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, August 10, 2011

It Depends....

Drilling how to take shoves, familiarizing one's self with the energy behind aggressive shoving, developing awareness and evasive footwork.
This was our primary reply to almost every question technical in nature since the very first Senshido class taught back in April of 1994. "It Depends". It frustrated most who were looking for absolutes and black and white answers.... sadly, there aren't many if any at all really...

The following article first appeared on The Senshido International Forum as I was inspired to write it after reading several threads which were very specific in nature.

It is critical to understand that there are no absolutes. There is no black and white in combat or defense, there rarely is ever an 'always' or 'never', there is nothing but an infinite amount of shades of grey, speculations, maybes and IT DEPENDS.

Getting smacked across the face as a humiliation tactic by Dom O'Neil playing the role of the bad guy.
How long does a street fight or violent confrontation last? 10 sec.? 25 sec.? A minute? A minute an a half? Honestly...? Who gives a shit? It will last as long as it will last... the question is, will you? How conditioned are you? Do you understand the effects of emotional and psychological stress and how it affects your performance and physical energy levels? What are you prepared to do?

Besides first and foremost offering a proper nutrition, not "diet" but a healthy all around nutritive lifestyle, I train my students to overkill. They are prepared to go 5 minutes straight if they have to, 10 minutes or half an hour if that is what it takes. They don't care if the average is 10 seconds or 3 minutes. That is a concern they don't have to even think about because they are prepared to go on and on until they are safe, whatever it takes.

I am often asked why our warm ups & workouts in our classes are so grueling, why I allow the fights to go on for 20 minutes non stop sometimes, why the overkill if a street fight only lasts X amount of seconds... because you simply never know. Prepare for the worst, prepare for the Terminator so everyone and everything else will literally pale in comparison.

Working on the familiarization of aggressive body language and closest weapon to closest target interpretation on both the good guy and bad guy's part.

"When you throw a kick (or punch or strike or whatever you wish to insert here) where do you land after?"

It depends. What was your opponent’s reaction? Did your strike have the desired effect? What was the result of your choice? Di your opponent block the strike, did it land? Did he clinch afterwards? Did he defensively move away? Did he shake it off and pull a knife out?

Improvising the Shred moment to moment as my opponent reacts realistically to my every move and vice versa.
"When someone throws a straight punch, I was told to always move to the out-side and never to the in-side of my attacker, is this correct?"

It depends. Does your opponent have a friend standing on his out-side? Are you leaning against a wall which is 'his out-side'? Is the hand or arm you are 'supposes to' block, parry, jam whatever with functional that day? (I.e., is it in a sling, broken wrist maybe, sprained, tendonitis in the shoulder?) Is there a 25 foot drop on his out'side? What's the environment like?

Alive drilling allows spontaneous improvisation.
"When defending against a knife ALWAYS stabilize the weapon hand before attacking." - When defending against the knife, NEVER stabilize the weapon hand just attack, attack, attack!"

It depends. Where's the knife? Close, far, stabbing you? What is your opponent doing? Is it a static attack? Is it dynamic? Is he leading with the knife or coming at you Folsom prison style? Does he have a friend? Is his friend armed? How's your footwork today? 

Do you see what I am getting at here? There are no absolutes.

Maintaining facial targets while striking the lower line creates more sensory overload in the opponent.
"DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE WHEN IT IS CALLED UPON." - Senshido Adage - This philosophy will help create clarity in the moment. Fixation on this or that may get you killed. There are no black and white answers. Defining the conceptual formula to each possibility is critical, the mind then creates the proper mental blueprints necessary to spontaneously improvise moment to moment.

Train your defenses in various scenarios to find out what you will do. Meaning: You want to work on defense against a static knife attack at the throat? Good. First work the principles and concepts, then the physical defenses until you are comfortable with them.

Next. Take that situation, the static knife attack, and do it under the following conditions:

1. You're alone.
2. A loved one is with you when it is occurring. (This one alone can be done in various ways, your loved one can become hysterical, cooperative, none cooperative, faint, scream, cry, grab your arm, hug you, threaten the mugger, etc.) each of these will require a different tactical solution.
3. Your attacker has a friend. (Again, you can play with this one, his friend is armed as well, his friend is passive, aggressive, drunk, hyperactive, trying to convince the mugger to just kill you and take your stuff, trying to convince the mugger to forget about it and just leave etc.)
4. Your good arm is an a sling. Your bad arm is in a sling.
5. Your left ankle is badly sprained (put thumb tacks in your shoes to simulate a sprain, see if you feel like putting weight on your ankle then )

The list can go and on and on... see if your "techniques" remains the same through out. See if the results are the same every time...

There are no absolutes.

Basic tool and target development, my opponent always dictates my response by his reactions.
This is why we do not teach techniques but conceptual guidelines and formulas, tool and target development, strategies and tactics. rather than provide people with technical skills to use in particular situations, we provide analytical skills that are useful in any situation.

Much peace,


  1. I absolutely love this! You see, you speak the truth. Not sugar coating this at all! I'm a school teacher, and very rarely, for example, my day goes according to my lesson plans. "It Depends" on the kids! Here are some possibilities that will throw my day off of my plan: kid could've had a fight with sibling on the bus, on going bully issues, emotional about a bad mark, social-emotional issues at home, and the list goes on forever! This is an example of how human beings (namely kids)behavior is so dynamic that it's often unpredictable. Therefore, a self defence situation is simply symptomatic of this. We're human, we're problem solvers by nature, and also highly unpredictable. The factors that change our plan in a self defence situation are infinite. So "It Depends" is an amazing way leaving things open for human flaw, and rightfully so! Good post as always Rich. And if you don't mind, I'd like to put it on my blog and discuss it with others?

  2. Thanks brother, please do feel free to share, use, take anything you ever see of value from me and Senshido International at anytime.

  3. This is a great article it should be required reading for everyone