Self-defense: The 5 Stages of a Confrontation

I am a lifetime marital artist and former combat instructor in Special Forces. I have developed, written and taught combat and self defense courses around the world to more than 100,000 students and instructors. Even after more than 35 years of experience in martial arts training and combat survival experiences, every time I enter an unknown environment, I always question myself on “What if…”

No matter how experienced you are in the martial arts or how confident you feel in defending yourself, awareness is a far more powerful weapon than any other skills you practice in the training hall. Don’t be an easy prey. Watch for signs that signal danger during the following stages of interacting with a potential assailant.

Stage#1: Approaching

Approaching is the first sign of potential danger. An assailant may walk toward you casually, follow you from behind or jump out of nowhere. This is the time for you to prepare for avoiding the assailant or running away.

Remember: Don’t Run Away from Danger; Run to Safety. You don’t need to beat or defeat an assailant – there are no winners in self-defense. Your only goal is to escape safely.

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Stage#2: Closing

If you feel even slightly uncomfortable about a person approaching you, do not allow the assailant to get closer than 5-6 feet. If necessary, give a stern verbal warning such as “Stop there” or “Don’t come any closer.” Continue reading

Arresting Locks and Compliance Holds

Arresting techniques are very different from the usual fighting techniques that you use against an opponent. When you compete or fight for self-defense you and your opponent are on equal footing. However, in arresting, you cannot be in equal to your opponent. You should always be one or two steps ahead in thinking and positioning. You should be able to move in properly before your counterpart figures out what your next move is. By the time your opponent realizes what you are doing, you should already been in control of him.

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The knowledge of arresting locks opens up a new insight into the vulnerability of the techniques that your opponent might use. When you know arresting locks, you can take control of the situation no matter what an attacker might throw at you. They also enable you to take immediate control of your attacker’s weapon if necessary and use it against him.

There are three positions that you want to move into to arrest your counterpart: behind him, on the side of him, or take him to the ground while you remain upright. Once you secure one of these positions you should be able to control his joints in various ways so that you don’t lose control over him until you have completely immobilized him.

Arresting locks are effectively applied to both empty handed attackers and armed attackers. Since the arresting locks are geared to manipulating the body into inescapable positions, once you know how to do the techniques properly, you can take complete control of attackers without causing permanent damage.

Here are a few suggestions to enhance your knowledge of locking up your opponent with ease. Continue reading

Knife Defense: Advantages of Simplicity

The following article is based on the principles and techniques taught in the Knife Defense videos.

Much has been written  about the effectiveness of one system or another in a realistic or “street” situation. Many styles claim to be scientifically designed or to have secret techniques to defeat even the toughest of opponents, including armed assailants. Yet when it comes to an assailant armed with a knife, you don’t need to learn a lot of fancy, secret techniques, you only need to remember four simple options. In an armed confrontation, basic is best and the most direct techniques are the ones that will give you the opportunity to walk away when it’s over.

Four Choices, One Result

When faced with a weapon, you have four choices: retreat, lateral inside close, lateral outside close or pass by. Each of these initial movements allows you to shorten the distance between you and your opponent. Once you get close, you can apply the defense of your choice. If you prefer kicking, you can use a kick. If you prefer locking, you can apply a lock. If you prefer grappling, you can take your opponent to the ground. But to use any of these skills, you first have to get close to your attacker. Or run. Fast.
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Retreat: Cowardice or Foresight

To retreat is generally seen by the opponent as a sign of cowardice. You are too afraid to fight or you are unable to match your opponent’s strength, so you step back to avoid being drawn into a confrontation. However, the retreat can be a smart initial move since it gives you a chance to measure your attacker’s seriousness and prepare a strategy. And there is always the chance that when you signal a retreat, your attacker will back off enough to let you escape. This is, of course, the safest and most intelligent way to defeat an armed attacker. It is also the least likely outcome. Continue reading

7 Principles of Knife Combat

The following article is based on the principles and techniques taught in the Knife Defense videos. It is intended to give a brief overview of the central tenet of knife combat for the experienced martial artist. This article is for educational purposes only.

Many years have passed since my last mission as a special agent in the military. Looking back, I find something valuable from what I learned in the training Academy. My combat instructor T. Kim used to scream at us during the grueling knife-fighting training sessions, “Once engaging, do not run away from your opponent, get closer to him! Dissolve the knife in your head!”

In the midst of chaotic situations where knives, clubs, metal pipes, rocks flying around, our unit members who tried to run away from the attackers got seriously injured. Those who chose to stay closer and fight, by following T. Kim’s instruction, survived.

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The cardinal rule of combat, whether against a knife or an empty-handed adversary is “Once engaging, stay tactically close to your opponent!” Especially when your opponent is armed with a knife, there is often no way out but to stay close and fight. The keys for surviving in close quarters combat against a knife are:

First, read the intent of your enemy. In combat, the enemy has only one motive, to eliminate you and obtain his objective. This often made the first assessment for me simple – there was not option to escape or placate my attackers. In civilian life, however, you must read your attacker’s intentions. Assess what he wants from you: your money, your car, your pride, your honor, your life – assailants have many motives for attacking their victims. If you can buy your way out of a situation, whether through material possessions or your wits, this is your best option. Do not hesitate to give the attacker if he wants if it means he will spare you injury. Continue reading