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Self-Secure System: A Framework for Confident Living

Words Matter

The term “Self-Defense” is used to generally describe the tools and techniques that we should use to defend ourselves against acts of aggression, whether they are verbal, physical, or life-threatening.

However, word choice matters. Let’s illustrate.

The words “defend” and “secure” are similar, yet different.  Read these definitions and see if you spot it.

Defend (v): to resist an attack made on (someone or something); protect from harm or danger.

Secure (v): feeling safe, stable, and free from fear or anxiety; protected against threats; made safe.

Figure it out? Here’s my point.

When you “defend” against something, you are actively resisting an attack, meaning it is in the process of happening and was not prevented.

Defend

When you are “secure” you feel safe and free from threats. In other words, you feel confident. You have not entered the state of needing to defend yourself.

This, to me, is a fundamental difference in how we view ourselves and our abilities to execute techniques when they are needed.

Self-Security begins with the premise that you believe your life is worth defending.

Pic2

When you believe this, you will spend time doing things that make you a better person.

Building your skills, capabilities, knowledge, and character gives you the building blocks to build your life the way you want it and to value yourself.

If you ever face a Self Defense scenario, you will need to execute the techniques in your arsenal without hesitation and with the utmost confidence in your ability.

How do you do live a life worth defending? You live a life that builds character and values and, most importantly, confidence.Confidence

Cornerstones of Confidence

There are 2 items that can improve your competencies. Think of your competencies as your “superpowers” in that a person skilled within these areas will be much more apt to be able to recognize threats and have the confidence to improve the quality of your life.

They are 1. Capability Boosters and 2. Character Builders.

  1. Capability Boosters (CB1)

Capability Boosters provide the foundation by which discipline can be developed and thrive.

Discipline is the secret to getting good at anything you want.

Motivation is a limited resource. When it runs out, you need Discipline to carry you through the most challenging times.

Becoming disciplined is the platform for building confidence and once you build momentum in your capabilities, progress is like a freight train; you’ll be hard to stop!

CapabilityBoost

Capability Boosters include:

ReadWriteReading & Writing

  • Building an extensive vocabulary is the most important skill you can build.
  • Say what you mean, mean what you say. Words can get you into or out of trouble.
  • When words run out, punches fly!

HealthWellness

Health & Wellness

  • Sound nutrition makes us thrive everywhere.
  • Working out (strength train, light weights, yoga, walk/run, hiking, etc.) reminds us we are alive to thrive!
  • Testing our human potential is vital to finding out more about what we are capable of. Test the limits!

SportsRecSports & Recreation

  • Learn your individual strengths and weaknesses.
  • Working within a Team environment is crucial to success.

MusicArtsStudying the Arts

  • Use both sides of your brain! The arts keep us rooted to our senses.
  • Everyone can connect through the arts to our humanity.
  1. Character Builders (CB2)

Living with character strengthens your values and allows you to see the good in others and yourself. This is a valuable resource from the Character Counts organization (https://charactercounts.org/)

TrustTrustworthiness

  • Think “true blue” (completely faithful)
  • Be honest
  • Don’t deceive, cheat, or steal
  • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do
  • Have the courage to do the right thing
  • Build a good reputation
  • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country

FairnessFairness

  • Play by the rules
  • Take turns and share
  • Be open-minded; listen to others
  • Don’t take advantage of others
  • Don’t blame others carelessly
  • Treat all people fairly

RespectRespect

  • Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule
  • Be tolerant and accepting of differences
  • Use good manners, not bad language
  • Be considerate of the feelings of others
  • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone
  • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements

CaringCaring

  • Be kind
  • Be compassionate and show you care
  • Express gratitude
  • Forgive others
  • Help people in need
  • Be charitable and altruistic

ResponsibilityResponsibility

  • Do what you are supposed to do
  • Plan ahead
  • Be diligent
  • Persevere
  • Do your best
  • Use self-control
  • Be self-disciplined
  • Think before you act
  • Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes
  • Set a good example for others

CitizenshipCitizenship

  • Do your share to make your school and community better
  • Cooperate
  • Get involved in community affairs
  • Stay informed; vote
  • Be a good neighbor
  • Obey laws and rules
  • Respect authority
  • Protect the environment
  • Volunteer


Tools in the Toolbox: The S3 Threat Response Framework

ab863e9c-f298-4e13-b76d-3541e7243aefThe ability to deal with complex situations requires people to have access to options. Think of it like a mechanic. The more complex the situation is, the greater the variety of tools and techniques you need to deal with the situation.

Often, much less time is spent teaching folks how to stay in the “Green” or the Preventive Tools & Techniques. This makes sense, because people want to know what they should do when the rubber hits the road and they are faced with the reality of dealing with a scenario where they need to defend their well-being.

However, you will end up spending the most time in this area and you should minimally be aware of the tools and techniques you have access to keep you there.

The 3 Level Self Security System (S3) Threat Response Framework will guide you through your three different options to prepare and respond for threats: 3 Levels1) Preventive Techniques, 2) Detective Techniques, 3) Corrective Techniques.

Every situation is different. You may not be able to predict other people’s behavior. Your obvious goal should be to stay and steer towards (GREEN) at all times.

Before threats become worse, your senses and your “fight or flight” response may have kicked in.  In this stage (YELLOW) these tools can help mitigate or minimize the threat from becoming worse or allow you to remove yourself from the situation entirely.

If all else fails to work, or if the confrontation or aggressor picks you, the threat hits (RED) and you need to defend your safety.  Your tools here should be plentiful and razor sharp.

Level 1: Safe and Secure

This is the safest level on the S3 Threat Framework. There is no imminent threat of any kind and you are in familiar surroundings that are predictable.

Complete AvoidanceYou should always strive to be in this area. Your overall threat level is low. You have the choice to avoid situations that can escalate all together by staying in the comfort of familiar surroundings, like your home alone. While this is not practical for living a full life, you can rest easy knowing this is the least troublesome level in your personal safety against others.

Proactive DeterrenceIf you decide to venture away from the comfort of familiar surroundings, you can prepare yourself in several ways.

  • No ego/Positive mindset – let go of your ego. Most confrontational situations are avoidable. When ego’s get in the way, we get into trouble. Road rage, bad behavior and tempers can flare at unexpected times. However, you can control how you respond to them. Let them bounce off of you like bullets off of Supergirl. Also, keep a positive mindset when you venture out. This will promote your use of strong and confident body language and verbal assertiveness in the event you need to use them.
  • Travel in Groups – Traveling in groups is a better idea than travelling alone. You should all be aware.
  • Body language – You should stand with strong posture, head tall, shoulders back and a powerful stride. When passing by strangers, meet them with eye contact and a smile.
  • Lose the distractions – When traveling alone, keep the smartphone in your purse or pocket. Do not walk around with your head down or headphones in. Also, be mindful of your jewelry and other personal belongings on you as they could be targets for potential bad guys.
  • Carry a tactical flashlight – If you do not carry any other weapons, this is one to have. A tactical flashlight can “blind” an aggressive person and keep them disoriented so you can move towards your escape. A thorough review of flashlights is included here.

Level 2: Escalating Rapidly

This is the “Fight or Flight” stage. You may or may not even have time to react and you can literally be flooded by your senses competing to rationalize the events unfolding.

Primary Senses: Your eyes and your ears are your primary techniques here. Look and listen to everything going on around you. If no threat is imminent, using your eyes and ears can give you a real-time analysis of the threats that could occur (e.g., lack of lighting or visibility, out of place vehicles, suspicious acting individuals, etc.). If you identify these things you may have time to alter your course to move back towards “Green”.

“6th” Sense or Gut Instinct: Your gut instinct or your “6th” sense is one of our most powerful cognitive tools. The sensation you get when evaluating situations using your primary senses should never be ignored. When confronted with situations where your 6th sense is used, leveraging the tools from our Level 1 toolkit are key. Things like strong body language and posture, assertive verbal commands and direct eye contact may help thwart situations teetering between Fight and Flight. A book called “The Gift of Fear” examines this important aspect of personal Safety and gives real examples of clues and steps that can be used to stay safe.

We train to take control of all of this. We spend plenty of time discussing the activities you can perform to stay on the safe side with this framework.  However, we spend the majority of our time sharpening the techniques needed for the highest level of threat in the framework. We work on our Jiu-Jitsu and our Striking, each class.

Level 3: Maximum Threat

Once situations are forced into the “Red” Level 3, you must have the most tools available for you because the problem is the most complex. This is where we spend the majority of the time training in the academy.

Jiu-jitsu: “The Gentle Art” can be not at all gentle. Being able to survive, defend, and escape an attack from your back is a must-have reason to have this tool in your technique arsenal. Not to mention, your ability to control and submit your aggressor/attacker with superior knowledge and technique will give you the chances you need to get away unscathed.

There are well over 600 techniques in Jiu-jitsu, however you only need to know a few dozen to become a highly effective weapon. The techniques flow together like an inter-related web, meaning that you can instantaneously move your defense to offense, moving from survival to submission in seconds.

Striking: Strikes are potent and are typically used when confronted with escalating scenarios such as multiple attackers, physical confrontations, and weaponry. In our toolkit, we use all “8 limbs” of attack, to include:

  •  Kicks, Punches, Slaps, Scratch: this includes the strike respresponses with the feet, palms, fists, and hands/fingers. Most people natural instincts are to grab, scratch, or push away. I well placed blow can provide the “softening technique” needed to create the space needed to escape.
  • Knees & Elbows (Hard tools): When you are within the grasps of an aggressor, your knees and elbows become your primary striking weapon of choice. Elbows are hard bones and can often do extensive damage to soft tissue (nose, eyes) and bones with lower density (e.g., cheekbones). A well placed knee can also be the equivalent of hitting your opponent with a sledgehammer. When an attacker has their hands on you, their midsection and anatomy are exposed. Make it count.

Weapons (life-preserving): Weapons are an important element of Self-Defense protection for life-preserving scenarios. If a person with a weapon or deadly intentions has their sights set on you, you need to use all of the weapon at your disposal. If you have these weapons and you are confronted with this unfortunate circumstance, you may need to use these tools.

  • Pepper Spray – carry this in your purse. Don’t leave home without it.
  • Hot Water/Coffee – before you leave your house, or a friend’s house, ask for coffee or tea to go.
  • Gouging/biting – some of our most damaging weapons are our teeth and the ability to use our fingers on soft tissue (for close-quarters situations).
  • “Force protection” (i.e., blunt objects, weapons) – It is a personal choice to carry weaponry in public. If you are not prepared to use it, then you should not carry it. You should train for this as well. If it is in your own home, you have to decide what you are willing to use and gain access to.

We train for the time when the fight picks us. Remember that you must believe your life is worth defending. Take action to make that real, each and every day by living your life with character and confidence.

Contact us to get started!

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10 High Percentage Techniques: Back to School Edition

Evaluating the Confrontation

Dealing with confrontations is a highly debatable topic and a lengthy discussion because most confrontational scenarios are dynamic and can change rapidly.

To keep things simple I decided to evaluate a specific scenario:

What are common risks and challenges of kids going back to school or going away to school for the first time?

Much of the time, in grade school, kids deal with verbal confrontations more so than they do physical confrontations.  Teacher and grown-up involvement is more paramount during these stages of schooling.

In middle school and high school, verbal feuds are fueled by the flames of egos and insecurities. Social media posts and gossip can fan these flames.  They can turn from verbal to physical.  Parental involvement is not always possible, as kids go often go to and from school by themselves.

Once you go into a college atmosphere, you add in the complexity and risks associated with unsupervised party’s, alcohol, drugs, and new-found independence. (This can happen during high school as well….don’t fool yourself).  For college-aged students, many may be going away to college where they do not have family or know anyone.

This only complicates things further.

You may not even be aware of the problems that could arise or escalate, from out of nowhere, especially when controlled substances are introduced.

99% of the time, you may never ever have to deal with a confrontation or a need to use self-defense.

But for that 1% chance that something does occur, you want to be prepared.

 Where do we start?

3 Actions You Can Take

In its most simplistic form, in any confrontation, you have three (3) actions you can take.

You can:

  1. Prevent: Complete avoidance. This is your earliest possible action. Staying away from potentially unpredictable scenarios. Basically sitting home alone.
  2. Detect: Complete avoidance isn’t possible at this time. You detect a problem brewing. Further escalation can still be prevented.  This is , in essence, where your flight or fight instincts kick in.
  3. Correct: Unfortunately, avoidance was not possible. “Out of nowhere” or “surprise attack” is a way to describe this. Your only option here is to defend yourself. Think road-rage, inebriated (fancy word for drunk) person, or belligerent person. Emotions run high, hard, and fast!

S3

4 Skills You Can Sharpen Today

So what can you do to start being more situationally aware? You can start working on some skills right now.

The first four (4) tools we have anyone work on are skills you can sharpen outside of the Academy, on your own, at any time.

1. Develop your “gut-instinct”: Also known as “Spidey-Sense” for the kids. You should always be on the lookout for the risks and threats in your surroundings. This is crucial to being able to stay on the tail-end of “prevention” and being able detect trouble before it escalates into something.

Avoid trouble at all costs.  Some examples include:

  • Know where you are going, who you are going with, what the environment will be like at your target destination, and your immediate surroundings at all time.
  • What is your path to and from school? Is it well-traveled? Is it lit well at night? Are you going with people you know?
  • When you’re out in public, use your senses (eyes and ears) to read situations and evaluate your options for fleeing or correcting potential problem scenarios.
  • Put down the smart phone. This robs you of your ability to read your surroundings effectively.

2. Let it go:  Don’t fall prey to insults, “one-ups”, Yo Mama jokes, people who get under your skin, and combative or belligerent people.  It’s all negative energy which has no place in anyone’s life.  If that stuff gets to you, it’s your ego that is in the way.  There is no room for ego when you need to be the better person.  If someone runs you off the road, let it go. You survived.  Somebody call you a name? Let it blow by like the wind.  Getting them back makes no sense, and you only risk escalating things and getting injured or worse.

In other words, take the high road and walk away.

For our younger kids, this is a critical skill to develop. It is also where most confrontations begin and end, although they can escalate further.

3. Develop your voice and vocabulary: Don’t seek to “have words” with someone. Use your words to diffuse, de-escalate and set boundaries.

Escalation usually occur when words run out. Having an extensive vocabulary and being able to remain calm, cool, collected, and composed speaks loudly about your confidence. This is your #1 tool.

When you speak, use a strong, confident tone. Your words, body language, and tone will be weapons you can use to help mitigate things getting worse.  For younger kids, when your words don’t appear to be working, make sure you tell an adult. Adult intervention should be part of your kids toolkit. You’re teaching them to inform an adult before things escalate further and they need to use more of their tools.

For our older kids, once again, if you are verbally attacked and it bothers you, that’s your ego that is getting bruised.  If you want to avoid a physical altercation, use your words.

Another way to use your voice is to set physical boundaries. For example, if you are out on a walk and you see someone coming towards you, say something to them in a loud and confident tone like, “Hi, can I help you?” or “Are you looking for somebody?”  Their reaction may buy you time to have them rethink their plans since you won’t be an easy, quiet target, and also to react by moving onto the next step if needed.

4. Run:  If this option is still available, take it.  Physically remove yourself from any potential confrontational or escalating scenario.

Now, for the 1% or less of the time you need to use your physical tools to get out of a confrontation, these techniques allow you to:

  • Manage the distance of the aggressor which can minimize the damage they seek to inflict.
  • Establish control, primarily while you remain standing.
  • If needed, end the confrontation with a joint lock or strangle-hold.

Additionally, you don’t need to know how to strike and you don’t need to be big and strong.  All you need is your brain and the principles behind JiuJitsu which are leverage, physics, and anatomy.

***CAUTION***

Parents of middle-age and high-school aged children: your children should only practice these techniques with and under the supervision of a knowledgeable instructor(s).  Our primary goal with children is to provide them with the tools to establish control and negotiate at all staged of the confrontation life-cycle.  Submission holds should only be used to protect themselves from significant physical harm or abduction scenarios.

Students: Once you learn how to effectively apply these submission holds you need to use them to establish control and negotiate with the aggressor.  This is only something you learn while practicing with a knowledgeable instructor.  Do not attempt these holds on your little brother or sister without instructor oversight.  

10 Techniques You Need to Learn: Back To School Edition

1. Distance Management: From a standing position, always be at least 2 arms length away from a potential aggressor. This keeps them from being able to strike you, grab your hair or clothing, or wrap you up and tackle you. If you manage the distance, you can close the distance on your terms.

If you find yourself on the ground, you need to learn how to manage distance with your legs and minimally execute the “technical stand-up” which is the proper way to stand up when grounded to avoid further damage.

Solo-standup-4



2. Clinching:  Most physical altercations have some form of clinching. It will be important for you to know how to establish the clinch and to defend from somebody clinching you.  Headlocks and wild punching often lead to an opportunity to establish clinching and gain control.  The person that gets control in the clinch can take the action to where it needs to be controlled which in most cases is the ground.

Clinch

3. Kimura Control (Gyaku ude-garami)A powerful hold that can disable aggressive behavior. It’s also a common defense to being grabbed from behind in a bearhug. It can also be applied from several other positions which makes it a versatile weapon.

Kimura-375x413-1375785480

4. Choke Defense: Defending a persons choke if vital to survival. Whether its one arm or the two arm variety. Turning the tales into a clinch is a nice response to this hold. Even if you find yourself in a mounted or scenario from the Closed Guard, you need to know what to do.

5. Hair Grab Defense:  Once you know the anatomy of the elbow and shoulder joint, you will understand that people that grab your hair are giving you a gift to arm lock them (elbow joint) or shoulder lock them (shoulder joint). They will think twice before doing it again….ever.

Underhook-arm-crank-defense

 

6. Arm drag to Backpack (to Rear Naked Choke or Mata Leon): The arm drag is more of a fundamental wrestling move than it is a JiuJitsu move, but it’s effectiveness can not be denied.  The idea behind the arm drag is to move the aggressor’s arm past your center line so that you can quickly move to the clinch position or straight to their back which, in JiuJitsu, is arguably the most dominant position to obtain in a confrontation. Your opponent can’t hit you or control you, but you can strike them or choke them using the Rear Naked Choke or Mata Leon.

 

 

7. Mount Escapes: This is the first technique in this list that is on the floor. This is a worse-case scenario for you where the aggressor has pinned you on your back with their legs to you sides, mounted on top of you.  They can strike you but you can not strike back.  Escaping this position is much easier than you may think. In fact, this position is so important to learn in the Gracie Combatives program that it is the first move they teach you.

Bridge Escape off Collar Choke

8. Mount Control to Twisting Arm Control (also known as Gift Wrap Control): My personal favorite position. It’s called the gift wrap for a reason. When you establish it, it will feel like you’ve been given a gift.  In essence, the aggressor will lose the ability to use one limb while you control it, keeping their head exposed for strikes, even though you won’t need it.  To get here, you need to establish position first, usually from the mount.

35-twistingarmcontrol3

9. Americana Arm lock (ude-garami): One of the go-to submission holds when you establish either the Mount or the Side Mount. It’s, essentially, the reverse of the Kimura shoulder lock, although it targets the shoulder joint similarly to the Kimura.

americana

10. Guard Control: In a confrontation, you really do not want to end up on your back, on the street or anywhere else.  But in the unlucky event that you do, there are ways to perform every single one of these moves above from this position. While we would prefer being able to complete them in the stand up or the top control positions, it is comforting to understand the capabilities available to you from the Guard.

closed-OH-head-grip

Why do we like these specific moves?

  • They are easy to learn.
  • They are versatile enough to establish control or correct the difficult situation (read execute a joint lock or stranglehold).
  • The majority of them are performed while still standing.
  • No striking is needed to control the aggressor.
  • All of these techniques rely on leverage much more than strength, which is the foundation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

NEXT STEPS

Now that we’ve established a framework for you to follow, we highly recommend you do one, or all or the following:

  1. Do not practice these techniques on your own! If you are a local Poolesville resident, Poolesville Self Defense (www.poolesvilleselfdefense.com) has a robust Self-Defense curriculum that is rooted in Gracie or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. If you are outside the Poolesville area and need help finding a school let me know and we’ll be glad to help you. If you live elsewhere in Montgomery County Maryland, check out Evolve Academy which is the only Gracie Certified Training Center in Gaithersburg, MD.
  2. Begin implementing the Tools You Can Sharpen Today……today.
  3. Contact us to get started!