Thursday, February 26, 2009

Level Testing Reviews

As I mentioned last week, this Saturday is “Test Day.” Level 1, 2 & 3 students (yellow belt, orange belt and green belt) will be testing. Level 4 (blue belt) students will be put through the paces by reviewing all material up to their Level.

The class I attended Monday night was mostly a review of Level 2 material with a smidgen of Level 3 material. We started with punch combinations (straight, hook and uppercut) then we did outside punch defenses, and then we went into defenses against outside and inside punch combinations. Next, we reviewed the standing reverse headlock (guillotine). We also did chokes from the front, back, side and choke from the front with a push as well as choke from behind with a push.

We reviewed bearhugs for the rest of the class. We reviewed:

  • Bearhug from the front with arms free
  • Bearhug from the front with arms free (leverage on the neck)
  • Bearhug from the front with arms caught (with space)
  • Bearhug from the front with arms caught (no space)
  • Bearhug from behind with arms free
  • Bearhug from behind with arms caught (with space)
  • Bearhug from behind with arms caught (no space)
  • Bearhug from behind (with lift)
  • Bearhug from the front (with lift)

We ended the class with breaking up into groups of four. Each member of the group took his turn defending against the other three members as they attacked nonstop with various chokes and bearhugs.

Wednesday’s groundfighting night went over some Level 1 and 2 material, but concentrated mostly on KMWW curriculum for Levels 3 and 4. We reviewed:

  • Arm bar from the guard
  • Guard reversal (sit up and sweep)
  • Escape from the guard (stacking)
  • Trap opponent’s arms to chest to pop up and out
  • Side mount (basic position)
  • Side mount (arm lock)
  • Side mount (strikes)
  • Side mount (transition to full mount)
  • Side mount disengage (knee on belly)
  • Triangle choke
  • Guard - bottom position: guillotine
  • Guard - bottom position: defense against guillotine
  • Defense against headlock from behind


Level Testing ReviewsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

There’s No Middle Ground in Fight or Flight

The following is another excerpt from the soon to be released book, "No Second Chance: A Reality-Based Guide to Self-Defense" by Mark Hatmaker.

The amazing abilities your body exhibits while under stress are part of the parasympathetic nervous system; these abilities are often referred to in the layman’s term “the fight or flight response.” Notice that this parasympathetic choice is black and white, either/or. Flight or flight is not subject to subtlety, shades of gray, or abstruse gradations of reasoning. The parasympathetic fight or flight response is a binary call to action--it’s one or the other.

We need to swallow this lesson now as most of us are steeped in civilized society (as we have every right to be) and have adopted some cozy notions of security. Ideas such as the police will handle my threats if I’m ever confronted. Allow me to disabuse you of this idea, the police, while as efficient as they can be in most cases, they are like FEMA in worst case scenarios--too little, too late.

911 is a magnificent preventative tool if one has any foreknowledge of threat but if the threat is of complete surprise then 911 is too late. Even if you do manage to dial 911 just moments before your attack, how long will it take for emergency support of any kind to arrive? Do you just plan to sit and wait the predator attack out and hope that someone else will arrive in time to take responsibility for saving your life?

Law enforcement and other emergency personnel (firefighters, EMTs, et cetera) are known as first responders and it is a deserved reputation but, in actuality, you are the first responder. You as the victim are the first to react to whatever threat you have been confronted with. It is up to you to be energized with your fight or flight physiological boost and make the choice between the two that will best ensure your survival.

There is a choice to ensure yourself of pain (both physical and psychological) and quite possibly the loss of your life or that of a loved one and that is to make no choice at all. Being immersed in the world of civilized society can, for some, lead to a opossum-like state of vacillation when confronted with non-civilized situations. This inertia is quite understandable as we conduct the vast majority of our lives in a realm where conflict is not violent, disputes are solved via reasoning or discussion and, those we deal with respond in a reciprocal manner. We have cultivated the habit of civilized conduct and when confronted with behavior so far outside of our understanding we sometimes see a victim stuck in neutral trying to evaluate the situation in terms of civilized experience.

This sort of vacillation is a problem as we, the civilized prey animal, have no correlating experience with which to evaluate and handle the situation. What is occurring here, in mechanistic terms, is a sort of cognitive short-circuiting of the parasympathetic nervous system. The fight or flight response is an older system in brain development, we easily recognize fight or flight parasympathetic reaction in “lower” species. Our neo-cortex, which is responsible for all of the advances we have made in culture, society, science et cetera, is a relatively new development. When we encounter threat and subvert the older system (the parasympathetic) with the newer system (neo-cortex) we essentially lock up both systems leaving them both to spin their wheels and gain zero ground in protecting us from the threat at hand.

We need to inoculate ourselves against the possibility of this lock-up by making a conscious, cognitive choice now before any hint of threat appears on the horizon. We must resolve now that we will step out of the way and let the fight or flight response work its magic. We inoculate ourselves by understanding the processes at war within our craniums and make a decision to allow the civilized neo-cortex to fade away in time of primitive threat so that the primitive parasympathetic system can work at optimum capacity.

Deciding now to slough off the veneer of civilized conduct if/when things go primitive is of vital necessity in your quest for survival. You must reduce your cognitive options to two and only two--fight or flight. There is nothing else to choose except loss.

There’s No Middle Ground in Fight or FlightSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, February 20, 2009

Reviews and Scenarios

This past week, there have been Level 1, 2 and 3 (yellow belt, orange belt and green belt) reviews for all Levels because of the upcoming belt testing scheduled for next Saturday. There will be more reviews next week also.

So... during our groundfighting night, Wednesday, we reviewed all Krav Maga Worldwide (KMWW) curriculum groundfighting techniques for the aforementioned Levels. We didn’t practice techniques that we might normally practice on this night because they are usually outside of the KMWW curriculum.

Some of the striking groundfighting techniques reviewed were front, side and round kicks from the ground. Some of the grappling groundfighting techniques reviewed were headlock on the ground, arm bar from the guard and choke from the side.

Thursday night, I took the Scenario Training class. The class was very interesting because we had to deal with the escalating levels of a confrontational individual. Our lead instructor asked us to play the role of the antagonist by trying to think and act the way an antagonist would think and act (method acting).

The first drill involved being confronted by an irate person and you had to try to de-escalate the situation. Another drill involved a person that would not calm down and continued to press you by getting in your space to the point of being threatening. You had to decide what your rules of engagement were going to be. In other words, when do I decide it’s time to stop this person before she attacks me?

We were put through another drill that exhausted us before being confronted. Our partners held focus mitts and we had to punch as fast as we could for speed, then as hard as we could for power, then for speed again and then for power again. I’m guessing we punched for a total of two minutes nonstop. Once exhausted, we had to deal with the whacko that’s accused us of looking at his girlfriend with lustful eyes.

Our final drill involved sitting in a chair. Our partner could attack us in any manner, armed or unarmed. We had to reach into our Krav Maga tool box and make a defense.

As I stated in my last post, “the more times you correctly repeat your techniques, the better you will be at them.” And you can’t beat the scenario-based training for putting you in mock situations where you get to practice the application of your Krav Maga skills.

Reviews and ScenariosSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, February 14, 2009


The classes I took this past week were essentially reviews of techniques. A Japanese master once said that you don’t know a technique until you’ve performed it 100,000 times. You can probably master a technique sooner than that, but if you did practice it 100,000 times, the movement would be as automatic as breathing.

Although, we would like to learn something new in every class, that is not the best way to proceed. You haven’t practiced the previous material long enough to commit it to muscle memory. It is better to do a variety of drills that work the past material in different ways. And that’s what our instructors did this past week.

So… there was more dirty boxing, but with the added element of dealing with a confrontational individual as well as an additional assailant. In addition, there were more breakfalls and drop-knee seoi nages. However, there was the added element of your opponent thwarting your throw and how to overcome that problem.

"Learning occurs when a conscious effort to put the body in a particular position or to move it in a certain way is transformed from a conscious action to an automatic action, requiring no thought."

The bottom line is… the more times you correctly repeat your techniques, the better you will be at them.

RepetitionSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Views of Self-Defense

The following is an excerpt from an article by Gershon Ben Keren.

Unfortunately, we still think of the need to defeat one unarmed person, who has asked us to fight, as the first self-defense need we have to meet despite it becoming less and less likely, with us more likely to have to face a knife or several attackers or one who disguises his intention to attack.

As the ante has been upped, our approach to self-defense has to be different. We can no longer afford to think about winning but instead about surviving. There may be individuals out there who possess far less technical ability than me and in a one-on-one fight I could annihilate them however if they were to attack me unaware or chose to use a blade they would make much of my technical superiority useless. This is why they chose to attack in such a way. The days of the ‘fair fight’ are over.

Where I might before have chosen to engage and destroy, I now need to think of disengaging and escaping. The chance that a knife might be pulled or an accomplice will join in means I cannot concentrate 100% on the attacker who I (initially) face. Do not get me wrong, I do need to know how to finish someone but that can’t be my first thought. My first thought has to be how to escape the situation (not just the attacker/aggressor).

Even if I face just one attacker, who I may know is unarmed (in all honesty this is something I will never know for sure), I need to think about disengagement as I never know how the situation will develop. In a fight I was involved in as a mid-teen, in a supposedly fair fight (square go) between a friend of mine and somebody else a third-party kicked a knife along the floor to my friend’s opponent.

The over-riding strategy of any street conflict is to disengage and survive rather than fight and win. This may not be the story that the new student wishes to hear but it is the most truthful one.

Click here to read entire article

Views of Self-DefenseSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, February 9, 2009

Old, Rusty? Out of Shape? - Krav Maga Training

Sometimes people look at Krav Maga techniques and say, 'something is missing', it just looks too simple. And then they try it.

It works.

Comments from practitioners have included remarks such as;

I think Krav, with its emphasis on natural responses, is good for me. I think Krav and Paul Vunak's version of JKD are the best street systems, but I think that Krav is more likely to be usable when one is rusty. JKD trapping when not in good practice? I don’t' think so.

I read recently somewhere that WW II Commandos could still execute the combative they were taught forty years after the fact and without having trained in those forty years. Those techniques (which I have made it a point to learn about and learn) are simple and effective, if a bit limited in scope...

I, in fact, heard a story about a Russian WW II veteran, walking through the park and being threatened by two young punks. The two young punks, drunk and fully deserving of a good beating, tried to humiliate the old veteran. He reacted as he had been trained years ago in the Russian army, with a clutching grip on one man's throat and another man's testicles. He squeezed hard, and then casually walked away as calmly as before.

Click here to continue reading

Old, Rusty? Out of Shape? - Krav Maga TrainingSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, February 8, 2009

You'll Never Be Ready

The following is another excerpt from the soon to be released book, "No Second Chance: A Reality-Based Guide to Self-Defense" by Mark Hatmaker.

I’ve got some bad news for us--we’ll never be ready. The predators of the world always have the upper-hand. They get to choose the when, the where, the how, the why, they get to choose everything. None of the victims recounted in the Predator Profiles woke up the morning of their horrific destiny and knew what was in store for them. If they did, I’m certain they would have done everything in their power to alter what was foreseen.

Just as they never knew, we will never know if or when we have similar experiences in store for us. The predators of the world, on the other hand, they always know. They always have the advantage. They have a plan. They know when they get up in the morning what they have in store for whatever innocents they have targeted. There may be unexpected developments in the course of executing that plan but , nevertheless, they are dealing with minor course corrections in their devious goals. We? Again, we will never know if/when it is coming.

Now, with that bit of cheery information you might be asking yourself what’s the point of this book if we will never be prepared? Let’s liken preparation for surviving criminal assault to “preparing” for a car accident. Statistically speaking, chances are you have been involved in a car accident at some point in your driving life (hopefully a minor one). When you awoke that morning you had no idea it was going to occur. You didn’t get into the car taking special pains with your seat-belt, you didn’t go ahead and make sure your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and auto insurance information were easily handy. You didn’t re-read your original driver’s education manual (if you ever did) reviewing accident avoidance protocols. No, you were just going about your business and the accident happened catching you by surprise.

Now, assuming you kept your head and had some foresight, your seatbelt provided you with some protection, you had your information readily available, you knew what to do when the collision occurred. This preventive foresight still does not stop you from being surprised, injured, or even quell the adrenaline dump that such occasions elicit. According to the indelicate phrase, shit happens and that day shit just happened. We know that all drivers are unprepared for an accident in the foreknowledge sense but, let’s compare drivers who exercise preventive maintenance with those who do not.

Chances are, if you have been obeying traffic laws, keeping your speed in control, and paying attention to the environment you just might have been able to recognize that the accident was going to occur before it did. Often it is this “split-second” of danger recognition that allows you to brake, decrease speed, or veer to a less damaging collision vector. If you have utilized your safety belt you have (hopefully) mitigated your injuries. If you are organizationally squared away you will have your information ready for easy access and are also able to give 911 a quick call. A little bit of preparedness and obeisance to some simple habits makes this sort of behavior likely.

On the other hand, if you are a driver who has chosen to ignore what others have proposed as good sense and have decided to follow too closely, drive too fast, pay less than optimum attention to the environment (texting, shall we say?) then you have already increased your chances for losing your “split second” window of collision avoidance. If you have foregone your safety-belt for comfort’s sake you have dramatically increased your chances for injury. If you have decided to keep your information in two or more locations or, worse, have no idea if you even have such information, you have increased your own stress level by stacking unneeded confusion on top of an already taxed nervous system.

Neither the prepared driver or the unprepared driver knows if or when an accident will occur but…the odds easily favor the prepared driver. That’s what we are striving for with this book. We will never know if or when we may be confronted by criminal violence but by being a prepared driver we greatly increase our chances of surviving the collision.

You'll Never Be ReadySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Animal Planet

The following is an excerpt from the soon to be released book, "No Second Chance: A Reality-Based Guide to Self-Defense" by Mark Hatmaker.

You want a quick and easy lesson in how to navigate in a world that contains predators? Well, turn on the TV and find Animal Planet or any channel featuring non-interference nature-documentary programming. We’re all familiar enough with the sort of programming I mean that the following example will be immediately familiar. Picture the arid plains of the African Serengeti during the dry season. The landscape is one of various shades of tans and deep browns. The sole watering hole in the area is trafficked by a wide array of species, both predator and prey, that one does not usually see in such close proximity if the need for water didn’t hold precedence.

Now, picture a herd of gazelle or springbok navigating towards the watering hole. We, the TV viewers, have been shown that there is a stalking lion in the area but the herd, not having paid their cable bill, are unaware of this fact. While unaware of the definite presence of a major predator they still do not make a blithe approach to the watering hole. Rather, you see a circuitous approach made in fits and starts as various leaders of the herd stop to sniff the air, or cock their ears towards an unfamiliar noise. Here, we see a prey species exercising preparatory caution.

It is only after the herd has deigned the area relatively safe do they commence quenching their thirsts. We, the privy viewer, observe the lion make her tentative stalk, edging ever closer towards the herd. We notice that she does not approach directly, out in the open announcing her presence but rather the “king of the jungle” approaches in a sly, furtive manner. This is another rule of predator-prey interaction at play: Although the lion has the advantage of strength/mass, fierce weaponry (teeth and claws) the predator still forgoes frontal assault and seeks to control the time and location of the attack as much as possible. Again, the predator gets to choose as many control parameters as it can manage whereas as the gazelle controls none.

When the lion makes its rush to attack we notice that the prey choices are invariably the same; predators choose from four classes of prey (victims).

  1. The Young
  2. The Old
  3. The Infirm
  4. The Inattentive

The lion is not looking for a fair fight. The lion is not looking for a challenge. The lion is behaving economically; she seeks the easiest vector to acquire her goals (in this case a meal for her and her cubs). The young, old, and/or infirm prey make goal acquisition a more likely prospect. The inattentive animal, while it may be fleet of hoof or able to fight back under the best of circumstances has placed itself on the list by dint of not being aware of its surroundings. Nature obeys this predator-prey relationship all up and down the food chain. We, as human animals are not exempt from these laws of nature.

It is in our best interests to remind ourselves now and again that we are, indeed, animals. Along with this fact of nature we must also remind ourselves that we are a member of an unusual species, one that can be both predator and prey. The civilized, law-abiding citizenry among us are prey animals. The criminal scum of the earth are the predators. Keeping the “laws of the jungle” in mind and their implications for prey species we need to remain vigilant to remain safe. Predators seek ease of acquisition and by exercising vigilance and removing as many factors as we can from the “Easy Prey” checklist we increase our chances of removing ourselves from the predator’s menu.

Animal PlanetSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Clinches, Dirty Boxing and Throws

The first session of Wednesday’s groundfighting night began with clinching drills. Our first drill was the head clinch also known as the Muay Thai tie-up or plum blossom. Both hands are placed on the back of your opponent’s head using a palm-to-palm grip. This clinch is good for striking.

The second drill was the collar and elbow clinch. This is a bread and butter technique of wrestlers. Place your right hand on your opponent’s neck. Your opponent does the same. Grip his left forearm with your left hand. Your opponent does the same.

The third drill was the over-under clinch. Underhook your opponent’s left arm with your right, placing the palm of your hand on his shoulder blade. Your opponent does the same. Overhook his right arm with your left hand gripping him at the triceps. Your opponent does the same.

After practicing the clinches, we practiced pummeling. Pummeling is used to maneuver your clinch grips to a superior position or to prevent your opponent from pummeling you into a weaker position.

Next, we put on the boxing gloves, went into a clinch with our partner and then did some dirty boxing. Dirty boxing looks like two hockey players fighting.

The second session of the night involved throwing. We started out with putting ourselves in the turtle position (on our knees balled up like a turtle with our head tucked). Your partner put an arm around you. You tossed your partner over your shoulder by tucking her arm tight against your body and then doing a shoulder roll landing you on top of your partner.

Next, we practiced some forward break falls. First, we did them from our knees and then we did them standing stationary and then from a run.

Now we were ready to practice the drop-knee seoi nage (shoulder throw). After practicing some throws, we practiced executing a dorsal fin kimura arm lock from the north-south position.

We ended the night... as always... with some free rolling.

As you can see, the class took us from standing and fighting in the close range to the groundfighting range. There’s a likely possibility of this happening in a streetfight.

As has been mentioned before, as Kravists, we don’t want to go to the ground if we can help it. However, if we do end up there, we want to be competent in groundfighting so that we can deal with it effectively and then get to our feet.

Clinches, Dirty Boxing and ThrowsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Observing Patterns

Observation We warmed up Monday night by throwing single punches and then punch combinations at our partner. Our partner was allowed to defend, but wasn’t allowed to counterattack.

We did more observation drills (as I call them). In these drills, you’re in a fighting stance and your partner is striking you with punches and kicks. She’s concentrating on hitting vulnerable targets and throwing combinations that flow from one technique to the next. You… on the other hand… are observing her strikes and visualizing your defenses. You had to be continuous with your strikes for the entire round.

Using what you learned by the observation drill, you now were allowed to defend AND counterattack in the subsequent drill.

The next drill pitted two opponents against you. Opponent number 1 initiated a striking attack while opponent number 2 observed your defenses. After observing you, opponent number 2 jumped into the fray, replacing opponent number 1. He initiated Level 1 attacks. Opponent number 1 stood back, observed and then jumped back in with attacks while opponent number 2 stood back again.

After each round, the instructor would comment on what he observed. He pointed out patterns. Maybe you threw too many knee strikes. Someone observing those knee strikes would know that at some point she could grab your knee and take you down to the ground. On the other hand, maybe every time you threw a right cross you didn’t recoil your hand back to your face fast enough thereby leaving yourself open for a left hook to the head.

The next drill added a little spice... weapons. The drill started like the last drill except that one of your opponents might be attacking with a knife or stick. If an arm got hit by the stick, the arm could still defend, but couldn't strike.

The final drill added one more stickler. While you were engaged in combat with an opponent, the opponent observing could shout “drop.” Both combatants had to drop to the floor and continue the battle there. A knife fight on the floor is a lot different from a knife fight standing on your feet to say the least.

It was a great class and a lot of fun. And, as always, exhausting!

Observing PatternsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend