Last year, during the riots in the Ukraine, one of the top martial arts news websites interviewed me for their podcast on self-defense in a riot situation. The advice I gave was generalized, but I had no idea at the time that the strategies I had for the streets of Kiev would today be needed here on Lombard Street, in the city of Baltimore, the city I have come to call home. I’ve provided a transcript of that podcast here, as well as a link to it. Just a head’s up, while Bullshido is a news & investigative journalism website, it does have an Onion-esque humorous aspect to it, so I do crack a few bad jokes in here that are not meant to be taken as serious advice. Any comments regarding “If you’re planning to a riot” were said in sarcastic jest, because from my point of view, no sane, law abiding, rational person to whom I would speak this advice to plans to go to a riot. All of this is advice for innocent third parties like those trapped at Pickles. I also say “um” a lot.
Awareness is everything. If you start to see a bunch of police massing in their full on SWAT outfits and shields, get out of there. Any time you see a mass of people who don’t look like their enjoying a nice sunny day, get out of there. Your best bet is going to be to try to avoid the situation, to escape.
If you find yourself surrounded, try and get to somewhere where you can get to a wall so at least you can have your back to a wall and edge by the crowd rather than going through it. If you have something you can use as a shield, a purse, a backpack, a small child, you know, something you can use to keep people away from you. Improvised weapons are great, but remember, you’re now in the middle of a riot, and if you’re trying to escape, you don’t necessarily want to be the guy the cops think is the problem. You want to draw as little attention to yourself as possible. Yeah, so get your shield, whatever you can, use that as a wedge to try and move. If you have, fight your way out, but again, you don’t want to go there because you’re in the worst case mass attack scenario. You start punching rioters, and now you’ve got all of them to fight. So it’s not going to go in your favor anyway. Do what you have to do to get out of there.
Pepper spray is probably the best defense in a situation like that because it is something that can affect the entire area, which all brings up something else I wanted to touch on, which is what to do if you have to deal with pepper spray because if you’re in a riot it could actually happen. Pepper spray, tear gas, riot control agents, called RCA, any of you guys ever been pepper sprayed?
JB: I recommend it, just to see what it feels like, if you are in any way, shape, or form interested in self-defense. Georgette, it can be used against women who are going to be attacked. I know we’ve discussed rape defense on the podcast before.
JB: You may think that you can fight through it. The reality is you’ve got about five seconds before it feels like you’re getting stabbed in the eyes with a billion pins & needles. You lose your balance. The process is pretty much the same across the board, where you’re going to slam your eyes shut. You’ll shake your head, and then you’re going to go to your knees because you don’t have any balance anymore. True, it doesn’t affect every body. My self-defense instructor, who had the pleasure of spraying me, was a SWAT team leader and talked about going in on a guy who was resisted, so they pepper sprayed him. He just wiped it off his face and said, “I put worse shit on my eggs in the morning.”
If you’re planning on going to a riot, bring some No More Tears, bring some half & half, that will help. It also irritates the hell out of the skin, the pepper spray. If tear gas or pepper spray is launched by the police at where you are, run in the opposite direction as fast as you can because it will fill the area. If it’s inside a building you’re screwed. Get out, because it’s going to be a very high concentration in a very small space. The various tear gases and everything are heavier than air so if you can climb a building or run up a hill, get higher. They will go up and they will come down. Get a bandana, a T-shirt, something like and soak it in apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and use that to cover your mouth so you don’t inhale it.
Georgette: Now why does that work?
JB: Yeah, ask MacGyver, I don’t know.
Georgette: The wonders of modern chemistry.
JB: It has something to do with the wet cloth keeping you from inhaling the particles. Again, if you’re planning on going to a riot, don’t wear sunscreen because sunscreen increases the absorption rate of tear gas.
Chris: That’s terrifying.
JB: Yeah, the pepper spray, and they are two different things, tear gas & pepper spray. For those of you who have had the misfortune of seeing me in person on Bullshido or somewhere else, you know I have no hair, so when I got sprayed, yes I got sprayed in the eyes but I got it all across my face and my scalp turned a lovely shade of red, so keep that in mind. That said, pepper spray is a great tool for self-defense and if you are in a riot it’s probably a far safer thing than grabbing a baseball bat, but again, do what you have to do to survive.
Chris: What about like an improvised respirator or gas mask, like, you know, wadding up wet clothes for your mouth? I mean, I have a painting respirator. Do you have any idea how effective those are against like tear gas? I mean it’s kind of like one of those 3M filtered ones. It doesn’t have any eye protection. I’ve thought about getting like on Amazon, you know they sell like the $100 full face plate ones with the respirators and various coils and stuff. It looks so cool.
JB: Anything with a filter is going to help you to a degree but again, a lot of these sprays will affect your eyes and will affect your sinuses so you’re still getting affected. If a vinegar soaked wash cloth isn’t going to help you I don’t think a respirator will either. It’s not designed to filter out the gas.
Again it all comes down to preparedness. You know me, I’m a paranoid idiot. Think about where you’re going that day, what you’re planning on doing. There’s a reason the State Department tells you what countries not to go to. You can imagine the Ukraine is pretty high on that list right now. I know you’re a photographer and you loved going down and taking pictures of the Occupy people and things like that and that crowd was not very violent, but this urge for people to go see these things is not really a good idea. Let’s go see this melee battle they’re having in the Ukraine. It sounds like it would be a good time. So if you know there’s going to be some political protest going on in your community or something of that nature and you have the idea that it might get violent, don’t go into town. If you live in that area, spend the weekend at Mom’s or something. Preparedness is definitely, definitely a big thing.
You guys were talking about riot police tactics. They are very, very good at what they do. They shunt people off onto side streets and things like that, so it’s very easy to be caught up in a crowd. So where ever you are going, have an escape route. Don’t just be depending on Google Maps or your cell phone to get you where you’re going. Have an idea where you’re going, have three ways to get there and three ways to get out. Have a plan. Have your own pepper spray. Have shoes that you can run in if you have to. No high heels, Chris. I know you like to dress up sometimes.
Chris: Oh, I can run in heels.
JB: Yeah, ok. I don’t need pictures of that. Have your everyday carry items. Have a good knife, not necessarily to stab people but you never know. There are other uses. Have your tactical flashlight, all things that in the event of an emergency, you can use.
Chris: Yeah, when I go into the city myself, I do switch up my EDC, cuz my EDC is maybe a little bit aggressive for city life, but yeah, my smaller knives I take. The flashlight is great. You can always have your flashlight with you. I’ve never had anybody give me grief for a flashlight.
JB: Yeah, and you do have to be careful. Again, part of being prepared is knowing the local laws.
Chris: Yup, Washington, DC…
JB: Yeah, I had a very nice DC police officer, he probably, I don’t know what he did with it but he liberated me of my Emerson CQC-7, I don’t need to tell you that was a beautiful knife and it was a couple millimeters over legal length.
Chris: Oh, that sucks.
JB: Yeah, and this was back when they were just coming out so, you can get them know for 90 bucks, but it was like $300 back then.
Back to riot protection....Oh yeah, stay away from storefront windows.
Chris: Oh, yeah!
Georgette: Why’s that?
Chris: Bricks. They’re brick magnets.
JB: Yup, brick magnets. If it’s the kind of riot where it’s really political, you might not get much looting, but the LA Riots were heavily about looting. If you want to really start talking tactics, we can talk about the Korean shop owners in one of the best uses of the Second Amendment, who stood up on the roofs of their stores with hunting rifles, AR15s, whatever they could get their hands on, because the police essential abandoned Koreatown during the LA Riots, protecting other neighborhoods, and were basically willing to let that burn. So the shopowners and young men in the community were not going to let that happen, but that’s a much broader topic.
Chris: That’s easily a much broader topic.
JB: And yes, shooting at the rioters would not be a good self-defense move. If you are in a car, do not try to drive through the riot. In fact, if you can’t back out, get out of the car and leave it. One fact common to a lot of riots is that you pick up cars, turn them over, and light them on fire and use them as barricades to slow down the police. The police will be setting up their own barricades, a well-organized group of rioters will do the same.
Chris: Yeah, that is definitely a part of the images coming out of Kiev; burning buses, burning cars, burning tires. Everything is just a giant wall of smoke and snow. Oh, something I wanted to mention earlier when you were talking about police using tear gas and pepper spray, another common weapon employed by police, well not that common, but they will occasionally employ water cannons, a pretty powerful jet of water, knock people over, drive them back out of a particular area.
Georgette: Didn’t they just say they were going to start using water cannons in Kiev even though it’s sub-freezing temperatures?
Chris: Yup, that is exactly what I was getting at. The government in Kiev has decided to rescind their own ban on using water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures and there is the possibility that they could be firing the water cannons at protestors in sub-freezing temperatures.
JB: Just a couple other things, as I mentioned, get off the street. If you can, go into a building. Get inside the nearest retail store, office building or whatever and try and use the building to cut through. Find the rear exit rather than trying to run through the riots on the street. If you’re inside a building, lock the doors, stay away from the windows and don’t be a lookiloo trying to get great pictures to put on Instagram of the riot because again, rocks, bricks and as actual violence breaks out, bullets. If you are at your house or apartment or whatever, again, you should have been prepared and you should have developed an emergency escape plan. Watch out for fires as the tend to spread.
Chris: So yeah, a lot different things to keep in mind and try to stay safe in a really terrible situation that hopefully we and our listeners will ever have to deal with.
Would it surprise you to know that Sifu JB, the head instructor at the Maryland Jeet Kune Do Academy, has connections to this episode? While he has no formal training in Pekiti Tirsia Kali, one of the systems featured in this episode of Fight Quest, Sifu JB Jaeger has had the opportunity to train in close quarters edged weapons techniques with one of the instructors featured in this episodes, Tuhon Romel Tortal. Further, the Kali mentor of the Maryland Jeet Kune Do Academy, has extensive training in Pekiti Tirsia. Kuya Doug Marcaida, our Kali Mentor, was a student of Tuhon Leo Gaje, one of the Kali instructors featured in this episode of Fight Quest, the head of Pekiti Tirsia Kali. In this episode, Doug Anderson undergoes a pseuodo-shamanic ritual to begin his Kali training that involves the ritual sacrifice of a chicken. When Sifu JB asked to Kuya Doug for permission to join the Brotherhood of the Blade, Kuya Doug humorously asked for a bucked of fried chicken. So Sifu JB brought him a bucket of Baltimore-style Royal Farms fried chicken!
Now, the type of training you see in this episode is not the type of training you will receive at the Maryland Jeet Kune Do Academy. Yes, we do strive to give you an understanding of the basic essential of stick, knife, and empty hand combat. However, learning how to hit stream water with a stick is not likely to help a young female college student learn how to fend off an aggressor at a party. What we can promise you is that we will take you to the level of preparedness that Jimmy Smith had when facing his opponent,
That level of preparedness is why we know we can count on our Kali training when it counts. Yes, it seems crazy, but how would you rather face an attacker? With your barehands? Or knowing that anything you put your hands on instantly became a deadly edged or impact weapon by virtue of your training with the Filipino art of Kali at the Maryland Jeet Kune Do Academy in Odenton, Maryland?
_Springfield Teen Uses Martial Arts Training to Defend Child From Bully
I came across this story this morning and felt compelled to write about it. It’s the story of two boys, both of whom had completely different role models, both of whom were raised differently, and you can see how it plays out in their life. Both boys made choices relating to violence and their relationship with it.
While no good parent would want their son to be faced with an edged weapon attack or the possibility of fighting several attackers, what parent would not want their son to have the courage to stand by their convictions and stand up for the helpless? While perhaps not on this scale, life eventually confronts us all with situations where we must choose between our safety, whether that be financial, moral, or physical, and the safety of someone else.
So here we have two boys. In the one nicknamed “Angel”, we see the perfect archetype of the bully. He is large, and accompanied by friends. Yet despite these two advantages in his favor, he feels the need to stack the deck by attacking a smaller boy, who has mental disabilities. There is no sense of fairness, no honor, no moral compass in his actions. Then, when defeated and restrained by another child, he retreats, only to return with a large kitchen knife, and the encouragement of his mother to stab another child.
The reality is that Angel was weak on the inside. He had the natural advantage of size and cognitition, but picked an easy target for his bullying, a smaller child with mental disabilities. Despite his size, he felt the need to look to an external source of power, a weapon, in order to prove he was a better person than Roman Rodriquez, the boy who defended the young child. It is most telling that his mother encouraged Angel to use the knife on Roman.
This is a mother who could have raised her son to understand that the weak should be protected, not abused. This is a mother who could have encouraged her son to find a productive outlet for his size and strength. This was a mother who could have taught her son that weapons are tools to defend and protect, not abuse and murder. She could have taught her son to avoid violence, but instead she instigated it.
Then we have Roman’s father, a career martial artist and instructor. He raised Roman in the martial arts. Yes, he taught his son how to fight, because that is what the martial arts are, but more importantly, he taught his son why to fight, when to fight, and when not to. Roman didn’t brutally beat Angel, he restrained him, despite being struck by a larger attacker. He took the disabled child and sought out help from an adult as soon as possible. I have never met nor trained with Roman’s father, Ricardo Rodriguez, so I do not know the particulars of what he teaches, but in Roman’s actions, I see Ricardo echoing the same lessons we teach in the children’s martials arts classes here in Odenton, Maryland at the Maryland Jeet Kune Do Academy. Where Angel was weak on the inside, and encouraged by his mother to justify himself through violence, Roman was strong on the inside, taught by his father to avoid violence at all costs, and when he must fight, to do so with discretion, in defense of another, and with only as much force as the situation requires.
As a parent, what messages are you sending your child? Which of these two boys would you be proud to call son? Which parents do you want to be? No one wants their child to have to face violence, certainly not on this scale. Yet I know that I would be hope that my son or daughter had the courage to do the right thing when faced with a similar situation, and I hope that I can impart the lessons and tools they would need to do so.
Following Jeet Kune Do, using no way as way, having no limitation as limitation can be liberating, but it can also be frustrating at times. I was having a conversation with a student last night and after discussing her progress in her studies, she asked me about my own. She was surprised when I spoke in terms of several years, of reaching goals far into the future. There is just so much to do and so much to learn.
My Brazilian Jiujitsu studies have progressed, but have much farther to go. I am looking forward to starting Savate in the coming months as well as spending more time with Kuya Doug Marcaida and his senior students in developing my Kali. All of this is centered around the unified whole of the curriculum of the Jeet Kune Do Athletic Association, as designed by my Sifu, Harinder Singh. More than just progressing into these individual “departments” for my own development, as Sijo would call them, I then have to come back to the martial arts classes at the Maryland Jeet Kune Do Academy here in Odenton, Maryland and having an understanding of them in order to pass them on to the students here. This isn’t something that can be rushed. Kuya Doug compares it to a stew. It has to be simmered for a long time in order for the flavors to merge and blend. Like tea, the water must be brought to the right temperature, it cannot be rushed. The leaves must be steeped for the right amount of time.
At the outset, it is easy to forget that we’re talking about boundless expansion. Each of these given arts has so much to offer. I could study Brazilian Jiujitsu by itself for the rest of my life and follow just that way. There is no doubt it would be a fulfilling journey, and if I put aside Kali, if I put aside Chinese boxing, and shooting, and just devoted myself to Jiujitsu, my progress along that path would certainly be quicker. Even in that case though, boundless expansion along a lifelong path of martial arts means no matter how good I get at jiujitsu, there will always be more on just that path.
So, I practice Jiujitsu. I practice Chinese boxing. I practice shooting. I practice jwaseon, sitting meditation. I practice the tea ceremony. Each of these could be a nice and neat little intellectual box. The departments would never need to meet each other. Some would even seem to have absolutely nothing to do with the other. What does pouring tea have to do with shooting or choking someone?
That is a good question.
The first concept of self-protection seems fairly evident. You learn martial arts in order to protect yourself when the time comes. Self-perfection refers to those techniques and drills we engage in that may not immediately apply to self-protection, but can over time help us improve on the attributes and techniques we do need for self-protection. Moreover, self-perfection refers to those ineffable qualities sought through martial arts; becoming a better person, facing fear, and learning how to overcome obstacles. The second can actually be a bit tricky, and it is in the upholding of the two concepts that many people can lose their way. There are many styles and systems who place self-perfection as the primary goal of their practice, and this is admirable, but how far away can you move from self-protection before your martial art ceases to be martial at all, and just an art with martial trappings, like cultural dance? In Jeet Kune Do, we do not see these qualities of character arising from activities separated from self-protection, but precisely from our training in self-protection.
He will also learn to be aware of himself and aware of ideals of perfection, just as he is aware he will never reach those ideals. He will learn the value of silence, not just of the spoken word, but of quieting his own mind in dealing with his own fears, angers, and pain. From that quieting of his mind, he will learn to make decisions and act justly and equitably.
There are many options in martial arts training for children. Karate, Taekwondo, Kenpo, and many other arts have helped children. There are benefits to every system and every school. Some of these are common across the board, no matter what school you choose for your child. Today, we’ll take a look at the particular reasons why Jeet Kune Do, the art developed by Bruce Lee and taught in the Young Dragons program at the Maryland Jeet Kune Do Academy in Odenton, Maryland, can benefit children.
1) Fitness & Weight Loss. You cannot engage in Jeet Kune Do without improving your fitness. There is a growing trend in childhood obesity as more children spend their time with Ipads and Netflix than climbing trees and running around outside. Whether they are a natural athlete or not, every Jeet Kune Do class is constantly in motion, practicing striking and pad drills, body mechanics and stick techniques, or grappling.
2) Self-Defense is Primary. There are many options for martial arts for kids. Some are oriented primarily toward sport, like Taekwondo. Others are artistic endevours, like Aikido. Jeet Kune Do is entire focused on self-defense. For children, this includes learning how to deal with bullying and kidnapping and sexual assault. The focus is not on earning belts or trophies, but on learning to be a confident and strong young person, aware of their surroundings.
3) It’s Unplugged From the Screens and Plugged in to the Present Moment. Mindfulness is absolutely important in Jeet Kune Do training. Present moment awareness is constantly taught to young children as they practice the various techniques in Jeet Kune Do through mindfulness exercises that can help them, both in the martial arts and in their schoolwork. Distractions are plentiful in the lives of our children, but then cannot afford to be distracted in Jeet Kune Do class. They learn to completely focused and in the present moment when working on exercises with their partners or instructors. They learn how this awareness applies to everything they do, from self-defense, to learning in school.
4) They’ll Learn to Roll with the Punches. While safety is of paramount importance in every Jeet Kune Do class, contact is a part of training. Children learn that pain is a part of life, and that they can get back on their feet and get back in the game. They are taught to keep their guard up and move, face their obstacles and the attacks of their partner and of life, and keep moving. This ability to roll with the punches helps them learn how to deal with setbacks in life and learn not to be discouraged, and develop a never give up spirit.
5) Confidence without Arrogance is True Humility. As they work with their partners through the various self-defense and sparring drills in every class, young Jeet Kune Do students gain confidence in their abilities, and that confidence carries over to every area of their life. They also learn that no one is always the best. Everyone has good days and everyone has bad days. Just because you win today doesn’t mean that someone won’t perform as well as you tomorrow, so you get back up and get back to it. There is always someone better at you at something, so you can learn from them in humility rather than fall to them in arrogance.
Jeet Kune Do has something to offer every child, whether they are outgoing or shy, athletic or awkward, confident or frightened. Despite being what some would call an individual activity, Jeet Kune Do students are taught to view each other as brothers and sisters, and encourage and help each other learn their art. It’s in environments like these that children can truly flourish.
There is no dichotomy in sport training methodologies and self-defense training methodologies. It is absolutely true that any sort of training needs to match the venue being trained for. If I am training for a boxing match, spending time drilling takedown defenses is not likely necessary. That said, training for the venue of self-defense absolutely requires sport training methodologies.
I love the eye jab or biuji. I am a Jeet Kune Do man after all. I have entire strategies built around it and teach it to every student who comes into my school. It is a technique and tactic that will not fly in any sort of sportive venue, MMA, boxing, or kickboxing. It is advocated by many instructors who say that training for the street is different than training for sport. Here in lies the fallacy.
I cannot throw a biuji with any sort of accuracy or assurance in self-defense if I haven’t learned to box. A boxer trains to throw a jab against moving targets, his opponent’s face, while his opponent is actively trying to jab him back. A jab can target an entire face, which in a boxing match, is actually hard to hit. How can I rely on my biuji hitting an eye, which much smaller than a face, if I can’t throw a jab?
It is for this reason so many legitimate self-defense instructors have background in sport training systems and incorporate sport training methodologies into how they teach self-defense. I had the opportunity to train with Kelly McCann last year. A good portion of the Combatives training was spent on developing basic boxing skills. I know I can face smash an opponent because I know I can throw a cross. My Jeet Kune Do sifu, Harinder Singh, is known for teaching the dirty grappling system of Kina Mutai, which incorporates biting and eye gouging. Many say that if they had to fight a trained grappler, they would rely on dirty tricks like biting, but the difference between what Sifu teaches and what others teach is that he actively trains Brazilian Jiujitsu in a sportive fashion to develop his skills and abilities in grappling, so he knows with absolute assurance that he can employ those nasty bites when he needs to.
Will strategies and tactics require different approaches in training for a sport competition versus a self-defense situation? Absolutely, but that line is nowhere near as hard, the issue is nowhere near as black or white as some would have us believe.
When I was studying Korean Zen, we had a different term for this sort of intellectual honesty, Choshim. Choshim can be translated as the original intent, or more frequently, beginners’ mind. No matter how much we learn there is always more. No matter how good we are, there is always someone better at what they do. Why claim to be more than what we are, when we can keep learning, growing, and sharing?
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