Friday, November 28, 2008

Defended Myself and Didn't Get Hurt

I was at a convenience store speaking to the owner when, like a whirlwind, a man comes into the store. He came in shouting expletives and seemed to be angry at the world. He appeared to be 6’ 4” tall and probably weighed 260 lbs. He definitely was an intimidating figure.

As the man moved towards the counter, where I was standing, he turned to me and said, “Do you have a problem?” I said, “No.” as I stepped to my right keeping a watchful eye on this guy. The man was on my left.

As he continued with his ranting, he abruptly turned and threw a punch to my head. It happened so fast that I had just enough time to move my left hand and arm up to the side of my head to absorb the punch.

Instinctively, I did what I’ve been trained to do in Krav Maga: go on the offensive. So, I spin to my left, grab his right upper arm with my left hand and slam my right forearm into his face. This drives his head back violently.

Still grasping his upper arm, I slam my right forearm into the right side of his neck near his trapezius muscles. Driving myself forward and applying my weight, I grab the back of his shirt at the nape of his neck. I am now controlling him.

I deliver two arrow-like knee strikes to his liver with my right knee. He curls over writhing in pain.

I move my right hand from the back of his neck to the top of his head and push it down as I deliver an upward knee strike to his face. I feel his body go limp.

I release my grips and throw a right uppercut/left hook combination to his head. He drops to the floor holding his bloody face in his hands. He is now in the fetal position moaning.

Poof… back to reality. I visualized this entire scenario while I was in the convenience store. I feel bad about the unsuspecting guy that came into the store to buy a lottery ticket. He took a heck of a beating from me and didn't know it.

As was mentioned in an earlier post, your subconscious mind does not distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. This kind of exercise is a good tool to have in your training toolbox.

When you’re in a parking garage, elevator or store - any area - practice visualizing a real confrontation. Visualize how you might try to de-escalate it and if to no avail, how you would handle a physical response.

It’s a good way to exercise your mind and practice your skills. Plus, you’re able to walk away from the incident unscathed.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Defending Against the Knife… Counterattack!

If you believe that you may be attacked by a knife, your first choice of defense should be to run away. If you’re like me and can’t run fast, then you have to go to Plan B and find something close by that you can use to defend yourself. Your last choice should be defending yourself with your hands. And if you do use your hands to defend yourself, make sure you counterattack immediately.

One of the drills we did the other night was more of an observation. We stood still for 30 seconds while our partner stabbed us with a practice knife. You and your partner were to count the amount of stabs within 30 seconds. I was stabbed 99 times!

Another drill had us standing beside someone. That someone represented a significant other, friend, etc. An attacker approached threatening with a knife. You didn’t know which person (s)he was going to attack first.

This brings up the point of different ranges. The range you find yourself in (very close, close, medium or long) will dictate how you will defend. At the very close range, you can’t defend yourself unless you are very lucky. At a close range, you may be able to use a hand defense. At the medium range, you might be able to use a hand defense as well as a body defense. And at the long range... run or go to Plan B.

Our final drill had our partner attacking from all angles. I was able to make my defenses and several times was able to disarm my attacker. However, I was making a grave error. Once I made the initial defense, I didn’t strike back immediately.

Under the stress of having someone come at you fast and furious, you tend to get tunnel vision and only see the knife. So, you end up defending against the attack several times. Not a good thing. Had I struck back immediately to the face or throat of the attacker, I would have slowed the attacker down long enough for me to immobilize the attacking limb and stop any additional stabs.

There is a fight scene in the movie "The Bourne Ultimatum" where Jason Bourne is attacked by a CIA asset named Desh Bouksani. Desh's initial attack is with a knife and he uses it from every angle. Jason starts out using hand defenses from the close range. Ultimately, Jason defeats Desh by using objects around them.

Remember, the edged weapon attacker is programmed to attack several times, not only once. The initial defense is a counterattack unto itself and aids in helping stop further attacks. The icing on the cake is that immediate strike to the face or throat that upsets the attacker’s brain transmissions. Once that happens, you'll have a better chance of immobilizing the attacking limb and delivering multiple strikes until you feel safe enough to disengage and flee or until the attacker is neutralized enough to allow you to make a disarm.
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Mutual Benefit of Live Grappling

Live grappling can be fun and it provides instant feedback as was mentioned in a previous post. Moreover, there are mutual benefits to be derived when you roll (wrestle) with your training partner.

We started the first hour of this week's groundfighting class with some games to warm us up.

Game 1: Cowboys and Horses

One person is the cowboy and that person goes to one end of the floor. Everybody else is a horse and goes to the opposite end of the floor. The horses attempt to crawl, on all fours, to the far end of the floor while the cowboy, crawling on all fours, attempts to pin an oncoming horse to the floor. If a horse is pinned to the floor, then that horse becomes a cowboy for the next round.

Game 2: Tunnel Race

Players split into two teams. At one end of the floor, the teams line up in single file. All players spread their legs wide. The last person in the line drops down and belly crawls through the legs of everyone in their line and then stands up in front of the first person. Each player does the same thing until the team reaches the opposite end of the floor. Once the end is reached, the players repeat the process, but this time on their backs. The first team to go down the floor and back wins.


We always start our grappling from our knees. In this particular drill, two students were on their knees separated by a kicking shield. When the instructor gave the signal to begin, each student delivered punches, hammerfists and elbow strikes to the kicking shield (ground and pound). On the next signal by the instructor, students were to begin grappling with their training partner.

Another drill had two students on his/her knees facing each other. One student was wearing boxing gloves. When the instructor gave the signal to begin, the student wearing the boxing gloves started punching as well as grappling. The ungloved student had to defend, escape from, sweep or submit the attacking student.


In our final hour, we reviewed the techniques learned from the past few weeks and then we started to free roll (wrestle using any techniques that we know).

When I roll, I seem to prefer arm chokes (rear naked, cobra, scissors, etc.). It’s probably because… at least for me… they are a lot easier to apply.

Depending on the situation, I have applied arm locks like the Kimura and Americana and on rare occasion, a straight arm bar. However, they seem to take a lot more work to setup... at least for me. Sometimes I even get away with applying an Achilles ankle lock!

When I am able to apply a particular technique to my training partner, repeatedly, I share what I am doing with him/her. The idea is to make my training partner as good as (s)he can be so that (s)he can help me get better also.

When I apply that same technique to my training partner in the future, (s)he is now aware of the technique and can avoid or defend against it. I now have to figure out another way to apply the technique. That raises my game. This is the mutual benefit of live grappling.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sometimes I Would Hear a Voice

Punching focus mitts works on your hand and eye coordination. It also works on your stamina, particularly when you’re punching them for several rounds. The purpose of this class was to work on delivering continuous punches (more than 4) and to increase our punching endurance.
Our first drill began with our partner - in a stationary position - holding the focus mitts for straight punches, hook punches, and uppercut punches. The punches had to be thrown in a manner that created a popping sound on the mitts. In addition, the punches had to be continuous for ninety seconds. The lead instructor would tell the mitt holder when to change the positions of the mitts for the various punches.
Straight punches! Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop.
Hook punches! Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop.
Uppercut punches! Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop-Pop.
I think you get the picture.
During this drill, I started to hear a voice and it said, “Curt, keep your hands up!”
The next drill was similar to the first except our partner made the decision to change the positions of the mitts for the punches. In addition, our partner was in motion, moving away from you.
Again, the voice. “Curt, recoil that right cross faster and bring it back to your face!"
The third drill had us throwing various continuous combinations, while our partner moved around. We peeled off (getting out of punching range at an angle) after the last punch was thrown.
The incessant voice wouldn’t leave me alone. “Curt, throw those hooks harder!” POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP.
During the final drill, we put on the headgear and put away the focus mitts. Our partner's body became the focus mitts. Our partner was allowed to defend against our continuous punching to his/her body, but he/she wasn’t allowed to counterattack.
When the class ended, I stood there exhausted and out of breath. In addition, I noticed something. The voice had finally gone silent.
Actually, the voice was coming from across the room from another instructor sitting at a desk. He had his laser beam honed in on me during the entire class. I can’t slack off for a second... and that's a good thing.
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Live Grappling

With live grappling, you get instant feedback. You immediately find out if the technique being applied to your opponent works or doesn’t work. Refer to point 6 in my previous post.

Last night’s groundfighting night reviewed last week’s hip heist sweep from the closed guard position and the application of the Kimura arm lock. In addition, other sweeps were introduced that dealt with an opponent that has mounted you.

One of the drills involved having your partner - wearing boxing gloves - mount you. You had to lie flat on your back with your arms spread eagle. Your partner was allowed to punch you two times. After the two punches, you were to protect yourself from the additional punches and then try to sweep your partner. Once you swept your partner, the roles were reversed.

Another drill had your partner in your closed guard. Punches were thrown and you had to sweep your partner and then get up and get away by throwing punches at vital targets.

During the second hour of training, an additional technique was added to our toolbox, the guillotine. We practiced it from our closed guard position and used it to facilitate a sweep as opposed to a submission. The principle here was to try to escape first instead of rolling around on the ground wrestling with your attacker.

When we finished practicing our techniques, we started to free roll with our partners. This is the time period where the rubber meets the road and you find out if you can apply the techniques that you have learned. When you change partners, you find out what may have worked on your previous partner won't work on the current one. You must adapt and adjust. That's live grappling.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

10 Ways to Learn Quickly

The following is from the Fighter's Fact Book, by Loren W. Christensen.

1. Repetitions
According to Casey Eberting, a teaching professional for golf:
What I have learned, and what studies mention, is that it takes a certain amount of time for the body to learn simple motion…. I, therefore, recommend for my students to practice a new motion for at least three to four weeks… before moving on to something new. If you do any less, you run the risk of not learning the motion, or you may only partially learn it….
2. Mental imagery
When you mentally rehearse techniques, you educate your subconscious mind so that it later directs your body to reproduce what you rehearsed, whether you are in your training center or a self-defense situation. This works because your subconscious mind doesn’t distinguish between reality and imagination.
3. Verbalize the technique to someone

4. Verbalize to yourself

5. Train with a partner

6. Unstructured practice
This consists of sparring and drills that are not prearranged.
7. Shorter training sessions
This refers to doing one to three 20-minute workouts a week outside of your regular class.
8. Listen to slow learners
Some people are naturals which makes them hard to emulate. Your best bet is to emulate the people that had to sweat and strain to get where they are today. The people that had to figure out the best training regimen for their average or below average genetics.
9. Don’t do the same thing every day
Rotate the exercises in your training for optimal results.
10. Have a training objective
By developing a plan of attack for your training, you enhance your concentration as well as your ability to learn. By having a clear objective for each training session, whether it’s solo, with a partner or in your regular class, you go into it more motivated and stay motivated for the entire session.
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Friday, November 7, 2008

So… you’re standing at a train station

…and a man waving a knife threatens to kill and rob commuters. In my occupation - particularly in my area of expertise - we call this a high-risk low incident scenario. In other words, it is a very dangerous situation, but it very seldom happens. Nevertheless, we have to be trained how to handle the situation.

Only two Saturdays ago, our training center conducted a 4-hour knife defense seminar. I am sure attendees of the seminar are feeling the same way I am right now after hearing or reading about the Newtonville train station attack. And that feeling is… I am glad I attended the seminar!

More stabbing headlines
Life sentence over knife in skull

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Groundfighting Night

Wednesday night was the inauguration of our training center’s groundfighting night. Sometime ago, groundfighting was offered as an additional class. And more recently, we had a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class that overlapped an all levels Krav Maga class on Wednesdays.

The new groundfighting night is dedicated to groundfighting for the entire night. This class augments the rotating Krav Maga groundfighting curriculum that is taught in the each Krav Maga level. The techniques that are being taught are from various grappling disciplines… primarily Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu… but in keeping with Krav Maga’s guiding principles.

From the book Complete Krav Maga:
A Note on Krav Maga’s Approach to groundfighting: Whether you are proficient on the ground or not, our main objective during a groundfight always remains the same: to get up as quickly as possible! During groundfights, you are extremely vulnerable to a second attacker, or to stabs if the opponent produces an edged/pointed weapon.
The bottom line is that you do not want to go to the ground if you can help it. However, you may get pushed, tripped, thrown or slip and end up there. When you are there, you want to know what to do to protect yourself and be able to get up and get away.

The first hour concentrated on the basic fundamentals of groundfighting. In the second hour, we learned an escape and reversal technique to use when someone is on top of you and you have him or her in your full guard (your legs wrapped around your opponent’s midsection). We also learned how to apply an arm/shoulder lock called a Kimura (a lock named after Masahiko Kimura, a judo expert who fought in the 1950s).
The second hour ended with us practicing the techniques we learned. First, we practiced with our partner and then every 90 seconds, we had to switch partners. The instructors rotated themselves into the mix, which added some stress to the drills.

The third hour was designated as “free rolling” time. You got a chance to get some more practice in or a little more instruction.

From the book Advanced Krav Maga: krav maga, whatever we do from an upright position, we do from a ground position, with modifications and with weight properly positioned. Just as there are no rules in an "up" fight, there are no rules in a "down" fight.
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Interview with the IKMF's Eyal Yanilov

Eyal Yanilov, the International Krav-Maga Federation's head instructor, talks about the history of Krav Maga, its current state and where he hopes its going to be in the future.
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The Human Obstacle Course

Monday night’s class started with a few warm-up drills. The first had you punch a Tombstone pad that was being held by a student. Behind you were two other students that were also holding Tombstone pads. When those students shouted hey, you had to turn and deliver a groin kick or a roundhouse kick to the pad, depending on where and how they positioned the pad. Once you delivered the kick, return to punching.

Once done with that drill, a student held focus mitts and you had to throw Bas Rutten combinations as well as any other combinations the mitt holder called out. All the while, two other students, holding kicking shields, moved around you. They positioned themselves so that when they shouted hey, you had to deliver a vertical front kick, side kick or back kick to the pad. Once the kick was delivered, return to the focus mitts combinations. One focus mitts holder looked like she could hold mitts for Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

The drill - before the human obstacle course - had us practicing knife defenses and counterattacks without the practice knife. An emphasis was being put on our knee strikes and controlling the attacking arm.

Let the Games Begin

As soon as I finished the previous drill, I was told to catch my breath because I was going to be the first to go through the course, just my luck!

I started by tapping a kettlebell, picked up a 10 lbs. medicine ball and then attempted to run the length of the mat covered floor area (54’) with it. Upon my way, I was subjected to all sorts of attacks, e.g., gun, knife, bearhugs, chokes, etc. Once an attack was made, I had to drop the medicine ball, make a defense, then pick up the medicine ball and continue my run. As soon as I reached the other end of the floor, I had to turn around and make my way back to the kettlebell. This routine continued until the instructor decided to rotate someone else in.

The instructor told us that he uses a similar drill... with some additional focal points... for a group of his police officer clients. When I thought about it later, the drill made me feel like I was in a video game having to meet certain challenges in order to reach my objective like Sam Fisher.

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Reason for Learning and Training Hard in Krav Maga

"On Monday, August 25, 2008, Jennifer Hall was brutally attacked by two homeless people on the South Side of Chicago. Out celebrating her 36th birthday with fiancĂ© Joe Hoffman, Jen was viciously kicked in the head until she became unconscious… an unprovoked altercation that left Jen lying in a pool of her own blood with only four teeth left in her mouth."

Visit the following website for more information about Jennifer Hall's story:
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