IT Employment

Stay safe when you pull an all-nighter: 10 self-defense tips for techies

IT pros may be experts at protecting their systems from attack. But working late on short sleep, preoccupied with a tricky project, they may not be ready to protect themselves. Deb Shinder calls on her law enforcement background to provide techs with some self-defense basics.

IT pros may be experts at protecting their systems from attack. But working late, short on sleep, preoccupied with a tricky project, they may not be ready to protect themselves. Deb Shinder calls on her law enforcement background to provide techs with some self-defense basics.


You know the stereotype: Computer "geeks" tend to be highly intelligent but introverted and (there's no other way to say it) a little wimpy. We all know that isn't necessarily true -- but it is true that many in the IT field don't have a lot of training in self defense. We focus on protecting our networks, rather than our physical selves. And we sometimes get so focused on our work that we lose track of what's going on around us.

The nature of the job also means that you may frequently find yourself working late, after everyone else has gone home, to get that server patched or get e-mail working again before the office opens in the morning. You may end up walking across a dark parking lot at 2:00 a.m., sleep-deprived and dead tired and not paying attention. That can make you a prime target for criminals looking for victims.

In 2006 (the most recent statistics available from the U.S. Bureau of Justice), approximately 25 million crimes of violence and theft occurred. That's 24.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. And don't think you're immune if you're male. Even though muggers may prefer to target women become they're assumed to be less physically prepared to fight back, overall, more men than women are victims of violent crime. It can happen to you.

As a former police officer and police academy defensive tactics instructor prior to going into the tech biz, I'm often amazed (and concerned) by the lack of awareness of danger that many of my IT colleagues exhibit. In this article, I offer a few tips to help you decrease your chances of becoming a victim -- without becoming paranoid or putting in the time to earn a martial arts black belt.

Note: This information is also available as a PDF download.

#1: Pay attention!

The first and most important step in defending yourself against potential muggers and other criminals is to develop the proper mental state of awareness. That means constantly assessing your surroundings, especially when you're in an environment where risk is high (e.g., working or walking alone late at night).

The late Colonel Jeff Cooper, well-known in law enforcement circles as an expert on marksmanship, safety, and the defensive mindset, developed a color code system to describe the states of awareness in which we operate. These range from Condition White (oblivion) to Condition Black (actively involved in a fight for your life). Many people spend most of their time in Condition White, which means that if danger presents itself, they often don't recognize it in time to avoid it. The key is to learn to live, as a matter of daily life, in Condition Yellow -- which means you're still relaxed, but you're aware of everything that's going on around you. You can read more about Cooper's Color Codes at http://www.self-defense-mind-body-spirit.com/awareness.html.

After a while, awareness becomes second nature. You automatically check the back seat before getting into the car, scope out the path to the front door for places a criminal could be hiding, notice whether another car is following you, and so forth. This heightened awareness can be the key to surviving not only a criminal attack, but also accidents, natural disasters, and other dangerous situations.

#2: Have a plan

Once you've learned to be aware of your surroundings and recognize early that something is wrong, you need a plan for what you'll do if you're attacked or otherwise placed in danger. When I was teaching self-defense classes, I called this "if/then thinking." It involves evaluating where the danger is most likely to come from and deciding beforehand how you'll react if a particular threat becomes reality.

Just as on an airplane, you should acquaint yourself with where the exit rows are located and how the oxygen masks work, when you're working late alone at night you should familiarize yourself with the building, possible hiding places and escape routes, which doors are locked and which aren't, how to lock yourself into a safe room (without windows or other easy entrances), and so forth. When you must cross a dark parking lot or navigate through a deserted parking garage, know what you'll do if someone pops out of a parked van or from behind a column and tries to grab you.

Having a plan also means planning ahead. Park your car in a lighted area, if possible, when you're likely to be returning to it after dark. Have your keys out and ready before you even leave the building, so you don't have to fumble for them on your way to or at the vehicle.

Your plan in a given situation will depend on your own training, skills, philosophy, and the resources you have available at the time. But the point is that if you have a plan, you'll be able to react more quickly rather than wasting precious time standing there like a deer in headlights and giving your attacker even more of an advantage.

#3: Stay physically fit

Attackers usually prefer victims over whom they have a physical advantage. Some disadvantages you may not be able to do anything about: If you're disabled, elderly, very small, etc., it will be easier for a criminal to overpower you. Even in those situations, though, staying as physically fit as you can under the circumstances will help narrow the gap and help you survive a physical confrontation, if it comes to that, with less injury.

In addition, when you're fit and aware, you tend to project an aura of self-confidence that will make predators -- who, like their animal counterparts, prey on the weak -- avoid you.

Getting plenty of exercise and eating right will not only make you look and feel better; it will also keep you safer from criminals.

#4: Stay mentally fit

To maintain the high level of awareness that is the foundation of self-protection, it's important to stay mentally fit as well as physically fit. Mental fitness derives in part from general physical fitness, but it's also negatively affected by short-term actions, such as sleep deprivation, drinking alcohol, or the use/abuse of recreational or prescription drugs.

It's not always possible to avoid everything that affects mental fitness. After all, there's nothing you can do after the fact about having stayed up all night, and you may need to take medications that affect your mental status for health reasons. But one thing you can do is recognize those circumstances that make you less mentally fit and take steps to ameliorate the effects -- for instance, not working late on those nights or at least having someone else stay late with you.

#5: Take common sense precautions

Remember the old adage: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Lock your office or server room door when you're working late alone. Don't let anyone in whom you don't know (social engineering can be used by attackers to gain physical entry just as it's used by hackers to gain network access). If there's a security guard, get to know him/her. Don't be afraid to ask for an escort to your car when you leave the building.

If someone follows your car, don't go home. Drive to a police station or a place where there are plenty of people. If someone bumps your car with his vehicle, or if a "plain clothes" police officer in an unmarked car attempts to make a "traffic stop" using a portable red light or grill lights, don't stop in a deserted area. Instead, lead the other person to a well-lit, crowded location where you can ascertain whether the person is really just another motorist or a real cop, or whether it's someone who plans to do you harm (in which case he'll probably drive away when he sees that there are other people around).

Also use common sense to avoid making yourself an attractive target. Don't wear conspicuous expensive jewelry or flash money, don't hitchhike or accept rides from strangers, and so forth.

#6: Be prepared to make noise -- lots of it

In addition to any other defensive measures, be sure that you have the capability of making a loud noise to draw attention to your plight. There's a good reason that a loud siren is built into most security alarm systems: The noise alerts others in the vicinity that something is wrong and brings them to your aid, and it scares off the bad guys. The last thing they want is to draw attention to themselves.

Whether you carry a police whistle on a chain around your neck, a 120 decibel "personal alarm" device clipped to your belt, or you just learn to scream really loudly (don't just assume you can -- practice it until you can let out a piercing scream at the top of your lungs), have some way to "get loud."

#7: Know when to fight back (and when not to)

There is no one-size-fits-all procedure for dealing with a criminal attack. Some attackers just want your money or possessions and will leave you alone when they get what they want. Others are full of anger and will hurt you whether or not you comply. Some may be so hyped up on drugs or alcohol that they don't even know what they're doing and aren't capable of responding to reason.

This is where your skill at reading people and your gut instincts come in handy. You can often tell whether your assailant is a scared kid out to steal your wallet or a sociopath set on raping you -- or worse. That assessment helps you determine whether the best course is to comply, attempt to escape, or fight back.

#8: Know your weapons

The decision to carry a weapon is a personal choice, and whether you even have that choice is dependent on the laws in your jurisdiction (see the next section). If it's legal and you plan to carry a firearm, take a course in gun safety and marksmanship, whether or not it's required by your state. Know how to store and carry your gun safely (for instance, never put a gun in the bottom of a purse -- always carry it in a holster and know how to draw it quickly). Know how to shoot it accurately and practice weapon retention techniques to ensure that an attacker can't easily take it away from you and use it against you.

Don't make the mistake of thinking "weapon" means only "gun." There are many other options, including chemical weapons (mace or pepper spray), clubs, and edged weapons.

If you find yourself in a fight for your life and you're not armed, remember that almost anything can be a weapon. That includes ashtrays, ballpoint pens, various office implements, keys, a shoe, etc. You have a better chance of using these makeshift weapons effectively if you plan and practice with them beforehand.

#9: Know the law and company policy

Before deciding to carry a weapon, it's important to know the laws in your state. Many U.S. states have "shall issue" concealed carry laws, which means if you meet the requirements (age, no criminal history, no history of mental impairments, and in some cases minimum training), the state must issue you a permit or license to carry a concealed handgun. Other states are "may issue" states, and permits are almost impossible for ordinary people to get. A few states ban concealed carry of firearms altogether. In some states, you can carry a long gun (rifle or shotgun) and/or a handgun without a permit so long as you carry it openly. Don't assume that because you know the law in one state, it's the same in another.

Realize that carrying other types of weapons, such as certain types of knives, chemical weapons like mace or pepper spray, or even a baseball bat intended to be used for self defense, can be illegal depending on your state's laws.

In addition to knowing the laws governing carrying of weapons, you need to check out your state's laws regarding use of force. In some states, you can legally use deadly force to defend your property. In others, your life (or that of someone else) must be in danger before deadly force is justified. Laws can vary widely, and some may seem arbitrary. For instance, under Texas law, use of deadly force is permitted to protect against "theft in the night time" -- but if you use deadly force to prevent someone from taking your property during the daytime, you may find yourself indicted for unlawful use of deadly force.

Likewise, some states impose a duty to retreat on victims, while others don't. Some states' "Castle doctrine" laws give you much more leeway to use force when someone breaks into your home than when they accost you in your office. Educate yourself thoroughly on the legalities of defending yourself -- and that includes not just the statutes themselves but also how your local district attorneys, judges, and juries tend to interpret them.

Another consideration: Even in jurisdictions where you can legally carry a weapon and even when you have a permit, companies and individuals usually have the right to prohibit it on their premises. Know your company's policies as well as any laws limiting those policies (for example, some states do not allow companies to prohibit you from bringing your weapon to work and leaving it locked up in your vehicle).

#10: Take a class

Self-defense classes can serve two purposes. First, they provide you with knowledge -- such as what the most vulnerable areas on the body are so you know what to target with your improvised weapon, how to use an attacker's own momentum to throw him to the ground when he comes at you, or your state's weapons and use of force laws. But perhaps even more important, they build confidence. When you've not just read or heard about these techniques but actually practiced them repeatedly, you don't have to stop and think before putting them into action. This self-confidence is also something an attacker can often sense, which will prevent him from targeting you as a victim in the first place.

Many types of classes are available. Some are one-day seminars designed to give you an overview of basic self-defense concepts. Others, such as firearms proficiency classes, require periodic repetition to keep your skills sharp. Some are ongoing, intense training regimens that are lifestyles in themselves, such as the many martial arts disciplines.

You don't have to be physically strong to benefit from defensive skills training. In fact, the less inherent strength you have, the more you need to learn to use what you do have to your advantage. Some of the martial arts focus on kicking and punching, but others (such as Aikido), concentrate on balance and redirection and techniques that work well for those with less physical strength.

In most parts of the country, self-defense classes are available through community colleges and dojos (martial arts training facilities) and sponsored by police departments and private organizations. Some of these are targeted at a specific market: women, the elderly, or the disabled.

Knowledge is power, and self defense is based on knowledge. But effective self defense also relies on physical skills that must be developed through practice. If you plan to rely on moves or techniques, take the time to burn those moves into muscle memory through repetitive practice.

About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

133 comments
fredeppy
fredeppy

The decision to carry a weapon comes with a lot of baggage. Number one is the aftermath of using that weapon. There can be legal repercussions as well as mental. A lot of "Right to Carry" States are now passing "Castle Doctrine" Laws to protect you in the use of a weapon, however in most States you still have a duty to retreat law in effect. Mentally, the taking of a Human Life can be very traumatic. An attacker no matter how long his record is or how drugged up he is, is a perfect angel after he's dead and the whole world wants to sue you after it happens. To add to the baggage, most employers will not allow you to carry on their premises and a weapon locked in your vehicle is of absolutely no value. Oh, and don't shoot the wrong person. Shooting under stress in low light conditions is not the same as shooting bullseyes at the range and your accuracy can go out the window real quick. A handgun requires a lot of practice to stay proficient with it. I carry a .45 automatic and I shoot at the very least, 2 times a week. I'm retired and have that time but, at the very least, a person who chooses to carry should shoot once a month. The buddy system and awareness of your surroundings, are 2 of the best defenses available. Fred

RayJeff
RayJeff

This is a good topic. I can defintely relate. I've used to work 2nd shift and leave work around 8-8:30 at night. For about a year, I worked at 2 data centers where I worked all night. One data ceter was located in a secludedd wooded area right next to a major interstate road. The second data cetnter is located on the campus of the university I attended. The data center is located in the basement annex. Parking is underground 2 levels. I have to say even though I've trained in various martial arts since being a teenager, I still never not disregard being aware. The first few months of having worked those night hours was an experience. Going outside to catch some fresh air, by myself. I would already feel nervous, but it was the good nervousness that keeps you aware, on-guard.

the_hunteroz
the_hunteroz

Interesting read, i personally have 17 years of martial arts experience ranging from ultra close combat (judo), and two styles of Karate, Yoseikan Ryu, and a much more traditional brutal style Goju Ryu :-D as for Deb being an ex law enforcement officer i can see her point (future career opportunity for myself) i have recently had to use my martial arts to restrain a few intoxicated people at a party, i have spoken to police who have congratulated me on this as it stopped them from having to deal with a minor incident and it also prevented people from being injured. Not that i am saying all IT people are regular bruce lee's but the odd one of us is a lethal weapon not just with a piece of silicon :P

tdarmond
tdarmond

I don???t have to work late now, but after being attacked from behind with a headlock and a gun pressed to my neck at the tender age of 18 in 1971, I haven???t been comfortable alone in the dark since. My new husband and I were working at a drive-in theater as custodians and were wrapping up the nights work at 3 AM when I was attacked by two thugs who wanted us to open up the door to the office so they could rob the theater of that night???s business. I was outside the concessions building cleaning the glass doors, while my husband was inside vacuuming. I was slamming the aerosol can of window cleaner on the glass door to get his attention despite the gun to my head, while my attacker was telling me not to move. I was young and didn???t know that I should cooperate in a situation like that. My husband came running, but backed off when he saw the mess I was in. I was waltzed around the building in this headlock while my husband had to physically break down the door to the office. We didn???t have the key to this room. After they collected close to $600 they told us to lie down and take our shoes off. We obeyed, while I sobbed and begged them not to hurt us. They forced us into our 1954 Hydromatic GMC pickup that had a homemade canopy over the bed. I was in the back with one fellow who held his gun on me and my husband drove while the other guy covered him with his weapon. They had us drive them about 5 miles down the road and turn off onto a gravel road with a hair pin turn. They made us get out in our bare feet onto the gravel road and said we???d find our truck down the road on the other side of the curve, but we had to wait 10 minutes before starting to walk. That???s exactly what we did. We climbed in our truck and went back to the drive-in theater to find our boss had returned from making the bulk of the nightly deposit. The police were on the way. We walked in shaking in our bare feet with a story to report. This stuff and much worse happens to people ALL THE TIME. It???s great to talk about the weapons you own or the martial arts you know, but if you really read this excellent article it???s about using common sense, too. I may have skipped a post or two, but I didn???t see any suggestions about having a cell phone ready to call 911. Whether you have faith in that system or not??? it just might be a deterrent if a would-be mugger sees you calling for help. A few years ago while walking to my car from work, I noticed a man changing his clothes in the shrubs. He didn???t see me, but I saw him. He was talking to himself and something was just fishy. Red flags went up in my head and I called 911. Within 10 minutes the police picked him up and found him to be a wanted felon. We have 500 employees where I work and most of them are women. Since the day my husband and I were robbed and kidnapped in 1971 I am always aware of my surroundings or in ???code yellow???. I ended up getting a hidden weapons permit and had it for a while. I finally let it lapse. I???ve always been an excellent shot thanks to my father for teaching me. I also took some martial art instruction in Israel when I lived there for 6 months in 1980. I will protect myself and my loved ones, but I will also use my head. Be safe people???enjoy life, but don???t be too confident and let your guard down.

hiram11
hiram11

Were does the responsibility start for the business owner and company? Is it not their responsibility to make sure their employees, contractors, and company property are safe? It is about time someone puts a law in place to address this. I would suggest it is the company???s responsibility to notify the local police that after hours work is going on and make sure they respond to escort the people safely to their vehicles. This is just another case of an employer not stepping up to the plate. The bottom line is the only thing they care about is that their system works and that the cost is low. The first time your sick or injured you will simply find your self out of a job.

tkbouncer2005
tkbouncer2005

I had belts in Aikido, Kosho Rhu Kempo, studied Hapikido, and pressure points. I worked 11 years in bars as a bouncer, retiring this year at 62. So I know from expierence that as you get older your skills dimish. I've trained hard and now study the "softer" but more effective arts. Pressure points work nicely, but a combination of arts are the best. If I were younger, Hapikido would be the art I would study as it includes, kicks, punches, locks, and pressure points. For the women, I would recommend Aikido and pressure points. I am not a fan of women trying to overpower men. A handy tactical flashlight, i.e. fenix P2D, small and shines 135 Lumens. Great for temporarily shocking your attacker.

reisen55
reisen55

Weekend work can be the all-nighter and if you can find a reputable RED ROOF INN you are not doing tooo bad. If the area is super bad, consider a couch, it would be well worth the effort to stay in shape on a couch instead of a hospital room. I have a job in Camden NJ coming up and a Red Roof Inn is a must.

kraterz
kraterz

I carry a shotgun in my car and a pistol with me when I'm out late. Till date I've only been threatened once, near my car in the parking lot, but the sight of the shotgun made the three wannabe attackers scamper away.

rhkramer
rhkramer

Do you know of any sites that summarize the various laws (shall issue, may issue, duty to retreat, ...) for each state? Suggestions on how to find via a search (other than searching for each term and the name of the state)?

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

Don't work in situations that put you at risk, I won't and the last time a company tried to force the issue I sued them and won.

keldara502
keldara502

All good tips in the article, but sorry to see that great old standby, 'squirt lemon juice in their eyes' didn't make the cut - NOT!!! Gabe Suarez advocates preparation for such events by training the complete arsenal, which is exactly what is covered by each point of the article. As a former LE officer & now a systems integrator, it often amazes me how often some of my colleagues blindly wander around in some not-so-nice neighborhoods, wearing some of the latest techno toys on their belts worth $$$, and let's not forget that some of our laptops cost more than our first cars in college did.

BBPellet
BBPellet

A good swift kick/knee to the GROIN always drops them, regardless of gender! Then RUN like HELL!

doug
doug

I used to supervise computer installs, and I had real problems trying to knock some sense into the heads of the younger computer techs. Let's face it, industrial companies are often located in very bad parts of town, and they have valuable material. I'd come back from supper or something and find all the doors unlocked and no one paying attention. I'd grab the techs and try to explain the facts of life to them, but they often didn't seem to be paying attention. Of course, it didn't help that I was hiring people from a peaceful flyover state to do installs in places like Central Jersey.

highlander718
highlander718

I am really amazed by the numbers of martial art supporting posters so far (especially on a IT board :-)), are you guys for real ? All right, they are good for the health and shape and all, but let's face it, they are worthless if attacked by more than 2 people eventualy armed. And these days, in the vast majority of the cases it is like that. No single atacker will stay for the beat or worse, they eventualy grab your purse/bag and run for it.

deb
deb

Whether or not the company "should" make sure their employees are always kept safe (which is a debate I won't get into), the reality is that it's impossible for them to always do so. Just as the police cannot possibility always be there at the time you need them or respond quickly enough to save you (and the courts have held that law enforcement is not liable for failing to do so), neither can an employee possibly guarantee your safety. It doesn't matter how many laws you pass; that won't change reality. It is up to each of us to take personal responsibility for our own safety instead of relying on government, employers, our husbands/boyfriends (for us ladies) or someone else to do it for us.

santeewelding
santeewelding

That sounds like it ought to take care of about everything, including you.

tkbouncer2005
tkbouncer2005

Professor Wally Jay and his Leon have some good videos/dvds that teach locks and pressure points. For the women, finger locks work nicely, I've used them when a patron put a finger in my face..He won't do that agan!!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If you work for a hotel or resort, you may have the advantage of borrowing the keys for an empty room during the two and three day work binges for seasonal system changeover. (With a small IT staff, one get's to know the hotel front desk staff pretty quick through "helpdesk" calls.)

deb
deb

The late, lamented Packing.org did a superb job of that until its demise a year or so ago. www.handgunlaw.us can get you started in the right direction; it doesn't itself summarize the self defense laws but it does contain a table that tells you the body of law governing them for each state (for example, that deadly force laws for Texas are found in sections 9.21 through 9.44 of the Texas Penal Code). There is also a CCW FAQ for each state; the links will take you to that state's laws regarding concealed carry.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You get the power suite types with the latest phones on there belt wearing there bluetooth headset when not in calls. The technoweenies with every spot around ther belt taken up with some gadget or tool and the rest of it. I'm a fan of hidden tech. I want to walk into a room and look like I have nothing then pull a small office out of my pockets; N810 here, bt keyboard there, multi-tool here. It's to the point for me now where I couldnt' imagine trusting my phone to a belt harness that coudl break off or catch on things let alone anounce what gadget I'm offering the local mugger.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...EVERYONE can be lax when it comes to safety concerns. Ride public transportation in a major city, and you'll spot at least 10 safety faux pas; and most are due to simply not paying attention.

TelcoChuck
TelcoChuck

At least in my dojo, and with the mostly Black Belt sparring. We find it makes things far more interesting. But stop there, four gets really hard and beyond that is impossible (at least in my opinion). Alas, no, I'm not young any more -- I'm not looking for fights.

doug
doug

Yea, you can kind of tell these guys haven't been anywhere near a real street fight. There is no way I'd challenge the manhood of some low life who's been street fighting since he was 12 by challenging him to a fight.

Lovs2look
Lovs2look

What? You think no crime happens anywhere else in the world?

highlander718
highlander718

Now, please agree with me that there are not many IT guys displaying black belts out there. even than, I found that training and real life combat are very but very different.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I've seen video of one of the Aikido masters with eight or more people coming at him. It actually looks like a cartoon where everybody piles on and teh "hero" wiggles out from underneath with a smile. It's unbelievable but then, we're talking about a 90+ year old man who's been doing this stuff all his life.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I've taken my share of beatings and delt them out. True, the theory is fun to discus and consider but the only rule that matters on a street is "what a man can do and what a man can't do". Most of it is off topic between some of us arts geeks but there are good points in there also like "be aware and don't get in the fight in the first place". I'd suggest that someone trained has a better chance than untrained or less trained against a group. (Jiu jutsu group fighting starts about the third grading and get's less gentle from there). Really though, it's like the discussions of security where things can be considered black or white; in reality, nothing is binary except the cpu. We have the luxury of discussing ideal situations where every security setting should be understood and applied by anyone from home user to entperprise wireless specialist. In the same way, we get to babble on about various martial arts in an ideal situation. I don't think anyone is deluded enough to thinking they are bruce lee in a street fight or wanting to test there pissing distance against a real attacker+friends. Besides, is this really the most off topic a discussion has gone? I think tangents discussing martial arts under an article on self defense is far more applicable than where many discussions end up.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The european countries tend to be more strict than the US with firearms from my understanding. England and the Nordic reagions especially. Also, over this side of the pond, the US gun enthusiasts tend to overshadow our view of the rest of the world. With all that, it can be odd to hear of someone outside the US carrying two if not one firearm unless they are from an obviously hostile region like the middle east. It would have been even more odd to hear the comment from a Japanese or Chinese reader as I understand there gun laws are even more strict. The question could have been fraised better I'm sure though. When I read it, I was interested in reading a response from the original post mentioning local gun laws since Belgium is very far outside the North American region.

santeewelding
santeewelding

..not being where he is while you gnaw on his face.

jhoffmaster
jhoffmaster

Moving out of the way is always a good choice, whether that is dogeing the attack, or simply running away, Of course depending on your enviroment and the other person's position, moving out of the way isn't always an option.

Master Meng
Master Meng

Again with the movies, hello? ...there just that movies, there is no way some old ass man is gonna walk out from under 8 grown men. "as well as the mandatory multiple attackers scenario", this is not hard to do when everyone is on your side, but when they are really out to get you there is no way unless they are really that sad, you got lucky!

santeewelding
santeewelding

Don't Be There. Just one other thing that has not been made plain in your fine post and that of Neon. In fact, it's probably the very first thing you learn.

jhoffmaster
jhoffmaster

Would it be wrong to assume that your only perception of martial arts is what you see in movies? What people see in the movies is not what martial arts are about. Neon Samurai has already made most of the points I would in response to your post, but you have to understand there is nothing "superhuman" about martial arts. On a purely physical level you are training your muscles to respond in a certain manner to an attack. This happens by repeating a motion over, and over again until the motion can be done perfectly without conscience thought. This is a process that takes years to happen. Anyone that has full use (or mostly full use) of their body can learn to do this. It doesn't matter if it is a skinny 120 pound IT geek, or a fit body builder. It simply requires the discipline to continue training until you can perform the motion without thinking. In the martial arts you learn that the human body is extremely fragile. With a certain amount of training you can break another human being *very* quickly. Its not the size or strength of the attacker, or the defender that allows you to do this. Its training your body to perform a motion through constant repetition. Throw in some body conditioning, and the right person to show you the right motions to repeat.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Disagreement is welcome. What causes me question is disagreement that seems to ignore any information provided. If you ahve a different point of view then I'd love to hear it but at least include the curtesy of letting me understand the basis for that point of view. It may be that you've considered somethign I'm overlooking but without knowing your background or supporting reason for your opinion, how am I to understand or potentially correct my point of view? I ask for credentials because you seem to be making more a point of objecting than of simply disagreeing and clearly explaining why. It is a courtesy to try and understand where your point of view comes from. Your clearest comment is actually in this last post "I don't see martial arts as a way of getting out of trouble." That is a perfectly fair personal opinion that explains your consant questioning of any information provided. I also agree more than you might expect. We actually have a basis for discussion rather than just a nondescriptive red flag for what you don't agree with. I can think of many people who are not going to have the mental or phisical stature though they be geniouses in the IT industry. I can think of many people with lower ranks in various martial arts who would be useless in a real fight. Where I see differences is in mental conditioning and ongoing effects. A wimpy IT guy will develop the strength, flexability, stamina and mental conditioning to better deal with a fight. The purpose of "do" arts is to develop the phisical body and the mind. The purpose of the "jutsu" arts is to maintain real world practical techniques while also developing the phisical and mental conditioning. The understanding of body mechanics and phisics does provide an advantage for someone with lesser strength. I agree that one night a week at the local Karate school is not going to make you untouchable in a month. I disagree that the arts provide no real world value in a street fight. (I, not a small fellow, have been thrown easily by 90 pound women with a quarter my mass strength.) I also agree that no one is going to develop superhuman powers. One can develop the maximum potential of the human body. Old Karateka in Okinawa really can punch a contrete wall all day long but that is after years of conditioning. A 70 year old Aikidoka reall can make a fight look like dance but it is because of a lifetime of fitness, flexability, dexterity and mental development. A Mui Tai fighter really can take an obscene amount of beating but again, conditioning. No one is going to learn to fly or jump sixty feet wire-fu style but refining the most efficient technique down to order of muscle activation really will give you Bruce Lee's one inch punch. No magic, no silver bullet and not realistic feats people who practice part time. I'm happy to be proven wrong but I need to understand why I am wrong or at least why opinions differ. Though it does not provide an idea of your background, clearly stating your point of view in this last post helps me to understand the opinion you've been trying to express. Your clarification also helps me to understand why my responses may seem so heavy.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Are you, as suggested, someone who's only ever seen martial arts in movies talking from the point of view of having no training or understanding of the details? Are you someone who's grown up in the street fighting and UFC competition circute talking from the point of view of years being in streetfights? We all get the difference between theater and reality but what is your educated basis for assuming any martial art is only play or theater? Why so agrovated over the mention of firearms ("is everyone in IT a gunfighter or martial arts master?"). Even more productively, what did you think of the tips in the article and have you any others you would ad? I get your point fully and understand clearly the difference between movie martial arts from hollywood, demonstration martial arts by dojo trained, demonstration of martial arts by high ranking dojo trained and real combat. I am able to see where the wires are used, where the punches are pulled, where two people work together rather than true attacker/defender and where very real force and injury is used. I also understand how technique refines the use of forces. A person who's life has been dedicated to an art focused on redirection of energy is going to make that practice look like dance or child's play. It's not magic, it's just physics and biology. If you twist a person's arm joint a specific way, it will lock. Bend it a bit further and they will move to try and relieve the pressure. The lock will probably twist the joint at such a rotation and angle as to focus it's maximum pressure on the weakest muscles in the other person's arm so minimal strength is needed. Yes, a 70 year old man can walk a 300 pound bar bouncer around a room like a puppy dog with a simple joint lock. The magic of it is that any direction the person moves to escape the lock puts more force on them so the only option is to follow along. In the video, where I see the difference between real street fight and demonstraition is more in the person being thrown than the little old man throwing. To try and shorten my post though: - in a real fight, your oponent may not be as practiced in falling so those gracefull falls in the video are going to be crushing against the ground rather than rolling back to one's feet. (someone who can fall like that on concrete is probably not motivated by low level crime) - in a real fight, the defender is going to make it short and quick. Deal with one person and move on to the next. Hopefully the efficiency of the first makes the rest question there resolution. It won't be the demonstration where the same five guys keep getting back up and coming at you over and over. The art focuses on balance and momentum. A 70 year old man can spine a young guy around in circles then flopping back on his but because of the understanding of momentum and keeping the person expertly off balance. A projecting wrist throw by a little old man can throw a young guy ten feet or more; the momentum of the attacker rushing in combined with the bodies instinctive reaction to having it's wrist caught and twisted in a specific way. To "keep it real" a noob in any martial art is more danger to themselves than others. That is where you get the stupid failing attempts to use some fancy technique. Against five people in a dark alley, a first or second rank in any art is probably screwed. More examples: On stage, jiujutsu can almost look like kung fu with some of the moves. I mean acrobatic circus stuff like ending up sitting on someone's sholders then throwing them by the leverage of swinging your own body down at the ground. In practice, the practice may be to catch a thrown punch, throw the person to the ground and lock the still trapped arm. On the street, you don't get the cooperation of the other person and you probably don't get to finish the full coreography. You won't be on someone's shoulders so you can throw them but it's a good option to have available and it does demonstrait a high level of agility and stamina. Your not going to throw some shmuck then stand over them triumphantly; you catch the punch and throw the person. They hit the grown probably having the wind knocked out of them at minimum. Your on to the next person and wishing you could just get away. If you followed any of the comments discussing sport arts versus traditional arts; the very premis was that the sport arts focus on "theater" more than "keeping it real". The traditional arts focus on developing the phisical and mental fitness for keeping safe along with techniques to end it quickly and minimize your own damages. As for my not keeping my calm; you've still only expressed disatisfaction with the entire discussion. What is your basis for differentiating between stage theater and a real fight? You give me more reason to question your understanding and intentions than to believe your talking from experience. We're not talking Noh theater or the Chinese school of acrobatics that Samo Hung and Jackie Chan graduated from. We're talking about the way modern military forces are being trained to fight; because it is effective when "keeping it real" on the streets. I also don't think anyone is claiming that a forty pound astro physisist is going to take out 300 pounds of bar bouncer just because the forty pound kid practices some martial art. That 40 pound kid will have a better likelyhood of seeing the impending fight or surviving if caught in it. Another sidenote; bulk strength actualy weakens the joints. When practicing throws and joint locks, it was the 300 pound bulk strength firefighters (true, that was their profession) that would "tap out" earliest. They could life twice there own body weight but lacked flexability. A 40 pound kid needs only to hoof a groin or kick a knee and the odds even by one. As for my not keeping my cool; you trample into the discussion and call anyone who opens there mouth a delusional lier while finding a reason to complain about each thread then make a comment about not keeping my cool when I call you out on the subject and try to calmly provide information you may not have for a better understanding. And all this while not yet clearly explaining what exactly you take issue with and why your background and basis for that possition are. Please.. frustraited; sure but you'll know when I really loose my cool. If your aproaching with an open mind and simply have not had reason to look at the information before then I am happy to provide what limited knowledge I can as, I'm guessing, others likely are. if your aproaching with a closed mind and preivous decision that your simply rationalizing to support regardless of information provided then we've nothing further to discuss.

highlander718
highlander718

because I will really not waste more time with all the beligerant IT martial art experts here (strange how I thought that stuff will teach you calm and control). I short, I have a great admiration for the real sportsmen in the field, and I agree they can easily get out of trouble when we speak 2 or 3 unnarmed attackers. They might even be credible enough at the height of their form to scare away a not so commited gang, but when we start talking kicking 8 or 9 attackers, what's more at 90 years of age ...excuse me ... The other point is that all of the above applies if the guy is beyond black belt (or the alike in other discipline), I would be very curious what precentage of the Techrepublic members is at that level to speak about martial arts as a real defence option. Peace and keep safe, ( I still give more chances to a good runner :-))

highlander718
highlander718

we live in a physical world. As far as I know the law of physics apply in Japan, on the stage and on the street. Do I need to say more for an argument ?

highlander718
highlander718

Actually I don't think you get my point. There is nothing wrong with martial arts, or any sports for that matter. But please keep it real, what on a stage can look pretty when fighting 8 or a million opponents, and what as a combat sport is indeed tough and requires skills when it comes to 1 to 1, it will never work in real situation outnumbered street fights. You don't have to be a genius to figure that much out.

highlander718
highlander718

Hmm, apparently anybody who does not agree with you is trolling. My contribution here is to sort of make clear that I do not see martial arts as a way of getting out of trouble especially for IT people. My honest opinion is that 0.001% of the IT guys would have the supposedly superhuman powers that would get them out of an outnumbered attack. Now, what's exactly wrong with this opinion of mine ? Or you just don't like being proved wrong ?

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

That video comes to mind whenever I think about Aikido. O-Sensei Morihei was so graceful and so precise he was almost other-worldly. On the physical side, if you'll pardon the clich?, I feel your pain. Aikido [u]is[/u] physical poetry. Now that I feel I've reached a level of maturity where I might be able to gain some mastery, I'm sidelined as a result of spinal injury. My physician has just recommended T'ai Chi Chuan in conjunction with yoga to strengthen by back uniformly, and I'll probably follow her advice. But, believe it or not, I *enjoyed* ukemi - particularly mae kaiten ukemi. There was something so exhilarating about about launching one's self headfirst at the tatami and rolling. I think I learned more about using my body effectively as uke than I ever did as tori. It's hard to imagine participating in any martial art form without kissing the mat... As for Highlander, I don't get the feeling of cynic so much as that of outsider looking in. Perhaps I'm wrong (again ;-) ), but Highlander's provided no background information that indicates any familiarity or understanding of the martial arts. I think I can understand such incredulity from someone lacking any background - I was amazed by my Aikido experience, in spite of having associated with martial arts practitioners for over ten years before I started studying it.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

So far, you haven't offered much except disagreement. What's your basis for disbelief? Do you personally have experience in fighting or the martial arts that makes you skeptical? Equally importantly, what understanding do you have of the principles of the martial arts under discussion? Of the culture, the mental discipline, the sense of honor and the integrity involved? Especially when a practitioner is working with "O-Sensei"? To my mind, your suggestion that these demonstrations are "staged and [sic] coreographed" are on par with "the Internet is a bunch of tubes" and the belief that the moon landings were faked.

santeewelding
santeewelding

By dint of training or thought or experience (he) has managed to get stuck in his climb on a ledge to understanding, seeing no way to go either up or down.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The basis of the art is to be untouchable; make it a concious decision to harm the other person or simply tire them out. I don't really care that you disagree or consider all martial arts pretty dance. In this case you, your discounting Aikido done properly because it does not look like you expect a fight to look. So we really don't have further to discuss unless you happen to have a long history of fighting. Do you train? Where you a streetfighter before you joined us geeks in IT? Do all fights have to look like UFC? Do all fights have to look like eight against one behind the local bar? Take a few minutes to tell us why you're right rather than telling us that we're wrong.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It really is a beautiful art. While I have the mental discapline, I haven't the strength in my joints to be Uke. The two schools close to me are very traditional though which make me happy; the closer being the Japanese Canadian Culture Centre. I think what we have here is a Cynic rather than a Critic though. Critic; one who does not believe until convinced by evidence Cynic; one who choses never to be convinced regardles of evidence Though I can apreciate the chosen alias, Highlander seems to be spending more time finding fault than contributing or providing points to support his complaints.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I considered the posability of staged demonstrations also including the posability of pulling punches. The subtle difference being completely scripted versus unscripted. We're not talking street theater like breaking bordes along the wood grain or questionable and esoteric feats such as Chi manipulation. Aikido has a very practical basis in physics and using the modies mechanical attributes against itself. Unlike a purely competitive art, this one's more effective students are women and older ages who must use technique rather than bulk strength. The very premis of the art is minimal energy expenditure and multiple oponents: - lesser strength can beat lesser technique in most cases and almost any Aikido applicable case - dealing with an oponent quickly or controling the flow of the fight becomes essential to surviving multiple attackers (Same traits as a good IDS actually, minimal processing time and maximum event processing; for the same reasons.) One's health has a great deal to do with it also of course and we're also talking about people who are pretty much teh physical embodyment of the art. I realize I didn't provide a link you could watch yourself and don't really expect anyone to to take the point on my word alone. What causes me to question though is that you've had a run at almost every thread and in each case, you've only had complaints to express. A you just trolling a topic you don't agree with or do you have something to actualy contribute? What are your credentials? Your fight experience and training? Have you any tips to add that where not presented in the article? You seem to be looking for reasons to disagree more than opertunities to contribute. Take a few minutes and give us a basis for taking your opinion as something more than it apears.

highlander718
highlander718

but the clip does not seem real to me. It looks very much staged and coreographed in detail. Same with the demonstrations you see on stage, there is no intent to hurt the master, just letting him show his skills.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

That's Aikido! In the short time I studied, I became intimately acquainted with the tatami. I'm very grateful for the time spent in my judo classes on ukemi... -Liz

santeewelding
santeewelding

I was going to tell a short story about the old master of Aikido who did a number on me, and my last conscious remembrance of him saying, "You: give me arm." No links or videos. Just real.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

I respectfully disagree with you. I saw a similar video, years ago. I had a friend in Albuquerque who taught Kenjustsu at the Sandia Budokan. He had an *amazing* library, including a video of O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba - the founder of modern Aikido - at the age of 86, defending himself successfully against 8 attackers. I found part of that video (I think) on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUtB2aB8Q_Q I also remember (vaguely) a demonstration film where an elderly Aikido master was attacked by a succession of a variety of martial arts practitioners up on a stage. The point was, of course, demonstrating the effectiveness of Aikido as a defensive art. IIRC, it included a couple of attacks with katanas and wakizashis, as well as the mandatory multiple attackers scenario. I studied Aikijutsu for about a year in the 80's - I was amazed at how little strength it required, even compared with Judo. Sadly, I lacked the mental discipline required to advance in the art...

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Of course I can't even find the damn video through google or youtube now. When I saw it a few years back it was almost the only thing you could find about aikido. Anyhow, since I can't provide the link myself, it may remind someone else out there. I've seen three documentaries which seem to use the same stock footage. - a US woman with a Dan of some ranking in karate who interviews a bunch of Japanese masters. It's about five or so episodes long. One focuses on Aikido. She is able to get an interview with the current master of Aikido (O-Sensei) which leads to a bit about how special this is as she's trying to organize a traditionally required gift. - I can't find the episode of Mind Body & K.A. movies which does a bit on Aikido. I remember it also showing a similar demonstraition if he couldn't get the stock footage. - A documentary purely on Aikdo with about a third of it being interviews and footage with O-Sensei. It's nasty black/white footage showing O-Sensei into his 70s. It's not a daily thing but for the event, he gives a demonstration. It really does look like a cartoon or a kid playing with friends in the schoolground. Multiplepeople come in all at once. He'll bend down into a ball tripping the first person as he stands up into the second and redirects them into the third. Other shots show pretty much wat looks like a pile-on with him rolling out the bottom just at the right moment. Bah.. this is going to bug me for days so I'll have to take another look after work and see if I can track it down.

highlander718
highlander718

There is no way that a man at 90+ can accomplish such a feat. It is not physically possible. 60+ maybe, OK 70, or maybe with up to 2 attackers, but no matter how much you trained and what magic skills you have, there is no way you can handle 8 people at 90+. The speed cannot be there, the strength cannot be possibly there.