Dear Brendan,

Before I begin to dive into combative arts/hand-to-hand combat in more detail, I want to make you and others aware of training options/opportunities that are available to you through the AM Team and myself.

We first need to define the problem and I want to draw on my military planning and intelligence analysis experience to help make this point.

·       Problem Framing

·       Understand the mission/requirements/intent

·       Understand the operational environment and variables

·       Understand human networks in your community/OE

·       Organize/Train for the fight

·       Engage the threat

·       Assess/evaluate

·       COA Development

·       COA Rehearsals/Trng.

What is the problem?  I believe the problem is multi-faceted.  We have a self-defense industry short fall regarding real world training.  It seems every where you turn there is a martial arts school, jiu-jitsu school, boxing club, MMA training center, and so on.  There are magazines that pitch the latest and greatest fighting techniques and now those magazines are online pushing their self-defense/fighting methods to the masses.  It can be overwhelming and difficult to tell what is what and who is who in the zoo.  What really works and what is sport or just Hollywood smoke and mirrors that may look cool but will only cost you your life and not save it when all the chips are down.  So how do you and concerned citizens make a well-informed decision? 

I recommend you step back and assess what is being taught.  How is the training structured and developed?  Do these people have a firm grasp on criminal attacks?  Is the material/training relevant, current and in context with the real world threats you and your family face?

If we are truly seeking real world solutions we have to understand the problems/threats.  My experience tells me that the average man, woman and family is concerned about various types of criminal attacks.  And have difficulty bringing real world solutions to these dynamic, fluid and violent situations.  We can help close this gap by providing training, real solutions to dangerous situations and answering the difficult questions.     

Now we are framing the problem as criminal attacks and how training can affect our ability to detect, deter, defend, and defeat such attacks.

Generally speaking criminals do not want to be hurt or caught/arrested.  Criminals as I have discussed earlier are like animals.  They prey on the weak and look for easy targets.  They want the element of surprise and often use a ruse or ambush their victims.  As an example:  A drug addict is simply worried about their next fix.  For many criminals it’s about getting something, (money, drugs, jewelry, cars).  I’m sure many of us have picked up on a trend within many criminal attacks. 

·       The attack/assault was initiated by surprise(Ambush)

·       They close the distance/range with a ruse of some kind

·       They often times have a weapon of some kind

·       Criminals often work with other criminals like a team(Multiple Attackers) 

This all seems fairly straightforward to me, however many in the self-defense community have not stayed focused on this.  Many in this industry have failed to stay focused on the problem/threat.  This shows by looking closer at how they train. 

Real world training is the priority here.  You should always ask yourself, is this training relevant?  If your answer is no, you should not waste your time or money investing in something that is not relevant to the problem/threat.  Let’s step back again and assess history.  

·       The attack/assault was initiated by surprise(Ambush)

Most of training is done in an environment or context that allows you to have the same level of initiative as your attacker.  You know there is going to be an attack and you prepare yourself for it.  This type of training is doing you no favors and not preparing you for the real world threats. 

·       They close the distance/range with a ruse of some kind

A lot of training starts with a specific technique when you are already in a heightened state of awareness for a possible confrontation.  There should be some level of uncertainty in your mind when you need to take action during training.

When you look at the above two criminal attack norms are you or their students ever doing anything else other than practicing a specific technique or waiting to rehearse a predetermined move/technique?  Is there ever a mundane task that you or their students are required to be doing in the seconds before you or the students must act with proficiency? 

·       They often times have a weapon of some kind

Too often this is missing completely in traditional self-defense schools.  Do their empty hands training progress into weapon systems?  Do they flow together seamlessly?  How much time if any is spent working empty hand against weapons compared to empty hand to empty hand?  Are they covering edged weapons, weapons of opportunity, improvised weapons, sticks, handgun, long gun, carry methods, and so on…   

·       Criminals often work with other criminals like a team(Multiple Attackers) 

This is another area that seems to be lacking in most self-defense training.  I believe this has to do with the fact training against/for multiple attackers and weapons is not always easy to do.  Those that are proficient in these areas of combative arts are passionate about training and truly enjoy it.  Whereas the average person after working all day is not interested in training in an area that can be so challenging.  We are all guilty to some extent of doing things we like or are good at.  It can be easy for people to turn there training into a fun hobby or athletic program, which is about as relevant to the problem/threats as learning to basket weave or finger paint.   

On a similar note to put this into focus for our shooting friends, it’s as relevant as holding ourselves to the standard of placing 2-3 rounds center mass from within 10-yards in 2 seconds or less from either cover or concealment when the reality is a criminal is not going to give you a reason to shoot him till he is basically within bad breath range.           

Ask yourself what is the relevance of standing at a safe distance with a training partner swatting at training knives?

What is the relevance of a close quarter handgun technique that can’t be executed with any aggressive forward pressure by a determined attacker that is within an arms reach from you?

There are many other examples of training that does not fit into the real world context of a criminal attack.  The bottom-line here is you and most other men, women and families have a limited time to spend training and a limited budget to invest in real world training that can mean the difference between life and death for you and your loved ones.

So now we have a clearer idea of what is wrong with a lot of the training that is out there on almost every street corner.  Let’s now discuss what you should be looking for in a quality-training program. 

Here are some signs that you are getting quality training.  All training no matter what it is should include some concept of situational awareness (SA), threat management that include real world solutions.

All training should have the core content/training should operate in reality that you will not have the same level of initiative/element of surprise nor will you have the same or superior weapons. 

All training no matter what it is should promote the importance and the value of other areas of training.  (Empty hand, knives, guns, grappling, vehicles, multiple attackers, etc.)  If the gun expert blows off empty hand training or the martial arts expert ignores training with guns you need to keep looking for a place to train, as those are not the responses you are looking for.

It’s important that you take it upon yourself to get good information and know what to look for.  You have to find what is right for you and your family. 

I’m all for continued improvement in training.  I like to step back and exam the problem and develop real world solutions to those complex problem sets.  Sometimes I found that if we work backwards and reverse engineer the problem a solution is uncovered.

I’ve come to realize that all too often fancy buzz words are tied to training targeting the civilian/public market which boils down to lip service designed to make a quick buck. 

Remember we first must understand the problem, than we can discuss and develop a solution followed by tailored/customized training to meet your specific requirements and individual capabilities. 

I look forward to training with you all.

While you are reading this, your enemy is training. 


Your Friend,