Friday, December 10, 2010

Some Wheels Don’t Need Reinventing

I define marital arts as “an intelligent use of violence and injury as a tool for survival”.

Today a friend of mine came and saw a few minutes of an advanced martial arts/self-defense class I was teaching. He commented afterward that what he saw wasn’t martial arts; it was just people “stomping each other into the ground.”

I responded by saying, “Damn right!”

The thing is that if you are attacked by someone it will be with real violence, not a Hollywood or Disney version. Real violence isn’t pretty and it sure as hell isn’t fair or nice. Real violence is about stomping people into the ground and being the one that walks away. Maybe that’s not moral or “right” but that simply is the case of the matter, and to tell my clients other than that is to do them a dangerous, and potentially lethal, disservice.

Originally martial arts were not pretty or nice, they were solely about combat and stomping people into the ground so you could win wars and/or survive an attack by both animals and humans. It was in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when the west influenced and changed the orient’s culture, political structure, and economy to where the martial arts either had to adapt and charge or fade away as a major part of their culture. With a strong government and lots of guns martial arts just weren’t considered necessary by most people anymore. So, they changed them, repackaged them, and sold them differently. They moved from being methods of stomping people into the ground to a method of (first) spirituality and (later) exercise and health.

While the martial arts have changed and added principles of Buddhism, Taoism, and various oriental cultures, violence itself has remained unchanged.

The reason why most people today don’t respect the martial arts, the reason why people smirk when they hear that someone has a black belt, is that the martial arts have gotten away from the idea of stomping people into the ground and therefore they’ve gotten away from the reality of violence. For this the marital arts have suffered and become far less effective.

The martial arts have tried to pretty themselves up a lot over the last 150 years in order to be more socially acceptable in more peaceful times but when someone is actually trying to seriously injure or kill you the only thing that will reliably save your life is to be offensive and stomp them into the ground.

It’s not pretty but martial arts never used to be. Old Chinese Kung Fu masters used to say, “If is pretty, it isn’t real Kung Fu”. I say, “If it isn’t about injuring people and stomping them into the ground then it won’t prepare you to actually defend yourself from someone who is actually trying to kill you.”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How To Hit Someone Before They Can Move

By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved

I went through several titles for this article before I settled on this one. My original title was “How To Manipulate The Way The Eyes Detect Movement And The Way The Brain Processes That Movement So You Can Appear Incredibly Fast And Take People By Surprise”, but that title, while perfectly descriptive of this article, was too long.

What I’m going to cover in this article is four ways that you can use the body’s processes against it so you can strike or grab someone before they can react or counter you. If you plan on sucker punching someone in the near future, or don’t want to get sucker punched, than this article is right up your alley.

Method Number One: Attack at an upward 45 degree angle. The field of vision your eyes have is actually limited by your cheek bones and nose. If you’re standing next to someone with your hands by your side than all you have to do is bring your strike upwards at a 45 degree angle to the groin, torso, or head and you will actually come up under their field of vision and they will not be able to see your strike.

Granted you could give your strike away by telegraphing it with a sudden change in your glare, facial expression, drop of your chin, or sudden movement of your shoulders.

Method Number Two: Don’t break your silhouette. The main way that your eye detects movement is by picking up a change in the amount of light or the shape of the light surrounding an object. For example, if your arm is hanging by your side and held a little ways from your body than I will be able to see light all the way around your arm. If you move your arm my eyes will immediately detect the change in the amount of light surrounding your arm or the shape of the light surrounding your arm. The more distance between your arm and your body the more light there is between them and the bigger signal I get when either of them move.

However, if you bring your arms into your body where your arms are entirely within the silhouette of your body there is no big backlight around the arm to give away the movement. If you put an arm entirely within the silhouette of your body and then strike straight in so that at no time does the arm come outside of the silhouette it will be extremely hard for my eyes to detect it and relay the message quick enough for me to do anything about. This is also great for disarming guns.

Another reason why this works so well is that it has you striking straight in and not moving your arm in a circular movement towards the target. To be extremely simplistic, the eyes have two main mechanisms: the “Peripheral Vision Mechanism” (PVM) and the “Focus Vision Mechanism” (FVM). The PVM (peripheral vision) is used to detect movement and judge speed while the FVM (where you’re focusing your vision) is used solely to identify objects. The FVM is not meant to detect movement or judge the speed at which an object is traveling and when it is used for this function it results in rapid tiring of the eyes, such as being hypnotized by a person having you follow a swinging watch.

When you throw that punch straight in the person is going to be using the FVM and they will have a hard time detecting the movement and then judging the speed at which your fist is traveling. This is the same reason people get hit by trains. Trains are large and compact (they basically move within their own silhouette) and they move straight towards you so your FVM thinks they are moving far slower than they are.

Method Number Three: Moving in unbroken rhythm. This is one of Bruce Lee’s favorite ways to get over on people. The way it works is that if you are still than any movement you make appears dramatic by the eye and is immediately pick up. However, if you are moving than your current movement can conceal the movement of your attack.

Hear is how it works: pick your target and how you are going to hit it and then innocently move that limb back and forth in a gesturing manner between your body and the target. Do this a few times so that the person gets used to this gesture and sees it as harmless, then when your limb hits the portion of the gesture where it moves towards the target go in and strike with that limb.

For example, let’s say someone is trying to intimidate me and get in my face. I put my hands up with my palms out in a submissive manner and try to calm them down. If I feel that I need to physically defend myself, and the target I choose is the throat, than I can, in a very relaxed and non threatening manner, bring both my hands in towards my body than back towards him in a non-threatening and submissive manner. This should not look like robotic pumping, rather move each hand in a small circle towards them and then towards me as I talk; it is important that this come across as an innocent hand gesture that fits in naturally during the conversation. Finally, when my hands finish their normal gesture towards me and go back towards them I continue the gesture forwards and turn it into a strike that they never saw coming.

Method Number Four: Move in a natural and relaxed manner. You PVM is designed to detect all movement but it is designed to give movements made in a fast jerky manner its attention first. For example, if you’re a hunter and you’re walking through the woods looking for dinner you’re going to see a lot of movement; you’ll see thousands of leaves blowing in the wind in all types of patterns and you’ll see trees moving back and forth in the wind. There will be movement all around you but the movement is all slow, relaxed, and natural. Suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you see a deer dart out from behind a tree and start running. Amongst all that movement your eyes gave its full attention to the fast jerky movement because it wasn’t natural.

The same is true in a violent situation. If you move in a fast jerky manner your attacker will pick it up right away and act on it. However, if you move in a slow, relaxed, and unexcited manner as if your movement didn’t matter than he’ll have a very hard time acting on that movement.

The late David Carradine was a master of this. Watch anything he did martial arts wise later on in his career. I especially liked both “Kung Fu Killer” and “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues”. The latter was very hokey and often hard to watch but his movement during fight scenes was masterful. When he threw a punch or kick his entire body was relaxed and the movement seemed effortless.

While shooting a fight scene for “Kill Bill”, Michael Jai White commented that fighting with David Carradine was strange because it seemed that he moved so slow but he was always right there with him and sometimes on top of him. It wasn’t that he was slow, rather it was that because he moved in such a relaxed manner than Michael’s eyes saw his movement but didn’t always pick it up as offensive so they paid little attention to it. In a violent situation if you move in a relaxed manner towards your attacker they will often see it but classify it as non-offensive and pay little attention to it.

To get this type of movement down you need to pay attention to the feel. Right now, without any thought…scratch your nose. Now, scratch you head. Now, look at your watch. Pay attention to how these movements felt. They were relaxed, effortless, and perfectly natural. Identity how these simple, often unconscious, movements feel and try to make all your movements feel like them. With much practice people will think that you’re fast as hell, but it won’t necessarily be because you’re faster, it will be because you’re smarter.

Note: to see the fight scene from “Kill Bill” which, after getting a lot of coverage in martial arts magazines, was cut from the movie go to:

Using Wasp Spray For Personal Defense

By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved

One of the latest fads to hit the martial arts/personal protection world is using wasp spray instead of pepper spray for personal defense. The reasoning is that wasp spray is cheaper, more easily available, just as effective, and can be sprayed up to 20 ft which allows it to be deployed at a safer distance than pepper spray.

The truth is that wasp spray should only be used as a personal protection weapon as a last resort. Yes, wasp spray is generally cheaper and more easily available to most people than pepper spray but it is not as effective and that fact that it can spray a longer distance is mute because most attacks happen within 5 feet.

Pepper spray inflames the tissues of the face while wasp spray is a poison designed to kill insects. If you get this poison is a person’s mouth or eyes it could prove permanently disabling or even fatal. While pepper spray is a non-lethal self defense weapon, wasp spray, being a poison, could be considered a deadly weapon if you use it against someone or are found carrying it.

Most states have strict laws regulating what a person can carry for their personal protection. In Michigan, where I live, a person can carry pepper spray as long as it contains 2% or less of the active ingredient oleoresin capsicum (OC). Carrying a different spray for self defense would be against the law.

Not only that, most products carry a label that states: "It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling." So carrying it for personal defense could get you charged with a federal crime not to mention using it for self defense. Granted, if you are attacked in your home and the only thing you have in your reach to use as a weapon is wasp spray than you should use it and the law would be out of their mind to prosecute you (unless you live in England where people have little to no right to their own defense).

In short forget about using wasp spray and carry pepper spray which is safe, proven effective (as long as it is actually pepper spray with the active ingredient being “OC” or “red pepper” and NOT mace), and legal.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Michigan Self Defense Law

By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: This paper was written to inform people about Michigan self defense law as it stands at the time of this writing, August 31, 2010. It covers the law that pertains to the State of Michigan and not any other state.

It is for educational purposes and should not constitute legal advice. If you’re in any situation where legal advice becomes necessary you should consult an attorney.

The Current Self Defense Law in Michigan as of August 31, 2010

In July of 2006, Governor Jennifer Granholm signed into law the “Self Defense Act”. This act became state law in October of 2007.

What this law states is that people are allowed to use non-lethal force and/or lethal force against another person if they reasonably believe they face imminent great bodily harm, sexual assault, or death.

This law gives people in the state of Michigan to right to use non-lethal force and/or lethal force both in their homes and anywhere else in the state that they have the legal right to be.

The current law removes a “duty to retreat”. A “duty to retreat” means that if a person faces a violent situation they have a legal duty to retreat and remove themselves from the situation or they could be charged with a crime. With this “duty to retreat” no longer in effect in the State of Michigan, citizens may use force to defend themselves or others instead of being expected to retreat from the threat.

The legislation not only protects people from criminal charges but from civil lawsuits also. For example, if you believe you are facing imminent bodily harm and break the aggressor’s arm, you cannot be charged criminally for your actions and the aggressor, or the aggressor’s family, cannot sue you in civil court for damages.

This also includes bystanders who may have gotten injured in the process. For example, if you face imminent danger and you pull a gun and shoot your attacker and one of those bullets misses and hits an innocent bystander that is walking down the street; that innocent bystander, nor their family, can sue you civilly for damages.

Additionally, if you do use force in defending yourself and it is ruled that you were in compliance with Michigan Self Defense Law and you do get sued in civil court by your attacker, their family, or an innocent bystander who was injured in the incident the court is REQUIRED to award you payment of your attorney and court fees. The rational is that anyone who acts in self defense should not be have to spend time and money to go to court to justify their actions in protecting themselves and others.

The law also creates a "rebuttable presumption" which is a legal advantage that assumes, unless there's strong proof to the otherwise, that people honestly and reasonably believe they face death, rape or great bodily harm. What this means is that if you use force to defend yourself the court has to assume from the start that you had a justifiable and reasonable belief that you faced bodily harm or death. This assumption can be refuted by evidence, but the court is required to start with this assumption.

The Self Defense Act, and the “rebuttable presumption”, will not automatically apply in these instances:

1.) Domestic violence situations. Any time one person uses force against someone they have a prior relationship with (spouse, child, friend, co-worker, neighbor, etc.) they will not automatically get protection under this law until an investigation has been completed. This is to protect one spouse from using force against the other, or someone committing murder, and then trying to pass their crime off as self defense.

2.) Disputes involving the police. If a police officer is engaged in carrying out their lawful duty and you use force against them you cannot automatically get protection under this law. It is assumed that a police officer, as long as they are not outright breaking the law, is upholding the law in whatever interaction they have with you during the incident when you used force against them.

3.) If you are committing a crime. If you are in the middle of robbing a bank and one of the tellers tries to wrestle the gun away from you and you shoot him, you will not be given protection under this law. This law assumes that the incident in which you used force began with you being a law abiding citizen, and if you are not being a law abiding citizen when the force is used then you will most likely give up protection under this law.

Was using force justified?

The litmus test for determining when the use of deadly force is justified is whether a person "honestly and reasonably" believed he was in danger of imminent death or serious bodily harm. Nevertheless, deadly force is not permissible without a showing that the defendant had done "all which is reasonably in his power to avoid the necessity of extreme resistance, by retreating where retreat is safe".
What this means is that you are in a situation where the occurrence of violence was reasonably foreseeable and you had the ability to remove yourself before the violence began and you CHOSE not to then you may not receive protection under this law.

For example, if you are in an argument with someone and it is turning heated and you walk over to them to confront them and then you have to use force to defend yourself, you may not receive protection under this law. If you are in room where a fight breaks out and you CHOSE to stay in that room and you ended up having to use force against someone then you may not receive protection under this law because you having to use force was foreseeable and you chose to stay.

In both above examples I put the word “CHOSE” in capital letters because a chose is assumed. If you can provide evidence that you had no other reasonable alternative but to walk over and confront the person you were arguing with (maybe you were forced to at gunpoint) or that you were not reasonably able to leave the room where the fight was (maybe you tried to but the fight itself was blocking the exit) then you may be able to receive protection under this law.

There are three situations where it is assumed that you cannot remove yourself from the situation before the violence began.

1) If you are suddenly, fiercely, and violently attacked. In other words, if you are minding your own business and someone comes up to you and just attacks you.

2) If you believe the attacker is about to use a deadly weapon.

3) If you are assaulted in your own dwelling (home).

Excerpt from the self defense bill

This is an excerpt from the bill itself so you can clearly see the language.

"Michigan law regarding a person's right to use deadly force in self-defense is not expressed in statute, but is embodied in the common law as interpreted by case law.

According to a 2002 Michigan Supreme Court case (People v Riddle, 467 Mich 116), a person has the right to use deadly force in self-defense if he or she honestly and reasonably believes that using such force is necessary because he or she is in danger of imminent death or great bodily harm. Generally, a person acting in self-defense has a duty to retreat from the attack if he or she can do so safely, but retreat is never required in the person's own home, nor is retreat required in the case of a sudden and fierce violent attack or if the person honestly and reasonably believes that the attacker is about to use a deadly weapon. Some people believe that the right to defend against an attack, and the circumstances under which force is justified in self-defense or the defense of others, should be codified and that a person defending himself, herself, or another should not have to retreat when he or she is anywhere he or she has a legal right to be."

Illegal weapons

In Michigan:

(1) A person shall not manufacture, sell, offer for sale, or possess any of the following:

(a) A machine gun or firearm that shoots or is designed to shoot automatically more than 1 shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.

(b) A muffler or silencer.

(c) A bomb or bombshell.

(d) A blackjack, slungshot, billy, metallic knuckles, sand club, sand bag, or bludgeon.

(e) A device, weapon, cartridge, container, or contrivance designed to render a person temporarily or permanently disabled by the ejection, release, or emission of a gas or other substance.

(2) A person who violates subsection (1) is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or a fine of not more than $2,500.00, or both.

Being held to a higher standard

The question frequently arises that if a person is trained in self-defense techniques or martial arts if they will be held to a higher standard by the court since they are “trained”.

While even some “experts” will say that anyone who has martial arts, military, or law enforcement training will be held to a higher standard than the average citizen if they use force this simply isn’t true.

Firstly, under the Michigan Self Defense Act training isn’t taken into consideration when determining if the level of force used was reasonable, only the circumstances of the incident are.

While it is true that members of the military or law enforcement community are held to a higher standard it is because they have an obligation to use force in the defense of the public instead of retreat. Since they have the duty to use force, their use of force is looked at more closely.

“The ‘higher standard’ [applied to members of the military and law enforcement] is meant to keep that grant of power in check. Civilians are not obligated to use force but the level of force used is guided by what the jury determines is ‘objectively reasonable’. If the District Attorney does not believe your use of force has been reasonable, then a judge or jury will decide whether your response was appropriate for the situation. Further, YOU will have to prove (convince the jury) that your actions were reasonable in light of your honest belief that imminent harm facing you required a violent response.”
-Matthew Suitor, Attorney.

It should be mentioned that while it was stated above that you wouldn’t be held to a higher standard by being trained in self-defense or martial arts, if it is decided that you are brought to trail the judge or a jury could be swayed by that fact. While legally it should not come into play in their decision they are still people.

Again, it should be stated that this article is meant for informational purposes only, and while lawyers were consulted in the writing of this document laws do change over time. In any event where legal advice becomes necessary an attorney should be consulted.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Four Principles For Surviving A Violent Crime

By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved

Principle Number One: Always Resist Your Attacker

A lot of the so called "experts" tell you to not resist being victimized, to give a criminal everything they want and hope that they take what they want and leave. While it is usually better to give up a purse or wallet then risk serious injury fighting with a criminal, if they want something more than a material possession I advise you to ALWAYS fight back, even if you don't know how. If all you do is to aggressively start hitting them and screaming it could be enough to create a chance for you to escape or convince him to leave.

Don't listen to people who tell you not to fight back, and that if you do then you're just inviting more violence from the attacker. Federal victimization studies show that people who resist an attacker and fight back are not injured any more than those who don't. The fact is that it is just the opposite. Studies have shown that over half of all attackers will actually leave if the person indicates that they will resist. So if they want your purse or wallet it may be better just to give it to them, but if they want more there isn't any benefit to not fighting back.

It may be necessary to comply with your attacker(s) at first if the odds are overwhelmingly against you. For example, if you are accosted by three men with guns you may not be able not be able to resist at that time without getting killed. However, if you comply at first you may find that in a few minutes they let their guard down, each go into different rooms, or put down their weapons and now a situation exists where resisting is possible and practical to create a situation where you can escape.

There may be times when you must give in and comply with their demands initially, but whether it’s a few seconds, minutes, hours, days, or even weeks, sooner or later a situation will present itself where they’ll let their guard down and escape becomes possible.

Principle Number Two: Never Allow Yourself To Get Taken To A Second Location

Statistics show that if you allow yourself to be taken from where you are initially attacked to a secondary location you will have only a 3% chance of survival. Never allow yourself to be taken to a secondary location.

If a person tries to get you into a vehicle or take you from the location of the initial assault then you should hit, kick, bite, scream, and try to run like your life depends on it. You can not be able to overcome your attacker but you might alert someone in the area to what’s happening or create a situation where you can escape.

Principle Number Three: Pain Doesn’t Matter, Only Injury Does

When you are physically defending yourself do not focus on causing your attacker pain because pain is very subjective and not at all reliable. If your attacker has a low pain tolerance or is easily frightened then it may take very little on your part to make him or her stop. However, if they have a high pain tolerance then causing them pain may do little, and if they enjoy pain then causing them pain may encourage them. If your attacker is one of the 63% that commit their crimes while on drugs or alcohol their pain receptor may be numb and you can cause them all the pain you want and see little to no effect.

When I say "injure" I mean that you have to take a part of their body and render it nonfunctional and in need of medical treatment.

If a violent criminal grabs you and you punch them in the face the result would be pain and that pain may only serve to make them mad because the punch didn't actually "do" anything. If, however, you lowered the punch and hit them in the throat you could cause an injury by crushing their windpipe. A crushed windpipe is not subjective nor is it something you can "shake off". If your windpipe is crushed you will not be able to breathe, which will quickly induce panic, and unless a tracheotomy is preformed you will die of asphyxiation. While punching them in the face will probably just make them angry, punching them in the throat and crushing it will cause them to stop their attack, involuntarily grab their throat, make a high pitched noise while trying to inhale, drop to the ground in a panic, and continue to make the noise until they...well...stop.

To give another example, if you tear the connective tissue in someone’s knee it will be structurally unsound and unable to bear the person’s weight. It doesn’t matter in the slightest if that knee being “broken” causes him pain or not, what matters is that leg will be of no use to him. He will not be able to chase you or kick you and that will give you opportunity to injure him further or escape.

The point is that the punch to the face is an example of pain and the punch to the throat is an example of a medically verified injury. A criminal will only stop their attack for two reasons: if they decide to stop, or if you make them stop, and the only way to make them stop is to stop the functioning of a part, or all, of their body.

The way to get to an injury is to target specific parts of their bodies that are most susceptible to impact trauma and them drive as much for as you can all the way THROUGH them.

Principle Number Four: If You Can Think And Move Than You Can Resist, Escape, And Cause Injury

It doesn’t what you’re up against, it doesn’t matter if your outnumbered, trapped, bound, or beaten; if you can think and move you can resist, escape, and cause injury.

Many crimes start with the victim being struck, stabbed, or shot. An attack my seem to come out of nowhere and start with you being injured. No matter what is happening take a second to go through a mental checklist:

Am I still alive? Yes.

Can I still think? Yes

Can I move? Yes

Then I can cause injury, resist, and escape

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fighting Dirty Saves Lives

By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved

In the search for practical self-defense the topic of rules, formalities, and social conventions must be addressed. Most people are taught from a young age that it is not appropriate to get into a fight and if you did find yourself in a situation where you had to fight there was a “right” way to do it.

To address the first social convention (it is not appropriate to fight) I would have to say that I agree. Getting into a fight is a very poor method of resolving an issue and I certainly do not advocate fighting. However, it must be made clear that violence is not always avoidable. The idea that all you have to do is just walk away from a potential fight and you can avoid violence is purely a social convention. If it was true then how do you explain that in America a woman is sexually assaulted every 90 seconds? To follow the logic, if the woman had just walked away she could have avoided the assault.

“Fighting” consists of two or more people agreeing to engage in a physical altercation which is usually structured. Criminal violence, on the other hand, finds you whether you look for it or not. Self-defense addresses the criminal violence side of physical altercations where you do not have a choice of whether or not you enter into it.

The second social convention I’m addressing is the topic of a “right” and “wrong” way to fight. Most people are taught from a young age the concept of “dirty fighting”. They are taught that if you get into a fight you put your hands up and punch; you NEVER slap, bite, kick, scratch, attack the groin, or hit someone when they’re down.

The reason the rules of fighting came about was because “civilized fighting” was equated with boxing. In order to make fighting more civilized society attached a sport mindset to it. The thinking was that if both parties put their hands up and slugged it out like civilized persons in a structured manner there would be less damage to both parties. The problem with this today is that few people respect the rules.

If you look down upon “fighting dirty” and decide that you’re going to follow the rules in a violent altercation then the issue arises of whether the other person will do the same. If you put your hands up to box and expect the other person to do the same, then you’ll be caught off guard when they kick you in the groin then stomp on your head while you’re on the ground. While rules are a great thing, they only work if everyone follows them.

The main reason why people don’t respect the rules is that all the things that are “dirty” are the things that work the best. Think about a UFC fight or a boxing match; both parties dance around and hit each other repeatedly round after round and often the fight ends up being decided not on who actually wins but who scores the most points. Think of all the trauma that each person absorbs during the fight then think about the things that make the referee jump in and stop the fight. 9 times out of 10 the thing that makes the referee jump in and stop/pause the fight is because something “dirty” happens (usually by accident). Someone gets poked in the eye, hit in the throat, groin, or gets a finger bent back. When these things happen the referee stops it right away because these things generally result in an injury and sport fighters want to beat on each other but don’t actually want to injure each other. That is great in a sporting application but could prove to be a lethal mistake if you are fighting for your life.

You can punch someone in the face repeatedly and cause little reaction, but poke them in the eye once and suddenly they can’t continue the fight. All the things that are “dirty” are “dirty” because they work. It is far more civilized to punch someone in the mouth then it is to punch them in the throat, however, a shot in the mouth may make them say “oww” or piss them off while a punch to the throat can close the airway and may prove lethal.

Following the rules and making them say “oww”, or “fighting dirty” and making them fall to the ground, start coughing, and not being able to breathe…what methodology do you want to follow when you get attacked?

If you plan on surviving a criminal assault it is important that you realize that “dirty fighting” is merely a social convention with its place existing solely in a socialized situation. The minute someone steps outside of socialized behavior and assaults you in a life threatening manner the only appropriate response is to step outside socialized behavior yourself and go for what works as fast as you can.

Socialized responses are only appropriate for socialized problems. When your life is under threat the only way you’ll survive is to leave the rules in the ring and do anything in your power to injure the other person before they injure you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Keeping Calm Under Pressure

By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved

When confronted by danger it is important to stay calm so that you can clearly assess the situation and deal with it in a purposeful manner. Therefore, it is imperative that you learn how to stay cool and calm in the face of danger.

The number one way that you can keep yourself calm during danger is to have a plan ahead of time. In terms of dealing with violence, you want to decide in advance (before you ever step foot out of your door) how you will respond to a threat, if you will resist, how much you are willing to give up (money, ego, etc.), and to what lengths you will go through to keep yourself safe (would you deliberately kill someone if you had to). Keeping yourself safe all starts with deciding to take responsibility for your own safety, deciding not to become a victim, educating yourself about your threats, and then coming up with a plan of action to take when it does happen.

After your plan you NEED to train. Your brain is just like a computer in that it is open to any program you feed it, once it has a program installed it blindly runs that program, and when faced with something it does not have a program for it freezes. In your training you need to reenact a violent assault in a slow controlled manner and teach your brain new behaviors to respond with in those situations. If, in your training, you practice haphazardly and get overly stressed out then your brain will be programmed to automatically get stressed out in those situations.

Your brain objectively observes your surroundings and your actions and says, “Ok, so based on what I’ve seen, when you do ‘this’ then I do ‘that’”. If your brain observes that when you see that it is raining outside that you like to look for a rainbow, then, after a few repetitions of your brain noticing this behavior, it records that stimulus and action as a mental program. Before you know it you’ll begin looking for a rainbow automatically and without any conscious thought every time you see rain.

If, during training, your partner comes at you with a rubber knife and you start to get stressed out and overwhelmed then your brain will cause you to get stressed out and overwhelmed when it happens for real. However, if you realize this and focus on being proactive during your training and causing injuries, then your brain will record that as a program. If your partner comes at you with a rubber knife and you forget the rubber knife and focus solely on coming in, hitting targets, and causing injuries; if you look only at the target you want to hit and then don’t take your eyes off of it until after you’ve hit it, then that is exactly what your brain will learn and do during a real violent altercation.

When you train, go slow, go controlled, look at your targets, focus solely on your targets, and then step in and hit them, watch them go away from you, and then pick another target to hit. This is the path to injury and this is what you want to train yourself to do.

During the actual altercation you can’t really calm yourself down too much (most violent assaults occur in less than 10 seconds) but if it is a prolonged altercation such as an abduction or it’s after the altercation is over there are a few things you can do to calm yourself down.

If you are abducted you still want to focus on injuries, but if that is not possible at the moment (such as being bound in a car) you should first focus on your breathing to calm you down, and then try to figure out where you are, and then develop a new plan of action that you can take the second an opportunity arises.

A very basic breathing method used by the US military is called “Combat Breathing”. Basically, when you feel stressed out you simply breathe in through your nose for the count of four, hold it for four seconds, and then breathe out through your mouth for four seconds. This will regulate the flow of oxygen to your brain and have a calming and focusing affect.

If you need to calm yourself down after an assault I would recommend a Chinese technique called “Sun and Moon Breathing”. To do this technique you place your right thumb on your right nostril to gently hold it closed, and then you slowly and deeply breathe out of your left nostril for 30 seconds. The trick is to breathe as slowly and as deeply as you can. This breathing technique is more beneficial because by limiting yourself to just on nostril you further regulate your oxygen flow. “Sun and Moon Breathing” is an outstanding relaxation technique that I personally use every time I get stressed.

Using breathing techniques for relaxation can benefit you even when you are not stressed out. A recent study as shown that deep rhythmic breathing for about 20 minutes a day can produce the same results on brain scans that are seen by veteran meditators. It has been shown that simple rhythmic breathing can actually alter the topography of the brain. In the study it was shown that both rhythmic breathers and mediators had 5% thicker brain tissue in their prefrontal cortex compared to the average person. This thicker brain tissue occurred in the portions of the brain which deal with things like the handling and regulating of emotions, attention, concentration, and working memory, all of which control your reaction stress.

Simply all you'd have to do is spend 20 minutes a day doing the "Combat Breathing" or “Sun and Moon Breathing” technique and you'd start to see results like being calmer and better able to concentrate in a few days to a week or two. You could sit down every night to watch your favorite half hour TV program and practice your combat breathing until is was over and voila, you're done and miles ahead of other people in controlling your panic response and being better able to handle daily stresses.