Friday, 16 March 2012

Improvised (Legal) Weapons

If you're attacked in the street it's unlikely you'll be fortunate enough to have a weapon with you. A nice baseball bat, for example, would be the ideal way to deal with two attackers, or a single knifeman. (If you're lucky enough - and aware enough - to see the knife before it's too late).

Unfortunately the police usually get upset if people walk around with a baseball bat, a fighting knife, or a knuckle duster. We, law-abiding citizens, are nice people. We go unarmed and avoid trouble. But unfortunately there are a few very bad people out there who would lose no sleep after biting off your girlfriend's ear as they grapple for her phone. Others would positively enjoy the experience of jumping on somebody's skull repeatedly, maybe until it splits and leaks brain onto the pavement. For no reason at all.

Fortunately, there are some opportunities to use common, everyday items that are usually legal to possess in a public place. Most of them aren't as effective as a baseball bat or a knife - but they're better than bare hands.

Umberella - a favourite because it's so legitimate to carry and because it's long. Don't swing it around, the edges are too soft. Use its length to your advantage. It's longer than a knife. Stab to attack the body's most vulnerable pressure points. Strike hard and strike repeatedly. The best thing about a long weapon like this is it makes it possible to keep your attacker at a distance.

Screwdriver - perhaps the next best thing to a knife! You can't usually go around carrying a screwdriver without good reason on a night out, but during the day you probably will, and it's fine to keep one in your car - for those mechanical emergencies requiring a particularly long and pointy screwdriver. In a less serious situation you might use the back of the screwdriver to strike the jaw and cheekbones - but don't rely on that in a kill-or-be-killed situation.

Pen - perhaps the next best thing to a screwdriver. Use it on the softest and most vulnerable targets.

Spray - spray cans are a useless weapon at anything but the closest range. But if he's already grabbed you and there's nothing else and you've got one in your handbag, obviously go for the eyes. It doesn't matter what it is. Try to find an aerosole that sprays a long way. Or a bottle of skin product that stings if it gets in your eye. Some of these have quite a long range. Cuticura anti-bacterial hand gel is good, with a potential squirt-range of several metres. (You might even want to refill the bottle with something a little more potent - do you enjoy chilli sauce on your food?)

Steering-wheel lock - did I say you're not allowed a baseball bat? This is the next best thing. You can even buy ones that are shaped like a baseball bat and nobody minds you having one in your car. (The car is a good place to keep your arsenal of legal weapons.)

Dog chain - if you haven't got a dog, get one, they're nice. And they give you a legitimate reason to carry a chain. Chains can be ferocious weapons, either for whipping the face at a distance or bunching up and striking the temples from closer up. As a last resort, use it to choke your attacker.

Newspaper - don't take my word for it - roll up your paper tightly and fold it over tightly too. It's as hard as a piece of wood. Ideal for striking vulnerable targets at close range.

Dirt - just scoop it up and throw it into the eyes. Fine, heavy grit or sand is ideal and you'll often find some on the floor. It's perfectly legal to carry around a small bag of sand - although it may initially be mistaken for something else. Even one small fragment of dust or grit in the eyes can be completely debilitating for a few vital seconds.

Use your imagination. You'll think of many more. Think maximum vulnerability and maximum damage.

When you're out and about get in the habit of identifying the items around you. Keep asking yourself, "somebody jumps me right now... what would I grab?"

It's a sad fact that people who respond to an attacker with a weapon often lose the weapon and have it used upon them. Don't be one of those statistics. Don't even think about having a weapon to hand unless you're 100% sure that:

1. You're prepared to do gruesome damage with it - without hesitation
2. You know where to strike on the attacker's body (see the self defence DVD)
3. You're familiar, comfortable and capable with your weapons.

Experiment - try waving a few things around, maybe striking a punchbag or other simulated attacker. Find out what feels best for you - and practice, practice, practice, until using your improvised weapon is second nature. As you practice, visualise the situation. Try to imagine the terror you'll feel - and the hesitation to hurt another human being. Strike swiftly and pull back. Don't let the attacker grab your weapon. If they get hold of it, try to keep hold but claw and poke their eyes with your fingers as a last resort.

Overcome your obstacles in training. In an ideal world, training would be harder than real life.

Train hard, fight easy.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Don't Advertise for Violence...

Are you a walking advert, inviting violence? Are you letting other people, who you care about, advertise themselves as easy victims for an opportunist attack? Please don't just think about yourself as you read this. Make sure your whole family applies self-defence common-sense in their everyday lives. If your son or brother is a tough guy - or a worse still a black belt - then please send them a link to this post. These sorts of people are more at risk than others if they fail to apply awareness and caution, because they often think they're indestructible. When you're overwhelmed by numbers, caught by surprise, or attacked with a deadly weapon, it really doesn't matter who you are.

Children are not immune either. Just because you would not beat a child up for their phone, don't forget that plenty of people would. And do - here is just one example:

Expensive items of jewellery (especially precious stones, and most of all diamonds) are very easy for criminals to sell. Don't display them in public, especially in crowded or isolated places, and ideally not at all.

(Women, your exposed flesh could be considered a potential crime advertisement, inviting sexual assault and even rape. If you want to reveal all then that's your right, and nobody should have the right to tell you not to. But keep in mind that there are nutcases out there who will notice you if you make yourself noticeable. And many of them actually think skimpy clothes mean you are automatically interested in them and want to play. Like it or not, it's a fact.)

Mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets are slightly less attractive to muggers than jewellery. But if you're stupid, like most mobile users I see, then your device is usually much more visible than jewellery. Especially if you walk around with yours glued to your ear, advertising yourself for robbery whilst making it obvious to the world that you're not alert and are an easy target.

If you have really valuable property, such as a big house or an expensive car, then you should assume you are being watched by serious criminals. An attack on you, if it comes, may well be planned and organised. High value property could even put your family in danger of kidnap and murder or blackmail. Don't flaunt it. If you really feel the need to show off about what you've got then you've got a problem. And you're putting other people in danger.

Returning to mobile phones, the most popular items at robbers at present, when you're on your mobile phone, in addition to advertising your goods and your foolishness to criminals, it's likely that you're breaking the first rule of self-defence: you are failing to maintain awareness of what is going on around you.

Who is nearby? What are they doing? Where are they looking? Are they holding anything? Do they look dodgy, dirty, or anxious? Why are they talking to you? Is anybody behind you? Are your instincts telling you they're bad news? Your instincts are probably right.

If you can't answer all of these questions at any given moment then you could be blundering into an attack at any moment. Professional thieves and violent criminals are experts in detecting whether you are 'switched on' and aware. Do not underestimate them, how clever they are, or how ruthless and nasty they can be. Don't judge them by your high moral standards.

Are your valuables on display? That's another question you should be aware of. Just got engaged? Congratulations! Proud of your big new rock? You should know that there are thousands of people out there who would smile as they hack off your hand with a rusty saw blade. Once your dried blood is cleaned off, your shiny new diamond will keep an addict supplied with heroin, crack and strong, cheap booze for weeks. Congratulations again.

Distraction is an ancient and still common tactic of thieves. If somebody bumps into you, says, or asks you something odd, or otherwise appears in your face unexpectedly or under odd circumstances, then trust your instincts and act quickly. Usually there will be at least one accomplice, who probably already has their hand in your pocket or bag by the time you noticed them - unless you've remained properly alert at all times.

If you find they've already got your property then let them have it. Make a lot of noise - unless they're cornered or trapped with you. But don't chase or attack them - unless your property really is worth as much to you as the rest of your life, and all the good things and nice people that life might bring. A robber almost certainly has other gang members nearby, ready to beat you to death if needs be. You could end up in a situation you can't get out of, so don't get into it in the first place. You've got nothing to prove but how capable you are of staying in control of yourself, and staying alive for the people who love you and reply upon you. Think about them not your pride, before you get stabbed in the head with a screwdriver. Your loved ones will be the ones trying to identify your cold, torn up body. Your wallet an jewellery won't have stayed around to help with working out who the poor idiot was who got killed over a phone, or a few bits of shiny rock.

So don't be an idiot and get robbed, hurt or killed for the sake of a little common sense. Follow these simple rules at all times:
  • Stay alert
  • Be ready and prepared
  • Have a simple plan of escape (and counter-attack)
  • Keep modifying your plan each moment, in response to circumstances
  • Assume an attack is imminent at all times if you have visible valuables
  • Fight fire with fire:
The bad guys use deception and distraction - followed by speed, aggression and surprise (SAS). You should use the same principles, which have been tried and tested throughout human history. If you've seen the Combat Skills DVD then you will know exactly what to do.

If you have any questions or comments, experiences of your own, or additional tips, I'd love you to share them here. You might help somebody in a really nasty situation.

"There's too much going on on the streets"

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Physical training for self defense

Unfortunately if you're attacked unexpectedly you don't have time to warm up. Training should always be as realistic as possible, so you should train cold as much as possible if you are training for self defense purposes. This carries a risk of injury and should be undertaken very carefully. You need to slowly and gradually test your limits. You need to do this to prevent injury. But you also need to instinctively know what your body is capable of in a realistic situation. Regular exercise and stretching, martial arts - and especially fight training such as MMA or Muay Thai - will help keep you in the right sort of shape.

To defend yourself you need the following - in order of importance:

1) Awareness

If you practice maintaining a state of awareness then you can avoid the situations that lead to violence and death. Make sure you know what's going on around you, who is where and who is doing what and why, at all times. It should be habit. Instinctive. A way of life. People who have cultivated their awareness sometimes seem cold and distant in social situations when violence threatens. Stay close to these people, they might save your life. They will spot trouble long before you do. When the broken bottle slashes their way they will be expecting it. They will be prepared. They will act, not re-act. It might look as though they have incredibly fast reflexes. Actually they have probably been aware of a developing situation and preparing themselves for several minutes. This is the state of awareness you need to cultivate. Tune in to other people's state of awareness, their body language and any warning signs. In nature animals are often warned of danger by the warning cries of birds or other animals. We are animals too and we have powerful survival instincts that can be cultivated. If you don't cultivate them then they will fade away. 'Use it or lose it' is the rule when training your body and mind.

2) Knowledge

You need to know the pressure points that work best in self defense. You can learn these quickly and easily on the DVD. You need to know what sort of attacks are most likely to come at you and how to defend against them. Training in MMA and/or Muay Thai are the best ways to gain this knowledge and develop it into instinctive reactions over time.

3) Precision

It is no use applying force to somewhere that isn't easily damaged, so you need to learn to fight using pressure points.

But equally it is no use knowing exactly where to strike unless you are capable of hitting the place you are aiming for - and this may be on a moving target. You can train with a sparring partner, make marks on a free-swinging punch bag, or strike a tennis ball to help you develop accuracy. You have to sacrifice some power for accuracy. But the more you train the more you will be able to strike with power and accuracy. When sparring or training with a bag, or any other kind of training, always visualise the situation, the attack, the pressure point targets that you would be trying to strike in a real-life self defense situation. Visualisation is a good second best to really realistic training if that is not practical.

4) Familiarity

You need to familiarise yourself with the effects of fear and learn to deal with them. Practice controlling your breathing. Make sure you are not holding your breath. Air is vital in combat. Familiarise yourself with fighting in realistic and difficult situations: in the dark. On the ground. In restrictive clothing.

5) Speed

A powerful blow to a vulnerable pressure point will never connect if the attacker sees it coming. You need to practice delivering fast strikes. You also need to avoid telegraphing your intent beforehand (filming and watching your training will help with this) or the vital advantage of speed is reduced. Thing SAS: speed, aggression, surprise. You might use deception or distraction, such as asking a random question to confuse your attacker and buy a moment of time while their mind is elsewhere. This feeds back into knowledge.

6) Power/strength

Some pressure points are more vulnerable than others. See the DVD. But if you strike with the force of a falling feather then you are going to do little damage. Once you have developed accuracy and speed, increase the power, but always maintain the speed and accuracy. They are more important than power. Real power is delivered not just with muscles and weight but also by rotating the hips and shoulders, the force travelling along a rigid line of power from the floor to the point of impact that hardens at the moment of impact. This takes a lot of practice but you can achieve good results with minimal training if you utilise the other principles above.

7) Weight

The amount of force you deliver is directly related to how much you weigh. Aim to develop muscle rather than fat. It is heavier for one thing. When developing muscle always make sure you are training the new muscle tissue to deliver speed. A boxer may keep their weight down for weigh-in. That is because weight is power and you should not be looking to lose healthy muscle weight for self defense purposes. That said, being large and muscle-bound offers little advantage beyond a certain limit - especially if you are slow.

8) Stamina

You need to be able to sustain the fight for at least a couple of minutes. Most attacks are over in seconds and you are unlikely to get to deliver more than two or three strikes. But there may be two or three attackers. Or your opponent may be very hard to eliminate - especially if you are tired or injured and hence weaker than usual. Stamina is an important component of general fitness and should be cultivated.

9) Anatomical armour

Some of your body's vital organs are to some extend protected by slabs of muscle. Most significantly your abdominal muscles play an important protective role and should therefore be developed and conditioned using sit-ups (sometimes with a twist), crunches (sometimes with a twist) and leg-raises. Knee strikes are a vital part of your arsenal and practicing these has some benefit for your abdominal muscles too.

Big is not always best. Large muscles developed using slow movements are usually slow muscles not suited for the fast, explosive movement you need for striking. Weight training for self defense should be as realistic as possible. Try to mimic striking movements and add difficulty, weight, or resistance to those movements to increase their power.

Weight training for self defense does not necessarily

In a fight you may be injured or tired. Your attacks may have terrifyingly little effect. Get used to this disconcerting feeling with full contact sparring. And train until you are totally exhausted. Only then judge what you are capable of. It is a sobering experience and one you should repeat again and again. This is the real base-line of your abilities. Get to know it.

If you want to take your training to even higher levels of realism you might consider adding adrenaline to the mix. Your body will be flooded with adrenaline during an attack and this will have significant physical impacts. For example you may be slightly faster, stronger and less prone to injury. But you may also suffer tunnel-vision, rapid breathing and heart-rate. You may also suffer shaking, which is quite normal and healthy. But you will not want your attackers to see your fear and hiding these signs can be hard. Get used to getting enough air into your lungs without looking like you've lost control of your fear. The effects of adrenaline can be overwhelming if you are not used to them.

In principle you could raise your adrenaline by doing something extreme immediately before training - such as a bungee jump. For a milder effect but more convenience a violent movie might help.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Gun defense

I've said it before - there is no self defense against a gun.

But in the unlikely event that you are close enough, you might be able to get your finger between the hammer and the firing pin. It's tricky though.

If there aren't too many people around and ideally if you're not close to hard surfaces that may cause a ricochet, you could focus all your effort on the gun, take the blows and just use all your strength to point it somewhere safe and pull the trigger until all the rounds are spent.

Finding the magazine release catch would also be really hard.

If a gun is pointed at you, you'd better do what they say. If you're going to get a bullet anyway, then in my opinion the best solution is to try to fire all the bullets somewhere else.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Armed Gunman Robber Gets Beaten Up by Huge Martial Arts Expert

ROBBERS BEWARE: don't point a gun at a huge musclebound self defense expert:

Don't try this at home. Read my post on Krav Maga and gun self defense:

Friday, 23 April 2010

Self Defense in your Home

Self defense is primarily about awareness and preparation. We are most vulnerable when we are relaxed and off-guard. Nowhere are we more off-guard than in our homes, where we feel safe, that is how we are able to sleep at night. But wake up to this: you are not as safe as you think.

Imagine these two scenarios:

1) It's 10pm. You've had a couple of drinks. A violent gang of robbers and rapists knocks on your door and forces their way in when you answer... Or maybe they just kick the door in to start with. (How secure is your front door?) Your burglar alarm is going off but they don't care. They're high on crack cocaine and they are here to rape your wife and daughter, and then take your car, which they've seen parked outside. You are about to give them the keys, if they're not already somewhere obvious like in or on a cabinet or a hook by the front door, or your jacket pocket (by the front door!) If you have a nice car, don't park it outside your house! Put it in the garage or park it nearby! Thieves often target homes with nice cars outside and often when the victim is at home. Keep a nice weapon near the front door, out of sight but very fast and easy to grab. A baseball bat or sledgehammer handle is ideal. (Not a knife though, unless you're highly trained in knife fighting - it's too short, for one thing). Keep another weapon in the room where you relax and watch TV - this is probably where you spend most of your time at home other than when sleeping. Odds are high that you will be here when trouble knocks on your door (of smashes it in). Be ready for that. Assume it will happen. Always think of the worst possible scenario and plan for that and be ready for it, in everything you do in life - and especially in self defense.

2) You are asleep in bed, upstairs, where the rest of your family is also sleeping. Wakey-wakey!! Our friends from scenario number 1 above have just woken you up by smashing your door in downstairs. Their wishlist is the same as before. Your wife, your daughter and you car. No where's that weapon? Did you leave it downstairs? You need another one by the bed, where you can get it fast in the dark. A torch is good too, especially a big, long, heavy metal one. You can shine the beam to blind people and then hit them with it. (Where to hit? their most vulnerable pressure points of course!) Do you have an escape route planned? Is the key to that window handy? Can you fit through? Would your kids be able to get through? You may think it's an unlikely scenario, so here's one that is very likely and happens to people a lot: a fire breaks out in the home while you are asleep...

3) So it's 2 a.m. and the smoke alarm goes off. (You haven't got one? Get one! Today! Put it at the top of the stairs - smoke rises and it will be louder in the bedrooms.) Maybe the house next door left a cigarette burning on their sofa and it spread. Or maybe our good friends the mad murderers from scenarios 1 and 2 decided to let you off lightly. They poured petrol through your letterbox and lit it - or sent a petrol bomb through the window. Your exit route through the front door - and possible even down the stairs - is blocked by flames that will strip you to the bone in 10 seconds. And you are already growing dizzy from the fumes. You will be unconscious in 30 seconds. You and your family are going to die. Top tips for a fire scenario:

1) The cleanest air is closest to the floor - hot gases and smoke rise up. Get you and your family down on the floor and stay there as you make your escape.

2) Be careful when opening a door - check to see if the handle is hot. If there's a fire behind it, opening the door will feed the fire with oxygen making it rage out of control.

3) Get a smoke alarm.

4) Did you get a smoke alarm yet? Go and get one!

5) Keep escape routes clear. Is there an upstairs window you can exit through? Keep the key near the lock. You won't have time to look for it. (Did you get that smoke alarm yet?) Keeping a thick, knotted rope upstairs will help you escape. Or even a rope-ladder. Check it's long enough.

6) Improvise a rope by tying bed sheets and tough clothes together - it's an old trick that works. Throw pillows, clothes, etc., down to soften your landing. Remember though, breaking a leg is better than dying!

7) Keep a fire extinguisher downstairs - and one upstairs.

8) Did you get that smoke alarm yet?

9) Make a plan and rehearse - so your whole family knows what to do. This will also expose any problems with your plan such as, "oops, the window is too small", or "oops, it's too far to jump down!"

Monday, 5 April 2010

Self defense in your car

We spend a lot of time in cars and they feel like our personal space - we can feel a false sense of security. It's important that we think about what we would do if somebody attacked us in our car.

If somebody wants to steal your car and they point a gun at you through the window, you'd better let them have the car. But if the weapon is less of an immediate threat there are some things you can do.

If the car is moving a little and there's space to go, lock the doors and drive away as quickly as you can. Hit the horn to startle the attacker and buy a couple of extra seconds, as well as getting the attention of anybody nearby - the last thing the attacker wants. (Don't make them jump if they have a gun!) Even wipers, or a spray of screenwash might help distract the attacker for a moment.

If they are close to the door you could ram it open on them, but this is a risky option as they've then got access to you inside the car - if you do this you'd better be very sure you're hitting them hard enough to end the attack or put if off for a few moments.

It's worth having some sort of weapon in case you need it. Think short, like a rolling pin. (Some steering locks are suitable - keep it handy if you have one). Too long and you can't easily swing it around inside the car. You should also think about jabbing with a short stick for very close quarter fighting. Make sure your weapon is where you can reach it, especially if you expect to drive through a nasty neigbourhood. Beware of knives and guns - they can get you in trouble and they can easily be turned on you. As with everything in self defense, you should practice a little in the car, to see what works on an attacker outside or inside the car with you.

Don't just lash out, think about the pressure points that will have the most impact in a self defense or combat situation.

Awareness, as ever, is important. Before you get to that bad place you really have to drive through, lock the doors and close the windows. Keep moving, don't stop unless you have to. As you approach a stop sign or traffic lights, make sure you're aware of who's around, where they are, what they're doing, what they're holding and your possible escape routes.

If you really think somebody is trying to get at you or somebody else inside the car with really bad things on their mind then stop at nothing. Run them down if you have to. If it's kill or be killed, make sure you're doing the killing.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Dog Attack: Self Defense against Dogs

Dog attacks are all too common and rapidly on the rise as criminals take advantage of relaxed laws to breed and train dogs as assault weapons. Self defence against such attacks is therefore an important consideration. Dogs can be extremely dangerous. A knife won't chase you (or your child) down the street and rip off your (or your child's) face. So in a sense dogs are much more dangerous than many traditional weapons of criminal assault. They are also much more random and unpredictable - the owner may not intend you to be a victim. But that won't help much.

A dog in an attack-frenzy can be extremely difficult to stop. Do not underestimate their weight, strength, or persistence. Attacks can happen randomly and out of the blue. They can happen extremely quickly (trust me!) and you, your dog, your child, or another loved one could be seriously damaged, with no face or a mangled windpipe, before you have time to react. Be particularly wary of bull terriers with children, as these dogs are particularly prone to sudden extreme violence. Pit bulls are particularly unstable but it is important to note that Staffordshire bull terriers and some other breeds can be gentle for many years and then suddenly attack a child or another dog without warning - although Staffordshire-bull attacks are not usually quite so ferocious.

Children are particularly at risk and you should keep them well away from even potentially dangerous breeds - any that has ever harmed a child - and teach your child to be vigilant - and to cover their face and neck with their arms and hands the moment they fear an attack is imminent. This simple lesson, if properly impressed upon a child, could save their life, or their good looks, for just long enough to allow your or a good Samaritan to intervene. It is unlikely that a child could effectively fight back, unless they were armed and extremely capable. Facing a wall or the ground may help a little.

An attacking dog may be kicked or punched, but attacking dogs are fast-moving and hard to distract and this will usually have little effect. You should also expect to be bitten yourself if you try to interfere with an attacking dog.

If you must intervene, or if forced to defend yourself, fight through the bites and aim to stab your fingers, keys, a stick, or other pointy object as deeply as possible into an eye - both eyes if possible. This is one of the best self defense responses to an attack by many other animals, including crocodile attacks. Wrestling, holds and chokes are all unwise - the dog is much stronger and faster than you and they will bite you: you don't want your neck or face to be within range.

Kicks should be aimed at the head or underbelly. Be careful not to strike the victim! Punches should be aimed at the centre of the spine or the base of the skull where it joins the spine. The groin is a good and relatively safe target, especially if counter-attacking from behind which is common for parents.

Look for any nearby heavy or sharp object - this should be a habit for any self-defense enthusiast. You should be aware of your surroundings at all times, including possible human and animal threats and improvised weapons. A large ready-broken flint or bottle is ideal but heavier or longer sharp objects are better and should be aimed at the spine, ribs, belly or groin, to minimise the risk of injury. The further you stay from the jaws the better. Heavy objects can be used to strike the back of the head or the spine, especially closer to the head. A knife-blade could be used to slit or stab the throat area or the eyes or if you are unsure of your aim stab at the belly, chest and groin.

Never run away from a dog! Make sure your children know this if nothing else! Dogs run much faster and have more stamina - you will tire. And the sight of a running target triggers their hunter-killer instincts!

Be aware that you may also have to deal with the owner, who may be also be dangerous, especially if the poor dog has been trained to hurt other people or dogs. If needs be, use the pressure points and techniques described in the Self Defense DVD at to disable or neutralise the

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Muay Thai Book

Here is a good book to learn Thai Boxing (Muay Thai):

Muay Thai is one of the best martial arts for self defense, as it is very results-focused - it has to be, as it has always been full contact and used to be extremely brutal. Indeed it used to be a form of military armed and unarmed combat/hand-to-hand combat.

Thai's main drawback from a self defence point of view is that it lacks proper self defence pressure points training - but this can be found elsewhere (see link).

Another good blog

I found a good self defense philosophy blog today and recommend it - although I don't agree with everything on there, much of it is worth a look, especially for US citizens interested in gun defense: