Re-framing self defense

Psychology is a grossly over looked area of self -defense, if you look at the typical school that teaches any sort of combat art. The physical is the direct aim, already starting from the worst case scenario, meaning that someone is already choking you, punching you and so on. While we must start somewhere, I for one do not believe that this is the best approach. For me, as a martial arts instructor who has worked with nearly ever adaptive need, taught self-defense clinics to major colleges in my city, worked with retired military veterans, some law enforcement and even organizations such as DHHS. The one revelation that has kept coming to my mind year after year, is that real self-defense starts from the inside out.
Believe me, I know that this is extremely counter to what we are taught to in most schools today, because we just want to learn to kick ass. But honestly, we are not getting a very holistic approach. The most I’ve heard regarding awareness, is to simply “be aware” or have a 360 degree awareness at all times… Which is impossible to do. Telling someone to be aware is merely a way to cover a base, and doesn’t actually teach a student anything. What exactly are they being aware of? What are they looking at for? Do students actually know how handle and cope with emotional stimulus and stress?
Another reason that the psychology of self-defense goes untouched, is the narratives that coaches and or instructors provide. Some schools have weekend self-defense clinics, which are awesome and there can totally be some valuable elements taught. But the truth is, that one class isn’t all you need. It’s not going to make you a bad ass. If you are serious about self-defense, you must practice it the same way you want to get better at writing or math. One class, or once a month is not sufficient. There isn’t one technique that everyone must know and then your good. It doesn’t work that way. It never will. The other reality is this, most schools today do not specify to how fast and even complex a violent encounter is. Criminals simply do not care what you know, how long you’ve been training or anything of the sort. And so think that our modern training is going to prepare us in all areas is silly. Don’t miss understand me, MMA is a great base to learn self-defense, yet if we don’t know how to spot a threat, de-escalate a situation before it even starts, controlling our ego and emotions all we have is mere violence. Again, some martial arts schools only make this area worse, for example Krav t-shirts that say “touch me, and your first lessons free.” The saying truly gives off the vibe, as though you could take some Krav classes and kick anyone’s ass. Some of the BJJ community doesn’t help either, just the other day I saw a meme of a blackbelt, with his thumbs inside his belt looking all stoic. The Meme read “I’ve been doing BJJ 40 years. I fear no man.”.
I think that’s a bunch of nonsense. Any real person, is going to have a fear spike when a violent encounter takes place. Whatever the context may be. I’m fairly certain, that if you’re getting out of your car (with your kids in it) and the A typical person presses a knife to your throat. The likely hood of you having a sense of fear in that moment is extremely real. You might be fearing more for your offspring, and rightfully so. Perhaps this savage wants more than your car and money. Ever think about that? It’s in this context, that we must be able to rise above the ways of emotion and stress. How do we accomplish this? By training. I know that this might be hard to do, in some gyms that are more family oriented. Yet it doesn’t mean that in our self -defense training, we can’t train in a manner that prepares us for the real world.
We can practice training with heightened heart rate, being caught off guard and off balance. This is how life is, this is what it means to be human.
The self defense industry, is in serious need of an over haul. As mentioned earlier, if you’re serious about your own self-protection and even the safety of your loved ones. It’s up to you to start acting like it. It’s up to you to start training as though it actually matters. As coaches, instructors and the like. To start teaching and communicating to our tribes that it matters.

A Personal Maxim For Personal Protection

The ADM (Adaptive Defense Methods) Maxim For Personal protection:

https://www.facebook.com/adaptivedefensemethods/

Three words came to me, as I was lying in bed the other night, searching for my own personal approach for understanding stages of violence. Many people have their own methods, discussing the same overarching principles. This personal maxim is really nothing new, but an alternative way to look at personal safety through out our lives. Anyone who follows or trains under the ADM school of thought, must commit this to memory and have a deep understanding of each stage. Below is a break- down of each. Remember- we can talk about /train ranges of combat and various techniques, but what good is it, if we have no sense of mastery over our surroundings or ourselves?

Identity this largely has to deal with spotting a threat, or a potential context that is off setting to us inwardly. Example being if a place looks suspicious to you, and sends red alert signals throughout your person. It is up to us to pay great attention to that signal. The same goes for any person that you don’t know, or even in the context of a close relationship. If we learn to pay attention to the signals/red alerts throughout our lives, we can save ourselves a lot of unneeded pain and physical harm done to us. Next is being able to identify pre-confrontational postures, before things escalate any further. In real time, this means practically speaking, that if you see someone at a gas station looking uneasy, while trying to hide their identity. Chances are this person has zero good intentions in mind. In those contexts, ones best option is to find a way to flee, find a position where danger is not directly upon you or others. Or lastly, taking some sort of action against the threat. Another part of identifying, is being able to understand the body language of another person, in a close proximity. This means that one might not have the ability to walk away, or create distance due to having limited mobility, being in a wheel chair or using crutches. Simple signs to look for are:

I.I.D.

Looking away
Stroking facial hair
Bladed posture
Hands/hand in pocket, behind back or pouch of hoodie. This can mean that the person you are in close proximity with is agitated and either getting ready to attack with either empty hands or with the use of a weapon.

This leads into the Interact phase, which calls for a person to truly know themselves and notice the red alert signals mentioned above. Again, many times we ignore the red alert warnings in life, because we don’t want to assume the worst about a place or location, often times this leads us to say to ourselves in the end I wish I would have listened to that little something inside me, that told me to take precaution. Or better yet- Leave. Learning to not only interact with ourselves and interact with the intention of others will only lead us to a more richer and fuller understanding of ourselves but the world around us. When we learn to interact with the various warning signs and intentions of others, we can then learn to discern whether is an actual threat or if that person is simply having a bad day. Sometimes a person is just having a bad day, or has a particular need and the only way they know how to meet that need is through the threat of violence. This is where it becomes exceedingly curial to become a black belt in verbal grappling. Learning how to talk our way out of potential violent situations, talking a person down, acting with empathy and concern. This is also a balance, because you can’t afford to let your guard down either. Moreover, not every encounter/situation calls for a violent ending. It is much better to try and seek a peaceful ending first, before ever entering into defensive mode.

Defeat: this is not to be taken into a negative connotation, but rather a positive one. Defeat simply means doing all we can to defeat the situation and go home safety. This includes the first two areas of the I.I.D. maxim. When we can identify and interact with any stimulus, that constitutes the health and safety of not only ourselves. We have brought a successful defeat to the situation. The defeat phase, brings us to the point where physical action/violence comes to play: Within the context of the law and the context of the situation/disparity of force.
If as an abled-bodied person, if someone shoves you, the simple and direct action would be to use very commands- drawing attention to one’s self, next- dissipating the energy of the shove, if it repeated. Taking control of the attackers limbs, controlling them until help/authorities arrive. If the situation is someone who has limited mobility or is in a wheelchair/ uses any form of assistive device. Then the disparity of force levels up, to the use of chokes, strikes and implementation of weapons. Lethal force escalates for an abled bodied person, when more than one attacker is involved or a weapon comes into play. Thus, a person can do what is needed to defeat the situation and get away.

The Importance of Situational Awareness

When it comes to self-protection, one of the greatest tools a person can get really good at using is situational awareness. Personally, I see situational awareness in two specific categories. The first is knowing thy self and two it’s knowing where you are at and what’s going on around you.
Knowing thy self comes down to the simple things, such as knowing your strengths and weakness. Knowing what makes you uncomfortable and so on. For example, I know that I am a left handed person, as such I know that most attacks will come from a right handed person. There’re, I need position myself in a posture that allows me to shield with my left side, should I need to defend myself.
Moreover, I know that walking far with my crutches or wheeling myself long distances with my push chair, often takes a lot out of me. So positioning myself near an exit should something happen is most preferred. This should be set in place for things like a fire breaking out and even an active killer situation. Again, knowing yourself, in all your strengths and weaknesses and having plans in place, will put you on a greater path toward personal well-being and safety. Next, in knowing your surroundings, knowing where you are at, knowing where your exits are in case of emergencies is crucial. But even more so, listening to what your gut tells you. More often than not, before something bad happens a person typically gets a bed feeling inside them.
Sadly though, this bad feeling that we get in our stomachs is often ignored. If a person keeps you an off feeling, or better yet the creeps. Listen to it, because that feeling is there to protect you. If a certain area you are in does not make you feel safe or looks sketchy, pay attention to that feeling. I would rather be wrong about a certain place or person at times, than put my own self in jeopardy. Most violent encounters can be avoided by early detection and over all avoidance. Now, this doesn’t mean don’t go out and have fun, but it means being aware. Scanning your environment, looking for things that look out of the ordinary, scanning for people that look like potential threats etc. I’m not implying that everyone be paranoid, but I am saying to be smart and use wisdom when out in public. Especially if you’re a person who has a disability. Other ways to improve your personal safety, is putting down your cell phone once in a while and paying attention to what’s going on around you.
I’m just as guilty, but we could all do better at this. Even if it’s in the name of building better quality relationships. Within the self- defense/protection industry, some say that we should maintain a 360 degree sense of awareness. I however believe that’s impossible and even impractical. For the simple reason that you can’t always maintain a 360 degree of awareness, especially if you are talking to someone in front of you. What I feel is better, and much more attainable, is to get a snap shot in your mind of where things and people are. This is far more of an easier practice. Lastly, always go out with friends you trust. Get them involved in formality plans that can help add to your personal safety. This includes all that is mentioned above, as well as even learning how defend a person that isn’t quite able to defend themselves as readily.
With this my hope is to make you safer, and to open your eyes as to why your safety matters. It’s up to you now, as an individual to choose your own safety every single day. For yourself and your loved ones. In my next blog, I will discuss how and why we should carry impact weapons on our person.