Archive for the Martial Arts Category

Johnny Karate Theme Lyrics

Posted in Day's Lesson, Karate, Martial Arts, Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2017 by Combative Corner


The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show is a fictional show in which Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) uses his talents of being a kid to the ultimate.  The J.K.S.A.M.E.S appeared in Season 7-Episode 10 of the NBC television show Parks and Recreation and had a very well-crafted farewell theme song that is worth sharing… for those that wanted a reminder and for those that never saw the show.  Enjoy!

Well it’s time for us to go,

But I want you all to know

That Karate’s not about fighting

It’s about knowing who you are,

And being kind and honest

While you’re kicking for the stars.

Yeah, that’s the Johnny Karate way.

(second part)

Keep Karate in your heart

And aspire to your dreams,

And always remember

You’re forever on my team.

Yeah, that’s the Johnny Karate Way.

Karate Yell!

….Hi ya!!!!!

The J.K.S.A.M.E.S also had wonderful, kid-friendly objectives for each show (pictured below).  Don’t we all wish we grew up with a fun show like this?  If you’d like to view the episode, you can find it on dvd, Netflix and Amazon.

The fifth Karate move to success is “To do something nice for someone.” FYI.


Parks and Recreation

Season 7, Episode 10 

Pictures and lyrics courtesy of NBC and Open 4 Business LLC.

The Art of Aikido in these Modern Times

Posted in Aikido, Martial Arts, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2016 by Combative Corner

Gary Boaz

Over the last several years I’ve talked a lot about how I believe that the way aikido is taught falls drastically short of modern practicality. This has led to many misunderstandings. I’ve been accused of saying that aikido doesn’t work in modern times. That’s ridiculous. I wouldn’t waste 25 years of my life on something that doesn’t work. What I am saying is that I believe in the principles of aikido. Where today’s teachers fall short is in the presentation. If aikido is to survive, even to evolve we have to address the modern fighter. We have to train against hooks, jabs, uppercuts, knees, elbows, the groundfighter as well as modern weapons. I recently dug up an article discussing this and these next video clips will go along with those themes. 

If you want more examples of aikidoka doing this, check out Lenny Sly A former Tenshin practitioner, Sly is advancing his own aikido with what he refers to combative concepts. It’s great stuff. A word of warning, his videos aren’t always safe for younger ears or if you are at work. Regardless, his stuff works.

Sensei Gary Boaz

Reposted with Permission from Facebook

The other side of the coin to the traditional munetsuki kotegaeshi. Please don’t think I’m saying that kotegaeshi doesn’t work. That’s not what I’m saying. Quite the opposite. Apply the principles to a modern attack and see what happens. Get your butt outside the freaking box folks!

With this article, we have reached 300 POSTS!!!


Gracie Survival Tactics – The Inside Scoop

Posted in Jiujitsu, Martial Arts, REVIEWS, Safety, Self-Defense, Teaching Topic, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2016 by bradvaughn

The Non-Lethal Techniques Every Law Enforcement Officer Should Know

by Brandon T. Vaughn  01/06/16

GST - Group Pic GJJ

Over the years my position/role/career as a martial arts instructor has offered many opportunities and experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The most recent of which took place last month, November 16th through the 20th, and took me back to California, a place I first had the pleasure of visiting two years ago when I participated in the Gracie Academy Instructor Certification Program in 2013.

My second visit to California would also be connected to the [Gracie] Academy, only instead of Torrance, this time I would be going to Pleasanton, a suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area approximately 25 miles east of Oakland, CA. I decided to take advantage of a formal invitation to all CTC Certified Instructors to assist and participate in any upcoming Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) Instructor Certification Courses. Eager to get an inside look at this program only available to active or retired law enforcement and military personnel, and in desperate need of a vacation (even if it would be a working one) I jumped at the opportunity. I’m glad I did. It was an incredible opportunity to learn the GST curriculum first hand, meet some of my fellow CTC Instructors, and get some “mat time” with Ryron Gracie himself.


Adapting To Meet A Changing Climate

GST - Vaughn teaching 2For those of you who aren’t familiar with the program, Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) is the Gracie Academy’s Defensive Tactics Program for Military & Law Enforcement Personnel. Created by the Gracie Academy to meet the ever changing needs of their clients, the GST program is itself an amalgamation of two earlier combative/defensive tactics programs. Gracie Combatives, an intensive course based on the most effective techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu developed for the United States Army, and G.R.A.P.P.L.E (Gracie Resisting Attack Procedures for Law Enforcement), a non-violent and court defensible program developed for police officers. Both of the aforementioned programs were originally developed by Rorion Gracie, eldest son of Gracie Jiu-jitsu founder Helio Gracie, and creative mind behind the UFC.

Since it’s inception Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) has been taught to countless Federal, State and International military and law enforcement agencies including the FBI, the Secret Service and the US Border Patrol. During my five days assisting with the GST Instructor Certification Program I was able to meet men and women from a wide range of agencies and hear many of their first hand accounts of situations that they have found themselves in while on duty. As well as some of their concerns with the level of self-defense training that their agencies currently have in place.


The Road To Certified GST Instructor

For law enforcement or military personnel (active or retired) wishing to learn Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) for their own continuing education, the complete 23 lesson course is available on via online streaming video. However, if you are an officer wishing to implement the GST program at your department or agency the only way to do so is by completing the GST Instructor Certification (Level 1).

The Gracie Academy teaches anywhere from 5 to 10 of these instructor certification courses a year varying by location. Some are hosted by the Academy itself  at their main location in Torrance, CA while others are hosted by various agencies around the world or by individuals within those organizations. The particular course I volunteered to assist in was hosted by a member of the Pleasanton Police Department with the actual training sessions taking place in the gym of a local high school.

The week long course began at 8am Monday morning and started with Ryron Gracie giving a brief history of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, including its creation, their work with the US Army and the development of Gracie Combatives and how working with the military and law enforcement over the last 20 years led to the creation of the techniques that we would be learning over the next five days. He then moved seamlessly into the first of eight techniques that we would cover that day, setting the pace for the rest of the week. Ryron would teach a technique, using either myself or one of the other four instructors that were there to assist in the course, then when he was sure that everyone understood the technique he would release them to practice the technique with their partner. At this time the assistant instructors would walk around and observe the participants doing the techniques, offering feedback and making any necessary corrections.

Day two and three began with the class reviewing all the techniques that they had learned the day before while. After the review period, which lasted anywhere from 10-15 minutes, we would move on the block of techniques that would be taught that day. The training sessions ended with a series of fight simulation drills in which the participants would combine several techniques from previous sessions with the ones that they had just learned, thus building their muscle memory and making them more familiar with how the individual techniques can be used in any possible combination.

While the first three days were dedicated to the learning of the GST techniques, day four was dedicated to instructor training, where the participants learned the most effective ways to teach the GST techniques to their colleagues when they return to their individual agencies/departments. The fifth and final day of the course consisted of a final evaluation to test the participants overall comprehension of all the material covered during the previous four days.

The GST Advantage

GST - Vaughn teachingWhat sets Gracie Survival Tactics apart from other defense tactic programs currently being taught to law enforcement and military personnel is it’s lack of reliance on striking techniques (ie. punches and kicks) which may not be effective against an assailant who may be physically larger or stronger or who may be under the influence of a substance that dampens their ability to feel pain. Instead, all the techniques in the GST program are based on leverage, timing, and efficient use of energy. This means the techniques can be employed effectively regardless of gender, size or athletic ability.

With the number of fatal police shootings reported to be nearing 400 nationwide in 2015, and allegations of excessive force at an all time high, GST provides law enforcement officers with a much needed alternative to relying solely on their firearm or secondary tools (ie. baton, stun gun, pepper spray) in situations where the use of deadly force could have possibly been avoided. The GST curriculum also address the high rate of instance where law enforcement officers are shot in the line of duty by an assailant using the officer’s own firearm by including weapon retention techniques in the curriculum as well as a variety of effective techniques that allow an officer to get back to their feet and create distance in the event that they end up on the ground underneath an assailant.


A Fear Of Change

With a seemingly endless list of benefits and advantages, it’s hard to imagine that all law enforcement agencies aren’t already taking part in the Gracie Survival Tactics program.

From conversations I had with some of the men and women participating in the GST Level 1 Instructor Certification Course, I learned that one obstacle the newly certified instructors will encounter when trying to implement the program in their own department may be the very officers that they are trying to help.

Whether it stems from an over reliance on the tools they have at their disposal or the lack of continued fitness requirements after they graduate from the academy, some officers seem resistant to any self-defense training outside what is mandated annually by their state. When you consider that 40% of officers that are shot in the line of duty are done so with their own weapon, it would seem that all law enforcement officers would be eager to learn any technique that, would not only teach them how to retain their weapon, but also how to subdue a suspect without the use of their firearm or auxiliary weapons.

Another obstacle that new GST Instructors may have to deal with is a natural resistance to change. Either from the administration or from their department’s defensive tactics instructor, in the event that the GST Instructor doesn’t also serve that role. Strategies on how to address these and other common concerns are included in the support materials that each course participant receives on the final day of training.

GST - Group Pic Sm


Final Thoughts

Gracie Survival Tactics is quickly proving itself to be not only a valuable resource for law enforcement officers, but to military personnel as well. As I am writing this article, the United Nations Security Service has become the most recent agency to adopt Gracie Survival Tactics.

My experience at the GST Level 1 Instructor Certification Course in Pleasanton, CA was like nothing I have experienced before and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to not only assist, but to participate in the training as well. As a martial arts instructor I’ve had the opportunity to teach students of all ages how to defend themselves. Even if learning self-defense was not their primary reason for enrolling, it was still a skill they acquired while working towards whatever their personal goals were. Having said that, I have to admit that there was something exceedly rewarding about working with individuals that will most likely be using the techniques you are teaching them a regular basis.

Brandon Vaughn

Certified GJJ CTC Instructor



Ip Man 3 : Short Movie Review

Posted in Kungfu, Martial Arts, REVIEWS, Wing Chun with tags , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2016 by wingchunamerica

William Kwok Ip Man 3Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to watch Ip Man 3 the movie with my family, Sifu and students in Hong Kong. We enjoyed it!

OPENS IN THE U.S.  01.22.16

THE PLOT (courtesy of

When a band of brutal gangsters led by a crooked property developer make a play to take over the city, Master Ip (played by Donnie Yen) is forced to take a stand.


Ip Man 1 is about surviving; Ip Man 2 is about living; Ip Man 3 is about love, passion and life. As a martial arts teacher, I am able to closely relate to the main character this time, from finding balance between martial arts and family to teacher/student relationships and accepting social responsibilities, etc. Students should know that their teachers are also human beings. They have emotions and problems like any other people.


The action choreography of Ip Man 3 is great!  It is as good as the first two if not better.  It demonstrates the main features of Wing Chun (forms, chi sau and weapons) to the mainstream audiences. The demonstrations of Wing Chun kicks in different scenes are unexpectedly good. Still, a movie is a movie. It is unfair to criticize the Wing Chun techniques as it is a not a documentary.


Ip Man 3 Mike TysonIp Man features former heavyweight boxing champion “Iron” Mike Tyson in the role of “Frank.”

Bruce Lee and Ip ManKwok-Kwan Chan is CG-enhanced to play the role of Bruce Lee.  And as many of you know, Bruce Lee was once the student of the real Ip Man (pictured on the left).

In addition to the action scenes, we can also pay attention to the messages in Ip Man 3. In addition to the unfairness in the society and the unfortunate events in the main character’s family, the fight between the Wing Chun masters is sad. We may say that it is just a plot of a movie that leads to the Wing Chun fight scenes, but it somewhat reflects the reality. A fight or argument due to one’s envy and pride is meaningless, especially among people in the same martial art family. Like the main character says at the end of the movie,

“Nothing is more important than the people close to us.”

As I said before, battles inside the family will become jokes to others. In our long martial arts journey, there is always someone better than us. As long as we can be better than our old selves, we are already a winner!


Overall, the crew of Ip Man 3 has done an excellent job although the story line is predictable. As a fan of martial arts movies, I rate this sequel

8 out of 10.

Enjoy the show!

William Kwok

Gotham Martial Arts



Wilson Yip


Donnie YenJin ZhangPatrick Tam, Mike Tyson, Lynn Hung


Boxing; The Sweet Science

Posted in Boxing, History, Martial Arts, Miscellaneous, Styles with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2015 by Adam Thornburg

Boxing Sweet Science 2

Boxing Greek Fresco


Boxing is one of the oldest sports and martial arts ever. It has been in evolution since ancient Egypt but it’s modern form started around 1867 when the introduction of gloves and the removal of wrestling from the sport happened. The picture on the left is a Greek fresco painting depicting two youths boxing with gloves – the earliest documented source of ‘gloved’ boxing.  Since then boxing has kept evolving and each generation improves on something from the last.

Yet some things are still lost in the process.

Modern boxing, like modern fencing, and many other martial arts seem to only want the most athletic and naturally talented, and those qualities are the most prized now. There has been a diminishing in the amount of science put into the “sweet science” of boxing.  Most people agree that a fighter reaches his/her prime between 25-28 years of age.  These same people agree that most fighters should consider “putting up the gloves” around 34 or 35 years of age.

Fortunately there are still people like Bernard Hopkins (age: 50), Floyd Mayweather Jr.(age: 38), and Juan Manuel Marquez (age: 42) who seem to carry on some of the old traditions, and incidentally they seem to be the longest lasting champions around.

So maybe there is some merit in learning some old school boxing.

It may not always put on the “blood bath” that so many casual fans want to see, but it is better boxing.

Jack DempseyFirst let’s hear from one the most popular boxers that ever lived; Jack Dempsey. The Manassa Mauler was the hero of the twenties – known for an aggressive, smothering and powerful style of boxing.  As if he had dynamite in both hands, he fought heavyweights much bigger than him, and chopped them down with his skills.

“Tall men come down to my height when I hit’s in the body.”

-Jack Dempsey

We can learn from him many principles of developing power and proper punching technique (book link). As someone who started as what one might call “The bouncer of the wild west,” he has a technique to fight with or without gloves and importantly, how to keep ones’ hands safe.

From his book Championship Fighting he tells us about the power line of the arm. What is the power line?

“The power line runs from either shoulder straight down the length of the arm to the fist knuckle of the little finger, when the fist is doubled. You might call that pinky knuckle the exit of your power line.”

This may seem strange as we seem to be told to use the first two knuckles to punch with, but (bear with me) there is good reason in Jack Dempsey’s technique. He goes on to say:

“Unfortunately, however, the hand-bone behind the little knuckle is the most fragile of the five. It can be broken the most easily. You must not attempt to land first with the little knuckle. Instead you must try to land with the ring finger knuckle first.”

I have tried this myself in my boxing training, and it works well. When the front two knuckles are used even when the hand is fully rotated it bends the wrist, so it puts stress on it in addition to allowing power to leak out (via the bending of the wrist).  Strikes leading with the ring finger knuckle allows a straight shot down the arm through the hand and into the target.  Also it protects the thumb from getting jammed as easily.

Jack Blackburn


Let’s move on to what we can learn from possibly the greatest trainer in history; Jack Blackburn. He trained the two greatest fighters of all-time; Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson. Both of the these dominate champions learned the sweet science from Blackburn who was quite the boxer himself in his younger years.  He retired from boxing with a record of 99 wins, 26 losses, and 19 draws with notable fights with Joe Gans, Sam Langford and Harry Greb.  The classic stance (the Blackburn crouch) is used by both these champions and offers great defense.

The Blackburn Crouch



The head is tucked and tilted off the centerline so it automatically harder to hit and the tucking of the chin helps absorb the blows that do get through. The right hand is up in front of your jaw and mouth and is used to catch, and sometimes reach slightly to parry incoming shots while countering with the jab. You are controlling the opponent with both hands. The crouch promotes ease of head movement as well. Blackburn also emphasized footwork.  And yes, it is possible to have good footwork that doesn’t look like Muhammad Ali. There are many types of footwork and the one that Blackburn taught Joe Louis helped his style of fighting. He turned Louis into a boxer-puncher using small sliding and shuffling steps that allowed Louis to plant his feet quickly to deliver his stunning power shots. He used short steps to move around his opponents so even though his feet may not have been as fast he used them efficiently to make angles quickly.

A great modern example of these principals in work is Bernard Hopkins. He has a very similar stance, and way of fighting as  Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson.  He has beaten more athletic and talented fighters consistently through his use the “Sweet Science.”

Great boxing still exists.  And if you look hard enough you can see the nuts and bolts, the years of toil, blood, sweat and tears.  If you are keen enough on the combative sciences, you may even see the interweaving of boxing’s past in the present.

Adam Thornburg

Boxing Student & Contributing Author


Please let us know what you think with comments and suggestions.  We’re always looking to hear your thoughts!

The 8 Energies and 5 Movements of Taijiquan

Posted in Internal Arts, Martial Arts, Taijiquan, Teaching Topic, Training, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2015 by chencenter

Chen Xiang demonstrating the Hunyuan 13 Shi set at the 2015 Hunyuan meeting in Beijing, China. The 13 in the name refers not to the number of movements but the 13 techniques: 8 energies (ba fa) 掤 peng, 捋 lu, 挤 ji, 按 an, 採 cai, 挒 lie, 肘 zhou, 靠 kao, as well as 5 stepping methods (bu fa) 前进 qian jin (advance forward), 后退 hou tui (retreat/ draw back), 左顾 zuo gu (glance/step left), 右盼 you pan (glance/step right), 中定 zhong ding (central fixed).  Video by: Douglas Martin

The martial art of Taijiquan is based on 13 principles (8 forces+5 movements).  All movements of Taijiquan are built upon these principles & are used in various combinations within each posture, transition and application.  Please watch the above video of Master Chen Xiang and watch this superb demonstration of these principles in his form which he calls the Hunyuan 13 Shi.  Those familiar with the internal arts may notice the other (somewhat hidden) stylings of Qigong, Bajiquan (Eight Ultimate Style Boxing), and Shuai Jou (Chinese Wrestling).  For the people interested in the culmination of these principles and power it garners should check out this older video of Chen Xiang testing fajin (explosive power) at Stanford University.  [link]


  • PENG– refers to the outward (or upward) expansion of energy.
  • LU– often referred to as “roll back,” Lu is the ability to absorb, yield/deflect incoming force.  There are 3 characteristics of Lu are: Yielding (Jan), Merging (Ian) & Adhering (Nien)
  • JI– is often thought of as a “forward press,” however it also best described as a “squeezing out of space.”
  • AN– is a downward movement of energy, best translated into “(relaxed) sinking.”
  • CAI– (Tsai) translated into “downward pluck,” Cai is a combination of Lu and An.
  • LIE– (Lieh) Lie or “Split” is a combination of Peng and Ji.
  • ZHOU– Elbowing. In Chen style, elbows are overtly shown in all angles, with a coiling effect.
  • KAO– when the arms are bound/distance is too close to punch, we can use a “Shouldering.”


  • JIN– Advance forward
  • TUI– Retreat back
  • GU– Gaze/Step left
  • PAN– Gaze/Step right
  • DING– Center-Fixed



How To Deal with Fear in Self-Protection

Posted in Krav Maga, Martial Arts, Self-Defense, Violence, Women's Self-Defense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2015 by Combative Corner
Kelina Cowell

Kelina Cowell

You have just finished training and you are on your way home. You had a good training session and you feel great. You are also really hungry because you haven’t eaten since lunch, so you decide to take a short cut in order to get home quicker. Usually you take the long way around the block, but today you decide to take that short cut through a dimly lit and quiet street. Halfway through this street three guys steps out in front of you.

How do you react? Do you want to run away? Do you freeze and do nothing? Do you feel fear? Do you feel stressed? What if they just want to know what time it is? Is that likely? Do you think of where to position yourself so that not all three will be able to attack you at once? How many thoughts go through your head at this time?

In 490 B.C the Chinese martial artist and philosopher Sun Tzu stated:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the outcome of a hundred battles”

Regardless of whether you are experienced or not in martial arts, there are many techniques you can use in order to become better at handling a self defence situation (or any stressful situation for that matter). These techniques are based upon the improvement of your mindset.

This series of articles will hopefully give you some answers on how to develop a functional mindset. Hopefully it will help you to understand how to cope with fear and stress and to function better both in training or if you unfortunately find yourself facing three guys in a dark street one evening. But before I go on, just want to say – no matter how hungry and tired you are, taking the short cut through the dodgy area is not worth the risk!

Improving Your Mindset

Within Apolaki Krav Maga we have a well-developed system for how to improve your mindset. When we talk about developing mental skills, we usually think of five mental training strategies. These are visualization, goal setting, positive self-talk, combat mindset (confidence, courage, determination, aggression) and relaxation.

All these mental skills will help in reducing the effects of fear you might otherwise experience in a self defence situation. As a bonus effect you will be better at coping with general stressful or difficult situations in your life, as your brain will more deal with them more productively.

It should be very clear that regular self defence training contributes significantly to improving your abilities to handle a confrontation. This is due to the fact that while we are training physically, our minds is being trained too. However, in addition to this regular training and in order to further improve ourselves, there needs to be drill included that are especially designed to enhance your fighting spirit and mental abilities.

In his book “Condition to Win”, Wes Doss makes the following important point:

“Greater than any other calling, the life of the warrior requires mental skills in combination with physical or mechanical skills. Yet, mental training is an area which has been long neglected in the fields of conflict management and force application”.

Apolaki Krav Maga is a system that has incorporated mental training into every aspect of our training, although you may not be aware of it at first. When you first start training with us, many of you think a simple beginner level drill such as doing 30 seconds of press ups, 30 seconds of burpees and then 1 minute of bag sprints (running on the spot and striking a punch bag) is simply a cardio fitness drill. In a way it is, but if you think about it beyond the superficial, it is actually a mental drill. You have to keep going until the instructor calls time. There is no stopping, there is no rest. You keep fighting through the pain and fatigue until the job is done. This is developing your fighting spirit right from your first class. Within the Apolaki Krav Maga syllabus we focus upon developing the mental, tactical, physical, and technical aspects of self defence and instilling a proper combat mindset through correct conditioning.

There have been tons of studies on athletes and mental training and this can easily be found on the internet. The basic principles of mental training are the same regardless if you are a Apolaki Krav Maga practitioner, a soldier, a martial artist, an athlete, Joe from the accounts department…anyone! The key point is adapting the techniques to your own environment.

What is Stress and How Does It Affect You During a Violent Confrontation?

Stress occurs from social, physical, or mental stressors. Social stressors are your thoughts on what other people might think of you. Physical stressors are for instance that you are too hot or cold, in pain or overly tired and so on. Mental stressors are caused by your thoughts about what can happen or what to do about it.

Stress is caused by an activation of what is called a “stress reaction”. The activation of the stress reaction is caused by a person’s perception of the situation as threatening. What Psychologists coin as “Psychological Resources”, an individual’s belief in optimisim, control and so on whilst assessing a situation. How many times have you been very stressed about something that a friend sees as not as stressful? This is because their phychological resources towards the same situation is higher that yours. Therefore people with a high degree of psychological resources towards a violent altercation will perceive a situation as less threatening than people who have a low degree of psychological resources.

This is one of the reasons that you should include mental training, that is, to gain more resources to deal with a stressful situation, into your self defence training. To be able to function during a self defence situation, you need to raise your psychological resources.

The Fight or Flight Response

The fight or flight response has 7 possible outcomes. These are: Fight, flight, freeze, posture, submit, choking, and the death grip.

  • Fight-response: your reaction to a situation is to fight, you defend yourself and/or fight with your opponent or opponents. Fighting here not only refers to physical fighting but also to standing your ground and confront your opponents verbally.
  • In freeze-response: you experience temporary paralysis, meaning that you are not able to move or do anything.
  • Posture-response: you stand up to your opponent using both verbal and body language and pretend that you will fight your opponent if needed, in the hope he/she will back down. If this fails it is often followed by…
  • Submit-response: you surrender in hope that your opponent will stop attacking or hurting you.
  • Choking-response: you feel that you are not able to swallow or breathe, like somebody is actually choking you.
  • Death grip-response: you hold very hard on something for instance a door-knob or someone’s arm or jacket but fail to do anything else beyond that.

My Own Experience of Fear (Pre Self Defence Training)

When I was 16 I was out clubbing with a friend, we had an argument and I decided to go home. 3am stood alone on a quiet street waiting for a taxi to pass by. This was my main mistake – too lazy to walk to the taxi rank. At that age with a lack of personal saftey awareness and clouded by my anger towards my friend I chose to wait somewhere nearby the club where taxi regularly drove past but was deserted.

Within minutes a group of older teens found me and took the opportunity. I was shoved against the wall and a knife was put to my neck. Why? Because they didn’t like my heavy metal fashion and purple hair…yes I had purple hair…don’t judge me!

Now at the time I had muay thai training, which got me through all the high school bullying. I always reacted with a fight response, I had a high level of psychological resources to deal with fists, kicks and hair pulling in school. I was stronger and more skilled than the school bullies and they quickly learned to switch to verbal abuse instead. But this was bullying on a whole new level. I was drunk and pinned up against a wall in the middle of the night with a knife to my throat.

I found myself in a mix of mental and physical stress. My drunken adolesant brain was trying to process a huge amount of data:

“Who are these people?”

“Why are they doing this?”

“How am I going to get away?”

“Is she going to cut me?”

“I can’t feel my hands, how am I going to punch her?”

“Should I punch her or grab her knife hand?”

“How do I get the knife away from me?”

” My left leg is numb and my right leg is shaking, how can I kick her?”

“If I get her off me how am I going to run away if my legs don’t work?”

“If I can run what if my knee dislocates?” (I had recently gone through 18 months of physiotherapy for a severe knee injury)

“If I fight back are her friends going to jump in?”

“Do her friends have knives?”

All these questions where running through my brain at the same time as trying to listen and respond. All I remember is this girl spitting “You think you’re better than us, not so cool now are ya” into my face and her friends shouting “Cut her, Cut Her!” I was reduced to a mumbling, stuttering wreck which they found highly amusing.

Lucky for me a passer by, who knew one of the group stopped and started to diffuse the situation. I don’t know if it was what he was saying or a matter that they were bored of the game they were playing. But she let go of me and joined the rest of her group in conversation. I managed to stumble away and into a taxi nearby. It was front that point that I decided I needed to look at self defence training beyond striking skills.

My Experience with Fear (Post Self Defence Training)

Since training in Krav Maga I have been in a few violent situations, the last one was over a year ago when I was approached by a junkie outside my flat in Stockwell, South London late at night and he lunged at my stomach with a box cutter. At the time my training kicked in and I handled it as if it was a drill in class. No hesitation, no fear, no questions, just action. I don’t remember thinking anything. I just remember watching his hands and reacting when he pulled out something shiny. It wasn’t until I got inside and slammed the door behind me that I noticed my heart was pounding and my hands were shaking slightly with adrenaline. A vast difference in response compared to 17 years ago with that knife against my throat – and I owe that to my training.
Join me in Part 3 where I discuss the hippocampus and amygdala parts of your brain and how quality self defence training can re-programme your pre-programmed responses to fear.

By Kelina Cowell

Apolaki Krav Maga & Dirty Boxing Academy

Reposted from her blog: Self-Defence and Dealing with Fear Parts 1&2


For more information about training in Krav Maga Self Defence in London, please contact Chief Instructor Kelina Cowell:

020 3695 0991

Apolaki Krav Maga & Dirty Boxing Academy,

KO Gym Arch 186, Bancroft Road, London E1 4ET

Apolaki Krav Maga & Dirty Boxing Academy is a full time self defence school in Bethnal Green, East London. Contact us today for a free trial class.

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