Monday, September 27, 2010

Got Kids? Judo know the half of it.

For those of you who've read my stuff in the excellent (now defunct) European martial arts magazine "Fighting Arts International" you might remember my advocating Judo before anyone in Europe or the States had heard of the Gracies and/or Brazilian Ju-Jutsu. I covered how important it is/was to know how to grapple and how to control someone if you're taken to the ground.

What prompted the Judo theme is that I got asked again by someone the other day about where to send their kids to train (because I don't teach anyone under the age of eighteen). You'd think, given my love for karate, I'd say the nearest karate school but the answer I always give is Judo.

Why? Let's go over the reasons.

1. You learn how to fall safely in Judo (it's called break-falling). Kids being kids, are going to fall off bicycles, out of trees and just running along. Loads of them end up breaking their collar bones, arms and legs as a result. By learning how to fall safely they avoid the breaks (this is the same skill set used by stunt men) which saves them pain and you the expense of taking care of said broken limb and the medical bills that come with it.

2. Judo is cheap!!! A lot of the McDojos lock people into expensive contracts and nickle and dime parents to death. Judo by comparison costs next to nothing.

3. Perhaps the most important reason of all - you react how you train to react. If your lessons are all about punching and kicking and you get into a fight at school you're going to punch and kick. That can lead to all sorts of legal ramifications for you and your child. The youth Judo program doesn't teach joint locks or strangulation like the adult program does. It only teaches the throws and the pins so your child will (hopefully) toss the bully and pin him until someone in authority arrives to break it up. The likelihood of there being any physical injury from throwing and pinning is minuscule as compared to the risk after punching and kicking someone.

4. Judo will wear them out. A lot of the punching and kicking - especially in mid-air - serves to amp kids up and make them hyper. The grappling and throwing of Judo on the other hand is a total workout. You're going one hundred percent against a fully resisting opponent and it takes its toll fast.

5. Judo is an Olympic sport. Tae Kwan Do has recently joined the fold of sports allowed in the Olympics but Judo's been in there for years and is very well respected. Who knows...maybe your kid will represent the country one day in Judo.

So, there you have it...five great reasons to get your kids into Judo. It will provide a perfect base for them so, by the time they turn 18 and can train with the likes of me, they'll be great raw material to build from.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Club Starting

Apologies for readers of the blog from anywhere but locally but my classes in Krav Maga are starting in Huntersville NC this week. You can find out all the information on the web site located at

We're going to be incorporating regular training on avoidance and awareness (aka soft skills) as well as intense training on the hard skills.

Introductory classes will be held the first and third Sat of every month at my buddy Greg's Crossfit LKN center.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Selling Safely

Recently here in Charlotte there was a double murder of an elderly couple who went to meet someone to sell their car.

A lot of people do this, especially with E-Bay and Craigslist making the process so convenient. However, anytime you go to meet some unknown person(s) to do a deal there's a risk involved.

What I'm going to cover here is a couple of steps to minimize that risk.

1. Gather intel. You have the person's phone number and name. Google them both and see what shows up. You can, for a fee, do a reverse lookup on their number and see that it comes back to who they say they are. Run their name through the local sheriff's dept and see if they've ever been arrested for anything.

2. Sanitize your vehicle. That means take out anything with your name and address on it, any valuables, and anything that could be used against you as a weapon. I've mentioned in other blogs the importance of what your car says about you and how much info a lot of them contain for the bad guys.

3. Arrange to meet in a public place. (the victims in this case didn't) That means a mall, a shopping center, a gas station or in front of a police station. Make sure it's when they're open and there's going to be loads of people around.

4. Take someone with you...preferably someone BIG. Husband, boyfriend, neighbor's kid, cousin...someone who at least looks the part.

5. Once you arrive at the meeting place, if you feel bad about the situation or the people you're meeting (now that you've laid eyes on them) feel free to leave. Trust your instincts. (The couple in this instance felt something was wrong and called their daughter to let her know. That was a good step and expedited the capture of the alleged killer but if they'd followed it up with high tailing it out of there they might be alive today)

6. Ask to see identification and proof of insurance. Take a pic of the i.d. and send it to someone on your camera phone if you want to be really safe. Also check with your insurance agent about who's covered etc during a test drive. If the potential buyer crashes the car it's a rotten time to find out your coverage doesn't extend that far.

7. Don't let them test drive on their own and don't let them outnumber you on the test drive. If you are by yourself and the two of them want to be in the car during the test drive you should be in the back seat and not in the front with someone sitting behind you.

8. Remember most of the above also applies if you're going to buy a car from someone online or in the paper. One scam involves the criminals using the address of a foreclosed or vacant home. You roll up and they produce a weapon, take your money and your vehicle and you have no idea who they are.

Remember, thousands of people every day do transactions like this and nothing goes wrong. Don't be paranoid about the whole thing but, by the same token, don't be complacent either. The aforementioned steps will go a long way towards alleviating risks.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Criminal Attack Plan Revisited

It's interesting to note that the latest attack in Charlotte i.e. The Bump and Rape/Rob attack followed the S.I.V.A pattern to a tee.

For those who don't remember I wrote about almost all criminals attacking according to the S.I.V.A. acronym which is Selection, Isolation, Verbal then Attack/Assault

First he selected his victim looking out for women alone in cars (in one case two women in one car) as they headed home from night clubs.

Secondly they isolated themselves when they left the club.

Third, he used the ploy of running into their cars the same way another criminal will use a verbal ruse to get close enough to launch his attack.

As I've mentioned previously you can avoid the latter part of the program if you are diligent enough with the first three.

Could you for example reduce the risk of being selected? Yep. Have a male in the car with you, have a pile of friends in the car, have NRA gun stickers on your vehicle or don't go clubbing until he's been caught. (If you have trouble finding a guy, there used to a company that sold a male mannequin for lone women drivers that you could put in the front passenger seat to create the impression there was a man on board).

Next...could you increase your awareness levels when you're on your own? You have to be hyper-vigilant any time you leave the safety of numbers.

As for the steps to take during the verbal phase (in this case the fake accident) see the previous blog entry.

If you do those three well enough you should never end up in the final phase having to fight your way out of a planned ambush by the bad guy(s) and that avoidance and awareness is what true self protection is all about.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bump and Rob Again...

Some readers will no doubt remember the bump and rob attacks that plagued Florida back in the late eighties, early nineties. For those of you who don't know, the bad guys would rear end people in rental cars (which could be identified by stickers) and, when the victim got out to survey the damage, they'd be held up and robbed.

It culminated in one German tourist woman being killed when the bad guys drove away and ran over her in the process. As an aside the effect on the tourist industry was so great that the authorities went all out, caught the team doing it and banged them away for a long time.

Here in Charlotte, early Monday morning, we had two incidents using the same tactic. The perpetrator ran into a car and, when the driver got out, he held her at gun point and forced her to drive to an ATM. When he was unsuccessful getting any money he raped the woman and fondled her passenger.

A couple of hours later he struck again and robbed another woman under the same circumstances. Law enforcement believe it's possible he followed them from nightclubs.

Channel 14 news here in Charlotte contacted me and we did a piece covering some advice for women in that situation. For those of you who missed it, the advice is as follows (and, incidentally, it's the same procedure for a Blue Light Bandit)...

1. Assess what just happened. Is the accident likely? In other words it's hard to stage an accident and make it look real. If there's stuff going on nearby that an inattentive driver might be looking at it when he rear ends you then it could be plausible. If the roads are icy, it could be plausible. If the roads are dry, there's not much traffic and it happens then that should make you wonder.

2. Check your doors are locked and windows up.

3. Put your hazard lights on and drive to your nearest 24 hour safe haven. (We've talked about this in a previous blog but they're locations where someone is in attendance 24/7 such as hospitals, gas stations, grocery stores, manufacturing plants, police and fire stations etc.)

4. While en route call 911 and let them know what happened and what you're doing. Let them know you're a lone female, you're not comfortable dealing with the situation on your own and your intention is to drive to somewhere where there are lights and people.

I'm not going to sugar coat's still a tough situation to be in. What are you going to do for example if, while you're figuring out what just happened, the bad guy appears at your window with his gun in hand. I know of one girl, a friend of my ex, who was in that situation and she drove away and nothing happened. A few weeks ago in Charlotte a woman did the same and the bad guy opened fire on the car.

My advice is (and that means this is what I would do in that situation) is head down and floor it. Every second you're putting distance between you and the bad guy and handguns are notoriously inaccurate. They also don't have the penetration Hollywood would have you believe. Many police officers have discovered that rounds will bounce off a windshield for example and I've been on a body guard course where we shot an old car up with various rounds to see what would happen and a .380 would even penetrate the door skin.

Finally, if you do decide to comply, we're back to the old "leaving crime scene 1 for crime scene 2" which we all know is absolutely taboo.

PS: They haven't caught the guy yet so be on your guard.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


With all the rain we're having in Charlotte right now I thought it might behoove us to revisit the advice I posted about using cruise control in the rain.

This originally went around the web as an email and a lot of people mistakenly thought it was an urban legend. While it's not as dire as the original email would have us believe it is true that using cruise control when it's raining is a bad idea.

If you want to find out exactly why google is your friend but the bottom line is cruise control is BAD WHEN IT'S WET, SLUSHY, SNOWING OR ICY.

Now you know.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This Makes it All Worthwhile

One of my mates in Philly is a devout follower of the Fight Survival System that I teach. Marc comes to all the seminars and has been down to Charlotte to attend the first half of his instructor's certification as well as to several of the annual boot camps we do.

Last night I received this message from him...

Nick: My sister just called me to tell me she was the victim of a home invasion.

She woke up on her couch to a man standing over her. Apparently, he told her to "shut the fuck up" and grabbed her breasts. I've shared my FIST training with her so she could stay safe at college. She took the initiative and did exactly the last thing this guy was expecting and beat the shit out of him. After multiple strikes to the face and groin, he fled. She was so amped she she chased him down barefoot in the snow and continued the beating, during the course of which he lost his cell phone.

Cops now have his billing info and prints. She was unscathed.

FIST WORKS! She's 5'2" 120lbs and destroyed this guy. Thank you for the training to fight and win and thank you for the instructor training so I could share these life saving skills with my sister. When you're out in Philly, I'll be sure to bring her out. Feel free to share this story with others.


I've had several letters and calls like this over the years...a blue belt who scared off and was responsible for the capture of a campus rapist in Australia, an English mate who was nearly mugged by 3 guys here in Charlotte, a Legion buddy who's son learned the stuff I taught him and survived a multiple attack in the UK.

They are, undoubtedly, what makes all the years of training, sacrifice and teaching worthwhile (it sure isn't the money as anyone who teaches the real deal stuff will tell you.)

I'm crossing my fingers the cell phone leads back to the attacker (and wasn't stolen). I'm also hoping if it does come back to him the DNA test that will undoubtedly be run will link him to other attacks and one less evil bastid will be out on the streets preying on women.

That's my Christmas wish...