Yesterday, I took my Bengal cat Kaylee out for a leash walk. Much like a dog, she likes to have the freedom to roam, and now associates the leash with doing so. On our walk, we encountered a man who had two dogs on a leash, one was a smaller black Scottie, the other was a larger dog, maybe a smaller Great Dane or a Great Dane cross of some sort (something like the dog here on the right).
We were about 50 feet away when we saw them. The man said to stay back because his dogs would go for Kaylee. As I started to draw her away, the larger dog charged towards us, catching the older owner off guard and he lost control of both dogs, and they barrelled toward my cat at full speed. (more…)
As many of you already know, I work in the film industry as a stunt performer. I also work as a background performer in between stunt days, to keep gaining on-set experience, keep up-to-date about industry goings-on, and to make extra cash. In doing so, I end up being put in social situations to help manufacture the atmosphere of the film.
Since you don’t always get to choose who you’ll interact with and the ways in which you’ll be interacting, sometimes you end up having to be in social situations with people you might not be 100% comfortable. Now if all people involved behaved in a way that was purely professional, without crossing natural personal space boundaries, all would be good. Unfortunately, not everyone abides by the same code of conduct. While it is rare that someone would do something that was clearly crossing the line, a lot of subtle personal space invasions occur on set, ones that are harder to identify as such. I imagine this sort of thing also happens in the normal working world, but when you’re on set, people are more likely to do it in the guise of trying to “set the scene” and “act in character,” making it easier to dismiss as an innocent mistake, either in the mind of the recipient as well as in active defense of the perpetrator. (more…)
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:
- 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.
- 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.
Every person has different things to keep in mind when it comes to how their situation looks when using physical force to defend one’s self. Smaller women, like me, are more concerned with not looking like a victim, so we teach them how to carry themselves with confidence when walking about (more details in How to Avoid Looking Like an Easy Victim). We also teach them to make their psychological intention stronger to make it clear that they are not an ideal victim to their aggressors while simultaneously adding more force to their physical defense (more details in The Power of Intention in Self-Defense). But what about bigger, stronger men? Their situation is quite a bit different when it comes to how the situation looks, especially when it comes to bystanders.
Especially now when videos are easily taken with smart phones, bigger men have to be concerned with how they appear to potential witnesses when they use force to defend themselves. Even if they’re not the aggressor, and resort to reasonable physical tactics only to protect themselves, they might still be seen as the aggressor simply because they’re bigger, as many people only come to witness a fight after it’s already in progress, not having seen how it started in the first place. Add obvious combat training to their size and it makes it look worse. (more…)
There are a lot of great reasons for wanting to train speed of entry of martial arts techniques. Your initial reaction in a self-defense situation is vital to determining the outcome of the altercation. The first contact you make has the potential to completely turn the tables on your attacker, and vice versa, if you’re caught off guard and take a bad hit right off the top, it’s a lot more difficult to recover effectively. Speedy entry into techniques is equally important in the competitive martial arts arena. The faster you move into a technique, whether it’s a strike, throw/takedown or submission, the more likely you catch your opponent off-guard. Speedy entry, of course, is only one factor among many, but it is an important one.
For smaller stature people like me, the speed of entry and application of techniques helps make the best use our natural agility, and advantage we have over many larger/stronger attackers or opponents. Regardless of size, speed of entry helps the defender make better use of the element of surprise. It helps you stay one step ahead of your attacker or opponent, making it harder to mount a defense, whether through the use of strength or technique. There are lots of benefits to improving speed of entry, so below are a few tips for effectively applying and training this concept. (more…)
Some 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.
A little while ago, I wrote a blog post about adapting self-defense as your attacker naturally defends against or resists various strikes and takedowns you use as part of your defense. Another likely adaptation an attacker is likely to use is changing their attack. For example, if they are grabbing your wrist to drag you somewhere and you use a shin kick to distract them and loosen their grip, they might adapt by letting go completely then immediately trying to punch you. If you expect for your defense to always go according to plan, and that every part of your defense to have the exact desired effect, an adaptive attacker could catch you completely off guard. (more…)
Smaller statured men and women often encounter many challenges in the martial arts related to their smaller strength, weight, height and reach. More often than not, they frustratedly struggle against their limitations, which frequently leads to their giving up early on in their career. Or if they stick with it, they sometimes settle for less with themselves, accepting that there are some things they will simply never be able to do well in the martial arts. This is what happens when you focus on your weaknesses and the liabilities they present. Over the past 20 years of training as a smaller statured woman, I’ve learned that the best way to compensate for so-called liabilities is to focus on developing my personal strengths and the unique opportunities they present. (more…)
Having taught martial arts for nearly two decades, you come to notice certain learning habits people have that come from societal influences. For example, in Western society, people have don’t feel comfortable “failing” at something. When they attempt to do something, they want to do it as close to perfection as possible, which influences the way they practice a skill.
In Jiu-jitsu, some will start a technique then stop half-way through as they realize they’re not getting it quite right. If I let the student keep doing this, it would be entirely possible to see that student stop and re-start a technique over and and over without actually getting through it once before the class is called to see the next technique. Another way the unwillingness to fail can manifest is when a student either asks lots of detailed questions, or spends a lot of time talking about it, analyzing how it’s supposed to work, etc. These types will spend so much more time talking about it, fooling themselves into thinking that simply talking about it will make them better at it, that they don’t spend as much time practicing it. These types strategies for avoiding looking foolish or “failing” at a technique can hurt one’s mentality towards self-defense, as well as one’s development as a martial artist. (more…)
There are a lot of different martial arts out there with a lot of different styles of hand positions that are used as their main fighting stances. The hand positions that are adopted are generally developed around the goals of the art. So in determining how you should hold your hands, you should keep this in mind. (more…)