Rapid Response

Updated: October 19, 2015

Sometimes I am inspired to write about things that happen in my life and how they relate to my past events, training and circumstances getting me to this point of where I am today.  A point where I can share effective street and combat survival tips in the ever-evolving violent times we live in and political corrective times as well.  There is not one single day when someone hasn’t been shot, stabbed, raped, assaulted and more. Kidnapping, hostage taking, thievery and the media jumps on this. So what are we doing to prevent this; after all isn’t prevention the name of the game? We are letting criminals back on the streets due to “overcrowding and political correctness”, keeping our borders unsecured; allowing anyone to enter out country regardless of their criminal background. After all how do you truly verify that?  You don’t.  My experience on 10/15/2015 while riding the PATH TRAIN home, I had an epiphany.   Just so happens, three young Spanish men (speaking Spanish in a native tongue), tattooed up with hoodies and one carrying a cane, sits next to me and slams the cane onto the floor as if to scare me and others as to make a statement. (Rapid Response). Were they allowed into our country with no checks and balances?

Controversial hate crimes to influence voting blocks and to enable the Politicians to control guns and place more police on the streets even federalizing them and inviting UN Peace keepers into our cities for the purpose of Global Harmony, wow what a joke. How will this make my circumstance or any others safe?

The guy with the cane sitting next to me seemed to be the ring leader, the Alfa dog. He had his hoodie up and was speaking in Spanish to his two friends dressed the same and oddly enough all in black.  His two friends had strategically placed themselves standing within about ten feet, one near the doors and the other in the center as if they need to control the crowd with fear and intimidation. The tough guy next to me should have asked me if I speak Spanish, because I do! His natural assumption, I am guessing, is he had and advantage being able to talk without me and others knowing what he had to say to his buddies. He starting talking about the “old man next to me” (me). I remained ever so calm. To street smart people and trained agents, my level of calm should have been an immediate red flag.

Most bullies make the mistake of believing when a threatened person does not react to their antics, then you must be scared. Unfortunately most of the time this is true. So you can see where I am going with this. First, they did not realize that I understood them and two, they had assumed a natural fear had set in for me and others. They never knew I am a ticking time bomb; a walking IED was sitting right next to them.  It is not necessarily about the language you speak but it is the visual / warning signs that you see.  You see,  I have trained with some of the finest fighters to ever live and I have been trained and deployed doing Presidential Security for foreign Presidents, Hostage Rescue and have trained many foreign special operations commandos; some media once referred to as death squads (by the way mostly in Central and South America.)     Fortunately, once one of the “bad guys” thought I might be a “cop”, the situation deescalated, but this really made me think about the “what if” scenario. What if I really had to defend myself against three thugs, the closet one to be with a hardened cane and the other two in strategic locations and most likely armed. Maybe a gun, but probably knives. Many more people, (5 times more are wounded and killed with knives than guns in our country). If you are cornered you might get attacked, remember the threat is always in their hands.

When I was younger I used to train every day, full contact sparring and fight at times, 2 and 3 times a week at night and in the streets. You can only imagine my mind now must have been racing. I knew, not showing my hand and not reacting, controlling my breathing, body language and facial expressions, while being ever so vigilant and watching for a first move, sizing up the competition, and contemplating the best way to control the violence: I visualized what may happen. If this happened, it normally happens fast and without warning. It is good to assume, visualize and role play in your head prior to a violent act.  It gets you mentally prepared. Little did they know, I had a solution figured out. Some of the keys to winning are be first and have an element of surprise; violence of action, and it has to be harsh and effective… Rapid Response.

Broken bones and bleeding always have an awesome effect. How do you do this? Wow, I was thinking hard about this, because I am older now and have changed a lot of my youthful violent ways. Basically I am out of real world practice. I may have looked as calm as a duck gliding along the smooth quiet surface of a smooth pond, but the truth is, inside  my mind I was churning like the ducks feet paddling a 100 miles per hour just to stay afloat and keep moving. Just visualize this description for a moment.  I knew I was ready and I knew I would win. I figured it all out in a matter of seconds. I am glad my calm outer demeanor made at least one of them think I just might be a cop and they did nothing. As a trainer and founder of the American Extension Fighting System, a reality based program, I could not stop thinking about how does the average Joe be effective in a street fight, when someone else gets the jump on you, attacks you unexpectedly, when you are cold, not warmed up and simply not ready to spring into action. How do you get that first strike off and make it work. Too many times our body, muscles and mind are not ready to fire effectively and make it work. Worse most people, if they sit around for any time at all thinking “I might get jumped”, they become scared andweak.

So … I got home, walked into my house, stayed in my work clothes and shoes, walked over to my heavy bag in my basement and without any preparation, I dropped the items in my hand, and bare knuckle just hit by heavy bag as fast and as hard as possible and in combinations, just to see how effective my punching felt as compared to when I take time and warm up. I was also checking to see if my shoulder, back or neck would feel the stress and impact. More importantly I did not get proper distance and alignment. I focused on my base, my footwork and core. I was really interested in how my whole body could effectively strike out as hard and effectively as if I were training for a fight. It worked out ok, I guess, in the moment, I just needed to get it out. This lead me to think about what can the average person without my background do, to be equally as effective.

First your body has to work all at once, from the floor up. I would ask you to think about what happens if you jump into cold water unprepared. Think about this for a moment and answer this question…… Time up… your entire body tightens or tenses up. If you think about it, this also happens if someone jumps out of a dark alley or surprises you from jumping out from behind a door you almost freeze up. You still have to control this condition to a point of being able to function. Forget about the fear and surprise. This where I thought about natural “Economy Of Motion”. How to best use the tools you will be left with when you are caught off guard in a real attack.

Natural Economy of Motion when caught totally off guard and unprepared:

What happens when someone jumps out at you or swings without provocation? Typically you step back and you throw your hands up in front of your face between you and your assailant. At this point most people are somewhat defenseless. You weight is on your heals, not allowing for constant forward pressure, while reducing your ability to have much, if any, force behind a punch or elbow strike for example. By now you are already being pummel or mauled to a point you can’t even think to scream, make noise or defend yourself.  How can you turn this moment into an offense? How can you effectively strike out? I would say  during your training, practice tensing up and punching as hard as you can without any warm-up what so ever. Much like a football player, practice exploding into a heavy bag or a wall with single and double palm heel strikes. Try to bend at the knees and just come off the ground as fast and hard as you can like you are pushing your entire body weight through the bag, then regain your balance from any position. When you cold punch, try to tense your entire core and body, maintaining your base, solid footwork, both feet firmly on the ground. Rock your weight onto the balls of your feet and slightly bend your knees. Your feet (toes) should be pointing at your target or opponent, much like a sprinter when he in the starting blocks.

Cold Punching:

Punching without preparation, cold from a dead start and from any position is very difficult while being effective, strong, powerful and purposeful punches.   Most of your attackers think you will not fight back and they are truly never prepared when you scream or holler. They are not looking to draw attention. In the old karate days, they would teach the “KIAI”:

From Wikipedia: Kiai (気合?) /ˈkiː.aɪ/ is a Japanese term used in martial arts for the short yell or shout uttered when performing an attacking move. Students of Japanese martial arts such as aikido, karate, kobudo, kendo, or judo (or related arts such as taiko drumming) use Kiai to startle an opponent, intimidate, express confidence, or express victory. In kendo, for example, a point is only given by the Shinpan (referees) if the hit is accompanied by a strong, convincing Kiai. The physical aspects of a Kiai are often thought to teach a student proper breathing technique when executing an attack which is a common trait adopted by many other foreign martial arts and combat sports. This is especially useful for longer series of attacks such as kirikaeshi, Kakari geiko (rapid partner exercise creating openings) and uchikomi geiko (responding fast to openings made by the partner). Mental imagery techniques are used to teach the martial artist to imagine starting a Kiai in the hara or dantian; from a physiological perspective, this means the yell should start in the diaphragm, not the throat

Starting the yell from the diaphragm will help to tense your entire body and give you that initial drive and momentum. This will also startle your opponent and possibly alert others within ear shot you may be getting attacked. This must also be practiced. Unlike me in the above story, I have been well trained and in my younger years and was raised with a silent kill philosophy. This KIAI is geared for those with less silent kill mentality, and not a lot of time to dedicate to training. This should happen in real life. Use anything to give you an advantage. Simultaneously with the KIAI, your body should be tensing up by using the diaphragm, slightly bending your knees and lower your weight, use gravity and body weight to generate more power.

It is very difficult to have forward momentum and a powerful punch, when you are back on your heels. Remember let’s keep it real! Your hand should go up in the air in front of your face blocking or reducing the impact of an assailants punches. At this exact moment you should be dropping and shifting your weight by bending your knees and shifting your weight to the balls of your feet. This will allow for forward driving momentum. This is your time to strike. If your arms are already up and hands in front of your face and your opponent is too close to punch effectively, then pivot from your front foot, left or right side, like you are crushing out a cigarette butt with your foot. At the same time, from the same side as the foot you are using to pivot, replace your hand with your elbow for an elbow strike or use an upward palm heel strike to the chin. This can be done from the floor up, crush out the cigarette butt by pivoting on your right or left foot (kicking your heel out and pushing your hip forward as if you are punching with your hip), tighten your core, sound off (KIAI/yell) and fire (punch). Don’t reposition and draw your hand back to punch. Turn your hands up into an elbow strike the moment your arms are touched.  Economize your motion here. Don’t stop till your attacker is down, is running, help has arrived or you can run. By performing all of these actions simultaneously you will have in effect economized your motion and effectively performed cold punching in real world defense. This takes less than one second to do and you have to practice this explosive maneuver to make it work.   You can contact me at any time; a group, individual and set up real world training.  I have tried to make these maneuvers as detailed as I can but there is nothing like personal training.

James Smokey West 10/2015