Want to be fast? Relax

Want to punch harder and move faster?  Relax.

A loose, relaxed muscle moves much faster than a tightened one.  Relax to create speed. Tense muscles have more difficulty responding to sudden, intense movements than relaxed muscles.   In addition to self-defense and the martial arts, this principle will hold true for any athletic endeavor. The most relaxed muscle has the most potential for moving at maximum speed.  If your muscles are tense and stiff, your coordination is adversely effected.  It is smooth coordination, rather than sheer muscle power, that allows you to move faster and hit harder. Remember that Force = Mass x Acceleration (F=MA).  Relaxing will allow your muscle fibers to contract faster and in a more coordinated manner, resulting in greater acceleration and therefore, more force. Rather than tensing up and putting all of your power behind a strike, allow yourself to relax and explode with speed and smooth coordination of your entire body. Trying too hard, becoming stiff and forcing your muscles is counter-productive. How do you relax for a more powerful punch?  Start by keeping your hands loose.  A tightly clenched fist means that the muscles in your forearm are already contracted.  Tighten your hand only at the moment of impact.  Make sure your shoulders, arms, and legs are also loose.  Relax just prior to the movement and maintain a minimum amount of tension during the movement. Relaxation conserves energy and lessens the amount of force necessary to move your body quickly.


How to survive a random shooting

The recent, seemingly random spree shootings at the movie theater showing of Batman in Aurora, Colorado, the Copper Top Bar in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as well as Northern Illinois University, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and other mass shootings have prompted me to remind you what to do when the bullets start flying.  As always, awareness and avoidance are your first line of defense.  Be aware of your surroundings and avoid areas frequented by wrongdoers and where violence is likely to occur.  However, these random spree shootings show us that some violent encounters bypass the awareness and avoidance filter.

While the information below can help you survive a spree shooting in which the shooter has no particular target, this will also help in other shooting scenarios.  Before we get into tactics to use once your life is in danger, it’s important to note that you should be aware of your surroundings and take notice of exit, escape routes, areas of concealment, and cover.


Cover and Concealment

The use of cover and concealment is critical to surviving an armed deadly force confrontation.  Before we discuss tactics, it is crucial to understand the difference between cover and concealment and the advantages/disadvantages of both.

Cover: Cover is anything solid that offers protection against the attack.  Appropriate cover for a knife attack may not be appropriate for protection against firearms.  Cover for a shooting scenario is something that bullets cannot penetrate.  Keep in mind that being behind cover does not guarantee your safety.  If the shooter changes their position, you may be exposed and vulnerable.  Examples of cover in a shooting scenario include concrete walls, large trees, and dirt piles.  Note that depending on the weapon and distance, cover may provide only limited protection.  In addition, some barriers that appear to be appropriate cover (such as cinderblocks) may fragment when struck by a bullet, causing injury.

Concealment: Concealment is anything that hides you from the attacker.  While concealment can help reduce the risk of the attacker shooting you, it is not adequate protection.  Examples of concealment include hiding behind a wooden door, in a closet, behind bushes, or in darkness.  Drywall provides concealment and is not appropriate cover against firearms as most bullets will go through drywall like paper.


Top 5 Tactics to Survive an Armed Attack

Use the following five tactics to reduce the likelihood of injury or death when in a live fire situation (when the bullets are already flying).

1. Move off the line: If you can see the shooter, move to avoid the 30-degree arc (or pie slice) around the direction in which the attacker is pointing the weapon.  Doing so may help you avoid stray bullets if they are shooting at a particular target and may help reduce the chance that the shooter will notice you as a target.  Use cover and concealment as you move (see below).

2. Gain distance: As you move off the line of fire, it is important to gain distance.  The farther away from the shooter you are, the less likely you will be shot.  When you gain distance, make sure you move towards an escape route.  If you gain distance by running to an area with no outlet, the shooter can follow and you will be unable to escape (dead end in the fullest sense of the term).  As mentioned above, use cover and concealment while escaping.

3. Be a Tough Target: When moving, use a zigzag pattern when appropriate and try to make yourself a smaller target by hunching over or blading your body.  Blading your body means to expose a smaller profile by angling your body (as opposed to standing square to the attacker).

4. Use Cover & Concealment to Escape: As mentioned above, when moving off the line of fire and gaining distance, take advantage of cover and concealment along the way.  Run from cover to cover as you make your escape to lessen the chance of being shot.  While concealment may temporarily hide you from the attacker, you will need cover that is more substantial. Put a bulletproof barrier between you and the shooter while making your escape.

5.  Go . . . and Keep Going: Once you have gained distance and made your escape, keep going.  A fatal mistake people often make is to stop when they think they are safe.  The shooter can change their location or you may be struck by a stray bullet.  If you are inside a building, get out and keep going, using cover along the way.  If you are outside, get into a safe building, keep going through the back door . . ., and keep going.  Leaving will help minimize your risk and make it easier for law enforcement personnel to identify the shooter and those who are injured.  You can return once the area is secure to file a report.  Better yet, call the police and let them know the situation and where you are located.


The one thing not to do in a shooting

Play Whack-a-Mole:  Have you played the game Whack-A-Mole?  Often, people will move to where they think they are safe and then try to see what is happening with the shooting.  These people are the moles about to be whacked.  Keep gaining distance and keep behind cover.

My hope is that by remaining aware of your surroundings and avoiding potentially dangerous areas, you will never need to use these tactics.  If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a shooting, stay low, seek cover, and escape.  Now move!

Please share this information and leave your comments, questions, and feedback below.


How to Safely Train in Hot Weather

How heat affects your body

Warm Weather TrainingExercising in hot weather puts stress on your body. You must take care when exercising in the heat or you risk serious illness. Both the exercise itself and high outside temperatures increase your core body temperature. To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate. Sweat is your body’s primary cooling mechanism and if the humidity is high, your body cannot cool itself effectively because the sweat doesn’t evaporate from your skin as easily. This can push body temperature even higher, adding to the stress on your body.


How to avoid heat-related illnesses

When you exercise in hot weather, take the following precautions:

  • Hydrate.  Dehydration is a contributor to heat-related illnesses. Maintaining proper hydration helps your body sweat and cool down effectively. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.  If your urine is dark in color, you are dehydrated.  Because sweating depletes your body of minerals in addition to water, you may want to supplement your water intake with a sports drink. Sports drinks can replace the sodium, chloride, and potassium that you lose through sweating. You can make your own sports drink by combining two parts water with one part orange juice and adding a pinch of salt (you won’t taste the salt).
  • Dress appropriately. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing to help sweat evaporate and keep cooler. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb heat.  Cotton t-shirts can trap sweat and heat against your body, so it is preferable to wear tactical apparel specially designed with moisture-wicking fabrics such as CoolMax, which soak sweat from your skin and transfer it to the outer surface of the garment for evaporation.
  • Get acclimated to the heat. When you exercise in the heat, give your body time to adapt by starting slowly and taking frequent breaks.  As your body adapts to the heat over time, gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts.
  • Wear sunscreen. A sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself.
  • Supplement with indoor training. When the outdoor temperature or pollution levels are high, switch to an indoor training routine.  This will allow you to continue training while avoiding heat-related dangers.

Beware of heat-related illnesses (courtesy of the American Red Cross)

When your body’s cooling system works ineffectively or when you fail to drink enough fluids to stay properly hydrated, you may develop a heat-related illness.  Heat-related illnesses include:

  • Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscle spasms caused by excessive sweating that results in a deficiency of salt. While heat cramps are often not dangerous, they can precede more serious illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke. To treat heat cramps, move to a cooler place rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch and gently massage the affected muscle and replenish fluids by drinking a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes.


  • Heat exhaustion: With heat exhaustion, you may experience heavy sweating, a headache, nausea, dizziness, and exhaustion.  You may also have cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin.  This is a potentially dangerous situation and you must act quickly or risk heat stroke.  To treat someone with heat exhaustion:
    • Move the person to a cooler place;
    • Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths such as towels or sheets soaked in water;
    • If the person is conscious, give them cool water to drink (make sure they drink slowly) by giving them a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes;
    • Let the person rest in a comfortable position; and
    • Watch carefully for changes in their condition.


  • Heatstroke: Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition that may lead to brain damage, organ failure, or death.  The signals of heatstroke include hot, red skin (either dry or moist from exercise), changes in consciousness, a rapid and weak pulse, rapid but shallow breathing, and vomiting.  A person experiencing heatstroke can have a very high body temperature—sometimes as high as 106°F.  Heatstroke is a life-threatening situation. If you suspect someone is suffering from heatstroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.  While waiting for emergency medical care, you can do the following:
    • Move the person to a cool place.
    • Loosen tight clothing.
    • Remove perspiration-soaked clothing.
    • Apply cool, wet cloths to the skin.
    • Fan the person.
    • If conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink.
    • Place the person on his or her side.
    • Continue to cool the person by using ice or cold packs on the wrists, ankles, groin, neck, and in the armpits.
    • Continue to check breathing and circulation.

You can continue training when hot weather hits.  Just make sure you take the appropriate precautions.



The Response Spectrum

Everyone has been confronted with a potentially volatile situation at some point.  While it is usually best to avoid the confrontation, this is not always possible.  How you respond to the situation can mean the difference between becoming a victim, escalating the possibility of violence, or diffusing the situation.   In your response, you can act passive, aggressive or assertive.

If you were to act passive (no eye contact, cower, and collapse your stance), you portray the look of a victim.  This tells the other person that you will not put up much of a fight if they attacked.  If you act aggressive (yelling, insulting the other person, and invading their space), it will only serve to escalate the situation and may lead to more violence.

The proper way to respond to a volatile situation is to act assertive.  An assertive person sets physical and verbal boundaries, remains aware and alert, and makes direct eye contact without trying to stare the other person down.  Assertive behavior lies somewhere between passive (doormat) and aggressive (bully).  You may need to match the other person’s initial voice tone and volume, but you should quickly lower your volume and rate of speech.  This tends to have a calming effect on the other person and may help to de-escalate the situation.  You also need to control distance by respecting each other’s personal space.  This also means that you should not let them invade your space.

Acting assertive and with confidence tells the other person that you are not looking for a fight, but you are ready to defend yourself if necessary.


Be a Criminal for a Week

Be a CriminalBad guys are aware of your vulnerabilities.  You should be too.

One of the best ways to become aware of gaps in your defenses is to pretend to be a criminal for one week.  As you go throughout your day at work, at home, at school, and while shopping, pretend to be a criminal.  Watch people and ask yourself “If I were a bad guy, who would I select as a target and why?”.  Doing so will give you insight into your own weaknesses.  Remember that criminals are looking for a victim, not a fight.  They look for someone who is unaware of their surroundings and who will likely not put up much of a fight.

Look for targets of opportunity at home and at work.  Ask yourself “If I were a criminal, how would I break in my house?” or “Where would I hide if I was going to attack someone?”.  Do you routinely leave doors or windows unlocked?  Is there a ladder or tools in your yard that a criminal can either steal or use to break in your house?

After a week of this practice, implement changes in your life to eliminate the gaps in your defenses and make yourself a hardened target.  Walk with force presence, be aware of your surroundings, avoid danger zones, and make sure your home is secure.

Being a bad guy (or at least pretending) has its advantages.


Got kids? How about guns?

In today’s post, we will look at how to protect your kids from guns.  How would your child react if they found a gun?  The shocking 30 second video below shows what one child did.

Child Gun Safety Video Experiment

Recently, police in Florida offered safety tips for gun owners on their Facebook page.  They encourage all everyone to follow important rules about guns – lock them up, teach the consequences, and explain how to act around guns.   Below is an excerpt from Tampa Bay Newspapers (TBNweekly.com):

Lock it up
People who own guns are advised to keep it locked up, unloaded, and out of reach of children. Store the ammunition separately and keep the ammunition locked up, too, and invest in a trigger lock for the gun, the report said.

Teach that guns kill
Kids may not realize that guns can be deadly. In television shows, movies and video games, violence doesn’t often have consequences. After being shot, a cartoon character may have a hole in his stomach, but it disappears in the next scene, the report said. The leading characters in movies hardly ever die – only the bad guys do. In video games, characters have many lives.

Parents can use these media as a way to teach their children about real life impacts of guns. If you see an example of violence, ask your children what the consequences would be if it happened outside a Hollywood production, the report said. Talk about everyone who is affected by gun violence, such as the victim’s children, parents, friends and community. Discuss the consequences for the shooter and the shooter’s family, such as jail time and guilt.

Explain how to act around guns
Even if you don’t own a gun, it’s likely one of your neighbors does. About 35 percent of adults live in a home with at least one gun, according to the John Hopkins University’s Center for Gun Policy and Research. If children know how you want them to act around guns, they’ll more likely act in a safe manner. Teach kids four steps to gun safety: Stop, don’t touch, get away, tell an adult.
Talk about specific examples of places your children may see a gun, and have your children tell you what they would do. You could talk about the following examples:
• A friend shows the child his dad’s gun
• The child sees a gun in a classmate’s locker or backpack
• The child overhears a classmate talking about bringing a gun to school
• The child sees a person walk into a store holding a gun
• The child finds a gun while playing outdoors

See full article here

In short, you need to teach your kids about gun safety – even if you do not own a gun.  Practice or talk through some scenarios with your child to make sure they know what to do.

Stay safe and keep your kids safe.


How to Become a Victim

Want to be a victim?  It’s easy and millions of people do it every day . . .  just follow our top 5 tips below.

  1. Be completely unaware of your surroundings.  Who cares if someone is following you or getting too close to you at the ATM – it’s unlikely that they’ll rob or hurt you.  Besides, it’s a great way to meet new and interesting people at the police station and the hospital.
  2. Frequent places known for fights and high crime.  It’s a great way to see where they film the Cops TV show and get ideas for the opening scene of Law and Order.
  3. Keep your doors unlocked and leave your valuables in plain sight.  Locking your door is much too difficult and takes too much time.  I like to leave my valuables out so I remember where they are and so that others can see that I make a lot of money.
  4. Drink a lot and be belligerent.  It’s fun and you probably won’t get jumped when you leave the bar.
  5. Be submissive and allow strangers to get really close to you – even when there’s no one else around.  It will make it easier for them to shake your hand and it’s unlikely that they have a knife or other weapon.

Remember . . . “Hope” is not a viable self-defense strategy.  Saying “It won’t happen to me” doesn’t make it so.  Stay aware and stay safe.


The Stupid Tax

There’s a tax paid by millions of Americans each year.  It’s not managed by any government and it’s totally optional, yet millions actively contribute.  It’s what I like to call The Stupid Tax.

As the name implies, The Stupid Tax is a tax we pay when we do something stupid.   I first paid the stupid tax when I left my new bike unlocked on my front porch while I ran in the house for a few minutes.  Before I can back, the Tax Collector came by and picked up my bike.

Recently there was an increase in car vandalism in my area.  What was the common factor for each incident?  The owner elected to pay The Stupid Tax by leaving their wallet, mobile phone, GPS, or other goodie in plain view on their seat or dashboard.

How can we combat The Stupid Tax? Reduce the opportunity by making it difficult for the Tax Collector (bad guy).  Remember, crime = victim + opportunity.  When we remove the opportunity, there is no crime.  We can easily reduce the opportunity by locking doors, hiding valuables, and protecting your property.  While we cannot completely eliminate the opportunity, we can make it as difficult as possible for the bad guy so he moves on to an easier target.

Boycott The Stupid Tax – protect yourself.


Preemptive Strikes

As indicated in the Warning Signs of Attack article, sometimes it may be appropriate for you to strike first. Obviously, this should be done only if no other option exists and you feel that a preemptive strike is appropriate to defend yourself from an imminent attack. If this is the case, you must make a committed attack. Anything other than a decisive strike will only infuriate the attacker. Once an opening for escape appears, take it. Make sure that your first strike decision is truly based on self-protection – don’t let your ego send you to jail.

When you decide to make a preemptive strike, it is a good idea to reduce the likelihood of criminal charges against you by drawing attention to your situation. Do what you can to attract attention and indicate that you are the victim. This is done using boundary setting and making sure others hear you directing the attacker to “back off”. Witnesses who can clearly identify you as the victim even though you threw the first strike will help protect you from legal problems.


Survive an Armed Attack

When it comes to defending yourself against an armed attacker, there are three rules.  Of course, the easiest and often best choice is to hand over your wallet or car if that’s what they’re after any you believe you may be injured (or worse) if you don’t comply.  Be sure you do so in a way that creates an opportunity for escape – more on this in a later post.  Money and personal possessions compared to your life and health.

However, if you believe the attacker will injure you or your loved ones even if you comply, you may have no choice but to take physical action against your attacker.  If that’s the case, the following three rules (in the following order) may save your life.

Rule # 1: Get out of the way.  The first and most important rule is to stay away from the business end of the weapon.  If it’s a knife, create distance or find a shield.  For a gun, be aware of the muzzle and where it is pointing, avoiding that direction.  This can include simply getting out of the way or redirecting the weapon.

Rule #2: Control the weapon.  The second rule states that you must always be aware of the weapon and control it or disarm your attacker.  If you simply get out of the way (rule #1) without escaping or controlling the weapon (rule 2), there is nothing stopping your attacker to continue to use the weapon against you.

Rule #3: Control the person.  After you get out of the way to avoid initial injury and control the weapon so that the attacker can no longer use it against you, you can focus your attention on controlling the attacker.  You want to create an opportunity to safely escape and we do this using force against the attacker.   Remember that this person just tried to use a weapon to injure or kill you.  Use whatever force is necessary for you to escape to safety.

The rules must be followed in the above order.  If you try to control the person before controlling the weapon, your odds of survival go down dramatically.  If you try for any type of control before avoiding the weapon, hope you have good health insurance.

Above all, look for opportunities to safely escape.  Better yet, be aware and you can avoid such attacks in the first place.