Blog Archive

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Best

“If I tell you I'm good, probably you will say I'm boasting. But if I tell you I'm not good, you'll know I'm lying.” -- Bruce Lee

Every now and then, I get the question, "so, you think what you do/teach is the best, huh?" It's usually asked with the same kind of loaded tone that I suspect Bruce Lee was dealing with when he made the above quip.

On the one hand: my default answer to this is that I believe, completely and sincerely in the idea of Coaches, Not Styles. A great coach will produce competent practitioners (however you judge that) with a less-than-optimal style. A lousy coach will produce lousy practitioners, regardless of how great the style they are teaching supposedly is. A "style" or system can't fix bad coaching.



On the other hand: yes, of course I think what I'm doing is "the best". I don't think it's PERFECT, because I know that I can always improve what and how I'm teaching, but it is the best thing I know how to teach right now. Because if it wasn't, and I was still teaching it, that would be completely irresponsible of me.

Does that mean that I think people who don't teach exactly like me aren't good, or that they can't produce good results? Of course not. That wouldn't just be absurdly egotistical, it would fly in the face of real world evidence. People learn how to successfully defend themselves from people teaching systems that are different from the one I teach. Other coaches, other camps, produce successful Muay Thai fighters. Or successful fighters who don't even do Muay Thai.

So yes, I think what I do is the best, because I'm always teaching the best information I've got. But other people have good info too. It's not a zero-sum game.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Upcoming Events

I've been quiet here recently. Busy. New baby, plus a lot of other stuff. I'll get back on it soon.

In the meantime, I'm doing a bunch of seminars around the Boston area. Details here.


March 28th:
Women's Self-Defense/Rape Prevention
Integrated Martial Arts, Westborough MA
Looking at Rape Prevention through the lens of the PDR/SPEAR program. We'll be discussing some psychology/mindset concepts, awareness, verbal strategies, and basic physical tactics. I'm co-teaching this one with Bill Duggan, a local police officer, who will be bringing some insights not only into how to deal with the assault, but how to communicate with law enforcement after the fact.

Open to women ages 13 and up (though younger girls can attend with parental consent).
Register Here: http://westboroughmartialarts.com/Home/Event/3445

April 19th: Fundamentals of Personal Saftey
Connors MMA, Norwood, MA
My standard PDR Intro course.

This class will flow from mind-set, to contact, to confrontation, using the PDR’s unique Three D's model: Detect, Defuse, Defend. Using our Non-Violent Postures™ you will learn how to identify pre-contact cues, position for interception, and convert the startle-flinch using the world's first behaviorally based self-defense method - the S.P.E.A.R. System™.

This course will not interfere with any prior training and can be used to augment your personal toolbox. This course is open to students of all levels ages thirteen and up. Students should wear comfortable clothing that they can move and exercise in.

April 25th: 
Groundfighting Fundamentals
Integrated Martial Arts, Westborough, MA

This seminar is going to focus on fundamental strategies for dealing with an assault that has gone to the ground. How does the PDR/SPEAR apply to a groundfight? What's the distinction between grappling and groundfighting, and why does it matter for self-defense? This is going to be a pretty physical course, but no prior training or experience is required.
Open to anyone ages 13 and up.
Register Here: http://westboroughmartialarts.com/Home/Event/3446

May 9th: 
Fundamentals of Personal Safety
My standard PDR Intro course.

This class will flow from mind-set, to contact, to confrontation, using the PDR’s unique Three D's model: Detect, Defuse, Defend. Using our Non-Violent Postures™ you will learn how to identify pre-contact cues, position for interception, and convert the startle-flinch using the world's first behaviorally based self-defense method - the S.P.E.A.R. System™.

This course will not interfere with any prior training and can be used to augment your personal toolbox. This course is open to students of all levels ages thirteen and up. Students should wear comfortable clothing that they can move and exercise in.

No registration page up yet, but you can contact me for details.
May 17th:
Fundamentals of Personal Safety
JP CrossFit, Jamaica Plain, MA

My standard PDR Intro course.

This class will flow from mind-set, to contact, to confrontation, using the PDR’s unique Three D's model: Detect, Defuse, Defend. Using our Non-Violent Postures™ you will learn how to identify pre-contact cues, position for interception, and convert the startle-flinch using the world's first behaviorally based self-defense method - the S.P.E.A.R. System™.
This course will not interfere with any prior training and can be used to augment your personal toolbox. This course is open to students of all levels ages thirteen and up. Students should wear comfortable clothing that they can move and exercise in.

No registration page up yet, but you can contact me for details.

May 30th: 
Everyday Self-Defense: Safety at the ATM, Car, and Home.
Integrated Martial Arts, Westborough, MA

This should be a fun one. We're going to be talking about three common places where people get attacked, the kinds of attack that happen there, and three dimensional strategies for preventing or dealing with those kinds of attacks.

Register Here: http://westboroughmartialarts.com/Home/Event/3447


Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: Scaling Force (Book)

Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision Making Under Threat of Violence 
Rory Miller and Lawrence A. Kane
YMAA Press
Oct 2012

It took me a while to get Scaling Force. I'm not entirely sure why, except that Rory has a lot of stuff out there, and I can only read so fast. But I recently got my hands on the Scaling Force DVD (review coming soon), and I figured I should read the book for a full comparison. I'm really glad I did...this is another gem from Rory.

In talking about self-defense with martial artists, I've noticed that there are often two big gaps in their training. One is the psychological aspects of self-defense (what we call Fight One in the PDR/SPEAR System). The other, and honestly, probably the most often ignored, is the legal aspects of self-defense (what we call Fight Three in the PDR/SPEAR system). Scaling Force presents a system and method for martial artists to address fight three in a pretty comprehensive fashion.

The Thing Itself

I read this book on Kindle, so I can't comment on what the hard copy version is like. The kindle format generally works well. My only complaint (and it is a minor one) is that the kindle version seems to think that every single section is a new chapter, which meant that the little ticker at the bottom constantly said "one minute left in chapter" or "chapter complete". Like I said, minor complaint.

What's Inside

Scaling Force begins with an overview of some fundamental self-defense principles. Rory's breakdown of social and asocial/predatory violence appears here, as does some information on situational awareness, the IMOP principle and other legal niceties, and an explanation of what the Scaling Force...scale (it's not a continuum, the authors tell us) is. The scale offers six stages of potential responses to a confrontation: Presence, Voice, Touch, Empty Hand Restraint/Physical Control, Less Lethal Force, and Lethal Force.

(I should expand on that, actually. The point the authors are making here is that the scale isn't something you move up through during a confrontation--you just enter at the level that's appropriate. You don't start with level one if level six is what you need.)

This is all very solid information, though long-time readers of Rory's work will find some of it (particularly the social/predatory violence information) familiar, and possibly repetitive. Personally, I find a good review of good information always helpful. For anyone who is reading Miller for the first time, this stuff is invaluable.

The remainder of the book is six chapters, each devoted to a stage on the force scale. Each chapter provides a breakdown of the force level: how it works, what the key concepts are, and some ideas for drills and training at each level. The information here is all very detailed, but it's presented in a way that's easily accessible for a general audience. None of it is particularly style or system specific, and most of it could be integrated into just about any training system without a great deal of strain.

What's Good

The whole thing.

The legal aspects of self-defense have got to be one of the most overlooked areas of self-defense training. Possibly even more so than the psychological aspects (which at least get some lip service). Scaling Force offers a solution for that. More importantly, because the information is presented in a non-style specific way, it's information that can be integrated into any training method that's concerned with self-defense. Just reading the book will probably illuminate some holes in your training. Actually putting this stuff into practice will fill those holes nicely, and expand all of your skills as a martial artist (or as a human being).

It is worth noting that while each chapter contains some drills and concepts for working on that particular level of force, getting into any level in greater detail requires going beyond the scope of the book. Chapter Four, for example, contains a nice discussion on the mechanics and tactics of joint locking, but getting really good at joint locks is going to require some time on the mat, and probably some hands on training with someone who is good at that sort of thing. That's not a complaint--going in depth on every section of this book would make the book so enormous as to be unwieldy.

Who Is This For?

Self-defense instructors, martial arts instructors who think they are teaching self-defense, or people who practice self-defense but don't teach it. Basically, if you are interested in self-defense in any way, this book is a must read.

If you are a martial artist who ISN'T interested in self-defense, this book might still be worth reading, just to understand where the gaps in your training are. You might not care about filling them, but it's better to know they're there ahead of time than to ignore them and find out later.