No styles, no systems, no rituals, no lineages, no masters, no labels, no belts, no katas, no uniforms, no dogmas;

Only the process of self actualization & personal expression of truth through functional combative movement and fitness.

On a purely physical level, we share how to individually and collectively use all of our natural tools as well as extended ones, offensively and defensively in a strategic and tactical manner and in all ranges of combat.

We're put through functional physical fitness training where we learn to push ourselves through our own perceived limitations. We also have much to offer on nutrition, health and optimum performance.

On a more cerebral level we learn about the psychology of violence, fear, stress & confrontation management skills, deescalation strategies and holistic survival tactics.

As the mind navigates the body; by challenging personal self defense dogmas and individual & core belief systems, personal growth and evolution occurs.

On a human level, we learn about the ripple effect and the moral, legal, and ethical consequences of our chosen actions while self examining our darkest emotions. We are encouraged to question everything, to learn to think for ourselves, to be more accountable and research everything we learn and to be open and responsive to life without judgment.

On a personal level, the training can make you face and slay your own demons.

Everything shared here is highly encouraged to be individually researched, to “absorb what is useful, add what is specifically of your own and disregard the rest.”

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Surgeon General Warning: Know what is hazardous to your health By Georges Z. Fahmy – Senshido International - +961 3 499 712

When people think about Self Defense, they automatically picture a group of people, wearing pajamas, striking the air with their fists or feet while making weird noises, similar to those produced by live turkeys being prepped for Thanksgiving Day. My good friend and Senshido founder Richard Dimitri always says that “Self Defense begins with the Self”, meaning than the real threats is not only limited to the muggers, rapists, road rage enthusiasts (Lebanon’s national sport), ego fighters (Another local past-time), and others out to do us harm, but also includes self-destructing habits and behaviors (Such as ego, anger, hatred, etc) to affect our lives and that of loved ones.

While not an insider (I really should have given med school a try, instead of doing Business Administration like 25 gazillion other people), I think I know enough of the habits of doctors and medical students to offer a few suggestions regarding improving their safety both on and off the job.

The aim of this article is to allow you to understand how violence works by analyzing criminal wants and needs.

Defining Violence:

Let us begin with understanding Violence: Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as random violence, no out-of-the-blue attacks. It always happens for a reason, and there are usually enough pre-incident indicators warning you of impending conflict. Violence can be divided into three stages: The Pre-Contact, the Contact, and Post-Contact.

The most important stage is, contrary to what you were told, not the physical Contact phase, rather the Pre-Contact. By not being there, it can’t happen to you. If you see trouble looking for a victim, you can avoid it or escape. That is true Self Defense.

Okay, so, what do we look for? How do we avoid and deal with it?

First, we need to understand basic criminal behaviors, which include their wants, fears, as well as the victim selection process, along with the fundamentals of awareness, crucial in countering violence. Please note that I use the term “criminal” generically: It could indicate a mugger, rapist, ego-jock, thug, terrorist, etc. Any aggressor using any form of assault (Be it verbal, physical, emotional, or behavioral) against you will thus be labeled as such for simplicity’ sake.

Understanding the “Bad Guy”

Many make the mistake of underestimating criminals, passing judgment on them, saying they’re unpredictable. Others make them look as if they’re invincible monsters, some new unstoppable Terminator model against which there is no defense. I humbly disagree with both views. Criminals are, first and foremost, human. They have wants and fears and desires just like the rest of us. While we had opportunities such as schooling, an education, and a loving family to support us through our early and teenage years, they most probably had abuse, violence, and neglect. Criminals choose crime mostly because of a lack of opportunities and because that’s all s/he knows. Violence against others is the way that allows them to achieve their aims in life. While their upbringing is saddening, your responsibility is to survive the mugger threatening you with physical harm, not to give him therapy.

Regardless of the reasons why they became criminals, the path chosen is one for life, and it is a risky career that allows no second chances. Those working in the medical profession can, even in the event of an oversight or tragedy, live after it and learn from the situation. On the other hand, criminals cannot afford any false move, as the outcome is permanent injury, death, or imprisonment. As a result, bad guys have developed numerous skills and tactics ensuring their survival on the job.

Unlike most people who know a lot of techniques and moves, a seasoned criminal knows only a few. The difference between both groups is that, while the former THINKS that his stuff works (after trying them on willing friends and consenting training partners), the latter KNOWS that his way is effective, not from theory but from real-world experience: Namely, using the material effectively and consistently against real opponents fighting back for their life, limb or wealth.

Despite their skill and familiarity with violence, criminals are not supermen; since they have wants and fears, they can be manipulated, deceived, and hurt enough for us to survive or escape.

What Criminals Want

Starting with wants, a criminal covets three things from a victim: Valuables, Body, and Life, which are summarized with the acronym VBL.

Valuables consist of anything that has any (financial or other) worth to the aggressor. It includes but is not limited to money, jewelry, clothes, cars, cell phones, even insignificant objects. Physical assault and battery is used (The Means) to get Valuables from others (The End).

Second is Body, meaning the criminal is interested in physical violence as an end in itself; it includes giving a beating, mutilating, raping, unwilling organ donations, and other lovely things you don’t want to be a part of.

Last is Life. The perpetrator wants you dead for some reason. There are many types of people eager to end your life: Professional killers, serial killers, angry aggressors, jealous partners, and 30-years-old-sexy-new-step-mothers, among others. The bad news is that a professional killer determined to snuff you out will probably succeed. The good news is that, unless you’re into politics, organized crime, or messed with the wrong crowd, you won’t have a contract killer on your tail, as they have bigger fish to fry. As for dealing with the rest, awareness, avoidance, prevention, de-escalation, psychological manipulations, and physical retaliation (depending on the force continuum, unarmed, less than lethal, or lethal)

The only things to Fear…

Like all of us, criminals seek to attain happiness and pleasure, and do their best to avoid pain, hardship, and other bad stuff. As a result, they tend to avoid three things: Unacceptable levels of Pain & Injury, incarceration, and having attention drawn to the situation.

All bad guys expect some form of resistance by victims: punches, shoves, kicks, elbows, knees, throws, joint-locks, as well as other types of conventional attacks made popular by action movies and bad actors. Naturally, no criminal wants to be on the receiving end of any strike or counter-attack, but they expect them anyways, and are psychologically and/ or physically ready to deal with most of them (Who said that bad guys didn’t train?). However, the vast majority of criminals do not expect a victim to effectively use the startle-to-flinch reaction effectively to protect him/herself from the attack, and retaliate using a vicious barrage of attacks based on gross motor skills triggered by the fight or flight syndrome. Give Mr. Mugger more damage than expected, anticipated, or acceptable for him and he will either: 1) Flee the scene or 2) Be incapacitated enough allowing you to escape.

One of the greatest misconceptions is that criminals fear the Police and the Justice System. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Let us get something straight about the Police: Most of them are great people, doing an amazing job of protecting and serving their communities. Some of them are bad apples, worse than the criminals themselves. Many don’t care about their duties and just want to finish their shifts and go home to their families. Regardless of which type of cop is sent over to deal with the emergency call, it is already too late: Law Enforcement is reactive, meaning the Police reaches the crime scene AFTERWARD the crime has been committed, which, in the case of rape, battery, aggravated assault, kidnapping, or attempted homicide, is bad news for the victim(s). Additionally, Justice is blind and, thanks to connections, politics, who-knows-who, good lawyers, and loops in the legal system, many criminal elements of society are back on the streets in no time (or never processed). This means that the average evil-doer can do his deeds in relative peace and quiet. Despite that, perpetrators don't want to get caught, because there still is a chance of doing jail time: Last time I checked, prison is not a good place to be in, and criminals know it; being someone’s bitch is not fun at all so bad guys keep on improving their craft to avoid being Bubba’s cellmate. A smart criminal will use whatever means necessary to prevent incarceration and maximizing his gains, through low-risk target selection, use of overwhelming force, or focusing on less dangerous activities to reduce the chance of being thrown in a cell by a cop.

Finally, most criminals seek to avoid attention getting drawn to the current situation: it’s not good for business to have their illegal pursuit interrupted by someone hell-bent on aiding the victim(s) as it translates in either pain, incarceration, or both for the perpetrator. Yelling “Fire”, making noise, drawing people in, increases the chances of survival and reduces the bad guy’s options. A word of caution though; Assassins, serial killers, religious fundamentalists, terrorists, among others, may want attention, for one reason or another. This is why it is optimal to do all three things to maximize your chances of survival.

Tips on avoiding the interesting man with a scalpel (Hint: He’s not a fellow surgeon)

Ok, now that you have a small understanding of how violence happens, and what criminals look for and try to avoid, we can start with providing you with some pointers regarding violence avoidance and survival.

At Senshido International, we came up with a simple color-coded system to indicate levels of awareness. First is Code Green: This is any place with a good, solid lock preventing uninvited access to you. The only place I personally consider Code Green is my home, where I know I can close my eyes and not be awaken by zombies trying to eat my brains. (That’s because I booby-trapped all entrances Mwahahahahaha! It’s a joke really, please drop that straitjacket)

As soon as you leave your castle, and start walking around in daylight, you need to be in Code Yellow. Code Yellow means that you are constantly paying attention to your surroundings, people, where you’re going, who’s around, etc. No, it’s not more paranoid than looking at both sides of the road before crossing (Damn those scooters!).

Anytime you feel sick, tired, injured, walk around at night with or without friends, feel lost, have a small child in your care, you are in Code Red. Code Red is very similar to the Code Blue used in many hospitals: Bad stuff is either going on or will be coming your way soon. This means you have to pay extra attention to everything around you, especially when you feel tired after long hours of study, surgery, or boring shifts: Why is that man chain-smoking in that empty parking lot at night, dropping his cigarette and coming towards you at 3AM? (Hint: He’s not a grateful patient of yours who realized that smoking is bad and who is rushing your way to thank you for lending him Allen Carr’s Easyway to stop smoking book).

Please understand that, while an article can offer insights about Personal Protection, it does not replace hands-on training. Although I know how to do a Coronary Bypass (I told you I read too much medical stuff), it doesn’t mean that I can do one without killing the patient. To acquire specialized skills you need specialized training. In our seminars, we go in a lot of details about what to look for, signs of upcoming trouble, and do scenario training replicating real-life with all that it entails (Adrenaline dump, deterioration of fine and complex motor skills under stress, dealing with fear and anger, utilizing the startle-to-flinch reaction as a protective platform from which to launch gross motor movements offensively, and much more). Enrolling in one of our workshops will give you the tools needed to survive violence, whatever its type. Our seminars are inexpensive, held bi-monthly, and offer an in-depth analysis as well as customized training to suit your needs.

For more information, read the following brochure: or call the author on +961 3 499 712.

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