So good to be writing again! It's been 3 long months.
What does ‘self defence’ mean to you?
To most people it means being able to defend themselves or their loves ones in the event of a violent attack.
And yes, that’s a pretty good reason to learn self defence.
But there’s another part to the equation, that’s just as important. Want to know what it is? Read on!
$hit Happens. All the time. To everyone.
We watch the news and see a story about someone getting mugged, assaulted, sucker punched, raped, murdered.
But that stuff happens to other people. I lock my doors at night, and I have insurance. Besides, I don’t live in that part of town and I don’t associate with those sorts of people.
And then what do you say?
One of the things I discuss often is the separation between combat sports, martial arts and self-defence (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this).
Self-defence practitioners often exclaim that combat sports and martial arts are NOT the same as self-defence, and indeed there is plenty of evidence to support this claim.
On the other hand, combat sports and martial arts practitioners will always claim their stuff is effective for self-defence.
Me? I tend to sit right in the middle on this one. Do they overlap? Yes. Are there transferable skills? Absolutely! Are they identical? Absolutely not.
But can they be?
Violence ain’t pretty.
We’ve all seen violence at some point or another, though surely to different extents. If you haven’t then you are either very, very sheltered or very, very lucky (or both).
With YouTube and social media is now easier than ever to get access to millions of examples of what real, ugly violence looks like. I invite you think of the first time you saw someone get knocked out violently or stabbed, whether in real life or the net.
What was your response?
Chances experienced a bit of adrenalin and some anxiety or stress. Perhaps you simply couldn’t watch the whole thing. It probably left you feeling out of sorts for a little while after it finished.
Now imagine this happening to you in real life.
Would you have the tools to deal with the trauma of real-world violence?
You walk into the dojo and tentatively go up to your instructor when you see he has a spare minute. In a hushed tone, almost apologetic, you ask the following question:
“I tried what we learned in class on my [boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/mum/dad/friend] and it didn’t work. What was I doing wrong?”
This is a question I have seen and heard many times, and have also asked a couple of times when I first started training.
The people asking it can approach it in a variety of different ways. Some are almost apologetic, because they believe they didn’t do it right. Others are angry or upset, claiming that ‘it’ doesn’t work.
If you’ve ever tried something you learned in a martial arts or self defence class on a friend and it didn’t work, or if you’re an instructor who has heard this question, and you want to know what you did wrong, read on.
At the start of 2018, one of my goals was to ensure I put out one blog every 2 weeks, which is output that I’ve been able to fairly steadily maintain in 2017. If you are a regular reader, then you may have noticed this has certainly not been the case over the past 6 months.
I’ve always found this hard to talk about, but a close friend and mentor has suggested I put this stuff out and hopefully it will help me sort some stuff out in my brain. I thought I’d share with you some of the reasons I haven’t been writing, and hopefully this will help me get some stuff off my chest and maybe help shed some light one how this also relates to training. This also leads to important questions about self defence and the survival mindset.
Let’s start at the beginning.
In the first three parts of this series, we looked at some interesting characters you might train with (here are parts one, two and three). In part four (read it here), we looked at some fo the interesting teachers you might come across when training in the martial arts.
Let’s look at a few more grandiose grandmasters, tapped teachers and lunatic leaders in the martial arts!
My usual disclaimer: This is not directed at you. Yeah, you. This is stuff that I’ve seen and experienced and, at times, have also been. Enjoy!
In The Many Faces of the Dojo series (here are the links to parts one, two and three) we got to meet some of the interesting people who we train with. They are the people we train with each week. They enrich our experiences, make us laugh and sometimes also get on our nerves, all of which are parts of training!
But what about the people who actually teach the classes?
Today we are going to meet some of the insane instructors, surreal senseis and crazy coaches you may encounter on your martial arts journey.
General schedule (open to everyone) limited spaces (40 Max)
Seminars + Grading - $375
- Women’s Self Defence Course Add-on or stand alone $75.
- with Instructor Course Add On $495
Friday - Day 1
17h30 meet and greet
6-9PM Workshops Session 1:
• Grappling Skills
• Standup Skills
• Krav Maga Ground Skills
Saturday - Day 2
9AM-12PM Workshops Session 2:
• Warmups and Stretches
• Striking Skills
• Joint Locks
• Throws & Takedowns
• Krav Maga Integration
45 minute Lunch Break
12:45 - 3:45PM Workshops Session 3:
• Weapons Defences
• Weapons Use
• Realistic Scenario Training
Sunday - Day 3:
• 8:30AM-12PM Gendai Krav Maga Grading
• 12-1:30PM Donn Draeger history review with Prof Michael Belzer (lunch during the presentation)
• 2PM Rank Presentations & Closing Ceremony
Monday - Day 4:
• Optional Women’s Self Defence Workshop with GM Meredith Gold 5:30-8:30pm - $75 (only 12 spaces available)
Michael Belzer is one of the 2018 Modern Warrior Alliance Instructors that will be attending in November in both Brisbane and Perth.
Michael Belzer is a lifelong martial artist who began his training at the age of nine. Focusing predominantly on Danzan Ryu jujutsu (currently 9th degree black belt), kali/escrima and Shindo Muso Ryu Jojutsu, he’s trained in Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines and had the good fortune to study with the “best of the best”, including Sensei Donn F. Draeger, Prof. Wally Jay and Guro Dan Inosanto.
When Mike was introduced to the ASST method in 1989, he the felt that the realistic scenarios and full force striking provided the “missing link” in traditional martial arts training. He’s been wearing the armored assailant gear ever since, having worked with Impact Personal Safety, RMCAT and Project Blind Ambition. Mike has also served as a consultant to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Arrest and Control Unit as part of their Civilian Martial Arts Advisory Panel (CMAAP).
Meredith Gold has been teaching Adrenal Stress Scenario Training (ASST) programs since 1992, having worked with the Impact Personal Safety organization in Los Angeles, as well as Peyton Quinn’s Rocky Mountain Combat Applications Training (RMCAT) in Colorado. Since 2000 Meredith and her husband Michael Belzer have been teaching their R-A-W Power program.
Meredith’s primary focus has always been teaching self defense and empowerment skills to previously untrained women, teens and kids, but she has also been instrumental in bringing awareness of this training method to the martial arts community. A contributing editor for Black Belt Magazine for 5 years, Meredith was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2003, naming her their “Woman of the Year”.
Meredith also became a certified holistic health and nutrition coach in 2008, receiving her training at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC. The more she learned about eating for health and longevity, the more Meredith recognized the similarities between nutrition and self defense skills. She was determined to find a way to combine these two areas she was so passionate about into one idea that would approach nutrition from a proactive and, at times, even defensive point of view. In 2012 Meredith expanded her services to include her self defense-based nutrition program called “The Kung Food Way” - www.thekungfoodway.com
Master Gavriel Schneider began his martial arts training in the early 1980s beginning with Shotokan and then Goju Ryu Karate. In the late 1980s he was introduced to Sensei Vernon Rosenberg and began training under him in Koga Ryu Ninjitsu. When the migration to the Gendai Ryu style happened in the early 1990s Gavriel received his first black belt in the system in 1992 and began teaching the system. Whilst teaching under the Gendai system, Gavriel began training in Taekwondo under Master James Lee (8th Dan). Under Master Lee, Gavriel became a member of the South African Taekwondo team, fighting in numerous regional events as well as representing South Africa in the Taekwondo World Cup in 1997. During 1993-94 Gavriel also cross trained with a wide variety of other martial arts practitioners including Grandmaster Mickey Davidow.
In 1996, Gavriel then travelled to Israel and received the great privilege of becoming a live-in student of Hisardut Grandmaster Soke Dennis Hanover. Gavriel trained and taught in the main school in Herzliya full time (between 6-12 hours a day) during most of 1996 and was graded 1st Dan in DSJJ / Hisardut in the middle of 1996 and 2nd Dan at the end of the same year. During this time Gavriel also spent time at the main Israeli army physical fitness and self-defence training base at Wingate and was exposed to Military Krav Maga and also underwent intensive firearm training with pistol and submachine gun and received certification as an international practical shooter from the Israel Shooting Association. He has trained numerous military, policing, specialise security, royalty and mayoral protection teams over the years in both security skills and Defensive Tactics. Gavriel began deploying operationally as a Bodyguard/Close Protection Officer in 1997 and to date has protected Presidents, other senior level government officials and numerous celebrities and senior corporate executives. He continued to train under Dr Dennis Hanover during Dr Hanover’s numerous trips back to South Africa and made almost annual trips back to Israel.
Gavriel was awarded a 6th Dan from Dr Hanover in 2005 as well as being awarded a 6th Dan in Ninjitsu from GM Ashida Kim. He has also been a black belt full contact champion in the DSJJ championships and silver medal winner in the masters (above 5th Dan) open division. Gavriel was inducted into the South African Martial arts hall of fame in 2004 and received the ultimate honour of being included and inducted into the Israeli museum of martial arts history in 2010.
Noah Greenstone began martial arts in Los Angeles in 1973, training Danzan Ryu Jujitsu and Judo. After receiving a black belt in 1985 he trained at the Inosanto Academy in Los Angeles. His instructors include notable US martial artists like Professor Michael Belzer, Cliff Stewart, Larry Hartsell, Hawkins Cheung, Professor Wally Jay, Shihan Sig Kufferath and others.
Noah spent the 1990s in Japan, training under the 11th and 12th headmasters of an ancient Japanese Samurai system where he extensively trained Jujutsu, Kenjutsu, Iaijutsu, Bojutsu and Naginata. During this time he also trained in Judo. He has participated seven times in the Zen Nippon Kobudo Renmei Embu Taikai sponsored by the Japanese government at the Dai Nippon Budokan and other key Japanese martial arts venues.
His experience also includes Filipino stick / knife / empty hand training with multiple masters, Indonesian Pencak Silat as well as Archery under the teachings of the late great Francis Peeler. In 2016 he was presented with a 6th Dan by UKMF Headmaster Yaron Hanover 9th Dan and Gendai Ryu Soke Dr Gavriel Schneider.
Oliver 'The Outlaw' Olsen has been training in Muay Thai for most of his life, and comes from a family of fighters - with his cousins all having fought for national Muay Thai championship titles. Oli trained extensively in Thailand, and is well known for his long and successful career as a Muay Thai fighter, which includes 6 state titles, 2 Australian titles and a World Championship title. He also has extensive experience as a top level coach and personal trainer, and has coached many state and Australian National champions.
In the previous three posts I discussed some important issues concerning situational awareness and its importance. The first article discussed the importance of developing situational awareness as a key to the prevention of violence. The second article discussed why some people don’t listen to their gut instinct, with some entertaining and amazing stories to show both terrible awareness and excellent, literally life-saving awareness. The third article gave you some tips to help you know what danger might look like so you can identify it in time.
Now that you know why it's important and what you need to look for, I am going to give you some simple and effective tools that can help you develop and improve your situational awareness.
A little, but important, explanation first. The reason I refer to these as games is not to downplay their importance, but rather to emphasise the fact that this kind of training doesn't have to be scary, hard or cumbersome. It can be a lot of fun, and can challenge you in fun and interesting ways.
Here we go!
In the previous two posts I discussed some important issues concerning situational awareness and its importance.
The first article discussed the importance of developing situational awareness as a key to the prevention of violence.
The second article discussed why some people don’t listen to their gut instinct, with some entertaining and amazing stories to show both terrible awareness and excellent, literally life-saving awareness.
Before we get into how to develop better situational awareness, I think it’s important to stop and identify the situational awarness trap; we are often told we need to develop it, that it's important, that it can save your life... And that's all true. We may evn be given some tips on how to develop this (I'll discuss this int he next article). But even with all of this in mind, do you know what to look for?
We'll be holding demos and giving away free trials, great giveaways and heaps of special offers, and we'll have a couple of food trucks to make sure you can have a tasty, healthy bite too!
If you ever wanted to try a class, this is your chance! Free participation, cool demos, prizes and more.
Krav Maga practitioners love talking about pressure tests, and it is a staple of most self defence systems. We take a set of techniques or scenarios, and pressure test them to see if things really work. They are also an important part of regular training, whereas you are supposed to be put under a lot of pressure and perform when you are not in your optimum.
This is, without a doubt, very important in self-defence training. But it’s just as important in other martial arts training. A common thing to hear at CAIA during BJJ and Striking sessions is the instructors saying ‘pressure!’ over and over and over again.
But what does ‘pressure’ actually mean? Are there different ways of applying pressure? How much is too much or not enough?