Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympics Start Tonight! And I'm Disgusted

The summer Olympics is one of my absolute favorite times. This is when we get to see amazing athletes from around the world who have dedicated and sacrificed so much for a little fame and recognition. It's the time to showcase sports for athletes who don't get a million dollar signing bonus or pimp sandwiches for subway.

So why am I disgusted?

Of all the inspiring stories the Olympics has to offer, I still know WHY or HOW Snookie told her friends she was pregnant.

I have to watch the "Situation" on (insert lame game show here).

I know that "Kyle" is back on the Bachelorette/Bachelor/Actor trying to get a job show.

Because every time I go by the TV there's some "News" about the mob housewives of orange jersey or some other "reality" show.

Reality shows are proof that the world is coming to an end. Forget crime, forget social unrest, reality shows are the decay of modern society. For entertainment's sake you can be famous for lecherous and reprehensible behavior. People support these personalities because it lowers the bar for them and tells them its "OK" to act like a piece of crap.

Don't get me wrong, over the course of my life I have had some less than stellar moments. I call them mistakes and regrets, not my portfolio.

South African Sprinter Oscar Pistorius

As South African Oscar Pistorius proved in 2012, you don't necessarily need legs to compete against the best sprinters in the world at the Summer Olympics. Pistorius had his legs amputated below the knee at the age of 11 months and was initially going to compete solely at the 2012 Paralympic Games but a last-minute ruling added his name to South Africa's roster for the 2012 Olympics. Regardless of how he finishes in the 400-meter sprint, his favorite event, or the 4-400-meter relay, Pistorius has already made history as the first amputee to compete in the Olympics and the Paralympics in the same year.

American Hurdler Lolo Jones 

Lori Jones, more commonly known as Lolo, didn't have it easy growing up. Her mother juggled multiple jobs, struggling to feed her six kids while their father was in and out of prison. At one point, the family lived in the basement of a Salvation Army. Ms. Jones told HBO Sports that she used to shoplift TV dinners to help feed her family. (She also famously told HBO Sports that maintaining her virginity at age 29 has been harder than graduating college or training for the Olympics.)

Ms. Jones is now a media darling and a brand unto herself. Despite a disappointing 2008 games, and needing surgery a year ago to repair a tethered spinal cord (OMG, ouch) Ms. Jones qualified for the 2012 team and is gunning for gold.

"It's all about fighting," Ms. Jones wrote in her blog, Run Lolo Run, and for me it is about climbing all the way back to the top."

Sudanese-American runner Lopez Lomong 
Lopez Lomong has been running for a long time. When he was a 6-year-old boy in Sudan, he was taken captive by rebel soldiers during a civil war. With the help of friends on the outside, he escaped and ran. He ran for three days and three nights to reach a refugee camp in Kenya.

Mr. Lomong lived in the refugee camp for ten years, finally coming to the US as one of the "Lost Boys of Sudan" at age 15. He became a US citizen in 2007, and has been able to bring his two younger brothers to the U.S. He has also set up a charity, 4 South Sudan, to help Sudanese children. You can find out more about his foundation at his website,

American boxer Queen Underwood 
Queen Underwood started boxing at age 19, and it helped lift her out of a dark depression. She had been horrifically abused —physically, sexually, and emotionally — by her father for years. Boxing gave her a feeling of control over her own body, and helped remove the feelings of helplessness she had endured through the trauma.

Now at age 28, Ms. Underwood is considered one of the USA's best hopes for winning a medal in women's boxing. (2012 marks the first time that women's boxing is even an event.)

She's also starting a foundation called Living Out the Dream. Ms. Underwood, along with her sister Hazzauna, has become an outspoken advocate for victims of child and sexual abuse.

"My whole motto is 'Can't stop, won't stop,' " Underwood told USA Today. "I'm looking forward to reaching out and being a mentor and an idol to everyone who has been through the same situation or maybe just has had a hard life." 

American weightlifter Sarah Robles 
Sarah Robles, is not just the strongest woman in America, but has out-lifted every man and woman in the country to become the highest-ranked lifter in the country. Despite this, she lives in poverty because there's no endorsement deals for incredibly strong women, apparently. Incredibly, Ms. Robles also suffers from a congenital deformity of the wrists and forearms called Madelung's Deformity, which causes pain in her wrists.

By the way, while sponsoring companies may find Ms. Robles' appearance "nontraditional," she is, in fact, rather traditionally feminine. When she's not training, her hobbies are "old lady activities like cross-stitching and crocheting" she writes in her blog, Pretty Strong

Saudi Arabian runner Sarah Attar 
Seventeen-year-old Sarah Attar is one of two female athletes competing for Saudi Arabia. Ms. Attar, who has spent most of her life outside Saudi Arabia and speaks with an American accent, trains in San Diego. In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to vote or drive, and cannot take a job or even be admitted to a hospital without permission from a male. While there are no specific written laws that prohibit women from participating in sports, there is no physical education for girls, and no women's-only hours at swimming pools, reports IOC said.

Ms. Attar hopes her appearance in the Olympic games will encourage other women to participate in sports. "We all have the potential to get out there and get moving," she said in an IOC video.

The 2012 Olympics marks the first time in history that female athletes will be competing from every nation.

Palestinian Runner Woroud Sawalha 
Although the United Nations doesn't recognize a Palestinian state, the International Olympics Committee has allowed athletes to compete under the Palestine flag since 1996. That political controversy aside, Ms. Sawalha aims to improve the image of women in sports in her country when she runs the 800 meter.

"Maybe the view of girls will change from practicing sports in a more professional way and more freely in front of people," she told CNN recently.

Ms. Sawalha, who runs in a black head scarf, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt, doesn't even have a track to train on. She runs on a road full of pot holes, cars, and horses. 

In my opinion EVERY Olympic Athlete is a hero. Especially the "non-money sports" like judo, wrestling, tae kwon do,  and weight lifting where athletes work $10,000 a year jobs, live out of their cars and in the back of gyms just to train for the trials.

I know these people. 

If you're not from money, you're living day to day. Scraping a living at menial jobs so you can have the flexibility to train and find the money to travel and it's not cheap. the way the Olympic system works is that you need to compete in a specific number of competitions at a particular level. You may be as fast as Usain Bolt, but if you don't compete in enough competitions around the world, you won't even be able to compete in the Olympic trials. Unless you're in a sponsored sport like track and soccer it is up to you to pay your own way, travel, meals and expenses to compete. Some organizations can help compensate you like USA Wrestling, and US Judo Association but most times it may just cover some meals and not even your hotel. 

So when I see JWOW getting her own show and making millions I want to get in a bathtub and throw in a toaster.

Please in some way shape or form, even it's it just watching when you have a moment, support the effort this summer and watch some TRUE REALITY. 

Train Honestly,

Damian Ross CEO, The Self Defense Company

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Instructors Do the Darndest Things!

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. To the right is a what I assume is a well meaning instructor teaching a knife defense to a child. When I saw this picture I couldn't believe what I was looking at, it is truly insane. But I had to calm down because I'm sure the instructor in the photo REALLY believes he's teaching this kid a valid defense. So for the purposes of this post I will tell you "what's wrong with this picture."
1. When on earth is this kid going to be attacked by a knife wielding adult?!?! Sure it could happen, then pigs could fly out of my ass. Where does this kid go to school OZ Elementary? This "knife attack" is typical of an adult trying to stab another adult...when they're standing!!! This guy is clearly kneeling down and trying to stab the kid. So I guess he's saying "I'm trying to kill you, but I'm going to kneel down to make it fair".

2. This kid can't generate enough force to do any significant injury to an adult. Sorry, I don't care what your brochure says a prepubescent child lacks the power to defeat a larger, determined adult, man or woman now stop watching Surf Ninjas 3. 

3. What is this kid thinking? Like most kids who are taught to fight adults and lead to believe that they can injure a grown human being are being lead down the garden path. God forbid this kid is actually face to face with a knife wielding adult, he should practice running away and not waiting for the guy to kneel down and stab him.

4. More important, what are his parents thinking? I'm sure they are relieved to know that their son can finally defend himself against a kidnapper or pedophile. After all, they wrote the check and he can do the move. Check that box off. Listen, self defense isn't something you should turn a blind eye to. You need to be as concerned about your child understanding the realities of self defense just as they would learning to swim and fire safety. Self defense for kids starts with the understanding that a child can not defeat a larger, determined adult.

I know you want the best for your kids and you want to give them the tools to stay safe, but please don't abandon common sense for false piece of mind. In the Self Defense Company we have a specific program called the Family Safe Program. It teaches kids and parents  how to avoid danger and escape if need be using techniques that will distract their attacker. Even though we have some combatives skills in their the emphasis is ALWAYS on escape.

No B.S. just...

Train Honestly,

Damian Ross, The Self Defense Company
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Second Degree Yellow Belt- Damian Ross, The Self Defense Company

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This is funny, but unfortunately it's true. When you train in martial arts you are forced to learn a lot of useless and needless information. In fact, this training does more harm than good.

When it comes to self defense this is what YOU DON'T NEED from traditional martial arts. (I should know, I have 3 black belts).

Traditional Blocks
They take too long and are too slow. By the time your mind identifies the attack and tells your muscles to work, it is too late. Unless of course you're attacked by a sloth...then you might have a shot. Now this appears to work in the dojo when the instructor has a finite number of attacks and the seasoned student actually knows "how to attack".

Don't believe come you don't see these blocks in sparring? what you see are parries, slips and covers. And that's sparring in a controlled environment. When you're trying to locate your car in a dimly lit parking lot and your mind is on other things only one thing is going to happen when some one gets the drop on you: you get hit.

In the SDTS there aren't any blocks. Really. Everything is based on position, distance, momentum and balance. You attack in a way that keeps your vital targets covered. Combine this with constantly taking ground and attacking and there is literally NO DEFENSE.

Form or Katas
Have NO self defense value. They are sets of unrealistic moves based on "quasi-historical" urban legend.

There is no need to ever get into a stance in the street. You're either attacking or retreating. Assuming a stance only says two things. To your target it tells him you have some type of training. Now he might think twice about fighting you and just grab a weapon instead. Or maybe he backs down only to jump you when you least expect it. The other thing it says to a witness is YOUR WILLINGNESS TO FIGHT. If you have to defend your actions in court while the jury views a video of you "knuckling up and throwing it down", it's going to be a tough to explain your "act of self defense".

In Module 1 of the SDTS you learn how to fight out of a normal standing position. In fact, most of the "situations" you prepare for begin in what we call the interview position. This enables you to actually gain the position of advantage without indicating your intentions to your target. This is the best way to get the drop on anyone who poses an imminent threat to you or your loved ones.

Look, martial arts have their place, but it's really not self defense. I have known good martial artists who are good street fighters. Only what they did in the street had a HUGE disconnect with what they did in the dojo. In fact other than a few punches and a takedown or two, they really didn't do anything else. Of course they tried to draw the line between tradition and reality but it just didn't work.

If you want to learn a cultural fighting art, that's great. But please don't think for a second that what you're learning has anything to do with street fighting. A horse punching stance may build stronger legs, but it's a huge inefficient use of your time regarding self defense.

Graham Elwood is right, "I've never seen a bar fight where the guy attacked the other guy coming straight down on his head".

No B.S. just...
Train Honestly,

Damian Ross, The Self Defense Company
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Police Combatives Training Keep Your Family Safe Turn Your Passion into Profits Self Defense Everyone Should Know Free Resource Material Free Training Forum The SDTS on Facebook