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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SD: The Bear Hug

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Over the last forty years I have seen the bear hug taught in self-defense and often wondered why? Is it a restraint technique? When taught in a self-defense training hall a person comes up behind you, the circle your arms and upper body with their arms, grasp their hands and then squeeze. The response is usually a more complicated one than necessary, i.e., you drop down, your hip pushes them back and then you raise your arms to break the hold or something similar is performed. What is wrong with this picture?

First, as a supposed restraint technique this one does not meet the principles of a restraint. It will not maximize your leverage over the subject, it does not base the subject, it does not stack things locking the subject up and grasping someone around their upper body and arms using only the strength of your arms as a means of immobilizing a subject does not work. (for a better understanding of joint lock principles, i.e., leverage, two way action, gravity, basing, stacking and gifts see Rory Miller’s joint lock video)

Only the uninitiated and inexperienced will freeze when someone does a bear hug type restraint. There are a variety of ways to break a bear hug and using one is not effective unless you surprise the person, are bigger and stronger so you can lift them off their feet and if you can throw them down on the ground but that also is rare. So many examples, so little time.

Second, if you are participating in the social monkey dance where your adversary has friends and one comes up behind you to hold you for a pounding from his friend then you failed anyway because social violence is avoidable. You are caught up in your own monkey dance and that makes you susceptible to a bear hug but even then I have not known of or witnessed a group thing using a bear hug. 

Third, awareness regardless of either the social or asocial aspect of an attack is sorely missing if you are attacked even if it is by the bear hug, you failed self-defense and are already behind the curve. Attackers don’t want you, as their target, to have even the remotest chance of responding and that is why, in general, they attack from the side or rear, they attack with total and complete surprise (if they can’t surprise you they will often look elsewhere, etc.) and then they will destroy your structure and take away your balance and overwhelm your OODA loop with a flurry of punches, kicks or even some weapon that gives them the overwhelming advantage. 

Yet, bear hugs self-defense techniques are one of several main self-defense lessons still taught out there and I still ask, why? One professional on his video talked about how we should practice being attacked, i.e., in a position where the attacker comes up behind you, without your awareness, and they hit you just behind the ear - start your SD training at that point (or something very similar to that position) and don’t forget that in reality there is going to be an adrenal dump to exacerbate the problem, all stacked against your defenses.  

Training the bear hug defense, since the probability is very low you will encounter it, makes it inappropriate as a self-defense technique. The bear hug may have been a way that children held a target when bullied by others or when one wanted to shove you over someone behind you as a joke but as an attack used by criminal elements, not so much. 

I was one of three Marines on what we called in the seventies as, “Ville Patrol.” VP was a duty we Marines did to protect our own from violence and from possible arrest on the island of Okinawa. It was a way to prevent Marines out for fun from getting damaged or arrested or something else. Often, as VP we would have to deal with drunk and rowdy Marines on liberty. You know, a bit like a roving village bouncer or security guy. I can tell you that never in those times did I participate in or witness a bear hug restraint. Almost every incident was about spinning the Marine while controlling his body with a take down to the ground where his arm and elbow were locked behind, knee on his upper back and neck, other two Marines holding the other arm and sitting on the legs while we calmed them down enough to walk them using a triangle of Marines, i.e., left arm locked, right arm locked and a third behind with a grip on the collar of the Marines jacket, etc. until we had him at the main gate where we were met by military police, etc. Not once in a year, three nights a week VP, did we encounter or use a bear hug nor did we ever encounter a brawl where anyone used a bear hug so you can see why I have my doubts to its validity as a self-defense drill.

I can go into a lot of theories about why it is used, why it is still used today with all the evidence saying otherwise and why it will remain but that is something each of us has to study and test for ourselves. Question all self-defense regardless as it may involve your life or at a minimum your being gravely harmed. 

Lets go with this one step further, lets say that once in a great while you just might encounter someone trying a bear hug on you, the techniques used to break the bear hug tend to be agenda oriented, i.e., made to fit the martial art being used be in karate, jujitsu or judo, etc. In reality breaking a bear hug doesn’t take much more than grabbing a finger and using joint manipulation while turning slightly and then taking appropriate actions, etc. and that ain’t the simplest thing to do either. Hey, just try slamming the back of your head to the guys face and nose. How about stomping on his instep or or or or …. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. I can also say with confidence that I never trained, learned, taught or was exposed to a bear hug technique as a Marine even in the hand-to-hand training. I can also tell you that my discussions with other Marines who trained in SpecOps capacities never used a bear hug drill in training. 

p.s.s. I know this is saying “never” for the bear hug and that is not completely true. It is its use in general where the frequency and effectiveness tends to put it way down at the bottom of any defense requirements, it is just not REALISTIC. 

p.s.s.s. I remember a Navy Seal telling me the last thing he would do is the bear hug but he didn’t have a problem coming up behind an unsuspecting adversary and using a knife technique to cut his throat or stabbing him in the back, up into the heart. He said there is no way he is going to give his enemy any chance what so ever if at all possible. Maybe that is why the Marine Force Recon use the maxim, “Swift, Silent and Deadly.” (yes, I know this example differs greatly from civil defenses but you get the point)

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