31 March 2015

Bullshit and Fairy Dust- The business of making the simple complex

Albert Einstein said- If you cannot explain it simply, then you don't understand it completely.  The truth is this applies to everything, especially fighting and self defense.  The problem is that there is no money keeping it simple.  

In classes I always tell people that if you are practicing a martial art 3-4 nights a week in a dojo and suffer no serious injuries then don't expect what you are learning to work on the street.  But these days with everyone wearing an Infidel Punisher t-shirt, there is a bigger market than ever for the five finger death punch and Spetznaz only tactics.

Complicated will get you killed.  Too many choices will gets you killed.  Hesitation will get you killed.  People spend lots of time and invest considerable amounts of money learning things that have nothing to do with their application.  If you enjoy being a Tactical LARPER read no further.

Experience tells us that you are much more likely to be punched in the face than be stabbed or shot.  Experience also tells us that about 95% of the time that punch will come in the form of a roundhouse.  But if you go to a dojo or double top secret Ninja camp you will find very little time being dedicated to effectively defending against a roundhouse punch.  The reason is that the teacher knows there is no money in the fundamentals, and the student is interested in learning about the other things that "could" happen.  

The other interesting thing is that usually when someone gets punched in the face they momentarily forget about the gun or knife on their hip.  But training in those skill sets seems to make some believe it will stop them from getting punched in the face.

So the idea of this rant is to remember that everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face, so make sure the first time you get punched in the face is in training and not in the street.  Once you realize how much it sucks consider learning how to effectively defend against it before moving on to fancy crap.  Instead of adding more techniques, consider changing the conditions by defending against the roundhouse from the right and the left, from the flanks, after being spun around, while sitting, while getting out of a car etc.  You will be surprise at how much you can learn while concentrating on fundamentals.   Don't forget if both you and your training partner are not feeling it, you are dancing, not fighting.

18 March 2015

First Look- Yukon Outfitters Torent DryBag 25L

One of the new pieces of gear I picked up at the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg was the Torent Dry Bag 25L from Yukon Outfitters. For years I have been using the old USGI wet weather bags, contractor bags, and zip locks instead of more expensively priced dry bags. Most of the time these bags were used in the woods. Starting a few years ago, I started doing about 90% of my traveling from early March to late December on my motorcycle. Unfortunately getting wet often goes hand in hand with motorcycling. The need for a proper wet weather bag for the bike along with the "Hyper Green" color of the Yukon bag put me over the edge. 

 On a motorcycle, visibility is everything, so I figured the bag would be great for the back of the bike. Yesterday I picked my bike up at the shop after getting new tires, plugs, brakes, and such. I wanted to take my spare motorcycle cover to where I work and began thinking of how I was going to accomplish this. Then I remembered the Torent Dry Bag that had been sitting in my closet since February. I have the 25L, the smallest of the Torent series, its big brothers are 30L and 40L respectively.

. The cover, designed for a V Twin Harley Davidson, only took up about a third of the bag. Rolling and then securing the buckle on the bag gave me confidence that water did not stand a chance of getting inside. In the future I plan to do a dunk test even though the bag is marketed only as water resistant. The bag also sports attachment points for the included adjustable sling strap. This came in handy for securing the bag horizontily across my Mountainsmith Red Rock pack that was already on my bike with my EDC gear. During the 25 miles to work, the bag stayed put. Having its neon color on the back of the bike is a plus. I plan on getting one of the larger bags for motorcycle camping this summer. At under $19 from Amazon this bag is cheap insurance to keep your gear dry. Here is some of the info from the company. 

  •  Keeps Your Gear and Valuables Dry 
  • Durable Water Resistant Construction 
  • Welded Seams with Watertight Roll Top 
  • Closure Integrated Grab and Go Shoulder Sling 
  • UTX Buckles

11 March 2015

Another order of Knockers on their way across the pond

Hmmm, for some reason these are extremely popular in other countries.

Knockers pictured with Fellhoelter Ti Bold Pen & Microtech UDT

Get yours today

Follow Modern Combative Systems's board MCS Knockers (Slung Shot) on Pinterest.


10 March 2015

Top 3 signs of adrenaline dump and how to effectively manage it

In the tactical world, there is a lot of time spent talking about the adrenaline dump that you experience during a real life or death situation.  Lots of that is dedicated to listing the changes that will occur in your body.

A principle belief of MCS is that you are far more likely to get punched in the face than shot or stabbed, even if you eventually get shot or stabbed in the altercation.

There are two types of scenarios; brewing and spontaneous.  Basically with warning or without, of course most of the time there is ample warning that is either not observed or ignored.
Over the years I have been involved in a handful of spontaneous incidents that just pop up like  grease fire.  The vast majority were brewing scenarios.

For the citizen, if you are in a brewing scenario, remove yourself by what ever means necessary if you can.  If you can't, then you are in the same situation as the cop, bouncer, or corrections officer, eventually things are going to boil over and one of you is going to initiate physical contact.

Your reptilian brain that controls the fight or flight response will subconsciously kick in way before you are consciously aware that you are going to be in a fight.  The truth is that your reptilian brain does not trust your higher functioning "this is not happening", "I am not ready to fight" brain to allow you to survive, so the reptilian brain just pushes your higher functioning brain out of the driver's seat and takes everything over.  If you survive, the reptilian brain will give your higher functioning brain a little pat on the head and hand the controls back over until it's needed again.

There is nothing you can do to stop the above from happening.  Why would you want to?  If you did, you would not survive very long.  The only thing you can do is train into it and not against it.  The biggest problem is that the reptilian brain does not like tools, it hates them.  All it cares about is getting away or fighting to get away.  So there are two options, you employ tools before hand or inoculate yourself to the point where you can manage the effects to the point where you can deploy tools.  Basically, being calm enough that the reptilian brain reluctantly hands the the controls over to the higher functioning brain.

Since we already realize that we cannot stop the reptilian brain from taking over, the best way to manage is to realize as fast as possible that it has taken over the controls.   All the physical training, shooting on the range, and in most cases time on the mat or in tournament will do little to help you prepare.  The reason why is that for an all out "I might die today" adrenaline dump to take place you have to believe that there is a very real possibility of you not surviving.  The reptilian brain does not like to be needlessly bothered.

Most confrontations begin verbally, and it is then that about 95% of people go black and are unable to do anything but run away which of course is the best option but it may not be available or you are paid to be in the situation.  If you are doing scenario training without lots of noise, threats, and cursing, you are not training for reality.  Again, most scenarios begin verbally and during this stage is when the reptilian brain takes over, so it is during this time you must train to recognize it and prove to it that you are in control and able to recognize your options.

As I sit here writing about it and thinking of all the scenarios I have been in, I want to point out things that will probably be the first things you will notice within your own body that will tell you to fight to take back the controls.  I am listing these as they have always appeared to me.  I call these the big three because they are what I always noticed first and reminded me to get a hold of myself.  Just remember TMT- Trembling, Mouth, Tunnel

Trembling hands-  your hands are shaking because your body knows a fight is coming and all your blood is pooling out of your extremities into your core to feed the heart and lungs.  

Your mouth will become dry- just like the blood from your limbs, your body is shutting down the digestive system of which the salivary glands are a part of.

Tunnel vision-  some have said it is like looking through two toilet paper rolls, actually it can be more like looking through two soda straws.  The first part of the OODA Loop is Observe and that is exactly what your eyes do.  They focus on the most prominent threat, eyes as big as dinner plates.  The primary reason training to shoot pistol with one eye closed is a waist of time.

So now that you know TMT, how do you use it?  Breathe, look around,  move, and repeat.  You need oxygen to your brain to process information.  You need to look around for subsequent threats and options.  You need to move because above all else movement is the natural key to survival.  Not only does it keep your attacker from setting up on you, it also makes you harder to hit if he does begin to attack in anyway.   Most often terrified people will continue to stand right in front of the threat.  If you want to ensure this, just put both hands on your gun, especially under 15 yards or so.  Why?  Because it inhibits natural breathing, your shoulder stops your head from rotating, and on the square range where most training is done you either have to stand still in your lane or can only move straight forward or straight back.  Another example of "traditional" square range training can get you killed on the street. So BLM- Breathe, Look, Move.  Continue as needed until the situation is resolved.

Incorporate the above into your mindset and training and you will substantially increase your chances of survival.  Remember the reptilian mind is an abacus and the majority training is for super computers.  Some things just are not going to work and some things are likely to get you killed.

06 March 2015

7 Top survival habits for women

Several followers have told me that when they share information from MCS with their wives they often hear the complaint that most of it is good for men, but what about the women.
As a husband and father of two girls, personal protection for women is very important to me.  We teach AAA, Awareness, Avoidance, and Aggression.  The thing that I like most about the first two As is that they are mostly mental, draw little to no attention to yourself, and if done habitually will help you avoid 99% of the scenarios where Aggression would be necessary.  The other issue is that many times women are not alone.  They have the kids with them, so being aware and avoiding any potentially dangerous situation is even more vital.  So, without further ado, here are the top personal protection habits for women.

1- Trust your intuition- in my experience, women have much better intuition than men because they are naturally more often the victim of unprovoked attacks.  Unfortunately, they also are more likely to discount these feelings because of not wanting to appear rude.  Save that for people you know.  When it comes to strangers, error on the side of survival and trust your instincts.

2- Back your vehicle in or pull through whenever possible- many assaults and abductions take place around vehicles.  When your vehicle is pulled nose in, it is too easy to make the habit of just opening the door and getting in.  When you are backed in, you are forced to turn around once you have approached the car and this gives you another chance to check your surroundings.  Also, if you have car trouble, it is much easier to get a jump start and you will be facing forward if you need to wait for assistance.

3- Be the last in and the first out of any door- whether it is the door to your office or the door to the parking garage, be the courteous one and let everyone go before you and leave before they do.  Never let anyone get between you and the door.

4- Stay off your phone in open areas- there are only really three types of areas; vehicles, structures, and open places.  In vehicle and structures you can secure yourself or at least put your back against the wall as you get lost in your phone.  This is not possible in open areas.  A good rule of thumb is to stay off your phone unless you have something you can lean against.

5- Putting the kids in the vehicle- develop a way of doing things and stick to it.  For many Moms deploying to Wal Mart with the clan mean lots of car seat and seat belt buckling.  When possible, park close to other cars but leave space all the way around if possible.  This way if you are distracted while loading the kids, it is harder for someone to sneak up on you.  Enlist the help of the older kids to keep an eye out for danger and you deal with the little ones.  Tell them to let you know if anyone approaches the vehicle.  If space will allow, lock yourself in while getting the kids buckled in.  Don’t be in the back of an unsecured vehicle with the engine running.  It is too easy for someone to jump in the driver’s seat and take off.

6- Be wary of anyone trying to stop your movement- This may come in the form of someone asking for money or simply just blocking your path.  Red flags should pop up.  Get in the habit of saying “no thank you” without stopping.  A great way to practice this is walking past kiosks at the mall.

7- Don’t be afraid to scream- noise of any kind is the best way to get attention.  Shocking statements like “fire” and “leave me alone” are best.

04 March 2015

Profiling works-how to use it as a citizen

In my last post, I wrote about how these days I do my best to hone the arts of Awareness and Avoidance to make every attempt to avoid Aggression.  I have also written before about how people like to throw the word Awareness around, and usually without context.  In courses we teach three specific types of Awareness; Self, Team, Situational  / Environmental.  When people seek out police to train, they often do primarily for firearms.  In this article, and maybe more depending on what I can come up with, I want to help with your Awareness but talking about how to formulate Reasonable Suspicion for use by non LE as a tool for developing your situational awareness.

Reasonable Suspicion
A police officer has "reasonable suspicion" when there exists articulatable facts or circumstances which would lead a reasonable person to suspect that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed.

The easiest way to explain it is that Reasonable Suspicion is more than just a mere "hunch" and less than Probable Cause.  You will notice in the above definition that it says a "reasonable person” and not a police officer..  As a citizen you are not looking to arrest anyone or even have contact with them.  You are looking around for things that catch your attention enough to make you want to Avoid them.

Basically what I am talking about is profiling.  Everyone profiles every day of their lives.  We look at what people wear, how they act, and how they speak and consciously or subconsciously build a profile of them in our heads.

We have filters in our minds that allow us to sort through people that we want to interact with or those who we would like to avoid.  Let's just call it friend or foe.Being aware is a habit and unless you have something to look for you will not become any better at it.  You cannot limit yourself and need to constantly be scanning and filtering.  One of the best ways to practice this is in traffic by looking at other vehicles.

Example- you pull up behind a late model SUV with a bumper sticker that says something along the lines of "PENN STATE PARENT".  There is another sticker that says "NITTANY LION MOM".  It is 10 AM on a weekday in March.  Before you pull up next to the driver, you probably have a picture in your head of who is most likely to be behind the wheel.  Most likely a middle aged woman right?  Chances are you are right.  Every time you make a prediction like that based on the totality of circumstances you get faster, more accurate, and your confidence grows.

Here is another example- you are driving down the road and you see what you recognize as a late 80's Chevy Cavalier in front of you.  On the edge of the trunk and back window it has some decals from local radio stations and sports teams, however this is the plate.

Like we said, it has a bunch of stickers on it that would lead you to believe that it is a local vehicle, but unless you are in TX or a neighboring state that TX license plate may seem out of place.  Now add into the equation that the tag is being held on with zip ties.  You can see how your suspicion should be growing that this car may be stolen and the occupants may not be on their way to choir practice.

The car just happens to pull into the same place you are going for gas, and the driver exits. As he does, you can see that he has tattooed on the side of his neck and on the back of his hands.  The ones on his hands are very elementary and look like they were done at home. Any officer worth his salt would be running that license plate and is going to make contact with the driver because of all the Reasonable Suspicion he can now articulate.  What as a citizen do you do?  Drive away and go someplace else to get your gas and Red Bull.

Get in the habit of constantly looking around you and use your filters to sort out friends and foes.  Profile people using the vehicle that they drive and the stickers on their car.  See how good you can get at formulating what the driver will look like and see how close you are. You will get faster and more accurate at detecting when things are just not right.  The faster you detect them, the faster you can Avoid them.

Whose with me?

Not sure how many other people fit into this category but I am middle aged, fat, and not a good as I once was. I see a few different types these days. The gunfighters taking all the pistol and carbine courses they can, the dojo guys, the BJJ crowd and the majority who does not train at all. One thing I know has not changed is that in real life things happen fast and you don't get a mulligan. These days I am more dedicated to the art of awareness and avoidance and don't believe in the art of the gun or other martial arts on the street. I believe in doing my best to recognize when there is no other option but violence and getting it over with as fast as possible so I can decide how much violence to use and do my best to make sure I walk away as whole as I was before it started.