SELFDE­FENSE 101

THE FIRST BATTLE IS AGAINST IN­COR­RECT AS­SUMP­TIONS.

American Survival Guide - - GEAR GUIDE - BY MICHAEL D’ANGONA

Be­ing able to de­fend your­self against an un­pro­voked at­tack is, with­out a doubt, a great skill for a per­son to ac­quire and use when needed through­out their ev­ery­day life.

How­ever, for the per­son just be­gin­ning their jour­ney to achieve this goal, the path to suc­cess is of­ten clut­tered with mis­in­for­ma­tion, widely be­lieved mis­con­cep­tions and false prom­ises that, unfortunately, lead many to aban­don their pur­suit al­to­gether. This abrupt end­ing can have dev­as­tat­ing re­sults in the fu­ture if they be­come the tar­get of an ag­gres­sive and vi­o­lent con­fronta­tion.

The key to not let­ting this hap­pen to you lies in both do­ing your home­work—by sift­ing through the lay­ers of in­for­ma­tion to find the re­al­ity be­hind the fal­la­cies— and, of course, phys­i­cally per­fect­ing your skills. The com­bi­na­tion of a strong-willed and ed­u­cated mind and en­hanced phys­i­cal abil­ity will be your an­swer to those who think you are their vic­tim—one who can be eas­ily bul­lied and con­trolled. They will clearly be se­verely mis­taken and, unfortunately for them, they will learn that the hard way!

ANY MAR­TIAL ART WILL WORK

“Mar­tial arts” and “self-de­fense” are not syn­ony­mous, al­though many peo­ple think this is the case. The fact is that the world of mar­tial arts, in gen­eral, is huge and di­verse. From promi­nently pro­mot­ing phi­los­o­phy, sport com­pe­ti­tions, ex­er­cise, fit­ness and self-de­fense, mar­tial arts run the gamut of per­sonal ben­e­fits that, at times, do com­ple­ment and con­trib­ute to true self-de­fense and, at other times, are en­tirely on the far side of the spec­trum. Your mis­sion is to dis­sect the var­i­ous arts by book or In­ter­net re­search, watch­ing live classes and ask­ing ques­tions of in­struc­tors and par­tic­i­pants. This will help nar­row your choices re­gard­ing which mar­tial arts can di­rectly and ef­fec­tively be used when your life, or the life of a loved one, is on the line.

BOOKS AND VIDEOS

You can com­ple­ment your phys­i­cal train­ing with books and videos … but learn? Not so much. Var­i­ous me­dia out­lets should be used to ex­pand upon the ma­te­rial cov­ered in your self-de­fense (or mar­tial arts) classes. They are great for more indepth or deeper de­tail on tech­niques you re­cently learned or sce­nar­ios you are ea­ger to ex­plore.

Noth­ing re­places the phys­i­cal con­tact you ex­pe­ri­ence by train­ing with real peo­ple. The dif­fer­ent heights and weights, strength lev­els, flex­i­bil­ity and speed of move­ment of your at­tacker are all needed to fine-tune your tech­niques; and this is some­thing a book, DVD or Youtube video just can’t pro­vide.

FLASHY TECH­NIQUES WON’T WORK

Un­like what you see in movies or on tele­vi­sion, many self-de­fense or mar­tial arts moves are sim­ple, fast and to the point. The flashy, high-fly­ing kicks, con­stant ex­change of punches with­out true phys­i­cal dam­age and the abil­ity to shake off a di­rect hit from a hard punch—or even a weapon—are not re­al­ity. Short, quick tech­niques are needed to stun your at­tacker and al­low you to get out of the sit­u­a­tion quickly.

YOU CAN’T DE­FEND AGAINST MUL­TI­PLE AT­TACK­ERS

Not true. Many self-de­fense styles reg­u­larly prac­tice mul­ti­ple-at­tacker sce­nar­ios, be­cause the odds of you get­ting at­tacked by more than one per­son are ac­tu­ally very high. Groups or small gangs of peo­ple feel more pow­er­ful if they have backup, and they use this to their ad­van­tage when a solo vic­tim is in their sights. Your mis­sion, if con­fronted by two or more peo­ple, is to know the skills needed to evade and es­cape, rather than think­ing you can “take out” the en­tire at­tack­ing crowd as if you’re the hero of a 1980s ac­tion movie. Many mar­tial art schools and self-de­fense classes teach the proper way to move about the crowd and even use the ex­tra at­tack­ers to your ad­van­tage.

The key to sur­viv­ing a mul­ti­ple at­tacker sit­u­a­tion is to al­ways stay mo­bile, keep all at­tack­ers con­stantly in your view and con­tin­u­ously look for your first op­por­tu­nity to es­cape.

STRENGTH AL­WAYS WINS OUT

No; an at­tacker with su­pe­rior strength doesn’t au­to­mat­i­cally mean de­feat for you. A mus­cle-bound at­tacker, al­though in­tim­i­dat­ing at first, can be neu­tral­ized. But you first need to un­der­stand why cer­tain tech­niques work against a stronger foe and learn how to counter their strength with your speed and mo­bil­ity, smart-strik­ing (strik­ing vi­tal ar­eas, in­clud­ing the eyes, nose, throat, groin, etc., which can­not be tough­ened from reg­u­lar weight train­ing) and joint ma­nip­u­la­tion to the point that their own strength will be used against them.

YOU CAN­NOT FORE­SEE AN AT­TACK BE­FORE IT HAP­PENS, BUT YOU CAN RE­DUCE YOUR CHANCES OF BE­COM­ING A TAR­GET … BY FOL­LOW­ING SOME VERY SIM­PLE AND FUN­DA­MEN­TAL PRE­CAU­TIONS.

SMALLER PEO­PLE ARE AT A DIS­AD­VAN­TAGE

Like the su­pe­rior strength fal­lacy men­tioned ear­lier, the phys­i­cal size of a per­son isn’t in di­rect pro­por­tion to their skill level or abil­ity. Peo­ple with smaller frames or a less-mus­cu­lar build can over­come larger op­po­nents. The so­lu­tion lies in both prac­tic­ing ap­pli­ca­ble tech­niques and con­sciously mak­ing an ef­fort to work with larger op­po­nents dur­ing your class ses­sions.

As pro­fi­ciency in­creases, the in­tim­i­da­tion fac­tor that, “he is too big” will fade, and a larger op­po­nent will be­come just an “op­po­nent.” Tech­niques taught to de­stroy a big­ger per­son’s foun­da­tion, such as lower­body strikes, sweeps, knee stomps, etc., will aid in cut­ting a larger op­po­nent down to size!

YOU CAN’T PRE­VENT BE­ING A RAN­DOM TAR­GET

You can­not fore­see an at­tack be­fore it hap­pens, but you can re­duce your chances of be­com­ing a tar­get in the first place by fol­low­ing some very sim­ple and fun­da­men­tal pre­cau­tions:

• First, al­ways walk with con­fi­dence and pur­pose. Scan your im­me­di­ate path and send a sig­nal to those in­tent on tar­get­ing you that you will not be an easy hit. On the con­trary—peo­ple obliv­i­ous to the world around them while chat­ting away on their phones or dis­tracted by a stress-filled day are prey wait­ing to be pounced upon. • Sec­ond, walk in groups of two or more. Peo­ple walk­ing alone pose less of a risk to an at­tacker, thereby mak­ing them a prime tar­get.

• Fi­nally, if some­thing doesn’t “feel” right, it prob­a­bly isn’t. Lis­ten to your in­ner voice (in na­ture, it’s called “in­stinct”), and don’t con­tinue on your present course. Fight­ing your nat­u­ral in­stincts with logic or your emo­tional heart will only get you hurt … or worse.

THE COM­BI­NA­TION OF A STRONGWILLED AND ED­U­CATED MIND AND EN­HANCED PHYS­I­CAL ABIL­ITY WILL BE YOUR AN­SWER TO THOSE WHO THINK YOU ARE THEIR VIC­TIM— ONE WHO CAN BE EAS­ILY BUL­LIED AND CON­TROLLED.

CAR­RY­ING A WEAPON AL­WAYS HELPS

Car­ry­ing a weapon will help—but only if you know how to prop­erly use it and how to keep it out of the hands of your at­tacker. More of­ten than not, peo­ple fall into a false sense of se­cu­rity be­cause they carry mace or pep­per spray on their key­chains or have a knife or small ba­ton

in their back pocket. These are all very good self-de­fense items, but they are use­ful only if you know how to quickly ac­cess them prior to an at­tack and how to use them with suf­fi­cient skill so they are not a hin­drance while de­fend­ing your­self.

As with any tool or weapon, reg­u­lar prac­tice is a ne­ces­sity to be­come com­fort­able wield­ing it when it mat­ters. Every­thing—the ini­tial draw, the ap­pli­ca­tion and the fin­ish— should all be smooth and flaw­less. Only then does car­ry­ing a weapon be­come a smart and prac­ti­cal idea.

... THE PHYS­I­CAL SIZE OF A PER­SON ISN’T IN DI­RECT PRO­POR­TION TO THEIR SKILL LEVEL OR ABIL­ITY. PEO­PLE WITH SMALLER FRAMES OR A LESS-MUS­CU­LAR BUILD CAN OVER­COME LARGER OP­PO­NENTS.

GYM CLASSES ARE GREAT RE­SOURCES

Don’t con­fuse car­dio-kick­box­ing with true box­ing or kick­box­ing. Sweat­ing while punch­ing a bag and shoot­ing out kicks to an in­vis­i­ble tar­get is not self-de­fense train­ing. It does work your car­dio, which is al­ways a good thing, but it isn’t go­ing to save your life when or if you are at­tacked.

Fur­ther­more, a one-time sem­i­nar or special class that teaches women’s self-de­fense is great to in­tro­duce life-sav­ing skills. How­ever, the stu­dents won’t re­tain or be able to ef­fec­tively em­u­late the tech­niques shown af­ter only one ex­po­sure. Con­sis­tent train­ing (at least two days a week is the un­of­fi­cial norm) is re­quired to be­come pro­fi­cient and able to nat­u­rally per­form the tech­niques.

YOU CAN ES­CAPE UN­HURT

It would be great to say you can es­cape un­harmed, but unfortunately, most times, this isn’t the case. It might sound strange, but it’s in your best in­ter­est to al­ways ex­pect to take a hit or two (or worse) dur­ing a phys­i­cal con­flict. The shock of get­ting hit, if never ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore, will cause you to freeze, grab your af­fected area and put your­self at risk by not giv­ing your full at­ten­tion to neu­tral­iz­ing the at­tack.

This men­tal­ity can also be put into prac­tice dur­ing your train­ing ses­sions. When you mis­cal­cu­late and a punch or kick makes con­tact with your face or stom­ach, for in­stance (and it will hap­pen quite a num­ber of times), ig­nore it, shake it off, and don’t stop your counter-of­fen­sive.

h Left: Use of high kicks to your op­po­nent’s head or body usu­ally isn’t prac­ti­cal in true life-or-death de­fen­sive sit­u­a­tions. (Photo: Big­stock)

Above: Kick­box­ing, while great for en­durance and strik­ing prac­tice, doesn’t of­fer true self-de­fense sce­nario train­ing. (Photo: Big­stock)

Left:

A stun gun de­vice can get the job done, but plac­ing the “shock” is not al­ways an easy task to per­form un­der stress. (Photo: Big­stock)

Left:

Di­rect de­fen­sive tech­niques such as knee strikes are eas­ily learned and sim­ple to prac­tice. (Photo: Big­stock)

Be­low left:

In an at­tack, men usu­ally grab or hold women to con­trol them. Study­ing sim­i­lar sce­nar­ios with big­ger, stronger op­po­nents in class helps to “feel” what re­ally hap­pens dur­ing an ag­gres­sive at­tack. (Photo: Big­stock)

Be­low right: Pep­per spray can aid in self-de­fense, but hav­ing it in­hand and ready to shoot is cru­cial to de­fend­ing your­self from an at­tacker. (Photo: Big­stock)

Over­come larger op­po­nents by strik­ing vi­tal ar­eas of the body and ap­ply­ing quick and ef­fec­tive joint-lock­ing tech­niques. (Photo: Michael D’angona)

Trust your gut—not your heart or mind—when some­thing just doesn’t feel right. (Photo: Big­stock)

Don’t con­fuse “sport” mar­tial arts with prac­ti­cal self-de­fense. It can get you se­verely hurt ... or killed. (Photo: Big­stock)

Some mar­tial arts, such as some types of Kung fu, em­pha­size form and grace­ful move­ments over prac­ti­cal self-de­fense skills. (Photo: Big­stock)

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