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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kids Self Defense Class

I taught a self defense class for children during a summer safety camp. Fun times, most were great kids eager to learn and please. They were fairly smart and had some good questions and comments. The first part of the class was theory. I know, not really thrilling but so very necessary. We discussed how to keep ourselves safe so we don’t need to use self defense skills. We talked about how adults, mostly the ones with bad intentions, think and act.

The most popular question I had, and we are talking 12-15 kids out of 40 asking me this with very eager faces, was…. “So what would you do if you were surrounded by 4-6 guys that want to hurt/kill you?” I brushed off the first few but after a while I had to ask them

“How old are you?”

“9-11 years old….. (their age range)”

“And exactly where do you hang out that you are worried about this kind of attack?”

This was a good time to review “How to stay away from dangerous places, The Buddy system, Let your parents/an adult know where you are at all time”… because apparently they weren’t listening very close to that part of the lesson.

The problem is that a lot of those kids had martial arts training, TKD or Karate mostly. They already knew everything, why pay attention. I am not knocking either one of those arts. Martial arts training for kids are a great idea. But one part that is a bad idea is when they train for unrealistic things. We need to train our kids for things that will most likely happen to them. According to some of those kids, they could take down a guy that would shove a gun in their face, they could fight off a herd of ninjas, but not very many knew why it’s a bad idea to go help a person they don’t know to go look for his/hers “lost dog”. Yes make believe is fun and all kids (and a lot of adults) do it. But training to save your life should be based in reality.

“Train for what happens the most and you will be prepared for most of what happens”- Marc MacYoung NoNonsense Self Defense

Another bad part of their training is that they are sent home with a sense of false confidence. They think they can carry a real fight with a 250 lbs highly trained operator and win. What they learn in their class is mostly sport applications that is performed with people in their own weight class or even larger opponents that is taking it very easy on them. They never had to “test” their skills. When your skills are never tested, they either never achieve their intended results or they rust. You start doing things half ass since it really doesn’t matter. You know you are getting out of it anyway. They have illusions that things will work just like they do in the movies. You kick the gun out of the bad guy’s hand with a spinning round house kick, you take him down with one punch to the chest and you ride away in the sunset with the pretty girl. That is fiction. This is not even close to reality.

We are doing our kids a HUGE disservice when we train them in such a way that they go home thinking they are Captain America.

Another point is we all talk to our kids about “stranger danger”… at least I hope we all do. But how many trains to actually role play those scenes that are so much more likely to happen to them then being surrounded by a roving band of mercenaries.

Taking care of your kids is not just about providing for them. It’s also about teaching them to be able to take care of themselves.

Be smart, stay safe and teach your kids to do the same!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Survival of the fittest

“Survival of the fittest”

This expression is often attributed to Charles Darwin and, although it appears in the fifth edition of his Origin of Species, 1869, it is there attributed to Herbert Spencer:.

We have all heard this expression before but what does it really mean? Survival of the strongest? Survival of the smartest? Survival of the richest?

Before we make a decision, let’s learn from nature. Who has survived out there, who has not. Theories are nice but proof is always in the pudding. Here are a few examples

· A dramatic change was too much for the dinosaurs. Most were not able to survive. It does not really matter if that change was climatic, meteorite impact, flood, there are still a lot of arguments on how it really happened, but the fact is they failed to adapt to the changes and became extinct.

· Bacteria have been designed to be adaptable. Their surrounding layers and their genetic information are actually capable of alteration.

· Flies have been around for 10,000 to 15,000 years. They have hair to keep them warm, they can eat anything, and they can live anywhere.

· The dodo birds lived on an Island. They could not fly and they built their nest on the ground, this made them very vulnerable. Since the birds were easy to capture, colonists soon consumed most of the dodo population. Animals they brought with them, especially dogs, cats, and pigs, ate the fledglings and broke the dodo eggs to consume the yolks. They were not built for survival. They could not adapt. They did not survive.

· The crocodiles have been around for millions of years. They have a sturdy constitution and do not seem to suffer from any indigestion. They also have an extraordinary ability to go without food. They are made rough and tough and heal better than most other animals. In addition to being hale and hardy, let alone fast and fierce, crocodiles are also smart. They seem to learn quickly, particularly to avoid dangerous situations.

  • · The current shark species as we know have been around for 100 million years. Their anatomy has been improved over those million years of evolution. Sharks have undergone two major adaptation phases and survived at least five mass extinctions that many other creatures did not. Sharks are able to adapt to different environments.

  • · The old, the very young, the sickly, the slow… those are the animals that get attacked by predators. Their lack of ability to stick with the rest of the herd during a dangerous situation will prevent their survival.

I see a pattern here, do you?

The fundamental law that governs this world is CHANGE. Nature favors those organisms most capable of adapting to ever-changing conditions.

So survival of the fittest really means survival of those who are the most capable to adapt to their surroundings, circumstances. It’s about resiliency.

The ability to adapt is a critical tool for your survival. Many people can easily adjust to a wide variety of circumstances in order to deal with the different situations that can arise during their daily lives. Meanwhile, others will remain unyielding and go into extreme denial because they dislike change and prefer the familiarity of their established routine.

Change is not always comfortable. Change is not always fun. But there are times when it is necessary and inevitable.

By having confidence in your abilities during a crisis or an emergency, your ability to adapt to abrupt and life-changing events will help to make you a survivor.

People that are unable or unwilling to adapt to the changes around them are bound to decimate themselves.

Adaptability compromises a number of different traits that can help you to survive.

· Being reasonably healthy and fit

· Being reasonably intelligent

· Being flexible

Those are not only physical attributes but mental and emotional aspect should be just as strong. A balance state is always the strongest.

Not everything always go your way. If you let it crush you mentally, you are doomed. You have to be able to accept challenges and obstacles coming your way.

You also need to avoid going into a state of denial that will not allow you to adapt properly to your circumstances. You are only fooling yourself if you refuse to accept that your situation has changed because of a crisis or an emergency. It is our ability to adapt to our environment that has allowed us to survive some of the most hazardous and extreme conditions known to man.

You also have to be able to adapt physically. You cannot let diseases, injuries, and other physical dangers harm you to the point of no return. Just like the bacteria, shark and crocodile are able to conform to the need of their environment so do you. Hence why a reasonable amount of fitness and health is required.

All living things have to make adaptations to survive in their environment.

If the environment/ circumstances change and you can't adapt, you can't survive.

How does this applies specifically to self defense? You may have train for a specific purpose. You may have rehearsed different scenarios, different settings or set of circumstances that may apply to you. This is fantastic. But not everything always goes according to plan. You need to be able to adapt to a particular situation. If something is not working, you have to be flexible and be able to adapt and switch to something that works. This is another reason why learning principle based self defense versus just learning techniques may just save your life. Principles will apply to just about anything. Specific techniques may fail you depending on the circumstances.

Remember, survival of the fittest does not mean survival of the strongest physically but of the strongest mentally and emotionally as well. Some of the smallest creatures have survived and thrived despised their circumstances or environment. They made it work for them. Make it work for you!

What are you doing to survive and adapt?

Be smart, stay safe!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just play

"Master your instrument, master the music, and then forget all that crap and just play."

-Charlie Parker

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Over confidence

There is a huge difference between "confidence" and "over confidence".

Confidence is brought upon by good solid training, the kind you can rely upon working for you because you have proven to yourself it's effectiveness. Competence breeds confidence.

Over confidence is usually brought upon by poor quality training, the kind that let's you get away with poor techniques, or never let you break a sweat (physically or emotionally). It is also brought upon by the "couch training method". You know the kind where you either sit on the couch and watch people on TV doing something awesome and you think you'll be able to copycat them in time of need without ever practicing it, or when you see some unrealistic techniques and you start using them during a poor quality training session Either way, it might get you killed

Be smart, stay safe!!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Training against negative energy

There has been a lot of talk lately about training outside of your weight class because this is most likely the kind of person that will attack you.

There is always someone bigger and badder than you out there


Those blogs are so awesome, I can’t add anything.

But I want to discuss another side to this kind of training. Training against negative energy.

What does this mean? A lot of us are martial artists. We train in a safe dojo, with friends and partners we trust. Feeling safe while you are learning is a good thing. It frees your mind to absorb the knowledge. But you also need to put you newfound knowledge to the test. You need to know if it works. Kasey and Rory eloquently described that fact. Once you know your stuff, once you are confident it will work against larger opponent, you need to also test it during an adrenaline dump stage. Will this work for me when I am under extreme stress.

I can’t speak for men, I have never been one, but I can speak for women. One of the most stressful /scary time for us is having a large angry man coming at us with mean intents. This bad intent/negative energy is something so strong it can almost be touched. It is terrifying and paralyzing. A larger opponent during a sport match or an exercise is one thing; a larger opponent that is trying to rape you or kill you is a completely different animal.

You need to be able to experience it, to get “desensitized” to it for lack of better terminology. You need to know how you will respond to it before this becomes a real life and death situation. You need to work with it and build the confidence that “yes, I can do this… might not look as pretty as I intended it to, but I made it worked. I survived this confrontation and I am going home alive”. You need to be able to rely on this confidence. If you try to do something without a strong lack of belief in its validity, it will most likely fail you when the time comes that you need to depend on it.

So make sure you add this as a part of your training. Have a larger male come at you with anger, mean intent and solid threats. Experience the fear, the shaking, the adrenaline rush. Understand what it is like to work with only gross motor skills. Understand that your voice may fail you, that you may have tunnel vision, mind blocks. See firsthand what it is like to freeze under stress. Then learn to deal with it. Learn to go ahead despite all those draw backs and to be pro-active, to make a solid decision and to follow through with it. This is probably the most helpful self defense training you can receive.

Be smart, stay safe