Tag Archives: weapons

Feeling Cross

I’ve been reading a really good book lately. The Case for Judaism, it’s not a very large book and is quite readable. It covers several different topics, but the one that I’m thinking of right now is on laws, government, voting and freedom. How perspectives on what is right and what is wrong can change with time. America is a country founded on Judeo-Christian principles which came from the Torah given on Mt. Sinai, we just celebrated Chag Shavuot, the holiday that celebrates the giving on the Torah.

One topic in the book is about the role of Torah and another on Defining Morality. It points out that Torah, is a teaching book, not a history book. Torah is spelled תורה and teacher is spelled מורה thus they share the same root Torah and Morah or Moray depending on if its a female or male teacher. It’s laws for a society to have a decent civilization that can lead to peace, prosperity and fairness. The Torah hasn’t changed since it was given. My understanding may change as I learn more and study, but Torah doesn’t. G-d’s word stands solid.

Compare that to man’s laws. If we go only by those, in the section of Defining Morality, we can see that those change depending on who is ruling, or in charge at the time. What is evil or good, what is acceptable or unacceptable varies. Man (and woman) change their mind from time to time, chocolate bar or Hershey’s kisses? These are variable choices. While the author doesn’t get into the debate of abortion right or wrong, moral or immoral, he uses it to point out that sixty years ago it was considered immoral and wrong. Now it is considered wrong to take away a woman’s right to choose. A few thousand years ago throwing people to lions to be eaten alive in front of Roman crowds was a day of wholesome fun for the whole family, kids and all. Today unless we are talking about progressives and the media treating conservatives in such a manner, that sort of thing is frowned upon. The author suggests that man’s flip-flopping moral code is the result of man deciding what he wants and what is best for himself at that time. G-d’s law, is not changeable.

Do not kill.

Around 20th April this year, a 49 year old Grandmother, Anji Rhys, used a crossbow to defend her family. She’s being called Grandbo. Her hobby is shooting her crossbow in her garden. She feels it to be relaxing, and since Britain is basically one big gun-free (except for the criminals) zone, she liked the idea of having something for self-defense. A pack of machete wielding yobs kicked in their door and came at her and another resident demanding their stash of weed. I guess they thought you could explain to them they were at the wrong “joint”. Yeah, sorry. Since they are unable to have a gun to defend themselves, Anji originally grabbed the crossbow to keep them from getting and deploying the quarrel or bolt. She ended up discharging the 6 inch quarrel into one of the machete wielding intruders. But, I suppose you could hear it straight from her.

I guess you could say she used a quarrel to settle the quarrel. I know, that’s twice.

I found a couple of her statements to be rather frightening.

‘A crossbow is a one shot thing and then it’s useless. After that I tried to throw it through the window to raise an alarm but it got caught in the curtains like a goalie net.

Since there were 3 others, that would be pretty disconcerting for me. One shot and done? Yesh. The other kind of had me scratching my head.

‘I think all of us should have something you can strike back with. Not necessarily a weapon. I think the best defence is CCTV.

Huh? Say what? Do you….throw it at them??

The police do not yet have them in custody but they did let Anji keep her crossbow and told her well done, her family is all okay and her 82 year old Mom slept through it. This was around 20th April.

And…on the 14th of May this year. Deadly crossbows sold on High Street without need for a licence or background checks. Gasp, sharp inhaling through the teeth, with the slow whistling exhale.

DEADLY assault rifle-style crossbows are available on high streets and online without any need for a licence or background checks. Today the Daily Express launches a crusade calling on the Government to crack down on the sale of the potentially lethal weapons which can be bought without having to give details of identity or a reason for their use.

We were able to visit a shop yards from one of Britain’s busiest city centre high streets and buy a high-velocity 175lb Panther crossbow which boasts the promise “Built for power”.

The terrifying weapon, bought in Leeds, is capable of hitting a target with its aluminium-pointed bolts at 500 yards.

Like many other brands it comes with a telescopic sight to make aiming easier and is designed to be as straightforward as possible to shoot.

Experts say they are more powerful than some air rifles that have to be licensed.

Ok, now this is my shocked face.

MPs have backed the Daily Express campaign and urged the Government to ban the deadly “sporting devices” saying there was “no reason” for them to be on sale to the general public.

Last week Rachael Maskell, 45, MP for York Central, penned a letter to the new home secretary Sajid Javid urging tough rules be introduced to stop their easy availability.

They were astonished, astonished I say to find that you could buy smaller versions of them as…..wait for it, toys. History of the crossbow.

Man’s laws and opinions. At one time the crossbow was a perfectly respectable device and part of Britain’s history. The media and their government can’t get rid of that fast enough. I wonder if the Sheriff of Nottingham is still in charge?

Less than a month after a woman uses a crossbow to defend 4 innocent lives from 4 machete wielding yobs the media and apparently the “rulers” of the subjects are incensed that people have access to this deadly device. Apparently the media and some Members of Parliament have more concern and mercy for the thugs than innocent people just sitting home watching their tellys.

From Chabad,

In light of the above, it is surprising to find the following law in the Torah (derived from Deuteronomy 22:26): Habah l’hargecha hashkem l’hargo — “If someone is coming to kill you, rise against him and kill him first.” (This law applies equally to someone coming to kill someone else — you’re obligated to kill the murderer in order to save his intended victim.)

This law seems to contradict the principle of life’s infinite value. If no life can be deemed less valuable that any other, what makes the victim’s life more valuable than the murderer’s life? Furthermore, this rule applies to anyone who is “coming to kill you” — he hasn’t even done anything yet! Maybe he won’t succeed? Maybe he’ll change his mind? Nor does the law say anything about trying to run away. It says: If someone is coming to kill you, rise against him and kill him first.

The same Torah that tells us that G‑d placed a spark of Himself in every human being, thereby bestowing upon his or her physical existence a G‑dly, infinite worth — that same Torah also tells us that G‑d has granted free choice to every person. Including the choice — and the power — to corrupt his or her G‑d-given vitality and turn it against itself, using it to destroy life. A person can choose to turn himself into a murderer — someone who is prepared to destroy life in order to achieve his aims. In which case he is no longer a life, but an anti-life.

To kill an anti-life is not a life-destroying act, it is a life-preserving act. It is not a violation of the commandment “Do not kill,” but its affirmation. Without the law, “If someone is coming to kill you, rise against him and kill him first,” the principle of life’s infinite value is nothing more than an empty slogan, a mere idea.

Judaism is not an idea. It is a way of life — G‑d’s ideas made real.

Emphasis mine. For some reason, much of the media and elected officials seem far more concerned with the lives and well being of the criminals than those of the law-abiding. This is not just a British phenomena either.

Media love for MS-13 and Hamass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I believe I will go with Torah on this.

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The Warrior’s Path, Systema Part 3

Philosophy and Psychology

When we left off in Part 2, we were talking about what holds people back from having a “Warrior Mindset”, and Joe was telling me about fears, and people not seeing their own possibilities. We continue from there.

Joe: Most people don’t want to get hurt.

S: Where is the switch between the head and the heart that prevents knowledge from the head from getting to the heart?

Joe: The challenge is in getting them to get their mind out of the dojo and in a dark house at 0200 where there are no rules. That is normalcy, that is how real life works. They have to let their minds go into those dark places and most people don’t want to do that.

I switched gears for a second and asked Joe how he came to work with Scott “Buzzkill the safety squirrel” Van Kirk who taught me about my “Systema happy place” which is where a person would need to be in that dark house at 0200.

Joe: Scott had heard about me through the grapevine. He showed up for a basic seminar about 6-7 years ago and we became good friends and now work on these projects together.

S: So, the warrior mindset, born with it or can you develop it?

Joe: It’s very individual. It depends on where a person comes from. It’s not just about picking up arms. It’s a whole mindset. It’s being able to fight for and defend things of value when it comes down to it. This can also be manifested by working extra to pay the utility bill, to buy good shoes or even to put food on the table. It’s not just physical. It’s about fighting the good fight, it’s bigger than any fight with your two fists. You pull into that, the warrior fights to protect everything they hold dear. It’s about being willing and able to do whatever is necessary to take care and protect those people and things of value.

S: So how prevalent is that mindset now?

Joe: It’s very diminished. People expect someone else to pick up the blade. You have parents that call 9-1-1 and say “My kid doesn’t want to go to school”. Physically, mentally, morally and spiritually no one wants to fight their own battles.

I admitted I was shocked about the parents part. If I had refused to go to school my parents wouldn’t have called the Police, they might have wound up calling an ambulance, but not the Police. Well, ok, they weren’t that strict, but I might have had trouble sitting for a spell.

S. In the book it talks about “Ten wounded is better than one dead”. That sounds very much in line with the Israeli code of “Purity of Arms”.

Except Joe was talking about our side, and I took it as the opposition side.

Joe: Well, if I’m wounded, I can still recover. I can still go on and have a life. For the opposition, you wound as much as you can without taking a life. But just because you are wounded doesn’t mean you are out of the fight.

Then I brought up a line from the book, The Systema Warrior Guidebook :

“An aggressor can only be overcome by one who is strong spiritually.”

I said that the spiritual component of Systema resonated strongly with me, it’s part of why Systema feels like it fits. What percentage of Systema would you say is made up of the spiritual component?

Joe: It comes down to this one thing. We don’t fear death because we are spiritually sound. When you’re good spiritually, you know whatever comes after is going to be good. You have to be one with your maker. You can be dangerous, but still be good, not evil.

Fear The One With No Fear

S: So let’s talk about acting vs. reacting. In the book it talks about different situations, from a fight to losing a job, these came from different sections in the book:

“Acting is what makes you happy. Reacting is what makes you miserable.”

“Acting is independent of the context; reacting is totally dependent on the context.”

“Acting is rewarding, reacting is frustrating.”

“Action creates results, reaction creates excuses.”

Acting vs. reacting. This applies to many things in life, But to me, it seems if you add in the spiritual component that they sometimes merge. The job example, let’s say you are due for a promotion or raise. In your mind you’ve thought it through. You like the job, but unless you advance you’ve hit the ceiling. So you decide based on the next review, if you are not promoted or given a raise, or whatever, you will leave to gain a better opportunity. If you are promoted, you have the opportunity where you are. Or it could be some decision you are unsure of, so you wait and be quiet until you feel G-d guides your step. Rabbi Lazer Brody in The Garden of Emuna says if you’ve prayed, and nothing in your circumstances has changed, it is time to be quiet and listen, guidance will come. Is that still reacting or is it choosing your path and acting?

The chapters on fear, pain control, and trusting our intuition, to me, make this book a good guide book for life, not only in Systema, but in all parts of our life. Was it written with that intent?

And yes, he stayed on the phone for the three minutes it took me to ask this one question.

Joe: It’s about the space between action and reaction, the longer you take for the action to start, if it is a violent encounter it will become more violent. We are either going to act or react. Acting is you digest the action of the other person and then act upon it. Action is always seeing the writing on the wall and being preemptive. The longer we sit there it is going to be a reaction. In situational awareness reaction takes time and thought, whereas action is instinctual. We react too much, acting is opening up to the environment. When you only react to situations you lose some of the options you would have had if you had chosen to act instead.

S: The part about “preemptive striking”, that’s tough for someone my age. I was always told by my Dad as a kid “Don’t you start anything, but if someone starts it, you finish it.” I can’t be the only one in my age group that grew up like that, do you find that mindset common?

Joe: Reacting is more common. Sometimes we must act on preemption, it’s better to apologize later than tell my family I messed up and I’m hurt and can’t work, or they get hurt. We struggle inside with denial and it prevents preemptive action, those are things that hold us back from making a correct decision in time.

S: I saw a video on Missouri’s concealed carry laws where an attorney named Kevin Jamison was talking about when you were justified to use deadly force and it stuck with me because he used the acronym J.A.M. Is your life in jeopardy, do they have the ability and the means? He said those elements needed to be present for justification, will the same apply?

Joe: It still applies if you are using preemptive strike. In some situations if you do not utilize a preemptive strike you are not going to get another chance. It’s about how you are before and after the event. How you are before, during and after the event is key. It can’t become emotional. It’s all over and done with if we become emotional. Remember, professional, we just do the job, breathing smoothly is key.

S: If people haven’t added something like martial arts or blade work to their bag of tricks, how would you advise them to get started?

Joe: If they are not doing anything martial arts related they should know that awareness is paramount, 95% of crimes could be prevented if people were more aware. People put their awareness down, they lower the standards of awareness. When you walk to your car do you carry your bags in your dominant or non-dominant hand? If you stop at Wal-Mart late at night, when you leave the store to go to your car you see that the parking lot is mostly empty, but parked right next to your car is a van, what do you do?

I wanted to say “Shoot the hostage in the knee” but thought I might be pushing my luck, since I hope to attend another seminar some day.

S: Your book, how did that happen? What was the impetus?

Joe: It started as a manual for the students. I started it 7 years ago and I just kept adding things to it. I kept adding things as people kept asking questions. The more questions they asked, the more information it stimulated. A lot of the same questions kept coming up, so I wrote out the answers to the most common questions. Then 2-3 years ago people started asking me to publish it. It was something I wanted to tell people and what I wanted to do, was tell people it’s about living life as a person of dignity, honor and courage.

S: You have a new book coming out in May of 17, what the title and what will it cover?

Joe: The Bodyguard Enchiridion It goes deeper into the aspects of bodyguarding, a bit like what we did at the end of your last class.

The Bodyguard Enchiridion- Coming in 2017

S: There is a whole chapter on “Fear” in the book, and it covers a lot more of life than physical fights. It is absolutely excellent.

Tidbits from the book:

Fear is a very powerful emotion. It has a very strong effect on the mind and body because it is one of our natural survival responses. It tells you what to do in an emergency, like a fire or if you are being attacked.

We can also feel fears when faced with less dangerous situations, like exams, public speaking, a new job, a date, or even a social situation. It is a natural response to something that a person feels are a threat.

In this chapter he goes through things that can help you deal with your fears, such as the segment on knowing yourself, and that faith and spirituality can help you cope. But there’s more in it than these two things, though these stuck with me. He talks a lot more about fears, their genesis, their impact and practical ways to deal with them and choose empowering beliefs instead. Now you see why I said it is much more a book for living life?

And this ladies and gentlemen is where we will end up for this section. I have one more section to come and I can about 99.9% guarantee you that you that it will be coming from a completely different direction than you expect, and it is absolutely heart-warming. So hang on to the horn.

So for your movie clip this portion, I took one of those name quizzes on Facebook. Turns out I’m Eowyn of Rohan. Huh. Well, the name does mean “horse lover or horse friend”. According to the youtube clip, I think I should probably ask for a class in defense against the mace and other medieval weapons of war. Maybe he could do one this summer?

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The Warrior’s Path, Systema Part 2

The Background on my experience and reasons for learning about Systema in Part 1

The Background, on Joe and Systema.

First, a little bit about Systema, from the ever popular Wikipedia.

Systema (Система, literally meaning The System) is a Russian martial art. Training includes, but is not limited to: hand-to-hand combat, grappling, knife fighting, and firearms training. Training involves drills and sparring without set kata. In Systema, the body has to be free of tensions, filled with endurance, flexibility, effortless movement, and explosive potential; the “spirit” or psychological state has to be calm, free of anger, irritation, fear, self-pity, delusion, and pride.

Systema focuses on breathing, relaxation, and fluidity of movement, as well as utilizing an attacker’s momentum against him and controlling the six body levers (elbows, neck, knees, waist, ankles, and shoulders) through pressure point application, striking, and weapon applications.

From Systema St. Louis:

Our training philosophy is not to be confused with any traditional fighting arts and/or combat sports fighting systems. We are not in the business of taking years to teach a client how to incapacitate or eliminate even the most basic fighter, but rather months, comparable to the time a special ops soldier has to prepare for an operation.

There are just too many aspects of traditional fighting arts and sports-based fighting systems that are life-threateningly impractical and inefficient for the street and actual brutal violence.

Okay, so we’re good on what Systema’s purpose is? It is not about fighting for sport, it is not about scoring points. It’s about surviving, it’s about respect for life, even that of your attacker. This is something you might not be aware of, in the 1960s and 1970s if you were attacked and handed over your wallet or car keys, there was a 65-70% chance they would take the money and go away. Now, the odds are flipped in that if you hand over your wallet or your car keys there is a 65-70% chance they will assault you anyway. There is a huge lack of consideration for life these days. And that nugget my friends, came straight from a St. Louis police detective I know. A good guy, a warrior, you should get to know him. Let me see what I can do about that. He’s a United States Marine, State Department Diplomatic Security, St. Louis Police Department, and also owner of Systema St. Louis, who travels to teach and lecture. I think he has a pretty cool dog too.

I didn’t ask him, but I’m guessing he once in a while sleeps and eats. He will tell you that you don’t let fear dictate the outcome. What? You had in mind more detail than that? Well, I’m your girl, pick me, let me see what I can find out.

S: How did you come to be in the Marines? Was this a goal growing up, did you always feel the need to protect people?

Joe: I come from a family of proudly serving in the military. My Grandfather was in WWII, in the first wave to storm the beaches that had to clear the mess, and my father proudly served his country in the Marines in Viet Nam in the early 1960s. After his time in Viet Nam he continued to serve his country by training the young men going over, teaching them the valuable skills they would need to come home, alive.

It seems preserving life runs in the Mayberry family genes.

After the military, my Dad became a welder. I was blessed when I was still young by being able to spend a lot of time with Dad.

It sounds like a Dad he admired, was proud of and was close to. I can relate to that, I felt the same about mine.

S: So, you were that kid on the playground always protecting the kid that was getting picked on?

Joe: Yes.

S: You were stationed in Israel at the Embassy for three years. You really don’t speak ANY Hebrew? You just forgot? I admitted my astonishment, I’m always trying to learn more Hebrew and get better at it. LIVING there for three years? I’d have been eating that up with my falafel and Israeli salad.

Joe: Well, I might remember a few words, I knew a little back then.

S: Did you ever feel you were in danger while you were there?

Joe: Yes, I did. But I learned to deal with it in a way so that it didn’t affect me negatively. I was there in the late 1980s and it was about protecting good from evil. I saw first hand that if nothing opposes evil it will absolutely succeed. I saw it, up close and personal. While I was in Israel I got to know some Israelis and I had the opportunity to train with the IDF who use Krav Maga. I trained 6 days a week with them, including in the desert. That was real Krav Maga, not Krav Maga for sport or fitness.

Sheila provided links

Chronology of Terrorist Attacks in Israel Part III: 1978-1985

Chronology of Terrorist Attacks in Israel Part IV: 1986-1992

S: So after you were out of the Marine Corp and back in the states, what did you do?

Joe: The State Department, in Diplomat Security. You got to see more of the world while protecting people and their secrets. You might be standing in the hall by a doorway for 8-12 hours at a time. And while you were standing at that doorway, you are protecting whomever is behind that door. It was after the wall came down, and we began to see people down the hall who had been behind the wall. The Russians began showing up in front of doors in the hall as well. When you’re in those hallways for 8-12 hours you begin to talk to each other. You talk about common interests, things you both know.

(I figured this meant horses of course, apparently, to my shock, no).

Joe: We began talking about martial arts, I had been involved in the martial arts since 1974, long before my Krav Maga education. We discussed each others forms of martial arts and that’s when I began hearing about Vladimir Vasiliev. That would have been around 1994, 1995. Shortly after that I got out of the service. I was very interested in what I had heard about Vladimir, but I couldn’t find anything about him really. Then I picked up a copy of Black Belt magazine and in the back there was an ad for his school in Toronto. I called and talked to Valerie, his wife, and made an appointment to go. The first class with him was very humbling. He just mopped the floor with me. I have been in martial arts since 1974, trained with the IDF and he mopped the floor with me. It was a turning point. And I learned don’t forget the past, utilize it. Begin to think conceptual. There will always be chaos, and your best advantage is to be prepared. My role as an instructor is to help someone develop a useful, workable response to the chaos.

S: How good of shape do people have to be in to learn and do Systema? This had been one of my fears when I went to the first class, that I wouldn’t be in good enough shape.

Joe: Nobody has to be “fit” to be able to defend themselves. When I came back to the US after several years I saw Krav Maga really take off. It had turned into a fitness ploy. It had gone from being military training into martial arts fitness. It was attractive to those not in shape that wanted to learn to be safe. I really didn’t like that fad. They were telling people that if they weren’t in shape they couldn’t defend themselves. They made levels and added a fitness routine giving an illusion. It’s a sport now and not practical. I’m telling you no matter your age and shape you have a G-d given right to live, and to defend yourself.

S: When Scott (Van Kirk) worked with me he taught me about my “Systema happy place”. This involved keeping my energy low and a very neutral demeanor. It’s kind of what you use when working with horses, but does this just come with time and effort?

Joe: Energy, that happy place, has got to be professional to work. It’s about it becoming an ingrained, routine. Like when you get up of a morning, you go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, have some coffee. You can do these things calmly, without great thought and a minimum of effort, it just flows. When you are working Systema it needs to be 100% professional for it to become a smooth pattern with an economy of motion and thought, so much that it almost happens without awareness. Our subconscious takes over with the awareness of patterns. Systema strives to become the smooth pattern of economy of thought and a large part of instincts. The concepts of usage are universal.

S: What do you think is the biggest impediment to that is?

Joe: Internally people have fear. They don’t see their own possibilities. They allow their limitations to stop them. With conceptual martial arts it’s all within the person. If they realize what fears hold them back, they are free to do what they want.

Part 3 will pick up with more on the warrior mindset. Stay tuned, same bat time, same bat channel.

Early weapons of opportunity training, but no cape required.

 

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The Warrior’s Path, Systema Part 1

Let me give you a hypothetical situation. Let’s say for example you were going to a foreign country. A foreign country, so you are not allowed to carry concealed, can’t carry your beautiful TZP Custom Kershaw folding knife , but a knife quite possibly could be used against you. In fact, there was a epidemic of people being attacked in that county, often by women and children. A tactical pen is a possibility. Maybe. What do you do? What do YOU do?

The answer to this will likely be different for everyone. For me, this was not a hypothetical situation last spring. It was exactly what I was facing, and I was feeling very vulnerable about the whole thing. I hate that feeling, vulnerable is rotten. I also hate inadequate, it’s right up there too, as is ancient. When I was younger I had perhaps capabilities I no longer have. So, what do you do? What do you do?

I think G-d stepped in on this one. A post by a buddy from the Second amendment arena, Scott Van Kirk, showed up in my Facebook time line. It was about a class that was coming up, a class on knife fighting, blade work if you will. I thought, hmm, perhaps? I asked when and where? The class was going to be close enough I could drive there, but it would be too late to help with the trip. The conversation came off Facebook and became emails. Scott talked to his instructor Joe, and explained the situation, he asked if Joe thought there was anything he could do to help me out. Scott said Joe told him to teach me, that Scott was certainly capable of helping me. So this good man offered to come help to help me learn enough to perhaps keep me alive should such a thing happen. There were a few things we talked about, there were considerations. One is I wasn’t traveling alone, the same girlfriend I had been in Israel with the last two years and I were traveling together again. And yes, I believe something I would try, was to ensure both of our safety. He also had a very honest talk with me about if this happens. Meaning if I’m attacked, I’m going to get cut, I’m going to get hurt, and I’m going to lose blood and quite possibly, likely will not look the same again. Sobering, very sobering thoughts. He stressed my goal, my objective is to live, to survive. That’s it. I will have scars? Ok, scars are tattoos with more interesting stories, but I am to come back, and come back in one piece (pretty much) and alive. And then we worked on tactics and techniques. With knives, pens, magazines (printed) and what I would call a kick pad. I finished up with some bruises and feeling awesome. Not bullet proof, not like I was Chuck Norris, but at least I had a few operating options. Bless that man, bless that man!!

Fast forward to fall of last year.

The blade work class was offered again, and it was in a place I considered close enough to drive. I bought a ticket. I had a lot of concerns.  I was too old perhaps, and my physical condition was certainly not what it had been when I was younger. But I was still game, I still wanted to give myself that chance, so ticket it would be. Besides, it gave me a chance to deliver to my erstwhile mentor the only thing he had requested besides me returning alive. A nice big fat magazine that I was going to carry in my purse with me everywhere.

And that is how I came to meet Joe, Joe Mayberry. Joe is the instructor of the blade work class and Scott’s instructor.

Class was unlike about anything I expected. I found I was perfectly capable of doing the things we were taught, if unable to do them perfectly. Yet. We learned about how to move in such as way as to be less likely to be perceived as a threat while sensing others that may be a threat to us. Fabulous class, I soaked up what I was given like a little sponge.

After class I got up my courage and asked Mr. Mayberry if he would consider doing a interview with me for The Zelman Partisans, because this system was so different from anything I had been exposed to. He listened, asked a couple of questions and then agreed.

And then there were riots in various and sundry cities around the U.S. that weekend. Honest to goodness, some people have no consideration! I had an interview scheduled and they riot. How rude! My interview went down the tubes and for various reasons didn’t get rescheduled.

Fast forward to late winter of this year. There is another class, a yummy class on “Weapons of Opportunity”. Who wouldn’t want to take that class? I did, very much. It was coming to a location close enough for me to drive, so ticket it was.

Another wonderful class. Everyone in class is amazingly nice! The other students I work with are wonderful. I perhaps have a slightly skewed view of people. For example, a comment I made to a girl friend after the class was “oh, and then this one super nice guy Lon, taught me how to do a sleeper hold to neutralize someone unless I needed to do more!” And then “I accidentally stabbed this one really nice guy in the web of his hand because I let my adrenaline get out too high. But he was really nice about it. Luckily he didn’t bleed, much, a lot”. I later apologized to Karel about that. He was very, very gracious about it. And one nice young man, Alex, taught me that there is likelihood that someone with a tattoo will be protective of that area. Hmm, good to know!

The other women I trained with were awesome, as we poked, prodded and stabbed each other with various weapons and learned what did and didn’t work well. They generously shared knowledge of things they knew with great kindness, many of these women I think train in Systema on a regular basis. Throughout the whole class we had Scott “Buzzkill the safety squirrel” circulating making sure we had safety goggles on, and utilized safe practices. Yes, as we stabbed and tried to attack each other. He and Mr. Mayberry moved amongst us offering advice and ways to improve. We were all trying our best to duplicate the damage Mr. Mayberry had demonstrated inflicting on his willing victim, his son Joseph. Tough kid!

Do you have a cellphone, a comb, car keys or better yet a Mayberry key? You have a weapon.

I tell you these stories so you know I’m not just telling you about something I read, but something I am experiencing, a path, a whole path. It encompasses more than just a method of self defense, although that certainly is a huge component. But the path is Systema, the Russian martial art of self defense, and a philosophy of living.

I survived class, again. This time with a slightly ripped shirt, some blood on it, mostly mine I think, and elated. I again asked Joe, who kindly remembered me, for a interview. He again agreed if I would give him a riot free weekend. We got the riot free weekend, and I got my interview.

Ready to meet Joe? Because there is a whole lot covered in the first book by author and teacher Joe Mayberry.

Systema Warrior Guidebook

Yep, it’s available on Amazon.com

The Systema Warrior Guidebook: A Systema Guide to Life

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Cutting Calves

So in this weeks Torah teaching Mishpatim, I learned a lot of things when I listened to this weeks Temple Talk radio show. This is probably no news to those more learned than I, and that probably doesn’t take much. But here’s what really struck me.

After the Ten Commandments are given, G-d asks one thing. That an alter be built for him out of earth. Because Adam rishon, Adam the first man, was made out of earth. The alter represents man, made of earth, because man was made of earth. And then it talks about the sacrifices of animals. Now here is where my thinking got a big wake up call. I’m human, human foibles, and faults there is no denying. I’ve never easily understood why innocent animals had to die because I made a mess of things. So the next part really was a light bulb for me.

Man had been making alters to G-d since Adam. Cain and Abel הֶבֶל ,קַיִןQayin, Heḇel. Noach נח also made an alter. All these people, and this is not the whole list, made alters to G-d before Mt. Sinai, הר סיני, Har Sinai. What G-d was saying after he gave them the commandments, and the instructions on how to live good lives in a community was not some new thing. The people had already been building alters and sacrificing animals. Not because G-d had told them to, but because it was their attempt to reach up to G-d, their attempts to reach out to him. And it pleased him and basically he was saying “That thing ya’ll do? Yeah, I like that, you’re reaching up to me. Keep on doin’ that”. WOW. I’ve read that so many times, so many times and I’ve never put that together! I need to hear someone kind of put the pieces in place for me. It was there all along, and I just never thought of it like that.

Now, hang on to the saddle horn, the calf is fixin’ to cut to the right.

Not only in the movie, but in the topic. But it all fits together like the horse and rider.

How did the horse know the calf was going to cut to the right? It is part training and part instinct. The horse is reading the calf. You thought the rider was simply using the reins? Look how loose they are. Now I will be honest, I like cutting, it is as much fun as it looks to be. But it’s not my first choice of sport. But oh yes, it is a LOT of fun. You use your legs, but your horse is your partner, and they certainly do read the calf. As well as using their G-d given, man honed instincts. What can interfere with that? A rider holding too tightly too the reins, not a loose enough relaxed body, a rider who wants to micro-manage. A situation of not using the things already there, just waiting to be utilized. Horse, rider, calf and instinct. The calf’s to go back to the herd, and the horse and riders to cut it away from the herd.

Now, hang on to the horn, the calf is fixin’ to cut to the left.

It is the same with us. IF we have the chance to have someone lay out things we knew, but in a different way.

I was blessed recently by being able to attend a class. A class on weapons of opportunity. Let’s say you are in a situation where you are disarmed by law, or a bad person. You have to go to the hospital, or a doctor’s office. Yes, you can carry concealed. But if you have to don a gown and go for an x-ray, you have a problem. Or any other situation you care to come up with where you are attacked. What do you have on hand you could use to defend yourself? Can you think of anything? You probably have your car keys, a credit card? A comb? You probably wish you had a Mayberry key, if you know what that is. Could you defend yourself with a can of peas? Do you have the instinct to see a potential threat? Are they honed, have you trained yourself what to look for? Do you know the things that can interfere with your instincts? What part does fear play in dealing with these situations? Fear is always bad, right? No.

Does spirituality enter into the equation?

I heard a story recently in this class. The teacher related going to the store with his kids, he was looking at kitchen implements, like for a spatula. He was standing there regarding the choices and his son commented, “Dad is figuring out how to kill someone with that spatula”. And he was. It’s not about killing, it’s about being aware. It’s about being aware that if you needed to, you would have things available you could use to defend yourself and others you care about, and how you would go about that. What would you do if a bad person was holding someone you cared about by the neck with a knife to their throat? Could you intervene? Would you?

Curious? GOOD! Stay tuned because I plan to shed some light on these questions and the person who teaches the class, along with a whole lot more about an amazing system of defense. If we can have a riot free weekend!

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This Week’s New Poll: The Zombie Apocalypse

Plants-vs-Zombies-2-14We decided to have a little fun with this week’s Zelman Partisans poll, and let you use your imagination a bit.

Picture yourself in a zombie apocalypse, a la “The Walking Dead.” Zombies surround you, and the only way to kill them is to destroy their brains. You’re in it for the long haul. Survival is key. They can come at you in crowds, or one at a time. They’re slow, but fairly strong, and one bite means death. What kind of weapon will you choose?

Have fun!


 

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