Fear – Friend or Foe?

In violence, fear is the first enemy. It can cripple you. Paralyse you. It can shut down decades of training in a moment. It can regress you to the level of a child and leave you helpless in the face of danger. Or it can be managed. It can be faced and understood. It can be the catalyst that pushes you to fight harder, to be stronger, to overcome pain and damage, to get home safe. This post is about fear. Every now and again, it’s good to look into the darkness.

Fear.

In our culture it’s spat at. It’s shameful. Only cowards fear. Strong people, the people we want to be, they don’t fear anything.

But this is nonsense. Show me a human being and I show you someone who feels fear. Show me a successful person and I show you a person who is better at facing and handling fear. All the good things in life, they come through change and change is a great source of fear. To grow we have to feel fear, and do it anyway.

Mandela

“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” –Nelson Mandela

Why should a person interested in self defence be interested in fear? Because it is your first enemy. The animal in front of you shouting and swearing and posturing, he’s your second enemy. And he’s often relying on your first enemy to do his work for him.

Why do we experience fear? What is fear?

When met with a perceived danger, the brain dumps stress hormones into your bloodstream in sudden and large doses. The dose will depend upon the nature of the threat and how sustained it is. How it affects you and your performance will depend upon how much of a surprise the threat is.

In situations where the threat comes as a complete surprise, your glands will dump a large kick of adrenaline and you will go from relaxed to panicking in a heartbeat. In situations where you see the threat coming some moments or minutes before (why aren’t you running away?) the adrenaline build-up may be slower and more steady, and you may be more likely to handle it without the dreaded freeze. This suggests that awareness is your greatest asset pre-conflict. Not just to see the danger and avoid it, the best of all self-defence strategies, but to prepare for danger you have to fight or have made a decision to fight.

Violence is simple. Not easy, but simple. Someone, one or many, will come to do you harm. This harm will consist of striking you in the head and body to cause damage, humiliation and pain. To prevent this, you can either run or fight. If you choose to, or are forced to fight, you must do so with violence. This seems obvious, but in the world of martial arts training, it is often overlooked. Fancy techniques will not serve you. The dance will not serve you. You must, very simply, strike the aggressor in the head and body with enough force and repetition to cause enough damage to take him down, before he can do the same to you.That’s it. The reality of violence is this simple. The overwhelming majority of assaults begin with an overhand right punch. A simple 360 block and simultaneous cross to the throat or face will end the threat in a moment. The jab and cross from good stance will stand you in very good stead against multiple opponents. Advanced technique is for the movies. All you need are the basics and the will to use them.

Give it your all in training and it will be there when you need it.

Technique is not your problem. In a few Krav Maga lessons, you will already have the tools to do the job, a good stance and a solid left right.

Your problem is overcoming fear to use these simple tools. Your problem is that, in most cases, the victim of violent assault does not act to defend themselves. They may have years of training, but they fail to act in the critical moment and are quickly beaten. Why? Fear, of course. An inability to manage the pre-conflict fear and stress hormones that are dumped into the system.

Krav Maga training excels at preparing people for this challenge. Never forget that facing violence requires two things:

1. A repetoir of simple striking techniques delivered from good stance.

2. The strength of mind to deliver.

One of these is useless without the other.

To train to face violence, you must condition yourself to handle stress and fear.

In Krav Maga, we use two processes to do this job. First, we apply graduated pressure to your techniques, requiring you to carry out the basic movements of Krav Maga while under stress, in chaos and from physical disadvantage such as from hard exercise and disorientation. Second, we use role-play and assault drills to desensitise you to pre-conflict stress and the fear of being hit. This means time in the Fence, dealing with bad language and aggression, and getting the gloves on against multiple opponents.

Lastly, remember that fear happens to everyone. Rory Miller, in his book Meditations on Violence, states that when violence professionals, such as prison staff and Special Weapons and Tactics teams are taught, they are taught that the Freeze will come each and every time they do battle. They are taught to process this freeze through the OODA loop.

Observation: I have frozen. I am experiencing adrenal freeze.

Orientation: I need to fix this, or I will get hurt.

Decision: I will move my left foot forward. I will take a step.

Action: Take the step. Break the freeze.

Fear happens to everyone. The difference between winning and losing is how you process the fear. The animal in front of you on the street has fought every weekend for most of his adult life. He has probably served time and has a sting of convictions. He comes from a broken home where emotional and physical violence was the norm. He is conditioned to handle the fear and stress of combat. More, he won’t feel it like you do because he is expecting to fight and he is expecting to win. The overwhelming majority of his opponents break down and never even throw a punch back. To stand a chance, you will need to act. You will need a set of basic, instinctive strikes and the will to use them. You will need to break through your fear and let the training carry you through. And you can do this. Krav training is the best training in the world. It is simple, proven and effective. It is yours. A good Krav instructor will not just arm you with techniques, but will push you with hard training until you are confident in the face of fear. Until fighting is familiar to you. Until you are strong enough to do the job and come home safe.

And the bonus is that, if your confidence shines through you, the likelihood of being chosen as a victim is reduced to vanishingly small odds.

Train hard, fight easy.

Beginner’s Krav Maga Classes in North Bristol

How hard is it to start Krav Maga in North Bristol? Not as hard as you might think!

Krav Maga has a reputation for being tough. It deserves that reputation. Toughness in training is necessary to produce real skill and confidence in a person. But toughness doesn’t mean that beginners can’t take it up. Starting Krav Maga is easy. You start slow and work up to it. You don’t need to have previous training, experience or even great fitness. It is your instructor’s job to teach you skill and work with you to build fitness. Your first sessions you will be encouraged to take it slowly and build up in speed and confidence, as your skill and fitness improve. No matter where you’re at when you come to us, if you bring effort and drive you will get where you want to go.

Here’s the lowdown on what to expect when you go to your first Krav Maga class in Bristol:

  • Aim to arrive ten minutes early. You’ll be able to meet your instructor before you train. No matter what level you’re at when you go to your first class at Krav Maga North Bristol, it’s our job to ingrain in you the world-class skills of Krav Maga in the most effective and efficient manner possible, and we have the expertise and experience to achieve this.
  • You can count on a warm welcome, not just from your instructor but from our other students. Everyone knows what it is like to be a beginner – they’ve all done it. And they’ll help coach you too. We count on our more experienced students to help you learn the basics and get a good start in the class. We promise that you’ll find a friendly and ego-free environment. We are pro-active in weeding out people who do not fit with our warm atmosphere and training ethos.
  • You will get a good bit of exercise, and the general feedback is that it’s easier to push yourself that little bit further because you’re in a group and focused on learning rather than in a gym on your own focused only on the exercise. We make a real difference to many people wanting to shed weight or make serious lifestyle changes for the better. We’re also happy to help with advice on exercise plans and diet, so just ask.

Why choose Krav Maga North Bristol over any other club?

There’s a big difference between an instructor who teaches as a hobby a couple of evenings a week and a professional instructor who does it hours a day, day in, day out, as a vocation. A hobby instructor teaching two one hour classes a week will rack up around 100 hours a year in teaching experience. A professional instructor will average over 10 times this, year in, year out. The lead instructor at Krav Maga North Bristol is Will Bayley. He’s got around 5000 hours experience teaching Krav Maga to people from all walks of life, whether they have experience in combative training or not. Over the last five years, he has taught veterans of armed conflict, police officers, close protection officers, other Krav Maga instructors and civilians. He has a proven background and reputation and is held in high regard by other professionals, including high ranking officers in the British Armed Forces. In January of 2017 the Army paid for Will to fly to Brunei to deliver Krav training to our troops, testament to the demand his skills enjoy. Being a great instructor is about more than simply being good at Krav. It’s the years of experience in teaching that matter, as an experienced instructor will know the shortest way to get you doing what you need to do, both in skill and fitness.

What kit you need to take

  • Just loose, comfy clothing such as tracksuit bottoms and t-shirt, or leggings and t-shirt, a pair of trainers.
  • A bottle of water.
  • If you keep training long term, you’ll need to buy a pair of 16oz gloves and a gumshield.
  • Nothing else. No expensive lists of kit.

Krav Maga SwindonWhat you’ll learn

Krav Maga North Bristol  teaches using a rotating curriculum. This means that we rotate around areas of our syllabus periodically. So it doesn’t matter where you jump in, you’ll soon catch up with everyone else and each time you rotate through the syllabus you’ll attain a higher level of advancement, confidence and skill. There’ll be a subject change every few weeks, so the focus will be anything from edged weapons defences to ground survival, and even things like third party protection or anti-carjacking drills. Additionally, every class you’ll practice the core skills, striking and movement, that underpin all other areas of the syllabus.

Will it hurt?

Professional instruction means getting people to competence without injuring them. You can expect light bruising on your forearms as you learn to block and counter common street attacks, but that’s it. As you progress, training will intensify at times, and there is a weekly adrenalised and fight skills session you may attend once you have a couple of months under your belt.

Times and Details

In North Bristol we train Mondays and Thursdays, both evenings. Your first session with us is free. If you decide you’d like to train with us regularly, we offer two levels of monthly membership and signing up is easy and commitment free. We don’t believe in long contracts – as a member you can freeze or cancel your membership at any time simply by giving us 30 days notice.

Booking a Class

Krav Maga Bristol offers a free Krav Maga class for beginners. One free session to try out Krav Maga for yourself. Contact us today to book your place, by phone or email, or by hooking up via our Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/NorthBristolKravMaga/

Phone: 07866417618

Email: kravmaganorthbristol at gmail dot com

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The Bravado of Self Defence

Krav Maga North Bristol Instructor Will Bayley discusses the harsh realities of violence in the context of home defence and why you should make sure you keep your training real.

I was in a bar recently waiting for a mate when I heard an all too common conversation about home self defence – what to do when someone breaks into your house in the middle of the night. You can imagine the people having this conversation. A small group of blokes, beered up. Normal, average blokes. Workers not long out of work, ties off, collars undone, sleeves rolled up for the serious business of Friday night drinking and setting the world to rights.

The common conversation and the inevitable bravado.

God help anyone comes in my house. I keep a bat by the door. I have a Maglite by my bed. I’d do em with that. I don’t care what the law says, if someone breaks into my house I’m going to drop them.

I appreciate the sentiment. Even agree with it. But I want to throw out a tiny bite of reality for you because your life may depend upon thinking about this in another way

There’s a place called violence. It’s a lonely and terrible country, torn apart by war. The people you find there are monsters, predators, everything that you, in your seat of civilisation, would call evil. How many times have you been to that place? Honestly? I don’t mean the scuffles you had at school or that time your mate got loud at that party and you shoved each other. I mean how many times have you been attacked by a wild animal and had to fight, literally, for your life?

Most haven’t.

If it’s happened to you, you won’t be full of bravado. The people who know what I’m talking about are typically silent on the matter. Humble.

And those who have been there, how many times have you been there? Once? Twice? How long each time? Most assaults are decided in seconds. So your experience, throughout your lifetime, of that place is approximately ten seconds. Does that make you an expert, a travel guide to that country’s horrors?

No.

And I want you to imagine for me something.

Someone.

Imagine this person…

He’s early twenties but he looks a decade older because of the brown he’s been putting in his arms for the last seven years. He’s lean and underfed, malnourished, his body fucked up on years of opiate abuse, on the cycle of constipation and laxitives, on junk food and chain smoking, his teeth falling out and his nose half fucked from his forays into stimulants – amphetamines adderall and cocaine. At the moment he comes through your door he’s been off the smack for a day and a half. He’s in a fever of pain, fear, nausea, cramping and worse. He knows that his hunger will deepen by the hour, until it incapacitates him, until he can’t do what he’s doing now to solve his problem. He needs his solution more than you have ever needed anything. He knows desperation like you never have and never will. He will take something from your house and sell it for a fraction of its value to fund a solution that will last him a few hours at best. And he will literally kill to do it.

Let me state that in a more complete way: There is nothing he won’t do to get what he wants. Literally nothing. If you don’t stand in his way, that means take and run. If you stand in his way, it means stabbing you or punching you to the floor and taking and running. If you go at him with a weapon – and you’d be the thousandth person to try – he’d take it off you and beat you to death to make sure you didn’t present a threat to him, before taking and running.

Your morality, he doesn’t have that. It’s gone, along with any notions of self respect, guilt, conscience. It’s been drummed out of him by years of addiction.

But don’t think that the addiction makes him weak. Once he was a strong kid, stronger than you can ever know, driven to the solace of the drug by a life of terrible violence and abuse.

When you were taking your first steps, he was sitting in a house full of addicts, starving, undernourished. When you were going to nursery he was stealing food and getting beaten when he was caught, learning how to take a beating with the minimum of damage, desensitising to the pain and the fear. When your parents came home from work and cooked you tea, his sent him out to run money and drugs, or came home loaded and beat him until his eyes swelled shut and his gums bled. When you were doing your entrance exam for secondary, he was out in the parks fighting other kids over selling territory, knowing that if he lost he’d lose everything, that he’d take it badly at home, that he might not get to eat. While you were mastering maths and english, he was mastering violence, learning through the weekly, if not daily fights, threats and skirmishes how to most effectively beat another human to the ground. While you were learning the ropes in your first job he was learning how to use surprise to paralyse a victim so that he could take what he needed with the least risk to him. By the time you were competent in your career, he was a master of his, the veteran of a thousand or more fist fights, stabbings, muggings, breakins and arrests.

He’s experienced front-line violence almost every day of his life. Immediate. Total. Around him all the time.

Home Self DefenceHe’s lost count of the amount of times he’s struck someone, knocked them down, stabbed them when he was too weak to fight any other way. And he’s lost count of the amount of times someone did that to him. The violence, it holds no real fear for him, like it does for you. And in that lack of fear, in that desensitisation, there is a certainty, not that he will win, because truly he doesn’t care about win or lose in the way that you do, but that he will fight, and do everything that is necessary to get the job done and come home with his solution. While you’re finding your feet he’s already beaten you. You’re the hundredth person that swung a Maglite at him. The hundredth person to leave a cricket bat by the door for him to arm himself with when he comes in.

And when he comes he will come without hesitation. From the moment you are aware of him he’s already had hours to come to terms with what’s about to happen. He’s got momentum, practice, initiative.

Think about this.

Carefully.

That land we were talking about, the country of violence, at best you are a visitor to that land. He lives there.

Real world violence isn’t a place where bravado is well rewarded. Hard training is the answer, based on solid research.

And here is some research:

Survey after survey, when we study violent crime, there are only two significant predictors of success in the survival of real world violence.

  1. By far the most significant. Exposure to previous instances of real world violence.
  2. Self Defence training that involves close approximation of real world violence through stress inoculation, contact drills and adrenalisation training.

Whatever else you do, come to the fight prepared, without the bravado, and see it for what it is. Come to the fight not with bravado but with realism and humility. See that to run is not shameful. To die defending property is hubris, and ludicrous. You fight when there is no other choice, when you’re on the stairs and you meet that man and it’s clear there’s no other way. And if you have to fight, make sure it isn’t a fight. Find a way to surprise. Hit first. Hit hard, with so much aggression you overwhelm the opponent. And train for that moment with the real world firmly at the front of your mind. The research. The numbers. The facts. The statistics.

You bend your training to fit reality. Then you don’t die doing it the other way round.

Train hard, fight easy. Your life depends on it.

Will Bayley – Krav Maga Swindon, Krav Maga Bristol Central, Krav Maga North Bristol, Bristol University Krav Soc.

Taking Krav Maga to the Gurkha Rifles in Brunei

In January of 2017, Krav Maga Bristol instructor, Will Bayley was asked by the Commanding Officer of The 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles and the British Forces Brunei to travel to Brunei and introduce Krav Maga to the Battalion personnel. Lt Col Charlie Crowe had trained with Will Bayley for 18 months while posted to Shrivenham, and is a keen and skilled Kravist. When the time came for him to change station to Brunei, he wanted to take Krav Maga with him and introduce it to the soldiers and officers of the Gurkha Rifles.

The brief was simple: Will was to travel to Brunei and spend a couple of weeks teaching Krav Maga. Obviously, in the time he had, no experts were going to be made, but it would be possible to introduce Krav Maga as widely as possible both to ingrain some good basic skills and also to begin the Krav Maga journey for as many people as possible, complementing their skillset with proven hand to hand capabilities.

The Royal Gurkha Rifles are a legendary Regiment, with a long-standing reputation for being fierce and indomitable warriors. All soldiers in the Regiment have experience in the more traditional martial arts, with Tae Kwon Do being taught to them during basic training at ITC Catterick. However, very few had previously trained in Krav Maga, which is something that the Colonel wanted to change. Doing so meant blazing a trail as one of the first Regiments of the British Army to take up the practice of Krav Maga.

The Task

Teaching core combatives to the PTIs of 1 RGR

After some planning, Will and Colonel Charlie Crowe decided that the best way to achieve a good exposure throughout the Battalion was to run a five day, twenty-hour series of sessions with the Physical Training Instructors of the Battalion. The idea was to drill them thoroughly in four or five basic Krav Maga fundamentals, so that they could effectively and safely begin to involve basic combative drills in their daily physical training sessions with the three companies of the Battalion. That way, the whole of the Battalion would be able to have sustained and regular exposure to the basics of Krav, preparing them well for further training with Will when they return to the UK. Long term, the objective is that several members of the Battalion will take the British Krav Maga instructor course, enabling them to provide continued, in-house training, furthering the skills of the personnel.

The PTIs took to the training with incredible focus and skill. It was immediately clear that not only were they incredibly physically fit, but also skilled and competent fighters with a good deal of martial arts experience between them. Their ability to take on new skills and patterns of movement was remarkable, their learning curve almost vertical. Will was able to skill them in good basics easily within the 20 hours available.

At the end of the 20 hours, Will worked with the PTIs to deliver Krav Maga focused physical training sessions to the companies. These sessions were a marriage of basic Krav Maga drills and murderously tough PT. The men flew into them with total focus, made even more impressive when considering the intense heat and humidity present in Brunei. Of course, it wasn’t possible to ingrain any advanced skill in that one hour, but Will did manage to introduce them to Krav Maga and create in them a desire to train further. And of course the PTIs will be able to satisfy that desire with a new routine of daily Krav focused Physical training sessions.

Will reports that it was ultimately a deeply satisfying trip, accomplishing what he set out to do, and a real honour to work with such dedicated and incredible warriors. He looks forward to working with the Battalion again when they return to station in the UK.

Debrief – Lt Col Charlie Crowe, CO 1RGR, Commander British Forces Brunei

We asked Lt Col Charlie Crowe to discuss his reasons for introducing Krav Maga to the Battalion, his views on Krav Maga as a tool for the armed forces, and his experience working with British Krav Maga’s Will Bayley…

Why did you want to bring Krav Maga to the Battalion?

Training in Krav Maga in Swindon over the past year I learned that it is an excellent tool for the intelligent and judicious application of effective violence; this is core business for fighting units like 1 RGR.  The training also develops high levels of anaerobic fitness, determination and resilience.  These are all qualities required of soldiers in 1 RGR.

What was your opinion of the training outcome?

I am delighted with the outcome of the training.  I now have PT instructors who are able to deliver Krav-based physical training to the Battalion on an enduring basis.  We are very aware that we do not possess the experience or qualifications to deliver wholesale high intensity Krav Maga training, but we do now have the means to develop basic drills and test them under stress in a safe environment.

Do you see Krav Maga as a useful skill for today’s soldier?

The operating environment we can expect to deploy into requires all ranks to be highly disciplined in how and when to apply violence.  But when the time comes for aggressive action it must be decisive, and our own recent operational experience is full of examples of lethal threats at close quarters.  Krav Maga is an excellent tool for developing the right responses to this and is, in my view, highly relevant to modern soldiering.

Do you see Krav Maga as being a continued future part of training with the Regiment?

It is my firm intention to pursue Krav Maga as a basic skill set and training discipline across the Battalion.

How was your experience working with Krav Maga Bristol instructor Will Bayley?

Will Bayley has a thorough knowledge of the psychology and physiology that underpins close quarter fighting.  This gave real depth to the practical training he delivered, which he had painstakingly tailored to the particular requirements of this unique unit.  His instruction was excellent throughout and he very quickly gained the respect of my experienced PTIs.  A highly impressive professional.

B Company, 1 RGR, having their first taste of Krav Maga in a practice session run by the Battalion Physical Training Instructors…

 

The Security Bubble

We’re fortunate in the BKMA to be surrounded by some very experienced people in the security industry and in the forces, and of course the two often overlap. I’d like to share with you today a lesson I learned during my Close Protection training, a lesson delivered by Mark Edwards. Mark is a quiet, humble chap who won’t make a lot of noise about his achievements, but let’s say he’s got a lot of both military and security experience behind him and is extensively respected in both Bootneck and Close Protection circles as well as being a great Krav instructor. Far as I’m concerned, what Mark has to say about Security gets written in stone. He knows his shit.

The lesson is this. Build a bubble around yourself and keep it up all the time as a way of life. It becomes habit which you can then use effortlessly to protect others.

People who aren’t in the Krav or security industries listen to comments like this and their reaction is often the same: “Isn’t it really stressful going around being paranoid all the time?”

This comes up all the time so I’m going to address this point now.

PosturingViolent crime happens at rates that are small but significant. It can happen. It does happen. And if you are unaware, that is living in a state of unawareness, you are already in a class of people more likely to fall victim to crime. Victim Selection rituals are designed to find people like you. People who, when attacked, will be so surprised and unprepared that you will react with immediate and total paralysis and capitulation. Criminals don’t want fights, they want victims. Easy, predictable, safe victims.

Secondly, it isn’t stressful to be aware. Security Awareness, as it’s known to the professionals, is not a stressful state of being. It’s just awareness. It means being present and awake and aware of what is happening around you. When it’s practiced regularly it becomes natural and unthinking.

Cooper, in his now industry standard theory on Colour Codes, talks about the levels of threat awareness…

White: Code White means you are asleep. No trained professional is ever in this state, even in their own home. Code White means you have absolutely no awareness of anything occurring around you. If this sounds dangerous, it’s because it is. Think of all the near misses you see on the roads because a driver has not looked or seen a hazard or a pedestrian, texting away, has stepped in front of a car. That’s Code White.

Yellow: Code Yellow is the relaxed state of awareness we are talking about here when we mention the Security Bubble. Yellow means you are chilled out but very aware of your surroundings. When you first switch on and begin to learn security either through law enforcement or military/intelligence work, close protection work or simply as a civilian learning a reality based system such as Krav Maga, this will be an effort as you make habit all the observations. After a time, all these observations become automatic and happen as easily as breathing or blinking. You don’t have to try, the information is just there:

  • Where are the exits?
  • Are there any intoxicated and potentially violent people around me?
  • Can I see this guy’s hands? If not, why not?
  • Why is this group of three splitting up and forming around me?
  • The car behind me has been present through two roundabouts and three turns. (Surveillance awareness.)
  • Etc.

Orange: Code Orange occurs when something elevates to the level of threat. Someone is eyeballing you; the vehicle described above follows you through three sides of a square (a standard counter-surveillance maneuver); footsteps quicken behind you when walking at night; someone steps too close to you at a cashpoint.

Red: The threat becomes immediate and aggressive. There is physical contact or the immediate threat of physical contact and/or verbal aggression, typically profanity.

Black: Black isn’t on Cooper’s list, but it basically means it’s on, you’re fighting for your life.

Clearly, being in code Yellow is the best way to prevent things escalating to Red or Black. And equally clearly, if you are in White and suddenly you are in Black, you’re screwed. Your adrenal Predator and Preysystem will hit you harder than any punch and you’ll flounder in utter, hysterical paralysis while someone dances the tango on your head.

When you ask professionals about security awareness, or OPSEC, and people’s lack of it, the professionals are always amazed at how people can be so whimsical about their lack of thought. Of course it’s all about ignorance and bliss, but to a security aware person, they can see the threats everywhere and can’t understand people’s ignorance of it. That guy over there is twitching, suggesting he’s come off antipsychotic medications or is otherwise unbalanced. That guy over there walking directly towards me has his hand just behind him so I can’t see it. Or he’s repeatedly checking a pocket or back of belt.  I’ve crossed the street twice and the guy behind me has done the same. There’s a guy in a bar eyeballing everyone. It’s only a matter of time before he chooses to engage someone and I don’t want it to be me. When you see all this, all this potential threat, you make different choices. It’s not stressful, it’s just awareness. But it keeps you safe and you wonder at the fact that so many live in such total oblivion. And it becomes easy to see how terribly easy it is to select a victim from amongst all these Code White people and attack them without fear of any reprisal or fight.

The Bubble.

Once you have security awareness, you extend a bubble of habitual security protocols around yourself, your property and, by extension, your loved ones. This means, in practice, such everyday things such as:

  • Parking the car front out every time.
  • Checking rear seats before entering vehicle.
  • Locking car doors when travelling. Even before car start or seatbelt on, doors get locked.
  • Have safe places in mind to drive to in the event of hostile surveillance or action (road rage is included here).
  • Don’t drive home if you think someone is following you. Go to a safe place.
  • Avoiding known trouble spots. If you have to walk through them, keep head up, aware, walking briskly and with purpose. No headphones or mobile phone use.
  • Keep aware of your exact location at all times so you can report it promptly to emergency services, for example mile markers which appear every 0.5 miles on British Motorways.
  • Never opening car windows more than two inches, less in traffic or stationary.
  • Drinking moderately when out and keeping an awareness of immediate threat, being prepared to stand up and walk to another place if there is threat or hostility.
  • Avoiding obvious or known trouble spots or bad routes for foot.

These are just some of the very many things a security aware person does to keep their safety managed. This is the bubble. And the fact is, professionally, if you come to a place where you’re asked to protect another individual, or personally, when it comes time to protect your own, your habits can simply be extended to protect the other, without any work on your part. Your protection will be thorough, practiced and solid. Contrast this with someone who only thinks about this stuff when they’re working. I know who I’d want protecting me if my life were in danger.

BKMA StudentsTo learn more about security awareness, consider a good Close Protection course, if you are a professional, choosing one that puts heavy emphasis on fieldwork rather than classroom time. Or, if you are a civilian wanting to protect your family or simply yourself, learn a good reality based fighting system such as Krav Maga from a reputable and experienced teacher. Ask questions, of the teacher and yourself. Watch the world. Open your eyes and start to see how it works. Ignorance isn’t really bliss; it’s putting your life in some scumbag’s hands and hoping they won’t end or seriously alter your life.

Stay safe. Happy training.

Will Bayley, Close Protection Officer and Krav Maga Instructor, Krav Maga Swindon, Krav Maga North Bristol, Bristol University Krav Society.

 

Tags: Personal Security, Close Protection, Awareness.

TL;DR: Put a good security bubble around yourself and when the time comes to step up and be responsible for someone else’s security you’ll be able to simply extend your bubble and be much more effective than a person who only practices security on a need-to basis.

Will Bayley’s Two Thresholds to Violent Action

The British Krav Maga Association conducts regular surveys into violent crime. The statistics help us to understand what is happening on the streets of Britain and to tailor our training to meet those threats. What we know, from looking at hard evidence, is that a large percentage of people facing violence fail in their response at the level of dialogue, which is to say Pre-Fight. They are beaten by fear and an inability to transition from being a civilised human being to unleashing hell on their aggressors. There is a simple lesson here: it is not enough to know technique; you have to be able to execute that technique. Adrenal freeze awaits the ill prepared and the consequences of paralysis are dire.

In this article we will look at what Krav Maga instructor Will Bayley calls the Two Thresholds to Violent Action. We will build upon the Fence and attempt to give you a framework to understand and manage the transition between civilised behaviour and violent action. This is a bedrock of self defence.

Rory Miller, one of the best contemporary writers on the subject of real world violence.

Rory Miller, one of the best contemporary writers on the subject of real world violence.

Social Violence

Social Violence makes up the vast majority of violence in most people’s experience. As notable writer Rory Miller calls it, Social Violence is the Monkey Dance. It’s primate behaviour. It’s also distinctly different from Predatory Violence. Social Violence is about increasing social status by beating down or backing down another human. Predatory Violence is about taking something you want from another human. Social is typified by an approach, aggressive dialogue and posturing, escalation and probable physical conflict. Predatory is typified by victim selection, stalking and then a sudden, intensely violent blitz attack that the victim usually will not see coming.

In this article we are primarily concerned with Social Violence. To explain the theories here clearly, we’ll imagine a scene.

Stage 1: The Challenge

You are in a bar, sitting with friends. Across the room, at another table, two men are drinking. One makes eye contact with you. Unaware of the consequences, you maintain the eye contact for a little too long and then return to your conversation with your friends. Later, you get up to visit the toilet. On the way you bump into a man. You don’t realise it, but it’s the man from the table across from you. The man reacts angrily, telling you to watch where you’re going. You apologise. The man hurls some abuse at you and you walk away. The situation ends.

In this scene a challenge was laid down, whether or not you realised it. Often, in the Monkey Dance, it’s enough that you back down. Animals are evolved for conflict like this. It’s hard wired into the DNA. It’s not a survival advantage to have constant infighting that results in injury, so most animals will bark or growl and posture and one of them will back down with no injury to either party.

But what if the guy isn’t satisfied with your reaction? What if he wants violence? He’ll escalate. You can escalate too, of course, by issuing any challenge, verbal or postural.

Stage 2: Escalation

The man steps in. Distance is reduced to 18 inches or less. There may be physical contact of the chest, head to head, or aggressive shoves with the hands. It is vital at this stage to control the distance between you and your attacker. The hands must come up into The Fence. Your hands must rise to be between you and your aggressor. You should do this in a natural, conversational way, such that it does not cause escalation. However you do it, your hands should be in position to stop an attack reaching you and also to launch an attack, should you feel it necessary.

At this stage, here are some key points:

1. The vast majority of assaults in the UK begin with an overhand right punch, or Haymaker.

2. In the vast majority of fights, the person who hits first wins. This is especially true if you face multiple opponents. If you do not hit first you are facing terrible odds.

3. UK law does not prohibit ‘first-strike’ or pre-emptive striking. You ARE allowed by law to hit first if you ‘have the honest belief that you are about to be assaulted.’

Of course there are ethical considerations to hitting first. You must believe that there are no other options. You must leave your ego out of it and look for any way to de-escalate. You have a moral duty to avoid violence where possible and most cases of social violence can be avoided simply by being aware. When the eye contact challenge occurred you could have stood up and left the bar. Violence is a last resort, but if you must fight, you must go first and hard and mean to win. This is the most vital principle of Krav Maga.

The good news is that the techniques necessary to put an attacker down are simple to learn. All you need is a good stance and some strong, straight punches. But you must control the situation, and your fear, to ensure you fire first and do not freeze.

Your biggest opponent, your biggest threat comes from your own endocrine system. It’s called adrenaline. Fail to manage your own mental and physical state and you risk a dump of adrenaline hitting your blood and the dreaded adrenal freeze that will destroy years of training in a mere second.

This is where the two thresholds comes into play.

Geoff Thompson, the man who brought the Fence into modern self defence.

Threshold 1: The Adrenal Threshold.

An attacker engages you. There is dialogue. There is posturing. You spilt my drink. You cut me up on that roundabout. You were staring at me. You put up your fence and begin a counter dialogue, attempting to de-escalate the situation. You swallow your ego and apologise for whatever affront you are supposed to have caused. You offer to buy another drink. Whatever method you choose, you control your distance with a subtle but functional fence and you attempt to talk the situation down.

At some point, adrenaline may rise in you. You may become increasingly and rapidly more fearful. You may feel control slipping away. Adrenal freeze comes during times of inaction. If you don’t take action when you feel yourself becoming extremely adrenalised, you risk freezing and taking no action. Such paralysis can and does result in attack, defeat, hospitalisation and death.

The point at which you cannot effectively speak and think about responses or arguments, the point at which the adrenaline or the ‘fear’ becomes too much, this is the first threshold, the Adrenal Threshold. Past this point, you should do the following:

1. Stop engaging in dialogue. Stop listening to the dialogue. Continuing to engage will occupy your already overloaded higher cortex and risks shutting you down. Attackers know this experientially. It’s a common strategy. Disengage from it. Shut it out. You tried de-escalation and it didn’t work. Anything else the attacker has to say is irrelevant.

2. Revert to the Broken Record drill, a drill taught to British Krav Maga practitioners at P1 level. This means maintaining a fence, using the hands to firmly push away the aggressor and backing up the movements with a loud “BACK AWAY”. This instruction is repeated as many times as necessary, or until the second threshold is reached.

It is important to understand that the Back Away drill, or Broken Record drill is a mainstay of self defence training. By learning a set pattern of behaviour – fence, pushing, loud verbals, pre-emptive striking – we have something to fall back on when we are under intense stress. There is no need for thought. We train it in over many months of scenarios and role plays. It should be second nature. When the fear hits, fall back on the familiar. Train hard, fight easy. And no matter what nonsense is coming out of the aggressor’s mouth, the response is the same. Back away! A few warnings and then a pre-emptive shot that ends the situation.

Threshold 2: Threat Recognition.

The Second Threshold is set by threat recognition. It is the point at which you launch your pre-emptive strike. To restate, it is the moment at which you escalate to violence, pre-emptively using violence to stop your attacker. Morally and legally, you must only do this when you have the honest belief that you are about to be assaulted and a failure to act will result in you, or another party, being attacked, hurt or killed.

You cross the second threshold, simply, when the threat reaches the point where if you do not act immediately, you risk attack, harm and injury. There are many things that would take you over this threshold and these are things best learned under an instructor, with visual and experiential practice, but some of them are listed here for example:

  • Attacker shows signs of imminent attack – forward movement increased to chest bumping or head contact. Language diminishing to single syllables – “Yeah? Yeah?”
  • A second attacker is moving to your flank.
  • A hand disappears into a pocket – think weapon. In the UK, a knife. In the US, potentially a firearm.

Whatever the trigger, the Second Threshold is your Go point. You should be trained and prepared to take this step. If you doubt your confidence and ability to do this, the best thing you can do is engage in training. The very core of Krav Maga training, its very methodology, is simple technique, aggressive forward movement, and overwhelming combative attack. Your Krav Maga instructor will be able to guide you through this process, teach you an effective fence and give you the practice you need to make these methodologies work for you.

To summarise:

  • You should always be aware. Awareness makes it possible, often, to see a situation an hour before it occurs. Violence professionals such as security personnel and Door Supervisors will tell you that they can see the potential for violence in a person a long time before it bubbles to the surface. A good professional will confront it and stop it before this happens.
  • If awareness does not keep you from attack, you should, where the level of threat and your own fear level make it appropriate, attempt to de-escalate.
  • If your fear level is too high, do not engage in dialogue or reason. You are already in conflict. Fall back on the Krav Maga drills. They will give you a place of familiarity from which to engage and transition to violence.
  • When the threat level is such that you believe an assault is imminent and unavoidable, you should initiate the attack.
  • Your attack should be sudden, committed and overwhelming.
  • The same elements that trigger the Second Threshold – the signs that an attack is coming – are the same elements that form your moral and legal justification for use of force. Learn them well – they are critical to any training in self defence.
  • Seek out good training from a credible instructor. Ensure that your practice includes not just techniques, but the process of threat escalation and adrenalisation.
  • You can’t learn to swim without going in the water. A good instructor will train you through this process in a professional, constructive and safe manner.
  • Si vis pacem, para bellum. The better prepared you are for violence, the less likely the need to use it. The animals of our society can sense fear and also strength of will.

Finally, from Rory Miller:

“It is better to avoid than to run, better to run than to de-escalate, better to de-escalate than to fight, better to fight than to die.”

 

Will Bayley, BKMA Graduate Instructor, Krav Maga Swindon, Krav Maga North Bristol, Bristol University Krav Maga Society

Krav Maga Training for Weight Loss

Krav Maga Training for Weight Loss

Weight loss or control is a common reason to train in Krav Maga. It’s successful at helping people lose weight too. Principally, this is for two reasons. One, it’s easier to motivate yourself to exercise in a class, which is driven by an Instructor and gives you a skill, such as self defence, than it is to do meaningless exercise in a gym. Second, a Krav Maga class is a great place to meet people, people who themselves are motivated and who will help push you along to reach your own goals. My experience with Krav Maga has taught me that most Krav classes, in Bristol or otherwise, are full of motivated, decent people who are only too happy to help beginners.

But there’s truth in what they say: you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Good health begins at home, with the choices you make about the things you eat.

Endless books have been written on diets and dieting. But we’re going to keep it simple. It’s about calorie exchange.

Calories CountYou eat calories all day. Everything you eat has a number. Add up all those numbers and you get your daily calorie intake.

You have a basal metabolic rate, or BMR. This is the amount of calories you need to eat in order to maintain your current weight. The heavier you are, both in fat and muscle, the bigger this number will be.

You have the amount of exercise you do in a day. Every task requires energy, measured in calories.

This gives us three variables. Here’s the simple version:

Total Calories In – Total Exercise Done = X

If X is greater than BMR, you will gain weight.

If X is less than BMR, you will lose weight.

There are approximately 9 calories in a gram of fat. Therefore, for every kilogram of fat you wish to lose, you must create a deficit of 9000 calories. It’s that simple. Conversely, if you eat an excess of 9000 calories you will gain a kilogram of fat.

There are other factors at play, obviously, such as the makeup of those calories and the time of day at which you eat them, but this simple equation is the best way to think about weight loss.

How to Tip the EquationScales of Doom

There are two ways to tip the equation in your favour.

One is to eat less calories.

The second is to maintain your calorie consumption and increase the amount of exercise you do. This is the easier way and the longer term way of achieving weight loss goals and maintaining a healthy weight. You body needs more than a healthy weight to thrive; it needs a balanced diet and regular cardiovascular exercise.

Healthy Eating

It’s not just about reducing calories or increasing exercise. What and when you eat matter too. Here’s some tips.

Eat large in the morning. Breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day. Some people say they cannot eat much first thing. Mostly, they turn out to be smokers. Nicotine is a potent appetite suppressant. The rest of it is habit. Your body will adapt to regularity. What seems a chore now will, with diligent repetition, become the favoured norm.

Choose the life that is the most useful

Don’t eat carbohydrates past six or seven in the evening. Carbohydrates are basically long chain sugars. They break down into sugar relatively quickly and if you eat them before bed, when there is no activity, they will lay down as fat.

Reduce booze. Booze is massively calorie dense. A single shot of liquor is about 110 calories. A pint of lager, up to 300. Four pints is half your daily calorie requirement before you’ve eaten anything. And it metabolises as sugar, which turns readily to fat.

Eat more vegetables. A balanced diet is essential.

Use protein powders as an easy way to maintain muscle after high intensity workouts. You should take protein within 20 minutes of hard interval training, to prevent the body breaking down muscle fibres. Pea and Hemp proteins are far, far more healthy than milk based isolates. Taking on more protein calories means less carb calories. A good strategy later in the day.

Exercise all the time. Join a Krav class. Chuck, an instructor in Bristol, commonly wears a heartrate monitor while training and it’s not unusual to see him burn through 1400 calories in a single 90 minute session. That’s going to make quite a dent in our equation.

Keep watching this space for more articles on exercise, health and fitness, and self defence and Krav Maga.

Happy training.

Will Bayley

Instructor, Krav Maga North Bristol, Krav Maga Swindon.

Gradings… Preparation and Execution

Krav Maga gradings vary greatly from association to association and from instructor to instructor. But the variance is only in degree. All Krav Maga gradings are tough. If you’ve done a little martial arts and tried some gradings before, you need to adjust your expectations. Many martial arts gradings, especially at the earlier levels, are awards essentially for time served. You take one every 3 months. They last maybe 25 minutes, an hour tops. A little practice, a few foreign words and patterns. The P1 grading, the first level in the British Krav Maga Association syllabus, can take up to 4.5 hours to assess. For many people, certainly most who have never been in the forces, it is the hardest physical thing they will ever have done. I don’t say that lightly. And you shouldn’t take it as rhetoric. It’s a tough old process. It’s not for everyone – gradings are strictly optional – but if you do decide it’s for you, read on and be prepared.

Why do it?

Like I said, it’s optional. If you don’t grade, we teach you the same things. So why do it? The grading process is designed to push you to a limit. It’s designed to break you down and take you so far past your comfort zones that you come up against what Sun Tzu called The Inner Opponent. What is the Inner Opponent? It’s the voice in your head that tells you to quit. It’s the voice that speaks for your fear, for your weakness. It’s the voice that can beat you in a fight, before your real life opponent even gets a shot.

Picture this. You are involved in a traffic accident. You stop to assess the damage. Suddenly you are aware of being on the floor and blind. There’s pain, and there’s something wrong. An untrained person folds into a ball. Covers up. Protects. You’re a Kravist. You’ve drilled this. You stand. Your vision returns. A hammer swings at your head. You 360 it. It breaks your arm. Your Inner Opponent yells for you to quit. To roll up. To give in to the pain and the nausea. You attack. You overwhelm the opponent and drop him. The next attacker comes. You carry on. You run. You get clear. You arm yourself. You call the police and ambulance. This is a real situation. It happened to a BKMA Kravist. This is why we train hard enough to meet the Inner Opponent. So that, in extremis, you will do what is necessary to come home.

245px-Sir_Winston_S_Churchill

“Sometimes it is not enough that we do our best. Sometimes we must do what is necessary.” – Sir Winston Churchill.

“Train Hard, fight easy.” – British Army.

Gradings are about being pushed to the limit. They’re about doing battle with the Inner Opponent. They’re about pushing the body so hard the cognitive processes begin to shut down, simulating adrenal stress, and then performing your Krav Maga under pressure. Bottom line: if you can do it here, you’ll do it in real life.

Take if from someone who knows: You come out of a grading 10 feet tall. You’re ready. You have an absolute surety inside you that if something happens, you will be ready. You will fight. You can’t ever know that you’ll win, but you can know that you’ll fight. And so often, if you know this, your opponent knows this and you won’t have to fight. And if you do fight, you’ll do it without hesitation. Without doubt. And in spite of fear.

Grading Preparation – Exercise

The perfect preparation will include steady state endurance aspects and high intensity interval training. Steady state means running, cycling, swimming for extended periods of at least 45 minutes, working in a sustainable fashion (aerobically.) HIIT means training for short durations around 20 seconds as fast and as hard as you can. This means sprints, preferably uphill, rapid burpees or other callisthenic exercises, or combative exercises such as pad or bag work or Retzev. Steady state should be around twice to three times a week. Interval training should occur twice daily, using something like the Tabatta Protocol, which is a 4 minute workout (15 minutes with a warmup.)

You should work steadily and cease all training a week before the grading. This week is your relaxation week. You should stretch daily, keep mobile but stay off hard exercise. Let you body prepare for what it must do.

Gradings demand that you give everything you have and you get out what you put in.

Gradings demand that you give everything you have and you get out what you put in.

Grading Preparation – Nutrition

You should not drink alcohol for the week running up to the grading. Take it seriously. It’s up there with running a marathon or triathlon. It may well be the hardest physical thing you’ve ever done. And if you’ve been in the forces, just think combat phys. It’s a beasting!

For the week before, eat well, hydrate well. Carb load with lots of rice and pasta.

The morning of the grading, get up early. Eat a good breakfast 2 hours before the start time. If you’re like me, you can’t hold solid food during the grading process, so you need this lead time to get energy into your body. Eat well and hydrate well. Lots of water.

For the grading, it’s up to you. Some people use bananas and nuts and raisins. Me, I get sick if I eat solids so I go for a liquid diet! I use the following. Adapt as you see fit, but do not come unprepared. You will burn well over 4000 calories during your grading, around 3 times the amount of energy you would normally burn in a 24 hour period. If you come without calories and proper hydration, you will suffer and even risk failure. Do it how you will, but do it.

3 bottles:

Water

Carbohydrate solution (Maltodextrin powder mixed with water). You may wish to add hydration tablets too (isotonic salts.)

Sugar solution.

You drink the water all the time, the carbs when things are tough and the sugar when you feel weak, faint or sick.

Kit

You’ll need boxing gloves and a gumshield. You should also have forearm protectors and a groin guard, but these are not essential. If you’re taking a P3 or higher, you’ll need shin guards too as you’ll be fighting with kicks as well as punches. You should take a towel and several changes of shirts and a change of trousers. You will sweat constantly, so a change can be refreshing. Also use an effective antiperspirant, but be aware that strong perfume or antiperspirant smells are as discourteous to your training partners as body odour.

Final Words

Good luck out there. Best advice – train hard. Know your syllabus. And go in there as a team. if you go in as a lone individual, only concerned with your own result, you’ll close in as things get tough. You’ll introvert. You’ll focus in and all you’ll have is the Inner Opponent trying to kick your ass. Focus out. Give encouragement to your team mates. Take encouragement from them. We see it over and over – it’s the ones who work as a team who get through the tough spots. Finally, have faith in your training, in your instructor and in yourself. You’re worth the grade, or your instructor wouldn’t have let you in the room. You can do it. Go out there and get the job done!