Black Belt - - CONTENTS - Da­mon Gil­bert’s web­site is bitwmma.com.

Ka­jukenbo author­ity aa­mon dilbert looks at the role weapons should play in the train­ing of a modern mar­tial artistK eis opin­ions come from a ca­reer in law en­force­mentI so you can rest as­sured he knows what he’s talk­ing about.

I haven’ t seen Da­mon Gil­bert’ s mar­tial arts re­sume, but it’ s got to be among the most di­verse in our world. He’ s trained and com­peted since he was 6. He’ s been a black belt ink a juke nb o—a hy­brid sys­tem com­posed of karate, ju­jitsu, judo, ken po and Chi­nese box­ing—since 1991. He’ s served as a po­lice of­fi­cer in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia, since 1997, and for most of that time, he’ s taught defensive tac­tics. And he’ s earned 14 world ti­tles in tour­na­ments, which is why he was named Black Belt’ s 2017 Com­peti­tor of the Year. What does all this add up to? Some sage ad­vice on prac­ti­cally any mar­tial arts topic. We delved into sev­eral such top­ics in our Fe­bru­ary/ March 2018 is­sue. Here, we con­cen­trate on weapons.—Editor For self-de­fense, are there any tools or weapons you rec­om­mend peo­ple carry? Let’s ex­clude guns be­cause of all the laws that need to be fol­lowed.

I rec­om­mend all the usual weapons — a knife, a kub­otan, pep­per spray, a tac­ti­cal flash­light — but you have to get train­ing. Ba­si­cally, carry any­thing that’s le­gal and that you can get train­ing with.

All tools are de­cent when you have the op­por­tu­nity to use them at the right moment. It can go bad when you pull out a tool you haven’t trained with and it ends up be­ing used on you.

For a tool to work, op­er­a­tor ma­nip­u­la­tion has to be there. Of­ten, when a tool doesn’t work, it’s be­cause of the op­er­a­tor, not be­cause of the tool it­self. When it’s le­gal, there’s noth­ing wrong with pep­per spray. There’s noth­ing wrong with us­ing your car keys. There’s noth­ing wrong with a kub­otan. But you have to get train­ing in how to use them, as well as how to re­tain them in case some­one tries to take them away from you. You shouldn’t think an al­ter­ca­tion in­volv­ing a weapon will al­ways be one-di­men­sional.

Do you also ad­vise peo­ple not to think that de­ploy­ing or us­ing a weapon will end the con­fronta­tion?

Yes. I was re­cently lec­tur­ing a po­lice academy class, and I told them that un­til they in­vent a Taser that also de­ploys hand­cuffs, they will still have to get into hand-to-hand range. They will still have to grab the per­son and ef­fect the ar­rest. It’s the same with civil­ians. Not ev­ery­thing works the way it’s sup­posed to.

One ex­am­ple is pep­per spray. Not ev­ery form of it works on ev­ery per­son, just as not ev­ery con­trol hold works on ev­ery per­son. There are guys who rush you and fin­ish their take­down af­ter be­ing sprayed with pep­per spray. We ac­tu­ally train our peo­ple in the academy to do that. We spray them and make them do 25 push-ups and 10 ba­ton strikes on the bag, af­ter which they must take the role-player into cus­tody. Only then do we let them flush their eyes out with water.

We want them to learn the lim­i­ta­tions of par­tic­u­lar tools, which in this case is pep­per spray. Some peo­ple im­me­di­ately scream bloody mur­der. Some peo­ple get in punches as long as they can stand it. You have to un­der­stand the pros and cons of any tool be­fore you start car­ry­ing it.

Why do so few peo­ple rec­om­mend us­ing a stun gun for self-de­fense?

When I first got hired [at the Oak­land Po­lice Depart­ment], we would re­ceive lots of re­ports in which lawen­force­ment of­fi­cers used a stun gun and it was ef­fec­tive. I think they came into ques­tion be­cause they didn’t give you that dis­tance you want. OC [gas], on the other hand, does give you dis­tance. With a stun gun, you have to be in punch­ing range and maybe grap­pling range to use it. So if it’s not ef­fec­tive or the cloth­ing doesn’t per­mit it to be ef­fec­tive, you’re in a fist­fight and the other guy might be big­ger and nas­tier than you.

How im­por­tant is train­ing in weapons de­fense?

I be­lieve I’m alive to­day be­cause of the train­ing I’ve had in ka­jukenbo and law-en­force­ment defensive tac­tics. Train­ing is the No. 1 key to sur­viv­ing a vi­o­lent en­counter. It al­ways goes back to the train­ing and how prac­ti­cal and re­al­is­tic it is — and how open you are to ev­ery­thing. I’ve been shot at, had knives pulled on me and been in hand-to-hand com­bat, and I’m lucky to be here, and it’s be­cause of the re­flex de­vel­op­ment that comes from reg­u­lar train­ing.

Re­mem­ber that it’s a per­ish­able skill. The thing about mar­tial arts is, once you stop car­ing about her, she’ll treat you the same way. Do you want the tech­niques to be in­stinc­tive and work un­der pres­sure? Then you have to give her the at­ten­tion she de­serves. If your tech­niques don’t work, don’t be mad at her be­cause she wasn’t around. You weren’t around for her.

Just how preva­lent are weapons on the street th­ese days?

They’re very preva­lent. When we look at FBI stud­ies from the 1960s and ’70s, we see a higher in­ci­dence of clubs and knives be­ing used. Since the ’80s, it’s got­ten pro­gres­sively worse. Now we see a lot more firearms. Weapons are more com­mon than some peo­ple want to know. Some­times it’s drug re­lated, and some­times it’s not. A lot of crimes that in­volve weapons oc­cur in ar­eas where there’s a turf war. They also oc­cur when peo­ple feel they need a weapon be­cause of the trade they’re in.

When an al­ter­ca­tion is un­fold­ing, should mar­tial artists tell them­selves that ev­ery ad­ver­sary has a weapon even if they don’t see one — just so they’re ready?

What I tell myself and my stu­dents is that the hands kill. If you keep part of your aware­ness on your ad­ver­sary’s hands, that will cover the pos­si­bil­ity that he has a knife, a gun or any other weapon. That’s some­thing I preach.

Some peo­ple in the tra­di­tional mar­tial arts com­mu­nity think their styles are best for weapons de­fense — par­tic­u­larly if the user has had suc­cess in com­pe­ti­tion. Mean­while, some peo­ple in the MMA com­mu­nity claim MMA is better be­cause it’s more ef­fec­tive over­all. What are your thoughts?

No sport is tougher than any other sport be­cause none is even close to what goes on in a street fight. You can’t tell me that your UFC ti­tle will pre­pare you any better for times when some­body pulls out a weapon to use against you than my 14 point-fight­ing ti­tles do. None of the mar­tial arts sports ad­dress mul­ti­ple at­tack­ers, im­pact weapons, edged weapons or sur­vival dur­ing live fire. That has to be covered in train­ing, not com­pe­ti­tion.

In­stead, I re­ally push stress-in­oc­u­la­tion train­ing — get­ting your stress level up and still be­ing able to func­tion. You want to make your train­ing as re­al­is­tic as pos­si­ble. For po­lice of­fi­cers, that could mean us­ing paint­ball rounds and pro­tec­tive gear or doing knife de­fense with knives that give you an elec­tric shock. That makes ev­ery­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, but it teaches things like, Did you get off the line of fire when you did your gun de­fense? Did you con­trol the knife dur­ing your dis­arm? This is the only prac­ti­cal way to train when you have to put your­self in po­si­tions where weapons are likely to be in­volved.

What ad­vice do you have for mar­tial artists who are wor­ried about be­com­ing a vic­tim of a mass shoot­ing?

In the end, you have to live your life. You can’t just live in fear all the time. In law en­force­ment, we al­ways tell peo­ple, “You can train for a lot of things, but the one you can’t pre­pare for is the am­bush.” By def­i­ni­tion, that means you didn’t see it com­ing.

You should, how­ever, be alert. You have to think about the kinds of sit­u­a­tions you’re putting your­self into and then try to ex­pect the un­ex­pected when­ever pos­si­ble. Where are the ex­its? What around you could be used as cover or con­ceal­ment — in other words, what will stop a bul­let and what will just mask your pres­ence?

There are other things, of course, like watch­ing the hands of any stranger you’re talk­ing to, but it’s a thin line be­tween mak­ing your­self alert and ready and mak­ing your­self para­noid.

“The thing about mar­tial arts is, once you stop car­ing about her, she’ll treat you the same way. Do you want the tech­niques to be in­stinc­tive and work un­der pres­sure? Then you have to give her the at­ten­tion she de­serves.”

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