A Terror Attack - Do You Run Away or Run Towards?

2020 is in full swing but I recently thought back to the terror attack in London last year in which, sadly, two people lost their lives. My heart sincerely goes out to their families.

We also experienced some very brave souls, doing what few would, and ran towards the danger rather than away from it.

I really believe there are two types of people… those who run away from danger, and those who run towards it.

And we need both types.

Those that run away, keep the human race alive, by alerting others to the danger.

Those that run towards help to reduce or remove the threat and send the message that we are ‘hard to kill’!

Running away or running towards saves lives.  These actions showed that although we live in a world where everything is available to us, our survival instincts are still there, lying dormant within us, and will come alive when needed.

You will recall on the news one of the heroes instantly armed themselves with a Narwhal Tusk that was mounted on the wall inside Fishmongers Hall.

Was that smart thinking?   Or was it our age-old survival brain kicking in?

Human beings have survived by understanding that using something long and sharp to keep an aggressive predator at arm’s length is a sound strategy.  

And even though we aren’t fighting off the sabre tooth tigers anymore,  it is comforting to know that the instinct is still there. The way we defend ourselves and fight for our lives has not changed.

My hat is well and truly off to those who charged towards the danger, just as much as it is for those who ran to safety and alerted others, or helped the injured.

We cannot escape the fact that there is no way to delegate our own personal safety.  It is our responsibility, each and everyone of us, to keep our eyes open, warn our fellow humans, and when the time comes, react as needed.

There will be some who will go out and actively learn how to do it, and others will do it out of sheer indignation.  

Either way, the ability is there, in all of us.

Best,

Jon

Jon Meets the IDF and Gets Their View on KM

Firstly, Happy New Year!

I am not sure when it starts to become ‘weird’ to say this after the 1st January, so let’s just roll with it.

Promise I won't do it again.

I started 2020 with my usual ritual, a trip to Israel for some Krav Maga training and to get my head in the game for this year.

During this trip, I was fortunate to meet a VERY important person in the Krav Maga world…

The Head Instructor of Krav Maga in the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

If you’ve done your research, you’ll know that this is where Krav Maga originated from and was then adapted for the needs of civilians.

I’d met the former head of IDF Krav Maga in the past, but he has long since retired and there was a new Sheriff in town.

I managed to pull some strings and get a meeting with him. You may ask why?

The answer is simple.

I KNOW that from a simple conversation with somebody in his position, I am going to learn something. Guaranteed.

I think he was a little wary at first. He’d agreed to the meeting, but seemed guarded as we sat down.

(I immediately noticed a plaque on the wall as he’d been inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame in the USA, very cool!),

I made it clear that I was addicted to learning. I love the roots of Krav Maga and always want to ensure that how and what my team and I teach is as close to what is currently taught, with of course the adaptations for civilian life.

When he realised I was there simply to further my knowledge, he relaxed.

He asked how he could help me, so we started discussing Krav Maga training, teaching methods, drills and much more.

I said to him one of my biggest issues in the civilian Krav Maga world is how ‘technique’ focused it has become from the many videos I see all over the internet. It seems that it’s become almost like Karate in some places, where the instructor has to correct every intricate detail to the nearest millimetre.

Don’t get me wrong, learning the techniques, and practicing them improves not only effectiveness in self-defence but also efficiency. Being able to defend yourself as quickly as possible, whilst escaping but without sustaining damage.

He agreed with me, and he said a phrase that summarised it so well…

“The defensive techniques are tools, but they are not the goal”

If somebody grabs you around the throat, the goal is to get them to release that grab, whilst making them unable or unwilling to try again.

The technique forms part of achieving that goal, but in the heat of the moment, if you don’t get the technique absolutely perfect, it doesn’t mean it’s going to fail.

There are many other factors at play, from your mental resilience, your overall physicality and your ability to make decisions in a difficult situation.

Krav Maga is a problem-solving system, not a technique based system.

What is learnt in class must be able to work for most people, most of the time.

That doesn’t mean that practice isn’t required, quite the contrary.

But the focus remains on learning to be a fitter, safer, and a smarter decision-maker with a special set of skills. 🙂

Speak Soon

Jon

Learning 100 Different Self Defence Techniques!

Many moons ago, I went through the (painful) process of trying to find a Martial Art / Self Defence System (call it what you want!) that suited me… I always wanted something that had a fitness element to it, so that I didn’t have to have a gym membership as well, or go do another fitness activity. 

I wanted it all, in one thing (needy aren’t I!)

During the ‘search’, I went to countless training centres, from Church Halls to Leisure Centres and Sports Halls, trying out all sorts of styles and systems.  

I tried one particular style (I won’t mention it out of respect) whereby we learnt about 20 techniques in one class. 

Now, don’t get me wrong… it was good fun and was pretty cool.

But ask me how many of those ‘cool moves’ I can remember?.

Very few is the answer.

In fact, I think the Instructor told me there were ‘100’ fundamental techniques to learn!

What I realised was that most of the systems and styles I tried out were ‘closed systems’.  Meaning, there is one technique for one particular type of attack you might face.

And when there are infinite ways someone could attack you, that’s a lot to learn!

Then, add in the constant change in attacks that happen. 

Take Gang Violence, for example, when I was at school, I can’t remember that being an issue… now it’s everywhere!

So not only do closed systems have to deal with all the current possible attacks and threats, they also have to deal with new ones.

In fact, when I think about it… I guess that’s why the more traditional ways of training end up sticking to their ‘history’ and do not develop with modern times.

But when I found Krav Maga Self Defence, I realised it was an ‘open’ system. 


I could learn to defend against one type of attack, and then translate that movement to something else, in a relatively short space of time. 

Take the classic ‘swinging punch/slap to the face’... Once I’ve taught somebody that, it’s pretty easy to translate that to something more severe, like a knife attack!

That’s why Krav Maga is advertised as ‘Simple and Easy to Learn’...

It doesn’t mean you can do two lessons and be BLACK BELT. 

It means that the training is all linked.

Or, as an instructor in Israel said to me… 

“Krav Maga is like islands with bridges… they are all connected, you can move from one to the other quite easily!”

I think that’s why so many people are now starting Krav Maga, and staying with it.  As they soon realise it doesn’t take years to learn, as everything is open…. And they get fitter at the same time! BONUS!

All that is needed is for you to find a good instructor, have some focus and show up to training!

Speak Soon

Jon

Adapt to Survive!

The problem with self-defence techniques is that more often than not, they are designed for specific situations. Where the ‘bad guy’ is going to be doing a particular thing, holding you in a particular way, all of which means a particular technique will work.

In reality, if that is the case, then bonus!

But what if the ‘bad guy’ changes their behaviour slightly.  Suddenly, that technique you’d trained 1000's of times suddenly doesn’t feel right, you might not feel 100% confident in the technique and end up freezing, and doing nothing as the situation gets progressively worse.

You see, most techniques are practiced  almost always with your favourite training partner, who’s about the same size and strength as you, you’re evenly ‘matched’ and "work" well together so, the technique works a dream; in the training room.

But the reality isn’t like that.

More than likely the person that decides to try and hurt you... specifically selected YOU!

You were either a victim of chance or worse a victim by choice!

Either way, the odds will be stacked against you... and you're not helping matters by always practicing the ‘ideal’ technique.

You should learn the ideal technique, but also the skill to adapt when needed.

Answer this question... Do you deflect the hand holding the knife to your neck, hit your attacker and escape or control the hand holding the knife and then hit back to escape?

If you’ve just answered yes to either part, then you're right but you’re missing one crucial point. The choice of which one you do may sometimes be yours, and at other times it will be made for you.

I’ve met so many people who’ve been training in self-defence but always in the ‘ideal’ way and that’s okay to begin with but as you progress you need to be able to adapt.  We humans are pretty good at adapting. Make sure you’re learning to apply it in your training.

You need options for when your ideal technique won’t work, situations such as different environments, the relative size and strength of your attacker, right down to how you are feeling at that moment when it happens.

This is one of the main reasons I started with Krav Maga to learn a system that teaches you an ideal option but then teaches you how to adapt when needed.

Because adaptation may make all the difference.

Speak soon,

Jon

Utter Nonsense Self-Defence!

I had an interesting… no hang on, that’s too polite… a ridiculous, conversation the other day regarding self-defence training.

One of the things that I do is write training packages for ‘high-risk teams’ employed in certain job roles.

Without sounding too cliche, I can’t say too much but you get the idea, people who need effective training solutions delivered over a short space of time.

I met with another ‘instructor’ the other day, who had also taught similar teams and he proceeded to tell me that the training he delivers is primarily centred around…

Wait for it…

Pinching and twisting skin, or poking people in the eyes.

This was the whole basis of his self defence training?

What utter nonsense!

Now, I am not saying that pinching someone, or poking them in the eye wouldn’t hurt and maybe buy you some time, but it’s certainly not something I’d focus a WHOLE training course on.

Human beings don’t really need to practice poking someone in the eye, I mean hey, you’ve probably poked yourself in the eye a few times.   And I am sure some annoying kid at school pinched you, and maybe you did that back to them.

You don’t need to spend a week practicing it, there are more useful skills to learn.

But my new ‘instructor’ friends disagreed.

So I presented to him with a (hypothetical) challenge.

Let’s say we had one week, we both had to train someone to defend themselves and then, at the end of the week they would meet in a ‘duel’.

He could spend the week training his ‘student’ in ONLY in pinching, biting and eye poking.  The stuff he believes in.

I could spend the week training my ‘student’ in ONLY striking with the hands and legs, keeping balance and structure, learning how to block and counter-strike, how to avoid going to the ground and, what to do if you end up on the ground, how to move and stand up quickly.

The stuff I believe in.

AND THEN…

ONE DAY before the ‘duel’... he is suddenly told he can teach all of the stuff I’ve been teaching to his student, and I (Mawwhahaha) can teach his stuff to my student in the same day.

You get my point?

I’ve just spend a week training my ‘warrior’ in the fundamentals of self defence & combat, he’s just a week training his ‘warrior’ in what they already know how to do and don’t really need to practice it that much.

I can easily teach his skills in one day, he can’t do the same with mine.

He’s just pretending.  Using quick ‘pain’ movements to wow some uneducated people in what he’ll undoubted call ‘secret techniques’ that can disable ANY opponent!

Let’s get real.

Spend time learning the stuff that builds your confidence and skill at the same time, and then just understanding that all the poking, pinching and biting stuff is there if you need it, but it is certainly not the basis of all of your training.

I’ve spent nearly 15 years teaching Krav Maga, I’ve trained all over the world and have trained some people to exceptional standards.

But apparently I should let them know it was time wasted, all they needed was pinching and poking!!

We humans are easily influenced.  Question everything, just because someone is a ‘instructor’ and might hold some authority, doesn’t mean what they are saying is true.  People believe all manner of BS these days.

Be sceptical.

Learn a system of self-defence that makes sense, and that builds a strong skill base for that moment in time you hope will never come.

Speak soon.

Jon

What is Situational Awareness?

Most of my time is spent teaching… but it’s not all just kicking and punching.

I spend a fair amount of time working with some BIG NAME companies, educating their staff about dealing with difficult people.

There are lots of courses out there for Conflict Management, (or whatever you want to call it).

But the fact it… most of them are rubbish!

Most ‘Conflict Management trainers’ like ‘buzz’ words!

They’ll throw phrases at you like ‘Situational Awareness’…

(That’s a military term that has been picked up and overused by those who never served!)

They’ll then proceed to bang on about some of their ‘experiences’, largely when they were ‘on the door’… BORING!

Describing situations of when you actively choose to put yourself in a job role that would likely see a significant level of aggravation…  is probably about the worse example to give to people who are just going about their normal daily lives and just want to stay safe.

If you’re going to and from the school gates, for a night out with your friends, or on holiday with the family… then you are hardly going to don your long black trench coat, put an ‘earpiece in’ and stand around being ‘situationally aware’!

Let’s get real…

Being aware of your surroundings is important, but not ALL the time on RED ALERT!


There’s a very simple way to think about it…

The People vs the Environment…

Do you know the people around you? YES

Do you know the Environment well? YES.

ANSWER = You can dial down your imminent FIGHTING STANCE!

 

Do you know the people around you? NO

Do you know the Environment well? NO.

ANSWER =  Open your eyes and pay a little more attention (less iphone staring!)

 

… and then you have those in between

Know the people, don’t know the environment…

Don’t know the people, know the environment…

 

You get the idea?

 

Who’s around you and where are you!

That’s a much simpler way to think about your ‘situational awareness’.

 

I’m off to Ninja Crawl to the corner shop… you never know!  😉

Have a great day!

Jon