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"Don't Be A Victim Like I Was..."

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From Len Keis:

After 5 years of classical martial arts training, at the the age of 18. I suffered a very embarrassing defeat in a confrontation on a NYC subway train.

One late afternoon I was on my way home from a Manhattan based college waiting for an eastbound subway train to Queens. The train was running late and a crowd was gathering on the platform. After about 15 minutes which is an eternity on the “NY minute” time scale, there was a musky breeze emanating from the tunnel followed by the glow of headlights confirming the approach of the train.

I Was on the F Line

Subway Attack

People in the crow shifted and shuffled around anxiously trying to position themselves as close as possible to the spots where the doors would open to maximize the chance of getting a seat on the train. There is an art, science and a certain level of skill associated with doing this effectively and I was definitely an expert. When the train stopped I was positioned exactly where I needed to be get the the seat I wanted and I got it!

I Got Pulled Out Of My Seat

Unfortunately, one gentleman took exception to the fact that I got to seat before he did and he demanded that I get up. I refused. Then he grabbed my shoulders and pulled me out of the seat! I grabbed his shoulders in retaliation and we engaged in a brief shoving match. When I decided to apply my “martial arts knowledge” the confrontation took a turn for the worse – for me! To defeat my attacker I attempted execute and Judo throw called a Tomo Nage…

I Tried To Do A Tomo Nage

Well, that is how a Tomo Nage is supposed to be executed. However my attempt to apply the Tomo Nage was an epic failure and my attacker ended up on top of me in the mounted position! I grabbed his arms to prevent him from hitting me but I could not get him off of me as we scuffled on the floor. I simply did know how to escape. I was as helpless as a fish out of water. Eventually a huge bouncer type dude pulled us apart and that ended the confrontation.

He Was On Top Of Me Like This

Mounted Position

On my way home I reflected upon the incident with questions racing through my head. How could this happen? What did I do wrong? Why was I unable to escape from the mounted position?

I was completely baffled! I had trained in karate for 5 years! I was one rank away from Black belt! I was in top physical condition. I won numerous trophies at tournaments. I could perform just about any kind of acrobatic spinning, twisting, flipping, flying type kick. So how how the hell did I lose the fight? After pondering this for a while, I came to the following conclusions.

I Basically Defeated Myself

  1. I gave the decisive advantage to my attacker when I executed the Tomo Nage incorrectly. I never had any formal training in Judo! I knew of Tomo Nage because I had a friend who was studying Judo and he shared some Judo techniques with me. Although I found them to be interesting, due to stupidity and arrogance I ultimately dismissed Judo as being inferior to my Shotokan Karate style because it did not have any fancy kicks.
  2.  I never had any training in close quarter combat, ground fighting or grappling and therefore was unable to escape from the mounted position. My karate training only focused on throwing kicks and punches from a distance for competing in sport tournaments. I could not do that on the subway train and in desperation I resorted to the very Judo that I had rejected!
  3. I never trained in my street cloths or in actual street settings. I only sparred with protective gear in the safe and familiar environment of the karate studio (dojo). So getting into a fight on a subway train was psychologically disorientating for me.

I Never Learned How to Defend Myself

To summarize,  after 5 years of  karate training I never really learned how to defend myself! The subway experience taught me a painful lesson exposing the disconnect between classical martial art theory and real life street combat.

Don’t Make My Mistake

As a result I became an avid practitioner of reality based mix martial arts many years before they were popularized by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) competitions.  I created this site to empower the general public with knowledge and technology to gain practical self-defense ability without sacrificing the time and expense associated with classical martial arts training that will only prove to be as useless as it was for me when put to the test a of real life combat situation.

If you have not already done so, I invite you to subscribe to my news letter and commit to make self-defense an integral part of your life style today!

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