Get in the Car

I’m trying to keep up the tradition of posting something a little more light-hearted and irrelevant on a Friday.

“Get in the Car!”
“I won’t fit in the car…”

Verbal Judo

“I’m a very forthright person. If I think something I say it”
Several times I have heard that, usually being said by a young woman, who seems to regard it as a virtue. If there is one thing that I have learnt over my many years it is the virtue of knowing when to hold my tongue. If I spoke my mind every time a thought popped into my head I would doubtless have been in more fights, been fired several times and most certainly still very single!
Recently I wrote some observations about placatory behaviour. This doesn’t mean you go through life as a doormat, just that you expand your range of options. Quite frankly, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. There are times to tell someone that they are an unreasonable jerk, and there are times to bite back that comment, force yourself to smile and assure the jerk that you appreciate how busy they are and how they are going out of their way to do their job…
If you wish, think of it as verbal or social Judo. You end up getting what you wanted, but no one gets hurt or upset. They may even think it was their idea. This is the true art of fighting without fighting.

Hazing, part 2

Somewhere in my place there is a magazine with an article on becoming a professional bodyguard. The one thing I can remember from this article is the advice to wear sunglasses. Sunglasses make it harder to see what the bodyguard is actually paying attention to. It is also mentioned that they protect the eyes from anything that might be thrown at them.
A few days ago I wrote about the tactic of hazing and some of the threats that may be directed against the eyes. Eye protection is mandatory on most shooting ranges and for many sports. US soldiers also now use shooting goggles in combat. Given this trend it is perhaps surprising that protective eyewear still hasn’t become standard for police and prison officers. It is hard to think of a group of people more likely to be subjected to various assaults to their eyes.


Devil in the Details.

I was watching a video of a well-known knife-fighting instructor and one of the sequences he showed reminded me of Long Har Ch'uan. That really wasn’t that surprising since LHC drills are designed to teach the essence of efficient defence. What really caught my interest was that I was struck by a sudden nagging impression that something was wrong.
The sequence was as follows, and is illustrated assuming the attack is coming from the foe’s right hand. You “give a little wave” –make an outward parry with your left hand. Take over the defence against the right with an inward parry with your right hand. You then perform a “dip and slip action” on his right hand that takes you to his outside gate on his right side.
If this had been a Long Har Ch’uan drill it might have been as follows. Parry the right with an inward parry with your right. Take over the parry with an outward parry with your left. Use your right to make an outward parry on his right arm and take you to the outside gate.
The two sequences seem similar but “the devil is in the details!” On the second parry the knife-fighter is turning his right flank towards his opponent while his right hand is occupied with the right. He is on the inside gate so there is nothing to stop the enemy using his left hand against any available target. In the LHC sequence we started off with an inward parry while on the inside gate but immediately switched to an outward parry with the left, freeing the right hand for further action. The right hand was used to move to the outside gate but it could have been used to defend against any attacks by the left hand if necessary.
If you parry an enemy’s attack he may not leave his arm there for you to manipulate. A fairly common reaction will be to withdraw the parried limb and make an attack with the other hand. Thus in LHC we are taught to have the other hand ready for other actions when making an outward parry and to convert inward parries into outward parries to free up the other hand. An even simpler LHC sequence in the above example would have been: “give a little wave” –make an outward parry with your left hand and simultaneously smash your right palm heel into his face.
For more on the principles the training drill of Long Har Ch’uan can teach please read the section in my book or consult the older compilation of Erle Montaigue’s works edited by myself.

Posturing or Placating

Until a few years back I used to run first year classes at a major university. As an incurable people watcher the first few weeks of the first term were always entertaining. Something interesting I observed when it was time for the first large practical class. This was a stressful time. There is a big room of people you don’t know and you are not sure what to expect. I would usually be standing near the door and would be one of the first things the student would encounter. I am big, ugly and look like I own the place. Here is what I noticed.
Young males would enter the room, obviously nervous and uncertain. On seeing me they would puff themselves out and try to walk with a swagger. Didn’t fool anyone and I would often have to repress the urge to laugh.
Young women, on the other hand would usually smile at me and would often say hello. Interestingly many of the more mature male students also would acknowledge or greet me.
What has this got to do with self-defence? Quite a bit really, since the first stage of defence is to avoid a fight entirely. The young male response was to posture, the female to placate and establish a rapport. Something to think about.

FBI Baton

Thinking about the previous post and the scenarios of police officers faring so badly against a suspect with a knife the question arises “Did these cops try to use their batons?” If the knife was drawn first I can see that the suspect could be all over the cop before he can draw the baton or gun, but it the baton is in hand one would expect the knifeman to take a couple of hard hits to his knife arm or shoulder. Here is the FBI manual on the baton.

21st Post! Invisible Knives.

A few days ago I came across this interesting article. The whole thing is worth reading and thinking on, but I will reproduce a few key points here.
“… in early 1992 I conducted an empirical video research study. I had 85 police officers participate in a scenario based training session where unknown to them, they would be attacked with a knife. The attacker, who was dressed in a combatives suit, was told that during mid way of the contact, they were to pull a knife that they had been concealing, flash it directly at the officer saying "I’m going to kill you pig" and then engage the officer physically. The results were remarkable:
  • 3/85 saw the knife prior to contact
  • 10/85 realized that they were being stabbed repeatedly during the scenario
  • 72/85 did not realize that they were being assaulted with a knife until the scenario was over, and the officers were advised to look at their uniforms to see the simulated thrusts and slices left behind by the chalked training knives
…It also explains why one officer, who had actually caught the attackers knife hand with both of his hands and was looking directly at the knife, stated "I didn’t see any knife" It was not until I showed the video that he believed there was a knife.”
There are other reasons why you might not see a knife in addition to stress and adrenaline. Knives are often used at night or in dark places, the attacker may be actively concealing the knife or may not draw it until he feels he needs it.
Many self-defence books like to tell you that in a real fight there are no rules and then give you specific techniques for an unarmed foe, one with a knife, one with a club and so forth. The “Pat, Wrap and Attack” system of controlling the weapon delivery system that Darren Laur mentions seems technically sound, but is based on the assumption that you are aware a weapon is involved.
This leads me to the following conclusions:
    • In a real fight always assume that a weapon might become involved. Just because you do not see a weapon does not mean that it is there Deliberately going to ground and wrestling may get you cut.
    • All of your primary offensive and defensive techniques must be practiced as though your partner had a knife in his hand(s). Strikes and parries must be withdrawn or they will get “cut”. Use evasion and manoeuvre in preference to blocking and parrying.
Naturally after reading the above article and deducing these conclusions I read through the book to make sure none of the techniques I suggest contravened these ideas. They didn’t!

You Got His Knife Arm! What Next?

I grew up with a brother four years my junior. In that distant politically incorrect era our toys included a pair of plastic knives. I can recall several games where my brother had a knife and I grabbed his hand to wrestle it from him, just like the heroes in the old movies I was growing up watching. At his young age my brother did not understand this is what heroes were supposed to do. He would reach over with his other hand, take the knife and then “stab” me.
Fast-forward forty years or so and I see knife-defence courses telling Police officers to seize the knife arm in both hands. Whether or not this is the optimum tactic and how easily or not it can be achieved will not be debated here. By design or chance you may indeed end up holding a knife arm with both hands. If a three year old can work out the tactic of changing hands (“foisting”) so can your assailant so you had better do something before he does.
What you can do exactly will depend on the relative positions of your hands and his arm. Are your thumbs on the radial or ulna side of this arm, the inside or the outer? Is this arm held high or low? Are you standing or on the ground? You do not have time to start changing grips so must execute any technique from the hold you have. Our objective is to take his knife away from the reach of this free hand and preferably put him at a further disadvantage.
There are essentially three directions we can take his arm: up, down, and out.
Downward involves swinging the arm down in a vertical half-circle, twisting it, moving your body and changing your grip if needed. The arm will finish in either a straight arm lock or a bent arm hammer-lock. These are powerful locks that can cause dislocations and breaks and may bend the attacker forward.
Taking the arm out involves moving it horizontally out. This may or may not involve twisting the arm along its long axis. This is powered by rotation of your waist and moving to his outside gate, taking the knife well away from his other hand. If the leverage from his arm can be used to throw him, do so. If possible, keep control of his arm so you can apply pressure to it with your leg
Taking the arm upwards is a little more involved and is easier from certain relative positions than others. Use this method if it is quicker or easier than the other options. The target position is to have the attacker’s knife arm bent at the elbow with his hand behind his neck. There are several ways to do this. If his hand was already raised we circle around him to take the knife back and behind him. We continue the pressure to lean him backwards to destroy his balance and use or leg or body to help him fall. It is also possible to apply this lock by making an outward turn, turning away from him and taking his hand over your head and on behind his shoulder blades. This action is reminiscent of a judo throw and can be used to throw the attacker down. It is possible that the attacker could reach his knife hand with his other hand so like the other moves you must apply this with vigour to take him down as quickly as possible.


Years ago I was in a Capoeira class and training with a young lad I had not seen before and I assumed he was a new student. We were doing a simple practice session of ginga when all of a sudden he threw a roundhouse kick at me. Random surprises like this are a bit of a tradition in Capoeira but you do not really expect them from a newbie. Turned out this guy had taken a few classes at another location.
When he tried another kick I was ready. I stepped away and let my trailing leg nudge his support leg, just enough to wobble him and let him know I could have dropped him hard if I had wanted. The look on his face was priceless.
“You just avoided the kick and hit me with the same move!”
The move I used was a variety of Esquiva  and here is an illustration of one of its applications.

Fat Burning Foods.

Fat burning foods sounds about as likely as screwing to become a virgin, but someone, somewhere. will believe anything it seems.
Grapefruit and Watermelon -very tasty, but full of sugar, which is something the body converts to fat to store -apparently this is not as well known as I thought.
Berries -sugar again. Berries are something birds eat to fatten up for winter. Silly birds would apparently put the pounds on if they left off on the berries.
Celery famously uses more calories to eat raw than it contains, but 75% of the world's population hate the taste. Putting celery in a meal without finding out if the person it is intended for is one of the majority makes you a very bad host. With so much of the world hungry should we grow something that has little food value and most of the world hates anyway?
Greek Yogurt. Just Greek Yogurt apparently, not any other yogurt, but it doesn't have to be low-fat Greek yogurt. (most low fat yogurts have lots of sugar in instead so are still high calorie).
Eggs. Yup, nothing remotely fatty about them, obviously fat burners.
Fish. Fish never has any oil or fat in it at all. That is why Eskimos are so skinny.
Green Tea, Coffee and Water. Not sure about fat-burning, but probably low in fat and sugar. Unless you go for the double cream with syrup.
Quinola and Oatmeal. These are seeds and grains, yet another thing birds eat to get fat.
If you really want to burn off a bit of fat, read my article here.