How many times have you rehearsed your attempted murder?

The brain can only go where it’s been before.

When it comes down to it, all you will have during your attempted murder is your experience — not your motivation, your strength, or even your training — the only thing you’ll have is what you’ve done with your own hands in front of your own eyes.

Experience is not the same as information — you can watch all the videos on rough water swimming you want, you can talk about it and read about it for hours and days and weeks — but none of that is going to matter when you actually hit the water.  In that moment you’ll either swim or drown, and your success depends a great deal on how much time you spent actually doing the thing required to survive.

When we teach the use of violence as a survival tool we start with information — defining violence, describing actions and results, modeling movement — and then show you how to convert that information into knowledge: your ability to do it yourself.  But even that’s not enough.  When the time comes you won’t remember what we said or even what you know on a conscious level.  All you’ll have is what you’ve done.

That’s where the hours on the mats come in.  Our goal in a 2-Day Crash Course is to get you to execute a thousand turns — that’s a thousand times you recognized a threat, made a decision about how to destroy it, and then executed on that decision to end things in your favor.  It’s rehearsing your attempted murder a thousand times — with knives and batons and firearms and grabs and holds and chokes and multiple people — so that if, God forbid, you ever find yourself there it won’t be the first time.  You’ll be experienced… and therefore much more likely to get it right once more.

All those hours on the mats, doing serial target practice on the human machine, shattering anatomy one piece at a time, is where you will convert your knowledge into experience.  This is the most powerful learning, and something we can’t do for you — only you can do it for yourself.  We can show you what to do, and how to do it, and help refine your process as you convert knowledge into experience, but ultimately you’re the only one who can show yourself how you get it done.

A common refrain we hear at the start of the second day is “I don’t remember what we did yesterday!”  And yet… when they step out onto the mats they just start doing.  This is by design.  What they mean is that they’re looking back through their declarative memory and finding it weirdly blank — they know they “learned stuff” yesterday, but they can’t recall precisely what in a specific, ordered sense.  But that doesn’t matter, because the fact that they can step out onto the mats and just do it means that the experience of their 500 turns on that first day are firmly embedded in procedural memory — the place where walking and swimming and riding a bike are stored.  The booby trap has been installed, the pit dug, the spikes set, the springs wound tight.  And the whole thing covered over and smoothed out so it looks just like unturned earth.

They’ve weaponized their skeleton.  It will be there for them, stealthily locked and loaded, for the rest of their lives.

What about you?


— Chris Ranck-Buhr


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When Is a Gun Like a TV Remote?

During a training in Dallas, I visited my parents who live there, but whom I rarely get to see on account of living, working, and training in San Diego most of the year. While relaxing at their house between extended training sessions an incident occurred that got me thinking.

We had all decided to sit down and watch a movie, but my nephew, a toddler at the time, had recently been over to play and had moved the television remote control to an unknown location, as he is wont to do. My parents and I summoned what was left of our energy reserves to mount a thorough search of the house to no avail. I reluctantly suggested that we just go over and turn on the TV by hand and then manually select a movie.

It was at this point that my parents informed me that they did not believe manufacturers even put manual controls on new TVs — “Everyone just uses the remote these days,” they said. In utter disbelief I walked over to the set and scanned the edges around the front, along the side and just behind the display until I finally found what I was looking for. In the back there was a vestigial control panel with limited options that would not provide us access to some of the higher-end functions that were exclusively remote-driven, but would allow us to accomplish our basic goal: to turn it on, select a movie (any movie at this point) and relax my aching body on their very, very comfortable couch. With that done, I dissolved into that couch and tried to remember what it was like before the remote control.

Back in the day, if you wanted to turn your TV on or off, or even watch a different channel, you had to get up off your asset and physically go over to manipulate the controls by hand. As a result of this fact people tended to be more patient with whatever was on. Then along came the remote control to remove all that work. Soon, we became much more casual about changing the channel, and before long we became completely reliant on remotes to the point that TV manufacturers stopped putting manual controls on the front of TV sets. In fact, most people today, including my family, would probably tell you that you can’t actually operate their TV without the remote — however, if you know where to access the manual controls, you can still execute the basic functions of any TV set in the catastrophic absence of that remote.

In a way, firearms are analogous to the venerable TV remote control. Like the remote, firearms distill, into a handheld device, all of the hard work and intent normally required to motivate a person to the point that they are willing to take action —  and all that control is at their very fingertips. Furthermore, as firearms have gone into mass production in recent history, people have become so reliant on these highly efficient labor-saving devices that they have forgotten how to roll up their sleeves and do that work by hand when necessary. It might even be said that modern people are incapable of implementing the tool of violence without a firearm. Sound familiar?

The truth is that firearms don’t accomplish anything that you can’t already do by hand with a little knowledge and elbow grease, and there is nothing inherently special about them — unless it has become your only solution to asocial violence. In the rare event that you are put in a position that requires direct action to take out a threat you can’t afford to waste time and opportunity desperately searching for your labor-saving device.

Keep in mind that you come from a legacy of violence: By necessity, your ancestors knew the principles of violence and implemented them serviceably when necessary — or you wouldn’t be here. Luckily for us not much has changed since the dawn of time. Gravity is still cruelly tugging our bones toward the unforgiving surface of the planet, the human machine remains just as vulnerable in spite of all our efforts, and the old “rock to the back of the head” is just as relevant today as it was for our ancestors’ ancestors. Handguns are just a little smaller, a little more convenient, and require nearly zero training and intent to cause objective injuries.

Weaponizing your skeleton is simply a matter of training in the core principles of violence. One of the great benefits of training is that it allows you to take control of the learning environment before it’s an emergency. And, with a little training, anyone can learn to hurl their mass through vulnerable anatomy. Nothing has changed in that regard. When you have a principle-based approach to navigating true asocial violence — with and without tools — you’ll never be unarmed again.


— Taylor Good