Self Defense

Hold up your hand in front of you and extend out horizontally only three fingers. Keep the remaining two folded.

With your opposite index finger, point to the first finger and say, "Means." Then point to the second finger and say, "Opportunity." Next, point to the third finger and say, "Intent." Finally, look at the graph below and read it out loud.

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The Science of Effective Fighting Explained

What would you do if someone suddenly threw a venomous snake at you — or any snake, for that matter? Instinctively, you'd jump back, right? This happens because most human beings have a deep-seated fear of being bitten and killed by snakes.

Now, take that same serpent and remove its fangs. If someone threw a fangless snake at you, would you jump? Maybe you would because of the fear of snakes we all share, but your fear of being bitten and envenomated would be greatly reduced. This is so because the snake is now essentially harmless.

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In life, drawing corollaries between related subjects is interesting and often enlightening. In particular, corollaries between warfighting and personal combat can teach us much.

Just as any true martial artist should read Musashi's Book of Five Rings, any combatives practitioner should read the U.S. Marine Corps Field Manual 1 Warfighting. FM1 was written in the late 1980s at the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Warfighting Center in Quantico, Virginia, while I was assigned there to the Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict office as the counterterrorism/counternarcotics officer. A young captain named John Sullivan was a contemporary of mine and a project officer on the development of the manual. The book was written with direct input from the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. A.M. Gray. Through John, I had the opportunity to review it as a work in progress, and it left a lasting impression. Below are some of the most interesting corollaries.

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There are only 10 directions in the entire universe: front, back, horizontal left and right, vertical up and down, and four diagonals, which is essentially the letter "X." So, how many directions can you be attacked from? The answer is 10. It's simple Euclidean geometry (the relationship between a body, the human body in this case, and surrounding space). This means that there are only 10 possible directions a stab or cut with a knife can come from. There are only 10 directions a punch can come at your face or body. There are only 10 directions a foot or knee can slam into you, and only 10 directions you can move about the ground when standing upright: eight directions on the two-dimensional plane, and then jumping up (vertical up) or falling (vertical down) in certain situations and environments.

If you end up on the ground, either deliberately, accidentally, or forced there, the 10 directions are down there also. This means the enemy could be on top of you, on your back, on one side or the other, north of your head, at your feet, or along any point of the "X." To be prepared for any of these possibilities your ground combat training must include all 10 directions.

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