Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What Makes For Good Self Defense?

The first answer is whatever works. Whatever is effective is good self defense. Whatever gives you the greatest chance of survival is good self defense. That being said, there are a few factors that need to be considered.

Think of the worst possible scenario. Chances are you will be attacked when your assailant feels he has a distinct advantage. That means you must assume he will be larger, determined, armed and has friends. Anything you do must account for these real possibilities. Until you are proven other wise, chances are you won’t know for ure until it’s too late.

Next, you need to consider your environment. Asphalt, ice, snow, jungle, beach, the woods or your living room, each situation presents a unique set of circumstances. You need to react in a way that takes all of this into consideration. Simple foot work done in the correct manner will account for every possible scenario.

Then you have to consider yourself. Chances are you will appear to be a good mark. This means you’re older, smaller, injured or otherwise distracted. Remember Murphy’s law- what can go wrong will go wrong. You also have to consider what happens to your body when you are placed under hormone induced stress or fear. You get tunnel vision; you loose control of your fine motor skills. You experience auditory exclusion and as your hear rate increases your ability to perform even the most simple techniques.

Instinctive and Convulsive

Time is of the essence, you need to cause as much damage to your target and as little damage to yourself. If you’re using protective gear in your training, this will cause a problem (unless you are constantly wearing hand wraps). Techniques that take a lot of time just don’t cut it. Methods that cause you to wait just don’t cut it. You have to inflict as much damage as fast as possible. Lead with speed, follow with power and take bits and pieces away from your assailant as you cause more damage and injury. The techniques you use should allow to hit anywhere on your targets body and cause little or no damage to you. You must react in a way that allows you to keep your assailant off balance and build momentum until he’s no longer a threat.

Do Your Worst, Fast and First

According to close combat legend W.E. Fairbairn, you need attack with “vehemence and artifice”. This simply means be as nasty and as sneaky as possible. Don’t wait to escalate- just dominate. The quicker you can cause damage, the faster you can inflict even greater damage. Just don’t wait. There is no room for second chances. Self defense is self preservation.

Plan for the Worst and Hope for the Best

When you train, it’s for your worst nightmare. The guy who just got out of prison or the junkie who doesn’t care what belt you have. Criminals just want what you have, plain and simple. You have to plan for the absolute worst case scenario. Also, you should have a little nasty surprise for your would be attacker. Empty hand techniques are nice but WEAPONS AND TECHNOLOGY beat empty hands time and time again. If empty hand techniques were all they were cracked up to be, there would be no need for firearms, knives or close quarter weapons. It’s better to have it and not use it than need it and not have it. Even old school martial artists always had an “ace up their sleeve” so to speak. The point is, empty hand is a strategic last resort. At its best, empty hand self defense is designed to allow you to fight with a weapon or at least create an opportunity to secure one. Because at the end of the day, it’s not a matter of who’s right, just who’s left.

Martial Arts, Self Defense and Renton Washington Self Defense, Renton Washington Martial Arts

Saturday, February 2, 2008

My Sensei, Carl Cestari Shinan

Its 1:00 in the morning and all I can think about is the fact that he’s gone. There are no words to describe the void in my life. Even though I knew this day would come, I still can’t believe it. After a decade of battling his body, he finally succumbed. The best I can do is offer you some insight into the person I knew as Sensei; Godfather to my daughter, mentor to me and my wife, counsel and confidant.

From the first day I met him, I knew he was head and shoulders above anyone I’ve ever met before. First, it was all about the training. The techniques and the methods he demonstrated hit home and just made plain sense. From that moment forward I knew I was going to be forever attached to him.

We didn’t have a dojo, per se. We worked out at my brothers Karate school, the basement of a church in Paramus, his basement or any other studio where we could get some space and sometimes a mat (though we didn’t always use one!) Over time, the techniques and the training never disappointed, but it was only after several years that I discovered his real genius and it had nothing to do with the martial arts at all.

He always had the right answer- no matter what the situation. His solution was always well thought out and he always considered two things: the other person’s perspective and what the overall result should be. And not the immediate result, but the “big picture” result that would be the most beneficial to everyone involved. According to my wife, he was the only one I would listen too.
When we, Shinan Carl Cestari, Sensei Sporman and myself, decided to put together a system of training
adults, we never want to develop a “style”. It was just the absolute best way we felt that adults should study to get the overall benefit of real hand to hand and a true martial art experience. Personally, I wanted to embody Carl’s life in the martial arts and self defense, a system that represented his experience.

After we drew on 75 plus years experience and put down the skill sets we felt would best get the result we desired, we realized we had something more, much more- that’s when “Tekkenryu jujutsu” was born. We knew that this system, combined with regular Judo practice, would make and unstoppable hand to hand system. Where Tekkenryu is anything goes, “street mixed martial arts” delivered in a systematic progression, Judo instills a sense of urgency, fighting with another person in a dynamic situation, staying on
your feet, getting a dominant position and developing awesome strength and balance. We knew we were onto something. Tekkenryu means “Iron Fist Style” in Japanese. We got its name from Shinan’s hands- if you ever felt his reverse punch, you would know what I mean. His punch felt like you were getting hit with a 6-pound sledgehammer. To think that amount of force could come from a human being was incredible. I remember holding the impact pad for him in the early 90’s and I could feel my kidneys reverberate from the shock of the strike. What sealed the name selection was that it was rumored that Shinan’s distant relatives in Italy belonged to a group known as “The Iron First Clan”. Now whether it was true or not, it didn’t
matter, it was just too cool.

The end result of those months and months of writing and research and sitting at my dining room table is a system that best represented Shinan’s martial arts experience; from his early years in Judo and Shitoryu karate under Yonezuka Sensei to his later years in Daitoryu jujutsu and training with Charlie Nelson.
Between his life in the military and law enforcement and all his personal triumphs and set backs,
Tekkenryu is a culmination of his study of Martial Arts.

It is extremely rare that someone with his intelligence and experience has been in a position to create something like Tekkenryu jujutsu. And the people who know the full story, the ones that have been there and understand the full scope of his experience, know this to be true. Shinan Cestari’s combination of the real world and the dojo is unprecedented in today’s modern age.

The one thing you should know about Shinan is that he always sought the truth, through martial arts, life and religion. He always looked to find the real meaning of things- and this is what the driving force behind his life.
This is the driving force behind Tekkenryu. Find the truth in your training and you will find the real you.
Now, we have a job to do; a legacy to build on the truth. Over the next 5 to 10 years as we continue to build something that’s bigger than all of us, like Judo and Tae kwon do before, Tekkenryu jujutsu will be the only alternative for people seeking the truth about martial arts and self defense. This is the best I can do for
a man who gave me so much without ever asking for anything in return. This is my “iri” or “obligation”.
I will always miss my sensei, but he’s not far. I am with him in every fit in, every push up and every time I strike the makiwara. He is with me every time I train. I can only hope he is someplace free from the body that failed him, locked in a discussion with Kano or randori with Kimura and catching up with some old
friends and family.

There are a lot of words to describe you, sensei, shinan, friend, mentor, uncle, brother-in law,
father figure, Godfather and husband. But the word the word that describes you best is Samurai, in every sense of its meaning. I love you sensei, via con dios.