Tag Archives: Martial Arts

Mindset

So, I’ll start by asking a question here, What exactly is “The Mindset”? I often see many talk about having a good mindset, having the mindset to deal with threats, etc. etc. So, what does the mindset entail exactly then?

See, the main, the basest mindset that every living creature on this planet has, is of Survival. Survival at all costs. Even sexual reproduction was evolved due to Survival being programmed into the genes of complex multi-cellular organisms, from reptiles to mammals, every creature has a survival instinct.

For us humans though, it gets a bit more complicated, see, maybe our stone age ancestors got by on the same survival instinct back in the day, but we, as we’re today, are not the same as we were a few hundred thousand years ago. Today, there are a lot of implications for having a total survival based mindset. It has consequences on a societal level and legal and moral level as well. Think about making a choice between saving you and some stranger from being shot, who would you choose? What about the aftermath of that choice, if you chose you or if you chose them? Both will lead to destructive aftermaths.

The thing about having a particular mindset is to have an appropriate mindset according to where you are, who you are and when you are and taking into account the future of where you will be. Military personnel will have different mindsets, but even then, different military personnel will have different mindsets, for example, a Marine would have a different kind of mindset, but a Military Police would have a different mindset, but an administrative clerk in the Military will have a different mindset, and a General will have a different mindset, etc. and so on.

Now this is just talking about the military mindset. What about the mindset of a police officer? Can their mindset be the same as a soldier? Well, that would depend on many different factors wouldn’t it? Firstly, where they are, do they have a desk job? Or are they out on the street? If it’s the second one, are they in a low crime or a high crime area? Both will require different mindsets, mind you. High crime will require high level of vigilance and the officer will have to be extra careful if they are talking to someone, or pulling someone over, but in a low crime area, even though, threats may exist in those areas as well, maybe some violent individual has crossed into that part of town, either way, in that area, having high vigilance might cause an overreaction in a small matter that didn‘t need to be escalated, leading to an unnecessary negative outcome. Here’s the thing though, even in the high crime area, a police officer cannot have the same mindset as a soldier in combat. Because killing someone by sniping them, may lead to extreme consequences. When soldiers do so, they are following orders, their goal is to fulfill the order given to them by their superior. In a police officer’s case, they have to make the decision themselves, there are no superiors giving them orders at the time of a violent situation. Their mind will need to process everything and make a decision as opposed to a soldier following orders, they already know what they have to do, of course that doesn’t mean that a soldier just blindly goes into combat, no, what I mean by that is the end goal is much clearer to a soldier in combat, than to an officer in a possible life threatening situation.

The mindsets, as a result will change a lot between these two. One has to make decisions based on the orders given to them and are often with a team and back up, and possible aerial support and complete the mission by any means necessary. The other, is on their own, often have no back up or the back up is minutes away, and has to take everything into account, and make a decision that will alter their life regardless of what happens.

Two extreme situations, the threat, the violence is often very high in both situations, but the mindsets required to navigate through those situations, will differ. They have to, in order to make sure that least possible damage occurs to the individuals involved those situations.

Now those were extreme situations for professionals, but what about a normal everyday individual with no experience with violence, suddenly coming in contact with a violent situation? What about their mindset? Well, as I wrote earlier, regardless of what or who you are, you have survival instincts ingrained into your genetics. The only difference is that the above mentioned professionals, have trained to cultivate a certain mindset appropriate for their professions as a necessity, but an average individual, with today’s availability of food, clothing and shelter, don’t need to have that survival instinct, they have everything they need to survive, and as a result, will not have cultivated that mindset. So, when they come across a violent situation, the only response their brain knows, is nothing, which translates to freeze response. The brain cannot access the genetic area where survival is programmed, due to not having accessed it before. So, an average individual’s mindset is basically composed of, going to work, eating, coming home to their family, maybe having a little fun, watching t.v., going on a holiday, having sex, shitting and sleeping, not necessarily on the same day and in that order, but yeah, that‘s the gist of it, they don‘t need constant vigilance, they don’t want it and they don’t even know what it is.

On the other hand, take a violent individual, who has experience in really hurting someone. Let’s say a home-invading serial killer/rapist. I’m purposely taking that extreme example here to contrast the previous one. Well, this individual, has most probably their whole life hurt others to get what they want, to intimidate and then mutilate because it makes them feel like a god who is in control of life and death. They enjoy the rush of seeing someone writhe in pain, they get off in seeing children cry and make their mothers cry harder. This individual in their whole life has seen and done violent things that would make someone like the above, puke in their mouth. This violent individual is most probably searching for a new victim because he/she is bored and wants to feel the rush. So, at this point, let’s say they come across an average individual, following him to his house. Now, this average joe, not having the vigilant mindset that of a soldier or a police officer or even just a trained civilian contractor, etc. doesn’t notice the stalker and leads him to his home, giving the stalker, an easy target. Now what kind of mindset will this violent individual have? This one will most probably be a psychopath, so lack of empathy, an adrenaline junkie, probably an addict, narcissistic, manipulative, pathological, most likely delusional, extremely violent, will do anything to get what they want, etc. etc.

Now, based on the above description, what chance does an average joe stand against someone who is far more experienced, far more skilled in violence and far superior in a predatory mindset than himself. How does he protect his family? By training, you’d say. Fine. Yes, that makes sense, but unless he can be trained in the next few seconds before he and his family are slaughtered like cattle and eaten, training now isn’t gonna do much, is it. What can happen though, is the natural survival instincts in him, the pre-programmed survival response, might be triggered, because now, not only his life is threatened, but the life of someone who will help carry his genes forward and a part of him, his child, are threatened as well. It might be that he himself may not survive, due to lack of his brain’s ability to respond, but chances of his family surviving, would be increased. It might even happen that a response may be triggered in his wife, and she might help in taking down the predator as well. Strength in numbers just might give them a chance.

That being said, logically, if it’s a sudden invasion, which it usually is, who has a greater chance of winning here? The predator with experience and the willingness to be violent or the one who hasn’t come across anything remotely violent since he had a small fight in high school, which was broken up by the principle. Did you say the first one? Well, in that case, you’re the predator, aren’t you? You are the serial killing home invader, because that mindset came from him doing that for years, he wasn’t trained in it. If you said, the second one, well, that’s because you most probably are one of the individuals with that mindset, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, this is the normal mindset according to the time we live in, you don‘t need violence to survive, to get food or fight over territory, you can just buy a home or rent it, so the violent nature has no use of it in your daily life, unless you‘re a professional who deals with it as a part of your job. That being said, it does not mean that the second mindset won’t win against the predator, why? Because external factors will play a role in the outcome. Plus another factor will play in, it’s the most important and the most natural one, it’s your preprogrammed survival instincts. You were made to protect yourself and your genes. Since now, not only you, but your gene pool is threatened, chances are you will fight back and probably even win, you may not survive the ordeal, but your family does have a chance. People with zero training have survived career criminals and done incredible things. They have surprised themselves. When the survival instincts have been activated, even the most calm people, are capable of extreme violence in order to protect their own.

So, a question here based on all of that. Which mindset is better to have? The very first one of a soldier, the second, of a police officer, the third of an average joe or the fourth of a predator, or an unmentioned fifth one, of a trained civilian? The answer isn’t as simple as one might think, you see, if you chose the last one, the trained civilian one, well, it’s not the best answer, why? Because, first, that mindset, doesn’t technically exist, and two, let’s face it, many “combatives” instructors who do train civilians, basically either give you a mindset of a soldier or a mindset of a criminal, there are some who even try and give you the mindset of an action movie star, avoid them like the plague!

Very rarely someone even tries to get close to something like a trained civilian and even then, it’s still more physical violence oriented, which again doesn’t take into account other factors involved before, during and after, the legal, the moral, the psychological, the societal, environmental. They are just trained like they would a police officer or a bouncer. Maybe a lock or a joint there or a punch and a palm heel strike there.

So when people say ‘have a proper mindset’ what exactly does it mean? Well, I don’t know what they mean, but for me, it’s having the basest need to survive. Having the on and ‘off switch’ in you. I have even written an article about that before. For me, it’s not training like a soldier, or a police officer or a career criminal that helps, but instead training like a survivor that does. I don’t need to know how a sniper rifle works, I’d love to know out of sheer curiosity, but not because I want to snipe people out of existence. Same way, I don’t wanna learn how to arrest people, that’s not my job, it’s the brave people’s job.

My only job and my duty is my survival, my protection and I prefer to train that way. But here’s the thing, it’s not just physical survival, that’s where this differs from the above mentioned complete survival instincts from the stone-age times, no, since there are consequences of our actions, our actions should be based on survival from all aspects of today’s society, such as legal aspects. I prefer to have a mindset where I do and don’t do things to keep myself safe from all possible angles beforehand, before the violent situation has even come across me. I develop my mindset, according to my situation and my needs. This is the same thing that should be done, that should be trained, you train as per your situations and your needs. You are not training for violence or to counter it, you are training to educate yourself on what violence entails and how you can avoid it and keep yourself safe from it and from all fundamental aspects of dealing with it. Safety and survival of your genes is important and what your mindset should be and is naturally, it definitely should be that fundamentally simple, but as we have evolved, our societal constructs have evolved with us. As a result, we need to evolve in our methods of being safe to suit those constructs. Taking into account all those factors which would affect us beforehand, during and in the aftermath, is what’s truly a modern survivor’s mindset.

Well, that’s it. Hope I got my point across. Thanks for reading.

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Women’s Day Seminar.

So in a “short” (wink wink, not really short) article today, I’d like to tell a story of the seminar I did. It was originally 1hr, which got extended to 2 due to me having to explain more than I thought I would and due to my incessant talking when I teach. I always encourage people to ask me questions, even during the session, it just helps me to teach better and provide more info, another reason why it got extended.

So, all was going good, and a participant, told me that they were taught these “simple techniques” to deal with “attackers” in another seminar with a Martial Arts instructor (I think most will see where this is going after reading that) she went through some time ago and she wanted me to teach her some similar ones in 1hr.

Now in my seminars, I focus more on prevention than fighting as it’s a scientific fact that you can’t learn the physical techniques, even gross motor and form neuromuscular pathways by utilizing neuroplasticity in one day in just an hour. You especially can’t learn them and retain them in an adrenalized situation and expect to use them under stress, and if you never practice it again after that day, you can be sure that you will waste time thinking more than you should, rather than acting in the moment.

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So anyway, even though I wanted to yell, I remained calm as an instructor should, and I asked, “Which techniques?” “Can you demonstrate?” “Even just one of them would suffice“ Their answer? “I can’t exactly remember which ones, but there was hitting with hammer (I think she meant hammerfist) and scratching (gouging she meant.. I think) and they were simple” I mean.. what the actual f-word man?! Does this not seem odd to people when they say these things? It’s like they’re brainwashed so badly by these instructors who have never had any experience with actual violence in their whole lives and teach people on how to survive it by looking up some idiotic “safety tips” on the internet via google or maybe their seniors passed some down to them when they were certified as an “expert black belt instructor god” and is a part of the curriculum and then charge a lot of money for it. They are actually blind to these obvious things and misinform people as a result. It’s so sad…

Now in the above example, this was a calm situation in which she couldn’t remember those “simple techniques”, I wonder what would happen in an actual situation where she wouldn‘t even be able to recall her name. Here’s the good thing though, I did explain to her about how the logic is flawed here and she kinda understood, at least I hope she did, for her safety’s sake.

Not to mention I did my infamous “Who here is willing to kill and would be capable of killing another human being up close and personal with a knife?” bit, which of course, the way I describe a stabbing (the way it actually occurs and not the way people think it does, all clean and stuff. See my other articles or posts, or some of my fb posts, I think I‘ve mentioned it once or twice about what happens or at least the gist of it), so, yeah, no one seemed to want to feel metal penetrating skin and human blood spattering across their face.. Huh… go figure.

Oh and the countless imagined “scenarios” that came up today, one after other I kept tearing them down and they kept bringing them up, but bringing up fictional solutions to imagined problems is something that I don’t do. I’m a realist, as you know, if you’ve read my posts or know me personally. So, in the end, logic prevailed and many did grasp the concept of prevention being better than cure.. or prevention being the cure itself (Credit to Barry Drennan from Fairbairn Protocol for that piece of wisdom).

Besides all that prevention training, we also did some situational training, just to give them an idea of how the dynamics would work, in car/cab/taxi services like OLA and UBER, how their systems work and some general common sense tips like seating position in the car, some verbal communication skills, etc.

Anyway, all in all, I think it was a good seminar, I had fun, it looked like the participants had fun too, and as long as they understood even the fundamental concept of what I explained to them, which I think they did, because they said it and repeated it when I asked them a few questions about it, about prevention and why it’s necessary to focus on it, especially when you just have one hour to learn and the fact that you’re not gonna continue training after this hour is over. I really hope they did. I think, overall, I would chalk it up to being a success and good thing that I was able to clear up some misconceptions, and since there were like 60+ women there, I see it as 60x success!

I’m just glad that all the participants were so open-minded and willing to listen, to accept and learn, to let go of any misconceptions, and the fact that they asked questions, is what I loved the most, some of them might’ve been off, but the willingness to ask questions, is the first step, then asking the right questions is next, which many did as well. See I don’t mind if someone doesn’t know something in depth, what I mind is those who aren’t willing to keep an open mind, to accept the fact, that they don’t have all the answers, hey, I don’t, but that’s okay, that’s why we learn, that‘s why we train, that‘s why we ask questions. So I’m really glad I got to do this one today, it really was awesome.

I don’t usually write articles about the seminars I do, but I was possessed by a rant angel and it just spilled out and I did.

Oh and I got this super cool improvised wea…I mean a pen! For the seminar I did! Yay!

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If you’re wondering what’s the point of this article? Well, many points actually;

  1. One about the misconceptions, confusions, misinformation and disinformation in this field.
  2. Another is about people’s dangerous mindsets about what violence actually entails.
  3. Third is the problem of people just forming fictional solutions to problems they create, rather than forming helpful ones that would solve or at least reduce the chances of them becoming a victim of actual threats.
  4. Fourth would be attending a seminar for an hour or two, every three or six months or so, won‘t actually make you proficient in physical combat, especially not under a stressful situation, so rather focus on using some common sense and focus on prevention, especially in a relatively low crime city like Mumbai.
  5. Fifth would be, no one wants to deal with the consequences of using a knife, but still want to learn to use it (irony at its finest).
  6. Sixth would be logic prevails, if people are willing to listen and accept.
  7. Seventh, actuality is different from your truth and reality.
  8. Eight, I talk a lot when I teach.
  9. Ninth, Too much ego in the Martial Arts field. As much as I hate to admit it, it’s too male dominated as well (kinda ironic that I, a male, is writing this, yes, I see the irony here), especially here and not many are willing to admit they’re wrong ever. (Although, not all Martial Artists are that way, I don‘t generalize, ever. And for those rare exceptions, I have the utmost respect, they know what Martial Arts are actually about).
  10. Tenth, I wasn’t criticizing the participants today, they were unbelievably awesome, and willing to ask and learn. What I was criticizing is the number of b.s. information on this subject that’s in this field, mostly propagated by those who claim themselves as experts, but have no shred of idea what violence actually entails (that includes the consequences of it).
  11. Eleventh, when you attend a seminar or a training session claiming to teach self-defense, don’t just blindly accept what the instructor tells you, see if it’s logical, ask them questions to elaborate more, the more you ask, the more you know. Just ask the right questions to get the right answers. See if what they teach makes sense, you don’t deserve to be fooled by a money grubbing scumbag, you deserve the right information, especially if it pertains to your (and your family‘s) safety.
  12. Twelfth, we also discussed that in a male dominated field, most instructors will show you things that pertain to the confrontation types that men come across, not the types of situations that women do.
  13. Thirteenth, as instructors, we are seen as individuals who provide knowledge on how to be safe, it’s our responsibility to deliver the best quality of training that is practical and tailored to the different types of individuals we train.
  14. Finally, fourteenth, all my articles have some sort of a point, even if I have to dig them up out of nothing…(lol not really though, it’s all up there in the post 😉 ).

Well, that’s it. Thanks for reading. I was actually just gonna rant about this on facebook, but it got too long (as usual) so…it became an article…eh..

Happy Women’s Day and Stay Safe, readers (and non-readers)! 🙂

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Training for actuality of violence

When most people, especially instructors are asked whether they train realistically, their answer is usually ‘yes’. But when you see them do their “realistic stuff”, it seems pretty far and out of touch from reality. It seems that their concept of reality is different from the actuality of it.

 

Recently, I asked an individual a simple question, “How, would you say, a real violence training should look?” The individual replied in a very cliched way and went on about how the opponent should come at you aggressively, yelling and stuff, etc. I asked him in return, “Would you see it coming?” He didn’t have a proper answer, but yet tried to say something and ended up saying just “Yes”.

 

Now, here’s the first problem of things with this. Most tend to see these things from a purely physical perspective. Not many seem to focus on the pre-violence situation. No verbal cues, no tonal changes, no physiological changes, no physical positioning, no symptoms of ASR, etc. etc. In fact, most don’t even acknowledge it even exists. Which kinda poses a problem when we are “training for violence”, doesn’t it? I mean if you don’t train to see it coming, what are you preparing for? To get out barely alive and half dead?

 

So, realistic training? What does that entail? Well, if you ask me, the drills should focus more on the pre-violence cues than anything really, physical aspect of it should not be choreographed, no matter how “aggressive” the other guy is, (let’s be honest here, he‘s really not truly angry or aggressive in most cases). Superficial aggression is utterly useless, you don‘t have to kill them, but all of the pseudo aggressive and “hard” movements are nothing but taps in actuality, are you really gonna learn how it feels to get hit by being tapped on your chest? No, you are not.

 

Let’s take a situation here, if I am in a big fancy Martial Arts studio, and I’ve been told to rush and charge this guy in order to demonstrate “the harsh reality of violence”, and I charge at him, but the guy knows I‘m coming, ‘cause, you know, He Told Me To! He‘s READY for his “moves”, there is no sudden jolt to his nervous system, no emotional stress, no adrenaline dump, and I didn’t try to get a rise out of him by calling his mom an individual who asks money for pleasure, not to mention, I‘m not gonna actually make contact here, it‘s gonna be an acting show, a choreography with taps that look “hard”.

 

So my questions are, “Is that really reality?” and “Are we really showing the actuality of it or are we just showing what we think and we want people to think is reality?” I mean in an actual assault or an attack, very rarely people do see it coming, and even when they do, they’re still overwhelmed by the sheer aggression, it’s sudden, our hands are shaking, our legs feel weak, our stomachs are churning and we’re basically too busy crying and asking ourselves questions like, “What the hell is happening?” and “Why the fuck is this happening to me?”

 

I’m pretty sure, that most who just train for their kind of “reality”, where the guy they know is coming, charging at them without any purpose, without thinking about any of the events leading up to the escalation of the situation and violence, that kind of individual will not only, not see the threat coming, but they will crumble under pressure due to the aggressive nature of the actuality and suddenness of violence, as they won‘t see it coming like they did in their fancy studio. Not to mention, fail miserably to deescalate the violence in the first place due to lack of verbal skills necessary to not provoke the guy even further by challenging or insulting him.

 

So, my opinion here is that, the best training is something that encompasses every subject related to violence, which includes not only physical, but verbal, psychological, emotional, biological, societal, moral, consequential, tactical and a very important aspect; Legal.

 

As far as the physical training goes, scenario training is great, but without purpose, it loses it’s purpose, which is to mold your brain to handle and resolve or combat threats if/when you come across them by utilizing our brain’s neuroplasticity. Blindly creating aggressive scenarios without any situational context and escalation, is just inviting more trouble and is not training for the actual thing, it’s just training for more senseless violence. So please, Train street smarts and common sense, rather than senseless violence.

 

Finally, my question to you, the reader; What are you gonna train for? ‘The reality of violence?’ or ‘The actuality of it?’.

 

Well, that’s it. Thank you for reading.