self defense

By tactical defense and combatives expert Tony Blauer

For 43 years I have been studying violence, fear, and aggression.

My main business is training law enforcement, military, first-responders, combat athletes, and more. Over the course of 40 years, I've interviewed hundreds of victims of violence.

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Coach Tony Blauer has been in the martial arts, self-defense, defensive tactics, and combatives industry for over four decades.

He founded Blauer Tactical Systems (BTS) in 1985 and it has grown into one of the world's leading consulting companies specializing in the research and development of performance psychology, personal safety, and close quarter tactics & scenario-based training for law enforcement, military, and professional self-defense instructors.

  • His research on the neuroscience of fear and the startle-flinch lead to the development of the SPEAR System, a modern personal defense system based on physiology, physics, and psychology. It has been used by defensive tactics and combative trainers all over the world for over 30 years.
  • He developed the world's first impact-reduction scenario-based training equipment, called High Gear, which revolutionized force-on-force training for police, SWAT, and military organizations.
  • After decades of interviewing victims of violent encounters and studying violence, he created the KNOW FEAR program which focuses on managing fear through self-awareness, resiliency, and a 'movement' mindset. This program has also been integrated by psychologists helping veterans deal with PTSD.

Tony Blauer Self Defense

Blauer's programs have influenced over three decades of trainers and coaches as well as most contemporary reality-based martial artists. He resides in California with his wife, kids, and dogs, but still travels extensively working with individuals, corporations, and government organizations around the world providing solutions for training, performance assessment and credentialing. His company is dedicated to enhancing the mental and physical safety of everyone they help train.

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Shahzad Qureshi, a member of the Assembly in the Sindh Province in Pakistan proposed a resolution to make self-defense training for girls mandatory in all schools within the province. Qureshi, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party - Pakistan's ruling party - in Sindh, said the incidents of crimes committed against women in Pakistan were tarnishing the nation's image and urged passage of the resolution.

Many years ago, a group of approximately 13 boys — one only 10 years old — and two young men allegedly beat a 36-year-old man to death. One teenager reportedly threw an egg at the victim, probably as a prank. The man retaliated by punching another teen in the mouth, knocking out a tooth.

The minute he did that, he was fighting a losing battle.

The youths allegedly lashed out, using improvised weapons such as broomsticks, crates and other objects to bludgeon him to death.

We all have egos. Usually the first instinct when someone calls you a name is to come back and do the same to the aggressor. The man probably thought he would just pick a fight with the guy who threw the egg while the other boys left him alone. Right. They were all friends; of course they would defend each other.

Unfortunately, there was probably very little the victim could have done to protect himself once that many people started to attack him. His fatal mistake during the altercation was that he tried to stand up to the kids in the first place.

The martial arts are fantastic for defending against one or two people, but when you're facing 15 attackers at once, forget it. In that situation, the best thing to do is swallow your pride and try to talk your way out of the confrontation.

You won't prove anything by beating up young kids, and pretending to be Billy Badass when you're facing 15 assailants will not stack the odds in your favor.

Even if the victim had been able to prevail, he would probably have gone to jail for assaulting a minor. He would have lost either way. However, if he had martial arts experience, he might have been able to talk his way out of an assault by simply backing down and saying, "Hey, I'm really sorry. You guys are right, and I'm wrong. Don't waste an egg on me. I'll just leave."

I think the reason I've never been in a street fight is I won't stand around and argue with people. A one-on-one fight is one thing, but if there's a gang of aggressors involved, they've got the advantage right off the bat. If I hit one guy, I can be pretty sure his buddies will help out. While I'm busy working on one or two of them, there is bound to be a couple more right behind me, and I will have no idea what they're doing.

If they jump on me and tackle me, I will have only two weapons to fight back with once I'm on the pavement: my hands. Legs don't work too well when you're on the ground.

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Self-defense is about more than knowing which technique to use to fell an opponent. It's also about knowing where to be and where not to be so you can avoid getting in trouble.

If you're in an encounter that might turn ugly, you should get out of that area. There is no law that says you have to stay in a dangerous situation.

If you're ever attacked by a gang and cannot get away safely, maneuver so all the attackers are in front of you. Then you can use them against each other.

For example, grab one person, beat on him until he's weakened and then hold him between you and the other assailants. Use his body like a shield so the others have to get around him to get to you.

If a group surrounds your car, don't get out. Start creeping forward so they have to move out of the way. They might beat on the car, but at least you're safe inside.

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One thing I do know is that the bunch of boys who allegedly attacked that man were wimps. If they really were tough guys, they would have decided which one in the group would take him on, or perhaps the boy who threw the egg would have challenged him.

But when 15 people jump on a single defender and they're using weapons, their purpose is to kill — and they should pay the penalty.

Photos by Darren Chesnut

About the author: Bill "Superfoot" Wallace is a former kickboxing champion and a Black Belt Hall of Fame member who now teaches seminars around the world. Visit his website here.

The world of knife fighting has an unspoken rule: Go in, cut and get out unscathed.

It's that simple, but as martial artists, we often run into unrealistic knife techniques that reveal our peers' overconfidence and, at times, arrogance. The intricate and often flowery movements they teach, both for offense and defense, may look good, but they're doomed to fail in the long run.

The sad reality is, the streets are full of people who wouldn't think twice about committing murder. Their mission is to assault you, take your possessions and make their getaway.

Criminals don't try to impress you with fancy techniques. They know that a sharp thrust to the midsection or slash to the neck will get the job done quickly and efficiently.

When facing such an adversary, it's long been known that the best block is no block at all. You need to get out of harm's way using deflection and evasion. Whenever it's flesh against a sharp object, the sharp object always prevails — typically resulting in injury or death.

This is known as the law of the blade. Our knowledge of it has resulted in the development of countless knife-fighting methods that actually work.

Many of those time-honored techniques are still taught, but some martial artists prefer to focus on modern methods that consist of vast amounts of verbiage and complicated moves. These systems work extremely well in a martial arts training environment, but if a hapless student attempts to employ one of these tactics on the street, he'll find himself in a difficult situation in a matter of seconds.

Here is typically what happens: The attacker moves in for the kill, and the defender applies a subtle, semicircular technique executed under the knife-wielding hand — or a similarly complex move. The martial artist finds that his attempt to disarm the thug has resulted in dozens of stitches. Because the attacker has cut and run, the defender is left wondering what happened and which stance he should have been in.

How, then, is a martial artist to know when to parry, when to deflect, when to counterattack and when to run? The answer is, you can't know for sure in any particular situation because your attacker won't convey his intentions before the confrontation gets ugly.

Therefore, if you cross paths with such a criminal, assume that any close-quarters technique you try will result in slashed body parts. Your best strategy is to run away.

Does that mean you should rethink your entire repertoire of knife fighting and knife defense? No, but it may indicate that it's time to examine how you've been training.

You'll want to polish your techniques so you can use them at full speed to stop an attack executed at full speed. Research has shown that many of the martial artists who get injured in knife attacks didn't see the knife that cut them. The assaults happened too quickly, and the defenders had no time to counter. When they tried to employ smooth, flowing blocks, they discovered that they couldn't compete with a thrust to the gut or slash to the throat.

Whenever he talks about training, Black Belt Hall of Famer Fumio Demura says, "Strong, steadfast techniques work well against strong attacks." Because his advice applies as much to knife work as it does to empty-hand fighting, it would behoove all martial artists to ensure that the following three variables are covered in their training:

• Tip No. 1: Correct speed

It allows you to catch your opponent off-guard as you make the first move or mount your counterattack. The 20/40 method teaches the importance of closing the gap at 20 miles an hour, making your offensive or defensive move, and then withdrawing at 40 miles an hour to avoid being countered.

• Tip No. 2: Linear attacks, blocks and deflections

They maximize momentum. Why beat around the bush with a circular movement when you can go directly for the strike in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the energy?

• Tip No. 3: Peripheral vision

It allows you to watch your assailant's every move. The better you're able to assess your surroundings, the quicker your response will be — which means you may be able to terminate the threat before the situation escalates.

About the author: Dana Abbott is a kenjutsu practitioner and Black Belt's 2004 Weapons Instructor of the Year.

Dana Abbott photo by Robert Reiff

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