Category Archives: Ted Talks

Self Defense – Ted Style

self defense

Some time ago, somewhere (I’ve lost track) I mentioned something about self defense, and that has come back to bite me. So I’m going to do something offhand about that, and you’ll have to forgive me if it’s disjointed.
Also, I’m sure there are many who will read this and give me a flip-off, and that’s ok, because what I’ll do is not really what most people want to hear, and that’s ok too.

First off a little history. After first WestPac I volunteered (yup) for HC-7 to train crewmen for CSAR duty in the H-3 Sea King. ‘They’ shipped me down the street to HC-5 to get trained even though I had already qualified for the job. During that training we were forcibly enrolled in hand to hand combat, which lasted forever, you know, run a bunch of miles at 6AM, endless calisthenics and endless h2h practice for “muscle memory”. The instructors had been brought in from Special Forces, USMC, USAF and USN. And they were not nice guys. Seemed like this stuff lasted for months and months. Officers left after a week, the EMs stayed on until they dropped out (most) and four of us completed the training. Several stories came out of this, among them a barfight with a bunch of SEALs and an altercation with some nasties from a motorcycle club. The SEALs accepted us and the bikers left.

Anyway, we were pretty much done, and on a Friday the four instructors gave our farewell junk and told us to report to the gym on Monday at 0800. A bit of a puzzle, but… So we came in there, actually having a whole breakfast for the first time in months, and there was this fuzzy little guy about 5’7″ or so, probably weighed 140 wet. Said he was from a certain intelligence agency and would finalize our open hand training.

Before I go further, I should mention Hollywood and the artistry they perform on their action scenes. This stuff is nothing short of amazing, I wish I could fly through the air with the greatest of ease and all that. But I can’t, and neither can you, or the SEALs, or Delta Force, or anyone else. So forget that crap, start over with a blank mind. Second, there are all manner of fights on TV. Forget that stuff too. Third, here’s a little tale about martial arts. Son decided at age 6 he wanted to be a karate dude or whatever. Due to certain physical problems he had (wandering eye), I told him I would finance for as long as he wanted. Eventually he ended up getting some fancy Dan black belt etc, and got to talking about how badass it all was. Well, I had subscribed to “Black Belt” magazine (which I read too) and recalled an article about Karate etc and street fighting, in which the mag listed the names of 1,000 black belts who had met their ends at the hands of hoodlums. Gave him that mag open to that article. Whee! Told the kid, he was 17 I think, that all the katas and whatever will NOT prepare someone for reality. I guess he took issue with that, and challenged me to a duel, in which he ended up flat with one of my size 15s on each side of his head in a matter of seconds. He conceded. And I was gentle.

Now then. The very first thing you need is to understand, and I know this has been said and said and said, but: your life is at stake and you damned well better realize it. Second, he will kill you if you blow it. Third, you must therefore remove any and all restrictions, meaning if you have an advantage you take the asshole out permanently, period. Yak yak no mercy and all that, but I MEAN it. If you can’t do that, you will probably lose the battle. When I say hit the thing, HIT the thing, NO MATTER WHAT OR WHERE IT IS. Got that? Good.

That last guy in our training basically stood there and said something on the order of: “OK, now you can forget everything you just learned, temporarily, because this class will be short and intense.” Which it was. There were no calisthenics, no repetitive movements and all that. His little course consisted of what the operatives at the time were using, I guess, and the training was pretty easy, but I’ll tell you what: that stuff has been extremely useful ever since. To me.

Now I’ll get into it a little. You don’t need to be some gigantic super-fit muscle bound individual to cause harm. You DO need to be vicious to the extent that you just don’t give a damn so long as you stay alive. Period, no exceptions. So when I say something in here that may send you off, remember that.

You wander around all day doing things, in the house, outside the house, on your little farm or whatever. Think about the times you’ve been doing something, did it badly, and caused yourself pain and suffering. Some of those were extreme, right? Some either made you tear up or cuss like a maniac and jump around in circles damning everything from rabbits to corncobs. Remember those times? Those places you injured ARE very good places to whack someone. Guys get whacked in the gonads, hurts like hell, and hard enough will put you in a place where you will never quite be the same; good place to whack an attacker. Remember it.

Bang your head once in a while? Especially in the temple? Good place to whack someone. How about the throat? Good place again. Smack your nose? That’s another one, especially sideways on the end. You see, these places that cause extreme pain, sometimes without much pressure, are what the intel guy taught us. Use those places.

Here’s a nice example. Ever whack the top of your foot? Man, that hurts bad. What you never think about is that the top of your foot has a lot of little bones in it, and those are easily broken. Won’t it be fun if you stamp on the top of your attacker’s foot with your hiking boot? He’ll whine like a little baby, guaranteed, and you can do whatever you want with the SOB, like put a bullet in his skull. However. While there is no right or wrong way to step on someones foot, there is a way that gets you more and better. If you’re facing the scumbag, turn yourself a little sideways while cocking one leg (as if in a side kick); when you jam your foot down on his, don’t aim for his foot, aim for his shin, and you get double duty. It’s easier to let your foot hit the shin, the shin has nerves, lots of them, and it will be a guide down his leg right to the most painful part of the top of his foot. Bad guys hopping around on one foot aren’t quite so bad after this. Got it?

NEVER KICK ABOVE THE WAIST!!!! These moves will open your defenses to all manner of retaliatory stuff. You feel the urge to kick somebody, kick them in the knee, preferably directly in the front (at minimum, this will overextend his knee and cause much pain) or in his gonads. Don’t depend on that gonad kick, some people can defend against such things very well. Better to go after than knee, he won’t be expecting it, and if he is, he’ll shift his weight so he can move the leg your aiming at; that’s actually a good thing, because now his weight is on the other leg, your leg is already cocked, and you can do the same kick to the other knee. And that one will really screw him up; chances are he’ll never walk right again.

Never fiddle around with body shots, unless you’re a skilled boxer, they won’t work in a street fight (and, really, that’s what self defense is). Nice, soft places are good things, like the throat. Whack someone in the throat and he will start thinking about his belief in the Almighty, because if you do it well, he’s headed for judgement. It doesn’t require a lot of striking pressure to cause the windpipe to collapse, and even less to make someone quit what they’re doing. The side of the neck where the carotids are, struck between the carotid and windpipe will cause a person to go into shock. That requires more practice, but is very effective.

Face is another nice soft spot. Especially eyes. Poke somebody in the eye, chances are they’ll quit. Probably he won’t want you to, and eyes aren’t particularly large targets. So, make your hand into a claw and aim generally at the face; chances are pretty good one of your fingers will end up in one of his eyes. Poke it nice and hard. Even better, do some finger pushups every day to strengthen your paws. Now, when you poke the turd in the eye, once you know you’ve got a finger in an eye, put some force behind it and shove that finger right in there in his eye socket. For effect, you can curl your finger once it’s there and pop his eye out. Show him his eye you just took out. I guarantee he’ll go into shock quickly, and you can do whatever you want to him.

The main thing is to cause the SOB PAIN! As much PURE PAIN as you can, as quickly as you can. Having done that, then you do what you feel like doing, because he is basically out of commission. His intent was to hurt you, HURT HIM. If you’ve got his knee, whack him in the throat. Why not, it’s free. Kick him in the nuts, it’s also free, and it reinforces what you’ve already done.

Again, think about those places that have caused you intense pain. Check them out again, and find on yourself what hurts most, and how you’d make use of that on someone else. All people will have similar spots and you can use that. See if you can find six places on your own body that can be painful, and make plans to nail those spots on someone else. They’ll have the same spots. When you’ve got that, practice those six spots all the time.

Weapons. Anything you can get your hands on, heavy is good, sharp is good, and soft spots on the body are good targets for those things. One very underrated weapon is a trucker’s tire hammer. It is in fact a tire hammer, not some outlawed stick weapon; but it will break someone’s arm in a flash. Ask any trucker.

Practice. Make that claw, do those finger pushups, find a tree and side kick as if it were a shin, make your foot slide down the trunk with as much force as possible. Note that when you make that claw, it’s not the same as throwing a solid punch: your interest is in his eyes.

There are many pressure points on the human body; martial arts wants you to know those, but one thing you really should keep in mind is this: it takes years and years of practice to strike those points or use those points, and there is NO guarantee the object is going to let you do it anyway. Moreover, what Hollywood prefers that you don’t know is that it takes time for a person to die by getting ‘touched’ by a ‘death touch’ or some such (I’m not convinced they work either; I had some meathead give me a ‘death touch’ one time just before I used him for a broom, and I’m still here).

Sorry. I’m getting excited at the prospects in the future. So I’ll continue this later, we can get into disarming someone and stuff like that.

Need to finish this soon, so let’s get into armed adversaries. Some things you need to know about are reflexes, as in time from observation to action, how a person carries a weapon and stuff like that.

How is your adversary handling his weapon? Is it a firearm, and how is he holding it, where is he in relation to you, and can you tell what he’s going to do? If an assailant is far away from you, more than a few feet, there won’t be much you can do, so run away towards the nearest cover, and don’t run straight, run crooked. You’ll live longer, and it will give you the chance to fight again.

Now, reaction – action. It takes time for someone to pull a trigger. It takes time for someone to recognize an action. An average crook isn’t very fast, and it will take him close to one full second to react to any move you choose to make.

If the assailant is close, pointing his gun at your midsection, say, or waving it around, generally pointed at you, you have a better than even chance of nailing him. Be distracting: put your hands up, arms straight out from shoulders, forearms straight up, like a sideways L. Start blubbering about you have kids, a wife or husband, relatives, a sore toe, you just wet your pants or whatever. Make something up. It will put him off balance, he’s now thinking more about your problem than what he’s planning on doing to you. As you blubber, take steps towards him, he isn’t really watching anyway, until you are well within arms reach. Keep blubbering, and when you’re close enough, as fast as possible grab for the backstrap of his gun (slide if it’s an auto) with your opposite hand, as in if he’s holding with his right hand, grab with your right hand. and turn your body the other way. Well, now, you ask, Why would I do that? Because, friends and neighbors, when you grab and twist, even if you miss your grab, you have placed yourself out of his line of fire. When you’ve grabbed his gun by the backstrap, you have the leverage – simple mechanics – and if you twist the gun INTO his finger, not only are you controlling where it’s pointed, you have his trigger finger well into the trigger guard. Guess what? HE is now at YOUR mercy. You keep that gun twisting into his finger and he will do exactly what you want him to do, no questions asked. His trigger finger is now bent well back, it hurts like hell, and if you really want to, you can use his gun to remove his finger, break it, dislocate it (if it’s not already), and guide him to his knees. You can also twist that gun right up there to his head and pull the trigger yourself if you’ve a mind to do so. This works IF he’s close enough, with either hand. You should practice it, more is better.

OK. Somebody comes up behind you and shoves a gun into your back, “Gimme your wallet” type thing. Or maybe he just pricks you a little with his knife. Your immediate reaction is to raise your hands (same way as above). He’ll be expecting this. This next requires a bit of practice, just so you know it works, because it doesn’t sound like much. Go ahead and blubber with this guy too, to put him off guard. Probably he won’t do anything yet anyway. IF you can tell which hand he’s using to carry, and IF you’ve done some practice, use your same hand: if he’s carrying with his right, use your right. If you can’t tell, probably the case, use your master arm: if you’re right handed, you will naturally have more power in that arm, likewise with you lefties. Once you’ve got him distracted with your blubbering, bring your arm down HARD across your back while turning the same direction. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? You do this right, and whatever weapon he’s using will fly like the wind; he won’t be able to hold onto it, odds are, unless it’s a smaller knife. Now you’re in a hand to hand situation, since he doesn’t have a gun or knife. Speaking from experience, the odds are now about 75 – 25 he’ll turn and run, because you just showed him you won’t be trifled with. I’ve personally knocked a 1911-A1 nearly 50 feet with this method, gun held by a policeman (in a class) who knew I was about to do it. He had no chance whatsoever; when it was done, he just looked at me with a glazed look in his eyes, trying to figure out what just happened. [Yes, I did teach H2H to officers back when, latest around 10 years ago.]

Knives. Touchy subject, knives. People seem to fear knives more than guns, for some reason. Maybe it’s the fact that a knive will slice people and make them disfigured. So, to that end, allow me to state this: ONLY if a person knows where to thrust will a knife kill you instantly; mostly, it will hurt. Seldom will a single thrust kill you unless it causes you to bleed out.

People using knives don’t often really know how to use them. So here’s something to think about: if your opponent is showing your his knife, how big it is or whatever, twisting it in front of him and all that hollywood stuff, odds are 99-1 he is an amateur. When someone is showing you his blade, he’s depending on making you afraid of it. But, his problems are many, the main one being he still has to react to you. He’s in front of you, mash his foot; hell, he can’t stab your leg fast enough to stop you, and again he’ll be hopping around on one foot. Or use any of the other methods previously described in unarmed combat. He’s going to be surprised no matter what if you attack him in any way.

Now here’s a caution: if this guy comes towards you and you know he has a knife, but you can’t see the knife, he probably knows what he’s doing, and your best bet is to retreat as quickly as possible. If you’re holding a gun, shoot the sucker, otherwise he’ll probably kill you. Don’t take chances.

Conversely, if you happen to somehow get into a knife fight, don’t show your opponent your knife (except initially, especially if you carry a nice big Bowie or some such – then, make sure he knows what you have). Keep your blade as hidden as possible from him – not so hidden you can’t use it – but away from his sight. A good position is (right handed) down along your right leg, slight behind. This position allows you to move quickly in both defense and offense, and if you have a nice big K-bar or Bowie, you can slash very well. Two or three good slashes and he will most likely lose interest; if you’re using a Bowie, two or three good slashes will have him bleeding out. Hell, one good slash with a Bowie will do it (note that the Bowie knife is the only knife outlawed for use in duels; seems everybody in the duels with Bowies died). Then you can go about your business. Wash your knife, preferably with chlorine. Remember none of this works if someone is throwing knives at you. Duck.

The way things are going, there is always the possibility that you’ll be required to kill somebody, possibly a un soldier, who is on watch or some such. Recall what I said earlier: knife wounds generally will not kill someone instantly. You want that sentry out of the way quietly, right? And instantly, right? Coming from behind, silently, wrap your left arm around his helmet, pull his head that way, and insert your blade downwards between his neck and collarbone. You now have a rag doll, guaranteed to disable the instant that blade severs the nerves between spine and elsewhere. Alternatively, shove the blade up into his skull from the back; that one is harder to do, and I prefer the downward stroke above. It is also possible to cause someone’s relatively fast demise by a thrust into the kidney – this causes the body to go into shock almost immediately, disabling the guy, but it’s not an immediate kill.

That’s going to have to do it for now, I think. These are all simple but very effective moves, most not requiring a lot of practice. Of course, you can do the hollywood stuff, and sometimes be effective, if you take karate or whatever and practice for years. To do that, you’ll need to be in very good shape and work it for many years. Then, someone will shoot you or stab you in the back.