November 23, 2012
Categories: Mindset, Self-Protection Seminars, Training . Tags: knife, knife combat, knife combative, knife fighting, knives, self defense, self defense training . Author: combathard . Comments: Leave a comment
On Saturday, we had the great privilege of attending a gun and knife seminar with John Whitman at Krav Maga and Fitness in Suwanee. John served as president of Krav Maga Worldwide from 2000 to 2007 and is now the head of Krav Maga Alliance. He co-authored two Krav books we have in our library, and was gracious enough to sign both of them at the close of seminar.
I am so impressed at how articulate and thoughtful John is in his presentation of the material, and for his explanations of why certain ways of doing techniques are preferred over others. Most of the techniques were a departure for us from our previous gun and knife training, so my mind and body were struggling a bit, to say the least. John is passionate, and he goes a long way to make things clear. He also emphasizes the importance of concepts with disarms, as opposed to just focusing on technique. He is a straight-forward kind of guy who maintains an air of humility. He actually addressed the legality of self-defense and use of force, which I have found to be a rare thing with instructors in this field. Not sure why that is, really.
The seminar was intense and demanding (you would expect nothing less from Krav Maga!) and I furiously took notes at every opportunity. I hope to have another chance to train with him in the future and pick his brain when I am fresh. I must admit I was dog tired at the end of the day. If any of you ever have the opportunity to train with John Whitman, I highly recommend it—you will NOT be disappointed!
On Saturday, Combat Hard conducted a three-hour seminar on combatives. We put things within a scenario-based framework and drilled empty-hand techniques, knife and pistol disarms, as well as improvised weapons (magazines). Everyone had great questions. As much as we would like to fill in all the blanks of what could happen and what people should do, of course, some of the variables in any given situation would be anyone’s guess until a real-life encounter unfolded. We all need to certainly use our imaginations and become critical thinkers, and scenarios are a great way to play with the possibilities, as well. Emotional content is essential. I try to feel as I would feel in a lethal encounter, complete with facial expressions and feeling the aggression surging through me. One important point we stressed was training like we wish to perform out on the street. Whatever we repeat in training, including bad habits, will come out! This is why it is critical NOT to do things like hand the pistol or knife back to the training partner after disarming him or her. This is just one example. We cannot put this into our motor programs. SO IMPORTANT!
Thanks so much to all students who participated, and to KBX Gym for making the seminar a success!
I wanted to thank those who attended our self-defense meetup yesterday. We decided to create a meetup group in order to reach out further into the community and help people become more aware of the need for self-protection. What is startling to me is the fact that every group we have ever talked to, since we began talking in front of groups, has been touched by violent confrontation, either directly or indirectly. This shows a dire need for awareness! Martial arts training, in general, almost always addresses what to do once you are in the battle, but a very important question is this: how did you get there in the first place? How can you avoid it most of the time? People do need some basic fighting skills, but knowing how to avoid confrontation is just not addressed as much. Nor is confrontational management that involves tactical communication. When I say awareness, I don’t mean simply acknowledging that violence persists, although so many shove it far away in the darkest recesses of their minds that it may as well not exist to them. I mean that people need understanding about pre-incident indicators, setting proper boundaries with others, body language, how manipulators operate and their interviews of potential victims, looking for and developing escape routes and plans in times of emergency, the physiological effects of survival stress, developing cover stories and learning when and how to be more protective of personal identity, and generally informing their intuition so it serves them in times of need. Something we talked about afterward was the fact that a lot of people do have some pretty awesome physical skills, but if they don’t learn to develop the proper winning mindset, those skills don’t mean diddly squat. Truly. We had many good questions yesterday, and we learn so much from talking to people, especially women. Again, we are grateful for them taking time out of their off-day to come and hang out with us!
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.
Yesterday we gave a self-defense talk for a great group of women, the 1818 Club, of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce. Special thanks to everyone who attended, and our host, Lisa. We did not prepare a canned speech because we wanted to hear their questions and concerns regarding personal safety, and they did have several. I always struggle a bit with these kinds of short meetings because I want to tell people EVERYTHING I possibly can about the subject. There is simply not enough time. We did say a lot about awareness, which truly helps us avoid bad situations over 90 percent of the time. Hopefully we got everyone thinking, though some individuals were already on top of things and had interesting habits and rituals they practiced. I did leave feeling concerned about others, though maybe our conversations made them take another look at themselves.
I found it kind of interesting that several of them brought up the issue of their “clueless” children (some teenagers, some pre-teen, and some in their 20s), though many of these same women practiced vigilance daily. Some of their kids had even admonished them for being “paranoid” or “rude”; getting off an elevator to avoid potential danger makes Mom downright “offensive”—why would she do that? I am quite curious about this mentality; I hear about it fairly regularly, along with the complaint that these kids possess little mental toughness. I cannot help but wonder where the breakdown is occurring. Are there just too many distractions, or too many things vying for our attention that we are losing the ability to be aware? Are we desensitized and culturally conditioned towards ADD? Are we all insulating ourselves from subtle cues that provide insight and aid us in accurately predicting human behavior because we are nearly surgically attached to our electronic devices? Many people now prefer texting to phone conversation. Heck, I’ve seen people text each other while sitting side by side. I am guilty, too. I use email a lot in place of telephone calls. I have noticed that so much valuable information in the communication process is lost in our methods of interfacing because we simply cannot observe body language. I don’t mean to get on my soapbox and go on a tirade against modern conveniences, but there has to be some explanation for the all-too-common disconnect between people and their surroundings. Do you suppose we would all notice more and see more reason for caution if we unplugged just for a bit?
We need to find a way to impress upon our youth, without paralyzing them with fear, that there is a “dark” side to the human psyche; most of us are not keen on knowing anything about it, or even acknowledging the potential within us all to commit violence against each other. Luckily, the majority of the population has inhibitory safeguards in place to prevent them from acting upon this potential, but there are aberrations within the gene pool! There will always be the anomaly that preys upon other human beings. Sad. . .but true. Denial will not help our little ones, and it is our collective responsibility to help them see the light, or rather, the dark.
Just before the new year, we conducted a small self-protection clinic for the college-age and college-bound daughters of our students. We talked about the importance of awareness and spent some time learning basic combatives techniques (and some common self-defense tactics to counter common attacks). So many people wander around in a state of oblivion, so wrapped up in activities that pull them away from the HERE and NOW. We are all guilty of this at one time or another. The fact remains that the opportunistic unsavory individual is going to attack you when it is most advantageous for him. Don’t present this opportunity willingly! In order to avoid most any confrontation, you have to maintain 360 degree awareness as soon as you step out the front door each day. Pay attention to people and situations in your environment, and persist with this until it becomes a habit. If something doesn’t look right to you, contact the proper authorities. If your intuition tells you it is something serious, and the authorities give you the brush-off, be persistent with them, too. Most of self-protection involves having the right mindset and attitude. Even if you suddenly realize that the fight is upon you, having the right attitude is going to make all the difference in gaining the advantage. If you have to fight, you must be totally relentless until you are able to secure your safety and/or the safety of the people you love. You have to make that decision NOW. Don’t wait to see how you feel on the fateful day you reach a crossroads. Wouldn’t now be a good time to make the decision to win?
We discussed a couple of great reference books, some that are worth mentioning again:
The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker, available through Amazon:
Girls Fight Back, by Erin Weed, available through her website:
I would like to add this to the list:
Personal Protection Measures, by Steven Mosley, available through his website: