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Self-Defense: Fight Club 101

10 deadliest mistakes guys make in a fight.

Unless you’re riding out a coma in a secure state hospital, you can bet that at some point you, like most guys, will have to defend yourself in a fight. We want to be sure you end up the winner.

Over the past few months this column has presented some useful tips’forget the shove match, commit yourself early, go Tasmanian, end the fight quickly in the trapping range’to ensure you win the fight. This month I want to cover the 10 deadliest mistakes guys make in a fight.

Deadly mistake 1: Lack of proper skills in all five areas of fighting. You should know how to deal with real-world street fighting in 1) kicking, 2) punching, 3) trapping, 4) ground fighting and 5) weapons. If you don’t, you’ll lose nine out of 10 fights. That doesn’t mean you’ve got to spend years studying some martial art; it simply means you need to know at least one or two decisive moves in each of those areas’which is a lot easier than you’d think.

Deadly mistake 2: Lack of proper conditioning. A balls-out fight is one of the hairiest things you’ll ever face. If you’re out-of-shape and unable to end the fight in a few seconds, you’ll be facing exhaustion. Get in shape.

Deadly mistake 3: Expecting the enemy to cooperate. It’s why a lot of store-front martial artists get their asses kicked in a real street fight. All their training has taken place in a dojo using the strict rules of their chosen discipline. In a real street fight there are no rules. Don’t expect your opponent to wait around while you figure out that cool wrist-lock.

Deadly mistake 4: Using an unrealistic fighting style. Many martial arts teach ancient techniques that are outdated and downright dangerous for modern fighting. For example, the wide horse stance was developed for guys fighting each other in those little sampan boats’go ahead and use this stance if you love to get kicked in the groin. The high spin kick was developed to knock a man off his horse. The always entertaining board breaking was designed to crack an opponent’s wooden chest plate in case you lost your sword and on and on. Learn only what works in today’s streets’ignore the rest.

Deadly mistake 5: Imitating Hollywood. Forget studying what your favorite actor uses to dismantle the bad guys. It’ll only get you hurt. Train for reality, not fantasy.

Deadly mistake 6: Losing your temper. The moment you lose your temper you begin to make stupid mistakes. The trick is to remain cool. Use your training to get your opponent to lose his temper. Then you can take advantage of his stupid mistakes.

Deadly mistake 7: Not committing to the end. Even if you’re winning a fight, you’ll most likely lose if you hesitate or stop fighting too soon. Once you start, don’t stop. Give it everything you’ve got until it’s definitely over.

Deadly mistake 8: Sticking around to admire your work. It may be awfully tempting to stand over your opponent in victory, but don’t do it. The police will not be understanding, witnesses will think you’re the bad guy, your opponent’s angry buddies will suddenly show up and worse. The very moment you have a chance, get the hell out of there.

Deadly mistake 9: Not being aware of your environment. Street fights don’t happen in a vacuum. Most fights, robberies and assaults can be easily avoided if you’re continually aware of your surroundings. Be smart. Always be aware to avoid trouble.

Deadly mistake 10: Hoping someone will bail you out. It’s 2 a.m., you’re in a bad neighborhood with a flat tire, and a gang of thugs surrounds you. Tragically, most people panic at that point and begin pleading with their adversaries, hoping that someone will come along to save them. It rarely works. You’ve got to take responsibility for your own situation and act decisively. Don’t talk. Don’t show fear. Fight and/or run like hell. Next month you’ll learn some finishing moves that can end a fight in a matter of seconds. IM

Editor’s note: For more on TRS’ practical, real-world self-defense tactics, see page 74 of the June ’01 IRONMAN.

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Self-Defense: Fight Club 101

Fighting tips to end it now.

Okay, last month we left off with jealous, hairy-knuckled Guido coming at you with serious intentions of twisting your head off. Your heart’s a-pumping, adrenaline’s dumping and your mind has gone completely blank.

Now what? Should you stand there with your mouth open and see what happens? Gong! Wrong answer.

First, realize and accept the fact that you’re in a fight before your attacker is on you. Most times there’s plenty of warning. A fight doesn’t start when you get hit; it starts when you feel threatened. That’s the reason your heart’s a-pumping and adrenaline’s dumping. It’s your body’s way of telling you, ‘Hey, we’re in a fight; get ready.’ Listen to it!

Here’s what you do. First, start looking for any improvised weapons’a stick, rock, glass’and routes of escape while you warn Guido to stay back. Next’this part is important’you want to strike first. From the kicking range (two to four feet), move through the punching range (one to two feet) and end the fight quickly in the trapping range (within one foot).

Remember, you do not want to stand in the punching range and duke it out toe-to-toe’unless you enjoy getting hit. This isn’t Hollywood.

Experienced real-world streetfighters try to get within one foot, then deliver one or two fight-ending blows.

Let’s assume you couldn’t quickly find a handy weapon and you’re going straight up against Guido hand-to-hand. From the kicking range deliver a painful kick to the side of Guido’s thigh. A hard kick to the sciatica nerve, which runs along the outside of the thigh, is very painful and often more successful than trying for a kick to the groin.

He’s stunned as his leg begins to buckle on him.

You immediately back him up with a flurry of hand-over-hand punches, called the straight blast. The purpose is to keep him off-balance while you pass through the punching range and into the trapping range. Attempting to simply step directly into the trapping range without the use of a diversion mechanism like the straight blast will probably get you decked. As one experienced Navy SEAL trainer put it, ‘Everything I do during a fight is only to get me safely into the trapping range, where I can deliver the blow to end the fight.’

Once in the trapping range, grab him by the back of his neck, duck your head slightly and pull his face down toward you while you thrust the crown of your head upward. Our Navy SEAL trainer pointed out the simple fact that ‘your head is about the same size and weight as a bowling ball. What if someone hit you in the face with a bowling ball? Even if you didn’t do it quite right, it’s still lights out and fight over.’

The head butt is a devastating finishing move that can seriously injure someone. Use it only when you feel your life is being threatened. Next time we’ll cover more about first and finish moves and the 10 biggest mistakes guys make in a fight. ‘James Curley, TRS

Editor’s note: For more on TRS’ practical, real-world self-defense tactics, see page 74 of the May ’01 issue of IRONMAN. Or go to Home Gym Warehouse to get the video. Remember — it’s home-gym with a dash. Don’t be fooled by copycats.

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Self Defense: Fight Club 101

Knowing when you?re in a fight is half the battle.

Oh-oh, it’s fight time. While flirting with blondie in the workout club’s parking lot (‘Are you a model?’), you see enraged ex-boyfriend Guido stomping toward you. He’s a foot taller than you and 100 pounds heavier. Something about his twisted red face, vile cursing and vicious threats to your life hint that just maybe you’re facing real trouble. Your heart begins to race (even more so than when you first laid eyes on blondie), and adrenaline dumps into your system. Your mind goes blank as Guido moves in for the kill.

That may sound as if you’re in for a severe beating, but our personal arsenal of experienced street fighters, hardened black-bag combat soldiers and SWAT cop trainers inform us there are multiple ways, all surprisingly simple, that will end this fight in seconds’with you standing as the sole victor. Before we go into specific fight-ending techniques, however, let’s go over some basics.

Fear. It’s your body’s natural reaction to a life-threatening situation, and you should use it as your personal alarm. Don’t fight it. It’s completely natural. As one experienced fighter put it, ‘If you’re facing a fight and you’re not afraid, you’re either very stupid or very drunk. Every fiber in your body is screaming for you to prepare to fight’fear, adrenaline dump, heart racing’but your mind denies what’s happening. If you just stand there and do nothing, you’ll get hit.’

By all means, if you can simply walk’or even run’from a fight, do it. In this case running away and leaving blondie to face the wrath of Guido (isn’t that a movie?) would be less than chivalrous, which means you’re definitely in a fight. Commit yourself totally to it.

Fighting ranges. Assuming this is a hand-to-hand fight, it’s good to have some knowledge about the different fighting ranges. Kicking range is two to four feet from your opponent and is generally where martial arts systems focus. Speed, power, balance, agility and a high level of skill are required to fight effectively from that range. The problem is maintaining the range and remembering all the complex moves in the heat of battle.

The punching range is one to two feet from your opponent. It’s not where you want to be planted during a fight because, even if you have brute strength, you’ll get hit. Standing in the punching range and duking it out toe-to-toe won’t end a fight quickly. There are, however, dirty tricks that will carry you through the punching range and into the trapping range (we’ll cover those tricks next month). The trapping range is within one foot of your opponent. At that range even a small person can use simple but incredibly devastating moves to end a fight immediately. The wrestling range is when the fight has progressed to the ground and there’s virtually no space between you and your opponent. Good position and some simple grappling fundamentals will win the day here.

Have a few simple tools in your arsenal. The fact is, most martial arts training involves learning complex spin kicks and other fancy skills in the controlled environment of a dojo that often prove worthless in the real world of street fighting. Facing an opponent who intends to do you or your loved ones serious harm prompts a deer-in-headlights syndrome. The mind is wiped blank and takes all the complex training with it.

It’s critical that you learn a handful of simple gross-motor moves that you can easily train, readily recall and use in a way that initiates surprise and convinces your opponent you have no regard for his well-being. Next month we’ll cover first moves that will end any fight in a matter of seconds, no matter your size, strength or level of fighting skill.

Fighting Myths

The so-called instant-death blow (where the ethmoid bone in the villain’s nose is driven up through his brain) is nearly, if not completely, impossible to perform. It only works in comic books and Ninja movies.

In reality, the human skull, with its natural fortifications and rigid structure, is capable of surviving great stress. Meanwhile, the nasal area consists only of the nose itself’basically just two interlocked pieces of cartilage, the ethmoid bone, which you can feel by pressing firmly between your eyebrows, and the nasal spine, which forms the ridges and base and rests along the nasal eminence. Behind those is the frontal plate and behind that, the brain.

The idea of blasting the ethmoid bone through the thick frontal plate is, in the words of Matthew Faulkner, former supervising coroner with the United States Navy’s Field Medicine Research Unit, ‘bordering on the absurd.’ So much for Hollywood.

Editor’s note: For more on TRS’ practical, real-world self-defense tactics, see page 44 of the April ’01 IRONMAN.

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Self-Defense: Fight Club 101

Pushing and shoving is the wrong thing to do.

Okay, you may be in the best shape of your life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can handle yourself when some gangbanger decides to have a little fun with you in a dark alley behind the gym.

In fact, after talking with a few dozen professional soldiers, serious streetfighters, inner-city cops and ‘in-population’ correctional officers, we were surprised to discover that size and strength (although they’re nice to have) have very little to do with defeating a thug. Here are a few tips that can help:

1) Know your surroundings. This is a big one. Being aware of potential dangers’i.e., what the heck were you doing in a dark alley behind the gym?’and avoiding them will save you a lot of grief.

2) Define your zones. Decide what your zones of comfort are and what you’ll do if someone crosses into them. You probably want at least three zones of awareness. In the yellow zone you’re alert to potential trouble; in the red zone you’re almost certain there’s trouble brewing; and the black zone you’re definitely being seriously threatened.

3) Have a trip line. Have an automatic response for anyone violating each of your zones. The key here is to be decisive. When a suspicious someone passes into your yellow zone, for example, be rude and simply ask him to stay back.

If he keeps approaching, consider that to be a violation of your red zone and shout at him. At that point you should also be looking around for any possible weapons’stick, bar, rock’and routes of escape. If he continues to ignore you and begins reaching behind his back, you’re now in the black zone. At this point you should run away or attack. Standing there stunned with your mouth open is not an appropriate response.

4) Strike first. If you cannot escape’you’re backed into a corner or you have your family with you’and someone has tripped your black zone, attack! You want to strike first in a manner, as one Navy SEAL put it, ‘that convinces your opponent you have complete disregard for his well-being.’ Some fighters like to refer to this as the Tasmanian devil; that is, you suddenly explode with an extremely violent and overwhelming response. Don’t hold back.

You don’t want to allow a slow escalation of the fight that starts with pushing and shoving. That only builds your opponent’s confidence. You want to deliver sudden and violent punishment and keep it going until the threat is gone or you can escape.

These aren’t recommendations or justifications for assaulting some guy who gets too close while handing out flyers on the street. Always keep in mind that you will probably have to explain your actions to a jury, and juries usually don’t look kindly on people who go Tasmanian on someone who cuts them off in traffic.

Only use physical violence when it’s necessary to stop a real threat to you or your loved ones.

‘The TRS Team

Editor’s note: For more on TRS’ practical, real-world self-defense tactics, see page 12 of the March ’01 IRONMAN issue.

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