Category Archive: Updates

The Ultimate Guide to Weapon Use and Defense

The Ultimate Guide to Weapon Use and Defense

The Ultimate Guide to Weapon Use and Defense

After more than two years, my second book on weapon use and defense is finally finished:  The Ultimate Guide to Weapon Use and Defense.

My first book covered techniques, training methods, and strategies for unarmed self defense, awareness and prevention, and physically defending against an unarmed attacker with no weapon of your own.  This second book starts where the first book left off, and covers both unarmed defense against weapon threats and attacks, and how to use weapons to defend against armed opponents.

Although I find both books equally useful, particularly since the material covered is entirely different, and the first book has received very high ratings/reviews, the few people who have read the first book and draft copies of the second one have told me they like the second one even more.  If you’re interested in weapon use and defense, I’m confident you’ll find this book extremely useful.  It contains the most efficient and effective weapon techniques, training methods, and strategies you will find anywhere, for stick, knife, gun, and improvised weapons.

You can find out more about the book, and purchase either a digital version or a hard copy here.  If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below or contact me here.

Learning Self Defense Through Solo Training

First, an update. I’ve received a few emails over the last couple of weeks asking if I’ve quit. No, I haven’t. I wrote several months ago about my mom’s death. It was accidental and completely unexpected, and it knocked me off the course I was on for several months. I quit working on the weapon use and defense book, and really didn’t get back to it until last week. I have continued to practice though, and I will get back to posting more, finishing the weapons book, adding new content to this website, and eventually I’d like to make a number of instructional videos.

Lots of people have asked about the book. I’ll be finished the text in about a week. It was nearly finished 6 months ago. But I’ve realized that I need another hundred or so pictures. This is more difficult, as I need two other people to help with them, but I’ll try to get them done as quickly as possible and finally get the second book done! Now, on to an important topic…

Solo Training

Solo Training

Solo Training

I’ve written about this before in various places, but I get questions about solo training at least a couple of times each week, so I’d like to specifically address it again. How can a person learn self defense without a training partner? What is the best material to train alone?

You cannot learn self defense without a training partner, and solo training is close to useless for self defense. It’s unfortunate, but true, despite what many other instructors will tell you.

Think about it like this: Your training partner in self defense/martial arts functions about the same as a piano does for a piano player, or as water does for a swimmer. You absolutely cannot learn to play the piano without a piano, and you absolutely cannot learn to swim without water. You can press your fingers down on a table, or in the air, but you’re not going to learn to play the piano. You can do swimming strokes in the air, but you’re not going to learn to swim.

What about hitting a heavy bag or doing striking techniques in the air? These things can be a little useful for a beginner. Hitting a heavy bag can be a great workout, and it’s something that professional boxers still do, of course. But imagine what would happen if someone had only trained on a heavy bag for three years, and then tried to fight a boxer who had fought other people for three years. (In my experience, focus mitt work with a partner who can strike back between combinations is more effective than heavy bag work, for self defense.) Imagine what would happen if someone who had only done solo forms got attacked by an attacker with a knife.

Self defense requires at least two people. Everything you do as a self defense or martial arts practitioner is in relation to another living human who will be moving, resisting, and fighting back. Practicing solo and fighting against another person is literally about as different as ballet dancing and Thai boxing. It would be awesome if we could train alone and develop real skill in self defense, but it’s just not the case.

Solo training can be great for strength and conditioning, and it can be used to increase qualities that will be useful in a self defense situation. But without spending the majority of your self defense training time with a resisting and uncooperative opponent, it hardly matters how strong and conditioned you are. Additionally, there are better ways to increase your strength and conditioning than doing martial arts specific movements only. So, your first task if you want to learn self defense and don’t have a training partner or partners is to find one!

One thing I will try to do soon is add a section to my website where people who are interested in training functional self defense can post their city and contact info, in case there are others in their location who would like to train together. I’ll send out an email once that’s done.

If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts about solo training, please post them in the comments below. 🙂

PS.  I’ve gone ahead and added an FSD page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/functionalselfdefense/  Please like it and tell your friends about it!

My Mom Died

Meeting in Istanbul Last Year

Meeting in Istanbul Last Year

My mom died one month ago due to a tragic accident.  She was only 63 and healthy, and her death has been a terrible shock for myself and my family.

I’m writing about this here for two reasons.  Least importantly, if you’ve emailed me in the last month I apologize for not answering.  You may have to email me again if you have a question you’d like answered.

More importantly, I want to use this opportunity to make a point my mom often made.  If there is anything you want to do or say, do it now.  Don’t wait.  Just two weeks before my mom died I was writing with her about enjoying life and she wrote:

It seems to be very common that when someone retires they either get sick, they die, or their spouse does the same.  It seems so unfair!!  You have to live every day as if it were your last.

Fortunately my parents did that more than anyone I know.  They lived an incredibly fulfilled life, of their own making, and that brings me a good bit of comfort now.  But so many people don’t do the things they want to do or say the things they want to say.  Many people plan to really live once they retire, and for a substantial number that doesn’t work out so well.

Find a way to enjoy your life to the fullest now, because you really don’t know how soon it will end.  You also don’t know how long your loved ones will be around, or in what condition.  Spend as much quality time as you can with them.  In the end, the time you spend with people you care about will be much more important than how much work you do.  The time you spend pursuing things you’re passionate about will be much more important than how much money you’ve made.

Life is incredibly fragile.  You and the people you care about can be here one moment and gone the next.  Life is short, and we’re all going to die.  Do everything you can to enjoy yourself today.

My mom lived an awesome life.  It was far too short for those of us still living.  But she literally went out having a great time with my dad.  There is no better way to die.

The Value of Weapon Use

The Ultimate Guide to Weapon Use and Defense

The Ultimate Guide to Weapon Use and Defense

I regularly get emails from people who tell me they are older and/or have health problems and injuries, asking me what I would recommend in terms of self defense practice.  About a year ago I wrote a post to address this.  My recommendation in that post was to focus on two things: prevention and weapon use.  Prevention will work nearly 100% of the time for the vast majority of people reading this.  But if it doesn’t, then weapon use is the next best thing.  If you’re smaller, weaker, slower or otherwise less skilled than your attacker, having a weapon that you know how to use can allow you to easily disable your attacker.  (Pepper spray is probably the best option for many people.)

Even if you’re not “older” or suffering from health problems or injuries, weapon use is an extremely important part of physical self defense.  What if you’re attacked by a bigger, stronger, faster, and more skilled opponent?  What if you’re attacked by multiple opponents?  What if you’re attacked by multiple armed opponents?  Weapon use has been a part of most martial arts as long as martial arts have existed, and it’s something you should not neglect if you’re serious about physical self defense.

My first book, The Ultimate Guide to Unarmed Self Defense, covers unarmed defense against unarmed attacks.  It does not cover defense against armed attacks or the use of weapons in self defense.  I do have a great deal of information on using and defending against weapons here on my website, but a website isn’t necessarily the best or easiest medium to learn from.

I haven’t posted in a while, because I’m spending most of my time working on my second book, which will probably be titled The Ultimate Guide to Weapon Use and Defense.  I’m hoping to have it finished in the next 3-4 months.  The book will cover unarmed defense against armed attacks (stick, knife, and gun), but also how to use blunt, sharp, and projectile weapons in self defense.  If you’re subscribed to my site, I’ll let you know when the book is finished.

Update: I’ve just added a new page to my website with part of a series of instructional pictures I had taken for the book on the use of double sticksDouble stick training is not necessary for self defense.  It’s not something I spend time training anymore, but the training can be fun, it’s great for coordination, and many people enjoy it.

Secrets of Karate

The first martial art I ever took, as a child, was Shotokan Karate.  As a teenager, I began seriously practicing and teaching a karate based system with a heavy self defense emphasis.  The school was in a rough area of New Orleans and this was during the height of the worst crime there, in the early 90s.  Half of our practice was defense against gun, knife, and stick attacks.  Students used the techniques in self defense, and they did work, despite the fact that there were/are more efficient and effective options.

I noticed during that time that the karate I was training was different from what I saw being trained in other schools.  It was harder, rougher, more direct, and more painful.  I also bought as many karate books as I could find, including on a couple of extended trips to Japan.  This was before the internet and YouTube, so information was limited.  I discovered in the books that there was a real difference between modern karate or karate-do and the older, combat oriented karate-jutsu.  For a while I started calling the karate I practiced karate-jutsu, or the older name, to-te.

I moved on to other styles, techniques, and training methods, and for the most part I haven’t specifically practiced karate ever since.  But many of the principles I learned and many of the qualities I have are a result of that training.

What I trained in karate and what I learned from the older books aren’t actually “secrets” in the sense that they’re purposefully hidden.  But they are unfortunately either unknown by most practitioners I’ve met, or at least ignored and not practiced.  So I recently decided to add a section to my website on functional karate, hoping to shed light on some of these things…to demonstrate functional usage of karate techniques.

As I wrote on the karate page, karate isn’t for everyone.  The techniques are pretty hard core if practiced in a functional way.  But if you feel comfortable with that type of technique, if it suits you, then give the ones in my video a try.  I’m confident you’ll find them to be effective.

I’ve also added a new page to my site with images and details of the gun threat defense I demonstrated in the video, here.

If you’ve practiced karate yourself, are you aware of these “older applications”?  Have you practice them?  If not, why not?  And for all of you, do these techniques look like techniques you’d like to see more of?  Let me know in the comments.

The Ultimate Guide to Unarmed Self Defense

The Ultimate Guide to Unarmed Self Defense

The Ultimate Guide to Unarmed Self Defense

My book on unarmed self defense is finally finished, and you can purchase it here.

I’m very excited about having completed it!  On an almost daily basis, I receive emails from people asking for help with various training related issues that are beyond what they can learn from my website or via email.  I designed and wrote this book to mirror what I teach in private classes, and it works extremely well in that regard.  So now, instead of writing people without access to functional self defense training that they’ll have to wait, I can point them toward a great solution.

The book follows the exact progression I take students through, and it’s easy to learn from, both for beginning and advanced students.  There’s a LOT of material in it.  And all of the material is extremely efficient, effective, and above all…functional.

It’s available in downloadable e-book form at the moment, as a PDF.  As I wrote on the purchase/download page, I decided to go with the PDF form rather than a .mobi or other e-reader form in order to keep the layout and quality of the images in the best possible format.  It will be best viewed, and perfect, on a desktop, laptop, or tablet.  It can also be printed, or uploaded to a Kindle/Nook/etc., but due to the size and number of images, those devices with small screens will not be ideal.  I do plan on making the book available as a real/physical book, but it’s likely going to take a while before I get that done.

Check it out, and let me know how you like it!

The Women’s Self Defense Myth

At least once a week, I get an email from a woman who tells me she is interested in “women’s self defense”.  This is understandable, especially when you consider how many women’s self defense courses there are, and how few people actually understand the nature of real self defense, including self defense and martial arts instructors, unfortunately.

I’ve been meaning to add a page to my website on the myth of women’s self defense…how the principles of self defense are the same for all humans, and how the relative difference between yourself and a particular attacker you’re dealing with matters far more than the average difference between genders.  I’ve finally gotten around to adding it here: The Truth About Women’s Self Defense

Some women who have emailed me also mention their size, usually when they’re smaller than average.  But I get an equal if not greater number of emails from men who ask for advice on self defense for smaller men.  Size does matter.  Everything matters.  But as a friend recently told me, “there are some people who are better than me, and there are some people who are worse than me”.  Even if you are “small”, there are some people who are smaller than you, and there are some people who are bigger than you.  Your size is somewhat meaningless.  What matters is your size and skill relative to a particular/specific attacker.

No matter who you are…male, female, “big” or “small”…you need the same skills for physical self defense.  You need to be able to use and defend against striking and wrestling, and to be able to use and defend against weapons.  Through functional training, you’ll discover that certain techniques and strategies are better for you against certain individuals.  But there are no specifics that are right for all individuals of a certain type.  It’s an individual thing, and the only way is to discover it for yourself.

Check out the new page here, and let me know what you think in the comments below.

FSD Book Update

A number of you have emailed me regarding my book and when it will be ready.  Unfortunately it has taken me far longer than I had anticipated, but fortunately, it is coming along very well.  I had hoped it would be done 4 or 5 months ago, but aside from other work getting in the way, I’ve also spent more time on it, trying to make it as useful and clear as possible.

One thing I’ve been doing, which I haven’t seen in any other martial arts book, is to overlay images so a reader can see “movement” in an image, or see both prior and current positions.  Here’s a simple example:

Knee Entry 1

Knee Entry 1

Knee Entry 2

Knee Entry 2

Knee Entry 3

Knee Entry 3

In the 2nd and 3rd images above, you can see “ghosts” of the 1st and 2nd images, along with arrows showing the direction of movement.

I’ve often seen martial arts and self defense books where it’s not clear exactly how a person got from one position to the next.  So with this overlay technique, a reader can see exactly what’s going on.  It’s taking me much longer to do most of the images this way, and there will be a lot of pictures in this book.  I’ve got over 2,000 to choose from.

Anyway, the book is coming along very well.  Hopefully I can finish it up sometime in the next two months…by mid October or so.  I should be able to get an e-book version done days after I’m finished, but the physical version may take just a bit longer, as I still haven’t decided how I want to have that done.

For everyone who has been emailing and/or waiting, thank you for your patience!

Empty Hand Kali Techniques

Here is a video I’ve just uploaded on empty hand techniques and applications of kali.  Whether you’re interested in kali, practice it, or not, these techniques can work very well in self defense.  (I’ve also just added a new page to my site with more information and examples of kali empty hands.) The triangular footwork used in the “#3 cover” and in the “covered entry”, demonstrated in the video, is relatively unique and very effective, especially when combined with functional empty hand kali techniques.

As in many of my videos, I’ve also demonstrated commonly trained kali techniques that do not work well in self defense.  I’ve gotten a few complaints about this in previous videos, where viewers have said there is no need to put down other techniques or styles.  I disagree.  When people practice techniques that don’t work, I feel it’s important to demonstrate why they don’t work, not only so practitioners can abandon particular ineffective techniques, but also so they generally understand what works, what doesn’t work, and why.

If martial arts are only being practiced for fun and enjoyment, it doesn’t matter if the techniques are functional or not.  But if they’re being practiced for self defense, it does matter.

The techniques in the video above follow the Covered Blast concept.  Against punching attacks, they work no matter how an attacker punches.  It doesn’t matter whether he throws a left punch, a right punch, a straight punch, or a hook.  It doesn’t matter if he tries to throw one punch, or 10 punches.  The combination of footwork, cover, trapping, and striking maximizes the chance of success while minimizing the chance of injury.

Environmental Self Defense Training

I’ve just uploaded the video above, which includes a bit of light environmental self defense training.

The vast majority of self defense and martial arts training takes place in well lit, clean rooms with very few objects to trip over, slip on, get slammed into, or slam your opponent into.  Natural environments are very different to say the least.  The average room in a house or place of business is full of furniture that can both hurt or help your self defense efforts.  You can run or slam your opponent into the corner of a table or desk, slam his head into the corner of a building, into a tree, or shove him into a parked car, badly breaking his balance if not worse.  Of course, your opponent can also use the environment against you.

To be able to use your techniques in a natural environment, you must practice in them.  The above video demonstrates a drill using natural objects as evasive barriers, light boxing style sparring, and a stick fighting drill.  There are many more drills you can do in such environments, and in the future I’ll add more videos on the subject.

If you’re practicing self defense or martial arts, make sure you’re training in natural environments!