March 26, 2009 by Chris Ranck-Buhr
Just as a quick intro, realize we get questions all the time asking what differentiates TFT’s laser-beam focus on the DESIRED END RESULT (causing an injury) vs other’s focus on your RESPONSE to violence.
We’ve written and discussed at length about the latter often not only requiring athletic skills and conditioning but years of training to become even somewhat proficient in execution.
And while we explain why TFT is both more effective and far easier to learn, hearing a story like the following really crystallizes that difference.
Here’s how Chris relayed it:
“A young woman — a Navy Corpsman — dropped by class last night at the San Diego Center because someone had told her that we could teach her to fight ‘like they do in prison.’
“We only had 45 minutes left, and under normal circumstances I would have asked her to come back to the next class in order to have enough time for a proper orientation… but I was so taken by her enthusiasm and focus I decided to go for it and see what we could do in 45 minutes. I turned the class over to another instructor, grabbed a willing body, and got to work.
“Understand, in the live seminar environment we can get people oriented, prepped and ready for free-form mat work (that’s where you’re out doing violence) by lunchtime on the first day.
“I used to think that was the minimum (after all, in the ‘bad old days’ it took better than a week for someone to have a handle on the material).
“I have since found I can compress those critical four hours into a full class session at the Center, about 90 minutes.
“And now I was going to give it a go in half that time.
“The good news is, as a medical professional, she knew her way around anatomy and debilitating injury. That helped shave off a good chunk of work right there.
“On top of that, as a military professional she had no problems literally throwing herself into the mix. That saved a lot of do-overs.
“All that was left, really, were tools and targets.
“So we assembled the eye target using the thumb, fingers and boot heel — standing, kneeling, and on the ground.
“We then worked the neck over, crushing the throat, breaking the neck, again from all orientations from vertical to horizontal.
“After that, the groin — rupturing testicles with elbows, knees and boots from all angles.
“And finally, breaking ankles from the front, side and behind.
“I then demonstrated how to string these injuries together, one after the other, leaving the exact sequence up to her: gouge an eye, put a boot through the groin, break an ankle, then stomp the throat. Or fist through the groin, forearm hammer through the back of the neck, gouge the eye.
“Doesn’t really matter — pick your target, put yourself all the way through it to wreck it, pick the next one and repeat until you’re satisfied he’s nonfunctional.
“We were done with this part in 30 minutes.
“For the last 15 minutes of class I left her to her own devices with a training partner. She took to it with the same fire and enthusiasm she walked in the door with.
“After class she said she found the experience ‘amazing and incredible’ in that she not only learned what we were up to in 30 minutes, but that she could apply that information immediately, successfully converting it into real knowledge.
“It’s the difference between coordination/technique-based training and principle-based training.
“Chances are I would not have been able to coordinate her well enough in 30 minutes to have her participating fully in a martial arts class — or for competition in the ring. Both those endeavors take time, effort and conditioning to perform at a level where you can work with anyone in the room.
“Instead of focusing on how she was standing, which foot to step with, how to hold her arms I gave her one simple task — pick a piece of anatomy and smash it.
“And anyone — everyone — can do that.
“All you have to know is where it is, what part of your body to use, and then throw yourself through it.
“When she asked, ‘Which leg do I step with?’ I replied, ‘I don’t care. The one that’s most comfortable. The one that lets you get it done.’
“And so she did.
“We didn’t have to waste time on her personal tics and idiosyncrasies of movement — she was able to focus, fully, on what she was doing inside of him…
“Thinking like a bullet…
Instead of trying to figure out how to work a gun.”
Now, you don’t need to be a medical professional to get these results. It simply validates what we’ve long known – the unassailable soundness of the principles involved.
And the fastest way to experience it? In a live session like she did.
After just an hour in one of the 2-day classes we hold (where you’ll see video of real street violence) you understand this isn’t like any self defense you’ve ever experienced before. Where a non-athletic businesswoman might work 1-on-1 with a martial arts veteran and both come away with life-altering skills that just may save their lives one day.
Here’s the thing. After 3 exhaustive years training on the road, in 2009 we’re purposely scaling back the number of events. While we’ll probably add more in the second half, opportunities will be limited.
And with statistics showing gun sales rocketing up in the current economic mess just as worldwide violence spikes to all-time levels, now is your time to GRAB A SPOT in one of these sessions.
In April we’ll be in both San Diego (18-19) and Chicago (25-26, although Chicago is nearly full). Use this link to find out more.
Creator, Target Focus Training
PS. Something else. As you might have guessed, this training transfers perfectly to DVD.
Because of the simplicity of approach, the focus on targeting and the integration of movements you’ve done all your life, as you watch our At-Home DVD classes you ‘get it,’ just as you do in class.
It won’t happen quite as fast; nothing beats the impact of immediate instructor feedback. But it’s still extraordinarily effective.
So if live training doesn’t fit your schedule right now, take a look at the At-Home DVD series, on me if you need to.
If not for yourself, do it for those who count on you to protect them.
Because today violence strikes ever more randomly. And it won’t wait until you’re ready. So do it now!
March 20, 2009 by Chris Ranck-Buhr
Below is a question we recently received that I imagine might be on your mind as well.
“In some of your DVD footage the eyes are the target for the first injury and in other footage the eyes are, say, the third injury target.
“You emphasize the importance of going for a throw only AFTER creating an injury. Shouldn’t this advice apply also to striking the eyes? Because of peripheral vision, which you do refer to in the training, the eyes are NOT easy to strike successfully in the alert subject. Blinking, closing the eyes or moving the head can all diminish or completely negate the effectiveness of an eye strike. Furthermore, if you go first for the eyes and miss, the subject will be on guard against another strike and you will have lost the element of surprise.
“In consideration of the above, would it not be good advice to approach the eye strike like the throw — to be used only AFTER you have effected a prior injury?”
This is a great question, especially since, as you note, the body invests a lot of effort and energy in protecting the eyes. The bony protrusions of the orbits, the powerful bands of muscle that actually press the eye balls into the back of the sockets when the eyes are squeezed shut, as well as the overwhelming strength of the blink and flinch reflexes all add up to a near-impregnable fortress to keep those delicate structures intact.
When all of this is working as it should the eyes themselves tend to escape injury, with most of the brunt being taken up by the soft surface tissues — seen when most punches to the face cause the lids to swell shut and bruise, leaving the eye ball itself untouched.
There are several things we must do in order to bypass all this automated protection:
- Strike from outside/beneath his peripheral vision,
- Put an appropriate tool all the way through the target, and
- Strike with our entire mass so we end up standing where he was standing.
All of these factors can be seen at work in basketball, the number one place to find information on eye injuries. It’s also interesting to note that in basketball everyone knows it’s on, is alert, and is expecting to see hands near their faces.
If we stand in front of the man and reach out with our arm to do the work, he’s going to see it coming. Even if he only catches a shadow of movement, the blink/flinch reflex is powerful and automatic. If he closes his eyes and turns his head, you may not get the eye injury proper — but you are still making him react to what you are doing — and now he is blind (eyes squeezed shut) and off balance (more on this later).
To minimize the chances for this on an initial strike, you want to come up under a 45 degree plane off the cheekbones. (Notice that if you stare straight ahead, you can’t see your feet. This is the space you want to move your hand through.)
It’s also important to understand that we are not going to be able to injure the eye with the ‘ninja cat scratch.’
We are not trying to make contact with just our fingertips. We have to break the plane of the body.
Fighters think in terms of the sanctity of the skin, and think to the surface of the eyes. Killers deny the sanctity of the skin and think all the way through the body.
You’re not going to touch his eyes with your fingertips — you’re going to put your hand through his skull, driven home with your entire mass. You’re going to get your hand wet to the second knuckles in his eye sockets. In addition, you’re going to shot-put his brain for traumatic brain injury (‘TBI’ — a concussion).
You need to end up standing where he was standing, driving your entire mass through his space, forcing him to stumble backwards off balance. This not only ensures that you struck with your mass but also puts you into position to break the next thing without having to run after him. And if he goes down (which is likely, since the mechanisms of balance are in the head, which you just struck and drove through) then you can start stomping him on the ground.
None of these three things happen in isolation — it’s all one strike.
If it all works perfectly then you end up giving him a full-bodied strike through the head — a knockout blow — where your fingers happen to get wet in his eye sockets with resultant injuries to the eyes.
If you don’t get the eyes: you’ve still momentarily blinded him (blink/flinch reflex), given him a TBI, and taken his balance… all of which give you the time and space to break something else.
So even if it goes wrong (no actual eye injury) it’s all right, as long as you know what to do next and take advantage of what you made him do.
Thanks for your question, and I hope this helps.
TFT Master Instructor
March 12, 2009 by Chris Ranck-Buhr
You can tell how serious someone is about dropping a man by where they place themselves to get the job done.
Angry or aggressive fighters will go toe-to-toe, literally stepping up to the man and then reaching out with their limbs to cover the intervening distance through their target.
A ‘true badass’ will put his foot between the other man’s feet.
The killer puts himself completely through the other man and ends up standing where his victim once stood, and then repeats the process into the ground.
Stepping up to the man and reaching out is the hallmark of monkey politics, the antisocial cuffing, shoving, punching to show primate displeasure. It’s usually followed by stepping back and away from the other man after making contact. It shows a lack of desire to cripple and kill, fear of the other man, and respect for his personal space.
As a result, injury is unlikely outside of a lucky traumatic brain injury (concussion), the most common fight-ending injury seen in both street fights and competitive matches.
The ‘badass’ steps in close enough to put his foot between the other man’s feet, into his personal space and underneath his center of gravity. I say ‘badass’ because that’s the usual assessment of bystanders — if toe-to-toe was aggressive, stepping into the man’s personal space is absolutely ‘badass.’
It also increases effectiveness: the proximity will give greater follow-through, dramatically increasing the chance of injury and knockdown. Also, this amount of penetration is usually followed with another step in as the man falls back, as opposed to stepping away from the man. This forward motion only enhances the bystanders’ assessment of the dedication required to pull it off.
The killer throws his entire body through the other man, not content with merely stepping under his center of gravity, he replaces it with his own. He breaks the plane of the man’s belt buckle with his. This maximizes injury and overrun, almost guaranteeing a knockdown. This is followed by a thorough stomping of the downed man.
Now imagine driving your forearm through a man’s throat or a knife through his rib cage — where would you want to be to get that job done? The place where it might work? The place where chances are good it’ll work?
Or the place where it’s guaranteed to work?
Until next time,
TFT Master Instructor
March 5, 2009 by Tim Larkin
And if the other guy has anything to say about it, then that’s just too damn bad. For him.
Over the years we’ve tried many different ways to talk about ‘the attitude’ you have to have to enter into violent conflict. Most recently we’ve talked about ‘intent’ and ’cause-state’–in the former you have to want to do it, and in the latter we give you all the reasons why you want to be doing rather than getting done.
In the end, all the different ways of talking around the subject swirl into the singular drain of ego. Namely, YOU. Violence is all about YOU, all the time. It’s about what YOU want, what YOU’RE doing to him and getting all of that done to the exclusion of all else.
The other guy has no say in the matter–if he’s busy doing something, that’s his problem, not yours. You are here to commit base acts of savagery on him, and he’s just here to provide motive and venue. (Injuries don’t happen in a vacuum, people…)
For him, his only hope is to escape or kill you. If he gets away, it’s merely annoying. If he kills you, well, by definition there was nothing you could do–so don’t sweat it.
This leaves you free to concentrate on YOU doing things to him. If he tries to block or counter he’s just delaying the inevitable. If he gets in the way or screws with your technique then do as my brother says and “take it out on him when you get him on the ground.”
Whatever you worry about is the most likely thing to happen. If you’re worried he’ll hit you, he will. If you’re worried he’ll ‘counter’ you, he will. If you worry about blinding him, you will.
And then things simplify all by themselves.
Who here thinks they could drop a blind man with one shot?
Hopefully you all raised your hands.
Because that’s all that matters in violence–YOU, YOU, and, yes, YOU.
Now I know we say to leave the ego at the door when you step out onto the mats, and this whole discussion sounds like we’re going back on that ideal. It all comes down to which definition of ego we’re using… The ego that you need to leave at the door is the stupid one that gets you dragged into stupid confrontations, the one that says you’re invincible, and that smaller, lesser people can’t touch you. It’s the paper mache version of you filled with hot air and arrogance. That’s the ego you can’t train with, because you’d find it laughable that Perfect You should deign to take turns.
The ego I’m talking about is the monad, the unique perspective that is you, the meat in your head.
Look at is this way, if there’s a YOU and a him in this situation (or many other hims), what’s most important?
a) YOU doing things to him, or
b) Him doing things to you?
You can really only pay attention to one at a time… and the obvious answer is a.
The common retort is, “Well, you better pay attention to what he’s doing if what he’s doing is bad news for you.”
Guns clear that idea up: if he’s got a gun and is shooting at me, what’s more important, the fact that he’s shooting at me, or me shooting back and putting a bullet through his brain?
If I train to be first, and better, then I win.
It’s the same if we’re going to have a stabbing contest (I pick ‘first and better’ every time) or go to bare hands.
You train to be first and better by making your desires your outcomes on your turn. By making YOU the most important factor there.
This is not the false ego, this is the self backed up by skill. And then exercised for two turns each on the mats.
This is why the most dangerous training situation is two instructors who both think it’s their turn–someone always gets it first and better and the other guy has to lay down. Or go to the ER.
Going defensive, blocking, countering, backing up, ‘fighting’ stances are all a sucker’s game–all of those things are about the other guy, and not about YOU. Your thumb in his eye, your knee in his groin, your elbow in his neck–these are what matter. And the one thing they all have in common is YOU.
Anything the other guy does is just another opportunity for you to hurt him. If he throws a punch, he’s poking targets at you and throwing himself off balance. Where some people see danger I see a crippled arm and an easy throw. If he brings a weapon, then in three to five seconds it’s mine. Problems are merely invitations for solutions.
It all starts–and ends–with YOU.