Posts Tagged ‘Self-Defense’

Book Review: “Facing Violence”

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Many people study self-defense. Some study it as part of their martial arts training and others take classes or seminars devoted just to self-defense. What happens often in these settings is you are shown that “if the attacker grabs you by the throat you do a palm heel to his face followed by a kick to the groin”. All good as knowing various techniques for a given situation can be helpful. How often though do these same classes talk about the legal issues? How to avoid such situations? What do you do if you are ambushed? The answer tends to be not very often if at all.

To address this situation Rory Miller has released a book called “Facing Violence”. To begin to have complete training in self-defense Rory states that seven elements have to be addressed, which he does in seven chapters

  1. Legal and Ethical
  2. Violence Dynamics
  3. Avoidance
  4. Counter-Ambush
  5. The Freeze
  6. The Fight
  7. After

You should notice that “The Fight”, what the majority of people train for in self-defense, doesn’t take place to chapter 6. Have you ever discussed legal and ethical issues in your training? Have you ever discussed or trained in any of the areas other then “the fight”? If not, stop and think about your training for a few minutes.

I won’t go into a breakdown on each chapter. If you are looking for then read Jake Steinmann’s review over on An Honest Philosophy. Instead I’ve speak on a couple of chapters that really stuck out for me.

First the chapter on avoidance, which is highly neglected area in most self-defense training. From talking about absence (i.e. not being there to start), escape and evasion, to de-escalation, Rory covers a lot of material. One of the best parts was on how to scan a room upon entering. This is actually the one chapter that makes me suggest the book to everyone, even those that don’t study or have an interest in self-defense, just a lot of good information.

The last chapter on After deals with the subject just as it sounds, what happens after the fight? What should you do? What could happen to you? What could be running through your mind? This chapter made me stop and go “Hmm” more then any other. Again this is one of those areas that rarely gets talked about in self-defense training but should. Heaven forbid you ever act in self-defense and end up serious hurting or killing someone, you should have an idea of what could happen to you legally and emotionally.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, much like I did his first one “Meditations on Violence” (a must read book). Rory has a writing style that I find enjoyable to read, offers tons of good information, and I find it ties in nicely with the training I’ve received from Tony Blauer and my karate instructor Rich Pelletier. If your training involves anywhere around self-defense, either as an instructor or student, then this book should be on your required reading list. You can purchase Facing Violence from one of these locations:


Barnes and Noble


Knife Attacks

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Below are some links to knife attacks. These aren’t training or simulated  attacks but they real thing. If you train for self-defense and at any time you cover defense against a knife attack, see if your training covers any of these situations.

Knife Attack

Husband attacks wife with a knife

Bouncer Stabbing

Another stabbing

Fun and Violence in Rhode Island

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Rory Miller, former corrections officer, Sargent in the military, tactical team member and leader, and author, has branched out into another area, training people about violence. Miller recently offered a two day seminar hosted by Derderian Academy in Johnston, Rhode Island, which I was glad to be in attendance.

During the two days Miller covered a wide range of information related violence and self defense. The material was presented in both lecture and drill formats. During the first day we spent time performing one step sparring drills, with several variations. If you have never performed such a drill the concept is simple. One person starts an attack with a single slow movement (drills were done at slow speed for safety reasons). Their partner then can perform a single movement in response to this attack. This continues back and forth like this until the instructor calls stop. Yup, nice and simple, the fun comes when you really start to think about your movements and techniques and where they are getting you in a violent confrontation. I won’t give away all the variations of this drill that we did, just in case a reader here goes to one of Miller’s seminars, but one that I found interesting and fun was when one of you was blindfolded infighting drills. These were just part of the drills covered in day one, others were helpful and gave me some things to work on to improve myself. I will get the timing down on the drop step/hip snap/strike so I can do it every time with perfect timing.

The other part of day one were lectures on various topics ranging from the 7 Aspects of Self-Defense to the types of predators and their mindsets. The 7 Aspects of Self-Defense that Miller covers was highly informative. So informative that in my handgun safety courses I teach for people looking to get a concealed firearms permit I plan on covering these topics. I could not do credit to Miller’s coverage on this topic, it is well worth attending his seminar just for the discussion around this area. Other topics covered will be familiar to those that have read Miller’s book “Meditation on Violence” (and if you study martial arts for self-defense reasons you should read this book). The Monkey Dance, the Group Monkey Dance, asocial predators, and other topics were any that I find many people that are interested in self-defense give no thought to at all. If you want to be able to defend yourself, you should know what you are defending yourself against. Having read various authors cover this topic Miller does it as well or better then the others out there.

Day two was also a mixture of lecture and drills, but this time in a bar environment. Doing one step drills in a dojo is one  thing, doing them in a place with chairs, tables, all sorts of improvised weapons about, is another thing. An imagine the chaos of the entire class doing one step drills in one big bar fight. Fun stuff. Drills were also done to help us think differently about what we are doing. These would be drills such as “imagine you are some animal (pick one), now do one step drills with this animal in your mind. Very helpful drills in making you think outside of your usual self-defense techniques mindset.

Since fights often go to the ground, Miller also covered basic grappling techniques. Nothing advanced, but ways of changing your opponents base or center of gravity so that you can move them. Grappling is not my strong suit so I picked up some good information in this area. Another aspect of this that was educational was the feel of rolling around on a bar room floor compared to that of rolling around on a dojo floor with a carpet. Not to mention that in the dojo you don’t usually have to worry about rolling into tables, chairs, or posts in the middle of the room.

The last part of the day was spent covering scenarios. First a small group set with Rory while he discussed setting up scenarios. Miller covered many topics around this area in a short period time from safety issues to the importance of understanding how the bad guys think to setup a realistic scenario. During this portion discussion took place on what scenario to assign to what student. In choosing a scenario assignment we would try to determine an area where a person may be weak or something that will be challenging for them and see how they do. Challenges in this case may not always be physical, it could be a mental challenge for the person to make the right decision.

Watching the scenarios and how people re-acted in them was fascinating. It is easy to say “Oh you are just role-playing, everyone knows it isn’t real.” once Miller hollered “Start scenario!” you got caught up in what was happening. Depending on what was happening, your anixety could go up, heart rate increases, and the words “oh shit!” could go racing through your mind. One aspect of these scenarios is good for many martial artists to remember, you may be able to safely get out of the situation without using physical force. Watching the scenarios (and I was greedy and asked to take part in one too) and discussions about what happened was a very educational experience, and eye-opening for some people there too.

If you are interested in self-defense and ever have a chance to catch Rory Miller in your area I would suggest doing so.

Saving Private Ryan

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Many people are familiar with the excellent Tom Hank’s movie Saving Private Ryan. If you haven’t seen this movie then I highly suggest that you watch it, the opening battle scene is probably one of the most realistic you’ll see in the movies.

What you may not know is “Saving Private Ryan” is one of the drills covered in Personal Defense Readiness (PDR) training offered by Blauer Tactical Systems. This drill re-enacts a scene from the movie where an American and German soldiers engage in hand to hand combat with the outcome determined by the one holding the knife. In the PDR drill you practice the principles of the SPEAR System defending against a knife attack with you on the ground and the attacker on top, never a good situation to find yourself.

The purpose of the drill is show the student the strength of the SPEAR, and how by using this a smaller person can hold off an attack by a larger aggressor. I won’t go into full detail of the SPEAR System in this post as one could write a chapter or two in a book on the concepts of the SPEAR System, but what you see in the drill is that by keeping the elbow angles at an outside 90 and thus engaging the extensors the defender can generate a large amount of strength, enough to hold off the attack and giving them time to mount a counter defense. In the video the two people in the drill are of similar size, so it is hard to see how the effective the technique really is for self-defense. Having witness live drills where the defender was a small woman and the attacker a much larger male, all I can say is the technique works.

This is just one drilled covered during the training offered by Blauer Tactical Systems. You can learn about training opportunities in your at the PDR Team site.