Programming an Attacker

Programming for fighting purposes is simply the idea of getting an opponent used to something and then doing something different so that it catches them by surprise.

There are quite a few different ways to program and catch someone. I will include a few examples here. Have your partner field your techniques while you are moving around them in a circular pattern.

1. Move rhythmically and then while continuing to move rhythmically hit to a different area than where you have been striking. For example: Throw a punch to the head followed by a kick to the leg several times in a row and then on the 3rd or 4th repetition throw a punch to hit the arm that your training partner has been blocking with.

2. Throw the same punch but use a broken rhythm so that your training partner knows that you are throwing a punch but they do not know when you are going to throw it so that they have to really focus and work on catching the punch. After a moment or two throw a surprise kick.

3. Move around your partner throwing a pattern of several hits and kicks and then throw something that is not in the pattern or / and that has a different timing in order to catch them by surprise.

A typical street programming strategy is to fake a hit and when they see how the victim is going to naturally react and how fast and if they stop (the most common reaction) then they throw a real hit designed to catch the intended victim.

In Clear’s Silat we have several different basic responses to the attempt to program in order to throw a successful sucker punch. I will include 2 of the basic strategies here:

The first is if the person attempts to throw a strike at us we either get moving away and / or around the person and do not stop until satisfied that we are safe or we simply attack the attacker’s feint and position as if it is real so that we can not so easily be sucker punched.

The Myth of “Pressure Testing”

Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there (even 20 & 30 year martial artists) who who do not understand how extreme the differences between self defense training and competition training really are.

Here is an excellent article that describes a few of these differences in detail.

You can read it here: The Myth of “Pressure Testing” by Phil Elmore

Krav Maga Reviews & Complaints

In the media over the last few years there have been more than a few raving reviews about Krav Maga and some reviews listing Krav Maga complaints.

Following is a critique of Krav Maga with some Pros & Cons.

The Definition of the words Krav Maga is Close Combat or Hand To Hand Combat. The main Krav Maga instructors in Israel take a very Jeet Kun Do approach to learning and simply want to find the best training they can that works.

In the last few years they have been studying Russian Systema, have had Michael Ryabko in to teach and have sent at least one active duty soldier to a Systema camp to learn (I was at the camp and it was a big deal because they released him from an active conflict with Lebanon at the time so that he could attend.)

So the Israeli’s do seem to be very committed to getting the best instruction they can for their troops.

However, due to the necessity to learn only what can be picked up in a very short period of time, such as in a seminar environment, a lot of advanced techniques and methods are not generally present in the art because they simply do not get past basic skills in the amount of time that is allotted for training. Also, camps and seminars tend to cover a lot of material which gives great exposure to an art form but often does not impart very many skills to the participants because very little time is spent on any one thing making retention of the material very difficult.

There are some credible Krav Maga instructors and organizations that have strict advancement requirements and make sure that their instructors have quality training. However, one of the main Krav Maga programs offered in the United States is a 2 week instructor training camp whereby participants pay to become certified instructors with only 2 weeks of training.

People can learn to defend themselves relatively quickly as in a few days or a week. To master the material in a way that you can reliably teach others to defend themselves takes a lot longer. All I can say is that this is very unfortunate and a real bad mark against the credibility of Krav Maga and that legitimate instructors pay the price for this kind of cheap marketing scheme of self defense.

Krav Maga is one of the few martial arts that spends a fair amount of time on Gun Techniques. Unfortunately two of the favorite techniques that every Krav Maga instructor that I have seen demonstrate are exceptionally likely to get you killed and was the primary reason that I never put much serious time into this art.

There does seem to be a great difference between what is taught to the Israeli military and American Civilians. Personally I go out of my way to avoid watered down versions of self defense.

In conclusion the thing I like best about Krav Maga is that the better practitioners of the art train very hard and seriously in an attempt to make sure that they can really apply what they have in a self defense situation. Of course most other serious martial artists do likewise.

I find that Krav Maga is an art still in progress and that the Israeli military is still training in other forms of martial arts to try and fill the gaps in their art.

Many other arts have been around a lot longer and are much better suited to real self defense as they have been created and modified by people who have been using their arts in conflicts for centuries as opposed to decades. Of course I always use Silat as my benchmark for what constitutes a truly effective self defense art.

This review is by no means definitive and only reflects my exposure to the art at the time of this writing.

Violent Street Attack

When you cannot avoid a violent street attack then your response needs to be brutal and decisive.  In real street self defense there is no thought of fair play and in fact quite the opposite is true.  The main thought in training about this is to generally train and consider how brutally unfair and surprising I can be in order to take the aggressor out and get away before they even realize what I have done to them.  Remember this is a response to a violent, sickening and illegal street attack against me.  It is not a fight that I sought out or want in any way, shape or form.

I have been attacked this way approximately 15 times.  More often that not I have avoided my attackers.  But I have purposely pushed an attacker down a flight of steps.  I have pushed an attacker into oncoming traffic.  I have knocked an attacker out with an overwhelming flurry of strikes.  I have ran an attacker off at gunpoint and if he had continued to progress towards me and my wife I would have shot him dead.  My goal was and is survival and is not any attempt on my part to be the bigger he-man.  All of these situations began with my trying to avoid them.


Deterrence is one of the important aspects of street defense.  First you try to avoid situations.  If you can not avoid a situation then you try to deter it. If you cannot deter it then end it as fast as possible.

Part of deterrence is showing that I am ready able and willing to put up a serious fight in order to defend myself. This can be done using your eyes, voice and body motion.

Your eyes need to be focused either through them or on their forehead between their eyes.  Your voice should be loud and direct with commanding tones of “Get Back” or “NO’ etc.  Your body motion (not stationary) should be similar to how you can fight and also keep the attacker at a distance.

Clear’s Silat Welcoming postures are very good for this.  They tend to convey non-verbal body language that is easily understood as “Stay back, I don’t want to fight” while also creating a barrier between you and the attacker. This kind of positioning done correctly also makes it easy for you to walk or run away if there is an opportunity to do so.

Avoiding an Attack

Avoiding an attack is a key part of any real self defense system.  The primary key to Avoiding an Attack is    Awareness.  The second aspect of Avoiding an Attack is actually responding to the information you see or feel.

Several of the early attacks I personally experienced were a direct result of not taking action.  I saw or felt something that told me that there was a potentially bad situation and then ignored my own awareness and / or observation.

A big part of taking action and Avoiding an Attack is learning to consider your options in any given situation.  For example considering alternate routes you can take if there is something or someone(s) blocking your path, knowing more than one way to exit from where you are at any given time, learning to consider the potential of bad scenarios and taking appropriate steps to avoid them before they can even become an issue.  For example parking in an area during the day that after dark is not well lit or that is off of the beaten path enough that a crime can occur there without anyone seeing it.

Situation Awareness

What is your current level of Situation  Awareness?  Do you always immediately know about how many people are within 20 feet of you?  How about 50 feet from you?  How many people are 2-300 feet away from you in an area such as parking lot or a park?  You do not need to know an exact number if there are a lot of people.  But if there are only a few people then with just a glance you should immediately have a general idea of about how many and about how far away they are from you.

Situation Awareness also involves having a general idea of what people are doing.  Are they running towards you?  Are they walking in your general direction.  If you change and walk in a different direction then do they change also?  What does their body language look like?  How do they make you feel?  Also, a good criminal does their best to make you feel like they are not a threat so listen to yourself if something feels wrong but do not always listen if everything feels okay because the criminal may be fooling you or you may not be paying enough attention etc..

In this post I have asked you to consider a lot of questions.  The next time you are out go through some of these.  Even if everything is okay and  most likely it will be the exercise is good for your Situation Awareness and your attention to detail.  In a bad situation forewarned is forearmed and just might save your life.

Legal Ramifications of Self Defense

The Legal Ramifications of Self Defense can be as brutal as if you lost the physical fight (bruised and battered and violated not dead or maimed of course).  You could easily find yourself arrested, facing charges for anything from excessive force to murder and paying many thousands of dollars for an attorney and bail.

The Legal Ramifications of Self Defense in individual states vary.  Please consult an attorney where you live for specifics as I am not an attorney and I am not giving you legal advice.

In many states you have a duty to retreat from an assailant and must be able to reasonably show that you did not try to engage in the encounter but instead tried to avoid it.  If you have to physically defend yourself then once the attacker is incapacitated you cannot repeatedly continue to stomp them to death.  If the police roll up and witness you doing this they will normally arrest you on the spot and they will be quite unfriendly about it and likely will be a witness testifying at your trial.

In real street self defense the legal and physical survival goals are usually the same.  Avoid the fight if possible.  If I am unable to avoid the fight then terminate the situation as quickly as possible and get away as quickly as possible.  Do not try to be humane in your response as this puts you at physical risk.  Do not be  overly intentionally and unnecessarily lethal (like continuing to stomp them with the goal of killing them) as this will most likely get you into legal trouble and also mean you did not try hard enough to physically get away.  Quickly ending the situation and getting away is also the smartest physical approach to the situation because you don’t know how many friends they have with them who may also be attacking you or who may choose to attack you once they see you have hurt their friend.

Physical Safety

In Street Self Defense physical safety refers to the idea that you must be able to think and perform in a way that helps you avoid fights and keeps you safely out of harms way if possible.  You only physically fight as a last resort when there are no other good options.  It also means that when you have to fight then you fight in a way that will end the situation as rapidly as possible doing everything you can so that you emerge from the fight with as little damage as possible.

In the case of defending yourself against a larger, stronger, faster, better armed or/and multiple attackers it means doing whatever you have to do to the attacker(s) in order to end the situation without getting injured or killed yourself.  This may mean killing or maiming the assailant in a brutal way as rapidly as you can so that the fight with them ends right now so you can get away.

Street Self Defense

We often refer to and market our Clear’s Silat & Street Kung Fu (Kun Tao) program as Street Self Defense.  What defines or is meant by Street Self Defense?  Well, first an art that claims to be an effective Street Self Defense has to take physical safety into account.  If you cannot defend and protect yourself with it then it is not Street Self Defense.   Secondly, it must take into account situations and scenarios.  This includes the fact that often the odds are against you and that sometimes the odds are overwhelming.   Thirdly, It must take into account the legal ramifications of your response to an intended assailant.

Real Street Self Defense has no sport component.  It is not a sport modified for the street and it is certainly nothing you can use in any contest such as an extreme fighting event.  It is brutal and there is nothing sportsman like about it.  Running can be and often is an option.  When you are forced to physically fight in order to protect yourself then going for vital targets designed to incapacitate the attacker is high on the list of immediate options.  Personal survival is the primary concern.

Street Effective Self Defense vs MMA (part 3)

Unfortunately, one real difference between Street Effective Self Defense vs MMA is that real attacks are generally brutally evil events that are designed to completely destroy and take advantage of the intended victim. Fairness and civility was NEVER a part of the equation for the attacker and the defender seriously risks their life if they do not take the situation as a potentially lethal event because the criminal does not care and is not constrained by any rules or regulations.

This is the primary difference between real Street Effective Self Defense vs MMA. In a real street situation if I am having a bad day where I am old, out of shape, injured, sick or tired and distracted I can not simply concede the fight. The attackers are very likely to laugh and then do their best to torture and humiliate me before they kill me. This is a simple difference between Street Effective Self Defense vs MMA. Street effective self defense is for my protection on bad days when the odds are truly against me and the criminal element is trying to harm or kill me and the fight can not be stopped because there are no referees in the street.

I wish the harsh reality of street situations and the crime wave we are currently experiencing here in America was different. But my wishing does not make it so. That being the case. I will stick to training and teaching real world self defense vs MMA.

An interesting side note: For a guy who does not train MMA I have been challenged a lot by MMA fighters. But I have never been challenged by someone who specifically trains for self defense. I think the reason for this is fairly simple. As soon as a challenger steps forward and makes a challenge he may be practicing fighting but he is definitely no longer practicing SELF DEFENSE.
Thank you MMA guys for putting on good tv. Please keep the show going and growing.

Be Safe
& God Bless
Sigung Clear

Street Effective Self Defense vs MMA (part 2)

My street real self defense arts  look at the primary weaknesses on a human body and make a study of the most expedient way to exploit them so that a 98 pound girl or middle aged business executive can have a hope of defending her or himself against an angry 250 pound muscle bound guy.  This means his eyes, throat, testicles, arteries, knees and life are all good attack options and major points of time and study.  She does not want to wrestle, trade hits or be in the situation any longer than absolutely necessary because she cannot afford to exchange blows with such a person without her risking her life.  By the way, the same can be said for the average person whether they be older, weaker (not lifting weights for a couple of hours every day), sicker such as being a diabetic or having parkinsons or just being the average person living a normal life.

The vast majority of MMA stylists who participate and train for competitions can not honestly say they train for the street because when was the last time you saw a fight in an octagon or ring match that was a real, true to life, ugly, no rules, street manner fight without the participants immediately getting disqualified?  How many times has an octagon or ring match opponent showed up to fight with a knife or baseball bat or had his friends inside  the ring to help him.  In fact if the MMA fighter showed up and did half of the things that a real street self defense art considers and trains for and against then they would get barred and eventually completely banned from competition.

After this explanation the typical response that I have received from most of the 15 MMA types who have challenged me amounts to them telling me that my idea of martial arts is messed up and not moral or ethical.  The problem is that they came to me thinking that their view of fighting is the reality of real self defense.  If MMA was the reality of street fights then life would be simple and there would be no need for real self defense arts. I could simply say “You Win and I concede the fight” and the conflict would be over.

to be continued…

My street real self defense arts vs MMA looks at the primary weaknesses on a human body and makes a study of the most expedient way to exploit them so that a 98 pound girl or middle aged business executive can have a hope of defending her or himself against an angry 250 pound muscle bound guy. This means his eyes, throat, testicles, arteries, knees and life are all good attack options and major points of time and study. She does not want to wrestle, trade hits or be in the situation any longer than absolutely necessary because she cannot afford to exchange blows with such a person without her risking her life. By the way, the same can be said for the average person whether they be older, weaker (not lifting weights for a couple of hours every day), sicker such as being a diabetic or having parkinsons or just being the average person living a normal life.

The vast majority of MMA stylists who participate and train for competitions can not honestly say they train for the street because when was the last time you saw a fight in an octagon or ring match that was a real, true to life, ugly, no rules, street manner fight without the participants immediately getting disqualified? How many times has an octagon or ring match opponent showed up to fight with a knife or baseball bat or had his friends inside the ring to help him. In fact if the MMA fighter showed up and did half of the things that a real street self defense art considers and trains for and against then they would get barred and eventually completely banned from competition.

After this explanation the typical response that I have received from most of the 15 MMA types who have challenged me amounts to them telling me that my idea of martial arts is messed up and not moral or ethical. The problem is that they came to me thinking that their view of fighting is the reality of real self defense. If MMA was the reality of street fights then life would be simple and there would be no need for real self defense arts. I could simply say “You Win and I concede the fight” and the conflict would be over.

Street Effective Self Defense vs MMA (part 1)

I have chosen to write about Street Effective Self Defense vs MMA for our blog because publicly there seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference between these two very different kinds of arts.  I find that a lot of people including a lot of MMA teachers simply do not know the difference between MMA and arts that are intended for real street self defense.  So, I hope to shed a little light on it here in a way that will help everyone.

The most interesting way I can think of to illustrate this point about the difference between Street Effective Self Defense & MMA is to publicly state how many times I have been challenged by MMA / UFC type  fighters and to explain a bit about the outcome of those challenges.  Over the years I have been challenged to fight (mostly by MMA /UFC type fighters and teachers) about 15 times or so.  My basic response to such challenges normally goes as follows.

First, I explain I do not train MMA and that because MMA is not what I do or train for that if I play by the rules in an MMA fight against an MMA fighter who is specifically training for such an event that I will probably lose although I do enjoy watching MMA and UFC events from time to time just like I like watching football, boxing or WWF wresting.

Secondly and much more important to me regarding the difference between Street Effective Self Defense vs MMA, is that all of my self defense training and the arts that I practice for self defense are life or death based arts with survival being the #1 goal.    This means that in an awful street attack, evading and escaping is a very acceptable option for me.  It also means that if I can not evade or escape the situation then I want to terminate the situation with extreme prejudice, as fast as I can, with as little injury to me or my loved ones as possible

This means that in an extremely violent street attack by someone young, strong and built such as an…  (describe your average well built testosterone filled MMA guy who doesn’t need a lot of training to hurt someone here) that I will do whatever I can as rapidly as I can to end the encounter and I will not stop until one of us is completely incapacitated or dead because that is the reality of a terrible street encounter.  If this means stabbing them with my knife, biting them, gouging, taking out one or both of his eyes, crushing his throat,   breaking whatever small joint I can, stomping, using whatever objects might be laying around as a weapon etc then that is all acceptable and trained in my martial art as a part of street real self defense vs MMA which primarily trains for the ring.  In real street self defense survival is the key and there is no such thing as cheating against a criminal attacker.

Corporate Kung Fu

Maryville man leading new executive training effort

(this article originally appeared in the Maryville Daily Times on Feb 8th 2006)

by Jennifer Hodson

A Maryville businessman is at the forefront of a growing corporate trend — kung fu.

Richard Clear of Clear’s Silat and Street Kung Fu in downtown Maryville has brought a martial arts program he created in Florida, one specifically tailored to business executives, to Blount County.

The price tag for Executive Transformations is nothing to sneeze at — one-on-one training starts at around $2,500 a day, while groups can train for about $450 a person — but Clear believes the investment is perhaps the smartest one a person can make.

Not only do people learn to defend themselves, but they gain added benefits such as increased confidence and focus, as well as an improved ability to make decisions quickly and under pressure.

Clear related the account of a doctor who spent a weekend in the Executive Transformations program in Florida. When Clear first met the doctor, he encountered a man he described as “quiet, withdrawn, timid and single.”

Six months later, the doctor came back to visit Clear and said he was engaged and had recently expanded his practice.

Was it the martial arts training?

Clear believes it was.

“When he walked in the door, it took me a second to recognize him because he had this healthy glow,” he recalled. “It was a night and day difference.”

Clear said his students’ increased confidence comes from real ability, and that new sense of confidence carries over to all a person’s other activities, including careers.

“There are people who have confidence that is false confidence, but it’s easily shaken,” he said. “This gives real confidence.”

He related another account of a financial planner, Michael Kluzinski, who took his course and soon doubled his productivity, boosting his sales to the million-dollar range.

“We’ve seen people take the courses, and it’s really changed their lives,” Clear said. “It goes right to the core of a person.”

Kluzinski was later attacked while traveling in Costa Rica and credited Clear’s course with saving his life.

Too often, Clear said, people have an “it-won’t-happen-to-me attitude” — until it’s too late.

Another benefit of his program, he said, is that it teaches “superior positioning skills,” or ways to defend oneself without being held liable for assault.

He teaches students how to move in ways so, ideally, they can avoid being hit. If they do have to fight back, he teaches them ways to maneuver so that it will be clear to any responding law enforcement that they were merely defending themselves.

“If you have to put hands on (attackers), then it will be very clear that they were attacking you first,” he said. “The average attacker’s not looking for that level of fight.”

Over the years, Clear has taught numerous corporate seminars in the United States and Canada and has had clients that included CEOs, attorneys, law enforcement officers and military personnel.

His Executive Transformations program was featured in the March 2000 issue of Millionaire magazine and his techniques, which draw heavily on processes he learned in Indonesia and Malaysia, have been featured in magazines such as Inside King Fu.

Though Executive Transformations is gaining popularity with corporate clients nationwide, Clear offers more affordable classes for the general public, generally starting at around $99 a month.

He does not teach children. His students typically range in age from 16 to 60, he said. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds require prior approval.

“I won’t teach a 16-year-old thug,” he said. Safety isn’t just for senior executives.

“The average person needs an action plan,” Clear said

Legality Vs. Survival: The Problem

When it comes to violence or being attacked many legal authorities will tell you how to not get into legal trouble, unfortunately, they have no idea how you can do this and stay alive. My wife and I were once attacked by someone who was probably high on crack. We had never seen him before that dark morning. He attacked my wife as soon as she started to leave our house. She was smart enough to come back inside and to come and get me. I ran the attacker off of our property but I scared him in the process. He went home and called the police. Since he called 911 first and reported that I had attacked him I was the one who got in trouble. At the time of the incident I was 33 and I had never been arrested before.

The attacker had spent time in prison had a thick criminal rap sheet and a bad mental health history. His problems were almost all about abuse against women & drugs. They did not even site him for the assault he committed on my wife and I on our property. He then sued us for mental damages that he said that he sustained because I caused him to have flashbacks to Viet Nam. To make matters worse he only lived about 4 houses away at the corner of our block. He began to present himself as a physical threat every time he saw me out. This guy was over 200 pounds and very solid and at one point when I was driving to work, when I stopped at the stop sign at the corner, this guy was swinging a large tire iron from hand to hand and trying to get me to fight. I kept on driving.

I asked my lawyer what I should do if the guy cornered me and attacked me again as I didn’t want to get into anymore legal trouble but I would defend myself before I would let this guy kill me. My lawyer said the words, “Don’t do it.” I explained myself and I asked the lawyer again what I should do if I were to find myself in a position where it was him or me. The lawyer said, “Don’t do it.” He kept repeating these words. No matter what I said, even if I was getting beat to death the lawyer said “don’t do it.”

The reason the lawyer gave this answer was to protect himself in case something happened. The problem with this was that I supposedly paid the lawyer to protect me and the only way that he knew to stop me from going to jail was if I had no contact with the attacker even though he had attacked my wife and I in the first place and was continuing to try to attack me. So, instead of giving me a way to defend myself the lawyer simply protected himself so that he couldn’t be held accountable if this guy attacked me and I hurt or killed him. The lawyer would not even address my question regarding what I should do if the attacker forced contact and I had no way out. He just continually said “don’t do it.”

After the situation was completely over I realized that the lawyer didn’t give any other answer for two reasons. The first reason was to cover himself and the second reason was even worse. He simply didn’t know any way that I could defend myself without going to jail.

To Be Continued in “Legality VS Survival: The Solution”

How I Came to be Attacked so many times

In response to one of my recent articles I was recently sent a nice note and an inquiry from a gentleman named John from the UK who has been involved in martial arts for over 60 years. I took his indirect question/statement to be an inquiry regarding how I had come to be attacked so many times that involved really bad life and death circumstances. I have been attacked in a life and death way a little over 15 times. I think his is a very fair question and I sent him an answer and after thinking about it I thought others might benefit or want to know the same information. So, I have copied the answer here with some Politically Correct editing and a little additional info.

I have been an avid student of the martial arts for over 30 years and got my start out of necessity because I lived in the absolute worst inner city neighborhoods. I was a lilly white skinned and reasonably good kid that stood out like a sore thumb in my neighborhoods in the 1970’s. At that time in the areas I lived in there were entire families dealing drugs and if you got into a disagreement or an altercation with any one of their family members then they would all come gunning for you. Also, instead of finding a detox and rehab centre, druggies would look to do whatever it took to get a couple of dollars so that they could buy more drugs and they would attack other people in the neighbourhood (if their intended victim was alone) while they were high or coming off of the drugs and geeking for more. It did not matter to the addicts if they really hurt you and they were only interested in getting high again as soon as possible.

The first time I was seriously attacked I was only nine years old. I was walking up and down the street in broad daylight selling school booster candy and had an envelope that I put the money in. Two teenage boys (who were each noticeably larger than me) walked up acting like they wanted to buy some candy. When they got close to me they each stood in a way so that we looked like we were having a private conversation between the three of us and someone from the outside trying to look in could only see our backs and not see what was happening in the middle between us. One of the guys pulled out a knife, pointed it at my throat and told me to hand over the candy and the money or he would stab me. I handed them the stuff and they told me to turn around and walk away as they backed off and quickly went the other direction down the street.

To make matters worse, my family bought a house in what started out as an okay section of town that transformed to an inner city crime area within a few years from the time we bought. When the neighborhood changed we could not sell and move because the property value had been destroyed so much that we could not afford the financial loss. The neighborhood got so bad that within 4 square blocks there were more than a few murders committed over the years and my dad kept a handgun for home security that he had to use more than once. At this point we were a definite racial minority in the area and several of the attacks I experienced were most likely racially motivated where literally a car full of people who had a different skin color than me saw what they probably thought was an easy opportunity to commit a hate crime and get back at a perceived racial enemy for injustices that have occurred in America over the last 200 hundred years. One of these attacks happened while I was on the job at a movie theater where I worked. I was walking beside the building from the front to the back and the attackers pulled up in a car and called out the window to me asking if I had a dollar. I told them “No, I didn’t have any money on me” and they said “I can hear that change rattling” and stopped the car and began piling out. There were four or five of them. I can still hear the crunch of the impacted snow as the car came to a stop. One of the assailants was so large that he had to duck to get out of the car. Anyway, I had been studying the martial arts for over 8 years at this point and I seriously and quickly considered stomping the closest door and trying to injure or take some of them out before they could really get moving out of the car and then I could run for it if I needed to but instead I decided to try an exit door that the theater employees sometimes propped open so that we could get into the theater faster from the back. Fortunately, the door was propped open. I stepped inside, popped the latch back into place and ran and told the theater security guard. The security guard was standing in his usual place inside the lobby all warm and cozy talking to the concession stand girls. We could hear the attackers pounding on the exit door as I hurriedly explained to him what had just happened. By the time I explained everything the pounding had stopped and the security guard ran out the front door and around hoping to get behind them (or so he said). By the time he got to the exit door the attackers were busy speeding off in their car.

Of course, some of the attacks I have experienced were in what most people would call obviously bad places at obviously bad times. It is easy for this to happen when you are in your late teens and live in a crime ridden area. Anyway, fortunately I grew up, graduated from college and got out of those neighborhoods and it has been quite a long time since I have had to physically fight for my life.

The fortunate benefit to me and my students is that whenever I look at self defense and martial arts techniques I look at how effective a method is based on some of the scarier situations I have experienced. If the technique or method would probably fail the reality test then I simply do not study it for self defense reasons. I do study various arts and methods for other reasons than self defense but I try to do so with very open eyes about my objectives and rationale for what I am doing and always with at least some aspect of what I am doing adding to my ability as a true self defense practitioner.


Why MMA is not Street Self Defense

The rise in popularity of MMA and Jiu-Jitsu has increased public awareness of martial arts and created a current wave of martial arts enthusiasts. However, an unfortunate side effect of this popular martial arts movement is that the average person sees tournaments such as the UFC and thinks that self defense works like the fights that occur in the ring or octagon. Nothing could be further from the truth.

By street self defense I am not referring to a school yard fist fight whereby the loser gets a black eye and the winner gets to be the school champion or bully for a few days. By real street self defense I am referring to situations where there is no ring, no referees, no friends around to help you and to stop the situation before it gets to far out of control and no one to stop the attacker from beating you to death after you have been knocked down half unconscious. In fact in real street self defense the attacker may be armed with a knife or gun and the friends who are around may be his accomplices who are helping him to beat you to death. Also, in real street situations attacks happen without warning or provocation. Just being in the wrong place at the wrong time and having something that a criminal wants is enough to draw a vicious and unrelenting attack from someone who is experienced and who is larger, stronger, younger, faster, better armed and more ready for a conflict at this moment than you. As a teacher I always imagine one of my students who is female about 5’2 and weighs about 105 pounds and is over 45 years old (but looks 10 years younger than she is) being attacked by a 19 -23 year old, 250 lb male who is muscle bound and freshly out of prison with rape and killing on his mind. His legs are nearly as big as her whole body. Is she going to out box him? When he begins attacking her is she going to be able to grapple with him in a realistic way that will allow her any advantage before he pounds her into submission? If he has a weapon or friends will boxing, MMA or Jiu-jitsu give her any skills that will really help her deal with this attack? The sports mentality is one of “Get in there and fight!”. Does this sound like her smartest strategy in this situation? A ring/cage/octagon fighter may train some awareness skills but not the kind that is designed to help you recognize potential attackers in real life because in the ring it is very obvious who you are fighting, where they are before the fight begins and that they are there to fight you. The nice benefit for you in a ring fight is that at almost anytime you want you can simply yell, “I quit” and leave and the fight is over. Obviously this is quite different from a real street attack.
Please see our article “Attacks Vs Fist Fights and Posturing.

If someone steals your car (or any other personal possession) and they start driving it away right in front of you what is your best response. For a ring trained fighter the answer all to often has been to chase the criminal down. This has resulted in well known, respected and loved people being shot down by a criminal who was playing by street rules instead of sport rules. If someone commits road rage against you and after some sign language tries to get you to pull over and fight do you stop the car and jump out to go fight? There are famous ring fighters who have and even wrote about it like teaching the other person a lesson is the thing to do. This is all well and good if everyone is playing by ring rules. There are MMA fighters who have been shot to death when they thought they were about to engage in a lesson teaching street fight of this nature. In street/bar fights there are MMA and Jiu-jitsu stylists who have been stomped, gutted and shot because they made the mistake of confusing ring rules and sports with real street situations. Sports and street are not the same thing.

Street attacks involve brutal realities and call for intelligent responses starting with proper awareness, avoidance and deterrence skills and if all of this is appropriately applied in a situation and a physical answer is called for then the physical answer needs to be a response that will match the lethal nature of the situation and where safely exiting / leaving / getting away (ideally before force is needed) is always on the top of the list of priorities. Real street self defense is not as glamorous or exciting as the UFC and other sporting type events and I for one am glad they are not. Rape, murder, kidnapping etc are awful nasty and terrible (usually life changing) events for anyone and should not be acceptable under any circumstances. In real street oriented martial arts the training is geared around real street scenarios where avoiding and exiting at the first real opportunity is a critical and required part of the practice. In MMA and Jiu-jitsu sports training the critical part of practice is to work within a set of rules to pin or knockout the other person who is empty handed and fighting by themselves and whose only defense is that they have been training MMA, boxing and Jiu-jitsu so that they can have a match with / against another competitor. In real street attacks physical responses are mostly going to involve techniques that are brutal and illegal even in extreme sports competitions. The goal is to hurt them and get away. Some people call this an improper or inhumane response. I disagree. The criminal attacker is the one who committed the heinous act and is improper and inhumane and deserves anything they get.

One of the difficulties in demonstrating arts that teach real self defense skills is in demonstrating the techniques without really harming anyone. On our website we have a video that we made of a student defending himself against a surprise attack by multiple attackers armed with baseball bats. We told the attackers to go as fast as they could without risking their own safety. As it was, two of the attackers were mildly clipped with baseball bats and nearly injured. You can see it if you look close. It would have been nice for the scenario to have been performed faster and harder. The defender in the video (one of our students) actually asked for them to attack faster. None of the bat wielding assailants were willing and stated that they were afraid they would really get injured as much or more by each other than they would by the defender. Essentially, with proper strategy and movement it is relatively easy to make baseball bat swinging attackers get in their own way. The defender escaped as soon as he was in a good position to do so and in reality may have pulled back in towards the camera to escape if it was possible. Although you can not see it in the film, we had that side of the area completely blocked off with people and camera equipment. Also, the defender would have struck some of the attackers much harder and or in the eyes but he also was being careful not to actually damage his fellow friends and students. The saving grace of this is that we have students who have defended themselves against serious multiple attackers and in other real situations who have reported to us that our training methods made the difference to them in surviving and escaping from the situation(s). A lot of the reason for this is that we work scenarios utilizing our self defense skills and learning how to make the right kind of smart decision under the real stress that comes with scenarios and we work on the attacker producing weapons, friends and other realistic situations that are a true reality in bad street situations.

One of the things that I sometimes hear about training for real street scenarios regards the idea that most bad street attacks do not happen very often. I have several responses to this. Go to a bad part of town in any big inner city in America and see how long it takes to draw a nasty attack or to at least be confronted with unfriendly and illegal violence. In many places in America this kind of violence happens on a daily basis. Look at how many robberies, murders and other violent crimes happen in the average American city and then see if you feel the same about the possibility that you could be a target at some time or another. By the way, a smart criminal will come to the better part of town to steal your car and rob your home. After all, that is where the money is. Now, as far as the fist fighting and wrestling are concerned. I ask who other than MMA types and kids really get into these kinds of fights. I do not get into these kind of fights and I do not associate with those who do. To be in a fist fight you have to agree to be in it even if it is because you did not say “NO ” and simply pick up your things and walk away when the village idiot was cursing you out and telling you how he wants to kick your butt. Leaving the situation may not seem manly and good sportsman like conduct but it is the more appropriate legal and self defense response. If you are an MMA, Jiu-jitsu guy maybe challenging them to a fight with rules at the local gym is a good response but it is still not the proper self defense response.

May Peace and Safety be with you and yours.

The Problem With Guns

Why guns are not the most effective self defense tools

I am not a lawyer and am not dispensing legal advice in any way, shape or form in this article. To clarify any legal aspects of self defense with a gun or without a gun please consult a qualified attorney.

Guns can be an important part of a complete self defense arsenal as having the right guns & ammunition by your side can undoubtedly save you from any imminent threat. However, when it comes to utilizing a gun in a self defense situation the window of opportunity is very small and narrow. If you are caught by surprise by a physically determined attacker at less than 21 feet you can choose to spend your crucial couple of seconds between awareness and fighting contact drawing your weapon or you can get moving and have your hands and body ready to receive and dispatch the incoming attacker. It is possible but very difficult to do both at 21 feet or greater but at a distance of less than 12 feet the attacker will definitely make it to you before your weapon is engaged even against the fastest gun draws which means it is useless to draw your weapon and be virtually physically undefended from the attackers assault. Once the physical fight has begun if you manage to draw your weapon and the attacker is busy pounding you then you may never get the chance to fire or worse yet the attacker may actually knock the gun out of your hand or take the gun away from you because your hands are busy drawing the weapon instead of physically defending you.

If an armed attacker who is 25 feet away from you has a gun pointed right at you and is threatening and demanding do you have time to draw your weapon, point it at the attacker and shoot? If the attacker has any kind of bead on you the answer is no. While you are trying to draw the weapon they are pulling the trigger. So, even if you have a better, bigger gun with hotter ammunition and you have a lot of training in how to shoot (by itself without a lot of other physical training) it will not do you any good in this situation. In this kind of situation you need to know where, when and how to tactically move your body and how to draw and shoot while moving and by the way if they are running at you when you start moving the fight could become one where you are better off to move with your hands free and unencumbered as opposed to trying to draw your firearm when you should be running like hell.

Now, unfortunately there is another problem. If you can disengage from the attacker and get distance and they don’t charge at you can you draw your weapon and / or shoot. The answer is no. If you so much as show your weapon and you had any ability to retreat, run away, disengage etc you are now in violation of the law that in many states will get you a minimum 5 year sentence. If you shoot at the unarmed WOULD BE assailant then you could go to jail on murder or attempted murder charges. How about when someone is calling you every name in the book and telling you that they would like to beat your a** and knock you silly and witnesses are present? You can not draw your weapon then either. They are verbally threatening to fist fight you and calling you names. This does not constitute lethal force and when you draw your firearm you have now turned a domestic squabble into a lethal force situation and you are responsible.

So, when can I draw my firearm? When they have lethal force ability and are bringing it against you in some manner. Do you think the average criminal will tell you they are doing this? The average person finds out that there is this level of problem at the point when they are being attacked. So, when can you utilize the firearm? In reality not very often because most of the time either there is not enough provocation to legally justify it or the attack has already begun. The types of situations where a firearm can be utilized are a home security situation where someone is breaking in while you are home and they are making it obvious that they are going to try to kill you and a car jacking where you see them coming with firearms and you have the time (if you are that lucky) to see them coming and do not have a way to drive out of it. By the way make sure to familiarize yourself with your states laws regarding Duty to Retreat and always call 911 if you can. For instance in your home if someone is breaking in or trying to break in and you have the ability to dial 911 and you don’t but then shoot them and it is obvious that it took them a couple of minutes to tear your door off its frame then you could be tried for murder because you simply waited for the attacker with your firearm in hand and did nothing to get outside help from the proper authorities. You get the idea.

I am not saying that I am happy with all of this. I am all for the proposition that a criminal attacker gets what they deserve. But, I am a law abiding citizen and in teaching proper and excellent self defense would be remiss in my duties if I did not explain the situation and someone reacts or responds poorly because they have not been exposed to the way the law works in this regard.

I look forward to your feedback and discussion. I know there is a lot more to this and the purpose of this article is just to get the basic education out there and get the discussion started. Because of the brevity of this article I indeed may need to clarify some of what I have stated here as I have presented a very limited amount of situations and of course there are thousands of possibilities and variables that need to be considered. However, my main theme point is that out of 50 random average situations/disputes/fights/altercations/arguments etc you will be quite lucky to find 1 that allows for the drawing of a weapon while also allowing the time necessary to draw and engage that weapon against a serious and determined attacker who attacks with little or no warning at a time that is most opportune for them and really sucks for you.

Attacks Vs Fist Fights & Posturing

What Constitutes an Attack

In the Martial Arts you hear and read about people who have used their Martial Art to physically defend themselves in a real situation. Often the defender could very easily have avoided the entire situation but instead due to any number of circumstances they ended up in a fight instead. I recently read an article by Nev Sagiba related to this topic and decided to add my 2 cents worth.

First of all, a physical attack is actually implemented when someone is actually closing the distance towards you or those you care about (or are in some way responsible for) and they are on their way to strike, stab, grab, beat or otherwise immediately hurt them or you Right NOW! For this to actually be a physical attack they also must be close enough that within seconds they can actually begin contact and the physical aspect of the attack is imminent.

A person who throws their fists up and threatens to beat you up is verbally attacking and physically posturing but not yet physically attacking. A person who is upset and yelling is upset or/and threatening and posturing is verbally attacking but not yet physically attacking. A person swearing at you is verbally attacking and posturing but not yet physically attacking. A person who is busting things in the room or kicking your car is posturing and attacking things but is not yet physically attacking you. You get the idea.

When I began learning martial arts a lot of what I learned taught a person how to engage in a fight. Fortunately for me my instructor was also very street-wise and taught me as much about street fighting as he did about the arts. Part of his training included the idea of getting out of there and using any unfair advantage you could get to win a serious physical confrontation. I also found that when I was threatened with a fist fight that I did not just jump in there swinging away like a mad man but that instead I had a tendency to utilize positioning and verbal skills to try to deter my would be attacker. Due to attacks, that I personally experienced, I also found that when I needed to defend myself that techniques that would allow me to quickly end a physical confrontation and get out of there were much more important to me than being able to exchange a lot of punches and kicks. This was partially due to the fact that even in school yard fist fights the average fight involved multiple attackers and if I got tangled up with someone the next thing I knew their buddies were also all over me. My findings and understanding of what happens in real situations eventually led me to Pentjak Silat, Kun Tao and Kun Tao Silat as the arts that I needed to deal with the harsh realities of surviving street encounters.

When a person attacks you verbally (yelling and threatening) or non-verbally (such as waving their fists) then a response of some kind is still called for. Generally speaking the response is fairly simple. Either work to help end and bring an acceptable solution/conclusion to the problem or simply remove yourself from the situation by running or driving away.

Awareness is key. If I have parked my car in a parking space that another driver has perceived as their parking spot and they are cussing me out all I have to do is move my car so that the other person can park there. It is inconvenient but not worth the trouble that would be created by allowing the situation to escalate to a physical confrontation. By the way, to fight with someone about this type of a situation would not be an attack as much as an agreed upon fight. When someone is a victim of “Road Rage” by another driver there are many responses that a person can choose. One of the responses is to pull over and physically fight with them. As soon as you pull over and jump out of your car ready to fist fight this becomes an agreed upon fight and not a physical attack.

The drunk person who grabs your wrist to ask you for money may not be attacking to kill you but they are definitely physically assaulting and attacking you. This does not mean that you need to seriously maim or kill them but it does give you the right to dump them on their tail and disengage yourself from them. If it is obvious that they mean no harm then I generally do not consider this as an attack. If their intentions are unclear in a potentially threatening way or seem threatening then I do consider it an attack and will treat it as such.

Utilize Awareness to the extent that you see the drunk person before they are close enough to put a hand on you and you simply do not allow them to touch you and when you are parking your car see where other traffic is so that you know if someone else thought the spot was theirs before you are in the parking spot properly lining up your car between the lines. Also and very importantly, if someone is approaching so they can physically attack you then awareness can make all the difference. You see the person approaching and remove yourself completely by driving or jogging away. If the attacker is attacking you at random then this generally ends the situation. Getting away is our first line of defense and the easiest to use with the least consequences after the fact. Good awareness skills are vital and properly utilizing them will stop most situations from becoming a physical attack.

I have been attacked about 15 times in the street. Two of the attacks were at gunpoint and fortunately for me were primarily verbal attacks and only one became physical when I grabbed the guy. The other one gun assault ended with no physical altercation as I simply talked to the guy and literally calmed him down. About six of the attacks were from multiple attackers and most of them involved a situation where the physical aspect of the attack was fairly immediate without warning or provocation. An example is a car screeched to a stop and out poured 4-5 guys running to attack me. I was in the wrong part of town and stood out like a sore thumb. The attack was most likely racially motivated but could have easily happened for other reasons as well as I was leaving a job where I was dressed very nicely in a suit in a very poor and financially depressed area of town in a large inner city area. I have had a knife pulled on me about 5 times. Fortunately, only one of these were a direct physical assault and most of them were what I like to call “show and tell” verbal assaults. The interesting thing is that in most of the knife assaults were multiple attacker situations where one person held the knife and threatened while others with them watched and backed them up. The bad news is that fairly common street tactic is for the group to hold you down while the person with the knife stabs you to death. By being aware of my surroundings only in the first of these attacks (which happened when I was 12 years old) did the attackers actually get within reach of me. Fortunately, it was only a robbery and I gave them my money and stuff and they were satisfied. For me this event was pivotal in my personal development of awareness and I was not ever caught that unaware or unprepared again. Eventually I grew up, graduated from college and moved away from the bad neighborhoods I grew up in but then for many years I lived and worked in Tampa Florida while it was the number 4 worst crime city in America. Eventually, I moved to a rural area with less crime and less people. Not a luxury everyone can afford and if they could then, of course, eventually the crime would follow them.

I realized at a very young age that if attacked by someone who would kill me in order to get a few dollars for drug money I would have to be willing to fight for my life and that it might mean seriously injuring or killing them to stop them. A person who is high might be seriously wounded and have a life ending injury and yet keep attacking without any realization of how seriously bad off they are. If you assume they will stop and they don’t it is possible that the attacker just might take you to the grave with them. In our style of martial arts Clear’s Silat based on Pentjak Silat, Kun Tao and Kun Tao Silat we work very hard to avoid and non-violently end confrontations but when lethal force is necessary against violent street lethal attackers we do not pretend that there is some humane way to end the situation. We try to get away as fast and early as possible. If it is not possible to get away then we do the maximum amount of damage in the absolute shortest amount of time possible with the goal being to get away and in our style of martial arts we practice exiting and getting away after any serious technique as the escape is the goal and the damage we inflict is simply one very serious tool in our arsenal to accomplish this end. This is the only way to survive against serious multiple attackers who will kill you and beat you to death without hesitation and then laugh about it later over Malt Liquor or shots of whiskey/tequila while smoking some crack. Criminals do not believe in a fair fight and they hope the intended victim does as it is an incredible advantage to them in a real situation. Hopefully you will be good at awareness and avoiding bad situations but if you are seriously attacked play to survive not to be friendly or fair to a hardened criminal who would think nothing of killing you or your loved ones.

Clear’s Silat is the personal mix of Street Tactics, Pentjak Silat, Kun Tao and Kun Tao Silat devised by Richard Clear a practitioner of the arts for over 30 years. The art is based around surprise attacks by multiple attackers who are armed with weapons particularly blades and sticks such as baseball bats and utilizes avoidance and awareness techniques as well as physical tactics that are designed to immediately end a physical assault.

Awareness Can Save Your Life

Awareness can save your life and is a critical part of your self defense arsenal. First, awareness is critical to knowing well in advance if a situation, place or event is potentially harmful to you or your loved ones. Second, awareness helps you to know what the smartest course of action is to avoid unnecessary conflict and/or to diffuse a situation with the least amount of force.

Often proper use of awareness will allow you to accomplish with a word what otherwise might require a full out savage and bloody fight to the finish. I once diffused a serious street attack from half a dozen guys simply by properly directing an honest and innocent question to the right person (the oldest member of the group) in the right way. My question made him recognize and become aware of what he was doing and he immediately stopped himself and the rest of the group from proceeding. I essentially made him aware of what he was doing and that awareness was enough to help him realize that he did not have any interest in me or my elderly friend who was walking with me.

Awareness will help you to know what a situation is and what the situation involves so that you know if you are an intended target of a criminal act or just happen to be in a bad place at a bad time. If you are really aware then at most times on the street you will know the answers too many questions including;

1. How close or far away is the closest possible combatant and how fast can they reach you if they choose to attack you.

2. How many people are within 50 feet or so of you and what their position is relative to you.

3. When there is a bad situation or potentially conflicting group of people, how many of them are together. Also, in a bad situation with two or more opposing groups, how many potential combatants are there. What are their positions relative to you.

4. How many people are within several hundred feet of you and are they with or independent of people who are much closer to you.

5. What your surroundings are. This includes terrain, weather, cars (parked and traffic), buildings and routes of escape, etc

6. How much time you have to draw any weapons you have, if a bad situation occurs, and are you in a good position to draw and utilize it or them.

7. What improvised weapons are available.

8. If you are in a good position relative to your loved ones or if you need to rearrange your position and/or theirs.

9. What is the time of day and day of the week. After dark and Fridays and Saturdays are statistically much more crime prone than other days and times.

10. How are you feeling? This alone can have quite an affect on potentially bad situations.

If you apply yourself I am sure that you can come up with quite a few more items that are affected by your awareness or lack thereof.

With respect and best regards.


Sigung Clear