Watch my accompanying video, it’s more entertaining than the article 😀
Delving off of my last article which criticized the fallacy behind Target Focus Training’s central principal of using the “tool of violence” in “asocial situations” ONLY and how it FAILS to prepare the average person to RECOGNIZE A DANGEROUS (whether “asocial” OR “ANTI-SOCIAL” scenario) AND have the “intent” to cause injury/kill the man, I will now talk about the actual techniques that they teach.
To be fair, TFT is a principle-based system so there aren’t any techniques to nit-pick at per se, but the main problem is the “engine” that drives their striking that is “penetration” and “rotation.” For those of you who are unfamiliar, TFT has you lunge and step in DEEP into your attacker(penetration) and to always follow through like a homerun knocking a baseball out of the park(rotation). Sounds great in theory, in fact they go over numerous theories from high-school Physics such as the modeling of a perfectly inelastic collision for all strikes in order for the maximal amount of kinetic energy to be lost to the surroundings aka transferred into a target. Cool man, but does it work? Against a man that’s standing still or WALKING up to you, MAYBE. Against an attacker that is coming in to BEARHUG YOU, POSSIBLE. Against an attacker that’s ATTACKING FIRST WITH A PUNCH, STAB, ETC, NO WAY.
As you’ll see in all of our training and instruction, we don’t try to take up time on a DVD or at a seminar just to sound smart with useless filler of stuff you don’t need to understand. Damian Ross will teach you our central tenet that’s easy to remember and stupid simple and that’s if you want to DESTROY your attacker before he can destroy you and all that is good in your life, than you “Lead with speed, follow with power.” Why? So that way you’re the one that gets the FIRST INJURY and not the other way around. The first shot is really meant to get your attacker to react and if he even flinches, you’re in a better position to hit him again and again and again and the more shots you get in, the more likely you’re going to hit a vital target area and cause an injury. Now if you’re lucky enough to take him out with your first shot, great, but our priority initially is SPEED over power.
TFT essentially has you lead with power and follow with power. The TIME it takes for you to step through your attacker and drive your forearm through the lateral side of his neck(composed of the carotid artery and vagus and phrenic nerves, SERIOUSLY DID YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW THAT? THIS ISN’T A FREAKIN ANATOMY CLASS, Damian Ross would simply tell you if you hit him here, you knock him out cold and he can potentially crack his skull on the concrete if he falls) IS TOO LONG AND YOU’RE GONNA GET KNOCKED THE F#CK OUT BEFORE YOU CAN GET THERE. Not only does TFT overcomplicate something very simple with their human anatomy lessons, but their theories that supposedly justify why they teach you to strike this way DON’T MAKE ANY SENSE.
They say how criminals are better than martial artists at doing violence and have the most experience, true, but that doesn’t JUSTIFY WHY TFT TRIES TO MODEL CRIMINALS. Criminals can LEAD WITH POWER because they ATTACK FIRST and they ATTACK an unsuspecting victim, that’s why they’re CRIMINALS! I understand the importance of an aggressive offense as being the best defense, but TFT takes this too far in that not only do they have you stomp a downed attacker, but they completely ignore the fact that UNLESS YOU ARE INITIATING THE CONFRONTATION, you won’t have the TIME to strike with power initially. Lunging through someone and “penetrating” is great if you’re going to sucker punch some random person on the street, but it isn’t self-defense and you won’t be able to pull this off unless ALL 3 of these following conditions are satisfied …
1) Your attacker is standing still, walking up to you, not throwing a punch, stab, going for a takedown, etc.
2) You aren’t pinned and grabbed and are free to move and use the “rotation” of your body.
3) The light bulb goes off in your head that this is clearly ASOCIAL and JUSTIFIES LETHAL FORCE.
A couple illustrations of this…you’re walking down the street at NIGHT and out of nowhere a car STOPS for no apparent reason and pulls up to you and ALL 5 guys all get out and are looking at you and are walking towards you, OK clearly there is a 99.99% chance that you are getting jumped for being a certain ethnicity/looking a certain way and the reason they are walking is because they have confidence in numbers and are going to “enjoy” their beating and “toy” with you. And let’s just say that you choose not to run because you’re out of shape and you know that they’re going to catch you anyway and didn’t have pepper spray, a tactical flashlight, or a personal alarm or some other technology that would help you draw attention to yourself and escape. So YES in this scenario you could “penetrate” into the first guy that’s walking towards you since he has no idea that you’re actually going to attack, and drive your “ulna bone” through the lateral side of the neck and rotate and follow through so that you conveniently position his body as a barricade in between you and the other attackers and rinse and repeat, using each guy you injure as “cover.” Not likely to happen, but it’s worth a shot and TFT will “work” in this scenario.
Another situation where TFT would “work” would be if imagine you are a college girl in bed and a rapist, a complete stranger breaks into your dorm in the middle of the night and gets on top of you. Instead of the typical rapist that will now punch and beat you in like a ground and pound until you are unconscious before raping you, he’s crazy enough to attempt to simulate real intimacy by kissing your neck and attempting to arouse you and not even really trying that hard to pin you down. HERE, TFT WILL WORK as you are in the state of mind where you can grab the back of his neck and specifically pinpoint driving your thumb through the inner corner of his eye and attempt to dig it out as you use the rotation of your body since you can still move. But what happens if you can’t move? What happens if you are unable to hit a specific target?
This is especially where TFT’s weapon defense falls apart. In most muggings, you have already made a tragic tactical error in that you were both unaware of your surroundings and failed to establish distance and as a result, your body is going to be pinned and you’re not going to be able to move your body out of the way and go straight into injury, you’re going to need to CLEAR the weapon BEFORE you can attack the man. (See previews of Module 8). If you have a knife pressed up against your throat, trying to go straight for the eye gouge is not only un-natural, but if you “miss” your throat it’s going to get slit. It goes back to the FACT THAT YOUR ATTACKER IS MORE LIKELY TO GET THE FIRST INJURY THAN YOU ARE. This is what TFT doesn’t get. Same thing if your attacker is behind you with a gun to your temple while his other arm is wrapped AROUND YOUR NECK or having a hand on your MOUTH PINNING YOU FROM MOVING telling you to SHUT THE F*CK UP.
Tim shows the defense of the gun to the temple where the guy grabs his hair instead but WHEN IS THAT EVER GOING TO HAPPEN? You simply can’t rotate your head out of the way if your HEAD AND/OR BODY IS PINNED, WHICH IS WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN IN THIS TYPE OF MUGGING. If you tried to reach for his groin while you have a gun to your temple and a hand over your mouth, HE CAN EASILY PULL THE TRIGGER and BLAST YOUR BRAINS OUT. Same thing when it comes to holds, TFT shows the outstretched Frankenstein aikido choke where they have you simply boot him in the groin and rupture his testicles. Sounds great in theory, but in reality he’s going to be driving you backwards to off balance you and he’s going to be up close and personal and if you tried to kick him in the groin, you’re gonna be on your ass looking up to the ceiling.
Same goes if he’s going for a double leg takedown. TFT refuses to teach any side-steps or sprawls, or blading of the body, all of which are instinctive, and only teaches an aggressive forward lunge forward. Again, I appreciate this in theory and it appeals to the aggressive part of me that likes to think that the best defense is a good offense. But TFT takes it too far because no matter how much you wish you were in your attacker’s shoes (from a tactical perspective of course, I don’t envy guys in prison and enjoy my liberties and material possessions, thank you very much :D) you CAN’T LEAD WITH POWER AND FOLLOW WITH POWER.
TFT says that you shouldn’t worry about what he can do to you and should focus ONLY on what you do to him. So going off of this logic, they tell you to NOT TUCK YOUR CHIN and to keep your head above your hips for maximal balance. Common sense dictates that you’re going to knocked the f#ck out by a headbutt or hell, even if you just crash into his head, you can get a concussion. This is why Damian Ross teaches you to have your ELBOW UP and CHIN DOWN when you’re throwing edge of hand blows. TFT’s Leg Dynamics are essentially horse stances taken from cultural fighting arts and it’s unrealistic and UNNATURAL that you’re going to move this way on the street. Keeping your head over your hips comes from cultural fighting arts where you’re throwing high kicks to the head. Ever since Module 1 Damian Ross will teach you to move like a sprinter or a football player, keeping your chin tucked and DRIVING FORWARD and taking ground and just running through/over your attacker…the way you were “MEANT” to move and were “DESIGNED BY NATURE” to move under conditions of FIGHT OR FLIGHT.
Overall, the most obvious flaw with TFT is in it’s very NAME. TARGET FOCUS Training. Target Focus THEORY. The reality is when and if your heart rate gets above a certain level, your adrenaline dumps, and your ability to perform fine, complex, or complicated motor skills RAPIDLY DETERIORATES. This is what usually happens to people during a surprise ambush/assault. It’s one thing if you’re ready and see him coming or you’ve hit him and he’s starting to curl up into fetal position and your heart rate starts to come back down, but INITIALLY your ability to hit SPECIFIC TARGETS WILL DETERIORATE and your targeting is going to be really OFF and you’re going to MISS your target and MISS A LOT. This is why Damian Ross trains you to hit GENERAL TARGET areas(Above the collarbones and below the belt) instead of focusing on SPECIFIC target areas(corner of the eye, lower margin of the rib cage, etc.). This is why IT’S SO DANGEROUS TO BET YOUR LIFE ON YOUR ABILITY TO BREAK ONE OF HIS RIBS AND DRIVE IT INTO HIS SPLEEN when HE HAS A FREAKIN GUN POINTED AT YOU. On top of the fact that if he’s wearing heavy clothing, if you MISS and don’t CAUSE AN INJURY, you’re getting shot. All because YOU DIDN’T CLEAR THE WEAPON, and RELIED ON THEORY instead of what HAS BEEN TRIED-AND-TRUE.
TFT claims how the WW2 combatives as taught by Applegate and Fairbairn are outdated and that TFT is the most modern and up-to-date system that the Navy SEALS contracted Larkin to create that is supposedly more effective and isn’t watered down by British political correctness. This is so hilarious I had to pull this quote off of their site, “I was eventually asked to join a special program tasked to improve the out-of-date hand-to-hand combat training the Spec Op community was currently using. Back then, hand-to-hand combat was viewed as archaic… like horses in the cavalry. Since WWII it was pretty much regulated to a “motivator” for the troops…In real world combat situations, the top SEAL teams were discovering that what they had been taught was woefully ineffective. The Military Was Using Old, Antiquated Training Techniques!…Many of the close combat techniques being taught went back to World War II! While they were effective 70 years ago when Captain America was punching Hitler in the face, the men who created them simply couldn’t conceive of our unimaginably violent world today…The British Government is so scared by the effectiveness of my system that I am no longer allowed into the country to teach it. (Which, by the way, is the country that developed a lot of the “antiquated” combat techniques that I was tasked to fix. That should tell you something…).”
What worked back than still works now, but ok fine even if that were true, these methods were refined by Charles Nelson and Carl Cestari before being passed on to Damian Ross. And seriously? There was no such thing as political correctness back than and Britain WAS NOT the nanny state it is today. Fairbairn was British and the military units he trained were ruthless and it is rumored that the Nazis called Fairbairn’s techniques, “English gangster methods.” In the U.S., back when we still had the Department of War and ironically weren’t involved in all the undeclared wars we are today now that we have a Department of “Defense,” our troops learned what Applegate learned from Fairbairn. But what actually happened was that by the 1970s, liberals felt that these methods were TOO BRUTAL and our military started to focus more on sporting based martial arts for physical fitness. WW2 combatives aren’t “outdated,” they’re just no longer relevant since hand-to-hand combat doesn’t really happen anymore on the battlefield as a result of all the technology that our military has. What proven history does TFT derive its legitimacy from? All you’re going to find is that Tim Larkin worked as an instructor under Jerry Peterson’s S.C.A.R.S. which is nothing like TFT. In fact, here’s a video of a younger Tim Larkin(guy on the left) with Peterson and his son Blake.
There’s so many things about this vid that are in the wrong, but HOW are you going to be able to step in that deeply in a surprise attack without getting clocked by your first attacker’s other hand all WHILE moving to the outside if the second attacker is DIRECTLY BEHIND you? Chances are you WON’T EVEN SEE THE SECOND ATTACKER! To see how our principal of taking ground is how you REALLY deal with multiple attackers(especially the one you DON’T SEE that’s coming BEHIND YOU, check out Module 1
And as always,
Hit the Weights. Hit with Hate. Seize the Day.
P.S.: Sign up for the Killer Physique mailing(above to the right) for more future articles and videos related to self-defense, fitness, and just plain living the lifestyle of a disciplined ass-kicker 😀