Please take a look at Articles on self-defense/conflict/violence for introductions to the references found in the bibliography page.

Please take a look at my bibliography if you do not see a proper reference to a post.

Please take a look at my Notable Quotes

Hey, Attention on Deck!

Hey, NOTHING here is PERSONAL, get over it - Teach Me and I will Learn!

When you begin to feel like you are a tough guy, a warrior, a master of the martial arts or that you have lived a tough life, just take a moment and get some perspective with the following:

I've stopped knives that were coming to disembowel me

I've clawed for my gun while bullets ripped past me

I've dodged as someone tried to put an ax in my skull

I've fought screaming steel and left rubber on the road to avoid death

I've clawed broken glass out of my body after their opening attack failed

I've spit blood and body parts and broke strangle holds before gouging eyes

I've charged into fires, fought through blizzards and run from tornados

I've survived being hunted by gangs, killers and contract killers

The streets were my home, I hunted in the night and was hunted in turn

Please don't brag to me that you're a survivor because someone hit you. And don't tell me how 'tough' you are because of your training. As much as I've been through I know people who have survived much, much worse. - Marc MacYoung


The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books. Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.

Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

“What you are reading right now is a blog. It’s written and posted by me, because I want to. I get no financial remuneration for writing it. I don’t have to meet anyone’s criteria in order to post it. Not only I don’t have an employer or publisher, but I’m not even constrained by having to please an audience. If people won’t like it, they won’t read it, but I won’t lose anything by it. Provided I don’t break any laws (libel, incitement to violence, etc.), I can post whatever I want. This means that I can write openly and honestly, however controversial my opinions may be. It also means that I could write total bullshit; there is no quality control. I could be biased. I could be insane. I could be trolling. … not all sources are equivalent, and all sources have their pros and cons. These needs to be taken into account when evaluating information, and all information should be evaluated. - God’s Bastard, Sourcing Sources (this applies to this and other blogs by me as well; if you follow the idea's, advice or information you are on your own, don't come crying to me, it is all on you do do the work to make sure it works for you!)

“You should prepare yourself to dedicate at least five or six years to your training and practice to understand the philosophy and physiokinetics of martial arts and karate so that you can understand the true spirit of everything and dedicate your mind, body and spirit to the discipline of the art.” - cejames (note: you are on your own, make sure you get expert hands-on guidance in all things martial and self-defense)

“All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed.” - Montaigne

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Action Beats Reaction

Caveat: This post is mine and mine alone. I the author of this blog assure you, the reader, that any of the opinions expressed here are my own and are a result of the way in which my meandering mind interprets a particular situation and or concept. The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of other martial arts and/or conflict/violence professionals or authors of source materials. It should be quite obvious that the sources I used herein have not approved, endorsed, embraced, friended, liked, tweeted or authorized this post.

If you are not acting by the time a fist, foot or weapon is headed toward you, it is too late, you are reacting. Sound (hearing awareness), peripheral vision and touch are faster then focused sight. Then add in the OODA loop, i.e., you see the fist coming you have observed but by the time you orient, decide then act it is way to late. If your adversary is already moving his weapon toward you it means he has oriented, decided and is well into the act while your brain is moving at the start of the loop. 

When you are exposed to the loop and the timing involved in actions, i.e., read about the Tueller Drill here: you will discover that the time it takes for action to achieve its goals is such that your observe, orientation, decision to act process makes your reaction slow enough that action beating reaction makes more sense. 

In Martial Arts it is said, taught and believed as a martial philosophy that one must not use their skills except in defense. Some make the assumption that a karate-ka, just one system of martial art, must not strike first. It is then assumed that a karate-ka, because of their supposed superior skills, should not strike an adversary first but only strike in defense of an attack - this is just plain wrong for self-defense of crime and violence. 

It can be said that in a violent attack where you are surprised, in pain from the chaos and brutal and fast and hard damage where fear has taken hold you have no choice but to react. Yes, that type of an attack is an action that is truly beating the hell out of your reaction but reaction is all you have left to break the attack and violence cycle.You have to break the loop, you have to break the fear and you have to break the freeze from all of this and that happens by proper training and practice to which I say training your mind-set/mind-state being a priority. You are starting that process by reading posts like this, books like I list in the bibliography and training under the four phase model Rory Miller presents in his book, Meditations on Violence. 

Going back to martial arts philosophy, the don’t strike first meme may be a good peaceful philosophy when you apply it toward those defense steps before the fight is on, i.e., avoidance and deescalation to name two, then not striking first makes a bit more sense. The trouble there is martial arts dojo don’t teach that to you. 

Martial Arts forget that teaching the stuff necessary for awareness to violence dynamics, force decisions, legal ramifications, and more makes the need to strike first moot. If you are not there, not succumbing to the monkey stuff and taking appropriate actions such as creating distance and/or leaving then you don’t need to strike first. Look at this as your action causing your adversary to drop back in his loop leaving them only reaction. Your action changing his reaction to something less violent and so on. 

Make your action one done before violence hits. Train to act over reaction in your training and practice. If you reach the next stage make your actions to counter the assault small and by reflex to stop your attacker in his tracks. Make your actions such that you keep out of violent conflicts and if that isn’t possible you act accordingly along with survival of violence, legal and health/psychological ramifications. 

Make your skills less about your karate and kung-fu moves and more about the goals that provide avoidance and deescalation over the type of action that results in death or grave bodily harm - yours as priority and your adversary’s if possible after you gain safety and security from harm as well as others exposed. 

Action beats reaction, for sure, and the type of action is important as well. Make it about phases you can take before reaching the violent part. If you are attacked by surprise have your mind set with a plan to break that cycle and take a superior level in the loop over your adversary to “get-r-done.”

Note: I am being simplistic to get an idea across, there is far more to this than what I present. See the bibliography.

Primary Bibliography of Self-Defense:
MacYoung, Marc. "In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It." Marc MacYoung. 2014.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Meditations of Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" YMAA Publishing. 2008.

Secondary Bibliography of Self-Defense:
Ayoob, Massad. “Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self-Defense”Gun Digest Books. Krouse Publications. Wisconsin. 2014.
Goleman, Daniel. "Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition]." Bantam. January 11, 2012.
Miller, Rory. "ConCom: Conflict Communications A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication." Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2014. 
Miller, Rory and Kane, Lawrence A. "Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision-making under Threat of Violence." YMAA Publisher. New Hampshire. 2012
Miller, Rory. "Force Decisions: A Citizen's Guide." YMAA Publications. NH. 2012.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected." YMAA Publishing. 2011.
Elgin, Suzette Haden, Ph.D. "More on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense." Prentice Hall. New Jersey. 1983.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Last Word on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1995
Morris, Desmond. “Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior.” Harry N. Abrams. April 1979.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1993.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Written Self-Defense" MJF Books. 1997.
Maffetone, Philip Dr. “The Maffetone Method: The Holistic, Low-stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness.” McGraw Hill, New York. 2000 and more … see blog bibliography.

My Blog Bibliography

Cornered Cat (Scratching Post):
Kodokan Boston:
Mario McKenna (Kowakan):
Wim Demeere’s Blog:


Anonymous said...


IMHO, traditional karate is about the development of mental discipline. The conscious, mental capability of the person drives the physical capability. This differentiates traditional karate(s) from the sport-based fighting methods we see in MMA.

Traditional karate schools typically don't come out and state what the author is saying here. Because mental development is an explicit foundation of karate training, the principle of action over reaction is implicit.

No question that fast reactions can be effective. In traditional karate done right, though, we don't react to what our opponent has done, we deliberately act. We response in a precise way, with the correct technique at the exact time.

All too many train karate like a sport. They develop physical- based skills reliant on mere reactions. What they become is an athlete, sometimes highly skilled ones. What they lack is the powerful dynamics of a traditional karateka to continuously change as the martial circumstances evolve....

Charles James said...

Normally, I don't approve "anon" comments but in this instance I appreciated the response. I prefer folks to comment using their identities.