Violence is chaos in action

An instructor once told me that violence is chaos in action and it’s your job to bring order to the chaos. I believe this is an accurate statement and would add “before it kills you” to the end of that sentence. Violence comes in many shapes and sizes and each situation can be radically different from the next, despite starting off with the same or similar parameters. Predicting how the encounter will unfold is difficult and unreliable, to put it mildly. If you’re truly honest about it, you accept this. But that truth is uncomfortable because, in general, humans don’t like chaos.

We like things to make sense.

We like black or white answers.

We want it to be easy and simple.

It rarely is.

As a result, there is a need to analyze, scrutinize and study violence to put together a system that allows you to handle it when it comes your way. Martial arts and self-defense systems are a part of that. Studying human psychology, the legal system, physics, avoidance and prevention, etc. are also part of the solution. All those together make it difficult again and we typically don’t like that. A commonly used quick solution is to make assumptions by willfully omitting factors you don’t have an answer for or relying on “common knowledge”. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. That is why I always harp on Randy’s quote of “The differences are just as important as the similarities.”

You can take a violent situation and look at the similarities to come to certain conclusions. These conclusions can be completely accurate or completely false, depending on certain parameters you won’t know up front will be present. I covered this dynamic in the first article in my newsletter series, but when I saw these two videos, I found them to be prefect illustrations for it.

Both videos feature a man armed with a gun facing an unarmed man. These are the similarities. My point is that the differences are just as important and the chaos of violence makes it unpredictable what the outcome will be. Let’s take a look. [Read more…]

Body slam knockout in a street fight

I just saw this video of a body slam knockout in a street fight. There is some worthwhile information there and I’ll get to that here below. First, take a look at the video:

Here are some of the things I’d like to point out:

  • Lost opportunities. Notice how long it takes before there is an actual street fight? There were plenty of opportunities to walk away. White shirt seems to be posturing and isn’t immediately targeting Red shirt. He verbally engages the other men too. At this point, red shirt could have walked away.
  • She knows what’s up. The lady in black clearly doesn’t want there to be a fight; she sees it coming a mile off and does all she can to avoid it. Red shirt would have been better off following her cue…
  • Don’t punch softly. If you have to throw a punch, punch. But don’t throw a slow and sloppy punch like Red shirt did. It was telegraphed, lacked power, left him off balance and with an opponent at his back. Nothing good comes from that.
  • There are no mats in a street fight. Falling on pavement sucks, even if you manage a perfect break fall. If you get body slammed onto your head, it is a lot worse. Red shirt is knocked out immediately.
  • There is no “one-on-one” rule in a street fight. Red shirt did a good suplex: He used his body to throw the guy and managed to twist him in the air so he could fall on top of him.  But then he makes the mistake of staying on the ground and gets put in a (sloppy) choke hold by White shirt’s buddy. Things could have gone horrible wrong for him too, with his back exposed like that: he could have gotten punched, kicked, stabbed, clobbered, etc. The friend had all the opportunities in the world to finish it hard, but he chose a softer options. Depending on the benevolence of others is not a winning strategy. There is no rule in a street fight that says other people can’t knock you out when you’re winning as you do some ground and pound. Case in point:

  • It looks bad. I don’t know what the aftermath of this street fight was, but that body slam was nasty. Sure, it caused a knockout, but when you pause the video on impact, look at the angle his neck is at. Red shirt could be dead or gravely injured. If so, White shirt could go to jail for a long time. Both of them could have avoided this by walking away; they had plenty of opportunity to do so.
Body slam knockout in a street fight

Lots of things wrong with this picture.

All in all, this is a textbook example of both parties making one bad choice after another.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Some New Year’s Resolutions

2014 came and went, it’s now 2015. This is the moment we traditionally make plans and resolutions for the coming year, so I figured I’d share mine with you. Some of them are not new, others are. Some of them you already know of, others perhaps not. Either way, here goes:

  • Get my health back. After years of deteriorating health, I was finally diagnosed correctly and had surgery about three months ago. Since then, I’ve been doing loads of rehab and recently also solo training to fix all the problems. Progress is slow, but steady. The one thing that amazes me is how extensive the changes to my movement patterns have become in the last few years. Now that muscles that had atrophied completely are finally working again, I’m slowly teaching my body to do the most basic things like walking or standing upright correctly. Getting back to optimal physical shape will be my main focus this year.
  • Clean house. Because of the previous, a lot of direct and indirect problems arose in both my personal and professional life. It’ll take some time to get all that fixed, especially in the first few months. Once things are back on track, I’ll have more peace of mind and extra time.
  • Finish the book. Because of my health issues and then surgery/rehab, I didn’t write nearly as much as I wanted. I just didn’t have the energy for it. Now that’s behind me, I want to finish the self-defense tips book as soon as possible. If all goes well, it’ll be done around mid- February.
  • Improve writing productivity. My plan is to each time finish a “big” book, send it out for review and editing and in the mean time write a “small” one. By the time the big one comes back, the small one should be ready for review too and I can alternate working on them. The goal is to clear my head after I finish a manuscript, to help get a fresh look when it comes back to me. If this works out, it should increase my output a lot.
  • Work on my blog more. Writing was hard the last year and as a result, I didn’t publish much here on my blog. That’s going to change. I might not get back to the 2-3 posts per week like I did a few years ago, but once a week should be doable.
  • Shoot more videos. As I get in, better shape, I’ll make more videos again. They’ll probably go to my Youtube channel for the most part but I might put them on social media too. The Youtube ones usually take a lot of editing  and sometimes I really don’t have the time for that. But the social media ones can be done quickly, even though that means less of a finished product. Either way, you get to see more videos.
  • Try new things. I want to try out some new ideas on-line that look like fun. The first one will be a webinar where I do a Q&A session with you all. The second is starting up a podcast, probably a monthly one. I’ve looked into the technical aspects of both and it should be doable to do the webinar soon and the podcast in a month or so.

 

That’s it for the things that have a direct relevance to my on-line activities. Contrary to what some think, I do have an off-line life as well and have goals for that too:

  • Travel. So far, I’ll be in the US in a few months and in France sometime this summer. Mostly when I travel, I am either teaching seminars or private sessions. The seminars aren’t always open to the public, but when they are I’ll let you know. Also, if I have additional time and you want to set something up, I’ll mention that too. Other than that, I plan on doing some traveling to train with my teachers.
  • Visit friends. I’m unfortunate in that most of my friends live across the world from me. I don’t see them nearly as often as I’d like, so some of the traveling will be to see them again. Life is short and spending it with people you love is the best use of your time.
  • Learn more Japanese cuisine. My lovely lady lived in Japan for several years and she has been teaching me to cook, bit by bit. One of my goals this year is to improve my cooking. First and foremost because I enjoy it; Japanese food is by far my favorite cuisine. Second because my kids love it too and it gives me joy to see them dig in with enthusiasm when I put everything on the table. I already achieved that goal today, by the way, as I made onigiri for the first time. Not much of a challenge, I know, but it’s one more recipe I have under my belt now…
  • Write more fiction. I wrote some short stories last year and had a tremendous amount of fun with them. I want to do a lot more of them and then release them as a compilation. After that, I’ll start on my urban fantasy series… Featuring an MMA fighter… And vampires… And lots more…

 

All that together means there’s a lot on my plate, which is fine by me. It’s going to be a fun ride and you’re more than welcome to join me on it here or on my social media.

Top 5 posts of 2014

First of all, happy New Year! May the best of 2014 be the worst of 2015.

Second, I always like year in review programs and articles. It’s fun and often interesting to go over the things we found important, weird, fun or outrageous, once a bit more time has gone by. It can be an exercise in adjusting your perspective by re-evaluating your opinion on those topics. With that in mind, I thought it could be fun to go over the top five posts from 2014.

I selected them simply by looking at the number of views they got, tracked by Google Analytics. I’ll list them here below and add some comments.

 

  1. Street fighting mistakes: being an innocent bystander There is an old saw that states humans are very bad at assessing risks and avoiding danger. I believe it is true though. We smoke when we know it kills us. We eat crap and drink too much when we knows it kills us too. We knowingly do all sorts of things that are self-destructive. The ones I mentioned here are all well documented and only very few people argue that smoking has health benefits. We know better, because we have been informed about this (over and over, for decades). But a lot of people don’t seem to know better when violence is concerned. They simply act stupid. My guess is that it will take a long time before the general population becomes more knowledgeable on what violence is really like and what the true dangers are.
  2. Open hand or closed fist striking, which is best? As most of you who read my blog regularly already know: I hate dogma. The open hand/closed fist debate has been filled with dogma for as long as I can remember, so I put down my thoughts about it. As always, “it depends” is the most accurate answer I can give. Not the answer people want to read, but it is the “truth” as I know it. Doesn’t mean you have to agree with me though. It just means that I take certain factors into account, factors that are usually left out because of dogmatic thinking. If that helps you in your training, then I’m glad it worked for you.
  3. The Idiot’s Guide to Martial Arts for Those Who Don’t Practice Them This post was triggered by an encounter with an idiot who crashed one of my private training sessions. It made me think of all the similar encounters I’ve had in the last thirty years of training and I found myself remembering a bunch of them (didn’t include them all in the blog post though.) On the one hand, this post is about the silliness and stupidity of others you have to deal with as a martial artist. On the other, I wanted to share some of the ways I handle it.
  4. Krav Maga Knife Defense Video Somebody sent me this video and I had to shake my head when I saw it. For all the reasons I explain in the post, it doesn’t seem like a viable technique to me. Which doesn’t mean much, by the way. Lots of people make techniques I think are crap actually work for them in the street. It’s never black and white. That said, the specifics were pretty bad in this case here, so I analyzed it from my perspective. Funny fact: the instructor in the video, or at least somebody claiming to be him, left a comment on this blog post which was basically a challenge. I chose not to publish it, nor to respond. If it was a troll, then ignoring them is always the best option. If it actually was him, then I can only shake my head again and move on.
  5. Are you really an expert? One of the topics that often comes up with me and my friends is the horrors of “internet knowledge”. Meaning, people have gotten into the habit of reading something on the internet and then believing they know everything they need to know about that subject. What’s worse, they’ll then argue with somebody who not only has a degree in it but also works in the field, refusing to acknowledge that somebody else might know more than they do. For some reason, people have become convinced that their opinion is always as valuable as anybody else’s. I vehemently disagree with that. There is also nothing wrong with acknowledging others as smarter and more experienced than you. Refusing to do so pretty much means you have a God-complex, which is always a sad thing to see in an adult. Anyway, this post delves a bit deeper into “internet experts”, where they come from and what some of the problems with them are.

That’s it for the top five posts of 2014. If you liked them, please share them with others who might find them useful, thanks.

My next post will be a “New Year’s resolutions” one. Should go live tomorrow or the day after.

 

Boxer hospitalized after confronting burglars

I just read a story about professional boxer Anthony Crolla. How he got into a fight outside of the ring and it ended badly. All the details aren’t out just yet, so take everything with a grain of salt until more details are released.

What seems to have happened is this:

  • Anthony Crolla noticed burglars climbing over the neighbor’s fence into his yard.
  • He chased them and managed to get a hold of one of them.
  • The other one grabbed a brick (or slab of concrete) and hit him over the head with it.
  • Crolla suffered a broken ankle and fractured skull and was taken to a hospital.

That’s pretty much all we know so far.

I’d like to make two specific points here. Neither one is related to Crolla as an individual. Before I do, take a look at this highlight and keep in mind that Crolla was scheduled for a world-title fight next month.

You can argue many things, but you can’t argue that Crolla is a poorly skilled boxer. He’s a professional, young and in awesome shape, especially given his upcoming title bout. Yet all that wasn’t enough to avoid getting his head bashed in and as a result, he might never fight again. At the very least, that title bout is gone and he’s in for a long recovery.

The first point I want to make is this:

If a professional, world class-level boxer can’t make boxing work in such a situation, why would you think you can pull it off?

You can again argue many things against this statement, that he is a lightweight and maybe the burglars were heavier. That it’s two against one, or some other issue you might want to bring up. If you do, you precisely make my second point: [Read more…]