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komodo
12/26/2009 12:57am,
Via Potentia is a modern self defense training program primarily intended for adults who wish to learn practical self defense as opposed to a traditional martial art or combat sport.

VP has a three year curriculum. The first year focuses on self defense, developing good physical conditioning habits and improvised weapons skills. Adults can also take First Aid, CPR and handgun training as part of the program for no additional cost. Our goal is that the participant will develop effective self defense skills within his first year. By "effective self defense skills" we mean that he is able to rapidly deliver spontaneous combinations of powerful blows to human vulnerabilities, is able to defend and escape both upright and from the ground, and is able to use improvised weapons. Years two and three focus more on demonstration, sport and advanced techniques.

The self defense curriculum emphasizes awareness and avoidance. If we fight, we do so with the purpose of causing one or more serious injuries to the attacker as quickly as possible so that we can escape without being followed. Primary targets are eyes, ears/jaw/side-of-head, neck, collarbone, liver, lower abdomen, groin, knees, fibula/ankle, etc. We avoid fisted punches and focus on palm strikes, clawing/gouging to face, knife hand to neck; knees and elbows to almost anything. Kicks are all "below the belt."

Training includes substantial grappling, recognizing that one often ends up on the ground when attacked. The focus is on remembering to strike vulnerabilities even when on the ground while fighting to improve position and get up as quickly as possible. A lot of time is spent sparring and grappling against larger, stronger, more aggressive opponents to simulate a real attack.

Training with throws, take-downs and submissions is available, but depends on the skill of the student, and is not emphasized during the self defense portion of the training.

Beginners start with non-contact sparring as they learn to flow moves together and proceed to contact sparring with limited gear (participants purchase their own sparring gear). We allow strikes to ANY target, but don't allow CONTACT to the eyes, neck or groin. Take downs are allowed in sparring and it often flows into grappling, escaping, and back to upright spontaneously. The intensity/power level depends on the participants. Striking is usually about half-power. Grappling is often up to full power, though we try to emphasize using good technique over power (since power alone rarely works against a larger, stronger opponent).

We encourage the use and carrying of weapons, especially for smaller people. We introduce conventional self defense weapons like pepper spray, tasers, stun guns. We train with sticks of various lengths to simulate improvised weapons, including knives. Beginner training is primarily just learning striking flow and power delivery against a heavy bag or dummy. Those who choose to purchase stick sparring gear may engage in stick sparring (we require at least gloves and a helmet). We do not teach weapons disarms until the person has demonstrated offensive proficiency with the weapon in question. In depth handgun training is available for both competitive target shooting and defensive point-shooting.

Classes run an hour and a half, twice per week (Monday and Wednesday), with an optional three hour open gym session on Fridays. Roughly half of standard class time is spent specifically on conditioning. The first 10-15 minutes on joint prep and dynamic stretching. Then 45 minutes of drilling and matching. The last 30 minutes are calisthenics and heavy stretching. A couple minutes is spent in deep breathing and mental/physical relaxation.

We do have an ethical, philosophical component, centered on respect for human life and attempting to live a life of virtue. Participants are encouraged to reflect upon the ethics and how they can be integrated into their daily lives and relationships.

The total gym is 3600 square feet. We have 1500 square feet of top-quality 2" Zebra mats which we use for most training. The mats are disinfected several times a week. Three heavy bags (one 6' Muay Thai-style), several pull-up/rings stations, two Suplex throwing/wrestling dummies, and dozens of other quality training aids. A full First Aid kit and AED are on-site, and the instructor is certified with both.

We have a secondary training area (concrete) of approximately 800 square feet. There are changing rooms for men and women, a viewing area, and a nursery for parents with young children.

Our curriculum is designed for older teens and adults, but we do have a separate children's class in which the curriculum is adapted (toned down) to their level, and more child-appropriate activities are added.

We try to keep class sizes to 15 or fewer, and the atmosphere is informal.

Our standard cost is $180 for one three-month term. We charge $80 per month for month-to-month. Discounts are available for families and referrals. Need-based scholarships/discounts are also available. VP is a non-profit organization and has established a separate 501c3 foundation specifically to provide need-based tuition assistance.

A monthly 3-hour free public seminar is offered that covers basic self defense and physical conditioning principles; it is held from 6-9 PM on the last Friday of every month. Our ~280 page beginning student manual is available for free on the web site, or for about $20 in print.

Classes are adapted to the abilities and experience of the participants. Supplemental training is available for those who want to participate in tournaments (to help them adapt to point sparring, forms, board breaking, etc.), but tournament training is not our strong point.

We conduct tests about every three months. We don't charge fees for tests, nor do we grant belts or certificates. Tests include sparring, grappling, breaking, self defense scenarios. We measure strength (calisthenics), flexibility (stretching), and endurance (jump rope and sparring). We specifically identify areas of strength and weakness, and work with the student to improve weak areas over the next term of classes. Students must meet physical condition and technical benchmarks to progress to the intermediate, second year techniques.

The program developer and head instructor, Seth Murray, has been involved in martial arts since about 1980, and has been an adult instructor/trainer in the martial arts and in professional fields since the mid-90s. He is also a certified trainer for First Aid and CPR (Red Cross), Home Gun Safety, Basic Pistol and Reloading (NRA).

We aren't trying to make professional fighters out of people, or win point sparring tournaments. No metaphysics. No chi. No BS. We are simply trying to equip people to improve and protect their own lives.

Inquires and visitors are welcome.

crappler
12/26/2009 2:50pm,
Did this guy just review his own gym? And you guys discourage throwing punches? Seriously?

komodo
12/26/2009 7:20pm,
Did this guy just review his own gym?Yes, I described what we do and why do it. If you'd like to review the gym, you are invited to come down, spend some time here, and then do so. I would welcome any informed review. There is always room for improvement in any endeavor, including my own. Some of the best and most useful elements of our program have resulted from other people's comments and criticisms.


And you guys discourage throwing punches? Seriously?It is a fair question, and I get that a lot from both sport and traditional MA types that emphasize punching. First, if you want to throw punches and have the strength, conditioning and training to do it, then I support you 100%. I've been doing punches and knuckle pushups for 20-30 years (and I've broken bones in my hands more times than I remember), so I don't have any problem with punching or people who want to do it.

Punching is great for full contact sports, point sparring and such, and in those MAs that emphasize and specifically train for it, but not for actual self defense. This is one of the few points where I differ with the typical Krav Maga approach.

We do offer training in punching and boxing basics. However, most people do not have the hand or wrist conditioning to throw punches, nor are they going to develop it. They have no desire to go through the extensive training, they aren't going to enter MMA, boxing, or take long term martial arts. They just want to learn self defense.

The small bones of the hand just aren't designed to handle the forces that can focus on them during a full punch. In addition, a lot of ladies simply don't have enough upper body strength for their hand attacks to be effective anywhere except the most vulnerable points of the body. Even with a lot of training and conditioning, fractures and sprains are commonplace (hence all of the wrapping and padding necessary for sport matches, even with the best of athletes).

We are training for self defense for the average person. In most assaults the attacker is substantially larger and stronger than the victim. For the average person, if he throws a punch at the head, all he is going to do is break his hand or sprain the wrist. Shots to the body are rarely effective against substantially larger people, as well. Rather than train people in techniques that are going to be ineffective and likely to just result in self-injury, we go a different route. It is much easier and more effective for the average person to go for the eyes, side of the head (hammer fist or elbow), neck or collarbone, or other genuine vulnerabilities than try to box his way out of the mess.... The exception to this is someone who has specifically trained with and has conditioned himself for punching -- your (kick)boxing, MMA and Kyokushin types. That is their approach, and I respect it.

In fact, our first goal is simply to run/get away. I'm 180, pushing 40, but in pretty good shape. Nonetheless, The last thing I want to do is stick around and trade punches with someone wants to harm me, who is bigger/stronger than me, probably armed, and probably has a friend or two nearby. I'm just going to try to injure him and then run as fast and as far as possible. Not very sportsmanlike, but there you have it.

In any event, yes, punches are not a key part of our self defense curriculum. We do get into them more in the second year, which focuses more on sport, heavier contact sparring and demonstration. That being said, everything we do is adapted to the strengths and weaknesses of the individual. For example, I've got one guy now who is huge (260) and loves to throw body hooks. He routinely shows up, wraps his hands and gives the heavy bags -- or my liver -- a good workout. In fact, the cartilage of my nose is now separated from my skull just from sparring with him.

Best wishes.

Eudemic
12/26/2009 7:22pm,
Your website says that you don't draw techniques from other systems. Does that refer to your training methodologies as well as the methods used to prevent/defend against attack?

crappler
12/26/2009 10:24pm,
I like your explanation about punches, but I thought you weren't supposed to review your own gym. Anyone care to comment?

komodo
12/27/2009 2:54am,
Your website says that you don't draw techniques from other systems. Does that refer to your training methodologies as well as the methods used to prevent/defend against attack?

Good question.

First, if you are referring to the spot on the site I'm thinking of, it is in response to a common inquiry I get. That is, when people ask me what I do, I usually respond, "I teach self defense and physical conditioning." They then ask, "you mean karate?" "No, self defense, as in how to respond to a violent assault."

"Okay, but what style is it?"

"It isn't a style."

"Okay, then what styles is it from?" Or a question along those lines.

I get to do this dance about once a month with someone, and I end up explaining that Via Potentia isn't a descendant from any particular style, nor was it created by combining my favorite styles, etc. I note, in contrast, systems that are explicitly hybrid styles, some done for effectiveness, and some done for marketing.

This isn't to say that its techniques are unique or that I can claim credit for them. They are not, and I didn't invent the upward palm strike any more than Al Gore invented the Internet. Our techniques are found in many styles that have a genuine self defense emphasis.

Now to your question. Regarding training methodology/pedagogy: I'm not aware of any other self defense or martial art program that has a similar order of exercises, understanding of physical conditioning or overall technical approach. If I was, I honestly wouldn't have gone through the years of work it has taken to create this -- I'd simply have joined that system and taught it. Note that I said "I"m not aware...." I'm sure that they exist somewhere; I just don't know of them. It isn't for lack of searching.

There is an extensive section in the student manual (free on the web site) just on our pedagogy. I recommend that you take a look at it if you are curious about our fundamental philosophy of instruction. If there is a style/program that promotes a similar approach, along with the balance of physical conditioning and self defense, I'd love to hear about it.

Regarding specific "methods used to prevent/defend against attack" and their sources: For us prevention and defense are two different things. Prevention is, for the most part, being aware of and avoiding dangerous situations altogether. If the situation could not be avoided, de-escalating it to the best of our abilities. If that fails, deciding to submit, flee, fight or posture. These are pretty basic steps, and any (decent) self defense program is going to present them.

When we get into actual defense, for us that is attacking. In assault situations one is usually faced by a larger, stronger person who is familiar with violence, expects your compliance or easy defeat, and likely has a weapon or accomplices. "Defending" in such a situation is just prolonging your demise. We aren't trying to beat him, and might not be able to do so. We just want to escape and live. Of course, nothing is certain, but in my experience it is usually easier to fight to escape than it is to fight to defeat someone.

Our basic method: If the victim decides that fighting out is necessary or simply the best option, then he attacks common human vulnerabilities -- eyes, neck, lower abdomen, etc. -- with rapid, powerful strikes in an attempt to cause an injury (or several) that will prevent the attacker from continuing the assault and allow for escape. If any kind of improvised weapon is available, we use it.

Our basic pedagogy: Most of my students have little or no fighting or martial arts experience. We are starting from square one. We teach them basic upright and ground movement drills, and one by one add offensive techniques. The particular techniques are those that actually work against people, (mostly) irrespective of their size, with the goal of causing not only pain, but disorientation or injury.

Once learned, these are only practiced in combination with other known techniques (in the air, on a heavy bag, against an opponent, etc.). A new combination is offered each day with the goal of getting the person to be able to come up with spontaneous combinations that hit whatever vulnerabilities are available... and there are always vulnerabilities open.

We don't require memorization of the daily combinations. Rather, we encourage students to create a few personal combinations that really flow for them, given their own strengths and abilities.

crappler wrote:
I thought you weren't supposed to review your own gym

If so, I missed the memo. The top of the Bullshido home page reads "Add and Review Your School" so I just went ahead, scrolled to the self defense categories, read the stickies, and started typing. I also looked at some other reviews and they appeared to either be reviews by Bullshido "undercover" visitors, genuine students, or the actual school operators.

I think you can tell from my write-up and web site that I'm just giving you what we actually do, without any hype about it, my past, etc. One of my goals for Via Potentia is that it be about the content of the curriculum, and not any individual's charisma, personality or credentials.

Like I said, if anyone else wants to come by or comment, I am open to constructive criticism.

Eudemic
12/27/2009 4:54am,
It sounds a lot like the Krav Maga I've been taught so far (I will have been studying KM for five years this June). I'll take a look at the material you mentioned, though.

danno
12/27/2009 6:50am,
my first thought, honestly, is that i wouldn't train at a place like this because i don't believe i'd actually learn how to fight.

most of the advice on how to avoid potentially dangerous situations is decent, but also pretty common sense. it's wise to learn but doesn't take a year of training to learn it.


The reality is that proven systems of self defense have little if any grappling component in their curriculum... Our emphasis is on self defense, and in such situations grappling is not appropriate. It is, in fact, precisely the wrong thing to do.

i wholeheartedly disagree.

regardless, you go on to admit that grappling is an important skill to learn in self defense:


Nonetheless, we do teach grappling skills. Our primary reason for doing so is so that you have the ability to escape from disadvantaged ground positions as quickly as possible. For example, if you get knocked to the ground and the attacker has jumped on top of you, it is helpful to know grappling escapes. Like other competitive, sport skills, we don't teach throws and take downs until the second year of our curriculum, or submissions until the third. But we teach ground drills, positioning and escapes in the first year.

http://www.viapotentia.org/index.php?r=grappling


Via Potentia isn't a descendant from any particular style, nor was it created by combining my favorite styles

so you've completely made up your self defense system from scratch? by what process do you choose techniques to be included in the system?

i'd really like to see a video example of what you teach.

DerAuslander
12/27/2009 8:15am,
Wait, you barely teach any grappling but you awarded yourself and 8 in grappling instruction?

I think you may want to familiarize yourself with the standards of rating and then revise your own ratings.

We're going to need video to back up your claims.

Hedgehogey
12/27/2009 4:35pm,
Rated low on principal.

It is Fake
12/27/2009 5:17pm,
So, I read through the website before commenting. The MA history you claim does not denote an 8 in grappling. TSD TaeSD HwarangDo Kempo and then you group jujitsu, Judo in a paragraph implying you have some but not adequate training.


The reality is that proven systems of self defense have little if any grappling component in their curriculum... Our emphasis is on self defense, and in such situations grappling is not appropriate. It is, in fact, precisely the wrong thing to do.


Based on your non-existent grappling and the above claim you should lower your grappling score.

The fact you discourage punching means you should drop your striking rating as well.

Oh you just might want to learn the definition of grappling. Many of the streetfights I saw our encountered ended up with different forms of grappling.

komodo
12/27/2009 7:36pm,
First, let me say that I actually like these comments and challenges because they force me to think and clarify what we do and why we do it. And I thank those who have taken the time to honestly look at the material and make informed comments.

Bullshido is not for the thin-skinned, and I fully expected to take some hits, merited or not, when I posted information about our program.

There are two issues that have come up a few times now:


Confusion about Self Defense vs. Sport/Fighting

Ratings and the rating system

I attempt to address these below.

danno: Your criticisms all pretty much fall under what is a called a "straw man." That means you present a falsehood -- in this case something we never claimed in the first place, or at least is out of context -- then you destroy the "straw man" with your practiced use of sarcasm. I'm going to address your issues this time around for the benefit of the reader.

Your first comments are a perfect example of the issue I address regarding grappling and self defense on the very page you link to. I don't know if you didn't actually read the whole page, didn't understand it, or just didn't care. Maybe you are a skilled fighter who has just been hit in the head a few times too many. Perhaps I need to work on that page to make it more clear. To summarize:


Many grapplers, like "traditional" martial artists, claim that their system is for self defense. But in reality, it is primarily designed for competitive sport and perhaps dueling between individuals (including voluntary street fighting). It is exceptionally-successful in these realms.
Grappling is not the generally-desired approach in an assault; in an assault the attacker is usually substantially larger, stronger and more aggressive than his chosen victim. He often has a weapon (typically a knife) or accomplices.
Grappling techniques that work great in sport are ill-advised in a such a situation due both to the nature of the attack and the environment.
However, one often ends up on the ground in an assault (voluntarily or not) and so does need to know how to attack from the ground, move, defend, escape and get up as quickly as possible. This is our emphasis for the self defense portion of the curriculum.

That is my position, and I stand by it. If you "wholeheartedly disagree" with our perspective on grappling I respect that and I respect you. That is why there are hundreds of different programs and styles. If one doesn't match your own personality/beliefs, there are one or two others in the world to choose from.

"I wouldn't learn how to fight." Um, okay. You wouldn't learn basket weaving or auto mechanics from us either. If it made fighters, I would have introduced it by writing "Via Potentia is a modern street fighting training program," then you could rightly bitch, moan and opine about what a horrible sport and street fighting system it is. I make it pretty clear to everyone that if they want to become pro (or street) fighters, martial arts competitors, etc., that this is not the right program for them. That is why this is listed as a self defense program, not a martial art, sport or similar system. I think I've beaten that dead horse a few times now.

We make a distinction between voluntary street fighting and self defense. This distinction is lost on a lot of fighters -- street or sport, real or wannabes. To them, everything is just fighting. If the confusion continues I'll address it later, but I can tell that this is already going to be a long response on my part.

You say that avoidance and all that is common sense. It is for some people. However, the common refrain of someone who has experienced an assault is "I should have known better," or "why didn't I see it coming?" Without blaming the victim, many people are assaulted for the simple reason that they were somewhere (or with someone) that they shouldn't have been, alone, unarmed, at night, etc. Ironically, a lot of people get some fighting and MA training then go where angels fear to tread for the very reason that they think they can handle it, not realizing the risks they are taking until it is too late.

Also, danno, I specifically state that the principles behind avoiding assault can be learned in one sitting -- we go over them in our free public seminars -- but actually learning effective self defense techniques takes several months of training. We don't spend a year just telling people to be safe and lock all their doors at night, as you imply that we do.

The site and manual clearly explains how the curriculum was developed. I'm not aware of any place that we say it was "made up from scratch." It wasn't. It is the result of years of research, testing and decades of experience.

danno, at best you simply misunderstand what we are doing, and at worst you are being purposefully disingenuous and provocative. Some people derive sick psychological pleasure from misrepresenting and then gang-banging others. Others just make honest mistakes. I don't know you, so I don't know which it is. In any event, rest assured that there are plenty of perfectly accurate things to mock about me and what we do. There is no need to make stuff up, misrepresent what we do, or pick and choose select sentences and try to invent contradictions that don't actually exist. If you have something specific you wish to accurately criticize, I welcome it, but you are really just wasting your time to (apparently) purposefully misrepresent what we do and say.

Eudemic: Congratulations on 5 years in KM. VP is very similar to KM in terms of techniques and general philosophy, and I have a lot of respect for the system. I've had some correspondence with a KM organization about offering it through our gym but haven't followed up on it. I'm still thinking about it.

DerAuslander108 wrote: "You barely teach any grappling but you awarded yourself and 8 in grappling instruction?"

No. It isn't that we "barely teach any grappling." The grappling element of the curriculum actually isn't much different from most. The main difference is that during the first year the emphasis is self defense. During that period we teach grappling skills that are specifically appropriate to self defense. These are related to but different from the skills that would be taught for sport (which we do include in later years).

Also, I didn't "award" myself anything. I'm quite comfortable in my own skin and don't need and don't want awards from anyone. I read the definitions of the various ratings and just filled in the numbers that seemed to me to fit. According to the system, an 8 is something that "Pressure-tested, full range grappling and proven success in limited restriction, top level competitions or high level self defense situations."

I honestly don't know what "high level self defense situations" means, and perhaps I should have asked first. I just assumed -- usually a mistake -- that since self defense from assault, rape or murder is what we train for, that it would qualify.

Our emphasis on self defense grappling is to prevent the take down/throw, and if you go down minimize the damage and do whatever you've got to do to get up as quickly as possible. The escapes are pretty much the same ones you'll find in any JJ or MMA program. Bucking, shrimping, back door, kickover, scissors, butterfly elevations/sweeps, etc. Unlike competition, we prefer to avoid going to guard unless it is the least of the evils -- we don't consider guard an "escape" -- and we never ever camp out there. We'd only go to it if it was easier to escape and stand up from guard than from the current position. Better to just fight to standing, kick his knee out, and run for it. Pretty simple, really.

The grappling component -- and pretty much every component -- of the first year of Via Potentia is designed for self defense application, not competition. You could just as easily complain that our gun training component doesn't produce marksmanship champions -- "you barely teach marksmanship yet gave yourself an 8" -- and so shouldn't be rated as high. Your statement would be true, but equally irrelevant. Defensive gun skills are completely different from competitive marksmanship skills. In fact, a skilled marksman may very well be less able to defend himself with a gun than someone who was a poor marksman but had good defensive point-shooting abilities. The only common element between them is the presence of a gun.

Which one of them should be rated an 8, or a 1 or a 10? Hell if I know. It is the same with grappling (and striking, for that matter). We don't roll around and spend five minutes probing for openings and progressing through the steps necessary to get from screwed to gogoplata (though we do so at the advanced stage) as one might for competition.

But this also isn't compliant bullet-man silliness you see in weekend self defense seminars. The techniques are practiced against men much larger and stronger -- some of whom know what the inside of the jail looks like -- who are actively seeking take downs, striking, choking, attacking. Little gear is employed during grappling except an occasional mouthpiece and cup (if we even remembered that). The usual comment by coworkers or spouses the next day is "what the hell happened to you? Why are you all bruised up?"

"I went to class and discovered that all my skills mean crap."

Your competition skills might not mean much in an assault; in fact, they might get you raped or killed. Anyone who has experienced an assault or grappled with someone who is 80+ pounds heavier/stronger than you (and can fight) and is actually punching you in the head, knows and has experienced that a lot of fancy JJ techniques that work great against people in your own weight class fail catastrophically. You can't hold any mount and you can't hold guard against someone who can easily bench press you and has even minimal wrestling/fighting experience. You simply can't hold him in any position, which is the basic necessity for a submission. Meanwhile you can barely move once his weight is on you. Go ahead and "escape" to guard, then try for an arm bar or omoplata when you can't even move your hips (or hardly breathe). Go ahead and shrimp -- all it will do is turn him on.

We try to deflect/take the hits as best we can, squirm as much as possible while striking the eyes and neck, and try to find an opportunity to escape or get a lucky sub -- usually a non-finesse move like RNC. We sometimes switch to grappling/sparring for fun/technique/competition in which we do focus on competition-type skills, but that is not our emphasis.

Now, I don't think that an 8 for competitive sport sparring or grappling should be the same as an 8 for self defense sparring or grappling. Just as with the gun example, the techniques taught, skill levels and philosophy are going to be completely different. In competition or fighting, you are trying to defeat the opponent. We are trying to cause an injury and escape. Different goals require different approaches and techniques. One isn't necessarily better than the other.

According to the rating system examples, at the very least we merit a 6 or 7. The lower ratings aren't even applicable. But I didn't make the rating system, numbers, examples, etc. I just went by what it said, and I'm not going to get into an argument about what words mean or what the definition of is is. I do think that our program does rate at least an 8 in grappling relative to other actual self defense programs (and many traditional martial arts that claim to be self defense). But if 7 would make you feel better, I don't have any problem changing it. The number doesn't really matter to me anyway.

Now, if you don't get, or don't agree with this, then like danno, I respect you and your freedom to disagree. I'm sure you're good at what you do, and I'm not questioning your integrity or sincerity. And I genuinely wish you well.

"We're going to need video to back up your claims." The two people who have asked for this are obviously just looking for something more to piss on. However, we are working on some supplemental video curriculum, and once we have it, I'll be glad to post samples. So start drinking now so you'll have nice, full bladders.

It is Fake: I hear you, but I don't see how your assertion is substantially different from DerAuslander's. You seem to be saying that because it doesn't include components in the first year that would be appropriate for competition, that it is deficient. However, I didn't present it as a competition program, but as a self defense and physical conditioning one.

The reality is that punches are a bad idea for self defense for the vast majority of people. If omitting techniques during the first year that are likely to only result in self-injury and be ineffective merits a lower rating, then I'll go ahead and make the change. The emphasis of my initial posting was the self defense element. However, full punching training is included in years 2 and 3.

I'm quite aware that there are many different styles/kinds of grappling, and that the definition we use could use some refinement. I welcome your suggestions in that regard.

Your other comments are just about my own past, credentials or experience, which are not the issue -- at least not to me. If you want to add a rating category that is instructor credentials or something like that, then perhaps you've got a good point. It would probably be a good rating to add. And at the risk of starting a totally separate (and useless) thread about HRD/TSD, they actually do have a pretty good ground program now. I say this despite whatever other shortcomings the HRD organization has (which I am aware of from personal experience).

Anyway, unlike other systems, Via Potentia is not about the credentials of the founder or instructors. Emphasis or reliance upon one's certificates is a great marketing ploy, but meaningless for actual self defense.

Everyone: Making something new is never easy, and is usually opposed by pretty much anyone with a pulse. I knew that getting into this, and I didn't expect a warm-fuzzy reception at Bullshido.

Bullshido generally emphasizes fighting and fighting sports (though it is open to others as long as they honestly present themselves and aren't too whacky). Fighting transfers/adapts very well to self defense, and fighters are generally very good at defending themselves, but fighting and self defense aren't the same thing. The only fighters who understand this are the ones who have actually been assaulted (involuntarily) by someone much larger/stronger, or who have really thought it through.

I'm not going to get into an argument about what constitutes fighting vs self defense vs sport vs demonstration, or which is better -- especially not here. I'm not trying to confirm myself, and anyone with an ounce of sense or objectivity can see that I'm not promoting myself or this program as something it isn't. I'm quite blunt about what we do, why we do it, how it is or isn't appropriate, and its limitations.

I think that the explanations/examples of the ratings need to be clarified. If proven self defense techniques aren't going to merit an 8 or above, then that should be made clear from the outset. It is also problematic that it is treated as a deficiency if ineffective and self-injurious techniques are omitted. But it isn't my rating system, and I recognize that you can set it up any way you want.

In any event, if someone actually wants to learn good physical conditioning and self defense, then Via Potentia is a great choice. If they want to be sport fighters or the like, then something else would be better.

Again, thank you all for your comments and suggestions, especially from those of you who took time to take a look at the site and be constructive.

DerAuslander
12/27/2009 9:10pm,
You talk way too much.

Videos of what you teach would solve a lot of problems, because I am reasonably sure you do not deserve the ratings you've AWARDED yourself just based off of the yammering coming from you. If I see different, I might change my mind.


I honestly don't know what "high level self defense situations" means, and perhaps I should have asked first. I just assumed -- usually a mistake -- that since self defense from assault, rape or murder is what we train for, that it would qualify.

How often have you been assaulted, raped, or murdered?

It is Fake
12/27/2009 9:18pm,
What confusion? The only confusion is coming from you not understanding or following the rating system rules of Bullshido.


I'm not going to get into an argument about what constitutes fighting vs self defense vs sport vs demonstration, or which is better -- especially not here. I'm not trying to confirm myself, and anyone with an ounce of sense or objectivity can see that I'm not promoting myself or this program as something it isn't. I'm quite blunt about what we do, why we do it, how it is or isn't appropriate, and its limitations.This is irrelevant. People are on your butt for not reading our rating rules.
Also, don't float a topic if you don't want it put under scrutiny.

danno
12/27/2009 10:02pm,
Maybe you are a skilled fighter who has just been hit in the head a few times too many.

well, hopefully i've got enough brain cells left to figure out what your system is like.



Many grapplers, like "traditional" martial artists, claim that their system is for self defense. But in reality, it is primarily designed for competitive sport and perhaps dueling between individuals (including voluntary street fighting). It is exceptionally-successful in these realms.
Grappling is not the generally-desired approach in an assault; in an assault the attacker is usually substantially larger, stronger and more aggressive than his chosen victim. He often has a weapon (typically a knife) or accomplices.
Grappling techniques that work great in sport are ill-advised in a such a situation due both to the nature of the attack and the environment.
However, one often ends up on the ground in an assault (voluntarily or not) and so does need to know how to attack from the ground, move, defend, escape and get up as quickly as possible. This is our emphasis for the self defense portion of the curriculum.


this does not correlate with my personal experience, especially my work as a security guard. within roughly 30 seconds (possibly less), i've taken someone down and had them unconscious in a street confrontation. i've also been in a few situations involving multiple combatants where i used grappling to restrain and prevent people from fighting each other. some of these people were larger and appeared to be stronger than me.

it is my opinion that in some situations, taking it to the ground is a great idea. in others, it's not. which is why i work on developing skills at all ranges - standup striking, the clinch, and ground.

while working or in my personal life, i've never, never actually struck a single person. only in training or competition have i ever hit someone.


"I wouldn't learn how to fight." Um, okay. You wouldn't learn basket weaving or auto mechanics from us either. If it made fighters, I would have introduced it by writing "Via Potentia is a modern street fighting training program," then you could rightly bitch, moan and opine about what a horrible sport and street fighting system it is. I make it pretty clear to everyone that if they want to become pro (or street) fighters, martial arts competitors, etc., that this is not the right program for them. That is why this is listed as a self defense program, not a martial art, sport or similar system. I think I've beaten that dead horse a few times now.

We make a distinction between voluntary street fighting and self defense. This distinction is lost on a lot of fighters -- street or sport, real or wannabes. To them, everything is just fighting. If the confusion continues I'll address it later, but I can tell that this is already going to be a long response on my part.

the problem i have here is that you're possibly teaching skills that aren't proven and possibly don't work in any situation, street or otherwise. i don't know for sure, i'm just making assumptions based on other self defense systems i've seen, the way they are described by their practitioners and the way you describe yours. i could very well be wrong, but what you're saying rings a few alarm bells for me.

you say you don't teach fighting, but you do - you have a striking and grappling system. the purpose of this system is self defense. i saw the techniques described as "mean and nasty" somewhere on your site.

it's only this aspect of your school that i'm firing at.


You say that avoidance and all that is common sense. It is for some people. However, the common refrain of someone who has experienced an assault is "I should have known better," or "why didn't I see it coming?" Without blaming the victim, many people are assaulted for the simple reason that they were somewhere (or with someone) that they
shouldn't have been, alone, unarmed, at night, etc.
...
Also, danno, I specifically state that the principles behind avoiding assault can be learned in one sitting -- we go over them in our free public seminars -- but actually learning effective self defense techniques takes several months of training. We don't spend a year just telling people to be safe and lock all their doors at night, as you imply that we do.

ok, i'm fine with that. i don't have any problem with things being taught like conditioning, first aid, gun safety etc.

in this area you're probably helping people make themselves a lot safer.

i remember an old comment from someone else on this site. the 3 main styles that should be studied for self defense are:

1. rhetoric and etiquette
2. track and field
3. chick-chick-boom


Ironically, a lot of people get some fighting and MA training then go where angels fear to tread for the very reason that they think they can handle it, not realizing the risks they are taking until it is too late.

you see, i fear that you're teaching combative techniques that are largely ineffective (of course, i don't have any solid evidence of that yet). this might cause someone to get themselves into a dangerous situation.

but, looking at the rest of your curriculum, it seems unlikely that your students would allow that to happen in the first place.


The site and manual clearly explains how the curriculum was developed. I'm not aware of any place that we say it was "made up from scratch." It wasn't. It is the result of years of research, testing and decades of experience.

i haven't been able to find anything explaining how you developed/chose techniques. what exactly is this research, testing and experience?

i'm really looking forward to seeing some videos posted. how long until we get to see them?

i appreciate that you're taking the time to stick around and discuss this with us. i'm sure you have a busy school and more to take care of.

komodo
12/28/2009 12:11am,
danno, thank you for your helpful reply. I fear you were kinder to me than I was to you. For anything I wrote that caused offense, I do apologize.

I'll try to get some videos together as soon as possible. And I appreciate you clarifying your personal experience, and you saying that some of what I said raised alarms. Obviously my goal is to offer a rock-solid program that genuinely helps people, and I welcome comments that can improve it, including just pointing out something that I've said or done that caused concern, or offering what you think would be important to consider or include.

I understand and share the concern about the effectiveness of training for self defense. I'll try to explain a little more about what we do and why we do it (and how it came about) in hopes that it either eases your concerns, or you'll have some points at which to suggest improvement.

First, there are no guarantees: The reality in life is that you can do everything right and still fail. One of the things we go over a lot is that some techniques just don't work on some people. A lot of things work great in the gym or with a friendly partner, or even in competition, but have no effect on an enraged or drugged up attacker. No technique is a sure thing, ever. You basically find the ones that work for you, your body and psychology, go for it and hope for the best. Just keep on attacking multiple vulnerabilities with everything you've got.

An eye gouge is a good example. On some people it does fine and can make a few seconds hesitation to follow up with something more (like a take down, as you mention), or simply a turn and run. With others it is just going to enrage them and then anything can happen. One guy in my class said he saw a fight in which the guy getting the worst of it had his thumb literally buried into the attacker's eye socket, and the attacker just hit him harder.

Inflicting pain often isn't enough. We've got to cause an injury or literally put the fear of God into the attacker. Hence our emphasis on utilizing weapons. It helps in my class to have some pretty big guys participating. You find out really quick that what worked great in competition or against someone your own size/weight just doesn't cut it against a big guy who knows how to fight.

The one thing we really try to avoid is soft training and over compliance. Some compliance is obviously necessary when someone is first learning a technique, but we try to work resistance and counter-striking in there as fast as possible. Our ultimate goal is to have the drills be "alive" enough that if you don't block right, you get hit (well, you get hit anyway, it is jst a question of whether you get hit in the face or it glances off the side of the head or shoulder). Not all of our students are there, but some of the adult men are, and a couple of the women understand the necessity and are trying to work to it.

Regarding "from scratch": I did find a spot in my Q&A where I mention it being built from scratch. By that I didn't intend that I was sitting there pulling techniques out of some orifice. It was in contrast to actively picking this or that present system, combining them, to come up with and sell a program (the NAPMA approach). You've asked how the curriculum/techniques was developed, and an honest question deserves an honest answer: We studied the key vulnerabilities of the human body and compiled a list of the natural, most simple attacks that would hit these. The total list was about 10 areas and 30 techniques, some of which are just variations on the same technique. They include a variety of elbow strikes, knees to the lower abdomen/groin, stomps anywhere from the knee down the shin to the instep, kicks to the lower abdomen/groin, knee area and fibula; hammer fist strikes to the collarbone and side and back of head, palm strikes to the underside of the jaw, eye gouges, and a few others.

We studied typical assault patterns, the locations, scenarios, attackers, victims, etc. Despite common belief, men are actually assaulted more often than women. But regardless of the victim's gender, the attacker usually has substantial advantages; size, strength, a weapon or accomplices. Hence our emphasis on avoidance and the reality that, no matter how good I think I am, no matter how good I've done in competition, no matter what belt I am or how many trophies I have, successful defense from an assault is an iffy matter. The statistics on the effectiveness of unarmed resistance to assault are not completely clear. We suggest fighting if and only if you believe that you are going to be seriously harmed anyway. Chances are much improved if you have a weapon -- basically anything -- and know how to use it effectively.

Most of this "study" was done through FBI statistics, research of actual assault events, security videos of assaults and street fights, in-person discussion with people who were victims of (or instigated) assaults and fights, profiles of the incarcerated, etc.

I do try to elicit an adrenalin dump in them from time to time, insofar as we can without turning the class into a generally-unpleasant experience.

I don't expect people to master all of the techniques, but to practice them and find the handful that work best for them. I want them to at least have a couple upper body ones and a couple kicks/knees/stomps in their toolbox. We then practice these in combinations in the air, against compliant opponents, against attacking opponents (attacker grabbing, punching, choking, rushing, etc.), against grappling dummies, on heavy bags. I want them to hit as many different things as possible, from as many angles as possible, as hard as possible. My goal isn't for them to learn isolated moves or rote combinations, but develop the ability to detect openings and rapidly strike them in succession from any position.

It is tricky with some of the techniques because we can't be gouging each other in the eyes, hitting each other in the neck, etc., with force, but we do what we can to connect the dots. We already had one broken collarbone a month or two ago. It is tough to ride the line between realism and avoiding injury sometimes. It was kind of a freak injury, but I don't like any of my students to get broken bones.

When we get on the ground we continue striking and just try to get up as quickly as possible. We do some competition-style grappling so that they understand ground movement, positioning and escaping. Once they are in decent shape and have their breakfalls and rolls down pretty well, we start them on simple take downs, then go into sweeps and throws. I save the submissions for people who want to do it, more for sport than anything.

The psychological side is actually more troublesome to me. I'm honestly a nice guy and I wouldn't want to hurt anyone. I was in some fights as a kid and in college, but have managed to de-escalate, escape from or otherwise avoid the few potential assault/fight situations I've been in as an adult. Most of my students are nice, peaceful people, too. We work on developing aggression and disorienting simulations where they get whacked up side the head or elsewhere and then need to turn and attack without mercy for a few seconds, then break and flee. It is that determination or "pulling the trigger" issue I'm trying to get a handle on.

Anyway, thanks again for your comments and interest.

DerAuslander108: You asked when I was last raped. The last time was today by you, Hedge-whatshisname and It is Fake. Other than that it has been a long time.

Have a good evening everyone.