Reality Based Self-Defense
by Meredith Gold

Realfighting
Mixed martial arts and no-holds barred fighting has really boosted interest in studying martial arts again; people are looking for reality, have you found this to be true in your circles?

Meredith Gold
When Peyton [Quinn], Bill Kipp and I went to the NAPMA conference (National Association of Professional Martial Artists) a couple of summers ago in Florida, it was really interesting, because there were a lot of demos, seminars, martial artists, and schools there, even Krav Maga. The underlying feeling was that people were looking for more realism. Although the art, honor and sport aspects are great; hey, come ‘on, if I’ve been training for 10 years I want to know that I can absolutely save my life.

Question
You must have been wondering how you would be received?

Meredith
Yes, there was a little trepidation, but I was really amazed…there were literally a thousand stylists, who were all school owners and they really received us well. I know enough about traditional martial arts that there’s an attitude that everyone thinks their art is the best.

Question
The recent surge of popularity in mixed martial arts seems to be a quest for real fighting techniques. The average student coming into a grappling class is also as likely to cross train in boxing, Muay Thai or other arts. Some of these students also realize [what bouncers and bodyguards have known for years] that handling adrenaline stress is more important than technique alone.

Meredith
Well, I’m thrilled to know that you’re getting that feedback from these fellows themselves since that was actually the topic of my latest article for Black Belt magazine (NOV. issue). The UFC and mixed martial arts has really brought to life a real interest in, and desire to learn more real fighting techniques, which I think is great; but I still think it’s really important that people recognize that there’s a big difference between training for the UFC and being prepared for a real world assault. When a fighter goes into that ring, they’re mentally prepared to fight, they know why they’re there…sure they’re experiencing adrenaline, but they’re not experiencing the debilitating effects of adrenaline, that comes from a real world assault.

Question
Where there are no rules and death can come from anywhere. What are the debilitating effects a person goes through on the street?

Meredith
You have auditory exclusion, you can’t hear what’s happening, you have tunnel vision, you can’t really see everything around you, you lose all 5 motor skills, so locks, sweeps, throws, and all this stuff that you’ve trained in for years is essentially gone. When we have various experienced martial artists take the workshops (like mine or Peyton’s Quinn’s) and they have the big padded assailant right in their face and he starts shouting hey mother f******, more often than not they come back with this overhand right. It’s like the frog brain.

Question
They must feel embarrassment and shock.

Meredith
It’s very humbling at first but after a few days of training, they’re just completely elated. No matter how many years of training, that overhand right comes out, but after two, three, or four fights (it happens that quickly) their bodies get used to the adrenaline, and our guys [assailants] in the suits are in trouble. Because these guys are good, and once they understand and harness that adrenal response they truly become deadly.

Question
And this training works for anyone? Experienced as well as novice?

Meredith
And that’s the beauty in the training we do, it works for any level, even for the very inexperienced, the novice, and even the housewife, who’s never hit anyone in her entire life. But the difference it makes in her life is VERY different, it’s a question of feeling empowered for women. She may not leave the class a killer fighter but she’s going to walk with confidence and awareness, she’s going to send out a different vibe, she’s already been through war.

Question
The class works that well?

Meredith Yes, the class gives her that edge, and hopefully she’ll see it coming and will be able to verbally deescalate the situation and that can make all the difference in a common assault against a woman on the street. If a woman puts up an effective verbal defense, chances are the guy is going to leave her alone because he wants an easier target.

Question
Many martial artists used to think they were invincible, but more recently some experienced fighters admit that if they were suddenly attacked with a knife or gun they’d be in big trouble.

Meredith
That again is great that they are able to recognize that. Yes someone like Peyton Quinn, having been a bouncer and having faced so many weapons has a real commentary on that. The more he became accustomed to adrenaline, the more he recognized what was happening physiologically; the calmer he could stay and ride with it. He says that he got to the point where he could see things happening literally frame-by-frame. It’s about repeated exposure and not about how many kicks you can throw, and the only way you can learn to stay calm and handle a weapon attack is to put yourself in that position, over and over and over again.

Question
Is there a weapon component in your training?

Meredith
Yes, in adrenal stress training there is a weapon component. It’s another layer, it gives people an opportunity to learn defenses and to practice them in a realistic situation; but I don’t think any of us who train in these reality based systems say in all good conscience “Oh yeah, no problem, you’ve done this training, you’re safe, go get-em partner”.

Question
This is life and death, it’s always uncertain.

Meredith
Yeah, it’s a crapshoot, the main component we talk about in our training is to control the weapon, grab onto that weapon, and keep the knife hand immobilized above the wrist. (not below the wrist because if there’s wrist flexion, anyone who knows anything about knife fighting can still cut you). With a gun, get that muzzle pointed away from you; even if it’s only an inch away from you, the bullet can only go in one direction. And then keep attacking the vulnerable target.

Question
Do you cover topics such as intent and purpose of an attacker; I assume you try to match the defense to the attack?

Meredith
For me, when I teach students, I say, try to get a sense in the moment, of what the intention is with this weapon. Is he using it to intimidate, or do you get the feeling the gun is about to go off any second? Know why you’re fighting, because if all he really wants is your car or wallet, just give it to him. As soon as you engage in a weapon fight, you have no idea what’s going to happen, But if it’s something like “get in the car, get in the car,” you have to fight!

Question
Because once they take you to a secondary location, your chances of survival go down exponentially.

Meredith
Right, your chances of survival drop precipitously and if you’re going to be injured, God forbid, let it be where someone might be able to help you. And that goes back to the socialization of women in the media where women think “automatically” they have no option. “Oh, he had a gun, he had a knife, I had to get in the car.” Well did you try running away? Because the truth is, especially if it’s any type of public place; the likelihood that someone is going to shoot you in the back as you run away is pretty slim. Again, he’s probably going to look for an easier target. So just take your chances, do something, make a lot of noise, make a fuss and fight, don’t get in that car…it can be a horror show.

Question
And most people aren’t even aware that these basic common sense tactics can be applied.

Meredith
Yes, the amazing thing is that many of the things you can do to escape are common sense. When I did a piece for the local newspapers here in LA last year I told them when we were going into this that if nothing else I was want to make this one point (common sense escapes) and they all looked at me and said “Wow, you should…because that never occurred to us.

Question And that’s funny, because the media often sends out the wrong information, they have always said, “if a stranger attacks you and if there’s weapon, go along, don’t resist.” But in reality only a small percentage of attackers continue to chase their victims after they resist.

Meredith They’re not likely to, but the worst situation for a woman is if the attacker knows you, and it’s personal, then he might chase you, a husband, a boyfriend…those statistics are heartbreaking. When it’s a stalking situation and he’s got it in for you personally, you’re in a significantly worse situation, but if it’s the common opportunistic assailant, yes he’s going to look elsewhere.

This was part one of a two part series concluding next issue…

Meredith Gold runs Daily Defense Strategies, an adrenal-stress based, realistic scenario training course in California. Courses are given at specific locations and are also offered throughout the United States by special appointment.

Meredith Gold runs Daily Defense Strategies, she can be reached at:
310-280-3575

email: mere97@earthlink.net