The Most Dangerous Opponent: Dealing with the Sudden Attack I once asked a well-respected and knowledgeable martial artist who he thought would make the most dangerous opponent. I wondered aloud if he thought it would be a certain style of martial artist, a highly-experienced street fighter or maybe one of our elite military members like Navy SEALs or Delta Force. Instead, his answer was simple: “The most dangerous opponent is the sociopath that shows no emotion, gives off no signals, but can walk right up to you and shove a pencil into your eye.” Anthony Spangler and Patrick Graham were faced with a similar situation while collecting shopping carts in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart where they worked. Ed Lui, 53, drove into the parking lot and for no reason opened fire on the two young men, killing them both. Lui calmly drove off, trailed by witnesses, to his home where he was arrested without incident. Police call it a completely random act without an apparent motive. How do you defend against the sudden, unannounced and unprovoked attack? The first answer to jump to most practitioners‟ mind is awareness. We are trained over and over again to be constantly aware of our surroundings and the people around us. But, what if the bad guy gives us no cues as to a pending attack? Interpersonal violence experts like Gavin de Becker assert that in most cases there are precursors to violence that – when contemplated later – are almost always present. And, most of the time I agree; when debriefed after incidents, victims and witnesses typically remember something that seemed strange or out -of- place before the attack. However, what can you do if the situation truly occurs without warning? Then, perhaps your only real defense is good reaction. If you can‟t see it coming, then you have to immediately make a defensive reaction. Be that of putting distance or a barrier between you and the unfolding incident or to make a physical move to stop, deflect or redirect an attack on your person, you must act decisively. About the only way you can make those reactions close to being immediate is to train. You must train in a realistic fashion so that you get the chance to practice your reaction over and over. Physical Training For physical training, try this great drill which I got from Tony Blauer: Attack without Warning Drill 1. Stand within reach of your training partner (you can change positions to be facing, side-to-side or from the back). 2. Change your posture and arm position continually to mimic common, everyday movements. Start with your arms crossed, pretend like you are pushing your hair back, reach for your wallet, stand with your weight on one leg, etc. 3. Your training partner can attack at anytime. 4. Respond to the attack. Vary the drill by changing the positions between the attacker and the defender. You can also call the attack, i.e. haymaker punch only, grab only, lapel grab with punch, attacker draws a weapon, etc. I like to start training by calling the attack. Say you call the attack “lapel grab and haymaker punch”. Now the defenders get ample opportunities to train their responses to this common attack. They can try a few on and see how they like them from different starting points (remember that the defenders are going to be constantly shifting posture and hand position). This will also be the time for instructors to provide instruction in appropriate responses or techniques. As instructors, make sure you have various “answers” for the problem for students to try. Your responses should be concept-based vs. technique-based. Let students hone the responses which best suit them. I usually let students “own” their responses unless there is something completely unsafe about them. However, having said that you can own various responses to attacks, we‟ve found that when you step up the intensity of the attacks, you‟ll find that simple, direct and uncomplicated responses will be the ones that rise to the top of your arsenal despite what you might have thought you would use. You might find that all that training you did in one-step sparring doesn‟t work as well when the attack is unannounced and catches you out of position. Don‟t be surprised to be jarred into going back to the drawing board and refining your responses. Now, don‟t lose the intent of this drill – you are learning how to instantly react to an unannounced, unprovoked attack. The reaction is often times more important than the actual technique. Granted, I want to learn how to effectively defend and/or counter-attack against common attacks. And I will work hard at becoming comfortable with the tactics and methods that will allow me to do that. But, what will really save my bacon is to have planned a response before the attack so I can move and not get caught flatfooted shuffling through my options . A couple of things here on this drill: 1. For you as the defender, you have to force yourself to move and stand like you would normally. Don‟t kid yourself into believing that you are going to always be in a ready stance with your hands empty and read y to block. The first reaction you are probably going to have doing this drill is that you don‟t want to move around – you‟re afraid that you‟re going to get hit when your hands are out of position or you are off-balance. That makes this drill a great teaching aid in getting you to be aware of your stance and position. Secondly, as you get more proficient at the drill, you‟ll find that you can actually get pretty good at defeating attacks even if you ARE out of position. It‟s a great confidence builder. 2. For you as the training partner and attacker, you must remember the intent of the drill and make your attacks realistic. Funny thing is, as an attacker, you‟ll find that you are surprisingly fairly limited in the number of attacks you have. It seems like your options would be unlimited since you can attack any time with anything. But you‟ll find that you are mostly grabbing, punching or grabbing and punching in different combinations. Since you are within arm‟s reach, you won‟t have many kicking techniques save for knees and some short range kicks. As you play the role of the attacker, you‟ve gained some insight into the psyche of the attacker‟s mind. This should also give you some confidence as a defender that your attacker doesn‟t have some secret technique at his disposal. You‟ve been the attacker and you know what you‟d have to do to try and hurt the defender. You‟ll also be able to feel which responses are the most effective against you. In other words, what does the defender do that really screws up your attacks? That should give you a blueprint for what you want to do as a defender. Okay, that drill works for a physical attack on your person while standing. What about for something like a carjacking? First, let‟s take a look at a real-life carjacking attempt: Kansas City Star - Kansas City, MO - August 23, 2005 Persistent carjackers dog out-of-towners A Lexus driver stomped on her accelerator, drove in reverse and careened the wrong way down Kansas City streets early Monday to escape a gunman who wanted her car. The driver and her friend, both women from Iowa, came to Kansas City for Sunday night's Kenny Chesney concert at Kemper Arena. Although they escaped with their Lexus and their lives, one of the women said: "It was the worst night of my life." Investigators said the robbers, who remained on the loose, were "extremely bold" for continuing to pursue the women after the first carjacking attempt failed - and in well-lit areas with witnesses. "That's extremely rare," said robbery unit Sgt. Mike Foster. "They usually just move on." After attending the concert, the Iowa women headed to the Holiday Inn at the Plaza. They were in front of the hotel at 45th and Main streets, waiting for a red light, when an older model maroon Dodge Aries pulled up behind them carrying a woman driver and two male passengers. The men stepped out of the car and approached the Lexus sport-utility vehicle. The Lexus driver yelled for her passenger to lock her door. The passenger fumbled for the lock button and accidentally rolled down the passenger window. One man pushed a gun against her head and said, "Give me the car!" The passenger ducked and screamed. The driver "floored it," ran the red light and turned east on Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard. Unfamiliar with the area, the two women didn't know where to go. They drove into a Sonic restaurant parking lot at Tracy Avenue to turn around. "We wanted to head back to the Plaza, where we kind of kne w our way around," said the Lexus passenger, who did not want her name used. But as they turned around, the Dodge blocked their way. "The gunman ran up to us again, tapping the window with his gun and saying, 'Get out!' " said the Lexus passenger, who was stunned to see the man waving his gun with customers so near. "He was saying, 'Get out of the car,' but I wasn't about to get out," she said. The Lexus driver punched the vehicle into reverse, then used the drive-through lane to pull around the other car and escape the parking lot. She sped do wn several streets the wrong way as a police dispatcher gave her directions to a police station on her cell phone. "But we had no clue where we were going," the passenger said. The dispatcher then told the women to drive to a Westport business that remained open in the 4000 block of Mill Street. The dispatcher "told us to get out of the car and run inside," the passenger said. Officers met the women at the business. The passenger said she and her friend were too scared to drive back to their hotel, since the gunman found them there. Sgt. Tim McClure escorted them to the hotel, to a gas station and all the way out of to wn to Liberty. The passenger said: "We were worried (the robbers) would find us again. We weren't going to stay the night there. We wanted to get the heck out of Kansas City." Police said they were still reviewing the case. Anyone with information should call the TIPS Hotline at (816) 474-TIPS (474-8477). Okay, good job by the two women to escape some obviously determined criminals. One way you might train for this is to physically take your car out to a parking lot. Have your training partner play the role of the carjacker. Practice accelerating forward away from the carjacker and, alternately, practice putting the car in reverse and accelerating backwards. Get the feel of the throttle lag and what it takes to put your car in reverse. I would try to make the situation as realistic as possible and even do it at night if you can. You can go further and take an evasive or security driver course if you want, but the key is to get out there and actually do it so you have actually rehearsed your response to the attack. Mental Training Physically training to respond to all of the possible attacks or situations you might face in a day is difficult and impractical. However, there is a way to train mentally, using visualization and imagery to provide yourself with unlimited rehearsal and training opportunities. The What If Game “What if that panhandler approaching my car suddenly produces a gun and tries to carjack me?” “What if a car drives by and I hear gun fire erupting from it?” “What if the guy just getting on the elevator tries to pull out a knife?” You can play this little mental game anytime or anywhere. Simply look at the various stories unfolding around you and ask yourself what you would do if the players suddenly took on an aggressive posture or began to attack. You can play out your response in your head as well: “I’ve left enough room between my car and the car in front of me so I can quickly pull around it up onto the sidewalk and drive off”. “I would drop down behind that big, thick brick planter to shield myself from any flying bullets.” “I will drop my gaze to look at his hands and control his elbow and hand when he makes a move to draw his weapon.” A huge side benefit of playing the What If Game is that you will find yourself becoming more and more aware of threatening or potentially dangerous people. Don‟t wait until you are thirsty to start digging a well. Have a plan and practice your responses before the sudden, unexpected attack happens. How to Win a Fight: Self-Defense Strategies for the Untrained Man You‟re out and enjoying life with your friends or a certain young lady. But some knucklehead is determined to end your fun by trying to punch your lights out. What can you do? There are some simple self-defense tactics that even someone who's not in great shape or has any special training can employ: First of all, wake up! Who‟s watching you? Look around, is someone giving you a hard look? Or alternately, does someone quickly avoid your gaze? Watch people‟s hands as you are walking, don‟t look away when you pass. Cross the street if you have to avoid a group of punks. Don't get too drunk. Are you doing something stupid like hitting o n someone‟s girlfriend at the bar? Are you in the habit of boasting about your fancy watch, car, apartment? Point out the troublemaker to the bartender or doorman. If the negative vibes get too intense, leave. Remember, it‟s always easier to STAY out o f trouble than to GET out of trouble. Second of all, keep from getting hit in a vital area! Get your hands up in front of your face to protect your head. Keep your mouth closed with your teeth clenched. When your mouth is open you are ripe to get your jaw broken (which means you should forget about „talking trash‟). Circle away from his power side (circle to the right if he has his right hand cocked back, circle to the left if he has his left hand cocked back). You need to be either two arms lengths away from him (outside of his kicking range) or all the way in tight against him (holding him in a boxing clinch). Anything in between puts you in range for his punches and kicks. Third, use your strongest weapons against his weakest targets. Use the proverbial knee to the groin when you are clinching. Smash him with your elbows in the face, throat and neck. Kick him in the knee, groin or lower abdomen. Kick straight ahead using the bottom of your foot like you would kick in a door. Or kick straight back like a mule using your heel. If you are untrained, resist the urge to kick with the top of your foot like you are punting a football, you will probably use too much of your toes instead of your shin (ouch!). If you try to trade punches with him, you're probably playing right into his game. Finally: Get a barrier between you and him (even if you have to run around a car). Yell for help. You can't count on people coming to your aid, but he might think someone will render assistance. Use a weapon. Hose him down with your pepper spray. Use a chair like a lion tamer. Throw ashtrays at him. Make your escape. Lose your ego and your attitude. Retreat and escape. Live to go out and party again next weekend. Better yet, start training tomorrow in a self-defense art or program. When in Doubt, Move A police officer responds to a silent burglar alarm one night at a warehouse. He is just moving from a brightly lit area into the dark recesses of the loading dock area when he is hammered by a series of blows. The blows continued to rain down on the officer and he knew that serious injury or death was all the awaited him if he could not escape. His martial arts background is in a karate style that emphasizes circular movement and whipping techniques -- he resorts to his training and begins to whip around in a circular fashion to try and find an avenue for escape. As he is moving, he begins to hit various bodies and, through the fog, senses that there are people around him. He draws his baton and begins to land some strikes as he whips around. One backhand baton strike fells an opponent. Another lands, and another. He regains the initiative and drives off the other attackers. It turns out there were a total of six attackers who jumped down on the officer from the back of the flatbed they were loading with stolen goods. However, even when faced with a situation that was (at first) completely foreign, the officer successfully solved the problem by resorting to his training and moving. Action beats reaction – when in doubt, move. There is that time in any confrontation or fight that I call a “set” point. I‟m not sure if that terminology is confusing, but that‟s what I use to articulate that hard-to- explain-but-easy-to-observe point at which one or both of the participants move to the critical zone in preparation of jumping into combat. If you‟ve seen it in fights or sparring, you know what I‟m talking about. It‟s almost as if one or both guys come up to the line and – just for an instant – “set” before they launch their attack. It‟s the demarcation line where someone has to make the decision as to how and where they want to attack. And, many times, it‟s a sticking point. You get up to the critical point, set, and then get caught flatfooted by the opponent. I think the reason is because there is that moment of doubt that seeps into your mind. Whether the doubt is about target selection, weapon selection, legality of your actions or just an unfamiliar situation slapping you in the face, it will make you get stuck or hesitate for an instant. The unfamiliar situation, especially, seems to be a major source for doubt. You may even literally think to yourself – now what am I supposed to do? I‟ve had people tell me they can remember thinking, “I know there is something I can do here, but I don‟t remember what it is”. But, without knowing what to do – they freeze. You can also freeze or be stuck in an emotional way too. Consider the situation in which I backed up an officer from another agency. I don‟t remember too much about the original stop in the first place, but the subject was a very buffed construction worker/biker type off of his motorcycle with his license and registration out. The officer was dramatically smaller than the subject and the original stop was escalating into some sort of confrontation when we rolled up. The subject is standing full face to the officer with his wallet, license and registration in his hands, both arms extended out from his sides in a non- confrontational, but frustrated pose. The officer has swaggered (I use “swagger” deliberately) up to the subject and taken up an “interview” stance (or what others might call a bladed stance, usually a pre-cursor to attack). The officer is jutting his chin out toward the subject. Without remembering the details, I do remember that the subject was objecting to the officer‟s treatment in a firm manner, but in my estimation not in an especially inflammatory manner. It was something along the lines of “I‟ve shown you all my paperwork, it‟s all in order, now you are just hassling me for no reason and I don‟t know what I did to deserve it.” With this, the officer draws his flashlight and positions it on his shoulder in preparation for a downward strike. There is a big pause, a set point. We‟re all holding our breath, wondering who is going to kick off the action. Without knowing all of the background, I‟m thinking at this point that the officer‟s ego has put him into a situation in which he is stuck. He has been pushing forward, escalating a situation to a point where the officer is getting ready to use physical force in a situation that does not warrant it, but his ego, apparently, cannot allow him to deescalate. The way to get “unstuck” is to move. Step off to an angle. Or move in a circle. There is a whole different line of discussion about which initial movements are “best”, but in the end everyone has their own reasoning about their initial movements. The key is to move off line. If you are standing, you have to move your feet to move off line. If you are on the ground, you have to move your hips to move off line. Movement has tremendous advantages. You deny the opponent a target. You force him to react to your movement. You change the actual reality of the moment. Movement gives you the opportunity to get you into a more advantageous position. I was confronted on a busy downtown street once by someone who turned out to be completely delusional, but they started to attack me when I had my back to a busy street. While teetering on the edge of the curb, I remember thinking that I hate to fight with my right side forward (which was mildly disconcerting to be distracted like this immediately before having to go fist city with this guy). As he got to the critical zone and I knew that we would actually be engaging physically in the next second, I moved off to one side allowing me to get away from the street and away from the traffic – I was afraid that our initial clash might result in me being pushed back into the street. My decisive movement did two things, I got away from the traffic and it also forced the guy to turn off his original line of attack and turn toward me. He stopped his attack, I think, because he saw that I had taken away his initial advantage. Movement gives you the impetus to break the emotional deadlock you might have with someone. I once found myself having a bit of a wrestling match of egos with a driver who I pulled over for speeding. I was suspicious of the driver because he had a notion about running from me when I turned on my lights, then he started to pull over, then he started to run again before finally pulling over. I was very wary and suspicious of this kind of behavior – the indecision as to whether they will stop or not. Plus I was a little mad, this guy was not pulling over despite being lit up. The driver turned out to be a normal guy with his wife out to pick up relatives. His story was that he didn‟t know I was trying to pull him over, he thought I was after someone else. Okay, not entirely implausible. But then he wanted to argue that he was not speeding, only driving fast. I felt myself being drawn into an unnecessary argument with this knucklehead. Maybe I had low blood sugar at the time. By moving back to my car to look at his license and registration, I broke the engagement. I unstuck myself from the conflict. The cop locked into the confrontation with the motorcyclist could have gotten out of his jam by moving to a different position. You could find yourself in a similar situation – and many people do – when the original conflict begins to escalate into a confrontation and you and the other guy find yourself doing the old, “oh, yeah, what are you going to do about it?” argument. Your ego and the other guy‟s ego drive both of you towards of point at which the confrontation turns into a fight. Marc MacYoung likens this kind of behavior to that of inexperienced poker players continuing to raise each others‟ bet simply because they have too much invested in the pot and not necessarily because they have a good hand. Movement is an initial starting point to begin solving problems. Remaining frozen in place because of indecision or lack of training allows the opponent to gain a huge advantage. Think of a fight akin to a chess match. In a chess match, one person makes a move. Then the opponent makes a move and so forth. If you played chess against someone and allowed them to make two, three, four moves without making a move of your own, the match would be over pretty darned quick. The same holds true for a fight. If you allow your opponent to make a series of moves without answering or countering any of them, you will be obliterated in short order. So the secret is to move. Your movement will at least negate his first move. Your first move? Step back. Better yet, step back at an angle. Unfortunately, we seem to be hard-wired in retreating from a threat in a direct line backwards. It‟s better than nothing, but an attacker can gain ground faster than you can give ground in a straight line. Better to step back at an angle. Often, it‟s even better to step off at a right angle. Imagine you are standing in the middle of a clock facing 12 o‟clock. At the very least, you should step back to the 6 o‟clock mark. Better is to step to the 5 or 4 o‟clock angle. Best, perhaps, is to step off to the 3 o‟clock angle. This method of movement works for p hysical confrontations as well as emotional, ego-driven ones as well. By physically stepping off at an angle, you can break the emotional connection you have with the other person. It gives you a tactical advantage as well. On the ground, you need to embrace the same principle. If you are stuck, you need to move. Here you will need to move your hips instead of your feet. If you just lay there, the opponent will maneuver into a more advantageous position. Get off your back by turning up onto your side, preferably facing the opponent. Scoot your hips away from the opponent to give you room to move. Generally in a grappling situation, the person on the bottom wants to move to increase his space and the person on the top wants to inhibit that movement to decrease the space between them. In the grand scheme of personal combat, there are different types of movement, e.g. linear, circular, vertical, etc. And all of those can‟t be addressed here. But the point of the article is to recognize the sticking points of confrontations and “unstick” the situation by moving. Be cognizant of its power and focus on it during your next training session. Fight to Win or Fight Not to Lose? You hear a lot of martial artists, cops and soldiers discussing how important it is to keep an "offensive mindset" in personal combat. You hear from others who maintain that you should not strike the first blow -- you should avoid, evade and keep your defenses intact. But which is really the best mindset for self-defense? Let's take a look at what the U.S. Marine Corps -- a group that has some expertise in the area of fighting -- has to say on the subject: "The offense and defense are neither mutually exclusive nor clearly distinct; as we will see, each includes elements of the other. "The offense contributes striking power. The offense generally has as its aim some positive gain; it is through the offense that we seek to impose some design on the enemy. The defense, on the other hand, contributes resisting power, the ability to preserve and protect oneself. Thus, the defense generally has a negative aim, that of resisting the enemy's will. "The defense is inherently the stronger form of combat. Were this not the case, there would be no reason ever to assume the defensive. The offense, with its positive aim, would always be preferable. But in fact, if we are weaker than our enemy, we assume the defensive to compensate for our weakness. Similarly, if we are to mount an offensive to impose our will, we must develop enough force to overcome the inherent superiority of the enemy's defense." U.S. Marine Corps Book of Strategy Hmm. The Marines think that defense is "inherently" stronger than offense, especially if you are weaker than your enemy. If we assume that your attacker is going to be bigger, tougher, stronger, meaner, and have the element of surprise - - then adopting a defensive strategy is probably a good move. This would be the fight-not-to-lose school. If your defense is strong enough then the attacker may be forced to withdraw simply because time is working against him...his chances of being caught increase as you successfully defend against his attacks. But, the other school of thought -- the fight-to-win faction -- says that to drive off an attacker or to get them to quit attacking, you're going to have to deliver some pain at some point. Otherwise, why wouldn't the attacker just keep attacking, even if your defense is superior? You have to put the opponent at risk and make him adopt a defensive posture. So, should you fight not to lose or fight to win? I think a good determinant is going to revolve around a number of items: Your mission. Are you a cop charged with pursuing and arresting a subject? Are you a soldier on a combat assignment or a peacekeeping assignment? Are you a protection agent charged with the safety of a person? Are you a citizen going about normal, routine activities? Your training. Are you an ex-Navy SEAL? Are you a boxer? An Aikido practitioner? Or, again, are you a citizen that has no formal training? Your physical attributes. Are you considered a young, large, athletic person? Or an older, smaller, couch potato? Are you a fast-twitch person or a slow-twitch person (I'm referring to your body's bias towards speed and strength or towards endurance)? Your temperament. Are you fiery and aggressive by nature? Are you calm during a crisis? Or are you passive and shy by nature? Do you have a heightened sense of justice? There are numerous attributes and conditions that could change depending on the circumstances. For example, a small, passive person could become an absolute tiger if something supremely important to them was sufficiently threatened. This could be the mother whose children are in danger. It could be the normally quiet, shy person who ends up performing heroically when they are outraged by the situation. But, generally, I would contend that the offensive mindset is going to work for the person who: Has a distinct mission to subdue, arrest or destroy bad guys; Is highly trained in an offensive art or system; Is physically strong and fast; Is aggressive. I would contend that a defensive mindset is going to work for those who: Primarily responsible for protecting others (either professionally as close protection operators or non-professionally as family members); Has training in an art or system that is primarily defensive oriented or has little or no training whatsoever; Is limited physically in areas of strength and speed due to factors like body composition, sex or age; Is more restrained or less aggressive by nature. But, in the final analysis, you need to have the ability and the option of moving fluidly from defense to offense in any encounter. There are concepts like evasion, counterattacks, pre-emptive strikes, immobilization, incapacitation and, yes, even the employment of lethal force that the well-prepared person needs to be able to employ. Hey, we never said this self-defense thing was going to be easy! Principles of Fighting at Night Remembering that many, if not most, fights occur at night or in dimly lit areas, Derek McDonald offers these principles of low light combat: 1. Read the light. Rarely are you in any area that is truly dark or light is totally absent. Learn to recognize the varying levels of light in your environment. Where are the partially lit areas? Are your backlit by door, window or other source (like your patrol car headlights)? 2. Dark holes are dangerous. "All dark holes contain threats" should be your mantra when moving in and around low light environments. Any area that is too dark to see into should be considered an area in which a possible threat could emerge. 3. See from the aggressor's viewpoint. Try and put yourself in the bad guy's position and visua lize what your position looks like from his vantage point. This is easier to do once you gain experience and an appreciation for point #1 above. 4. Move to the lowest level of light. Again, this follows from your awareness of point #1. Move out of the light into the shadows. McDonald says that "time in the light equals time as a target". Use the dark spots for concealment and to try to gain an advantage over the aggressor. This means you need to get out of doorways and other fatal funnels as quickly as possible. 5. Light and move. Your flashlight serves as a useful tool when used correctly, but it can become a liability if you allow your opponent to use it as a beacon to fix your location. Don't be a "walking lighthouse". Use your light in brief flashes to search the dark spots and to allow you to navigate to a new location. 6. Intermittent use of light at random heights. McDonald says studies show that opponents naturally shoot at your flashlight if you continually have it illuminated. Strobe the flashlight on an off and move it around randomly -- high to low, away from your centerline -- to confuse the opponent. (You can see a good example of this in the show, Gunfight Simulation for Self-Defense when the point man on the entry team constantly strobes and wands his light). Strive to present an unpredictable target for your adversary. 7. Never allow yourself to be backlit This is probably the number one no-no according to McDonald. (McDonald's principles are particularly true in the armed environment, but, ironically, I've found from experience that it's completely different in the empty hand environment.) Do not stop in doorways and be aware of a partner backlighting you with his flashlight. 8. Dominate with light. McDonald allows for two exceptions to use a constant light; when you are heavily backlit and cannot move, and when your subject has been located and is no threat because he is in no position to fire (again, McDonald's emphasis on the armed opponent). Use your light to shine into an opponent's eyes to blind him and dazzle him with your light. (I've found, again from experience, that most people react very belligerently and, sometimes, violently to having a light aimed at their eyes...get ready for a fight here.) 9. Breathe and relax. You will tend to hyperventilate when faced with a life -threatening event. "Breath control is the key to remaining calm, in control and aware...if your breath is out of control, you are out of control." Principles of Fighting at Night Remembering that many, if not most, fights occur at night or in dimly lit areas, Derek McDonald offers these principles of low light combat: 1. Read the light. Rarely are you in any area that is truly dark or light is totally absent. Learn to recognize the varying levels of light in your environment. Where are the partially lit areas? Are your backlit by door, window or other source (like your patrol car headlights)? 2. Dark holes are dangerous. "All dark holes contain threats" should be your mantra when moving in and around low light environments. Any area that is too dark to see into should be considered an area in which a possible threat could emerge. 3. See from the aggressor's viewpoint. Try and put yourself in the bad guy's position and visualize what your position looks like from his vantage point. This is easier to do once you gain experience and an appreciation for point #1 above. 4. Move to the lowest level of light. Again, this follows from your awareness of point #1. Move out of the light into the shadows. McDonald says that "time in the light equals time as a target". Use the dark spots for concealment and to try to gain an advantage over the aggressor. This means you need to get out of doorways and other fatal funnels as quickly as possible. 5. Light and move. Your flashlight serves as a useful tool when used correctly, but it can become a liability if you allow your opponent to use it as a beacon to fix your location. Don't be a "walking lighthouse". Use your light in brief flashes to search the dark spots and to allow you to navigate to a new location. 6. Intermittent use of light at random heights. McDonald says studies show that opponents naturally shoot at your flashlight if you continually have it illuminated. Strobe the flashlight on an off and move it around randomly -- high to low, away from your centerline -- to confuse the opponent. (You can see a good example of this in the show, Gunfight Simulation for Self-Defense when the point man on the entry team constantly strobes and wands his light). Strive to present an unpredictable target for your adversary. 7. Never allow yourself to be backlit This is probably the number one no-no according to McDonald. (McDonald's principles are particularly true in the armed environment, but, ironically, I've found from experience that it's completely different in the empty hand environment.) Do not stop in doorways and be aware of a partner backlighting you with his flashlight. 8. Dominate with light. McDonald allows for two exceptions to use a constant light; when you are heavily backlit and cannot move, and when your subject has been located and is no threat because he is in no position to fire (again, McDonald's emphasis on the armed opponent). Use your light to shine into an opponent's eyes to blind him and dazzle him with your light. (I've found, again from experience, that most people react very belligerently and, sometimes, violently to having a light aimed at their eyes...get ready for a fight here.) 9. Breathe and relax. You will tend to hyperventilate when faced with a life -threatening event. "Breath control is the key to remaining calm, in control and aware...if your breath is out of control, you are out of control." Balance Your Attributes vs. Skills Training If you've found that training to develop or retain proficiency in the art and sci ence of personal protection covers a vast amount of real estate, take heart, you're not alone. Almost everyone I know in this business complains about not being able to spend time on all of the areas necessary. Even professionals such as cops, executive protection specialists and military personnel spend a huge amount of time actually doing their "job" as well as the associated administrative duties which leaves very little time for training or practicing. Notice I said training or practicing. While we often use the two terms interchangeably, it might be useful to think of them as relating to two separate areas. Training is used to develop or maintain your attributes. Practice is used to develop or maintain your skills. What's the difference? Attributes are the qualities you have such as quickness, balance, endurance, strength, discipline, dedication, and determination. Skills are the abilities you have such as selection of strategies and tactics, application of techniques, manipulation of weapons and target accuracy. One area that bridges both of these is coordination. Is it an attribute or a skill? Probably both. If you are naturally coordinated, then your techniques will be smooth and efficient. If you practice the action enough times, your movements become more coordinated, therefore more smooth and efficient. Okay, you say, so what? The problem is that I often encounter individuals in DT classes who spend an unbalanced amount of time in either the "attributes" camp or the "skills" camp. A sign of the attributes devotee is the athlete who spends most of his time pushing iron. Bigger, stronger and more powerful are their watchwords. They expect to crush their opponents with shear overwhelming physical power. "Practice? Why practice when I can just flatten the guy". A sign of the skills devotee is the person who feels his superior technique or weapon manipulation will carry the day. These people expect to drop people with their head kick or by shooting him. "Lift weights? No way, it will hinder my speed". "Why workout, no one ever raped a .38!" You can guess where I'm going with this -- both types are in serious trouble when their plan doesn't go according to the script and their particular advantages are negated by the opponent or the circumstances. Remember, Murphy's Law? Any thing that can go wrong, will. And at the worst possible time. The 300-pound power lifter grabs his opponent looking to squeeze the life out of the guy only to react helplessly as the little guy pulls out a hidden knife and stabs him viciously multiple times. The karate black belt round kicks his opponent in the head, only to have the guy shake it off and bum rush the martial artist, taking him to the ground and pounding him into the parking lot. The practical shooting champion is circled by a pack of juveniles outside of the restaurant. His trusted firearm is safely locked in his car's glove box because in his state it's illegal to carry a firearm in an establishment that serves alcohol. You get the point. I've seen skills people who will argue endlessly about proper stance or bone alignment. Yet, they could not physically run 200 meters to save their souls. I've seen guys with the body of Adonis who cannot perform a relatively simple weapons disarm without virtually tripping over themselves. I know we are all pressed for time. But I implore you to take a look at the areas in which you spend most of your time. Unfortunately, you will probably fall into one camp or the other. You might spend the vast majority of your time running, biking or lifting. Or you spend the vast majority of your time dry firing or shooting targets. Or maybe you work your weapon of choice. Split up your workouts to try and more evenly cover attributes training and skill training. If you are lucky, your instructor, dojo or defensive tactics program has a comprehensive approach. Your program combines fitness training with repetition of techniques and role-playing or realistic scenario training. If not, you should develop your own program to cover all these areas. Sorry, no one promised that your path to becoming proficient in personal protection was going to be easy. You just have to be smarter, faster, stronger and more skillful than anyone else that you are likely to encounter. Like Geoff Thompson says, the ugly truth about violence is that it can only be stopped by greater violence. Balance Your Attributes vs. Skills Training If you've found that training to develop or retain proficiency in the art and science of personal protection covers a vast amount of real estate, take heart, you're not alone. Almost everyone I know in this business complains about not being able to spend time on all of the areas necessary. Even professionals such as cops, executive protection specialists and military personnel spend a huge amount of time actually doing their "job" as well as the associated administrative duties which leaves very little time for training or practicing. Notice I said training or practicing. While we often use the two terms interchangeably, it might be useful to think of them as relating to two separate areas. Training is used to develop or maintain your attributes. Practice is used to develop or maintain your skills. What's the difference? Attributes are the qualities you have such as quickness, balance, endurance, strength, discipline, dedication, and determination. Skills are the abilities you have such as selection of strategies and tactics, application of techniques, manipulation of weapons and target accuracy. One area that bridges both of these is coordination. Is it an attribute or a skill? Probably both. If you are naturally coordinated, then your techniques will be smooth and efficient. If you practice the action enough times, your movements become more coordinated, therefore more smooth and efficient. Okay, you say, so what? The problem is that I often encounter individuals in DT classes who spend an unbalanced amount of time in either the "attributes" camp or the "skills" camp. A sign of the attributes devotee is the athlete who spends most of his time pushing iron. Bigger, stronger and more powerful are their watchwords. They expect to crush their opponents with shear overwhelming physical power. "Practice? Why practice when I can just flatten the guy". A sign of the skills devotee is the person who feels his superior technique or weapon manipulation will carry the day. These people expect to drop people with their head kick or by shooting him. "Lift weights? No way, it will hinder my speed". "Why workout, no one ever raped a .38!" You can guess where I'm going with this -- both types are in serious trouble when their plan doesn't go according to the script and their particular advantages are negated by the opponent or the circumstances. Remember, Murphy's Law? Any thing that can go wrong, will. And at the worst possible time. The 300-pound power lifter grabs his opponent looking to squeeze the life out of the guy only to react helplessly as the little guy pulls out a hidden knife and stabs him viciously multiple times. The karate black belt round kicks his opponent in the head, only to have the guy shake it off and bum rush the martial artist, taking him to the ground and pounding him into the parking lot. The practical shooting champion is circled by a pack of juveniles outside of the restaurant. His trusted firearm is safely locked in his car's glove box because in his state it's illegal to carry a firearm in an establishment that serves alcohol. You get the point. I've seen skills people who will argue endlessly about proper stance or bone alignment. Yet, they could not physically run 200 meters to save their souls. I've seen guys with the body of Adonis who cannot perform a relatively simple weapons disarm without virtually tripping over themselves. I know we are all pressed for time. But I implore you to take a look at the areas in which you spend most of your time. Unfortunately, you will probably fall into one camp or the other. You might spend the vast majority of your time running, biking or lifting. Or you spend the vast majority of your time dry firing or shooting targets. Or maybe you work your weapon of choice. Split up your workouts to try and more evenly cover attributes training and skill training. If you are lucky, your instructor, dojo or defensive tactics program has a comprehensive approach. Your program combines fitness training with repetition of techniques and role-playing or realistic scenario training. If not, you should develop your own program to cover all these areas. Sorry, no one promised that your path to becoming proficient in personal protection was going to be easy. You just have to be smarter, faster, stronger and more skillful than anyone else that you are likely to encounter. Like Geoff Thompson says, the ugly truth about violence is that it can only be stopped by greater violence. Kicks for Self-Defense: Defend U. Members Speak Out No surprises here on the Kicking Survey that we sent out to members. Front, side and roundhouse -- those seem to be your most viable kicks for self-defens e. You advised to keep the kicks simple and to keep them low . And you think that – despite some disadvantages – kicks are an indispensable part of your self-defense tool box. However, one of you said “the weapon is only as good as the user” which I thought was a good point. I also thought the nature of the responses were good in the sense that many of you brought out your personal experience of using kicks or how others on your team used kicks in the street. It was also noted a number of times that a very common response by the untrained fighter is to charge in for a tackle (the “bum rush”) which tends to negate many kicks which – by definition – are used for longer range combat. Most of you also differentiat ed between your favorite tournament or “dojo” kicks and the kicks that you use on the street. Others brought up the unique aspects of self-defense that can affect your kicking such as less than ideal footing and being engaged in other activities like protecting your principle or carrying groceries. Take a look at some of the actual responses to the survey: My name is Jonathan Patterson…In Tang So Do we put less emphasis on spectacular kicks and more emphasis on hand techniques. In my experience teaching others, especially beginners, I have found that kicks are not the most effective means of self defense. In fact I only recommend kicking for self defense to advanced students. The exceptions to this are very low kicks, which are useful in certain situations. We teach these low kicks and leg techniques only after we feel that the students are proficient in non-violet escape. I personally, however, very much like kicks and use them a lot. In fact I am the "Leggiest" person in the studio. I use kicks as intimidation, distraction and finishing techniques. I mostly use them to open someone up for some hand techniques, which usually works quite well. As far as self defense goes med/high (abdomen) kicks definitely have their place....For advanced students. Head kicks should only be used in competition unless you are E XTREMELY proficient and fast. Thought I would share a couple of ideas. One of the first kicks I teach my regular students and absolutely the first kick I teach any of my self defense only students or participants in a sel f defense seminar is a stomping heel kick. This is basically a side kick that fires down at an angle striking the side of the knee attempting to damage the ligament and tendon structure possibly dislocating the knee or doing significant damage enabling the person defending to run away. The strongest kick is done by lifting the knee of the kicking leg up high in a chambered position thus confusing the enemy as to whether you are going to throw a standard side kick or roundhouse kick then shoot it down at an angle into the side of the knee. This is relatively easy technique to learn, does not require much flexibility, and can be done while wearing tight restrictive clothing. Another option is to throw front kicks to the inside or outside of the thighs shocking the muscles into not being very effective and causing the person to begin to drop his hands enabling a person to be able to fire effective hand strikes into the upper body and head. Steve Riggs I believe that any part of the body can become a weapon at the right time or circumstance. The technique of using kicks in self defense situations would greatly depend on the experience of the user and the situation in which the person would be able to deliver them. In my experience, low kicks which attack the toes up to the groin area have been more effective compared high kicks. I've been taken to the ground a couple of times whenever I tried kicking my opponent higher than his waist. Balance, speed, timing as well as power is essential when kicking is used in c ombat. This is because only one leg would be supporting the body during the performance of the technique. The higher the kick, the higher probability of failure. This would be different if the defender is already lying on the ground to start with. In which case, he could use kicks in order to avoid being mounted or to distract the opponent while he is trying to stand up and regain an upright position. Kicks, compared to punches would cover a longer range. It could be used as a pre-emptive strike to the shin, knee, thigh or groin then suddenly following it up by closing the gap between you and your opponent and delivering elbows, fists, knee, a head butt etc. A low kick to the same areas can stop an attacker who is trying to "close in" the gap. This could pro vide an opportunity for the defender to run away or even attack the attacker. The effectiveness of kicks would also depend on the shoe of the user. "Steel toe shoe protected feet" could be an advantage compared to "barefoot dojo feet". Since nobody nowa days walks on the streets barefooted, shoes toget her with the terrain would be a factor in practicing kicks for self-defense. The distance of the opponent will also be a factor in the kind of kick to be used. If your opponent is too close to use a 45 degre e taekwondo kick, then use the knee against the groin, thighs, or abdomen. "Keeping it Simple" is the key to survival on the streets so the number of kicks or combination would depend on the situation. How many times can you really kick a guy in the fac e when he's on the floor, while his buddies are trying to stab you in the kidneys? Compare this to kicking a guy in the face when he is standing up, while his buddies are all lined up ready to do you harm. If its a self defense situation, "flashy movie kicks" would be more detrimental to one's survival. In saving your life and your loved ones, even the most unthinkable weapon should be us ed without hesitation. In this adrenalin -pumping moment, there's no time to analyze the form or look perfect when performing kicks. The weapon is only as good as the user. Carlo Prado Here‟s my experience with kicks. I will speak out of my personal experience and the experiences I‟ve had in training military, law enforcement and martial artists. 1. Should kicks/knees be a primary weapon: Yes, but we need to be realistic in regards to our objectives, skills and the conditions. • I have a former Tae Kwon Do national champion that works out with us that can land kicks most of us never could. At 145 lbs., he‟s lightening fast, very powerful for his size, and does very well at not telegraphing his kicks. But as he‟s learned, just landing the kick doesn‟t mean it will be effective, especially against larger, charging opponents. He‟s presently learning how to use his kicks in real self-defense situation, but he‟s having to go through a big “unlearning” proc ess. • I know a guy (about 6‟2”, 225 lbs. Solid and strong) with multiple black belts that got in a fight with a Georgia football player (exact size unknown). Our black belt landed a roundhous e and a two-punc h combination that didn‟t even phase the football player (except for making him angry ). My friend ended up in the hospital with a broken arm, ribs, nose, and jaw. • I‟ve found that many people of average coordination can freque ntly land knees in close quarters, when they aim at large targets. The two targets I focus on are the outer thigh (when off line) and inside the triangle that‟s formed between the your opponents two knees and their groin (on cent er line). The key is to make sure they‟re distracted on the high line or not expecting it. • When grounded you need to be able to use kicks to help buy you time to get to your feet and to keep your opponent at bay. • When grappling and rolling around there are often openings to land kicks or knees. • Everyone needs to know how to land a good stomp / piston kick and a front kick. 2. Many of the martial artists that come to my programs want to know how to make their martial art more “street effective”. One of the first things they nee d to do is get out of the habit of throwing so many kicks. In real situations, battlefield (street) debris makes it very easy to trip or slip when throwing kicks. Now you‟re on the ground. Better know what to do when you‟re there. • I personally know 5 or 6 police officers that have tried to throw shin kicks in close quarters and ended up on the ground. Not only have objects and debris got in the way, but many trained and untrained fighters first move consists of a take down, tackle or charge. Russ Holder Tough one this! I've always considered kicking and essential skill, part of being able to work your opponent, but I have a mate who really struggles with any type of kick and this is in controlled situations. I also have a mate who's a Bobby (British Police officer) who told me how he dropped a violent offender "like a bag of shit" (his words!) with a knee strike to the thigh (commonly known to English school boys as a "dead leg"). I've always favoured a Fairbairn/Sykes style side stomp to the knee joint, but if you get the opening and connect well with this one it usually results in permanent damage! For that reason I've swapped my training to Thai style round kicks of the type favoured by Peter Consterdine of the British Combat Association. I've no first hand experience of these techniques in the street yet, but they work well in the gym and in role play sessions. My only concern is that these move's seem to need a fair amount of room even when directed low. At the end of the day if you feel you can pull them off under pressure go for them, front, round or side stomp, what ever! If you don't feel comfortable or they feel unnatural forget it - there are alternatives! Most of all remember the 5 P 's - Practise, Prevents, Piss Poor, Performance! Regards, Mark I believe that kicks (properly applied) are an indispens able part of any functional street fighting repertoire. Reason for this is 98% of the time, your opponent leads with either leg and it is logical to consider it as a primary target (shin or knee joint). a kick whether loaded with sting or not is also a good way to bridge the gap. In addition to my big guns (close range punches, elbows, headbutts, eye jabs, throat grabs) I also train the ff kicks for street fighting: knee shots (to the groin or thigh/sciatic nerve), front kick whether scooping up to the groin or as a thrust to the solar plexus, low round house to the groin, low side kick to the shin or knee, muay thai round kick to the thigh (sciatic nerve) and finally oblique kick to the knee. Though I have no objection in practicing high/acrobatic kicks for perfection of body mechanics it has always been my opinion that it is always practical to kick below the waist in a street fight. Thanks and more power. Perry Gil S. Mallari Sorry for the delay... I had written a much more "in depth" analysis a couple of weeks ago and just as I hit send, my server went down. I didn't have another chance until now to reply. For sheer brute, I believe that Muay Thai low line kicks offer the best collection of techniques. Also, Muay Thai stresses the importance of knees and elbows. I train a lot in the clinch range and Thai techniques are very good for this. I study Muay Thai, Boxe Francaise Savat e, Jun Fan Kickboxing and Kickboxing for stand up, as well as some Sho oto. Out of all of these Muay Thai wins the draw for the best techniques for self defense. For "self defense" I don't believe that you need to know a huge array of kicks, but be sure to know at least one or two for various positions then drill, drill, drill them so you develop muscle memory for these different scenarios. My favorite kicking technique which I use frequently in sparring, is to use a cut kick to the inside of the opponents lead leg, then follow it up with a low line Thai kick to the outside of the same leg. On the street I would target the opponent‟s knee... Linda Langerak For me personally in a self defence situation I would use a Front Kick. For the reason that when the kick is executed the attacker will go down like a ton of bricks, giving them pelvic damage. This would me the opportunity to make an escape, the attacker is hardly likely to chase after me wit h pelvic damage !!!!!!!!!. In my group we work primarily on kicks from about mid-thigh down. Included are a low sweeping kick done with the instep to the shin and ankles - it's intended to make use of the shoe sole; a kick similar to a roundhouse, but without a chamber - you sort of "scrunch" your body to generat e force; finally, there's a front kick done with the sole of the foot whic h can be done with a snap or thrust, or like a step into the target area, like a stomp. Our instructor stresses that the kicks should be done with an upper-body attachment in an effort to control and overcome the opponent by upsetting balance, pain, and distraction. We sometimes work on foot traps, to include stepping on the opponents feet. There are also steps -on and stomps against a downed opponent. Finally, we have been introduced to kicking while on the ground from kneeling, lying, down on all fours, etc. Most of the practice has been from lying on the back. Personally, I try to keep in a sort of weight-transfer low sidekick intended to disrupt movement, etc. We don't work combinations. We try to work out of what has been presented by the opponent. We t ry not to give away a leg by kicking above the opponents lowest reach, but we do practice blocking against high kicks. We're still learning as a group as our instructor synthesizes his years of learning and practice with new info as it becomes available. (I'm glad he's enthusiastic regarding his own education. ) The goal is to function in a practical and efficient manner. This includes living peacefully and with situational awareness as a practical and efficient way of overcoming violence. Marc Berber hi my own experiance with use of kicks is as follows: i belive in first the conditions for which you find your self in : is the ground slippery from ices wet leaves mud etc. how muc h room do you have , are you faceing multiple attackers. if the condition is right then my faves are #1 spinning back hook kick to kidneys or back of leg , front side kick to side of knee, kick to shins, knees toback behind knee, knees to stomach knees to face hair grab use of legs to impead there forward movement , to unbalance them, to set them up for a hand techneque. for triping last ones to use if they are down stomp to chest throat kick, to head . groin only if it is truly unprotected, most street fighters are good at protecting this area. droping knee in to stomach if they are down or knee to back with head or clothes pullto rear, use of knee to brake arm or back over high spining kicks an flying kicks only work in movies an those who have little fighting ex periance. or if you have them tied up by holding there arms or a part of there clothing limiting there movement. i have studied praying mantis,ju jitsu, judo, ouichi ryu karat e, and use of blades and street fighting . also did some work as security for a rock band (local band). thanks train hard fight hard live well rich browne Re kicks. There is a program called Impact/Model Mugging whic h has been around for a long time and has been extremely successful using pin releases, ground fighting and kicking from the ground. Many graduates of their programs (both men and women) report that they deterred an attacker this way. Their program even goes so far as to tell a standing person to drop down and assume the groundfighting position. I also advocate this method. Susan Bart elstone I believe that any kick above thigh level on you r opponent/attacker in a self-defense scenario is impractical, and borders on showboating. Other than to activate the tibial, common peroneal, or femoral pressure points, there are few realistic uses for kicks, especially for people wit hout years of martial arts training. My last point would be that in a self defense situation, a kick is not very "camera safe" meaning that to onlookers, kicks look very offensive, and make you appear to be the aggressor. That's my $.07 ($.02 adjusted for inflation.) Your mileage may vary. Jason Welin I have studied Tae Kwon Do (junior black belt level), Hapkido (junior black belt level), SCARs (novice level) and Taijutsu/Ninjutsu (shihan black belt level).. Each art/way has their own unique techniques for kicking. I find for self defens e and my military defense I use the front stomp kicks and the hook (around the knee level) instinctually. I don't think of "primary" or "non-option". If the enemy and I end on the ground brawling in combat (i.e. when ent ering enemy terrain) y ou begin to exponentially risk alerting someone with the rustling on the ground. San or soft earth, each makes a characteristic sound when your taking out the enemy. As to number of kicks in your tool - box... I feel as many as you feel comfortable in learni ng should be enough. You allow flexibility in your legs and in swiveling your hips. Battle or real defense is never a set kata routine. The katas taught nowadays came from some battle or fight from many years ago. find that more than 3 to 7 seconds with one opponent is more than enough. Any more than that and three scenarios may take place. You'll be overwhelmed with the enemy's friends. Your the weak er fighter. Or your too equally matched. As too style that is particularly adept at collection of techniques ? Any that is eclectic or offers a combination. I don't believe in limiting you self in training your muscles too only respond in limited ways (hard style or soft). I use both styles in battle. I find that I use kicks as a "intro." because I have now judged the distance bet ween the enemy and myself and closed the gap. Now I have limited the enemy's range and hopefully the possibility of a firearm being used. Guns do make noise in the silent of the night with a silencer on. I have used my legs to "ensnare" the sentry or to push the one enemy into the other to startling them or pushing them into each other to allow the split second for my partners to sweep in and assist in the operation. Mike Harper I'm a cop myself and there are really only four that I cons ider of any practical worth on the street are these four primarily. A side kick directed to the front or side of the knee. I'm more inclined to believe the Korean style side kick is what you'd want to use because it's based on a straight thrust instead of a snapping motion. The front snap kick to the testicles. The round kick or shin kick to the common peroneal nerve The front kick using the point of your shoe or boot directed to the shin or tibial nerve I've found that the thrust kick to the stomach is effective in creating a gap or knocking someone back but it's not a debilitating kick. Jeff Hatzenbeller Best leg technique in self-def. gedan Mawashi -geri (in knee or upper leg) I teach 2 kicks, toe of foot to ankle, stomp kick to instep. Also kicking with shin is a very good weapon for advanced self-defense. As far as utilizing kicks in a physical confront ation, I have found that low kicks offer a greater deal of success. If kicks are to be employed they should be kept below the 9t h or 10th rib. The us e of the legs should not be discounted as a useful weapon. The knees can be employed to engage the common peroneal nerve on the lateral side of the thigh mid way between the hip and the knee. Another very useful technique that I have had success with is what I call the Inside Kick. The inside kick is not so much a kick as it is foot placement with a quick redistribution of body weight on a target. The inside kick is performed by first being within close proximity to the opponent. The foot is then brought in line with the target and the full length of the foot is brought into contact with the target from the inside, on a 45 degree angle. At the instant contact is made with the target, all of the defender‟s weight is shifted to the contact foot as it steps ont o and thru the target. This technique is limited to targets such as the knees and the ankles. This technique is very effective when employed at extremely close range on the ankle which will result in a severe sprain, possible dislocation or break. Thanks, R.S. Kerman Wedemeyer here from the Vancouver Police Department in Vancouver, WA. I am currently assigned to our Training Unit as a Defensive Tactics instructor. We teach only 2 types of kicks here at our agency. We have found these to be the easiest to do (allows for some kind of slop factor and still can be done usefully) and with our training time constraints, have to limit what and how much we teach. Kicks We Teach: Stop Kick - straight forward kick.......similar to a foot jab from Thai Kickboxing....but with a little more power behind it. Round Kick - similar to the way it is taught in Thai Kickboxing....contact made with the shin as compared to the top of the foot. Do they work - our SWAT team #1 man uses the stop kick religiously when he makes ent ry and there is a body that needs to be moved in the way. I have seen the round kick used many times in street application and it has served its purpose as well. I am sure there are other kicks that work just as good....just what we do here and they have wo rked. The most effective kicks for me have been below the waist. Side-stepping into an attacker's shin, ducking a punch and straight-kicking a kneecap. I'm a pretty big guy and I have short legs. Pulling a Jackie Chan is a little too much for me. Tim Weston About kicks as self defence -- I believe that you do need kicks for self defence especially when you are getting attacked by 2 or more people because you need to us e every weapon you have available and kicks are more powerful then hand techniques, but of course kicks are not as fast as the hands and errors in kicks may cause problems in street situations. My favourite kicking technique is the hook kick but I would not use that in a street situation. A realistic kick combination would be a sweep with one leg then followed by a round kick with the other leg to the head or body. So i believe that only simple basics kicks can be used like the round kick, front kick, side kick and back kick. thanks Paul I am writing in regards to your survey on kicks. My name is Matthew Teasdale i teach martial arts and work as a doorman for a living, and in my experience I have found four kicks to be sufficient. The first is a front kick usually employed on a rushing opponent to stop his momentum. This one works pretty well for me on the door as we do get a lot of people trying to rush you or rush the club from a distance, but i wonder if this scenario would happen in a self defence situation? maybe? The next kick is a low Thai or Pananjakman style round kick, works well for me from talking range and with a high line distraction. Thirdly i find the front snap kick to the groin an extremely effective tool, usually making them drop their hands in pain or psychological reaction, and inviting you to have their chin. The last but certainly not least is the stomp, this one i use when he is on the ground and i am not. I find these kicks to be very simple and effective. (they do also work well from a grounded position, but you have to change the context!) thanks very much, matthew I know this sounds corny, but when I think about fighting techniques sometimes, I look to the movies. In this case, action and martial arts cinema have completely altered my view and application of kicking techniques. I am only a little embarrassed to s ay that I adopt my kicking techniques from renowned action star Steven Seagal, who is famous for his Aikido techniques. Aikido, as I've come to understand, is most definitely not a kick -oriented style of martial arts or self-defense. Mr. Seagal, however, execut es several different techniques from several different styles of martial arts and close quarters reality combat techniques. My kicks have transformed based on his stylings. To elaborate, I hardly ever practice round -house kicks or any type of jump - kicks. High kicks are usually only practiced for fun or stretching exercises. For practical application, I have come to believe that a powerful, quick, well-placed kick to key points below the waist such as the groin or inside of the knee can be essential to unbalancing or inflicting a moderate amount of pain on an opponent. Furthermore, I've come to practice my kicks almost always in straight line with my body, which puts all of my body's momentum and force into the kick. Take for instance a kick executed no higher than chest level, keeping spine as straight as possible and leaning in with everything I've got. Many times, this form of kick is rather difficult to block if used wit h correct speed and power and in conjunction with other "moves", which serve to disorient an opponent to the point of not being able to anticipate your kick and, therefore, not being able to dodge, block, or counter -attack. There are, of course, exceptions if one is facing multiple opponents and may be attacked from the side, in which c ase one may decide to execute a side-kick. In conclusion, I must stress that this is simply what I have come to practice personally. I have tremendous respect for any and all techniques applied by absolut ely anyone. One of the first basic principles of com bat, "If it seems or looks stupid but it works, it isn't stupid." I sincerely hope I have been of assistance. Best wishes. Stay safe. I believe that if one is going to use kicks, low kicks (below the waist) are probably the safest, and potentially the m ost effective, or at least most likely to connect with the target. What Paul Vunak has called the oblique kick (targets--knee/shin) would seem to be an effective technique. Bill Shaw's tape entitled "Attacking the Legs" will be valuable for anyone who want s to learn devastating low kicks. My experience lies wholly within the realm of police defensive tactics. As a DT instructor who deals with recruits and in-servic e officers, I find the kicks and knee strikes we train to be very effective for subject control. Here are some of the reasons: 1. The kicks and knee strikes we train are a gross motor skill and are easily refined - they have to be due to limited training time and varying levels of officer skill and fitness 2. With proper body mechanics a lot of power can be generated from the lower body 3. With knee strikes especially, follow up techniques are easily accomplished and the subject can be decentralized safely and effectively 4. People don't see them coming - nobody expects a cop to kick or knee-strike them, they are watching your ey es and your hands We train a variety of strong side and reaction side knee strikes and kicks - the most effective is the strong side knee strike delivered to the lower abdomen. The strong angle kick targets the knee or the common peroneal nerve. The front kick targets the lower abdomen and is trained for an instance when the officer has a weapon (handgun, long gun) in hand and needs to gain distance or stop an advance. Bottom line is knee-strikes and kicks are in our arsenal to stay and we advocate their use for effective subject control. Hi there, it's been a while since I've actually had to use a kick in a fight scenario -but lunge or side kicks were the first that "spring" to mind and the lunge kick can deliver serio us power when close to your opponent, driving him/her back considerably allowing a broader range of options to open up. That's been generally my experienc e. Hope it was helpful, Dave Reilly Good day ! I believe that kicks are essential for self-defense. However, learning the right kicks are crucial for one's survival. Based on my training and experience, I believe that kicks should be: 1. Simple - for ease of learning and internalization 2. Flexible - applicable for a wide variety of situations and positions 3. Aimed low - so as not to overly disturb one's balance For me, the most crucial kicks for a good self-defens e foundation are the front kick, side kick, back kick and knee strike. They are simple to learn. They can be us ed while standing or even on the ground. They are most effective when aimed at low-line targets. Thanks for listening and more power! Art Cruz I believe for self defense you should have three different kicks. A good side kick can be devastating depending on your position verses your opponent. A round house kick with your shins can be very effective to the leg area. Front kicks can be useful for the sake of creating distance bet ween you and your opponent depending on if you are more of a striker than a grappler. In my opinion kicks shouldn't be any higher than solar plexus. Malcolm Hinds I got your email on kicking. The kicks that are taught to me in my style are practical in their own way. The good thing about kicks is that they are strong and develop important elements such as balance, coordination, and flexibility. A couple major downsides are that they are slower than the arms and if someone attacks you while you kick, you are in MAJOR trouble. Personally, in combat, I would use kicks as a finishing move or at the start to counterjam an opponent. If it was a single opponent, that would be no problem. Multiple attackers...I may have to weigh my options. I still keep kicks in my arsenal, though, in case i really need them. My favorite tools of the body are my hands and my elbows. I can easily flow from one hand technique to the other or use my elbows when at close range. These tools are faster than my feet and can end situations quickly. Still, kicks are still the strongest and are more likely to drop an opponent for good. I hope this helps with your survey. Shawn A. Bent Kicks are good for self-defense, but not like they are in the movies. What if you are attacked while carrying groc eries? Kicks would be pretty valuable here. Low, quick front kicks and low side kicks and stomp kicks are great. If someone is grabbing at you high, the low kick may be available. If surprised from the rear, the low back kick could be an option. The more fancy kicks can also work, but your timing and and set up had better be pretty darn good. My thou ght is keep it simple and quick. Phillip Poe I would definitely never use a kick higher than waist-level and would prefer to keep them targeted at the knees. Using kicks as a "fake" to get the opponent to prematurely react is another idea - you know, lifting your knee to make them think you're going to kick. I just feel unless you are really fast and have a lot of experience kicking, kicks are too risky. What a horror it would be to have your kick caught and held while the opponent is using his kicks to smash your groin. My Shorin-Ryu teacher taught us to never use a kick higher than waist -high in a street fight - we trained high kicks, but only for the purpose of conditioning. Throw out the spinning back kicks and axe kicks and strictly use front thrust and round-hous es - these have a lower risk of failure. Side kicks are great too (waist-high and below), especially if you have grabbed a punch or kick. Foot sweeps have always been a favorite (with minimal risk) of mine. I've had good luck with them in sparring/kumite, not really making the opponent fall down, but throwing them off balance for a second, allowing an effective follow up attack. Also, using your legs to block kicks is very effective. Jeff Tallon I have done NHB in MMA contests and practice Kempo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo. I was a collegiate wrestler and have some boxing experience. I have found that kicks above the waist can be effective but unless the timing is impeccable the kicker ends up back side as oft en as not. A front instep kick [rising kick] can be effective in real confrontations but most men can instinctively guard their groin and may not slow down someone high or pumped up with anger or insanity. I have found in the ring that a trained fighter who is fres h can snuff most kicks but that a tired fighter can be knocked to next week with a kick. Kicks can be dangerous as a count er move. You may recall Salo Riberia (editors note: Saulo Ribiero), five time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champ, black belt in Judo and regular badass, got knocked out by a kick boxer in 22 second in 2000 Coliseum in Japan when he tried a double leg takedown, telegraphing the whole way. Kicks like any other weapon have their place in ones arsenal. The only drawback would be fixating on the kick and ignoring the remainder of your weapons. What's your favorite kicking technique? ANSWER: The one that fits the situation and works at the time. I have found that more deceptive techniques work best. A roundhouse instep to the side and then to the back of the ear is very effective. A found snap [we call it front ball] to the midsection count ering a charging guy works about 80% of the time even against trained guys. If I can get someone to chase, a spinning back kick [or hook] seems to work a lot of time. The Muay Thai roundhouse kick above the knee shook a 340lb guy I fought onc e and almost dropped him [if I had been better with it I could have dropped him I only learned it a week before the bout]. What's realistic kicking combination? A crescent or reverse crescent kick that clears out the arms and then a front ball kick with the opposite leg seems to have high success rate. In addition to the above described roundhouse combination. How many kicks do you really need? As many as you can do and learn. If you are attacked in outside or in a room with junk in the way you might need to jump and kick if the situation calls for it. So, why limit yourself. This learn martial arts in 7 days crap is put out by the same people that want to add 3 inches to everyone's manhood. There are no shortcuts. A good fighter learns the best way to do everything he physically can do and sharpens his tools with each training session. Kicks aren't really recommended in a street fight. It is a poor self defense measure as it can easily throw the defender off balance. There are times when it may be used but its better they stay low. The only real use I think of a kick may be as a diversion or to keep distance from the attacker. A kick to the knee or shin of the attacker will be a good diversion for moving in close. Also, a punch is almost always faster than a kick so if the attacker kicks you, your punch can come much quicker. So if he kicks you can strike very quickly to the chin or nos e. But don't use those one shot karate type blows they'll get you k illed in the street. Take up some boxing and don‟t let up on your strikes until the attacker has backed off or you are able to escape. It may seem cowardly but its better to get away if you can, because the only win in a street fight is to survive. Excess violence doesn't prove anything, and will get you in jail. But training is the only real way to make this all work. Brad: Good survey. I'm a defensive tactics law enforcement instructor for a Texas Sheriffs Department. One kick that has really worked for a few of us has been the knee to the side of the leg (common peroneal nerve). It 's low key, works on most people and body types, is effective for take down/handcuffing and leaves no permanent damage. Just my opinion, but some other kicks I think are extremely useful for law enforcement are: simple side of foot kick to shin or top of opponents foot for distraction and, a simple front push kick with sole of foot...not so much to damage as to just push away and gain space/time to possibly go to a higher level of force. Kicks are great, but anything but a simple low to medium kick is to hard to deliver enc umbered with Sam Brown belt, etc. and can take away balance. Best, Keith Schmidt As we say in the service, "KISS, Keep It Simple, S******". I think what works best is a simple kick to the shin or side of the knee. The back of the knee is good also. Then just get your principle out of harms way. Respectfully, Sammuel Marotta After the Takedown, Now What? You've found yourself in a violent encounter. If you are a citizen, he's closed the distance on you and you've taken him down to avoid his damaging punches and kicks. If you are a professional, you've closed the distance on him and taken him down in preparation for arrest. For some people, this situation is a bit like the dog that chases the car -- now that you've got one, what are you going to do with it? You've survived the first part of the storm and you need put yourself in a position to do any or all of the following: 1. Keep him from hitting you, but having the option to hit him if warranted; 2. Watch for his friends coming to his aid; 3. Disengage if your safety requires; 4. Hold him for authorities; 5. Handcuff him; 6. Submit him. First, Work for the Mount In any altercation your first priority is to protect your head. For LEOs or other armed agents, simultaneously, you will be protecting your firearm. After your takedown, our second priority is to achieve the mount. This is a classic position that has you on top of the opponent with both knees astride his torso. In the photo below, the officer is said to be "mounted" on the bad guy. Confusingly enough, the bad guy is also said to be "mounted". However, to differentiate we usually say that the guy who has the mount is "maintaining the mount", while the guy who is mounted is "defending" or "escaping the mount." The ideal mount is done with your knees high up toward his armpits, both your arms out for balance, your weight is relaxed down onto the opponent's upper chest and face. Stay off of his hips so you don't get bumped up making you susceptible to be thrown off. If you wind up in any other position after the takedown, you will want to either scramble to achieve the mount or deliberately work towards the mount if you have good control from cross side or North-South positions. In case you have never been mounted, I can tell you that it sucks to be on the bottom. The top guy gets to use gravity, body weight, friction, and leverage to hold the guy down on the bottom. When mounted, most people expend an awful lot of energy trying to escape this position. The more they thrash, push and struggle the more quickly they fatigue and the more mistakes they make leaving them open for submissions. Just to make things simple, you can mount him when he is on his back or when he is on his stomach. Second, Take his Back And therein lies the second part of this equation -- you want him turned onto his stomach with you still mounted. By being mounted on his back, you can now achieve any or all of the six positive points delineated above: Obviously, he is in no position whatsoever to be able to hit you while he is face down. Keep your head up! Do a visual scan around to make sure his friends are not coming to test out their Doc Martens on your scalp. You don't need to look down at him -- you know where he is, you're mounted on him! If his friends are coming or you need to quickly leave, you can disengage from the mount easily when he is face down. Don't just stand up however. Swing one leg off of him and, while pressing your weight on his back to keep him on the ground, quickly push off of him to gain distance. By having his back, you can elect to hold him there, call for his hands for cuffing or work a neck or head restraint. When you are on his back, however, keep your weight lower on his hips so he can't come up on his knees and force you to slide over his head. We've found that most people with wresting or judo backgrounds habitually turn over onto their stomachs without much effort on your part because they ha ve trained not to "get pinned". (By the way, please do not turn onto your stomach when fighting. About the only positive attribute to this motion is that you are spared from seeing the blows as they rain down on you). If the attacker does turn over on his own, make sure you have a loose enough mount that he can rotate without catching your legs under him and dragging you over. If the attacker doesn't roll onto his stomach voluntarily, then we will have to persuade him to roll over. Since we are working a scenario that assumes you have taken a VIOLENT person down (otherwise you would not normally be forced to mount someone), I will presume that there is hitting going on. We've found that the most reliable way to make someone turn over is to repeatedly slap them in the face or on the side of the head. Most humans will naturally move away from pain and will turn over and cover their head with both arms. I would recommend open hand strikes to the head and face to protect your hands and to keep the punishment a nd damage to the opponent as minimal as possible. There is also an alternative to hitting. We've found that almost everyone will try to push you off of them (Figure 1 at right -- roll your mouse over the photo to see the caption). This is especially true if you focus on keeping your weight over him. When they push you, it is very easy to knock their arm to the inside (Figure 2 at left) and to use the side of your head and neck to keep it pressed harmlessly across their own chest (Figure 3 at right) It is very difficult for anyone to get their arm back and their elbow to the floor once you have trapped it this way. Reach under his head and grab the wrist of the arm that you are trapping and pushing across his face (Figure 4 at right). Use a combination of pulling on his wrist with your arm reaching under his head and pushing with your other arm on his trapped arm to start to roll him over to his stomach (Figure 5 at left). I also use my chest to push on his shoulder to assist with the process. You'll have to mind your mount and loosen up your legs to allow him to roll over onto his stomach. If you keep his arm tucked in tight to his body as you roll him over, he'll end up rolled on top of it. (Figure 6 at right). This is a great move for you because it traps his arm so he can't use it to defend against your choke, ah, I mean, neck restraint and it is very uncomfortable for him and it is sometimes difficult to breathe when in this position. If the guy is not pushing you, you can still perform the same move by making him give you his arm. Take your forearm and blade it across his throat. Again, most normal human beings will move away from pain and push your arm off of their throat. That's when you bump his arm across and perform the same technique as noted above. You also have the option of not taking him all the way over (Figure 7 at left). In the middle of the roll you can stop when he is on his side. Sit up tall and pull up on the wrist that you are holding (your other arm will be completely free). You still have his arm wrapped around his own face and throat and now he is completely helpless and exposed to your strikes. This is a savage position to be put in -- you are helpless and your neck and spine are torqued at a painful angle. If you are training, you'll get a lot of people to tap here. If you are doing it on the street you can hold the person here for quite a while. Make sure you keep your weight on him by literally sitting on him. Your knee on his back side should be up by his head and tucked tight against his back. The heel of your foot by his stomach should be snug up against his hip or stomach. Don't give him any room to wiggle. Try this simple process in training. When you have an end game in mind (mount, then take his back) it makes the process substantially easier whe n in the real fight. Facing Multiple Attackers? Styles, Attributes and Strategies for Successful Self-Defense By Brad Parker It‟s the nightmare of most martial artists – facing multiple attackers. Popular martial arts movies and television shows routi nely show the hero defeating multiple attackers, often with entertaining moves and running comedic dialog. However, this is no joking matter when you are faced with multiple opponents. Studies show that assaults are more likely to escalate into homicides when there are multiple attackers, particularly when the attackers are juveniles. Whether this is because the victim is absorbing multiple trauma or because the wolf pack mentality of the group causes the fight to go far beyond the limits that a single attacker would go, I cannot say. But if you are faced with multiple attackers you are in deep, deep, trouble. Multiple attackers mean angles, weapons and levels of attack increase exponentially, not just by the sum of the number of attackers. Four attackers don‟t just mean you have to worry about four times the trouble, now you have 16 times as many weapons to contend with. Yet, it is possible for a single person to defeat multiple attackers. I have seen a video of Royler Gracie avoiding and evading two of the largest L.A. County Sheriff‟s Deputies present in a seminar. These two brutes could not control Gracie and it was obvious that they would not have been able to keep him in one place long enough to assault him. Similarly, I have a video tape of a single suspect virtually destroying two Texas State Troopers. To make matters worse, the two officers are both hitting the suspect with expandable batons and the suspect ends up flooring both officers with punches. Evidently, in these situations, the two combatants were not equal in the skill or strength of the single combatant. So how do you train to become so skillful that you can reasonably expect to defeat multiple opponents? Is there a style that most advantageous to study? What are the best strategies and techniques? “A mass attack can happen in a variety of situations and so quickly and unexpectedly that you have little or no time to think about it,” says Loren Christensen, a former police officer, defensive tactics instructor and now author on self-defense. “It‟s important to think about it now and experiment with it in your training.” He gives these tips: 1. You must think quickly and anticipate the attackers‟ moves. 2. Think in terms of striking targets that either stun or are potentially lethal. Consider striking the temple, throat, mastoid, spine, solar plexus, kidneys, groin, and knees. These targets maximize the effectiveness of your blows, thus conserving your strength and energy. 3. You must control your breathing to keep your anxiety in check and your energy level high. 4. Move fluidly with grace and balance. 5. Power can be increased by adding leverage, speed of delivery, and mass. 6. If you are fighting with your hands, be careful not to injure them. Christensen has a substantial backgro und in karate with seven black belts. He also has two black belts in jujitsu and one in arnis. Marc MacYoung, an ex-bouncer and currently a prolific self-defense writer, goes for the “single out the mouth” concept. He confronts the leader of the group and tells him, basically, that no matter what happens; Mr. Mouth is going to pay severely for the fight. MacYoung advocates maneuvering opponents into a single line so they cannot all reach you at the same time. “Triangles are bad” he says. “Stay moving” and try to breech their line so you can get to a more advantageous position. But however you do it; MacYoung says keep it simple and get it over with quickly. “I always planned my violence for both the shortest time possible as well as the simplest, most bulletproof moves I could find, “he says. “When I streamlined it down to the bare basics, all I was doing was keeping it so simple that things were less likely to go wrong.” To world-famous bouncer Geoff Thompson, it‟s all about offense. “I have probably been involved in more than 100 fights where the numbers were against me,” he says. “I won because I was first to initiate the physical attack.” Thompson also fears getting flanked by opponents. “Part of the attacker‟s ritual is the pincer movement. One attacker, usually the one facing and threatening you, will deploy your attention while the others attack from your blind side.” Thompson‟s training is traditional karate, boxing and judo. He usually advocates knock out blows. “If you feel an attack is imminent, attack first. This is the most critical factor in such a scenario,” he says. “My own preemptive strike would be a right cross/hook to the jaw preceded by some kind of mentally disarming verbal communication, hopefully neutralizing the first person,” says Thompson. “Then I would attack with headbutts, punches, or kicks to the remaining antagonists, depending upon my distance from them.” Thompson‟s tactics would be supported by the writings of the ancient Japanese swordmaster Miyomoto Musashi, who said, “When facing multiple opponents, you must attack first and keep attacking until the danger subsides.” The keys for victory from these professionals and others who have successfully defeated multiple opponents could tend to be generalized as: 1. Constant and effective movement; 2. Aggressive attitude; 3. Superior striking skills; 4. Use of weapons. So which styles might be able to instill these skills to you as a student? Here are some common styles (in no particular order) which have the elements people have used to defeat multiple opponents: Muy Thai – Known for specializing in savage leg kicks, knee strikes and a variety of powerful elbow strikes. Krav Maga – Recently imported form of martial art from Israel which concentrates on self-defense against both empty-handed and armed opponents. Kyokushinkai Karate – A particularly aggressive and hard -hitting form of karate developed by Mas Oyama. Okinawan Karate – A number of styles are well-respected for their powerful punching and practical kicking techniques. Look at styles like Ishin-Ryu, Shuri- Te, Shorin-Ryu or Shuri-Ryu. Kempo – A number of styles use the name “kempo” or "kenpo", but some specialize in fighting multiple opponents by using multiple-strikes and movement. Boxing – Proponents of Western boxing say that it is unsurpassed in training you how to defeat a real, moving opponent Filipino Arts –Many of these arts, like Kali and Arnis, combine their empty hand defense with weapons – primarily the stick and the knife. The strategy generally focuses on destroying an opponent's ability to fight by attacking his limbs first. Jeet Kune Do -- A "style" that the famous Bruce Lee created, it is usually taught in a way that is very comprehensive and includes striking, kicking, trapping, grappling and weapons. Style or Fighter? But is it the style or you as the fighter that makes or breaks your self-defense ability? I think the answer is it‟s the fighter. Evidence to support this can found in mixed martial arts tournaments and reality fighting matches where fighters of every conceivable style of martial art have won and lost. There have been dominant fighters, but there are no longer dominant styles. I know of, and have seen, people of vastly different martial arts backgrounds who have successfully defeated multiple opponents. I witnessed a highly-proficient Tae Kwon Do stylist knock down five opponents in a parking lot using classical TKD techniques. Three of the five opponents were dropped with head kicks! Many would say that these are impractical for self- defense, but they obviously worked well for this guy in this situation! I also know of a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu student who successfully defended himself against two larger opponents in L.A. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not usually held up as an example of a style made for fighting multiple opponents because practitioners usually take their opponents down to the ground to wear them out before punishing them with a submission hold. In this case, the BJJ stylist broke one attacker‟s arm then put the other in a rear naked neck choke. Our good guy finally stopped and let go of the neck restraint after his wife was screaming “YOU‟RE KILLING HIM!” Obviously, there are a huge number of variables that come into play here like your skill vs. their skill and your physical attributes vs. their physical attributes. You will need to have superior: • Movement and evasion skills; • Striking or kicking skills; • Knockout skill or ability to render opponents unable to continue in the fight. You‟ll also need superior verbal judo or “woofing” skills. Woofing is what Payton Quinn calls the smack talking that precedes a fight as the opponents “interview” each other. Quinn says instilling fear and doubt into an opponent through verbal means has allowed him to avoid a number of messy fights, potentially saving him from numerous nights spent in jail. Royce Gracie of the famous Gracie family advocates a strategy similar to MacYoung. He says that you can make the group choose a leader to fight. Tell the guy, “You want to fight? You and me one-on-one. You don‟t need anyone to help you right? as you point to the crowd. Now his honor is at stake. He can‟t very well admit that he needs help.” Royce explained, “If a guy came in here and said he wanted to fight me, do you think my brother Rickson would step in front of me and say, „„Oh, Royce, I will fight him.‟ Of course, not! Same with this guy, his friends will urge him to fight you.” If there isn‟t a leader, Royce says you can punch the first guy, turn to the second and say, “you want some?”, punch him and advance on the third. So even the world-famous Royce Gracie doesn‟t advocate taking someone into your guard when faced with multiple opponents. For public safety personnel it is often effective to ask, “You want to go to jail?” Otherwise, don‟t threaten. This only serves to give away your element of surprise. Don‟t put your MagLight on your shoulder and strike a pose; you‟ve given the group time to think about what their response will be and to fuel their group rage. Remember here, running away is a very, very good option for the civilian. The LAPD has found that officers in foot pursuits were usually only successful in capturing the suspect in the first 200 yards of the chase. After 200 yards, the odds of catching the bad guy diminished rapidly. The same experience should also apply to you. If you can string the group out over a couple of hundred yards, then you can engage each opponent separately. But for all this talk of verbal or physical responses to multiple opponents, the rule of thumb for handling multiple opponents is to use a weapon. Even a famous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stylist who is noteworthy for his many reality fighting victories concedes the tremendous disadvantages of facing multiple opponents. When seen putting a fighting knife in the waistband of his pants, he said, “This is for two on ones.” The disadvantages of facing multiple opponents are staggering. When we‟ve run training drills with two, three and four opponents against one, it is literally a few seconds before the one defender is swamped by the group. Yes, there are theories that say that multiple opponents get in each other‟s way, but my experience is that as you are moving to line up two of them, you end up moving right into one of the other ones. Sometimes you just have to be practical and heed the advice of the Brazilian who told me, “More than one, use a gun.” The Anatomy of Fear and How It Relates To Survival Skills Training By Darren Laur, Personal Protection Systems Inc. An officer assigned to jail duty conducts a prisoner bed check when he observes that a male who was lodged in the drunk tank, was laying face down not breathing in a corner of the cells. The officer attempts to verbally arouse the prisoner, but these atte mpts fail. The officer now believing that the prisoner is dead, proceeds into the cell, bends over and grabs the prisoner by his left shoulder in an attempt to roll him over. At this point in time the prisoner, spontaneously and by complete surprise, quickly rolls towards the officer, and with his right hand, swings towards the officer‟s face. The officer “instinctively” pulls both of his arms in to protect his head, and moves backwards. The suspect has now moved to his feet, and again lashes out towards the officer with what the officer “perceives” to be a big right hooking punch, at which time the officer again puts his hand up to cover his head, crouches and again moves backwards away from the threat. The officer only now realizes that he is bleeding profusely, but doesn‟t know why. The prisoner now lunges at the officer a third time, with a straight liner punch, at which time the officer sees the shinning glimmer of a metal object in the prisoners right hand. As this third attack makes contact with the officer, he instinctually attempts to push the prisoners hands away from his body, but contact is made resulting in a puncture wound to the officer‟s chest area. The officer now realizing that he is in an edged weapon encounter, and cut several times, disengages from the cell area to call for help. The above noted scenario happened to a police officer in my department in 1992. Although this officer had received training in edged weapon defence, and was one of the more officer safety conscious members of the department, he could not make his training work. Based upon the officer‟s reaction to this spontaneous attack, I began to wonder if the “instinctual” physical reactions to this attack, which were totally different from the training he received up to that point in time, would be experienced by other officers as well, if placed into a spontaneous attack situation in which they had no idea that an attack was going to occur. I‟m a big believer in, “don‟t tell me, show me” so in early 1992 I conducted an empirical video research study. I had 85 police officers participate in a scenario based training session where unknown to them, they would be attacked with a knife. The attacker, who was dressed in a combatives suit, was told that during mid way of the contact, they were to pull a knife that they had been concealing, flash it directly at the officer saying “I‟m going to kill you pig”, and then engage the officer physically. The results were remarkable: 3 saw the knife prior to contact 10 realized that they were being stabbed repeatedly during the scenario 72 out of 85 did not realize that they were being assaulted with a knife until the scenario was over, and the officers were advised to look at their uniforms to see the simulated thrusts and slices left behind by the chalked training knives When I reviewed the many, many hours of videotape of the above noted scenarios, I also made two very important and interesting observations in how the majority of officers reacted to the spontaneous attacks: Most flinched, bringing both hands up to protect their head while crouching at the same time, and attempted to disengage from the attacker by backing away from the threat. This usually resulted in the attacker closing the gap quite quickly with their victim Those officers that did engage the threat immediately, proceeded to effectively block the initial strike of the attacker and then immediately grappled with the attacker using elbows and knee strikes After making these observations, I asked myself why I was seeing these reactions. During this 1992 research project, I had the opportunity to read an article authored by Bruce Siddle and Dr. Hal Breedlove entitled, “Survival Stress Reaction”. In this article Siddle and Breedlove stated: “Research by numerous studies provides two clear messages why people will place themselves in bad tactical situations. The common phenomena of backing away under survival stress results from the visual systems deterioration of the peripheral field to attain more information regarding threat stimulus. Since the brain is demanding more information to deal with the threat, he officer will invariably retreat from the threat to widen the peripheral field. Secondly, the brains normal ability to process (ana lyze and evaluate) a wide range of information quickly is focused to specific items. Therefore, additional cues, which would normally be processed, are lost. This explains why people can not remember seeing or identifying specific facts which were relatively close to the threat.” The research by Siddle and Breedlove not only confirmed my findings, but also answered why our officers were acting this way. It also explains why one officer, who had actually caught the attackers knife hand with both of his hands and was looking directly at the knife, stated “I didn‟t see any knife” It was not until I showed the video replay that he believed there was a knife. In 1995, Bruce Siddle released his first book entitled; “Sharpening the Warrior‟s Edge the Psychology and Science of Training” In my opinion, Siddle‟s published works began to answer a lot of the questions that I asked during my experience with, and empirical research into combatives The first real studies in the area of SSR as it related to combat performance, were conducted in the 1930‟s, when it was noted that those soldiers who were sending Morse code (fine/complex motor skill) during combat situations ,, had much more difficulty in doing so when compared to non-combat environments. The next real research in SSR came during the Vietnam War as it related to the location of buttons and switches in fighter cockpits. As a result of this research, cockpits were reconfigured to take SSR into affect, as it specifically related to eye/hand co-ordination during combat situations. Although much of the early research surrounding SSR was conducted by the military during times of war, recently (from about the mid 1960‟s to present time) a lot of research has been conducted in SSR as it relates to athletic performance. Siddle‟s definition of SSR as it relates to combat is; “a state where a “perceived” high threat stimulus automatically engages the parasympathetic nervous system” The parasympathetic nervous system is an autonomic response process whic h, when activated, one has little control of. Why is SSR so important when it comes to combat/self protection? Because when activated, SSR has both a psychological and physiological effect to the body which could affect one‟s perception of threat in a negative way. So what are some of these effects according to Siddle‟s research? Increased Heart Rate We know that SSR is directly related to an increased heart rate: At 115 beats per minute (bpm) most people will lose fine complex motor skills such as finger dexterity, eye hand co-ordination, multi tasking becomes difficult At 145 bpm, most people will lose complex motor skills (3 or more motor skills designed to work in unison) Effects to Vis ual System The visual system is the primary sensory organ of the body for those of us that can see, due to the fact that the visual system sends information to the brain that is needed during combat/self protection. At approximately 175 bpm, a person will experience an eye/lid lift, pupils will dilate and flatten. As this reaction takes place, a person will experience visual narrowing (commonly known as tunnel vision). This is why it is very common for a person to back up from a threat in order to get more information through this tunnel. It is also at this point in time, that a person becomes “binocular” rather than “monocular” This is why in CQB shooting, I teach two eye “binocular” shooting rather than one eye aimed shooting. At 175 bpm, visual tracking becomes difficult. This is very important when it comes to multiple threats. During multiples, the brain will want the visual system to stay with what it sees to be the primary threat. Once this threat has been neutralized, the brain and visual system will then find its next threat. This is commonly known as the “light house” effect. Studies have found that a person in SSR will experience on average about a 70% decrease in their visual field. This is one reason why in combat, we need to teach students to constantly be scanning their environment, looking for the second and third opponent. At 175 bpm, it also becomes difficult to focus on close objects. One of the first things to go under SSR is depth perception. A fighter WILL become far sighted rather than near sighted. This is why it is very common for people experiencing SSR to say that the threat was either closer or father away from where they actually were. Studies in SSR have shown that binocular fighting/shooting will improve one‟s depth perception by 20-30% 0 Effects to the Auditory System At approx 145 bpm, that part of the brain that hears shuts down during SSR. This is one reason why it is not uncommon for fighters to say “I didn‟t hear that”, “I heard voices but I couldn‟t understand what they were saying” or „I heard bits and pieces”, “I didn‟t hear a gun shot” Effects to the Brain At approx 175 bpm, it is not uncommon for a person to have difficulty remembering what took place or what they did during a confrontation. This recall problem is known as “Critical Stress Amnesia”. After a critical incident, it is not uncommon for a person to only recall approx 30% of what happened in the first 24hrs, 50% in 48 hrs, and 75-95 % in 72-100hrs At 185-220 bpm, most people will go into a state of “hypervigilance”, this is also commonly known as the “deer in the headlights” or “Brain fart mode” It is not uncommon for a person to continue doing things that are not effective ( known as a feedback loop) or to show irrational behaviour such as leaving cover. This is also the sate in which people find themselves in when they describe that they can not move, yell, or scream. Once a person is caught in a state of hypervigilance, it is a downward spiral that is very tough to get out of. Once caught in a state of hypervigilance information on the threat is reduced to the brain which leads to increased reaction time. This increased reaction time then leads to a heightened state of stress which further exacerbates hypervigilance. Effects to Motor Skill performance At approximately 115 bpm, fine/complex motor skills become less available/effective (pulling a trigger, handling a knife), but gross motor skills turn on and become optimized. So why is this information so important? Because Siddle in his research has found the higher the heart rate, the more SSR will affect one‟s perception of threat. Also, the higher the heart rate, the more negative effects it will have on motor skill performance. One must remember that in combat, a person‟s heart rate can go from 70 bpm to 220bpm in less than half a second. So what is the “combat maximum performance range” when it comes to SSR and heart rate? Siddle in his studies has found that it is between 115-145 bpm. Siddle has also found that a fighter‟s “maximum reaction time performance range” is also between 115-145 bpm. In other words, the 115-145 bpm range is where fighting skills (gross motor) and reaction time are maximized. As I said earlier, SSR is an autonomic response, which happens without conscious thought. Having said this, Siddle in his research has found that a person can manage SSR to attain that peak 115-145 bpm range in the following ways: Skill Confidence This takes place through both mental and physical training Experience through Dynamic Simulation Training Experience increases and builds confidence- reduces “newness” of stimulus Training should be “realistic” stimulus/response based The more real the training experience (stimulus) the better Visualization (me ntal imagery) Commonly known as “spinal tuning” we now know that the upper part of the spinal column holds a short term memory. This is one reason why I have taught our department‟s Emergency Response Team (ERT) to visualize both their plan “A” strategy and plan “B” strategy as they are enroute to their target. Remember that the mind can not easily tell the difference between fantas y and reality. The more one uses mental imagery, the more one becomes spinal tuned to deal with the task at hand. As a certified hypnotherapist, I am using the science and art of hypnosis and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) to pre-program stimulus /response issues directly into the subconscious, specific to combat performance. Not only have I have seen a DRAMATIC increase in combative performance in those students in which I am using hypnosis and NLP, but I am also experiencing about a 50% decrease in the amount of time needed to make a student unconsciously competent in the skill set taught, when compared to those who I have not conducted this type of training with. In fact, I truly believe that hypnosis and NLP specific to combatives, will be the next nexus in training Breathing This skill has been used in the martial arts for thousands of years Known as autogenic breathing One wants to breathe in through their nose for a three count, hold for a two count, and then breathe out through the mouth for a three count. Studies have found that if a person was to do this for a 3 cycle count, it decreases one‟s heart rate up to 30% for up to 40 seconds. Again remember that heart rate is directly related to SSR. If a person‟s heart rate was sitting at around 175-220 bpm, autogenic breathing would help bring them back down into that target range of 115-145 bpm I have also taught this skill to our department‟s ERT team. While they are doing their spinal tuning, they are also conducting autogenic breathing drills at the same time. Our ERT team has conducted a lot of empirical and “real world” operations where they placed heart monitors on team members which have proven this de- escalation in heart rate. Value Of Life In our society a person‟s life is considered to be precious. In fact, most of our morals and laws are based upon protecting oneself and others against serious injury or death. In a self-defence situation, one may have to seriously injury or even kill another human being. Although a reality, many people involved in combatives training have not “really” internalized or even thought about this. Because of one‟s “belief system”, to kill or seriously injure another person is as foreign to them as committing suicide. If one does not come to grips with this issue one will fail to act in such a situation. Belief In Mission / Task At hand If you do not believe in the mission or task at hand, or if the risks outweigh the ultimate benefit to you/society, you WILL hesitate in combat. One who hesitates in combat, will usually levitate (12 feet under) or be seriously injured. Faith System You do not want to go into combat without having things resolved. Both the ancient samurai and the kamikaze‟s during WWII understood this important rule. Even in our modern times, there are certain spec war teams around the world that are allowed to make peace with their deity prior to mission. A strong faith system, whatever that faith system may be, MINIMIZES the fear of dying. As a graphic example of this, look at the events of September 11th and how the terrorists were not afraid to die and thus were able to carry out their mission. Also look at what is happening in Israel right now ! Remember, combat is not the place for you to be making major adjustments to your belief system. You need to be concentrating on the task at hand and nothing e lse. Not to do so places you in jeopardy. Training Training for combat “must” be gross motor based. Why? Because we know that during combat, SSR will negatively affect fine/complex motor skill performance no matter how well trained! For any skill taught, there must always be a plan “B” abort strategy conditioned as well. We must not be teaching multiple defences (responses) to a specific type of attack (stimulus). The reason for this, HICKS LAW ! Hicks Law basically states the following: the average reaction time given one stimulus one response is about ½ second. If we now teach a student a second technique (response) to the same attack (stimulus) we WILL increase a person‟s reaction time by 58%. On the street we want to DECREASE reaction time, not increase it. If we teach multiple defences to one specific attack, the brain will take time deciding which option to use. This increased reaction time could mean the difference between life and death. Instructors should always teach a new technique in slow motion. Why? It allows the student‟s brain time to observe the technique and begin the “soft wiring process” which becomes “hard wired” through physical and mental training in conjunction with repetition, as long as it is gross motor skilled. All physical skills should be chunked or partitioned into progressive steps, rather than taught all at once. Many instructors when teaching physical techniques will have the students practice the entire technique from beginning to end when first learning the specific skill set. This is a huge mistake. Remember that the brain first learns in pictures and through modeling. By teaching a technique from A to Z all at once, the student may not fully develop the proper and full “mental picture” needed to perform the technique properly which usually leads to frustration by the student. Teachers, coaches, and instructors must insure that the student understands step A fully, then move onto step B. Once step B is understood move on to step C and so on. By doing this, frustration goes down, while confidence and skill level go up. Once the skill sets are learned, they must now be applied in dynamic training in order to make the stimulus/response training as real as possible. Again, the more the real the training, the better prepared one becomes for the reality of the street. Although Siddle‟s research has brought to light the physiological effects to the emotion of fear such as increased heart rate, fine complex motor skill deterioration, and what we can do as instructors to limit the effects of SSR during combat, it did not fully explain why and how the brain learned and responds to the emotion of fear, thus triggering SSR. To me, this is the key question to be answered if one‟s combative system or style is going to be able to consistently deal with an unexpected spontaneous assault, be it unarmed or armed. In other words, are our brains hardwired to the point where a trained response, no matter how well ingrained, be overridden by a more powerful “instinctua l” response? If the answer to this question is yes, can this instinctual response be changed, molded, or integrated into a combative context? Research into this question, specific to Survival Skills Training, has really been non- existent. Having said this, research into how the brain learns and responds to the emotion of fear has taken off over the past few years, due mainly to brain mapping technology such as MRI‟s, and has been spearheaded by several experts in the Neuroscience filed. One of the more significant researchers, Dr Joseph LeDoux of New York University , has led the way in tracing brain circuitry underlying the fear response in animals/ mammals which have been directly correlated to humans as well. It is because of Dr LeDoux‟s pioneering research, that the neural pathways and connections that bring upon the effects of SSR are now being understood. Dr LeDoux has stated, “fear is a neural circuit that has been designed to keep an organism alive in dangerous situations” Through out his research, Dr LeDoux has shown that the fear response has been tightly conserved in evolution through out the development of humans and other vertebrates. According to most in the Neuroscience field, the areas of the brain that deal with fear are located in the phylogenetically old structures commonly known as the “reptilian brain” Dr LeDoux believes based upon his research that, “ learning and responding to stimuli that warn of danger involves neural pathways that send information about the outside world to the amygdalya, which in turn, determines the significance of the stimulus and triggers emotional responses like running, fighting, or freezing, as well as changes in the inner workings of the body‟s organs and glands such as increased heart rate.” This statement explains to me the correlation between SSR and heart rate increase as reported by Siddle in his research. Siddle‟s research drew a direct correlation between SSR and heart rate increase. The problem with this assumption is that for people such as runners, who can have very high heart rates, SSR does not take effect. Why? The runners high heart rate is caused by physical exertion, and not the emotion of fear caused by a spontaneous or immediate threat to body or life , which triggers the neurological response of the brain and more specifically the amygdala which in turn begins the SSR process. Dr LeDoux has also found, “ there are important distinctions to make between emotions and feelings. Feelings are “red herrings”, products of the conscious mind, labels given to unconscious emotions, whereas emotions are distinct patterns of behaviours of neurons. Emotions can exist of conscious experiences as well as physiological and neurological reactions and voluntary and involuntary behaviours.” I believe the important thing to take from this statement is that the emotion of fear is an unconscious process that has been blueprinted at the neurological level, and when triggered, has physiological reactions that we may have little, if any, control over, but which can be molded. Dr LeDoux has also discovered that the components of fear go way beyond feelings and emotions. According to Dr Ledoux it is also the specific memory of the emotion. A fellow Neuroscientist, Dr Doug Holt expanded upon this fact and said “after a frightful experience, one can remember the logical reasons for the experience ( e.g. the time and place) but one will also feel the memory, and his body will react as such (i.e. increased heart rate and respiration rate, sweating).” This is why it is not uncommon for a survivor of spontaneous assault to not only vividly remember each detail, but when doing so, their body reacts as though they were reliving the experience. This is another reason why I believe that guided imagery, when used appropriately and professionally, will be the next nexus in combatives training. Although not all scientific research makes this particular distinction between emotions and feelings, most would agree that the fear response involves more than just the physical preparation for “fight, flight, or hypervigilance.” This initial, physiological response is followed by a slower, more detailed psychological assessment of the dangerous situation being faced, during which the individual becomes conscious of feeling afraid. So what happens in our brain when the emotion of fear is triggered? According to Dr. LeDoux and other Neuroscientist, once the fear system of the brain detects and starts responding to danger (primarily the amygdala which receives input directly from every sensory system of the body and can therefore immediately respond), and depending upon fear stimulus intensity, the brain will begin to assess what is going on, and try to figure out what to do about it using the following process: Information of the threat stimulus is detected via the senses of the body; sight, sound, touch, smell, taste Information from one or all of these senses is then routed to the thalamus ( a brain structure near the amygdala that acts like an air traffic controller or a mail sorting station that sorts out incoming sensory signals) In a non-spontaneous threat situation, the thalamus will direct information received to the appropriate cortex of the brain (such as the visual cortex) which consciously thinks about the impulse, assessing the danger, and making sense of it. This is where the O.O.D.A. loop begin ( Observe, Organize, Decision, Action ) Once a decision has been made as to what to do, the information is then downloaded to the amygdala which creates emotion and action through the body to either perpetuate a physical response or to abort a physical response. Again, this process takes place in non-spontaneous type situations. This neuro pathway is commonly called the “high road”. This is the pathway in which mos t combatives instructors teach too. In other words: Person throws a right hooking punch which is seen and detected by the visual system Visual system downloads this stimulus to the thalamus that sorts it and send it to the visual cortex of the brain Visual cortex using the OODA loop, observes the stimulus, organizes it (right hooking punch), makes a decision as to how to deal with stimulus and then downloads the response to the amygdala Amygdala then creates emotion and action through the body and the punch is blocked. This is what Siddle and others have called stimulus/ response training. A threat stimulus triggers a trained response is the goal, as long as that trained response is gross motor based and takes into consideration Hicks Law, as mentioned earlier in this article. Siddle has stated, “an automatic response to a specific threat can only occur when the students practice a skill in conjunction with a specific level of threat. For a response to be conditioned or an automatic response, there must be an associated stimulus which triggers the response. Therefore, if a survival motor program is expected to be automatic to a threat in the field, the two must be combined early in the student‟s training” Although I do agree that we as instructors should be focusing our training at the development of automatic responses to a specific threat stimulus, what happens if those trained responses are not congruent with the bodies hardwired response during an unexpected spontaneous assault? Does it not make logical sense that we as trainers should teach a physical response that would be congruent with what the brain has preprogrammed itself to do through millions of years of evolution? Again, the answer to this question is a definite yes, and Dr LeDoux has been able to prove scientifically why. Dr. LeDoux has found that frightening stimuli trigger neuronal responses along dual pathways. The first path is the one mentioned above “the High Road”. The second path is known as the “low road”, and this is the path that the brain “WILL” follow in a spontaneous surprise attack for survival: In a spontaneous surprise attack, information received by the thalamus is quickly re-routed to the amygdala bypassing the cortex (the thinking brain in which OODA is followed) The amygdala immediately sets SSR (autonomic arousal) into effect with the added benefit of what neuroscientists have called “Somatic Reflex Potentiation” also commonly known as the “startle circuit” or “protective reflex” ( i.e. an exaggerated startle/flinch response) Other protective reflexes include; sneezing, eye blinking, gag reflex, pulling away from a pain stimulus, laryngospasm( closing of the airway to prevent water into the lungs) After passing directly through the amygdala, which initiates SSR and Somatic Reflex Potentiation, sensory information is then sent to the cortex. Once the cortex has received this information, the frightening stimulus is then examined in detail to determine whether or not a real threat exists. Based upon this information, the amygdala will be signalled either to perpetuate the physical response and deal with the threat or abort action. Because the amygdala is aroused before the cortex can accurately assess the situation, an individual will experience the physical effects of fear even in the case of a false alarm. The “low road” has already prepared the body for immediate action. Knowing that the brain has a dual pathway to deal with what I like to call progressive and spontaneous fear stimuli, Dr LeDoux has stated, “ there are problems associated with the double wiring between the higher cortex and the amygdala. Unfortunately the neural connections from the cortex down to the amygdala are less well developed than are connections from the amygdala back up to the cortex. Thus, the amygdala exerts a greater influence on the cortex than vice versa. Once an emotion has been turned on, it is difficult to exert conscious control over it at will. What this means to me is that in an unexpected spontaneous attack, if you are training motor skills that are not congruent with what the amygdala will cause the body to do, more specifically the “Somatic Reflex Potentiation” no matter how well trained the response, it will be overridden. But many in the combatives field believe that we can make a trained response the dominant response through repetition and training using stimulus/response training methods. In a “high road” scenario this will work given SSR issues and Hick‟s law, but in a “low road” scenario, the answer will only be “yes” as long as the motor skill taught is congruent with the automatic protective reflex the amygdala will cause the body to take. This “low road” signal system does not convey detailed information about the threat stimulus, but it has the advantage of speed. And in combat speed is of great importance to one facing a threat to their survival. Dr Ledoux pointed out that having a very rapid, if imprecise, method of detecting danger (such is found in the low road pathway) is of high survival value. As Dr. Ledoux has so eloquently stated in several articles that I have researched, “You‟re better off mistaking a stick for a snake than a snake for a stick.” So what is the correlation between the neuroscientific research of fear, and it relationship to survival skills training ? 1. The brain has been “hard-wired” to deal with the emotion of fear 2. One pathway is known as the “high road” in which action can be based on conscious will and thought. This pathway appears to take effect during “progressive” types of fear stimuli. Here a combatives student will be able to apply stimulus/response type training using the OODA model having regards to gross motor skills and Hick‟s Law 3. A second pathway is known as the “low road” which is triggered by a spontaneous/ unexpected attack. Here, the brain will take control of the body with an immediate “protective reflex” (downloaded directly to the brain stem where all of our reflexive responses to danger are stored) , which will override any system of combat that bases its ability on “cognitively” applying a physical response. This is especially true if the trained response is not congruent with the “protective reflex” (this is exactly what I observed in the 1992 video study that I conducted and mentioned earlier in this article). So what can we as Instructors, coaches, and teacher do to incorporate the most current research in the field of Fear and Survival Skills Training? Absorb the above noted information and research it yourself Seek out instructors, coaches, trainers that are using this research in their teaching. You will be surprised that there are few that do. One of the leading pioneers in design and implementation of programs that incorporate this information is Tony Blauer and those associated with his organization in which I am not a member. Since 1992, the motor skill training programs I teach have also revolved around the principals of the above noted information as well. Another instructor, Richard Dimitri (Senshido) provides training based upon the above noted information. And of course, Bruce Siddle and his PPCT management systems is also a leader in the field of psychology of combatives training. If you can not attend courses from the above mentioned, look at what you are doing in the area of self protection and ask yourself, is my training “congruent” with the above noted information, if not change what you are doing Train on the concept of “commonality of technique” The initial plan “A” strategy that I use in an unexpected spontaneous assault (be it armed or unarmed), is no different than in an attack that I do see coming. Why, because no matter if the brain goes “high road” or “low road”, my “congruent” gross motor skills will work in both paths. This is a definite tactical advantage. Understand that although the “low road” reflexive motor responses cannot be changed, they can be “molded” to fit a combative motor skill technique that are useable during a spontaneous attack. I use the Somatic Reflex Potentiation response, which I call “penetrate and dominate”, in all my programs. Tony Blauer uses the flinch response in his SPEAR system. Richard Dimitri also incorporates the flinch in his training at Senshido Fortunately, there are methods of reducing fear and inhibiting the fear response (see Siddle‟s 8 steps to management of SSR earlier in this article). I am not a doctor or Neuroscientist, but I have been studying combatives for the past 14 years. Since 1992, I have been using training techniques based upon the above noted information, not knowing that I was doing so. In the past, my training was based solely on my empirical research here at the school, and what was happening to officers and civilians in the real world. The information in this post has now solidified my belief tha t what I am doing (and have been doing for years) in the area of combatives is correct. This belief is not only based upon my empirical research over the past 10 years, but as reported in this article, the scientific research as well. The field of Neuroscience, specific to fear, is constantly evolving. Any true “Street” combative system or style, should keep abreast of these new discoveries, and integrate them into training to make their survival skills more street applicable. Knowledge and the understanding and application of that knowledge is power. Please feel free to pass this information on, but remember give credit where credit is due. Strength and Honor, Be honest with yourself by Brad Park er It must be some sort of quirk of human nature. But many, many people I meet overestimate their fitness level or skill level. Is it a weird sort of denial? Or is it a some twisted attempt to impress people? For example, I'm talking with a woman I'd estimate to be about 40 years old. We are discussing self-defense and she waves a hand in my face and blurts, "Oh I don't need any self-defense classes, my ex-husband used to be a black belt." For a moment I thought that I had misinterpreted her comment and that SHE was a black belt. But l had heard correctly. Somehow the black belt level skills of one spouse can be transferred to another. Even if they have been divorced for some years. Or another one. I'm in a law enforcement academy and we are preparing for the course segment on weapon retention (this academy is for new cadets and is not for instructors). One of the academy instructors asks if anyone is a martial artist. A hand goes up. The instructor asks the cadet to come up to the head of the class and demonstrate how he (the cadet) would defend his gun from being grabbed from behind. The cadet drops into a low stance, hesitates for a painfully long time and then stammers that he doesn't know what to do. "I was a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do when I was 13 years-old", he sheepishly announces. I'm socializing with a married couple at a friend's. The wife ends up asking what I do. I tell them and they are both very interested in how we train and some of the ways we work with students at seminars. The husband puffs up his chest and tells me, "Yeah, well I used to play football!" He comes in for one class. We are practicing takedowns and controlling people on the ground, there is no hitting involved. He has to stop in the middle of class and throws up out the back door. Turns out he played high school football almost 20 years ago. That's it, nothing else since then. Another one sticks out. My partner and I are sitting in the front row of a cage match tournament where one of our students was fighting. This tournament was of a fairly high-level regional level of talent so there was some skilled fighters and some tough matches. Throughout the evening, a guy to my left was booing the fighters and yelling derogatory comments. Usually you get some of that from a group of drunks, but this guy was by himself and sober. Eventually he flipped open his cell phone to take a call from someone and announced loudly into the phone, "These fights SUCK! These guys are just a bunch of pussies, it's not like a real street fight at all!" Now my teeth were really on edge and I turned to the guy and asked him where he trained. He looked shocked. "Oh, I don't train," he says. I nodded and then asked him, "When was your last fight?" He leaned back away from me looking surprised. "Fight? I've never been in a fight". I think the words coming out of his own mouth probably had more of an impact than anything else I could say. Needless to say he was quiet for the rest of the matches until the intermission when he left and never returned to his seat. Finally, and maybe most telling, I'm at the range to do my annual law enforcement requalification shoot. There is a substantial amount of swaggering going on before the class. I'm hearing talk of all the practice that has been going on, some bets about shooting 240s (a qualifying score is 210, a perfect score is 250) and a little bit of trash talking between some guys (I'm using that generically because one of the biggest trash talkers was a female officer). We have a few warm up shots with our duty ammo (issued last year). There's still a lot of testosterone in the air. We are ordered to load all of our magazines and get ready for the test. It will be a series of timed segments with the officers required to perform various reloads and clearance drills (when your weapon is jammed with two cartridges or an empty casing). It gets quiet -- then the test begins. Targets are turning, shots are fired, and the targets turn away. Targets turn again, magazines are being dropped, there is fumbling going on, cursing on t he line. It is obvious that people are failing the clearance drills. Some are failing them two and three times in a row. The test continues and when the targets turn away for the last time, expressions of anguish. Scores are counted up. Some of the biggest talkers are stunned. One guy shoots a 190. Another shoots a 205. Still another shoots a 185. There's another that squeaks by with 210. The point that I'm trying to make is that we should all try and avoid the very common human trait of overestimating our levels of fitness and skills. Unfortunately personal combat is a very, very intense and exhausting activity. As your heartbeats per minute increase, your ability to think and perform complex tasks diminishes. Even as your fighting ability degrades, you need to be able to continue the fight for one, two, maybe even three minutes. (The longest real fight that I know of was a seven-minute fight that one of the toughest cops I know of had one time and he literally could not move for about two minutes after backup arrived to take in the subject). If you do not have the physical capability of fighting for three minutes straight, you risk complete shut down and you can be stomped into oblivion by your opponent. Get out there and train! Learn From Your Tactical Mistakes by Brad Parker What‟s the old quote about wisdom being gained from experience and experience is gained from mistakes? You‟re going to make mistakes in your self-defense and personal protection, some strategic and many tactical. But the key is to learn from those mistakes. And, believe me, sometimes those mistakes are the best teachers. I learned a lot from the time I hurriedly pushed my way through a crowd to break up a fight, only to find myself to be the only officer in the middle of a melee involving 150 people. I learned a lot from the time I fought with one drunk suspect (it actually started through the patrol car‟s driver‟s side window, but that is a story in itself!), only to release him to his family, and then had to fight him again to arrest him for trying to drive while intoxicated. I learned a lot from the time I had to make an emergency draw of my firearm, only to get it caught in my jacket which caused me to sweep the muzzle over my support hand while I was taking slack out of the trigger -- I came very close to discharging my pistol into my other hand. I learned a lot from the time I confronted a carload of punks, but parked in such a way that I was caught in between my own car and the front of their jeep. I learned a lot when I assumed that my son was "hearing things" in the middle of the night and did not make a search of my residence in a serious, controlled, professional manner. I guess a good shock really can be worth a lot. These "mistakes" are troubling to me because I KNOW better, but still found myself either violating my own cardinal rules or found myself in a situation that had changed faster than I could control it. And therein lies the value of experience. You learn from that experience. It‟s one thing to read about it, or watch some guy‟s videotape. Knowing "how" to do something is not nearly as important as the "doing" of it. But how can you get experience without exposing yourself to the dangers that you are trying to avoid in self-defense in the first place? The answer is in your training. Find experienced, knowledgeable sources and instructors. Train with them. Draw from their experience to allow you to solve problems without having to go through the pain of trial and error. Train in a realistic fashion. The system you are studying or your workout partners should have attacks that mimic those you are going to find on the street. Your training environment should be structured so that you "experience" being attacked over and over and over. Ideally, when you are in a "real" fight it should feel close to "training". One of our favorite stories is about Neil Armstrong‟s second radio transmission from the moon. After his famous, "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" was the comment, "it‟s just like drill". Many students have told us that fights they have experienced were "just like class". Some even indicated that the real fight was actually easier than class, because the opponent was not trained and, therefore, made predictable and stupid mistakes. What’s Your Real Risk? When putting together your risk assessment for yourself or your client, it is imperative that you don't get tunnel vision regarding what the most likely threat. Even though you might be well prepared for an assault from terrorists, criminals or a stalker, your client is probably in more danger during the drive to work or while snorkeling in Cancun. In fact, your client might have a good chance of dying at the hands of his doctor rather than a kidnapper. As many as 98,000 Americans die unnecessarily every year from medical mistakes made by physicians, pharmacists and other health care professionals, according to an independent report. More Americans die from medical mistakes than from breast cancer, highway accidents or AIDS, according to the report from the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences. That costs the nation almost $9 billion a year, the congressionally chartered research group concluded. You can see by the chart at right the medical conditions that eventually get us all. The Five Biggest Accidental Killers Motor vehicles are by far the leading cause of fatal accidents. In fact, over 46 percent of injury deaths were motor -vehicle- related in 1996, according to the NSC. The second-largest share of fatal accidents occur in the home (over 28 percent), where most of us spend the largest single share of our time. Almost 23 percent of injury deaths occur in public spaces (places other than home, work, or automobile), and just over 2 percent are workplace accidents that do not involve motor vehicles. After motor vehicles, the leading causes of accidental deaths are falls, poisonings, fires, and drowning. These have been the five leading causes for more than 25 years, and they currently account for 80 percent of all injury deaths. Although motor-vehicle accidents claimed 43,300 lives in 1996, the rate per 100,000 Americans has dropped significantly in the last two decades because of safer cars, safer roads, and efforts to curb drunk driving, says Alan Hoskin, manager of research and statistics at NSC. The 1996 rate of 16 deaths per 100,000 population was down 18 percent from 1986, and down 41 percent from 1966. The decline has not been steady, however. A sharp i ncrease in motor-vehicle fatality rates occurred in the late 1960s, as millions of baby boomers got their first driver's licenses. Another spike occurred in the late 1970s, when baby boomers contributed to a national epidemic of drunk driving. Auto fatalities also have a high correlation to business cycles, says Hoskin; they tend to drop in recessions and rise when the economy is good. Falls are the second-leading cause of accidental death, at 15 percent of all accidental deaths. More than 14,000 deaths in 1996 were related to falls, an increase of 23 percent over 1986. This is largely a reflection of rapid growth in the number of elderly Americans. The rate of fall-related deaths per 100,000 population has also increased, but at a slower 10 percent. Deaths due to falls are difficult to track because relatively few fatalities are a direct result of a fall, says Judy Stevens of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in Atlanta. For the elderly, who have the highest incidence of falls, a traumatic hip fracture often leads to fatal health complications such as pneumonia. Poisonings due to solids and liquids are the third-leading cause of accidental death, at 11 percent in 1996. An estimated 9,800 people died from such accidents that year, more than twice the number in 1986. Nearly two-thirds of these deaths are the result of drug overdoses involving adults aged 25 to 44, however, indicating a thin line in this case between death and suicide. While death rates for auto, drowning, and fire-related accidents declined dramatically between 1986 and 1996, poisonings from solids and liquids rose 85 percent. Drowning deaths account for 4 percent of injury deaths. Fires and burns cause 3 percent. Both of these causes are on the wane. Between 1986 and 1996, t he number of drowning deaths declined 32 percent, and the number of fire and burn injury deaths declined 34 percent. Hoskin credits the widespread availability of reliable and affordable smoke detectors with much of the decrease in fire deaths. Not all injuries are fatal, of course, and the most common type of non-fatal injury that requires emergency-room treatment is a fall. More than one-fifth (21 percent) of emergency-room visits, or 8.4 million, were due to falls in 1994, according to the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Motor vehicles may cause nearly half of fatal accidents, but they account for just 10 percent of non- fatal injuries. Striking against or accidentally being struck by a person or object accounted for 9 percent of emergency-room visits in 1994. This means security-minded individuals, protection agents and operators should not neglect general safety issues and skills: Defensive driving Fire suppression Advanced first aid or EMT training Water safety and lifesaving If you are minding someone with a cardiac condition, you might want to acquire an ALS certification that allows you to use a defibrillator. Many commercial and private jets are now equipped with defibrillators.