Train Like Jason Bourne

Posted: April 3, 2014 in General, Vendor Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

One of the continuing themes of my posts on self-defense is understanding and using the force continuum in dealing with an attacker.  Of course, the necessary precondition to a force response is situational awareness – escape, and evasion.  As de Becker said in ‘The Gift Of Fear,’ your job is to never be in the vicinity of someone who wishes to do you harm.

Unfortunately, we must all be prepared for situations that are outside our ability to evade.  Although I carry a firearm and support the right others to do so, having a CHL or working in the security business only enhances my desire for greater expertise at using and defending against edged or blunt weapons.  No matter how much I practice draw-and-deployment from concealment, I will always be faster at close quarters with an empty-hand response to a situation.  I will probably be just as fast or faster with an edged or melee weapon.  Suppose someone draws and tries to point a gun at me at extreme close range.  If I can stop that attack with a quick deflection and empty-hand response, them I’m a lot better off than drawing and both of us firing, especially with others around.  Even if the attack is not with a weapon, I’d still like the option of a non-firearm response.

If a person places their entire defensive faith in a firearm, then they have two points on force continuum covered.  They can apply strong verbal commands and they can use deadly force.  There are no interim options.  That person is also more heavily restricted when forced or choosing to be in an area where firearms are not allowed.

Personally, I like options.  Many attacks involve implements ranging from knives to an assortment of blunt weapons.  I’d really like to know not only how to use a knife, but how to defend against this assortment of weapons in instances where I can not carry a firearm, insufficient time is available to draw and fire, or a large number of people in the immediate vicinity make collateral damage a major concern.  Remember that every bullet has a lawyer attached to it.

I do have a martial arts background, albeit rather rusty.  I’ve studied a variety of traditional karate styles and was fortunate many, many years ago to trade someone in my apt. complex tennis lessons for Jeet Kune Do lessons.  I know that Krav Manga is the current rage, but I wanted to study something that dealt with use of and defense against edged and melee weapons from day one.  And, I wanted to be a bit different 🙂

So, I chose Kali.  Kali sometimes goes by the name Eskrima and is a catch-all term for a rich collection of Filipino martial arts. Some might say that it is the modern descendent of the fighting style that allowed Filipino fighters to defeat Magellan’s much larger and better-equipped invading force.  This style emphasizes both empty-hand techniques and the use of practically any implement that is available to defeat an attacker.  Filipino forces used wooden swords against the Spanish attackers.

It also happens to be the predominant style of the fictional Jason Bourne character.  Matt Damon endured months of intense training in this style to prepare for the numerous fight sequences.  Notice how he uses anything from a rolled-up magazine to a towel to his bare hands throughout each film.  That’s not Hollywood – it’s an ingrained philosophy of self-defense.

Now, I’m not trying to make a superiority argument for a particular style.  Krav Manga blends techniques from numerous styles into a single methodology and I often find a lot of overlap in style and philosophy with Kali.  Since I can carry a knife practically anywhere (including places where firearms are not allowed), I am personally attracted to a style that emphases use of and defense against edge weapons from the first day.

Needless to say, I was very enthused to meet Guro Mike Pana at a Market Hall Gun Show last year.  His Bayani Warrior training class represented exactly what I wanted to help build a rich force continnum in my defensive repertoire.  Mike offers everyone the chance to attend a single class for free just to see how they like the training.  I attended a class last fall and walked away with some very valuable knife-defense tactics that I still remember and practice to this day.

I also took a single private lesson from Mike and was very impressed with both his group and one-one-one styles.  Then, just when I was looking forward to becoming a Jason Bourne wannabe, I had a serious rib injury followed by a re-injury of the same area several weeks later.  I was only very recently able to return to training, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to post a review.

Tuesday night’s class was very useful because we covered foundational techniques.  I firmly believe that the proper foundation for sports and martial arts begins with footwork.  So, I was extremely pleased that we began the class with a review of proper footwork and how to move in various directions.  Now, I don’t expect you young whippersnappers to remember the state of karate in the late 1970’s, but the ‘big thing’ going into the 1980’s was a guy named Keith Vitali and angular techniques.  This was really nothing more than a modification of the straight back-and-forth flow of attack and defense to the use of a variety of angles in footwork.  This allows the defender to avoid a kick, for example, yet stay in range for a counter-attack and do so at an angle that makes it difficult for the original attacker to defend.  So, I was very enthused over how we covered both linear and angular motions in footwork drills.

We then proceeded to some basic strikes and blocks with sticks.  Now, you may immediately think that this is impractical because you will never have a stick available in a defensive situation.  For many people, it is correct that you may not have a blunt weapon or baton on your person.  If you are in security and have a baton certification, then it’s an entirely different story.  I may cover this in more detail in a later post.  For now, let’s presume that you fall into the category of someone who will never have access to a melee weapon in any defensive situation.  What benefit do you obtain in force-on-force drills with stick-fighting implements?

The answer is that you quickly learn how to intuitively gauge distances AND apply proper footwork to avoid a strike with a blunt weapon.  Distance estimation is crucial to avoiding a blow and doing so in a manner that facilitates a counter-attack without taking you so far away from the attacker that he has an opportunity to recover.  Although blocks are taught, the block is really an insurance policy.

The Bayani Warrior program emphasizes striking with intent, and that intent is to impact a particular target, even when both you and your opponent are equally armed.  You never engage the opponent’s weapon directly, instead your intent is to strike a particular target on the opponent.  We were always required to do strikes in two steps, one of which involves the defender not engaging in defense.  The attacker is required to touch the target – not strike, just touch.  This ensures that the proper distance has been measured before executing a strike.  I found this to be in stark contrast to most karate styles that teach one-steps (punch or kick followed by a single block) in which the attacker simply executes the punch or kick without any indication that they could have impacted the desired target.

We closed the class with a sparring session with flexible, rubber sticks.  Now that was cool!  There is nothing like a light tap on the head or arm to let you know where you were vulnerable and to practice footwork in a real, live setting.  There are very few self-defense regimens in which you get to spar from your very first class.

All techniques in the Bayani Warrior program are designed to be applied in a real-life situation against a real, armed and resisting attacker.  You will see a lot of sticks, but this is not a pure stick fighting class. The use of blunt weapons both in attack and defense teaches you the mindset of an attacker and helps prepare for situations in which you must deal with a blunt-weapon attack either empty-hand or with an improvised weapon.

Needless to say, I was very impressed.  Mike has a great instructional style.  He is forceful yet very personable and he takes the training very seriously.  To give you an idea of Mike’s bone fides, I’ll recount a statement from a firearms instructor whom I greatly respect who is also a highly skilled martial artist.  This person can draw from a retention holster and fire three 9mm rounds perfectly on target in less than 1.5 seconds.  Yet, his comment about Mike Pana was that if Mike was in the same room, armed only with a knife, that instructor would not want to have to draw against him.

On a personal basis, I believe that if you are a security professional or a CHL holder, you can greatly benefit from the Bayani Warrior program.  There is really only one way to find out and that is attend a class.  It’s free and I guarantee a great aerobic workout, no matter what you think of the actual training.  So, it’s pretty much a no-downside proposition.

Classes are held in the Addision area and you can find out more by visiting the Bayani Warrior web site.  Also, please feel free to email Mike Pana with any questions at bayaniwarrior [at] gmail [dot] com.

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