Improvised weapons are often an add-on to most self-defense or martial arts curricula. They’re paid lip service to but rarely delved into outside of that “bonus” territory. As gun and knife laws continue to be put under the microscope and restricted with greater frequency in many societies, this is an area of study that should more-and-more become an integral part of one’s combatives training.

I’ve heard many complain that there are only so many ways to implement this into a class environment but, inevitably, it’s limited to the instructors’ creativitiy. In my estimation, as many skillsets that promote adaptability, behavioral flexibility and mental acuity the more prepared you’ll make that student for the realities of real violence. I break down weapon usage in terms of categories: bladed/cutting, penetrating, impact, flexible, projectile, shielding and combinations thereof. Some can utilize leverage and reinforce breaks/hyperextensions or chokes.

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Here are some that I advocate and utilized with my student base and security personnel:

  1. Thunderdome. Lay a number of training weapons on the periphery of the mats or floor – knives (folders, kerambits, Bowie – vary the type, length and weight), pocket sticks, flexible weapons, sticks, household weapons. Have 2 students start in the middle of that square – in the clinch, kneeling and on the ground, from various ground positions – and have them go at it. You’ll see pretty quickly the loyalty to submissions and position-based groundfighting flying out the window as they move into simple and gross-motor survival mode. Fighting for control of the weapons, learning how to limit the “damage”, understanding how the tool is held/what category of weapon it is/how one can best inflict damage with it.
  2. Rooms of  the house. Take students through various areas of a daily living or working area – bathrooms, bedrooms, office, front or back yard, kitchen. Have them see everyday items that can be used in a pinch in a self-defense scenario. Get them to manipulate the item for a time to have them understand how to best grip it, what category (or categories) it falls into, what anatomical targets it would best work on, and what part is the strongest for impact/penetration/cutting. Is it a finisher? Would it allow you to get to a more-effective tool? Could it be used in cqc (close quarters) range or would it be better served from a distance?
  3. Makeshift day. Lay a relatively large number of household items on the floor and have them do the same. Type/grip/best utilization and could some be used in unison with others? (eg. a broken lightbulb protecting your hand with a towel, a “rock-in-sock” (any hard weighted object wrapped in a discloth, modified slingshots, etc.) Fistloads, garrottes, knuckledusters, blackjacks/saps, improvised bucklers will likely all make themselves visible if enough items are brought out.
  4. Advanced people watching. Go to the mall or any highly-populized area and instead of just watching body language, behavior and profiling, look at carried items (whether on-body or carried) and think of how that person could best utilize that item. Restaurants, bars, retail stores, grocery stores, all have unique items that could present themselves.

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We, as humans, are and have always been toolusers but, ironically, the self-defense world is one of the only industries where this area has “devolved.” We believe that counter-knife is best served against empty-hand because of some moral code. (religious, moral, ethical, social restrictions – but our life should be taken with the same moral highground, we only have one, after all) Multiple attackers can be beaten with trained empty-hand systems. Utilizing weapons because it’s unfair or unjust. It’s become bass-ackwards. I see self-defense experts getting out of their car in a road rage incident to teach the other a lesson on who they’re screwing with, when the greatest weapon that we utilize on a daily basis is the very bloody car we’re in at the time. Going outside when a potential burglar is on the roof (territoriality) when our best tactical advantage is staying inside the very area we know better than anyone on the planet…our home – which is filled with improvised weapons, tools and household items.

Regarding even general weapons use, so many go and purchase the latest cool-looking, cutting-edge, carbon-fiber (and expensive) weapon, which is fine. (This does not have to be super cost-prohibitive). I always say that my LED flashlight is tactical not because it’s black but because I use it tactically if need be. Combative names for knife models, labelled tactical, blades that can’t be used for utilitarian purposes. Remember, if you can’t throw it away in a pinch because it brings some loyalty from you, there’s some personal investment or it’s too expensive…it shouldn’t be carried in your EDC kit. When I lived in Canada, I’d tell students that the two places I did most of my self-defence shopping were Canadian Tire and Home Hardware, not the local armory. Being innocuous is a huge advantage when being processed legally after having to defend oneself lethally, for whatever reason.


Roughly 2-3 years ago, I took some intensive private classes in graphology. It was quite interesting how our writing can reflect certain personality traits, backgrounds, histories and the like. Now after a time, I started disbelieving some of the premises of assumption affiliated with assessment. While writing unequivocally gives a lot of information about a person, I simply didn’t think at the time that it told accurate tales of overall picture. I did, however, see a lot of possibilities to micro-analyze the smaller things: mood, specifically. Pressure a person’s under, whether annoyed or angry, agitated, penmanship reflecting being detail-oriented or generally lax. A case can be made for big picture traits like self-confidence, arrogance, shyness, introversion or extroversion being available.

However, as writing is generally not as pronounced  in the digital age as it once was and the majority being left to the scrapheap of signatures, receipts or bureaucratic documents or forms that already draw frustration and annoynace prior, it greatly limits the field’s modern importance or even validity. That being said, one area that popped into mind where it might have some validity would be in that exact digital landscape. Emojis/emoticons, memes, online shorthand, NetLingo, clumped phrases, tone, message accuracy and the like have profound significance in this age of social media communication. We use them unconsciously to make assessments of the people we allow into our lives. As I work most often in the self-defense world, I started wondering how this pertained to that field. Keyboard warriors, online conflicts and challenges, finding consensus with others in a predominantly testosterone-driven industry are the norm. Here it has value. Is there a way that these things can be compiled to glean an accurate picture of what someone is trying to say? To relate better without getting offended, to not get lost in the battle to be heard and have our point defended? Or to allow overall profiles to be made of the people we interact with everyday yet have never met in the real life?

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Inevitably, most we talk to  on the forums that we’re on daily are known strangers. We know very little about them and the only things we have to go on are previous experiences (comparison to people in our lives already, that have been in our lives previous or people we’ve come across positively or negatively – bridging the divide to try and label or categorize those in front of us now from this) coupled with the things they type and post (and our analysis, whether accurate or not, of this volunteered info – whether honest, restrained or falsified). I know I am constantly analyzing and making assessments of the people that contribute to the site and I think this is completely normal, as I expect fully most do the same of me.

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Through what methodology and how accurate can it be outside of placing some trust in a handful that they’re telling the truth and we can relate to them as similar like minds. Can it be deduced and how do we continually make these diagnoses of the people online we let into our lives. I’ve had some old-school martial arts and personal defense instructors e-mail me privately and tell me this digital communication thing is highly-perplexing and difficult to figure out. (Confrontation without repercussion, empty challenges, critique of our posts from invisible detractors, aggressive liberties that in real life likely wouldn’t happen) Food for thought as it again goes towards safety and personal protection in this rapidly-developing and relatively-new playing field. This is a new animal in the personal protection field that most of us are learning on-the-fly, and I’ve labelled it “digital graphology.” Add it to your repertoire.


I’d always wanted to do a companion piece to the first article I put out on this, as I realized I left a bomb at the end that likely got a lot of tradionalists up-in-arms. Without definition and explanation, maybe rightly so. I also had wanted to complete this two-part idea before I was on my way out of the FMA community but a little late. Maybe this is out of respect to my FMA friends and my own instructors. The “some myths” part I had left somewhat hanging but I’d like to take the time to delve further into this and maybe the traditionalists can relate with a little more clarity. Or, as is often the case, maybe not. That, unfortunately, I can’t help. Really, many of these are deserving their own full and independent analysis but let’s gloss over some of the finer points:

  1. Sinawali/2-stick drills build true ambidexterity. This has always been a point of contention in the FMA. Now while they do get both sides of the brain activated, this may less the fault of the drill but the manner of practicing it. As a predominantly “patty-cake” drill, one robs oneself of the ability to truly develop raw power in one’s “off” (or live if thinking in terms of single-weapon usage) hand. Slowing the drills down, breaking down the individual parts and discovering anatomical power generation is a far more effective delivery system. I always tell my students, “Teach the left to do what the right does effectively. What are the minutaie that makes one more powerful than the other. Feel it.” Another method is to break rhythm, step back and fire a full-power shot at the opponent, alternating hands randomly in the midst of the flow. At best, maybe it can 1. get one used to bilateral symmetry, a very real side-effect of ASR (adrenal stress response) which sometimes causes both arms  to do the same thing due to solely gross-motor accessibility and 2. cultivate pattern recognition in the practitioner that can be transferred to other pertinent areas of physical body movement.                                                 
  2. V-stepping is the predominant and only method of footwork you’ll need. (You’ll usually know who’s pressure-tested/fought with minimal or no protection/done resistance training from this one as replacement stepping and the shuffle take front and center) While zoning is important, as one can see from any pro boxing match, it needs to be cultivated from actual mutual movement – meaning, your attacker needs to actually using intent. Angling and zoning in an actual dynamic environment. One can see more clearly what I mean from a boxer like Lomachenko, who uses an active form of v-stepping after initial exchange:  We, however, most often practice it from one committed attack with minimal intent, no multi-dimensional follow-ups and no follow-up movement. Another thing makes itself known when sparring for the first time as well, the v-step as trained simply does not work. What replaces it is usually regular replacement-stepping (no crossing, feet constantly equidistance apart and balance under center – horizontal footwork) and the shuffle – forward or back, like the more compact version of the fencing lunge. (vertical footwork) A natural progression out of respect for distancing from and the actual weapon itself.
  3. A huge number of angles of attack need be trained for effectiveness. (Back in the fightbooks of medieval Germany/Italy, they used 7 angles, including the thrust but infinite variations and combinations can be made from this template) I saw a video with 40+ angles of attack the other day. Over-analysis, pure technique orgasm. Where on the body it lands or what target it hits: a forehand strike high, middle or low is the same strike. A backhand the same. A downward strike at a 12 o’clock, 1 o’clock or 11 o’clock angle is still a downward strike. A thrust is a thrust and travels the same routes if done with 1 or 2 hands or with a punyo. Whether slicing, thrusting (singles or multiples), tip-ripping, using flat-of-the-blade  or push cuts (with bigger, heavier blades), a “number 1” strike is a number 1 strike. As mentioned above, Fiore de Liberi, the Italian swordsman, used 7 angles – 6 cuts and 1 thrust. Basic and simple is better. Image result for fiore siete espadas
  4. Defanging the snake is all that’s needed in weapons combat/defense. It hurts, have no doubt. But often later that night. Tomorrow will be a bitch, too, with even less movement. But adrenaline often takes care of the rest in the moment. We over-rely on this as a stopper. Let’s isolate the knife as an example, so many quote the “just cut the extensor or flexor tendons and you shut down complete arm function.” Well, for that to happen, some intangibles need to be at play: sharp knife, clean cut, clear angle, clothing-dependent (a Canadian winter, I can assure you this ain’t happening), target accuracy, size of opponent (the muscles/tendons/ligaments/nerves can be far deeper on an overweight or large person than on a regular-sized one, to be clear)
  5. Biomechanical cutting is always the quickest and best way to shut down and stop the human body (adrenaline factors/depth of cut/sharpness of knife/cleanliness of cut/dynamic movement factor). See above as another example. Here’s the thing, if you’re in such dire straits that you need to deploy a blade to save your ass from the fire, are you truly going to be protecting his life first-and-foremost? Are you going to, under extreme duress, be adherent to hitting small, finite and specific targets that vary in depth from the surface from person-to-person? And what if you hit and they don’t have sufficient stopping power, what then? Guaranteed stoppages are the CNS (brain, spinal cord), heart, etc. Even arteries or veins aren’t a sure thing with adrenaline and its physiological effects. I know doctors who’ve seen first-hand victims of multiple stabs walk into the hospital white, with a small portion of blood left in their body but still talking coherently (albeit it in bad shape) so trusting the slash (or the slash alone) is flippant at best.
  6. “Trapping hands” or de cadena works the way it does in the club (though “trapping” is an element used regularly in boxing, grappling, clinchwork but not in the way most FMA people train it) It does not. Try it while sparring with a boxer. There’s no over-commitment, few over-extensions other than by mistake. However, trapping does work but within context. BJJ, sambo, wrestling and shoot proponents utilize traps all the time, often just not knowing it. My definition of a trap is this: “any temporary containment to facilitate a greater overall goal.” Is trapping permanent? No. Is it a momentary containment to gain a greater overall advantage, though. Try grappling against a resistant opponent and not use some sort of trap to gain submission or position advantage. It’s there,  in the FMA it just tends to be over-complicated, over-hyped and under-applied. Subtle, not grandiose.
  7. Knives magically appear in your hand whenever needed (deployment/weapon retention/concealment & carry skills need to be implemented into one’s training) I don’t know how many FMA instructors I’ve met who have minimal idea of how to open a modern tactical folder. We train from the duel, knives already in-hand. Deployed. I want to make this one clear, if you’re a “knife specialist” or call yourself a “knife fighter” (I don’t, I’ve been in knife encounters but never a knife fight) and don’t teach blade awareness, dropped blade protocol and retrieval, deployment, testcutting, weapon retention, different types of modern blades, concealment and carry, you are neglecting a huge part of modern knife self-defense, if that’s even an applicable term. (Another time, another topic)
  8. That if you train with weapons you’ll simply conquer any attacker as you’re a “weapons man” now (you’ll need more and nothing is a fast guarantee of success with the vast number of scenarios that can unfold) Here we see 2 examples and Youtube is littered with many many more:                                                                                                                      Though training makes the odds better,  there’s no guarantee that simply presenting, using or knowlege of using a weapon ensures success, let alone survival. If you’re measuring stick is simply that you have one and that makes you more dangerous, I’ve got some bad news for you. I used to have a student who said she walked around armed, she had pepper spray in her purse. I asked her where she had it in her purse. “Somewhere on the bottom.” Have you ever practiced getting it out of your purse as fast as possible, if ever needed? “No.” Do you know how to use the spray, have you actually shot it, you know where the deploy button is? “Not exactly.” Have you ever trial shot it before? “” Then you have a decoration, my friend, not a weapon. And this isn’t even factoring doing all those things right but not counting on the other person’s adrenalized state – pain tolerance, pain threshold, your own survival stress state, will and innate justification to use it and the factors already listed above. (Innate justification can include spiritual/religious factors, appropriation of extreme use-of-force internally, societal/legal worry, moral/ethical resistance, among others)
  9. That gunting/nerve destructions/pressure point attacks shut down the moving adrenaline-filled human body (later that evening they can hurt like hell but hardly helps in the moment) I think we covered most of this above already.
  10. that complex flow drills build attributes or that some flow drills build attributes at all (drilling for the sake of drilling, becoming a drillmaster or not knowing the reason for your drilling makes it moot, period). I have talked to FMA “masters” before that have no idea WHAT attributes they’re cultivating but they can sure regurgitate the phrase in a hurry. “They build attributes.” Tell me which ones, what the purpose is of building them and why that’s important. Example, we’ll take the uber-popular hubud flow drill. Practitioners add one small element to the drill (a low kick being a most popular one) and call it “progressive hubud” or that they’re using it in a totally unique manner. Hubud is a construct drill, a base drill for beginners to get a feel for the unique sensisitivity and flow that inhibit the FMA. But it’s done in the same non-dynamic construct, the same dummying for technique, demo or not. Here are some ideas, if drilling is your thing and you’re not replacing it with resistance training, pressure-testing or any form of active resistance. Incorporating forward, linear or changing pressures. With breakoffs – a push to create distance for deployment or spatial reinforcement followed by the “pushed” giving a hard charge or tackle (you won’t be standing upright for long, one way or the other if you’ve been doing hubud like a piece of plywood, I can assure you) or wearing boxing gloves to start throwing upon  engagement. (If a knife drill and you couldn’t deploy, using empty-hand skills to get to deployment phase, clinch to learn to control attack, or use closed-folder tactics until full deployment (or half- or quarter-openings) can be facilitated. Have one of the 2 participants break off and throw a sucker punch with the other slowly getting over the backward flinch response and learning to do it forward-aggressive utilizing various methods of striking within the construct (ax hands, hammerfists, palms, etc. or even methods of delivery – wave, explosive, ballistic ,etc.) Hubud in buno/groundfighting range into joint hyperextension opportunities using an entirely different type of sensisitivity. All heavily pressure-based and with active resistance. Abecedario is another that stays in the “self-defense” phase, I used to use 3 levels of abecedario. 1. working the basics with no resistance. 2. increasing levels of feedback, opponent starts moving with varying types of pressure. 3. you have 3 seconds after first-contact to finish or opponent starts fighting back with full resistance.

Now these are within the framework of traditional FMA, I’d like to point out. This should be a bare minimum type of legitimate self-reflection on how you train. For those who aren’t interested in taking their training to extremes or push the envelope, these are some things to consider that we, in the FMA world, simply assume and accept to be truth. Question. Challenge the norms and the stereotypes. We simply do not live in an age where pressure-testing is always needed to legitimize a system due to the time we live in. And I’ve sometimes been critical of this, maybe overly, and maybe therein lies the problem with my own fun and passion. But I had also put a lot of effort into developing my own expression of the arts and ensuring, at least from my small corner of the globe, combat arts derived from function and with unique learning, movement and kinesthetic learning methodologies, don’t go the way of tae kwon do and ninjutsu – a caricature of their original inception.

*As a final comment here regarding the FMA community at large. I have respect for all sides, I do. I respect those that want to maintain the traditional, hereditary and cultural authenticity of their native arts. That is their prerogative and it is a relative heirloom in that regard. It it were part of my birthright and had historical significance to my country of birth, I can definitely see the passion and protectiveness one might have for it. I would. I can also understand the progressive side wanting to modernize things and further these arts into the 21st Century. (often a North American thing, admittedly) But I’d like to give a parting note for thought to both sides. If a Canadian invents something, puts it on the market, it’s always going to be a “Canadian” product, one that was originally made in Canada, will always have its origins there and Canadians can take pride in the fact it was one or more of their own who came up with the idea. That being said,  let me put this in the context of relatable terms regardless of nationality: if a German (company, individual or entity) purchases the product – invests money in doing so, worked hard for that money, put the effort into developing that product, promoting it globally, tweaked it to fit his demographic/culture – it will still be of Canadian origin. But it will be his product now. He bought it. Invested in it. Put the effort in for a price – be it financial, physical/labor or emotional. It’s his. Period. No Canadian has a right to tell him what he can and cannot do with that product. They can be proud that the German has taken it to different or at times even greater heights, knowing that that product is Canadian-made and the German will always give credit for it being so. But it’s his. Legally. Socially. Ethically. In every way. He bought it. Now that German could hypothetically be Filipino/Pinoy, another Canadian, Asian, of Middle-Eastern descent. Really, it doesn’t matter. We’ve struck globalization on products, maybe it’s time for the martial arts to catch up in some way. Think on that for a bit while you make the correlation.


I’d like to give a commentary on the recent  “no holds barred” fight in China between retired MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong and tai chi “master” Wei Lei that’s drawn so much online attention recently. (and continues to do so)

I realize I’m a little late on the take with posting about this but I wanted to see what kind of input it drew around the web first. There’s talk of this being the deathknell of traditional Chinese martial arts, that it wasn’t fair to tai chi as Lei wasn’t a “true” tai chi master, that because Xiaodong was 13 years retired from MMA it sent an even clearer message on the state of functional Chinese combative arts, etc. etc. etc. There are always people complaining about the protocols of the bout and how it played into the other’s hands. Could this happen to any traditional art? Sure, this came as no surprise. Should one art or methodology be represented and spoken for by one individual who may or not be qualified to be the spokesperson of that said art or methodology? No. (It’s always the individual at the end of the day. What if it was a streetwise aggressive tai chi specialist who came up from a violent street background and an MMA fighter who was 5th-rate and never fought in the ring or with resistance? Meaningless.) Does it say something on the state of traditional Asian martial arts in general? Maybe. But I’d like to make a comment from a different angle.

Xu Xiaodong Interview

DISCLAIMER: Jiayoowushu does NOT condone Xu Xiaodong's actions or his conduct. HOWEVER, due to the spread of misinformation going on about the recent "Taiji vs. MMA" incident by Western news outlets that don't know Chinese, and thus don't know the precise, accurate details from the source, we are sharing this translated interview with Xu Xiaodong in the spirit of free speech and sharing of all opinions, even those critical so that we can further discussion of Wushu and Chinese martial arts. We at are dedicated first and foremost to the promotion through spreading awareness, and better understanding through discussion of all opinions of not only modern Wushu, but all of Chinese martial arts practice.Credit to Wong Yuen-Ming for translation on Facebook.Want to hear from another perspective on the Xu Xiaodong incident? Get it here on our newest article "Tai Ji vs MMA" by our newest contributor Frank Zhong:

Posted by Jiayo Wushu on Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The interview with Xiaodong post-fight explaining his viewpoints and the escalation.

From a purely tactical point-of-view, this is what happens when you allow the other person to dictate context: the rules (start, time limit, referee, rounds), the time, the place, the date, the crowd, the exposure (filmed for Youtube and Facebook entertainment). You lose. Look at this from a bigger purely pragmatic view from a personal defense/conflict management position because we too often tend to look into the micro-aspects and become anal-retentive. This is also caused by ego: the Internet is, again, not a self-defense scenario and Lei took the bait – hook, line and sinker. )He actually did his share to provoke it after seeing the video that Wim posted. He let ego and pride get in the way of something that could have easily been brushed off (or ignored) but “defending his style’s honor” was at stake, whatever the hell that means. This is about two individuals at the end of the day, not a methodology over a methodology. Two willing individuals (who agreed willingly to settle this with aggression) who escalated a social media feud and now it’s been blown into something much greater than need be. One lost, and fairly, might I add. Deservedly? Maybe that as well with the poor choices made and the predicament he volunteered himself into.

*And, for those who think I’m biased in any way, I’m not, I don’t care one way or the other. I look at these things from a learning perspective, solely. But, if needed, I have instructor-level rankings in both tai chi/qi gong and in shootwrestling (a modern MMA-type hybrid combination of striking, grappling and clinching) after over 20 years in both.


Well, let’s reverse-engineer this and list some things of concern pertaining to the martial arts world that may be equally-prevalent in cults or may hint at the fact your academy is bordering on cultish:

  1. You’re not allowed, either intimated or openly stressed, to train at any other clubs or any other systems or there’ll be repercussions: belts stripped, “excommunicated” from the club, rankings revoked, your training stops or is restricted.
  2. Other ideas, concepts, methods of performing techniques are met with stern disapproval as they’re not in-line with the set curriculum or methodology of the system/style/instructor/lineage. (Freedom of thought and experimentation should be a huge part of the martial journey – developing our own thought process of evaluation and filters is part of the self-evolution)
  3. You are required to bow and call the instructor by his title (and these titles are getting more and more ludicrous by the generation – Grand Master Supreme, anyone?), even when talking outside a training environment in social settings. (He/she can’t separate one identity from the other. I knew an aikido instructor who was so consumed by his training identity, his wife was actually scared of him outside the club and admitted so. His persona transferred to their relationship and the construct of power balance – it was an abusive relationship.)
  4. Your instructor crosses the boundaries of his/her expertise and starts becoming a mountaintop guro, business advisor, career counsellor, psychologist/therapist simply because of his/her position of stature within the club dynamic. (Outside of scope of instructor’s level of knowledge. While advice from personal experience is one thing, giving professional advice outside of our sphere of knowledge pertaining to serious life decisions affected by potentially outside-of-our-knowing intangibles is not)
  5. Great investments, either financial or time, are required early-on. (I was once part of a club that demanded one-year’s tuition and contract signed in advance sight unseen, extra for secret behind closed-door training that was above-and-beyond and recommended if you “really wanted to advance”, no watching classes prior to signing up, no family members inside the club or able to view classes)
  6. On that note, the practices of the club are “secretive” and not for the public eye. Lots of “closed-door” practices are promoted. (We live in perhaps the most oversaturated time of information in recorded history. There are simply no secrets any longer, all information is readily available to inevitably anyone. “Secret” is a marketing gimmick, nothing more.)
  7. You find you have trouble separating your personality from the training or “your style.” I’m a karateka, a judoka, an aikidoka, an arnisador, etc. (You are you, not your rank, and have a distinct identity apart from the club, your style, your system or your title)
  8. Your ranks carry-over into your day-to-day. You identify yourself so innately with your title that it’s even listed on social media in front of your name.
  9. The instructor starts making unwelcome advances either sexually, socially, religiously, politically or otherwise from a position of power towards the student body or members thereof. Individual members are isolated with private meetings, personal attention, unwanted extra-curricular communication, inappropriate physical contact. A subtle recommendation to their way of thinking.
  10. You start becoming more and more isolated from the outside people in your life and your social activities are progressively surrounded by solely people from the club or academy-based activities. (A lead-in to groupthink)
  11. Rankings and titles dictate specific order of control to the point liberties are taken, either physically, verbally or psychological through isolation, derision or punishment.
  12. Upon leaving the club, you’re called out and badmouthed to the internal community as being a “traitor” or “disloyal”
  13. The instructor continually screams, yells and issues orders that he/she clearly is not following themselves. (elitism and clear superiority)
  14. The student is expressly made to believe that any open questioning on functionality (technique, for instance) or lack of understanding of direction is disrespectful, out-of-line or worse, blasphemous or mutinous.
  15. Peer pressure to do things one is unprepared for or uncomfortable with on a psychological, moral, ethical or emotional level, outside of scope of justified training for learning progression.
  16. The student feels his/her well-being is at risk from constant physically-unnecessary and potentially-injurious training. (Bullying, club chain-of-command, one-way impact abuse where the instructor inflicts but never receives)
  17. You find that situations you would otherwise have handled in a calm and controlled manner previously, are now handled with an eye toward utilizing violence. Greater aggression, hostility, volatility and reactiveness are present after training has started.
  18. The club is considered clearly-superior to all others, that nothing else is needed by the student and everything they’re searching for can be provided at this one place.
  19. More and more ridiculous claims and practices are implemented by the instructor. Chi knockouts, telepathy, mind control, special abilities, no-touch control, etc. all come to mind in this vein.
  20. Demonstrations that look they’re influenced by hypnotism, suggestion, magic trick or influence to create a mythic or indestructible reputation of the instructor and higher-ranked students.

Now, admittedly, some of these may well be acceptable of their own volition or independently. When all of these or a vast majority are omnipresent, there is an innate problem internally within the club and it starts to look very parallel to the cult stereotype. Very subtle in nature so one has to have a clear vision of what’s transpiring and ask internal questions for a normalcy baseline, which is often extremely difficult to do when absolute power and subtle manipulation is present, all in the name of tradition, fraternity, ego and order are driving forces.


Think back. What was your first or even most recent experience with adrenaline. A near accident. A confrontation at work. A fight with your spouse. Not exactly the stuff of legend. Simply day-to-day happenings. I don’t remember my first but I remember successive ones from the past few years, some humbling and still clear as day. If you’ve been around long enough, you’ve experienced freezing. I have. It was a truly humbling event. Heavy limbs. No access to all the complex dojo training with compliant attacker/committed and one-dimensional attack. Racing heart. Holding breath. Tense body. Brain freeze. It was like a universal short-circuit. But memory fades. That’s the thing about adrenaline…..and memory. We forget.  The feeling dissipates over time and we forget the misgivings, problems presented and resulting helplessness. As martial artists, after an initial letdown that our training failed us we eventually go back to doing the same things we do, justifying that it was us, that circumstances vary and this one was different, that we were caught off-guard but we won’t be next time, etc. etc. and continue on our merry way trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.

I’ve also been on the other side, the giver. And, let’s make no mistake, there’s an initial sense of euphoria at dominating and punishing another functional human being for what we perceive are justifiable reasons. We want more and we’re jacked up and he deserved it, dammit. This is before the shame, guilt and anxiety of repercussion (legal, financial/fiscal, ethical, maybe even spiritual) kick in. Violence leaves a kind of putrid, shitty feeling in your mouth post-incident. It solves little, although admittedly there are times it has its place and is a necessary evil. There’s also the fear of retribution from the receiving party – revenge, punishment, pain. (And this fear can happen from both perspectives – giver and receiver) Most don’t get into the varied forms of adrenaline and make it out to be one big entity universally causing (and calling for) the same response. But the truth of the matter is that adrenaline is different for different phases of the conflict. Pre-conflict…anticipation. (Of consequence. Of price. Questioning our abilities and whether they’re enough. Size/reputation/previous experience of the other combatant). Mid-conflict adrenaline. (I’m losing. He’s too strong. It hurts. I can’t win this). Pre-post conflict adrenaline. (What if I win and he knows where I live. What if he catches my family without me. What if I’m charged or arrested. What if he beats me badly and I end up in the hospital.) Post-conflict adrenaline. (Does he know where I live. Will he try and get even. What will happen to my family if I go to jail. What if I’m not prepared if he does. What if he’s got a screw loose.) This last one’s a kicker, it feels sometimes like a horror movie in the pre-climax phase: looking out your windows after getting home, locking the doors, paranoia, mind racing with thoughts that are utterly ridiculous in scope but these are the after-effects of the dump. This isn’t factoring in the number of kicks adrenaline can give you at any point. (I think Geoff Thompson covered this thoroughly in one of his books, far more thoroughly and with more eloquence than I could)

The myth is that eventually with time and exposure, we overcome the impact of adrenaline and that’s simply not the case. It’s always prevalent. An evolutionary event of the human body under duress highly-designed to protect us, alert us and give us the necessary tools to function and survive. Those with enough and continued exposure to it in whatever capacity learn to deal with it more effectively, embrace it as part of the process and function within its parameters. It’s one of many physiological happenings that we overlook or ignore completely in martial arts training. (innate flinch responseS-plural, gross motor/fine motor movement accessibility, aerobic vs. anerobic capacity, etc, which won’t be addressed here for obvious reasons of scope)

But I’m not here to spread fear, worry or paranoia. Actually, quite the contrary. The truth of the matter is this: Violence globally is not climbing and the statistics bear this out. The vast majority of daily safety issues do not call for physical response. (And this is good and should be acknowledged) There is not someone lurking at every corner waiting to kill you. The enemy you face will not likely be a 300-pound ex-criminal that trains daily like an animal. And we live in quite possibly the safest time in recorded history. ( , for some validity) Sometimes we tend to over-analyze (non-physical) or not analyze enough (solely physical) from extreme ends of the spectrum. There’s a fine line and, physiologically, it is indeed a complex subject. Both are needed without an overabundance of either. But on the surface, violence and fear are very simple primal creatures. We need to be measured in our approach and response. While we don’t know it, many times we are to blame when something happens that needn’t. (ego, testosterone, perception and impression of loved ones/peers/onlookers, pride-and if you dig deep and are honest, you’ll admit this as I am now)

Which leads me to my next point. Does violence or the development thereof happen? Yes. That is the reality. I’ve now had two incidents in the past week-and-a-half here in Costa Rica (and a third involving a potential kidnapping at a school near my son’s this morning) and both are of the unavoidable variety which, from my experience of not being security, LE or military but an average civilian…just a guy… is rare. I’m not going to delve deeply into this and give exorbitant details as patting my own back is not the reason for this article nor do I want it to be the focus.

  1. On the train on the way to teach an English program. A clearly mentally-disturbed gentleman across from me laughing chaotically, talking to himself, extremely agitated and scaring some passengers, including an older woman who was extremely scared sitting next to him. Skills utilized to manage the situation? Shielding (bag in front in case of sudden attack), reflections (the train glass is mirrored so I can watch his movements without drawing attention or creating confrontation), once-over of his person/clothing to look for noticeable bulges, clips, open zippers for quick deployment, etc., cell alert to my wife telling her briefly about the issue but not to worry (for possible future need, should something happen), subtle deployment (in case but not to draw attention), eye-meeting to acknowledge him without maintaining “glare” (which would have been perceived as confrontational), autogenic breathing, once the women exited the train I re-located (mis-direction, better vantage point-behind, and confusion to him, not to mention taking myself out of the equation), alerting train personnel…and being calm.
  2. At our family bed-and-breakfast, 3 gentlemen arrived 2.5 hours late (1 am), intoxicated and openly doing drugs on the premises….disturbing other guests. They were asked politely to leave, money refunded in full. Skills utilized to manage the situation? Misdirection, open acknowledgement and address of ritual signs of violence in one of the gentlemen, strong body language/tone of voice, distance, autogenic breathing/conscious loosening of body in anticipation of potential conflict with angry clients, presentation of weapon at a certain point in non-aggressive manner but intimating intent if needed, distance gauging, spatial enforcement through body language/squaring up/ facial expression…and being calm.

Now, to be honest, if it seemed that cut-and-dried and smoothe, it wasn’t. End result on both? No violence necessary. Zero injuries. Zero lawsuits. Zero hospital bills. Zero remorse. Now both are extremely different in scope, for analysis sake. One a mentally unstable person, lots of witnesses, lighted, moving vehicle, cramped space, public location, possible assistance available. The other multiple people, darkness, open space, family present, under the influence of both drugs and alcohol, no assistance available, location known and return possible. Both dealing with irrational people but for very different reasons and in need of entirely different responses. And none of these skills were ever truly delved into in a martial arts class. This is not to say there aren’t some exceptional martial arts styles, systems and instructors out there that can be your guide to staying safe. There are. You just have to look for them as most aren’t likely listed in your neighborhood yellow pages. No, what I’m saying is that most of the skills you have at your disposable when it hits the fan are within you…innate. Now. Since birth. From experience. And it can be cultivated with a combination of people that know about this stuff and researching things on your own and trusting your own instincts. Be informed. Don’t buy the misinformation so readily available. Consider whether the knowledge you’re getting is subjective or objective. Are you going to trust your and your family’s safety from solely someone else’s experience? It is one element but consider the context and its viability with the content. There are a lot of good, knowledgeable, well-versed and educated people in this industry, regardless of all the “that’ll get you killed” crowd. Search them out. Self-defense is no shrinking violet and most of these ladies and gentlemen are accessible and more than willing to help you out. They’ll often start the conversation with “Now, I don’t know everything and simply don’t have all the answers….”





Seems like an eye blink ago when I was sixteen. This thing called time has over taken me. A mere moment ago I was young kid living in New York City. I was young teenager enjoying the seventies in the Big Apple and all that it offered. How can you even begin to explain to the young people of today that they really missed out on some the greatest music that ever will be? Or what a disco experience was like? How does one describe the smell of the old Bowery along with CBGB’s and the grit? When I visit Forty Second Street today, it looks like Disneyland to me, Lion King Reigns supreme. Gone are the porn shops and Kung-Fu stores that sold posters of Bruce Lee. Union Square Park is so gentrified I feel like I am in a foreign country.
Martial Arts in the City were a very different thing back then. You knew peoples provenance. If your lineage was not traceable you were put on notice. A few guys from an infamous dojo on the lower East Side would have fun “visiting” people who seemed suspect in their so called “credentials”. Tournaments pitted “East Coast versus West Coast”, “Karate versus Kung-Fu”, and Aaron Banks put on the greatest martial art extravaganza on the planet. There was still some semblance of stylistic “purity” back then, in that you could tell a Goju-Ryu man from a Tae Kwon Do man. Shotokan was clearly distinguishable from various Kung-Fu. No such thing as what is now called “MMA” back then. Although when we had style versus style disputes in a tenement hallway or South Bronx rooftop, things became a bit dicey to say the least.
When it came to the street of course it was all about survival. We had guys who would show us “Jail House” boxing, and we would always have fun with the brothers “slap boxing” in the street. Improvised weapons ruled the day. Cheap, simple and efficient were the guiding ideology. None of us knew anything about “FMA” back then. We had seen some Iaido and Kendo but not much else. Some guys knew a bit about native weapon fighting from family, like some guys we knew from the islands. I had experienced a bit of Magyar Gypsy knife while visiting Hungary. But nothing was fancy or full of heavy “theory”. Pointy end goes in this way was the operative theme.
Quick deployment and concealability, and the ability to ambush someone dominated our approach. An icepick in a paper bag was unseen but felt when thrust forward. A cheap fish weight attached to a dog collar hit like a black jack. A box cutter and screw driver were subway specials – and I don’t mean the sandwich version.

Cheap, accessible and disposable made sense to us. None of us could afford a nice knife, although some guys would carry a Case pocket knife. We knew about the “throw away”. We learned that from many of the underworld types – gangsters, gang members and guys we knew from the “joint”. No glamor in shanking a dude multiple times with an ice pick. No movie fantasy about guts spilling open from a box cutter slash through a thin t-shirt on a hot summer day. When the stuff hit the proverbial fan it was on.
Today I see a lot of what I call “fancy stuff”. Expensive exotic looking curved knives from faraway places are sold all over the internet. Beautiful folders and fixed blades that while costly and nice eye candy, you would be hard pressed to throw away if ever used. I see knife “templates” that while fun to practice, are too complicated to perform under unpredictable circumstances and duress. By and large I don’t see deployment taught and the need for a truly predatory mind set. Some guys are making money selling workshops teaching the fancy fluff and stuff. While I don’t begrudge them in trying to earn a living, it would be nice if they could interject an occasional “real” method or principle in what they propagate.
But I get it. People say they want to learn “self-defense”. But in my experience when you attempt to teach that, people get appalled. They blanch and change color right before your eyes. They say things like “wait that is too intense for me, can you tone it down” or “I don’t know if I could ever do that to somebody”. But teach them a form of religion disguised as martial arts, or a form of rolling around the mat like dogs in heat, and they sign up in droves. Some families have made a great deal of money brain washing the masses on the efficacy of their invincible legendary methods. And yes, maybe on some beach in Brazil, mano a mano with mucho machisimo, it has validity, but in crowded bar, or moving crowded subway car, I don’t know. If you are in the street when you are being ambushed by multiple predators, probably armed and in low light conditions, it ain’t a Jackie Chan movie. And a huge obese aging pony tailed Aikido Guy who never gets a scratch in the movies when fighting the bad guys, is not coming to your rescue. And what if the defender is unarmed? Are people by and large still so gullible? The first mistake of a defender is that he was caught unarmed. And if he is armed, he needs to be trained and willing to use his covert weapon of choice.
The combat mindset should be an important principle to inculcate. Does not matter what you know if you are not willing or unable to make it so. Keep it simple. Learn blunt impact and edged weapon methods with an eye toward ultimate survival. Become familiar with firearms. It never ceases to amaze me how so many martial art “experts” I know who are teaching public workshops and classes know nothing about firearms. They self same Guros also make lame excuses about this ignorance. But yet they often teach gun disarms! In my simple logic how can you defend yourself against something if you don’t know how to use it and how it functions (and hence its strengths and weaknesses)? This is also my logic when I see martial art “experts” teaching students how to defend themselves against a blunt impact weapon or a knife. And of course if you don’t understand the mind set of true predator, it puts you in a moral and ethical conundrum. The predator has no “compassion” or “empathy” as a so called “normal” person would be conditioned to have. So that passive “just re-direct and control” “non-Violent” approach is gonna get ya killed. Doesn’t anyone see the lack of logic in the term “non-violent” martial arts? Self-protection will be anything but non-violent.
Train hard. Use your common sense if you can. Become well rounded in your approach. Keep it simple. Don’t buy into the fancy stuff. And if you do, have fun with it but don’t confuse it for authentic self-protection. If you train in a so called martial-art for the exercise benefits, that’s wonderful. But try to comprehend that authentic martial arts for real world survival is not about just the workout. If you live in a gun culture please at least become familiar with what that means. You don’t need to be an expert shooter by any means. But at least have a cursory knowledge for your own benefit.



12. Give them context. I had a former student that told me he could never ever put a knife into somebody under any circumstance. I told him I could change his mind in less than one minute. He laughed. I asked to visualize, really clear and detailed imagery, a just- released violent criminal. Inhumane. Non-empathetic. Vile. No regard for human sanctity and precious human life. (Not evil incarnate, inhuman or a mindless killing machine as this takes away the humanity and if it can bleed, it can be destroyed.) He was coming home from a long day at work, the only thing on his mind seeing his beautiful wife and cute kids. He walks in to see his kids unconscious and bleeding on the floor. His wife has her mouth muffled by a hand and this guy is on top of her ripping her clothes off. There’s a knife laying on the dresser and there’s one thing standing between her and your kids’ lives…you. He will not stop and there are no police coming to help you. She’s looking at you with horrified eyes and the life slowly leaving them. Could you put a knife in somebody? (Now I know this is extreme, unlikely to happen for the vast vast majority and a horrible vision to have to picture but it goes toward context and the ability and moral/ethicaljustification within that context and to achieve scenario-specific goals…remember, the vast majority of us are deeply hardwired for resistance to taking human life….and this is a good thing, rendering a lot of what we learn in “martial arts” and “self-defense” moot…semantics are simply not semantics pertaining to violence) I saw his body language change during the process…red face, clenched fists, body rocking, smile vanished and a look of glaring intensity. He said “yes, under those circumstances I’d be able, without doubt.” It turned out to be about 90 seconds but you get my point. That’s context. Visceral imagery. We don’t train to stab a guy at the bar that accidentally (or not, for that matter) dumps a beer on us. We too often teach universal or general in a specific. Poor conditioning. (hardwiring is already there so this is not hardwiring, it’s conditioning…we’re altering the hardwiring)

13. Mantras reinforced to develop proper mindset. Here are a few examples that I use: “When all else has failed and there is no other solution than a physical response, I will be brutal, unforgiving and unempathetic in my attack until the threat has subsided. I will dominate with incredible speed and power, both of mind and body.” “I will learn to function with adrenaline dump and will overcome my fear and use adrenaline as power.” “I will do whatever it takes to survive, thrive and live for my loved ones.”

14. Learn targeting, not sequencing. Don’t have a specific response for a given attack. Train yourself to always see targets. They are ALWAYS available from ANY position. Ones that do damage, that create shock and awe, that give psychological trauma, that cause injury and inflict brutal…not later that evening.

15. Don’t (even unintentionally) put weapons in their hands and have them dismantle an unarmed fighter. A. It’s illegal and you’ve just taught them unbeknownst to them (and often unbeknownst to the blank instructor) to escalate the level of force exponentially given the circumstances. B. You’ve gone against the average person’s innate resistance to utilizing this type of violence on another human being. C. You’ve messed with their context and unconsciously given them a skillset most are simply unable to process, especially without that specific context.

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16. No tapping or submission training. It is self-defeatist. If a student perpetually learns to tap when things start to hurt or as a “safeword” you are conditioning them to fail. Teach them to read body language so they know when they’re hurting someone, facial reaction. I once had a friend who had been training with some law enforcement friends on the weekends. They did BJJ and every time (he was a big guy so it took some effort on their part) he said they’d end the wrestling match with a rear naked choke and told him that there was no counter…once that was on, it’s over. He asked if I had any solutions. I told him, “tap.” He said, “Well, yes, then I’m done and the fight’s over. What can I do to counter once I’m caught?” “Tap.” “You’re not getting it, D, I need a counter.” I told him “I’m giving you one, you’re just not listening. Tap. They release instinctively, it’s how they’re trained. They’ve done it hundreds of times and, by now, it can’t be overrun. Tap. And when they release, attack them like a hungry f*$#ing tiger.” The lights went on. “But that’s dirty.” “I know, you’re right, it is. Do you want the counter or not.” “But we’re friends!” “Not during a real fight you’re not. You wanted a counter, take it or leave it. It will put you on top, they won’t be expecting it and the appalling shock of you not playing by their rules will put them on their heels while you get the first few shots in. That’ll change the bloody dynamic of the game. Permanently. They’ll never make that mistake again even while on the job. It’ll help you in the immediacy, them in the long-term. Everybody wins.” “Jesus, Darren, it’s just grappling with beers on the weekend!” “Yeah, well, that’s the difference, I look at it from a different mindset, I try and be a  problem-solver. You had a problem , I gave you a way to solve it. It’s not pretty, it’s not nice but, dammit, it sure is effective, isn’t it?” Tools like visualization allow the student to go through the steps needed to end the scenario, whether it be verbal, physical, intuitive, psychological, tactical or what have you. Have them do it successfully in their mind’s eye. Then have them do it with ugly success. Then imperfectly and with flaw. Then have them develop a plan b or a perpetually-adaptive method when their first avenue doesn’t work as planned. They aren’t given one-size-fits-all solutions, they’re given tools to adapt to the changing playing field. It will forever help them, in life or in the fire. Until what point to continue the assault? Until the threat ceases to be a threat if all else has failed and the physical is all that’s left. No gloating, no admiring your shots, no yelling in victory, no stopping. No re-dos. Dear God, if you want to get Darren mad, ask for a re-do. “That didn’t look good, stop and let me try that again.” Billy, keep attacking Jimmy, please. Learn to thrive in the unpredictability of chaos. It’s human to be hit, to err, to screw up and have something look ugly. (Remember, if I do anything that looks absolutely beautiful, it’s by accident, not intent) Teach them to become focused, pragmatic and goal-oriented. Means to an end. Make your training your reality: a. Growl. Learn to become feral. Let the inner animal loose every so often so you know what he or she looks like and can recognize him or her when he/she’s needed. b. Train biting, pinching, scratching, twisting, tearing, ripping, clawing. Then practice counter-biting, counter-pinching, counter-scratching, counter-twisting, countertearing, counter-ripping, counter-clawing. c. Learn the physiology of that animal. What does he look like now that you recognize him? How do you access that state change on a dime when needed? What are the things that matter to you? Your trigger points? What’s worth fighting for and what is not? This is the definition of flipping/flicking the switch. It’s often paid reference to but very rarely explained. Plan before when it’s okay for him/her to come out and play ahead of time…during is too late. Again, the whats are usually what are stressed, not nearly enough of the hows, whens and whys. Eyes roll back in head, immense power runs through your body, a viciousness takes hold, something snaps. Look in the mirror and see what he looks like. Get a visual, auditory (what does he/she sound like? things he/she says? tone and intensity?), kinesthetic and tactile processing in place. Practice brings it to the fore, then returning back to the you that your loved ones see every day. Practice seeing how fast you can access Mr. Hyde from Dr. Jekyll. Again, use context. What matters to you? Who’s important? What would have to be done to them or you to pull Mr. Hyde out of the closet? Remember, he’s not you, he’s a part of you that only comes out when absolutely needed, not when your wife nags you or the kids are misbehaving. It’s okay to have him, it doesn’t make you an awful person as he has a voice, a rare one, but a powerful one nonetheless.

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Context is bloody king. Remember, it’s not the system, the belts, the techniques but the will to utilize the tools necessary if and when needed. Mindset. The mind is by far the most dangerous weapon we possess.

This is just the tip of the iceberg and I’m often reticent to share openly information like this as it is both controversial and can be misused, from someone who understands and moreso from someone who doesn’t. I have been pushed by some close confidants to put it out there as, who better than someone who uses the methods responsibly and with care to explain it with caution as opposed to someone egregious and negligent. High praise, let’s see what comes of it.


As neurology and neuro-linguistics develop, there has proven to be a direct correlation to the words one chooses to how the brain and body are conditioned, including and especially as it pertains to self-defense. A block of its own volition signifies a reactionary move which means the practitioner is forever behind the eight ball of real aggression. Words are not just words. They represent the images, sounds, feelings (both tactile and kinesthetic) and internal feedback of how we process meaning and, therefore, how we act based on that meaning. I have never been a big believer in quick solutions to evolutionary problems as they pertain to a wide variety of things – making money, being happy, having success – as these are all tangible things that are person-dependent. But for combatives or self-defense, my experience is they make a world of difference in the beginner mind. My intent here is to inform, give some different and progressive methodologies to conscientious and open-minded instructors to help keep their students safe. Just some examples of how this connection can be averted into a different entity in the mind of process:

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1. Block becomes destroy (example: “I defended against the punch with a high-rising block” becomes “I destroyed the punch with my elbow)”

2. Fighting becomes terminating violence (A match or duel with a unknown outcome and no definitive answer for duration of conflict, expectation of victory, pain tolerance and threshold caveats and factoring in potential loss and doubt in the mind becomes a method to overwhelm the threat by any means necessary until the threat has ceased) If you see me “squaring off” outside of an attribute drill (which is what sparring is, it’s not actual violence) I’ve already let things get out of hand.

3. Defend becomes hard counter/pre-emptive action (transfers the power back to the one on the receiving end and in a proactive manner)

4. Joint-locking or joint manipulation (I’m not a big believer in either but it’s an example) becomes joint-breaking or hyperextension (a “lock” has no end – either you let go when he submits and start the dance from square one again, he/she becomes accustomed to the pain and resists or you hold indefinitely until tomorrow morning when one of you breaks mentally. A joint-break or hyperextension signifies damage, damage that cannot be undone without medical assistance and recovery time.

5. Entry becomes overwhelming forward pressure/explosion

6. Trap becomes limb destruction or disruption

7. “You did that wrong, do it again” can be “What better and more efficient way do you think you could’ve done that to get the result desired?”

8. Instead of yelling, cultivate their problem-solving ability

9. Reverse engineer modern problems with potential and highest-percentage outcomes.

10. Challenge their intellect and give them the avenue to solve the problems with their own analysis without spoon-feeding them.

11. Push them. “I’ve seen you hit harder, did that bomb have emotional intent or are you just going through the motions?” Every strike needs emotional intent. What matters most to you that you want to return to. The audacity of this person to try and take that away from you or you from them.”

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  1. Lineage dating all the way back to 1650 China is great but don’t flaunt it like protective shield as you’re only as good as what you’re personally capable of. I live in the 21st century and your forefathers aren’t reflective of what you can do as an individual now. Carry their values with you but be in the here and now.

2. I am not stuck in the past. I don’t live my life as a reincarnation of a 500-year old Buddhist monk so when I see a North American pretending he/she is from Eastern Asia it turns me off very quickly These are often the same people who criticize Asian people for wanting to be more Western. Pot calling kettle black.

3.  I don’t chant mantras from books from generations back like Confucious. If they can help me in my current state be a better husband, father, son and friend..then fantastic…but I am not Musashi nor do I idolize or pray at the altar of Bruce Lee, though I accept they both had great contributions to this industry.

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4. I am tired of those who tell me that, because I’m pragmatic, functional and modern with my approach to violence, personal preservation, safety, self-defence and combatives that I have less of a philosophy than traditionalists. In fact, from many I’ve met I have a much stronger one. Many I’ve met have no idea when they should and shouldn’t use countervailing force. What constitutes a “self-defence” scenario and what doesn’t. What verbal diffusion is. (If you don’t practice it you WILL NOT use it, contrary to what you tell me) How to be situationally aware because it’s unnecessary due to all the mystical lineage-giving powers you possess. What your superpowered chi can do to other human beings who oppose you. (HINT. It’s not throwing someone across the room with a no-touch knockout.) What adrenaline does to you and the cost using violence forces one to pay.

5. I am tired of those who hide behind a belt and believe that it means they can rest on their laurels just because it’s colored. Authenticity, blood, sweat and tears are worth the effort but many believe they’re color of belt is the equivalent of their level of being able to defend themselves and I’m afraid the correlation isn’t that direct.

6.Though you believe you’ve been “training for 40 years and know the system like the back of your hand”, if you’ve stopped training for 15 and aren’t teaching you are NO LONGER training. You’ve stopped, thus the “time put in” factor is not quite the same as the rest of us who continue rain or shine.

7. I don’t believe you can give people life skills from a book. Combat is chaotic. Situation awareness is organic and subjective. Violence is sudden. Human physiology is complex. Books give knowledge but some things need to be experienced.

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8. When you tell me that “I remember when I was 40..great age…very inexperienced” you are being condescending. Especially when you tell me you’ve taught for 5 years of your “40 years of experience” and I’ve taught for 15, including to military, police, security and prison personnel.

9. I grow weary of traditionalists who act like they’re superior because they put their left pinky finger at a 37.8 degree angle in their vaunted cat stance (which should be taught as a stance with a 73-27 weight distribution, by the way). Secret techniques that can subtly screw the reality-based and MMA community that nobody has to prove because of the lethality involved. Superiority without proof, other than that my master’s master’s master told him it’d work…therefore….it works. Tradition has it’s place and it’s important to know where we’ve come from but don’t hide behind it. What happened in 1300 feudal Japan is not necessary applicable to June 14, 2014.

10. You are also wrong when you tell me there is no such thing as reality-based self-defence or combatives or combat martial arts as they’re all reality-based and combative. I’m sorry but they may all have been at one point but they are no longer all. Kicks to the head on ice or in the rain, rolling around on the ground waiting 10 minutes for that submission to open, punching with your hands on your hips, training barefoot, one-punch-one-kill…in most circumstances not applicable for the modern streets with the modern criminal with modern tactics.

11. I also grow weary of those who claim that we (you and I) should freely exchange techniques and I should openly share with you what I know at no fee because a) that’s the way the old masters would’ve done it (I’m sure my family would think differently of my working for free) and b) you’ve taken two seminar certification courses in the same art so you’re a qualified instructor. Please.

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