Interview: Coach Tony Torres, developer of Functional Edge System


Coach Tony Torres: Background

Tony Torres was a defensive tactics instructor during his 9 years of service in the US Navy, where he had roles as a Search and Rescue swimmer and in Nuclear Weapons Security.  During his 13 year career as a decorated Master Police Officer in the City of Virginia Beach he worked on patrol duties and later in special units tasked with gangs and narcotics operations.   Following his years of public service, Coach Torres worked for Blackwater USA first as an instructor for Force on Force CQB Training, then as a Team Leader in Iraq providing dignitary protection (PSD) for US Department of Of State personnel including Ambassador Bremer* – who was at that time ‘the most threatened man in the world’.  He was also involved in a well-known incident in Najaf.

*The Bremer Detail is the subject of a highly recommended book (link to amazon).

Torres CQC

Tony Torres practicing CQC tactics in Iraq circa 2003.

This interview was conducted after a self-protection seminar at Edinburgh University in February 2014.  Questions were posed by the students from the university and covered tactics, training design and the System of Functional Edge.


Q:  What martial art background do you have?

When I was very young I started with a Chinese martial art called Ba Gua, a Chinese Kung Fu style. I was too young to really understand what was going on. I just knew that I liked Bruce Lee movies and I liked doing martial arts.

Then we moved house and the next martial art that I got into was judo, and I did that for about a year or so and again I was still very young and just going, this is great throwing people around!

I only started getting more conscious and serious and paying attention to what I was training when I became about 12 to 13 years old – getting ready to being a teenager.

I started Taekwon do and I stuck with that for quite some time. I was in the All Navy Taekwon do Team from 1986 until about ’89 and started coaching then.

Then that’s when I started getting interested in boxing, kick boxing and those forms of martial arts because my job in the Navy was dealing with nuclear weapon security, and search and rescue swimmer.  It was a very pragmatic job but I didn’t see a connection between the martial arts that I was training in and my job. So I started exploring what seemed to me at the time to be more effective – and more self-defence oriented – martial arts.

From boxing and kick boxing I gravitated to Thai boxing, Philipino martial arts, Jeet Kune Do, which is Bruce Lee’s system and I became an instructor in all of those. I’m also an instructor under Guru Dan Inosanto for Maphilindo Silat.

I started training in mixed martial arts and then I started training with a gentleman called Tony Blauer, who is a well known self-defence instructor, known throughout the world, and then I actually started working for him and teaching courses for him. [Coach Torres was the Lead Instructor for the S.P.E.A.R. System courses taught to Law Enforcement and Military teams for approximately 10 years circa. 2000-2010]

I’ve been blessed that I have had a lot of really good teachers and instructors, and I’ve taken everything that I’ve learned and put some fresh eyes into it.  I have learned all of these martial arts, but many people don’t have the time or the desire to train in martial arts for any period of time.

So if there is something – a training methodology – that I can offer and that will take that person that has no martial art background and is not going to practice for an hour a day or for three hours a week or wherever – well that’s where the Functional Edge System and these rules that you are seeing in it came from.

Torres teaching 4 copy 2

Q:  Do you think having a background in martial arts is helpful within self-defence situations and do you think you need to specifically train for it?

Well yes, just having an insight and some training will always be helpful, but some of the training can be destructive. It can get to that point where you are so focused on something that’s not really real. Again, I have trained in traditional ways as well and there are benefits to that training, but sometimes it can distract you.

If you get too used to training in a very clean environment under a certain set of rules and your partner always knows how to move perfectly in a clean manner, and you are only seeing other karate people all of the time, then if you get into a confrontation, where your opponent moves like crazy and instead of the domain you are familiar with (say, karate) he is just throwing windmills.   There is the false and very detrimental assumption that if you are always training with an athlete, then the dirt bag on the street is going to be easier.

It’s not true, because your brain has to adjust, it has to make up the difference, between fighting guys that can really punch well,and they are always poker-faced and quiet. Then all of a sudden the real chaos of the fight happens, it’s going to get you. Your brain has to make a shift to deal with that, and [doing traditional training] you’re almost never prepared for that.

Too much martial arts training might hinder you. There are some people who have had no training at all that will deal with certain violent situations very well. That being said, I’ve been unfortunate/fortunate enough that I’ve been in numerous situations. I remember fighting when I had no idea what to do. I remember having to deal with a bar confrontation when all I knew was taekwondo. I was able to deal with at in certain ways and I think I stayed mentally focused and sharp during the encounter. Some of these situations never came to blows, and some were just verbal threats. But I think that the focus that I got from even the traditional training helped me stay in touch with what was happening and if it got physical the traditional training did help – but only a little bit.

The one other thing that it is important to note is this, that regardless of what martial art I was doing at the time and if I got into a physical confrontation, it never really looked like the martial arts that I was doing at the time. It was always chaotic and stressful.

Torres teaching 5 copy

Q:  Can an untrained person defend themselves?

Absolutely!  Again, there are people right now that have absolutely zero training and can defend themselves against rape attempts, knifing, stabbing, multiple assault etc. there is plenty of information and plenty of good instructors and you guys have certified trainers, right here, all the time.   I come here about once a year or so to upskill your trainers and they are doing a fine job!

There are resources that you can find and you don’t have to necessarily go out there and get beat up and get into a fight to be a proficient person at self-defence. As long as you are training the right way and you work with instructors that have that experience, or with people that have trained with people that have had that experience, then you can become just as proficient as anybody else. You don’t have to have real world experience.

I had two jobs that put me in that position; I was a police officer and I was in the military that I had to use these skills on the job. Not everybody is going to be a cop and short of you going out there being a hoodlum and starting fights, there is no expectation for you to be good at self-defence if you have never been in a confrontation.

As a matter of fact, it speaks highly of you if you are smart enough to have gone through your entire adult life and not been in any confrontation!

Torres teaching 3 copy 2

Q:  What’s your opinion on Pre-Emptive Striking?

I don’t focus on it to any great extent.  I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to take the initiative because I knew that if I waited then that person was going to throw the first punch.

I recommend that through training and experience and working with trainers who know what they are doing, that you get to the point when you can recognise when things are going to go “pear shaped” as you say here in the UK, and therefore when it’s okay for you to start. Legally you don’t have to wait for the person to throw the first punch.

That being said, if you don’t have a good protective strategy, then you might be getting ready to start the fight and you might be thinking “okay, I might have to hit this guy”, and while you are processing that thought, he throws the first punch. So you have to have a good protective strategy and we focus a lot on that in the Functional Edge System.

There is a lot of current self-defence instructors that will always pre-empt all of the time. As soon as the guy looks at them sideways, they hit him and to me that is naive, possibly legally troublesome and very disingenuous, because on just the tactical level alone, you can’t guarantee that you will always be the one that gets the first shot in. So you have to have a good solid survival protective strategy which is where our compressed and extended frames, based on instinctive protection responses, come into play.

Q:  Could you maybe talk some more about the compressed frame.

There is a parallel development and story about this, because all of the different martial arts and training modalities that I have been doing throughout my adult life, I’ve notices that number 1:  a lot of the styles were doing this [Coach Torres compresses his arms around his head] and in boxing you see this. In the stand-up facets you see the ‘pillars’ and movement that simulates or it is very close to this compresses frame where the hands come close to the head to protect it. In the Indonesian martial arts there are such movements codified and embedded in the skill set which has been passed down as well.

That at the same time while I was working for my previous boss as a specialist tactical CQC trainer,  I had a client and when I say client, I mean a group of military operators that wanted some very specific training because of their job that they perform; it was a special forces group. They had a tasking coming up that had certain parameters and so they wanted to learn how to fight in a scenario where they might have their hands bound.

As I analysed their requirement, I started noticing that the extended frame (hands pushed away from the head in a protective gesture) wasn’t the best solution for that problem. So I drew upon my experience with these compression movements from those other martial arts and started creating what would become the Functional Edge System core.  Of course the physiology of  these natural protective gestures which we refine into “frames” is well established by neurology and science – such as, if things started flying over your head fast enough you will cover up by throwing your hands up in certain configurations .

So as I was experimenting with these bound hands and how to keep people away or to protect from blows, I noticed that in many cases compression was a lot more effective than extension. So I started working on that idea and it set everything in motion for the systematic approach you see in Functional Edge System.  I’ve also been fortunate enough to be exposed to other martial arts that I started practising since that time that are very reliant on compressed frames, so there was some synchronicity to the evolution of these ideas..

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Q:  In a given scenario, how much effect does the adrenaline reaction have, whether you have been trained or not?

It’s hard to say exactly how much, it all depends on the individual, and how much they have trained in drills like we did today at the seminar. If you have a lot of experience in those types of drills then you are going to be able to access more of your cognitive responses. If you have never done drills like these, where people are pulling and pushing and realtime, lifelike actions like that, then you are going to have a harder time.

I suck at tennis, because I don’t play it!  And so, if all of a sudden I get onto a tennis court and somebody starts wailing balls in my direction, I’m going to go all over the place and not really be able to deal with.  Eventually I might hit a ball or two in the right direction or the right way, but it’s got to be more luck than anything else.

So you might believe that with consistent exposure to that chaotic environment you are better off and the chances of using your cognitive intelligence while you are fighting are higher.

Torres teaching 8 copy

Q:  Can you talk for a moment about the importance of role playing?

Absolutely, again because when we are trying to train ourselves to deal with what happens in a real self-defence, we need to make sure that if I am playing the role of the ‘bad guy’ – depending at what level of interaction. The most important rule is I never want to move like an athlete as far as doing ‘clean’ techniques as a bad guy.

The best advice that I give anybody is research through YouTube, Google, or whatever and just put in the search box “crazy street fights”. You will get plenty of video of how bad guys really move, and it’s never from a clean sport kind of stance. It’s always with a certain rage and explosiveness that you don’t see in an athlete that’s performing a martial art move.

So it’s better for you to imitate that slowly for your partner, than it is to go really fast with more conventional strikes. So if I am role-playing the role of the bad guy, I would rather for my partner’s benefit move slowly but move like agrhh, like a maniac so that my training partner starts getting used to seeing what real bad guys move like.

My partner gets really little benefit from me moving like an athlete and just kind of throwing boxing punches or anything like that.

Q:  How many people do you think start fights using weapons?

A lot of it has to do with culture and environment. If you are somewhere like Indonesia, where it is a knife based culture and if you go to some of these farms and tribes out there, everybody has got something sharp on them so it is very likely that they have a knife.

I’m not sure how the stats are playing out here in the UK, I know that knives are a little bit more prevalent than guns because of the way that things are over here. But it is largely a culture based problem than it is for it guess in the general population.

For example in Arizona, you are more likely to either end up encountering guys with guns.

Torres teaching copy 3

Q:  How I going to know I’m in a knife fight?

That’s an interesting thing. Well, one of the things that I do know about knife encounters is that in a real fight and I think I may have mentioned a little about this yesterday. Human beings are head-hunters when they are throwing blows and again you can see all of the CCTV video on YouTube, when people start fighting they start swinging for that head because they want that knockout.

It’s very – extremely, extremely – rare for somebody to throw a body punch in that crazy crazy street fight.

What is more likely to happen though if you feel that somebody is punching you in the body in a crazy street fight is that it’s very likely that you’re being stabbed. Because human beings when they grab a knife then the body is where they go for, it’s one of the most prevalent attacks. It’s the sewing machine or the repeated arm stabs to the body. They are likely to be trying to knife you anywhere in the torso.

So if you are ever in some sort of fight and you feel somebody punching you in the body, it’s very likely that there’s a knife in there, then you have to address that right away. It’s not a question where you want to get to.

Q:   Is it too late that they already get a couple of stabs in.

Here’s another interesting paradigm that I think I was talking earlier about today. Whether it’s punching or stabbing etc. the human body like system is a pretty freaky interesting thing. It’s very resilient but it’s also very weak. I have seen people get beat on by three or four guys for a good minute and 30 seconds, and then that person just walks away, and I’ve also seen a person punch one other person once and that person gets knocked out, falls on the concrete and dies because their head hits the concrete hard enough and dies.

The same thing with knife assaults. I’ve seen people that have been slashed, stabbed and survived multiple – like 20 odd stab wounds. They’ve been able to survive and obviously you’ll have your scars but they have actually lived to tell the story of how they ‘got stabbed 37 times’.

But I’ve also seen a person get stabbed just once and dies from that cut, so there’s no real way to predict that. The easiest thing to do is if you feel like you are getting stabbed, fight until you win that fight or you’re able to get out of there.

Your own body construction metabolism and your own stamina and fortitude will tell you, you okay no I’m not. You’ll black out and see the light at the end of the tunnel and the angels or whoever that you’ll see, that’s when you know you’re dead.

So if you feel, oh my god, I’m being stabbed then you need to be fighting. You can’t just think, “oh my god I’m being stabbed, oh I just got stabbed again”. If you’re getting stabbed fight, and fight until the fight is done or that you go to the other side.

Torres teaching 2 copy 2

Q:  Do you tailor the Functional Edge System for certain people, body types or groups of people?

The fundamentals of sound self-protection movement is always the same. So the most efficient frame that you can make with your body, size, and build will always be this (extended frame) or this (compressed frame) and it’s the most efficient tool that you can use. The same thing for him, regardless of how big he is, the most efficient thing he can do is this and this so it doesn’t change.

What changes is the physics of the attack. If he is trying to bear hug and I think you are the one that was getting pushed back a lot and just say, okay well just turn a little bit. Once you start turning a little bit it solves the problem, so that is the most efficient item that you can possibly be. Obviously with practice you will get even better at it, but that’s the most efficient thing that you can do as far as keep maintaining a frame and keeping from somebody toppling you etc. but it’s the same in relation to everybody else.

If you are attacking him, he might not have to use as much effort to keep you at bay because of the physics. However, there are people out there that are much bigger than him, so if he has been slagging off and saying yeah, I’m a stud because he was doing the drill with you and now gigantor comes and grabs him he’s going to have a problem, right.

So efficient movement is efficient movement for humans, regardless of your build and size. There is no emotion that I would teach you to make use super extra efficient that I wouldn’t teach him, because I know that he is not worried about fighting you. He is worried about fighting the guy that is bigger than him.

Q:  So for example if you had a group of young women at University…

So as far as tailoring training then, we are clear on efficient movement is efficient movement, however, the problem that you are going to deal with is not the exact same problem that he’s going to deal with unless he is in the wrong neighbourhood or something like that. But you are dealing more with sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence and things like that.

There is a certain tendency for males to act a certain way when they are attacking females, so the primary concerns of the ways that you are going to be attacked are going to be just slightly different than the primary concerns that he’s going to have while he’s being attacked.

So males are attacking females for resources or process, will move a certain way that is fairly predictable, so we’ve had to prepare a group of females based on those attacks.

torres group 2 copy 2

Q:  Do you still develop Functional Edge System or is it as perfect as it could ever be?

No it’s not. I’ve always been developing.  Gerry (Gerard O’Dea, UK Coach for Functional Edge) has been with me for even before the Functional Edge days, so that’s seven years almost, so he has seen it growing every time we get together and he asked me “okay, well what can we do about x, y, z?”

I come up with something and a lot of the times I’m very fortunate that I have students at home that, if I tell them, hey, why don’t you try beating me with this thing, they are enthusiastic enough that they will joyfully grab that thing and try to beat me with it and you know, I will figure out ways to evolve and make the system better.

Yes, there is a very specific path already there, but I’m never opposed to changing it. I’ve always been improving it.

[End of Interview]

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FES6

This interview was conducted on social media with a number of Self-Protection trainers posing questions with Coach Torres in 2013.

FES5

Many self-protection trainers talk about using certain ‘entries’ for responding to assaults, but you don’t agree with this – can you expand on why?

I know and understand it’s common usage in the Martial Art community, but i never liked the word “entry” when referring to fighting. Because I learned English as a second language I am always looking for clear definitions on the information I transmit and an entry to me always implied a doorway and , last time I checked, doorways neither move or attack people. Doors do but not door ways I prefer the term Engagement (the military definition; to come into battle) Now in a criminal assault, depending on the preceding events or circumstances and our level of awareness, we either Engage our opponent(s) or we are Engaged by them.

Now before I go further on this idea I will discuss some human physiology. Barring any pathology, the largest percentage of motor related neurons in the human brain are dedicated to the arms and hands. This is why when somebody attacks us we dont karate kick the attacking arm or weapon instinctively. Next the human arm can perform two basic functions: it either bends or straightens at the elbow. I call these in FES extension and compression.

When one or more bad guys take action to engage us, I call that an assault. If the assault happens as a surprise to us, but we have some awareness of it, instincts kick in. Because we have so many neurons dedicated to hands and arms, our response will be with those limbs. AND because our arms can only extend or compress, we will meet said assault with one or the other motion. Now how do we know if extension or compression will occur? We dont. There are several factors that weigh in. Emotional factors like childhood bullying or beatings, physiological factors like the amount of natural muscular tension a person carries, event factors like the position of the arms at the time we are assaulted, and behavior factors like what movements we have practiced (does our training emphasize the practice of extension or compression? see this article http://functionaledge.blogspot.com/2012/01/pale-in-comparison.html)

Regardless of which motion initially saves our butts, what will really get us out of trouble when we are engaged first is how quickly we can reverse the tables and engage our opponent with our own weapons.   This is were the FES doctrine of Survive, Reverse, Engage comes from.

Now back to the whole “entry” thing. If we decide we want to preemptively engage our adversary, or we see the attack coming with enough time to choose to Engage cognitively and counter actively (ie at the same time) {this is what I believe most people mean when they say entry}; then we can do so efficiently and effectively with either an extended or compressed arm. However we must do so dynamically. In other words, once we Engage we must quickly deploy our weapons to maximum effect. Most of the problems occur when folks use an “entry” and then expect some magical fairy to stop the attack. Remember the ultimate objective of the “entry”. When a bad guy assaults us we dont enter we CRASH through his door and then we have to do the most appropriate thing to resolve the confrontation IMMEDIATELY.

Could you speak for a moment how you believe the startle reflex or ‘flinch response’ impacts on training design and improving performance in assault survival?

A lot of this comes down to training methodology and doctrine. There are a ton of factors that weigh in determining whether any particular individual may or may not flinch.

Recognizing and acknowledging that we may flinch when these factors stack up against us is just a first step. We must understand all sides if the problem and address them in our training.

There are three fundamental stages of when our cognition may kick in during an ambush; anything that happens before this will be instinctive movement ( compression or extension ) so we must be familiar with both. The three stages are Retro-active (our cognitive process kicks in after the initial attack reaches completion and has either hit the intended target or collided against one of our arms in whichever position it happens to be in) Counter-Active (very common, our cognition kicks in some time after initiation of the attack but before it makes target or arm contact) and then Pro-Active ( cognitive skills kick in before the attack starts or very shortly after).

One important point is that our cognitive engagement skills should be in line with our instincts and better yet, should be improvements and enhancements on those instincts so that we may move quickly and smoothly from Survival to Reversal, and Engagement.

If the circumstances allow us to be Pro Active, we should know to use extension and or compression to Engage pre emptively.  For example, extension could turn into a palm strike that leads to follow up maneuvers, compression can be turned into a direct elbow strike to sternum or face that sets up follow ups.

The same arm movements can be used in a dynamic manner in Counter-Active responses as Frames (to maintain enough space between you and a bad guy to continue to apply your ballistic strikes) or Prybars ( to Create that space when the opponents application of pressure puts your arms in disadvantageous positions)

In Retro Active circumstances we can use the position our arms are in as a launch pad for reversal and engagement.

In best case scenarios we would all love to be able to be Pro-Active, but in the real world we know this is impossible. Training Retro-Actively and Counter-Actively is just good sense, and we should be training these modalities the most, but include pro active training.

Again: practice with partners that are progressively resisting and applying pressure and impact but who move like emotionally charged street fighters first.

Only then should you approach the subject of skilled attackers. Also make sure that you set up your scenarios with realism. Your bad guy should have the same Cognitive engagement problems you face when he encounters your Instinctive or Cognitve response. (this is why people with zero training have survived all kinds of violent attacks)

In other words when a bad guy assaults, his mental model is envisioning a pattern of success, when that initial assault fails depending on the bad guy’s experience and state of mind, he may end up in a retro-active, or counter-active loop, and this provides opportunities for Reversal and Engagement for the intended victim.

Torres Teaching Compressed

Can you speak for a moment about “Compound Assaults” and the problem with traditional one-step or single-assault modalities of training?

The truth is that bad guys do not just throw one attack and then stop attacking, unless you are very fortunate and knock them out on the first strike . Bad guys dont throw “combinations” as conventionally known either. Bad guys either deliver impact (punching and striking), apply pressure (pulling grabbing tackling), and they repeat and combine the process, in a DYNAMIC fashion, until they are successful or they are stopped. For example Asocial Predatory assaulters that initiate with a punch, will continually deliver dominant arm, looping punches, in machine gun like fashion, until their victim is out, their dominant arm becomes ineffective due to injury or entanglement, or they are disconnected from consciousness by their intended victim. The same happens when the Asocial Predator initiates with some type of pressure attack. On occasion an Asocial predator will switch from an Impact to a pressure attack or vice versa, when they encounter resistance from their victims. This type of Dynamic pressure, impact, and stress are why I moved on from the previous system that I taught for 10 years or more and then followed my own direction. This problem as I have described it is one of the key issues which the Functional Edge System Drills prepare the trainees for using a training drill evolution method that we call ‘Survival-Reversal-Engagement Waves’.

Can you please explain the differences as you see them between Self Protection, Martial Art and Combat Sport, and the modality needed for effective training in Self Protection?

I practice and teach Self Protection, Martial Art and Combat Sport and they all have qualities that enhance the others, but I truly believe that training ONLY against “skilled” opponents will be detrimental.  If we ONLY train against “skilled” opponents then the answer is a resounding NO it will not be totally effective for self-protection. Its like saying if I only train in Soccer I will get really good at ping pong. This is the reason we all have either heard or witnessed for ourselves the infamous story of the “black belt, wrestler, mma champ, boxer, etc that got his ass kicked in a bar fight.

Simply put when you train symmetrically, that is sparring , rolling with a partner that is using the same art and skill set that you are, even when he is fully resisting, you are only indirectly preparing for a street assault, just like playing all that soccer will give you a lot of stamina and endurance that will transfer to the ping pong game.  I have just seen too many well trained people fall apart when attacked on the street. If you train symmetrically often make sure you implement a healthy dose of asymmetrical scenario training in your regimen.

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SO you are saying that Self-Protection training should not focus on skills for dealing with the “Skilled Opponent”?

I have a problem with the phrase “skilled opponent” This is the mythical unicorn of street fighters! Basically it is mostly used to either over complicate our lives or to sell the need to train in a particular system. It is a psychological trap we can easily fall into and get diverted into creating all kinds of false solutions to a non existing problem. On on side, At best, we create an opponent that has “skills” in order to justify some (almost always more complex or cool looking) tactic that we come up with.

At worst, we end up creating an opponent that has the superpowers of superman, is the size of Sasquatch, and has batman’s fighting skills. None of these are productive for street scenarios. I am going to break down how we categorize our potential attackers in the FES in descending order of probability and then follow up with an exercise we conduct in our certification courses, and you will see why I call the “skilled” attacker a unicorn.

SOCIAL Violence opponent, we are more likely to encounter some form of social opponent: domestic abuser, school bully, guy at bar trying to establish dominance etc. Than we are to encounter an ASOCIAL opponent: a resource or process predator, robber, kidnapper, serial rapist or psycho killer.

Under these two main categories of SOCIAL and ASOCIAL OPPONENTS again in the order of likelihood of encountering them, we have three sub categories: INEXPERIENCED, EXPERIENCED, and TRAINED.

An INEXPERIENCED SOCIAL opponent would be, for example, a domestic abuser in his first real relationship, or the local young wannabe at the bar trying to pick his first fight. An INEXPERIENCED ASOCIAL opponent would be a guy on his first armed robbery, or a psycho during his first kill. You can infer from these definitions what an EXPERIENCED SOCIAL and EXPERIENCED ASOCIAL opponents would be.

The odds that our attacker will be EXPERIENCED or INEXPERIENCED are about the same however, odds are much smaller that we will face a TRAINED SOCIAL or TRAINED ASOCIAL opponent.

I further divide TRAINED into two categories: SKILLED and PRACTICED (also know as fetishist) a TRAINED SKILLED opponents is one who has a combative background [boxing,mma, karate, whatever] and happens to be committing SOCIAL or ASOCIAL VIOLENCE. For example, a boxer that rapes his girlfriend, or a judo guy that decides to turn to a life of crime. A TRAINED PRACTICED opponent is the one that actually learns or modifies a skill set to achieve his SOCIAL OR ASOCIAL violence goals. Someone who practices and researches how to best stab a victim for either quicker or more painful death, or how to best distract a person before attacking etc.

Now that I have defined how I break down the opponents, here is the order of relevance of what you are likely to face: 1st You are more likely to face SOCIAL THAN ASOCIAL violence. 2nd within each category you are SLIGHTLY more likely to face an INEXPERIENCED than an EXPERIENCED opponent, but chances are very minimal that you will face TRAINED SKILLED and EVEN LESS SO A TRAINED PRACTICED Opponent.

The good news is that the all the following categories of a opponents: SOCIAL and ASOCIAL, INEXPERIENCED, EXPERIENCED AND TRAINED SKILLED, will almost always attack based from an emotional place based on fear or anger which means they always default to the basic predatory attack modes that i described before. Continuous application of pressure and impact, until they achieve their goals or they are stopped, in the form of repeated dominant armed punches and grabs and tackles. In other words we dont have to train any differently for any of them.

The problem lies when we face the infamous unicorn, which would fall in the category of SOCIAL or ASOCIAL TRAINED PRACTICED opponent. The infamous stalker in the night, the assassin that practices his skills specifically to defeat us. WHAT ARE THE ODDS?

Can you please explain the exercise that you go through on your certification courses?

Here is the exercise. This is actually part of an interactive lecture I do at all my courses when the question of the “skilled Opponent” comes up. Since I am from the US, I use american statistics for the discussion. During the first part I stack the odds heavily in the favor of the victim encountering the Unicorn (A TRAINED PRACTICED opponent)(Feel free to find and use statistics from your countries but they will likely reflect very similar numbers) Here We go! Put on your “Math Hats”. The actual population of the US is around 315,000,000 so, to make the math easier to handle and stack the odds in favor of us meeting the bad guy, I will make this population 500,000,000 and they will all be males of the typical criminal age.

Of this population: what percentage do you think participates in any martial art or combat training? Lets call it 10%, which leaves us with about 50,000,000 people. Out of that number how many actually practice the more combative arts like wresltling, mma, muay thay, boxing etc. Lets call that another 10% which leave us with 5,000,000, Now how many of those actually practice long enough that they could actually bring those skills to use under heavy stress? Lets go with 10% (see where this is going ) this is 500,000. Out of that number how many of them have criminal anti social tendencies? Lets say mmm…10%! which is 50,000.

Out of those how many are violent criminals that practice those skills to further their needs? yup 10% which leaves us 5,000 guys that are Capable Trained Practiced evil doers that can use their skills to do bad things. Now, all 5,000 of them in this fictional America I created have a meeting and decide to divide themselves equally among all 50 states, so there is 100 of them in each state, they further decide to magically never sleep or eat and not ever get caught or imprisoned: What are the odds at any given time of them attacking one of the 10,000,000 people in any of my equally divided fictional states? If I did my real math in this fictional scenario correctly its about 1 in 100,000. BUT REMEMBER this is FICTIONALLY STACKED IN FAVOR of the encounter, so now for some real numbers and I will let you guys do your math. the chances of running into Mr Unicorn dwindle quickly when we use real numbers. Population of US as said before is about 315,000,000, about half of that female, and about half again children. So approximately 75,000,000 males of potential criminal age in the US.

Now track all the other questions above, and instead of 10%, use the real percentage which is around 1% {now part of your brain will fight this because we trained martial artists live and socialize and interact constantly with other martial artists, giving us the illusion that there are a lot more trained people out there than their really is} the truth is we are a very rare breed. Once you do the real math and realize that bad guys do have to eat and sleep, and tend to gather in specific places and select victim that meet certain requirements, and so on. You come to the stark realization that when you hear the pounding of hooves, it will probably be horses, less likely zebras ( unless you are in the Serengeti or the wrong are of a zoo) and almost never a Unicorn.

Train for what is likely the majority of the time and, only if you have extra time, delve into the less likely scenarios. By the way the odds using the real numbers are probably less than 1 in a million

Torres Control

Aren’t more people watching MMA, and aren’t more people doing ‘some training’ during their life in some kind of MMA-related martial arts practice?  Isn’t there evidence of cops now being assaulted with MMA-type attacks unlike those previously seen?

Again look to my definitions and breakdown of skilled or trained guys. Just because a guy practices MMA, it doesnt mean that you will be attacked with MMA. This is a myth perpetuated by imagined, fictional problems. The Confirmation Bias usually happens like this.

A cop either trains a little bit or has a friend that trains a little bit in mma, or watches the UFC. They get a call where there it is commonly known fighters gather. An altercation ensues and voila! every bad guy knows MMA. The truth is if you watch a video of said altercation, what you will see is the mma guys executing the same haymakers and sloppy tackles etc that the untrained guys use. Because they will be emotional (fear or anger based) attacks. In the hundreds of real life incidents I have been in involving both trained and untrained, bad guys and good guys and in the thousands of hours of cctv and dashcam fight footage I have researched, no one has produced a verifiable account or shown me a video where this trained bad guy actually used his Trained martail arts to ASSAULT a police officer.

I am nearing 50 now and I have been around for every martial arts craze. If the “MMAi s Really Popular now so A lot of Bad Guys will use MMA now” unicorn was true, then in the ’60s suddenly we would have seen a sudden spike in karate attacks, in the 70s more kung fu and cops training in kung fu, in the 80s I would have been fighting ninjas, and in the 90s Jeet Kune Do, Muay Thai and BJJ bad guys. But I did not!

The point is we sometimes waste a lot of training time and energy and funds worrying about an enemy that we will not likely encounter and developing skills that only INDIRECTLY will help us with our real problems and then we are back to square one; we have all this skill and our opponent only brings forth raging dynamic pressure and impact, while our practice and conditioning tells our brains to look for “skill”.

SO you believe that training time needs to be prioritized ans specialised for the outcome required of it?   In the UK, a research project called this ‘end user utility’ – is that what you mean?

I developed Functional Edge System so that we DONT waste time Chasing Uncorns and so that we and our Self-Protection students only train for what we and they are likely to face.

Prioritizing training is essential in any SD or for that matter a firearms shooting curriculum. For example I think a lot of pistol training time is wasted training at distances further than 7 yards. We know that most offcer and civilian self defense shootings will occur inside this distance, as a matter of fact 3-10 feet. Realistic shooting training then should focus on this and only when this skill is “mastered” should we entertain longer distance shooting. HOWEVER, most departments and units focus on target practice at 10-15-25 and even 50 yards and using sights at these ranges in their pistol shooting qualifications. Knowing the statistics and odds would helps us have better use of training time, we would focus on dynamic instinctive shooting at close range and a lot of force on force (simmunition training). That is why understanding statistics and odds is important. Use most of your time to prepare for likely reality, use critical thinking.

If i have a group of students, civilian, police or military, it would be irresponsible of me to start the lesson with “This is how you stop a jab cross, Shin kick to double leg, takedown, to cross body to mount and mounted triangle choke transition” Could this ever happen in a real fight? Of course its possible but how Likely is it. The fact is it is all in the ODDS when it comes to prioritizing training!

There is a video out there in the world of a boxer who atacks a police officer – many people commented that the police officer needed MMA skills to be able to counter the attack.  Can you comment?

I have seen the incident you described. But here are the questions

A. did the boxer that assaulted the police officer use boxing or did he use a predatory assault pattern that, because he has a lot of experience in punching (from all the boxing), caused a lot of damage?

  1. Did the officer in his report and investigation find out AFTER the fact the guy was a boxer therefor making the assumption that he was attacked WITH SKILLEDBOXING

Or

  1. Did the officer have foreknowledge that the suspect was a boxer so the Pattern Recognition prt of his brain assumed he was being attacked with SKILLED BOXING?

and

  1. If the protective strategies we teach are such that they are efficient and effective against an INEXPERIENCED, EXPERIENCED, TRAINED And PRACTICED opponent, then why bring up any differences at all?

To use my previous analogy. If I teach you how to lasso a horse, you can also use that rope and skill to lasso a zebra (less likely) or even a unicorn (nearly impossible) {i say nearly because unicorns are real, they are called rhinos and are nearly extinct and all you need to lasso them is a stronger rope and more leverage, in other words be really good at the things that help you lasso horses

Is MMA really a growing threat? For example right now in the USA because of media “awareness” you would think “mass shootings” are on the rise but really they are about the same as before tv and radio were around its just that our current culture of 24 hour news. You would be inclined to feel they are on the rise. but truly in some places they are less so.

I would have to see the following in order to believe that unicorns exist and that they are a problem: so bear with me…!

I would have to have seen said unicorn and touched it myself more than once in a situation where i could clearly be in control of my senses, other witnesses who were present would have to corroborate that I in fact saw and touched said unicorns, and I would have to under verifiable tests corroborating stories of other people with their own evidence and corroborating witnesses that they encountered their own unicorns.

To top it all off I would have to have the same real experiences witnesses, other people, and their witnesses and documentation that said unicorns behaved in a way identifiably and infinitely different than horses during all these encounters to justify me changing the way I teach and train others.

I’m not saying theses guys are delusional but definitely they are suffering of some level of conformation bias. I still train and I am in contact with officers, federal law enforcement officers and cops and I have still not seen evidence i.e. Video or documented Police reports that clearly state that the assaulter used trained and skilled MMA tactics in the incident.

But I have seen hundreds where trained MMA guys, Boxers and martial artists of all sorts just plain get angry or scared and use Predatory assault patterns against those they are attacking.

Other than using it as a marketing scheme I dont see a reason to try to sell a course to prepare cops or soldiers to fight against “MMA guys”. And if anyone did; with the minimal amount of training time alloted to officers, what makes anyone think that they will master specialized skills for this. Its just applying critical thinking to the problem.

The below is a summary of the “9 attitudes framework used in Functional Edge System, as devised by Coach Tony Torres.   The full 6,000-word explanation of this framework is available by clicking here:  The 9 Attitudes PDF

The Nine Attitudes

We practice and train nine fundamental attitudes all of which can overlap one another and result in “combination attitudes” as our environment, circumstances, and events may dictate.

Three Non-Engagement Attitudes

These are the attitudes we cycle through in our every-day life. Obviously our chosen profession will also impact how much time we spend in any given attitude. A police officer or soldier has to spend a lot more time being alert and preventive while on duty because their job takes them to dangerous environments more frequently.

It is important to notice that we may utilize and experience combination attitudes as influenced by circumstances and the scenario. For example we can function in an attitude that is the transition/combination between relaxed and alert.Awareness of, and understanding how to direct our fear response are the two major resources in these stages.

1. Relaxed Attitude – Being relaxed is to be at ease. This is the attitude of total enjoyment when in a safe environment with family and friends. There is little risk of danger. It should be the goal of everyone to enjoy a happy and tranquil life as much as possible so, regardless of profession, everyone’s ultimate goal should be to achieve and stay in the Relaxed Attitude as frequently as we can. Having a place, family and friends that provide us with joy and peace will motivate us to fight back during war.

2. Alert Attitude – This is described as being watchful and prompt to meet danger or emergency. This is the attitude used when we find ourselves in unfamiliar or seemingly dangerous places. This is also the first attitude we must adapt when our intuition signals danger even when we are in a presumably “safe place”. When our attitude is Alertness we must actively seek out dangers in our environment. Here we listen to our intuition and cognitively address any “bad feelings” we may get about a scenario we find ourselves in. By actively seeking potential sources of danger we increase our chances of finding the danger before it finds us. This attitude is used when danger is non-specific and has not targeted you directly.

3. Preventive Attitude – To prevent is to deprive of the power to act or to succeed. This is the attitude for dealing with identified and specific dangers that have not yet engaged but may or may not have targeted you. Once we have identified a specific danger we take active measures to make the situation less dangerous. This may take the form of finding and using a safe escape from the area. It may also include speech, body language and posture that may calm and angry subject down. We can also use our own limbs or our environment to create physical and psychological barriers that can slow down or impede an explosive attack.

If our efforts in being alert and preventing danger fail, the danger targets us and chooses to do us harm, an engagement begins. In the Functional Edge System we practice and train the three Engagement Attitudes.

Three Engagement Attitudes

As before these attitudes are transitory and can contain elements of the other as well as stand independent from one another. Our best resources in these stages are proper understanding of instinctive protection and Weapon Skill Development. How fast the attack happens, the attacker’s emotional intensity, and how close it is launched will affect our initial Attitude and how quickly we are able to move through to the others in order to successfully deal with the attack.

1. Survival Attitude – To survive is to continue in existence in spite of adversity. When we are attacked we must first survive the initial onslaught. If the attack completely surprises us, our first goal is to survive. We do this by letting our instinctive protection do its work by keeping us from harm and by cognitively using gross motor skills to protect our vital areas (our brain, our eyes, our throat) so that we can think, see and breathe, all important tasks so we can continue fighting effectively. Our goals in Survival Attitude are to remain conscious and alert, as upright and bipedal as possible, or to gain time to improve our level of consciousness or to return to an upright/ bipedal position.

2. Reversal Attitude – To reverse is to change to the contrary. When we are attacked it is because the attacker has seen us as prey. Reversal is the attitude where we change the predator prey interaction. After Surviving the initial onslaught we now must take action to change the tide of events. The attitude of reversal is fueled by indignation. This powerful emotion, that says “how dare you!?!”, propels our body-mind system explosively forward in the direction of the opponent. Our goal is to derail and interrupt our attacker’s purpose by creating physical and psychological unbalance and reversing our role from prey to predator. This is most important since we cannot control how our attacker reacts but we can control our Attitude.

3. Engagement Attitude – To engage is to enter into battle. At this stage we bring our biomechanical weapons to apply disruptive force until we resolve the conflict. We must engage our attacker with some powerful and simple gross-motor tools and skills that further disrupt his ability to move or apply force in our direction. Once this is achieved we can select the appropriate Resolution Attitude.

Three Resolution Attitudes

Resolutions can also stand alone or be inter-related. Circumstances, environment, directive, and level of skill will dictate individual choices in this area.

1. Escape Attitude – To escape is to get free or break away from. It’s important to understand that once the collision has commenced we can only escape sufficiently incapacitated threats. It is no good to cultivate a “stun and run” habit without an understanding of what stun really is. Many times improper drills will develop a habit which may put us in danger. If we run away too soon we may be wasting energy that may be better put to use actively fighting. This Resolution Attitude is not limited to, but most appropriate for smaller persons in life-threatening situations. Keep in mind that, no matter how much training we have, even an expert in self-protection may find himself in a situation (multiple assailants, weapons etc.) where the Escape Attitude is the best option.

  1. Control Attitude – To control is o have restraining or directing power over another. This is an attitude reserved for when, through attributes or attrition, we are physically superior to the threat, especially in circumstances where we are morally, legally or professionally obligated to use restraint such as in Law Enforcement or when dealing with less capable attackers.

  2. Harm Attitude – To harm is to cause physical, mental or emotional damage. This is an attitude we use for when the danger reaches a level of intensity that requires immediate and thorough destruction of the attacker’s ability to continue. Although we hope to never get in situations where this is required, we must be prepared to use any means and level of force necessary when protecting ourselves or loved ones from harm. Here it is most important to remember that there are those people, places and things that bring us unbridled joy and happiness and our return to these is what we are fighting for.

http://youtu.be/1xs3hD5guag

 

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