self protection

All posts tagged self protection

Let’s run a quick hypothetical. I give you a bounce house and a good knife. Then I tell you that your life depends on getting it deflated in under a minute. You can use the knife, but on to stab no slicing or cutting. How would you deflate that huge thing in under a minute? Would you stab the same place over and over, or would you make as many holes as possible all over? Yeah, I thought so.

Now, take that same theory and apply it to self defense. If your life depending on “deflating”  a threat as fast as possible, why do we so concern ourselves with shooting such a tight group as to make on hole? Hmm, interesting. Let me offer a quick disclaimer here: I am not advocating you do not train to proficiency. I am advocating that you train to be good, real good, then maintain that same ability over time.

Let’s take a closer in depth look at compound trauma. We will use guns and gun shot wounds (GSW) for our mechanism of injury here. If you shoot a bad guy one time, he has one injury. If you shoot him 5 times in the same spot, he has one big wound. But, if you shoot him 5 times (in a 6-9 inch group) different spots, he has 5 wounds. If you are shooting the chest, that kind of group could cover the heart, and both lung,  and maybe even the liver.

If you are looking to do serious damage to somebody, this is how you will achieve it. If all 5 rounds went into one lung, he has a major problem. However, that is quite survivable and he can even stay in the fight if he is determined, or under the influence. If however, you get the lungs, heart, and or liver, he cannot breathe and will likely collapse in just a few seconds due to loss of blood. There is no amount of determination of drugs that will keep him in the fight. The body will fail to function and that will be that.

Are you starting to see the effectiveness of compound trauma? Moving beyond the physical effects of it, we can take a peek at the psychological effects of compound trauma. One wound is bad enough, but when you have several different wounds and you are feeling the different effects of them, panic and maybe even shock will set it. This is good for you. If he can become focused on himself and not you, he suddenly becomes less interested in the fight and a lot more concerned with staying alive.

If this happens to you, being the good guy, you need to stay calm and do not panic. Finish the fight or die trying. Then start treatment. You can’t stop in the middle of a fight because of injury, that only gives them further advantage. You must press on and finish the fight. Once done there, you can use the first aid training you received to dress your wounds and call for help. It is of paramount importance that you do not give up mentally. There have been many cases of someone with a would that should have killed them survive because they refused to succumb to the injury. Stay strong and stay in the fight!

Compound trauma is not a topic often talked about or discussed, but I think it is important for you to understand. Not only for you own benefit if you experience it but also for inflicting it to use against a threat. Not just with guns either. You can combine and mix any combination of weapons and tools to inflict compound trauma, that is the beauty of it.

What can we learn?

  • Many holes are more effective than one when it comes to injury.
  • The body will stop working faster with several injuries as opposed to one.
  • Compound trauma works fast to shut the body down and keep it from functioning.
  • Train to be good and stay there! 6-9″ groups are very combat effective on the torso.
  • Get first aid training…

Stay Sharp,


I will let you know right up front that this is where my heart lies. Traditional Martial Arts holds a place near and dear to my heart. You now know where I stand on this matter. I assure you, I will do an objective job of explaining both pros and cons of martial arts. Let’s jump right in shall we?

In Mike Tyson v Bruce Lee: Fighting Systems, we talked about, and broke down, what fighting systems are. Here we do the same with martial arts, but I am talking about real martial arts. Those that have been around for some time and have been battle proven. Let’s look at the words individually;  Martial: Relating to fighting or war – Oxford English Dictionary. Before we move on to art, let’s stay on martial for just a second. Consider the origin of martial arts. They were birthed from war. Professional warriors used these arts in combat, routinely. You are thinking, yeah right, I never saw anybody performing those fancy dance moves in combat. OK, so, those fancy dance moves are called kata; and your are right; kata are not performed in combat. However, each one has a purpose, but that is another article. Suffice it to say here, katas help the training process and memorization of skills. Trust me when I say the good systems have some very lethal knowledge.

Art as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary: A skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice. That is the fourth definition provided, and the one I like the most as it fits the context. Arts are free flowing and malleable,  allowing you to express your ideas and thoughts. When we combine the two words into Martial Arts we get this definition: A system of knowledge and way of life applied during combat and peace where violence and peace are reconciled. I could not find a definition I liked in any way, so I created that one just now; I am open to input where the definition is concerned by the way.

What martial arts are: A way of life. A martial artist is not one who practices battle, but one who practices peace. At times, violence is necessary in order to maintain peace. If you wish to get into martial arts in an effort to become a fighter, I suggest you look elsewhere. Will you become proficient in combative skills, if the system is a good one? Yes. But it will come after years and years of dedicated practice and study, not a couple weeks, or months. Martial arts will change your body and mind over time; becoming more flexible, stronger, having more control over your body as well as mental fortitude & resiliency, patience, and clarity are all components of what comes with the martial artist life.

What it is not: A fighting system. If you want to jump in and learn to fight, find a good boxing gym. Can you study both? Absolutely! I have for years, and you can too. Fighting systems and martial arts balance each other out. Fighting systems are the quick combat training, and martial arts are the long term investment, but both supplement and support the other, they do not replace the other. Do not go to a martial arts unless you are looking to start a new lifestyle. If you only plan on studying for a few months or to achieve a short goal, don’t bother. This logic equates to going to medical school and dropping out halfway through, so you can say you went to medical school; you and I both know that is dishonesty in the highest order, to you and to everyone else.

I want to cut the conversation a little short and take a minute to warn you about a popular trend. I have personally seen more guys than I care to admit teaching “Martial Arts”. Be wary of “Gary’s Martial Art System”… If Gary is not teaching a traditional martial art (or fighting system) with a proven track record and reputation he may just be after your money. Gary is fictional but the point is not. I have seen a lot of guys teaching stuff that is dangerous; this goes for fighting systems too. The majority of these guys are just after your money, they know how to work it so you keep coming back, and feel accomplished, until it comes times to truly test you skills. I do not blame you, you don’t know what you don’t know, and besides, these guys are more con-artists than martial artists. This is why I suggest you do homework. Find out what they are teaching and research it. Now a quick note here. I encounter new systems that are of quality, and are worth looking into often. New systems can be good if they are well designed and put together. Just don’t be taken advantage of, I don’t want that for you.

Look, martial arts are awesome, but they are not everything. They are a piece to a larger puzzle. If you read nothing else, read this: There is no singular system! Stay away from anyone who tells you otherwise! I have a black belt in Shaolin Do, it is comprehensive in comparison to some others, but it is not everything. There are many ways I regularly supplement my knowledge with other martial arts and fighting systems. Find something that works for you and give it everything you have! I leave you with this saying, sadly the author is unknown, however, the wisdom is profound. A student said to his master: you teach me fighting but speak of peace, how to do you reconcile the two? The master answered: It is better to be a warrior in the garden than a gardener in war…

What can we learn?

  • Ancient martial arts were born out of combat and proven there too. Lousy ones didn’t survive the test of time. Those that used the lousy systems did not survive the combat to pass it on.
  • Being a martial artist is a way of life, not a title
  • Martial arts are not a short cut to fighting
  • Before you commit to a martial art, please, please! do some homework. There are too many good masters and martial arts out there to get caught up in a con.
  • There is no completely comprehensive system; in the words of Bruce Lee: Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own

Stay Sharp,


FREEZE! Don’t move! Stop right there! Hypervigilate! Okay, I made that last one up, but the other three I’m sure are familiar to you. We have all seen that cop movie, you know the one; where the good guy is breaking the rules in order to enact “justice”. When he finally catches up to the villain, he uses one of those three aforementioned cliches; the bad guy stops and turns slowly only to make a move and wind up losing the fight.

This style of drama serves to captivate us, what it does not do however, is reflect reality. Both the good and bad guys are cool as cucumbers in the midst of a deadly encounter, hardly factual. Let’s talk about reality and facts for a moment then shall we?

Fact: It is not rare for a solider in combat or an officer in the streets to lose control of bodily functions during a deadly encounter. This is no reflection on them, it is a bodily function that is not controllable. As our sympathetic nervous system goes through the roof, our parasympathetic nervous system pitches in to help, and stops doing the non-vital functions like, holding your bladder and sphincter muscles.

Fact: When our heart rate goes above 140 BPM, we exit our frontal lobe processing, and enter Parietal lobe processing. Our speech does not come as easy, our complex motor skills deteriorate, our sense of touch goes us, and smell goes down. There are all manor of things that our body does that drastically affects and effects our body and thought process.

Both of the facts above, along with a host of other areas, contribute to our response in moments of extreme danger. One possible response is “hyper-vigilance”. In layman’s terms, freeze, or stop moving. In the south we have a saying for such an action: Deer in the headlights. For anyone who has driven country roads at peak active times for white tail deer has seen the look and knows what I am talking about. You come around a corner only to see a deer in the middle of the road, just staring at you, not moving.

I was a conversation with a fellow instructor and trainer friend of mine about hyper-vigilance. He described it like this: “Think of your brain as a Rolodex, each experience is logged away on a card. When you encounter something familiar, you go to that card and respond using the data found. Everyday functions are easy to find, rare functions may take a minute to get to. But, new experiences are not found, you just keep scrolling through trying to find an appropriate response, but keep coming up empty.” Thanks Fred. That is what is happening when we freeze.

The danger of freezing is obvious. If we are in a deadly force situation, we may get killed or seriously injured. If we are on stage, we look foolish and become embarrassed. So, we need to move, to act, to do something! I have heard said: “Do something, even if it’s wrong!” Now, I caution against this in the context of self defense as the wrong thing may end with criminal charges. However, tactically speaking we have plenty of options, even “wrong” ones.

Law Enforcement has a phrase we will borrow here: “Get off line” This means basically be somewhere other than where you were when the bad guy made his move. “Get off of X” is also popular.

Not being where you just were is important; as the threat knows where you were, but not where you are going. If you take a big step to the left or right, you now have a slight advantage, as the threat is still going where you expect, but you are not where he thinks you are. This serves two purposes: 1) Hopefully you are now so far “off line (off of his line of movement)” that what ever tool is being used will not make contact with you immediately and buy you time. 2) The assailant is now exposed in a way he is not prepared for. At his side you have a host of options available to you.

The natural reaction to freeze is nothing to be ashamed of, but is something you should train against. By training with scenarios, creating stress, and making things as real as is reasonable and safe, you begin to fill your Rolodex. A full Rolodex will help keep you from searching for a response, you will simply react to a threat. I close with the immortal words of the greatest tactician in history:

“Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected” – Sun Tzu

What can we learn?

Hollywood misses the mark here. Surprise surprise.

MOVE! Do something, just get off the “X”

Train and practice. Fill up your Rolodex so you can respond without thinking, you won’t be able to think.

You can train to overcome fear and natural response, but you have to train!

Read Sun Tzu. It is a bit dry if you are not into such literature, but is is n absolute masterpiece of tactical literature. Still used today around the world as a training aid in the most elite military, law enforcement, and private groups in the world.


Stay Sharp,