The "It Could Never Happen To Me" Mentality.
By Berkley R. Bruce
I'm sure we all know someone who has no interest whatsoever in any kind of self-defense or personal protection training or anything related. They remain oblivious and unaffected by the headlines, TV news and sometimes even when things happen uncomfortably close to home. These people suffer from the "it could never happen to me" mentality. They live under the delusion that bad things only happen to other people or only to certain types of people. They call people who train and prepare themselves paranoid, trouble seekers or think they live in fear. For the majority of people who practice some form of the Warrior Arts, this couldn't be further from the truth. These people simply exist and think in the real World, where bad things do often happen to good people.
Those with the "it could never happen to me" mentality, would do well to develop a more open mind and broader vision. They may come to realize that many of the victims they read about and see on TV, once felt like them. They probably subliminally chanted the same internal mantra, "it could never happen to me". Until one day, it did.
If you are one who harbors this mentality, realize that you may very well be taking your baby steps toward becoming a statistic. Once you fall victim to this thought process, you can easily fall victim to almost anything else. The World is not always a friendly, happy place. That is not a reason to become paranoid. Just a reason to become more educated, aware and real.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Martial Arts: 10 Reasons Why Your Martial Arts/Self-Defense Training Will Fail You On The Street.
By Berkley R. Bruce
By Berkley R. Bruce
*The opinions and techniques discussed in this article are in no way meant to substitute for actual instruction.
Every year thousands of people sign up for martial arts classes and self-defense seminars. They have the expectation of becoming the next Bruce Lee or at least being able to hold their own, only to have their hopes dashed by reality later. First, lets take a look at the difference between learning a martial art and learning self-defense. Learning an actual art takes years of training and practice. In a time not so long ago, the martial arts were oftentimes the only means one had of defending him/herself. Proper training in an art then and now should follow the formula of basic philosophy, conditioning/techniques, forms and applications. Next comes intermediate concepts, conditioning/techniques, forms and applications. Finally advanced concepts, conditioning/techniques, forms and applications. The way this training was done in ancient times and often times still is in the homeland of the given art, would be considered abuse by modern Western standards. Many training centers here in the West are regulated "black belt" mills and geared toward sport, this leads to many of the most brutal and effective parts of the arts being left out.
Self-defense techniques for the most part are simply the applications of the foundation art or arts taught separately. This is intended now as it was in the past, to give one a "fighting chance" faster. Unfortunately, once again many of the most effective and brutal parts are left out and brutal is what you need to survive. This is not to say that someone cannot learn to defend themselves effectively in a short period of time. But we must first look at what is necessary to accomplish this.
10 Reasons why your martial arts/self defense training will fail you on the street.
1) Lack of basic physical fitness- In an actual physical altercation against someone with every intention of doing you harm, you will expend a lot of energy fast, trust me here. You may be able to knock out everyone you meet until you meet that one individual that makes you go the distance. Train for endurance, the longer you can move and generate power the better your chances. I understand that fitness is subjective and not everyone can attain the fitness level of a top athlete. You should however try to be as fit as "YOU" can be. It takes a certain level of fitness to run away, if you have the chance. It is also important to choose an art befitting your body type and fitness limitations.
2) Improper physical conditioning- This is another main ingredient often missing in most people's training. There is undeniably a difference between a punch from a well conditioned fist and one that is not. If your fists cannot at the very least handle push-ups on concrete, they will not serve you well for effective punching. Also, if you've never been hit for real it could shut you down instantly.
3) Improper mental conditioning or mindset- An imbalance of confidence will not serve you well. Over confidence or lack of confidence can get you hurt or worse. If you must commit yourself, do so fully and without hesitation. Often times, people are taught to do just enough to get away. Courses designed for women are notorious for this mentality. What happens if that is not a option? Learn to fight to the finish if you have to.
4) Improper spiritual conditioning- All arts have a spiritual element or philosophy. Exercise and balance your "chi" regularly through meditation. Always, remain a student no matter what color belt or sash you wear. Be willing to learn from every experience you have. See life and the Universe as one big school.
5) Lack of training on "real life" surfaces- If you've only trained on the level floors and mats of your dojo, dojang or kwoon, you will be in for a surprise. Do some training outside on some not so forgiving surfaces while wearing your street clothes and shoes . You will quickly find out what does and does not work on uneven ground, wet leaves, loose gravel, wet grass or wet pavement.
6) Too much time spent on flashy, unrealistic techniques- I know a low kick to the shin or ankle joint isn't anything special, but it will work much better on the surfaces mentioned above. Lower kicks are faster, harder to stop and allow for better balance and faster follow up. Also, Whenever possible train with others from systems different from your own. Put some real pressure on eachother. Brush up on your anatomy.
7) Lack of ground fighting skills- Unless you practice a style like MMA or Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, you will probably find yourself lacking in this area. As the old saying goes "In a real fight expect to go to the ground".
8) Lack of grappling skills- Again, unless you practice a style like MMA or Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, you will probably find yourself lacking in this area. Often times skills like joint locks, pressure points and throws and taught as after thoughts and not in depth enough.
9) Not working out or practicing on your own time- Life is hectic and our days are often full. Make time for mini workouts whenever possible. When other animals awake from sleeping, they do a full body stretch to prepare them for the day. Not a bad idea. When you go for a walk in a traffic free area with a curb, walk along the curb and see how long you can stay on it. Come up with your own "micro workouts", get creative.
10) Lack of training in the weapons of the times- In ancient times soldiers, warrior monks and everyday citizens were skilled in the weapons and implements of the day. In our modern times these include firearms, knives and just about anything else you can get your hands on. As a martial artist anything you pick up is an extension of you and is therefore a martial arts weapon. For example, short staff techniques are easily adapted to a broomstick or cane. Shooting when practiced for defense or combat is a martial art.
Hopefully, no matter what style or system you practice currently or are considering this has given you a few points to ponder. Take time to evaluate your fitness level, your techniques and your mindset. With a little effort you will easily see where the beautiful brutality was left out of your art.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Armed Defense/Concealed Carry: Myth Of The Untrained "Bad Guy"
By Berkley R. Bruce
Mindset of false security
We live in a society that promotes a false since of security at almost every turn. People think that living in a gated community makes them safe from the rest of the World. They also tend to think that simply buying a gun and getting a carry permit makes them ready to take on zombies and anything else that may go bump in the night. Unfortunately, the skills necessary do not just magically come with your new gun or arrive in the mail with your permit. Many times even people who do seek further training, only get minimal training geared to allow them to win all the time in the training environment. This type of training will not prepare you for mutual combat.
People who buy firearms for home defense or concealed carry far too often imagine scenarios in which they emerge victorious against some dumb, unskilled criminal. They imagine themselves sending a home invader scurrying off into the night at the sound of a pump shotgun or the announcement of "I have a gun!" They see themselves valiantly defending themselves or loved ones and an assailant, who is frozen with fear and intimidation at their gun handling prowess. These are all possible endings, but don't expect it. Don't expect it especially if you bought a gun five years ago, got your carry permit and haven't racked the slide or unlatched the cylinder since. One of the biggest mistakes people make is underestimating the enemy, the second one is overestimating themselves. Don't expect to face only unskilled or untrained assailants.
The untrained bad guy myth dispelled
Apparently, criminals are not nearly as dumb, untrained or unskilled as most like to believe. In 2006, the DoJ released a five year long FBI study on felonious assaults on law enforcement officers. From a pool of more than 800 incidents, researchers selected 40, involving 43 offenders (13 of them admitted gangbangers-drug traffickers) and 50 officers, for in-depth exploration. Here are just some of their findings. Offenders, have more experience using deadly force in “street combat” than their intended victims, they practice with firearms more often and shoot more accurately, they have no hesitation whatsoever about pulling the trigger. “If you hesitate,” one told the study’s researchers, “you’re dead. You have the instinct or you don’t. If you don’t, you’re in trouble on the street….” Other findings include information on familiarity, weapon selection, concealment, shooting technique and mindset.
Offenders began to carry weapons at the average age of 17, some started as young as 9. Nearly, 40% had some formal firearms training..i.e. military. Most practiced with their weapons on a regular basis in informal "ranges". Officers, in the study averaged about 14 hours of sidearm training and 2.5 qualifications per year.
Mostly, illegally obtained handguns were used in the assaults. Usually obtained in street transactions or thefts. Sorry mainstream media, no firearms in the study were obtained from gun shows. None of the attackers interviewed were ever hindered by any law federal, state or local, that has ever been established to prevent gun ownership.
Offenders carried concealed most of the time. If not on their person, their weapons were never far away.
Most offenders were found to be instinctive or point shooters, not aligning the sights while firing. Their hit rate using this technique was much higher than the officers.
Of the 50 officers in the study 36 of them had experienced hazardous situations where they had the legal authority to use deadly force “but chose not to shoot.” None of the officers were willing to use deadly force against an offender if other options were available.
Offenders were of a totally different mind-set entirely, they typically displayed no moral or ethical restraints in using firearms.
What does a study on "cop killers" have to do with you, the armed citizen? The guy who hasn't fired an entire box of ammo since you got your personal protection firearm? Answer, everything. The very same criminals that LEO's have to deal with are the very same type of people you're more likely to encounter as you go about your daily business. If you have to use your firearm or any other form of self defense, it will more than likely be against this type of person. Of course there are other types you must be on the look out for as well. There are terrorists foreign and domestic, insane rampage killers..etc. Does knowing just how skillful some of those "bad guys" are make you uncomfortable? Good. Sometimes, discomfort is the mother of inspiration.
*Research sources- Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation's Law Enforcement Officers. Book available here
And Force Science Institute.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Dry Fire Practice: Effective Practice That Preserves Your Ammo Hoard.
By Berkley R. Bruce
*Disclaimer: Techniques and tips described here are to be used at your own risk. YOU are responsible for your safety and the safety of those around you.
Dry fire practice is nothing new. It is an easy, inexpensive and effective way to improve your shooting. During these lean times of ammo shortages and price gouging, it's time to take another look at it. It is effective for everything from brushing up on the basics to practicing advanced defensive and carry techniques. It is also a great way to teach new shooters the basics of safety and gun handling. Doing dry fire practice drills will certainly make your live fire time more productive. Afterall, if your rounds aren't going where you want them, that's no fun and you're wasting precious ammo.
There are many ways to practice dry fire, everything from putting a non-firing training barrel or "snap caps" in your real carry gun to totally electronic training firearms.
Personally, I like the "old school" method using my real firearms. This allows me to feel the actual reset and characteristics of a firearm that I actually carry and would have to use should the need arise. I know I'm going to get hate mail about "You don't need snap caps". I kind of like my firing pins and some firearms really do not handle dry fire well without a buffer. Real or electronic the rules remain the same.
First let's look at safety. Dry fire should always be done with an unloaded firearm.
1. Treat ALL Firearms as if they were loaded.
Even if you're using one of the new high tech laser firing guns, treat it and respect it like the real
2. Never point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
4. Know your target and what is beyond it.
For dry fire practice make sure you have a safe direction in which to aim while you train.
You can also create one using a ballistic backstop such as the one
Preparing for dry fire practice
* Determine the type of practice you wish to engage in.
* Set up a designated training area. Set up all your practice tools in this area i.e. training barrels, snap caps electronic training systems, shot timers etc. If you're only working on the fundamentals the above items should suffice. If you're doing more advanced practice such as defensive, concealed carry or competition you will also need the proper holsters, cover garments and other items from your EDC or competition rig. Many of the items that I use personally are available here.
* Unload live ammunition in a separate room just as you would for cleaning.* Make a visual and tactile inspection once again to make sure your firearm is clear.
* Move to your training area with the action open.
* Move to your training area with the action open.
* Make sure your training area is prepared and safe.
* Install your training aids.
* Begin your dry fire practice. If you take a break or your practice is interrupted, repeat the clearing and inspection ritual.
Practice makes perfect
Only you know the areas in which you wish to improve, drill types and repetitions are up to you.Whatever and however you decide to practice, aim for consistency (pun intended). For example consistency in the types of gear that you choose, types of firearms and how you wear or carry them. This will give you a chance to see which items and/or techniques that may or may not work for you in "Real World" situations. You may want to keep a training journal or make notes to chart your progress over time.
Ending your practice session
Once your practice session ends, clear your firearm of training aids and return it to your "live room" (action open) and leave it there. Once it is secured, then you may begin breaking down your training area if it is one that cannot remain static.
After action review
After everything is put away and secured use your down time to do a personal after action review of your practice. Write down your findings and review them. You may find that you were doing things that you did not know you were doing or that maybe that holster that you love may not allow you a full firing grip upon the draw. Always, try and keep things fresh and interesting in order to make you want to practice and improve. Whatever you do stay safe and amaze yourself.
Saturday, January 5, 2013
GUN BAN 2013: Childish Nonsense
By Berkley R. Bruce
I suppose by now anyone interested has at least had a glimpse of Senator Dianne Feinstein's proposed firearms ban. Obviously, written by the simple-minded for the supposedly simpler-minded. It looks more like it was hastily crafted by Anthony Fremont from the "It's a Good Life" Twilight Zone episode. Anthony, portrayed by Billy Mumy, is a six-year-old boy with special powers who holds a small Ohio town hostage by banning or destroying anything or anyone he thinks is bad. He controls everyone in town with the threat of wishing them into the "cornfield" never to be seen again. All the adults must constantly tell Anthony what "good" things he does, even though they live in misery and fear. I guess now we know how the episode would've gone if little Anthony had gotten hold of Dad's CDNN catalog. Apparently, Anthony, I mean Senator Feinstein thinks that firearms (even though she owns one and has a carry permit) and The 2nd Amendment are very bad things and she doesn't like them at all.
It's All About The Furniture
One can certainly see that not a lot of work or research went into drafting this bill. It is clearly written from what someone thinks they know, and that's never a good thing. Someone took a catalog and decided that anything black, uses a magazine, has a pistol grip or a thumbhole stock is bad? Just further proof of how intelligent one doesn't have to be to become a lawmaker in this country. These so-called "very bad guns" are simply semi-automatics with teched-out, polymer furniture. The AK-47, which often has wooden furniture got thrown in because they are popular and they do use a magazine and some have thumbholestocks. Semi-auto pistols use magazines too, they are on the list as well. Perhaps, we should really throw them for a loop and let them know that some bolt-action rifles have thumbholes too. Ok, maybe we better not. Don't want to throw too much at such small minds all at once. They can't even seem to process what ".....the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." means. It DOES NOT mean only the arms someone else likes the look of or the ones that only hold a certain amount of rounds, it means any arms.
In the following photo, which is the "very bad gun"?
Answer: Neither. They are the same rifle with different furniture. It didn't gain any "special powers" with the furniture change.
Shakespeare, said it best...."A rose by any other name would smell as sweet". Personally, I think that we in the firearms community need to refrain from using terms like "Assault Weapon" and "Assault Rifle". It confuses the uninitiated and causes panic and fear of something that is simply a firearm by any other name. Lets look at the definitions of assault.
as·sault [uh-sawlt] noun 1. a sudden, violent attack; onslaught: an assault on tradition. 2. Law. an unlawful physical attack upon another; an attempt or offer to do violence to another, with or without battery, as by holding a stone or club in a threatening manner. 3. Military . the stage of close combat in an attack. 4. Rape . verb (used with object) 5. to make an assault upon; attack; assail.
Therefore, any rifle can become an "assault rifle" if used to assault someone. Anything else used as a weapon to assault someone becomes an "assault weapon". Recently, here in Las Vegas, two people were bludgeoned to death with a hammer. Better rush out to the hardware store and get an overpriced "assault hammer" before they get banned. On the flip side of that, we can forget about the media and others seeking to demonize gun owners using an alternative terminology. Since any news about assault anything gets attention and sells like hotcakes. It would really be great if they would spend more time on the "Assault People" behind the firearms. In my 30+ years of firearms handling experience, I have yet to see any firearm do anything without the will and intention of a human somewhere behind it. Anything, firearm or otherwise in the hands of an "assault person" instantly becomes an "assault _____ fill in the blank".
We The People
If this bill passes and our Second Amendment rights are further diminished or done away with, it will be the first of many to fall in a vicious "domino effect". We The People, must remind those in Washington with the childlike minds and the special powers, that those powers were granted by us. We are always to have a say in the decision-making and law-making process. We shall not live in misery and fear, forced to smile and say how great it is that someone controls every aspect of our lives. The Second Amendment exists to prevent this from occurring.
The phrase "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" certainly applies to the current situation. Gun owners come from various backgrounds, religious and political affiliations. We do have our differences, but we must stick together and stick to our guns, literally and figuratively. If we do not, freedom and those who love it , will be banished to the "cornfield" never to be seen again.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Mental Illness: The REAL Elephant In The Room.
By Berkley R. Bruce
After every mass shooting the government, the media and almost everyone else uneducated and miseducated about almost everything, are quick to point to firearms as the root of the problem. The recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT has proven to be more of the same, again they miss the boat. They totally refuse to examine or even talk about the true main causes of these incidents. No one wants to address the proverbial elephant in the room, mental illness. They won't even look at him just standing right there. The lampshade and tablecloth make for a poor disguise. I'm not a mental health expert and don't claim to be. I am simply a realist. Gun control will not solve the problem. That's like treating someone for the flu when they have a broken leg.
Let's put the blame where it really belongs for a change. The healthcare system as a whole in this country is abominable and getting worse. The mental health system is already worse and guess what, it's not getting any better. A good deal of the blame for all these things belongs to....*drum roll*, the pharmaceutical industry. They have essentially turned every other part of healthcare into an industry. With commercials showing people jogging and smiling to a soundtrack of cheesy background music. They may as well be selling a soft drink. All this joy and good happyness stuff distracts you while a narrator lists the possible side-effects. These side-effects are often times worse than the disease it's meant to treat. Ever try reading the really small print at the bottom of the screen? Heart attack and stroke from an allergy pill? Doctors no longer care for or about patients, they're glorified snake-oil salesmen and drug pushers. Their offices are usually just a continuation of the cheesy commercials. Treatment for anything now basically means a pill for your ills, and you're on your way.
The pharmaceutical industry certainly would have us believe that there is indeed a pill for every ill. Present day treatment basically equates to giving a mentally unstable person a bunch of expensive pills which probably don't work anyway and expecting them to take them on schedule. Many times, no one monitors them to see how well, or if it's working or even if they're being taken. They would have us believe that someone who is dangerously mentally ill is safe to walk the streets by simply taking a few pills. Safe to return to home, work or school...seriously? They would have relatives of dangerously mentally ill people believe that they can be safely kept at home. "I can handle him/her as long as they're on their meds" or "They would never hurt me." Famous last words if there ever were any.
Not so long ago mentally ill people were institutionalized in asylums. I know that word is no longer PC, and most of these places were no walk in the park, and many were poorly run. Patients did however, receive treatment and medication. Most of all they were kept out of society and monitored.
Sometime in the 70s or 80s someone figured this wasn't very profitable, and it was cheaper to let these people run free and give them pills through insurance or other programs which did not require housing or simply keep sending them from place to place. Many budget cuts and facility closures later more and more faith was put into the pharmaceutical industry. This method also proved cheaper for the insurance industry. Long-term medication is much cheaper than long-term inpatient care. By the 90s it was treat'em and street'em, literally. Cheaper is not always a bargain. It was also around this time that most major cities began to see an influx of mostly mentally ill homeless people. Such people left to their own devices tend to self-medicate with street drugs or not at all.
This began a new traditional dance. The mentally unstable person gets picked up, held for evaluation, given medication and put on a bus to another city to start the dance all over again. These factors still continue today creating problems for law enforcement, emergency rooms, court systems and community services everywhere. Don't believe me? Go visit a Greyhound bus terminal in almost any major city early in the morning. All those people that talk to themselves and walk leashes with no dog didn't just randomly get on the same bus.
Not all mentally ill people are destined to become active shooters or axe murderers. The ones who are violent or that are more likely to be, should have a place to go and receive care and be kept off the streets indefinitely. As I said before the word asylum is no longer PC. Give them a kinder, gentler name if you like. Whatever you call them its time to bring them back. Learn from the mistakes of the past and make the necessary improvements. Would this solve all the problems? No. However, you will find this to be a much more effective and logical solution than more gun control.
Guns have always been around, and the mentally ill have always been around. The main difference between then and now is how society deals with the latter.