The Dallas police shooting and what the future holds

What happened in Dallas is not the first time LEOs were targeted and certainly not the last. But it is one of the most impressive incidents in the way it was apparently planned and then executed so effectively. IMHO, Dallas will be later seen as a tipping point for many changes, in society and law enforcement as well, that will only become apparent later on. These changes will not be positive. In many ways, the escalation towards a breakdown of the system is already picking up speed. Two points I want to highlight about this:

 

1) Ignorant opinions and worldwide broadcasting at everybody’s fingertips.

Before even the facts are in, Twitter, Facebook and the rest of the internet explode with everybody having an opinion on what happened in Dallas, regardless of it being based on facts or relevant experience/knowledge. This goes viral and both misinformation and disinformation spreads like wildfire. The problem is that people act upon this mis(dis)information. When they do so in sufficient numbers, you get protests that get out of control and riots. A society cannot function when there is constant and increasing civil unrest and riots. There will be a reaction from the authorities. If that us deemed lacking by the majority of people who aren’t activists and don’t riot, but are on the receiving end of the property and personal damage of such actions, things will get interesting. IOW, there will be a response, sooner or later.
The second part of this point is that people no longer recognize how strong the influence of mass-media is. E.g.: The Nazi’s (and eventually the Allies) understood that well, as perhaps one of the first in history. It’s worth studying their propaganda machine and comparing it to what you see nowadays from activists.
Most of all, go read reactions to Dallas on social media. There is an impressive number of “Fuck the pigs” and “they got it coming” and “now whites know how it feels.” No matter how you slice it, that’s hate speech and it is not innocent or without consequence.
E.g.: from a discussion I had with Marc MacYoung
 
Worth watching, in the light of that Antifa video. This is where it leads to.
The key segments are visiting the church, the prisoners and then the dinner party at the end. The talk of reconciliation goes smoothly until the woman starts voicing her opinion. Notice how the men cautiously respond then.
The other point is the statement that the people aren’t ready for democracy. That a dictator is better for the current situation…
BTW, I was in the Army then and vividly remembered when our commando troopers were slaughtered and mutilated. General Dallaire knew full well what was going on. He let it happen. He refused to send help. This still isn’t forgotten over here.
 
Now look up Radio Mille Collines… 
This was about 25 years ago, before the internet and social media: media used effectively to spread mis- and disinformation to whip an entire population into a frenzy.
100 days later, at least 500.00 people were slaughtered
That’s the power of media manipulation.
Now consider that radio is a very old and (by today’s standards) ineffective medium. The internet and in particular social media are so much more effective, there is no comparison…
Does this mean we need to abolish free speech? No.
It means speech is not necessarily innocent or without consequence. If you think writing “kill the police!” is justified, understand that you’re contributing to an escalation that leads to only one thing: bloodshed and lots of it.
Which leads me to the next point…
 

2) Broken societies suck for everybody.

In 1993, during the Russian Constitutional Crisis, I was in Moscow for a competition. By that time, the Soviet system had already been broken for a while and the consequences were felt by the population. Some experiences from that trip:
  • We stayed at what was once a fancy hotel. When I went to the bathroom and flipped on the light, dozens of cockroaches ran for cover.
  • Breakfast at the hotel was a green egg, bread that had bite marks from small animals in it and portions were very small. I saw cats walking in and out of the kitchen more than once.
  • The hotel staff had made it very clear that we shouldn’t go out at night, because we would not return alive.
  • On our daily bus ride to the stadium, each time I saw a crowd of several hundred people gathered at an open space. When I asked our translator what was going on, this was his explanation:
It’s a trading fair. You show up with whatever you can find and spare (a plastic bag, half a shoe, a piece of metal, etc.) and try to trade up until you have something you need, can use or can actually sell.
This is one example of what you can experience in a broken society: food scarcity, only basic medical services, limited or no public services and much more.
There was no civil war in Russia at that time. But there were many, many problems that turned daily life into a struggle for survival the likes recent generations in Western democracies have no clue about. The Rwandan massacre is at the other end of that scale: attempting to slaughter an entire ethnic group.
My point is that the dynamics at work to create such events are now so much easier to manipulate than ever before in human history.
Yet very few activists seem to consider the potentially negative consequences of their actions.
In those that do, I’ve seen an alarming rise of “The means justify the end” rhetoric. What they fail to understand, having never seen the consequences of a breakdown in society, is how it affects not just the “enemy”, but everybody else too. That includes innocent people and their own family and friends.
Because there will be a reaction.
In the US, it will be most likely two-part:
– The government will respond. It cannot let instability go on for too long or it loses legitimacy and power. Read this for an example of what happened not too long after I left Moscow, when the government, civilians and the military clashed… For a fictional example, I highly recommend The Siege. When the terrorist attacks here in Brussels happened, in part, this became a realty for us. Like Bruce Willis says in the movie: the military is not a scalpel, it’s an axe.
– Non-activist citizens will respond. Do a count of all the riots that happened in the last five years in the US. Then try to do an estimate of the property damage that resulted from that, bystanders getting injured, medical bills following, etc. One riot influences the lives of hundreds of people who have nothing to do with it. Multiply that number by the amount of riots…
In a difficult economy, imagine the consequences for all those people who were already having difficulty making ends meet. They are pissed off and increasingly ready to take action to defend themselves, their property and way of life. Though they often don’t publicly state their intentions, they are actively preparing to meet violence with violence by getting weapons, organizing, stocking up on supplies, etc. This is no longer limited to the prepper community, it has spread widely into the civilian population.
That is just one example. There are many, many more.
Actions have consequences. Whether you like it or not.

The Dallas police shooting and what the future holds

Conclusion

This article isn’t about police brutality, racism, slavery or anything else. Those are not the issues to bring up in this particular discussion. In essence, I’m writing about cause and effect. You can trace it back to slavery or European history if you want, that’s still not the point.
The point is:
What do we do now?
There is a clear path to a breakdown of society. Some people, with or without realizing it, are choosing to take it.
I would suggest choosing another path and acting accordingly.
Or you might one day find yourself very much in need of self-defense skills that go way beyond anything you have considered ever before.

How not to train the leg kick

I’m busy working on the leg kick book and came across this video below. It features an unknown genius who tries to train the leg kick on a hard object that has no ability to move upon impact. You can imagine the rest…

Let’s just say this isn’t the smartest thing to do…

I think we can safely say Jean-Claude Van Damme is to blame for this thing still going on. For those of you who didn’t see the movie, here’s the relevant scene:

The movie had a bunch more nonsense that no true muay Thai fighter would ever do, but the tree kicking scene spoke to the imagination of youngsters all over the world and started leading a life of its own. To be clear, there is no upside to train the leg kick this way, none at all.

You can still find videos of Thai’s kicking banana trees, but mostly, this is a training relic from the past. Nowadays, virtually all gyms use heavy bags, which are both more practical and versatile to train the leg kick on.

The worst offender I’ve seen was in this video here in which a fighter (or trainer, I don’t remember) tries to show off hitting a wooden pole:

Please don’t do that. Ever.

The only thing this does is damage joints, bones and ligaments in the long run. He mitigates some of it by rolling his arms and legs to take the brunt of the impact on the muscle as opposed to the bone, but his shoulders, hips and knees still take a beating.

When I started training some 30 years ago, I did a lot of this kind of stuff. My teacher was hardcore into body conditioning and we’d hit and kick wooden poles like this or concrete pillars. Let me put it this way: osteoarthritis sucks and this guy is heading straight towards it. If he’s unlucky, it will be there before he hits 40, with an ever decreasing quality of daily life from then on out.

If you want to train the leg kick effectively in a safe manner: kick the heavy bag and the kicking shield. Do so regularly and build up the power of the kick gradually. For most people, that is the safest way to condition the shins while you also develop good technique.

how not to train the leg kick

Damaging your shins, not a good idea..

 

Just a quick update on my leg kick book, this is the current chapter list:

Introduction.

Chapter 1: Fundamental principles.

Chapter 2: The weapon.

Chapter 3: The lead arm.

Chapter 4: The rear arm.

Chapter 5: The hips.

Chapter 6: The torso.

Chapter 7: The legs.

Chapter 8: Variations.

Chapter 9: Footwork.

Chapter 10: Conditioning.

Chapter 11: Drills.

Chapter 12: Combinations.

Chapter 13: How to defend against the leg kick.

Chapter 14: Basic tactics.

Chapter 15: Advanced strategies.

Chapter 16: Case studies.

Chapter 17: Troubleshooting your leg kick.

I have seven chapters left to finish, with 4 of those already half-written. Some chapters might still get lumped together or get deleted depending on how things go. Writing a book can be a bit weird like that sometimes. Once that’s done, I can shoot the pictures and if possible do some videos too, as a bonus.

If you want to be notified for the release, sign up for my notification list here. Don’t forget to click the link in the confirmation mail you’ll receive right after signing up, or you won’t be on the list.

 

How to learn self-defense from video footage

With cellphones and cameras so prevalent nowadays, a large number of altercations and fights are captured on video. This footage is often shared online, it goes viral and everybody and their brother have an opinion on it. That’s fine, of course, but so what? Having an opinion isn’t difficult and not particularly useful. A more interesting approach is to look for ways you can learn from that footage and improve your self-defense skills. I mentioned this in passing in my previous webcast, but wanted to expand on it a bit more, hence this article.

Learning, by definition, means you search for information and knowledge you don’t currently have. That means keeping an open mind and is in direct conflict with holding on to your opinion and only looking for information to confirm it. The first step of the learning process is to start with the right mindset:

Check your bias before you begin.

We all have a bias, one way or the other. We all have filters the information in the video has to pass through. Be cognizant of them and try to remain objective. Focus on learning, not on confirming your moral or political beliefs, which technique you think is perfect for self-defense and which one sucks, etc. Instead, look at the elements as they present themselves as opposed to how you would want them to be. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.

This can be hard, as we live in an age where having an opinion is valued more than having an informed opinion. But it can be done if your desire to make progress in your training is bigger than your ego. In this article, I’ll give you some tools to use for that goal. View them as filters through which you pass the information in the video, so you can distill information out of it.

Let’s start with the first one, context.

Learn self-defense from video footage

Context

Context means the circumstances surrounding the event, the facts and factors that influence how it happened and how it is perceived. Think of when you say “you took my words out of context” when somebody distorts your words to fit their agenda. The exact same thing applies when you watch footage of a fight.

There is always a context, so your first step is:

Try to figure out what it is.

Some questions to ask:

  • What happened beforehand?
  • What happened afterwards?
  • Who else was involved?
  • Where did it happen?
  • Who made this video?
  • Etc.

Sometimes you can’t find out all those things. Be cautious then and assume your conclusions will be of limited accuracy, at best. When I review such footage, I generally write the caveat “I wasn’t there and neither were you.” That’s a reminder that we often only have limited or even faulty information to work with.  Only an idiot claims his conclusions are absolute truth when working with information he isn’t 100% sure about…

Another contextual issue is one of presentation.

In today’s world of click-bait articles and videos, presentation is often used to create a narrative or promote an agenda. This makes it harder to learn something because the presentation distorts the facts and sets you up to come to specific conclusions. Some points on this:

  • Is the video edited or not? Creative editing can easily force you to come to a conclusion that is 100% false.
  • Disregard the title of the video and the text written along with it. Look at the video first  and only then read additional information. That way it can’t influence you beforehand.
  • Disregard opinions of and comments by others. Make up your own mind before letting somebody else do it for you.
  • Disregard commentary by bystanders and others in the footage. They might also be biased and as you lack context for them as well, look only at the facts as you see them.
  • Now, watch the video, think it through and form a preliminary opinion.
  • Then and only then, look at all that information you previously ignored to check for elements you might have missed.

This sounds like a lot of work, but it isn’t. It’s mostly tuning out those other sources first and only then allowing them back in. If you think I’m exaggerating, read this and remember how the narrative that Zimmerman was a racist gun-toting lunatic was established so quickly early on. If I recall correctly, NBC settled the lawsuit out of court…

Also read this and watch both videos in order. Then go read the comments on my blog and on Youtube. Notice how many people fail to follow the instructions to get more context and how many argue about everything except the point I was making. If you want to learn self-defense, setting your ego aside is a good first step…

 

Legal

The title of this article is “How to learn self-defense from video footage.” Self-defense is not the same thing as fighting, street-fighting, dueling or beating somebody up. Self-defense is defined by the laws of your country and state. These can and will vary wildly. What is valid in San Francisco, California might not be so in Brussels, Belgium. The only way to know what the laws say where you are is to study them. [Read more…]

Webcast 001: Introduction and fundamental concepts

As promised a while ago, here’s the first webcast. You can watch it here below and I added some resources to the content guide underneath.

Some quick info about this:

  • Making this video takes me less time than writing down everything I said in it. As Ive been pretty busy lately, this is an alternative to writing for getting information out and answering questions.
  • I plan to make each episode 15-30min. so you can easily view it or listen to it during a commute or a lunch break.
  • I’ll do one or two webcasts each month.Topics will be whatever I have on my mind at the moment, interviews with interesting guests, other stuff.
  • If you want to ask me something for the Q&A part, leave a comment here below. No guarantees, but I’ll consider it.

That said, here’s the webcast:

Content guide:

1. Introduction

Some information about me, my background, martial arts and self-defense training, my professional background and so on.

Hong Kong Brawl

Loren .W. Christensen books and videos

Dan Docherty books

 

2. Fundamental concepts. 7min.

There are two fundamental concepts that influence my training, teaching and writing about martial arts and self-defense.

Marc MacYoung’s email list

Marc MacYoung books

Writing Excuses podcast

Brandon Sanderson books

Dan Wells books

Howard Tayler

Learn from the masters

 

3. Q & A. 24min, 55sec.

Question from Tom Colbert about the differences between martial arts, self-defense and combat sports.

From the Octagon to the street

Ground fighting against a knife attack

Boxing for self-defense

 

4. Get in touch. 28min, 45sec.

New book/video email notification list

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

 

Self-Defense seminar in The Netherlands

If you haven’t heard already, next weekend, May 21-22, I’m doing a two-day self-defense seminar in The Netherlands. The location is Assendelft, which is just outside of Amsterdam. There’s only a limited number of available spots, so it’s best to book now instead of wait. Go to this website to claim your spot.

Some of the topics we’re going to cover:

  • Basic Self-Defense techniques
  • Flinch/cover to control/striking
  • 3 timings: ambush/sucker punch, sudden attack, advance warning.
  • Hard vs. soft: control vs. finishing techniques
  • Drills: Jack in the box, Push/pull, Pad striking drill, Wall drill, Frankenstein, etc.
  • Case studies using video footage or real incidents: Ambush, Sucker punch, Escalation.
  • Scenario training: Walk-aways, Boundary setting, Pre-emptive strike, Environmental tactics.
  • Much more…

My schedule is pretty packed for the coming months, so this is probably the only seminar I’ll do for a while. If you want to attend, don’t delay and reserve your spot.