By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved
Normally I don’t do reviews. Either something has to be horribly good or horribly bad for me to spend the time commenting on it, but “Just Yell Fire” and its sequel, “Just Yell Fire, Campus Life” falls into the former category. Overall I enjoyed these videos and I have to say that they are one of the very few self-defense videos that I would endorse.
I thought the name was catchy too. You have the first video “Just Yell Fire” and the second one “Just Yell Fire, Campus Life”, it reminds me of the TV show “Saved By The Bell”. Perhaps the third video will be “Just Yell Fire, Hawaiian Style”. (Bad joke, I know)
What I wanted to do with this review is list all the things I liked about these videos and all the things I didn’t like. To start everything off the fact that these videos are completely free and can be watched right on their website is great. (http://www.justyellfire.com) You can’t beat the price or the convenience of being able to watch them right away on your computer.
The production value is far above average for most videos on the market and they even managed to put some celebrities in it. Of course you won’t see Brad Pit or Dustin Hoffman in there, but you will see some people from the TV shows “Lost”, “Dancing with the Stars”, and the like.
In terms of self-defense the biggest reason why I like these videos and have given a link to the website to a lot of females I know is because these videos show something I call “Target Based” self-defense. They don’t teach you to put your hand up and dance around like so many martial arts and self-defense programs out there; instead they show you targets on the human body and tell you to hit them. This method is incredibly effective and incredibly simple.
I read a story a long time ago about an elderly Kung Fu master who lived in Chicago. This master was a small man in his 70’s who made a living by running his own martial arts school in the outskirts of the city. One evening he was out walking his dog and three young punks decided he would be an easy target and tried to mug him. He proved to be more than a match for them and he got away, and the next morning the newspaper ran a story on the front page about how a local Kung Fu master had bested three muggers.
The next day this man showed up to open his martial arts school for the day’s business and he found a large group of people waiting outside for is arrival. As he went to unlock the door people cheered for him, congratulated him, and asked to join his school. When he was inside his students pulled him aside and asked him what technique he had used to defeat the three men. One student said he thought it must have been one technique, the other student suggested another, and a third student was sure his master had used a secret technique he had yet to teach them.
At this the old man said, “Technique? I didn’t use any technique. I was so scared I just kept hitting them as hard as I could until I could get away!”
This is the simple truth: the physical side of self-defense is about hitting the vulnerable areas of the human body over and over, as hard as you can, until a situation is created where you can escape. There are no fighting stances, no jabs, or fancy footwork; you drive your thumb into their eyeballs and create a result.
Now, there are a few things I didn’t like so much, but most of them are minor.
In the first video, “Just Yell Fire”, they have these little inspiring clips in-between the scenarios that reminded me of tampon commercials. I just thought it broke up the video. If they would have had the girls sternly look at the camera and firmly say “You deserve to blah, blah, blah…” it would have kept the proactive energy; instead when these parts came up I turned off the sound and recited lines I thought might be appropriate for feminine hygiene commercials, such as “You deserve a vagina that’s springtime fresh!”
Yes…I know these videos are made by young girls and their target market is young girls so it may be perfectly appropriate but I felt it just broke up the energy of the videos. Watch the video and I bet you’ll be doing voice over work during these parts too (well…maybe just the guys).
Another minor thing that I found a little humorous with the first video is that apparently everyone in the entire world wanted that brunette girl to die. When they would show a scenario they would first show the “incorrect” behaviors using a brunette girl, and then they would reshow the scenario with a blonde girl that showed the “correct” behaviors and she would escape her attacker. If you watch the video you’ll see that in every scenario there were several bystanders that couldn’t care less if that brunette girl is kidnapped.
In the first scenario a van pulls up to a bus stop with 10 or so people present. A large man gets out, grabs a girl and pulls her into the van while she screams and struggles. When the van drives off you see that NOBODY has moved and inch or is even looking at the van and one lady is still sitting there reading her book! Nobody there so much as acknowledged the kidnapping.
In every scenario the brunette girl would scream her head off and even though there were people right there nobody even looked up; but when the blonde girl yelled “fire!” people ran right over and in one scenario they even pinned the attacker to the ground. I guess blondes have more fun because they live longer.
As far as more serious stuff, the program is built off of yelling “FIRE” instead of “HELP” because people are supposedly supposed to respond more to the former. This is a common teaching and intellectually it sounds like it might have some validity but I’ve never seen any studies that show its benefits. I don’t believe anyone has proven it to be more effective then yelling “help” but yelling anything I believe is a good idea.
I would have liked to see a close up on all of the strikes. They did show a close up on a couple, but in my experience students really need to see the vulnerable areas being hit so they can get it exactly right. Even the slap to the ear was grazed over mostly, in the second video they talked about cupping the hand when you hit it, but in the first video the demonstrated it with an opened hand.
I would have also liked to see them go over the effects of the strikes they showed. Yes, I know these videos are for young girls but in my opinion people need to know what kind of injuries their strikes will create. I liked the fact that they showed the guy bleeding after being hit in the eye was nice but what is the short term and long term effect of that trauma?
Striking the groin is always a subject that is a little touchy with me. People just don’t understand their biology. The main target of a groin strike is not the testicles, or at least it shouldn’t be. If the testicles are the only thing being hit then that is a source of some pain but pain is so relative. I’ve been kicked in the testicles quite a few times and been very mildly effected and I’ve read cases where people have been attacked and they’ve grabbed their attackers testicles in their hands and squeezed so hard they ruptured, and the attacker kept on fighting. The groin is what you hit, but the pelvic diaphragm is what gives the big result and puts people on the ground (more on this in my article “Striking the Groin, Does it Always Work?”).
Another thing is the technique they show where they grab their attacker’s ear and I don’t know if they are trying to rip the ear off or just cause some pain…that techniques left me confused.
My biggest criticism of these videos is that in the second one they warn you that you can kill someone by pushing their nose into their brain. Complete bullshit. This is a horrible myth that has been debunked over and over and needs to go away. After all, if you picture how a skull looks you’ll see that there isn’t even a bone in the nose to push into the skull.
Despite these few things the videos are fundamentally good I would recommend them to anyone, not just young kids and not just girls. Even boys should see them because they can use the techniques too, and seeing how easy it is to get hurt it might give them a different attitude on how to treat girls.
The website is http://www.justyellfire.com Just click on “Watch Online Now Free” on the left side of the screen (they do want you email address and zip code).