Stop Making Sense

There are no contradictions in the physical world.  At the scale of our experience the universe is a perfectly tuned machine that simply does what it does — everything can be mathed out in a predictable dance of cause and effect.  Contradictions only exist in human language, a necessary construct to provide flexibility in social interaction.  Our survival as a species depends on our ability to make non-deterministic, nuanced, judgment calls.  We have a word for the kind of hyper-literal people who are incapable of that:  psychopaths.

The cause and effect of violence — a simple physical interaction like a finger in the eye — contains no contradictions.  In terms of monkey-see/monkey-do training, nothing could be more straightforward… until we try to make violence fit into a social framework, round-holing that square peg with the mallet of language, contradictions meant to make ourselves feel better about doing it and to communicate our sanity, stability, and continued trustworthiness to others.  In other words, to convince everyone — including ourselves — that we’re not psychopaths.  But there is nothing about “self-defense” that suggests the finger in the eye.  Indeed, such language obscures the necessities of physical action, injecting our hopes and fears into the matter — thick strokes of contradictory emotional content that obscure the requirements of cause and effect — language that acts not as a window but as a painting.

Trying to make violence “make sense” is pointless, and even dangerous — violence is by its very definition irrational, an utter failure of everything language seeks to build.  This is why the finger in the eye is not “self-defense”, and why “self-defense” does not communicate the physics of the finger in the eye.  There are lots of ways to describe the simple physical act of breaking the human machine, and the most direct and straightforward are naturally repellent.  Our response to this must be to understand that it is a separate thing from our emotional selves and our desire to cooperate with others — it’s not about maintaining our social standing, it’s about maintaining our existence during the very thin slice of time of our attempted murder.  And it’s okay for the descriptions of the action required to hurt another person so they can’t continue to be chilling, disturbing, and otherwise uncomfortable.  We’re describing facts, and the more we use language that gives us comfort or distance from them the less likely we are to be able to execute on those facts when our survival is at stake.

There are two ways to arrive at what’s required:

  1. We can do violence every day, where we will learn a thing or two through trial and error, and how we do that work will begin to converge toward a specific point — form following function where all effective violence ends up looking the same, or
  2. We can look at examples of that work (videos of effective violence) and emulate that movement on the mats, all the while seeking hard, spare language that describes that mechanical work (and the results) in the clearest way possible.

What’s required is the objective description of science, not the poetry of the heart.


— Chris Ranck-Buhr

Injury Dynamics — What We Do

We teach the use of violence as a survival tool:  how the human machine breaks, how to do that work with your bare hands, how to take advantage of the results.  We cover striking, joint breaking, throwing, knife, baton, firearms, multi-man work, as well as grabs, holds and chokes.

But what does that word salad really mean?


Violence is physical force intended to cause harm.  We call it what it is because padding language for comfort leads to indistinct outcomes.  “Self-defense” is a moral imperative and a legal finding — it’s not a description of direct action with a concrete result.  “Hurting people” is.

Discomfort with this idea is normal, natural and desired for 99.999% of your interactions with other people across your entire lifetime — but not during the black swan event of your attempted murder.  There you will need to set aside all of the imaginary constructs that make up society and civilization and behave like a primate using physics and physiology.

Reality is disappointing and inconvenient, but we have to train for it as it stands, not how we wish it were.  The bottom line is that in violence you have to hurt people.


Violence begins and ends with debilitating injury.  It is the sole arbiter of success — the one who gets it right first, wins.  This is a single piece of critical anatomy subjected to catastrophic volume change.  You have to break it so it doesn’t work anymore.  A ruptured eyeball, a crushed throat, a knee broken backwards — these things give us immediate advantages:

• Loss of function

• Involuntary movement in response to the injury

• Momentary helplessness

The goal is to break something, then use these advantages to break the next thing, and the next, and so on until we achieve a nonfunctional state, meaning you’d feel comfortable turning your back on the person and walking away.  This can be everything from unambiguous incapacitation to unconsciousness or death, depending on the needs of the situation.


The most obvious way to cause injury is through blunt force trauma — body-weighted collisions of skeletons with a single piece of vulnerable anatomy caught in the middle.  Instead of punching and kicking (the action of the limbs) we need to think from the ground up and crush things with our mass in motion.  It’s not about how far you can reach, but how far you can step, how far you can move your belt buckle (center of gravity) through their anatomy.  Think about how much you weigh, and then imagine hurling that three feet through a single square inch of them — their eye, their throat, their knee.  This is how you break things — by minimizing the anatomy while maximizing the physics.  Mass in motion leveraged by your skeleton gets it done.

This is the base engine of violence we will use to cause all injury.

Joint Breaking

Joint breaking is a special case of striking where we cause injury by using mass in motion and leverage to force joints beyond their pathological limit.  This isn’t “joint locking,” submission or pain compliance — we will grind the joint to the end of its range of motion and then ensure that we have:

• Mechanical advantage (leverage)

• Body weight positioned to drive the work

• Space for follow-through sufficient to tear out or dislocate the joint

In other words, we will make sure that the only possible outcome if we throw our weight into it is a broken joint.

We train to break every joint in the human body — from the wrist (to cripple the hand) to the neck (for paralysis or death).


Throwing is another special case of striking where we cause injury by using mass in motion to disrupt structure and balance and drive the person into a targeted collision with the ground — usually head first for debilitating head and neck trauma.  This can be as simple as kicking someone’s leg out from under them or as complicated as a shoulder throw.  Either way the goal is to bounce the brain off the planet.

Strike – Break – Throw

While anyone can be trained to be immediately effective (striking to cause injury), the highest expression of the work above is to strike, use that injury to effect a joint break, and then use that loss of balance to effect a throw.  This is the path of efficiency, the goal of ongoing training.

Tools — Knife, Baton, Firearms

Once you have the base engine of violence thudding along — mass in motion leveraged by the skeleton — we can clip things onto the end of the skeleton to magnify our efforts and do things we can’t do with our bare hands.  Knives allow us to penetrate deeply into the body and open up the circulatory system to cause him to bleed out; batons, being harder than the stuff we’re made of, allow us to access the entire skeleton as a target, breaking bones and directly accessing the brain.  Both of these are nothing without that base engine:  You must generate the physics for the tool to amplify.  (Firearms are an exception as the physics are prepackaged in the powder charge.)

On the flip side — when the other person has a tool — the answer is the same:  You have to injure them.  We don’t practice knife-, stick-, or gun-defense/fighting; we practice hurting people who are attempting to use the tool.

Multi-Man Work

You never know how many people are involved until they’re all there — so we’re always going to assume it’s more than one.  You can’t realistically injure more than one person at a time (this is why humans invented explosives and machine guns) so we need to use the initially injured person and movement (covering ground) to give ourselves the space and time required to injure the rest of them one-by-one.  No one’s going to wait their turn like a kung fu movie, so you have to go on the attack and make them have to deal with you.

Grabs, Holds and Chokes

This is injuring people while they hang on to you, doing all the things that aren’t allowed in competition — gouging eyes, crushing throats, getting fistfuls of groin.  All you need is that initial injury to get to the rest.  The key is to be the problem, rather than looking at it as a problem for you to solve.  Make them want to get away from you.

Everything above is what mat time is all about — serial target practice on the human machine to shut it off.  We roll with training knives, batons and firearms on the mats; with our partners trying to punch, kick, stab, beat, shoot, out-number and grapple us while we strike, break and throw while using knives, batons and firearms.  It’s a low-velocity scrum where anything goes and the answer is always the same:  ATTACK & INJURE.


All of this work is pulled from our 10-year curriculum — in writing — three massive tomes that describe the 1,560 stepping stones from absolute beginner to Master Instructor.  We can literally show you something new at every class, three times a week, for a decade — with no repetition.

All well and good if you live near an instructor and want to take on the training as a lifestyle — but what about everyone else?  The beauty of the curriculum is that it’s modular, and we can pull it apart and put it together in any number of ways to meet your needs:

“Dangerous in a Day” — This is a one-day course designed to make you baseline effective at violence.  You’ll learn how to cause debilitating injury to 10 different targets, from the eyes to the ankles.  At the end of the day we’ll use that new skill in a single module tailored to the interests of the group (grabs, holds and chokes; knife; firearms; multi-man, etc.).

2-Day Crash Course — This is our Gold Standard for training: two full days of hands-on mat work including knife, baton, firearms, multi-man, grabs-holds-chokes, as well as in-depth lectures on decision-making in violence (when to pull the trigger and when not to) and how the law views violence.

Multi-day courses / tailored events — We can do as many days with as much material as your group desires.  Want five days with joint breaking and throwing in the mix?  Three days with a special emphasis on firearms?  We can do that.  We can arrange something special here in sunny San Diego (have you seen our zoo?), or travel to you.  Just get in touch and let us know how we can help!

When it comes to violence, we have it covered from the stupid-simple (finger in the eye) to the crazy-complex (a joint-break throw using a knife or baton).  We can train short-term, long-term, or lifelong.  It all comes down to what you need, and what you want — regardless, we can make it happen.


— Chris Ranck-Buhr

Sane, Socialized and Deaf to the Music

The truth about violence pervades the world like the music of the spheres — it’s out there, soundtracking the inevitable gyre of history — all you have to do is listen and you would know what the sociopath and the criminally insane know.  You would be dangerous with nothing more than a little open-minded attention.

But you don’t want to hear it — you’ve been trained from childhood to process it as cacophony, chaos, noise with no rhyme or reason.  It’s something only bad people do, and you’re not a bad person, are you?  Of course not.  So stop up your ears and chant “la la la” to drown out that ever-present, persistent beat.

Because otherwise you might figure it out.

You might know what the worst among us know — that it’s so easy you don’t even need to train for it, that everything between you and violence is imaginary.  This is what dangerous people know.  Dangerous people know they can go from zero to 90 in the blink of an eye — they can get up from that fancy dinner table and launch themselves through a broken thing because there are no physical speed bumps in capital-R Reality.  All impediments to action are mere choices.

Now, outside of your attempted murder this imaginary stuff is wonderful; it allows us to cooperate with people we don’t know — it’s why there’s a flag on the moon — but it gets in the way when the other person has chucked it all in favor of pure physics and physiology.  As Master Jerry L. Peterson said to me when we first met, “The difference between you and me is that I won’t hesitate the quarter-second you will.”

Being dangerous is easy.  All you have to do is watch videos of dangerous people doing what they do, and then replicate that work on the mats.  Get straight to it — ATTACK & INJURE — keep doing it until you’re done.

If only you could hear with Nature’s ear it would be that easy.  Instead you get in your own way, you worry about imaginary things, you empathize with the victim and play desperate mind games to try and save them (yourself) though they be perpetually doomed no matter how many times you watch that video…

The good news is that we’ve done the translation for you, we’ve codified violence, made it trainable for “sharing monkeys” — it’s not just for the organically damaged or morally ambiguous anymore.

It’s important to note that while we’d like to take on aspects of the ambush predator (to become a “booby trap,” if you will), it’s not about the hardening of the heart or behaving like a sociopath in other areas of your life.  Letting go of fear in favor of resolve doesn’t make you a bad person, no more than going to the gun range makes you a monster.  It’s merely deciding, ahead of time, to ignore your social programming when you are faced with violence and have no other choice (because attempted murder only responds to action in kind)…

…and then training accordingly.


— Chris Ranck-Buhr