Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Fisking “7 Lies Bad Self-Defence Instructors TellTheir Students”(Or, why one soundbite isn’t as good as another)

First off here’s the link to the article. (Read it first)
Conceptually I agree with this guy, but I'm still going to have to fisk this. Replacing one simplistic lie with another doesn't do anyone any good, no matter how well intentioned it might be. And the keyword here is 'might.'

(Brace yourself, this is a long one. And if you say TLDR,
you’re part of the problem. This isn’t just your life you’re endangering, but anyone who listens to you about self-defense.)

< start fisk >

Let me first introduce you to an alternative to "Yes, but..."

It's "Yes and..." 'Yes but...' is a set up for a form of contradiction. 'Yes and ...' is acknowledging while the statement is somewhat true, there are complicating factors involved. This is going to be a 'yes and...' piece.

Let me also introduce you to the red flag that went up when the guy called these 'lies.' A lie is deliberately providing false information for gain or to avoid consequences. It is intentional deception.

We cool on this definition? Because let me assure you it's important to note the deliberate aspect. (Incidentally, this includes deliberately calling something a lie to evoke an emotional reaction based on that definition). With that in mind, let me ask you a moral question. Using that definition, we know a lie is deliberate action to deceive. But, what about someone who -- in good faith -- passes on the false information as true?

Is that person lying? (Answer before proceeding.)

Most people say 'no,' the second person is just passing on bad information. The lack of deliberate intent to deceive is where we cut slack for the second person. And for the record getting other people to pass on the bad information in good faith can be a definite benefit for the original liar. These secondary people speak with conviction and without the 'tells' of lying.)

So having established that, we move onto the next question. "What if that second person begins to suspect the validity of the information, but for personal reasons
A- Chooses to not investigate the validity of the information
B- Continues to pass on the -- now suspect -- information as if it is the truth? These especially for personal profit?

Is that lying? Is that something you give a pass on? Is it acceptable because it's for some greater good? What would you call this? And how far can it go before it becomes deliberate deception?

This is what the guy is calling 'lies' and that implies deliberate deception. Like 'yes and...' there's more going on.

Just so you know, I created this 'moral question' specifically for what is being taught as self-defense. Many instructors aren't exactly 'lying,' but they have a vested interest in NOT checking out the validity (or complications arising from) what they teach. While a lot of it can be ascribed to laziness, the question of 'where does it become deliberate' is a damned good question.

While I generally agree with the author's points (as it's a good summation of a lot of the overly-simplistic, reductionist noise that is commonly taught about self-defense), I'm still going to have to fisk it. Expanding on something I said, you don't do anyone any favor by replacing one overly simplistic belief with another. Okay he says the following are lies.

Lie number one:
Self-Defence Is Easy
He says:
I hear and see this all the time. Instructors who think that if you grab here and touch there and then the opponent will fall to the floor and they tell students that self defence is easy.

Yes and...

This is a very market driven problem. Much so-called 'SD training' is what we call 'fear based.' It is not 'danger based.'

Danger based training is oriented on teaching how to handle dangerous situations. (Like how not to cause a melt down in a nuclear reactor, how to move safely around poisonous snakes and tigers, etc) Actual danger based training is commonly very nuts-and-bolts practical (e.g. don't stick your unprotected hand in front of a venomous snake's face). Following this kind of training actually keeps you safe(r) in these environments. (Incidentally, most injuries in these fields come from shortcutting these protocols.)

Fear based training make you feel more secure. It doesn't actually address danger. It addresses your emotions, by pretending to give you solutions to an imagined danger. "Ohhh, I've been watching the tele and I'm seeing all these horr'ble things. 'Ow do I protect myself?"

Now fear based training is also closely tied with talisman thinking Which is the belief that all you need is _____(fill in the blank).


It is the search for a simple 'you just do this' answer BY THE CUSTOMER that by and large drives this point. Yes instructors who tell customers 'it's easy, you just do this' aren't exactly lying. They're telling the customers what they want to hear. A story that if you don't tell them that, the customers will take their money and give it to someone who will tell them what they want to hear. Is that lying or staying in business?

That's half of what's a 'yes and...' with this statement. My other problem is with the phrasing 'Self-Defense is easy" (Yeah, I spelled it the American way, he did it UK) Self-defense can be easy.

Physical conflict (especially fighting) is hard work.

I'd like to share another point here. From a conceptual standpoint, picking up a car engine is easy. Actually doing it manually is hard -- hence why we use machines. With a machine you just push a button (easy right?)

Self-defense, if that's your goal is not particularly complicated (easy). That's because it can be as simple as looking down a walkway, seeing two guys loitering in attack positioning and turning around and going the other way. (Not putting yourself into a trap is self-defense.) It can also be as simple as shoving the guy down and running like hell. (Not as easy as walking away before it happens, but nowhere near as difficult as standing there trying to punch it out. Having said that, it can be a motherin' complex and difficult process. On the other hand, the workload can be limited to holding a few pounds and repeatedly pulling the trigger. ALL of those can qualify as self-defense.

The question is "What are the circumstances of the situation?" That, not some generalized use of the term is what is going to determine how much effort it's going to take.
You want another wibbly wobbly 'It depends?’ You're not going to know what’s involved until you're there. What's the guy's commitment and pain tolerance? Some people you slap and they fall to pieces, others you can bust his nose and he still keeps on coming. Still others you can put four rounds into and he'll still split your skull with a cleaver. It depends.

The author pulled a sneaky here though in that he uses 'fighting' and 'self-defense' interchangeably.

They aren't. They're two different goals. They're two different results. But what he is correct on is that fighting is hard work -- pretty much always.

Lie number two: Never go to the ground

Ummm it depends.

Once again we have a marketing and demand influencing what people are teaching. The fact that he is phrasing it as an absolute is a a Calvinism vs. the Catholic church type situation.

How's that for a left turn? Here's a fast history lesson. Before the rise of Protestantism and the Reformation, the Catholic Church had become both rotten and money grubbing. They'd not only set up a toll booth on the road to heaven, but going to hell was having economic consequences.. One of the biggest complaints was 'indulgences' Basically, give the church enough money and/or land and you get a free pass into heaven. Murder, rape, oppression... no problem, just pay us enough. Conversely, excommunication was big business. Let's say you're a noble ass deep in debt to a merchant. You can't (or don't want to) pay and the merchant is going to take your property you put up as collateral. How do you keep it? Well you call your little brother up (3rd son of nobility goes into the church -- and the more dad had paid, the higher lil' bro's position). Bishop Little Brother excommunicates the merchant on trumped up charges. Oh hey guess what? According to canonical law when someone is excommunicated all debts to that person are null and void. (Can you say "Knights Templar" boys and girls?). First a guy named Martin Luther objected to the sales of indulgences, but then a guy by the name of Calvin cut out ALL human agency about who was going to heaven or hell. Calvin's 'predestination' -- which is extreme -- is counter-reaction to the other extreme. But most people only remember the second extreme, not the one it was a reaction to.

Never go to the ground is a counter-extreme to the Gracie marketing extreme '90% of all fights go to the ground.' Well of course a 100% THEIR fights are going to go to the ground, they're grapplers -- they take them there. But saying 90% gives them marketing power and wiggle room when some Doubting Thomas shows up and say's "90%? No that's too high."

So from one marketing extreme to another.  And like Calvin, folks forget who started it.

Having said that, grappling is a useful tool to have in your toolbox. Because hey, things do go to the ground now and then. Oddly enough when you're fighting is when the odds of it happening go up. Here's the other ...issue. I tell people that what is taught as grappling works right out of the box. It's a really good tool ... when you aren't trying to hurt someone.

If your job is arrest and control, restraint and containment until someone shows up with a syringe of happy juice or any other restrain without injuring (or minimum injury), or you have to sit on a friend or Drunken Uncle Albert at a family reunion, then grappling is GGGGRRRRRRRRREEEeeeat! No bullshit. No lie. For those circumstances grappling is the tool to have in your box.

For self-defense? Not so much. Oh and fighting? Yeah, there too.

The goal of ground work, which is an important aspect to have in your SD training is to GET UP ASAFUCKINP! You not only need to know how to cause major injury with the limited mobility of being on the ground (to get him to let go), but you also need to be able to get up quickly and SAFELY!

See here's the problem with grappling during both self-defense and fighting. When applied to someone on the ground, the shod human foot is considered a lethal force instrument in many states. It doesn't necessarily have to be other members of a wolfpack, there are lots of people who in a bar will take the opportunity to kick two people when they're down. If you're too busy 'fighting' the guy, you'll never see these other attacks coming in.

This is also why getting up safely and quickly is so so very important. It's not just a matter of getting up fast. Many of the fastest and most familiar ways of getting up leave you completely exposed and vulnerable to incoming attacks. Both hands on the ground levering you up? Believe me when I tell you a biker boot to the face can put you down and out. A kick that you can't block or dodge because your hands are busy being on the floor.

Now, reread what the guy wrote here:
So you are out and a guy has an issue with you. He hits you hard in the face and you punch him back, he lands 2 or 3 times and your really dazed. He hits hard and fast and is clearly a better puncher.

What are you going to do? Stand there and get beaten?

But what if some really strong guy stands there and outweighs you, and is bigger than you? What then? are you going to trade punches with a person who has 20 kilos weight advantage over you?

I have been to the ground lots of times because it made sense. Very often I would have lost if I had traded punches with someone. Yes there will always be a risk when going to the ground that you can get kicked or punched by the mates, but that risk still exists on your feet too!

Notice he's talking about fighting, not self-defense. Which hey, he's got a legitimate point for fighting.  But then he follows up with

Going to the ground should be a tactical decision, if it makes sense for the circumstances do it, if not don't. There is and should never be this blanket rule of "never go to the ground unless you have no choice"

Yes and the first few 'tactikool decisions' is assessing if it's fighting, use of force or fuckin' self-defense! Two of them grappling makes sense. Third, not so much.

There's a BIG difference in goals, tactics and results between groundwork in self-defense and floor fighting

Here are some common scenarios in terms of self-defense. One you down and him standing. Defending oneself from attacks in this position is a very distinct skill set. But you ONLY do it until you can get up again. Him down and you up. In this case, WHY AREN'T YOU RUNNING? Both of you accidentally going over in a tangle. Repeat after me "Break contact, continue mission" No fancy grappling moves. Get off me and get up. The guy is bigger and stronger and is trying to overwhelm you so he tackles you and takes you to the ground. See above. (Break contact...). The LEAST likely, but not uncommon is the guy IS a grappler. In which case, why do you want stay there? Or if that doesn't make sense, let me rephrase it another way... WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TRYING TO DO? BEAT HIM AT HIS STRONGEST GAME? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? Hey how about, since you're good at throwing the pigskin around, you jump into the middle of a NFL game? (American football to the rest of the world)

So do you need some floor work and familiarity with being on the ground? YESssssss

Am I talking about grappling? BJJ? Yudo? MMA style floor fighting? Not only no, but HELL NO! But framing it in terms of "Never is a lie, so learn grappling" is replacing one set of problems with another.
Lie number three: You do not need to be fit for self-defense.
In his Burke series Andrew Vachss has a character the "Gateman" who is confined to a wheelchair -- but is one of the most deadly shooters in the series. Yeah, you don't need to be in good shape to pull the trigger.
Talking in real life, there was my 80 y.o. Korean Vet neighbor who -- while discussing a problem drug dealer in the neighborhood -- said "It's been a long time since I shot someone, but I still remember how."
Once again the author confuses (perhaps deliberately) fighting with self-defense. News flash, you DO have to be in good shape if you're fighting. If nothing else because fighting is a highly anaerobic activity.
Which hey, surprise, surprise you can be aerobically fit and STILL get wiped out while 'fighting.' Unlike jogging, fighting is fast burst energy expenditure. If you're not conditioned this way, you'll quickly run out of steam. Granted someone who is not in good shape will burn out faster than someone who is in good shape. But the type of conditioning is important, not just generalized good shape.
This is a reductionist statement That yes, if you intend to hang out and fight you do need to be in good shape.
On the other hand, you know what? Being in good shape (or at least moderate shape) really is a matter of good health and well being. So yeah, it's kind of important but for reasons other than having to do with self-defense.
In the author's defense, I will also say that he is from the UK. Where weapons are both limited and these limits make it VERY nice to be a yob. Safe too. They know they are dealing with a populace (including other yobs) that don't tend to be armed. This has a MAJOR effect on their aggression and tactics. As in yobs in England tend to look upon fighting as a fun hobby.
This gives a distinct advantage to the young and buff when it comes to long drawn out fistfights. Which hey, why would you want to do that shit if you're 40, married with kids?
Once again though we end up with what happens when you conflate fighting with self-defense.

Lie number four:
Awareness will help you avoid most incidents.

Some years ago I watched a second generation from Gichin Funakoshi do a kata. (His dad had been taught by Funakoshi, dad taught him.) As I watched a kata that I'd seen hundreds of times before, I stood up in a room full of people pointed and roared "THAT WOULD WORK!" I often joke that night I was made to eat raw everything bad I'd ever said about karate. That's the conciliatory version. The other version is I was proven right, because it demonstrated what had been lost from what is being taught AS karate. (Or as a friend of mine so eloquently summed up, that demonstration "was the first time I'd ever seen karate," instead of the cheap knock off I'd been telling people didn't work)

I tell you that because I'll also tell you that the 'awareness' he's talking about is a cheap knock off.

The way most people talk about awareness is a lot closer to the Force from StarWars. Kinda vague, trust your feelings woo-woo that will allow you to do triple backflips without cutting your legs off with your light saber. Oh and predict the future.

So while I'll give him that about what is being taught, he quickly pogo sticks into "Yes and ... ' land. I'll tell you what I do agree with 100% that is his next line:

This annoys me Instructors that preach awareness but haven't got a clue how to teach it.

How about -- "they not only don't have an idea HOW to teach it, they don't even know what it is or how to use it." Which he kind of echoes with this

So how do you teach this? Well it isn't easy and that is why most instructors never bother. You see awareness is great and I have taught it to a lot of people, but you need to teach people about awarness and what to do once they become aware. This is where scenarios are essential!

Except what he is talking about is knowledge, assigning value, pattern recognition, assessment and reaction to stimuli, not exactly 'awareness.' But even there, realize what most people call 'awareness' (much less teach about it) don't even come close to those rarefied standard he's talking about.

Before you can have 'awareness' you need to have stable data. (Incidentally, that's what's missing from a lot of so-called 'awareness; training.) For example, many criminals carry their weapons in what is called 'the appendix carry.' Now unlike legal concealed carry permit holders, criminals seldom use holsters. (It has to do with ditching the gun.) As such they end up fiddling with it more -- which is a very distinctive action to watch for as he approaches. Both legal and illegal carry in this position has a VERY distinct set of drawing motions. Like you're not going to see it anywhere else. So seeing it is almost certainly a weapon draw (or a bluff to make you think it is so you'll run away.) The only other time you're likely to see this move is in a discussion about someone's appendix surgery as they show you their scar.

Thing is, this knowledge comes in what can be called 'layers.' As I often say "You can't spot abnormal until you know normal" Hint, strange people don't walk up to you in a lonely parking lot at night. If they do, they don't get closer than a certain distance if their intentions are good. And they ESPECIALLY don't pull up their shirt to show you their surgery scar. By the time all three of these are going down, you can be pretty certain it's a robbery. (Unless you've pissed some people off, in which case it could be a hit.)

Thing is most people don't know this, so even though they ARE aware of the guy walking up to them, getting too close, etc., they don't know what it means. Then they find themselves looking down the barrel of a gun. But wait! They were aware of his approach!

Even though the buzzword is awareness, the way most people in self-defense are using it is... well, just wrong. Have you ever heard your SD instructor give you that parking lot/appendix run down? But have you heard him talk about the importance of 'awareness'...? So there I have to say the guy is technically correct. "Awareness is not enough to keep you out of conflict" Or at least not awareness alone. Except what he does then go into is why his scenario based training is so good (Maaaaaaarketing)

Lemme give you a more functional look about awareness. I mean some really fundamental pointers.

Thing is a good grasp of people skills and knowing some basic things can keep you out of conflict. In fact, except for certain -- very specific-- circumstances, it will go miles keeping out of trouble. For example, shift changes. (Springboarding off the Sipowicz article). Good rule of thumb, when the families, children and elders clear out, it's a good time to go. That's because the night shift is taking over.

Livefire example, I grew up eating ethnic food. Food I can't get where I live. So I have to go up to ethnic areas to get ingredients. And some of these ain't the nicest areas. So when I do my shopping? Hint, it's not at night in those parts of town. That's when the not-nice-things come out to play. Hard to get robbed, murdered, into conflict if you're not there. (Or in my case, save me the trouble of hiding the body.) Oh yeah, and when I'm there, I'm really polite to the locals. So yeah, knowledge, scheduling, paying attention and a little politeness goes a long way to keep me out of violence.

Is that awareness? Or is awareness part of a bigger more effective strategy?

Lie number five:
Sports martial arts don't work in the street

This one is just adorable.

I could say 'Yes and...' except there's a problem. The nature of which can be found in my saying, "You only have two problems using your training. One is it doesn't work. Two is it does work."

I came up with that as a way to explain that things aren't as simplistic as just 'winning.' But again, a lot of people want it to be. The complexities of the issue are many and they go way, way past just working or not working.

First, something that works great against a 17 y.o. punk will fail miserably against a 200 pound biker. Why? Well, you're facing a completely different standard of opponent. So is it the training 'not working' or is it an issue of circumstances? That's one of the many problems of trying to speak in generalities. I guarantee you the most half-baked, ineffective, commercialized martial art will 'work' for beating up eight year olds in the 'street.' Conversely, I know a few 'monsters' that I don't care about your MMA, RBSD, Urban tacti-kool combatives, Ancient warrior system (used byt the Pharoh's bodyguards) these guy's will use your ass as a pool cue. Again, it's about circumstances.

The second issue with 'working in the street' is it the right tool for the job? One thing that a LOT of MA training focuses on is the one-on-one 'duel' That doesn't really help you much when you're in a jam with a dude and his buddy blindsides you.

Oh that wasn't covered in your training? It's easy to ask, 'why not?'. But there's not exactly a good answer. But start with, did you -- or your instructor -- believe this is a wunder-tool that does everything (I often use the idea of a snake oil salesman, "Dr Bonner's Miracle elixir. Cures constipation, arthritis, consumption, polio, measles and venereal diseases. It'll cure what ails ya!") Do you think this specific training prepares you for everything? Because if you do, then it's not only not going to work in the street, but it's not going to work in a whole lot of other places too.

The third problem with working in the street is that training --in a very real sense -- like learning to swim in a pool. Now that's not a problem. The problem comes later. The reason you learn to swim in the shallow end of a pool is to work you through different stages and ingrain core mechanics. Ingrain them to the point you don't have to think about them any more. The raw skillsets are there, so you can turn your attention to other details.

However, just because you can swim in a pool, doesn't mean you are ready for swimming in the ocean, bodysurfing, surfing, swimming in a river, scuba diving, high diving or cliff jumping. Each of these have some VERY specific extra knowledge and skills that -- while based on swimming -- are radically different (and more) than just swimming in a pool. None of them replace basic swimming, but they are over and above fundamental swimming. A serious problem is people who think they know 'martial arts' often think they're prepared for ANY kind of circumstances. This is because, in their imagination, all self-defense is the same. It's like thinking that because you know how to swim in a pool, you automatically know how to swim in the ocean, bodysurf, surf ...

One thing that seriously made my teeth itch is for years American Filipino Martial Arts instructors/students parroted that 'sticks were an average weapon. That they had elements common to all weapons.' However, where it became an annoying squawk/screech (and flat out wrong) is when it mutated into 'If you know sticks you know how to use any weapon. As a friend of mine who knows both FMA and Western broadsword said "Yes the similarities are important. But just as important are the differences.")

There are two questions you need to ask.
A -- 'What exactly DOES your training prepare you for?' It is a legitimate and important question because of the next point and understanding both limitations and application. Something that works GRRRRREEat in one set of circumstances, fails miserably in others. Conversely, what won't work in other circumstances works great for these.

Which is question B -- What doesn't it work for?

The bonus question (at this point) isn't 'does it work?' It's do you know how to assess the circumstances when it's the right time for that tactic?
And that is a much bigger subject than I have time to go into.
Fourth problem is what you're being taught lacking important parts to make it work? Or are you leaving them out?
Bad mechanics is a double edged sword. A whole lot of what is being taught out there is like a detailed and tricked out car that's missing an engine. It's got the form, but not what makes it go.
I can go into this problem all day long but let me give you a fast example. Where is the block? I demonstrate this by having people -- especially those trained in 'hard styles' -- show me a block. When I ask where is the block a super majority of them demonstrate the end position. (Let's say inside middle block An Makgii/soto uke.) That -- they claim -- is the block. No. The block is the whole motion. The defensive action occurs while moving towards that end position. By the time you get to that position the blocking action has already occurred.
Why is this important? Because if you're in such an all fired rush to get to that end position, it's REAL easy to drop important components of the process in order to get more speed. (Including incidentally dropping important parrying defensive actions that people have mistaken as 'wind up.') In the safety of the school, this flawed blocking process works. But against a dedicated attack, the lack of mechanics usually collapses. That's if you were never taught the mechanics of the move -- which happens a LOT.
The other way mechanics can be missing is if you're so freaked out that you forget to put them in. Basically instead of doing a blocking action, you're flailing. Going back up one problem, did your training ingrain these mechanics so you don't have to think about them, but that they are always there? Did you then train to do them under adrenal stress? (swimming in the ocean.)
It's not does the martial art system work in the streets? It's: Can you manifest the necessary mechanics under stress and while being attacked?
That brings us to the fifth problem. It's not the MA system, it's you that's going to get it done.
Let me rock your boat by pointing something out. Martial arts alone don't work in the streets is technically correct because martial arts have NO physical existence. They're an idea. They're a skillset that NEEDS humans to manifest. Without a human there is no marital art.
This is huge disconnect because many people think, it's the martial art that will carry the day. It's not, it's you. Just knowing a skillset called martial arts does not mean you're going to 'win.' YOU have to apply those skills. Unfortunately a lot of people think just knowing the martial arts is some kind of push-button, because I know it, it's going to work. No. You gotta MAKE IT WORK.
Okay, so there are just some of the points about "It doesn't work." The other issue is it does work.
News flash folks, self-defense is -- at least theoretically -- legal. Fighting is illegal. So guess what? If you get into a fight and use your martial arts training, you're breaking the law.
You may have felt you were ~cough cough~ defending yourself, but what you were doing is fighting.
Now are you going to win or lose that fight?
Yeah, that's the problem with your martial arts training working. You're still doing something illegal.
One of the things that I often tell people is to take an MMA bout and imagine both participants dressed and in a bar. If you saw that on the bar's security video, what would you call it? (Important question because that's what the jury is going to call it too)
I tell you this because where sports martial arts really do work well is when you're fighting. A little MMA training gives you the serious edge in illegal violence. Yep. They work all right... to get your ass arrested and convicted.

Lie number six:
You Don't Need Much Knowledge of the law. I'm really, really torn about this. Him calling it a lie is both right and wrong. Because technically speaking the statement 'You don't need much knowledge of the law is correct.' You're not a lawyer.

But there is a thunderin' herd of things you do need to know. Things that AREN'T being taught. Things that have legal consequences and implications. Things that will put you into prison or keep you out.

Where we run into the first problem is there's a BIG ASS difference between the law and the legal system. And I hate to break it to you, but our legal system isn't exactly friendly to self-defense. In fact, there are many prosecutors who look at SD claims as slam dunks when it comes to getting a conviction. So yes, self-defense is technically legal, but it's a can of worms. That you DO need to know.

The biggest flaw with what he's pushing here isn't about the law, it's you knowing what self-defense is BEFORE you act.

Unfortunately most people make up their own definition -- and that's what gets them into trouble. Yes the legal guidelines of self-defense are important (Starting with the BIGGEST mistake of them all 'immediate'). But if you cannot explain why what you did was self-defense, it's going to be sold by the prosecutor as illegal violence. That you also need to know.

The other side of this coin is do you know how to explain WHY what the other person was doing was a physical danger to you? This one SERIOUSLY screws up most people. Sure you can recognize when you're in danger, but can you explain (or get an expert witness to explain) why that's a dangerous situation? A situation that required your use of force for you to remain safe?

See most people think that just feeling oneself in danger is enough to 'justify' them acting. All they have to say was "I was afraid." Well see the problem is, they don't know what justify means in a legal context. The act by which a party accused shows and maintains a good and legal reason in court, why he did the thing he is called upon to answer.


Yeah, justification means YOU have to prove it was the right call. Or in this case, your lawyer does. Now here's the bitch, you have to have acted to those standards.

For example there's some yahoo here in Denver who stopped a robbery, but then chased the dude out into the street, shooting and shot the robber's car up as he was trying to drive away. The gunslinger is facing charges. Why? Let me ask you this: When did the guy's action STOP being about protecting others from the immediate threat of robbery? THAT is why he's being charged.

Way too many people in the martial arts are all freaked out about the freeze. What they do not pay attention to is the equally big problem of when to stop. When does what you're doing cross from self-defense into excessive force? And as such, make you the one breaking the law?
That’s a big part of knowing what self-defense is ... and is not. That's the real booger of a problem because most people don't know when to go, but nor do they know when to stop. They don't know the difference between fighting and self-defense and they don't know how to explain to the cops that it WAS self-defense. Wanna know how far beyond just knowing the law this subject is? Well here's a bit of bathroom reading...for the next month http://www.amazon.com/In-Name-Self-Defense-costs-worth-ebook/dp/B00LIBWADA

Lie number seven: Knife Defence: Just Do This,Then This ......Blah Blah Blah

There's that weird UK spelling again.

He claims that his first and most serious complaint is inexperienced instructors teaching.

My first and most serious complaint is that using a knife on another human being is automatically a use of lethal force. That's the same as using a gun in case you missed it. Now for the guy with the knife this is a legal complication that most people don't get.

But it's the guy on the other end who's got real problems. You can fuckin' DIE! This is not a fight. This is not a dick measuring contest. Nor is it, as so many people teach a situation where you neutralize the knife hand and then proceed to beat the shit out of him like it was a regular fight. The presence of a knife kicks the danger up through the ceiling.

All a knife has to do is touch you and you are injured. Knives cut flesh. Simple physics. The guy doesn't have to be some kind of trained knife fighter, hell a five year old can kill you if she accidentally hits you in the right spot. Even if she doesn't you're going to get slashed up. (I'm thinking of my friend Kasey Keckeisen who while trying to make this point, had the brilliant idea of handing his daughter a real knife. His wife said "No" But when he handed her a rubber knife Sydney went psycho ninja on him. There's a really cute picture of her with this homicidal look on her face and a knife.)

When it comes to facing a knife, the HARDEST step is getting past your own ego. It's recognizing that the danger level just went through the roof and you need to adjust your behavior accordingly. If that means you turn and haul ass, you do it with COMPLETE commitment, dragging your mouthy ego saying "We could have kicked his ass" along with you. Or recognizing the immediate and high level of threat, you it it (and most likely him) NOW!

You do not EVER try to fight when there is a knife involved. That's the fastest way I know to end up in the hospital or the morgue.

Fundamentally I agree with him on this point, but I think the reasons he cites are wrong. At the same time, he does describe some issues that will crop up IF you're dumb enough to try to stick around and fight the knifer. And -- although he never quite came out and said it as such -- he is right, entirely too many inexperienced instructors try to teach you to fight against a knife. Except the real knuckle heads who teach you how to knife fight -- and those boys are even more inexperienced with street knife use than he describes.

< / fisk > 
 So there it is. The “7 Lies” fisked. 
Like I said at the beginning. While I technically agree with him, replacing one set of overly simplistic sound bites with another isn't a good idea - especially when you're calling the other sound bites lies. 
At the same time look at how much more complicated things are than just comfortable little sound bites. I know that it looks like too much work to consider all of this stuff, but we are talking real life. If you use your training -- any training whether martial arts, self-defense or firearms -- these are the things that will come crashing down on you. Can you navigate these treacherous waters? Yes. It’s possible. But you’re going to need more than just sound bites in either direction.


  1. Animal,

    Really good post! I especially liked how you delved deeper into what awareness is and isn't.

    I wanted to thank you because your advice has kept me out of some serious trouble.

    Most recently I was in Las Vegas and I walked from one hotel casino to another. These particular casinos are connected by a bridge that is fairly deserted and it's a 1/4 mile walk. This bridge is still part of the casino's property, it is not a public sidewalk. I had been drinking and gambling for several hours and had around $5000 cash on me before I decided to walk to this new casino at 1 am. As I was walking I thought, this is a perfect example of a "fringe area" that I had read about on your website. And people are gambling, so like me they have cash on them.

    I make it into the new casino and continue gambling and drinking for an hour or two. I decide to go back to my room (the original casino I walked from). As I start walking towards the exit of the casino to start down the deserted path, I notice something isn't right. There are two unsavory "gentlemen" leaning up against the wall just inside the casino but about 40 ft. from where I am, on the other side of the exit door.

    Although I was drunk, your advice flashed into my head again. I realized that no other people were hanging out with their backs to the wall at 3am watching people walk by. They were either gambling or walking, but not loitering. This is not normal behavior for this area.

    So as I walk toward the exit, I watch these "gentlemen" with my peripheral. Unbelievably, as I walk out the door to start into this fringe area, they get off the fucking wall and start following! Since they were near the other exit door, they had about 40 ft of distance to cover which they were covering quickly as I moved farther down this path.

    I again heeded your advice and turned around and went back into the place I came from (the casino). They were stunned and weren't sure whether or not to try something right there. They came up near me and were obviously on drugs. I looked at them with a look that said everything they needed to know. Then I went and let casino security know what these guys were up to.

    It's funny because at 6'2", 225 lbs, and well trained in boxing and muay thai these guys would have likely had to earn the $5000 in my pocket the hard way. But something tells me they had something up their sleeve (a gun) and were not interested in fighting me.

    You literally saved me from a very bad situation because you didn't just say to be "aware". You specifically detailed what types of set ups to look out for and why when someone is loitering in or around a fringe area they are suspect. Thank you again!


  2. I like your post. This post really awesome and very helpful to me. Please keep posting good contents. Thank

  3. I've been scaring myself with your great info all day today--- can't put your 'book' down! Thanks for your great discussions and advice here and on your other sites, I needed to read and HEAR your message: I was yelling at some illegal parkers in our lot last night, feeling quite entitled and righteous... now I see 'what's wrong with this picture?'