Category Archives: General News

OUTNUMBERED AND ALONE: THE LOGIC OF FACING MULTIPLE ATTACKERS

Multiple Attackers_SmallLike many predators, criminals often operate in packs. Sound self-defense tactics should therefore need to consider the likelihood of facing multiple attackers. Although the “Motorcycle Attack” episode of season 7 of The Best Defense focused on unarmed tactics against multiple attackers to “earn” the draw of a handgun, once the gun is out there are still many ways to approach the problem of facing more than one attacker.

From a shooter’s perspective, there are many different philosophies as to the best way to engage multiple attackers. Traditionalists who devoted lots practice to drills like the El Presidente prefer putting two rounds into each target, reloading and repeating. Others advocate one round per target, assessing the results, and repeating as necessary. Still others argue the logic of engaging attackers from closest to farthest or in the order of most dangerous to least dangerous.

Wargaming the logic of these various approaches is a good thing; but unfortunately some have taken the process to extremes, conjuring up elaborate scenarios in which multiple assailants are positioned at various distances and armed with a an entire spectrum of rifles, shotguns, handguns, and contact-distance weapons. The supposed goal is to prioritize them based on the threat they pose to you and address them in the “right” order. In my opinion, the result of this process is more often a prolonged “gun-guy” debate or an overly complicated square range drill than worthwhile training that promotes sound tactical judgment.

Reality Rules

In any real self-defense situation where you choose to draw a firearm, you should be doing so only because you were in fear for your life or in fear of serious injury—or you were doing so to protect another innocent party against similar grave threats of violence. In those circumstances, you must know why you drawing, so the threat (or threats) should be self-apparent.

To illustrate this point, let’s consider a simple scenario involving two attackers—one armed with a handgun and one with a knife. Let’s also consider two training methodologies—a traditional square-range shooting method and a more interactive but non-shooting drill involving you, two friends, blue-gun o airsoft pistols and a training knife.

First, imagine setting up a range drill with two targets downrange at distances of 3 and 5 yards and a lateral spread of about two yards. It doesn’t really matter which target is on which side or at what distance. Now, with eyes and ears on and proper attention to range safety face the targets with your holstered gun and have a shooting partner call “go.” Which targets do you shoot and in which order? To many shooters, the possible answers would be fodder for a spirited debate or a lengthy thread on an internet forum. In reality, however, you’d only be justified in shooting the pistol-armed target. Why? Because the target with a knife isn’t a lethal threat at that distance.

Now, set up the same drill with your two training partners—one armed with a blue gun and the other a training knife. Arm yourself with a holstered blue gun. Now, slowly work through all the possible scenarios. Regardless of whether the gun-armed attacker starts at 3 or 5 yards, if he raises his gun toward you, he has established himself as a potentially lethal threat and becomes a top priority. If, while you’re shooting at him, the knife-armed attacker charges toward you, you probably won’t ignore his attack while you fire additional rounds into his pistol-armed buddy, so your focus would naturally shift to him and the goal of not getting stabbed.

On the other hand, if the knife-armed attacker stays at a distance growling and cursing at you, but never actually moves toward you, he never actually establishes himself as a potentially lethal threat. Legally, you can’t shoot him. And, since the knife-armed target in the range scenario never got close enough to be a tangible threat, you shouldn’t have shot it either.

The real learning point here is not arguing to determine the ultimate “right” answer, but to understand the dramatic difference between a dynamic, interactive scenario and a range drill that emphasizes marksmanship and the mechanics of shooting more than sound reactive judgment. On one hand, this contrast makes the problem of multiple attackers incredibly complicated. Instead of focusing on the skills of delivering accurate fire and transitioning smoothly from one target to another, it requires you to react to multiple, dynamic stimuli with immediate judgment and both shooting and non-shooting skill. If you think about it, however, it also greatly simplifies the problem of prioritizing threats because the threats and their immediate ability and opportunity to target you become self-evident.

Basic Principles

In my opinion, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for dealing with multiple attackers because the variables involved are simply too numerous. However, there are a few key principles that you can employ that can improve your survivability in most situations—specifically, movement and “stacking” your attackers.

Movement offers several advantages against multiple attackers. First, a moving target is more difficult to hit than a stationary one. Regardless of whether your attackers are armed with firearms or contact weapons, you’re going to be more difficult to hit if you are moving than if you try to stand tall and sling lead.

Proper movement allows you to change the dynamics of your situation and make the best use of your environment. If you are caught out in the open, movement toward cover can obviously improve your survivability against gunfire. Against attackers armed with contact-distance weapons, movement toward or around obstacles can also limit their ability to target you effectively by denying them straight-line access to you.

Movement is also critically important to employing the second principle—“stacking.” Stacking is basically moving so that, from your perspective, you put your attackers in a single line. For example, if you’re facing two attackers laterally spread in front of you, you would move off at an angle until, from your perspective, you see one behind the other. Done properly, this not only keeps them from surrounding you, it forces them to engage you one at a time instead of simultaneously. It also simplifies your shooting problem by putting all your targets in one lane. In the process, the attacker(s) at the rear of the line serve as backstops for your shots at the one in the front and the first attacker becomes your cover against the attacker(s) in the rear.

Which Way?

The direction you choose to move will always be very dependent upon the environment and your awareness of it. However, in general terms, moving to your right can offer some significant advantages. Since most people are right handed, moving to your right makes it harder for an attacker to hit you with a hand-wielded weapon because he has to swing it across his body to reach you. Moving in an arc around him makes you even harder to hit.

Moving to the right also allows you to maintain a guard or fend with your left hand (assuming you’re also a righty) as you draw your gun on the move. Once your gun is out, movement to your right enables you to use a two-handed shooting platform—basically a Weaver stance shooting to your left—as you move, affording you greater control and accuracy than shooting one handed.

Facing multiple attackers is a frightening prospect and having the skills to do it effectively requires good training and tactics. Rather than agonizing over whether you should shoot the guy with the RPG or the guy with the chainsaw first, remember that you will be shooting for an obvious reason. The clarity of that reason should greatly simplify your thought process.

Train hard, stay safe.

Mike

EARNING YOUR DRAW

Standard Draw Gone Bad_SmallOne of the most disturbing aspects of many traditional combat shooting curricula is the fact that they contradict themselves. At one moment, they will cite statistics that characterize the reality of violent attacks in a particular way, and then a moment later they’ll teach you a technique that works great on the range, but is completely inconsistent with the reality they just defined. And no topic suffers more from this duplicity of logic than close-quarters tactics.

FBI Crime Statistics and the Nature of the Threat

Criminals are criminals. If we look at violent crimes committed against law enforcement officers, it makes sense that the criminals that attack them are the same ones that are most likely to victimize us. It also makes sense that, with the exception of grabbing a gun from an open-carry holster, the methods of attack they would use against police officers would be the same ones they’d use against us.

Based on this logic, many firearms trainers are quick to cite the FBI Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report as an accurate reflection of the nature of criminal assaults. This annual report analyzes the circumstances surrounding the deaths of law enforcement officers in the U.S., including critical details such as the distances at which the officers killed by firearms were shot. For example, during the 10-year period 2000-2009, of the 490 officers killed with firearms, 247 (50%) were shot at distances of 0-5 feet and 89 (18%) were shot at distances of 5-10 feet. If we add the 6 officers killed during this period with contact-distance weapons, such as edged weapons, blunt instruments or personal weapons, we realize that 342 (64%) of the total 536 officers killed during this period were attacked at distances of 10 feet or less.

This disturbing statistic strongly suggests that the vast majority of lethal-force attacks occur at distances less than 10 feet. If we consider that only 118 (22%) of the officers fired their weapons and 91 (17%) attempted to use their weapons, it seems obvious that close-quarters weapon deployment and shooting would be the rule in firearms training, not the exception. If that’s the case, why does most defensive firearms training take place at seven yards? Based on the statistical probability of what’s most likely to happen, it doesn’t make sense.

Speed Rocks, Elbow Techniques, and the Typical Presentation

To give credit where credit is due, many defensive shooting programs do incorporate close-quarters shooting techniques. Unfortunately, many of the most commonly taught techniques—to include the default presentation or drawstroke—ignore the realities of actual street attacks.

If we accept the fact that most potentially lethal attacks occur at close range—specifically 0-10 feet—we must also accept that physical contact with an attacker is extremely likely. If he is armed with a contact-distance weapon like a knife or impact weapon, his goal is to achieve physical contact. With that probability in mind, it would seem that protecting yourself from injury, not just going for your gun, would be a high priority; but most close-quarters shooting tactics don’t reflect that.

Let’s say your attacker is armed with a piece of pipe. His most likely attack is going to be to swing that pipe as hard as he can at your head, probably with a forehand motion. Since most people are right handed, odds are that pipe will be aimed at the left side of your head and will begin its journey from just a few feet away. That’s your “problem.”

If your response is to “go to guns” with a standard drawstroke, you’re going to have a serious headache. Most commonly taught drawstrokes condition you to achieve a grip on the holstered gun while positioning your support hand in front of your abdomen. That way, once the gun is drawn, your hands can come together safely in a two-handed grip before extending toward the target. On the range, or against an attacker at a distance, that works great. On the street, however, you will pay the price for purposely conditioning yourself to drop your guard when attacked.

No problem, you say, as you know the “Speed Rock,” which was developed specifically for close-quarters situations. Instead of staging your support hand in front of your gut, you stick it to your chest or fling it behind your head while you lean back, draw, and shoot one-handed. Again, on the range, it looks cool and seems to solve the problem. Keeping your hand well out of the way of your gun minimizes the chances of shooting it; however, it also means that it isn’t doing anything to stop that pipe. As such, you still get whacked in the head. Sure, you’re leaning backward, so you’ve got a head start on falling down, but otherwise haven’t accomplished much.

You Need Empty-Hand Skills, Not Clichés

One of the biggest problems with firearms training is that it is regularly used as an excuse to not train in other skills. For example, if you mention counter-knife tactics around gun guys, you’ll inevitably hear something like, “Hell, I’d just shoot him. He brought a knife to a gunfight.”

Sure, clichés are amusing and cheesy action movies wouldn’t be the same without them. However, they are a lousy substitute for real training and a logical thought process—especially when they discourage you from filling gaping holes in your defensive skill set.

If you are attacked at close range, you are reacting to your assailant’s actions. Since action is always faster than reaction, you’re already behind the curve. As such, if you want to have a prayer of bringing your gun into play, you must not only survive the attack, you must do something decisive to create the opportunity to draw that gun. And the most efficient way to do that is to work with what you have immediately available: your empty-hand skills. In short, you must “earn” your draw.

The “Gas Station” episode of season 7 of The Best Defense is a graphic illustration of why you must have empty-hand fighting skills and why you must train to integrate those skills with your deployment and use of your gun. If you look in your tool box and all you see is a hammer, take the hint and start working on your unarmed fighting skills.  Keep watching The Best Defense and come back here soon and we’ll show you how.

Stay safe,

Mike

THE SMALL-KNIFE SOLUTION: THE KAHR ARMS SPYDERCO DELICA 4

In this week’s episode of The Best Defense, you’ll see me demonstrate the use of a small folding knife with a 2.5-inch blade to neutralize an active shooter armed with a rifle. That knife, a Kahr Arms version of the Spyderco Delica 4, has an interesting history and is based on a modified version of the Delica that I originally developed for a  student of mine. Since we always get lots of questions about the gear we use in the show, I figured I would “think ahead” and provide the answer right up front.  The following is the “inside story” of the Kahr Arms Delica and its evolution, as well as a few comments on where it fits in today’s knife market.

The idea of a short cutting blade attached to a long, easily gripped handle is nothing new. Scalpels, utility knives, and countless other cutting tools have done this for centuries. However, the idea of purposely shortening the blade of a knife to comply with the legal requirements of a particular jurisdiction is a much more recent concept.

Although I first experimented with this idea in the late 1980’s (a “California-legal” balisong or “butterfly knife” with normal length handles and a sub-two-inch blade), interest in the concept really piqued about 10 years ago. One of my Martial Blade Concepts (MBC—a system of personal-defense with knives) students worked in a U.S. Federal building in Washington, D.C. Per federal regulations, he was allowed to carry a knife provided its blade was no longer than 2.5 inches. He had shopped extensively for knives that met the blade-length requirement, but invariably found that short blades also meant short, difficult-to-grip handles.

When he approached me with the problem, my immediate thought was to take a Spyderco Delica4 and shorten the 3-inch blade to 2.5 inches. The Delica4 was already a personal favorite of mine (I’ve been carrying a Delica as part of my daily kit since 1998 and a pair of Delica4’s since they were introduced in 2006), and it has the great benefit of having a dedicated matching training knife that allows for the safe practice of defensive tactics. He thought it was a great idea and asked me to grind one for him. I complied and quickly shipped it off to him. He replied by not only giving the knife a glowing review, but ordering several more for himself and some of his like-minded co-workers.

A couple of years later, I was teaching a seminar in New Hampshire and got a similar question from a student who lived in Boston, which also has a strict 2.5-inch blade carry limit. I showed him photos of the knives I had ground for my other student and he immediately asked if I could do the same for him. Soon the other members of the class caught wind of the conversation and my list of orders got longer.

That history repeated itself a few months later at a seminar in Chicago, which has the same knife carry restrictions as Boston. And once again, I was back at the grinder. My custom-ground version of the Delica4 was quickly developing a devoted following among dedicated knife users who wanted to carry the most potent cutting tool legally permitted in their jurisdiction. They were smart people who respected the law and went the extra mile to comply with it.

Sometime later, Marc Galli, a long-time friend, an Associate Instructor of MBC, and then Kahr’s Eastern U.S. Sales Manager commented that he would like to see Kahr offer a high-quality knife that really complemented the spirit of Kahr’s immensely popular pistol line. Although Kahr had offered knives laser engraved with their logo in the past, these were stock knives with nothing really distinctive about them. I thought about it for a few moments, and then told Marc the story of my custom-ground Delica 4s. I also explained that, like a good carry pistol, I took the time to remove the jimping (textured grooves) on the thumb ramp of the knives I grind to eliminate any abrasive surfaces that could cause damage during high-speed, full-power application. In short, I felt my modified Delica 4s fit the same niche and same criteria as Kahr’s best-in-class compact pistols: compact, easily carried, highly effective tools specifically designed for responsible citizens. Marc agreed and offered to present the idea to Kahr’s leadership.

A few months later, I met with Marc, Kahr’s founder Justin Moon, and other senior members of Kahr’s management at a trade show and explained the history and concept behind my modification and why I believed it was a fitting companion to their pistols. The idea was not only well received, but prompted a detailed discussion of carry knife attributes. While discussing the Delica 4’s injection-molded-nylon scales, Justin Moon asked if they could be made it colors that would blend with the common pants colors—specifically denim blue, khaki, and black. I had actually tried to have this done on the first folder I designed for Spyderco, the Yojimbo, but its handles were made of G-10, which came in a limited selection of colors. Achieving this in molded nylon was brilliant idea, and much simpler to achieve than in G-10. To make the knife even more discreet and support a “gray man,” carry-anywhere theme, we decided to give the blade, clip, and all other metal hardware on the knife a subdued, “stonewash” tumbled finish.

Ultimately the Kahr Delica4s faithfully capture all the detailed features of the knives I customized for my students, but offer the additional advantages of discreet “urban camouflage” handle colors and subdued clips, blades, and hardware. They also epitomize the concept of responsibly carrying the most potent and capable tools permissible.

One criticism of the Kahr Delica that you’ll see some internet “experts” voice is that its street price is higher than the street price of a standard Spyderco Delica. In their overly simplistic view, you’re paying more and getting less because the blade is shorter. That kind of narrow-minded thinking totally misses the point of the knife and fails to take into consideration the basic economics of product distribution (i.e. every link in distribution chain needs to make some profit to remain a viable business).

If you like the concept of a compact folding knife that is legal to carry in virtually every jurisdiction in the U.S. and is available in colors that blend discreetly with the most common pant colors, the Kahr Delica is worth considering. The fact that the Delica 4 Lightweight is also available in a blunt trainer version should make it even more appealing.

If you shop around on the internet, you can find Kahr Delicas at slightly lower prices. Or you can go straight to the source and find them at www.kahr.com.

Stay safe,

Mike

WHY 911 ISN’T ENOUGH

MyForce ScenarioStaying safe in today’s world means having a firm grasp of reality–both the harsh reality of the threats you are likely to face and the disturbing reality that help is much farther away than you think. In the “Known Stalker” episode of season 7 of The Best Defense, we illustrate this reality in a graphic and compelling way, in the process identifying the severe limitations of the traditional “just-call-911” approach.

In simple terms, when you call 911, the operator doesn’t know who you are, where you are, or what’s happening to you until you explain it. And trying to explain all that while you are under duress and trying to run, fight back, or access a weapon just won’t work.

If your safety is threatened, what you really need is a 911 “advocate”–someone who can monitor your situation as it develops, determine exactly where you are, and call for help when necessary, all while leaving you hands-free to protect yourself. Sound impossible? Well, it’s not. It’s MyForce–a revolutionary personal security service that combines state-of-the-art Smart Phone technology, highly trained professional operators, and your detailed personal profile into a powerful “guardian angel” that will get you the help you need, when you need it.

If you’ve seen the “Known Stalker” episode of The Best Defense, you’ve seen the game-changing advantages of MyForce in action. By visiting The Best Defense Plus, you now also have the opportunity to make MyForce part of your personal and family protection plan at a 20% discount off the usual price. Just click here to take advantage of this exclusive offer. You can also learn more about the limitations of the traditional 911 system and how MyForce technology overcomes them by reading the “911 Fatal Flaws” page of this web site.

Don’t fool yourself or your loved ones. Know what you’re up against and do everything you can to stack the odds in your favor with MyForce.

Stay safe,

Mike

THE BIGGER THEY ARE…

In season 7 of The Best Defense, we included an episode that we’ve wanted to do for a long time–one that addresses self-defense for children. If you are a parent, you know that you would do anything to keep your child safe. With that goal in mind, two of the simplest and most powerful things you can do are to: 1) talk to your child about the realities of crime, violence, and sexual predators so he or she understands and accepts the fact that the threat is real, and 2) teach your child to fight back.

In The Best Defense, Mike Seeklander did a great job of explaining point 1 and what you need to do to talk to your child. Watch that information and apply it with your children.

With regard to the second point, I am a big believer in teaching kids practical kicks as primary self-defense weapons. Because adults are larger and stronger than children, children need to focus on using their “big guns.” Legs are stronger and longer than arms, so they give kids a very good fighting chance against an adult–especially if the kicks target the adult’s shins and ankles. As the old saying goes, “If you can’t see, can’t breathe, and can’t walk, you can’t fight.” Powerful, direct low-line kicks are a great approach to achieving the “can’t walk” effect. They are also easily learned because they are a natural extension of sports activities familiar to every kid–like soccer and kickball. Best of all, they don’t have to “finish” the fight; they just have to cause enough pain and damage to create an opportunity for escape.

With all that said, low-line kicks are by no means only for kids. Disparity of size and strength is a challenge that everyone needs to be concerned about in self-defense. If you are of smaller stature or simply end up being targeted by a larger attacker, your strikes to the head, body, and groin may not do the job. Vicious low-line kicks to the shins, knees, and ankles–especially when delivered with footwear chosen specifically for its “weaponized” properties–can be a much better choice.

For these reasons, my approach to unarmed self-defense, Damithurt Silat (“damn, it hurts a lot”) focuses a lot on low-line kicks, foot traps, and leg destructions. If you’re interested in learning more about my “take” on this topic, here’s an excerpt from Practical Unarmed Combatives Volume 3, which focuses on it exclusively.

No matter what size or age you are, you owe it to yourself to make practical kicking skills part of your personal-defense skill set.

Stay safe,

Mike

FIST LOADS: SELF-DEFENSE SIMPLICITY

In the second episode of season 7 of The Best Defense, we examined the advantages of carrying a flashlight as a personal-defense tool. In addition to providing light to search for potential threats, having the capacity to disrupt an attacker’s vision from a distance, and ensuring proper target identification when using a firearm in low-light conditions, the flashlight is also an outstanding “first line of defense” when it comes to contact-distance fighting skills.

Flashlights fall into the category of improvised weapons commonly called “fist loads.” In simple terms, these include any object that can be gripped firmly in the fist so a portion of it extends from the bottom and/or top of the hand to serve as a striking surface. An aluminum or high-impact plastic flashlight has no nerves, so you can use it to hit harder and with more focused impact than you can with your bare hand alone. This not only makes your strikes more effective; it also makes it much less likely that you’ll injure your own hand when hitting full power—an important consideration if you plan to transition from empty-hand skills to the draw and operation of a purpose-designed weapon like a pistol or a knife.

In addition to a flashlight, one of my favorite fist load weapons is a tactical pen—specifically those made by Tuff-Writer. A tactical pen is nothing more than a high-quality, extremely durable pen that offers an extremely solid grip so it can be used as a striking tool. Well-designed tactical pens are also devoid of any sharp edges or protrusions that could damage your hand when used to strike. Best of all, because they are first and foremost pens, you can walk down the street with one in your hand without raising any eyebrows. You can’t do that with a knife or pistol. With a pen (or flashlight) in hand, you are armed with a very capable “immediate-response” weapon that you can bring into action instantly if confronted by a threat.

Remember, however, that the key to using a “tactical” pen or a “tactical” flashlight effectively is having the skill to put the “tactic” into “tactical.” Simply carrying a tool and hoping that it wards off evil spirits isn’t enough. You need to actually learn and practice the skills to use it effectively. To that end, I have created a very simple curriculum specifically geared toward developing reliable defensive skills with a tactical pen, flashlight, Kubotan, or similar fist-load-style self-defense tool. The hubud skill you saw in The Best Defense is part of this curriculum. The rest can be found in my two-volume DVD set Focused Impact, available exclusively from Stay Safe Media.

If you liked what you saw on The Best Defense and want to see more, here’s a sample of the other hubud skills you can learn in volume 2 of Focused Impact.

If you like that and want more, please check out the Focused Impact set and the tools available at www.tuffwriter.com.

I travel a lot, but I am never without my Tuff-Writer pen (and pencil) and a good tactical flashlight (currently a Streamlight ProTac 2L)—or the well-practiced skills to use them effectively.

Stay safe,

Mike

 

 

EDUCATING YOUR INSTINCTS

When I first started studying the martial arts almost 40 years ago, I realized that the toughest part of real self-defense is recognizing an attack quickly enough to be able to “do your technique.” With enough training and practice, reflexive actions are possible, but reflexes have to be based on recognition of a specific stimulus. And the more techniques you rely on, the harder it is to program reflexive responses.

Practical self-defense is simple, direct, and effective. Similarly, good self-defense techniques should share a number of basic qualities that allow them to be applied easily and spontaneously, even under the stress of a real attack. The qualities you should look for in a good self-defense technique should include the following:

Simple: Techniques requiring multiple, complicated movements are difficult to learn and even more difficult to apply spontaneously against a sudden attack. Simple, direct techniques are a much better choice.

Instinctive: People confronted with a sudden, violent attack will respond first with instinct. Reactions like the “startle response” are very powerful instincts that are very difficult to “un-train.” Rather than trying to ignore or bypass them, accept them—and the defensive functions they provide—and base your technique on the structure they provide. One example of this is the instinct to extend your arms to try to hold an attacker away from you. As a sustained push, it is not very effective; however, as an explosive check or strike with both hands, it can be a very powerful defense.

Powerful: To stop an attacker effectively, you need to hurt him. That means that your technique must be powerful and it must hit a vulnerable target. Learn to harness the natural power of your body and make the best use of your strongest weapons—like kicks.

Creates an Opportunity for Escape: The ultimate goal of self-defense is not to “win,” it is to escape the situation safely. The easiest way to do that is to destroy your attacker’s ability to follow you and continue his attack. To do this, you should target the attacker’s eyes, throat, and legs. Remember: “If he can’t see, can’t breathe, or can’t stand up, he can’t fight.”

Works in Confined Quarters: An attacker will target you when the conditions favor him and do not favor you. In many cases, he will try to attack when you are stuck in a confined area with nowhere to run and little room to maneuver. For example, hallways, elevators, parking lots, and similar areas limit your options when it comes to footwork and techniques that require a lot of room to execute. Therefore, your techniques should be compact and must work well even in very confined areas.

Versatile: Reacting to a spontaneous attack involves identifying the attack, selecting a proper response, and then reflexively performing that technique before you get hurt. The more specific your defenses are to individual attacks, the harder this process becomes. Instead, you should focus on defensive tactics that are functional against a number of different attacks. For example, if an attacker throws a roundhouse punch, a high forehand swing with a stick, or a slash with a knife, his body mechanics are still basically the same. Rather than treating these as three different attacks and trying to respond differently to each, look for the common elements and treat them as the same basic attack. That allows you to use the same defense for all three.

In the first episode of season 7 of The Best Defense (“The Knockout Game”), I taught and applied a great example of practical self-defense against a sudden, unexpected attack. The technique I showed, which I call “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” (you remember, “out comes the sun and dries up all the rain”) is basically an “educated” version of the startle response. When something unexpected flies toward your face, you instinctively respond by raising your hands, hunching your shoulders, and “turtling” your head. That’s Darwin and thousands of years of evolution keeping you safe. The “technique” that I showed is based on the concept of accepting and embracing this instinct and using it as a foundation for a more effective response. Interestingly, this movement can actually be found in a number of traditional Asian martial arts. Unfortunately, many of them teach it as a salutation or a symbolic action to start a form rather than the powerful, easily learned self-defense tactic that it is. Some, like Indonesian pencak silat, “get it” and use this defense as a core technique. That’s smart.

If you watch real fights, one of the other instinctive reactions you’ll see from people who are being punched is to extend both arms to try to hold the attacker at bay. If your arms are substantially longer than your attacker’s this may work. Sadly, in most cases it “brackets” the defender at the exact wrong distance and ensures that he is in range to get hit.

If we accept and embrace this instinct and add a little training to “educate” it, it can become another incredibly powerful self-defense tactic called a “shoulder stop.” Let’s see how it works against one of the most common street attacks: a right roundhouse punch.

Punch 01
As soon as the attacker prepares to throw a punch, the defender “rides” his natural startle response to get his hands up where they’ll do some good.

 

 

Punch 02
When the defender realizes that a punch is being thrown, he immediately responds with a “shoulder stop”—a powerful simultaneous thrust with both hands. The right palm hits the attacker on or near his shoulder, while the left hand hits somewhere on the arm near the elbow. This response is very instinctive and easily learned, yet will stop even the most powerful punch with ease.


 

Punch 03
The defender quickly follows with a right kick to the attacker’s shin. This kick is simple and direct and is identical to kicking a soccer ball—just swing your leg hard and kick with the inside edge of your foot against his shin. This will typically cause him to move that leg back and shift his weight to the other leg.


 

Punch 04
The defender finishes with a stomping side kick to the ankle of the attacker’s other leg. This again uses a powerful weapon—your leg—to destroy your attacker’s ability to stand and fight. And that creates your opportunity to escape.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good self-defense techniques all share the same qualities. Understand those qualities and make sure that you incorporate them into your personal-defense skill set.

To learn more about my approach to unarmed self-defense, check out my Practical Unarmed Combatives video series from Stay Safe Media. It presents detailed, step-by-step instruction that includes many of the empty-hand tactics you see on The Best Defense.

Stay safe,

Mike