Archives for October 2009

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.

Silat Ground fighting – Rolls

Clear’s Silat ground fighting rolls build directly off of the Falls and the  jumping drill described in the last entry.  Uncle Bill’s jumping into the air and then landing and jumping again continually help you to adjust to landing in different positions at different angles and speeds with very little time to think about it.  As a result you naturally learn to use your body to spring better both on the landing and on the take off.  Both of these skills are very useful for self defense.

Silat ground fighting rolls can be a necessary tool in a serious situation.   The jumping drill does help you to learn to roll with the impact with the floor or at the very least to spread out the impact but if you hit the ground hard enough or in a bad position to get a decent spring or you are being fiercely  attacked on your way to the ground then a good Silat ground fighting combat roll may be just the thing you need to change things around.

One way to practice Silat ground fighting rolls is to jump into the air as high as you can and then without stopping to land drop to the floor and roll and then jump into the air again continually. Do some of the rolls forwards and some of them backwards and even some sideways rolls.  This is all practiced non-stop.

We do also train 2 very specific Clear’s Silat ground fighting Rolls in Phase I for beginners.  These 2 rolls are a forward and backward rolls whereby you make your arms very round so that there is no or little impact with the floor and so that the contact with the floor is very smooth.  The forward roll can be done right out of a forward punching position.  The punching arm and front foot are on the same side.  You reach down and around to your back foot with the punching arm so that you roll on the  round arc that extends from your hand all the way through to your back.  Make sure to tuck your head and the back arm covers your head in a round shape once again so that any contact with the floor on that arm is also smooth.  When you come up out of the roll you can continue running forward or you can choose to spin as you come up out of the roll to immediately run back in the direction you just came from.  The backward roll is simply holding the same position as the forward roll and rolling backwards.

Clear’s Silat ground fighting combat rolls training progresses as you continue in the curriculum.  We also train how to go to the ground and continue fighting (both striking and destructive break type grappling) when you are grabbed by the leg or tackled in a way that forces you down.  You never know when the ground is going to be slick or unstable (for any number of reasons) or when going to the ground but continuing to move very quickly may be the best option for a particular circumstance.

Good Training to you
Until next time
Sifu

Silat Ground fighting – Falls

In Silat ground fighting galls are seen as a fundamental skill that is an essential part of the art.   As a result one of the first basic classes in most Pentjak Silat and Kun Tao styles is a combat version of Falls.  This is also true in Clear’s Silat (which is a hybrid Kun Tao Silat style).

In Silat ground fighting falls you must be able to go the ground and get up both quickly and well while continually defending yourself while moving at fighting speed.  As a result there are a few basic drills that are very helpful and essential.

One of my favorite Kun Tao Silat ground fighting falls drills is one I learned from Uncle Bill (Willem de Thouars) whereby you drop to the floor as quickly as you can and then without delay you jump from the floor up into the air as high as you can and when you come back down you go all the way to the floor again with your entire body.  Once you hit the floor you immediately jump back up into the air.  This practice can be done for a few minutes or longer non-stop.  It is primarily a monkey drill but most Americans have seen the common house cat move similar to this way at one time or another.

The primary Silat ground fighting Falls recommendation that I make to Clear’s Silat students when rapidly falling to the ground is for them to try to drop legs first and keep their head over their legs and  if possible so that they do not fall in such a way that their head hits the floor with added drop due to adding horizontal distance from their starting position.  The idea is that if I am 6 feet tall and fall straight down then my head is only traveling 6 feet to the floor and my legs will help slow my descent.  If I fall horizontally outward from my original standing position then I am adding to the distance that my head travels and may be accelerating on the way to the floor. If you fall more distance with more acceleration and your head hits the floor then the result would obviously be catastrophic to the average person.

In Clear’s Silat ground fighting we also train to instantly counter attack while falling.  If the opponent has ahold of our leg we immediately choose to go to the ground rather than let the opponent throw us there. Choosing to go to the ground generally surprises the opponent and (after just a little bit of time spent training it) puts you into an excellent attack position.   In Silat ground fighting (and all ground fighting) of course there are times when you will fall to the floor and be unable to keep your legs under you while falling.  When that happens whenever it is possible you will want to turn your fall into a roll or partial roll of some kind.

More on Silat ground fighting Rolls next time

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.