When I was asked to write this blog my immediate answer was sure, in
fact that’s all my reply was, not ok but what shall I write about or can
I use your notes? Now, this isn’t about my ability to retain
information as I was doing more listening than writing, this really
speaks volumes for the quality and relevance of the whole weekend. I
felt nearly 8-weeks post event I had retained enough information to
write a short blog but more importantly I had been stimulated enough to
learn more about the subject in order to enhance my Krav Maga teaching
and ultimately make my students Safer, Fitter, Smarter and ‘Always
If you are not familiar with Mr Rory Miller’s work and want to skip
my ramblings on please, if you do nothing else today go and buy one of
his books ‘Meditations On Violence’ – A Comparison of Martial Arts
Training & Real World Violence or ‘Facing Violence’ – Preparing for
the Unexpected (see bottom of page). They are an inspiring read and absolutely relevant to
what we do as Krav Maga Instructors.
What I liked about Rory Miller was his humble credibility; you could
sense that he’s been there and done that and probably learnt most of
what he knows the hard way. Being in the military myself and been away
on numerous operations you can soon see through those full of BS and
those that know their stuff. You’ve heard the phrase if you’ve walked
the walk you have the right to talk the talk well he has. Rory Miller
has been studying martial arts since 1981, he has served for seventeen
years as a corrections officer and sergeant working maximum security,
booking and mental health; leading a tactical team; teaching and
designing courses in the Use of Force Policy and Decision Making; and
Crisis Communications with the Mentally Ill. So along with numerous
jailhouse brawls and tactical operations I guess he’s picked up a few
lessons to share with us, which is what I shall try and do now.
We have a term in the military called ‘Bottom Line Up Front’ BLUF. It
means, get to the point and tells us what you want us to do or need to
know at the beginning rather than making us read through loads of stuff.
So this is my BLUF in no particular order of what I found most
interesting! To cover everything you’re going to have to buy a few of
If you can truly flip the switch from a surprised, overwhelmed, and
terrified to the assault mind-set, I can’t teach you much. What he meant
by this is it’s the opposite of the “frozen” response often triggered
by a sudden assault. Knowing we are in that frozen state and are able to
break out of it allows us to apply one of the basic principles of Krav
Maga and that is be brutal in our counter-attacks so that we can escape
and hopefully trigger that very same ‘freeze’ response in those that we
may have to fight.
Predatory and Social Violence. Rory suggested that
violence breaks down two ways: Social and Predatory. In social violence
the victim is important to the attacker, in predatory violence it is
not. Social violence, fighting for territory, for ideas, for status, the
attacker fights against someone he acknowledges as a person. Most
people ‘dehumanize’ the victim with nicknames, jokes and insults. A
predator does not have to dehumanize because he never really saw the
victim as a person anyway, only as a resource. We then went on and
explored a predators mind in terms of planning an attack.
What does a
real attack look like, and do I have a chance? To answer this question
we split into small groups and acted out an attack from an attacker or
rather a Predators point of view. How would they plan the perfect
attack? The idea being…. to be good at avoiding conflict, be it bad
place or bad people you need to get into the mind set of an attacker or
This is my favourite and has positively affected my life more than
any other. The wife and I don’t argue half as much and I’m much calmer
in what would all too often end in a verbal stand-off, and I’ll explain
why later. We talked about adrenaline and the affects it is has on the
predator in terms of how they can control the time, the place of an
attack and therefore their adrenaline levels.
We talked about the
different response times in males and females referred to as the curve.
In general, when men get aroused by conflict they have a big surge of
adrenaline early which only takes one heartbeat for the effects to kick
in but it dissipates fairly quickly. Compared to women who have a much
slower build up and a longer cool down. So if a man has an effective
response he would be ready to fight in a heartbeat under the influence
of adrenaline or indeed he could freeze. Whereas women have time to
think clearly for several moments before they hit their adrenalin high,
useful when confronted with a situation where physical conflict may not
be the answer.
So back to the wife, understanding this surge of
adrenalin and knowing how quickly it can affect me and any decisions I
might make means I am aware of it and therefore can better control it.
So were as before I may have responded with verbal abuse the moment I
was agitated I know take a knee and let it pass. So the lesson here for
women is delay the encounter for as long as you can the more likely the
attacker will calm down, the more adrenalin you will have. However if
the threat is from a women the quicker you can end it the better you
will be. And for men, switch on and then explode all over the attacker
and get away to safety as quickly as you can. Lots of training lessons
here to be learnt and passed on to our students.
Violence Dynamics: The Monkey Dance. So what is the
Monkey Dance? And what is it about? Everyone has seen it and most would
have experienced it at some time. Knowing what it is helps you recognise
it which is easier when you’re outside the situation looking in, less
so when you’re in the middle of it.
The Monkey Dance is the most common
and the most avoidable of the social violence types. It can usually be
avoided with a simple apology. It can be defused with submissive body
language—an apology, down cast eyes. The Monkey Dance looks like this.
A hard, aggressive stare.
A verbal challenge, e.g., “What you lookin’ at?”
An approach, often with the signs of increased adrenaline, pushed out chest, arms by their side.
As the two guys square off there may be more verbal exchanges and
then one will make contact. It will usually be a two-handed push on the
chest or an index finger to the chest. Shortly followed but a punch up.
This description is simplified and shows only one side. It must be
emphasised that there have been thousands of generations conditioned to
play this game in this way. It is easy to get sucked in and a very
difficult thing to walk away. Backing down from a Monkey Dance, is
extremely difficult and embarrassing, especially for young men. The
short of it is that as pack or tribal animals it’s not productive to
keep killing our rivals as this effects the productivity of the tribe so
it’s better to posture and monkey dance in the hope that one will back
down rather than fight.
This is a great little nugget “Always run to safety! Never just away from Danger”.
At what stage do your students hesitate – Glitch Hunting? What Rory
discussed here was the importance of finding out what our student’s
glitches are and then helping them overcome them. A glitch being a
hesitation in delivering some kind of counter or a delay or doing some
kind of appropriate response. I.e. would they hesitate firing a weapon
at a male attacker…probably not, but a pregnant women, maybe, stabbing
someone, hitting someone with a weapon, gouging an eye?
that we ask our students to find a trigger in their minds, how far would
they go to protect themselves or a loved one, the thought of what could
happen if they didn’t do something, and then use that thought, that
trigger to enable them to push through any hesitation. A bit of mental
preparation or eye of the tiger moment before battle. Rory suggests that
we give our students permission to do what it takes!
This is another great little nugget, “Training has to be real not just Intense”.
Boundaries and the Thinking Stance. Quite often in training we are
taught to say to someone who approaches or comes to close to “stand back
or stay back” which is fine and works, but Rory suggested saying
something completely different in order to brake their thought processes
and hopefully reduce the possibility of conflict such as.
Mate, this is the third unmarked police car which has passed here in
the last 3-minutes……what’s going on? Or ask them their Star sign.
Following on from boundaries and assuming an attacker has grabbed you
with intentions to take you to a secondary location he may say “come
with me and don’t make a scene”. Rory suggests at this stage you should
consider what is the worst that could happen if you do go with them?
Compared with what could happen if you do the opposite by shouting get
off me you pervert and making a scene. Don’t be obedient or you will get
kidnapped. The decision is yours.
This one had everyone stunned. What are the Principles of
Self-defence? Write them down now and check with the list at the
end….don’t cheat and don’t confuse these with the Law of Self-defence.
On the last day we looked at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the
three-party brain structure (human, monkey, lizard). He divides the
concerns of the pyramid among the brains, with the lizard being
concerned with the lower levels (safety, security), the monkey with the
middle levels (belonging, esteem), and the human brain with the top
He theorises that asocial violence comes
from the top and bottom of the pyramid while social stems from the
middle. Examples of asocial violence would be an addict trying to get
their next hit, who does not see their targets as anything other than a
resource, and at the other end of the spectrum, a psychotic who takes
pleasure in murder/rape/torture is not seeing the humanity in their
The middle sections of the pyramid, those influenced by
the monkey brain in this model, contain social violence. These are
pretty much the primate behaviours that Rory refers to as “The Monkey
Dance” in his books. Although not exactly accurate, a useful rule of
Neo-cortex = human brain. The Neo-cortex controls rational thought, speaking and other higher brain functions.
Limbic system = monkey brain. The limbic system controls emotions and a whole lot more.
Cerebellum = lizard brain. The Cerebellum controls movement and action.
The Lizard is the oldest part of your thinking brain, the hindbrain.
Your survival instincts (particularly fight/flight/freeze responses) are
triggered here. This is the part of your thinking brain most closely
tied to your physical coordination, to your physical body and your
senses. This is you, the animal. The Lizard also has an affinity for
ritual and rhythm. Habits are laid down in this part of the brain.
The Monkey brain corresponds to the limbic system, the emotional
brain. The Monkey is completely concerned with social behaviour, with
status and what other people might think. The Monkey cannot distinguish
between humiliation and death. For much of our evolution, being cast out
of the tribe was to be sentenced to a slow and lonely death. The Monkey
knows this and fears being ostracised above all things.
The neo-cortex, what we call the Human brain, is the new kid on the
block. It is thoughtful, usually rational (but only as good as its
information). It is also slow. Gathering evidence, weighing options and
possibilities takes time. It tends to find a good solution, but usually
one of the older sections of the brain has a decision all set to go
before the neo-cortex has fully explored the problem.
Rory concluded that we have three different brains with three different
priorities. They evolved to deal with different kinds of conflict.
Now refer back to your list of Principles of Self-defence? What do
you have? Rory gave these as his list of principles:
2-way Action, Structure, Momentum, and Environment. I did a quick search
on Google of his work and found a further three principles.
Avoid dangerous people and dangerous places.
Respond immediately and escape.
Do not defend your property.
Feel free to start a debate and add your own principles of self-defence below.