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  1. The Art of the Entry

    Many people ask me, as I am sure they ask other martial artists, the infamous “what if or what would you do in this situation” question. In truth there is no perfect technique that works all the time. All we can do as teachers is try to prepare students for situations, and train in a way that allows adaptation.

    This article will provide principles you can practice and embody so that they become primary in your arsenal and automatic in their use when confronted and engaged by a combatant. I will show you what I have done in my training to prepare myself for the adaptation necessary for the “street” because actual battle can never be mimicked in the dojo.

    Mental Training

    The first step is to be mentally prepared. For some people this evolves naturally, while for others, this process must be systematically resolved within oneself. I was once asked by my instructor, T.A. Frazer, whether I could take a life should the situation arise and whether I could live with myself afterward. This question requires considerable contemplation because its one with infinite depth, much deeper than the information one uses when making split second decisions while engaged or challenged.

    More than likely prosecutors will attempt to charge you with murder; and what about collateral damages and their effects. Will you be able to stand strong when facing their children, spouse, parents, or friends? Can you withstand the verbal or physical backlash which will ensue? Is there a chance that you may be forever haunted by the event over and above that which your psyche can absorb? This, of course, starts a new branch of those affected by your decision to fight an all-out battle. The ultimate question then is, “Will I regret this action following the repercussions which will ultimately occur?”

    Considering all this, I believe, changes the question’s scope and requires that anyone serious about learning street techniques of involvement, contemplate and reach within themselves to resolve the varying issues arising from the multitude of situations which may likely occur from the harshest of actions.

    The first action which must be done regarding mental training is visualization of varying situations and what is a response in which its outcome you can accept. You should visualize while striking the air, while walking, during meditation, or during other periods of inactivity. My good friend Rusty and I visualize taking out an adversary while riding in an elevator or imagining attack from others while walking down the street.

    In most situations there is no forewarning and time to plan, combat just happens. Learn to control your emotions and don’t let them control you. Once you’ve lost control of your inner emotional core you’ve lost control of yourself, and your odds for any positive outcome will drastically diminish to a worthy opponent, especially one which has been lying in wait and prepared an attack. Maintaining self control is vital because your mind will remain calm and allow you to execute the training embedded in your core.

    The second action which must be done is to train your mind for “worst case”. Remember, its not only your life that’s at risk, there are others that care for you and pray for your safety even when they aren’t there. How would your spouse’s life change not having you beside her at night or during times of need? What impact would this have on your children’s immediate lives and future? They may become troubled from the loss of a parent and legally or emotionally prevent themselves from reaching their potential as an adult.

    If you experience attack on the street, the assailant intends to harm you or they wouldn’t have planned the attack. If your preparation is thorough and your emotions intact, the threat can be neutralized quickly and efficiently and you value this experience as another weapon to pull from your arsenal.

    Finally, learn to pay attention to your surroundings and what others around you are doing, and know your pre-assault cues.

    Pre-assault cues are tendencies and actions people exhibit before they attack; such as staring through you, clinching their fist, rocking back and forth, diverting your focus, or using reverse psychology by attempting to act too friendly and cordial. There are a multitude of cues, but trust your instincts and recognize the abnormal.

    The Entry

    Why is entry important? Plain and simple, if your entry is poor your chances of survival or experiencing any positive outcome will greatly diminish. Poor entry skills lead to unbalance, which along with posture is critical to street attack. If you maintain good balance it allows you to gauge the balance of your opponent, and use this as an assistance force to quickly submit your adversary and suppress the situation.

    The first step to developing an efficient entry is to ensure that your approach does not require change when the attack ensues. Whether the weapon used is a knife or fist, your basis for entry shouldn’t need change. Remember, you may not know if they intend to use a knife, making this principle’s importance even more pronounced. My first instructor, Tim Foster, always made it a point to stress that if a potential adversary’s hands are hidden, assume they have a weapon.

    I remember hearing a story of a martial artist murdered in a fight because he kept punching at the assailer’s head while he was being punched in the stomach, or so he thought. As it turned out, the assailant was stabbing him with a knife and killed him.

    So what are good principles to remember; control the attack; don’t let the attack control you. This is where pre-assault cues are important. When these cues are recognized by you, the situation changes to one of self-defense and should trigger a first strike by you instead of an assault from an assailant. Turn the tables and put them on the defensive and work from position of control.

    Attempt to move to the outside. It’s the safest place to be and the easiest vantage point to control and manipulate your opponent. When you have positioned yourself on the outside, maintain physical contact, it will make your response more effective because you can feel what they are doing. If a move to the outside is blocked, physical contact is still important in maintaining control of the assault.

    Once you realize a fight is imminent, commit yourself 100%. Any hesitation will be costly. Hesitation only increases the likelihood of an aggressor landing the initial blow and position of dominance. Remember, most assailants choose who they attack by the perceived advantage they believe they have over a target. If you know they will attack, don’t concede control, take that position for yourself.