8 Steps to Self-defense Review

Just taught another self-defense class on Wednesday. We reviewed my 8 Key Points of Self Defense Basics , 10 Things to prevent attacks3 Things to think about before getting mugged, and demonstrated a few easy techniques.  I decided that I should really explain or recap those techniques. These techniques are designed for complete beginners. There are better methods and moves but these should serve those who have little or not training — other than my class.

Pinning the attacker

Pin the attacker

Squat
Step out in a wide stance and bend your knees. In formal training, this will be called a Horse stance, Half-moon stance, or Fighting stance. Just remember to lower your center of gravity by squatting down. This is the first move of all the following techniques and happens after you remember to breathe.

Windmill
These arm moves can be done downward or upward. It looks like you’re madly crushing crackers in a bag on the table. These act as scans to deflect in coming strikes, as blocks for incoming strikes and as hammer strikes (your offensive strike). Remember that unless you learned how to perform a front punch properly, it is better to do a hammer or elbow strike. A poorly done front punch will hurt you more than your opponent.

Secondly, this Windmill move is also a wrist escape — a grab defense we teach at White Belt. Spin your arm in the direction their thumb is pointing or on. This releases the grip. After you are free, you run away.

Choke Defense
The key to all defenses against grabs and chokes is to start it before it makes contact. Use your upward Windmill to deflect the attack. Shuffle or step in and double hammer strike the bad guy’s collar bones. Screaming like a berserk Viking helps too. Yes, then it is time to run away.

Shoulder Grab
From your squat position, knuckle-strike the inside of the bad guy’s upper arm. Don’t hit the tricep or bicep. Strike the flat tender section in between. While he thinks about how much that actually hurt, you slap or hammer strike his face. Then you run away.

Bear Hug
Think of bears, honey and bees. This will help you remember the trick to get out. As the bad guy starts to hug the life out of you, pinch his ribs or fleshy inner upper arm like a bee. You can also bee sting (the pinch) the inner thigh area. Once he lets go, run away.

The final rule for self-defense is never, ever stop fighting. Never, ever give up unless you get your way. Punch, strike, hit, yell, and scratch until you are free. Pretend you are a cat just about to get a bath. Be the cat.

You should also read my posts about personal space and 5 ways to distract your opponent to round out your self-defense preparedness. Getting comfortable with a mugger so close to you and having a plan to distract him will provide you with ample opportunities to get away.

For those who attended my “Self-defense Workshops” long ago or more recently, I hope you enjoyed it. I also hope you never needed it. Either way, leave a comment below with questions or high praise for my class.

Until next time, train like a warrior.

It is important to know and prepare for self-defense

I. LAYING PLANS

The first chapter is called laying plans. It stresses building a foundation from which to rest all your skills and assets. I equate this with learning how to stand, punch, kick and move properly. There is no sense if rushing the process so you can be effective earlier. Rather it is better to build slowly and surely to get the most value and flexibility out of the process of learning.

Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin.  Hence it is a subject of inquiry, which can on no account be neglected.

What Sun Tzu is explaining is the importance of knowing. In our case, one must not neglect training in self-defense hoping that it won’t be needed. As he states, it is a matter of life and death. Putting off the training is the road to ruin while investing in the training is the road to safety.

Not everyone is interested in a comprehensive self-defense course, the whole martial arts way of life. Some are content with a quick four-session course. That is fine but won’t serve you in all situations. Remember that life-long study of martial arts, such as Kempo-jutsu, prepares the body, mind and spirit for combat in all its forms. You never know when you’ll need it or how it will appear. Continuous study provides the renewal of physical and mental skills on a regular basis.

Remember that self-defense is a skill-based activity that requires constant maintenance to remain effective. That’s one thing self-defense experts often forget to mention. You spend a few hours honing some simple motor skills but in six months, you’ll loose the speed and skill. Although it make take a little longer to develop equal self-defense skills in a martial arts school, you put the material deep in the tissue so to speak. You really internalize the material allowing you to adapt and react even when you’re a out of practice.

In scouting, they have a motto of “be prepared”, that is true with your defense too. Take the time to learn a little. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to perform effectively.

System General Category Time to Use Self-Defense Skill Skill Retention
Self-Defense Self-Defense Short High Low
Kempo-jutsu Self-Defense Long High High
Olympic Style Sport Long Low High

What my overly generalized chart depicts is my view on the strengths and weaknesses of corporate self-defense, a self-defense-oriented martial art (like Golden Leopard’s Hawaiian Shaolin Kempo-jutsu) and a more sport-like martial art. They all their focus. If you like to compete in tournaments and look absolutely amazing when performing katas and weapon routines, seek out an olympic style art. If you hate spending more than a few hours on any task, join a corporate-level self-defense workshop. If you want long-term survivability, you need to seek out a solid, self-defense-focused martial art.

When you read, “Learn what your sensei didn’t teach you.” Remember there are things these self-defense experts are also leaving out. As Sun Tzu suggests, the subject of inquiry can not be neglected. Educate yourself and be your own expert.

Don’t agree? Tell me why in the comments.

GOLD Team Program: Leadership Training

GOLD stands for Guidance on Leadership Development.  This program includes comprehensive training on leadership skills that build personal character and life skills.  The GOLD Team Program creates a solid, high-quality leadership team, which serve as exemplars to the student body.  Benefits of the program include:

  • Personal development through character enrichment
  • Effective communication to individuals and groups
  • Leadership skills essential for getting groups to work together
  • Motivation skills and how to maintain it in a group setting
  • How to teach our curriculum effectively
  • Mentoring other students to help them stay focused on their goals

The GOLD TEAM is (usually) made up of Advanced Training Club or Black Belt Club members who show excellent interpersonal skills and a super-winning attitude. Having Olympic-level technique is not required. Acceptance onto the GOLD team is based mainly upon great attitude, world-class effort, and consistent attendance.Correcting a child's body position

This program allows a student interested in taking a leadership role to be mentored under a Certified Master Instructor. GOLD Team members are eligible for jobs as Junior Assistant Instructor (at lower rank classes) and attend staff workouts and meetings.

GOLD Team is the first step in the journey to becoming a Kempo or Martial Arts Instructor. A candidate student must show a passion for the art of Kempo and excel at displaying all the moral tenets Karazenpo go Shinjutsu / Hawaiian Shaolin Kempo. The candidate should also demonstrate a desire to share his or her knowledge with others and maintain a goal of Black Belt Excellence.

For our younger members (Keiki Kempo), we require a report card that reflects good behavior and good grades along with permission from their parents. To be considered for GOLD, a student would inform the Senior Instructor of their interest.

GOLD team members are considered leaders of our school and are trained to assist in classes along with our professional instructors. It makes a great place to get your start if you are interested in eventually teaching martial arts as a job or career.

Membership Rules

  • You must be at least 5 minutes early for the class or classes you are mentoring.
  • If you are unable to make class, you must call the school and call someone on the list to fill in for you.
  • Always be in a good mood, don’t come in if you are less than 100% (positive attitude, good health, fully rested).  Anything less and you are a distraction to the students and parents.
  • Someone always needs help. Seek them out and offer your assistance.
  • You must wear a clean school shirt underneath your clean kempo uniform.
  • If you miss 3 times without calling the school or calling someone to fill in for you –you are off the team.

“Golden Leopard Kempo’s Instructors share a common goal. It is having the passion, enthusiasm, and pride to be able to teach and help others become successful. Having the ability to motivate and encourage students to challenge themselves mentally, spiritually, and physically, to set goals and to achieve them.” — Master Bagnas

All of Golden Leopard Kempo’s Instructors and GOLD Leadership Team are personally taught and mentored by Master Bagnas in GLKO’s extensive GOLD Instructor Training Program (Guidance on Leadership Development).

Regular attendance at weekly and monthly Instructor Training Sessions with Master Bagnas is mandatory. Golden Leopard Kempo expects and seeks the high standards from its students. GLKO’s GOLD Team is expected to attend professional development courses, workshops and seminars throughout the year. Finally, First Aid, CPR, and/or baby-sitting certifications are a mandatory requirement each year to ensure student and community safety. Remember that we are warriors in and outside the Dojo.

Slippery Socks

Last night in class, we had a case of slippery socks. A student was cold, after all it is raining in San Diego, a cold rain. Slippery socks can be used as a training tool. Use it to adjust to slippery conditions of an unknown combat situation.

She retorted that she would just pick where to fight or defend herself. Alas, that is not an option in self-defense. The situation picks you regardless of the suitability of the terrain.

So when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When training gives you difficulties, make it a learning experience.

How to Control Fear

Fear is a cruel master. It can cause you to flee or react without planning. Fear just is a warning device. Do not let it control your actions and reactions. Accept the emotion of fear. Know that it is there for a reason and acknowledge it. Do not let it dictate irrational actions instead of rational actions.

“There is a time to take counsel of your fears, and there is a time to never listen to any fear.”  ~ George S. Patton

When you are walking somewhere minding your own business and you suddenly become afraid, that is your mind telling you of trouble. Take note of that and react accordingly by scanning the surround area for danger. Plan for an attack and determine the best way to get out of the dangerous situation. Often times when you do this, no attack will arrive. This is because you took appropriate action.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.” ~ Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 12 (1894)

One way to manage your fear is to breathe. I often use ten short breaths to calm my inner self. It brings clarity to the situation. The biological effects of fear are an adrenaline surge and the shortness of breath. You stop breathing or hold your breath. This technique of taking ten short breaths will overcome this biological response. Training when you are tired and fatigued will help with the adrenaline surge and its after affects.

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.” ~ William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act II, sc. ii (1599)

You control fear by will. You take charge of your own mental facilities and actions. You just do it.

There is No Try

In the movie Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back, Master Yoda’s famous line is, “Do or do not. There is no try.” This quote is so applicable to martial arts training. If you’re going to do something, do it as well as you can. Excel at all your endeavors, even in practice.

There is no sense in practicing your material in a half-hearted manner–which means quickly or in a lazy fashion. Rather endeavor to practice each move and each step with clear intent. You don’t have to do each move at full speed but you do have to do it with a serious mind. Do a low stance. Punch with snap and power even if it is slow or half-strength. Use the proper steps when there is room. Make them proper when there is no room.

Two more quotes will help bring this concept home. “Perfect practice makes perfect” and “You do what you practice.”

Three Levels to Develop Great Techniques

How do you develop great Kempo techniques through contemplation and exploration? The dojo is your martial laboratory. Test the techniques, evaluate them and then improve them. But first you need to learn it well, and by well I don’t mean only rote memory.

You can distill the process of learning into categories or levels of learning. Traverse these three levels of learning to really digest and infuse your body with true martial prowess. The levels are:

Foundation level — At this level, you do things by the book. You’re at this level when you are White to Green Belt. You must learn things the exact way they are taught so you can develop the proper body mechanics and positioning. Don’t assume that you’re good enough to make changes at this stage. Compare this to thinking you knew how to make a better A when you were learning to write. You still couldn’t make a proper A yet. Learn each move the proper way then take on the next level when it is time.

Adaptation level – At this level, you are exploring variations and what-ifs. You enter this level about Green Belt and remain until Black Belt. In Kempo, you are not a “master” at Black Belt. You are merely very proficient. At this time, you start to appreciate the differences in the sizes and shapes of the uke (practice partner). It makes a difference with how you do each step of the technique. Also his bodily and defenses reactions may alter how you continue to perform each successive move. Learn to flow from move to move and make changes to adapt to the shifting targets.

Analysis level — At this level, you reduce the techniques to smaller pieces and explore how each one works on Kempo principles. Then rebuild the technique using Kempo theories to become a spontaneous fighter. You’re at this level when your reach advanced Black Belt. This is where you dissect what you are doing and see how the pieces fit together. Why are we doing this move? Why does the body do that? What are the additional attacks and targets for each technique? How would the target respond or counter? How does it relate to pressure points and acupuncture meridian lines? The list of potential questions goes on.

Dissecting the technique is a good strategy for really learning a move or technique. Teaching and analyzing it are two other methods for improving comprehension and understanding. This is why it behooves Black Belts to begin teaching or assisting in classes–where legally permitted by municipalities and local laws.

What is the net gain by doing this? You become a very good artist, an exemplar of Kempo. Don’t worry about what rank you are or if others respect your lineage. All that matters is if you can walk the talk–defend yourself using the Kempo you truly learned. Don’t settle for “knowing” techniques like a dance move. Know it on an unconscious level, a goal we’re all striving for.

7 Reasons why seminars are good for you

From time to time you see promotions, flyers and invites to various martial arts seminars around town or in nearby cities. Many feature famous celebrities while others feature little known but none the less great martial artists. Chances are, they do not teach YOUR style of martial arts. Is it worth it?

I think these seminars are worth the time and trouble. Here’s why:

  1. Different instructor — Experiencing how another person teaches is a great way to see diversity in instruction methods. Certain styles mesh well with different people but a single method doesn’t fit all people all of the time.
  2. New point of view — A new instructor and a new style will give you a new point of view on combat and philosophy. You already know how your style thinks about attacks, defense and training. Now you can compare it to something else.
  3. Theory – Generally, seminars don’t teach their normal curriculum. Rather they tend to focus on “theories” and “related techniques” so you can get maximize the usefulness of the education. The theories, concepts and ideas allow you to go back and tinker with your own material.
  4. Different emphasis — This benefit relates to the previous three. A new instructor and style places emphasis on different things. For instance, Kempo may focus on hand speed and strikes while a seminar on Tai Chi may focus on leg strength and balance. This helps you notice deficiencies in your own training due to a myopic training routine. This doesn’t mean your training is bad or wrong. It means you tend to repeat the things that you think are important and forget about the other stuff.
  5. New training partners — There is not comparison to training with a new partner or uke from a different system. They don’t fall “right” or attack “right”. You get to really work on your material with a new sense of effectiveness. Can you make it work on opponents who are resisting or don’t know what you are doing? Think of it as a new batch of test subjects for your laboratory.
  6. Expands the mind — All the points listed above will help you expand your mind. We don’t live in isolated pools where everyone does things the same way as we do. This is a plural society and opening up to new ideas and concepts helps us grow and become smarter. It may also unlock “hidden moves” in your own training. A few seminars did that for me.
  7. Learn cool techniques — Finally and arguably the best reason is you get a batch of new cool moves. My favorite part about martial arts is learning new things. My second favorite part is learning new things that look cool. This may be shallow and not very master -like but hey, I’m honest. These things keep me practicing, training, and inspired to do the real work of grinding out all the necessary drills.

So if you’re wondering if that interesting martial arts seminar is right for you, take a chance and go. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

Got a seminar you want to promote, email me. If you have a story about a seminar that profoundly changed you, leave a comment below.

Many to one relationship

There are an infinite ways to be attacked. Learning a defense or two for each one of those way would is impossible. I’ve done a lot of computer programming and database design. There is a concept of relational links between data types. Is it one to many or many to one.

An example of one to many would be a customer identification number. The customer has one number but it links to all their orders. That’s one to many. In a way it is a method of sorting the information into smaller chunks or sets. This is what we apply to our martial arts.

Let’s chunk a range of attacks or an angle of the attack into a group. One particular attack or an infinite amount can come from that angle or range of angles. This allows us to reduce the infinite attacks to a set of perhaps 12 or so attack groups. This is a much more manageable number of things to learn and remember. You can actually get good at this reduced set of attack types. Then again anything is better than learning an infinite amount of something.

You can’t learn a technique for every situation you will encounter. Rather you learn pieces of defenses to apply to your situation. It is modifying on the fly that represents the best warrior not how many or how well they can do a technique in a sterile situation.

In your quest to be a good student, take concepts from other walks of life or fields. Can they be applied to your art? Can that way of thinking open up new ideas and concepts? Thought of one that you’d like to share? Well, put it in your comments and we’ll discuss.

Do Your Homework

Practice routines and techniques at home. Yes Kempo has homework! The best method of acquiring new skills is to practice daily. This helps on three fronts.

  • Practice helps you retain the information
  • Continual review of material helps you understand the information
  • Repetitive movements become smoother and ingrained in the body — muscle memory

In short, there is no fast way of gain great skills in Kempo without practicing a lot. Just like in school, homework is a form of practice for math, writing and science. You need to do it so you can learning, know it and apply it. Don’t shirk your obligation to do homework whether it is assigned (or not) from school or martial arts. It just helps.

Take some time to reprogram yourself. Pop culture via television shows constantly bombards you with false information such as “home work is boring”. When you reprogram your thoughts, you teach yourself that homework is enjoyable. Fake it until you make it. If you don’t like it, continue to do it until you do see the value and thus enjoy the work.

The path to success requires effort. My favorite quote is from Thomas Edison.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Divide the material up into sections that are doable each day. For instance, you can assign Monday as Kata day, Tuesday becomes Weapon Defense day and Wednesday can be Combination day. Just rotate the schedule and keep working.

That’s all I have today.