Sweet sweet justice

There is a martial arts instructor here in town that doesn’t like me very much. I subscribe to a realistic view of martial art (for self defense), he tends to believe in the martial arts as wrecking machines view. Anyway, every few months one of this students (one of his black belt instructors) comes to my class and tries to argue with me about various aspects of self defense. His favorite is self defense vs. a gun.

Now I teach self defense vs. a gun simply because it is better to have that knowledge when you need it despite the odds then to have no tactics/techniques available at all. My students also get a lot of instruction on how to read a situation so as to help them decide whether this is one of those times where the gunman is going to shoot you so you may as well take the long shot and defend yourself.

This other fellow believes that it is trivial to defend against a gun at close range. For the past couple of years I have been trying to get him to prove it by demonstrating his skills in a provable way. He has always refused because I want him to wear the body suit so that the rubber bullets we use won’t hurt him. He claims the suit will hamper him too much (It doesn’t. Some kicks and such are a little more difficult but for the most part it isn’t too bad). So, two nights ago we agree that if he wears goggles, a light baseball helmet and a traditional Tae Kwon Do vest he will be suitable safe and still able to do his technique. Last night he came by with the equipment.

The challenge is simple. I will mug him with our air gun and rubber bullets (they have a red dye in them and make a VERY noticable red mark) in anyway he chooses i.e. from behind, in front, etc). Sometimes he will resist, sometimes he won’t and will just give up his wallet.

We only got to do one situation (gun from behind). First time he resisted and got shot, second time he resisted and got shot, third time he didn’t resist, fourth time he didn’t resist, fifth time he resisted and got shot. Well, then he started going on about how unfair everything was against him. The helmet was blocking his vision, the vest was too tight, etc etc etc.

Needless to say, my students and I had a good laugh about this. And it feels so good to show him up. I know I probably shouldn’t feel so good about it, but I do.

What more could you expect from somebody who lets people kick him to the head?

I have been through several danger awareness classes the object here is to recognize and avoid the situation completely. I don’t have anything to support my numbers but the idea seams sound. The instructor stated that a study was done where prison inmates were shown videos of people walking in a public place. They were supposed to choose their victims. Eighty-five percent of the inmates chose the same people. When asked why they chose those people they said those were the people not paying attention to where they were and what they were doing. We were also told that muggers prefer two to one odd’s. Do you include this when you are instructing your students?

Yes, this plays heavily in the avoidance category of training. Thugs want easy prey. Police studies (I’ll try to find the reference but it wasn’t on the net. I think it was in Peyton Quinn’s “Real Fighting”) have shown that even drive by shootings are NOT random. Keep in perspective that drive by shootings are about as anonymous (sp) crime as their is and yet they still choose thier victims based upon thier demeanour! Other studies as you mention clearly show that criminals pick their victims. More importantly they pick them usually on an instinctive level. This is apparently even true for criminals you wouldn’t expect to have this behaviour like serial rapists who only rape blondes. All their victims will certainly be blonde but they will also probably display other characteristics that left them prone to be picked as opposed to another blonde.

Dr. Gavin deBecker’s book “The Gift of Fear” covers some of this topic also IIRC.

P.s. - By drive by shooting I am not talking about gang vs gang shootings, but thugs who shoot somebody for “no apparent reason”. Clearly, gang vs gang shootings occur because of the hostility between gangs and not because of any particular gang members demenour. Which is an important lesson itself. If somebody hates you for what they perceive you to be mindset/confidence tactics & techniques are much less effective, which is why if your opponent is talking to you you must listen to what they are saying. These clues are vital to determine intent and hence your action.

P.p.s - Also, I am pretty sure that “Living the Kyokushin Way” speaks about this to a certain degree as well. Masutatsu Oyama claimed that one reason he was so skilled in karate (in reference to his string of victories in very difficult, high level tournaments) was because he put his life on the line during his training. This gave him added confidence in his ability that others lacked.

What more could you expect from somebody who lets people kick him to the head?

I think that is an interesting point- I took a self defense class (not marital arts, but an avoidance/mace class) taught by police. We were told in no uncertain terms that the people who get attacked, for example- in a parking lot, were the ones who were rooting for keys, searching for cars- generally disoriented. Same with people on the street. We were told to always look like you know the scoop, make eye contact with others (even someone scary looking) and walk with confidence. And if that doesn’t work, give 'em a face full of mace and a kick in the nuts! (that was sarcasm…supposed to be funny)

Some mornings it just doesn’t seem worth it to gnaw through the leather straps.
Emo Philips (stolen from matt’s webpage)

Sorry…I read the OP, and although it sounds like fun to shoot paint at a guy you disagree with…didnt he prove his point by getting shot?

Wouldnt that prove it is pointless to defend yourself against a gun?

I might have missed something.

No, he felt that a trained martial artist should be able to disarm a gunman with absolute ease.

IMO (and what I teach), if you are facing a gun you give in, unless your gut tells you the gunman is going to kill you then you fight and take the long shot that you may actually win against the gun. I must add though that it is my view alone to give in. Self defense is a complicated issue frought with personal opinion/values. Do you fight against somebody trying to rape you? Some people would say no, I would rather be raped than killed. Other would rather be dead than raped.

His funniest excuse for being shot was that I was better trained (I go to a gun range maybe every second or third week) than the average shooter on the street. I’ll have to remember that for next time a person attacks me with a gun. “Excuse me sir, I would like to defend myself but first I need to know, do you train regularly with your gun?”

That makes WAY more sense!!

I agree with you BTW…unless you really feel like you have nothing to loose, its better to not fight…

In college I took a short class in Aikido. My sensei said that defenses against guns exist, but he does not teach them to anyone who has not earned first dan (the first “black belt” level).

I asked one of his assistants, who was 3rd dan, why that was. He said that sensei started telling novices never to fight someone with a gun, on the day a policeman friend took him into the woods and showed him what a hollow-point bullet can do to a ham.

Laugh hard; it’s a long way to the bank.

A view I’ve heard is that if the person tries to put you in a car, always fight, because then you know they’re planning to kill you. Even if they kill you for fighting, it’s a lot better than what they probably have in mind. What do the professionals think of that? Are you really statistically Dead Meat if you’re forced into a car?


I have heard the same thing about the car…
If they try to remove you from where you are, it will almost certainly mean they are going to do something very VERY bad/deadly to you…if they werent going to hurt you, just rob you (for example) they dont need to move you for that. And if you put up a fight you are WAY more likely to be set free by the badguy before someone notices the struggle and comes to check it out.

I took a women’s self defense class several years ago, taught by a man with some nth degree tae kwon do master level, or something (it was a long time ago, I don’t remember). It was a great class. He taught us the things that Zette spoke of, like “walking with a purpose,” and not making yourself look like easy prey.

There was a weapons course as well, and I took that. It was a class in whether or not you should try to defend yourself against a weapon, and if you could, how to do so. He also taught us what kinds of things the average woman carries/has in her home that can be used as weapons for self-defense, if necessary. It was a fascinating and informative course.

I firmly believe that all people should know a little something about self-defense, whether it’s martial arts or not. Just knowing how to get out of a situation with your life helps.

I used to teach self-defense classes, and my standard line was ‘if the guy wants your money, give it to him’. If it’s clear that there will be physical violence, do something to startle him and run like hell.

I HATE courses that attempt to teach women how to grapple with an assailant. If the average woman get into a grappling contest with the average man, she’s going to lose, almost regardless of how much training she has. I suppose this stuff has value in an absolute no-choice scenario, but I’ve seen to many people actually go looking for trouble because they’ve taken a 2-day self-defense course.

As for a gun, I mostly agree with Glitch, with two caveats - one, as a trained martial arts instructor, he undoubtedly has faster reflexes than your average thug. Second, in an artificial environment where you KNOW your opponent is about to try something you will react much faster. If your assailant is not expecting you to react, and if he has a normal fear of the weapon he is holding (he really doesn’t want to shoot), then the uncertainty will give you an advantage. Still, if you wrestle with a guy who has a gun, expect it to go off. And expect there to be a good chance the bullet will hit something, and probably you.

Initiative has a big advantage, though. Do an experiment - have a friend hold a ‘clicker’ or something else non-lethal in front of you. Your job is to deflect it away before he can make it click. If you have reasonable speed, you’ll be able to do it 100% of the time. i.e. if a person was holding a gun in front of you within easy reach, you should be able to deflect it away before he can pull the trigger. Now, it’s a totally different matter to be able to take it away from him…

I forgot to mention that my instructor taught us how to scream. Seemed funny at the time, but he did it exactly for the reason quoted above.

Never ever go to the second scene of a crime willingly.

The second scene of a crime will NOT have witnesses but more importantly for you there will be no help coming!

An example, person has a gun on you in a parking lot and says get in the car. Refuse refuse refuse! If you get in the car you will be killed! If you refuse and he shoots you and least there is a good chance that there will be ambulance coming to get you. But if takes you to the outskirts of town or basically anywhere private and you are shot who will come to save you?

This doesn’t necessarily mean you fight. You can try running away (chances are he might flee as well). You can try standing your ground in hopes that he will see the strength of your spirit and flee (but remember he may just shoot you out of spite!). But yes, if you go to the second scene you are undoubtedly going to be attacked with deadly intent!

Although true and I am glad to hear women especially are taking self defense seriously, most improptu weapons are going to be fairly unavailable. If you live in an area where you think there is significant risk carry a real weapon that is permisable by law. Whether that be a knife, gun or a can of mace. Mace is my personal favorite recommendation for most people. Properly using a knife or gun is much more complicated (and requires a intense mindset) than using a can of mace. Also, mace is almost universally legal in the States.

If you are going to carry Mace I suggest buying to cannisters and practicing with the first one. You must be able to draw it quickly and fire it accurately!

In a SBTs (scenario based training) that we did a few months ago we bought some mace and had some people try to use it.

We did two scenarios. Attacker at close range who grabs your arm. Attacker at far range charging for a tackle. The reality of the situation was that we discovered what we expected. You need to get that mace out VERY fast! One defender got it out fast enough and sprayed themselves in the face (they weren’t wearing the goggles we were)! Please, if you only get one thing from any post I ever make please let it be this:

There is no means of self defense that is worth anything without practice.

AMEN!!! Read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin deBecker. This is the single best book somebody who wants to know something about self defense could possibly read.

Learning to grapple is very important only from the perspective of being able to get out of the grappling situation. You are right, a woman is probably not going to win against a bigger stronger assailant, but without any knowledge of grappling they also have no means of effective escape should the attacker grapple. The same applies to men, IMO.

I don’t agree. The average thug lives and dies by their physical prowess on the street. It is not the life for the slow or weak. Their techniques are tried and proven to work (their techniques and physical prowes have survived the trial by fire). They have been perfecting them in a very harsh environment that punishes failure severely. The edge that martial artists bring to the table is with the proper mindset powering it more effective technique and tactics (the self defense triangle as taught by the Lethal Force Institute (IIRC) being mindset/tactics/technique), and possibly a somewhat more refined physique. Ultimately, keep in mind I guess that it takes very little reaction speed to pull a trigger even when you aren’t expecting anything (which is very accurate. If a thug attacks you he has picked you out because he thinks you are weak).

Most martial artists develop their technique in a nice safe dojo with people who have no intention on hurting them, from instructors who have never had to use their technique in a serious fight either!

This is why I am a big proponent of SBT. It may not be reality but after you have done it certainly changes your perspective on a lot of stuff.

If the gunman is uncertain as to whether they want to shoot you should not resist, IMO. Recognizing the deadly intent of the attacker is very important. With regards to the specific scenario in the OP the defender was either going to resist or not resist and I had no way of knowing and he was killed 3/3 (I am quite sure that he would have been killed 8 or 9 for 10).

I completely disagree. The problem is that the click is completely subjective. Did I deflect it in time or not?

Try this test. Get an air gun. Remove your shirt. Have a person point the gun at your chest (make sure it isn’t loaded :)). Try to deflect it and not feel the air from the gun hit you (you can definitely feel it).

I have done this scenario at my school for many years. The numbers are staggering! At least 85% of the time you feel will the air hit you. It gets even worse if the attacker is behind you (virtually 100% unless the attacker is effectively asleep).

The first time I did this scenario with my instructor is was quite a sinking feeling when I felt the air against my face. It gives you a whole new perspective on facing a gun when you get killed 9/10! Before the test I was absolutely sure I could deflect at least half the time.

What more could you expect from somebody who lets people kick him to the head?

I assist in self defense training at Kenpo studio owned by a good friend of mine. He NEVER teaches gun-disarming until the student has reached first degree black-belt level. Until you are skilled and trained, a bullet will kick your ass every time.

As others have said, never, ever get into a car or pulled into an house without a fight. If someone wants to take you to another area, it is because they are going to do something to you that they don’t feel safe doing to you there. The chances are good that you will wind up dead or gravely injured.

If an armed bad guy jumps in the car with you and demands that you drive to a remote area, the chance you will end up dead or seriously hurt increase greatly. You should slam your car (not too hard, but hard enough) into the nearest telephone pole or building (another good reason to wear a seatbelt). If the guy is still able to run away (more than likely he isn’t wearing a seat belt), he isn’t going to stick around for the cops to arrive. You probably drew the attention of others and the guy more than likely won’t hurt you in front of witnesses, he’ll be more worried about getting the hell out of there. It sounds excessive, but if the choices are raped and murdered, or crashing your car and getting a few bumps and bruises (maybe even a few broken bones), which one are you going to choose?

Women ARE able to fight off attackers if properly trained. It doesn’t take a lot of muscle power to hurt an attacker. Knowing where and how to hit, kick, bite, is what will save you. It only takes 8 pounds of pressure from a blow to the sternum to break the bone. It is knowing how to land this hit, not strength. A lot of it is trickery - do things that he isn’t expecting. Jump into him with a blow instead of pulling away. Pretend to go for the crotch and instead gouge the eyes.

It doesn’t take strength to get out of body holds no matter how strong the attacker. There are many moves that will force him to let go of you long enough to run. These same moves will keep him incapacitated for some time.

One thing that we try to stay away from is the proverbial kick to the crotch. Criminals are expecting this defensive move and are ready for you. There are many other body areas that can be easily damaged that the guy doesn’t expect you to attack.

I will also agree that being aware of your surroundings and walking with confidence is a big deterrent.

Coffee, chocolate, men . . . Some things are just better rich.

Oh, that was another point they made. If ever forced into a car, try to wreck it. If you are driving, just plain drive into something and get attention. If you’re a passenger, grab the wheel. Apparently it catches them so by surprise that they normally run.

Some mornings it just doesn’t seem worth it to gnaw through the leather straps.
Emo Philips (stolen from matt’s webpage)

I don’t like to comment on other schools training practices for the same reason I don’t like this yahoo coming to my school trying to pick arguments with me.

However, perhaps the only thing I am knowledgeable in is self defense and the martial arts.

Frankly, the state of martial arts is very sad. Too often instructors treat technique like a talisman to protect you from harm. Many instructors fail to drive home the reality of self defense, and all too often the reason why they don’t is because they don’t understand it, and they don’t because their instructor didn’t either, etc.

So, I don’t know about Diane’s friend or the Aikido instructor mentioned above but I hope that they take due care in teaching anti-gun technique. Martial arts technique doesn’t make anything related to self defense easy. It is not a god-sent cure-all as it is too often presented. If you think your technique will debilitate your opponent because it send s your willing partner sailing across the room, or because it is handed down as a secret of the ancients … well, I wish you all the best. I urge students of the martial arts to be objective and turn an eye inwards and analyze if what they are being headed has a slight ring of “embellishment”.

My apologies is this offends anybody or anybody’s instructor. Again, I have spent considerable time trying to really delve into the core of self defense and I spend a good portion of my life trying to improve the state of affairs in the martial arts world. Needless to say this makes me very passionate about it.

Lastly, and again simply my personal opinion, I do not reserve any technique for black belts and higher. Either it is a good technique that your students need to know or it isn’t. To hold on to good technique and show it to a privileged circle strikes me as the “secrets of the ancient master” syndrome. Yes, lots of people do it. I hear it all the time, “Well, my instructor didn’t teach me until I was a black belt” … historical practice doesn’t make it right! If you think that your beginners will simply hurt themselves with a technique (another favorite excuse) consider that maybe you should teach them why this technique is difficult and they shouldn’t rely on it until they have perfected it to a greater degree.

What more could you expect from somebody who lets people kick him to the head?

I want to reiterate. This is not commentary on any particular instructor and certainly not about the Aikido instructor or Kenpo instructor mentioned here. My sincere hope is that they teach truly excellent martial arts and martial spirit and that their students are prepared for anything that might happen to them on the streets although hopefully not.

Well, actually I can make some pretty particular statements about Tae Bo and so called “kickboxing” aerobics but I have spewed enough for one day.

Just to clarify some points. My friend endured extreme abuse from his parents up until the time he ran away from home at the age of 13. He was beaten, gang-raped, molested, you name it. At the age of 16, after a severe street beating (he was found in an alley almost dead), he was placed into protective custody. While in custody, he became involved in the Martial Arts. He is now a 4th (working on his 5th) degree black belt.

He has devoted the last 26 years teaching self defense. He specializes in abused children, most often those in foster care (he works closely with the State) and adults who were abused as children.

He doesn’t teach on “theory”, but rather experience.

He does not teach how to disarm a person until the student is ready. He does explain, and demonstrate, why this technique is one that should only be used by someone with experience.

I realize and respect your disclaimer that you do not know Sifu, but I still thought I should clarify that he isn’t just some karate instructor who’s daddy paid his karate school tuition and now he has his own Dojo. He has a very strong background in self defense and although no one knows him here on the SDMB, I felt I should mention it. I hold a great respect for him for overcoming the things in his childhood and using it to help others.

Coffee, chocolate, men . . . Some things are just better rich.

After reading my rambling, I still didn’t say what I had set out to say (it’s been a long-ass day) -

My friend lived on the streets of LA from the age of 13 until he was 23 years old except for the period of time he spent in foster homes after he was found in the alley (1 1/2 years). He knows a lot about defending himself.

HA HA! People who do Tae-Bo and consider themselves trained in self-defense, crack me up. :slight_smile:

Even as an aerobic workout, it isn’t that great. There are too many risks of strained muscle injuries.

However, true kick-boxing is impressive. My friend just hired a new kick boxing instructor who was the national champion in Africa a few years ago. It is a far cry from the workout vidoes.

Coffee, chocolate, men . . . Some things are just better rich.