Archive for Assault

Never Getting Tied Up | Movie Look : Zodiac (2007)

Posted in Day's Lesson, Discussion Question, Safety, Self-Defense, Teaching Topic, Videos, Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2011 by chencenter

In a brutal scene in the 2007 film Zodiac [clip below], a couple relaxing lakeside, is approached by the black and hooded ‘Zodiac Killer’ (true story; 1970’s San Francisco Bay Area).  The Z.K. instructs the woman to take from his hand a rope to bind to her boyfriend’s wrists.  Watch the video below (or if you remember the scene from the movie) – please offer your insights on the how the violence was played out.  Was there anything that the victims did wrong?  Just how big was their window of opportunity?

The Combative Corner was able to enlist two other self-protection professional’s perspectives on this scene; Melissa Soalt of Dr. Ruthless’ Practical Primal Self Defense and Roy Elghanayan of Krav Maga LA.

MICHAEL JOYCE :  What would strike me immediately (if I were the man in this scenario) is that the “Man in Black” not only had a gun, but was dressed as an executioner.  This, obviously, should not be taken lightly.  Considering the isolated area and the fact that there was very little cover, running away/running for help would be an iffy proposition.  If I felt very confident that my girlfriend and I could outrun (and if the car was close) the attacker, I would most certainly take that option.  However, my advice (if continuing with the “hostage” scenario) would be to whisper to my girlfriend to tie it very loose, so as when the Zodiac Killer comes to inspect her work, I immediately attack him.  I would hope that my girlfriend would assist me in this action as well.

DR. RUTHLESS :  My professional advise is common sense. Already stated — NEVER allow yourself to be tied up by a criminal. Period. This is classic- using one victim’s fear and pain against the other. As soon as he says, “Don’t get up…” All their alarms should go off. Feign submission for a spell if you need to to (goal is to lower bad guy’s aggressive aroussal; allow him to feel in control.  One of them NEEDS to act and close in on the gunman, grab the gunhand etc… and now there’s two against one!!!! (Would be great if it was the female because the gunman would least expect that. Then the man rushes in…)

The ZK essentially (as is not terribly uncommon) TOLD them out out-loud WHAT HE WOULD DO : “I’m not afraid to kill a man,” he said.

Also kneeling position offers some great explosive moves. (Simple one: yank his ankles hard and fast and very snappy – toward you while shoving him back in the groin region to send him slamming back and down hard. (of course there’s the issue of handgun…) Other from kneeling options too… snappy springing moves and then grab gun hand – slap gun off “kill line” Too tehcnincal for this…but you get the idea… ACT!

Hope is not a strategy– I don’t mean to blame these innocent peoples but c’mon folks– don’t believe the words of a f&#$% criminal!— Part of the work here is that we NEED TO GET OVER OUR FEAR OF INJURY– that’s critical for people to act in such dangerous scenarios- something else has to be more pressing than your fear…. like survival.  It always entails a risk – but this scene is clearly shouting out ” this ZK IS going to kill you both!” I think nowadays (today versus then) more people get it.

ROY ELGHANAYAN :  The guy obviously misjudged the situation.  Based on how he (Z.K.) was dressed (and his initial demands) he thought (perhaps) it was a random mugging situation.  What the victim should have done from the beginning was act like a victim – nervous – confused – (etc).  And hopefully the attacker will come closer & do what he wants, because in this example the attacker is keeping a distance between himself and his victims.  And because of this distance (and because the attacker has a gun) the only thing you can do is pray.  Your goal is to get the attacker at close range so you can grab the gun.  If you can’t do that, you have a problem…  How do you get him closer?  Don’t give him your wallet or keys.  Make him come and get it.

[If the scene plays out, and the guys HAD to toss the Z.K. the wallet and keys]  What the male should have done (as she was going to get the rope) would be to move his hands to the front.  Hopefully the gunman won’t care whether he’s tied up in the front or the back.  If she did this, and the Z.K.  was okay with this, the guy can do the technique really well (See Roy’s Video).

Another thing is that hopefully the woman wouldn’t just stand there.  She shouldn’t rely on anyone to save her.  You need to protect yourself – your family – your husband – So when she walks up to the gunman – boom!  She moves the gun away, she redirects the line-of-fire, she’s there to attack.  And the thing is that the attacker would not expect that from her!…

You’ve got to train for these situations.  Unfortunately if you take a cardio kickboxing class (or something similar) you won’t be ready to deliver what’s needed in this scenario.  In order to get to the level you need, you must train hard – not just physically but mentally as well.

Michael Joyce is the owner of The ChenCenter and founder of The Golden Thread System in Winston-Salem, N.C., & the author of 2 books on self-protection.  He is constantly  active teaching Women’s Self-Defense Workshops.  Visit his CombativeCorner profile for more information [here].

Melissa Soalt, or more famously known as Dr. Ruthless is an award-winning teacher of women’s self defense and a Black Belt Hall of Fame recipient.  She is currently liberating women from the jaws of fear.  For more information, visit her website at

Roy Elghanayan (his CC Interview – here -)is the owner of Krav Maga L.A. and a leading authority on reality-based combatives.  He’s a two-time Israeli Krav Maga National Champion and former trainer of the Israeli Special Forces.  For more information, visit his website KravMagaLA.Com.


Improving Self-Defense, Add Violence

Posted in Crime, Self-Defense, Training, Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2011 by chencenter

The highest concern for me as a self-defense instructor is to properly facilitate and encourage (by way of writing, coaching, lecturing, etc) practical, safe and effective training methods; period!  Not ones that effect a person superficially, but ones that cut deep to the marrow of reality; the very real world in which we live.  To be honest, we (for the most part) live in harmony.  We go to work, we come home to our family, or we go out to dinner with friends.  Most people don’t even concern themselves with the very real possibility that a vicious assault lays just around the corner.

We all lack confidence, just in varying degrees.

As we “free climb” upwards from where we currently are [self-protection readiness] we must have a strong and sturdy grip [abililty] to change our state to one of: high intensity, strong-willed, 100% determined.  Our foothold to this climb is our confidence.

Believe me or not…it does not matter.  Somewhere within that skull of yours you understand that in order to effectively conquer a violent aggressor, the modern man or woman must find it within themselves to not only reciprocate the violence being done to them, but to break rules, to go against (in most cases) their religious/social/cultural beliefs.  What is right?  What amount of violence is right, if any?  At what cost?  What must be at stake for us to act in such a way?  All of these (and more) are important questions to ask yourself.

Most people (including myself) have a natural aversion to violence.

As a kid I trained in the martial arts so that I wouldn’t have to win through violence.  Everything was properly planned out, and when needed, I would respond with the same energy, skill and grace that my heros displayed on television and film.  I would always be in the moral right.  I would always be merciful.  I would always beat them with a calm, collected mind.  And I would walk away from battle without a scrape or bruise.  The sorry chap would never seek revenge or vendetta because of the fear of being humiliated twice over.

Luckily, I grew into a man.  And although I can still hold a smile to my “invincible youth,” I can easily decipher fantasy from reality.  Reality comes into play when play is wild and spontaneous.  Training for real world violence, therefore, should be conducted with as much zestful aggression as one wishes to have in the moment.  Punching a bag for the sake of punching amounts to very little.  It’s as if you were trying to drink up a lake with a fork.

I leave you with this question…

When violence becomes necessary… by this, I mean, when there is no other recourse but to fight for your survival, how might we know if we have what it takes?

My belief is that it rests on two key components: how you change your entire physiology to aid in your survival, and how we build our confidence through proper, situational, and realistic training methods.

Many martial artists insist on fighting fire with water.  But I strongly believe, and it is essential to know, that there are times when you must fight fire with fire!


Please give your thoughts below.  Let me know if you disagree, and/or if you have something to add.

Michael Joyce

His Combative Profile

»»» click the picture above to visit a short interview of Coach Joyce in this month’s Skirt Magazine (Jan. 2011).

Self-Defense Mastery With T.J. Kennedy

Posted in Self-Defense, Teaching Topic with tags , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2011 by hybridfightingmethod
Human behaviour fascinates me.  Having been a bouncer for seven years I have witnessed some interesting behaviour from people of all sexes, classes, races, etc.  Some sober, and some under the influence of what we’ll call “contraband substances”. 

Human behaviour has become a HUGE topic of interest to me, so years ago I would buy and read any book or magazine that I could find that talked about the psychology of human behaviour.

This led me down a rabbit hole of books, videos, articles, discussions, etc., all on evolutionary psychology.

From an evolutionary standpoint, all of our behaviour, down to every minute detail – is influenced by the greatest influencers to all humankind…natural and sexual selection(aka – genetic replication/reproduction).

Our entire world and its structures, economy, memes, values – are all ultimately rooted in natural and sexual selection.

From an evolutionary perspective, I (as a man) have three base purposes:
Procreation, protection, and provision.  To have offspring.  To protect myself, my mate, and my offspring from competing males and other predators.  To provide the resources necessary for them to survive and thus pass on my genes to the next generation… infinitum.

The more I studied these concepts, the more overlap I saw in various elements of human behaviour – namely motivations for sex/love and violence.

I have spent many hours consuming and studying material on love, sex, relationships, seduction, dating, etc., and the more I do, the more I see them as a singularity with self-defense concepts.

One such source of my studies is dating ‘guru’ David DeAngelo.  Listening to his audio “Mastery Series”, I have gleaned information that is useful to us in our journey of self-defense mastery.

The first, is a concept known as a ‘Johari Window’.

“A Johari window is a cognitive psychological tool created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955 in the United States, used to help people better understand their interpersonal communication and relationships.” (Wikipedia: Johari Window)

In DeAngelo’s modification of this concept he explains the learning process we go through as people in mastering any new skill.

The process can be broken down into four steps that are described as follows:

Step 1. Unconscious-Incompetent.

In this step you are unaware that you do not possess the skill in question.  Ignorance is bliss.  In a self-defense context this would be something like not even ever thinking about self-defense, and never taking the time to learn it.

Step 2. Conscious-Incompetent.

In this step, you become aware that you do not possess the skill in question.  In our context again, it may be that you or someone you know was attacked and was the victim of violence – which makes you aware that you have this incompetence.

Step 3. Conscious-Competent.

You seek out the necessary information and training to attain this skill.  As you learn, you think about the application of what you’re learning.  For self-defense this could mean thinking and applying specific responses to specific attacks (stimuli).

Step 4. Unconscious-Competent.

This is the step where you no longer think about your skills; you just perform.  If you were to be attacked, your body and mind react according to how you’ve trained, essentially bypassing any conscious effort or thought.

So…that’s WHAT we go through to learn these skills, but HOW do we get there in our journey to self-defense mastery?

As Bruce Lee once said:

“Accept what is useful.  Reject what is useless.  Add to it that which is specifically your own.”

DeAngelo outlines this in what he calls his “Five Steps to Personal Evolution”.

They are as follows:

1. Imitate the best until you are getting consistent results.

Find an instructor(s) and study directly under them.  Study videos, books, articles,
etc.  Gather as much information as you can, and find what works.  For example, try technique “A” against an attack, and then “B” and “C” and so on.  See which one(s) lead to success the most.

Do this until you have become proficient in what you’ve been learning.

“Accept what is useful…”

2. Learn how to make finer and finer distinctions until you can clearly see why each approach works or doesn’t work in each situation.

Using the principles you’ve learned, analyze WHY these things will or will not work. Analyze context – this is important because something may work in some situations, but not in others.  Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet!

3. Learn to assign higher and lower values to behaviours, results, mistakes to create an internal values system to guide you.

Start refining and cutting out unnecessary techniques or principles that you found not useful, and condense everything that’s left into your own personal “system”.

“…Reject what is useless…”

4. Learn to create variations of great ideas and to combine great elements of great ideas to evolve improved versions.

Play around with what works.  Try different techniques in different scenarios according to your new principles and values system.

5. Innovate.  Come up with your own ideas.

Take everything you know, and start to add your own ideas to it, to make it “better”or at the very least, more suited to you as an individual.  Perhaps fill in gaps that exist in your personal system with your own ideas.

“…Add to it that which is specifically your own.”

This is how, over years and years, I came up with the Hybrid Fighting Method – and how you can also innovate and create a system that works for you.  The Hybrid Fighting Method (HFM) is a core system that is effective for all – and is malleable for you to shape it to your strengths and preferences.

As Kenny Werner, musician and author of “Effortless Mastery” says:

“There is nothing difficult; only unfamiliar.”

Apply yourself; follow these steps, and you will achieve self-defense mastery.


T.J. Kennedy
Hybrid Fighting Method

The Truth On Stun & Run Tactics For Self-Defense

Posted in Discussion Question, Martial Arts, Self-Defense, Teaching Topic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2010 by chencenter

My concern, especially since I deal (primarily) with women’s self-protection, is the level of safety revolving around the “attack response.”  I teach that, when a confrontation is deemed a threat to your safety, pre-emptive striking (that is, striking before they do) is best.  Remember, the situation dictates the response.  Male or female, fear will be present.  Our bodies will automatically transition to a heightened state of alertness.  If a threat exists, and verbal communication/de-esculation fails – or is non-applicable to the situation, you must ACT!  If it’s a true threat to your Life, I pray that you do!

A question that raises some eyebrows, even with highly-experienced teachers is, “Hit and Run or Hit, Follow-Up (and/or Finish Him) and then, Run?”  This article was inspired after reading from Geoff Thompson’s book, The Art of Fighting Without Fighting.  He writes:

If you are forced into an attack situation – this should be an absolute last resort – make it a telling blow to a vulnerable area.  Explode into the opponent with every fibre of your being, then run!!  Many defence gurus advocate a second strike, a finisher.  If there is a choice in the matter, don’t do it.  The few seconds you buy with your first strike could easily be lost if you linger for even a second.

On this one point, Geoff and I differ slightly.  Although this is a “safe” answer, the situation must be defined.  Is this a strong male with any martial art background, or is he talking specifically about a female, possibly with no experience at all?  Does he/she have a route of escape or is he/she “boxed in?”

Just to make it clear  – I teach both aspects: Stun & Run, AND Stun, Finish & Run.  I believe that many (not all), but many of my female students could, if they properly employed the 3 Ts (Tools, Target Area & Tactics), ensure their chance of escape – They do this by exploiting the “aftershock”/time lag  (The time between when the assailant gets “clocked” and the time it takes him to respond from the blow) following a quick, stunning shot.

As long as students (male & female) are taught to think & train realistically on “how they are to react” it prepares and offers greater flexibility when encountering a real-life violent encounter.  Hit & Runs surely open up a window of opportunity, but has it been truly put to the test when a male attacker has the environmental variables (ex. no bystanders to intervene) to chase their victim down?  Does a follow-up shot put the attacker at a greater disadvantage or does it do the opposite – which is, more time/distance to grab, restrain and continue with his initial plans?

The lines are open! Let everyone know your opinion.

Even better than your vote, is a detailed comment.  Help your fellow students, and instructors by enlightening us on your thoughts on this very important topic.

Harvard, Not Tufts. Most Dangerous Campus

Posted in News, Safety, Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2010 by chencenter

I few weeks ago, an article stuck my attention entitled “Most Dangerous College Campuses.”  The source of the information came from The Daily Beast and was based on the most recent 3 calendar years.  As a self-defense instructor, this Top 20 countdown was more than just intriguing.  However, as I turned a more detailed eye towards the numbers, something didn’t appear right.

When I did my own math, I found that it’s not Tufts University in Boston, but rather, the prestigious Harvard University in Cambridge that’s the most dangerous school in the nation.

I’ve always heard the phrase, “You can bend the statistics any way you want”… but in this case, it’s how you measure them.  Something wasn’t right, but even me (not the best math student) saw a discrepancy.  See for yourself.


If this data jumped out at me, then why didn’t they jump out to anyone else?  Perhaps, (and this is just an opinion) they didn’t want to tarnish the oldest institution of higher education in the country as being the number 1 most violent?  They didn’t even place it in the runner-up slot (University of Maryland, Baltimore), but instead, placed it third (originally).

A Special Note: When I went to The Daily Beast (to fact check/double check) I found that Harvard was either #2 (all along) or moved from third place to second place.  However, when I first compiled the data, from the order listing via RR.Com’s “News” it listed them in this order: #1-Tufts, #2- U of Maryland, #3- Harvard, #4- Rutgers, #5-U of Hartford.  Either way, shuffling aside, one can easily look at the above statistics and see that Harvard University has the most crime (even given the difference in enrollment).

For all those that are curious (I’ve corrected the first two):  #1) Harvard #2) Tufts (The rest, via The Daily Beast) #3) Rutgers #4) U of Hartford #5) U of Baltimore #6) Howard U #7) North Carolina Central #8) Norfolk State U #9) Morgan State U #10) New Jersey Institute of Tech #11) Illinois Institute of Tech #12) Washington U #13) M.I.T #14) Johnson & Wales U #15) Temple U #16) U of Pennsylvania #17) Brown U #18) Columbia U #19) Standford U #20) U of the Pacific

When picking schools, read the statistics.  If you’re in the media/news/broadcasting field make sure you do your own fact-checking and take responsibilities for your mistakes.

And to everyone, keep your eyes open and your brain… thinking.  Always thinking.

Peace, Unity, Co-Existence & Love.

Michael Joyce

Michael’s Combative Profile (here)


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