self defense

2
Nov

Last week a psychiatric patient at Mass General Hospital was shot dead by an off-duty security guard after attacking his doctor with a knife. The security guard has been legally cleared for now as acting in self defense and is heralded as a hero.

I was not there, and do not know exactly what happened. Reports the security guard heard screams from the doctors office, thought she was being beaten, and burst in. When he saw the man had a knife, drew his firearm and told the man to drop the knife. The man reportedly lunged at him, he shot the man twice.

First, sympathies go out to the family of the man who was killed. It sounds like he had psychiatric issues, and surely this is a tragedy for them. If this incident happened as reported, the security guard most likely acted heroically and saved lives.

What burns me a bit is that the family’s lawyers are now questioning if the man could have been subdued, or if the man had to have been shot twice (wasn’t one bullet enough). This is why lawyers are so popular these days. They are trying to drum up controversy where there is none in order to increase their billable hours and/or create an opening for a civil suit.

Let’s be clear about this: Firearms are lethal weapons. There is only one thing you are doing when you purposefully fire them at someone - you are to kill them. A knife is also a lethal weapon, when threatened with a knife  - this is lethal force and it frequently requires a lethal response to survive.

Only in really bad movies does someone shoot  a gun out of someone else’s hand with a pistol, or aim for the leg. Trained people instinctively aim for center mass, under the stress of a lethal threat, this is the area you are most likely to hit. You shoot until the person is no longer a threat, a frequently this is more than once.

To the point of self defense - if this doctor had to wait for someone to call the police, and for the police to respond, she (and perhaps others) would most likely be dead. Again, the police are great, but they can’t be everywhere.

Licensed, law abiding citizens carrying firearms may be our first and only line of defense against such acts. Recently several men have been charged with terrorist plots against crowded targets (such as malls) with automatic weapons. I can’t imagine how a terrifying act like that might play out, but I do know that nothing would stop it short of the terrorists being killed or running out of ammo.

Israel has seen attacks against school buses by terrorists with automatic firearms stopped by legally armed civilians.

The only effect of criminalizing self defense is to increase crime. The UK’s draconian self-defense and weapons carry laws have led to a giant spike in violent crime. After the mayor of Boston announced having the toughest gun laws in the nation, shootings went up over 60%.

The main benefactors of laws restricting self defense are criminals,

Category : news | self defense | Blog
13
Oct

In a locality where citizens can legally own and carry firearms, is there still room for empty hand self defense? How many times have I heard something to the effect of, “if somebody attacks me, I’ll just draw my gun and shoot them.”? The truth is that empty hand self defense needs to be the platform on which all other self defense measures are built.

Firearms, mace, knives, swords, pipes, etc. are all very effective weapons in self defense. But all of these weapons have exactly the same limitations. In order to use a firearm in self-defense:

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Category : martial arts | self defense | Blog
16
Jul

Recently, a woman was attacked and robbed while walking alone around midnight on the Esplanade in Boston. The Esplanade, for those not familiar, is a pedestrian area running along the Charles river which is accessible by a number of footbridges. This is not the first such attack - I remember  numerous attacks going back to the early nineties when I first moved to Boston.

The Esplanade is, in my opinion, a mugger’s dream. Lots of places to hide, route to escape by, and spots to lie in wait and make sure no police are around when you attack. It’s a known sleeping place for the homeless who sometimes gather under the bridges.

Many people feel safe there because, during the day, there are large crowds of people. The Esplanade also abuts an affluent neighborhood.

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Category : news | self defense | Blog
29
Jun

When it comes to arguments on the Internet, nothing I’ve seen in the martial arts has spawned as much emotion and posturing as the debate over the effectiveness of certain martial arts systems for self defense. I’d like to throw my hat into the ring on the side of reason. Brace yourself, this is going to be a long post.

First, when I talk about self defense I am not speaking about any mutually agreed upon combat - including many bar-fights. I’m talking about a violent response to the threat of, or to actual, violence. Non-violent responses fall into a different categories, mitigation, avoidance, personal protection - etc. If there is no threat or actual violence then we are most likely talking about assault.

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Category : martial arts | self defense | Blog
9
Jun

There is a a lot of fluff, fighting and puffery on the Internet about almost everything in the martial arts these days. Particularly, pressure points get a lot of attention. There seem to be two divergent camps with a lot of people in extremes on both sides: 1. pressure points are really effective, 2. Pressure points don’t work.

This post comes from my real-world experience of decades in the martial arts. Your experience may vary. But this is what I have objectively found: continue

Category : martial arts | self defense | Blog
27
Apr

I have been enjoying a great new show on Spike TV called “Deadliest Warrior” where experts pit historical warriors against each other to determine who would win a fight. If you haven’t seen the show, combinations such as Spartan vs. ninja and pirate vs. knight are played out. Weapons, armor, and tactics are compared and tested scientifically.

At the conclusion of the show, a computer simulation is run to determine which warrior would compare most positively in a real face to face fight.

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Category : TV | martial arts | self defense | Blog
13
Apr

I recently had the chance to attend some “reality based” self defense training with a friend of mine who had never practiced martial arts before. On our second class, my friend had his wrist broken - most likely by an overzealous beginner during a gun takeaway exercise.

What happened?
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Category : martial arts | self defense | Blog
10
Feb

From first-hand experience I can tell you that about 90% of what the world believes about martial arts and self defense comes from movies and TV. There are many unrealistic portrayals about self defense - so let’s tackle the idea of dueling.

When you watch the hero of your favorite film face off with his arch-enemy and duke it out for 4 minutes without mussing his hair - that has virtually nothing to do with self-defense. Fighting in sport and television has little to do with self-defense. That’s dueling.

Most of the time, these media fights play out like the bar fights I’ve witnessed. They are essentially mutually agreed upon combat. Once you’ve agreed to fight, it’s no longer self-defense.

Real self-defense usually involves a sudden and violent surprise attack where a predator tries to overpower a target. Usually the target is not attacked from the front, with lots of warning, on mats, under bright lights, after stretching for 20 minutes, and while wearing special training clothes. Frequently attackers work in groups, carry weapons, and refuse to fight fair.

Every tool in your arsenal including screaming, running away, pulling out a gun, calling 911, using pepper spray, throwing a mean round-house kick to the temple, etc. is 100% useless unless you can effectively deal with the initial attack.

Self defense has only one goal - get to safety.

It isn’t about winning a fight or arresting your attacker (unless you’re a cop and we call it defensive tactics). Self defense isn’t about teaching your attacker a lesson, or getting an ego boost out of kicking a guy’s butt at a bar.

I hope you’ll take these words to heart and let them inform your training choices and your mindset.

Category : martial arts | self defense | Blog
27
Jan

Mission Centric Training™ is a term I coined a few years back when training civilians, law enforcement, and military personnel. It became clear that each of these groups of people had different goals, operating rules, equipment, training levels, etc. Training them all the same way is a mistake.

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Category : self defense | Blog
23
Jan

Psychological studies of consumer behavior shows that “anticipated regret” is an extremely powerful motivator. Anticipated regret is essentially a fear of future loss. It’s one of the factors that keeps losing gamblers going.

So how do we put “anticipated regret” to proper use for ourselves?

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Category : martial arts | motivation | self defense | Blog