Archive for the ‘Monthly Instruction’ Category

The Value Of The Classical Values

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

NO question about it, the classical/traditional martial arts of Asia do require drastic reform and modification if a trainee’s purpose in studying them is real world self-defense. Although incorrect in much of what he advocated, the late Bruce Lee was quite correct in his dismissal of classical kata practice, and much of the rigid, formalized stance and movement work that accompanies classical/traditional training. For those who simply love the traditional arts and whose objective is mastery of that type of methodology, there is nothing at all wrong in training exactly as was done hundreds or even thousands of years ago. But for the private citizen of the 21st century or the member of a modern armed service, modernization is absolutely mandatory.

Having said this we want to make a point about the moral and character training that was integral to a large number of the classical systems. Considering the disgraceful level of violence-for-violence sake, and the twisted philosophy of “machismo” and tough-guy-ism that pollutes much of the popular mis-training that goes on today, the modern student of modernized self-defense and close combat would do well to remember that dismissing what was the rather excellent character training that accompanied many of the classical arts’ instruction, is a serious omission. In our view when people train in violent combat arts with and without weapons, and when even moderate expertise places in their hands the possibility of killing someone in self-defense or in war, there is a comensurate responsibility to build the character of a moral, decent, self-controlled and restrained member of society who never abuses or misuses that which he has acquired in knowledge and skills.

Doubtless some will shrug off what we say here, and others will laugh . . . imbecillically believing that to follow our counsel means being less than a “real tough hobre”. Okay, good riddance to the jerks and punks and morons and jackasses. We do not write, speak, or teach for them. We are about training and educating decent, intelligent, mature individuals who wish to bear responsibility for their manners, and for that which they do.

Mastering deadly skills of combat and self-defense, to include modern weapons no less than unarmed hand-to-hand battle skills, has become a virtual necessity for the 21st century urban dweller. The daily news will confirm this. However, the person who simply masters combat skills and cultivates the combat mindset may well become ––– wittingly or unwittingly ––– part of the problem of horrific violent crime, instead of becoming a decent member of normal human society who has learned how to defend himself and his loved ones in an unavoidable emergency. There have already been cases where black belt experts in one of the more popular “arts” have literally encouraged violence and got needlessly into physical encounters ––– sometimes involving their students in these unexcusable debacles!

Yes, we urge that you acquire the toughest and most brutally dangerous and effective methods of self-defense and close combat. But we also urge that along with this acquisition you follow the examples of the true warriors of yore, and be a finer, better human being as well as a competent, capable combatives expert. The mental conditioning demanded in this process is no less severe and important than the technical skills; but mental conditioning for violent combat must be, properly, mental conditioning for violent combat that you cannot avoid, because it takes the form of an attack against you! The only exception to this may occasionally be the case of training for war, when military trainees may well be required to be the initiators of the combat that they engage in.

Okay . . . at this point we are certain that we’ve made it clear why we advocate including classical moral values in whatever your training for self-defense is, as we include it when teaching and practicing American Combato. Those who wish not to understand us won’t ––– and they are no concern of ours.

Here are the classical values we insist upon:

  1. While mastering vicious offensive methods of preemption and followup, and emphasizing fiercely destructive reactions to attacks that catch you off-guard, you must never allow yourself to be the initiator of violence, per se. Nor may you allow yourself to agree to fight with anyone, or conduct yourself in a manner that aggravates a potentially hostile situation or that provokes trouble in any way.

  2. Courtesy should charaterize the manner in which you deal with people, in general. Even in cases where you may find yourself dealing with an impolite or downright rude person, you should control yourself, be courteous, and disengage as soon as possible. Strive mightily to avoid that person again ––– and to steer clear, insofar as possible, of this type of individual.

  3. Within reason and feasibility, always do what you can do to defend an innocent person who cannot defend himself. In today’s world of increasing insanity, injustice, and irresponsibility, coupled with outrageous litigiousness (that the damn “legal system” permits and encourages!) this will likely mean calling the police. However, there may be occasions when you are compelled to act. We recommend never interferring with male/female arguments or fights, and never intervenning when two persons are fighting, per se. (This is not the same as one person being beaten by another, while the individual being beaten is clearly noncombative and helpless). Call the police. 

  4. Never, ever, ever discuss your skills with anyone outside your circle of close, trusted friends or family. Keep quiet and private about combat training, your ability with unarmed or/and weapons, etc. Remember, the more private, secretive, and closed-mouth you are about that which you know and can do, the greater your ultimate effectiveness should an emergency ever require that you bring your skills and knowledge into play.

  5. Never fail to maintain a serious, healthy respect for individuals who are violent and troublemaking. This has nothing to do with “liking” them or with respecting them as people. It is the kind of respect you will have ––– if you are sane ––– for a rabid dog’s, a rattlesnake’s, or a poisonous spider’s capacity to be a threat. Certainly you must act to destroy such creatures when you cannot escape or avoid them, and when they attack you. But you do not underestimate their potential for harm, even as you build confidence and skills with which to oppose them.

  6. Do not deny, be ashamed of, attempt to hide, or mistakenly regard fear as being a bad thing. Nor is it a sign of unmanliness or of cowardice. Fear energy is your great ally where and when you must act in unavoidable defense! The coward is the one who initiates trouble while believing that he is doing so with someone who cannot adequately protect himself. Cowards are despicable, reprehensible bullies. The greatest heroes in history were also at times very, very much afraid. The great lesson is not to give into fear but use its power when you must deal with any situation that must be handled and that has provoked a feeling of fear within you. Master fear and its life-saving energy!

  7. Do not under or over estimate yourself. You are and will always remain a human being. But appreciate that, as you gain skills, knowledge, and confidence, you become able to meet whatever challenges you must. Be willing to do so. Do not demand the impossible (i.e. that you be guaranteed victory). With the right mindset, good tactics, and quality techniques, the odds favor you. Most especially if you have the element of surprise, use it, and go full throttle when you must do so. The greatest warriors in world history have never had (and do not have, today) any guarantee of victory. But their healthy appreciation of their own abilities, and their knowing themselves well, as well as their knowledge of their enemies, has always been ––– and will always be ––– a huge advantage.

  8. No one is ever well trained “enough”. Be humble and deadly serious at all times about keeping yourself and your skills sharp and ready. TRAIN. When others boast or brag, just listen politely. But never allow yourself to do the same, or to rest on your laurels!

We can assure all students of combat and defense arts ––– as we assure our own students ––– that these classical values by far outshine “toughguyism”, “machismo”, and all variants of these insane philosophies and paths of behavor. And they go with modern close combat and self-defense like a left hand glove goes with a right hand glove!

                                       ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Sunday, July 21st, 2019

                   We’re Missing Something Today

IN a very real sense we long for at least some aspects of the “good old days”.

It seems that our culture and that of others whose roots may be said to be in the tradition of Western Civilization, have become genuinely wimpified. America, for instance, used to have a War Department. Now it is the “Department of Defense”. Cold blooded murderers, once convicted in a court of law, were once executed. Now, with rare exceptions, they are given the sentence(?) of three life sentences, for instance ––– to be served concurrently, of course. This weak attempt to placate fools by appearing to punich human demons severely ––– but not punishing them adequately, at all ––– passes for “justice” today.

And this bullshit can be felt in the field of self-defense, too.

A hue and cry can always be heard whenever a law enforcement officer justifiably shoots a violent felon. The Officer shouldn’t have killed him! But when a felon shoots a police officer, the killer’s apologists come out from under their rocks and snivel in protest against condemning and severely prosecuting the bastard. We all should wring our hands and “understand” that this murdering scumbag was “deprived” or for some other specious “reason” he was driven to his act of desperation.

Violent felons get all the guns and knives they want ––– and they are using them as freely as they wish in virtually every once-civilized city in Western society ––– and they are not shot down immediately as they should be (by cops and citizens, alike), but instead continue their unconscionable careers until finally someone (thank God!) brings their activities ––– and them ––– to an end. Decent citizens are often either prevented by law from carrying and using guns in legitimate (and desperately necessary) self-protection, or so persecuted by the system when and if they do use lawfully owned and carried firearms, that they, the decent citizens, feel inhibited and reluctant to defend themselves justifiably.

Self-defense without weapons (unarmed combat) is the most desperate and primitive form of self-defense. The private citizen who finds himself confronting one or more sewer beasts with only the weapons given him by nature to rely upon for defense, is in deep trouble ––– even if an expert in combatives. First, because his attackers almost certainly will be armed, and second, because he might face civil if not criminal persecution if he handles the predicament well. (Our sick, backward, brainless, gender-confused, pussified, dopey populace bristles whenever a bad guy gets his worthless head beaten in, or is otherwise maimed or even killed by his intended victim. The damn morons feel more “pure” and “righteous” when they hold a candlelight vigil for an innocent victim of murder!

Crazy, crazy, crazy.

Our societal focus is wrong. Sensible individuals know this, and they prepare and decide to do what is necessary regardless of the prevailing idiotic sentiments, but there are fewer and fewer sensible individuals in our culture with every year that passes. And it is wrong that their fear of trouble from “the system” is added to their concern about protecting against human violation.

Car thievery is a virtual sport in many places. Why? Because our idiotic system turns its back on the long since proven solution to the theft of a person’s means of transportation. That solution was formulated and carried out in the Old West. Horse thieves were hanged! No, this didn’t eliminate horse thievery completely. However, it came very close. It discouraged all but the most antisocial and crazy from daring to steal a man’s means of transportation (which in many instances was, as it is now, his means of survival and earning a living). It also eliminated the problem of recidivism. Horse thieves, murderers, bank robbers, and assorted other egregious felons had their careers ended when they were caught the first time. The scum swung from a rope . . . and his last violent crime was HIS LAST! (In Seattle one must be convicted of seven automobile thefts before doing a day in jail!!!!!!!! Maybe that first theft could not have been prevented. But the subsequent six certainly could have been. Rope is real cheap. No electric bill. No gas bill. No bill for pharmaceuticals. Those cowboys knew something!)

Our belief is that every decent human being has a perfect right to self-defense. And our System, American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao) is designed and intended to teach him how to exercise that right.

Whie some regard a harsh approach to dealing with unprovoked criminal violence as “cruel”, “antiquated”, or “unjustified”, we believe that only those with rocks in their heads could possibly believe this, and we enjoin all of those with anything above a room temperature IQ to think this matter through, and come to the realization that violent offenders have no right to exist among us, and there can be no reaction to attempted murderer’s approach that is “too severe”. Children should be encouraged to despise and to physically defend themselves against bullies in school, and adults should acquire the backbone and intestinal fortitude of our grandfathers and great grandfathers! Every man and every woman, to whatever extent is possible, should acquire the means of mental and physical preparedness for self-defense and for the protection of those whom they love.

Correct muddled thinking. It is the victim who deserves compassion, sympathy, help, and support. The violent offender deserves to walk into a buzzsaw, fiiguratively speaking, whenever he dares to endanger an innocent individual. From the schoolyard bully to the well-trained international terrorist, the answer is one that, as a culture and declining society, we have been avoiding to an increasing degree for decades now: DO NOT TOLERATE VIOLATION OR THREATS, BUT BUILD CONFIDENCE AND SKILL, AND LEARN TO REWARD ANYONE WHO WOULD INJURE YOU WITH FIFTY TIMES THE HORROR AND DESTRUCTION THAT HE WOULD BRING TO YOU.

You have a right to life, and you have a corollary right to defend that life; and we would add, to do so in whatever effective manner you can apply, and that you choose to employ.

What we are missing today is the conviction that the person who violates our rights has no damn right to any concern for his rights. He relinquished his rights when he chose to violate another’s. The onus of responsibility for whatever damages any violent felon suffers  ––– whether at the hands of a private citizen, or at the hands of a police officer ––– lies with the felon.

This attitude is foundational for all who wish to be solidly prepared to defend themselves. If you don’t have it, make it your business to rethink your philosophy and acquire it.

                                                    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Monday, April 1st, 2019

A Crucial Reminder For The Use Of Personal   Weapons

WEAPONS are tools. They are the tools of self-defense. Any so-called “martial art” that instructs in unarmed skills alone is woefully incomplete. Integral with the the study of effective unarmed close combat is the study of how to employ the following individual weapons practically and well in a dangerous emergency:

The handgun. carbine, and shotgun (in some instances the battle rifle might be included)

The fighting knife (to include any knife that might be available)

The stick (walking stick, baton-length stick, and yawara hand stick

The La Gana American Tomahawk (or similarly designed modern tomahawk)

The garrotte

All improvised weapons and “weapons at hand” (i.e. use of all commonly encountered objects and items as weapons to be used in an emergency)

Familiarization with the WWII spring cosh, the WWII smatchet (or “Fairsword”), and the thumb daggers of WWII ––– all weapons of the wartime SOE and OSS.

We have never seen the point in teaching unarmed combat without weaponry, or teaching weaponry without unarmed combat. We probably acquired our conviction in this regard from our early introduction (we were about twelve years old) to Get Tough! and to Kill Or Get Killed . . . both classics emphasizing as they did the incorporation of weapons in the combatant’s repertoire. As for the classical weaponry of the Asian martial arts, we respect the study of these implements, and appreciate that those aspiring to mastery of classical arts will certainly include appropriate training in them. However, we do not believe that training in the use of antiquated weapons is wise in a program intended for modern use by private citizens, soldiers, and law enforcement professionals. (Note: Back in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s we had a number of NYPD officers among our students. At the time, nunchucks had become popular, and were actually being carried by some bad guys who had fancied the weapon. “How do you defend against those things,” cops asked us, “short of shooting down the punk before he begins to strike?” The answer was simple ––– and very effective! A few hours training in the use of the hardwood “nightstick” that NYPD patrol officers were then issued, solved the problem. Remember, nunchucks were not originally weapons at all. They were rice-flailing sticks ––– improvised by the Okinawans to use against Japanese occupying troops. It took (and still takes!) a helluva lot of training and practice to be even marginally effective with nunchucks. Normally, someone who picks a pair up and begins to swing them ––– feeling very Bruce Leeish! ––– ends up smashing himself in the face or head. Let the martial arts classicist train to use nunchucks and the other weapons of antiquity.)

One very important thing that we emphasize whenever instructing in any personal weapon is this: Never forget that, in addition to your weapon, you still have command of your entire body, and a powerful kick can be used to make you more effective with a walking stick, a knife, a handgun at very close range, or even some improvised weapon or object-at-hand.

Weaponry and unarmed combat do not merely “go together” as individual studies for the purpose of all-round readiness and preparation for combat and defense. They truly go together very often when utilized against attack! Jabbing a punk in the eyes with a fingertips thrust can give you the opportunity to draw your sidearm. (In fact, doing so might well serve to save the life of the punk. While he stumbles for a few moments unable to see, you can step back and gain control with your handgun. As he recovers and realizes he is being held at gunpoint, and from a distance he cannot cover, he just might give up his intended purpose.).

Deluded “pistoleros” who consider their training in use-of-the-sights distance firing in competitive matches as peparation for combat shooting(!) are missing an important fact, even as they acquire their medals and feel themselves to be badasses in the making: Just about every instance when a defender uses a handgun for protection against a real attack, the range is very close; in many instances, hand-to-hand combat range. In just about no case does the range exceed about 20 feet; and more than 50% of these actual excounters occur at a distance within five feet!!!! That’s kicking distance in many cases, and a good knee-breaking kick enables a draw of the weapon. Trying to “outdraw” someone who is right there, on top of you is just plain stupid. Chop him in the throat or neck, kick him, knee him, drive a heel of the hand blowto his nose or jaw, etc. THEN draw your weapon!

The walking stick is a near ideal weapon for self-defense. In addition to a host of virtues and advantages that a walking stick offers, is this unique one: It is there, in your hand, when you are attacked. Unlike a knife or a gun that needs to be drawn from a holster or other concealment, your walking stick may (once you have been properly trained in its use) be instantly whipped into your adversary virtually anywhere on his body. Followup is naturaly and easy . . . either using unarmed actions, further stick blows, or your concealed handgun which the use of your stick has given you time to access!

Deeply consider the message here. You, all of you, must be trained and conditioned for close combat and self-defense if total readiness is the desired objective. When you are fully prepared to handle a violent emergency by bringing into play whatever weapon ––– or object ––– you have access to, AND you are able to combine your natural weapons and weaponless tactical skills effectively, then you are truly prepared!

                                            ––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 

Sunday, October 28th, 2018

 Don’t Give Your Attacker A Chance!

IF you are suddenly jumped or set upon by surprise your only hope lies in an immediate and ferocious counterattack. Preempting in such a situation is not possible. However, in most situations when an individual is attacked there is a confrontational phase to the encounter ––– or at the very least, almost always a perception of the attacker’s approach. The very moment when it becomes clear that an approaching individual intends you harm, ATTACK! Normally this is the most difficult step for the majority of defenders to take. Goind to “RED” from “YELLOW” or ‘ORANGE” is difficult because it is the step that no sane person ever wants to have to take. Yet, once it is clear to you that you are dealing with someone who intends you harm your smartest move is to deny him the opportunity to injure you, seize the initiative, and attack him as viciously and fiercely as your combined mental and physical capacity permits.

It is easy to misinterpret this message and to take it to be a rationalization for starting trouble and using combat skills the fist chance you get. But anyone who is honest and who is truly reading that which we are conveying here, knows that we advocate preemptive force only for legitimate self-protection, and only when you are convinced that you or a loved one will be seriously injured if you do not act aggressively and immediately.

Seizing the initiative and attacking your attacker offers advantages that may be had in no other way:

First, you have the element of surprise in your favor, providing you go into your preemptive action correctly, without telegraphing your move.

Second, since your attacker is concentrating on his move against you, he is now in a position similar to that of a person who pushes with his entire bodyweight against an unlocked door that he believes is locked. When the door unexpectedly givesway the person has no way to stop himself in time to avoid losing his balance and recovering his position. He simply goes flying!

Similarly, the attacker who is focused upon his attacking action and who is unexpectedly confronted by your attacking action cannot possibly stop himself in time, cease his offensive gesture, and cope with what is now coming at him. Example: As the scum raises its hand to punch you, mentally committed to that action, and your hand whips a lightnig-fast fingertips thrust into its eyes, the scum simply gets stabbed in the eyes before he can punch you.

Make your first move against a dangerous attacker as destructive and ferocious as possible. Only law enforcement and security people need to concern themselves with “control” and “arresting” holds. You have no responsibility, as a private citizen, to make an arrest. Your only responsibility when you cannot avoid trouble is to defend yourself. (Yes, we know all about “citizens’ arrest” and we strongly advise against such action. Leave arresting felons to the police.)

Self-defense, though few will openly acknowledge it for fear of sounding politically incorrect, is a potentially deadly, very dangerous undertaking. It is war in microcosm. Victims of violent attack get maimed and killed all of the time . . . often when their maiming or death was not the intended objective of the scum who attacked them.

Remember this: If you must defend yourself do whatever you are able to do immediately, with all of your strength, speed, and mental focus. Do not give your attacker the slightest chance to use whatever capabilities he may have!

Violent offenders do not share the same value system that decent human beings possess. Our evaluation of human life, and we assume yours, too, is that it is precious. Outside the context of being forced to either defend or be injured, we abhor the thought of using any physical force against anyone. As we have written elsewhere: We consider ourself a pacifist; and we assume that any decent, thinking, civilized, truly human human being is also a pacifist. Only if directly threatened by violence do we suspend our pacifism, and we urge all other decent people to do the same. Submitting to violation at the hands of some gutter-scum should not be dignified by being referred to as “being a pacifist”. Rather it is quite often better defined as being a damn fool. In fact it encourages the use of violence ––– violence by those who are evil against those who are innocent.

We acknowledge that this is one hard lesson for many decent people to learn and to acquire as a personal tactical imperative: Never give any attacker a chance. Attack him immediately, and render him helpless and harmless. He asked for it. Your well-being and your life are more important than his. Nevertheless, you must learn it.

We are not concerned here with sport or contests; nor is our focus on beautiful, esthetically satisfying classical art. In self-defense we are concerned with survival. And on behalf of that objective, anything goes; and it must go IMMEDIATELY!

To those who may ask, “What if the attacker has no real intention to harm me seriously ––– perhaps he’s even bluffing. How can I justify seriously injuring someone like that?”

The answer is that you are not a mind-reader or a seer. If you hesitate because you “might” not “really” be in serious danger, you are gambling with your life and limb. Don’t do it. Don’t give the benefit of any possible doubt to some unknown assailant who, for all you know, has killed before and now seeks to kill you. While our philosophy may sound extreme we ask you to remember that there are few emergencies as extreme as being confronted by a violent physical attack. You simply must assume, should such a misfortune befall you, that your attacker is very dangerous, that he intends you serious injury, and that he is very capable of inflicting it unless you destroy his capability of carrying through his action! So make up your mind to do exactly that.

We truly hope that neither ourself nor you ever find that we are in a situation where a violent offender is intent upon harming us. But if, God forbid, that ever happens, please remember to give that monster no chance to carry out his intended plan. Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate. Don’t falter. Don’t attempt futile “dialog” while violence is coming at you.

Go get that attacker, and do it NOW! Don’t give give him a snowball’s chance in hell to hurt you in the least.

                                            –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

Powerful Tip To

Aid Visualization

MIKE Franz is the first formal student we had when we moved to Seattle, Washington. Now a third degree black belt in American Combato, this now retired carpenter, former U.S. marine, and Vietnam combat veteran is still going strong . . . some 37 years after beginning training!

Quite coincidentally, during the course of a lesson recently, Mike mentioned something that we feel should be passed on to every serious student of close combat and self-defense. It is something we had never thought of previously, yet it made immediate good sense when Mike said it. Pertaining to the use of visualization when training, Mike advised us that when he trained he found training in the dark helpful in enabling him to visualize. And while we certainly have experienced the advantages gained from handgun shooting (combat-point) in the darkness of evening or nighttime, and we had in the past occasionally held training classes at night, we never considered that those who find visualization somewhat difficult to achieve when training solo, could benefit by training in the dark! Thank you, Mike!

Obviously, when we say “training in the dark” we do not mean pitch blackness. Nobody can attack you in pitch blackness, anyway, so don’t foolishly isolate yourself where you cannot see your hand in front of your face in order to train. But do shut off the lights if you train indoors, or avail yourself of some training in darkness outdoors, when the sun goes down. If you have a problem visualizing this might be just the thing you need to help yourself improve this critical practice.

Everyone can and does visualize. You do so when you daydream, whenever your mind wanders, and most vividly of course, when you are asleep. What is necessary (and we insist that it is necessary) is that you learn to visualize deliberately and intensively when you train, with and/or without weapons.

Visualizing is imagining. And the human nervous system does not distinguish between actually experienced and vividly imagined events. You program your nervous system beautifully when you train yourself to visualize and use visualization correctly when you drill in your skills. And you do not run any risk of injuring a practice partner.

For obvious reasons serious combat and defense techniques must be practiced with exceeding care and control when working with practice partners. Otherwise mayhem will result. It is essential that combat students train assiduously to attack the adversary’s eyes, throat, neck, sternum, solar plexus, knees, shinbones, insteps, kidneys, spine, bridge of nose, philtrum, ears, with all-out ferocious force and concentration. There must be a single-mindedness about the self-defense student’s focus so that he really programs himself ––– in a crisis ––– to use what works reliably, and what will save his life, or save the life of a loved one. Immediate ruthless, all-out force ––– with followup ––– is crucial. We are not talking about competition now, please remember. We are talking about being attacked by dangerous, experienced, quite possibly armed felons whose purpose is to knock out, maim, or kill. Otherwise, we are not talking about close combat and self-defense. If you are not in danger, keep your hands to yourself. If you are in danger, ANYTHING goes ––– and it goes right now, this instant, using the element of surprise whenever possible, and every ounce of speed, brutality, strength, and will-to-destroy you can muster. There is no round two, no re-match, and there are no “fouls”. Just win!

This kind of attitude is the appropriate one for saving innocent life and stopping gregious, violent felons. And proper combat techniques are dangerous. They are calculated to maim, to cripple, to blind, to kill, if necessary in order to save innocent life.

Such skills must be drilled over and over and over and over. It is not sufficient to “know” that suddenly ramming your extended fingers into an adversary’s eyes and then breaking his leg with a side stomping kick “is a good technique”. It must become your technique . . . it must become something that, by attacking you, your enemy “draws out of you” and triggers into immediate action. This takes repeated, ongoing practice; focused, hard drill, and the instillation of attack mindedness to the point where you rest easy, knowing that you will attack anyone who attacks you with the ferocity of a jungle cat.

Training with partners is important. But it isn’t enough. The techniques must be repeated powerfully, repeatedly, seriously, with the sense that you are doing them in defense of your life, or of the life of another. That’s combat training.

Bruce Lee once wrote that you should practice your techniques like you were battling with your worst and most dangerous enemy. Unfortunately, that becomes a little difficult when you’re working with a training partner. Yes, you benefit from such practice, but you still know that the individual against whom you are “defending yourself” is a friendly training mate. When training solo, however, visualize whomever might make you able to destroy a human being. Perhaps some scumbag your read about in the news. Possibly someone who had bullied or attacked you in the past. Just make sure that when you execute your techniques you are on a WAR FOOTING! Do it for real! And do it that way as often as your personal schedule will permit you to train and to practice.

Self-defense is war in microcosm, as we wrote back in the ealy 1970’s. It has nothing to do with sportsmanship or competition, or match fighting. Feel that. Get with that. Psyche yourself up so that you train with that resonating in your mind and stimulating every cell to maximum destructive effort!

Visualization is one of the greatest training tools to assist you. Boxing coaches admonish their charges to see their opponent in front of them whenever they shadow box. Bayonet training in the Marine Corps always entails making that dummy real, and “killing” him! Go after your enemy and destroy him!

If your solo practice has been, up to now, mere “by rote drill” with little fighting spirit, sense of danger and desperation, and ––– essentially ––– mere exercise, change that right away!

VISUALIZE, VISUALIZE, VISUALIZE!

And see if it helps if your turn out the lights when you do it.

Good luck.

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Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Regarding Personal Weapons . . .

WEAPONS are tools. They are the tools of self-defense. Any so-called “martial art” that instructs in unarmed skills alone is woefully incomplete. Integral with the the study of effective unarmed close combat is the study of how to employ the following individual weapons practically and well in a dangerous emergency:

The handgun. carbine, and shotgun (in some instances the battle rifle might be included)
The fighting knife (to include any knife that might be available)
The stick (walking stick, baton-length stick, and yawara hand stick
The La Gana American Tomahawk (or similarly designed modern tomahawk)
The garrotte
All improvised weapons and “weapons at hand” (i.e. use of all commonly encountered objects and items as weapons to be used in an emergency)
Familiarization with the WWII spring cosh, the WWII smatchet (or “Fairsword”), and the thumb daggers of WWII ––– all weapons of the wartime SOE and OSS.

We have never seen the point in teaching unarmed combat without weaponry, or teaching weaponry without unarmed combat. We probably acquired our conviction in this regard from our early introduction (we were about twelve years old) to Get Tough! and to Kill Or Get Killed . . . both classics emphasizing as they did the incorporation of weapons in the combatant’s repertoire. As for the classical weaponry of the Asian martial arts, we respect the study of these implements, and appreciate that those aspiring to mastery of classical arts will certainly include appropriate training in them. However, we do not believe that training in the use of antiquated weapons is wise in a program intended for modern use by private citizens, soldiers, and law enforcement professionals. (Note: Back in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s we had a number of NYPD officers among our students. At the time, nunchucks had become popular, and were actually being carried by some bad guys who had fancied the weapon. “How do you defend against those things,” cops asked us, “short of shooting down the punk before he begins to strike?” The answer was simple ––– and very effective! A few hours training in the use of the hardwood “nightstick” that NYPD patrol officers were then issued, solved the problem. Remember, nunchucks were not originally weapons at all. They were rice-flailing sticks ––– improvised by the Okinawans to use against Japanese occupying troops. It took (and still takes!) a helluva lot of training and practice to be even marginally effective with nunchucks. Normally, someone who picks a pair up and begins to swing them ––– feeling very Bruce Leeish! ––– ends up smashing himself in the face or head. Let the martial arts classicist train to use nunchucks and the other weapons of antiquity.)

One very important thing that we emphasize whenever instructing in any personal weapon is this: Never forget that, in addition to your weapon, you still have command of your entire body, and a powerful kick can be used to make you more effective with a walking stick, a knife, a handgun at very close range, or even some improvised weapon or object-at-hand.

Weaponry and unarmed combat do not merely “go together” as individual studies for the purpose of all-round readiness and preparation for combat and defense. They truly go together very often when utilized against attack! Jabbing a punk in the eyes with a fingertips thrust can give you the opportunity to draw your sidearm. (In fact, doing so might well serve to save the life of the punk. While he stumbles for a few moments unable to see, you can step back and gain control with your handgun. As he recovers and realizes he is being held at gunpoint, and from a distance he cannot cover, he just might give up his intended purpose.).

Deluded “pistoleros” who consider their training in use-of-the-sights distance firing in competitive matches as peparation for combat shooting(!) are missing an important fact, even as they acquire their medals and feel themselves to be badasses in the making: Just about every instance when a defender uses a handgun for protection against a real attack, the range is very close; in many instances, hand-to-hand combat range. In just about no case does the range exceed about 20 feet; and more than 50% of these actual excounters occur at a distance within five feet!!!! That’s kicking distance in many cases, and a good knee-breaking kick enables a draw of the weapon. Trying to “outdraw” someone who is right there, on top of you is just plain stupid. Chop him in the throat or neck, kick him, knee him, drive a heel of the hand blowto his nose or jaw, etc. THEN draw your weapon!

The walking stick is a near ideal weapon for self-defense. In addition to a host of virtues and advantages that a walking stick offers, is this unique one: It is there, in your hand, when you are attacked. Unlike a knife or a gun that needs to be drawn from a holster or other concealment, your walking stick may (once you have been properly trained in its use) be instantly whipped into your adversary virtually anywhere on his body. Followup is naturaly and easy . . . either using unarmed actions, further stick blows, or your concealed handgun which the use of your stick has given you time to access!

Deeply consider the message here. You, all of you, must be trained and conditioned for close combat and self-defense if total readiness is the desired objective. When you are fully prepared to handle a violent emergency by bringing into play whatever weapon ––– or object ––– you have access to, AND you are able to combine your natural weapons and weaponless tactical skills effectively, then you are truly prepared!

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Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

                         Getting Back Into Training

IT is the way with all of us who have made training (in martial arts or in weight-training) a truly serious pursuit. First, we accept and happily embrace the idea that our training is a lifetime commitment. Second, every now and again we find, for whatever reason, that we have neglected our regular training and gotten (ugh!) out of shape.

A cessation of regular training is by no means necessarily due to laziness. After all, illness can intervene in anyone’s life, and getting well becomes a priority, during which time training may not be permitted for medical reasons. Or unanticipated life circumstances of all sorts might be the cause. (Yes, sometimes the cause is laziness). But regardless of why YOU have been out of training ––– or perhaps neglecting some important aspect of your training ––– we want to provide you with some assistance that will help you get back in the saddle, so to speak. We’ve been there ourself . . . and over the decades we’ve trained and coached more people than we can remember. In every instance when someone has let himself go and wants to return to his regular training, our counsel has worked for him. And we do not say this to boast; we point it out only so that you will have confidence in what we tell you. We have, in the 55-plus years that we have been immersed in these disciplines, been through enough peaks and valleys to know our way around.

One of the biggest mistakes made by those whose training had been discontinued for any length of time is to attempt to return to the routine of practice / or working out that one had last been doing, before the extended layoff. This is crazy for two big reasons. First, you won’t be able to train “as you had been training” unless you gradually build up to it. Your initial effort to duplicate the sessions of physical exertion that you once did will only lead to discouragement at the least, and injury at the worst. Don’t do it!

You can easily lose 50% of your strength with a prolonged layoff from training (with weights), and / or a good deal of your crispness and sharpness in executing skills of close combat. The simple fact is that you are not the same person you were “back then”, and it will take a period of time during which ––– if you are sensible ––– you will gradually build back up to your previous level. Note this: A brief layoff between changes in a routine, lasting perhaps a week, is not what we are referring to here. Our concern is the fellow who has gotten out of shape, and whose strength, muscularity, and skill performance level has diminshed over, let’s say, a few months or possibly even longer. Even a solid month of no training will set you back to some degree.

First off, then: resolve to begin training again at a reduced pace and effort-output. Forget about even attempting to duplicate your last best efforts and performances, before you laid off.

Because the body changes considerably over time, we feel it is wise for anyone who has been truly indolent for a long time (say, a fellow who trained hard in his late teens or in his 20’s, and who wants to get back into training now in his late 30’s or later) to get a checkup with an MD ––– just to be certain that working out regularly will be compatible with his state of health.

When you commence training after a long layoff you are going to have a problem to some degree with discipline. You may have been used to grinding out practice or P.T. sessions for an hour or more non-stop; but back then you were “in the groove”. Now, it will likely take some discipline beyond what you needed previously just to do a brief 20-30 minute session. That’s OK. So long as you in fact do the brief 20-30 minute session, momentum will build. As the days and weeks roll by you will find your strength, performance ability, discipline, and motivation improving . . . just like before! But be patient.

How long does it take for an out-of-training person to build back up? It varies. But if you set aside regular ––– bu brief! ––– practice and workout times, it really won’t be too long. Young fellows usually are back to (or beyond) where they were within a month. Older individuals might take longer. But the length of time is hardly intolerable. In fact, after a mere two weeks of resuming regular, consistent training, it will feel quite easy to continue . . . and it’s all upward from there!

The critical point is to be a realist. Be sensible, patient, and systematic. You’ll get back into shape, but not overnight. Depending upon your genetics, you may bounce back very quickly ––– or very slowly. But a bouncing back period will be necessary. Strength, condition, and motor skills cannot remain at their peak during lengthy periods of no activity. So big deal. That’s a reality we all must face and contend with. (It really does provide a wonderful incentive to keep on training and NOT allow yourself to quit for long periods of time!

You must understand that no one begins training in combat skills and progressive-resistance exercise in his teens or 20’s and continues decade after decade with ZERO interruptions or setbacks. Life is not like that. The goal is always to keep training in your life and to come back to it when and if circumstances cause a temporary cessation in your regimen.

You can do it. After all . . . you did it before, right?

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Saturday, October 21st, 2017

Interesting And Perhaps Useful New Product

WE detest non-lethal weapons. Criminals almost never concern themselves with anything resembling “non-lethal” weaponry, preferring to stab, slash, club, or shoot their innocent victims, and to hell with whether or not they die or are maimed for life. So . . . we believe in returning the attention ––– in triplicate! SHOOT, STAB, OR CLUB the scummy bacteria to death if you have to save your life; never mind showing concern, compassion, or restraint.

There may well be a use for non-lethal aids to vicious defensive measures, however. For example, we believe it wise to carry a handful of gravel in your outer pocket. Throwing it in an aggressor’s face will not likely stop him; but it sure sets the scum up for whatever the hell savagery you are thereafter able to unleash upon him!

Another device that might hold some promise (although more expensive than gravel) is a product called “Safesound Personal Alarm”. It is a very convenient-sized little item that can be carried constantly, and is easily set off in an emergency with practically no effort. It produces a deafening 125 decibal blast that, emitted suddenly, will shock anyone save the totally deaf.

Now we do NOT advocate such a device as a “self-defense weapon”. We are prepared to consider it a possible AID to self-defense.

All students of self-defense and martial arts are familiar with the idea of shouting loudly as you defend yourself (called “kiai” ––– pronounced key’-eye) In order to shock and startle ––– and possibly freeze ––– the attacker. We urge it (as well as growling and grimacing) in American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao). Well, you can imagine the shock to one or more lumps of street sh–t when, suddenly, a piercing blast erupts from apparently nowhere, AND THEY ARE AT THE SAME INSTANT SAVAGELY ATTACKED, either with the defender’s weapon or with his trained bare hands! No doubt the loud blast will be a great help to the defender if the scum against whom he employs it do not see any indication of his bringing it into use. The seconds of utter shock and amazement that are sure to occur should tip the scales instantly in favor of the defender who accompanies the piercing noise with crippling offensive actions. The noise could easily provide the defender the opportunity to produce a concealed handgun if he is lawfully armed, or possibly a knife. Smashing the lout-scum with a walking stick immediately should be easy if they freeze for a moment when the loud noise shocks them. (Saves your voice and vocal cords, too. No need to kiai!!! Besides, with a 125 decibal blast your kiai wouldn’t be heard! Ha!).

Once again, we simply wish to suggest the possibility that this device may be useful. We certainly do not recommend it as one’s only recourse if attacked. That is false confidence in a very harmless device. To ASSIST in disorienting and setting one’s attacker/s up for a savage and destructive counteroffensive, YES. That is quite another matter. The “Safesound Personal Alarm” deserves to be considered for this function.

Loud noise is a pain in the ass. It can be much more . . . so think it over. You can check online for the product if it interests you.
Note: This product appears to have great appeal to females. We certainly agree that the piercing noise might assist in creating a diversion during an attack. However, just as is the case with males, it is STUPID and DANGEROUS to think that the noise alone will provide a certain defense against one or more determined attackers. Women armed with a solid ability in unarmed defense and who have a handgun available to them in a crisis will be prepared . . . or at least realistically prepared. It is wise to counsel any female (spouse, mother, sister, daughter, girlfriend) to this effect before allowing her to place her full confidence in a noise.
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Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

              The Wonderful Little S&W Snubby!

WE have two preferences for an ideal concealed carry handgun: The original Colt Commander Model (alloy frame, lightweight) in .45 ACP, and any one of the little Smith and Wesson .38 Special 5-shot snubbies.
Our preference would be for the little Centennial Model, that S&W reintroduced not long ago.

“What’s wrong with us,” one might ask. “Are we not aware that the little 5-shot revolvers can be had in the more potent .357 caliber? Why go with the .38 Special when that wallop-packing .357 can be had?”

We’ll be happy to explain.

One carries a 5-shot snubby for close range, very quick reaction defensive shooting. At close quarters combat distances (usually five feet or less; always within 20 feet) the .38 Special round will do its job if you do yours (that is, place the rounds where they belong). Modern +P and +P+ .38 Special hollow point bullets are very formidable when properly placed.

Our personal opinion is that the .357 round is a very poor choice for a two-inch barrel snubby. First, because the controllability of the .357 in a two-inch snubby is horrendous. (The kick of a snubby firing .38 Special ammunition can be stiff enough.) Second, because the actual ballistic performance of a .357 round fired from a two-inch barrel is not that different from the performance of the .38 Special +P. And using good combat point shooting, you’d likely be able to place a two-shot burst of rounds with the .38 Special before you could get that second round off with the .357. The .357 gives its excellent performance from a six or four inch barrel. That performance is affected significantly when the barrel is only two inches. If you absolutely insist on carrying a .357 when you need maximum concealment then we’d recommend finding one of the three inch barreled S&W Model 13’s or 65’s. These round butt revolvers at least offer a three inch barrel and more heft with which to assist in managing the weapon’s kick.

But back to the little .38 Special snubbies.

Alloy frame snubbies are very comfortable to carry. In .357 caliber a snobby would not be so pleasant to fire. We think an alloy framed .357 two-inch barrel snubby would be a very poor choice. You make your own decisions . . . but please keep in mind the circumstances under which you will be employing that weapon.

“Well, alloy framed .38 Special snubbies offer pretty stiff recoil, too. Besides, if you fire +P’s or +P+ ammo in them you’ll wear out the gun.

First, the .38 Special round fired from a two-inch barrel snubby ––– stiff as the kick may be ––– is not as stiff as that of the .357 round. Second, we believe that idea that you’ll “wear out your revolver” if you fire +P’s in it when the weapon has an alloy frame, is nonsense. (Besides, what’s more important to you ––– your life or your revolver’s?)

In any case, consider this:

Some time back the NYPD Firearms Unit conducted a torture test on a Smith and Wesson alloy framed .38 Special snubby. Five thousand rounds were fired through the little revolver and no damage whatever was observed to have been done to the weapon. Our suggestion: Use light loads when training, but fire at least 20 or 25 of the hot +P’s so that you get the feel of it. Then carry the hot loads for business. Your alloy framed revolver will last forever.

Remember also that the all carbon or stainless steel snubbies are very comfortable to carry constantly. They are light, and the recoil you feel with them is somewhat less than it is with the lightweight (alloy) framed models.

We may be accused by some of being old fashioned when we advocate some of these “weapons of yore” as it were. That’s fine with us.

Remember please that “newer” does not always or necessarily mean “better”.

Those little five shot snub-nosed revolvers have been around ––– and have always remained popular ––– for many, many years. No, they do not “dominate open competition”, and, whenever feasible and comfortable, we agree that it would be best to carry a full-size combat revolver or semi-automatic pistol. Yet, when the choice is to go armed with a powerful, reliable .38 Special snubby or be unarmed, because you can’t wear your customary .357 or .45 full-sized weapon, it would seem that wisdom lies in opting for the snubby.

P.S. The .38 Special round is an excellent one. It is a perfected cartridge, and certainly provides a great deal of punch . . . despite what some of the “experts” say. We have never found a detractor of the .38 Special who would permit us to shoot him with the round. Master your weapon. When you are able to employ your point shooting well with your handgun ––– and if your handgun is a .38 Special snubby ––– you’re set.

 

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Sunday, September 10th, 2017

Simplicity And Destructiveness

(Two Acid Tests Of A Technique’s Practicality And
Reliability In Real Close Combat And
Self-Defense)

WHEN it comes to evaluating the merits of any technique, whether offensive or defensive for practical application in a self-defense emergency, we cannot do better than to use the Applegate Standard ––– first published in Col. Rex Applegate’s wartime classic Kill Or Get Killed in 1942, and formulated by him:

“Will this work so that I can use it instinctively in vital
combat against an opponent who is determined to prevent
me from doing so, and who is striving to eliminate me by
fair means or foul?”

If you want an acid test for any martial arts technique, there you have it; as valuable and true in 2017 as it was in 1942.

Many of the skills taught in the classical/traditional martial arts are of questionable practical value for use in hand-to-hand combat because they are way too complicated. They can take months to learn, and will work reliably only in a training or demonstration setting when the “attacker” or “adversary” is an essentially cooperative partner. Often ––– in training or in a demonstration ––– the technique in question is applied full speed (using control not to maim the opponent) by both “defender” and “attacker”. So it appears that the technique will obviously work, since the observer sees it performed in real time. However it must be kept in mind that in the setting in which the technique is being seen ––– and applied ––– both the defender and the attacker know exactly what each is going to do, and the technique has been well rehearsed so that positioning and timing have been drilled into both parties. Essentially what is being observed is choreography.
We do not say this to diminish in the slightest the considerable skill and work that is required to perform skills in this manner. The repetitious, cooperative practice necessary demands discipline, patience, hard work, and serious trust between partners. Our point is only that as far as practical application of any technique is concerned against an unpredictable, determined, resisting enemy whom one has never seen before in one’s life, and who comes at one in a moment of surprise, when one has his mind on something aside from performing a technique, it is doubtful that many of the impressive-appearing skills could be relied upon. After all, an attacker who is real might come at you indicating that he intends one action, then switch suddenly to another!

There is an assumption too in many impressive looking “martial arts” skills that one’s series of, say, six or eight pre-planned sequential movements will actually work, and that the adversary will react in a specific way, insuring the uninterrupted, smooth completion of one’s technical moves. One must attack an enemy in a barrage and never rely upon a single action to succeed . . . but all too often the popularly practiced moves are not fierce and destructive enough, and under combat conditions it is not likely that they will usually do what one anticipates that they will do. Sequential blocking, for example; or maneuvering the adversary into position for a throw or blow; catching the attacker’s hand and wrist just right, so that he will succumb to the force of what is in actual combat a highly questionable, if impressive appearing technique.

Factors such as weather, terrain, attire, space, level or irregular ground, presence of more than one attacker, etc. etc. are not considered in passing on some (admittedly beautiful looking) skills in the dojo.

So here’s the bottom line:

When we analyze the Applegate Standard for selection and acceptance of techniques for combat we can be confident that we’ve got a winning technique if it proves to be simple and destructive.

Simple techniques are easily learned, easily retained, widely adoptable to an almost unlimited variety of circumstances and situations, and are the least likely to be effectively interfered with or countered by the enemy. (For example: We always advocate carrying a small handful of gravel ––– not sand or dirt, which can blow back ––– and flinging it into an adversary’s face. This requires only a gross body movement, will take anyone by surprise, and can be a prelude to escaping the scene, using unarmed or armed action against the adversary. Simple. Foolproof. Adoptable to all environments and situations.)

Simple techniques are gross body movements, requiring only that the user make use of the inevitable, natural, involuntary reaction of his system to danger, which we know entails the loss of the ability to render fine motor articulations. There’s no “fighting against nature” here; just going with the flow and doing the most natural actions.

Destructiveness is critical in any close combat or self-defense technique. What is at stake is life and limb ––– your or your loved one’s life and limb! ––– and you cannot possibly read the mind or determine the capabilities of any attacker or hand-to-hand adversary ahead of time.

It is well to remind readers that, under combat conditions, human beings can be shockingly difficult to stop. Little women, normally weak men, even elderly people, can explode with a resolve and tenacity under great survival stress that makes them five to ten times stronger and more resilient than they normally would be. And that refers to normally decent, everyday people from all normal walks of life. When you consider violent criminal offenders whose very lifestyles revolve around violent combat, or military adversaries, who may be battle-hardened and ––– to use a popular term ––– “tough as nails”, you can imagine how much might be needed to shut them down in an all-out encounter.

Techniques lacking destructive capability should be discarded. They may be suitable for competition, when done with proper control and according to the rules, but they are not to be called upon to save human life. Some of these techniques (i.e. control grips, restraining and come along type holds do have a definite place in the training of security people and law enforcers . . . but restraining and/or arresting troublemakers is not the responsibility of the private citizen or military person who must deal with a dangerous opponent. His responsibility is to stop his enemy and save himself or other innocent persons from being knocked out, maimed, killed, or kidnapped, etc.

We hope that this presentation assists those who are students of the more classical martial arts who wish to set up a repertoire of doable skills in case they are ever confronted by danger outside their traditional training and practice environment. Select a handful of techniques (and all of the classical systems have some) that are simple and destructive. Work on them intensively and regularly. Keep them in reserve for what both of us hope never comes to you. Enjoy whatever you like in the dojo, amongst your training partners and friends; but when and if the worst ever happens, use those skills that have met the Applegate Standard ––– and use them with every ounce of strength, speed, and determination you can generate!

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