Knife Attacks - Pre-Violence Indicators

(Gershon Ben Keren - Mon 30th Jan)

If you’ve spent any time working in the security industry, you will have spent a lot of time observing people, and you will soon have come to the realization that most assaults follow a similar pattern/process. When you understand this, you will be able to recognize attacks before they occur, and either disengage, or prepare yourself so you can increase your survival chances. I have never been a great athlete, or benefited from an unusually great reaction time, etc., however I have learnt to act quickly and decisively in situations, in the moments before an assailant initiates the attack, which gives me the illusion of speed and athleticism. In this article, I want to look at four things which are common occurrences in knife attacks, and how identifying these things can help us either avoid such attacks, or get ourselves into a better position to deal with them. I would also make the argument that our training partners should replicate these things in the training environment so that we have an accurate and realistic idea of what a knife attack looks like – if we only ever train our defenses, from a position where the knife is visible, and our attacker stands in front of us at distance, we will only get good at dealing with attacks that happen like this; which are few.

Victim selection and surveillance, are two of the activities that an assailant will engage in before they initiate their attack. An assailant will typically take several quick looks over in your direction, often moving their position, after each one, so that it becomes less obvious that they are looking at you – they will use their new position, to make it look like their movement is bringing you into their eye-line, rather than something deliberate on their part. This action is referred to as “Target Glancing”. An attacker is going to want to make sure that they have targeted the right victim; somebody who is unaware, preoccupied and doesn’t appear as though they will offer up much resistance. If you pick up on an individual who is target glancing at you, move out of the environment. You should also be aware of “Accomplice Glancing”. This can be seen where a group or gang are working together in a particular location, and will look to each other to communicate information, such as agreeing on a victim that one of the group has selected. These glances are typically longer and less well disguised than those directed at a target, but equally significant. You should pay particular attention, if after a look/glance, one of the members starts moving, as this normally signifies that the group is getting everybody into place before they begin the actual assault. Check to see if anyone is moving to block off entry/exit points, etc.

Attackers will also scan their environment to check for the presence of law-enforcement or security, as well as the general awareness level of those around them e.g. is there anyone who would make a good and credible witness against them, is there anyone who has identified their criminal intent, etc? The difference between this and target and accomplice glancing, is that there is no real focus when a person scans i.e. they are not looking in a specific direction, or at someone, but looking around, more generally. They are checking for people who may be interested in them. They may also be checking that an exit/escape route remains clear. Scanning becomes very noticeable when somebody looks behind them. There are very few reasons why a person would look over their shoulder, other than to check that they are not being observed.

Clothing checks and adjustments, are a good indicator, when combined with target glancing and scanning, that an individual is looking for victims, and has a weapon on them. Before just about every knife attack I’ve witnessed, I’ve seen the assailant stretch out their clothing and/or adjust it, so that they have easy and clear access to their weapon. This action is often repeated several times, with the location of the weapon being checked as they do it. An attacker armed with a knife will keep it concealed until the very moment they are going to use it. They are not going to put it out there on display and give you time to register it – many people who are stabbed in a fight don’t even see the knife, and believe that they have been punched; it’s only in the post-conflict phase when they check themselves and discover blood that what’s happened begins to hit them. If a knife is stabbed in and out repeatedly, cutting tissue “cleanly”, then the more immediate sensation is the hilt of the knife hitting the body; which feels like a punch. (It is worth pointing out that slashes are experienced more as electric shocks, etc.) Part of our training should involve defending knife attacks, where we don’t initially see the knife – and I would add in here attacks from the rear, that you have no chance of reacting/responding to, till you are initially stabbed; I can understand the reluctance of instructors to do this, as it can be a hard message for a student to swallow – that there are times when you might not be able to initially defend yourself – but if we are teaching reality based self-defense, rather than just demonstrating a system, as a system, we have to be honest about what reality looks like. It’s also a good advertisement of the self-protection/personal safety piece, which teaches them how to predict, prevent and avoid assaults before they occur.

For me, the biggest pre-violence indicator, is a person’s movement. If somebody is moving around me, target glancing and scanning (possibly adjusting their clothing), there’s a good chance I’m in danger. If I move, changing my position, and they move with me, I’ve confirmed it. I now need to check for accomplice glancing, as the last thing I want to do, is to move towards an exit, where there is an accomplice/third party who is assisting them. “Sheepdogging” or “Shepherding” is something that groups will do to direct a person’s movement in a particular direction, and it is important not to fall foul of it. An attacker may try to disguise their movement, by changing position every now and again, moving towards you incrementally. This type of synchronization of movement is common in crowds, where an attacker will try to disguise their movement, by changing their position in the group every now and again, possibly making it look as though they are trying to get a better vantage point if it’s a sporting match or nearer to the front of the group, if they are on the platform, waiting for a train, etc. If you are in the center of a crowd, it may be difficult/impossible for you to control the range/distance between you and your would-be assailant; a good reason to try and avoid situations where you will be in the center of a large group.  

Our training needs to be realistic, that’s the bottom-line. This means putting our students into difficult training situations, where at times they may not be able to make a successful defense, from the outset.  However, we should be clear that this is not necessarily failure. Failure is not surviving. If, because we have set the odds against the student, such as only allowing them to see the knife at the last minute, or having their partner pull the knife when they are clinched up, or on the ground, there is a good chance they will be “stabbed”. However, if they can block, create distance, and disengage, getting stabbed doesn’t represent failure – it’s a consequence of the confrontation that can be dealt with. If we can put into our training, target glancing, accomplice glancing, scanning, clothing adjustments and realistic movement, we will be training our students to recognize the pre-violence indicators that warn them of an assault. If they don’t have the time to disengage, they will at least have the time to prepare and position themselves to better deal with the attack.

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(Gershon Ben Keren - Mon 23rd Jan)

Crime and violent crime may at times be opportunistic, but it is never truly random, yet unfortunately we often use randomness and opportunity as synonyms, when in fact they aren’t the same thing. If we leave a window open which a burglar uses to enter our house, we may curse our luck, and argue to ourselves that we were subjected to a random crime i.e. what are the chances that a burglar would be walking past our house on the one day, when we forgot to close a window? The point is, we helped provide the burglar with an opportunity that other house owners in the area didn’t; it is unlikely that the burglar was specifically targeting our house, much more likely that they were trawling the area, looking for opportunities. There would also be other factors that go into creating the opportunity, such as: does the house look like it is worth breaking into - does it look like it contains the particular valuables/items the burglar is looking for, such as pharmaceuticals or electronic goods etc.? If we can understand what goes into “creating” an opportunity, we can look to change those things and reduce the likelihood of being targeted by predatory individuals, whether it’s for burglary, mugging, or a violent assault.

When we look at risk assessments, one of the elements that is difficult to alter is the threats that we face e.g. we can’t change the number of muggers and burglars out there – social policy may be able to do this, but as an individual, this is largely out of our control. When we look at reducing the opportunities we present to a predatory individual, we are in fact looking at two things: target hardening, and victim displacement. We are looking to make ourselves and our assets difficult for a predator to have access to, in relation to other available targets in the locale. If our home is a harder nut to crack than our next-door neighbors’, and a burglar perceives them to contain equal assets, then their house will be targeted rather than ours (this is the same for muggings – predators choose us by comparing us to, and selecting us from, other potential victims). It is worth noting this because one of the common excuses I hear people make for not taking security precautions regarding burglary is, “if they really want to break in to my house, they’ll find a way.” Unless your home contains specific items of worth that no others in the vicinity contain, there is no reason why anyone would “really want” to break in to your home if there are easier ones around. So what opportunities does your house create for a burglar, that others around you don’t (and vice versa)? Likewise, mugger selects his victims from a pool; so what opportunities might you create for them, that others around you don’t? What makes us, and/or our assets, easy targets?

Ease of access/accessibility creates opportunities for predatory criminals. Rarely do I give people access to myself, and I don’t stop moving if I do engage. This may appear as rudeness to brush off someone approaching me on the street, however I see few ways I could genuinely be useful to somebody, and I’m not willing to compromise my safety. There are people who need assistance, and I will make myself accessible to them - such as the woman who needs a hand carrying a stroller down a flight of stairs - however this is me initiating access, not responding to it. I’m extremely suspicious of anyone who wants to engage me in conversation, especially so if they want to stop me from moving as they do. Being stationary is often used/seen as an invitation for access, and creates opportunities for predatory individuals to engage with us. Looking at home security, not having clear delimiters and boundaries around your property also “invites” access to it – it should be obvious to anyone around if somebody is on your property or not, and in what capacity. Accessibility creates opportunities for predatory individuals, and is something to avoid.

Predatory criminals usually want and seek privacy in which to commit their crimes. By giving them this, you are creating opportunities for them. When you park your car, is it visible to other people, or is it in a place where there is little traffic, either vehicular or foot? Are the entrances to your property visible to passers-by on the street, or to neighbors, or do they afford potential criminals privacy? Forget good lighting, and well-lit places, unless they enjoy natural surveillance i.e. there are a number of eyes constantly or regularly on them. Our homes are perhaps the most private places we have – who do we let into them? Most sexual assaults against women happen in their homes or somebody else’s, by someone they know - forgot the “stranger jumping out from behind a tree” myth – such attacks happen, but they’re rare. Who we allow to share our privacy is important from a personal safety perspective. Affording somebody access to us, where they enjoy privacy, is not an opportunity we should create easily for people. In my very, very younger days I’ve fallen foul of the, “look, I just want to talk to you” ruse to get me to leave a populated place to go somewhere more private/less visible; and more than once, it was a setup. I’m also very wary of anyone who is constantly looking around – checking their privacy – to see if anyone is observing them; couple this with hands I can’t see, and I’m definitely making distance.

This may seem paranoid, however I’ll back it up with some academia. There is a philosophical principle known as Occam’s Razor. It states that if there are two explanations for a situation, the simpler one is usually the correct one. To put it another way, the more assumptions you must make to get an explanation to work, the more likely it is to be the wrong one. If somebody is looking around as they approach you, or talk to you, what assumptions would you have to make that they don’t have harmful intent towards you? If somebody wants to move you from one place to another, or is trying to get you alone, what assumptions would you have to make that they don’t have harmful intent towards you? Another way to look at this, would be to ask what opportunities you create for somebody by letting them do these things, knowing that predators by and large desire privacy. Does using Occam’s Razor, mean you sometimes get it wrong? Yes, it’s a tool that “usually” gets it right, but not “always” however as Clint Eastwood said in “Dirty Harry”, “if you want a guarantee, buy a toaster”. I’ll accept usually, because always doesn’t exist.

Criminals and predatory individuals require opportunities, and we need to look at and understand the opportunities we present to them. Accessibility and communication creates opportunity, as does privacy. If we can limit these three things, we naturally increase our personal safety, and reduce some of the vulnerabilities that put us at risk of becoming a victim.


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Where Traditional Martial Arts Get It Right

(Gershon Ben Keren - Sun 15th Jan)

A lot of people in the Krav Maga community knock traditional martial arts, such as Karate and Judo, without understanding the value of certain training methods and ideas that they contain. There is sometimes an “arrogance” pertaining to Krav Maga, that it’s got it 100% right, and the traditional arts are flawed and have got it wrong. I would argue that neither have got it completely right or wrong, and I include myself in this – If I am always striving to improve the way I and my students train, and find more effective training methods, drills etc. I endeavor to find the best way to balance training time, so that students get the right mix of aggression, technical, and skill building training; which is not to say that I’ve attained this (there’s never enough training time, to do everything that is needed to prepare a student for dealing with real-life violence). What I do believe though is that Krav Maga, as it comes out of the box, so to speak, doesn’t get it completely right for the civilian audience, and that the traditional martial arts can help us understand what we need to do to amend and develop what we teach to make it relevant. You can be teaching authentic Krav Maga in a way that just isn’t relevant.

In traditional martial arts the “starting” position, more often than not sees you facing your opponent/adversary, while in Krav Maga the “starting” position, can see your aggressor initiate an attack from the rear, from the side, etc. A great deal of emphasis is placed on being able to respond/react when ambushed. This is certainly a strength of the system, and one that I appreciated from having worked in door security, where assaults did occur on a 360-degree basis. However, for most people, in most situations, an attacker will “start” their assault while facing you; that is the nature of the social violence that we are most likely to face. This is something that the traditional arts understood about fighting; on most occasions, it starts face-to-face. Martial arts historians may argue that this is because historically most fights were of a dueling nature, and this was the format of fighting that the warrior code prescribed. I would make the case that most male-on-male violence, is a duel of sorts, with its own format and rituals e.g. posturing, shouting, pushing, etc., before the first punches are thrown. This often doesn’t get acknowledged in Krav Maga classes, and a greater emphasis is placed on practicing “surprise” attacks from the rear than on dealing with an aggressor who is standing in front of you, screaming and shouting threats. Where Krav Maga gets it right, and the traditional martial arts often get it wrong (with regards to real world violence), is on the time and distance that is given, before the fight starts – in real-life encounters, your attacker will most likely be in your face, rather than a few feet away. This is also an important fact when considering how closely MMA, Boxing, Muay Thai fights resemble reality, as fighters are always separated from each other at the start of the fight.

By no means am I saying we shouldn’t train to deal with attacks from the side or rear, however we want to best prepare ourselves for the realities that we face, and with limited time to train we should acknowledge that most of the time, we will have to deal with an assailant who is facing us. It is also worth noting, that some of the traditional attacks from the rear such as a rear-strangle, occur differently in a civilian setting to a military one, and when adapting a military system for the civilian population, the correct context needs to be explained to our students. In my experience, and those of others I’ve talked and trained with, rear strangle attacks are normally committed by a third party, pulling you off/away from a friend or associate you are interacting with i.e. the attack is more of a pull round the neck than an actual strangulation. For Krav Maga to be relevant, such contexts need to be explained, and trained. Again, I am not saying that lone attackers don’t initiate attacks this way, just that they’re not as common as we may be led to believe.

In a lot of Krav Maga videos I see posted online, where students are punching pads, they are too far away to realize their full striking power; I see this a lot when students do bag-work, they simply don’t stand close enough to hit as hard as they could – their punches lack driving force. Whenever I mention board-breaking, somebody will quote the Bruce Lee line, “boards don’t fight back”. They don’t but, when you’re punching a pad, whether it’s a focus mitt or kick shield, it doesn’t fight back either. What board breaking teaches you, is to punch through the target, in a way that a focus mitt never will – it will also test if your fist is solid, and your wrist is properly aligned etc. If you asked a student to break a board, rather than hit a focus mitt, the first thing you’ll see them do is step closer; they want to make sure their strike is going through the target, rather than bouncing off it. The influence that boxing has had on Krav Maga, is a positive one, however the incorporation of pad-work, without incorporating the skills of the pad-man has meant that many students use of the pads leads to ineffective striking, that lacks driving power. Breaking boards also give you confidence in your ability to hit a hard surface and have your hand survive it. If you go to punch with all your force, against somebody’s face and your punch has only ever been tested on a pad, or when wearing a glove, how much confidence are you going to have in your strike? There is a very real risk that you will pull your punch and not deliver it with full force. If you’re able to punch through one or two pine boards, and have experienced what it is like to hit something that is solid, and doesn’t give (like a pad), I would argue that you’ll feel more confident in striking with maximum power.

A good addition to any studio is a re-breakable board. It’s an excellent training tool for students who you see not punching through the target. You can get them with various levels of resistance, so you don’t have to expect a new student to punch through the equivalent of a one inch pine board, etc. The point is to demonstrate the range that you need to be at to effectively strike, and the need to extend the strike beyond the target. It is one of the best visual training aids to get this point across. It also gets students to realize that fights occur at much closer range than they may initially think. The problem I often have when I talk to other Krav Maga instructors about board breaking is that they’re worried about their student’s perception of it i.e. that board breaking is something that traditional martial arts do, and their students don’t want any part of that – they came to Krav Maga because it doesn’t look like a traditional martial art and they didn’t want to wear a Gi (the traditional white jacket and pants), etc. So what are we against? The image of the traditional martial arts, or their content? If a training method benefits and corrects a common mistake, it has value and should be incorporated.

The traditional martial arts haven’t got it completely right, but they’ve got a lot of it right, and we would be wise to acknowledge this. At the same time, we should be constantly questioning where our Krav Maga training might not reflect reality, and in fact may not be relevant. Too many people fall foul of assuming that because what they are training is called Krav Maga, that it is by definition relevant and realistic, and looking at the Karate School across the road assume because they are wearing a white jacket and pants they are missing the point. We should always be looking at our own training, and looking at how and where it can be improved – and that may well mean taking some lessons from the traditional martial arts.      

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Simplified Thinking (How Children Think)

(Gershon Ben Keren - Mon 9th Jan)

It is easy to fall into the trap of overthinking a situation. It is also easy to fall into the trap, of believing that more information about something will help you reach the best decision. If you are dealing with one or more aggressive individuals, you won’t have the time to gather more information about the situation – however, many people try to do just this. I have seen people trying to process what is happening to them, and gain a complete understanding of it, when they are dealing with a person who is only moments away from punching them in the face. Asking “why” won’t help you in this situation. There is really only one relevant piece of information when somebody is in your face, screaming and shouting, and that is, there is a person in your face screaming and shouting; until you deal with that immediate problem there is no point in asking “why” they are behaving this way. People will sometimes confuse de-escalation and conflict resolution, mixing the two up; de-escalation is what you do to get the person into an emotional state where you can then attempt to resolve the conflict – only when they have been removed from their volatile emotional state can the “why” of the situation be examined.

Children are often very good at recognizing the important factors in a situation and responding to them. On the 26th December 2004 a 9.3 magnitude earthquake occurred in the Indian Ocean. The earthquake triggered a number of tsunamis, along the coasts of almost all of the landmasses bordering the Ocean; somewhere between 230,000 and 280,000 people in 14 different countries were killed. Holidaymakers on a beach in Thailand, watched as the sea suddenly retreated. Most stood mesmerized, trying to work out what had caused this phenomena. An 8 year old girl came to a quick and startling realization; if that amount of water moved away so fast, there was a good chance it would come back at equal speed, and being in front of it wasn’t a good place to be. In that moment, she hadn’t stopped to ask the “why” of the situation, she’d instinctually understood what was the only relevant piece of information to her, and she knew she had to act on it. When she told her parents they should move off the beach because the water would be coming back at force, they didn’t question her reasoning; once revealed to them, it made absolute sense – they’d just got caught up in asking to many “whys” about what was happening, rather than considering the possible consequences of it. Her family returned to their hotel, and went to the fifth floor, and from there, they watched the sea rush back in.

When I was six or seven, I don’t remember understanding much about firearms. I guess I must have known that they need to be reloaded, etc., but I don’t think that really affected my and my friends’ play – I just remember us all running around pointing two fingers at each other and repeatedly shouting “bang” over and over again (I also don’t ever remember my fingers jamming). On December 14th 2012, Adam Lanza walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary school and started shooting. There were many heroic moments performed by staff members, including the School Janitor, Rick Thorne, who ran through the hallways alerting people that there was a shooter and to evacuate the building; often people who practice martial arts and self-defense think that the way they can be most effective in a situation, is to use their skills and engage with an attacker – it may be that simply informing people of a danger/threat is the best way to be effective and save the most lives. At some point in the shooting, Adam Lanza, needed to reload his rifle. In that moment the shooting stopped. A 7-year old child, urged five of his classmates that this was the time to move from their hiding place and evacuate the building. All six survived, what is still the deadliest school shooting in US history (26 lives taken, not including Lanza who committed suicide). Too much information can cause us to hesitate e.g. if we have a good working knowledge of firearms, we can come up with a multitude of reasons why a shooter may stop shooting, and we might start to reason the possibilities and consequences of each one. That 7-year old knew one thing. If the shooter had plenty of targets and wasn’t shooting, it was because he couldn’t, and that’s a good time to try and get out of there. Simplified Thinking in action.

Children are also some of the most effective survivors of wilderness disasters, and cope with them better than adults. Up to a certain age, children don’t understand that the world continues beyond the horizon; what they see is what there is. Adults, however, understand that the world continues, and when lost, believe that there may be “information” beyond what they can see e.g. if they can keep moving forward, backwards etc. they’ll come across a landmark that they can use to orientate themselves with, or get to a vantage point that will allow them to see how to get back on track, etc. This search for “new” information, will often see adults rush forward, exhausting themselves. Children, on the other hand, only have the information available to them and so use that. Most adults who get lost in the wilderness exhaust themselves in their panic for information, whereas children just respond to their immediate situation; they eat when they’re hungry, sleep when they’re tired, etc.

When we are dealing with the immediacy of aggression and violence, we need to think more like children – I refer to this as Simplified Thinking (it’s not simplistic, just simple). The information we have is what we should work with, and not overthink the situation; we simply don’t have the time for that. We should take the first effective solution available to us – if it’s a tsunami, get to high ground, if it’s an active shooter situation, when the shooting stops we should look to evacuate, etc. If we get caught up asking ourselves the “what ifs” of a situation, then they will overtake us. Identify the relevant information and use it to respond.   

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Training To Improvise

(Gershon Ben Keren - Mon 2nd Jan)

I’ve written about improvised weapons before, explaining the categorization system that was taught to me by Avi Moyal of the IKMF (International Krav Maga Federation), and the differences between “weapons of carry” (things that you have about your person) and “weapons of opportunity” (things in the environment), etc. I haven’t, however, written much about “drilling” the use of said weapons. Before I go into some of the drills I have used, and teach, it is important to understand what we mean by “improvised”, as there seems to be a level of confusion around this. If you teach somebody how to fight with a chair (and there are many merits to this), you are not really teaching somebody to improvise a weapon, you are instructing them on how to use a chair as a weapon. This may seem a subtle difference/distinction, but it is an important one: if a chair isn’t available in their environment, the skill they have learnt isn’t applicable. If they are taught to improvise, they should be able to use everything in the environment as a weapon of some sort. That is not to say there isn’t value to teaching people how to use specific objects as weapons, but recognizing other objects as weapons is what improvisation truly is.

Another important point to bear in mind is that if you don’t know how to use a stick or baton, you won’t magically acquire this skill, when you recognize that an umbrella or similar object resembles a stick/baton, and could be used as such. The idea of an improvised weapon, can sometimes overtake the fact that we don’t know how to effectively use the object. The weapon could even be a hindrance to us if we must think about its use, before defending ourselves with it. This is why I believe it is important to train in the basic use of knife and stick, to understand the strengths and weaknesses of both weapons e.g. a stick/baton when swung, really only delivers power in the last third of its length, unless it is extremely heavy. Trying to swing an umbrella, or similar, at somebody who is charging you down is probably not the best use of it, as hitting a fast-moving target in exactly the right spot when under stress and duress, without having trained this skill using a baton, is probably not going to be successful. Anyone who has drilled stick versus knife, will soon be aware of the limitations of a baton against a determined attacker intent on stabbing you. The last thing you want to do in a real-life confrontation is pick something up that you have no skill in using (this is the same when you disarm somebody of a weapon).

It should also be noted that you need to first possess the intent to use the weapon you’ve chosen e.g. could you smash a bottle, and then stab and grind it into somebody’s face, etc. In my experience, instructors often overrate their student’s ability to use extreme violence – and this needs to be trained. If a student is unable/unwilling to use a bottle in this fashion, they may be better (and there are also other good reasons for this) to not smash it, but to use it as an impact weapon. We need to be realistic in what we can expect ourselves and our students to do – if you only teach your students to tap and rack after disarming a firearm, you are directing them to behave/act in a way they may not be able to perform i.e. are they comfortable with the idea of using the firearm to take a life, if their attacker moves/comes towards them? Don’t fall into the trap of always training that a fight stops when a weapon is disarmed. If a student lacks the skills and intent to use a weapon, whether improvised or not, then it may in fact prove a hindrance to their survival.

The most effective way I’ve found to train students in improvised weapons is to teach them the basic categorization system, and then give them a variety of objects to use, discussing the relative merits afterwards. Some of the “weapons” that always spark a good discussion are water bottles. Most of my students use/have them, and they come in a variety of sizes and materials, which can determine their use. Often the first thing a person will do, is pick it up and use it as an extension of their hammer-fist. If you then give them a kick shield or similar to strike into, they find that they can’t properly hold onto it when they start to try and strike with force – they can with two hands, but that then restricts their ability when they are dealing with a dynamic attacker(s); they will need their other hand to control range and set up their strikes. Often, they will find that using it as an extension of a palm heel strike, held and delivered forward - using the side, rather than the bottom, of the bottle as the striking surface - is more effective e.g. they can deliver more power, and their strike is harder to block, etc. Training this way gives them a more personalized approach to improvised weapons e.g. not everybody’s hand is the same size or their grip strength equal, etc.

Once they have an appreciation of the different uses and strengths of various objects, they must learn to recognize them in their everyday environments, and visualize using them. I am writing this in a Starbucks; within easy reach, there are chairs that can be used as shields (further away there are high stools that would have a greater reach), tables that can form an environmental advantage when used as a barrier (as well as striking surfaces), hot coffee that can be thrown, a glass bottle that would make a solid striking unit, or could be smashed, etc. These are my weapons of opportunity. I also have on me coins that could be thrown, keys that could be thrown – one that I could cut/slash with – and a mobile phone that when held would focus the power of a hammer-fist strike, etc. I then go through the process of visualizing an incident, in which these different tools are used. Repeating this exercise, your eyes will soon be naturally drawn to objects, the moment you enter a room, rather than having to consciously search for them.

Being able to improvise a weapon out of the objects around us is a skill that we and the higher-functioning primates share – it’s one of the things which has ensured our survival, and is a very “human” way to fight. However, because we have become so out of touch with violence in our daily lives, we now need to rediscover and retrain these skills.  

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