Strategy or Tapping into Anger?

Instructors in women’s self-defense courses often tell their trainees to tap into their “anger” when they are assaulted. This has always struck me as condescending and sexist as well as counter-productive. In trainings with primarily male participants, I’ve never heard anyone suggest that we rely on rage or any other strong emotion to counter-attack. Instead the emphasis is usually on reacting strategically.

Once a counter-attack is your safest option, a strategic mind-set serves you better than one hi-jacked by anger. Learning to see vulnerable, accessible targets and to use your natural and improvised weapons efficiently and effectively generally protects you better than rage.

Using intuition strategically is different from being fueled by anger when counter-attacking. Being able to access and react to your body sensations and your emotions, like disgust, fear, or unease, is important to increase your safety and to recognize, reduce, and avoid threats. But once you are at a point where you need to fight back, strategy will probably serve you better.

And in most encounters, it can be helpful to strive for “the cold face.” This is what the Mongols called a facial expression of a person who had mastered strategy and showed no emotion when dealing with aggression.

The Mongols


Self-Defense for Runners

Bridgers

Fall is a great time for running. Running is a great way to remain fit and healthy. Stay safe by using your common sense and your instincts. Read more…


Self-defense Training Starts Again in October

School is starting and there’s a hint of fall in the air. We had a great summer in Montana and abroad. Thank you to all of our trainees who joined us for our self-defense courses in May, June, and July. Everyone did such an awesome job throughout the summer, and in the final sessions, fighting off their padded aggressor.

Getting ready for fighting off the padded aggressor

Getting ready for fighting off the padded aggressor

After a busy August with lots of fun, including rafting, hiking, and Dragon Boat racing in Colorado and Inner Mongolia, Andy and I are now back in Montana, and Three Rivers Defense courses will start again in October.

Contact us to register for the fall weekly classes.

 


Situational Awareness – Self-Awareness

Our hearts go out to the people in France, and also to all of the other people suffering from recent terror attacks – from Orlando in the US to France, Belgium, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, and other countries.
Travel is a privilege that I treasure. I won’t be intimidated by terrorist attacks. But I will try to remain alert.
Of all self-defense skills, situational awareness, with the foundation of self-awareness, is still one of the most import skills. Not paranoia, but relaxed general awareness, allowing your body and brain to take in and process what’s going on around you. Self-awareness enables you to access and process your body’s sensations cognitively. Your body may react through a tensing of muscles, a “gut feeling,” or another visceral reaction. Meditation and other training can help you to connect your body and mind so that you can access these sometimes subconscious reactions for your protection.


Being paranoid and concentrating on specific things can distract you from other important input. You may be watching for the snake on the trail and miss the bear.


The Nice attack yesterday provided a sad example: the threat wasn’t an abandoned backpack with a bomb in it or a person dressed unusually for the weather, or some other more common indicator of a terror attack. The initial major weapon was the truck.


Relaxed general awareness is something you can improve through meditation and other mind-body training. 


Another self-defense skill is adaptability, overcoming your normalcy bias, accepting reality and moving away from danger as quickly and safely as you can.

Sometimes, people have no chance. But often attacks have pre-cursors, stages, dynamics, indicators that you may be able to sense. Situational awareness and self-awareness may give you the split seconds of reaction time to avoid getting hurt or killed.


Be safe this summer, at home and on your travels!


Self-Defense Training Schedule this Week

3 rivers defense
Our 6:00pm Wednesday class will meet tonight.
Based on the original schedule proposed by the group, the 2:15pm Thursday (7/7) class isn’t meeting this Thursday.
Everyone in the Thursday group who is not out of town is also welcome to join us at 6:00pm tonight (7/6).
We’ll have also have “Open Gym” this Thursday (7/7) from 9:00-10:00am. Everyone (Thursday and Wednesday class) is welcome to work on the bags or get some extra one-on-one time.
All Wednesday and Thursday group members are also invited to join us from 2:00 – 5:00pm on July 16th for a discussion on violence dynamics with a focus on non-stranger violence and for physical training. Please RSVP to Brigitte.
Have a great week!

Holistic Self-Defense

Self-defense is so much more than fighting off physical aggressors. In its holistic sense, it’s defense of the entire self – mentally, emotionally, and physically. Setting boundaries, not just with the proverbial stranger, but more importantly with people we know. Realizing what to discard and what to nurture in our lives. Healing from and overcoming trauma. Uncovering and realizing our full potential.

It can start with learning to get in touch with breathing, feelings, bodily sensations, and body memories.


Awareness isn’t only situational awareness of exterior surroundings; it includes becoming conscious of our interior sensations.

As much as I like working on the mats and striking the bags in our new Bozeman studio, for most people, “interior self-defense” probably increases safety vastly more than any of the purely physical work we do. I say “purely” because  interior work also has important physical components.

Go out, take a walk, hike, spend time in our mountains, lakes, and rivers, dance, eat ice cream –  take time to listen, see, smell, taste, and touch. Enjoy your spring and summer!

Just like this bear enjoyed lounging and playing with his log on a hot summer day.

Lounging Grizzly Bear

Lounging Grizzly Bear


Bozeman Weekly Self-Defense Classes – Wednesdays and Thursdays

Bridgers

Here is our Three Rivers Defense summer schedule.

Our Wednesday weekly self-defense class meets at our training facility at 612 W Griffin, Unit C, in Bozeman, Montana, on Wednesdays from 6pm – 7pm, June 1 through July 27.

Our Thursday weekly self-defense class meets on Thursdays from 2:15pm – 3:15pm, June 9 through July 28th.

You can still join these groups. We have two spots left.

No previous experience is required. This class is open to men and women, boys and girls, age 13 and up. Trainee numbers will be limited to keep these classes small.

You’ll learn and practice self-defense through partner training, and you’ll get a workout through drills with targets, shields, and bags.

If you have taken a workshop or other classes with us before, these weekly classes will allow you to practice what you learned or were introduced to.

In each class we’ll focus on one or two particular self-defense techniques, we’ll practice with exercises and drills, and we’ll end the session with fun drills and free practice on the bags.

You’ll also have a chance to fight off a padded aggressor at the end of the 2-months course.

We also continue to offer private workshops by appointment throughout the summer.

Please register by email or call us at 406-580-5190.

Enjoy your Montana  summer! Be safe and have fun!


Weekly Bozeman Montana Self-Defense Classes

Here is our Three Rivers Defense summer schedule.

Our Wednesday weekly self-defense class meets at our training facility at 612 W Griffin, Unit C, in Bozeman, Montana, on Wednesdays from 6pm – 7pm, June 1 through July 27.

We have started but you can still join this group. We have two spots left. There is also another group forming with people who can’t make the Wednesday 6pm class. This group meets on Thursdays from 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm, starting on June 9th. Call us if you are interested. 

No previous experience is required. Every new student will have the opportunity to learn some basics during a beginners’ class. This class is open to men and women, boys and girls, age 13 and up. Trainee numbers will be limited to keep it a small group class.

You’ll learn and practice self-defense through partner training, and you’ll get a workout through drills with targets, shields, and bags.

If you have taken a workshop or other classes with us before, this weekly class will allow you to practice what you learned or were introduced to.

In each class we’ll focus on one or two particular self-defense techniques, we’ll practice with exercises and drills, and we’ll end the session with free practice on the bags.

We’ll also offer private workshops by appointment throughout the summer.

Please register by email or call us at 406-580-5190.

Enjoy your Montana spring and summer! Be safe and have fun!


Next Bozeman Self Defense Workshop – May 18, 20, and 22, 2016

After a few weeks in Germany, Three Rivers Defense is back in Montana.

We are looking forward to our next self-defense workshop on May 18, 20, and 22, 2016 from 5:30 – 7:30pm each day. We will meet at our Bozeman training facility at 612 W Griffin, Unit C.

Please arrive a few minutes early so that we can begin on time.

Wear comfortable clothing and clean, inside gym shoes. If you prefer, you can also go barefoot. We’ll work out on mats.

Here are a few of the things that we’ll cover: boundary setting, releases from grabs and holds, and basic counter-attacks with your natural weapons.

You’ll practice striking with your hammer-fists, palm-heels, elbows, knees, shins, and feet and other counter-attack weapons.

You’ll also practice defending and counter-attacking from the ground.

We are looking forward to training with you next week!

 


Weapons – Natural, Traditional, and Opportunity

In unarmed self-defense training, we concentrate on our natural weapons like our hands, arms, legs, and feet to counter-attack. But in a self-defense situation, you should also be ready to use any weapon of opportunity to increase your chances of escape and survival. Physical self-defense isn’t a sport or a fair fight; it’s counter-attacking to escape and survive.

Some people dismiss natural weapons and weapons of opportunity, preferring instead traditional weapons like guns and commercial self-defense products ranging from pepper spray to self-defense jewelry.

In violent attacks, guns, knives, or other weapons can increase your survival chances. In addition to their deterrent effects, traditional weapons can enhance the reach and impact of your natural weapons.

My husband and I have lots of traditional weapons like handguns, shotguns, tactical pens, swords, daggers, knives, a machete, a spear, blow darts, a rungu, which is a club that a Maasai Warrior gave me, a weapon that had killed four lions.

Masaai Rungu

Many other less obvious weapons are placed strategically around our house, my husband’s shop, and my training facility. But I wouldn’t want to rely on any of these weapons as my sole or even primary defenses.

You may not always have your traditional weapons with you or you may be prohibited from carrying them in certain places, such as public buildings, trains, subways, planes, schools, or foreign countries. Or you may have a weapon with you, but you may not have the time to access it before a threat rushes you. That’s why Special Forces say,

“You are the weapon. Everything else is only a tool.”

Swords

The Tueller Drill established that assailants within about 21 feet of armed people can rush them and attack with knives or blunt objects before the armed person can draw and shoot. It takes most people with gun training about 1.5 seconds to draw and deploy their handguns. This assumes that your gun is accessible and that you know how to draw and shoot efficiently. Some people do; many don’t.

 

Unlike guns, knives, or other traditional weapons, your natural weapons are with you at all times and wherever you are. They are always legal to carry and instantly available.

Weapons and Gadgets

Occasionally it’s fun to explore self-defense gadgets. At a recent workshop in Virginia Beach, Tom Antion’s and Alain Burrese’s Brutal Self-Defense seminar, we explored a variety of them. Some items were potentially valuable, worth considering seriously. Others were fun to check out and will make good stocking stuffers next Christmas. A few were potentially more dangerous to the carrier than to any attacker.

None of the gadgets were anything I would want to trade my natural weapons for.

These are some of the weapons and gadgets we looked at.

  • Flashlight: A good tactical flashlight is a useful tool that you can use not only for temporarily blinding your attacker but also for striking him. As with all weapons, learn about its functions and how to use it efficiently and effectively. Larry and Anne Yacht from Sealed Mindset TM offer a good video on tactical flashlights, vision, and how to use flashlights. Your flashlight should have at least 200 – 600 lumen and should be large enough to strengthen your hand so that you can also use it as an impact weapon. It also needs to be small enough so that it fits comfortably into your hand. If you want to use it also as a regular flashlight, buy one with different settings so that you don’t drain the battery with your tactical setting.
  • Irritants: There are many commercial irritants. People usually ask about pepper spray. As with any weapon, inform yourself about it, learn how it works, and practice using it. Actual Scoville heat units in the product, not Oleoresin Capsicum concentration, determine how strong the irritant is. Know whether your spray shoots out a stream, a cone, or a fog. Fog is generally best. With a stream, you need to aim and be on target, and you may miss. A fog, especially shot in an S pattern, may build a temporary fog wall in front of you deterring your attacker. But the wind also needs to cooperate, and not everyone is equally susceptible to the irritant. Some people are not affected by it. Pulling up a jacket or pulling down a hood may protect an assailant. In an enclosed space, like a room, an elevator or a car, fog may affect you as much as the attacker. In Montana, and other mountain states, hikers usually own bear spray. In other parts of the country, people may own wasp spray. You may have lots of spray containers in your house, business, or garage: hair spray, bug spray, ammonia or bleach spray, olive oil spray, Mazola, toilet bowl cleaners, and fire extinguishers to name a few.
  • Alarms: Alarms can be good deterrents for attackers that aren’t highly motivated and are looking for easy victims.
  • Impact Enhancers: Companies make all kinds of impact increasing gizmos like sap caps or spiked rings. I consider most of these items gadgets rather than weapons, especially the rings. Our boxing trainer would always frown when we left any rings on before wrapping our hands, and we would unwrap and take the offending ring off. Any ring can damage your hand when you strike, especially one with spikes on it.
  • Handcuff keys: How likely is it that you would ever be kidnapped and need one of those? But most of us own fire extinguishers and pay thousands in building insurance every year while fires are rare. Insurance for the worst case is a good idea, especially when it’s as cheap as with hand cuff keys. So why not invest a little money in a few tiny hand-cuff keys?Indonesian Blow-Darts

Weapons of Opportunity

“Fezzik: We face each other as God intended. Sportsmanlike. No tricks, no weapons, skill against skill alone. 

Man in Black: You mean, you’ll put down your rock and I’ll put down my sword, and we’ll try and kill each other like civilized people? 

Fezzik: [brandishing rock] I could kill you now.” 

The Princess Bride

Physical self-defense isn’t a sport or a fair fight; it’s counter-attacking to escape and survive. My favorite self-defense weapons are improvised tools, like a handful of sand, a rock, a chair, a belt, a broom, or a bar stool. None are as quick as your natural weapons like your hands and feet. But sometimes you do have a little time. Weapons of opportunity don’t cost anything extra, and they can greatly enhance your striking or shielding power. So why not use them?

Swords and Sticks

You can train yourself in using weapons of opportunity with games that exercise your mental flexibility. You take turns with your partner or in a group, rapidly naming items that you see or that are within your reach, and what you would do with them. Or you can play with specific locations, like a campground, or a park, or your living room or office.

These games help you overcome functional fixation, which means being fixated on using an item only for its traditionally intended purpose. For example, a can of bear spray can be used to spray bears, and also human attackers. But you can also use it to strike your attacker. Chairs, computers, backpacks, barstools, and any other such items can serve as shields as well as impact weapons.

So don’t be rigid, exercise your mind, and you’ll notice weapons everywhere. Geoff Booth, an Australian self-defense instructor, offers an entire one-hour session on using plastic shopping bags as a weapon.

Under adrenal stress, our cognitive capabilities deteriorate. We can’t analyze, plan, or think as strategically as when we are calm and relaxed. The limbic brain takes over, and we react. But to react effectively, it needs to have something to draw from. If you’ve never thought of improvised weapons, when you are ambushed, you may not recognize possible weapons, even if they are right in front of you. That’s why the weapon of opportunity games, as warped as they may appear, make a lot of sense. You’ll build synapses in your brain so that you can recognize and use weapons of opportunity effectively in times of stress.

You also need to learn when to abandon weapons that aren’t working, whether they are natural, traditional or improvised weapons. A few years ago, I trained with Tim Larkin from Target Focus Training. Tim showed a video about a man being threatened by another guy with a gun. The man frantically tried to reach his own handgun and  never attempted to counter-attack with his hands or elbows, even when targets presented themselves. He was fixated on drawing his gun, and he was shot and killed before he had a chance to use it.

“A good warrior knows how to use many tools. A great warrior knows when to abort them and go to something else.” Tony Blauer

“The fundamental principle of surviving violence is mental. Not physical, not gadgetry, but mental preparation.” Stanford Strong, Strong on Defense.

Remember, you are the weapon; everything else is gadgets. Train hard, be safe, and enjoy life!