Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sparring is not Fighting

Sparring Sparring can be defined as free-form fighting with enough rules or agreements to make injuries unlikely. Sparring is not fighting. Sparring is normally distinct from fights in competition. The goal of sparring is normally for the education of the participants, while a competitive fight seeks to determine a winner.

As we all know, although there are rules in combative sports, many fights are ended by one combatant purposely injuring another combatant. And, in street-fighting, the rules of the asphalt jungle come into play. The fight might be ended by death.

So then, why spar? What are some of the advantages?

Sparring allows you to practice your movement, blocking, slipping, bobbing and weaving, ducking and other defenses against a moving opponent trying to punch or kick you. This is in stark contrast to shadow boxing, hitting the heavy bag or defending against prearranged punches and kicks thrown at you. In addition, there is the stress of being hit by an unpredictable opponent as well as understanding that you will be hit. Remember this saying: “Fighters get hit. Good fighters get hit less.”

When I’m sparring, I concentrate on a few things that I want to improve. It may be counterpunching, seeing the holes in my partner’s defenses or practicing a particular kick. I do not think of my partner as an opponent. We’re educating each other; not competing.

Is sparring necessary? Maybe not. According to a KMWW Force Training Division instructor, “Students I've trained who have gone on to defend themselves in real life (mostly law enforcement and/or military) usually had no sparring experience when they defended themselves successfully.” Once again, sparring is not fighting.

The downside to sparring—I believe—particularly for a smaller or weaker individual, is the development of a false sense of fighting ability versus a larger partner. Since the larger and stronger partner has been instructed to temper his punches and kicks, the smaller and weaker partner mistakenly believes that he can overwhelm his larger and stronger partner with his fighting prowess.

In this universe, greater mass overwhelms lesser mass. I think we all know this Sir Isaac Newton law of motion: Force = (Mass x Acceleration). For example, in a head-on collision, a Humvee H3 will do more damage to a Smart Car than the Smart Car will do to a Humvee H3. Do not attempt to go against the laws of physics; you’ll lose. There is a reason combative sports have weight classes!

The bottom line is… keep sparring in its proper perspective.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Knife Attacks on the Ground

Knife Attack The advanced Monday night class was full of fun and frolic on the ground. Coincidentally, most of the students participating also participate in Wednesday night’s ground fighting class. This made it a very interesting class, indeed.

The ground fighters easily made the adjustment from remaining on the ground with their opponents in order to apply chokes, arm bars and the like to striking, getting up and getting away. Later, intensity was heightened when punches and knife attacks came into play.

As I mentioned in a previous post, “Unless you’re a consummate grappler, have complete control of your environment (a plush surface to grapple on) and are sure you're facing a single, unarmed opponent, don’t go to the ground and grapple.” However, there are times when you end up on the ground through no fault of your own.

Warm up #1
Holding a tombstone pad moving around, our partner placed the pad in positions for straight punches, round kicks and groin kicks.

Warm up #2
Holding a tombstone pad moving around, our partner placed the pad in positions for straight punches, round kicks and groin kicks. Our partner dropped the pad and attacked us with chokes and bear hugs.

Drill #1
While standing with our eyes closed, our partner attacked us. We counterattacked and our partner fell to the ground. Our partner had to get back on his feet.

Drill #2
Straddling the tombstone pad with our knees in a mount position, we delivered strikes to the pad and then pushed off on the pad to get up and get away.

Drill #3
With our partner on the ground, we placed him in a scarf hold (kesa gatame) or headlock. We delivered strikes to our partner and then pushed off on him to get up and get away.

Drill #4
While our partner had us in a scarf hold or headlock, we practiced various escapes from those positions.

Drill #5
While standing with our eyes closed, our partner attacked us. We counterattacked and our partner fell to the ground. We went to the ground and placed him into a scarf hold or headlock. He had to escape from the hold.

Drill #6
With our partner on top of us in the mount position trying to stab us with a knife, we practiced 360 defenses.

Drill #7
While we had our partner in a scarf hold or headlock, our partner pulled a knife. We defended and got away.

Drill #8
We were on our knees facing our partner preparing to grapple. We both had knives hidden. We started to grapple and one of us pulled a knife.

“If the knife is present and used as a threat to induce you to hand over money, do so and get away as fast as you can; if a knife is going to be used to attack, your first option always is escape! If unable to escape, you have to counterattack, but wisely.”

Peter Robins

I thoroughly enjoyed this class. It was like rolling on Wednesday night with a twist. In addition, it was a lot of fun with great intensity.

Related Posts

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Krav Maga True Colors

By Moshe Katz

Color Wheel We say true colors are beautiful but do we really see things that way? Do we really want to see the true colors or the colors we have become accustomed to?

Let's take a look at the martial arts. We have many traditionalists among us. A judo man will stick to judo, he will not dilute his judo with kicks or punches; he is a purist. A karate man will not go to the ground, nor will he put on boxing gloves and train with a boxer. A wrestler will not kick. Bruce Lee came along and said, really there is only one martial art. What you are seeing are just many different parts of one whole, it is time to put them all back together again. Real life self defense is not only kicking, or punching, or takedowns, or wrestling. Real life is all of the above.

When man first started fighting it was everything goes. That was the original "color". As time went on one school specialized in ground work while another perfected boxing or kicking. Yet another dealt with the art of pressure points. But in reality Lee said, they are all only parts of one original puzzle. That is the true color. The problem was that for so long we became accustomed to the red paint that was not real. It was just a way of preventing rust, and now that the real color has been restored it seems out of place, unnatural.

Bruce Lee, the UFC, Krav Maga, are all hitting on the same theme. The real color is the totality of fighting. Each martial art is but one school preserving and perfecting one limited aspect of this totality. It is time to reunite the pieces and recreate the whole.

We are very limited in our vision and in our perception. We are conditioned to see things as we are used to seeing them, even if it is not real, even if the color we are seeing is merely a preservative. True colors confuse us, they upset the apple cart. In life and in martial arts we need to be open to seeing real colors, even if they are sometimes confusing.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Krav Maga Mind Training

By Moshe Katz

Mind Training Where is your mind when you are training? What are you thinking about? What should you be thinking about?

I will tell you exactly what you should be thinking about, so pay close attention, Fare attenzione (Italian), Venimaniye (Russian) Sim lev (Hebrew).

Your mind should be nowhere in particular. Shut it off and lose yourself in the training.

Now I am not talking about technique learning, then of course you must be focused and pay close attention. I am referring to when you are working on your drills; your kicking, punching, full contact knife defense. I am talking about when you must drive yourself physically.

If you have a teacher, that is great. Just surrender to his/her control, be a robot, do as he says. If he says kick, you kick until your legs can move no more, if he says punch, you punch until your hands bleed and can no longer move. Man, I miss those days.

So what do I do these days, I will blast something like AC/DC singing "No mercy for the bad if they need it." Or "Evil walks behind you, evil sleeps beside you, evil talks arouse you, evil walks behind you."

Maybe I will hit myself in the head with…

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Krav Maga Theory

By Moshe Katz

Got You! Mankind produces many great theories. We have theories on evolution, on the creation of the earth, on global warming and a million other topics. Some theories make men famous for the duration of their lifetime and then, years later, poof! The theory is dismissed and replaced by another theory.

Test out your theories in training, don't wait for this to happen on the street.

Most of these theories have one thing in common; you can't really prove if they are true or not. You may 'prove' it with mathematical notations that cover many pages or with abstract concepts that only the brilliant can comprehend but, in reality, in remains just that, a theory.

With Krav Maga, and other reality based systems of defense, it should not be that way. Often, however, it is.

Recently I met a Krav Maga practitioner who showed me a certain knife defense. He "explained" it to me with various theories involving the nature of the triangle, the angle of the body as compared to a body in motion, and the concept of a straight line vs. a bent line and so forth. Interesting! To me it made no sense at all so I just said, "interesting" and let it go.

By chance I bumped into the fellow again...

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tips for Randori

Judo Throw Students practicing randori, or free practice, are learning the use of letters, words and sentences of Judo to communicate in a meaningful way. The meaning of the Japanese word randori suggests there is generally no controlling form or pre-established method of practice. It is often practiced freely, with each person attacking and defending at will with full power.

In randori, one can never be sure what technique the opponent will employ next, so they must be constantly on guard. Being alert becomes second nature. One acquires poise, the self-confidence that comes from knowing that he can cope with any eventuality. The powers of attention and observation, imagination, of reasoning and judgment are naturally heightened and these are all useful attributes in daily life as well as in the dojo.

– Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo

The following are tips for randori. I believe many of these tips can be applied in Krav Maga practice as well as grappling practice.

  • There is no score or winner in randori, so banish thoughts of victory or defeat.

  • Focus on attacking freely without regard for being thrown.

  • Keep a relaxed and natural posture to retain free movement of your body and mind.

  • Keep your arms loose.

  • Keep your head up and centered over your hips.

  • Do not waste energy.

  • Follow through with each technique; do not get in the habit of going half way.

  • Follow up each technique with another.

  • Never refuse a practice partner.

  • Seek out training partners who are better than you are.

  • Try new moves to overcome problem situations.

  • Rely on skill and timing, not strength.

  • Control your breathing.

  • Keep your elbows close to your body where they are most powerful and least vulnerable.

  • Always face your opponent.

  • Do not cross your feet when moving around.

  • Learn to feel your partner’s intentions and anticipate attacks.

  • Maintain mizu no kokoro (mind like water); stay calm and undisturbed.

  • Focus on kuzushi (breaking balance) to create opportunities for attacks.

  • Employ the principle of maximum efficiency even when you could easily overpower the opponent with size or strength.

  • Help your partner to learn while you perfect your technique.

  • Act now; analyze later.

  • Do not make excuses; do not give up. Tomorrow you will be better.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Taking Your Opponent to the Ground

Grappling Range The grappling range is the range of body-to-body contact. It is the range where locks, throws, sweeps and takedowns are performed. In a recent groundfighting class, a new student asked the question, “Should we take our opponent to the ground when we’re in the grappling range?”

The instructor explained to the student that Krav Maga does not advocate taking your opponent to the ground because of the many perils that can occur once you are there. However, the instructor had no issues with throwing an opponent to the ground. He just isn’t going to follow him there. Krav Maga does assume that you may slip and find yourself down while the attacker is up. Sh*t happens.

Another important reality is that regardless of what you may have been told, size and strength do dramatically influence grappling ability. Unless you are phenomenally skilled, there are few other endeavors in which size and strength play such a predominant role. Big grapplers usually beat little grapplers. If you are a smaller, lighter or weaker fighter, you should not put all your eggs in the grappling basket. Instead, you should spend your time learning grappling defenses and perfecting your ability to surgically strike an attacker who attempts to grapple with you.

Richard Ryan

Krav Maga’s groundfighting techniques are explosive responses to immediate threats, rather than the “chess match” response and counter-response moves of a larger groundfighting program.

Whether you’re proficient on the ground or not, Krav Maga’s main objective during a groundfight always remains the same: to get up as quickly as possible! During groundfights, you’re extremely vulnerable to more than one attacker or to being stabbed if the opponent produces an edged weapon.

Two of my friends were stabbed by women when they were groundfighting with men.

Geoff Thompson

Moreover, there’s the mobility factor. When you're on the ground, you lose your ability to disengage. You have to be on your feet to retreat.

So... why participate in a larger groundfighting program like our groundfighting classes? It’s for the same reason that we learn to execute high kicks. We don’t learn to execute high kicks so that we can use them in a street fight. We learn to execute high kicks so that we can recognize them in order to defend against them, thus the same reason applies for advancing our groundfighting skills. Further, we learn how to be calm and deal with the stress when someone is trying to control and manipulate us on the ground.

I participate in our groundfighting classes because I want to feel as confident fighting on the ground as I do standing up. Plus… the classes are fun!

In and of itself, grappling is not the "ultimate fighting technique" that some people make it out to be. No single method is. It would be foolish to send a soldier to war with just one skill. He wouldn't last very long. In fact, he would soon be overwhelmed, outgunned or outmaneuvered by the many other techniques and tactics that make up real fighting.

Richard Ryan

Grappling in a street fight must be short, sweet and overwhelming. It should be viewed as a tactical supplement to striking. Unless you’re a consummate grappler, have complete control of your environment (a plush surface to grapple on) and are sure you're facing a single, unarmed opponent, don’t go to the ground and grapple.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

The Gorilla at the End of the Tunnel-Vision

By Mark Hatmaker

Gorilla Tunnel Vision We humans, are a curious species in ways too numerous to mention here so, let’s limit ourselves to one quirk today—our uncanny ability to see what we expect to see and rule out or simply be blind to what we don’t want to see (or don’t know to look for). I call your attention to a simple experiment that shows just how ridiculously tunnel-visioned we can be.

Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris of the University of Illinois Visual Cognition Lab concocted an experiment that seems borne out of many hours of viewing Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Simons and Chabris wanted to test for the hypothesis that when we pay attention to detail(s) we often miss things that are obvious to others (the old can’t see the forest for the trees proverb). This phenomenon is known as inattention blindness—in other words, rapt attention on pre-determined stimuli can lead to serious inattention deficits for stimuli outside your attentional set. Enough of my yakking, let’s allow Simons and Chabris’s experiment to do the talking.

The duo showed a video of a basketball game with the crowd plainly seen in the background to test subjects. The test subjects were asked to count the number of passes made by players on the team wearing white shirts. At one point in the video an assistant wearing a gorilla suit (yep, you read that right) walks through the middle of the game, stops in the middle of the screen and then walks out of frame. Keep in mind, the game never halts and there are more than a few passes that occurred with the gorilla suited accomplice partially obscuring the action. After viewing the video, test subjects were asked to report the number of passes, (most of which did quite well at this task by the way) and then they were asked about the presence of the gorilla. Approximately half of all test subjects never saw the gorilla.

What’s going on here is two things, the first—the aforementioned inattention blindness—the second is a bit of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is a fascinating concept from cognitive psychology that says that we humans tend to search for and interpret new information in a manner that confirms our preconceived notions while at the same time discounting evidence that contradicts those preconceived notions—the old liberal/conservative divide with zero gray area in between. We are all subject to confirmation bias to varying degrees of irrationality that may differ from subject to subject. Confirmation bias can be seen in the amusing statistic that approximately 90% of the US population considers itself above average in intelligence and above average in looks. It’s nice to like yourself despite the mathematical impossibility of the proposition.

Let’s bring inattention blindness and the confirmation bias to our world of interest combat sports, MMA, and street-defense. We, being human, often view data (fight footage, assault accounts, et cetera) under the sway of both stumbling blocks. The strikers often see evidence for striking solutions where it may not exist, grapplers often look for submission answers where they just may be inappropriate, and street tacticians may often try to apply certain concepts or strategies where the ideas may simply be out and out wrong. In our last two books NO SECOND CHANCE and THE ESSENTIALS we argue (in both the street and sportive environments, respectively) that we should not allow ourselves to shape our research but rather to allow the research to shape us.

We must be ever vigilant that inattention blindness and the confirmation bias may allow us to distort what we see (or don’t see) leading us down literal blind alleys causing us to train for contingencies that don’t exist, or apply techniques or tactics that hold little water in the real world. We must always keep our eyes open and look, really look at what’s before us and see if there is, indeed, an obvious detail staring us in the face that may aid our training. By being aware of our shortcomings we can better compensate for these stumbling blocks and see, perhaps a bit more clearly, just what strategies and tactics might really be called for in situations where our health and safety are on the line rather than simply retro-fitting what might be an outmoded (or completely wrong-headed) game plan onto a situation full of “hidden” gorillas. In other words, stop looking for favorite trees in a forest, look at each and every one of them and always be aware that there just may be gorillas in the woods—right in front of you.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Krav Maga Be Prepared

By Moshe Katz

Give Me Your Money In Krav Maga we believe in reality training, we believe you should be prepared, but how?

We all want to be prepared for the worst; we all want to be able to handle ourselves in challenging situations, we all wonder; "How will I react in a real life violent encounter?" We resolve to "Be Prepared", but how? How can we prepare ourselves for the worst? Well, this is what Krav Maga is about, preparing for the worst.

Many of us, by our nature, look for short cuts. I guess I am lucky that I have never been that way. When I met with my course counselor in Bernard Baruch graduate school, New York, to discuss my course load, she asked if I had taken calculus, and several other 'core' courses that are required for my degree. Foolishly, some might argue, I replied, "Yes, I have taken most of these courses but it has been a long time and if I am to truly understand my course of study (Business) I think I should retake all these courses."

She looked shocked. This decision added an additional six months to my program. With a full time job it took me four years to earn my graduate degree. I do not believe in short cuts. "There is no easy way out, no short cut home." (Rocky)

In the martial arts, in self defense, some people...

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Night of Knife Attacks

Knife being drawn from pocket Knives are deadly weapons. They are popular, easy to obtain and silent to operate. They are readily concealable, highly reliable, and don’t take much special training to use to hurt somebody. They can be highly effective in grappling, close and short ranges. Like Moshe Katz, I respect the knife. I assume that everyone carries one.

If one accepts the often-heard statement that most gunfights take place at a distance of about 5 feet, then most situations where you would need a gun can be adequately handled with a knife. Within its range (and, for a trained person who knows how to move, 5 feet is well within knife range), the edged weapon can actually be more destructive to the opponent than a gun. The knife never runs out of ammunition and it never jams.

Massad Ayoob

I enjoy knife drills and can’t get enough of them. There’s something about practicing knife attack defenses that raises the hair on the back of my neck. They can be very stressful. Here are some drills we did earlier in the week.

Drill #1
Our partner held a tombstone pad, close to his body in various positions, and we stabbed the pad various angles with our practice knife.

Drill #2
Our partner remained stationary as we stabbed her with the knife from various angles. Recognizing how the knife is being gripped sometimes indicates what the angle of attack might be.

Drill #3
Moving around, our partner attacked us from various angles and we made the appropriate defenses without disarms. In some cases, if we were very close to our partner, he would grab us and pull us into his knife.

Drill #4
Our partner held the back of our head with one hand (single-collar tie [dirty-boxing clinch]) and attempted to stab us with the other hand from various angles.

Drill #5
Moving around, we tossed the knife to our partner and our partner tossed the knife back to us. At some point, one of us kept the knife and decided to attack.

Drill #6
The class was broken up into groups of four. Person #1 was defending against Level 1 attacks. Person #2 was attacking Person #1. Person #3 was a bystander. Person #4... armed with a knife... was allowed to attack any of the other persons. I had a lot of fun with this drill.

Common knife targets that have generally proven lethal or severely disabling include the heart, subclavian artery (behind the collarbone), stomach, brachial artery, radial artery, carotid artery, femoral artery, auxiliary artery and kidneys.

Cuts generally cause more bleeding while thrusts can cause more serious damage.

There is an old saying: ‘Leave one’s yard and find seven enemies.’ No matter how skilled one is in the martial arts, he will find himself unprepared if encountered off-guard. Ideally, then, one should constantly be in a state of preparedness.

Hironori Otsuka

A knife is a dangerous weapon. If you’re attacked and you have a choice, it’s better to run away. If you don’t have a choice, use an improvised weapon (stick, chair, etc.) to help you with your defense. Using your hands to defend yourself is an absolute last resort.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Principles of Krav Maga Reality Knife Defense

By Moshe Katz

Knife Defense I want to focus here on the principles of reality knife defense, based on the Krav Maga experience.

There are many types of knife defense. You can study the Philipino styles; Arnis, Kali, Escrima. You can learn how to use a stick vs. a knife. Jujitsu, Ninjitsu, Kung fu, Systema; they all have knife defenses and they all have good technique. You have to ask yourself, 'Is this the reality knife defense that suits my life circumstances?'

Over my years of training, in many styles, with many great people, I have come to learn a few things about survival and edged weapon attacks. These principles are incorporated in our style of Krav Maga.

A great way to train for reality knife defense...

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Respect the Knife

By Moshe Katz

Knife ThreatDo I fear knives? I am not sure if I want to say yes to that, so I will quote my friend, the plumber/roofer. We used to repair roofs together. Part of the job involved hanging over the side of the roof and painting over rough patches with special coating to prevent water leaks. I did not enjoy this. I did not enjoy looking down 6 stories to a concrete parking lot. I tried not to look, or think.

When I expressed this to my friend and co worker Aryeh, he said, "I feel the same way. I am not afraid of heights; I have a healthy respect for heights."

We respect heights and we take precautions, because otherwise we might fall to our early demise. I feel the same way about knives. I respect knives, no matter whose hands they are in.

When I first started training in knife disarms...

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

An Imaginary Scenario of a Kravist

Imaginary Scenario I’ve been very busy as of late... so for lunch... sometimes I’ll make a trip next-door to Mickey D’s (McDonalds) for a quick bite. I’d love to tell you that I get salad, but I’d be lying. It’s usually the number 3... large. That’s the double quarter-pounder with cheese, large fries and a large coke. Hey... it is what it is... I’m hungry.

This particular Mickey D’s is in a business/industrial district. There are municipal buildings, meatpacking plants, gas stations, motels, hospitals, a county jail, a biosafety level 4 lab and a methadone clinic. It’s located right off an interstate highway where there are people in the lower stratum of our society begging for change... on a regular basis... at the traffic lights.

You can make a quick risk assessment of an urban area when you enter a Mickey D’s if an employee has to press a button to allow you access to the restroom (lavatory). That speaks volumes.

As I entered the Mickey D’s, I saw two young men dressed in urban-type garb at the order counter. They were the size of football tight ends... 6-feet, 5-inches tall and weighing about 260 pounds. They were twin towers. Now... I’m no shrimp at 6-feet 2-inches tall and 240 pounds, but I was feeling dwarfed. The two young men seemed to be having some issues with their order. Of course... I was in condition yellow.

Another young man enters and he was an acquaintance of the twin towers. He was the size of a small forward in basketball, at least 6-feet, 7-inches tall. At this point in time, I started to run my imaginary scenario through my mind.

What if the twin towers became disgruntled customers? What if one of them turned to me and said, “What are you looking at mutha’ f***er?”

While I’m running this through my mind, I’m looking for my escape routes. Avoidance isn’t an option now because I’m in the Mickey D’s, so it’s too late to avoid it. Running (escape) is still an option. If my escape route is cut off by the small forward, I can try de-escalation (dissuasion). I’ll set up my fence and ready my main artillery… for my preemptive strike… before I offer to buy them some number 3’s... large. I’m in condition orange.

They wouldn’t accept my number 3’s... large. They’d rather pummel me in order to vent their frustration with Mickey D’s ineptitude. I’m concerned now, so I’m in condition red.

I know that I don’t want to go to the ground. I love ground fighting at the Krav Maga training center, but I definitely don’t want to do it in this scenario. This is a small Mickey D’s. There’s about a 10-feet distance between the order counter and a partition that separates an eating area. If I ended up on the ground, they’d stomp and kick me to death for sure.

I can’t allow them to circumvent me. I will need to keep them lined up so that I’m dealing with one individual at a time. The 10-feet wide area will assist me with this. Unfortunately, there are no chairs or tables at my disposal to put between my adversaries and me. I’ll have to deliver my preemptive strike with Mike Tyson-like bad intentions and follow up with Krav Maga combatives as necessary.

I’m only 15 feet from the exit door. If I can neutralize the first guy, I’ll use him as a shield as I back my way out the door.

Once I’m outside, I’ll dash back to my office to safety and reinforcements... next-door.

At this particular juncture, the twin towers received their proper order and accepted it pleasantly. They bid farewell to their friend... the small forward... and left Mickey D’s without circumstance.

My imaginary scenario never escalated to condition black.

A McDonalds Team Member let me know that my order was ready, so I picked it up and walked back to my office. Safe in my office and unscathed from my imaginary scenario, I enjoyed my high caloric lunch... a number 3... large.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

How to Eat an Elephant

By Moshe Katz

How to eat an elephant There is an old expression, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

What does this mean? It means when you find yourself facing a situation that seems overwhelming, something too big for you to handle, don't panic. Don't think, ‘How can I eat an entire elephant?’ It is huge! Instead, start with one small bite. That you can handle, right? So take one bite, than another. Before you know it, you have made a great deal of progress. Now the problem does not seem so huge and overwhelming.

Self-defense is a scary business. How can I defend myself against so many dangers? I have heard from many people that Krav Maga is simply a waste of time. People have said to me, "C'mon, admit it, if someone really wants to hurt you, there is nothing you can do."

Well, no. I disagree. There is a great deal you can do, but you must approach it one step at a time. How can you learn to speak a foreign language? Can you possibly learn thousands of words in each tense, past, present and future? Well, not all at once. But can you learn to say one word, (Lets start with Shalom = peace, hello, goodbye). OK, now you know one word and you are ready to learn another.

Eat the elephant one bite at a time.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ernie Kirk’s Stick and Knife Seminar

Stick vs Knife Ernie Kirk conducted a stick and knife seminar on Saturday. And as is the case with his seminars, there is a lot of material to cover. Essentially, the seminar covered unarmed stick attack defenses, stick against stick offenses and defenses, unarmed knife defenses, knife against knife defenses and stick against knife defenses. None of the techniques was elaborate; they were very basic. As a matter-of-fact, several of the techniques were akin to hand defenses. The only difference was that the fighting range (distance) was extended between combatants due to the added length of the weapon.

Drills Outdoors

  • Practiced swinging a stick from various angles.

  • Practiced the timing of our partner’s swings and burst in to touch his shoulder trying not to be hit.

  • Our partner held a tombstone pad overhead and we had to strike it rapidly 20 times. Then our partner held the tombstone pad vertically and we had to strike it rapidly 20 times horizontally in one direction and then rapidly 20 times horizontally in the other direction.

  • Our partner held the tombstone pad out in front of her and moved toward us. The object was to try to touch us with the pad while we struck the pad trying to maintain the proper striking range.

  • Practiced unarmed stick defense against an overhead swing.

  • Practiced unarmed stick defense against a horizontal swing.

  • The class was split into two groups. One group was armed with sticks and the other group was unarmed. The armed group maneuvered amongst the unarmed group and made random attacks against it.

Drills Indoors

  • Our partners attacked us with a stick while our backs were against a wall.

  • We were put into groups of six, one person had his back against a wall and was attacked, one at a time, by the other five persons with no break in the attacks.

  • Practiced close quarter short range punching by doing some hockey-style fighting (dirty boxing) with our partner holding one focus mitt.

  • Similar to the above close quarter drill except we stabbed the focus mitt with a training knife instead of punching it.

  • Practiced another close quarter drill that involved punching our partner and blocking her knife attack attempts.

  • While standing stationary, we allowed our partner to stab us continuously in order to have an idea of how many times a person can be stabbed within 30 seconds. The number was in the seventies.

  • Practiced unarmed knife defenses with our partner.

  • Practiced unarmed knife defenses against a group of people, one at a time, with no break in the attacks.

  • Practiced some defenses while seated in a chair. 

  • Armed with a knife, we practiced knife defenses against our partner’s knife attacks. Scary stuff!

  • Practiced stick defenses against knife attacks. Our partner wore headgear and one boxing glove to hold the knife.

  • Ernie conducted a demonstration with one person wearing boxing gloves and the other person wearing headgear and carrying a concealed knife. As the person wearing the boxing gloves executed a barrage of punches against the person with the concealed knife, the person taking the beating deployed his knife and made several stabs to the body of the gloved person.

    Lessons learned: (1) Free yourself from a narrow focus of attention. (2) Be able to divide your attention and be alert to all pertinent information that may increase your ability to react and function at a higher level. (3) Take notice of the actions your adversary takes with other parts of his body.

  • Stick sparring wearing headgear and armed with padded training sticks.

As I stated earlier, there was a lot of material to cover and Ernie actually had more to give, but ran out of time. Again, nothing was elaborate. The techniques were very basic and easy to perform.

Ernie Kirk’s Stick and Knife SeminarSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Third-Party Protection

Third-Party Protection Thursday night, at 7:30pm, is our scenario class and it was a treat to have Ernie Kirk with us that night to take us through several drills. Emphasis was placed on communication. Ernie mentioned that we’re used to communicating instructions to our training partners, but how well do we communicate instructions to our friends and loved ones in a stressful situation? Do we give instructions beforehand about what to do if a violent situation occurs? Moreover, do we communicate at all?

This class was quite interesting because, you were allowed to bring in a friend or loved one to be your partner. Essentially, there were Kravists partnered with individuals untrained in self-protection techniques.

Drill #1
You and your partner held hands and tried to touch each other’s elbows.

Drill #2
You and your partner held hands and while operating as a single unit, maneuvered yourselves around the room trying to tag other couples.

Drill #3
This drill was similar to the drill above, except that if you let go of your partner, you had to do push-ups. So, some of us were instructed to try to separate couples.

Drill #4
This drill was similar to Drill #2, except that if you tagged an individual three times… in this case an untrained person… the trained person, in the couple, had to do push-ups. This added an element of stress to the drill.

Drill #5
This drill had the trained person teach the untrained person how to execute palm heel strikes, elbow strikes, knee strikes and groin kicks. Another trained person assisted by holding a tombstone pad.

Drill #6
This drill was set with two lines of attendees forming a corridor. Each attendee held a tombstone pad or a kicking shield. The object of this drill was for you and your partner to make your way through the corridor. As you made your way through the corridor, individuals would randomly encumber you. It was the trained person’s job to communicate instructions to the untrained person. For example, as you punched, kicked and elbowed your way through the corridor, you gave your partner instructions like, kick that person… punch the person that has me in a bear hug… stay right behind me… etc.

Drill #7
In our final drill, we were put into groups of three. Two individuals (the victims) had their eyes closed while the third individual played the role of the assailant. The object of the drill was to make an appropriate defense and communicate instructions to your partner. An additional element of stress was added to the drill by having a few individuals, armed with knives, roam around the room making random knife threats against victims.

Communication is the key for third-party protection. Don’t leave home without it.

Third-Party ProtectionSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Reality Check

By Moshe Katz

Reality Check Ahead The first time is always a humbling experience. The look on their faces; sad but predictable, just like the two American guests on the Human Weapon show.

They show up having had years of martial arts training, they know plenty of knife defenses, they have been tested and passed, they have earned ranks. Then we put on the full body IDF protection gear, we take a knife and just go all out stabbing. These are random crazy stabbings, not 'correct' stabbings. The attack is relentless, just like a real attack on the streets of Jerusalem. The defender cries out, "You are attacking the wrong way!"

Bottom line; you have just been stabbed to death. The defender sits on the side, out of breath, feeling like a worthless nothing. All those years of training did not prepare him for this attack.

Our defenses are easy, simple. You may look at them one time and say, "So that's what Krav Maga is all about! What's the big deal!" and then you are attacked. Soon you become very humble and politely sign up for Krav Maga lessons. Suddenly the simpletons running the course look like superheroes. "How do they do it?" you ask. And yet, it looks so simple.

My how reality makes us all so humble. But better to find out now than on the street.

Reality CheckSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Looking for the Silver Bullet

Silver Bullet I read the following on a blog the other day.

“I am 24 and petite (about 5'1 and 115 lbs). I want to start learning martial arts mainly for self-defense. Which style of martial arts is best suited for this purpose?”

The replies to the question listed martial arts and fighting systems from A to Z. But that presupposes that there is a single answer to the self-defense question. I wish it were as easy as that.

The truth is that there is a lot more to self-defense than learning a martial art. A martial art or a fighting system, like Krav Maga, is only a slice of a holistic pie.

First, you must understand that it’s better to avoid than run; better to run than de-escalate; better to de-escalate than fight; better to fight than die. You should learn to be aware of your surroundings and understand threat levels. Second, if you do have to fight, you must be willing to do harm to others in order to protect yourself or loved ones. When is your when? Lastly, self-defense training is no cake walk. It’s hard work and it requires commitment.

It doesn’t take long to learn a Krav Maga technique, but like a martial art, it does take time and lots of practice to master. There’s no way around this.

If you haven’t mastered a Level 1 technique like position 1 of the 360° outside defenses, you can’t expect to execute a proper Level 5 knife defense against a downward stab. Be truthful with yourself.

Krav Maga is not a perfect system. It is not a cure-all. It is not a religion. It is, however, in my opinion, a philosophy of recognizing the dangers inherent in this world and preparing for the fight, but not seeking it out. We learn to fight so that our attackers, whoever they may be, will keep to themselves.

-John Jordan, Instructor Krav Maga DFW

The reality is that there is no silver bullet for self-defense. You’re on a fools errand if you go looking for it.

Looking for the Silver BulletSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, May 30, 2009

When Fear is an Unwelcome Gift

By Mark Hatmaker

Fear Many consider Gavin DeBecker’s book The Gift of Fear a classic in the realm of personal protection (and rightly so). In his book, Mr. DeBecker, makes a strong case for not ignoring the “gut reactions” we sometimes encounter in bad situations; I agree with his premise whole-heartedly but, I think that some may have taken the implications of Mr. DeBecker’s observations a bit further than warranted. By the way, these stretchings of Mr. DeBecker’s premise, I’m sure, are offered out of genuine concern and not malicious dishonesty.

We often hear anecdotal support for little “gifts of fear” in the form of personal or “I have a cousin” stories. These stories often take the form of: “Joe was at this bar and he had a bad feeling about this guy giving him the eye and sure enough before the night was done that guy tried to break a bottle over his head.” In my example story, fictional Joe’s “gift of fear” was proven correct and that would be the only reason for Joe (or his cousin) to pass along the story. But if we are to give credence to gifts of fear we must also give credence to all gifts of fear.

By this I mean, Joe’s story is passably interesting only because something occurred after his initial tingle of suspicion but, what if Joe experienced the tingle and the guy never went for the bottle? No story and chances are Joe would forget the fear-tingling incident ever occurred. As a matter of fact, most little tingles of fear we get are for naught (we’ll get to why this is in a bit). The nerves (fear) before a speech seldom signal that the crowd is going to attack. If everyone who ever experienced an “unsettling feeling” before boarding a plane acted on that feeling we would be looking at the collapse of the airline industry. I offer that, more often than not, our miniature gifts of fear are mistakes in perception and easily forgotten because nothing occurred. We humans love a good story and may occasionally give too much weight to after the fact stories of precognition. Those far smarter than I label this logical fallacy “post hoc ergo propter hoc” (approximate Latin for “after this, therefore because of this”).

So, am I saying that we should ignore our gifts of fear? Not necessarily. But first a little about why we are so damn fearful. The human animal evolved in an environment where there were many things to “be on the look out for”—venomous snakes, inclement weather (even mild inclemency is problematic in sparse or zero shelter), quadrupedal predator species, bipedal predators (competing humans), wounded but still dangerous kill, and a myriad other dangers associated with Paleolithic hunting and nomadic existence. In short, fear in this environment was (and is, when thrust back into these conditions) a necessary part of survival.

Time travel to now and, assuming that the majority of us live in fairly safe conditions, (I trust that if you have the safety and leisure to read this article life is okey-dokey for you at the moment) and we find conditions far different from those enjoyed by our Stone Age ancestors. Our current environment and conditions may be vastly different than what our Paleolithic forebears dealt with but our brains are essentially the same. Our brains still seek potential threats and hidden dangers (not a bad thing, mind you, with a little prudence—we’ll get to that). The problem is our Stone Age brains still look for threats in the past environment—more people are afraid of spiders and snakes than of driving or riding in a car when the odds far and away are in favor of the car injuring and/or killing you. More people fear the stranger when crime statistics show that you are much more likely to be harmed (assaulted, raped, or murdered) by someone you know. Our 21st century lives are still influenced by Paleolithic concerns and these primitive concerns are often translated into little gifts of fear that may no longer have context. Context, by the way, is the key.

Environment, both physical and emotional, is our great context provider. Environment provides us with the cues or clues that inform us as to whether or not to be more alert to our miniature gifts of fear. Environment can let us know whether to stay alert or stand-down. For example, mobs can be dangerous and they can also be benign, the environmental context will assist you in determining how much credence to lend to any anxiety you may experience. A mob of educators at a teachers’ convention is one thing; a mob of Neo-Nazis at a rally is something altogether different. We can keep the physical environment example and alter the emotional environment. Picture the same Neo-Nazi rally where the Neo-Nazi focus is on a Neo-Nazi family picnic complete with sack races and a mass water balloon fight—doesn’t change the distasteful political stance of the group but, it does leaven your perceived threat a bit. Back to the teachers’ convention, let’s assume that mandatory merit pay has just been announced and tenure has been done away with and the teachers don’t seem to care for that a bit—a little different now, huh?

Physical and emotional environments will provide our context for fear cues. No, we should not ignore all fear cues but we must (if we are to be rational as well as safe) evaluate them for what they might possibly be—a remnant of a survival system from long ago that may not be relevant in the current environment. And we also must remember the human propensity to “remember the hits and forget the misses” (again: post hoc ergo propter hoc) when it comes to our little gifts of fear stories. Of course, this was all said much better by Mark Twain, and I paraphrase: “I’ve had many troubles in my life, most of which have never happened.”

When Fear is an Unwelcome GiftSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Faith in Technique

Moshe Katz writes:

Have Faith in your Technique.

One of the principals in Krav Maga training is having faith in your technique, believing that it will work. If you are not sure about your technique, if you are not confident that it will work; you will not give it one hundred percent, you will hesitate and the technique will not be effective. This in turn will reinforce your lack of belief or confidence in the technique. You will become convinced that the technique is not effective. You must never let this happen.

For any technique to work, it must be executed with confidence and spirit.

Click Here to Continue Reading

Faith in TechniqueSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Great Equalizer

Rear Naked Choke What is the one technique that a smaller and weaker person (a David) can use to defeat a larger and stronger person (a Goliath) with little effort? The answer is the Rear Naked Choke (RNC). This technique is called “Mata Leão” in Portuguese, which translates into “Lion Killer.”

The RNC is a chokehold used in the grappling arts that is applied from an opponent's back. It is called a "blood choke" because it restricts blood flow to the brain via the carotid arteries. When done correctly, it can cause temporary unconsciousness in a few seconds.

With all things being equal, bigger and stronger persons should always win a physical altercation. They have a greater mass that can be transferred into their actions. However, when it comes to attacking the carotid arteries of a person’s neck, bigger and stronger no longer applies. Moreover, the fact that a RNC is applied from an opponent’s back leaves very few countermeasures for the opponent. Eventually, an opponent succumbs to the RNC like Spock’s Vulcan nerve pinch.

During our ground fighting night this week, I had a lot of fun practicing variations of the Trap and Roll Escape. However, my greatest enjoyment was during our free rolling (wrestling) period. During that period, I witnessed a “David” defeat a “Goliath” with a RNC.

The David is about 5-feet 5-inches tall. He looks to weigh between 130 - 140 pounds. The Goliath is about 6-feet 4-inches tall and weighs 260 pounds. David and Goliath are both beginning grapplers, so they are equal in that respect.

The odds are that when you wrestle with a bigger, stronger opponent, he will overpower you and you will end up on your back. This was the case with David and Goliath. Initially, Goliath had David in a modified scarf hold. Then it turned into a headlock with Goliath sitting on his buttocks and David in a prone position, face down.

Goliath squeezed and squeezed and squeezed the headlock, but David did not succumb. Then I saw something occur that is typical of Goliaths. When Goliaths exert their strength for an extended period, they build up lactic acid in their large oxygen hungry muscles and eventually their hold weakens. It was at this point that David pulled his head out of Goliath’s headlock.

David rear mounted Goliath, put his hooks in and applied the RNC. Goliath made a valiant effort to thwart David’s RNC for a short period... but it was to no avail. Goliath succumbed.

I found no pleasure in Goliath’s defeat because to some, I am considered a Goliath at 6-feet 2-inches tall and 240 pounds. However, you cannot help but root for the underdog in these situations. Moreover, it is amazing to see a technique work so efficiently and effectively, particularly when compared to a striking combative.

But that’s not the end of the story. You see... David defeated another Goliath via a RNC one week ago. That Goliath is about 6-feet 2-inches tall and weighs 275 pounds.

The RNC is indeed the great equalizer.

The Great EqualizerSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another Night of Kicking

Practice Makes Perfect The class started with a punching drill warm-up. Our partner held focus mitts, we threw left jabs for a round, right crosses for a round, and then we threw Bas Rutten combinations for a round.

The next part of our warm-up involved kicking. We decided which partner would begin the round with a kick. Our partner would attack us with a kick and we had to attack our partner with the same kick. In addition, we were allowed to defend against the kicks. The next round began with us attacking with the first kick and our partner following with the same kick.

Drill #1
Our partner holds a kicking shield and from a passive stance we execute a side kick.

Drill #2
Our partner holds a kicking shield and from a passive stance we execute an advancing side kick.

Drill #3
Our partner holds a kicking shield and from a passive stance we execute a front kick using the ball of our foot.

Drill #4
Our partner holds a kicking shield and from a passive stance we execute a back kick.

Drill #5
Our partner holds a kicking shield and from a passive stance we execute an advancing back kick.

Drill #6
Our partner holds a kicking shield and we’re told to execute a side kick and follow up with our choice of combatives.

Drill #7
Our partner holds a kicking shield and we’re told to execute a back kick and follow up with our choice of combatives.

Drill #8
Our partner holds a kicking shield and we’re told to execute a ball of foot front kick and follow up with our choice of combatives.

Drill #9
Our partner holds a kicking shield and we we’re given instructions, by our partner, as to what kick to execute and then follow up with our choice of combatives.

Drill #10
Our partner holds a kicking shield and we’re told to execute a side kick and follow up with our choice of combatives. We continued until our partner told us to go to the ground and execute drop elbow strikes on a tombstone pad. We continued with drop elbow strikes until our partner told us to get up. We get back to our feet and the cycle continues until the instructor tells us to switch roles with our partner.

Drill #11
Our partner holds a kicking shield and we’re told to execute a back kick and follow up with our choice of combatives. We continued until our partner told us to go to the ground and execute drop elbow strikes on a tombstone pad. We continued with drop elbow strikes until our partner told us to get up. We get back to our feet and the cycle continues until the instructor tells us to switch roles with our partner.

Drill #12
Our partner holds a kicking shield and we’re told to execute a ball of foot front kick and follow up with our choice of combatives. We continued until our partner told us to go to the ground and execute drop elbow strikes on a tombstone pad. We continued with drop elbow strikes until our partner told us to get up. We get back to our feet and the cycle continues until the instructor tells us to switch roles with our partner.

Drill #13
Our partner holds a kicking shield and we execute any kick of our choosing and then follow up with our choice of combatives. We continued until our partner told us to go to the ground and execute drop elbow strikes on a tombstone pad. We continued with drop elbow strikes until our partner told us to get up. We get back to our feet and the cycle continues until the instructor tells us to switch roles with our partner.

Drill #14
Our final drill involved groups of three. One person was the victim and the other two were the attackers. Attacker #1 attacked with a front choke. Attacker #2 was in striking distance. The victim defended against the front choke with a front choke defense of his choosing. While the victim was in the process of making a defense, attacker #2 attacks. The victim executes a kick of his choice against attacker #2. In some cases, the victim would use attacker #1 as a shield between himself and attacker #2.

Another Night of KickingSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Night of Side Kicks

Side kick We started the class with a warm-up that was like a fruity cocktail drink. In other words, it sneaks up on you. You were winded at the end of the routine. However, while you were performing the routine, you would not expect to become winded.

Drill #1
Our partner holds a kicking shield and from a passive stance we execute a side kick.

Drill #2
Our partner holds a kicking shield and from a passive stance we execute a hopping side kick.

Drill #3
Our partner holds a kicking shield and we side kick our partner the full length of the floor with our left leg and then when we get to the end, we side kick our partner the full length of the floor with our right leg. We had to do this twice to complete the drill. Side kicking our way down the floor was not kick… partner sets herself… kick. It was kick-kick-kick. The idea was to keep your partner from setting herself. This drill brought back memories of my traditional martial arts days when we had to perform kicking drills up and down the dojo floor.

Drill #4
We executed a high side kick toward our partner’s face. Our partner defended with an inside defense.

Drill #5
We executed a medium high side kick toward our partner’s midsection. Our partner defended with a plucking defense.

Drill #6
Our partner holds a kicking shield and tells us the number of side kicks we must execute. Once we’ve executed the required number of side kicks, our partner tells us to drop and sprawl on the floor. While we’re sprawling, our partner moves to different position. We get back to our feet and our partner tells us again to execute a certain number of side kicks. He tells us again to drop and sprawl. This cycle continues until the instructor tells us to switch roles with our partner.

Drill #7
The final drill was the practice of a different variation of the bar arm choke defense.

Night of Side KicksSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Go to Plan B

Plan BSometimes you have to go to Plan B because Plan A just ain’t workin’. A few weeks ago... on our ground fighting night... we were practicing a shoulder choke. This choke works like the leg triangle choke except you're using your arms instead of your legs.

The choke is sometimes called an arm triangle choke. In Judo, it’s called a Kata Gatame. When using this choke, your opponent’s arm restricts blood flow on one side of his neck and you use an arm to restrict blood flow on the other side of his neck. You want to make sure that your opponent's arm is trapped between your head and his.

So... I’m practicing the choke on a person that weighs 275 lbs. He has… at least… a 19-inch neck and arms almost as big as my thighs. My preference for applying this choke is to use a reverse lever. For example, if my right arm is around my opponent’s neck, I place my right hand on my left forearm. I then move my left hand up to the side of my head and squeeze. I get a much tighter choke this way... 99 percent of the time.

One of the problems that I encountered with this individual was that my 80-inch reach (measured from fingertips to fingertips) hardly got around him to apply the choke. Another problem was that when I attempted to apply the choke... I couldn’t finish it. I called over another person... a 300-pounder (I’m a 240-pounder)... to attempt the choke. He used a gable (palm-to-palm) grip instead of a reverse lever. He… also… couldn’t finish the choke.

So... what’s the moral of the story? You can’t expect every technique to be effective on everybody. If something doesn’t work, switch to something else. Go to Plan B. Don’t waste your energy trying to make the technique work. The idea is to make your opponent waste his/her energy thereby facilitating your victory.

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Go to Plan BSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Front Leg Side Kick

Side Kick The Front Leg Side Kick is perhaps the weakest of all the side kicks, but still a very effective kick. This kick is executed by shifting your weight onto your rear leg while bringing your front knee up directly in front of you. With practice, this can be one of your fastest side kicks in your kicking arsenal.

While facing my opponent, sometimes I like to use the Front Leg Side Kick because I can drive my opponent back farther than with the Front Kick. This is one of my favorite kicks. The following example is for a Front Leg Side Kick using the right leg.

  1. From a fighting stance, raise your knee at least waist high. Your foot should already be in the correct position to strike your opponent.
  2. Your base leg foot should have moved approximately 90-degrees counterclockwise by pivoting on the ball of your foot.
  3. Turn your body counterclockwise so that the kicking leg side of your body is now facing directly towards your opponent
  4. Your kicking leg foot is slightly in front of your base leg and as high above the knee as possible while being tucked in close to your groin.
  5. The outside (knife) edge of your kicking foot is pointed down towards the ground.
  6. As you begin to kick, your base leg foot should have moved approximately 20-degrees counterclockwise by pivoting on the ball of your foot.
  7. As the heel edge of your kicking foot makes contact with its target, your base leg foot should now have moved 25-degrees counterclockwise by pivoting on the ball of your foot.
  8. Your kicking foot, kicking leg (knee slightly bent), hips, back, shoulders and head should be in a straight line at the initial point of impact. Picture a pool stick making contact with a cue ball on a pool table. The heel edge of your kicking foot is like the tip of the pool stick.
  9. Your kicking leg should return (recoil) along the same straight path of trajectory it followed from knee raising to impact.
  10. Return to your fighting stance.
In my traditional martial arts days, I used to practice this kick by placing a chair beside me. It forced me to raise my knee high enough so that I was able to kick over the chair. I would also practice with a step ladder. I would practice kicking between each ladder rung. It helped with targeting my kicks.

If while sparring, you find yourself getting hit by a much taller opponent that is able to punch you while you’re executing a Front Kick, switch to a Front Leg Side Kick. It will put your head out of punching range while you’re delivering the kick.

Remember… for the street… no high kicks! Save those for your demonstration photos and movie stunt work.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Retzev, OODA Loop, Curriculum and Testing


I have noticed that some individuals have landed on my blog because they were searching for information on a particular topic. I would like to address the four topics that currently seem to be searched the most.

Retzev is defined in David Kahn’s book “Krav Maga.”

Unlike other types of martial arts, krav maga emphasizes retzev, a Hebrew word that means “continuous motion.” To become a successful kravist, you must seamlessly integrate synchronized defensive and offensive techniques in an intuitive manner. It is imperative to understand the difference between retzev and merely a series of counterattacks. Whereas a series of counterattacks lacks continuity and does not flow automatically, retzev teaches you to move your body instinctively in combat motion without thinking about the next move.

In combat, each person must: Observe what is happening; Orient to the observations (interpret the sensory input); Decide what to do about it; and Act.

  • O: You see a fist suddenly growing larger. (observe)
  • O: I’m being punched! (orient)
  • D: What should I do about it? Block or duck? Duck! (decide)
  • A: Duck! (act)

The assailant is on step four when his action triggers your step one. His “act” is the first thing you “observe.”

Time is lost in the middle two steps. In the orientation step, inexperienced people try to gather too much or too little information. Hick’s Law can surface in the decide step. Hick’s Law states that the more options you have, the longer it takes to choose one.

For more information on the OODA loop, read Rory Miller’s book Meditations on Violence or see Chet Richards’ seven slide presentation.

Krav Maga Curriculum
I will only address the Krav Maga Worldwide (KMWW) curriculum because I’m only familiar with that curriculum. It can be found in the book Complete Krav Maga. In addition, you can find KMWW curriculum outlines for each belt level on the Krav Maga Dallas/Fort Worth Web site.

Belt Testing
Belt testing varies within and between the Krav Maga organizations. The common denominator seems to be the arduousness of the tests. Ask your instructor(s) the following questions:

  • How will the test be conducted?
  • What material will I be tested on?
  • How long it will take to complete the test?
  • What will you be looking for during the test?

I hope this has been helpful.

Retzev, OODA Loop, Curriculum and TestingSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, April 25, 2009

When is Your When?

Pushing Go Button I attended the scenario-based class on Thursday and it was quite enlightening. The beginning of the class was like a TUF (The Ultimate Fighter) conditioning session. It was all part of our instructor’s diabolical plan for where he wanted us to be physically in order to produce an outcome.

The outcome showed our instructor what combatives we used at the final stage of the TUF session. For example, after being completely exhausted, I ended the session by throwing straight punches. I felt that straight punches would be my most effective combatives at that juncture as opposed to hook punches, for example. Unknowingly, each student ended the final stage of the session with what he/she believed to be his/her best strong suit under the exhaustive circumstances.

So... for the final drill... the class was broken up into groups of three. One student played the role of a victim and the other two were in the roles of predators. Each group’s scenarios played out differently based on the dynamics of the group.

What was most interesting... at least to me... were the comments during our open discussion after the drill. We were asked how we felt about the drill and if we had any issues. Several issues surfaced, but what stood out most for me was the problem of some students not being sure about when to strike.

As an observation, the instructor pointed out that he had noticed that one student allowed one of the predators to touch him at least three times. I can’t imagine me letting that happen.

For me, it’s matter of instinct. It may be rooted in what my neighborhood was like growing up. It may be a matter of déjà vu. Nonetheless, when I get that “gut feeling” and if I have no exit, I will strike first.

See Lawrence A. Kane’s Rule #1 in his Nine Rules to Live By. Also, see the OODA loop.

When I’m approached by questionable individuals, I immediately think of Geoff Thompson’s four D’s - dialogue, deception, distraction and destruction. Here’s his explanation of the four D’s from his book Dead or Alive.

Dialogue designed to disarm and distract the targeted victim is the professional attacker’s most common priming technique. His objective is to make you think about his question, so that you do not notice the weapon he is drawing or his accomplice coming round behind you.

An attacker uses deception to make himself appear harmless. Do not expect dangerous people to stand out in a crowd.

Distraction is a part of deception and usually comes through dialogue. The attacker may ask his victim a question and then initiate attack while the victim is thinking about the answer.

Destruction – Few people survive the first physical blow and most are out of the game before they even realize that they are in it.

For those of you having issues with when to push your “Go Button”, heed Rory Miller’s words from his book Meditations on Violence.

If you are ever faced with extreme violence, you will have to make the decision to act. Make it now. You must decide what is worth fighting for, never forgetting that the question involves the risk of both dying and killing. You must decide now. Taking damage in the middle of a shitstorm of fists and boots is the wrong time to agonize over the moral dimension of conflict. There are things worth fighting for. List what they are.

Lastly, a fellow Kravist at my training center suggested a book to me titled “Self Portrait of a Hero.” It’s a book of letters written by Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Netanyahu to his family and friends. Lieutenant Colonel Netanyahu was killed in battle during Israel’s 1976 daring rescue hostage mission “Operation Entebbe.” In one letter, Lieutenant Colonel Netanyahu writes to his teenage brother, “Remember what I told you? He, who delivers the first blow, wins.”

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nine Rules to Live By

Lawrence A. Kane gives us nine rules to live by in his book Surviving Armed Assaults.
  1. Don’t get hit.
    The first person to be forcefully struck is at a severe disadvantage in any fight. If possible, withdraw before the first blow is thrown. Awareness, avoidance, and de-escalation are paramount. If you do have to engage an armed aggressor in combat, end the fight as quickly as possible to increase your chance of survival.
  2. Pain is your friend.
    Okay, so you’ve blown rule number one. The next most important thing to remember is if it hurts, you are still alive. There’s plenty of time to deal with pain after a battle is concluded. Never stop until you have disabled your opponent and have escaped to a safe location. Then, and only then, can you afford to worry about how much it hurts.
  3. Weapons are ubiquitous.
    Be prepared for an armed confrontation. Even if a fight initially begins with fist and feet that is no guarantee that someone will not pull a weapon at some point during the confrontation, especially if they feel they are about to lose. Be especially cautious if you face up to someone who leaves the scene then later returns.
  4. Always assume they are armed.
    Awareness is your first line of defense. Scan everyone that approaches you, especially if his or her hands are not in plain sight or you sense a potential confrontation. Unless you have personally searched an individual or he/she is fully unclothed and you can see every part of his or her anatomy, you must always assume that person has a weapon at his or her disposal. Since almost anything can be used as an improvised tool, be wary of anything within an attacker’s reach as well.
  5. Bad guys cheat to win; so should you.
    Once someone has assaulted you, never believe anything they say. A bad guy (or gal) is by definition bad. They will lie, cheat, manipulate, prevaricate, confuse, extort, bamboozle, and do anything else they can think of to trick you off guard and ultimately defeat you. There are no rules, pauses, time outs, or do-overs. Street fighting is a no-holds-barred contest for survival, a situation that must be approached seriously.
  6. Understand how weapons work.
    Just like empty-hand techniques, every weapon has strengths and weaknesses. Understand how they work and use this knowledge to your advantage. A life death struggle is hardly an environment conducive to learning. It is far better to make mistakes within the relatively friendly confines of the training hall.
  7. Expect the unexpected.
    Anyone who is attacking you has probably ambushed someone successfully before. He or she will use that experience in an attempt to inure or kill you. Actual combat almost never resembles drills in the dojo. Never underestimate an opponent.
  8. Yell for help.
    The word “help” is overused and often ignored, yet you really do need to get people’s attention if you are attacked by an armed assailant. Yelling “Fire!” is a good strategy, but screaming, something along the lines of, “Oh my god, don’t kill me with that knife” is even better in many cases. Not only may this tactic have a better chance of attracting the attention of a possible rescuer than generally yelling for help, but it also demonstrates for potential witnesses that you are, indeed, in reasonable fear for you life should you end up killing your attacker in self-defense. Attracting attention to your plight not only helps justify your actions in the eyes of the law, but it also helps eliminate the privacy that most lawbreakers desire while they commit their crimes.
  9. Check for bleeding.
    If a weapon is involved you may be seriously injured without even knowing it. As soon as a fight is concluded, check yourself over and attend to any medical needs before doing anything else. To protect yourself legally it is often a good idea to attend to your attacker’s injuries too.
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fighting Ranges

One of the classes I attended this week dealt with fighting ranges. Here’s a general category of fighting ranges:
  • Grappling range (touching)
  • Close range (arm length)
  • Short range (leg length/short weapon distance)
  • Mid range (long weapon length)
  • Long range (pole weapon length)
  • Extreme range (projectile weapon length)
We started the class with a little warm-up refresher doing Level I defenses and then Level II defenses. These Levels are your foundation in Krav Maga. Many times techniques from these Levels are used as a warm-up in our upper Level classes.

  • Our partner threw a punch (straight or hook) and we… standing in a stationary fighting stance… had to slip the punch or bob and weave under the punch.

  • With our backs up against a wall, our partner threw a punch (straight or hook) and we had to slip the punch or bob and weave under the punch and then counter with a three punch combination.

  • While we were moving around, our partner threw a punch (straight or hook) and we had to slip the punch or bob and weave under the punch and then counter with a three punch combination.

  • While our partner held a kicking shield and was beyond striking range, we moved toward our partner throwing punching and kicking combinations until we got into knee striking range of our partner. We then got into a clinch with our partner and delivered knee strikes to the kicking shield.

  • Our partner has us in a clinch and delivers a knee strike. We block the knee strike.

  • Our partner attacks with a knife at various angles. We block the attack or move out of range. We don’t counterattack or disarm. This drill is about adjusting to the range of a knife attack.

  • Our partner attacks with a stick at various angles. We block the attack or move out of range. We don’t counterattack or disarm. This drill is about adjusting to the range of a stick attack.

  • We are attacked by two attackers, one with a knife and the other with a stick. We block the attacks or move out of range. We don’t counterattack or disarm. This drill is about adjusting and then readjusting to the two different attack ranges.

  • Two students don’t have weapons. Everyone else in class has a knife or a stick. The two students are randomly attacked by everyone in the class. They block the attacks or move out of range. They don’t counterattack or disarm. This drill is about adjusting and then readjusting to the two different attack ranges.

  • The final drill was an unarmed assault. We were attacked and had to defend against the attack, however, the student playing the role of the attacker continued the attack until he felt that he was thoroughly neutralized. In other words, you might be attacked by someone under the influence of a drug like PCP. You kick the attacker precisely in the groin and he continues attacking. The attack ain’t over until the fat lady sings!
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