Kelly McCann

My Kembativz organization recently ran its Sudden Violence course for the second time this year. The intensive training session puts students in some very unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations with drills that require ferocity and legitimate performance. The focus is on developing enough skill to deal with situations that suddenly — and unexpectedly — become critically violent.

I don't know the attribution for the following quote, but it applies perfectly to our course: "You can't hide what you don't know in here."

The Sudden Violence course is genderless. Female students are not partnered exclusively with other women. Instead, they're expected to perform to an acceptable standard regardless of who their training partner is. Men and women are paired with each other at various times with no regard to size, ability, strength, speed, agility or athleticism. The course, which I created in the late 1980s and have run ever since, is where the rubber meets the road.

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Edged-weapon attacks are on the rise. Throughout the European Union, they're almost epidemic. Even worse, edged weapons used in attacks overseas many times aren't the 4-inch folders Americans are used to seeing. They're 10- to 12-inch-long kitchen knives, which makes many of the standard disarms taught in martial arts schools more dangerous, if not impossible. The problem has grown so significant that London Mayor Sadiq Khan recently issued a proclamation: "No excuses. There is never a reason to carry a knife. Anyone who does will be caught, and they will feel the full force of the law." He basically banned knives for civilians to carry.

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BLACK BELT: "You win 100 percent of the fights you don't have."— Kelly McCann, combatives instructor

Jarret Schonbrun: I teach my students de-escalation as part of self-defense. I always tell them that if it comes to a point where they need to use blocks/strikes, then they have already failed (but make sure that you fail successfully if needed!)

On the street, criminals have to get close to you in order to victimize you. They know they can't reveal their intention too early or potential victims would vanish. A weapon has to be ready to use as they move toward their victim, but it still has to be kept concealed.

Criminals are apprehensive. They don't want to be seen by eyewitnesses or be caught. These things manifest in demeanor and movement that can be identified once you know what to look for and once you develop sound situational awareness.

It's even true in the case of an RPG. On the battlefield, a situationally aware soldier looks for anomalous movements at or around tactically sound firing positions. He scans for furtive actions made by people who know they're going to be shot dead if they're seen shouldering and aiming an RPG. That kind of apprehension and fear results in erratic movement. Soldiers are more watchful at choke points where it would make sense for any weapon to be deployed against them.

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Meet Kelly McCann, the world's leading combatives instructor, and find out what he's doing to teach civilians the same self-defense skills that used to be reserved for the world's elite fighting forces.

Since 2008, Black Belt has released a ton of top-notch content featuring the knowledge, skills and real-world experience of Kelly McCann. (Here’s a sample.) All of it revolves around the subset of martial arts known as combatives. In his own words: “Combatives represents a physical manifestation of force — a sledgehammer, not a jeweler’s mallet. Combatives is sometimes denigrated as ‘too basic’ by martial recreationalists because of the simplicity and the intentionally limited number of techniques. "Bruce Lee had it right when he threw out all the stuff that was meaningless and boiled it down to 'less is more.' In combatives, we boil it down, then attempt it under duress.”

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