Category Archive: Video




My friend Benjamin Scott recently launched his website on throwsticks. He describes throwsticks as “a primal hunting/survival/multi-tool dating back from ancient civilizations on at least five continents.” Ben makes nearly indestructible replicas of the Australian Aboriginal version called the kylie, arguably the best made hand thrown objects in the world. He has them for sale on his site:

Ben sent me one of his throwsticks in the middle of last year. I tested it, loved it, and have been meaning to write about it ever since. I also wanted to make a video demonstrating it, but over the last 6 months I’ve been so busy traveling/moving that I haven’t had time to write a single post on this site, much less make a video. Until I do have time to make a video, this post will have to suffice.

The throwsticks or kylie that Ben is making are awesome survival tools. They’re designed to fly straight and level, and you can throw them a solid 85 meters if not farther. The Australian Aborigines used them primarily for hunting, but they also doubled as close range striking weapons, and you could use them as a close range throwing weapon too.

My favorite thing about Ben’s throwsticks is how fun they are to throw. When I first got mine, my brother and I spent a couple of days throwing it back and forth at great distances on a deserted beach. The way they fly, and the way they feel to throw, is amazing.

Throwing Objects In Self Defense

In addition to the throwsticks being a great deal of fun, I think learning to throw objects in self defense is seriously undervalued. It’s unlikely that you’re going to take someone out completely by throwing something at them, although if you nailed someone in the face or knee with one of Ben’s throwsticks that would certainly do the job! But throwing things at an opponent is an excellent idea, and the more accurate and harder you can do it, the better. In most natural environments there will be something you can throw at your opponent, and if you accurately hum something at your opponent’s face you will always get some kind of reaction, putting your opponent on defense. Either your opponent will get hit in the face, or he will be forced to move and/or block. Any of these options will create openings for you to exploit.

In my book on weapon use and defense I demonstrate at least a couple of examples of throwing objects at an opponent in self defense – using a backpack and a book. One of my favorite combinations is to throw something at an opponent’s face and follow with an immediate kick to the groin, etc.. You can do this with almost anything. As I sit here typing this post, my laptop, a vase in front of me, and a magazine next to me could all be used for such a purpose. If someone knocked down my front door my first move would be to grab whatever is next to me and throw it at them, putting them on defense and buying me a bit more time to get an advantage. In order to be as effective as possible with such a tactic, actually practicing throwing objects at targets makes sense. This is another reason I really love Ben’s throwsticks. They’re fun, useful for self defense training, and for anyone into outdoor survival they’re an excellent tool for a variety of purposes.

Whether you’re interested in buying one or not, I highly recommend you check out Ben’s website. He has numerous videos there showing how they work, along with very interesting information on their history and use.

Note: I am not profiting in any way if you buy a throwstick from Ben. I’ve written this post only because I think Ben has a great product that I think you’ll enjoy owning and practicing with. 🙂

How to Avoid a Beating

Wim Demeere recently wrote an excellent post with an embedded YouTube video I’m going to share here.  I’ll comment on the video myself, but please read Wim’s post too.  The video appears to show black shirt trying to start a fight with no shirtNo shirt seems to be trying to avoid the fight, but black shirt continues and eventually hits no shirt and the fight is on.  Although black shirt appears to have been the aggressor, no shirt turns the tables and gives black shirt a very serious beating.  Here’s the video:

Wim writes about how dangerous a street fight can be. The person or people you get involved with may be willing and able to take things much further than you were willing to go. It doesn’t matter what side you are on, whether you are the aggressor or the defender. If you get into a physical conflict with another person, you have no way of knowing how far it will go. This point is extremely important and you need to remember it.  I’ll relate two stories that illustrate this point.

My former boxing coach, a friend of mine, was taking a walk when someone bumped into him.  The situation escalated, and if I remember correctly the other guy attempted to hit him.  My friend ducked, hit the guy with a cross to the solar plexus, and knocked him down with a hook to the jaw.  The guy fell, and my friend bent over him to hit him again.  But then my friend woke up with a variety of injuries.  Apparently someone hit him from behind, knocked him out, and then gave him a beating while he was unconscious.

Another friend of mine, who I wrote about in my book, was sitting in his car with his fiancée at a drive up ATM machine.  Someone approached them and demanded my friend give him money.  My friend was a cop.  He pulled his gun, but before he had pointed it at the robber, he was shot in the head and killed.

In both of those situations, my boxing coach and my police officer friend thought they had the upper hand.  But you just don’t know how skillful the person standing in front of you is.  You don’t know if they have friends you don’t see, or weapons you don’t see.  This is why it is so important to avoid a physical confrontation no matter what it takes.  If you want to survive, the absolute best way to do it is to avoid getting into a fight in the first place.

My boxing coach friend could have continued walking instead of allowing the situation to escalate.  He could have evaded the punch and escaped.  My police officer friend could have given up his money and then called for back up.  It might have hurt their pride, but they would certainly have been better off.

Again, I want to direct you do my awareness and prevention page.  If you haven’t read it, please read it.  If you have read it, please read it again.

Last night my wife and I were having dinner with friends and discussed getting aggravated with drivers who are assholes.  It’s temping to yell at them and/or give them the middle finger.  But if you do that to the wrong person, you may end up with a lot more than you bargain for.  When I was a kid and first got my driver’s license, I was driving on the highway with a friend of mine as a passenger.  Someone behind us was driving like a manic, coming extremely close to the back of my car.  My friend gave him the middle finger, and we both thought it was funny.  But a moment later the guy had pulled up to the side of my car with a gun pointed at us.  As soon as I saw the gun coming up I yelled for my friend to get down and I slammed on the brakes.  I didn’t realize that I nearly caused another car that was behind us to crash into us.  So shortly afterwards the guy that nearly crashed into us drove up to the side of my car screaming that he was going to “kick my ass”.  You just don’t know how these things will end up.  Again, the best thing you can do is avoid a conflict.

Evasive Techniques

One reason I start new students with boxing on the first day of training is because boxing defense includes a great deal of evasive techniques that do not require you to make contact with your opponent.  If you fail to avoid trouble, are unable to maintain a safe distance, and unable to deescalate a situation, then you may be able to use boxing style evasions to evade an attack and escape without a serious physical confrontation.

I know numerous people who have been “jumped”…quickly punched or attacked by strangers on the street, where the attacker(s) strike once or twice and then keep walking, or even running.  In these situations and in others, evading the attack may be more effective than counterattacking.  Evading the attack may end it, whereas counterattacking is likely to escalate it, particularly if there is more than one attacker.  It may not always be possible, but in some situations an initial evasion can be all it takes to end an attack.  The aggressor will see that his initial attack has failed, that you are not an easy target, and if nothing else he will have lost the element of surprise.

Here’s a video from my boxing page, of a basic boxing progression I use with new students.  My partner in the video is a friend of mine who had only practiced three times.  Notice how the catch allows you to avoid getting hit with a simple backward step.  The shoulder roll, starting at 44 seconds, is also an excellent evasive technique.  And the cover, starting at 2:03, is a great technique that can be used with an evasion followed by an escape, rather than the counter punching seen in the video.

The key point here is to avoid a physical confrontation at all costs.  Even if you are attacked, evading the attack and escaping may be a better option than counterattacking.  You just don’t know how far your opponents are willing to take things.  And in addition to the immediate situation, revenge and law suites are another consideration.  Physical self defense training is great exercise and great fun, and it’s possible you may need it some day.  It’s possible that it can save your life.  But it should always be an absolute last resort!

Say Something

My oud teacher, Mavrothi Kontanis, has been working with me recently on playing with feeling, on expressing something, on saying something through my playing.

Bruce Lee said that martial arts were for him about personal expression, about honestly expressing himself.  This concept is the key to not only doing something really well, but making an impact with whatever it is that you are doing. Watch this short clip of Bruce Lee talking about it:

Think about the music you really like.  What’s your favorite song?  I bet it gives you a feeling when you listen to it.  Think about your favorite visual art, your favorite painting.  We don’t love things because they look good or sound good.  We love things because they feel good.  The best artists are masters of expression.  And the only genuine or honest expression is self expression.

Bruce Lee said that he can “put on a show and be cocky” or “show you some really fancy movement”, but that is not honest expression.  Similarly you can listen to a musician who is great technically, who plays something fancy and impressive, and you might think…wow…that guy has great skill.  But what really sticks with you is the person who speaks to you, the person that has something to say.  You hear it, and it resonates with you.  Mavrothi told me that if I’m not saying something then I’m saying nothing.  Very uninteresting.  It’s exactly the same with martial arts.

If you want to be great at whatever it is you’re doing, you need to say something through your performance.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing music, painting, sparring, or cleaning your house.  When there is a purpose behind what you are doing, when you are expressing yourself, then you are going to make an impact.

In the above interview Bruce Lee said that honestly expressing yourself is very difficult to do, and added:

You have to train.  You have to keep your reflexes so that when you want it, it’s there.  When you want to move, you are moving.  And when you move you are determined to move.  Not anything less than that.

There are prerequisites to expressing something well, or even having the ability to express yourself at all.  You need to know what it is that you want to express.  And you need to have put in the training time, to have developed the skills to say what you want to say.  But once you do have the skills, remember that you should be expressing yourself in everything that you do.

It’s easier not to do it.  It’s easier to just go through the motions of whatever you’re doing.  When you practice martial arts/self defense, it’s easy to push hard or to move fast.  But you should be doing more.  You should be saying something to your opponent.  Through your actions, tell your opponent, “I’m going to kick your ass buddy, or I’m going to die trying!”  This can be playful of course.  I don’t mean to suggest that you should literally be kicking your training partner’s ass every time you train.  And, you can alternatively say, “I’m going to put you down without hurting you.”  But whatever you do, say something!

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.

Where’s The Beef?

The physical version of my book, The Ultimate Guide to Unarmed Self Defense, is finally out!  You can see it here on Amazon.  For all of you who don’t live in the US, it’s also available on the European versions of Amazon.  The digital version is available for immediate download, for anyone, anywhere, here.

Darrin Cook, from, did a nice review of it here.  Darrin’s blog is one of the few in my blog roll (at right), because I find the majority of his posts to be valuable and interesting.  I just noticed that a couple of days ago he did another post referencing an old Pekiti Tirsia video I made, and I want to comment on something he said.  Here’s the video he was writing about:

The quality of the video is rather poor and there are a few things I don’t like about it, but I made it more than 6 years ago…and the material is solid.  So Darrin wrote:

If you take a look at Instructor David’s other videos, you see he is offering a lot of “meat,” really good techniques that other teachers would have held back.

Hiding The Meat

I thought about what he said for a while.  And it’s true.  But why would teachers “hide the meat”?  Don’t they want their students to be as skilled as possible?

I think there are a variety of reasons, most of which do not involve bad intentions.  Most martial arts I’ve practiced hide the meat.  And the meat is often hidden in a large pile of inedible material.  Honestly, I don’t think most teachers even realize it.  They teach what they were taught.  Especially if they don’t test their material, they may not even know the difference between the meat and all the other stuff.  Many of them think that it’s all meat, so they’re not purposefully hiding it.

A Shooting In 1997…

I was hanging out with my sister and a good friend.  All three of us were instructors at the same martial art school.  We had already been branching out and trying to find the best material we could, but we were all still only teaching that one style (which was self defense focused).  It was around midnight, and my friend was just opening the front door to leave.  Right as he opened it we heard BAM! BAM! BAM!, and then tires screeching.  A guy had just been shot walking in front of my house, an innocent guy in a robbery attempt.

We talked about it.  What would have happened if my friend had walked out just a couple of minutes earlier?  Would he have tried one of our gun threat defenses?  One of the ones that we taught?  Would it have worked?  Would he be alive or dead if he had walked out just a couple of minutes earlier?

Very shortly after that incident the three of us quit teaching at the school we had been teaching at.  The material wasn’t bad.  It worked for many people who used it in self defense.  But we knew it could be better.  We decided to make “efficiency and effectiveness” the core concept of our training and teaching.  We needed to.

The “problem” in my experience, is that most traditional martial arts teachers don’t need their material to work.  It’s different for martial sports/combat athletics.  Since their practitioners compete they do need the material to work, and it does work for what it’s designed for.

Use It Or Lose It

When the meaning of a thing changes, when you use it for something else, it’s easy to lose sight of the original purpose.  For most people teaching and practicing traditional martial arts, they don’t need them to work.  They practice for other reasons…for fun, for exercise, for a sense of belonging.  So they don’t realize the difference between what works and what doesn’t, what is meat and what is not.  Because for them, it is all meat.  It is all fun.  It is all good.  And it all looks like it works, because it works in the training room, in a cooperative environment, in a conditioned environment.

When you’re doing or teaching something for fun you can come up with all sorts of fun/cool techniques and drills that really have nothing to do with functional self defense.  Again, on the surface though, they appear to.

Using A Hat For Self Defense

A week or two ago, a former student, cop, and friend of mine sent me a video from a popular Filipino martial arts instructor showing how to use a baseball cap/hat as a weapon.  A couple of the techniques were fine…throwing the hat at an opponent to distract him before nailing him, etc.  And the instructor did make a comment about “having fun”, about training for fun, so maybe the rest of the techniques were more for fun than anything else.  Nevertheless, the rest of the techniques were very ineffective and a waste at best, if not downright dangerous to even try in self defense.

I wrote back something along the lines of, “Just because you can use something doesn’t mean you should.”.  But it looks cool.  It looks fun.  It probably is fun to practice!  However, it’s not functional for self defense.  It’s just that most people don’t think enough about these things, because they don’t need to.

Back To Pekiti Tirsia

I was fortunate to have a Pekiti Tirsia instructor who was ok with teaching me whatever I wanted to work on…just the meat.  But when I went to Pekiti seminars, I felt 16 hours were spent going over relatively ineffective variations of core techniques and concepts that could have been taught in 1 hour, and then trained for 15 more.  Instead, in my opinion, most students came away with a TON of memorized combinations, many of which were ineffective.  Why?  Why invent all these combinations for students to learn?  I can’t say for sure, in the case of Pekiti.  You could argue that each combination has a principle or concept embedded.  But, just teach the concept in its purest form!  Then, it can be applied to anything.  That is, if the concept is functional.

Holding Back

Regarding teachers purposefully holding material back, in this day and age I would hope that’s a minority of teachers.  That’s just a disservice to students, and to me, a sign that they don’t really know what they’re doing, that all they have are a few tricks.

I started practicing martial arts for self defense, and my goal has always been to teach functional self defense rather than material that looks cool, takes a long time to learn, etc..  I want my students to be able to defend themselves as quickly as possible.  So it makes sense to “offer a lot of meat”.  What’s equally important to realize, is that the vegetables and fruit are even more important than the meat!  You need all three to achieve a healthy balance, and then everything becomes clear.

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!

Knife Defense

I’ve recently added the video above to my knife page, covering common knife vs. knife techniques and training drills, why many of them won’t work in reality, and functional unarmed defense against knife attacks.  In addition to the specific techniques and training methods shown in the video, it demonstrates a number of important concepts that can and should be taken into account in all self defense training.

Why Most Knife Training Doesn’t Work

Common knife training isn’t unique in that it doesn’t apply well in reality.  Most martial arts don’t work in self defense.  So it shouldn’t be surprising that styles that focus on or include weapons training are any different.  In fact, the inclusion of weapons often makes systems worse, since it’s even harder to train realistically with deadly weapons.  When you can’t slash or stab your partner with a real knife, for example, it’s easy to make something up that may sound good, but turn out to be inaccurate.  The inability to train with live weapons also causes people to do things they’d never actually do if the weapons were real.  Those issues combined with the usual ineffective training due to low levels of resistance, cooperative training partners, and martial arts group-think, are particularly problematic.

Instant Kills

Many people are taught and/or assume that getting slashed or stabbed with a knife will stop an opponent immediately.  It rarely will.  I’ve known a few people who were stabbed, and read about many more, who didn’t even realize they were stabbed until after the encounter was over.  I was with a guy once who was shot next to me.  We ran a couple of blocks and then stopped for a moment, before he realize there was a hole blown straight through his hand.

Lots of knife training drills, from long range sparring to “defang the snake” patterns, are based on the opponent being immediately disabled with a single unattached technique.  Aside from this unlikely possibility, what if you miss?  What if your opponent is wearing thick clothing?  If you’re going knife vs. knife and you either miss or your opponent isn’t instantly disabled, what position will you be in?  Will your failed action be an opportunity for your opponent?  In many common knife drills, it will.  Underestimating the extreme chaos and pressure of a real knife attack can be a serious, deadly mistake.

Fantasy Techniques and Knife Disarms

When your training partner is cooperating with you, even if he is resisting (there is an important difference between resisting and being uncooperative), anything can work.  Because most training isn’t taken to an uncooperative level, countless fantasy techniques and disarms have arisen.  I’ve watched highly regarded instructors do completely unrealistic disarms one after another, as their cooperative partner pulls 10+ knives off his belt and gets repeatedly and instantly disarmed with each attack.

On my self defense training page, I mention the I Method for realistic training.  After a practitioner is introduced to a technique, which should only take a few minutes, he should then move to the isolation phase, where the technique is drilled with progressive resistance.  Eventually, in the integration phase, the technique should be trained against an uncooperative partner.  In armed and unarmed training, it’s extremely important that the practitioner progresses to the level where he tells his partner, “don’t let me do this”.

All of the fantasy knife techniques and crazy disarms would cease to exist if the attacker was told and honestly followed that one simple phrase: Don’t let me do this.

How to Get Control

Knife Defense

Knife Defense Control Position

In knife defense, the primary goal is not to get cut.  The only way to avoid getting cut is to control your opponent.  You can control your opponent via striking/slashing/stabbing/blocking…through unattached methods.  But if you haven’t taken your opponent out, it will be a continuous battle in chaos, and the longer it goes on, the more likely it becomes that you’ll get cut.  One of the quickest and simplest ways to get full control of your opponent’s knife bearing limb, is to grab his arm with two hands (as demonstrated in the video at the top of this post).  Once you’ve got control of the knife, there are a great variety of ways to take out and/or disarm the attacker, that work under full, uncooperative resistance.

It’s counterintuitive that unarmed knife defense can be safer than using a knife of your own, but putting something in your hand can limit the use of your hand as much as it can help, and when you need as much control as you can get, the limitations can outweigh the benefits.

Give your partner a fake knife, tell him not to let you make your defense work, to slash and stab you like his life depends on it.  Try getting the two-handed control, and I’m fairly certain you’ll find it works better than the vast majority of close range alternatives.

Wing Chun & Eskrima Stick and Sword Videos

Most of my blog posts recently have been about updates to my site, and this one is no exception. The new video above details the fundamental FSD progression for stick and sword work. I’ve posted the video on this page, where can you also read much more about FSD stick and sword training. Even if you’re not interested in stick fighting, learning to use blunt and sharp weapons is very important in self defense. See my weapons page for more on that.

You’ll notice on my home page and every other page of my site that’s not part of the blog, I’ve got email sign up forms. When a visitor signs up, they get a series of emails with self defense tips and info. A number of my subscribers have asked me to add more wing chun content to my site, so yesterday I added this video to the wing chun section:

It demonstrates both ineffective and functional wing chun techniques and training methods. In the near future, I’ll be adding more techniques from wing chun to my site.

Subscribers have also requested that I add techniques that allow a person to defend themselves without injuring their attacker. So that’s also one of the next things on my list. If you have any special requests for what you’d like to see, feel free to leave your requests in the comments here, subscribe to my site, or contact me here.

New Boxing Video & Pages

Another update here…

I’ve added a video of the basic boxing progression I teach, both above and to my boxing page. Along with the video I’ve added pages with pictures and descriptions of a few boxing techniques:

As mentioned on the boxing page, I made the video with a friend of mine during our third practice together. It’s a great example of how quickly a person can learn basic boxing techniques. Lots of people who practice traditional martial arts with little to no sparring feel hesitant to jump into a sparring based style like boxing. But if you follow the progression above and then move to low intensity sparring with those techniques, you’ll see how easy and fun it actually is.

To see where and why boxing fits into self defense training, see my training page.