Thursday, August 27, 2015

Self Defense September

Every September Katamedo Jujitsu schools around the world (particularly St. Louis) participate in self defense September.

As the name indicates training focuses on the personal protection aspects of Jujitsu.
That is right in my wheel house.  Other Instructors help me with different aspects (competition / sport side) of Jujitsu

I figured this was an opportunity for me to contribute.

First martial art is not self defense.
People train in martial arts for a variety of reasons such as exercise, sport, a social activity, and for self-defense.

Martial art is not self defense.
However, martial arts can serve as a solid foundation for self defense but certain specific skill sets and knowledge are required.

"Judo is the study of techniques with which you may kill if you wish to kill, injure if you wish to injure, subdue if you wish to subdue, and, when attacked, defend yourself."
 - Jigoro Kano - Founder of Kodokan Judo

I wrote this primarily for the Katamedo schools, but the games / drills described in this blog can be enjoyed by anyone reading this.

Playing at being an Operator allows you to develop Operator Habits(fake it 'till you make it).  You practice being aware.  Those habits send a distinct - not to be messed with vibe

An experienced threat will recognize you as a hard target and move on to an easier victim, minimizing the probability of ever having to use physical skills.

Physical skills training should not be ignored, clearly.  If for no other reason than you need to be competent to project confidence.

The physical skills of martial art is largely personal preference.  The best martial art in the world is the one you enjoy doing and will practice the rest of your life.

To make that martial art viable for self defense requires an understanding of:

  • Self defense law and local statutes
  • Violence Dynamics (social vs asocial violence)
  • How violence happens and how criminals operate
  • Conflict Strategy 
    • Avoidance
    • Escape  / Evade
    • Deescalation
  • Counter Assault training to survive long enough to use your physical martial art skills.

More important to self defense than any physical skills is developing the attributes of adaptability and awareness

As I mentioned last blog Katamedo Jujitsu has developed progression training specifically to inculcate adaptability.

So then, how does one train awareness?

Awareness is one of those topics that tends to receive only lip service.

"You should always be aware"

Well no kidding.
That is like saying "You should always be undefeated" and then never practice.
Ok sign me up for the tournament, coach has a plan, step 1 win, step 2 don't lose - I think I got it

If you don't train tested  / proven methods of winning saying don't lose doesn't help much.

Always be aware - duh, but how?

As discussed previously, people learn faster and the information becomes “wired” to the part of your brain that will be most active in conflict when you learn through play.

So let's play

(Push Play)

Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to join ODIN in  playing a series of games designed to ingrain awareness and operator habits into your every day life.

Should you, or any of your ODIN team be caught, captured, or killed the Director will disavow any knowledge of you assignment.

Good luck.

This message will self destruct... eventually (faster if you are using Microsoft)

What is ODIN you ask?


O.D.I.N. is the code name for the world's daring, highly trained special mission force.

An independent international intelligence service

Its purpose: to develop human potential.

Recruiting and training operatives to use their inherent abilities to defend human freedom.

It is a fun way to develop yourself, and help others.  It is in no way an actual independent international inelegance service hiding as a training program or a game.  Because that would be ridiculous.

Game 1 Escape / Evade

This game can be played anywhere but it is especially useful to play when you find yourself in places where violence happens (as we covered in avoidance)

For example at a Restaurant - Bars & Grill - Sports Bar: 

  • People get their minds altered
There are private places

  • Bathrooms
  • Parking lots
Young men gather
Territories are in dispute

  • Rival Sports teams
Limited mobility or escape routes

You, are no longer you.  The information on your driver’s license or school ID is just your cover identity.

You are an undercover operative for ODIN behind enemy lines.  

If you are captured you will be tortured and killed

You can’t risk a physical confrontation if spotted

Your best chance for survival is escape

Locate all the exits and avenues of escape

  • Doors
  • Emergency exits
  • Bathroom windows if any
  • Kitchen
  • Walls you could break through
  • Windows you could break
Threat assessment scanning 
Consciously seeking out anomalies in pattern and discovering why things are different

Scan every one up and down once break sideways
(Be discreet, don’t bring attention to yourself)

Things to check for :

Weapons bulges
Unusual behavior

  • Are they sending a creepy vibe ? (trust your instincts)
What is their physical description?
Are they a threat?  

How would you take them out?
(Without being noticed)

Game 2 Predator Eyes

Awareness is a word that is used a lot. But what does it really mean? 

What should you be aware of?
If you look for every thing you’ll see nothing

So instead, know you are looking for behavior on either side of normal.

Do you remember the song from  “Sesame Street”?  
♫♪“One of these things is not like the others,♪ one of these things does not belong.”♫ ♪♫

That is what you need to look for. Something out of place, something that does not belong
Ask any person that does crowd control, works a door, bounces, or enforces laws (professionals), they will tell you they look for the disturbances, the unusual in the patterns and once they find that disturbance then they identify why it is unusual.

To help ingrain this skill, instead of looking at every place where you could be attacked, look at places you could use to set up an attack if you were a predator.

How would you hold up the restaurant?
Is there anyone doing things you would need to do to hold up that restaurant?
Is that weird?

Other Examples:
On your daily route where would you wait to mug yourself?  
If you were a process predator (enjoy the act) where would you set up to make a quick snatch?  
How would you break into your own home?    
Where would you come into your office on a shooting spree?

Is there anyone at those places?
What are they doing?
Is that weird?

Ingraining the habit of active threat assessment scanning will discourage the threat.  It sends a signal. 

Professionals (those who deal with - use violence for a living) will recognize the scan if even only on a subconscious level.

An experienced threat will see you doing this recognize you as a hard target and move on to an easier victim.

Those first two games are like learning a technique.  The next game is like drilling the technique that you just learned in order to be able to do it in competition against resistance.

Game 3 Clothespin game

We play this game every fall at the Violence Dynamics Seminar
Holy seamless transition Batman
Click here to sign up spaces are filling up fast, sign up today

(More on Vio Dy 2015 next blog)

We play the Clothespin game at Vio Dy because it is one of Rory Miller's Drills as featured in

 "Drills:Training for Sudden Violence" By Rory Miller
(You should buy the entire book, here is a link Buy this book)

Here is how Rory explains the game:
WW1: The Clothespin Game
This one is fun and appropriate even for children.  It could be done in a training hall, but I was introduced to it in a Challenge Course Facilitator Training program and the outdoors works for me, as will any place where you have a group of friends or training companions together.
The game requires a clothespin and a group.  It can be done while you are doing something else—out hiking, doing a survival class, running through scenarios, whatever—
Early in the day, before the first meeting or briefing, when people start to show up, you clip the clothespin to one of the people.  This shouldn’t be hard.  If you can’t attach a clothespin to one of a group of unsuspecting people without being caught, you probably aren’t ready for this game.
After that you announce, “One of you has a clothespin attached to your clothes.  That person has been assassinated.”
Then you explain how the game works.  If you find the clothespin on yourself, you can get rid of it by putting it on someone else. If you catch someone trying to pin you, they can’t try on you again and, if you want, you can announce to the rest of the crowd who to watch.  It is in your own best interest not to let people know if you find the clothespin and not to tell the person who is currently pinned.
At the end of a designated time—half hour, hour, or whenever the group leader feels like it-- “It’s time.  Who has the clothespin?”
Whoever has the clothespin has been assassinated and must sing a song to the assembled group.
The primary purpose of the drill is obvious.  To succeed you must be extremely alert to who is entering your space.  Further, you are playing this game while doing something else—nature photography or building shelters or rock climbing or shopping or whatever.  That is a different type of awareness, a hindbrain-forebrain link where most of your mind is concentrating on the task at hand while the rest keeps watch.
The secondary benefit is in public singing.  Some people rate public speaking as their greatest fear.  In my experience, the adrenaline from performing tastes like the adrenaline from interpersonal conflict.  You don’t want to sing in public and make a fool of yourself.  I can guarantee you won’t want to fight and take a chance on being killed or crippled.  Both are things that you don’t want to do on a very deep level.  Both are things that you must force yourself to do.

Singing is a major step in using will to overcome the freeze.

ODIN sprang from games I played in college, and games I play with my daughters.

Here is an example from an article I contributed to the aforementioned  "Drills:Training for Sudden Violence" By Rory Miller
(Did you mention you should buy this book?  I even provided a link for ease of purchase -  Buy this book)

Kasey Keckeisen is a good friend, a superior martial artist and a SWAT operative, leader and trainer. Several of us have done experiments and exercises like his Kato-Cato, but few have written about it so well.  And so with his permission:

I did an experiment years ago in college that helped me start to understand some concepts about how violence happens in the world and how to adjust training methods to compensate for the differences.
I called it The Kato - Cato experiment because it happened in ManKATO University and it reminded me of Cato from the Pink Panther movies.

Around 1997 – 1998 I was going to Mankato State University, I was a black belt in Aikido cross training in Goju Ryu Karate and Judo.  I had just read “Autumn Lightning: The Education of an American Samurai” by Dave Lowry.
In the book there is a story of a young Samurai who seeks out training from a sword master.  After the master finally accepts him as a student he begins a series of grueling and unusual training methods.  One of these methods was that the master would wait until the samurai was engrossed in one of the many menial tedious tasks (cooking, cleaning, gathering firewood, daily life, etc…) required of an apprentice, then jump out and whack him with a bokken.
At first the samurai would get knocked out.  Then he would barely get out of the way but spill all the food or firewood.  Eventually the samurai would evade or block the bokken with the lid from the teapot or the kindling he was carrying continuing on about his business.  Only then would the master start allow him to pick up a sword.

I decided that I needed to recreate that training experience for myself.  At that time I was living at the fraternity house with 20-30 some odd guys.
I chose 5 guys that lived at the house, had classes with me, and knew my schedule.  Basically they had access to me 24 hours a day.  I gave these guys a big piece of neon colored chalk (the kind kids use to write on driveways) roughly the size of a tanto.

 I made a bet with them that if they could leave a chalk mark on me in a vital area (not just counting coup or point sparring) I would buy them dinner and they could sign the clothing they marked and I would have to wear it for 24 hours letting everyone know who “killed” the great and powerful Kasey.
They got one chance for a lethal attack.  I had one chance to block / evade.  I promised I wouldn’t lock, throw, or strike them – just block / evade.
Some lessons that stuck with me:
Reading Terrain
Improvised weapons
Threat Assessment
Counter Ambush
Midbrain or Monkey brain  - My Kryptonite
Violence Dynamics

I didn’t have terms to express the lessons I learned until I started reading and training with Marc and Rory.   Many professionals have experienced these concepts and reality for themselves.  However, it is difficult to express in words and even more difficult to convey to others.  Luckily Marc and Rory have been developing a common lexicon of terms to express the realities of violence.  Like Syd Hoar’s book “The A-Z of Judo” where he lists all the different names the same technique go by.  When I read that book I was like I know that technique only I call it x.  With the realities of violence its like, I’ve experienced x only I call it y.  I played this game in 97 but I will use terms I’ve recently adopted into my teaching method to convey the lessons I learned.

As Paul Harvey used to say here is the rest of the story.
Just playing the game improved my awareness.  Again, becoming actively aware that you are looking for anomalies in pattern makes a tremendous difference in the identification and assessment.
 First I was looking for those five guys, which was fairly easy.  Then those guys would give the chalk to other guys I didn’t know were playing the game.  However, unless you’re a sociopath hunting and killing people even just playing at hunting and killing people is hard.  There are telltale signs.  Subconscious weapons checks, hiding hands, target glances.
They came at me when I was sleeping, they came at me when I was eating, they came at me at school and I was very successful at detecting and deflecting their attacks.  How was I killed you ask?  A lot of these attack prevention skills are used by your forebrain.  I was killed when I was forced into my Mid Brain or “Monkey Brain”.
Monkey brain is where the term monkey dance comes from.  Basically your monkey brain is concerned with the f’s.  Fight, Flight, Freeze, Feed, and Fornicate.  I used fornicate because my Dad say I use the f bomb too much in my writing.  I hear you thinking “Kasey you didn’t answer the question how did you get killed?”

Ok, so my buddy who is beautifully devious was dating a very attractive girl.  She reminded me of Neve Campbell and she had a belly ring (this is back when belly rings were new and exotic and only for women who had nice tummies).  So he gives her the chalk.  She blatantly flirts and uses her feminine wiles.  All my Samurai skills awareness, threat assessment etc...(forebrain) turn off.  Monkey brain takes over.  All the monkey can handle is Fight, Flight, Freeze, Feed, and Fornicate.  So where my Forebrain should have thought:
I have a girl friend
She has a boy friend (my good buddy)
Why is she acting like this?
Basically looking for anomalies in pattern

My Monkey brain thought:
She totally digs me
Ouch how did I get stabbed with chalk?
Good thing I had an understanding girlfriend (she eventually married me.)
The “temptress” used social skills to commit asocial violence.  That’s how I got killed
And now you know the rest of the story.
So how can I prevent getting killed in this manner?  Learn how to prevent or delay the monkey brain from taking over.

A lot of people have talked and written about the Cooper Color Codes.  White for oblivious in a safe place, Yellow for on alert, Orange for imminent danger, Red for under attack.
 I have heard at least one instructor say that you can’t live in condition yellow.  That’s not true.  Not only is condition yellow perfectly natural, it is not stressful or paranoid.  It is energizing.  It is simply paying attention.  The same skill that will let you know when a human predator is disturbing the flow around you will let you know that the gulls are swarming a school of fish you can’t see, or read tracks in the frost or smell a change in the weather. There is nothing special about condition yellow, it is just living, aware, in the moment.  It is natural for all animals.
Any time you spend in condition white you aren’t living anyway.

Which leads us to game 4

If games 1 and 2 = Technique
And game 3 = Drill

Game 4 = Competition against resisting opponents

Straight out of the Kato / Cato Experiment

Game 4 The Chalk Game

You will need at least 5 players and a box of side walk chalk. (I suggest that All of Katamedo St Louis play)

Rory added the following italicized portion in the Drill book.  Use it to set up the guidelines of how you want to play the game.

Real risk.  Whether pain, the embarrassment of singing in public, wearing a shirt with the winner’s name or buying a dinner on a student’s budget, it has to hurt to lose.

Incomplete control.  You don’t get to know all the rules.  Kasey’s friends recruited others.  He didn’t see that coming the first time.

Train for what you are training for.  The purpose of a global awareness drill is to detect danger, not to practice impromptu knife fighting.

Attacker gets one chance for a lethal attack.  The attacked gets one chance at Counter Ambush -  block / evade.

As important as real danger might be, you have to make it safe on a number of levels:

o You don’t want people to get injured, so safe training weapons are actually better than unarmed attack.  Part of what you need to sense is commitment.

o You don’t want anybody going to jail.  This is simply covered by recruiting smart friends.  Smart friends will recognize that they don’t want to draw a scene or attract attention at something that, at a distance, might look like an attack or a fight.  Excellent, because real criminals don’t want witnesses either.  This safety factor makes it more, not less, realistic.

Also Remember!
Should you, or any of your ODIN team be caught, captured, or killed the Director will disavow any knowledge of you assignment.

No safe times or safe places.  You might want them or think you need them.  You don’t.  If a place is safe it should be because you made it safe, not because of an artificial rule that can become a habit of thought.

On-going throughout the exercise and again afterwards, you should have personal ‘debriefings’ where you go over the lessons that you have learned in each encounter and each encounter avoided.

Participants that successfully complete all four games during the month of September will be eligible for consideration of recruitment into ODIN on a trial basis  upon approval of you Regional Directors.

Good Luck!

Train Hard, Train Smart, Be Safe

Be aware

Don't get caught