Politically Incorrect Self Defense

  Why do you train in the martial arts? Do you train to get the glory of a $3.00 piece of plastic? Do you train to learn how to fight? If you do a "martial sport" and that is your intent and purpose and you realize that you will never do a back flip in a street fight, that's fine, drive on. If you train in a "mixed martial art" format and you realize that ring fighting is still different from street fighting that's good also and you are getting closer to the real thing. Many times we delude ourselves into thinking that what and how we are training is the best way. It never ceases to amaze me when I hear comments like "My style is better that your style". [And my instructor can beat up your instructor!] On any given day someone can kick your butt. Maybe it has something to do with star alignment or something or maybe your karma is off that particular day. I have actually had people come into my dojo and make statements such as "My instructor says this punch cannot be defended against." He was right. I could not defend against it. I was laughing way to hard to even try a block or deflection. Another was a couple of young men that asked what I would do if choked from the side. This was the infamous TV choke. You know, both hands around the throat. So the young man steps to my side to suppress my arm as he is choking me. He squeezes my throat as I do a five-finger testicular constriction. He lets go and runs out of the dojo. What does that tell you about his training or about my old age and treachery?

Another issue that really irritates me is: are you being taught to fall properly? If not, go get your money back because you are being cheated. Of all the neat martial art goodies that we are presented it will probably be taking a proper break fall that will save your butt. Has mine having slipped on the ice while wearing my cop boots, dumping my motorcycle in the desert after having hit an unexpected muddy spot and also on a parachute jump where the DZ was infected by frozen irrigation ditches. I landed in the middle of one and if I had done a proper parachute-landing fall I probably would have broke my leg. Knowing how to fall can save your butt in a fight should you be taken to the ground, slip or get knocked down.

A few years back I offered to let a young man use me as a punching dummy while he prepared for an up-coming tournament. He was young, strong and fast but every time I started a counter offensive he would turn his back to me and cover his head. You are a product of your training and nothing more. He would do the same thing in a street fight with deadly results. You will absolutely perform exactly as you train. The more you train a specific way the more your response will be as you have trained. This is as true for martial artists as it is for grunts. Train like you fight, fight like you train. A good reference to read is "The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle.

Unlike fair fights, self-defense has no rules, just the application of correct principles. Hit any and all openings for your opponent will give you all the opportunity you need to defeat him or her. Hit hard and fast and don't stop until your opponent can no longer present a threat. My concept is to deliver 1-5 strikes which include knees, kicks, elbows, palm heels, eye pokes, etc. then throw your attacker to the ground as hard as possible. Then depending upon the tactical situation, finish him off with a constriction (an arm bar or a strangulation technique) or if the situation warrants, use your Cold Steel. Just make sure you can justify your actions. Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.

Another concern I have is about the folks that are conned into taking a "self defense" course be it two hours at the local community center or other such venue lasting as long as six weeks. The training needs to be done to such an extent that it builds "muscle memory" and you just can't do that in a single two-hour class. Self-defense skills are perishable and must be practiced on a regular basis to be retained. For us martial artists to be able to claim mastery over a technique we must do it about 5000 times. You might be able to do that in a weekend if you are into self abuse but otherwise how many years does that take? Depends on the depth and intensity of your training. Some courses are good as they stress realism to a degree. You cannot get totally real without someone getting seriously hurt but you can induce enough of an adrenalin dump to get a good idea of what to expect. You must also train in the environment you expect to fight in. Yes we use mats most of the time to encourage longevity but occasionally the crusty old fart has everyone line up for break falls on the concrete floor. Someone even said it wasn't a good workout unless we drew blood. I'm not sure of that, but...

An excellent source of information is available in books but reading about self-defense and getting on the mat are two different critters. One book I do highly recommend is "Meditations on Violence" by Rory Miller. In fact I make it mandatory reading for my black belt students. Another good book is "The Gift Of Fear" by Gavin DeBecker https://the-beautiful-home.com/. Avoidance is the best tool of self-defense you have and your brain the greatest weapon. A lot can be said about tongue fu and the ability to talk your way out of a confrontation.

When you have no other course of action but to fight then you must flip the switch and become a human buzz saw. You will probably get hit but unless you are unconscious or dead you keep fighting. It ain't over until it is over, never quit.

Train hard. Bumps and bruises will heal with time. Not all of the lessons are found in the dojo. Be alert to your surroundings and don't be afraid to tell someone to back off or get lost. Listen to your instincts and act on them. It is best to never know if your skills would have been put to use in that dark alley you decided not to walk down because it didn't feel right.

What possible benefit could tearing a deck of cards or bending nails have for a mixed martial artist?

Surely it would make more sense to train with specific grip equipment like grip machines, grippers, plate pinches and thick bars than trying to tear decks of cards, rip phone books, and bend steel, right?

Don't be so quick to dismiss feats of strength. They actually have much more benefit than meets the eye. Doing feats of strength is actually a good way to cross-train for Mixed Martial Arts. Here's why.

In MMA, to a degree there is an element of viciousness, mental toughness, pain tolerance, and other intangibles. These qualities are why feats of strength are perfectly suited to supplement MMA training.


Feats of strength are not easy, especially top level feats. You have to be willing to go further in your training and in your efforts in order to complete some feats, especially card tearing. In order to rip, tear, bend, break and mangle, you have to be willing to destroy. Whether it's a deck of cards, a steel bar, or your opponent's arm, you have to be a little bit different between the ears.

Mental Toughness

If you give up at the first onset of difficulty, you will fail miserably in the octagon. The same thing can be said about any feat of strength. Many feats take months of training to gain the strength and technique to accomplish them, and just like an MMA fight, they require many minutes of straining and fighting in order to be victorious.

Pain Tolerance

If you shut down under pain, you should get out of MMA right now, and you should forget about doing a lot of feats of strength. Although not the same as getting kicked multiple times in the thigh by your opponent, feats of strength do beat you back:

- Tearing Cards can wreck your fingertips and finger nails

- When ripping phone books, if your hand slips off, you feel a full body tremor from the recoil

- When bending nails, your fingers get crushed under the pressure and the wrists are forced into stressing positions

- When bending horseshoes, the sharp edge of the shoe is driven into the thigh to be used as a fulcrum

As you can see, feats of strength aren't just for showing off. They are a way to cultivate your mind, making you more ferocious, while they make your hands and lower arms strong enough to give you control in the ring and on the mat.

Tips For Growing Beautiful House Plants Even If You're A Beginner

If you are new to live house plants, you may not have noticed the popularity of some of the tropical plants. Many thought for years that those tropical plants would not survive the dry hot atmosphere inside the house. Naturally some do better than others and you should look for thick leathery foliage, for placing in your home. Their ability to survive and to thrive is because the leaves are tough in texture and some are constructed so that minimum amount of moisture loss is slowed down. The Christmas Cactus is a typical example.

On the other hand plants like the maidenhair fern have thin leaves allowing for quick evaporation and do not fair well in dry hot rooms. However, you could hang a Maidenhead Fern in a bathroom where steam form the shower or bath would help it retain its moisture. If you added moisture to any other of your rooms, say with a humidifier, it may be detrimental to your furnishings or art work.

There are steps to take when decorating with house plants. Try to buy your plants after the need for heat is over. This will give the plant time to get use to the atmosphere with plenty of fresh air, and allow the foliage to harden while preparing the plant for the unfavorable conditions of heated rooms. It is always important to keep the leaves free of dust so as not to clog their pores.

Watering is always a delicate balance. Rule of thumb is that a plant in active growth will always need more water that those that are dormant. During the growing season, April to October, plants will use more water then in other times of the year. To be really safe buy an inexpensive water meter from your Nursery Garden Supply store. Generally, potted plants should be watered when moderately dry. Be sure to give a good soak right down to the drainage hole. A few sprinkles of water a few times a week will do nothing for the feeding roots that are situated at the bottom of the pot.

There is a tip for checking if the plant is dry at the bottom. Tap the plant half way down the pot with your knuckles, if a hallow sound is heard it needs water. If you heard a dull noise, it does not require water. Always water the plant with water that is at room temperature so as not to shock the roots. One sure sign that the plant is over watered is sickly yellow leaves. Stop watering immediately. Use a pointed stick to aerate the soil around the plant and do not water again until the soil is quite dry.

Inspect your plants daily since some pots retain water while others do not. If using unglazed pots do not place them directly on a table or you will get damage from water seepage.

You must feed the plants to keep them healthy and happy. Plants that are well rooted and thriving need more feeding. Be diligent from May to August. Use a fertilizer like Miracle Grow for easy nourishment.

For millions of couples and families, their ultimate dream is to own a beautiful home in France. Imagine siting outside in the sunshine https://ulflag.com/, enjoying a glass of wine made from grapes growing right beside your villa. Or waking early in the morning to stroll to the market and buy fresh bread and cheeses. The way of life, culture and countryside are all aspects which attract people to France every year. Many people have fallen in love with the country during holidays, and hope one day to have a special place of their own to visit all year round.

Holiday homes in Europe became extremely popular during the boom years of the eighties. However, even in recent years, while the UK housing market has seen a huge slump, sales of houses in France have remained buoyant.

Amongst the most popular purchases are conversions of old buildings. There are many barns for sale in France, offering space, originality and economy. Often, old barns can be purchased at fantastic prices.

If you are not sure about whether to take the plunge and purchase a property, you could do what many families do, and rent or lease a house for up to a year. This is a wonderful way to try out life and find out if it really is the stuff dreams are made of. It's also a good way of experiencing the different seasons and the varying weather conditions. Some favourite holiday destinations can look very different when it's cold and wet!

If you have already made a firm decision to purchase, your next step is to start looking at the available properties and identifying exactly what type and size of building you are looking for. Do you want a house which has already been refurbished, so you and your family can enjoy it from day one? Or are you looking for a project, a chance to renovate your own home, and add your own personal touch to it?

Finding a property is fairly easy but does take time and commitment. Although it is possible to find excellent properties online, or in magazines and papers, the very best way is to actually spend time in your chosen area, driving around and looking at what is for sale. Checking with the local estate agent, (un agent immobilier), and identifying a list of potential properties is a good start. There are also excellent companies online who list houses for sale, and help you with the whole process. There is another option of buying a house, in a public auction, (vente aux enchères), however this is for the more confident purchaser, and definitely for those who are fluent in French.

Of course, you don't always have to buy through an agent, you could purchase directly from the owner. A simple search on the internet will reveal many individuals who are selling their homes.

It won't take you long before you identify a property you love. Go and view it as soon as possible, and make sure you understand all the legal aspects of purchasing a property in France.

Dreamstones is a British company run by French construction experts in design


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