January 18, 2021
Fights are not static. Things move. People move. Bear-hugs and headlocks and all that stuff happen sometimes in a fight, but they are transitional actions. You do not get bear-hugged just to be held (except by bouncers). A Threat wraps his big arms around you from behind either to pick you up and shake you (disorienting and intended as an intimidating show of strength) or to drive you into a wall. Maybe to throw you over a balcony. If you practice technique-based defense, will they work if the Threat refuses to stand there? If he is using that headlock to slam you from wall to wall?
The Lowest Level of Force
December 7, 2020
The Records area at Rusafa Prison Complex in Baghdad is enclosed by a chain-link fence and was almost always crowded. It’s a stressful place, with inmates being processed in and out, Iraqi military, police, corrections, advocates, politicos, and sometimes families of the convicts are present and a small handful of American advisors.
Simple Drills Worth Knowing
January 30, 2017
The following are important things, some little, some major, that lend themselves well to simple drills or exercises. Backing up is almost never the answer. Unless you are excellent at reading and remembering tactical terrain, you might not know what or who is behind you.
Evaluating Drills—Part 2
October 31, 2016
I get especially annoyed with weapons. Unarmed defense against a weapon sucks. Never, ever, ever practice dying and do not train to be killed. The stakes are too high to blindly imprint a habit, even a habit as simple as handing a weapon back once you have disarmed someone.
Evaluating Drills—Part 1
October 24, 2016
I'm not a big fan of most drills. There is a fine line, but conditioned reflexes are crucial in a fight and habits will get you killed. Conditioned reflexes are things you do without thinking about it. They are essentially trained flinch responses. If something suddenly comes at your eyes you WILL do something: block, move your head or, at the very minimum, blink.
DRILL: The One-Step - September 26, 2016
The one-step arose as a useful accident. Many years ago I was reading George Mattson's The Way of Karate and I completely misunderstood his description of ippon kumite.
Not Parlor Tricks - September 12, 2016
The following aren't actually tricks. They are exercises that you demonstrate once to show a deeper truth. Most will not work on people a second time. Some will learn to game it.
DRILL: The One-Step - August 29, 2016
The one-step arose as a useful accident. Many years ago I was reading George Mattson's The Way of Karate and I completely misunderstood his description of ippon kumite. I thought, "That's brilliant—unscripted but safe, just looking at this whole thing as a meat geometry problem…"
Training for Sudden Violence - August 15, 2016
I teach about violence. As I left “the life” I discovered that my niche wasn’t so much teaching cops as I had expected, or even teaching civilian self-defense. The material seemed to resonate most with experienced martial artists who were coming to discover how little they really knew about violence.
Self-Defense: A Unique Teaching Challenge - June 27, 2016
There are six very important distinctions that make self-defense different from almost every other subject we teach. Rarity. Emergencies are extremely rare, complex, and varied. Rarity means there is very limited experience available on how to deal with such an event.
Hooks in Violent and Non Violent Encounters - January 12, 2016
Dealing with people who routinely used violence to get what they want, they often sought a "hook." A hook is an excuse to act out or a rationalization that will allow them to excuse their actions later.
Boundary Setting—Society's Rules - August 3, 2015
One of the advantages of living in society with a set of rules and mores is that the boundaries are supposed to be set for you. In a homogenous society everyone has similar ideas of right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate. The rules say who you can and can't touch and how, what you can and can't say and to whom.
Don’t Take It Personally - June 15, 2015
What does that even mean? In Conflict Communications the meaning is very specific. It takes history to hate a person. There must be a history of wrongs or perceived wrongs in order to get a deep and personal emotional bond, positive or negative.
The Why and Wherefore of Conflict Communication - June 9, 2015
How often have you found yourself in an argument with your wife, husband, or significant other and thought, "Here we go again"? Have you ever found the answer to a real problem and had it ignored while the person you are trying to help wastes time and energy picking at you, trying to create a personal problem from a good thing?
Interpreting The Kanji - June 2, 2015
Studying an Asian martial art can be a daunting task for a non-Asian student. Not only do you have to learn the physical postures and how to move from one to the other, you also strive to master the seemingly endless number of techniques. As well, the cultural milieu in which the martial art developed is often confusing. Many times the task you undertake is compared to climbing a mountain, and for good reason.
The Practical Problem of Teaching Self-Defense - January 19, 2015
Self-defense is unlike anything else humans train for. Unlike engineering or architecture, you can't have any idea of the problem you need to solve. An engineer knows if he will be building a bridge or a tunnel. A self-defense student will never know if they might someday face a rape attempt, a kidnapping, a drive-by shooting, or a simple assault.
Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957): The Gentle Teacher of Shuri Te - December 1, 2014
Perhaps it was always Funakoshi's destiny to shed light on a part of Okinawan culture that had for centuries remained hidden from the gaze of the general population. He shone like a bright star in a dark sky and pointed the way forward for the many millions around the world who would take up the challenge of learning.
Fond Memories About Okinawan Cuisine - November 3, 2014
I once asked a Japanese friend of mine, who had flown down from the mainland to Okinawa to meet me, if she was enjoying her visit to this part of Japan. Her reply surprised me at the time, as she confessed it was like visiting a different country. The food in particular was very different from the type of dishes she ate on a daily basis with her family in Osaka.
Modern Trends: Reality-based Martial Arts - September 15, 2014
The rise in recent years of so-called ‘reality’ based martial arts reminds me of other great scams committed against the general public, like bottled water, and who can forget the panic that gripped the world in the 1990s over the Y2K dilemma that was supposedly going to see aeroplanes fall from the sky and shut down every computer on the entire planet.
Common Sources of Knowledge About Violence - March 31, 2014
We are, all of us, both teachers and students. As teachers, we give our students information. As students, we learn from our teachers. The teachers give us knowledge. This knowledge came from somewhere, from one of four sources.
Bunbu Ryo Do: The Way of The Karate Martial Scholar - March 10, 2014
In the early part of the twentieth century, when Okinawan karate teachers were first asked to provide names for their karate by the Butokukai in Japan, they struggled to come up with a name that did justice to the martial art they practiced.
Teaching Joint Locks - February 3, 2014
About 2003, the training unit at my old agency got some pretty disturbing numbers. Assaults against staff and hospitalizations had increased dramatically. The programs taught at the academy and approved by our agency weren't cutting it. The Training Unit tasked a few of us to redesign the Defensive Tactics program from the ground up.
Difficult Research in Developing Karate—Part 2 - November 11, 2013
Personal research requires you to look inward towards your own nature, and to take responsibility for your karate; to step out of your comfort zone. You can do this by attending events like open courses if you like, but in truth, such challenges do little to aid your progress.
Difficult Research in Developing Karate—Part 1 - November 4, 2013
“Karate training is easy!” Now there’s a statement to get your head around. But is there any truth to it; is training in karate easy? Well, children, the unfit, the lazy, and folks of dubious character…all seem to have no problem being awarded a black belt in karate these days, so the training must be easy…right?
Unraveling Knots in The Thread of Life - October 14, 2013
Over a period of about eight years, beginning in the early 1990s, I began taking a closer look around the world at the various religious and philosophical beliefs people held, and saw in many of them much to be admired. I also noticed there was quite a lot of common ground. I was initially astonished to discover, for example, how the sacred text of Judaism, the Torah, tells the same story as the first five books of the Bible, known to Christians as the books of the Old Testament.