Pressure Point Mastery Series: LI-18

The attacker has thrown a right hand punch at the defender, who has blocked with their left hand. This leaves the defender in a vulnerable position on the inside forcing them to counter quickly. The activation with the left hand stimulates the Acupuncture Points on the inside of the attacker’s wrist creating a “Fire Burns Metal” effect by activating the Lung, Pericardium, and Heart Meridians. This makes the strike to the LI-18 (a Yang Metal meridian) all the more effective. From a western perspective, the strike creates a vasovagal response in the baroreceptors causing blood pressure to drop suddenly. From the Eastern perspective, the strike disrupts energy flowing to/from the head and body resulting in a knockout.

Continue reading

The History of the Dragon Society International

Since the earliest times of mankind’s tumultuous existence, warriors have sought to increase the effectiveness of their combative arts. As advances in the culture’s understanding of the human body increased, so too did their ability to attack its weaknesses.

Continue reading

The Tactical Freeze

It is always interesting how life presents little lessons in the most unexpected way.  These small lessons can have huge impact however in larger applications!  Take the reaction of someone trained versus someone untrained to a violent encounter.  They can be very different reactions with life affecting consequences!

Yesterday, while going to a local pharmacy to pick up medications for my wife, one of these little lessons happened with my 11 year old daughter and myself.  We were walking to our vehicle when vehicles on either side of us simultaneously started to back out of their parking spaces with us between the two.  My untrained daughter froze.  I, on the other hand, almost ran over her trying to get out of the way and take her with me.  Two opposite reactions to the same dangerous stimuli.  It reminded me of what I have seen spending years doing combatives arts and working in Law Enforcement.

When encountered with violent situations, sometimes those new to the profession will freeze momentarily.  This is part of the OODA Loop where their brain is processing the situation and trying to Orient and get to the step of taking action.  We call this an O-O Loop where their brain ping-pongs between Observation and Orientation while seemingly taking forever to get to Decision and then Action.  Not everyone does this, however.  Some seem to spring into Action very fast.  I suspect their O-O Loop is just really small and thus extremely fast.

I have seen this freezing be very serious and pose risk for fellow officers.  We have seen people freeze for 20 or 30 seconds or more while a fight was taking place.  Sadly, the outcome is often having to encourage the individuals to seek employment elsewhere as the risk to themselves and others is too high.  This long of freeze without rendering help to a partner could easily lead to serious injury or death.

I have also seen this in training.  When doing firearms Simunitions training with marker rounds, we have seen people entering a room in a building search, encounter a threat, and freeze and stop in the doorway, processing the OODA Loop.  This has been catastrophic!  Not only does the one officer “die” in such circumstances, but the rest of the team is unable to clear the door and provide support.  This is why the “Point Man” on an entry team cannot be the “greenest” team member.  It is also best if that not be the most critical team member either as they are often “bullet magnets.”  No one wants to be the rookie but seniority does not always come with its privileges!

Movement is your friend.  Moving targets are harder to engage but it also does a lot more.  By forcing the brain to stay in Action mode, you limit the likelihood of the freezing.  Inaction leads quickly to freezing due to inertia.  We try to train people to keep moving when they encounter threats.  That is one reason we train shooting while moving so much.  If your firearms training is only ever done stationary, people will instinctively stop moving to engage threats.  You cannot do this!  You have train to where moving is reflexive and threats are hit while in motion.  The major exception to this rule is of course if you are behind cover or concealment.  In those cases, it may be best to stay put.  Out in the open, however, you should most often be moving.

Does this apply to Martial Arts?  Sure!  When we are attacked with a punch, kick, choke, grab, etc., we need to learn to move.  That can be our feet or hands or both.  The freeze gets us hit!  I generally prefer to see someone take a less than optimal response than to see them take no action at all and freeze.  We should never forget the word “Martial” in Martial Arts.  We need to study and apply the experience of real world fighters and operators to our Martial Arts training.

I had a retired real world military and security operator ask me an interesting question once.  He said the answer to the question reveals a lot about a person’s operational experience.  “You can learn that from one question?” I thought.  He was right.  The disparity between training and real world is a huge gap.  He posed the following scenario and then asked his simple question.  “If you are entering a room with five threats spread out within the room and your job is to kill everyone in the room, who do you shoot first?”  Now, this extends beyond a Law Enforcement rules of engagement but does provide an interesting military ROE.  My firearms training dictated engaging threats based upon their relative distance from me and ease of engagement.  That is how we do it in shooting competitions and are graded upon such.  He chuckled and said “Yeah, that is what they teach you on the range.  In the real world however, that could get you killed!”

So, what is the right answer?  We would love to hear how you would answer that question in the comments.  And yes, he did give me the right answer, which makes perfect sense.  Instead of giving the answer right away, we want to engage your brain; you will get more out of having to think about it than just getting a quick answer.  Maybe someone reading this will have the right answer.  It was obvious to me that he had “been there and done that.”  Let us know what you think…

Criticism of Kyusho: Teaching is Too Static

One of the criticisms we hear often is that Kyusho is taught with static techniques and is not dynamic enough. There is some merit to the claim but it is not entirely accurate either.

When teaching amy new skill, it should be practiced in a safe and static manner. The fundamentals must be taught and practiced until they become second nature. Speeding up too soon will cause bad form and risks injury to the uke, or receiver.

Even after the proper form is learned, it can still be risky to speed up. Consider a joint lock, for example. Having someone resisting as hard as they can and putting the practitioner in a position of having to manage the amount of force applied and the amount of travel in the technique would be extremely dangerous. Likewise, strikes done at full speed can hit with tremendous force if the distance closes faster than anticipated. Of course the challenge here is that this is done without gloves and is targeted at weak points on the human body to add insult to injury.

Yet, if you never train at speed and with resistance, you will never know if it works some will say. Does one need to be shot with a firearm to know it works? Or cut with a blade? Of course not! So, what can we do to close the gap? How about working your training as you do now, but separating the technique into phases.

By separating the technique into phases you can practice each component separately and train for the transitions. Let me illustrate with an example. Consider a punch to your face where you plan to parry the right hand strike with your left hand and then counter with a right hand strike to the LV-14 region of the ribs. The interaction could begin with both people wearing appropriate protective gear and be done with speed. Padding could be worn to protect the ribs and the parry and strike could be done fast but with open hands and the strike done with minimal power. This would be Phase One which focuses on improving reaction time and developing hand speed and some accuracy for the parry and strikes.

Phase Two of the technique would involve striking a heavy bag to get the power development and practice the strike. A Bob bag by Century would be perfect for this so there are anatomical markers.

Phase Three would be working with a partner and practicing as you do now with static and controlled strikes to practice the nuances of the technique, angle of strike, knuckle placement, etc.

Remember that properly executed in real applications, Kyusho is done full power. So, even if you miss the pressure point, you should have what non-Kyusho practitioners have – blunt trauma. This is the fail safe of Kyusho training. If the energetics of the technique fail, you still have a hard strike. And if you remember from our post on the Martial Onion, you can attack the organs, nerves, and other systems of the body if you miss the pressure point.

Joint Locks could be broken down much the same way. Phase 1 is the dynamic interaction leading to the grip for the lock. You just need to stop short of applying the lock and using force. Just go for the attachment. Phase Two would be slow static training to work the technique with minimal force. Phase Three would be working any strikes with a similar approach to the above. Phase Four would be developing skills to deal with counters and failed techniques.

Anyway, you get the idea. Feel free to work the phases differently or add additional components. All of the above is a more dynamic way to do the training without risking the health of your partner, which should always be your primary concern.

Do you train in a similar manner? Or do you have other ideas? Let us know in the comments.

The Five Levels of Martial Arts Skill Development

The DSI generally categorizes each of the components of Martial Arts skill development into one of the five following areas:

  1. Karate Do
  2. Karate Jutsu
  3. Tuite
  4. Life Protection
  5. Life Taking

The majority of practitioners never make it beyond the first level of Karate Do. Most Martial Artists stay in this level for their entire career.  This level focuses upon the development of life skills such as discipline, honor, self-discipline, and such.  These are fine attributes to develop and in no implies that anyone focused upon developing Karate Do skills is any less of a Martial Artist.

The next level we have defined is Karate Jutsu.  Techniques of Karate Jutsu are characterized by being more disabling to the opponent.  Knockouts are common along with targeting the sensitive pressure points of the body to gain compliance or render the opponent incapable of continuing the fight.

Tuite involves the application of joint locking techniques.  These can be applied either for simple compliance or for destruction of the joints.  Submission/compliance techniques are not how tuite was intended; it is much more of a modern development.  Tuite is designed to set the opponent up for a disabling strike but causing the person to commit more weight and limit their mobility.

Life Protection is regarded as a higher level of skill development as it is designed to stop an attacker while preserving the lives of both the attacker and the defender.  It takes a tremendous amount of skill to balance both aspects.

The final area of skill development we teach is Life Taking.  It is, of course, the most extreme of the levels and requires a very specific skill set.  These skills are not common knowledge and are often kept secret amongst the most skilled of experts.

There is no right or wrong answer as there are all levels of skill development available in Martial Arts development.  So, what is your specialty and are of focus?  Let us know in the comments.

The Martial Onion: Attacking Multiple Systems of the Body

Have you ever wondered about how to attack the various systems of the body? Many times, Martial Artists attack a single level of the body depending upon their specialties or field of expertise. I find it interesting that few attack multiple systems in parallel. If they did, their success would go up exponentially!

Consider how prevalent the idea is by looking at how segmented the skills are for firearms enthusiasts, combatives proponents, survivalists, medics, etc. All study their trade for self protection but rarely cross-train in other areas to become a more complete package. Few crossover into other disciplines sadly. Many guys will carry extra gun magazines but not a med kit; others will train with guns but learn no hand-to-hand skills. Hopefully you see my point.

Same happens with a lot of Martial Artists. Many polarize their training to different arts or ranges of combat such as grappling, striking, etc. One thing MMA did particularly well is show the need to be skilled in all ranges and methods.

So, how does this apply to the Kyusho arts? Notice that you have those who polarize between techniques being either based upon Western or Eastern science. It is as if they believe there is only one explanation for how things work. The reality is that it is not an “…either…or…” but rather that “…it is both!” Both points of view are neither inclusive or exclusive but they are in parallel.

The body can be attacked upon multiple levels at a time. It can be attacked neurologically and energetically and both can be attacked – at the same time! But, that is not the only systems that can be attacked. There are a lot more. Consider the below systems:

  1. Neurological
  2. Energetic / Meridians / Pressure Points
  3. Skeletal / Bones
  4. Muscular
  5. Sinews / Tendons / Ligaments
  6. Vascular / Circulatory
  7. Respiratory
  8. Limbic
  9. Myofascial
  10. Psychological
  11. Organs / Bowels

When you perform techniques, how do you attack the various systems? Do different attacks focus on different systems? Have I missed any systems? Let us know in the comments.

Want to learn more about this? Join us in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina from May 4 to May 6, 2018 for the DSI Spring Convention where I will go through examples and teach this concept which will greatly expand your art!

Secrets of the Martial Arts?

What are “Players to the Game?”  This is term defined by Professor Rick Moneymaker, co-founder of the Dragon Society International.  One of the goals of the DSI is to keep terminology simple and easy to understand.  As such, this term was coined to refer to principles and methods that make techniques work much better.

These are essentially the “secrets” of the Martial Arts that practically everyone talks about but few people seem to know.  As we travel around the world and meet with Martial Artists of all ranks and from all styles and systems, we routinely ask if their system has secrets.  When we ask if they know what they are, no one seems to know any secrets!  And it is not that they won’t share with us; they admit they do not know any secrets themselves!  And this has happened all the way to 10th Dan!  Surely if anyone knew them, it would be the heads of the systems!

So, how many secrets are there?  Who knows!  No one will share them, but the DSI will!

For over 30 years now, the DSI has collected these secrets from our research and have painstakingly been documenting these so they will no longer have to remain a secret from our brothers and sisters in the Martial Arts.  Many have been lost over the generations but we are extremely active in tracking these down and making sure they are not lost for future generations.

And who gets to decide who is allowed to learn them?  I have even been told by practitioners over the age of 60 with over 40 years in a system that they were told by their instructor that they were not ready to learn them.  Are you kidding me?  If after that long of a commitment, someone cannot be trusted to learn the finer aspects of an art, there is a problem.  Or, perhaps the instructor does not know any themselves, which is the more likely case.

How do we discover and document these secrets?  There are processes by which we are able to extract them and even discover new ones.  In future articles, we will be looking at some of these and the processes by which we discover new methods.

We have already documented over 200 principles.  Many of these are available on video at  We have an entire Players to the Game series on DVD and streaming.

We are also putting together a series of seminars on teaching these principles and methods, which apply to all sorts of techniques including strikes, joint locks, grappling techniques, etc.  These methods are truly style independent and agnostic.  Find out more information at  We are also looking for hosts to host these seminars and would love to know if you have a location and would be interested in being a host!

So, do you believe there are “secrets” in the Martial Arts?  Have you been trusted with the leadership in your style with any of these so-called secrets?  Be sure to let us know in the comments!

Secrets in the Martial Arts?

As we travel around the world, the DSI often asks the question “Are there any secrets in your system of Martial Arts?”  Without exception, when we ask “What are they?” or “Name one.” we get confused looks.  And these are not strangers we are asking.  These are those who are close to us.  The bewilderment is not an act of surprise that we would ask to see their secret methods; instead, it is a realization that they cannot name a single one of them!  After an awkward silence, we begin to share our “secrets” with them.

So, what are these secrets?  And how do we know them?  The DSI has spent decades travelling all over the world discovering, collecting, and documenting little known methods to improve Martial Arts techniques.  These come from all over the place and from a myriad of systems; others come by sheer luck; still others, are found by broad studies in topics not even related to Martial Arts.

Once we find these, we methodically document the principles and add it to our vast library.  By doing this, we ensure that future generations of Martial Artists don’t have to re-invent the wheel so-to-speak.  This is why we are considered the premier research group and the world leader in pressure points and martial science.

Why don’t more people know these?  I believe many Martial Artists have blinders on their eyes.  They are so focused on their own system of Martial Arts, they do not see the variety we see.  When we observe a high ranking Martial Artist performing a technique, we critically analyze what they are doing and why it works.  We identify patterns of movement and look for the components that are essential to the technique.  For those only studying their own system, they are limited in what they will see to those within their own group.  As a result, their growth potential is limited.

Moreover, many are not permitted by tradition to make any changes or improvements to their art.  In the DSI, we respect traditional systems and feel they have much to offer.  At the same time, we also believe in making minor adjustments where we have discovered better ways.  In this way, the arts continue to grow and evolve.  Times have changed and much must change with them.

Why refuse to evolve?  Can we honestly say that those who came before us were perfect?  Can we really say that they knew everything?  Of course not!  To do so would be preposterous.  They did the best they could with the knowledge they had.

Now, what we are not suggesting is that someone with limited knowledge go out and make drastic changes.  Tweaks can be made to base techniques to make them more applicable today and to incorporate these secret methods into them.  This is growth without sacrificing past knowledge.

Ready to start learning these secrets?  We do have an entire series of videos which detail some of the most used secrets, which we call “Players to the Game.”  Why such a strange term?  Well, calling them “secrets” seems like market-speak.  “Players” terminology denotes the idea that each method or principle is a “player” in the overall “game” of defeating one’s opponent.  Our founder, Professor Rick Moneymaker coined the term and it has stuck ever since.

Check out the first video in this series here:

In coming posts, I plan to examine more of these “Players to the Game.”  Be sure to post some comments and let us know what you think!

The Stretch Reflex

The Stretch Relex is where stretching a muscle causes the excitation of muscle spindles which causes contraction of large skeletal muscles.

A simple example of this is when jumping from a height and landing on the feet, the impulse in the leg muscles will likely cause a corresponding reflex of contracting the gluteal muscles in the hip which helps protect the body from injury.

Stimulus of the skeletal muscle, in turn, causes the antagonist muscle to lengthen and relax.  As the muscle relaxes and lengthens, the joint near the strike will not be as well protected as the body attempts to protect the core.

Naturally, our job is to take advantage of this reflex. How do we do that? Well, it is quite easy.

Let’s say we are striking to Golgi’s Tendon above the elbow (TB-11 for those with knowledge of acupuncture nomenclature). Naturally, the opponent will tense up as he expects the impact to his elbow region. As the muscles are about to be struct, they are contracted to resist the blow. The impact elicits a Stretch Reflex and immediately as the skeletal muscles are triggered, the relex causes the opponent’s muscles to relax and lengthen, leaving the elbow joint exposed to injury. Immediately following up with a second strike to the same target will result in damage to the joint!

It really is that easy. But, please be extremely careful when working with a partner as it is unbelievably easy to dislocate elbows with this strike and do serious harm to your training partner. So, please be gentle!

The Crossed Extensor Reflex

The crossed extensor reflex is also known as the Cross-body Motor Reflex and is one of the Somatic Reflexes we discussed previously.

Let’s look at a practical example of stepping on a nail with your right foot. Naturally, the right leg will contract, via the flexor muscles, to withdraw the foot from the source of the pain. Ouch! At the same time, the right leg’s extensor muscles will relax to facilitate the process with minimal resistance.

Meanwhile, the left leg will experience the exact opposite function and the leg will lock via the extensor muscle extension while the flexors relax. This is done to allow the left leg to maintain complete body weight. This is known as a contralateral reflex since opposite things happen on the opposite side of the body.

This is possible since branched of the afferent nerve fibers cross from the stimualted side of the body to the other side via the spinal cord. It is there where they synapse with interneurons and excite or inhibit alpha motor neurons on the opposite limb.

Of course, there are other stimuli occuring which cause the center of gravity to shift, but let’s not think we are neurosurgeons here and get too complicated!

Now, let’s apply this to CombatiXâ„¢. When we apply a joint lock to the fingrs of the right hand, have you ever noticed that the other arm will often swing away from you? As the flexor muscles of the right arm are stimulated, the cross extensor reflex causes the extensors of the left arm to engage and it typically swings in the opposite direction.

We use this natural reflex all the time to cause the opponent to rotate his body away from us and take the other arm (and fist) out of the fight to keep us from getting hammered with it!

Hopefully by now, you are starting to see just how much science there is involved with CombatiXâ„¢! For many years we have focused on teaching the Eastern side of the art and thus in these training reports I have decided to spend a fair amount of time revealing the Western side of the art as well.

Hmmm, I wonder if I can stimulate this response enough to make the opponent smack himself in the back of the head? Time to go find a training partner…

Somatic Reflexes

Have you ever had a doctor, or a really twisted friend, tap a spot near your knee and it reflexively kicks? If so, you have experienced a somatic reflex.

There are essentially five somatic reflexes. Three are spinal reflexes:

  • Stretch
  • Crossed Extensor
  • Superficial Cord

And two are cranial reflexes:

  • Corneal
  • Gag

A reflex arc is a neural pathway which controls an action reflex. In humans, most sensory neurons don’t pass directly to the brain, but synapse via the spinal cord. This allows reflex actions to occur very quickly by activating spinal motor neurons without experiencing the delay of routing signals through the brain, although the brain will receive sensory input while the reflex action takes place.

There are two types of reflex arc: autonomic reflex arc, which aaffects the inner organs, and somatic reflex arc, which affects muscles.

In the knee jerk reflex, a strike to the patellar tendon initiates a somatic reflex which causes a contraction of the quadricep muscle of the leg and causes it to kick. Since this bypasses the brain, this type of reflex occurs without conscious thought.

As there are a number of these sorts of reflexes in the body, activating these will cause a reaction regardless of whether or not the individual feels it. These can be of great value to those intoxicated, in altered states of consciousness due to drug activity, or those with impaired thinking.

Too many people try to get these types of individuals to comply based on pain. As you learned in the previous report, this is usually Slow Pain techniques such as strikes to the body and such. Instead, activating Fast Pain receptors, especially those tied to somatic reflexes offers the greatest opportunity to bring involuntary compliance.

Time to hit the anatomy books…

Fast Pain vs. Slow Pain

How fast do you make your techniques hurt? Seems like an odd question, right?!?!? Well, it is actually quite a good one! Not all pain is created equal. It turns out some pain is faster than others! Time to talk some science…

By studying a scientific process known as nociception, we learn that pain comes in at least two basic forms: fast and slow. Nociception is a process of encoding and processing noxious stimuli. So, what is that?

Basically, these are pain stimulations where there is potential for bodily harm. These impulses are initiated by nociceptors, otherwise known as pain receptors. Once range of motion or impact reaches an internal threshold, these pain receptors fire signals along the spinal cord to the brain.

Where do these pain receptors live? They are located along joints and in the skin. Their distribution varies within the body, but are in greater densities along the extremeties. For thsoe who love joint locking, especially fingers, you now have a good idea why fingers make such good targets!

Fast pain travels along type Aä fibers and terminates on the dorsal horn of the spinal cord where these synapse with the dendrites of the neospinothalamic tract. Fast pain can be felt in as fast as one tenth of a second! This pain is usually felt as a sharp acute pain. These are often stimulated along with tactile receptors which keeps the pain being felt as localized but intense pain.

In contrast, slow pain is transmitted by type C fibers, which are slower, to laminae II and III of the dorsal horns, which are known as the substantia gelatinosa. One tenth of these signals eventually terminate in the thallus and the other nine tenths terminate in the medulla. Pain is typically felt as more of an aching, burning, or throbbing pain.

How does this apply to CombatiXâ„¢? Well, it is simple. We try to stimulate Fast Pain Receptors as often as possible. This fast signals travel at lightening speeds through the brain stem and cause immediate reaction. When dealing with someone who is pain resistant, this is one of the most effective ways to get them off their feet. Often, the legs have buckled before they feel any pain; in some cases they never do feel it! Either way, these type of techniques are not really pain compliance techniques, since feeling it is not necessary to get them to work. Instead, they cause neurological reflexes to take place that are operating at a subsconscious level.

Now go grab a partner and make it hurt fast and good…

The OODA Loop

OODA Loop is a concept created by USAF Colonel John Boyd. It is an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Action.

He created this primarily for helping fighter pilots get through the mental process for taking action more quickly. In the business world, “time is money” but in life-and-death situations, “time is death.”

If one can minimize the time it takes to take a correct action greatly increases one’s survival rate. Taking too much time or getting hung up in the Orientation Phase can kill you.

First, let’s remember that we have dealt with the Observation Phase of OODA by discussing the Levels of Awareness. Being more aware of your surrounding, gets you through that phase much faster.

As I said, most people get caught up in the Orientation Phase. This is where one must filter the information collected in the Observation Phase and process it. One’s ethics, morality, religious inclinations, and such have a tremendous impact on how long this phase takes. For example, if someone believes killing is always wrong, it will be extremely difficult to overcome this in a real-life situation.

Unfortunately, many people never consider how they feel about this until it is too late. Instructors should regularly help their students confront the question of whether they are prepared to injure or even kill another individual if the situation arises.

Mental imagery can be used to help one answer these questions and pre-program their minds to take action when necessary.

We have also looked at the Decision Phase with the study of Hick’s Law. As you may remember, fewer decisions leads to a faster response time.

The final step is the Action Phase. If one reaches this point, strikes and/or defensive actions are taken and then the process begins again. After fighting back, more Observation is needed to determine how the opponent reacted. This information must then lead to Orientation, more Decision, and likely more Action.

The possibility exists, however, for an individual to get “stuck” at some point in the loop. If fear is not controlled, it will escalate into a “Fear Loop” which can get stuck in a repeating cycle if one does not break out of it, but more on that later…

It is also possible, for someone to get to one phase such as Orientation and decide they do not have enough information and thus go back to more Observation. This can happen at any point. It may even happen just before taking Action, thus delaying Action until more Observation, Orientation, and Decision.

It should be real obvious by this point that we must learn to get through this process as quick and efficiently as possible to survive an attack. It is also interesting to note that an opponent goes through the same process. Wanna bet who typically gets through it faster?

Fairbairn’s Timetable of Death

About W. E. Fairbairn
Let’s begin our Discussion of the Fairbairn’s Timetable of Death by first looking at who he was.  The following was taken from WikiPedia:

William Ewart Fairbairn (28 February, 1885–20 June, 1960) was a British soldier, police officer and exponent of hand-to-hand combat method, the close combat, for the Shanghai Police between the world wars, and allied special forces in World War II. He developed his own fighting system known as Defendu, as well as other weapons tactics. Notably, this included innovative pistol shooting techniques and the development of the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife.

The television series Secrets of War suggested him as a possible inspiration for Q branch in James Bond.

Military Career

Fairbairn served with the Royal Marine Light Infantry starting in 1901, and joined the Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP) in 1907. During his service with the International Police in Shanghai, Fairbairn reportedly engaged in hundreds of street fights in the course of his duties over a twenty-year career, where he organised and headed a special anti-riot squad. Much of his body, arms, legs, torso, even the palms of his hands, was covered with scars from knife wounds from those fights.  Fairbairn later created, organised and trained a special anti-riot squad for the Shanghai police force, as well as developing numerous firearms training courses and items of police equipment, including a special metal-lined bulletproof vest designed to stop high-velocity bullets from the 7.63x25mm Mauser pistol.

During World War II, he was recruited by the British Secret Service as an Army officer, where he was given the nickname “Dangerous Dan”. Together with fellow close-combat instructor Eric Sykes, Fairbairn was commissioned on the General List in 1941. He trained British, American and Canadian Commando forces, along with Ranger candidates in close-combat, pistol-shooting and knife-fighting techniques. Fairbairn emphasised the necessity of forgetting any idea of gentlemanly conduct or fighting fair: “Get tough, get down in the gutter, win at all costs… I teach what is called ‘Gutter Fighting.’ There’s no fair play, no rules except one: kill or be killed,” he declared.

For his achievements in training OSS personnel, Fairbairn eventually rose to the rank ofLieutenant-Colonel by the end of the war, and received the U.S. Legion of Merit (Officer grade) at the specific request of “Wild Bill” Donovan, founder of the U.S. O.S.S.

In an effort to define how long it takes for a person wounded by a knife wound to either lose consciousness or die from hypovolemic shock, Fairbairn created his well-known Timetable of Death.

No one knows quite for sure where he got his numbers but they have come under some scrutiny in the past few years.  While no one doubts his fighting prowess or his intent to train troops, but his numbers seem to be off the mark in areas.  For instance, the depth of some arteries and organs appear to be different from known anatomical sciences.

It also appears that his estimates of bleedout times do not match with tactical experience.  Due to these inaccuracies, a few researches have attempted to re-calculate the times.  I too have taken up this challenge!

From looking at the attempts of others, it appeared to me that blood pressure, the effects of Body Alarm Response, heart rate and other factors such as gender, were not being factored into the calculations.
After great research, it became obvious to me that new methods had to be created that took all of this information into consideration.  My calculations are based on Cardio Physics of the human body.

The basic conclusion of this research is that several knife fighting tactics are flawed.  When one considers that some knife instructors advocate attacking vascular targets due to bleedout time, it becomes apparent that they may not have complete information.  Or else, their numbers may be based on Fairbairn’s original research.  While attacking vascular targets do in fact kill, the times are often longer than what most people expect.

To make it far easier to calculate time for shock, time to loss of consciousness, and finally time to death, I created an application to make running scenarios much easier.  With this tool, it is possible to estimate these times for various genders, body sizes (height and weight), different heart rates, and blood pressures.  This allows you to simulate at rest as well as under stress.  Moreover, you can see the effects of stress on the body.

Forced Teaming

Forced Teaming is a common tactic to gain compliance over an Interviewee. What is it? It is simply making an implied connection between two parties when there, in reality, is none! Let’s look at an example.

In Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear, he describes an example of Foirced Teaming where a predator is interviewing a potential victim and she is walking to her apartment. He picks up a can of cat food which she has dropped and walks toward her. Smiling, he makes a statement such as “we have a hungry cat in there.” This is an attempt to make her feel a sort of connection with him whereby he wants to show his compassion for the cat, but more imporatantly, he wants he to see they working together toward a common goal.

If this is a new concept to you, you may think there is nothing wrong with such a statement. And you may or may not be right. It depends on the situation. The reality is that everyone uses tactics like this all the time to manipulate one another. Sales associates, managers, friends, etc., all use this principle.

So how do you know when it is a problem? When it manifests with other alarming principles. One by itself may not mean much, but three or four may signal things are going wrong for you. Recognizing that this is happening is the first step.

For this young lady, the first thought in her mind when he said this should have been “wedo not have a cat, I do!” She may even vocalize this. Would that be rude? Perhaps. But, it may also save her life! So what if she seems rude. Unless she plans to be friends with him, she should err on the side of caution. If he is really an ok guy, he will understand and they can joke about it later. If not, then it is in her best interest.

Statements that use words like “we” and “us” when “you” is more appropriate, should set off alarm bells in your mind! If this continues, and especially, if other alarms are present, it may be best to get out of there quick!

Remember that a team works together and is made up of two or more people who know one another and have trust. A stranger is not part of any team you want to be on!

The Interview

The Interview is a process of victim selection which few prey know anything about. Unfortunately, this causes them to pass the Interview process. Having an understanding of what it is and how it is conducted, and more importantly, why is instrumental in failing it. Why would you want to fail an interview? Because this one may cost you your life!

Victimology is the study of victims and why they were chosen to be victims in the first place. When interviewed after a violent encounter, most victims report that they had no idea why they were attacked and even go so far as to state that they had no idea what was about to happen. After probing by investigators, however, most begin to remember details leading up to the attack that did not seem quite right. Gavin de Becker in his incredible book, The Gift of Fear, describes many such incidents.

The reality is that most people remember things prior to the attack that after review, seemed like strange questions or statements. This is a usually part of the predator’s Interview process. Only when a potential prey passes his/her Interview, does the predator solidify their choice of prey.

There are different types of Interviews. Some are verbal and others are non-verbal. They can also be done either from a distance or close-up. The key is to understand that they do occur and know how to fail them!
Let’s look at a common situation to help illustrate one way the Interview is conducted. Also keep in mind that there is a Force Continuum at work here. In a situation where an individual wants to abduct a young lady, he may approach her offering to help her carry groceries into her apartment. If she accepts, then he moves onto the next Interview “Question.” If she refuses, he may make a second offer with a little more force. If she relents here, then he has learned that while she may initially resist, with more pressure, she will relent. This is bad news indeed!

If the predator moves onto the next step, he may carry the groceries from her car to her door. If she stops at the door and thanks him, itending for him to stay outside, he will take what he has learned and insist on “being a gentleman” and putting the groceries on her counter. With his knowledge he has gained that it may take a couple of attempts of insisting, he will test her further to see whether she allows him in.

At this point, if she does allow him into her apartment, an attack is likely. Naturally, he may overplay the idea of being a “nice guy.” He may also bring more manipulation methods into play such as Forced Teaming, which we will likely discuss later. The more alarms that she can recognize, the more likely she is to avoid the problem by failing the Interview.

Why does the predator go through all of this? Basically, because they are cowards! They choose the victims who will offer the least resistance and will be least likely to bring charges against them or even report the attack. The predator needs someone who will put up little resistance, someone they can dominate without drawing too much attention from the neighbors.

So how could they lady have failed the Interview? By saying “No!” and meaning “No!” she convinces the predator that perhaps he chose the wrong prey. By showing that she is confident, loud, and determined, she conveys to him that she is more trouble than what he wants. She has to make eye contact and stand firm in what she says. In his mind, she is intimidating and there are always easier victims.

Naturally, there are several other ways Interviews are conducted. Sometimes it is two men in a bar or on the street. The idea is the same. At some point if the victim “passes” the Interview, the predator decides that his victim selection is correct and he is ready to take things to a physical level. If things go poorly for the predator, the process may cease and they may take off looking for an easier prey.

Another Type of Interview

Above, we talked about the Interview process that a predator uses to interview a potential victim. This was part of our study of Victimology. This time, we will talk about a type of mixed Interview that involves both verbal and non-verbal “questions.”

Let’s consider a scenario where two guys get into a heated argument. If you are paying close attention, you realize that the Interview has already started! Verbal fights are often part of the process. We can imagine that at least one of the guys has assumed a position with his chest enlarged and puffed out. He is making a territorial display to look as big as possible to try to intimidate his opponent. Why? Because this is a non-verbal “question.” If the display causes his opponent to back off, then he grows in confidence. If, however, it causes his opponent to become more aggressive, he realizes that his “prey” is not initimidated.

If the decision is made to continue, one party may escalate force to contact. Often, this is done as a small push. Although force is escalating, this is usually a test before a punch is made. At this point, passing the Interview process would be to not react immediately. Failing it might be to push back even harder. This is where things have to turn around or a fight is imminent. Often at escalataing force, one or both parties feel that fighting is the only resort. They have to “save face” with everyone around and feel there is no alternative. This is why the study of verbal de-escalation techniques is essential to avoid conflict! A fight may be avoided by use of verbal techniques which allow the aggression to evaporate with one or both being able to salvage dignity and not looking afraid.

Back to the Interview. If the victim does not strike back and looks fearful, the attacker may determine that it is safe to launch an attack or may seek more assurance by pushing again — this time harder! If he makes another more forceful push, he is probably getting close to making a real attack.

As you can guess, a punch is almost always next. Notice how the whole situation escalated from posturing, to yelling, to pushing, and ultimately to physical assault. While some people will walk up and strike you without notice or apparent reason, this Interview process is quite common. Even when attacks seem to come out of nowhere, the reality is that the predator was likely conducting the Interview non-verbally from a distance by observation.

In these cases, they may stalk their potential prey and learn their schedule, the times they are alone, and their awareness levels. When they are convinced they have enough information and the time is right, they attack. To the victim, this was out-of-nowhere, but in reality, it was quite planned.

Being aware of people who seem out of place or seem to take too much notice of you is the first step in failing the Interview.

Universal Response Technique (U.R.T.)

Due to the implications of Hick’s Law, I developed a concept several years ago called Universal Response Technique, or U.R.T. for short.

This concept is about minimizing the decisions one has to make during a violent encounter. As we discussed previously, more decisions equals more reaction time.

Consider what often happens during an attack. The opponent makes a sudden threatening move and the defender has to decide which technique to use, which foot to step with, whether to use hands or feet, and a number of other decisions. And they have to do this operating behind the curve when the opponent simply has to take action (no reaction)!

Let me ask you this. How many techniques do you know to deal with a punch? Would you say you know 5? How about 10? More? How would you decide which to use when the time comes? Even if you have your favorite(s), it is still necessary to take some amount of time to decide unless you have pre-programmed your response.

Pre-programming is the act of deciding in advance and committing that to motor memory. This is the basis for Universal Response Technique.

Now, let’s say your opponent pushes toward you. How many defenses to a push do you know? How about if he chokes you? You get the idea.

So when attacked, you have to analyze the attack and then choose a proper defense — all while trying not to get killed! That is a lot to overcome in a real fight!

If one could eliminate many of the choices and move toward generalizing a response to fit all situations then your survival rate goes up.

How do you do this? By pre-programming the initial movements. What if you eliminate the decision of whether to step with the right foot or the left? That is one less choice. In other words, what if you always stepped with your left foot forward regardless of the attack? Whether you are grabbed, punched, choked, or whatever, you would always step into the same stance.

Now, what if you always raise your arms into the same defensive position? No decision as to what to do with them initially. That would eliminate perhaps another choice.

Ultimately, you will have to vary the response depending on the attack. That is for certain, but the idea is to help you survive the critical first few moments of the attack by making you as fast as you possibly can be.

Now if you take your initial response and work with various attacks from a training partner, you will be surprised how often you can use the same U.R.T. You just have to spend some time experimenting.

In my DVD, Players to the Game Volume 1, I introduce my favorite U.R.T. Yours may end up looking a little different, but that is not what is important. Having a standard response is more of what it is all about.
Time to hit the mat…

Hick’s Law

There is a common principle that many Martial Artists are familiar with called Hick’s Law.

Hick’s Law is named after British psychologist William Edmund Hick. The HickHyman Law (for Ray Hyman), also called simply Hick’s Law, describes the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices he or she has to make. The Hick-Hyman Law assesses cognitive information capacity in choice reaction experiments. The amount of time taken to process a certain amount of bits in the Hick-Hyman Law is known as the rate of gain of information.

In the equation, ‘b’ is a constant which is determined empirically by fitting a line to measured data. Basically log2 means that you perform the equivalent of a binary search algorithm with each decision. Binary search is where each choice, cuts the remaining choices in half. The first choices are the most costly, but each choice still adds dramatically to reaction time.

To measure this, Hick used a set of 10 lamps that would illuminate at random and the test subject had to press the corresponding button. He then varied the number of buttons which could illuminate from 1-10. Measuring the response time for a pre-determined number of choices led to an increase in the time to react. From this research, he formulated his equation.

According to his research, the first choice adds a 58% penalty to your response time. This means that if your response time is 300ms, then the first choice could slow you down to about 474ms! That is dramatic and could mean the difference in success and failure! Thinking back to my previous experiment on response time, this could mean an additional foot or so to the non-reactionary distance!

Also take a look at Fitt’s Law, developed in 1954. This is based on Hick’s research, but takes into consideration adding movement and accuracy to the equation. In these calculations, the smaller the target, the more time it takes for cognitive processing and motor movement, thus response time. This has real application to the combatives practitioners as you can imagine.

There are those who dispute their research, but the principle holds true nonetheless. Additional decisions take time to process. And time is not on our side during an attack!

What can we gain from studying this kind of research? A lot I think. We know that to be successful in combat, we have to limit our choices as much as possible since decisions equal more time and distance. How do we do we limit choices? There are a few ways and we will talk about that in future training reports.

Until then, remember that Hick’s Law is not just for Rednecks!

Levels of Awareness

Are you familiar with the principle originated by Jeff Cooper called Levels of Awareness?

Depending on who you ask there are a number of levels. The idea is that a person’s awareness of their surroundings directly affects your response time. Those with a lower level of awareness will take longer to respond to a threat than those who are anticipating or even expecting one.

The basic levels are white, yellow, orange, red, and black. Some have removed orange and added gray between red and black, but the idea is the same. Regardless of what you name the levels, the concept is what is important. As you go through the scale, the level of awareness increases.

In Condition White, an individual is practically oblivious to the possibility of an attack. If someone were to attack, they would be completely and utterly caught off guard. They would also likely experience denial that an attack was even happening! These people are targets for predators!

In Condition Yellow, people believe that it may be possible to be attacked but aren’t expecting it. These people will take a casual glance in the back seat before getting in their car or look behind the bushes or around the corner every once in a while, but don’t expect to find anyone there. If they did, they would be shocked but would react a little faster than the previous individuals.

Condition Orange is a heightened state where one thinks that an attack is more than a possibility, maybe even likely. Someone in this state, will take more than a casual look. Many consider this paranoid, but it is not necessarily. They make difficult targets because it is so hard for a predator to sneak up on them!

In Condition Red, attack is imminent. Think of an officer on a tactical team about to enter a room with an anticipated hostile. Stress is high and heart rate is likely escalating. In order to keep things from going off the chart with their adrenal system, they will likely need to control their respiration, use visualization, and other stress inoculation techniques.

The highest level is typically called Condition Black. This is when there is no denying that you are in danger and the threat is present and the fight is on!

Realizing that there are levels of awareness is the beginning of not walking around oblivious to potential danger. The more aware you are, the less likely you are to be a victim.

Ever notice people around you with headphones? Reading their phones? Reading magazines or newspapers? To a predator, these people are prey. They are without a doubt in Condition White!

So, go out and walk around the mall, down the street, or anywhere for that matter, and notice what level of awareness those around you seem to be in. Then ask yourself if you were a predator, who you would likely choose as prey. I bet you will find they are those in Condition White!


As I have been preparing verbal de-escalation principles for my curriculum, I was surprisingly faced with an opportunity to put my study into practice. What timing!!!!

For those of you who know me, I am not the type that takes ‘crap’ off people. That is putting it mildly!
I grew up being bullied and reached a point in my life where I vowed that I would no longer be pushed around. As you may imagine, there is probably some emotional baggage that makes me want to strike back. Add to all of that being a Southerner with Scottish heritage, of all things, who was raised to believe in fighting for honor and you have a dangerous mix — not to mention many years of Martial Arts and firearms training!

Here we were leaving a restaurant. I was with my wife and our youngest daughter (5 years old) walking to our car after dinner. Some guy yells the most ridiculous comment out the window of his vehicle at us and I assume it was directed at my wife — who knows! He was yelling ‘Britney Spears is bald.’ Who knows what that meant! I could only guess it was meant as some kind of insult though I have no idea how.

As I began to visualize all of the things that I could do to him, I remembered the research I had Teen doing on verbal de-escalation techniques and realized it was time to practice. What an opportunity! While ripping his head off seemed like a fun thing to do to defend my wife’s honor, I realized this guy must be extremely drunk and what fun would that be?!?!? Not to mention, I would probably spend hours at a Police Station either behind bars or explaining myself.

It also dawned on me that I was heavily armed and so was my wife! I was carrying a .40 handgun with 15 rounds of hollow points, self-defense keychain, tactical folding knife, and let’s not forget all those years of training empty-hand and CQB techniques! Don’t ask what the five year old was carrying! This is Tennessee afterall!

This guy was no threat at all! So, what is the point of responding? There wasn’t any!

When someone is this intoxicated and hurling ‘insults’ the only de-escalation needed is avoidance. Simply smiling and continuing to walk on, was a proverbial way of deflecting his verbal attacks. It effectively disarmed him!

No doubt he drove away thinking he had won. And indeed he did. He got to go away unharmed as he surely could have been driven away in an ambulance or hearse. It was his lucky day and mine too. I got to practice a little self-control!

Stress Inoculation

During our research, we have discovered dozens of Body Alarm Responses. Since it is beyond the scope of these reports to examine them all, we will jump to the topic of controlling them and using them to our advantage.

If our techniques are based primarily on Gross Motor Movement, then we assume that a heart rate between 115 and 145 may actually help us. The initial adrenaline and noradrenaline dump into the bloodstream will give us energy to fight. If the heart rates rises above that, then we run the risk of most all of our techniques becoming inaccessible for us.

So, the real question becomes how do we manage our heart rate? Well there are only a few methods to do this:

  • Lower stress levels
  • Engage the mind
  • Proper breathing

Let’s look first at lowering sress levels. At its most basic level, this is calming ourselves down. If we look at the situation from a practical standpoint and realize that we are trained for violence, then this may help alleviate fear. Remembering successful training encounters for this situation will go a long way in instilling confidence and thus lowering stress levels.

Engaging the mind in active planning of defense and/or escape will free it from the Fear Loop that dominates many people under stress. This is primarily a snowball effect where fear begets more fear until it is out of control. Planning kicks you out of this endless loop and avoids the dangerous spiral it produces.

The final method is proper breathing. Pregnant women during childbirth have used the Lamaze method of breathing for many years to lower anxiety levels. Qigong practitioners use breathing to promote health. Karateka often use sanchin breathing to build energy. It seems everyone focuses on some sort of breathing techniques. The question is whether this helps calm one down in real encounters and the answer is an emphatic “Yes!”

Many in the military arena refer to this as tactical breathing. It is a simple process where each step of the breathing process lasts for a four count. Here are the steps:

  • Breath in through the nose for a four count.
  • Hold your breath for a four count.
  • Exhale through the mouth for a four count.
  • Hold your breath for another four count.
  • And, repeat at least two or three times.

It is that simple!

Law Enforcement and Military have been using this for years with much success. Martial Artists and even pregnant ladies have had the answers as well! Slowing your respiration rate has a direct effect on heart rate.

That is all there is to it!

Now, get started learning to breathe and go practice!

Body Alarm Reaction

Body Alarm Response (B.A.R.), or as some like to call it, Adrenal Stress Response, is a reality of most violent encounters. Fortunately, it can can make you stronger, decrease your cognitive processing time, protect you from bleeding too rapidly from cuts and other trauma. Unfortunately, it can also make you do the exact opposite of all of those things if not kept in check!

There are a host of physical, psychological, and perceptual distortions that can occur that you need to be prepared for. While it is beyond the scope of these reports to go into extensive detail. We do want to explore some of the most obvious ones.

Let’s start by looking at how heart rate impacts performance under stress.

As heart rate rises, it will (at first at least) improve some skills. These are primarily gross motor movements. Once the heart rate reaches about 115, you will notice that the adrenaline and noradrenaline dump into the bloodstream can improve your strength and gross motor flailing strikes. Sadly, those with little training seem to get better while those who are more “trained” tend to perform worse. How? Well, those with higher levels of training will often use more fine motor movements. How do these hold up to stress? Not well.

As heart rate increases, fine motor skills deteriorate rather rapidly. This means that if you intend to use them at all, it had better be sooner rather than later! Once you feel the adrenaline hit, it is basically too late!
In case you are wondering, let’s define some basic types of motion. There are three basic types for this discussion:

  • Fine Motor – This is any movement involving the fingers and/or toes. Think small joints.
  • Gross Motor – These are movements that involve the whole arm or leg. Think large limbs.
  • Complex Motor – These are movements where arms or legs are doing entirely different things at the same time. Think simultaneous block and strike with arms moving in different directions doing different actions.

By the time heart rate reaches around 145, complex motor skills are becoming inceasingly difficult to perform!

At a heart rate of 175, things rapidly deteriorate in the cognitive processing realm and defending becomes increasingly difficult! And remember that heart rates of 220 in a real life-and-death struggle are not unheard of!

Of course, you have to remember that stress is a perception. Not everyone perceives stress in the same manner. What would scare one person speechless, hardly affects another. It is all based on how you perceive your level of danger and your ability to handle it.

Let’s look at the case of an individual who has extensive experience dealing with gang members, killers, and such, in prison working as a guard. Seeing these aggressive people everyday and having to deal with them would elicit less stress from them than the average person on the street. Imagine a rookie’s first time dealing with this and then imagine going back and seeing the same rookie years later. Would you expect his/her stress resposne to be lower? I would.

Perhaps you have heard about the research where students were exposed to disturbing images during a college course and their heart rate and blood pressure was monitored. In the beginning, everyone’s levels spiked! But, by the end of the course, some students showed almost no response at all to the same stimulus after being subjected to it every class! This is amazing!

So, the basic take-away from this is that the more realistic our training, the less “aroused” we will likely become to violence. Ask yourself, “Am I training so in role-playing scenarios that mimic real life aggression? Or, am I doing static practice with a freindly, smiling partner?” I think you know which will better prepare you for real life!

While you are at it, ask yourself “Do my techniques rely upon Fine Motor Skills, Complex Motor Skills, or Gross Motor Skills?” If you do an honest inventory, you may be surprised!

The first steps in CombatiXâ„¢ training is to trim the proverbial “fat” from what you do. Please understand I am not suggesting you drop your traditional Martial Arts training. Far from it. Just understand that there is a time and place for everything. If you are in a controlling situation where stress is low and you get to move first, the deteriments of stress are not necessarily yet debilitating. If, however, you find yourself in the middle of a struggle and your heart rate is spiking rapidly, it may be best to rethink what you have previously been taught.

It is all a matter of understanding how and when to apply what you know! Again, as Grandmaster Moneymaker says, “Knowledge is not power. Application of knowledge is power!”

For a detailed listing of the effects on your body, check out our poster on the topic.

The Eyes and Ears

The next stress response we will consider is what happens to the eyes and ears during stress.

In the Bubishi, the old Okinawan text that was handed down from master to his most prized student, there is a seciton known as the Kempo Gokui. These are principles of combat.

One is roughly translated as “the eye must see all sides.” Another translates as “the ear must listen in all directions.” Practitioners of Isshin-ryu Karate may recognize this is the Isshinryu Code. Look at the Bubishi and you will see where founder Tatsuo Shimabuku got it.

How do we understand these principles? Well, it is simple. It seems early Martial Arts masters understood
that it was important to remind the student to try to keep their eyes focused and alert and their ears hearing sounds from all directions. Sounds simple, but in reality it is very hard!

Under stress, one fixates on the source of stress. The one individual who is initiating the stress will receive the focus of the eyes and ears. Changes in the shape of the eye structure under stress along with this target fixation, will lead to a condition known as tunnel vision.

Tunnel Vision is like looking through the cardboard roll that is at the center of a roll of paper towels. All you see is a small area. I have personally experienced this one, along with most all of the B.A.R. effects in my lifetime. I can tell you that it is very real!

A student of mine was held at gunpoint once by a robber and he swears he saw the details of the bullet while looking down the barrel of the handgun! That is tunnel vision.

The problem is that in under stress, the brain is receiving so many signals from the environment that it simply cannot process them all at once. It is sensory overload! So, the brain has to ignore some of these signals. People and objects around the threat are ignored so that the brain can gather as much information as it can on what it believes to be the real threat. The problem is that this other stimuli is often equally important.
In these scenarios, it is not uncommon to have individuals miss the friends of the person they are fixating on, stepping up to his/her aid in the situation. Afterwards, they will state they never saw anyone else. And they are right!

In like manner, the ears will exclude sounds that are not coming directly from the perceived threat. This means that others shouting at them nearby and giving them challenges or orders will often go unheard provoking more hostility. And the steps of these aggressors will never be heard, nor will their words! This is called auditory exclusion.

Now imagine a scenario where a Law Enforcement officer is giving challenges to you in a heated situation, and your imagination will lead you to some very bad scenarios where they think you are being defiant or unresponsive. Not good!

As if all of this is not bad enough, near vision is also often very difficult as eyes adjust to fixate on perceived threats some distance off. If you are using a firearm, imagine how difficult sighting your weapon becomes in these circumstances!

Perhaps the author of these words in the Bubishi was light years ahead of his time as we remember that “the eye must see all sides and the ear must listen in all directions.”

Beating Your Adversary with Distance

If you have been reading the previous training reports, you have learned about Non-reactionary Distance. If you haven’t read them and started here…shame on you and go do your homework before reading on!

Since we know what Non-reactionary Distance is and how to measure it, it is time to put that knowledge to great use. We already learned that we must keep our opponent at least that distance away to have a chance of protecting ourselves and those around us. We also learned that the lab experiment was probably a “best case scenario” in that B.A.R. would make things worse and that distance will move further away from us.

So, how do we use this knowledge when we strike? Well, it is really simple. Remember the old logic equation of if A=B then B=A? If we cannot react fast enough within that distance, then neither can our opponent! He/she has the same limitations as we do. What is even better is that they probably are not even expecting it from us. This simple fact, will impair their cognitive processing time leading to a slower Reaction Time!

When we decide to take action, we want to make sure we are within that 4 and 1/2 feet range. The closer the better! This means that our opponent will have little to no chance of a defense and our initial strike, if done properly, is almost impossible to stop! Do you realize how important that is?

If I tell you that I can almost guarantee that you will get the first blow in on your opponent, how important would that be to you? With CombatiXâ„¢ training, that is exactly what I am saying. While nothing is ever 100% guaranteed, this is as close as it gets!

If you can learn the attack angles and proper anatomical targeting, you will be able to stop your adversary! This means that size, speed, and such, are no longer what matters most. It is knowledge. And as we say in CombatiXâ„¢, it is the application of knowledge that really matters!

You don’t have to be afraid! You don’t have to worry about what you show your smaller loved ones! This type of information practically transforms the encounter into your favor!

The Non-Reactionary Gap

I have talked previously about the Tueller Drill for firearm training. This time, we will be talking about my corollary to this drill that measures response time to an unarmed opponent striking.

For my experiment, I set up a scenario where I defined a successful response as stepping forward, making a block, and then a palm strike as a “successful” response to the attack. One might argue that this could be improved by stepping, blocking, and striking at the same time, but remember the effects of B.A.R.? This is not very likely to happen as this is a complex motor movement and those deteriorate rapidly at heart rates of around 145 BPM! So, I stand by my original assumption of breaking these into separate movements.

We measured the average response time of our defender doing these movements. More on that in a minute.
Now, we setup a target with distances in increments of six inches. We went from one foot from the target to six feet. Then, we had people wait for a stimulus (a beep) and then strike from the various distances. Response Times were charted. These numbers would be used for a hypothetical attacker.

“But wait,” you say! Response Time? Attackers are action only! And action beats reaction. Right?!??!? Well sort of!

To get Motor Time for our attacker, we subtracted their Reaction Time from their Response Time (remember the equation?). This was pure action – no reaction.

Finally, we just needed to graph the results and look at where the defender’s defensive response (react, step, block, and strike) equalled the attacker’s action time of simply stepping in and striking. Sound reasonable? This would be the time where the defender first has a chance of defending themself. At a lesser distance, the opponent’s strike would land on the defender before they had time to execute the response.

Would you like to know what that distance is? It is more than you think! Most early Martial Arts were called either “One Meter” or “Three Meter” systems. That means that the opponent was assumed to be either one meter or three away from you as the defender. As Martial Artists became more progressive in their thinking most abandoned the idea of a 3-meter system because it was too far. Sadly, this lead to a lot of bad teaching!

While it seems unreal, I found that most students needed around 4 and one-half feet to react! That is more than 1-meter but within the confines of a 3-meter system. When you understand that B.A.R. will slow you down even more, the 3-meter option sounds more likely.

Think you are faster, setup your own experiment. You may get a little better if you “pre-program” your response, perform complex movements combining all steps at once, anticipating the attack, and whatever else you can think of to try to beat the system. But, remember the goal is to try to mimic real life as closely as you can.

So, how does this help you? Knowing what your limit is on distance in order to get an effective response off in time, is just the first step; but a major one it is! You still need striking skills; anatomical targeting; and more. Those will come with the training. Hang with me.

Anything less that the 4 and 1/2 feet is what we call Non-Reactionary distance. Knowing it can save your life because you know to never let anyone get closer than this!

So, you must keep an opponent at least 4 and 1/2 feet from you no matter what! When someone invades that space, you have no choice but to open distance with them, verbally de-escalate the action, or take defensive action. There are really no other options. If you cannot calm things down or get away, striking may well be your only option. That is the tough reality. Only you can decide whether the situation warrants a physical response, and if so, at what level of force.

Now that you have an idea of what Non-Reactionary distance looks like, take another look at your training. How far do you stand from your partner when you practice? Is it within the non-reactionary distance? I bet in many cases it is. So to quote Dirty Harry, “you gotta ask yourself…Do I feel lucky?” When my life, or the life of my precious family, is on the line, I don’t want to gamble. I don’t want to take chances. I want to know how to survive.

How many ‘players of the game’ do you see?

Look at the picture above, how many ‘players can you identify?  Listed below are a few that you should see immediately.

  • weapon first
  • angle
  • direction
  • shooters stance
  • feet to the core of attacker
  • anatomical alignment
  • wave form
  • quadrant
  • tongue to the roof of the mouth
  • weight evenly distributed on both feet
  • mind, breath, body
  • power zone
  • all weapons in the fight

…okay, did you get all that?  Feel free to post others and questions on our facebook pages.