“The technique worked!” So what?



I’m always amused when professional self-defense and tactical trainers defend themselves when they teach poor and outdated material by going to the “well, it worked for this guy and that guy, etc”.

You know what also worked for lots of people? Point shooting from the hip. It worked for Jelly Bryce and countless others prior to the 70’s. And yet these same trainers won’t teach hip shooting because we now know there is a better way. Nor do they teach things like “.45acp is a much better stopper than 9mm” or “revolvers are more reliable than semi autos”. All those things were taught at one time because it was the best we knew at the time. Now, we are better informed. So those things have gone the way of the Dodo bird.

Another thing that worked for a lot of people? Not wearing a seat belt. I don’t think I ever saw my grandmother wear a seat belt, ever. Yet she never was hurt in a car crash. So why shouldn’t we dump all seat belts? Again, because we know better know.

It’s called learning. And it’s based on constantly pushing the envelope of skill and performance. Why don’t football teams run formations and plays from the 50’s? It worked for the Browns and Colts and Lions team et al. But not one team anywhere, not even a high school team, would use the Lions 1953 playbook.

Using the mantra of “it worked” means little. Maybe it worked because the person doing it was a superior physical athlete. Maybe he got lucky.  Maybe the bad guy screwed up, or that he was not really that much of a threat. There are a ton of reasons something may work that has absolutely zero to do with whether it’s a good technique. Is it reliable and replicable over time and over multiple situations and can be performed by most people? That is the only thing that counts. Not once or twice, for elite performers, but over and over for the majority of people, especially the “everday joe”.

Take a look at the following video. It is actual CCTV footage of a store robbery by a guy armed with a knife. A customer stops the robbery by KICKING THE KNIFE OUT OF THE GUY’S HAND! You will see it for yourself. It happens, in real time, for the whole world to see. So, by definition, kicking a knife as a disarm “works”. Anyone want to rely on it for themselves? Anybody think a reputable trainer should teach it? Bueller? Bueller?



Here is the big problem with falling back on the “well, it worked” as a justification for something being taught. Let’s say over the past twenty years, we can track how many times that a particular technique, for example the speed rock, has worked for real. For the sake of argument, let’s put the number at 20 that we can document (this is a totally arbitrary number used as illustration to further our understanding of the issue – don’t quote the number). Sounds awesome right? Decent record of success. Sounds like something we should put into the training regime, doesn’t it? Except, what if I said, based on the same documentation, that it FAILED 80 times, and the performer was severely injured or killed. Does that success rate sound so great now? Of course not! Regardless of how many times something worked, if that number only represents a 20% success rater, who cares? I am not staking my life, or the lives of my loved ones, on something so flimsy. So when the trainer tries to justify his teaching of the technique with how many times it worked, he should also tell you how often it did not. If he can’t, then should you really listen? It is the equivalent of having a Pharmaceutical company try to sell you on a new drug and them tell you it will cure whatever disease you have, but then they neglect to tell you that there is a better than 50% chance that it will cause your eyeballs to bleed, and your heart to explode. Anyone want to sign up to take that medicine? I sincerely hope we are smart enough to understand that what we are looking for is something that works far more often than it fails.

Now, if all we can accomplish is 50/50 or worse, and we don’t have anything better as a technique/tactic/training protocol, then fine, we have to accept that. Like chemo for cancer – it’s not a great answer, and may cause more harm than it fixes, but it often is the only cancer treatment at all. But for a technique like the Speed Rock, we have incredibly better solutions, so why should we accept crap?

If this sounds like I am picking on the Speed Rock, well………… I am! It sucks. Period. There are a number of better solutions that are easily learned and trained, and those same answers work in a big variety of situations/scenarios, where the Speed Rock, at best, only works in one small and narrow niche.

If you want to get into the many issues with the speed rock, check out this article:


The author does a superb job of detailing why it is a sub-optimal method for dealing with the close range, entangled fighting problem.  Read it, and then if you see a trainer whose only rebuttal is “it worked for me” or “i have a friend who it worked for”, but cannot address any of the salient points in the above article, I would suggest maybe there is an inherent problem with the logic train.

Recommendations Monday #3

Sorry that I have been slacking on my recommendations.  Sometimes life gets ahead of you and all you can do is do your damnedest to keep up!

For those of you out there that are new to the H2H Combatives game and are unsure of what gear is worthwhile to buy, here is my go-to advice for boxing gloves. These are well made, are fairly rugged, decently comfortable for extended training sessions, and about half the cost of comparable gloves:



My EDC utility knife. Light, handy, with an excellent blade design, with just enough length to be useful for general purpose tasks but not too long to keep in even a business suit pocket. The best part is it’s price. If something should happen to it, I won’t shed a tear at getting an inexpensive replacement.



BJJ vs a Knife – for real

Read this first:





I found this article very illuminating. Yes, it is another example of a BJJ practitioner using his skills in a self-defense situation. But, take a good look at the article.

1) it was his BJJ skill against a KNIFE. Most SD gurus like to talk about BJJ not doing much weapons work, and will say that is a great weakness of the art, and when someone who relies on BJJ meets a weapon in “da streetz”, they will die. Not only did that NOT happen here, the BJJ practitioner came out if it unscratched, protected a third party, and did little harm to the attacker. All things that according to “experts”, should be impossible. And yet it happened.

and 2) take a look at the picture of him holding down the knife wielder. That is a position that is almost never used in BJJ – not because it is not effective, but if you do it to your training partner, he will probably get pissed off. So it is a street oriented technique that is rarely practiced, and again, the experts will say that means the BJJ player will automatically and unthinkingly revert to only things regularly practiced. And once again, the experts are proven to be ignorant. This person did use it under pressure, and did so effectively.

And here is the topper to all of this. The person is only a blue belt! the first level of promotion. Not even considered that high level in BJJ circles, and he still performed under stress effectively. For those who have an open mind, and understand critical thinking, this should be deep food for thought.

Don’t Go To The Ground. Especially When You Are Being Accelerated That Way.

One of the most common refrains heard in the Combatives/Self-defense/Tactical Firearms communities is “Never go to the ground in a fight”. It gets repeated over and over and is trotted out every time someone talks about the concept of grappling in a street fight. Here are a couple of short video clips that shows how moronic that advice actually is:





Now I know that as soon as someone reads and sees this, they are going to say something along the lines of “Well, that is not what I meant. I was talking about rolling around on the ground.” And their feeble excuse is invalid. When you speak only in absolutes and make everything black or white, you lose all rights to later attempt to adjust gradations of gray. Either use the phrase never go to the ground and live with being proven wrong, or refrain from dogma.

The simple fact is that both of those above vids (and I can add in hours more of similar stuff) are ample proof that going to the ground as an answer to the fight problem can be a fantastic solution.

And, again, people on the other side of the debate are going to say that this is fine and is a good idea, and maybe they even teach it. Except that there is no way they can. The plain truth is that the only way you can gain the ability to use techniques like this is to train in the context it needs to be in – GRAPPLING. You will not develop the ability to execute this type of ballistic throw unless you are training it against other people who know how to do it and defend against it, and have the ability to do so. In other words, you need to be on the mat in a place where a knowledgeable instructor with teach you wrestling, BJJ, Sambo, Judo, etc. Those are the only places you will gain that skill set. Not against partners in a combatives/ “street fighting” gym where they have no depth or breadth of experience in grappling. The people who performed those throws in the video clips spent a lot of time training grappling to do so.

And that is why I despise those who use the insipid cliché of “don’t go to the ground”. The only way to dictate where you are in a fight is to train the skill of controlling the other guy to prevent him from doing so and that is only learned effectively in a grappling oriented gym. Period. I have yet to see any video as the ones above where the victor executed a successful throw who was not trained extensively in a grappling environment. Don’t want to go to the ground? Fine, but then learn from the ones who know how to take you down. Not the guy who is showing you chin jabs and axe hands that were supposedly used in WW2.