One of the first of many cool sayings I heard as a young man in the fight game was; hit first, hit fast, hit last. I’ve heard this attributed to a number of folks so I really don’t know who I should say I’m quoting. Teddy Atlas? Cus D’Amato? Salim Assili? This would seem to be one of those universal truths that apply to any fighting art. Bottom line, as one that was brand new to the game this was an important lesson for me to learn.
It would seem self-evident but sometimes we need an outside voice to give us permission to make the first move in defense of life and limb. Putting my hands on someone without waiting for them to put their hands on me was a foreign concept. Most of us have been taught by family, friends, and society to avoid throwing the first punch. The person throwing the first punch is always the aggressor therefore, wrong. At this point I realize how wrong I was to accept this as true back then, and after having witnessed a few violent confrontations I can assure you I have no issue throwing the first punch. Think about it this way, how many hits can you take before you’re unconscious? Once unconscious you can no longer defend yourself or your loved ones. Don’t let that happen. You need to act, and act right now. You can solve the legal challenges after the fact, with the help of competent counsel but right now, in the moment when your gut is screaming that something just isn’t right? You gotta get it on before he makes his move.
One of the things I struggle with is imposter syndrome. That nagging feeling that I’m not really deserving of any accolades, or recognition I might receive. I worry that I’m deep in Dunning-Kruger and as a result don’t know enough to know how much I don’t know.
I don’t know how to stop those thoughts from running through my head. All I know is I train like a madman to make sure I’ve done everything I can do to deserve anything I’m given. I’m actually envious of people that have no clue how much they suck. Their confidence in their non-existent skills has to be a great feeling. I mean that sincerely. I wish I could be that but I can’t. I will continue to struggle with whether I deserve to even wear a black belt, or have anyone listen to anything I say on the topic of self protection.
And I will continue to work my ass off to ensure that those that have trusted me enough to invest their time and effort in passing on their knowledge to me aren’t disappointed. I will continue to work my ass off to make sure folks that trust me enough to train them will find that training valuable.
That’s the only answer I know or have ever known.
In police work recruits are taught to watch the hands when making contact with citizens.
In the first course I took from Paul Howe we were given a scanning hierarchy when dealing with folks we encountered. Guess what the second item on the list is? You got it, the hands.
In the first seminar I attended by Megaton Diaz he made a statement that has stuck with me over 20 years later. “Never let them touch you. If they grab you grab them back.” Megaton was speaking to the importance of never allowing our opponent to establish a grip on us, to always monitor and control the opponents hands.
It seems there is a string that threads through every potentially violent endeavor. The opponent’s hands will hurt you if you don’t control them.
In particular I can’t over emphasize the importance of monitoring the hands of an unknown contact. Your ability to apply your avoidance, deterrence, and deescalation skills are greatly enhanced by your ability to monitor the unknown contacts hands.
Uncontrolled hands for some reason, (looking at you Murphy), seem to migrate to our weapons, don’t let that happen. Control the hands, control the space/distance, get to a dominant position, and finish them.
I had the fantastic opportunity to co-teach Dominating the Entangled Fight with two of my best friends; Cecil Burch of Immediate Action Combatives and Larry Lindenman of Point Driven Training.
This is an interesting class to teach as we cover a broad spectrum of material with a wide variety of skill ranges in a short period of time. This can be a challenge for some coaches but when you have the opportunity to work with coaches of Larry and Cecil’s caliber there is no challenge they haven’t faced at this point so I knew we would be good to go.
There are always lessons to be learned in these courses for the students as well as the coaches. However, one of the lessons that’s consistently reinforced is conditioning matters. We all could use a little more conditioning, and I know I’ll be working hard on improving my conditioning.
The next lesson that is consistently reinforced; a little bit of Jiujitsu goes a long way. You don’t need a black belt level knowledge or even a blue belt level knowledge. However, just a little bit of Jiujitsu in the form of several months of consistent effort will pay huge dividends in an Entangled Fight.
One of the first lessons Joe Smith, Hershel Davis, and Dave Wittrock pounded into our thick skulls at the Police Academy is that there is always at least one gun involved in any tussle. Every time an officer goes hands on it can at any moment become a fight over control of the officer’s weapon. (Not only the pistol, but OC, taser, baton or any other weapon on the officer’s person can be taken by the opponent and used against the officer.) This lesson has stuck with me, and driven the direction of quite a bit of my training efforts for the last 20 years.
Mas Ayoob had said many times that the moment you strap a pistol to your body you give up the right to flip someone the bird for cutting you off in traffic. That simple traffic altercation can rapidly escalate to a fight over your pistol or even a shooting. This is something Claude Werner might refer to as a negative outcome.
While some folks will quibble about the term entangled gunfight, or whether we need to learn to integrate our skills, it remains a fact; if you go hands-on with someone while carrying weapons it is indeed moments away from becoming an entangled gunfight.
It’s ironic to me that while some were arguing that entangled gunfights don’t happen the world was watching the George Zimmerman trial. I’m thinking those arguing could have benefited from some time around Smith, Davis, and Wittrock.
Bottom line, should you find yourself in a hand to hand altercation, while bearing weapons, you better treat it as an entangled gun-knife-OC-expandable baton fight… Because in an instant it can be.
Injuries suck. There is no way to sugar coat this, if you are a multidisciplinary practicioner you will experience an injury.
Sometimes the injury is unavoidable, but sometimes we could and should take steps to avoid injury. I’m rehabbing a shoulder injury. It’s not severe enough to require surgery but it was a closet call. My strength training was progressing quickly, my overhead and bench press numbers were approaching my previous best… And my shoulders were killing me. I kept working through the pain. Pain purifies right? And with all the pain I was working through I was as pure as first snow. I was starting to be unable to sleep due to shoulder pain. Then it happened, something popped my shoulder during an overhead press, and things got bad. Then I landed on that shoulder during a vigorous sparring session. Things went from bad to worse. I immediately booked an appointment with Dr Sikorsky of Sikorsky Chiropractic and Dr Steve was able to begin my recovery process. Also massage therapy sessions with Nikki, massage therapist at Sikorsky Chiropractic has done wonders to speed up my recovery.
The reason for sharing that is to share this, my shoulder issue was avoidable. Completely avoidable. I have neglected mobility work when it comes to my shoulders for several years. Sure I’ve done some mobility work here and there but that’s not the same as dedicated consistent effort. Now I’m doing my shoulder mobility work daily, multiple times a day to get my shoulders back into the game.
With that in mind I wanted to share with you a resource I found on YouTube that’s a gold mine of rehabilitative information; Smash Werx
My message to you my friends; be good to yourself. Do your mobility work. Make it a priority. Avoid the avoidable injuries.
During the holidaze it’s not unusual to experience a bit of the blahs. Here are a few documentaries I like to watch for inspiration. Most are fight sport related. Check them out if you need a little boost.
Choke – (A Rickson Gracie Documentary) is mandatory viewing. I watch this at least twice a year if not more.
ROLL: Jiu-Jitsu in So Cal which features my coach Chris Haueter is easily my favorite. I watch this or parts of this film twice a month… at least twice a month.
Jiu-Jitsu VS The World which also features Chris Haueter. You can learn more about Chris here.
Anything featuring Karelin will get you motivated. The Experiment was on another level.
The Highland Games and strongman competition is near and dear to my heart. I simply love every aspect of the games. Stoneland inspires me due to my Scottish heritage and some of my earliest memories are seeing the men in my family participate in feats of strength.
The Rogue Series contain some real gems, and I get a lot of inspiration and motivation from watching these.
Anything featuring Ramon The Diamond Dekkers makes me want to throw hands.
Steve Prefontaine set a standard that others can only strive to attain. Pre’s mental approach to the sport inspires my mental approach to everything I do.
I hope you found some inspiration if you needed it, if not just keep it in mind for the time when you do. Happy holidays, enjoy the time with your family and friends.