Law Enforcement & Security

Priming Witnesses: Look the Part when Defending Yourself

Violence Happens Fast

The last blog post of 2013, How to Look Like a Victim for Self-Defense generated a fair bit of discussion and raised some questions that I would like to take a bit of time to address a little more in-depth. There were of questions raised I would like to address specifically:

  1. Why do I need to do this at all, why can’t I just explain it afterwards, I’ve never been in trouble with the law before.
  2. Why would a smaller person attack larger people?

Why do I need to look like a victim?

In my line of work, the event security industry, we call this act priming witnesses. That means getting them aware of the context of the situation they are witnessing. When I need to remove someone from the premises for whatever reason, I take a calm measured approach, explain loudly and clearly why I need someone to leave (unless it would cause undue embarrassment on behalf of the subject, which could lead to a fight), and ask them to do so. I use a relaxed but ready stance, open hands. When force is required I give loud verbal commands, often in the phrase, “stop resisting,” or “get on the ground.” I make it clear I am only using physical force because the suspect is making it necessary.

Comments (3)

5 Things I Learned about Fighting from Captain Kirk

5 Things I Learned about Fighting from Captain KirkSome of you may already know this, but I am a sci-fi geek. I am a big fan of Star Trek and have thoroughly enjoyed J.J. Abrams’s alternative reality, modernized version of the original series with Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and all the characters that made that show. While I won’t engage in arguments over which Star Trek captain was best, I do have a soft spot for Kirk’s fighting spirit, and have found myself citing examples from Star Trek to illustrate certain points. This article delves into this more deeply. *SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t seen the first new re-make of Star Trek and want to see it fresh, don’t read this article until after you’ve seen it.


Comments (1)

Why Arrests Appear So Violent

If you want to watch videos of police purportedly assaulting someone in the pursuit of an arrest, it will only take you seconds to find them online. It doesn’t matter that they often lack context, only include the part the videographer wants you to see, or actually depict legitimate police/security brutality, the fact is arrests often look overly brutal to people who don’t know what they’re watching. (more…)

Comments (2)

Danger Cues You Can See to Prepare You for Self-Defense

Dangers You Can See to Prepare You for Self-DefenseI’m what I like to call a little blind. My vision is close to perfect, but at a distance things become a little fuzzy. I always joke the reason I wear glasses or contact lenses is so I can tell the difference from a garbage bag and a black bear from a kilometre off while driving. I know, it’s not very funny.

Last week, Lori Sensei discussed how taking your eyes out of the equation can help you learn techniques that require a great deal of tactile feedback. That your eyes can sometimes provide you with misleading information, making it more difficult to do a joint lock. Today I’m going to look at the importance of vision in self-defense.

While I am only a little blind, I always wear corrective contact lenses when I work security. I primarily work event security, which usually entails the consumption of alcohol by patrons. Over-consumption by these patrons can occasionally lead to aggressive and assaultive behaviour by patrons against each other or event staff and security.


Comments (4)

My Top 5 Favourite Vital Target Attacks for Ground Defense

In my last post, I talked about my favourite 5 stand-up strikes for self-defense, based on simplicity, ease of learning and application, and versatility, as per the tenets of my style, Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu. Today I’d like to do the same for ground defense, covering the vital targets that give the most bang for buck in terms of self-defense, all of which are covered in my newly published book, When the Fight Goes to the Ground: Jiu-jitsu Strategies and Tactics for Self-Defense(more…)

Comments (4)

My Top 5 Favourite Stand-up Strikes for Self-Defense

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” – Bruce Lee

Every so often a someone asks me that if I was only going to learn one strike for self-defense, what would it be? I don’t really have an answer for this, because I don’t believe that there is a magical strike that will be all things to all people in all scenarios, even if they practice it 10,000 times. I think Bruce Lee would probably agree with me, despite the evidence to the contrary above. When you take the concept to the extreme, the point becomes that much more plain, like in Episode 2, Season 1 of Enter the Dojo (below). (more…)

Comments (14)

The Value of Visualization in Martial Arts Training

The Value of Visualization in Martial Arts Training“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
“Practice, practice, practice.”

This is a classic joke that points to the need for practice to achieve mastery. But is pure physical practice the most efficient and effective way to improve in the martial arts? Studies on the use of visualization as a part of physical skills training suggests that simply practicing may not necessarily be the most efficient way to “get to Carnegie Hall”.

A study made by Research Quarterly took a close look at the effects of mental practice on improving skill in sinking basketball free throws (as written about in Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s book, New Psycho-Cybernetics). Here’s what happened (excerpted from Maltz’s book): (more…)

Comments (7)

The Value of Old Knowledge in the Martial Arts

The Value of Old Knowledge in the Martial ArtsA couple of weeks ago, I went to Powell’s Book Store, a huge bookstore in Portland that had the biggest martial arts section I’ve ever seen with a variety of new and used books on every topic. I bought half a dozen books, but my most valued find was an old book, The Complete Jujitsuan, that was originally published in 1915.

I am always on the look-out for old martial arts books like that for a variety of reasons. Firstly, they’re interesting to read from a historical perspective. The writings reflect the unique attitudes toward training and combat of the time and place during which it was written. The demonstrators wear clothes that are customary for the era, which can make for differences in movement strategy. The techniques sometimes comprise of different moves or even weapons that have fallen out of favour. And sometimes you find different techniques or ways of applying familiar techniques that are new to you. (more…)

Comments (5)

Staying Aware: 5 Warning Signs Preceding an Assault


Working as a security or law enforcement professional, you face an increased chance of interacting with people who will try to do you bodily harm. There are a number of signs to look for when dealing with a suspect or patron that may indicate an physical assault is imminent. While these signs are especially helpful for those of us in the security & law enforcement fields, they also pertain to anyone who regularly deals with the public, and especially for men who frequent bars, pubs and concerts, since the majority of assaults on men involve alcohol.

Last week I wrote an article on The Importance of Instincts in Threat Assessment. Today I’m going to further explore some of the signs you can use to spot a potentially assaultive situation before it occurs. So when the hair goes up on the back of your neck, here are a few of the warning signs to look for that someone may get assaultive. Keep in mind that most of these on their own don’t mean someone is going to attack you, but a combination of these factors can be a strong indicator of an imminent attack.


Comments (4)

The Importance of Instinct in Threat Assessment


Spotting potentially dangerous situations before they occur is one of the most important jobs security professionals have. Whether they’re bouncers at a bar, or a night watchmen at a construction site, recognizing a hazardous situation before it begins keeps people safe.

Like all skills, some people are very good at predicting & preventing dangerous situations, and some people aren’t. Why is that?

When I’m working a special event where alcohol is being served, I’ll see hundreds of intoxicated people over the course of my shift. Only a very small fraction of those individuals will be any sort of problem, violent or otherwise, and yet I can often pick out the people that are going to cause trouble from those who aren’t.


Comments (6)

Jiu-jitsu Sensei
Martial Arts Blog