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The Fight
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.
From Whence We Came: Some Okinawa Cultural Icons - April 8, 2013
At a little over 26 degrees north of the equator, Okinawa enjoys a subtropical climate, and for much of the year its inhabitants live under clear blue skies. However, during the early summer months, typhoons sweep in off the Pacific Ocean bringing with them strong winds and huge seas often resulting in damage to property, and sometimes loss of life.
Karate-A Unique Balanced Approach to Healthy Living - February 26, 2013
Those who enter a dojo for the purpose of maintaining good health engage in a training routine that may look similar to those engaged in budo karate, but this similarity exists only on the surface.
The Three Golden Rules - December 24, 2012
The three golden rules, first written by Dep. Paul McRedmond of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, must be the basis of all officer training. The fact that they exist, that they are explicitly taught, and that they needed to be stated so clearly says something about the profession.
Who is Going to Teach Me: Your Teacher's Qualifications - October 29, 2012
"My sensei is a 5th dan," said one young man. "Oh yeh, my sensei is 6th," said the other. "My sensei has black belts in four different martial arts." "Well, my sensei is a master of weapons!"
A Map: Knowing Where You Stand in The Dojo - September 17, 2012
The size of an Okinawan karate dojo is likely to be smaller than its counterpart in America or Europe. It is also more likely to be attached to or form a part of the sensei’s home. Space on the island is at a premium and few families can afford the luxury of leaving large sections of their home vacant and unused for most of the day.
A Police Officer’s View of Scaling Force - September 3, 2012
Fights are dynamic and chaotic situations. A simple escort hold, walking a drunk off the premises can turn into a knife fight or a struggle for your weapon in an instant. Or you and several other officers could be fighting against a large, vicious threat who is acting completely inhuman and have him suddenly go limp.
Karate Choices for Lifetime Achievements - June 13, 2012
In karate, when your sporting days are over, you might, like many others, make the false assumption that you can simply move across to budo karate: if you do, you’re making a big mistake!
An Introduction to Force Decisions - April 30, 2012
This book (Force Decisions) is a gift, a peace offering. It is an attempt to communicate across a vast gulf in culture and experience, the gulf that exists between the Law Enforcement community and those whom they protect.
How to Evaluate a Force Decision - April 16, 2012
Fighting is ugly. Killing is ugly. Getting involved in any force incident is dangerous and it hurts. Violence affects humans at a very deep emotional level, and when we see or hear of an act of violence most people are sickened or outraged. And our default assumption is that anything that sickens or angers us so much must be wrong.
Sport, Health, and Martial Art: Kyogi, Kenko, and Budo - March 19, 2012
For many people training in karate these days, there seems to be only one way to train … their way! Like other martial arts, karate has not escaped the glare of commercialism, and with that, the packaging and branding of each school, style, or association.
Developing Fortitude and Fighting Strategies - November 22, 2011
Polishing the spirit (sen ren shin) is the term used to point the student of traditional karate toward the idea of developing fortitude. This is achieved through diligent training conducted frequently over a protracted period of time.
Ten Precepts of Karate - October 3, 2011
Truths abound. They are all around us like radio waves carrying music through the air; the trick is to discover how to tune into them. For over three and a half decades, I have been guilty of stumbling over more than a few truths.
Shin Gi Tai – Karate Training for Body, Mind, and Spirit - September 26, 2011
The dojo is a special place, where guts are fostered and superior human natures are bred through the ecstasy of sweating in hard work. The dojo is a sacred place, where the human spirit is polished. -Shoshin Nagamine sensei, Founder of the Matsubayashi ryu karatedo.
Counter Assault: Surviving Attacks - September 12, 2011
Talking to a friend in a public place, her eyes suddenly focused over my shoulder and went wide. I turned fast, elbow up, spinning and drop-stepping towards the Threat. Didn’t feel the solid contact of a head, but felt an arm brush away and continued.
Counter Assault: Attack from the Front - September 5, 2011
When a threat attacks you, he has a plan and his is counting on your surprise. He is expecting you to freeze in fear and leave him free to do whatever dastardly things he has planned. He expects your own adrenaline to ensure that he wins. An operant conditioned response will kick in before the adrenaline surge that might trigger freeze rather than fight or flight.
Facing Violence: The Unconscious Stuff-Finding Your Glitches - August 1, 2011
In my own experience, almost everyone hesitates before doing a dangerous or uncomfortable thing. Whether jumping out of an airplane or diving into cold water or singing karaoke in public, very few people can just go for it without hesitation the first time.
More About Violence Dynamics - May 23, 2011
Social violence can roughly be delineated as the Monkey Dance (MD), the Group Monkey Dance (GMD), the Educational Beat-Down (EBD) and the Status-Seeking Show (SSS).  The MD and GMD were discussed in <a href="/articles/violence-dynamics">part one</a> of this article. We will continue starting with the Educational Beat-Down.
Violence Dynamics - May 16, 2011
Bill and I were talking to the warden in an Iraqi prison, drinking chai. A gun fired. Other than ours and the warden’s bodyguards there shouldn’t have been loaded weapons in that section of the building. I put down my tea, stood and drew my sidearm. I started clearing the building.
Self-defense: Down and Dirty - May 9, 2011
Let's start with one, very simple thing—power generation. A traditional martial artist is taught how to hit hard. Different systems have different methods of power generation, but two of the most common involve a solid connection with the ground and good structure.
The Meaning of 'Tradition’ in Traditional Karate - April 6, 2011
Much is written these days about traditional karate, but when it comes right down to it, what exactly is the "tradition"? It takes more than the wearing of a plain, white, karate gi (uniform) to make you a "traditional" karateka. A few bow's here and there and the use of a few Japanese words during training, won't do it either.