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Self-defense can give you the chance to survive!

Always be on the alert, even at work!

In todays blog we take another look at how someone can be at risk while doing their regular job duties and also how self-defense can help prevent such dangers.

When Joanne Camden 35 of Portland Oregon had an appointment to show a client around a new house, she had no reason to think it would be different from the many other occasions she had done this service. Today however, was going to really be her nightmare come true!

Joanne explains “I had arranged to meet a couple of newlyweds at a brand-new house that had only just been built the previous week and this was the first house to be completed so was quite a lonely area.”

“I got there early and went through the rooms making sure I had my presentation how I wanted it, nothing looks worse than you are acting like you’ve never seen the house before, so I always like to do this first, it`s more professional and gives the client more confidence in my ability.”

People aren’t always genuine. Beware!

“All was well until the guy showed up without his wife claiming she didn’t feel too good, at the time the alarm bells weren’t ringing but probably should have really as it’s kind of strange that only one would come to see a new house, kind of an important thing to do together being newlyweds you would think, I mean, usually they’d cancel and reschedule so both can see it. Come to think of it I had never spoke to his wife, only him, she was never available.”

“As I was showing the guy around, he seemed perfectly normal until we got to the back of the house where the bedroom would be, as we entered the room, he closed the door behind us locking it. Before I could say anything, he was immediately on me like lightning! Pushed me to the ground hitting me then raped me. I was no match for his strength and couldn’t stop him, I tried but just couldn’t.”

Joanne was sexually assaulted; the attacker ran off but was quickly caught by local police once she called them. The security cameras showed him running out of the house.

It turned out the guy wasn’t even married, just a scammer with a history of violent attacks. He is currently awaiting trial. Joanne suffered cuts and bruises and needed counseling after her horrific ordeal.

You can be a victim anywhere, anytime

This story really shows how dangerous certain jobs can be. Most of the time it’s not like that of course, but the unthinkable can and does happen.

A little self-defense knowledge really could have helped here and could have prevented the terrible ending. It was interesting when Joanne said her attacker was too strong for her to stop the attack, the beauty of self-defense of course is the fact you don’t have to be strong to use it effectively as it’s all about technique not strength.

Too many red flags to ignore

This story had red flags all over it! Meeting a client in such a remote area was never a good idea, possibly a co-worker or friend could have gone for back up. The fact the guy came without his wife and she was never available was a big red flag.

Easy to say afterwards of course but better preparation could have saved the day here. Like the saying goes; prevention is better than the cure.

Are you doing a job where you might unintentionally be putting yourself at risk by meeting strangers? If so, consider taking up self-defense, it could prevent you from attack. it might be all you have and all you need!

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Workout at your own pace

Don’t worry how much someone else is lifting

It`s not a competition!

It always amazes me how someone with very little experience can totally dismiss someone else’s experience and strength thinking they can lift the same amount of weight as someone who has lots of experience, and happens to be twice their size, and especially when it’s me they happen to be not taking seriously!

But when they happen to personally know me and also know I’ve been a personal trainer for a number of years it makes it twice as bad, as it might have occurred to them that I might actually just know what I’m talking about! And maybe, just maybe they might realize I’m a little more advanced than what they are!

My experience with this issue

One such example was a guy I worked with named Roy. He was ex-army and full of himself, always telling me how he thought he could match me with the weights! The session was just meant to be an introduction into lifting weights, I told him I’d workout with him just so he can get a feel of weight training, but not to expect to lift the same weights as I’m lifting, after all, it’s not a competition between the two of us. Sadly, he couldn’t comprehend that little fact at all.

I was by no means the biggest and strongest in the gym, but that’s fine, as I fully understood my limitations and was happy with my size and strength, I explained I didn’t start off this big and strong, I was once his size with no experience and understand the importance of lifting safely and not trying to lift too much too soon, just got to give it time and progress steadily. I probably outweighed Roy by a good one hundred pounds and with no experience I knew he would have to start off very lightly, but Roy on the other hand had other ideas.

Know your limitations

Everything we did he would try and left the same weight! As we started with a few machines it wasn’t such a big deal as he simply couldn’t move the stack at all. Ten out of ten for effort but as his face was going bright red under the strain nothing was happening. I would reduce the weight around 70% so he could do his set, easy enough on the machines for two people to work out together even if they are miles apart in experience and strength, after all, it’s just a matter of removing a pin. Free weights are not quite as easy as you’re constantly having to take the weights on and off the bar, which gets really old fast!

Even though it was very evident Roy was frustrated with himself, he was actually doing pretty well, with a lot less weight than myself of course which he couldn’t quite get his head around. All was well until we used the smith machine for incline bench press, personally I warm up with 100lb which isn’t too difficult for this particular exercise. I did my set then it was Roy’s turn, I told him just give me a minute and I’ll reduce the weight a little for him to start with.

Injury can occur lifting too much

I took some weights off and left 20lb on the bar. Before I could get in position to spot him, he had already jumped on the bench and unhooked the bar off the rack and crash! The bar came straight down hitting him in the mouth! His arms had completely gone and had no strength left to work with this light weight.

I did manage to get a hand on the bar and stop it hitting him with full force, but even so it drew plenty of blood and gave him a nice fat lip in the process! He had no desire to carry on after that and went home immediately and never returned to the gym ever again. Afterwards he said “I guess I’m not as strong as you after all!” No shit! Whatever gave you that idea?

He must have been pretty embarrassed as he didn’t show up at work for a few days after, when he returned to work, he told everyone he was involved in a fight at the weekend and that’s how he got the fat lip! I went along with that story as I knew how embarrassed he must have been about the whole session, I kept asking him to come back but he just didn’t have the patience required to benefit from weight training, he claimed he was sore for a whole week after!

He also failed to inform me beforehand that he had some kind of metal plate fitted in his head after an injury he suffered while serving in the army, and he claimed when he got home this metal plate was pulsating in his head for hours! He also claimed it was so bad he thought he was going to die. Strange thing was though, he never went to the hospital or even called his doctor, surely if you think you’re in that kind of danger you would do one or the other, or both? I’d like to think I would have anyway. Sounds a little too serious just to do nothing.

He said this `old war wound` had prevented him from working out as hard as he could or wanted to in the past, and that he is way stronger than the workout he did with me suggested. Sounds like he still can’t accept his lack of strength and experience. Funny thing was, the session wasn’t bad at all, when you consider his size and strength levels he did pretty well.

You’re only in competition with yourself

Looking back, I’m pretty sure this was just another example of someone trying to do way too much too soon without even trying to understand or accept their limitations.

Bottom line really is this; you’re only in competition with yourself, don’t try and keep up with someone else that’s way stronger and more experienced. It`s not a sign of weakness at all to go at your own pace, you`ll get faster results by going one step at a time, don’t rush it.

Have you ever experienced this kind of training partner or client? Someone that feels necessary to try and keep up with you?

The health benefits of drinking water

Other drinks may be way more appealing, but nothing offers the same benefits to your body as good old water, and that’s a fact! And speaking of which, here are the facts.

The facts and benefits of water

Drinking water helps keep body fluids balanced – Did you know that your body weight is approximately 60 percent water? Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. The amount of water you need depends on a variety of factors, including the climate you live in, how physically active you are, and whether you’re experiencing an illness or have any other health problems.

Water protects tissues, spinal cord, and joints – Water does more than just quench your thirst and regulate your body’s temperature; it also keeps the tissues in your body moist. You know how it feels when your eyes, nose, or mouth gets dry? Keeping your body hydrated helps it retain optimum levels of moisture in these sensitive areas, as well as in the blood, bones, and the brain. In addition, water helps protect the spinal cord, and it acts as a lubricant and cushion for your joints.

Water helps your body remove waste – Adequate water intake enables your body to excrete waste through perspiration, urination, and defecation. The kidneys and liver use it to help flush out waste, as do your intestines. Water can also keep you from getting constipated by softening your stools and helping move the food you’ve eaten through your intestinal tract. However, it should be noted that there is no evidence to prove that increasing your fluid intake will cure constipation.

Water aids in digestion – Digestion starts with saliva, the basis of which is water. Digestion relies on enzymes that are found in saliva to help break down food and liquid and to dissolve minerals and other nutrients. Proper digestion makes minerals and nutrients more accessible to the body. Water is also necessary to help you digest soluble fiber. With the help of water, this fiber dissolves easily and benefits your bowel health by making well-formed, soft stools that are easy to pass.

Water prevents you from becoming dehydrated – Your body loses fluids when you engage in vigorous exercise, sweat in high heat, or come down with a fever or contract an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhea. If you’re losing fluids for any of these reasons, it’s important to increase your fluid intake so that you can restore your body’s natural hydration levels. Your doctor may also recommend that you drink more fluids to help treat other health conditions, like bladder infections and urinary tract stones. If you’re pregnant or nursing, you may want to consult with your physician about your fluid intake because your body will be using more fluids than usual, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Remember, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water, if you do then you’ll already be dehydrated.

Water helps control calories – For years, dieters have been drinking lots of water as a weight loss strategy. While water doesn’t have any magical effect on weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly help. Food with high water content tends to look larger, its higher volume requires more chewing, and it is absorbed more slowly by the body, which helps you feel full. Water-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, oatmeal, and beans.

Water helps energize muscles – Cells that don’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, which can result in muscle fatigue. When muscle cells don’t have adequate fluids, they don’t work as well, and performance can suffer. Drinking enough fluids is important when exercising. Follow the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for fluid intake before and during physical activity. These guidelines recommend that people drink about 17 ounces of fluid about two hours before exercise. During exercise, they recommend that people start drinking fluids early, and drink them at regular intervals to replace fluids lost by sweating.

Water helps your kidneys – Body fluids transport waste products in and out of cells. The main toxin in the body is blood urea nitrogen, a water-soluble waste that can pass through the kidneys to be excreted in the urine. Your kidneys do an amazing job of cleansing and ridding your body of toxins if your intake of fluids is adequate. When you’re getting enough fluids, urine flows freely, is light in color and free of odor. When your body is not getting enough fluids, urine concentration, color, and odor increases because the kidneys trap extra fluid for bodily functions. If you chronically drink too little, you may be at higher risk for kidney stones, especially in warm climates.

Water helps keep your kin looking good – Your skin contains plenty of water, and functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. Dehydration makes your skin look drier and more wrinkled, which can be improved with proper hydration, but once you are adequately hydrated, the kidneys take over and excrete excess fluids. You can also help “lock” moisture into your skin by using moisturizer, which creates a physical barrier to keep moisture in.

How much water do you need? – Many individuals meet their daily hydration needs by simply drinking water when they’re thirsty, according to a report on nutrient recommendations from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. In fact, most people who are in good physical health get enough fluids by drinking water and other beverages when they’re thirsty, and also by drinking a beverage with each of their meals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you’re not sure about your hydration level, look at your urine. If it’s clear, you’re in good shape. If it’s dark, you’re probably dehydrated.

So, after reading this, can you honestly say you drink enough water? Might not be everyone’s favorite drink but certainly the most important!

Always be on your guard!

Never let your guard down!

Attacks happen anywhere and anytime

An attack can happen anywhere at anytime! Everyday situations like walking across a store parking lot at night is a prime example, just because they might have video cameras around doesn’t deter every attacker, remember, desperate people do desperate things! Be on you guard always!

A true story to prove this

Here’s a true story showing how an attack can happen when you least expect it. Getting the groceries late at night after work had never been an issue for Susan Randall 48 of San Diego California until one night when things really took a turn for the worse.

“I always tried to park my car under a light even if it meant walking a little farther to the store, so I can say I was aware of possible danger but never expected it to happen to me at all.”

“Then one night as I was walking back to my car, I was approached by a young man who punched me in the stomach so hard I immediately doubled up and fell to the ground in agony! He ran away with my purse. I could sense he had bad intentions but as my hands were both tied up holding bags of groceries, I could do nothing to defend myself. So, I guess you could say I was ready for it but then again I wasn’t because I couldn’t get my hands free in time to stop the attack.”

The whole incident was captured on the store security cameras in the parking lot and a 23-year-old was charged with the attack by local police two days later. He was a well-known drug addict with a string of violent attacks to his name. He received a 6-month prison sentence.

Susan said, “I actually feel sorry for the young man resorting to such levels, I hope when he’s released from prison, he can sort himself out and make something of his life.”

Susan lost her purse and had a few credit cards charged up by the attacker and of course the cash in her purse was gone too. It might be very inconvenient having to replace those items but at least they can be replaced, your life however cannot!

Helpful advice

Leaving the store late at night can be a potentially dangerous situation, like Susan did in this story always try to park under a light if possible, the lighter the better for your safety.

Try to have one hand free as this will give you a fighting chance should you be attacked, if not carry one bag with something you can swing at an attacker, imagine getting hit around the head by a bag containing a frozen chicken? There’s an instant weapon!

Car keys can be a useful weapon

One thing to remember is to carry your car keys with the ignition key between your fingers as this is generally a larger key and can be used to great effect if attacked by jabbing at the attacker. If you don’t have a car key carry a pen with your thumb over the top, it`s light and can make a great weapon if needed again by jabbing at your attacker.

This story is a great example of needing to be situationally aware of both the surroundings and people around you. Be ready for an attack, chances are it won’t happen but if it does, you’ll have a much better chance of remaining safe.

Have you experienced an incident like this in a store parking lot at night? If so, were you able to defend yourself? Is this something you can honestly say you`d be prepared for if it did happen?

Over-training can be an issue

Knowing when to take a break

In today’s blog we look at the world of over training. While it`s true many people don’t workout hard enough it`s also true many workout way too hard and too often, leaving them bewildered as to why there’s little or no progress.

No matter what your chosen activity may be, from bodybuilding to self-defense to kickboxing or whatever; it can reach the point of becoming an obsession at times leading to overtraining, learn to listen to your body, it will tell you when you reach that stage.

It`s a real issue, after all, we can over-eat, over-drink, over-sleep and over-anything really! As they say moderation is the key and any physical training is no different.

The symptoms of over-training

The symptoms are like those of jet lag, long term illness, poor nutrition, etc. just basically feeling run down and no longer motivated to complete your workouts like before when you felt on top of the world with endless energy.

I personally found this out when I got hooked on lifting weights, it was my whole life! I had to work out twice a day seven days a week without fail! The very thought of not doing that was unthinkable! Even though I was so sore it was a chore to get out of bed without screaming!

I couldn’t understand why my gains were so slow in coming, I mean, I’m working out so much so why am I still wearing a medium sized shirt? surely the more I work out the more muscle I should have, right? Wrong! Doesn’t work that way at all.

One day I get lucky and meet a guy in the gym who informs me I’m over training and need to cut back to three or four sessions a week if I really want to develop muscle and strength, and also pay attention to my diet. I never considered I was doing too much and being a `gym addict` now I’m worrying about what I will do on my many days off from my second home, the gym!

But he looked like he knew what he was talking about, so I took his word for it and did as he said, and like magic I start developing muscles without the previous pain, now I’m experiencing a nice soreness that isn’t as severe as before. Actually, not pain at all.

I was then getting to train with lots of experienced people all offering great advice, and soon I was in the best shape since I started and soon realized the mistakes I made in the beginning, mainly overtraining!

For all those who feel addicted to the gym etc. just relax and take a day off once in a while, it will help you come back refreshed and ready to go again.

Over-training can cause injury!

Apart from the symptoms we went over earlier in this blog, overtraining can lead to injury such as muscle damage due to insufficient rest between sessions. I`ve known many people who tore muscles through this mistake lifting weights and many who pulled muscles kickboxing through this mistake.

Look at it this way, if you tare or pull a muscle chances are you won’t be training at all for quite a while. The `No pain no gain` attitude can get you injured pretty quickly.

Bottom line is this, listen to your body, your body knows the signs before you do. But, are you going to listen? That`s the question only you can answer.

Have you ever over trained to the point of losing interest? Or have you ignored the signs and carried on and got injured as a result? Not everyone will admit to this, I did though, can you?

Don’t react like a victim

Confrontations can suddenly erupt!

A person’s body language can often give warning and prepare you for a possible confrontation but always be prepared for the sudden unprovoked attack!

Confrontations even between friends can suddenly erupt over petty things, basically a different opinion over something can easily trigger this and if alcohol is involved things could get out of hand pretty quickly.  

The key is to not allow yourself to get drawn into this type of situation by remaining calm and by never putting yourself directly in front of someone who is clearly acting in an aggressive manner and looking for a confrontation. Keep your distance and hopefully the situation will be defused quickly.

The usual pattern of behavior for this situation to start is by an exchange of words which can become insulting and threatening, nearly always accompanied by arm waving and gesturing and even throwing objects that might be within reach before coming to physical blows.

Different types of confrontations

Here’s the three main types of confrontations you may have seen or experienced yourself at some time, all are pretty common.

1)    An individual who is gesturing for you to “have a go” from a distance is usually a sign his bark is worse than his bite, in other words he’s more of an exhibitionist rather than a fighter. Unless you say something that really hits a nerve making him suddenly attack you he’ll probably just be satisfied with a barrage of insults then head off to tell his friends how he won a fight that never even happened! A frustrating situation, but a far better outcome however than an actual fight. Words can hurt for sure, but so can getting beaten senseless.

2)   Occasionally a confrontation can really escalate, when someone not only talks bad but actually gets closer to you and starts pushing and grabbing then this is a very serious threat indeed. Once this has reached that point it will keep escalating till you either do something to make him back off or an outside intervention ends the situation, but at this point simply hoping for the best is not going to help you at all, the talking stage is well and truly over and it’s now time for action!

3)   You might find yourself in a confrontation with someone who skips all the above and goes straight into violence against you. At this point anything goes as you have no idea how far your attacker may take things, he may be satisfied with hitting you a couple of times, but equally he may be satisfied with knocking you down and kicking you in the head while you are helpless on the ground. Passersby may decide to join in and help you, then again they may completely ignore the situation, it can and does happen. The point is once this has reached the physical level you have no way to know just how bad it might get, your life may be in danger at this point.

So, to recap here are briefly the three main types of confrontations we just talked about…

1)    Someone who is all talk and has little intention of actually fighting, you are unlikely to be at too much risk from this type of individual apart from being called a few bad names.

2)    Someone who takes the confrontation to the next level by pushing and grabbing. You are at possible risk from this type of individual unless you protect yourself from the possible attack that is very close to happening.

3)    Someone who goes straight into the violence without any kind of warning, you are at most risk from this type of individual. You have no time to be on your guard here as you are at severe risk from an unprovoked attack, the surprise of which can result in serious injury.

Most of the people that like to start fights really have no idea how to fight in the first place! Many are nothing more than bullies picking a fight with someone who doesn’t stand much chance of beating them relying on aggression and intimidation which can work in their favor simply because untrained people don’t know how to handle those two things and are basically beaten before a punch is thrown.

Although anything can happen in a fight there’s a definite trend to what actually does happen, the buildup, such as the posturing and threats is very common as is the grabbing and pushing. Once the fighting actually starts, you’ll nearly always see the big overhead swinging punch with the stronger hand from the person throwing it proving they know nothing about fighting at all! Also wrestling on the ground is another favorite it seems. Real fights are certainly nowhere near as exciting or interesting as the ones you see in the Kung-Fu movies, but of course they are not real.

Don’t react like a victim

Don’t react like a victim. How you react to a potential confrontation is very important. There is nothing wrong with being polite and considerate as long as you make it very clear that you are choosing to be civil rather than being coerced by the aggressor. It is possible to head off many potentially serious problems by taking a stand early on and making it clear that you have no intentions of accepting the situation that could develop. 

Deterrence. This stand can take one of two forms, which are best described as deterrence and de-escalation. Deterrence is quite a bold response, even though it doesn’t have to be aggressive or rude, basically you’re making a bold statement saying enough is enough! The only problem with this being if you’re not a match physically for the potential attacker it could be like waving a red flag to a bull leading to an escalation of the situation.

De-Escalation. This is just the opposite approach, you are trying to appeal to his good nature, assuming he has one that is. Instead of making a bold response you try to calm things down or make an excuse for why you are backing off, this might mean you are apologizing for something you haven’t even done in the first place! But if it ends the possible threat then take that to be a victory. De-Escalation can be a good strategy as it allows the potential attacker to go on his way believing he made you stand down in fear of him. However, many confrontations are fueled by nothing more than over inflated egos so this strategy could backfire on you by pushing him down onto a position in which his ego forces him to attack you. Think wisely before using either of these two strategies.

Know where an attackers hands are

During a confrontation always make sure you know where your potential attacker’s hands are at all times, while you can see them the biggest threat is receiving a punch but when their hands disappear under clothes there’s a good chance they will produce a weapon such as a knife. If this happens don’t wait to see what they surprise you with! The moment their hand goes under clothing act fast! Lunge forward jamming their arm against their body while delivering a barrage of strikes with your other hand. A knife threat will be much easier to deal with while it’s still concealed under clothing, but once drawn and out in the open the danger level has been significantly increased.

If you are facing an attacker who has you at gun point, you are in a whole new level of danger! No matter how good you are at martial arts you aren’t going to dodge a bullet! It’s not like in the movies where the hero avoids the bullets with his lightning fast reflexes, try this in the real world and you will be seriously injured or killed in seconds! 

If you are facing someone at gunpoint, then you are most likely about to be robbed. Whatever possessions the attacker wants give them up immediately! Remember, your attacker doesn’t have to be close to you for you to be hurt with a gun. This isn’t the time to play the hero dodging bullets like on some movies, doesn’t work that way at all.

Bottom line is this, your life is seriously on the line! No matter how valuable items may be for the most part they can be replaced. Your life however, cannot!

Have you been the victim of a robbery at gunpoint? Have you experienced any of the confrontations we covered in this story? If so, were you able to defuse the situation with passive gestures or did it escalate to a fight?

Bullying defined

What is bullying exactly?

Bullying is the use of force, threat or coercion to abuse, intimidate or aggressively dominate others. Their behavior is usually repeated, very few bullies do it once to see what it’s like. It’s very much habitual for a bully.

A good example of this is to cast your mind back to your school days, I’m sure you’ll all agree there was a least one bully in your school and was a bully from start to finish during your years at school or at least till someone put them in their place! When that happens, the bully realizes he picked on the wrong person and is never really thought of in the same intimidating way again having been knocked off his pedestal.

The sense of power bullying gives them leads them to the unrealistic belief that they seriously think they are popular as they nearly always have a group of sheep-like followers walking in their shadow, but if truth be known none or very few of the sheep-like followers truly respect or even like the bully as a person. Bullies are some of the least liked people around.

Bullies are cowards!

Bullies come in 4 different types; verbal, emotional, cyber and the physical abusive type is one many kids have to deal with, although kids can be hurt without the physical type though; Do you remember the old saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can`t hurt me?” This saying is certainly not true at all, names might not physically hurt you but mentally they certainly can and make a kids life a misery.

Bullies sadly are everywhere and come in all shapes, sizes, races, nationalities, religions and all ages, from school to the work place, family and beyond, but the one thing they all have in common is one simple fact; they are all cowards!

They are so unhappy with their own worthless lives they must pick on someone who they consider an easy target to make their own miserable lives seem more important.

The victims are often quiet people, small or over-weight people, basically, someone who is self-conscious about the way they look or someone who simply won’t fight back are always potential victims of bullies.

How we are trying to help

Here at the Backyard Gym we are running an ongoing campaign to try and help young kids overcome this terrible issue by giving them the confidence and skills to protect themselves.

It`s one thing to know what to do, but, it`s another thing entirely to have the confidence to stand up to a bully and use those skills. That’s why I believe we have developed the all-around package for kids to successfully be able to do both and live their lives free of bullying.

Have you been the victim of bullying? If so, how did you deal with the situation? Whatever you did, did that method you used work for you?

A great stress reliever

More realistic than shadow boxing

Punching or kicking a bag after a frustrating day at work is certainly a great stress reliever. To actually feel the contact of your punches against a solid object will feel more realistic and put you in a better frame of mind should you be stressed out that particular day.

You just can’t pretend to punch, you need feedback and by visualizing the punching bag as a symbol that was the source of your stress and aggravation for the day as you pound it with punches is a much more productive method than using negative ways of relieving stress such as getting physical with someone, relieving stress in a negative manner simply leads to more stress. A punching bag will ultimately allow you to express and release your frustration and relieve your stress without getting yourself into trouble or hurt.

So many benefits

Kickboxing provides many positive benefits. You will, however, not learn the practical application of the techniques that you practice until you apply them to a target or punching bag. Learning to gauge distance and effectively landing your punch flush on a target takes practice by striking a solid object such as a punching bag, not just shadow boxing which only gives a false sense of security where punching is concerned. You can be in for a rude awakening if you think you can actually use these techniques for self-defense purposes unless they are ingrained and there is a total understanding of their application.

When you are performing kickboxing you are not only getting a great fun way of getting your important cardiovascular exercise, but also learning valuable self-defense skills at the same time which of course is a very important added benefit.

Training with BOB the punching man

A punch thrown at full speed captured on a high speed camera

Training in boxing and martial arts often involves spending hours striking a punching bag. The disadvantage of training with a regular bag is that you are practicing on an unrealistic object instead of a body. Century Martial Arts has solved this problem by developing the Body Opponent Bag or better known as BOB. BOB is basically a punching bag in the shape of a male torso and head mounted on an adjustable stand offering a height to suit everyone no matter how short or tall you may be. Trying to throw a head or body shot on a regular bag is all guess work as there are no actual body features to aim at.

Ideal for all types of disciplines

For example, performing an upper cut is one very big obvious advantage on BOB who unlike other punching bags has the chin readymade to receive your blows. That is an extremely difficult punch to perform on regular punching bags. Trying to land uppercuts on traditional punching bags is very frustrating as the punch simply slides off the edge of the bag, but with BOB you can accurately land an uppercut on the chin and see how the blow impacts the opponent. As with all punching techniques, hands must first be protected before punching. Striking an object incorrectly can lead to hand injuries such as sprains and broken bones.

Elbow strikes are one of the most devastating weapons in a fighter’s arsenal. To correctly perform an elbow strike, stand close to BOB at roughly a 45 degree angle. Line the point of your elbow up with BOB’s solar plexus. Using the hips to generate power, twist your body toward the opponent while keeping your arm tucked tightly extending the elbow toward the target. Upon impact the arm should be on an even plane as the shoulders. Elbow strikes can be used on multiple areas of the body such as the solar plexus, ribs, throat the jaw and the side of the neck, all of which can be practiced to perfection on BOB.

Kicks and knees can also be performed on BOB with ease, you must however first make sure he’s set to a height that’s comfortable to practice your kicks on as when your legs get tired it`s a natural tendency to drop your range which could lead to striking the adjustable frame instead causing injury to your foot or leg. Find your range with various kicks and practice pin-point accuracy on areas such as the head and ribs.

If Thai-boxing is your chosen sport BOB is perfect for practicing knee strikes, with BOB having no arms simply get in close as you would in a clinch with a real opponent and bring your knees straight up high underneath his shoulders or rotate your hips and deliver knee strikes to the ribs from the side. Similarly knee strikes to the chin can be performed and perfected on this very versatile unique human looking punching bag.

What are you experiences using bags? Any preference to the one you use most? What makes that one special in your opinion?

When is Self-Defense not Self-Defense?

How much force is acceptable?

If you do find yourself in a situation where you must defend yourself, how much force is acceptable to use in order to get the better of your attacker? 

You have the right to protect yourself or someone else from violence by using force but your actions should be appropriate to the level of threat you find yourself dealing with, in other words, don’t go over the top after you have dealt with your attacker. 

If you have to hit someone 50 times to stop them attacking you this is acceptable providing they were still a threat after punch number 49! But if you continue to punch or kick them after they are helpless on the ground then the table has been turned around and now you are the aggressor and can be prosecuted as such.  

Don’t wait till they throw the first punch

Now, having said that, this doesn’t mean you have to wait till you are punched first before using force to stop your attacker, if you wait till you are punched before taking action the first punch could well be the last punch too! Anyone can be taken out with one punch so don’t wait, act fast! 

You are entitled to use an appropriate level of force as soon as you recognize a threat to yourself. Notice I say `appropriate` and not `minimum` force? This is because the law does not require a person to carefully figure out exactly what level of force is required to stop an attack or use a specific move to stop the danger, so providing your actions are reasonable under the circumstances you are quite within your rights to do what is needed but no more than that. Remember don’t get carried away and turn yourself into the aggressor. 

The level of force used must be appropriate to the threat that you perceive it to be and you have to be able to justify your perception. Hitting someone who isn’t a threat but in your eyes looks a `bit dodgy` is not acceptable at all. But if you can explain exactly what signs of aggression you felt threatened by and feared for your safety, then as long as your response was proportionate to the threat you feared, then your actions are justified by law.

Deal with the threat

Once the threat is over you must stop as further violence is not necessary and certainly no longer self-defense at all. You are entitled to ensure your attacker is unable to continue, but certain guidelines apply here, it’s acceptable by using a restraining move but most certainly not acceptable by kicking them on the ground. Control is the key here.

There is no `he came at me with a knife so I killed him` principle, but if your only course of action to stop an attacker from doing something extremely serious to you resulted in his death or very serious injury, then as long as you actions were warranted by the circumstances, they would be considered lawful.  

You are not required by law to try to escape from a situation or to surrender any more than you are to stand and fight. However, if do claim self-defense then you will need to explain why you chose this option rather than using other means not using force. For example, if you chose to stand and fight someone when you had a clear chance of escape, you would be required to explain why you did not take that opportunity. If there wasn’t a good reason for your choice of action, then this might undermine your assertion that you only did what you had to do in order to protect yourself. 

Don’t go beyond Self-Defense


If you have the attitude that the person deserved a `good kicking` for attacking you in the first place you have taken this way past self-defense as self-defense only applies while there is a threat. It’s amazing how quickly your attacker will happily play the role of victim and sue you should you step over the line for something they started in the first place! 

So basically, if you decide you want to get some `payback` after the threat is over you will most likely answer for it in a court of law, remember, there are cameras on most streets now watching your every move that will confirm whether your actions were justified or not. Again, control is the key here, I cannot stress that enough.

Have you been the victim of an attack where you successfully defended yourself? Did you do this with minimum force or did you go over the top and give your attacker a beating?

Choose your targets wisely

you might only get one chance at escaping an attack so hit a vital area, then get out of there immediately!

Disable an attacker quickly!

Remember, if you are attacked your priority is to ensure your safety, getting an aggressor to let go of you does not end the situation. Many people have been hurt because they didn’t take strong enough measures allowing the attacker to have another go at them, you might not get so lucky second time around so don’t hold back, you might only get one chance to escape the situation. 

One strike could save you from further danger and give you your best chance to end the situation, so hit hard and hit fast! You don’t have to wait till your attacker punches you before you think of striking them. Once you deliver that first blow do not stand back and see what your attacker decides to do next, keep on going until the threat is dealt with. Remember, while there is still a threat to your safety it is still self-defense and you must do whatever it takes to ensure your safety. Do not hold back with your first strike, make it count. 

You should never reach full extension of your arm before hitting a target with a punch. Many times you will see someone throw a punch with just enough power to reach the intended target almost like they’re afraid of hurting their hand so pull the punch short, the secret is to image your target behind the actual target you are striking ensuring maximum force when delivered, that way your strike is actually still accelerating as it goes into the target area rather than slowing down.

Vulnerable areas to aim for

Here`s a few of the most vulnerable areas on the human body, if you can strike out at any of these areas you will have a great chance of surviving any attack you might be facing.

Eyes… Striking the eyes is a great way to escape from an attacker who is much stronger than yourself who has managed to get in close enough to grab you and has you in a bear hug. The technique should see your first two fingers spread and bent slightly ensuring you don’t break your own fingers if you happen to miss the target and strike your attackers forehead instead. Simply push your hand forward and upwards to your attacker’s eyes, aiming a little lower with your fingers sliding up the cheeks into the eye socket is far better than aiming too high. This move will definitely make someone back off a few seconds if not longer stunning them, but don’t rely on this to end the situation, be prepared to follow it up with something else immediately then make your escape.

Groin… Kicking the groin if timed and aimed correctly can stop an attacker dead in his tracks. It can be a great way to keep your attacker at a distance before he gets in too close to you. However, if you attempt this kick from a distance be aware that if the distance is too far you might not generate enough power to stop your attacker and only land your kick with the tip of your toes should you even strike the desired target. You are putting yourself in a position of being very off balance as your kicking leg is so extended making it very easy to miss and kick the stomach or leg instead allowing your attacker the chance to grab your leg and push you onto the ground, so don’t gamble everything on this one kick, be prepared to follow it up immediately. But if you do manage to time your kick with the distance perfectly this will end any threat you are under. No matter how big and strong someone is a kick to the groin will disable anyone long enough to ensure your escape and safety. 

Throat… Punching, chopping and squeezing the throat can stop an attacker immediately. Two of the main strikes are the web hand and the straight fingered strike, both are delivered with a hard straight jabbing action. The web hand strike uses the `L` shape between the thumb and forefinger as a striking surface. The other common throat striking method is to ram straight stiff fingers into the throat. Action against this particular area can be effectively carried out from a close in range or from a distance as very little pressure is needed to make an attacker back off. However, something to be mindful of is striking with too much force in this area could easily kill someone, so unless your life is in serious danger be very careful when attacking the throat. 

Ears… Attacking the ears is a great way to get yourself out of danger, especially if you should find yourself in some kind of close grab or bear hug type of situation where you simply don’t have enough space to generate any kind of effective strike. Striking the ears in a clapping motion will definitely disorientate your attacker giving you valuable seconds in which to make your escape to safety. 

Shins… The shins have a large number of nerve endings close to the surface of the skin and as such can be a very painful area to receive a kick. Also, the inner side of your foot can be used to slide down an attackers shin. Both the impact and pain caused by this action could well be enough to cause your attacker to lose his balance a few seconds and step back. If you happen to be wearing hard shoes then kicking with your toes will be very effective. If you are grabbed from behind striking the shins is a great area to hit.

Fingers… The fingers offer a great target and are very useful when it comes to getting an attacker to release you from any hold they may have you in. The beauty of this area is the fact there’s so many of them and pulling, twisting, bending or even breaking a finger can be extremely painful. Any of these actions should help give you the opportunity to escape.

Nose… The nose is a very delicate area and a solid strike against it can seriously knock the fight out of someone very quickly, it’s amazing how someone-even an attacker-can panic when they feel their own blood running out of their nose and into their mouth, the sensation and taste of which can really unsettle someone. A punch, chop or palm-strike are very effective on this particular area whether it be from a distance or close in. Definitely one of the best areas to attack.

You may only get one chance to escape

Remember, when attacking these or any other areas with your self-defense moves don’t make the mistake of stepping back and waiting to see what reactions your attacker is showing after you took action, you might only get one chance at surviving the attack so get out of there immediately!

Have you been the victim of an attack? If you fought back did you lash out wildly hoping for the best or were you able to carefully select a target to strike, what area did you hit and what effect did it have?