Good talk on blocks

Sensei Canna offers insight into the real world of self defense!

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Re: Good talk on blocks

Postby Van Canna » Wed Sep 23, 2020 10:59 pm

Okay... now before I jump into this headfirst, I had a certain someone ask if I were "making up" the research in these Man-Skills newsletters.

Well, I gave him my answer, (just after snapping his collar bone, which takes surprisingly little force). No. I'm not just making this stuff up. The research here is a culmination of being balls-deep in this industry for over 33 years...

...digging through FBI reports... CIA white papers... grisly police crime stats... real street-fights caught on video...

...and hanging out with some of the most freakishly dangerous dudes (and dudettes) on the planet. Badasses dropped into combat zones to train up Special Ops...

...or protect presidents and dignitaries... or who hunt down and kill terrorists... who put their asses on the line to make sure Americans like me and you and your family can sleep comfortably at night.

I'm just glad they're on our side.

So the facts and research are real... although I must admit it would be sooo much easier (and probably a lot more fun) just to make it all up.
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Re: Good talk on blocks

Postby Van Canna » Wed Sep 23, 2020 11:01 pm

Anyway, here's some insight that you may not have known:

He's so big: Why does he pick on the little guy?
Ground Fighting: Takin' it to the dirt.
The Trigger: Starts with a little shove.
Blocking: The strategy of blockheads.
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Re: Good talk on blocks

Postby Van Canna » Wed Sep 23, 2020 11:03 pm

Why pick on the little guy?

Here's my first disturbing factoid: Stats show your adversary will most likely be bigger than you.

Why? Well, much of it has to do with the cheesy action movie playing on the big-screen inside your opponent's head. (We talked a little about this in a previous Man-Skills).

Your opponent is the star of his very own B-movie, (where he looks like Dwayne Johnson aka "The Rock"), with a plot that has him easily dominating you with little or no injury to himself, (plus the script's got a nice little character arc too. A real page-turner).


Your opponent does not engage in a confrontation because he imagines he'll be hurt (unless of course, he’s “into it”, which is another kind of movie altogether). So he targets someone smaller than himself.

But remember we're talking about what's probable.

For example, Dwayne Johnson is probably not going to be confronted by someone bigger and stronger than him as there are maybe 3 other people on the planet who fit that description, (that guy in the above photo is one of them).

But statistically-speaking, it is possible. There ARE insane people out there. And they're not wearing a mask and definitely not washing their hands correctly. (Okay, that just slipped out).

But for us regular dudes who aren't 6' 5" and 250 pounds of lean muscle, statistics show that you’re most likely to be attacked by someone bigger than you.

There is one exception to this rule – it’s something called “Small Man’s Syndrome" or the “Napoleon Complex”.

(Picture your scrappy little friend who peaked in the third-grade and was still waiting to "sprout" in his 30s).

This smaller man attempts to enhance or maintain his self-image by continually challenging larger men for the most minor of reasons or even NO reason. (Think Joe Pesci).

His small stature makes him a highly sensitive person -- a hybrid of a bully and an emotionally highjacked individual -- who reacts with violence to the smallest of real or imagined slights. ("I'm funny how? I mean funny like I'm a clown?")

And here's a bonus zinger: Over half of the time, your adversary will also be flying high on drugs and/or alcohol. Which might not be all that bad considering his reflexes and coordination are probably shot.
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Re: Good talk on blocks

Postby Van Canna » Wed Sep 23, 2020 11:07 pm

Takin' it to the dirt.

Believe it or not, most street fights do NOT go to the ground, (a bit of info that surprises most guys who recall wrasslin'-it-out in their grade-school glory days).

But in the adult world of fighting, it's true... most fights end with one guy standing, the other on the ground (gurgling weird sounds from his nose).

There's one huge exception: On average, any fight lasting longer than 12 seconds WILL go to the ground. And if you remember from previous Man-Skills fun-facts, most fights last only 3-8 seconds (it's kinda like wham... bam-bam-bam, lights out).

But at about 13 seconds into the brawl, there’s a high probability the fight will end up on the ground.

So if you think there's a chance you could ever be involved in a fight lasting longer than it just took you to read this sentence, it's probably a smart thing to have a few "ground-n-pound" tricks up your sleeve.

I gotta warn you though, on the asphalt, using standard MMA ground-fighting tactics will get you scraped-up like road-kill.

There's an excellent "STREET Ground-Fighting" DVD HERE. Your instructor is the great Walt Lysak and he shows you ground-n-pound tricks that work on the street, (literally).


With any fight, speed is of the essence.

Because the longer it takes you to end a fight, the better chance that you'll get hurt or killed and the higher the odds that it'll go to the ground, (and street ground-fighting is also known as "ground-hamburger fighting").

Which is why burning-up precious seconds “displaying” any martial arts prowess is not a good idea. ("Hello? People, people. Could everyone just gather around and watch my cool reverse roundhouse air-kicks?").

An adversary could simply move-in during this little show and land a couple of simple well-placed shots that end the fight.

His technique may not require a lot of skill, and they may not be very “pretty”, (so he gets zero points for aesthetics), but it doesn't really matter if he knocks you out cold.

And that might not be the end of the attack.

You can't count on your opponent's sense of mercy just because you're pinned or knocked out, (c'mon man, I said 'uncle') as this thug may prove to be no gentleman.

So you don't want is to be on the ground unconscious (reminds me of my college days) or pinned down with someone on top of you while his buddies stomp on your head.

End the fight as quickly as possible on your feet, for your own good. Get nasty. Throw dirt in his face. Hammer his sciatic nerve with a wicked Thai kick. Move-in and grab him around the head and headbutt him. Thrust a knee up into his groin. Throw vicious elbow strikes across his temple.

Fight as if your life depends on it, (it does), and do not let up until you have chance to escape or the threat is removed (again, in technical terms it's wham bam-bam-bam).
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Re: Good talk on blocks

Postby Van Canna » Thu Sep 24, 2020 1:26 am

The Block Head:

Geez... you're so defensive.

Another bit of valuable insight has to do with the strategy of "blocking" incoming blows, (and hopefully it's not with your face).

Many martial styles devote lots of training time to this subject -- but that may not be such a great idea, (which is a nicer but longer way to say "dumb idea").

Because if your training teaches you to be focused on blocking incoming blows, you’ve just purposely placed yourself into a continual defensive position.

That’s the exact opposite position you want to be in. You want your opponent to be on the defensive – not yourself.

You want him back on his heels... reacting rather than acting... pedaling backward... off balance... and not able to effectively counter-attack, (you know, kinda like an argument with the wife).

Combat experts, on the other hand, rarely concentrate their efforts on “blocks and parries” but instead defend their soft targets with space or the proper execution of an offensive attack.

It's like back in my younger days of dirt-biking, (I'm talking decades ago when I had nothing to live for). I was a rookie, but one lesson I took to heart was "when in trouble, gun it".

Because panicking and backing off the throttle almost inevitably meant dumping the bike, (and flying over the handlebars and eating dirt was no fun at all).

Same here. "Gunning it" and moving forward with aggression, confidence, and boldness is the most effective way to gain control of the fight.

On the flip side, "backing off the throttle" and parrying incoming shots puts you in an undesirable defensive position.

Now, I’m not suggesting you make zero effort to block, because there IS value in it.

But, you can't save your way to riches, and you won’t win a fight with blocking and parrying alone, (notice how I so deftly combined entrepreneurship with combat training? Nice, huh?).

If you find yourself blocking punches and kicks in combat, it usually indicates you’re in big trouble.

And there's enough trouble out there already.

Keep your eyes peeled... more "Man Skills" to come, (if you're man enough to take it).

Stay Manly,

Jimbo, Editor
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Re: Good talk on blocks

Postby Van Canna » Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:01 pm

This is a must read for all of us, whether we envision the use of firearms or empty hands in a defensive encounter, falling prey to the chemical cocktail, loss of peripheral vision and manual dexterity.

The following should be practiced in dojo during any drills and even kata at times to break the tendency of 'tunneling'....even while doing kata we should find a way to scan by moving the head not 'expanding vision' without moving the head.

Against multiple opponents, once we engage, we will have trouble seeing attackers flanking us.

Scanning is a technique used to break tunnel vision; once a threat is down and does not appear to be an immediate threat, we scan. Turning the head left and right to get a full view of the world around us helps break tunnel vision and gives us visual data of the world around us in the event that other threats are present. By introducing additional targets outside of our primary focus, or beginning with no visual of the target (facing away) we begin to tune or habit of scanning and flash sight awareness.
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Re: Good talk on blocks

Postby Van Canna » Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:21 pm

When it comes to defensive tactics, besides Mas Ayoob and John Farnam_ whom I trained under_ I have come to admire Mr. Walt Rauch.

He was an Army criminal investigator before entering the Secret Service. After his tenure protecting presidents, he wound up on the docks in Philadelphia serving felony warrants and living a life screenwriters try -- and fail -- to re-create.

Walt has written books and articles on defensive tactics, which are very useful to all of us.

He points out that what is hard wired into our brains is the 'trinity' of freeze fight_or flee.

That to fight can bring the most serious consequences _ win or lose.

The reason being that any fight is an exchange of levels of violence where he would not care of to be 'only' lightly punched, slightly stabbed, or suffer a 'minor' gunshot wound.

He goes on to say that fleeing, on the other hand, is usually the less costly with, of course, exceptions.

If you can mange to get away from the problem, you are not harmed nor is the attacker, and fleeing is the one act most approved legally and morally.

Fighting is indeed subject to infinite variables that can change
moment by moment, so that the fight you thought you were going to have_ has suddenly morphed into A NIGHTMARE.

Walt opines that it is not cowardly to retreat if it can be done in relative safety…though in some cases it would be a poor choice. As the saying goes > discretion is the better part of valor<

But then Walt points out that the trick of 'fleeing' is to do it correctly.

That the 'how' of fleeing in most cases dictates the outcome.

You can flat out run if taken by surprise, but you have to be able to run faster than the attacker, and turning your back and fleeing can trigger the predatory instinct, and if he catches you, he will use more violence than he initially considered, since the running signals a weakness and encourages aggression.

In military terms, we learned that individuals and units do a 'retreat' but don't engage in a rout.

So your 'retreat' from impending engagement must be 'planned' in that, usually, small time frame you will have, some what slowed by the effects of Tachypsychia, but nevertheless very quick in real time.

As Rick wrote previously, the real skill in martial arts/defensive tactics is to be able to recognize what is about to go down, sometimes even before the opponent has finalized such thoughts, and to shut it down before it gets off.

Pre-emption, when appropriate, is certainly effective_ as is moving deliberately in an controlled manner, giving off 'non selectee' signals_ this being a tactical retreat, while evading and noting the threat's actions/inactions _ while best evaluating the best choice.

Another suggestion is putting large objects between you and the threat, such as stepping behind a vehicle/tree_ or unpredictable moving from side to side etc.

Fading into a group or crowd[at the center]…ducking into a store or business…is OK…but being careful of finding yourself in a trap with no ways out and nothing to take cover behind.

But situational awareness is the best, in condition yellow, so that if you walk into a situation or just sense something not right…you simply retrace your steps.

Sometimes retreating, evading, defusing etc. just doesn't go down the right way…we have had dozens of threads on this for discussion….it is the human factor +the emotional high-jack.

But bottom line, as per Walt Rauch,
There are old gunfighters and bold gunfighters, but there are no old_ bold gunfighters.
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Re: Good talk on blocks

Postby Van Canna » Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:24 pm

Here's is something from Marc Mac Young
Don't run from danger, run to safety

Firmly entrench the difference in your mind.

Reason: Many people faunch and worry that showing fear will provoke an attack. On the other hand, many make a far worse mistake by insisting on a "no fear" approach.

And in doing so, such people refuse to retreat from a dangerous situation. This is a pendulum swing to the other extreme based on piss poor communication by many so-called "experts" on the subject of self-defense who insist on telling people to walk with confidence as though you are heading somewhere.

Having spent a lifetime dealing with violent criminals I can, as a trained professional, firmly state: Violent criminals are dangerous.

Even with years of training and experience these people pose a threat to me. A threat that if I am not always on the ball when confronting them will result in me being injured or killed.

And even if I am on top of it, I run the risk of getting hurt. With that in mind, what kind of threat do they pose to you? The answer is: A far greater one.

This is why you need to understand the difference between running and a strategic withdrawal.

If you are blindly running from danger, you WILL provoke chase. And unfortunately, the odds are that your pursuers will catch you. That is because you are just running with no specific goal in mind. The path you take will reflect that.

When you run like this, there is no reason for your pursuers NOT to chase you. In fact, there is a good chance in your blind panic that you will run into a better, more isolated area - which will increase your chances of being assaulted and/or raped.

If on the other hand, you look at it as a strategic withdrawal to a better position you are less likely to make such a mistake. The best example of 'running towards safety' is to head to the police station.

Run fiercely to the security guard station. With every step you take, the risk to your pursuers increases. Now, chasing you endangers them.
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Re: Good talk on blocks

Postby Van Canna » Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:26 pm

Do NOT allow yourself to be surrounded

There is no danger signal more obvious than being surrounded or criminals "splitting up" as they approach you. If you see this developing LEAVE!

Reason: Once you are surrounded you are trapped. There is very little you can do to prevent from being assaulted and even if you are a martial arts grandmaster, the odds are that you will be overwhelmed and beaten.

Fortunately, once you know the significance of this behavior it is both easy to spot and easy to avoid. It also sends a serious message to the would be robbers that you are aware of what they need in order to successfully rob you and you are not letting them have it.

In that message is also the news that there are easier people to rob. People who will not pose as much of a threat as you do if they insist on cornering you.
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Re: Good talk on blocks

Postby Van Canna » Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:31 pm

If despite all of this, a criminal still gets the drop on you don’t stand there and argue.

Although this sounds asinine, you would be amazed at how common it is. Simply stated, since most people don't recognize the developing danger, it does literally "jump out of the bushes" to them.

Sometimes they stand there in total shock and disbelief (which works well for the mugger, and in fact, usually saves their lives).

However, other times the victim's don't accurately assess the threat, nor do they have time to shift out of their normal mindset. And that means they try to stand there and argue as though this were just a rude busboy in a restaurant. There is no better way to get shot.

Reason: If you go berserk and physically attack, you might survive, but at a cost. If you run you might survive.

If your reaction is to verbally assault him though, he will shoot you.

You may have an attitude, but he has one too...and a gun. And when looking down the barrel of one, it is no time to argue.

Martial arts 'skills' or weapon possession notwithstanding...we really are not as tough as sometimes we make out to be. We can easily die physically/legally/and economically...or end up financially destitute in a wheel chair in some decrepit/smelling like 'sh*it' nursing home.
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Re: Good talk on blocks

Postby Van Canna » Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:44 pm

Mc Young
1. Trust your inner alarms, even if there is no apparent reason.

2. Trust your instincts, your unconscious mind has recognized something amiss. If your alarms go off, something set them off, even if you don’t consciously recognize what it is! If something isn’t right, don’t wait to find out exactly what is wrong -- by then it will be to late.

Your subconscious is picking up "nonverbal leakage". That is when someone's body language tells you what is really going on in spite of his words.

This part of you recognizes intent.

3. If you don’t like the ‘vibes’ someone is giving off, don’t let that person approach you. Withdraw from the area and return to "the lights and the noise."

4. Criminals seldom actually hide. It takes too long to emerge from a real hiding space. They most often position themselves in locations where they are not immediately seen.

5. When entering a "fringe area" glance around to see if anyone is about

This especially means looking behind you. By simply glancing around in certain areas you can reduce your chances of being raped or robbed by 90 percent! It takes no more than two seconds when stepping out of an elevator into a parking structure, walking into a parking lot, when approaching an ATM or stepping onto a train platform to assess if there is potential trouble present.

6. If an individual or group of such characters begins to move towards you, leave the area. One of the most common forms of robbery, carjacking and kidnap for rape involves the criminal(s) loitering near the mall entrance and following the victim to her car.
By just looking behind you as you enter a parking area, you can prevent this by knowing to circle back to the entrance.

Simply stated, this glance allows you to see what is occurring. Very seldom will the criminal be in perfect position to attack you when you enter an area. He must move into better position to attack you.

By glancing around you will see him while he is still in this pre-position and take evasive measures before he gets into attack position. If the criminal can successfully position himself he will attack.

6. Do NOT walk through (or pass close to) a pack of loitering 'toughs'

Reason: You are literally walking into the lion's jaws. The pack mentality is a baby version of the mob mentality, and that is not good. Numbers give the pack members both safety and anonymity.

This makes them far more aggressive than normal. They can attack you with little risk to themselves. While this does not sound as bad as being threatened with a weapon, ten people "stomping" you can and will put you into the hospital for months.

7. Unless you are able to casually gouge out another person's eye or pull the trigger with calm disregard to the pain and suffering you are causing, you will NOT be able to bluff a pack.

So don't even try to intimidate them or convince them that they would be making a big mistake by "messing" with you. They have the numbers on their side and that means they have more force than you do alone. And if they call your bluff, you will be in some deep trouble.

8. Insist on a buffer of at least five feet against people who set off your internal alarms.

In wide open areas fringe areas, make it fifteen. You have the right to tell someone "that's close enough" and it is NOT rude.

Reason: No stranger has a legitimate reason to approach you closer than five feet. Part of the interview process is to see if you will allow him to develop positioning. Often the criminal’s approach is hidden behind the guise of asking for something (regular interview).

Even if you have the item, LIE! You’re out of cigarettes, you don’t have jumper cables, you don’t know where Park street is, etc. This removes his ‘excuse’ to approach. Insist that the person stay away. If he continues to approach, he has announced his intention, and it is not good.

A common ploy at this stage is to challenge you with the question "why you being so rude?" Do NOT fall for this tactic! It is the criminal testing to see if he can intimidate and confuse you! Usually this is said while the criminal is still advancing. As such he is still closing the distance so he can successfully attack you!

The response of "I'm not being rude, but you have no business coming closer" informs him that you are aware what he is trying to accomplish.

9. Never be too proud to retreat or to walk wide of someone.

Reason: Most people are victimized not because the criminal is competent, but because they stay in an area where violence could be used against them.

Literally, fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Don’t think you will intimidate a lion by sticking your head in its jaws. Nor should you worry about showing the criminal that you are afraid. If the criminal can get close to you in a fringe area, he will be able to successfully use violence.

10. There is a difference between being racist and being foolish. That's because there is an even bigger difference between being a violent and dangerous person and being of a certain ethnic origin.

Violent and dangerous people come in all colors, races and creeds. Being born into an ethnic group doesn't automatically mean a person is violent. Nor however does it automatically mean that the person isn't violent.

Learn the difference. Once you know the signs of violent, angry people they are easy to spot no matter what race they are.

It makes perfect sense to walk wide of a potentially violent person...and to hell with his feelings. He doesn't care about your feelings as he is robbing you, raping you or assaulting you. And yes, this does require work on your part.

It means you must learn the body language, clothing and behaviors common to violent people. If you don't then you are going to either be paranoid about everybody who is different than you or suicidally foolish about walking into the lions jaws.
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Re: Good talk on blocks

Postby Van Canna » Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:49 pm

gary6dan »


Nice thread ! Lot's of good info. While many may feel that in reading this thread, we all know this stuff, certainly, it is rarely discussed on dojo floors. As is the lack of teaching "fight or flight response", the "chemical cocktail dump" or legal and civil consequences of physical engagement.

Certainly you have provided a great forum to bring to light all of these things over the years as some of us have been privy to discuss. While some of it may appear redundant, and may well be be, it can never be said enough how responsible and liable we are as either persons who have CCW permits or those of us who simply hold high ranks in the martial arts that would be deemed as "Experts" in self defense regardless of our true abilities and or circumstances of a given situation.

The laws requirement to retreat in any given situation when said to be possible, often can be very conflicting, to say the least. For many reasons that we have covered in the past.

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Re: Good talk on blocks

Postby Van Canna » Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:53 pm

Steve Hatfield »

Here in Florida the gang problem has gotten out of hand much like other areas of the country. Folks got tired of it so our Governor created a gang task force and a special prosecuting State Attorney section. Due to a few high profile trials of gang member the towns folks just got tired of it and were ready for the castle doctrine.

The problem with the castle doctrine (which I'm all for by the way) is that two sets of people have to interpret where and when it can apply. The victim of the crime, and the jurors hearing the case. And neither one of them are usually trained in legal interpretation.

On one hand you have a high profile case here in Palm Beach County involving victim Norman Borden. I know about this trial because I transported Norman back and forth to court and sat with him as security for the entire trial. Why do I bring up Norman. Simple.

Norman lived in a neighborhood that had a particular gang prominent there. He had a couple of run ins with some of them. Norman had a gun. One night Norman says he takes a walk, with his gun. He's rushed by some gang members in an suv who back him up against a fence.

Norman, fearing for his life in his words, opens fire and puts a really small pattern of rounds into the drivers side windshield. A better pattern than the average cop could shoot.

Here's where it gets interesting. Then he goes to the side of the vehicle and shoots probably nine more rounds into the surviving gang members killing all but one. Norman is arrested and goes to trial. His defense was the castle doctrine.

He had a right to be where he was and they didn't have a right to try to run him over. He didn't have to run or hide. I can understand the castle doctrine covering the initial assault, but I was curious how it applied to him walking around to the side windows of the vehicle and "finishing them off" so to speak.

That's what the prosecution said as well. Interestingly, the jury found him not guilty of all charges. My take is that the jury, as members of the community at large, had had enough of this "gang" activity and gave him the benefit of the doubt on the other nine rounds.

Norman walked and had to go into hiding in witness protection.

There are other cases where the castle doctrine is not effective. I can't think of one off the top of my head but they are there. I think the castle doctrine can be a wonderful thing. If the jury believes you.

Just my two cents.

Steve Hatfield
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