Friday, March 5, 2021

The Hapkido Cane

By Scott Shaw

            I received an interesting email from a man who is sixty years old and lives in Detroit who is interested in learning self-defense applications with the cane to protect himself and possibly protect his dog from attacking hounds, as well. As the man had never trained in the martial arts and had read an article I wrote where I stated that the Hapkido Cane should only be taught to advanced students of the art he was curious if I had any suggestions about where he could gain some additional information because as he put it, “Cane defense information online is crap.”

            Interesting question. It set me to thinking. So, I thought I would answer it here so that other people who have wondered about Hapkido Cane techniques may gain some insight.

            To tell my story of training with the cane… When I begin training in Hapkido, in 1964, the art was taught, at least to me, in its purest, most original, form. There was no weapons training at all. It was all about hand techniques, throws, deflections, punches, and kicks. It was not until I begin working with my third instructor, in the 1970s, that I was exposed to Hapkido weapon’s training. I was already a black belt. I operated a studio with the man, who had just arrived from South Korea, so he was much more in tune with the new techniques being embraced in the art in Korea at that time. He taught me swords, (Kumdo), the short staff, and the cane. I had already been practicing, on my own, with the long staff and, of course, the nunchaku, which had become somewhat of cultural phenomena in my late childhood and early teen years.

            As we ran a school together, we begin teaching weapons to our students at the blue belt level. We felt that was an appropriate time, as they would then possess enough experience to understand the fundaments of body movement in association with a weapon. We would begin by training them with the long and the short staff as these weapons truly teach body/mind coordination. At the red belt level we would then begin their training with sword forms and cane self-defense techniques. As the movement associated with these weapons is much more advanced, we felt it was at the red belt level that the student could actually understand the subtlety of the physical movement necessary to operate these weapons from a refined perspective. Thus, as a teacher, I always felt it took at least a year of training for a student to actual comprehend weapons such as the Hapkido Cane with a cultivated understanding.

            All this being said, a weapon is a weapon is a weapon. And, anything can become a weapon. Any item you garb can become a useful weapon to defend yourself if necessary. This is also true with the Hapkido Cane.

            The cane is an ideal weapon for the trained or the untrained individual. All you have to do is swing it and it can become your weapon of self-defense. Though this is the case with the cane, as with any weapon, a refined understanding of how the weapon most ideal works, in association with how it best can be used in association with the body, helps in any applied self-defense application.

            The reason I believe that training in the fighting arts is important is that what they provide any practitioner with is an understanding of physical combat. Though combat in the studio may be limited to sterile sparing, physically interacting with a supposed opponent trains the body and the mind in how to remain calm during combat and react with precision. This is why I still believe receiving at least basic training is the fighting arts is something anyone should do if they hope to be a proficient self-defense technician. But, as in the case with the person who emailed me, this may not always be possible. Thus, any weapon one decides to employee, as a means of protection, must be understood as best a possible.

            As stated, the cane is a very natural weapon. One moment you can be using it to aid in your walking and the next moment, if you are attacked, it can be swung at an opponent. But, how do you swing it?

            Wildly swinging any weapon leads to limited results. Yes, you may get lucky and hurt your opponent. But, maybe not. It may only infuriate them. Thus, to understand self-defense with the cane, you need to study its self-defense applications.

            I really need to say this… Hapkido Cane self-defense should really be precisely studied over a long period of time as its self-defense applications are very subtle. In a pinch however, you simply need to understand the three elements of the cane that I discuss in the article I believe the gentleman has read. Here’s a link to it, The Hapkido Cane. There, you can find out a lot more precise information about the Hapkido Cane and its usage.

 

The three elements are:

1. The Length of the cane

2. The Shaft of the cane

3. The Hooking Handle of the cane

 

            In brief: The length of the cane gives you the ability to strike out at an opponent. The shaft of the cane can be used by the untrained user as a striking weapon. The hooking handle allows the person to not only maintain control of the cane but can be directed toward the attacker as a stronger, larger striking weapon. In addition, due to the fact that the length of the cane give you distance between your attacker and yourself, be it a person or a dog, simply by bringing the cane up and jabbing it into your opponent, you can use the tip of the cane to strike your opponent multiple times in a rapid manner.

            The main thing to kept in mind, whenever you plan to use anything as a weapon is, whatever weapon you choose, it is only as effective as your ability to use it in a precise manner. Thus, whether you are a long trained martial artists or a novice, you need to practice with whatever weapon you plan to employee. Meaning, yes, you can use anything as a weapon, but if you hope to use it effectively, you need to know how it moves and how it feels. Thus, if you want to develop the ability to use a cane as a weapon of self-defense: practice, practice, practice. Swing it in the air. Strike at objects. Experience how impact feels with the cane. Come to understand how you can best use it as an effective weapon of self-defense. Imagine opponents coming at you via various means. Develop the ability, in your mind, to understand how to best use the cane in each of those imagined attack scenarios.

            Though I suggest everyone, who hopes to become a competent self-defense technician, train under the guidance of a qualified instructor, this may not always be possible. If this is the case, and you hope to protect yourself with any specific weapon, the only way it can become truly effective is if you understand its mechanics. Meaning, you’ve got to practice with it. From this, you will hopefully come to understand how the cane, or any other object, can become your ideal tool of self-defense.

 

Copyright © 2021—All Rights Reserved

 From the Scott Shaw Blog


Friday, January 15, 2021

The Black Belt and What it Means Today

By Scott Shaw

 

            For those people are not directly involved with the martial arts, when they hear someone has a black belt, they immediately assume that person possesses some advance and cunning skill of potentially deadly self-defense. For the person who is involved with the martial arts, when they think of the black belt, they see it as a goal but from there the degrees of that black belt, and the stripes on that black belt, must go up exponentially if they hope to compete in a world of the massive amount of so-called advanced black belts that exist in the world today.

            During the late 1960s and early 1970s, via people like Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee, it became quite acceptable for people to study and train in varying forms of the fighting arts. Though this certainly moved the evolution of the martial arts along rapidly, there also came to be a problem with this method of intermingling. Previously, up to this point in time, a person studied one form of the martial arts from one instructor or within one organization. From this, an individual’s actual understanding and necessary advancement within the art could be correctly assessed. When an individual was ready to earn a black belt, they were tested and upon passing that test were awarded that belt. When they were ready to move up another dan, (degree), after additional years of training, they were tested and if they passed that test they were promoted. It was all done via a very defined and pronounced method. What happened with the modern intermingling of the arts was, however, that defined ability became lost to eclecticism. Thus, what was once an expected definition of technique and/or ability became muddled.

            Certainly, when the martial arts became widely accepted and taught in the West, traditions began to be lost. As the western mindset commonly focuses on self-advancement, business ownership, and self-adoration, numerous schools, new styles of the martial arts, and organization were given birth to. In many cases, these groupings lost contact with their Asian origins. From this, again, tradition was lost.

            I am often reminded of a conversation I had with pioneering western martial artist, Bill, “Superfoot,” Wallace, when I was asked to write an article about him for a magazine. He profoundly stated, “Back in the day if a person was a 1st degree black belt they were impossible to touch. If they were a 2nd degree black belt, forget about it, they would tear you apart. Now, everyone is an 8th, 9th, or 10th degree black belt and they are terrible.” This fact has become a byproduct of the modernization of the martial arts, particularly in the western world, and why the entire definition of what truly is or is not a black belt has come to be less understood. As I often say, “Change does not necessarily make something better, it just makes it different.”

            I remember beginning in the 1960s, one could purchase black belt training courses in magazines. Upon the completion of this course one would be awarded a black belt diploma with no testing required. Certainly, an intermediate or advanced practitioner of the martial arts, with a lot of actually physical training under their belt, may learn from written and/or illustrated material but for the novice that is virtually impossible. And, to earn a black belt via this method is perplexingly unrealistic. Yet, how many people earned a black belt in this manner?

            As the 1970s dawned, and more and more westerners became black belts, the need for advancing one’s black belt dan ranking continued to rise. Again, initially via magazines, numerous organizations arose that offered various forms of un-tested promotions. All of the organizations looked and sounded official. The diplomas they issued were well printed, making the barer appear to be all that they claimed to be.

            These traditions of intermixing the martial arts, defining new systems of the martial arts, and creating new organization to back up the credentials of practitioners has continued forward onto today. What has been created? From my perspective, an eclectic mess of people marketing themselves, their schools, and their systems to the masses but possessing little true relevance of authenticity.

            Remember, a diploma does not make a person a black belt. In fact, diplomas declaring a person’s martial art ranking are a relatively new chapter in the very long history of the martial arts. Who and what a person is on the inside and how they treat and interact with other people on both a physical and a humanitarian level is what defines a true black belt.

            So, what does this leave us with and how should the black belt be viewed in this modern, (particularly western), world?  The answer is not entirely clear. But, what must be understood is that someone claiming to be a black belt today no longer means that they are truly that advanced master of physical movement that the wearing of the black belt once defined. Moreover, as more and more of the modern martial arts have placed their focus on the kill-or-be-killed mixed martial arts orientated physical moments, it must be comprehended that just because someone has learned how to beat someone up does not mean that they possess the advance understanding of human movement that the true, traditional, martial arts provides the practitioner.

            In closing, the true martial arts are about physical mastery and advanced mental awareness. They are not about ego. They are not about what degree black belt a person claims to hold. In fact, a person’s black belt degree should never be the reason you do or do not study from them or define how you evaluate them as a human being. The holding of a black belt or the degree of the black belt a person claims can only be truly defined by who and what that person is and what they do for the greater good of the martial arts and society as a whole.

            Judge any person by the goodness they say or do, not by whether or not they claim to be a black belt.

            The true black belt gives without taking. They help without hurting. They give instead of receiving. They compliment instead of claiming.

 

Copyright © 2021—All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Hapkido Knee Fighting

This article was originally published in Martial Art Masters Magazine, September 1994
 
By Scott Shaw

            Close contact fighting has always proven to be one of the most complicated situations a martial artist can find himself in. The reason it is difficult to rapidly and successfully defend yourself, once your opponent has moved closely in on you and possibly taken a hold of your clothing, is because in close proximity your available counter strike techniques become very limited.  First of all, there is not enough distance between your body and that of your opponent’s to effectively kick him.   And, with the exception of the uppercut punch, your punching defense is limited to wildly thrown roundhouse punches which at best will make contact with the side of your opponent’s head.  There is, however, an effective method to close contact In-fighting which many martial artists do not fully investigate or develop.  That method is the use of the knee as a powerful striking weapon.

            The knee strike is an excellent close proximity fighting tool.  This is because there is not much space needed to make its attack effective. 

            A knee strike takes no advanced training to perform. There is, however, certain limitations to the use of the knee. Therefore, we must fully explore the science of knee fighting to first gain knowledge of what not to do, before we can understand what the knee can effectively accomplish.

            The knee is one of the most sensitive joints on the human body.  It is quite easily damaged. When you strike with the knee, it is very important you do so in the proper manner.  For if you perform a knee strike improperly, you stand the chance of injuring your knee instead of defending yourself successfully.

            Your knee should always be bent when you attack with it. By bending your knee, you not only isolate its impact point but keep it from bending unnaturally against itself; tearing your ligaments, cartilage, or in more severe cases, breaking your knee altogether. 

             A knee strike should never be delivered in a side-to-side format.  This is to say, never attempt to impact with the side of your knee.  The side area of your knee joint is very sensitive and your lower leg can easily be sent in the opposite direction of your upper leg if you incorrectly attempt to strike with it in this fashion.

            The part of your knee that should be used as a striking weapon is the upper part.  Reach down to your thigh and follow your upper leg muscle to the point where it meets the knee bone; this is the ideal strike point for knee attacks.

            A proper knee strike is accomplished by rapidly lifting your knee up and into its target. The power of the knee strike is initiated at the hip, and is driven forward with the muscles of the upper leg. 
  
            The first strike point most people think of when utilizing a knee attack is the opponent’s groin.  This is, in fact, a good location to aim for, especially if your opponent has grabbed you in a straight forward choke hold or similar frontal attack. In this type of attack, your opponent’s groin region is easily accessible and a powerful knee strike can make instantaneous contact and lead you to victory in the confrontation. 

            Though the knee can virtually strike any location on your opponent’s body, given the right set of circumstances, there are several location which are ideal knee strike targets; they are: the groin, the ribs, the kidneys, under the opponent’s jaw, and to a lesser degree, the inside of the opponent’s upper leg.  The time to strike at these various targets is only dominated by the type of encounter you find yourself in.

            One of the most important thing to remember when using the knee as a weapon is, you should never use your knee to strike at a location on your opponent’s body where you have to travel to.  This is to say that the knee strike is not an ideal long distance reaching weapon; as is the case with the various punching techniques and many of the traditional martial art kicks.  This is due to the fact that the very elements that make the knee an ideal close contact weapon, makes it inefficient in distance applications.  

            The knee cannot reach out as does the arm or leg.  As well, if you leave the knee in a “Cocked-to-strike” position and attempt to launch yourself, at a distance, in towards your opponent with the momentum you can gain from jumping off of your non-knee kicking leg, you not only leave yourself in an off balance position, but you will be leaving your body open and exposed to powerful attacks from your opponent, as well. Therefore, the use of the knee as a striking weapon should be limited to close quarter “in-fighting.”

            A well placed knee strike is dominated by two factors; one, is it an easily reachable target and the second, will the strike you make with your knee have the debilitating affect on our opponent you desire?  If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then that is the time to perform a powerful knee strike.

            Now that we understand the basics of the science of knee fighting, we can investigate the best knee fighting tactics in order that we may efficiently and effectively knee strike our opponent in each applicable situation. 

            As previously mentioned, when grabbed in a forward hold, a knee to your opponent’s groin is a very effective defensive measure.  But, what can you do in the few seconds before your opponent has actually taken a hold of you; especially if his intentions are obviously violent and he is moving quickly in your direction? 

            First of all, it is never a good idea to allow an opponent to grab a hold of you, if you have the option.  Therefore, when an opponent is rapidly moving towards you, this affords you an ideal opportunity to use his momentum to your own advantage. This is accomplished in one of two ways. The first method of achieving momentum advantage over your adversary, as he closes in on you, is by deflecting his arms outward, with an in-to-out knife hand block, once he is close enough.  After this deflection has been performed, you can maintain substantial control over his movements by grabbing a hold of his elbow region, once his arm has been blocked.  By first deflecting his arms outward, while allowing his momentum to continue forward, you have opened his body up for you to easily attack him with a powerful knee strike.

            Though this deflection leading to a knee strike happens in a second, with the momentum the two of you have gained by moving towards one another, you can powerfully knee strike him either in his groin, solar plexus, or easily launch yourself upward and deliver a very debilitating knee strike under his jaw.  

The second avenue we can take for an oncoming opponent, who is either attempting to grab or strike at us is to deflect his extending arm inwards, with an out-to-in forearm block. Once his arm has been deflected, you should maintain a controlling hand on his elbow, so he cannot perform a secondary strike at you with say a back fist.  By performing this type of block, you allow your opponent to continue through with his own forward motion. Thus, leaving his forward ribs or back exposed to an easy counter attack with your knee. 

            In this case, if it is most effective for you to strike at his ribs, you simply allow his motion to continue as you guide him down by taking control of his extended arm, as your knee powerfully meets his ribs.  If you choose to knee strike his kidneys you can simply deflect his arm and allow his developed momentum to continue him moving forward, slightly past you; thus, exposing his back to your powerful knee attack.

            As the key to all successful defense is to strike your opponent before he has the opportunity to strike you, knee fighting is no different.  Therefore, now that we understand how we can easily open our opponent’s body up for knee strikes, let’s evaluate how we can effectively maintain control over him, while we are accomplishing a debilitating knee attack.

            Whenever you are going to use your knee as your initial form of self-defense, in close contact In-fighting, you must do two things.  First of all, as we now understand, the knee is not a good weapon at a distance. For this reason we must keep our opponent from retreating or moving back out of the way of the effective knee strike range. The most efficient way to accomplish this is to take a hold of him in order to keep him from moving out of the range of your impending knee strike.  Secondarily, once you have set yourself up to knee strike your opponent, you must keep him from powerfully counter striking you in the process of your knee attack. To do this, there are three areas of his body you must become very aware of; they are: his arms, legs, and head.

            If you control an opponent’s elbows, you can effectively control his entire body.  Thus, as we have learned in the previous examples of deflecting any grabbing or striking attack on the part of our opponent, we should either leave our block in place at his elbow level or grab his arm so we can keep him from launching any secondary hand strike.

            As no rule holds undisputed for all fighting situations, maintaining an elbow block or grasp while continuing through with your knee assault may not always be possible.  If elbow control is not feasible, the secondary locations that you should concentrate your attentions on to give you added control over your opponent is his shoulder or wrist region. 

            By grasping at or leaving your arm in ready position at your opponent’s shoulder level, you can quickly foil any oncoming fist attack while your knee strike is in progress.  The same is true in the case of a grasp at or near your opponent’s wrist.     

            Not only by taking control of your opponent’s arm, once his initial attack has been deflected, do you control his ability to strike at you again, but by controlling his arms you also can effectively guide him to your desired knee strike location. This opponent guidance is accomplished either by using his own forward momentum and passively directing him to your desired knee strike or by forcefully pulling him downwards by his arms, powerfully onto your knee, once you have deflected his initial attack.

            Commonly, in professional kickboxing, knee attacks are launched to the inside of an opponent’s leg.  Though the legs of an opponent should always be monitored in a street altercation, there are two very serious problems with using your opponent’s legs as knee strike focal points. First of all, this type of attack does little debilitating damage to your opponent, so there is virtually no point in using it as an attack zone in a street confrontation.  Secondarily, by moving in that close to your opponent, if you have not taken effective control of his arms, he has the ability to powerfully strike you with his fists or elbows.  Therefore, this is not an ideal primary strike point for knee fighting.

            Finally, in controlling your opponent in order to effectively knee strike him, there is no better source of control than his neck and head region.  This region is easily accessible; especially in the case of close contact In-fighting as your two bodies are already in close proximity. 

            To effectively take control of your opponent’s motions is as easy as rapidly reaching in and grabbing him in a frontal grip by his throat. This type of grab will not only momentarily distract him as to your strategic intentions, but will allow you to maintain control over his movements long enough to powerfully knee strike him in the groin.

            Controlling your opponent’s head is equally easily accomplished. You should go for head control immediately after you have deflected your opponent’s arm out of its forward aggressive motion. At this second, your opponent’s initial attack has been nullified and he is most prone for a rapid and unexpected counter defense.  Once deflected, you can strongly grab a hold of your opponent’s head, with one or both of your hands, and shove it downward, in position, for a jumping knee strike to his face.

            Traditionally, martial art schools have advised that once your opponent has moved in tight on your body, you should attempt to shove him back in order to effectively kick him or deliver a powerful punching technique.  Attempting to utilize this type of defense promises limited results, however. This is especially the case if your opponent has already taken a powerful hold of your clothing or does so in the process of being shoved back.   As we have learned with the use of the properly placed knee, there is not a need to expend unnecessary energy, attempting to shove or grapple with your opponent. Simply deliver a well-placed knee attack and your opponent will be instantly injured.  At this point, if necessary, you can effortlessly continue with further counter attacks.

Copyright © 1993—All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 6, 2019

Finding Your Target


By Scott Shaw

In the martial arts, one of the primary things that the trainee focuses upon is developing the skill to accurately see a vulnerable point on their opponent and then deliver a precisely targeted strike to that location. Where as most people who enter into physical combat do so with a wild and undefined barrage of offensive techniques, the martial artist understands that style of combat is not only unreliable but also causes the person who is utilizing it to expend a lot of energy. For this reason, precise targeting is part of the primary curriculum for all schools of martial arts.
Life is not much different from this. Some people, for whatever self-defined reason, choose an individual and then focus a targeted attack upon that person. Look around, you see it everywhere. You see it in the news, you see it in conversations, you see it in internet posting, and you see it in bar fights. What is occurring in all of these cases is that one person has targeted another person and is attempting to overpower them via a precisely target attack.
The motivation for this style of attack can be wide-spanning but the one reality of it is that one person has decided that they should hurt and/or defeat another person. But, as we all understand, the definition of attack is based upon the concept of winning and losing. Just as no boxer or MMA fighter is the champion of the ring forever, this too is the case with the person who instigates attacks. They may win but they will eventually end up the loser.
In the martial arts, the true martial artist always avoids physical confrontations. They say nothing and do nothing to escalate personal conflict. From their training they understand that they posses highly developed techniques of self-defense thus they have nothing to prove. But, the world is not like that. Many people do not want to exist at a level where they understand that each person is their own person and defined by their own reality. Instead, they want to judge, they want to attack, they want to sucker punch, they want to hurt other people so that they will appear to be more than the individual they are attacking. But, are they?
As people living on the path of consciousness, we are the one’s who do not partake of that level of intoxication. But, again, it is all around us—there is no way to avoid it. So, what should we do when we witness it?
Though there is no absolute answer to this question, perhaps the best thing to do is to simply not participate. Do not allow yourself to be brought down to the level of the person who attacks. Do not encourage them. Do not cheer them on. Say nothing, do nothing; that would be the ultimate example of Zen. Or, if you have the ability, create a situation that completely alters the course of the confrontation and redirects it to a positive place. For in the martial arts this is the ultimate level of self-defense, not to fight but to not fight. Just as Bruce Lee so ideally stated in the movie, Enter the Dragon, “I call it the art of fighting without fighting.”
Ultimately, be more than the person who targets other individuals. Make the world a better place by not contributing to or participating in that style of attack. Exist in the space of understanding that each person is who they are and because they are who they are any attack on them is an attack of all of us. Thus, the person who is instigating the attack is doing nothing more then sending everybody who listens to them or is inspired or invigorated by their actions to make the everything worse for all of us.
I believe we all want our life to be better. I believe we all want the everything of the world to be better. How do we achieve that? Never attack.

Copyright © 2019

From the Scott Shaw Blog

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Rank That You Earn


By Scott Shaw

In regard to the martial arts, like I have long said, “If you are referring to yourself as a master, that problems means that you are not.”
I understand that people want position in life. Whether it is martial art rank, job title, or number of follows on Instagram or Twitter, people want to feel as if they are something and appear as if they have achieved something. This has lead people to pursue all kinds of pathways to gain a place in society where they can claim that they are, “A Something.” Some of these pathways have been based on hard work. Other of these pathways have been based upon cooking the books. But, one way or the other, certain people strive towards titling.
But, what does it mean when you get there? What do you do with your position of title equaling power? Do you unleash good or do you unleash harm? Or, is where you have arrived simply a place where your ego is allowed to be stroked?
As I have long tried to explain to people, the term, “Master,” most commonly used with the Korean martial arts, (Sabumnim in Korean), is not well-translated into American English. It is much more akin to Old British English where a school instructor was sometimes called, “Master,” in reference to him being the head of the class. In modern times, the term, “Master,” in association with the martial arts, has come to denote what a person is, “A Master of the Art.” But, are they? Yes, they may have earned rank, either through years of training or purchase, but look at the people who use this term, are they truly a Master? Do they perform every technique perfectly every time? I have watch ballerinas; some of them are masters. I have watched performers in shows like Cirque du Soleil; some of them are masters. But, is some chubby guy teaching a few students at a small martial art studio deserving of this title? I guess that is a personal decision. But, I have always preferred the Japanese term, “Sensei,” which means teacher. But, people want more. They don’t want to just be a teacher. They want to be something grand.
The reason I bring this subject up is that I was asked a little while back why I am not a 9th Degree Black Belt as I have been an 8th Degree Black Belt for so long. First of all, I don’t care about any of that. But, as I explained, I was offered that rank a number of years ago but I turned it down. Then, the other day, I was going through some papers and I found the letter where the head of the organization offered me the advancement. It was dated 2006. Wow! That was a long time ago. I didn’t even realize how long ago that was. Now, even the founder and the head of that organization has passed on.
In any case, I’m not about what I claim to be. I’m not about title. I’m not about presenting an image to the world. I’m just about me being me. I’m about helping and I don’t care about the title I am given as I am helping. Just call me Scott.
The problem with the world is… The problem with some people is… (At least as I see it). Instead of working towards being a helpful version of themselves, they first seek to be a something. They want the title. They expect the respect. Whether a person has truly earned any title they use is forever debatable. But, that is not even the point. If you throw away the title, who are they—who are you? If you throw away the number of followers you have on Instagram or Twitter, who are you? If you are alone and yourself who are you?
People who seek titling, often times get lost in that title. Whether it is in martial arts, at the job, or on the web, people become lost in the projection of who they appear to be. But, who are they really? Are they that title? Or, are they person who is below that title? The person who’s life is only known to a very few (or no one)?
If you are nothing… If you seek to be nothing… Then titling has no hold on you. You can give, you can help, but by claiming the freedom of being nothing you are not bound by what any title describes you to be. Thus, all that you do is done from the space of purity.
Now, I get it… Most people want to be that, “Something.” But, even if that is you, try letting go for a minute. Stop allowing others to refer to you as a something. Stop describing yourself, in your own mind, as that something. How freeing is that?
Let go of titling and you can be anything. Plus, you can be it in the purist sense of the word. As you are nothing… As you claim nothing… You can give everything. And, giving/helping, without taking, (without your ego being stroked), that is the best thing you can do with your life.
Let go of your desire to be a something. Then you are free. Then you can truly help.

Copyright © 2018—All Rights Reserved

From the Scott Shaw Blog.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Street Savvy Self-Defense


By Scott Shaw

      At the foundation of any method of effective self-defense is your own ability to read a situation, decide upon the appropriate action, and then implement successful self-defense techniques to keep yourself free from injury.  In your martial art school, you are taught methods of how to encounter the various types of physical attack which may befall you: be it a punch, a kick, or a body grab. It is far better, however, for you to never be forced into a physical confrontation at all.  To achiever this, “The most basic level of self-defense,” you must learn how to read physical and environmental situations and then take defensive action before a physical altercation ever finds you. 

Defining an Attacker
      Perhaps the most disconcerting level of this area of self-defense, especially for those who have been previously attacked, is that there is no one who can teach you a technique which will keep you safe from all physical confrontations. This is in no small part due to the fact that each person who would accost you possesses a different look, a different body language, and an undisclosed reasoning for why they would wish to instigate a physical encounter. Certainly, there are certain types of individuals who you may come upon, who look evil, speak to you with an intimidating tone, or act in a specific manner which you instantly know you must get away from.  In these situation, the decision to walk or run away is obvious. It is the less defined individuals who pose the biggest problem in knowing exactly whom to steer clear of.
      There are countless theories, and the word, “Theory,” is used because that is exactly all they are, about how you should behave if someone with ill intentions comes upon you. Some of these theories tell you to remain calm, in a non-aggressive mode and speak passively to the person, others tell you to be assertive and attempt to back the opponent down. Still others say you should scream or run. 
      When you are accosted, no theory will work. This is because of the fact that each attacker is completely different and motivated by their own set of irrational standards. As is the case with all areas of self-defense, you must confront every situation as it is presented to you, and react at your most effective possible level.
      There are standard rules of common sense which can hopefully keep you free from confrontation. For example, lock your doors and windows, avoid dark isolated locations, don’t place yourself in a dangerous environment -- if hostility is eminent, leave immediately before it has the ability to escalate, if an attacker come up to you in a public place, call for the help of others, and so on. All of these common sense rules can only be applied prior to a confrontation or when other people are in your presence. Often times, attackers will not come upon you in public situations. They will wait until you are alone. In these situations, absolute self-defense is necessary.  You can not think or be concerned about the injurious effect you are having upon your attacker, as they certainly are not concerned with your well being or they would not have accosted you in the first place.

Victim Mentality
      Being a victim is a state of mind. It is what we do with the experience of lose which determines whether or not you become a life-long victim.
      A victim is an individual who has lost an altercations and, thus, the rest of their life is dominated by that experience. Everywhere they go, they are scared and expecting a similar negative experience to again occur.
      The person who is not a victim, may have lost battles in the past, but they realize that life is a step by step process. Though they may not have like the experience of loosing, they have learned what they could from it, become stronger, and have moved on with their life becoming a better and more whole individual. 

Winning and Losing
      You can not win all altercations. Winning or loosing is all a state of mind.  If you learn from your seeming loss, you are, in fact, a winner as you have come to become a stronger, more complete individual. From another perspective, if you have won many confrontations and are constantly seeking to prove yourself in battle, there will eventually be somebody who can beat you. Thus, the conscious self-defense technician never seeks out battle.  If battle is forced upon them, they proceed in the most conscious and effective manner possible.

Remaining Conscious in Battle
      The question often arises, “How does one remain conscious in the randomness of battle?” There are two primary methods to achieve this: partner practice in your dojo and mental visualization. From partner practice you learn, through personal experience, the most efficient method to deal with each style of physical attack. Thus, if you are attacked, you have already worked through the scenario and know how to effectively deal with it. Through mental visualization, you detail in your mind the most effective method to encounter each type of assault, in various environments -- you run the battle scenarios on a mental level and are trained from your mental imagery.
      From these two practices you become a more secure individual as you consciously understand how to defend yourself in all environments and from all types of attack. Once you possess this sense of mental security, you project that mindset to the world. When people encounter you, they experience the inner power you possess. Therefore, they will not thoughtless challenge you to battle, as they know you can not be easily defeated. 
      Learn, practice, and master the techniques of self-defense. Then, project your inner self confidence to the world. This is your best first line of defense.

Environmental Self-defense
      The unfortunate reality about life is that you can be accosted by an attacker in virtually any location, at any time.  Each physical location is unique and possesses its own environmental constraints. Due to this reason, there is no singular method of physical self-defense which will universally protect you in all types of geographic locations. 
      For you to master environmental self-defense you must not only come to understand how to effectively encounter an attacker in each type of environment, but, more importantly, you must take precautionary measures before you ever enter any location -- from these, you will learn how to judge each environment by its own physical parameters and, thus, you will hopefully never place yourself in a situation where physical danger is eminent.

Inside Your Car
      To begin the study of environmental self-defense you can begin by viewing the defining factors of your car. As the car is a common place where confrontations take place, due to one driver considering the tactics of another to be less than applicable, it is a very important physical environment to master in your understand of environmental self-defense.  
      If an attacker rushes towards you and you are in your car, by attempting to get out, you leave yourself in a highly prone position to attack. Not only must you get up out of your seat and generally turn to face your opponent, in which case he can easily strike you to the back or the side of your head before you can confront him, but you also must open your car door and expose one or more of your legs, before you can stand up.
      With your legs on the ground and your body not yet standing, your attacker can powerfully smash the car door against your exposed extremities.  There is virtually nothing you can do to halt this type of attack -- except to hopefully overpower his superior positioning and either get out of the car or get your legs back into your car. By this time, you will probably be injured and your self-defense options will be highly limited. Therefore, it is very important that you fully evaluate your environment before you ever begin to leave your car in a pending confrontation. If your attacker has already rushed your car, do not attempt to get out -- lock your doors, roll up your windows, drive away, and forget the anger which lead you to this unsavory situation.

Entering Your Car
      If you are approached by a potential assailant as you are attempting to get into your car -- the car, itself, can be an impending factor to keep the attacker at bay.  If you see him approaching, keep the car between the two of you. If he begins to move around it, you move in the opposite direction. Though this may appear as a child’s game, by forcing him to remain at a distance, you can ascertain his intentions and hopefully call to your aid other individuals in the area. 
      If out of frustration he attempts to superseded your movement and jumps over the hood or trunk of the car, this is the ideally time to deliver a powerful first strike to him as he is coming off of the car. As he will be off balance due to his exaggerated movement, he will be ideally prone to your striking technique.

Outdoors
      In physical confrontation which take place outdoors, you possess a very important advantage for effective self-defense -- that advantage is space.  In an outdoor situation you can move if you are accosted. This does not necessarily mean to run, though this may be your best defense. What it does mean, however, is that you are not required to stay boxed in a stationary location as is the case with interior combat.
      An attacker rushes in at you -- by moving backwards or sideways, out of his path of attack, his initial offense is foiled. At this point you can launch a powerful counter attack or just quickly leave the site of the altercation altogether.
      The most important thing to keep in mind when defending yourself from an attack which has occurred outdoors, is to keep moving. Each time the assailant attempts to punch you, step back out of his path of attack. If he attempts to grab you, move away. If he does take a hold of your body or your clothing, immediately free yourself from his grasp in the most elementary way possibly -- usually just by consciously pulling free. Thus, he will not have the opportunity to substantiate his grasp.
      You must remember that any attacker is highly adrenalized. As such, his energy is quickly expended. As long as you can keep him away from you, he will be burning excessive amounts of energy and you, remaining relatively calm, will maintain your energy surplus. Thus, like the competent boxer who allows his opponent to chase him around the ring using up his energy, you too can conserve your energy and counter attack when your opponent is worn out and drained.

The Alley
      It is often detailed that you should back yourself up against a wall if you are attacked in an outdoor location. This is especially case if you find yourself in a narrow outdoor placement such as an alley.  The belief is that by backing yourself up to a wall, your attacker or attackers can not come around behind you. Though there is a logic to this form of self-defense, the biggest down side to it is that once you back up against a wall, your movement is highly limited and your attackers can close in on you and strike with multiple attacks.  Additionally, your defensive blocking techniques are highly restricted, with your back against a wall, as you can only move effectively from side to side. If you attempt to push out from the wall, you then must meet the blows of your attacker’s head on. 
      For these reasons, moving against a wall should only be employed when it is to your advantage. This situation would occur when your attacker is rapidly rushing in at you -- by side-stepping his attack, redirecting his aggressive energy, and guiding his face or body into the wall, you will have then save yourself the necessity of striking out at him, as you have used his own force to cause him to powerfully impact the nearby wall.
      In virtually all other cases, it is to your advantage to keep moving if you find yourself accosted in a walled outdoor location. Even if your movements must be linear, due to the confined configuration of the space, your attackers will still need to chase after you to grab or to strike at you. As the case with a more exposed outdoor location, if you are grabbed immediately pull free, if a punch is launched, step back out of its path -- keep moving until you are free.

Up Against the Wall
      There is the attack scenario when the initial altercation occurs when your back is already against a wall. In these cases, immediately strike to a vital point on your attacker, such has his knees. his groin, his throat, his eyes, his temples, and so on -- then immediately move off of the wall.  From this rapid style of self-defense, you may have foiled the attacker’s intentions. If not, additional self-defense can be employed as necessary. 

The ATM
      ATMS have become a very common place for individuals with ill intent to accost would-be victims. Though most ATMS now have video surveillance, this has not seemed to halt these attacks, as criminals knows it takes several minutes for the police to arrive. During this time, they can rob their victims and in some cases injure or kill them. Knowing this, you must be very cautious when ever you go up to a ATM. 
      The obvious first line of ATM self-defense is only go to ones located at indoor locations, such as in supermarkets, convenience stores, shopping malls, and so on. If this is not practical then use an ATM in a well lighted, highly populated outdoor location. 
      The second level of ATM self-defense, even at the previously described inhabited locations, is to check your environment thoroughly. Visually scan the area for shady looking individuals before you get out of your car or walk up to the machine. If you see an individual who looks out of place, you should never give them the benefit of the doubt, as it may cost you your life. Instead, leave the location, go find another, safer, ATM.
      At times, you may have viewed the area and surmised that there was no apparent danger. As you are beginning your ATM transaction, someone walks up behind you. 
      Many ATMS now have mirrors so you can see the approach of other people.  These are an important tool of ATM self-defense.

Face-to-Face
      One of the primary fundamentals to successful self-defense is to encounter an individual face to face. With this, you can quickly ascertain their intentions and see if attack is eminent. 
      If you are alone at an ATM and someone comes up behind you, immediately turn around to face them.  If it turns out that they are only waiting to use the machine, smile at them and all is well. If, on the other hand, they intend to rob you, then your self-defense can instantly begin and you will possess a more clearly defined ability to emerge victorious.

Your Money or Your Life
      An important factor to calculate into any self-defense scenario is that if all the person who has accosted you wants is your money or your jewelry -- give it to them. Too many people have needlessly died attempting to fight over a few dollars which can be replaced. Though being robbed is certainly not right, dying because of a robbery is never necessary.
      The other case to consider is that many attackers possess no value for human life and they may take your money and then injure you, as well. In these situation you must defend yourself to your utmost, defeating them by any means necessary. 
      As each situation is different, there is no method to define what a specific criminal has in mind. To this end, you must read any altercation you find yourself involved in, make your own judgments, and defend yourself as you feel necessary.

Bus Stops, Subway Stations 
      Many people travel by means of public transportation. Whether this is motivated by environmental consciousness or due to financial constraints, locations such as Bus Stops and Subway Stations have become a hot bed for criminal activity. This is primarily due to the fact that potential victims are there waiting. Thus, they are not only available for attack but are stationary targets.
      The obvious preliminary self-defense strategy at these locations is to check your environment before you enter it. If you are alone and there is a person or persons present who you feel look suspicious, leave the station.
      In is an important first step in environmental self-defense that when you enter a new location, you do so in a stealth mode. Do not flamboyantly walk in, see trouble, turn, and leave. For if you have entered and a criminal has taken notice of you, they may well follow your exit. For this reason, study an environment with each step you take towards it. See everything, before it has the opportunity to see you. 
      For obvious time constraint reasons you may not always be able to walk away from a location of public transportation once you have arrived. If this is your case, and you must remain even though you have taken notice of potential danger, stand back in a position where the suspicious person or persons can not see you. Once the bus or subway train pulls up, rapidly move towards it and get on. In this way, you have not given a potential attacker the time to formulate and execute their assault.
      When you are awaiting publication transportation placing yourself in a well lighted, populated spot is clearly your first choice. You must keep in mind, however, that many crimes take place while bystanders watch and do nothing. This is a sad fact of modern society. Though screaming and asking for help is appropriate, you must immediately launch into your own self-defense, if you are accosted, even in a public place -- as this may be your only chance to defeat an attacker.  

Environmental Determinants
      The savvy self-defense technician learns to use what ever environment they find themselves in to their own defensive advantage. Thereby, making all landscape and physical objects their ally and not a hindrance to emerging unscathed from a physical altercation.

Outdoor Determinants
      There are numerous environmental determinants which should be evaluated if you find yourself in an outdoor confrontation. For example, are you on a hill?  If you find yourself on a hill, it is to your advantage to place yourself in the higher stance, above your opponent.  From this, you will possess the superior positioning, where he must travel uphill to you.  Powerful, low level kicks can be effortlessly unleashed at him, from this position, with easy access to his head and upper body region. This upper positioning placement is also important if a confrontation is taking place on stairs.
      If you find yourself at the lower level in the encounter and exchanging places with your attacker is not possible, then your best strategy is to move downhill, away from him, and make him come to you. As he will be required to move in a descending fashion, he will be off balance.  You can take advantage of this by striking him as he moves in on you with a powerful punch to his groin, knee, or shin.  You can. additional, quickly take him from his feet by grasping his forward leg, at ankle level, and rapidly pulling it downhill towards you. Once he is on the ground, a secondary counter attack can be successfully unleashed.


Indoors
      A similar style of movement orientated environmental fighting can take place in smaller locations such as bars or rooms where you have space to travel. Though you are much more confined in these interior locations, by continually moving away from your attacker, not only does he becomes drained of energy, but he may become frustrated, as well. A frustrated attacker is easily disabled.
      If you find yourself engaged in a close contact indoor fighting situation and movement can not be your first line of self-defense, then immediately striking your attacker to one of his vital points is a viable first line defense. These strikes can be substantially aided by picking up any near by object, such as a bottle, a glass or anything with weight, and striking him in the head with it. Though this may seem less than sporting, if you are being attacked by an unknown assailant, your survival is the only desired outcome. Thus, protect yourself by any means necessary.

Available Weaponry
      One of the key factors to environmental self-defense is to use whatever is at your disposal to secure your victory in the confrontation. As you did not instigate the fight, there should never be a second though about this process.
      There are untold objects at your self-defense disposal if you are targeted by an attacker.  There is your back pack or purse to hit his with.  The hot coffee from you cup thrown in his face. There are your keys to put between your fingers to punch with, your credit or ATM card which can be used for slashing across an attackers face. Sand or dirt from the ground can be picked up and thrown in your attacker’s eyes. Doors can be closed on his arms. Doorways can be used to retreat behind, concealing your oncoming punch.  Nearby flashlights, lamps, pipes, boards, trash can lid can be used to block or strike with. Even a rolled up newspaper can be used to strike at an attacker, momentarily startling him as you launch a counter attack.
      In all self-defense situations, use the environment to your advantage.  Train yourself, as you walk down streets or enter unknown rooms, to study what elements are at hand and could be used to aid in your defense. See all landscapes and objects as a friendly helper to keep you safe.

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