mike gillette

Four veteran martial artists — Kelly McCann, Mike Janich, John Riddle and Mike Gillette — answer tough questions about how well a martial artist might fare against a terrorist.

Question 9: How is fighting a terrorist — a person who’s willing to give his life for a cause — different from fighting a mugger, a gangbanger or a rapist? Kelly McCann: Fighting a person who has already given up their life to their cause is significantly different from fighting anyone else. Criminals want to live to continue to do what they do or enjoy the reputation they create for themselves. The concept of martyrdom includes the death of the perpetrator, so it is different. There are crossovers — a criminal may not care if he goes to prison or even dies rather than be seen as having lost a fight — but there’s not a religious element [to most criminal acts]. When confronted by a terrorist, it would be unwise to think the incident will end up any other way than someone dying.

Kelly McCann photo by Robert Reiff

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Michael Janich, John Riddle, Kelly McCann, Mike Gillette and Tom Gresham — each an expert in one or more aspects of self-defense — answer questions about guns, knives and terrorism.

Question 7: Do you recommend that people who are concerned about defending themselves in situations like the ones we're discussing consider lawfully carrying a firearm — assuming they have an interest and have had the proper training? Mike Gillette: They should consider it, but there are many layers to this issue, everything from what the prevailing laws are that govern the use of force when protecting yourself to how to store the weapon safely in your home. The responsibilities of owning and carrying a firearm are considerable. And once you’ve sorted out the logistical aspects of carrying a firearm, you still have to be able to competently handle that firearm. And that takes the right training — to develop the physical skills and decision-making ability. Although it may sound counterintuitive, self-defense, whether armed or unarmed, is very much a thinking person’s game.

Photo Courtesy of Mike Gillette

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Find out what five experts — Kelly McCann, Michael Janich, John Riddle, Tom Gresham and Mike Gillette — have to say about improving your awareness and safety on the street.

No matter how connected the Internet makes us think our planet is, human beings are still very much a tribal species. In part, that’s why we can watch a news report about a suicide bomber in the Middle East and think, “Yes, that’s terrible, but it’s happening on the other side of the world to people I don’t know.” When a terrorist attack happens close to home, however, everyone pays attention. At that point, some people take action. The ones who haven’t been preparing often start, and the ones who regard themselves as always ready often turn up the intensity of their training. As a martial artist, you no doubt fit into that second category, and it is to assist you that Black Belt presents this article. Before we begin, it’s worth noting that not every terrorist attack involves an improvised explosive device or an AK-47. As the events that unfolded on September 26, 2014, and October 24, 2014, prove, “lone wolf” terrorists are now using weapons that martial arts training enables us to defend against. On the first date, one woman was beheaded and another repeatedly stabbed by a man in Oklahoma. Afterward, Rep. Frank Wolf (Virginia) urged the Department of Justice to investigate the incident as an act of terrorism. On the second date, a man whom Reuters described as “self-radicalized” used a hatchet to critically wound two New York City police officers. And lest you think only Americans face these threats, think back to March 1, 2014. On that day, eight terrorists armed with knives murdered 29 people and injured more than 140 at a train station in Kunming, China.

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Scott Bolan and Mike Gillette contend that many martial artists do not pay enough attention to the neck as a vital target. This may be due to its status as a forbidden zone in traditional martial arts training and martial arts competitions. However, if one considers how the neck is constructed and what it houses, it certainly becomes an attractive target in real-world street-fighting situations. Therefore, Mike Gillette practices neck-strengthening exercises to build up the musculature supporting his head. He suggests that neck-strengthening exercises increase structural integrity during self-defense moves and help increase resistance to choke pressure.

NECK-STRENGTHENING EXERCISES VIDEO Mike Gillette Explains the Neck's Structure and Its Susceptibility to Injury in Martial Arts and Self-Defense Training

"The neck is an interesting piece of architecture because it is the pathway for some of the most aspects of the body: the central nervous system, all of your airway, your internal plumbing as far as your circulatory system is concerned," Mike Gillette says. "But interestingly, it is all built around one of the most structurally weak parts of the body." Gillette's breakdown of why neck-strengthening exercises are an important part of martial arts injury prevention and street-fighting preparation considers:
  • impact injuries from falling to -- or being thrown to -- the ground
  • tissue compression during a choke attack
The neck-strengthening exercises that Gillette recommends include flexion, extension and rotation. He says that these movement patterns need to be addressed together to ensure balanced development.

NECK-STRENGTHENING EXERCISES VIDEO Mike Gillette Demonstrates Neck Exercises for Strengthening Its Structure and Preventing Injury During Martial Arts Training or Self-Defense Techniques

"The nice thing about working on neck strength," Gillette says, "is you develop strength in this area pretty quickly. You'll experience pretty immediate feedback, which is [good for motivation]." The martial arts conditioning expert warns against movements during neck-strengthening exercises that are too fast or jerky, as this would be in stark contrast to the goal of injury prevention. "Notice that I'm not going quickly, I'm not snapping," he says during a demonstration of lateral flexion. "These movements are all very smooth. They have to be smooth, they have to be controlled because [the neck] is a very easy area to injure." Gillette's final word regarding this workout routine? "All of these [moves] are very simple," he says. "Don't over-think them. Don't try to make them more complicated than they are. You need to work on all [the] planes of motion to have a sufficient balance of musculature. ... If you're not building up the flexion muscles, if you're not building both sides of your neck, you're setting yourself up for injury -- and that's the opposite of what we want to accomplish here." For more information about Scott Bolan and Mike Gillette's training programs and products, visit martialpowersecrets.com and devastatingfighting.com.