The flinch. Latosa Concepts Terminology.

The flinch. Latosa Concepts Terminology.

I hope ya’ll are doing well. I was listening to a Robb Wolf / paleo podcast and the inspiration to write a little about the links between our (humans) flinch reflex and the benefits of working with it it as well as variation that we can train into our system.

To start with the link to the book download is here.  It’s free, so jump on it if you are kindle ebook capable. The idea of the flinch / startle reflex transcends many aspects of our life not only combative or self-defense aspects of it. You can hear the podcast at the Robb Wolf website. Go to podcast 111 with Julien Smith. They talk about mind set as well as other aspects of our lives. One of the subjects is how we can live life by pushing our everyday limits a little and how we can adjust to harder and more demanding situations as a response.

I remember my first conscious experience with the startle reflex was as a kid when I watched a hunting dog get ruined by being put in front of the end of gun when it went off. That was a harsh and stupid way to try to get a dog used to a gun going off. You could ruin a dog very quickly like that.  You could also get a dog used to being around gun fire when done correctly. A few feet forward or back made a large difference. Just to make sure we are on the same page, we will start with some basic ideas pertaining to the startle reflex / flinch reflex. One of the first signs of the flinch and all it entails is the closing of the eyes. That’s natures way of making sure we can see to get away. Eye sight is alpha and omega in nature. The next few things that happens are our shoulders rise and our arms come up to protect the vital organs and throat/head. We hunch over and in worst case scenario we bring our legs up to protect our belly. As well as a fetus position parts of our nervous system react by putting semi-important functions on the back burner. This actually causes many people to feel weaker than they usually are. Others experience a surge of adrenalin that makes them very strong. You have heard of the fight or flight reflex.

Did you know that your ability to perform fine motor skills is greatly decreased when the adrenalin kicks in?

As well as the physical aspects of the flinch, there are the psychological aspects of it. Think of the idea of a flu injection. Don’t think about about the mercury and the fact that it poisons you, we’ll get into that another day. The reason your body is supposed to be better off after the injection is that your body has had a chance to prepare itself for the flu-season/experience. In a sense it is a type of hormesis. Small portions are supposed to strengthen you towards larger portions.

All this is why adrenalin junkies are what they are. They survived and they are hooked on the experience, the rush that comes afterwards as well as during the experience.You could argue they are strengthened by the experience. We do the same with our kids. We teach them to be able to do small tasks. They learn they can do them and they are prepared for larger tasks. We start teaching them about how they can be conscious of feelings of uncertainty and afterwards they can experience the feeling of joy because they could do a specific action / task. We are getting them ready for life! They are being built up psychologically.

Good self-defense instructors do the same with students. They build them up. The speed at which you build a students mental strength and tolerance for uncomfortable fights varies. Some can take a crash course and others have to be walked there with baby steps. The more the person is used to working with them self the easier it is. The more there is an important end goal the faster it goes. I have never treated female students with kid gloves. The speed at which they reach some combative goals may be slower, but they also travel further compared to many men. I could mention a few that could fly through the process because they felt the very real need to no longer feel like victim. The most scared students are often the bravest one! All instructors should remember that.

You might ask how all this has anything to do with FMA. That is simple. Another case in point goes back to when I started training with swords. We trained with very heavy swords that were made to help body mechanics. Looking back, it was a great way to start sword training compared to light fast swords. I went to a seminar and had to defend myself against a very strong and very good sword /escrima instructor. It was hard to do, mentally I had to make my balls grow a few sizes, but I was determined to do it. When it was my turn to do some free sparring with him I stepped forward. At the next normal escrima class on Monday some instructors talked about how I used the hickory stick like a sword and how fearless I was. The mental experience made the difference. I was affected by pushing my self and developed more of focus under pressure.

We can take this even further by teaching people to use the flinch reflex and attack quickly in the place of covering themselves. Do you see where the FMA training comes in now? I hope so. In FMA and FMA based arts we teach people to attack the attacker in order to take them out as quick as possible. This stops the attack in a quicker time span. We can look at an unarmed example, hit a man in the jaw and his right arm will fall weak very quickly. There are other combative systems that use the flinch as part of their system. Tony Blauer does very well. The spear has quite a lot in common with the teachings of GM Latosa and what I teach. With that said there are some large differences as well. The spear system is more based on a grappling and striking idea rather than a weapon concepts. It’s also about using the flinch in a more natural state. That is no surprise considering Tony Blauer works mostly with unarmed situations.

Just to round things out, we will get back to the startle reflex as seen through a HardCORE coaches eye’s. While training an EDT our body starts to experience stress and the startle reflex starts to kick in. Cortisol levels rise and the nervous system is effected in some areas and our testosterone levels falls. The resulting reaction is we become weaker and our ability to recuperate from the EDT is slower and our ability to benefit from the workout is lessened.

If we take the idea of using joint mobility, breathing exercises and other tools that activate the nervous system and stop the startle reflex, we can use them in FMA training. We can learn to develop an ability to cope with higher stress levels and therefore function better under pressure. When we did self-defense courses for women through Stonewall-Shield we were aware of not crossing the line. The objective was to teach the women that they could could function under pressure and slowly move that level of pressure up to a realistic level. That is one difference in a karate style self-defense class for women and the adrenaline based type course that we like to promote.

The same type of tools can be used when working with FMA and helmet training. We learn that we can control our reactions to head strikes and body strikes. They learn to function under pressure. That’s a lot of hat self-defense training is all about.

That’s it for now, we’ll see what I feel like writing about next time.

Stay Proactive in Life and Training


Latosa Concepts terminology. Thoughts on mindset, moods, and espada y daga.

Latosa Concepts terminology. Thoughts on mindset, moods, and  espada y daga.

I thought I would write a bit about the mental state and how it influences our physical ability to perform a given action. This subject is driven by my experience in the last few weeks. I train espada y daga  for the most part with MA these days. There are days when I just don’t feel it until we do some hand to hand inspired by the espada y daga. (We go through different weapons and training methods in a session.)  We stay “inside”, in tight  and use our arms as machetes. You might say I don’t get into my groove until I get really physical sometimes. That might be due to the warm up (shadow boxing with hand weights) that I do before strength and conditioning sessions.

The alu-trainer sets can be ordered at Norms Training Blades. I have been real happy with the ones I have ordered for my self as well as for other people.  Next time I need some more variations of trainers I’ll be ordering them from the same place. Chris also makes special orders. He trains and teaches which makes the products better in my view.

I should mention that I like to start with point foot work and circular movements (at the short sword range)  when building up a person’s espada y daga game. Working at a long distance and moving in to the stabbing range when a feeling of control is established usually works well. This would be working in the squaring off zones as well as diagonally backwards. Btw, hockey gloves, arm protection and smackstiks are a great way to practice the flow and not have to hold back as much as we have to do with alu-trainers. I can recommend it for espada y daga training.

All this gets to the subject at hand. I am driven by mood and my fighting changes according to my mood. There are days when a more serrada based movement pattern feels right and there are days when a more traditional espada y daga feels right. Trying to do espada y daga when every gene in your body is screaming Mike Tyson is a waste of time. The opposite is true as well.

The basic pattern (a basic starters pattern) for espada y daga is cut-maim-kill for beginners. In other wards there is a set routine … sword-knife-sword. You can see how that can get to be slow when you are in a Mike Tyson kind of mood (online, online, and online again). If you are a student, you have to do what your instructor has planned for the day. If you train with a partner then you can possibly talk with your partner about training what best fits your mood.

The reason for this is simple. If you teach yourself to fight against your instincts you are “un-training” yourself. When we teach ourselves to die … we learn to die. When we teach ourselves to win … we win. When we learn to trust the instincts we have worked hard at developing we are winners. This gets back to one of my basic philosophies … don’t get used to starting in a bad position. We should be busting our butts not to get in a bad position. Catastrophe training from a poor position should not be the largest part of your training! I repeat starting from a bad position and accepting it is not a good habit!

If your mood lets you go either way, great for you. If your instructor has some tips for changing your mood / mental state, learn them and practice them. He/she can’t change the plan for a class just for you.

If you are a professional and you have to be more tactical in your response/actions, that’s another “tough … learn to live with it” response. Tactical responders don’t have too many choices, especially when they are working with teams as they do for the most part. Each person has a job.

All this brings me to another basic mantra for me. Don’t defend yourself in a given way if you don’t feel it 100%. That will get you in trouble. Second guessing takes time and energy, which is often needed to perform the action correctly and safely. That’s why the bruiser beats the martial artist every time. You have to feel it, know it and live it. Add to that have experience with it when under real and painful pressure. If you can’t get your Mike Tyson on because you are in a “control-gunt-strike mood”  … then go that way. If you feel some Carl Lewis in your legs, then run if you can. There is no reason to stick around and get your butt kicked when your head is not in the fight.

I’ll stop here. Ya’ll have a great day.

Be Proactive in Life and Training


Latosa Concepts Escrima online and offline terminology for FMA.

Latosa Concepts escrima Offline movement diagramLatosa Concepts Escrima online and offline terminology for FMA.

I hope ya’ll are  doing well. It’s time for a little basic terminology. As you can see, there is a big honkin’ picture to the left. The reason for this is simple. It’s easier to explain with pictures when we are not talking face to face. The picture shows a general area in which a GG ( Good Guy) finds himself after the first movement if he /she moves offline. The areas overlap and curve to be honest. I’m just not that good with the drawing program. You can get a rough idea though. You can see the general online, offline and squared off positions. There are other positions but this will do for starters.

Picture 2 shows the foot orientation that usually goes with focus and stability in relation to the BG (Bad Guy) by the GG.  The funny thing about the feet, now that we are on the Offline  movement diagramsubject, is that they are good indicators of energy path and focus. Energy and focus are key to power. Balance plays in as well. Is it impossible to have energy focused in a direction other than the direction the feet point? No, it is not impossible. With that said, it sure is easier to have your feet in the correct direction if not much much easier!

In order to clarify I’ll use an example. Try to imagine a sprinter that runs with his/her feet turned outward at an angle. Can you imagine the sprinter winning the race? I can not. The rest of the sprinters in any given race will have their feet pointed forwards.

If we look at the nature of the attack from an assailant we can determine which direction the GG should move. I know this is overly simplified and it is possible for people to force the issue if they want to go in a direction and they poses the ability (power, speed, timing, experience, or just pure will power). We are talking about a general learning process. Add to that the difference between an online movement and offline movement can be very small. A conceptual example goes like this. The BG strikes with a straight jab The GG rotates his body away from the jab while standing his ground. You can imagine what ever counter attack you would like to see the GG perform while rotating his body. Was that online or offline? The answer is simple. It was both.

With experience we learn there are ways to decide which way we move. That comes with experience and enough practice. This also depends on mood and mindset. I hope this helped to explain the online movement and the offline movement. Have a great day.

Be Proactive in Life and Training


Eat The Green Frog!

Some people might recognize the title of this blog entry…. Eat the green Frog! I forget where I read about it, it might have been a survival blog or an inspirational blog. Either way the truth of it can’t be denied.

What does it mean? If you imagine you have a plate in front of you and you have to eat everything on the plate. There is a nice juicy steak and … a green frog! Some of you might be thinking that you will just refuse. Let’s say that you can’t refuse it. Expend all your excuses and there answer is still the same. You have to do it. What now.

If you start to eat the steak and try to focus on how good it is you will still be starting at the green frog. I would bet that the steak would not taste as good as it really does because of that green frog on the plate. Especially when it starts to make unsavory sounds because it knows what is to happen when you are finished with the steak.

Did you enjoy the steak? I think not.

We all procrastinate with all sorts of things. I know listening to certain songs will reenforce the procrastination for my sake. Other songs will help me focus on the job at hand and thinking rationally. Look up the Beethoven / Mozart Effect. Any hoo, it doesn’t help to start the procrastination train and ruin your meal /day by having that green frog in the back of your thought all the way through your meal / day.

Our day to day life is the same as many projects we have to do. It is easier to get the nasty part that we are dreading over with so we can enjoy the rest of the journey we call life. Someone I used to respect once told me that it was always a joy to look at a to-do-list and see all the post marked off and behind her. Think back at a list of things you had to do and try to remember how nice it was to just have fun doing something afterwards.

Where do we go from here? The answer is training. When most people train , they tend to do what they are good at. That is usually because it is easy. Sometimes it can be because of routine / habit. What happens is that the little thing we should make sure to work on ,because they are our weaknesses,  are ignored and allowed to stay a weakness. We can look at physical training and conditioning and see that we begin to form our physic and movement around a weakness. The same can happen with self-dense / combative training. We start to become limited in what we do which in turns opens windows of attack to a competitor or assailant.

Do you remember the green frog? You should, the weakness is the green frog, the open window (for the attack) is the frog, and the imbalance we created in our body becomes the green frog that keeps us from enjoying that steak to utmost.

Instructors should teach what they are good at and they should teach their students to not have the weakness they have or had at one time. High stabs were a pet project for me for quite a while at one time. The reason being, I found that I was not up to the level of reaction that I expected of my self at that time. The answer was easy … fix it! Because students usually resemble the instructor that became a pet project for the student program for a while.

EAT THE DANG GREEN FROG ! Be honest with your self about procrastination and avoiding weaknesses be it physical, mental or combative. Some ways in which I did it was to take private lessons in BJJ and IPSC shooting. My heart has always been more IPDA based and still is. But the fact, that the private instruction did help, could not be denied. I am better for it. Where is your green frog? What is your green frog? Do you know?

Enough preachin’.  I hope I sparked you into finding that green frog and eating it. I am working on getting MA to write a few post in the future. Let’s hope I catch him at a weak moment and make him agree to it. It might be in Danish, we’ll see. Ya’ll have a great one. Ribbit!

Be Proactive in Life and Training 


From The Vault Escrima videos

I did it! I found some old dvd’s with demo’s and other stuff on them. There were some with other instructors. I’ll try to get a hold of them to make sure it’s OK to post a video with them. Until then I have posted a demo we did for a shoot fighting tournament around 10 years ago (?) There is another music track added to it because I knew YouTube would ban it due to music infringements. That means no cracking sounds from the hickory sticks striking. Sorry about that.

I am still looking for the GM Rene clips I have somewhere. We’ll se if those are the next videos posted. For those of you who notice little details you will see that we have different logo’s on. There is a bit of history there.

When GM Rene stopped working with the Germans, Master Bill stayed with the German org. Steve Tappin and the Scandinavian org. went it’s own way. That is the logo you can see on the tee shirts. Just to finish the story, politics and ego’s got in the way again and there was another split. The Scandinavian org and Tappin stopped working together. That is where Weapons Combat System came into the picture.

After 15+ years of politics I finally came home to where I belong by following the teachings of GM Rene Latosa again. Now I just want to train, teach a little and hopefully get to the states from time to time to get more feed back from GM Rene. OOH and post a few old videos from time to time. What can I say, I must be getting old.

Any HOO! Here’s the video. I’m just tired of all the heavy metal music with the videos right now. Live with it.

Be Proactive in Training and Life


Latosa Concepts power mechanism video 2

Latosa Concepts power mechanism video 2

I got around to putting the next video up. This one show another aspect of power generation for striking power. I will try to put another video up to round the subject off. In This video you can see another way to generate power and speed for weapons training as well as unarmed training and so on.

Ya’ll have a great day

Be Proactive in Life and Training


Dansk Folkehjælp. First aid courses and more

Have you taken a first aid courses lately? I took a refresher courses last week and I am glad I did. There are quite a few things that have changed throughout the years. I started taking first aid courses when I was thirteen. It was part of a scuba diving course I took. After that There was the obligatory refresher course because I was a lifeguard and a volunteer fireman for a while. Doing security work here in Denmark required even more courses. The funny thing about all the courses is there are procedures that have changed and some that have remained the same. Heart and lunge rescue has changed drastically.

With that said, I will repeat what I started with. Have you taken a first aid course lately? Having a son that has what I call a suicide gene, I am glad that I have done it. My boy has to try things once he gets an idea in his head, some bite him in the butt. Add to that the fact that we teach self-defense and do personal training as well as classes, it’s just crazy not to stay up to date.

If you live in Denmark, I can recommend Dansk Folkehjælp. I was lucky enough to have a very good instructor by the name of Benny Mattsson. If you can book Benny for your group or your company you will be in very good hands. Having done security work with Benny, I can personally vouch for his professionalism in every way.

Dansk Førstehjælp will be placed in the network area of the blog. Ya’ll have a great day.

Be Proactive in Life and Training


Q and A about Escrima

Q and A about Escrima

Entry from the Stonewall-Shield Blog. I hope there is some useful information in it. Old stuff is always relevant. Stay proactive in Life and training, CW.


Rolf F, the escrima instructor from Finland brought up some subject that would make a subject for our escrima part of this blog. I will touch on some of them.

Why do we train drills in the order that we do? We can look at the 1st grade drills. As with most systems, there is a mental aspect as well as a physical aspect to the training.  If a student learns to stand still and attack  an attacker, the student leans to focus on doing a good counter attack or striking the BAD GUY ( BG) before he gets his attack off. This is important because it limits the amount of things the students has to focus on. Just standing still, the student learns to read the BG which also makes it easier to see the windows of opportunity that are opened. The next step is moving to the best place in order to continue the attack. All this is done unarmed and armed. Foot work is then put into the drill after the student has begun to understand how timing and placement (of the student…GOOD GUY= GG) are best utilized.

If we look at the way of building up the mental aspects (attacking mentality), mechanical power generation aspects, timing and placement, we can also use the same teaching method for footwork and other subjects. When a student works at moving on-line, at an angle to the left or right (be it slightly or a lot) we teaching the basic of reading attacks and understanding the dangers the BG presence through his angles of attack.

All this is “fine and dandy” until there is not time to move your feet or take a step to create a buffer zone and a preferred angle to the attacker. GM Rene’s drills with the BOX training is the next evolution. When we keep the right foot or the left foot forward at all times we are keeping the pressure on and our steps are more simple in nature as well as shorter. This saves time! Time can save you life when the BG attacks. Where it get’s a little kinky is where the twist in my your body is the two positions put together. The feet are still in the right foot forward position and the body and weapon are moved to a body position that resembles the buffering angles that the beginner learns. This is also where students start to work with generating power through the torque of the body. The basics of dropping power, using the arch of the weapon to redirect the BG and / or the weapon, the basics of timing & speed, V’ing in, preempting, etc are all other subjects we can work on improving. It’s all about TIME! Remember that preempting is a form of “block & lock.”

Tipping the weapon for extra power and distance has it’s uses, dangers and weaknesses. This has been moved to the later student grades to avoid bad habits. There were tendencies to leave the weapon out in a danger zone as well as letting the tip of the weapon come down too low. We have to remember that distance is time. Tipping the weapon adds length and opens windows of possibilities for the BG. These are also some of the reasons that it has been moved to later student grades. GM Rene was very aware of of this fact when he held his seminars for us. His seminars were quite basic in design and at the same time quite complex. An example is how it’s sometimes harder for people to just hit an attacker than it is to defend and that is because of mindset alone. We have gone full circle. We are getting back to the 1st  student grade again.

Let me know if there are any other questions. I will answer them when there is time.

Ya’ll take care