Road rage death and self-defense

This is an interesting case of road rage and it illustrates one of the reasons why I do my Violence Analysis videos: to share information and insights on how violence happens in real life and what the consequences can be. But most of all, how this applies to self-defense and personal safety. One of my Patrons sent me the video and we talked a bit about it. In particular, how people seem to have less and less an understanding of danger and take stupid risks all the time.
Watch the video first, then read this:

Some thoughts:
  • This incident clearly shows the unpredictable nature of conflict: it starts as a typical shoving match but it ends with a body on the floor. That kind of shoving match happens dozens of times all over the world, every day. But not every one of them ends with somebody losing his life over it, most don’t come even close to that. Because so few of them end in death, it is easy to assume they never will.

[Read more…]

Self-defense, perspectives on it and the nature of learning

One of my students has led an interesting life. Some of the things he’s done:
  • He went jogging on the West Bank and was shot at as a result. He’s not Jewish, but he resembles one a bit through the scope of a sniper rifle.
  • A child soldier, high as a kite on sniffing glue, pointed an AK-47 at him and accused him of being a spy. He then talked his way out if it.
  • African villagers almost slaughtered him and his companion after the companion drove over a goat that belonged to a local (for whom selling its milk was that guy’s only source of income…) He did the right thing to defuse the situaiton and they got invited to the feast where the goat would be shared by all.
  • He got violently ambushed by a gang on a remote road in Asia and got him and his girlfriend out of it and to safety.
  • There’s more, but I’ll leave it at that.
 
Despite all this, he still doubts his self-defense skills.
 
My response during a call earlier today was that a large portion of Westerners would be in therapy for years after just one of those incidents, let alone several.
He doesn’t even think about it anymore.
Self-defense, perspective and learning
There are two points I’d like to make:
  • Self-defense is in many ways a matter of perspective. When faced with coming this close to getting murdered, some people never fully recover after they make it through. Others do so without any lasting consequences. These are two extremes, on opposite ends of the scale of possibilities. There is a lot of middle ground. Where we all fall on that spectrum depends on many factors. The point is that there is more than one truth when it comes to trauma when facing violence, recovery, and PTSD.
  • Violence is a broad topic. There are many aspects of it that apply across the globe and are found in all cultures. But there are also lots of differences and these matter just as much. Those of you who’ve been following me for a while have heard that before
    It then follows that nobody is an expert on violence as a whole. Experiences and training are individual. They don’t necessarily apply across the board. I can’t count the number of times I thought things were a certain way and then, later on, found out I was wrong. Case in point. I assume this will continue to happen. Hopefully, the mistakes will become fewer and with more time in between. Achieving that would be an achievement in its own right, as I’d like to continue learning until I die.

 

Conclusion

Everybody lives a unique life. One that comes with a unique perspective on self-defense, depending on the accumulated sum of those personal experiences. Each of us has an individual truth about self-defense as a result. When your truth conflicts with mine, that doesn’t automatically invalidate either (or both) of them.  The trick is figuring out what you can learn, which aspects you can translate to your own context and what is not applicable at all.

If any of you ever fully figure out that trick, let me know…

 

P.S.: First, many of you have asked so here’s an update. I’m currently writing the last chapter of my Boxing For Self-Defense book. I hope to finish it this week and then the editing and formatting can begin. When I have a release date, I’ll anounce it here and on my social media.

The second most asked question on this: it will be a three volume series of books. There is too much information to cover and cramming it in one book would force me to price it too high for most people. I want my stuff to be afordable and reasonably priced. I don’t know when the other two volumes will be released, given as I still have to write them…

Montie’s Law of Self-Defense

A while ago I posted a video on my Facebook page and gave a short explanation of the dynamics involved. One of the things I mentioned is “Montie’s Law”, which is:

It’s never the other guy’s turn.

This needs some explaining, so here goes.

Montie is a LEO friend of mine, who I interviewed for my podcast a while ago. He’s done different kinds of work in law enforcement and is now involved in counter-terrorism. He is well-trained, experienced, smart and we have a matching sense of humor. As a result, we get along famously and getting together means copious amounts of alcohol are consumed… In short, I would trust him at my back any time.

Back on track: a long time ago, he explained his strategy for fighting and spoke the words I now call Montie’s law.

“It’s never the other guy’s turn. He doesn’t get a turn. It’s always my turn.”

He swarms his opponents with constant attacks and uses overwhelming force to get the job done. If the opponent is lucky, he might get in a first shot, but after that, it’s never his turn again. I liked that a lot and expanded that idea into what I use it for now.

Montie's Law of self defense

Montie’s Law is one of the biggest disconnects between traditional martial arts or combat sports training and real-life attacks: the level of violence doesn’t necessarily get cranked up slowly and gradually. It can go from zero to 100% in a fraction of a second.

That doesn’t always happen, but the possibility for it is always there, which is the biggest issue you need to be aware of.

Look at the video again. As soon as that first punch lands, the victim is groggy and has a hard time standing up. He isn’t knocked out, but – and this is the critical point – he is no longer able to defend against the next attack. When that next attack comes, it doesn’t matter if it is less effective than that first blow because it still does enough damage to lower the capabilities of the victim. This progressively diminishes his ability to stop the aggressor and so each next blow lands as well. The result is a vicious circle the victim can’t get out of.

It’s never his turn…

The moment he starts to go down, he is incapable of doing anything other than taking more damage. A few seconds later, he is unconscious and the stomping begins. All this, from getting hit by that first punch.

 

When I explain this to people, I often get a response of “yeah, yeah, we know.” Then they proceed to train as if this isn’t an issue they need to handle. This in turn leads to unrealistic training or training that depends entirely on being able to avoid getting hit. Or worse, knowing they can get hit but pretending they can take that punishment without consequences. I call this the “Street Fighter mindset.”

Many years ago, there was a video game that became extremely popular, Street Fighter. They still make new versions of it today and there are hundreds of similar games. They have a basic set up:

Street Fighter Self-Defense

  • Two characters fight each other.
  • They both have “health bars” and you decrease the energy in it each time you land an attack on the other character. When his bar becomes empty, you win.
  • Regardless of how full or empty your health bar is, your punches and kicks always have the same speed and power. The same goes for your ability to block attacks and use footwork.

As a simulation of a real fight, it’s not a bad analogy: if you hit somebody long enough, they eventually go down. But it’s the last point that has the disconnect I mentioned above. In the game, getting hit doesn’t change how well you can fight; in real life it does. That is why Montie’s law is so effective: if your opponent never gets a turn, his “health bar” empties out with each successful attack you land. That leaves him less and less able to defend himself against the next one. This continues until he is down and out.

The key point is  that just one successful attack can put you at a disadvantage you can never recover from.

Train with this concept in mind, always.

 

But what about!

Does that mean you can never get out of a bad spot when somebody surprises you and gets the first hit in? No, not at all. Training recovery techniques should be an integral part of your curriculum, similar to failure drills in firearms and other weapons training:

  • What do you do when the gun malfunctions? You practice how to clear it.
  • What do you when you stab with a knife and the opponent evades the attack? You practice following up with recovery techniques or secondary attacks.

At no point should your training involve a mindset of “Well, my awesome technique just missed, so I have to give up and die now.” On the contrary: you always train to survive, to escape, to overcome. However, you also have to acknowledge the realities of violence: if an aggressor gets the first shot in and it’s a good one, the odds of you making it out in one piece drop dramatically. They don’t necessarily go all the way down to zero, but they sure don’t look good. Try your utmost to get out of that pickle, but accept that things are looking mighty bleak for our hero…

That is the negative side to Montie’s Law: if your attacker gets the drop on you, you might never get a turn. In the video, you can see an example of how bad things can get. Just so you know, there is far worse than what happened to that man…

 

How do you train with Montie’s Law?

The positive side of Montie’s Law is this: if you train correctly, you can stack the deck in your favor so it is never the other guy’s turn. There are different ways you can do that:

  • Preemptive attack. The most effective way to end a fight is not being there to begin with. The second most effective way is to attack first. Now most of you will already know this so let me add some nuances I think are important: attack first, making sure your technique lands with sufficient power to knock your opponent out or down, break his balance and structure, injure him, switch his mindset from offense to defense and buy you the time to land your next attack. Or any combination of the above, preferably all of them simultaneously. If you fail to do so, that first hit you land risks merely pissing him off. This forces you to face an opponent who is now hellbent on (at best) beating you up. Attacking first isn’t enough; you need to make it count too.
  • Overwhelming, continuous attack. This concept is illustrated well in the video I mentioned in the beginning. Obviously, I don’t justify this attacker’s actions. I only use them as an example of how overwhelming, continuous attack is an effective strategy and how it can be used in real life. Here’s how he applied it:

After landing that first sucker punch, he throws a barrage of wild punches that overwhelm his victim. In the space of a few seconds, he throws about twenty non-stop punches. It doesn’t look like many of them land cleanly, but that is not important at that point. His victim keeps on receiving hard percussive impacts, each one shaking up his already scrambled brain a bit more. The punches also drive him to the ground, where he is both unable to escape or defend himself effectively and stomping is the logical and instinctive next step for the attacker.

  • Tactical progression. Every martial art and combat sport uses this concept. Some do so only in a limited way, others dig extremely deep into this concept. I will stick to self-defense as this is the topic at hand but know that the subject is much broader than this.

In short: each technique sets up the next one. Like a good pool player sinks one ball and lines up the next one with the same shot, each move you make sets up your next technique. When used correctly, each subsequent move places your opponent in an even worse position, hurts him some more (or in a different way), takes away his weapons and pushes him closer to defeat (whatever “defeat” may be…).

This can be as simple as throwing a quick eye jab with the lead arm to line up a power punch with the rear arm. Or it can be as complex as the Kuntao I learned from my late teacher Bob Orlando. For an example of that, look at this video of him slapping me around. If you slow it down, you can see that each movement not only sets up the next one, but it also uses instinctive reactions his attacks trigger: the slap to the groin tends to make people’s heads come down. The following upward strike then comes in at a head-on collision and raises the head again. It also places Bob’s right arm in the perfect position to swing my arm through, which in turn whips my head forward into his incoming elbow strike. And so on, until I am down and out.

For the record, this is Bob going slow and stopping long enough at each point so the camera picks it all up. He was more than capable of going faster, hitting harder and chaining it all together into a fluid combination.

The most effective martial arts and combat systems I know combine all these elements, simply because they yield consistent results. Which brings me to another nuance I need to add.

 

In a comment to my original posting of this video, Marc wrote the following:

I think that the other guy never gets a turn problematic as it can lead to excessive force. If for instance, a smaller female was being pestered by a guy in a secluded location and was breaking the boundaries that were being set by the female then I would definitely give her the benefit of the doubt in such circumstances such as in she reported it and the guy was found unconscious or badly injured where she said she was feeling unsafe due to what I described and due to a probable size and weight difference.

However if two guys going at it near a bar and one is beaten to a pulp and no weapons are involved then the victor would in my mind be under suspicion of using excessive force.

The idea of using minimum force necessary to deal with a situation for self defence does not seem compatible with the other guy never gets a turn as for me self defence is to resolve a situation not dish out a revenge beating.

I’m going to paraphrase my response to him here:

The one does not exclude the other. Simply put: you hit until there is no longer a reason to hit him. You stop when it’s time to stop and train for that.

 

When is it time to stop?

When there is no longer a threat or when you can safely exit, which is often the same thing.

How many times you hit him before that happens is irrelevant in that regard; hit him until he is no longer a threat. If it’s only once, that would be awesome, but you already have all your ducks in a row should you need to follow-up. Montie’s law means you are always positioned in such a way that you can deal out that second, third, fourth, etc. technique if necessary. You don’t have to rearrange your weapons, reposition yourself, etc. to do so; all that was already taken care of with each previous attack.
So minimum force is the default, but you train to have plan B, C, D and so on ready to go. Montie’s Law means the other guy never gets another shot at you. That is your goal and your tactics should take this into account.

 

Conclusion

Implementing Montie’s law in your training takes some time and effort. It’s a continuous process instead of a one-time goal. Most of all, it’s a mindset: you train for it and expect attackers to use it against you as well.

 

This article was originally published in my Patreon Newsletter of July 2017. If you would like to receive it too, join me here at Orange Belt level or above.

 

Basic Self-Defense Instructional Video

I just released my new instructional video, Basic Self-Defense 1: Controlling Techniques. I explained the system in episode 23 of the podcast and gave lots of details there. The first part of the curriculum is now available.

Check it out:

I’ve been teaching it for over 20 years now and it started as a collaboration between me and another instructor. After a while, we both developed our own versions and went our separate ways. The best way to view it is as a multitool:

It works for the average person in the average violent situation.

The system has two goals:

  • Give you functional self-defense techniques as quickly as possible so you can handle the most common attacks.
  • Give you the best bang for the buck when it comes to the time needed to train the techniques and how soon you can use them effectively.

There are also two assumptions in it:

  1.  You have no prior training so we start from scratch. That means covering lots of basic information. If you do have prior training, Basic Self Defense isn’t meant to replace it; it’s only an addition to it.
  2. There are three common self-defense situations and the system is versatile enough to handle them all.

Because of these two goals and assumptions, there is a specific training method that is powerful and yields results quickly:

  • Only a limited number of movements and techniques. These have to be versatile and recycled depending on context.
  • Rapid ingraining due to the repetition of these same movements and techniques in different situations.
  • Technical progressions. Each movement is used as a stepping stone to the next one.

I’ve had great results with this method throughout the years and am confident you’ll find it practical and effective too. However, you have to follow the progression. When people skip ahead, they run into trouble making the technique work in certain situations. Don’t do that. Follow the program and it will guide you through it.

For this video, I cover a handful of specific attacks that are common in a self-defense situation. This speeds up the learning process and ingrains the key principles and movements much faster. In later videos, I will show other attacks and how to handle them.

Speaking of which, there is a full curriculum and this is only the first module that lays the foundation of the system and focuses on controlling techniques. The other modules teach techniques to neutralize the attacker, variations and how to personalize the system to your specific needs.

I’ll publish those in the coming months.

To launch the video, I’m offering a special discount of 25% off the full price if you buy it before September 1st, 2018.

Just go here and use promo-code 25OFF on checkout.