Talking Knives: Part II – Marc MacYoung

Robbery, although wounds or killing are not common (unless the victim attempts to resist) this can be best understood as a ‘stalled attack.’ Violence routinely comes with instructions how to avoid it. These instructions tend to occur before a physical attack is initiated. With muggings this order is reversed. Basically using deception to cover the significance of his actions, the criminal sets up the range and positioning for an attack, starts the attack, and then stops before it lands. What was an attack stops and is followed by instructions how to keep the attack from finishing (e.g., give me your wallet). If the person resists, the completion of the attack often follows. While a single slash as punishment is common to the face, neck, upper chest and arms. Depending on the degree of resistance by the victim depends on the amount of injury.

Message blade use is common among criminals and certain ethnic groups. It is sometimes fatal (e.g., decapitation) sometimes not (i.e., nostril slitting, cutting off ears and nipples). The use of a blade is very deliberate in order to send a message to others, often through sheer savagery. For example the individual is not just killed with a blade, but hacked apart for intimidation. Especially in situations where more effective weapons are available, the use of a knife sends a clear message about crossing or betraying certain groups. Whereas deliberate but non-fatal maiming (i.e. nostril slitting, cutting off ears or fingers) combine sending a message to others about crossing a group, a lesson for the maimed person, and also demonstrates contempt for the individual left alive (i.e., you/your group are not strong enough to stand up to me/my group).

Brandishing/Menacing is fundamentally a threat display, negotiation tactic— that also happens to be illegal. A distinguishing difference between this and robbery (or kidnapping) is brandishing usually occurs in the middle of an altercation. There is usually conflict, build up and instructions to avoid before the weapon is drawn and displayed. This is repeated when the blade is drawn.

Like other kinds of threat display, brandishing can be based in either ‘do what I want or I will hurt you’ or  ‘I’m too dangerous to attack.’ While either type can result in the blade being used, both require closing distance. If the draw and deployment occurred outside of knife range, somebody has to move into range for there to be wounding.

The question is: Did the aggressor (using it in the first method) close the distance to enforce his demands when he perceived the desired reaction didn’t occur fast enough? Or perceiving this, did the aggressor attack in rage? Or did an aggressor unexpectedly encountering a knife, close the distance to show the defender his (the defender’s) knife didn’t scare him (the aggressor)? Or did it turn into a fear attack by the defender?  All four will result in knife wounds.  

A fifth option is the knife is drawn and deployed with intent to brandish, but is done inside attack range. Due to ‘compression’ and proximity, this attempt to ‘scare someone away’ often backfires in various ways. In these sorts of situations, the question inevitably comes up: Why didn’t he flee when under threat? Simply stated fleeing is only a realistic option when

1) the range is great enough

2) when the person fleeing is in better physical condition than the potential attacker. Failing either or both criteria, turning one’s back at close range is a high stakes gamble for being attacked from behind.

Defensive uses of blades tend to have four common elements. First, even though only one side typically has a knife, there must be immediate threat of death or grievous bodily injury by the other person’s actions to warrant the blade’s use. More often than not that danger comes from other means than a knife (e.g., clubs, guns, improvised weapons or conditional disparity of force). As stated earlier, knife to knife is exceptionally rare, but that doesn’t mean other dangers don’t exist.

Second, typically, once the threat stops the defender stops his actions. This tends to cause a limited number of wounds as when the initial attacker stops and breaks off, the defensive action stops as well.

Third, except in specific circumstances, wounds are to the front of the attacker (that the knifer was defending against).

Fourth, defensive wounds on the attacker tend to be non-existent or minimal. In essence while attacking, very little attention is paid to defense and arms are not used as shields. Often what could be described as ‘defensive wounds’ line up with other wounds (e.g., a cut to the arm that aligns with a cut to the chest from the same slash).

As a subpoint of #2, defense stops when threat stops, the amount of damage an attacker takes is often dependant on his or her commitment to attack. A committed — usually intoxicated —attacker can often take multiple fatal wounds and continue attacking before being overcome by those wounds. Again, usually on the front.

Fear can be considered a catch all category. It can be viewed as a third subset of brandishing gone wrong, sheer panic, or a defensive action that turns into a frenzy.

Under the combination of fear and adrenaline,  the individual—to use layman’s terms— ‘freaks out’ and starts attacking or leaves defensive action moving into excessive force. This flavor of knife use tends to create yet another pattern of wild, untargeted, multiple wounds. These wound pattern are indistinguishable from a rage or FMA attacks.

Fear knife use is also the basis of someone chasing a person down the street and slashing at the other’s, back, then later claiming ‘self-defense.’  Due to adrenal stress, fear and continued proximity the person honestly — although not reasonably — believes the other person is still a threat.


How to Stay Safe in the Age of Terrorism – Avi Nardia & Tim Boehlert

This 10 Question interview originally appeared in Black Belt Magazine, but has been edited by Tim Boehlert at the request of CRGI staff.

Q: Should the average person be worried about lone-wolf terrorist attacks?

A: Terror cells, like the Boston Marathon bombers, that are not connected by anything other than ideology will become increasingly common. In some ways, lone cells are more dangerous than organized terrorism because lone cells are difficult to monitor, control or discover. The more we go after the larger terror organizations, the more they will split into smaller cells. This is exactly what has  happened with the drug cartels.

Q: Do you think the Internet is becoming the prime tool for terrorist organizations to recruit lone wolves in any part of the world?

A: Yes, the Internet is a major tool today for recruiting, teaching and spreading terrorist ideologies around the globe. The Internet can be used to traffic information and gather intelligence, and as a meeting place for finding others with the same ideas. It’s very easy to create fake accounts, use them while they are viable, then disappear – maybe completely. Terrorists are becoming increasingly tech-savvy.

Q: Are there any parallels between how terrorists recruit lone wolves and how gangs recruit members?

A: Terror groups share the same mentality as gangs — exploiting hate, spreading anger and practicing brutality. Terrorists also practice the same indoctrination techniques as gangs. Using ideology to ‘persuade’ others that are malleable has been highly effective.

Q: As high-profile targets get extra security, is there an increased likelihood that soft targets — and civilians — will be attacked by lone wolves?

A: Nowadays, we are seeing sick people understand that the more brutal their methods, the more media exposure they gain. As governments and sensitive targets continue to invest in more security, we will begin to see more and more independent terror attacks on soft targets such as bus stations, schools and any place that will instill fear into the public. Terror’s main goal is to create an atmosphere of fear, for control purposes.

Q: In light of all this, what measures can people take to stay safe?

A: Citizens need to push for government to be less tolerant of terrorist ideologies. We also need to educate the public and law enforcement on terrorists and terror culture. It seems to me that people have too much tolerance for terror — sometimes even the police are more strict on normal civilian criminals than on terrorists who walk free among us. One must study and understand what terrorism is before we decide how to fight it. People must understand how terror feeds from the media.

Q: Is increased awareness the most important precaution a person can take?

A: Awareness of who lives around us is important, but it is also important that we protect our freedom from pervasive surveillance and a society wherein anyone could frivolously call the police and have a person arrested. Security and surveillance must be approached in a measured manner. We are seeing instances of abuse as a result of increased surveillance daily it seems.

We should demand more security in schools for our children. In and around our homes, people need to take it upon themselves to study and train in counterterrorism. You are the first responder, not anyone else, and if you always rely on someone else to arrive, they might be too late. We need to take responsibility for our own safety – at hime, at work, on vacation even. Simple things can make a difference.

Q: Do you recommend that people consider lawfully carrying a firearm — assuming they have an interest and have had the proper training?

A: It’s easier to carry a gun in a bag than to carry a police officer. If most normal civilians carry firearms, it will reduce crime as well as terrorism. Switzerland is an example of a country where most civilians own guns, and it’s one of the safest places in the world. People need to take more than just the standard 8-hour course as prescribed in many states. They should know how to use it, how to clean it, how to clear jams. They should know how to shoot in low-light, how to re-load, with either hand.

In Israel, firearm owners must complete 50 hours of training every year to hold a permit. We have seen many situations wherein the first responders were normal civilians who defended and stopped terrorists before any police cars showed up. We also have civilian police volunteers who get training by the police and carry police identification cards. These volunteers patrol sensitive areas and help prevent crime and terrorism. In my system of Kapap, we teach firearms, CPR, surveillance and counter-surveillance as part of our Martial Arts. This training develops awareness and the ability to effectively respond in emergency situations.

Q: How useful could a knife be in the hands of a trained martial artist who’s facing a lone wolf terrorist?

A: Knives are effective weapons and very important to study. The only problem is that it’s hard for a person to use a knife in a real situation. The knife is not a simple weapon unless you are well trained, and overcoming the psychological barrier of fighting with a knife is difficult for most people. People need a lot of training to overcome training that they’ve had since childhood – “Be Nice!”, “Don’t hurt them!”, ” Don’t be rude!” etc. These are simple examples of how we are taught to be courteous and kind, even when facing violence. To overcome this pre-conditioning takes a lot of specialized training. We need to learn to give ourselves to BE RUDE, to strike first – preemptively.

I would also recommend learning about the gun before learning about the knife. Nonetheless, knives are great weapons and are readily available — e.g. in the kitchen. Improvised edged weapons, such as a broken bottle, are also great for self-defense.

Q: How is fighting a person who’s willing to give his life for a cause different from fighting a mugger, a gang-banger or a rapist?

A: Most criminals are not ready to die. That simple fact makes self-defense easier because even rapists and other criminals are just looking for easy victims. Terrorists look for any victim, and therefore anyone is a potential target. Terrorists may fight to the death, which makes the fight very difficult to finish. This is why guns are better to carry than knives. A knife will also require one to be close to the threat, whereas a gun allows one to fight from behind cover. There’s a huge mindset difference. One’s goal is to get resources from you – cash, jewelry, sex. The goal of the terrorist is completely different.  Both may treat you as less than human, for different ‘needs’ to be fulfilled.

Q: Realistically, what chance does an unarmed martial artist stand against an armed terrorist?

A: The first rule is to never give up — regardless of whether you are unarmed and the attacker has a weapon. You should always maintain your awareness and carry your hand-to-hand skills, as well as your gun-disarm skills. Assuming that an attacker does not have a gun can be a deadly mistake.

Avi Nardia is a a former hand-to-hand combat instructor for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Reserve, the Israeli counter-terrorism unit YAMAM and the Israeli Operational Police Academy. He teaches the martial art of Kapap, as well as Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Krav Maga. Kapap is also being taught around the globe through a network of affiliated schools. Avi has produced a series of DVD’s through multiple vendor sources such as BUDO.

Charting the Principles – Garry Smith

For the record I really find Erik’s 12 Principles of Conflict Management an excellent piece. Equally Rory’s exploration of the deeper reaches of each principle certainly moves us forward as we develop our understanding. It is really important that we do this as CRGI was never established so we could all pat each other on the back and tell each other how wonderful we are, how clever. The search for the truth often leads us up blind alleys and sometimes we end up travelling the long way round to get there when there was a quicker more direct route all along, we just did not see it. The thing is sometimes what we see on the journey is as important as arriving at the destination.

When I read Rory’s article I thought it resembled a trip to the opticians for an eye test, where you wear or look through some contraption that they drop different lenses into whilst you read off a chart. So looking through different lenses allows Rory to tease out the pros and cons of each of the 12 principles Erik rightly identifies, it works well. However, as we debated this prior to finishing our articles something did not click for me. I felt a slight intellectual discomfort with how, rather than what, Rory was presenting. When critiquing a list it makes sense to follow the list, I get it, it works. However, I felt that there was the need for a simpler more abstract presentation to sit alongside both Erik and Rory’s articles, splendid though they are.

When I first read Rory’s response to Erik I got a strange picture in my head, (not an unusual experience).  This is it.

Neville Chamberlain returning from meeting with Adolf Hitler in Munich bearing aloft the piece of paper that guaranteed ‘peace in our time’, the rest, of course, is history.

My problem was why was this picture in my head, well the term appeasement jumped out at me from Rory’s article along with the use of force as kind of polar opposites of managing conflicts. I began to see a continuum for conflict management with two polar ends, one being unmitigated enforcement of a settlement at one end and abject appeasement at the other,  this leaves every possible variation on the line in-between, neat. Well let us see.

Once you take each of the 12 principle and observe and explain its deeper context, lets extend the eye test metaphor here and looking now through a microscope, we begin to see in each the multiplicity of variables that may or may not be present in a conflict what happens when we overlay one principle with another, and another and it was this thought that gave me a feeling of information overload. Each one is explored and explained clearly enough, each one is massively open ended.   What Rory does is open up each principle so that we can see more, but the deeper we probe the more we reveal and, this is the big one for us all, how can we use this list to assess the effectiveness of conflict management or the ineffectiveness of conflict mismanagement?

Well the obvious answer is lists can be checked against events to see if what they described was present or absent, we can then evaluate how this may have contributed to the outcome, then we can judge whether this was intended or not and how effective. That seems like a logical process to me but we all know that variables interact and the complexity involved in any given situation or conflict will produce, even using this logical sequence of analysis, a best guess result based on interpretation and perspective, nobody is claiming any different as far as I can see. Nobody has attempted to claim the mantle of expert, indeed we all reject it for obvious reasons.

The thing is we do need to develop useful tools to measure conflict management techniques, responses and strategies, call them what you may, as well as the flip side of conflict mismanagement as it is often here that most productive learning takes place.

Now I love the list and I love the critique but as I began to suffer from a little conceptual overload. I did what I normally do, I shut it down and went for a walk with the dog, let the subconscious work on this whilst I had a little fun.  

A day or so later I decided it was time to let my thoughts pop out of my head and I drew myself a diagram, here is my diagram.

Garry image
OK it is not a replacement for either of the afore mentioned articles, rather it is an aid to understanding. A framework that allowed me to get to grips with some of the complexity, a simple(ish) model, let me explain.

Underlying most of what Rory looks at is the fair assessment that successful conflict management is achieved by many strategies and tactics and is never simple or straightforward, however, I am pretty sure that if we can use a continuum that ranges from enforcement at one end to appeasement at the other we capture everything in between, (that’s the neat thing about continua). Apply the right strategy/tactics with the right balance between enforcement and appeasement and everything is cool, we hope.

The flip side is true of conflict mis-management, choosing the wrong approach strategy and tactics to manage a conflict and you are quickly in trouble.  

Each situation will have its own dynamic, each situation will have multiple variables. It is the possibly infinite ways these variables combine that make the subject of conflict management so interesting and so challenging if not downright confusing.

The degree of negotiation provides us with a scale to help contextualise the continuum, if you can simply impose enforcement then no negotiation is really necessary, the alternative at the other extreme is what Rory calls begging, I think this is where I got the Neville Chamberlain thought, with no power or will to back up your intention you simply cave in, you are dictated to, you will have to negotiate like hell because that is all you have. It is a crude method of measurement and is a work in progress not a solution.

In fact the whole model is crude, I am not trying to be sophisticated, I am keeping it simple (stupid), remember that. The model is simple and you can use it as a backdrop to your thinking, like this if I take one of Rory’s points at almost random. ” Negotiation only works, negotiation doesn’t even exist, except for the threat of what will happen if negotiation fails. You never do hostage negotiations without a tactical response on standby and a country without an army may make themselves feel important by mediating a treaty… but negotiation without an alternative is begging”

The problem for me is not just the range of variables, legal, cultural, linguistics, environmental etc, the things we can see/hear/smell even, the empirical evidence, that may be present in a conflict management situation, but the things we cannot see and often can only guess at, motivations, morals, feelings and emotions, these are powerful drivers for all the actors engaged in a conflict. The list can never be expanded to encompass all possible components of any given conflict. We would need a much more powerful analytical tool or toolbox to help us to achieve that, this is what fires the agency of the actors involved.

So we can place conflict management strategies and tactics on the continuum as they are applied and then watch them move around the diagram as variables and agency collide and produce a unique recipe for each conflict we see, no two dishes will be exactly the same even if we try to use the same recipe.

My simplistic diagram is not an answer, for me it is a starting point in conceptualising a grand theory of conflict management if that is not too ambitious and outrageous thing to aim for. Can I do this on my own, I sincerely doubt it, can I add to a debate with informed and insightful others, Erik, Rory, YOU, to perhaps help us shuffle along towards such a thing together? I hope so. Maybe these three articles are the first tiny steps that start a big, big journey.



Navigating Negotiations: Part II – Lawrence Kane


The challenge with conflict negotiations is that more often than not you’re emotionally involved, which is why many companies and agencies employ professionally-trained facilitators to help navigate the process and resolve disputes. Successfully negotiating resolution to conflict depends on the underlying causes. If it is a clash of personalities that requires a different approach than an intentional ethical violation, for example. Consequently the first thing you’ll need to do if you are the independent party brought in to resolve things is to interview stakeholders and try to ascertain what truly happened. If you find yourself in a situation where you may be the cause or the aggrieved party and have to take care of things yourself you will still want to do as much fact finding as feasible before working toward resolution.

Keep in mind that perception is reality so just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter to the other party. But, misperceptions can be cleared up. For example, I used to start work at 6:00 AM on the West Coast when I’d have several meetings with folks on the East Coast. Two or three hours later, whenever my schedule opened up, I would go out, say good morning to my team, making sure I was visible for a while so that folks could tell me if they had something urgent on their minds or ask for help. They called that “management by walking around” in business school. I saw it as being there for the team (as opposed to hiding in my office which was around the corner from where they sat). One of my employees, however, saw it differently. She thought I was checking to see if everyone was at their desk working, a thought which never even crossed my mind. If I didn’t trust the team I never would have hired (or retained) them. That misperception wasn’t particularly hard to correct, but it did cause morale issues for a short while until I realized what was going on.

Armed with whatever background information you are able uncover, you can formulate a strategy for dealing with the disagreement in a way that will keep it from reoccurring. When you speak to the parties, especially when you have a vested interest in the outcome, it is vital to keep your cool and focus on behaviors rather than making things personal. Folks who feel threatened or insulted stop listening, often becoming defensive or aggressive and poised for (verbal or physical) battle. In fact, when someone is losing an argument they virtually always take things personal. At that point the disagreement is no longer about the action or error, often turning to animus that is not easily resolved.

You can feign anger on the job, but it’s a tactic that should rarely (as in no more than once every couple years) be used and then only for special purposes. If folks think you’re bound to blow up at them it will undermine their trust and your career. If you’re actually angry, walk away and re-approach the subject when you’re in a better mood. Saying something along the lines of “I’m having an emotional reaction to this” can both help you calm down as well as have a good reason for tabling the conversation. The only time that feigned anger is appropriate is when you’re dealing with an ethical breach or similarly serious event. It takes years build up an emotional bank account with those around you, yet in seconds you can withdraw all the credit you have gained if you act out inappropriately.

Conflict negotiation can be tough, but it’s also a time to pull out your bag of “dirty tricks,” so to speak. There are a variety of tactics that are often used by conmen and criminals for nefarious purposes that, when turned to a more positive intent, are appropriate in a professional setting. This includes things like forced teaming, coopting, and loansharking. Forced teaming is tactical use of the word “we.” Instead of “I have a problem,” say “We have a problem.” It shows that you’re in it together, both vested in the problem as well as the outcome. It feels inclusive too. Coopting is designed to get other people on your side before they’ve determined what they really think about you. If you can turn critics into advocates, which takes a bit of social and communication skills, you strengthen your position, gather allies, and get help in resolving the issue. If helps if you focus on the superordinate goal of helping the business so that it doesn’t come across as self-aggrandizing. Loansharking is typically done by offering small favors designed to evoke feelings of indebtedness in others. Yeah, it’s cheesy, but even simple stuff like getting coffee for the other person every so often, can make a difference in their feelings toward you. Those may appear to be shallow tactics, but they are highly effective psychologically, especially when you are well-intentioned.

Some final thoughts:

No matter what you’re negotiating begin by keeping the endgame in mind. Know your goal, know your boundaries (non-negotiables), and stay on track. The better you know the other party, what’s urgent and imperative to them, what they need, and how they are compensated or measured, the better. Know yourself and your objectives so that you can stay on track too. Creativity is good. There’s more than one appropriate way to solve most anything, but guard against an agreement that unduly alters what you were originally aiming at. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, especially if the other party is a very experienced negotiator and more than a little manipulative. If in doubt, sleep on it before agreeing to any final resolution.

Make sure you’re talking with someone empowered to make a decision before you get started. There’s no point in wasting your time otherwise, so if you discover you’re dealing with the wrong people escalate. Or play them off against each other, though that’s tough if you’re not a professional and not a game that most folks ought to play save in special circumstances.

Negotiation is more about communication than anything else, so you will need to exercise active listening skills throughout the process. Silence can be your friend, as the other party will often feel compelled to fill it, oftentimes giving away more than intended. Ask before you assert, aim for clarity and cooperation, pay attention to non-verbals to see if it’s working, and don’t hesitate to course-correct as needed (so long as you don’t stray from your goals, of course) The best deals are those in which both parties find a win. Be courteous, patient, and respectful, but always stay within the parameters you decided before you got started.


About the author:

Lawrence Kane is a senior leader at a Fortune 50 corporation where he is responsible for IT infrastructure strategy and sourcing management. He saved the company well over $2.1B by hiring, training, and developing a high-performance team that creates sourcing strategies, improves processes, negotiates contracts, and benchmarks internal and external supplier performance. A bestselling author of more than a dozen books, he has also worked as a business technology instructor, martial arts teacher, and security supervisor.

The Warrior Legend – Kathy Jackson

We tell our children myths and fables. These are very powerful stories that carry the messages and core values of our culture. That’s how cultural knowledge passes from one generation to another. Humans are motivated by stories. Those stories, those fables, those myths, those legends – they all hit something at a very visceral level. They hit your gut.

Within the firearms and self-defense training community, we have often benefited from the Warrior Legend. This cultural myth hits something deep within the heart of every good man. It is the story of the strong head of household who defends his family. It is the story of the warrior who protects his people. It is the story of the knight who rescues the princess. The Warrior Legend hits a very powerful node in the best and the strongest among our men. And that’s good!

We have often used that goodness to our advantage within the self-defense training community. When we use the word “tactical,” that’s one of the words that strikes this same chord. We have lots of words and phrases that activate the same feeling: Sheepdog. Fighter. Warrior. Soldier. Protector. The man who runs to the sound of the guns. Or puts his own body between his beloved home and the war’s desolation. The strong man loves his woman and he faces danger for her sake. That’s the story we tell, in short form, when we use those words.

Within the training world, we’ve gotten very good at hitting that button, hitting it from a lot of different angles, over and over. And it’s been very effective in motivating male students to buy classes, to pay attention in class, to practice what they learn, to drive forward and learn more. It’s a very powerful message that draws many students into our schools and motivates them to continue their efforts to learn.

The problem is, this message – as powerful as it is – is not one that resonates with the average woman in western culture. Little girls don’t grow up being told that someday, they can ride up to the castle and rescue the enchanted prince. They aren’t encouraged to dream about slaying dragons. Nobody tells their baby girl, “A real woman stands between her husband and any danger that would threaten him.” That’s just not a message we give our daughters.

So this powerful legend that drives men into classes won’t necessarily hit potential female students in the gut. Nor will it encourage them to take their training as the serious business that it really is, or drive them forward to learn more. Culturally, women just don’t hear that message in the same way that men hear it. We’re more likely to react to it as a legend (a fantasy, a myth, a fairytale, an un-reality) than we are to be motivated by the emotion it’s intended to provoke.


Here’s the awful truth: effective self-defense training is … boring. For those who want to use firearms for self-defense, we spend a lot of time drilling the basics. That’s sights, trigger, follow through. We spend time working on a consistent grip, on a safe and smooth drawstroke, on being able to access the gun from a variety of positions, on good gunhandling and efficient reloads. Students should learn these fundamentals to the point of automaticity. Simply being able to handle the tool without thinking about the tool itself goes a long way toward establishing good preparedness for everything else that follows.

When talking about the humdrum, practical matters that make up the bulk of reasonable self-defense instruction, firearms trainer John Farnam wryly observes, “Everyone wants to know when they get to jump out of the flaming helicopters.” So, thinking about the Warrior Legend that motivates good men, we write class descriptions in terms that would attract the people who want to jump out of those flaming helicopters. We do this because it works very well to attract adrenalin junkies and strong-hearted men, who make up the bulk of the self-defense community. We appeal to the Warrior Legend.

But then we’re surprised and a bit sad that more women won’t come to our classes or learn the skills that would help them learn to protect themselves. Don’t women care about staying safe? Don’t women want to have fun learning cool new skills?

We don’t write our class descriptions thinking about boring, mundane things like, “This will help you stay safe and keep your family safe.” That might be true, but it isn’t sexy. It doesn’t give the reader an adrenalin jolt and it doesn’t promise that they can be the hero of their own legend. It’s the steak without the sizzle.

Who needs this?

The problem is, strong men and adrenalin junkies don’t derive nearly as much benefit from defensive training as the people who aren’t motivated by the Warrior Legend.

The message that women want to hear and need to hear is that serious self-defense training is practical. This training will help you do the things you want to do, in the ordinary happy life you live right now. These skills and this mindset will fit into your everyday life. We don’t train, and we aren’t inviting you to train with us, just because we want to fulfill some virile fantasy, but because we’re concerned about simple reality. This is where the rubber meets the road. This will make your actual day to day life better. That’s the message that women need to hear, and in some ways, it’s almost the opposite of how self-defense training has traditionally been marketed.  

So we need to find more ways and better ways to get this message out to good women as well as to good men: Training is not a fantasy or a game. It provides you with important knowledge and experience on a very practical level that can help you take better care of the people you love. The hard work of learning how to defend yourself will help you enjoy the life you want to live. Learning how to protect yourself will help you stay safe and keep your family safe.

When we get that message to our potential students, they come to class. Better than that, they learn how to protect themselves and the people they love.

Overtly Covert: Stepping Out of the Shadows – Karl Thornton


My World is a juggling act of the Overt and Covert Worlds, and it is not a position I want to be in, more a position I have found myself in.

An overt World of training and advocating the need to deal with the global child trafficking epidemic. And the Covert World of dealing directly with the dangerous undercover world of fighting child trafficking and rescue operations.

I run MDTA (Modern Defensive Tactics Australia), my training services business. Part of my service is to train NGO (Non-Government Organisations) Field Personnel, Covert Special Operations Operatives as well as Law Enforcement personnel.

I provide a specialised training program for personnel deployed into high risk environments. Training for covert surveillance, intelligence gathering and physical response personnel. Also training Law Enforcement in Anti-Human Trafficking.

This obviously puts me in an overt environment where my face and services are known Worldwide.

I train undercover operatives for operations that many times are one-up missions, where our training in the physiology and psychology of the realities of the environments and dangers faced, is based on individual survival skills. We train for the specific environment faced by one-up operatives that have minimal if any help and or support when it hits the fan. Depending on the mission involved, and the organisation they are deployed by.

Then on the other hand, I run an NGO myself. Silent Integrity.

Silent Integrity’s mission is to raise funds for training, deployment and rescue missions globally to help fight child trafficking. Silent Integrity also provides volunteer personnel to complete these services. My team and I are directly involved in rescuing children from child trafficking specialising in rescues from the child sex trade.

Once again I train operatives that will deploy with my team and I in the skill sets required for covert undercover operations that place us in high risk environments, where survival can be a based on WILL and SKILL. Training not only in the physical aspects of unarmed combat and weapons defence, but in optimal situational awareness.

In the Covert world of dealing with undercover operations you need to be trained in intelligence gathering, and a unique set of combative skills. You also need to be trained in rapid acclimatization and being able to think and respond under pressure. You need to be trained in Observation skills, Behavioural Analysis and your survival skills will be based on training in RPD (Rapid Prime Decision) Making.

So what qualifies me in this area? Other than my formal qualifications.

Been there – Done that.

For many years now, I have been working in High Risk CPP. Specialising in mainly 1 up protection in the area of Anti-Human Trafficking. Entering high risk zones, offering CPP to NGO (Non-Government Organisations) personnel and individuals that need to enter high risk areas. Obviously this is mainly what we classify as low profile. Covert.

It takes a different set of specialist skills to undertake this type of role, and one I have had to adapt many existing policies, procedures, and learn skills to deal with this specialist role.

Blitz Martial Arts Magazine.

“A lifelong martial artist and security professional’ Karl Thornton today teaches the Modern Defensive Tactics Australia system to security and law-enforcement personnel. Karl is one of Australia’s most accomplished, security professionals, Karl Thornton used his 30 years of martial arts training to create Modern Defensive Tactics Australia.”

Although my job description has changed over the years where I offer a unique service. A service that grew out of what I do dealing in high risk environments, in a one up situation, taking individuals into high risk areas. I am still always aware of the precarious position I have found myself in.

On the Overt side, I am training specialist personnel, raising awareness about child trafficking, and providing services throughout the anti-human trafficking environment. All you have to do is Google “Karl Thornton and child trafficking“ and there I am.

Then on the Covert side, I am undertaking Intelligence and surveillance operations and rescue operations, saving underage children from the child trafficking epidemic. Placing myself in environments and situations that are basically do or die.

I have been personally and directly responsible for the rescue of 23 children from the child sex trade, and indirectly responsible for hundreds of rescued children.

Unfortunately, as I stated earlier, I am not in a position I want to be in, more a position I have found myself in.

My fight to help eradicate child trafficking has led to the need to be overt in my push to effect change and to offer my services wherever I can to deal with this epidemic. Yet on the other hand, I am still active in operational missions where I am “hands on” in environments that I may not return from.

My team and I, are under no illusion that we are not placing ourselves in harm’s way, we deal with and against individuals and criminal syndicates that will do whatever it takes to stop us from disturbing the cash flow. Taking what they classify as assets, the children they are trafficking.

We know we work in areas where professionals like us disappear and are later found murdered, dismembered, burnt and just simply disappear. But the fight MUST continue.

So why am I writing this article. Well, two reasons really.

One, to give those in the martial arts, defensive tactics, and reality based self-defence world an insight to the diversity of work that can be achieved with their skill set.

Two, and more importantly, in my overt role, push awareness of the realities of child trafficking and that it is a growing epidemic that needs the world’s attention to try and stamp it out. I know we will never stop it, but we can fight to make a difference. Even for one child, and that is our belief. If we can save one child at a time, then we are making changes. I have been involved in operations that have saved one child, as well as operations that have saved more than one child. The point is we need to fight for these children.

For more information on what I do, and what my team do. Visit as well as

The Fear Factor, Part II: Mind-Set and the Martial Arts Spectrum – Paul McRedmond


COMBAT: Kill High adrenaline, emotional commitment and

SELF-DEFENSE: Escape ‘spiritual’ cost, extreme legal repercussions



ART: Coordination

FITNESS: Fitness Low adrenaline, emotional commitment and

PHILOSOPHY: Knowledge spiritual cost, no legal repercussions

The purpose of combat is to kill the ‘enemy.’ The issue here is that a modern, ethical martial artist is not trained to kill or to deal with someone trying to kill them while a wolf (one of the three categories of criminals, the other two being coyote and weasel) has no compunction about killing you, nor any concern for legal repercussions.  The mind-set here is ONE AND DONE and the ambush the best tactic.

Most martial arts are advertised as self-defense styles but the training is based on staying engaged – multiple strikes, locks and holds, takedowns and pins, etc. This is fighting, not self-defense. The mind-set, and tactic, is “STUN AND RUN.”   

Defensive Tactics are the realm of the criminal justice and security specialists.  The goal is to control the individual; this means either getting him or her into secure custody or to voluntarily alter their behavior.  Training here MUST include Verbal Judo (George Thompson), conflict simulations, grappling and counter-assault techniques, behavioral psychology and stress management and inoculation.  The mind-set is “I WIN, YOU LOSE’ and the tactic is the swarm-and-pile.

Sport is a formalized contest between one or more players.  It has rules, time limits, special environments (like mats), referees, protective gear, restricted techniques, etc.  Sure, you can get hurt and many martial artists ARE capable of hurting someone badly, but the training doesn’t include the one most important factor that divides martial arts from ‘shtreet’ fighting – the fear factor.  The mind-set is I DON’T LOSE and the tactics, better fitness and force delivery.

Art is for coordination and expression of mind – perception – structure – movement and is also good for developing reflexes that, if trained correctly, can get you past the first punch or rush of a wolf.  Modern Arnis is an art.  Forms are art.  Bagua is an art.  Stylized knife and club counters are art, NOT reality.  The mind-set here is harmony and the tactic, rhythm.

Fitness is for increasing the available mental, physical and intentional energy so as to live a longer, happier and healthier life OR to prepare you for a sport.  The former is about health and longevity, the latter (‘extreme’ fitness) to prepare you for the intense structural stress demanded by most sports.  The mind-set here is ONE MORE PUSHUP and the tactic is finding the time to get, and stay, fit.

The purpose of philosophy, the foundation of the spectrum, is the acquisition and use of knowledge.  Knowledge is power, purpose and direction and melds the internal and external world into a greater, more inclusive whole by expanding your consciousness via the avenue of focused perception.  Knowledge can help you survive in combat, see and avoid the stalking wolf, gain control of confrontational people without incurring liability, be more successful in your chosen sport, reveal greater vistas in your art, help you train smarter, not harder and, perhaps most importantly – know thyself.  The mind-set is mindfulness and the tactic, question everything and keep at it until you find an answer.


You Are What You ATE, Part I – Erik Kondo

Most people are familiar with the expression “You are what you eat.” It makes sense. Eat lots of high fat content greasy foods and you get obese. Eat mainly lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and you stay nice and trim.

But you are also defined by your actions and by how you explain your actions to others. How you respond to occurrences and events in your life is a big part of who you are. What’s the difference between an accomplished expert and a bumbling novice? The expert both acts and communicates in an effective manner, whereas the novice does not.

Much of how a person responds to any given stimulus comes down to his or her individual ATE.


A = Attributes (innate abilities and hardwiring acquired from birth)

T = Training (what has been acquired from formalized training and education)

E = Experience (what has been acquired from life experience)

Think about it for a moment. Take different people, individually expose them to the exact same stimulus, next watch to see what happens. How the subjects respond is not random. They will respond in accordance with their ATE programming. People with a different ATE are likely to respond in correspondingly different manner in accordance with their ATE.

In terms of conflict management, let’s imagine for a moment that Person A is walking down the sidewalk and suddenly violently attacked from the rear. Person A is a 6’ 4” 220 lbs. physical specimen. He is an also a highly trained Navy Seal just back from his 3rd tour of duty in Afghanistan where he was involved in undercover operations.

One block over, Person B is also ambushed from behind. Person B is 5’ 2” and 110 lbs. Person B rarely exercises and works as an accountant for the IRS. Person B has had no training in any type of martial arts or physical self-defense. He has never been in involved in a violent incident in his life.

Person A and Person B are exposed to the same stimulus. But how they respond is determined by how they consciously and unconsciously perceive and assess the situation. While awake, people are in a state of continually assessing input from the environment. Most assessments are done automatically without conscious thought. We just do them as we go about our lives. Driving a car provides an example of a continuous stream of conscious/unconscious assessments, actions, and/or continuations of actions. These assessments come naturally from our awareness of the environment. For example, when driving, if you see a stop sign at an intersection, you decide to stop. If you don’t see a stop sign, you continue on your current course.

Awareness leads to assessments which leads to actions. Many times these actions need to be articulated. “I didn’t stop at the stop sign because I didn’t see it. It was obscured by a tree, Officer.”

But we all don’t have the same paradigm of awareness. Accomplished drivers know what to look for. Unaccomplished drivers will “see” a dangerous event unfold, yet not be aware of what is happening. A skilled driver has a different ATE than an unskilled one. The same goes people when it comes to conflict management. The ATE of skilled conflict managers differ greatly from unskilled ones.

In the earlier example, Person A and Person B will respond in vastly different manners due to their respective ATE. They will explain their actions also in accordance with their ATE. You are what you accomplish, and what you accomplish is linked directly to your ATE.

Someone who is “stuck” in life responds in accordance to a static script. This type of person’s ATE doesn’t change. Their knowledge says at the same level. Their experiences are viewed to be the same. They learn nothing new from them. This type of person has a fixed belief system. People with fixed belief systems and ATEs are living in an endlessly repeating loop. Like a pen circling on paper, the path becomes more and more entrenched into their mind and body. This static belief system is reinforced with stereotypes, bias, and closed-mindedness.

In contrast are those whose ATEs are under a constant state of evolvement. They seek out varied training and diverse experiences. Their belief system is fluid and subject to change. Their responses and scripts evolve with time. Since these people’s actions are constantly evolving, they are more defined by the sum of their accomplishments. Those with a static ATE are more identified by their belief system.

Unless you have somehow maximized your ATE at a very high level of accomplishment, you likely have much room for improvement. There is not so much you can do to change your inherited attributes. But you certainly can evolve your training and experience in order to reach a higher level of accomplishment.

An accomplished person effectively articulates what he or she does. What he does results from his assessment of the situation. His assessment is derived from his awareness of his the environment. His awareness, assessment, action(s), and articulation are all a function of his Attributes, Training, and Experience (ATE).

Part II