Juggling Your Training With Everything Else


Life gets busy sometimes, no matter how we try to keep it simplified.  So many things vying for our attention, all at once; it is the reality of modern life for many of us.  Sometimes our training suffers in the process, unless we maintain the right mindset about it.  If your training and growth are important to you, as I imagine they are–otherwise you would probably not read this blog, you must find a way to prioritize, which sometimes means getting back to basics.  I love this blog post from Low Tech Combat, and I have read several good posts on there.  If you are struggling, it might help you get your mind right about your goals with training, and how best to accomplish them.






Street Sense


Lately, I have been focusing more on awareness, and I am sure the past blog posts reflect this.  I honestly think I needed to work on these specific skills for a more well-rounded approach to my training.  Everything I read from seasoned experts points to the fact that most of self-protection is mental.  Al Peasland’s Fence Concepts (I recently reviewed the DVD and now I’m reading the book—excellent information) focuses a lot on awareness and confrontation management.  Peasland worked as a doorman in a rough part of the UK—running away from his post when things got hairy was simply not an option.  Nevertheless, he wanted to avoid the fight, if it was possible.  What is in his book and DVD is a culmination of techniques that worked for him, as well as his instructor, Geoff Thompson.  He does not promote any particular fighting style, but talks about integrating techniques into whatever you are already doing.  He and Geoff are well-seasoned by experience, so I trust what wisdom they have to offer.


Here is another smart individual.  Dennis Martin posts a lot of Marcus Wynne’s material on the combatives forum.  If you have the time and inclination, it is worth searching the forum for the material.  You can read about Wynn’es background on his website: http://www.marcuswynne.com/.  His thoughts about self-protection are much the same: “avoidance, deterrence and de-escalation.”  Yeah, it’s mental.





Cheers, lads —

I’m at a point in my book where I have this old gray beard, who’s done a few things in his time, passing a few tips that he’d picked up in a lifetime of dealing with various problems…a few of the things on this fictional list are things I’ve heard around, a few are my thoughts, some of them I’m read and seen attributed to all kinds of folks from the Marines to Clint Smith, to a tough old guy from Liverpool named Martin, and some other folks.

So here, for what it’s worth, are some thoughts from an old fictional character on fighting —

Random Tips for Winning On The Street

• The number one option for personal security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation.
• Make up your mind right now about what you are willing to do to win in a fight.
• Be alert to your surroundings.
• Avoid conflict.
• There’s always someone better than you.
• Keep moving
• Action beats reaction
• There is no “second place” on the street
• Always cheat. Always win.
• Keep breathing and moving your head.
• Don’t escalate the situation. If they escalate, finish them.
• Keep your head moving and your vision in play.
• Always, always check behind you (check six); always, always check around you (check 360).
• Have the mentality to do whatever has to be done. Make up your mind in advance.
• Fight until the threat is over. Be sure it’s over.
• Watch the triangle (head (eyes) to shoulders) and the hands.
• Have a plan.
• Have a back up plan, because the first one won’t survive first contact.
• Don’t drop your guard.
• Be aggressive enough, early enough.
• The faster you finish the fight, the less hurt you will be.


Condition Yellow


I was reviewing Al Peasland’s video, Fence Concepts.  In the beginning, he talks about the color code system of awareness that we discuss all the time: Conditions White, Yellow, Orange and Red.  As a review, Condition White is a state of cluelessness, i.e. you are switched “off”.  Consider this the sheep mentality.  I would say that most people live here 99 percent of the time.  Condition Yellow means 360 degree security—you are switched “on”.  Condition Orange involves threat assessment.  We say Condition Orange is a “nonspecific threat”; you know something is simply not right with your surroundings, and your intuition has kicked in, etc.  Condition Red involves threat avoidance: the threat is upon you and you must act. 


We often teach that you should leave Condition White as soon as you step through the threshold of your house, but Peasland recommends you only be in Condition White when you are asleep.  He states that Condition Yellow should be your natural state whenever you are awake: a relaxed state of awareness.  He had some interesting tips for getting into this state as part of your daily routine.  We’ve talked in other blogs about awareness games, like Kim’s Game.  He talks about ramping up your awareness skills through commentary on your environment.  Whether in a car, on the street, or in any public space, report on what you are seeing to another or to yourself, or engage in an internal dialogue about everything you are seeing and doing.  If you are out and about, it is probably advisable to keep the observations in your head so people don’t assume you are emotionally disturbed.  J  In the process of describing what you see, you are engaged in truly active observation.  Peasland says that you will eventually develop this skill so that it becomes second nature to you, and you will enjoy a heightened sense of awareness, though you are relaxed.  As de Becker talks about in the Gift of Fear, your intuitive information is more readily available to you when you are relaxed (NOT paranoid), which makes sense.  Your mind is more open to subtleties that you may miss when you are highly aroused by stress, or otherwise distracted.  I think that you will naturally begin to determine what requires more or less of your attention, and the anomalies in your surroundings will present themselves more quickly (as opposed to jumping out of “nowhere”).


Self-Defense Workshop


We recently conducted a small self-defense workshop for women.  Participants are usually surprised that we begin (and sometimes end) talking about the mental aspects of protecting oneself—the awareness.  We like to convey the idea that self-protection, contrary to what others have expressed to us, is not about being someone’s bodyguard, though I like to think of it in terms of being your own bodyguard.  We refer to self-protection as the umbrella under which the mental skills (awareness) and physical skills (self-defense) fall.  Although I think of the fighting skills we teach as more self-offense (because we really like pre-emptive strikes when the situation warrants them), self-defense is a general term that most people will accept without any hesitation.  I can get really up-tight about the semantics, of course, but I really want people to understand the ideas.  I liked what Brian Willis said recently about teaching: help people learn NOT techniques, but rather principles and concepts.  I believe this is a good rule of thumb for conducting one-time workshops for people you know are not going to be your hard-core, train-every-week practitioners.  A practitioner, like me, who is going to be training and teaching for life, is going to get very excited about the minutia.  Nevertheless, I always go back to the basics, too, and I cannot over-emphasize the basics.  Basics will work under duress.  It is that simple.


We talked about awareness concepts, and we listened to many questions and a lot of commentary about everyone’s own experiences.  There never seems to be a shortage of stories about crime.  Crime touches almost everyone, which is why I am continually surprised at people’s denial about it, or their resistance to acquiring some worthwhile skills that could possibly save lives; they are life-affirming skills.  I harp on it all the time, but self-protection is truly everyone’s personal responsibility.  What if law enforcement arrives too late?  I like the added insurance in case I am completely on my own.  I digress!  We talked about the color code system for situational awareness and threat recognition.  We discussed some of the cues criminals look for when targeting their victims (based on interesting case study), and gave some reference material for further study.


Towards the end, we looked at confrontation management, weapons (improvised and otherwise) and a few defense techniques.  Confrontation management does not always mean fighting, of course.  It can mean verbal communication, running, to safety, etc.  We worked on a few defenses against wrist grabs, chokes, and discussed the B.E.A.T. target model: going for the brains, eyes, abs and testicles.  It is nice to know pressure points and the myriad of ways we can inflict pain and damage on an aggressor, but it is simple stupid to remember these four targets!


Everyone went home with some food for thought, which is the whole point.  We cannot stress enough to anyone we teach that the decision to win begins now, before the event.  It is so important to impress that upon students!  The violent confrontation is not inevitable for everyone, but I would rather be mentally prepared all the same.  Better to imagine success, and make critical decisions in the calm than during the storm.  My gratitude goes out to all the women who participated, and to Paula and Robin, our hosts.