or life because he or she controls this or that and therefore makes it impossible for me to do anything. It is that person that we hear whining incessantly about what this or that person has done to them, and how it's not fair, life isn't fair and if only things were different. Wait a minute, isn't this all of us? Maybe not all the time but at some point or another in maybe our day, week, month, year or life we have each sounded like this. So are we in danger? You tell me. The only time we can be sure of what we feel, what we know and what we project is in the here and now. There is no way for any manner of person to know what their state of mind will be every minute of every day for the rest of their lives, and even more so where they happen to be at those minutes. What if you are walking down a deserted street, late at night, with your worst nightmare waiting around the corner when it so happens that you're carrying yourself like a victim. Can you tell me beyond all certainty that this will never happen. Because if you know with certainty the things will and will not happen to you from this moment until you pass on, by all means please call me and tell when and if I'm winning the lottery, cause I could really use a new boat.
Don't get me wrong I'm not saying that when people get attacked for any reason that they have done anything wrong, or made some mistake. On the contrary, they were being what we all are and can never escape, human. So all those that are not human at this time may stop reading this piece and please refer to my extensive works of extra-terrestrial assaults and what not. Moving right along, when anyone decides to violate you in any way, never should you say you had it coming, or you deserved it, for it is their mistake, and just think what a mistake it will be if you have a plan of action.
But what of the attacker? Why attack you, what propels any human being to want to defile another, destroy another in some measure. Surely, you think I'm referring to a sociopath or run of the mill nut job rapist. But I'm not; I'm still talking about the same people who are victims now and again. Haven't we all done or said hurtful things to others and especially loved ones. Haven't we all screamed, yelled and berated the odd stranger, friend or sibling. Haven't some of us raised our hands against these same people? I know I have, I've said things to people I love I wish I could have taken back seconds later or traded blows with a friend over something stupid, or picked on my little brother because he was just that, little. Am I a monster, were they all victims? Who knows?
But not to stray too far from the point let's get back to why, I or any of you might behave this way. A very famous buzz word in the psychoanalysis and psychotherapy vernacular comes to mind, projection. By that I mean to take whatever feelings or perceptions we have about ourselves (good or bad) and projecting them onto another person, in effect holding them responsible for whatever our state of mind may be (funny where it seems this is going). There is also transference, where we superimpose certain dynamics of a relationship we may have with a certain person, onto another relationship because of similarities between each of these people. If light bulbs aren't going off yet, let me coax your higher reasoning with an example: think of a person you don't really know that well, that you hate, I mean that you can't stand, that really irritates you, that you would like to see take a nasty fall only to double over laughing at this sight. Whether it's your boss, a friend of a friend etc... Don't be shy, now why does this person annoy you? Do they talk too loud, are they arrogant, do they never give you a straight answer or are they too brutally honest? Anything will do, I'm sure you can all think of at least one person, or at least a person you do like or love that gets on your nerves in one way or another. Now tell me why it makes you nuts that they are one way or another? In the case of the person you don't know that well, how can you pass judgment on them, you know nothing about what makes them the way they are. What if you did? Would you be so hard on the person you may find arrogant if you knew that his parents had verbally abused him/her or their whole life, taking every opportunity to make them feel like nothing, convincing them they would amount to nothing. Now it's understandable isn't it, it's acceptable, they are human too and have a right to be how they are (you moral consciousness might be telling you). So why did they get under your skin in the first place, it wasn't personal, and they didn't act like this just to piss you off did they? Could it be that whatever made you angry is within you, that you either saw within them an unresolved issue with a closer relationship, or an aspect of yourself you're not comfortable with or in complete denial about? Maybe.
Let's move away from my pontificating and use myself as an example. I have always disliked, or had trouble with emotional people. By that I mean people who can't help but communicate every single feeling they have in a one minute time span, and who seem to, in that one minute experience a ridiculous variety of emotions. Yes, I may be exaggerating but just to make my point and I will freely admit that I am getting annoyed just thinking about it. I mean these people; every little thing is an event: they cry, the laugh, they scream a million times per day. JEEEEEEEESUS!!!! So why does it piss me off, because growing up, I wasn't allowed to express what I felt, I was stifled, and as I grew I was told that as a man I had to be stoic and bottle everything I felt, never sharing or finding relief. If not, I would have failed those who had painted this image for me and this was most unbearable. As a result I thought that those that lived a 24hour drama were weak, selfish and I looked down on them. But as I grew older, and read enough books, spoke to enough people, I came to understand all this psychobabble I'm going on about, on different levels. But still, they piss me off. Because now, though I understood why they may be the way they are and me the way I am, I began to envy what they had that I couldn't seem to achieve, the simple expressing of one's emotions. So in reality, I was never angry with them, but with myself, I did only hurt them with my words or actions but myself as well. I watched Fahrenheit 9/11 the other day and a U.S. soldier, years younger than I, had understood this and said something I found remarkable; that every time we take life we kill a part of ourselves. Well isn't it the same when we lash out at others?
So back to my initial point as to why a person may attack us, provoke us etc... Barring certain exceptions (only because I believe that all rules or statement of fact especially when opinionated has at least one exception). It could be that this person looks at you and on some level sees what they hate in themselves, and so they chose you, they project onto you: Maybe it's because your tall, or you look like you have money, or simply your of a certain gender or race, and your attacker is going to take all the dissatisfaction they feel in their life at that moment and make you pay for it convinced you deserve it somehow. Sounds like a victim trying to make victims doesn't it. When you think of a person antagonizing you, trying to escalate a situation like this they can become violent, on some level its like they want you to feel what they feel, like this they can take a good look at themselves in you eyes and then tear what they see apart. Richard once said in one of his articles that you have to take everything into consideration when approached in a hostile manner: where is this person coming from?
Does that imply compassion on some level for all manner of aggressor's? Maybe. But remember that compassion for others can never come before self-love and by that I mean the appreciation for your existence and the subsequent will to preserve your life there from. Should we feel some measure of compassion for even the sickest, nastiest of criminals? I think so, especially after we hear how they got that way. Does that mean that it is up to us to save them and therefore allow our compassion not override the necessity to commit violence in order to protect ourselves?
ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! Do you think that by allowing any kind of attacker or abuser, get the better of you on any level, does them any favors, or encourages them to change their ways now that you have so freely given them your power, now that they have seen the wrong they've done? If that were the case, criminals worldwide would be handing themselves in to the police or seeking therapy en masse. Besides if most of us can hardly figure out what's best for ourselves how can we possibly be qualified to know what's best for others. It seems to me, in any event, that you show more compassion to them and yourself, defending yourself (whether by diffusing or if you have no choice, fighting) than by giving in to them; because you send that message to them and to yourself that it's not okay for anyone to strip away your humanity so they don't have to face themselves. Anything less, is self-hating at best.
I just want to conclude by saying that though I didn't directly quote anyone other than one thing Rich said, I can't take sole credit for the structuring of my opinions, many of the things I've said (if not all) have been said before. So let me say that this was inspired by the writings of people like Dostoyevsky, Carl Jung, Dan Millman, Thich Nhat Hanh and a host of others. But my true inspiration comes from the people in my everyday life who in many cases are wise and learned. So I thank my family, the people at Senshido, and my close personal friends (you know who you are).