Wednesday, January 26, 2011

People I admire part 1 - Marc "Animal" MacYoung

In order to help explain the Budo that I teach I feel it is important to show what has influenced it.  To that end I decided to start a series of biographies on people who have effected the way I teach.  I was going to call this series pioneers in ass-kickery but, people I admire sounded better.  So I will start the series with Marc "Animal" MacYoung.  I find myself quoting Marc often on this blog.  Assuming everyone who reads this blog knows who I am talking about.  The following info I blatantly plagiarized from different Internet sources.  If you rip of one person that s plagiarism.  If you rip off lots of people that is "research" ( a quote I also stole from Marc)

Growing up on the gang-infested streets of Los Angeles not only gave Marc MacYoung his street name "Animal," but also extensive firsthand experience about what does and does not work for self-defense. What he teaches is based on experience and has proven reliability for surviving violence. If it didn't work, he wouldn't be alive to talk about it.

He is considered by many to be one of the most on the subject of surviving violence and personal safety today. He has taught police, military, martial artists and civilians around the world.
His message is always the same:
Hand-to-hand combat is a last ditch effort when other, more effective, preventive measures have failed.

For civilians, the best preventative measure of them all is not to put yourself into situations where you need to fight your way out. That is what he teaches, lest people find themselves in the same kind of situations that he did.
For professionals the message is "IT ENDS NOW! -- and of course in your favor." But even there, it's better if you can keep it from physical (if for no other reason than the paperwork).
Although he often jokes "We had a name for murder, mayhem, destruction and despair ... we called it 'Saturday night,'" that's a grim truth. Unlike many martial arts instructors, who claim to have been street fighters, his past is not a marketing promotion. Nor is it an exaggerated list of victories against legions of thugs through use of his 'undefeatable fighting style'. It is filled with tales of ambushes, hit-and-run gang warfare, drugs, alcohol, bad behavior, stupid mistakes, weapons flashing in dark alleys, homicides, funerals and long nights spent in hospital waiting rooms praying  for wounded friends to survive. That is the reality of being a street fighter. It is nothing any sane person would brag about -- much less pretend to be. As he often says It's a whole different ballgame when the other side shoots back...1

Yet, as one who lived despite the blood-splattered streets, MacYoung knows that survival isn’t a matter of how "tough" you are or your ability to fight. Nor is it how many stripes you have on a black belt or how many tournaments you’ve won. Although some physical skill is indeed necessary, survival is more a matter of knowledge and awareness. And that is what he stresses. Without those two key elements, you won’t make it out of a dark and lonely parking lot.

About that "Animal" part of his name... yes, he did all the stupid and dangerous things one needs to do to earn that nickname. It is a lifestyle he no longer lives or endorses. Unfortunately, since Animal is the name he was first published under, like a tattoo, he's sort of stuck with it as a constant reminder of a violent and dangerous youth.

MacYoung grew up among -- and spent the last 40 years dealing with  -- people who used violence and weapons to get what they wanted. Who would, in fact, not hesitate to use violence on another human being for nothing more than a whim. He knows, first-hand, that criminals and abusers are not good people gone bad, but bad people gone worse. These are the people he clashed with, fought, hunted and stopped from harming others. He lived to write about it and to teach what it takes to survive just such situations.
His lifestyle and professions have always put him in danger. Over the years he has worked as the director of a correctional institute, bodyguard, bouncer, cooler and security at events with a daily gate of 30,000 (and entirely too many beer stands). Intermixed with those high-risk occupations came the perils of living in some of the worst areas in Los Angeles and the problems arising from going head-to-head with local gangs, drug addicts, abusive husbands, thugs and bikers. He was first shot at when he was 15 and has since survived multiple attempts on his life, including professional contracts. Some were work related, others were personal, arising from his "somewhat dim" back ground (With hindsight, he wonders if the definition of "dim" refers to "shady" or "not too bright" -- unfortunately, both often applied to his actions).

His main skill, however, is to find the easiest and best way to handle violent situations. His ability to talk down and resolve situations that were about to become violent grew and it became of greater use for surviving in the dangerous situations he often found himself in. That has become his main focus -- over just breaking someone's head open. Which, while he can do that with great ease and proficiency, is not what he is about. His professional standard these days has lead him to the conclusion that if he has to go physical,  he didn't handle the situation correctly. An attitude that has done wonders for saving him from all kinds of paperwork.

Since the age of 10, he has studied several styles of martial arts, including Karate, Wing Chun, Baqua/Hsing-I, Five Family Gung fu, Boxing, Western swordsmanship, Kali and various forms of Pentjak Silat. That's thirty five years of training and application. He has field-stripped and bastardized every style he studied in order to make it street effective. However, out of respect to his teachers and their styles, when it comes to martial arts, he doesn’t claim to teach anything other than the training system he and his wife Dianna have created, Dango Jiro. A body movement and tactical application system that draws from all of those arts (Don't be confused by the Japanese name, it means "Mulligan Stew"). When it comes to street survival and professional use of force he teaches No Nonsense Self-Defense. A combination of formal martial arts techniques and principles and his real life experience, supported by research into the areas of psychology, criminology, sociology and legal use of force.

He is now "retired" from that crazed and dangerous lifestyle. He lives in Colorado with his wife Dianna, where he writes, lectures, teaches internationally. He teaches personal safety and self-defense to the public, making your martial art street effective and knife work to martial artists, defensive tactics to law enforcement and he doesn't talk about what he shows the military. He spends the rest of his time raising his "kid" and trying to convince cattle (the only animal stupider than a gang member) to go from Point A to Point B. 

Occasionally he travels to Minnesota to smoke cigars, drink scotch and beat the hell out of your friendly neighborhood Samurai

Writing and the ability to laugh
Besides all the four through eight and twelve letter words he has been called (and their equivalents in many other languages), MacYoung  has been likened to everything from Doc Holliday in Tombstone, Porthos (Oliver Platt) in The Three Musketeers, Animal-mother in Full Metal Jacket,  to a teddy bear with fangs, to a Care Bear with a hatchet and even a two-legged ferret.
All of which he cheerfully admits are accurate assessments of his  very wide and varied personality. If they aren't accurate now, they were at another time of his life. (One of his youthful mottos was: It's you and me against the world. Let's attack!)

Despite people occasionally trying to play show and tell with his vital organs, he’s managed to keep his sense of humor. In fact, while there were a great many events stemming from his being in the wrong place at the wrong time, just as often altercations occurred when someone took umbrage at something he said -- and the fight was on. (Of course, sometimes he said it to make the guy swing, but that’s another story).
Yet, it is his quirky humor and ability to take such a serious subject and make it funny that has won him and his writing a devoted following (deeply disturbed, but devoted). This wild and weird sense of humor has made his books very popular and easy to read. It also has prompted one reviewer to describe reading his books as if "sitting down with a six pack and an old friend – a very twisted and dangerous old friend."
MacYoung began to write about street self-defense in 1989 when he sat down to make up a small booklet for his students. Fifteen books and five videos later (no they are not all listed in the next column, we ran out of room), he is considered one of the leading experts on the subject of surviving high-risk situations. His works are used by individuals, academies, schools, police departments and military academies around the world. His video Safe in the Street and it’s five stages of violent crime system have become an internationally recognized standard for teaching personal safety.
It should be noted however, that his early writings were street oriented and might offend the sensibilities of more civilized readers.

Wow look at that pony tail (I'm brave on the inter webs :) )

One of the things I really dig about Marc, as good as he is with his hands, he is better with at not having to use his hands

Conflict Comunications -
While in Germany to teach de-escalation to the Rhineland Police, someone noticed Marc MacYoung's habit of looking both ways when passing through a doorway. He was asked why.
"Because of the time a burglar tried to put an ax in my skull,"  Marc calmly answered.
"You're joking?" his host asked incredulously.
"No. I'd come home for lunch. The burglar was still upstairs in the house. I walked through a door, he swung the ax, I jumped away and pulled my weapon. So there we were, both armed and looking at each other trying to figure out what to do next."
"What happened?"
"I talked him out of the house and let him go." Marc answered. "Nobody died. It was a win/win situation."
That incident happened before Marc started working in professions where he regularly had to talk violent people down.

So in summary when I mention Marc this is who I am referring to:

Marc was born in Los Angeles, California, and spent a majority of his childhood in the Los Angeles area. He spent his youth in situational poverty and ethnic diversity. He gained his knowledge of crime and violence on the streets of Los Angeles. He was first shot when he was fourteen. He later worked as the warden of a correctional institute, bodyguard, bouncer, security, all of which put his life into danger. He wrote his first book Cheap Shots Ambushes and other Lessons, published by Paladin Press, in 1989. He later wrote thirteen more books and produced five instructional videos on personal safety / self-defense.

Animal also worked set construction, set dressing, swing gang, lead man, props and FX on several films such as The Hanoi Hilton, Rush Week, Limit Up, Breaking the Rules, Wicked Stepmother, Best of the Best, Seedpeople, Syngenor, Death Warrant and Bad Channels.

In 2009 MacYoung teamed up with Rory Miller ( author of "Meditations On Violence" (2008),"Violence: A Writer's Guide" (2010) and Facing Violence (2011). Based on over five decades combined experience confronting violent felons, intoxicated and deranged individuals and other dangerous people they developed Conflict Communications ( Originally designed for police to de-escalate situations from turning violent, they've expanded they same concepts into conflict resolution and management for business and personal relationships.
Marc currently resides in Colorado where he and his wife, Dianna Gordon, maintain his "No Nonsense Self Defense" Web site, which covers a wide range of violence-prevention and criminal-psychology topics.

Now you know and knowing is half the battle. - Yo Joe!

Over in 3


  1. Very well done. Nice job summing it up "Marc" style. ;-)
    And he is one hell of a fun guy to invite to a party

  2. Just invite him. He is the party ;)

    Ferran, BCN.

    PS: Been kinda following for a while. Reached you from Rory's.