Coronavirus Survival Guide

Posted by admin on March 17, 2020 in Survival

Enough friends know that I’m a life-long survivalist kinda guy, so I’ve been getting a LOT of questions of late regarding how to minimize your exposure to the virus, and how to best prepare for a long quarantine . So here’s my “prepper” post for friends:

FIRST: While I am an Emergency First Response Instructor, I’m not a doctor, and none of this should be taken as medical advice. Refer to the CDC and consult your doctor for medical advice.

STUPID PURCHASES: running out of bottled water, paper towels or toilet paper is NOT something to worry about. Your government-supplied tap water will keep flowing. This isn’t an earthquake with broken water mains. You can filter tap water for pennies using a britta or a fridge filter (environmentally friendly), if paper towels run out, you can WASH cloth towels and re-use them as long as needed (environmentally friendly), and you can either buy a bidet toilet seat (best purchase ever) and barely need any paper, or use your shower after you take a dump (also environmentally friendly, and much cleaner). The lack of NONE of these things will put you at risk in the least.

Lacking other things if supply chains break down could, however, be a problem. So…


FOODS: If you want to stock anything, it should be nutrient dense foods, and foods that store for a long time that can be made into almost anything. This makes the most efficient use of your freezer, fridge and pantry. Things like flour (1yr), eggs (5wks), milk (6 mos frzn), butter (4 mos frzn), sugar (indefinite), cheese (6 mos frzn), freezable proteins of your choice (e.g., per USDA, chicken can be kept frozen indefinitely). With these items, in combination with (even canned) fruits & vegetables, you can feed yourself and your family for a very long time. Almonds are a super food, healthy, nutrient dense, and store indefinitely. Oats last indefinitely and can be cooked or combined with many things. Rice is the primary source of calories for 3.5 billion people, and stores indefinitely.

(under quarantine, internet will still be functioning… learn to cook – it’s a skill that will serve you your whole life! I’m a fan of Rouxbe and Serious Eats)

ProTip: Buy a food saver and a sous-vide, vacuum seal individual chicken breasts, (or other meats) and freeze. You can then pull out 5 packs, and sous-vide them from frozen for 2.5 hours at 141 (for chicken), then throw in an ice bath and toss in the fridge. You now have 5 meals for the whole week’s dinners, the chicken will be amazingly tender and juicy, and since it’s now pre-cooked, you can pull out of the fridge, cut, and add to warm sauce, pasta, or what have you. Super easy meals, healthy, and store forever.

VITAMINS & SUPLEMENTS: Get vitamins and supplements in case supply chains are disrupted and you can’t get enough fruits and veggies. Fruits and veggies aren’t very nutrient dense (exception: avocado), some take up valuable fridge space, and spoil quickly, so for long term it’s canned stuff and vitamins if you can’t buy any greens for months. Vitamin C has been shown to help prevent catching cold (which is a virus) for people under physical stress. Zinc lazenges have been shown to help fight and prevent viruses as well (don’t take zinc nasal products, they can lead to permanent loss of sense of smell).

SICK SUPPLIES: Get pedialite powder, Neti Pots/NeilMed with saline packets, Ibuprofen, Mucosinex and ALL the things you’d want for a really bad flu. Chances are, that’s what you’ll get if you get anything. Gargling with warm salt water and doing a saline nasal rinse before bed each night has also been a “don’t get sick” go-to for me for a while. Even if you’re just getting sick, it can reduce the bacterial or viral load.


COVID-19 or Coronavirus is an extremely virulent bug. There is only one 100% fail-proof way to avoid getting it: Quarantine Yourself. If you have no exposure to other human beings, air other human beings have breathed, or surfaces and items that other human beings have touched, you have virtually no chance of contracting it.

However, 100% isolation may simply not be possible. For example, we have a 1 year old little boy who needs about a quarter gallon of milk a day. I can only buy and store so much milk, and will have to venture out into the world to replenish our supply at some point.

Below are tips for minimizing your exposure.

TEMPERATURE: Have a temporal or ear thermometer on hand, and check yourself and anyone who visits you as part of your greeting ritual for house guests. (Better: don’t have house guests). Show them your normal temperature before taking theirs as common courtesy (I’m probably safe, are you?). But remember, people can be carriers and not manifest symptoms. People can be shedding virus before sympoms manifest. Until this blows over, use caution, regardless of someone’s temperature. The stealthy incubation period is what makes this such a tricky disease.

BONUS: A pulse oximeter is a cheap device that goes on your finger and takes your pulse and measures the oxygen in your blood (they do this every time you go to the hospital). This has been part of my ‘first aid’ bag forever. Why? Because one of the most dangerous repercussions of getting *really* sick is pneumonia, where your lungs fill with fluid and you lose your ability to breathe. By taking your oximeter reading, you can verify that your oxygen level is looking good, (95% to 100%… below 90% is considered low. The best reading is achieved when your hand is warm, relaxed, and held below the level of
your heart). Thus, if you get “a little sick” you can now take your temperature and measure your oxygen level… two crucial pieces of information you can then provide your doctor without leaving your house.

MASKS: They DO work, but you have to be clean shaved and apply the mask so it makes a complete seal (watch a video on line, it’s not that hard). N95 blocks out at least 95%, N99 blocks out 99%, P100 blocks out >99.7%. Surgical masks block out almost nothing, but catch your spit if you cough or sneeze, so they help minimize risk to OTHERS, not YOU. I have N99 masks and a P100 full face respirator (if things get really sideways – and if not, I can use it for furniture refinishing – win win!). I’m using the N99 when I go out because why the hell not? If they work to protect a doctor who is working directly with a sick patient, it will sure as hell help you as well, just LEARN HOW TO USE IT AND HANDLE IT CORRECTLY. (e.g., keep in a ziplock when not in use, put in a new ziplock if you’ve used it in less than 3 days, never touch the outside of the mask once you start using it, as that’s the “dirty” side of the filter).

GLOVES: Get nitrile gloves (costco still has them) and use them when you’re out and about. You MUST become aware of WHAT you touch when wearing them. They’re only helpful if you don’t touch the same things you’ll touch when you take them off (e.g., putting on gloves, touching a bunch of things in the store, (especially the self-checkout screen that EVERYONE else is touching, and the credit card machine that wants EVERYONE’s pin code or signature) – you can’t then go touching your wallet or purse, because you’re transferring then virus to those items that you’ll then touch later with gloves off.
Have your credit card ready to go in an accessible pocket BEFORE you put gloves on. Then just take it out, and swipe it, put it back. When you get home, clean off your credit card when you wash your hands. How you take off gloves is also important – I was trained as an Emergency First Response Instructor, and we teach the following method: Take them off by peeling from the inner-wrist of one hand with the other hand, crumple the removed glove in the remaining gloved hand, then peel the remaining glove the same way, with the first glove now balled inside the second glove. This way you eliminate touching any surface of the glove that has touched anything else. This is to avoid contamination of blood, but works for anything (I do this when working with chicken for example).

RETURNING HOME: When I get home from “out in the dirty dirty world” (read: costco with the cattle) I play it extra safe, and toss my clothes in the laundry hamper, and take a shower, wash my hair. It is relaxing, feels good, and I know when my 1 year old slobbers on my face, arms, legs, … It’s all in fresh clothes and fresh hair/skin. And who doesn’t like a fresh canvas upon which to slobber? All clothes washed daily. Washing in laundry does kill the virus, so I’ve read. No shoes in the house. Because Japan said so.

HAND SANITIZER: is only useful when out and about where you can’t necessarily wash your hands. Don’t waste it at home, you have water and soap! Also, you can make your own sanitizer for on-the-go with 91% isopropyl alcohol and aloe gel (2 to 1 alcohol to gel). If you’re home, don’t waste sanitizer, WASH WITH SOAP – say the alphabet at a normal pace to wash for the right amount of time, and scrub well.

Become situationally aware of yourself and others. Be thoughtful and realize that others may not behave as well as they normally would because they’re feeling stressed out, so give people extra slack and most importantly, cut yourself extra slack.

This too will pass, and the hysteria around it, and herd panic mentality may be much more dangerous than the virus itself. Be good to each other, and be well.

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How To Survive Off-Roading in a 4X4

Posted by Den on April 17, 2014 in Adventure, Survival, Survive

There are over 11 Million miles of paved road in the world. That’s enough road to drive to the moon and back 23 times over… But it’s JUST NOT ENOUGH.

There’s a primal urge for us to break free from the constraints of society and venture free into the wild… Some of us will do it hiking, some will ride a horse… and some will saddle up their trusty SUV and take it into flavor country…

But before you jump in your grocery-go-getter turned weekend-warrior-mobile, there are a few things you need to know to keep from ending up stuck, stranded, or simply becoming past-tense…

Off-Roading 4x4 Adventure in Utah

As evidenced by the photo above, I’ve got a modest amount of experience with off-roading and rock-crawling. Much of that experience has been carved out in the mountains and deserts of California, the jungles of Belize and Mexico, the snow and ice of Tahoe, and the legendary sandstone of Utah.

There are certain attributes that you become concerned with when you abandon the subdued pavement of suburban streets for the untamed terrain of the wild.

Required Disclaimer: While I’ve gone on adventures with Jeeps, Toyotas and Landcruisers, in some of the burliest landscapes in the world, I’m by no means a professional, and you should definitely consult a professional (and your car and/or life insurance adjuster) before considering taking your life and your Ford Fiesta into your own hands… You’ve been warned!

The first rule of offroading is simple:

Keep the rubber side down.

Everything else you do builds upon that one goal.

The Attraction to Traction

“Traction” is one of those concerns, and how you go about setting the proverbial “rubber to the road” alters severley depending upon the terrain.

Fully inflated (or even over-inflated) tires are ideal on the highway, they result in less friction, less engine wear, better handling and better gas mileage (and make your tires last much, much longer).

However, fully inflated tires are a liability on sand, rocks and even snow.

The reason for this is simple. When a tire is fully inflated, it forms a near-perfect “doughnut”–a circle, if you will. While the rock-hard stability of a tire is great for the freeway, it results in a very small contact patch with the terrain. A fully inflated tire may only touch the ground with 10% of the tire’s surface area, resulting in very low traction.

The first thing an avid off-roading enthusiast will do (as will someone about to adventure into sand or ice) is lower their tire pressure.  In so doing, the tire is turned from a doughut into a semi-circle with a flat bottom where it places pressure on the ground. In essence, the tire becomes a rubber tank-track.  This increases the surface area in contact with the ground (and thus friction and traction) by a factor of up to 400%, as well as allowing the tire to “flow” over the irregular shapes of rocks and boulders, gripping everything it touches.


The recommendation I’ve been told by top off-roading champions is that you want your tires at around 7-10 psi. Any lower and you risk the tire pulling off the wheel (a real danger as well).

This is also why tires may come with “bead locks” which attach the tire to the wheel… regardless of tire pressure.


Four to the Floor

While it’s possible to go offroading with a 2 wheel drive vehicle, your chances of getting out of a bind increase exponentially when you have a four wheel drive vehicle (4×4). This should be pretty obvious, but if you’re driving a rear-wheel drive vehicle and the rear wheels get lifted off the ground (or slip on ice) the additional thrust that a four wheel drive vehicle would give to the front wheels will help get you out of a bind. 4×4 vehicles have much better control in rain and ice as well, as all the wheels are dispersing the thrust from the engine evenly, making it much less likely that you’ll spin your tires, and thus your car.

The Difference of the Differential 

The next serious modification that most off-roading enthusiasts seek is the ability to lock one or both differentials.

The differential is a mechanism that sits in the front and rear axle, and allows the left and right side of the axle to turn independently, while sending thrust to both wheels.

Why is this necessary?  Well, without this invention, you’d be skipping all over the road every time you turned the wheel.  The reason is simple: when your car makes a turn, it carves two circles with the left and right wheels. Imagine a vehicle making a u-turn. The driver-side wheel makes a small u-shape, and the passenger side wheel makes a large U-shape.  By the end of the u-turn, both wheels have traveled a different distance in the same amount of time.

Doing this smoothly is only made possible with a limited slip differential. Without a differential, the inside wheel would have to skip and stutter in place as the outside wheel spins the greater distance of the outer curve.

The differential “slips” for the inside wheel, and transfers thrust to the wheel with less resistance – the outside wheel that is travelling the greater distance. This works GREAT while on the road and going through curves. But it’s a huge liability off-road. Why?

Because a differential is designed to send thrust to the wheel with the least resistance, it means that when a wheel is off the ground (as often happens when climbing obstacles off-road) the thrust is sent to the wheel that is off the ground.  The wheel that is securely kissing the ground gets no love at all… it just sits there like a turd.

With a selectively LOCKING differential, the driver can “lock” the differential so that it no longer transfers thrust to the wheel with less resistance. The axle becomes like a solid rod, and BOTH wheels get an even thrust from the engine… This allows the one wheel that is touching the ground to roll the vehicle out of the tight spot and keep you moving forward!

Smoothing The Road

Just like with racing cars, offroading requires you to be smooth in your controls. If you suddenly “gun it”, especially in low gears required for rock-crawling, you’re going to spin your tires and go nowhere… same goes for dirt and especially ice and snow. If you jam on the brakes, you can slide out of control, or even roll your vehicle. When you turn the wheel, and apply gas or brakes, you generally want to be very smooth.

And the same steering technique I was taught for stunt-driving applies to off-roading: shuffle steering.  You don’t want to wrap your thumbs around the steering wheel, as the wheel can be rapidly whipped around by obstacles, and can break your thunbs (plus sudden-impacts with immovable objects like rocks and marvel super heros can also cause your thumbs and wrists to break). Steering is subtle and controlled… this isn’t a race, it’s a journey and an adventure.

Climbing Obstacles

There are a number of ways to get over obstacles. Ideally, you want to approach the obstacle so that both of your front wheels are kissing it at the same time… this puts the most rubber to your obstacle and will multiply your friction and traction. You can roll up gently to the obstacle, and just as your wheels kiss it, you “bump” by giving a slight rev of accelleration. This is NOT jamming on the gas, it’s just a bump to keep your momentum moving forward and roll you over the obstacle.

As soon as you get rolling over it, it’s SO important that you KEEP moving.  If you stop, you may loose momentum and not be able to regain, resulting in becoming stuck, sliding off, or other similar things. In the video at the bottom of the page you can see me approaching quite a few obstacles with this “kiss and bump” method. It’s very effective.

Pick Your Path

Path selection is also important. You want to take a look at the underside of your vehicle and see where your differentials are. The differential will look like someone built a small death-star on the axle that connects your two wheels. Because the differential is usually the lowest part of the vehicle, it’s important to know it’s location so you can keep from slamming it into obstacles.OffRoading_Tips_GuysSurvivalGuide

When driving off-road, it’s important to keep one tire on the high-point of your path. This protects the underside of the vehicle from damage and keeps you from getting stuck “in a rut” (literally).

Additional Equipment

There’s a lot of additional equipment that can help you when you off-road. If you deflate your tires, a compressor can come in handy when you’re ready to rejoin the pavement.

A “high lift jack” allows you to change tires and even jack your way out of trouble, even with a lifted vehicle, or a vehicle that is at an odd angle and far from the ground.

A winch allows you to pull your way out of many bad situations by using a motor and gears with unbelievable pulling power. They also aid in rescuing others.

A snorkel takes the air-intake of your vehicle, which is generally found under the hood, and raises it up to the height of your roof.  This is great for water crossings, where you’d worry about getting water into your engine and destroying your motor… It also can be good in dusty desert environments, getting air pushed into the engine from up above the dust and dirt. Plus, it kinda looks cool…

Extra gas cans, a fire extinguisher, GPS, CB radio, first aid kit, additional axles and cv joints and boots… the list goes on and on. You don’t need all of this to do simple off-roading, but the sport is addictive… it’s literally a slippery slope!

Off Roading in Utah with AEV


I started my off-roading adventures by simply hopping into my trusty 4-runner after 9/11 and going on a 5-week road trip across California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah… I visited 9 national parks, shot a lot of photos, and made a lot of mistakes that probably should have got me killed. One of those was trying a trail in Utah called “poison spider” that seemed impossible at the time. I tucked my tail and turned around, and almost slid off a vicious cliff in the process.


Last year I had the opportunity to go back to the same trail with AEV during the Easter Jeep Jamboree… It was amazing what a difference the right knowledge made.



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How To Not Get Knocked Out

Posted by Den on January 22, 2014 in Self Defense, Survival


It’s the fight-ender…
The deal-breaker…
It’s the knock-out shot.

There’s a reason every UFC, Muay Thai, Boxing or other sport-fight is stopped immediately upon a knock-out shot… Because once you’re knocked out, you’re as good as dead.

If, by some unfortunate circumstance, you end up in a fight, there’s a real danger of getting knocked out… And once you’re knocked out, you have literally no defense – you’re 100% at the mercy of your attacker(s).

For this reason, it’s extremely important that you understand the physiology of what gets you knocked out, and learn techniques to defend yourself against a knockout punch at all costs.

First I’m going to explain the physiology of your brain and skull, what happens in a “knock-out shot”… This is the “why” of why you get knocked out.

Next, I’ll share techniques you can use immediately to avoid getting knocked out. (If you’ve got someone at your front door who is shouting “I’m gonna knock you out” you can skip the explanations and jump to the techniques HERE.)


First, let’s clear up some typical misunderstandings… What causes a knock out is NOT a “Tom & Jerry” smack to the head with a mallet or the butt of a gun, like you see in movies & TV. And I’m not basing this on just my lifetime of accidentally slamming my head into inanimate objects without being knocked out… There’s a lot of scientific research that supports the fact that it’s NOT a compressing impact that knocks you out

What actually causes the knock-out (and in severe cases, paralysis or death) is a not a direct impact “whack to the head”.  What does it is a sudden rotation of the skull.

To get how this works, it’s helpful to understand how your brain and cranium are ‘designed’…

Your brain is similar to Jello… In your case, probably something fruity like strawberry.  You could think of your skull as an upside-down bowl (filled with a ball of the previoiusly mentioned strawberry Jello).  Your brain attaches to the smooth inner surface of your skull in just a few points by connective nerve tissues, veins and arteries.  Other than these few small connections, your jello-like brain is only held in place by being the same basic shape as the interior of your skull…

Got it?  Your brain is an upside-down-strawberry-Jello-bowl. Check.

Imagine you’ve got that bowl of jello in your hands.  DON’T EAT IT.  (It’s your brain).  Now as fast as you can, rotate that bowl of jello a quarter turn… What does the jello do (besides be delicious)?

Like your brain, jello is soft, flexible and mostly liquid… So when you suddenly spin the bowl, the jello takes a moment to catch up… it sits still as the bowl spins, then its few attachment points are yanked and pull it to try to make it catch up to the bowl.

Now when you do this with jello, no big deal.  You may spill some on your lap, but you’re used to that. But if we remember that the Jello is your BRAIN, we start to see the problem.

Remember those few attachment nerves and arteries I mentioned? Well, as your skull rotates, all the attachments to the brain from the skull get seriously stretched and even torn while the brain stays still for that split-second… Furthermore, if the sudden rotation is fast enough, the brain ‘smacks’ into the walls of the cranium, essentially bashing your brain against your own skull.

If the acceleration is sudden enough, and the damage is severe enough, your brain shuts down to “reboot”. (If it’s REALLY bad, like in a car accident, there is no ‘reboot’… It’s more of a “game over”).

This is the human equivalent of the “blue screen of death” you get on a computer…  causing you to be unconscious while your OS attempts to restart…

Now that you understand how it works, it is natural to ask “Can I have some Jello?”  to which I would say you have already been hit in the head a few too many times.  It would also be natural to ask “how do I keep this from happening?”


Despite your surprisingly delicate physiology, there are tricks to avoid getting knocked out…  You see, it’s very hard to knock you out if you are prepared for the punch.  Your neck muscles are quite strong, and can prevent this kind of head rotation in many cases…  That is IF you see the punch coming.

There are THREE clear things to develop to keep from being knocked out:

1) Keeping your head/chin at the right angle

The ability of these muscles to resist rotation is greatly affected by the angle at which you hold your chin… If you go into any boxing gym worth it’s weight in dirty sweat socks, you are likely to hear someone shouting “chin DOWN!” at sparring boxers.  That’s because those trapezius muscles have a lot more leverage to hold your head in place when your chin is down… when your chin is up, not only is it a much more viable target, but you’ve got almost no power to resist the rotation of your head caused by impact.

But a strong neck and proper head/chin position is only part of the battle… Because that doesn’t help you AT ALL if you don’t see the punch coming.

There’s an old saying in boxing:

It’s the punch you don’t see that knocks you out.

The reason is simple: if you don’t see it, you’re not able to tense your neck in time to keep your head from being whipped around…

So the next step is to increase the chance that you WILL see the punch coming.

2) See the punch(es) coming

Again, keeping your chin down helps in this regard.  The uppercut and hook are the punches that tend to knock people out, as they both strike your chin, pivoting your head at the furthest point from the Atlas (the pivot point of the skull and the kneck).

Thus, being hit on the chin by a hook or uppercut will rotate your head with the most leverage…  And as mentioned in the post about punches, the uppercut is very hard to perceive as it travels up your “sagital plane” or midline… An uppercut comes up underneath your chin, so it’s hidden by both your chin and your nose…

The most deadly combination is being hit by an unseen uppercut, which whips your chin up, and then being hit by an unseen hook to your now very exposed chin, which whips your head around and finishes the job.

Keeping your chin down does two things: first, it makes this a harder target to strike, as there’s less ‘under-chin-area’ exposed to hit.  Second, it increases your peripheral vision, making it easier to see all around you, and thus to see punches coming.

If you don’t believe me, check it out.  Stand with your head perfectly level and look straight ahead… Now have a friend stand a few feet to your side and have them walk backwards until you can’t see them any more out of your peripheral vision…  Now, while still looking forward, lower your chin and your gaze, and you’ll see them again… have them move back further and further until you can’t see them.  You’ll see that you have MUCH wider peripheral vision when your chin is down.  This is also important when fighting multiple opponents, as it gives you a better sense of anyone coming up behind you.


And finally, you can help build up your support structure with technique 3:

3) Develop strong neck.

The first is a strong neck.  Your trapezius muscles do the stabilizing of your head and neck, and developing strong traps will help you have what is called a ‘strong chin’ in boxing (meaning you’re hard to knock out… as opposed to a ‘glass chin’ which means you are knocked unconscious combing your hair).
These tricks can go a long way to helping you avoid ever getting knocked out… Which ultimately could save your life.

These techniques will help protect you, and could even save your life, in the event you end up in a fight with someone who knows how to really throw a punch…

What’s surprising to me is how few people REALLY know how to do just that. I’ve seen people with years of martial arts experience who couldn’t punch their way out of a paper bag… So, do YOU know how to throw a punch correctly?  Find out in my next article: How To Punch Part 1 & How to Punch Part 2.

I hope you enjoyed this article.  Please feel free to leave comments and rate it if you got something good out of this!   – Den

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How To Not Get The Wind Knocked Out Of You

Posted by Den on December 17, 2013 in Survival

I… (gasp)…
Can’t… (gasp)…
Breathe!!! (wheeze)

You probably know the feeling… whether it was a soccer ball to the gut, a bicycle handle bar across the stomach, an older brother or school-ground bully slugging you in the gut… Most people have had the wind knocked out of them at one point in their lives.

And it SUCKS.

Short of getting knocked out, there are few things that are more debilitating than getting the wind knocked out of you.  And while the injury itself will only hurt for a few minutes, in a real-world fight where anything goes, that brief period where you’re sucking wind like an asthma commercial leaves you helpless… which can result in anything from people pointing and laughing at you, to being stomped out of existence by an agressor.

So today I’m going to talk to you about how to keep this from happening in the first place.

First I’m going to talk to you about WHY this happens.
Next, I’ll tell you what to do to recover as quickly as possible if this does happen.
Then I’ll share a few simple techniques you can use to keep this from happening in the first place.

Why You Get The Wind Knocked Out Of You

Your lungs are like two big air filters… And there’s only one mechanism to pull air into the “filter”… That mechanism is called your diaphragm.

And I’m not talking about birth control here…

Your diaphragm is a sheet of skeletal muscle that extends across the bottom of your rib cage.  It separates your thoracic cavity (lungs, heart, ribs) from your abdominal cavity (stomach, intestines, etc.).

When this muscle contracts, it pulls air into your lungs.

A hard enough strike to the region of your solar plexus (celiac plexus) causes your diaphragm to go into spasm… rather than pulling air in and pushing it out, it just starts freaking out… which is exactly what your breathing does.

Not only is this incredibly painful, but it leaves you breathless and generally hunched over or sitting on the ground in any of a variety of fetal positions… And of course, if it’s not a life-or-death situation, you’re going to say what every human has ever said since the dawn of time: “I… can’t… breathe…”

Location of the Solar Plexus / Celiac Plexus

Celiac Plexus Location (a.k.a. Solar Plexus… A.K.A. the “please don’t hit me here” spot)

I’m always surprised when I spar with “martial artists” and every time I hit them in the stomach they wheeze and gasp… Or get the wind knocked out of them.

Especially when the defense against this is fairly straight forward.

The first thing you MUST do in any ‘fight’ situtation is simple: keep your stomach muscles tight and flexed. 

You can’t wait for a gut-shot and hope to be able to flex in time.  When you’re in a fight, you should be flexed the entire time.  Now I don’t mean to imply you should be like a flexed as hard as you can, but those stomach muscles should be engaged and tight… enough that if you took a finger and felt your stomach, you wouldn’t be able to push in. These muscles are important for two reasons:

1) They are your armor. Your abdomen is filled with all sorts of soft squishy stuff that doesn’t take kindly to being kicked, punched, stabbed (or tickled).  Your abdominal muscles are there to protect them.  They are incredibly strong, and you can engage them for a very long time without them burning out. You must keep them tight the entire time your attacker is in range to do you damage.

2) The abdominal muscles are the conduit of power for your body.  Much of your power in a properly thrown punch or kick comes from your legs and the transfer of power from moving your legs and hips up into your upper body.  A punch from just your arm lacks real power… A kick that is a flick of the leg won’t do much damage… but a kick or punch that engages the whole body… THAT is how damage is done… And the stomach is at the center of it all (literally and figuratively).

However, a well placed uppercut or shovel-hook into this region, if thrown hard enough, can power right through even a flexed stomach. So keeping it flexed may not be enough… You also have to keep it covered.

To a sophisticated fighter, your solar plexus is a big bullseye target… and they will seek it out. If you leave your solar plexus open, you’re begging to get hit there… One trick to protect it is taken from Bruce Lee… By keeping one of your arms close to your “center line” or sagital plane, you obstruct your opponent’s ability to strike you there directly. Leaving nothing between your opponent and your solar plexus is generally not wise.

If, despite reading this article, you still get hit in the solar plexus, the first thing you need to think about is how to still defend yourself.  I’m a scuba diver, and I know for a fact I can go 3 minutes without air.  And 3 minutes is a lifetime in a fight.  Now naturally you’ll be amped  up, heart racing, and your solar plexus is spasming… Which changes things greatly… But a fight is still mostly mental.  You CAN decide to push through the pain, and decide to keep defending yourself. If you give in to the pain, and curl up on the ground, you’re begging for a much worse beat-down.

Finally, there’s a stretch that tends to help stop the diaphragm from spasming… If you lay on the ground, belly-down, and push your upper body up like you’re doing a push-up, while keeping your hips pinned to the floor, it will stretch your stomach out and help calm the spasm.

After all, no one likes to be a spaz!

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, rate it and share it on facebook!  If not, then here’s a picture of a kitten shooting a gun.


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Surviving a Knife Attack

Posted by Den on March 18, 2013 in Self Defense, Survival, Survive

Surviving A Knife AttackThe knife is your ultimate defensive tool…

It’s small, silent, cheap to purchase and (most places) legal to carry. It never runs out of ammunition, cuts through clothes and body armor, and slices everything in its path in a way that bullets only dream of.

For these exact reasons, it’s also the weapon to be most concerned about… 

I’m about to share the most important “gems” I’ve learned since I started studying Filipino knife fighting over 20 years ago with Master Instructor Mark Mikita of Fightology in Los Angeles.

While no article can replace years of training, my goal is to give you the info you need to help tilt the odds in your favor if you are ever attacked by someone with a knife.

Knives are superlative weapons for the close range where you’re most likely to be attacked.  Life-or-death scenarios don’t usually start at 21+ feet – which is the minimum distance a person with a gun needs to deal with an assailant with a knife. Myth Busters even did a show verifying this. (As a matter of fact, one study showed that even 21 feet may be insufficient).

Most altercations take place with six or seven feet between the two combatants  Essentially one pace… A fraction of  a second in distance.

At these ranges, the knife is a an extremely effective and terrifying weapon… a person with a knife will be on top of a person with a gun, stabbing away, well before the gun is drawn, aimed and fired (much less cocked if it’s not already).

The knife is, for all intents and purposes, the ultimate personal defense weapon for every-day circumstances.  And when you start looking for them on other people, you’ll be surprised just how many people are out there carrying knives. 

Which makes it a VERY important thing to be able to defend AGAINST.

Now the best defense is obviously to not be in a situation in the first place, and to run the hell away if someone pulls a knife, and “advancing in retreat” is an option…

But the whole reason I trained in martial arts in the first place is that, at times, I found I was in a position where leaving wasn’t an option… For example, situations where I stepped in to defend someone else… And when you can’t leave, you’ve got to have a plan.

If you’re going up against someone with a knife, things are certainly grim. However, there are things you can do to help increase your chances of survival.


Rules of the Blade

1) CARY AND LEARN TO USE A KNIFE.  The first thing you can do to tilt the odds in your favor is level the playing field. This turns a “wolf eats sheep” scenario into a “wolf fights wolf” scenario… You’re still at risk, but at least you’ve gone from 99/1 to 50/50 chance of survival.

Now some people are squeamish about the idea at first, afraid that a knife is somehow an invitation to trouble, or that they’ll hurt themselves instead.  As pointed out earlier, you’ve probably used a knife on a near-daily basis for most of your life. The idea that it could be “taken and used against you” is also silly… Unless you’re fighting a well trained knife fighter (.002% chance), they won’t know how to disarm you, and all they will have to grab onto is razor-sharp blade.

Once you start carrying, I guarantee you will quickly adjust to having your “little buddy” with you, and you’ll start to notice just how many other people are also carrying knives… That’s when you’ll realize you’re not paranoid, you’re being smart… And before long  you’ll feel naked going out without a weapon.

After all, a knife is just a good bit of insurance.  This falls under the “I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it” category.  If you never need to use your knife on another person, then kudos!

2) NEVER TURN YOUR BACK. As with virtually all fight/attack/defense situations, NEVER TURN YOUR BACK.  Your arms are designed to swing in one direction: forward.  When you are crouched over in a typical “shelled up” position, all your ‘weapons’ are facing inward protecting you… If you are 100% on the defensive, your attacker can be 100% on the offensive… They can stab you over and over and over and there’s nothing you can do from a back-turned, shelled-up position.  The temptation is strong, but this position is the worst possible.

3) DISTANCE IS TIME. Anything you can do to create time for yourself to change the scenario can save your life.  If you can put distance or obstacles between yourself and your attacker, you can buy time and potentially change the scenario entirely.  For example, circling behind a car, forcing them to play “chase” can buy you time and potentially an opening to either run away, have the cops show up, find a weapon, or have the guy change his mind, etc.  Buying time with distance and obstacles can save your life.

4) ARM YOURSELF. A knife is a great weapon, and if you have one yourself, you should get it between yourself and the attacker’s knife… slice his knife hand or wrist if it comes within range, keeping him out of range to strike any of your vital organs, throat, etc.  However, a knife isn’t the ONLY weapon.  You can improvise weaponry from almost anything… A stick, bat, pipe, hammer, rod, plunger, broom… All make excellent blunt weapons that will give the attacker something else to think about other than just chopping you up.  You can (as I have) also take off a belt, double it up, holding the end opposite the buckle, allowing you to swing the buckle at the attacker at very high speeds…

Note: Thus far, all the improvised weapons I’ve mentioned allow you to counter-attack and distract from a greater DISTANCE.  They’re longer range weapons than a knife, and keeping your attacker out of range is KEY.  A ballpoint pen is a great stabbing weapon, and a broken bottle or box cutter is a great slashing weapon, but they’re examples of ‘last resort’ improvised weapons, as they allow your attacker within range to stab and slash your vital targets with their knife. 

knife_defense_diagram5) PROTECT YOUR VULNERABILITIES. If an incoming knife attack is imminent, you need to do whatever you can to protect your major veins, arteries and vital organs.  As I explain in my article on “Attacking The Anatomy“, your body is designed so that the outward facing regions (tops of forearms, outside of upper arms, outside of thighs and calves, and back) are all highly armored with musculature.  Meanwhile, your vulnerable veins and arteries run along the inside of your arms and legs… You must protect these and your throat and clavian and sub-clavian arteries from being cut… Lest you should meet your demise by springing a rather large leak.

This means that if you must take a slash from a knife, you want to present the backsides of your forearms… These are also the muscles that control the opening of your hands… Whereas the underside of your forearm is what controls the closing of your hands… Meaning your ability to grip your own weapon and to grasp their attacking hand and weapon.  You don’t want this area cut!

If you have the opportunity while using the concept from principle 2 (gaining time using distance and obstacles), you can use a shirt, jacket, belt or other material wrapped around your forearm to create a sort of insulating shield. This will be less effective against a serrated knife, but is still better than nothing… It will also serve as a bandage to help slow and control any bleeding if you do get slashed in that area.

6) CONTROL THEIR WEAPON HAND. While using the above techniques, if you are able in the mess of battle to gain hold of their attacking hand, (preferably the wrist and muscle of their thumb), you can temporarily counter their ability to use the knife on you. Most knife-wielding attackers become “possessed with the weapon” and forget that they have other weapons (hands, feet, head, etc) that they can use against you.  If you are able to temporarily neutralize their weapon hand, you must IMMEDIATELY use this against them… Which is why you must:

7) PLAY DIRTY. This is not a sport.  This is your life.  If someone is coming at you with a knife, you’d better believe your life is on the line, and there’s a very good chance it’s either you or them.  You MUST do anything you can to even the odds… Kicking them in the groin, throwing dirt in their eyes, or if you get close enough and control their weapon hand momentarily, you need to find the animal in you… eye-gouges, throat strikes, and other tearing/smashing of vulnerable targets have a huge physical AND psychological effect on someone… It’s terrible to contemplate, but you want them to stop thinking about trying to kill you – and start thinking about their own survival and future. A gouged eye or ear ripped off can turn a murderous sociopath into a blubbering coward quite effectively. However, you must remember:

8) ALWAYS EXPECT THE BLADE. Once things get ugly, you must never let your guard down.  They may have more than one weapon, or friends who are walking up on you.  Even if you seem to have neutralized someone, or gotten away from them, it’s not over until you are well away from harm.

I once had an gang-banger who charged me in a parking lot over his own road rage. he launched at me with virtually no warning or ‘interview’… So I struck him in self-defense with a straight shot to the face that left him on the ground dazed. When he got up, I told him to get in his car and have a better day, and not to come at me again.  I got in my car and drove off while he was still trying to figure out what to do.

I checked my rear view mirror carefully and drove two blocks to a different shopping area so I could call the police and file a report (my cell phone was dead).  I got out of my truck and started walking when I saw this guy pull up and pop his trunk.  Had I not been vigilant, I could likely have been hit in the back of the head with the tire-iron he came at me with.

So remember, it’s not done until it’s done. Be safe, keep your eyes open, and above all else, if you have the option to leave the situation, leave.

P.S.: Yes, I survived the tire-iron attack as well… It never happened. I had my Eskrima sticks in my car, so I pulled them out and made a display of twirling them a bit… And informed my would-be attacker that I was done playing games. Another important thing to remember: willingness is often more important than skill.  Thanks to years of training with my instructor Mark Mikita, I love stick-fighting  and this guy could see that I had no fear of his tire iron… this was my game now, on my terms. He asked me one final question before he left: “Who’s gonna fix my toof?”.  (I had knocked it out with that one straight shot).  My answer?  “You should thought of that before you attacked a complete stranger for nothing.” Important words to consider for anyone thinking to fight with someone you don’t know. My advice: avoid fighting unless the fight is brought to you . You’re never sure just who or what you’re up against.

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Why Do You Need The Guy’s Survival Guide?

Posted by Den on January 15, 2013 in Survival

Guy's Survival Guide Jungle Adventure

The Author, Den Bradshaw in the jungles of Costa Rica

That’s a great question.  In today’s cushy modern world, it seems like concerns of survival are a thing of the past… or are they?

46 people are murdered every day in the U.S…  Over half a million people drown each year.  115 people die from car crashes every day.  2% of the U.S. population are bitten by dogs each year, and on average 30 die at the paws of “man’s best friend”.

Perhaps it’s not the wild west out there, but survival is still something you have to consider seriously… And on a daily basis.

Across all of my life experiences, I’ve had a variety of ‘near death’ experiences… and I’ve also saved a few lives in the process.  And in these experiences, I’ve seen a trend, and it’s a trend that I have heard and read and experienced over and over:

In a life-or-death scenario, the people who survive are the people who have already thought about what they would do in that situation.

This is universally true…  If you’ve already planned what you’ll do in a survival situation, when the moment happens you won’t go “deer in the headlights”.  And that’s exactly what most people do when they are confronted with a stressful, adrenaline, panic-inducing experience:


Your brain suddenly is faced with the impossible task of trying to be logical and calculate the optimal reaction to an incredibly stressful situation… All in the blink of an eye.

To make matters worse, numerous studies have clearly shown that, when emotions are running high, humans are terrible decision makers… Objectivity goes out the window, and we are easily paralyzed by too many options.

In modern life, a survival situation isn’t just being attacked by a shark (yes, I’ve dove with those too… And will tell you what the ‘shark masters’ taught me in the Bahamas).  Modern life has other ‘survival’ situations for guys that can be equally as important…  Like how to approach a woman you’re interested in, how to grill a steak, or how to project confidence in any situation, even when you’re completely uncomfortable or scared.

While we are potentially confronted with ‘survival situations’ on a daily basis, the education most guys receive comes from mothers and school-teachers, television and a lot of guess-work.  Gone are the days of fathers teaching their sons what it is to be a man… how to hunt, to kill, to defend the family, build shelter, and generally be a man.  That job has been handed over to the school system, cable TV and the Internet.  A majority of parents have gone from being educators and mentors to simply being life-support… and guys are left to fend for themselves…

Or worse, they grow up with no knowledge of what it is to be a man… Like a persian cat, fluffy and fat with it’s claws neatly trimmed… who has no idea where its food comes from, or how to fend for itself…

Perhaps you’ve come to my site because you’ve found yourself to be that fat fluffy persian cat, stuck up a tree with no idea how to get down.  Or perhaps you’re already well on your journey to being a true survivor.

Wherever you are in your path, I’m here with you.  I’m walking it with you, and I will do my best to share with you what I’ve pieced together, in the hopes that we will both survive and thrive.

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Why Music Is Manly…

Posted by Den on January 10, 2013 in Stuff Dad Didn't Teach You..., Thrive


You don’t have to be an Animal to love playing the drums… (But it helps!)

While men don’t often think of the more “creative” endeavors of music and art as manly, the truth is quite a different story.  True, we have been pounding on drums since the dawn of time… But there’s more to it than that!

(Although I will say, I recently started learning drums, with some amazing online drum instruction, and wish I had started years ago… Drums are an incredibly fun, expressive, whole-body experience… Plus, chicks dig drummers!)

The greatest artists and musicians who ever lived are predominantly male.  And that’s not by chance, and it’s not because men somehow repress women into not pursuing these endeavors.

It’s because of the masculine brain and how we, as guys, are wired. Countless studies of the male and female brain and psyche have shown clear differences between men and women.  A great reference for this is a book called The Essential Difference: The Truth About The Male & Female Brain, which does a great job breaking down these differences (and backing them up with scientific studies, facts and statistics).

There are two differences that affect us in the “arts”:

1) Men tend to be more logical and analytical.  And since music (and many aspects of the arts) are actually based on logical structures, geometric relations and the like, men’s brains are surprisingly geared for art and music.

2) Men are much more spatially oriented.  This makes an obvious impact on the arts, where our spacial orientation has a clear advantage… But it’s the same with music.  When I play blues guitar or hammer on the drums, I’m not just hearing the music, I’m seeing patterns, and applying those patters in space… Whether it’s modes and scales on the guitar, or placement of patterns on the drums.

But there’s also a third factor in our brains that has led to the very best artists and musicians being primarily male:  Men are EXTREME.

In the (controversial to non-scientific community) book The Bell Curve, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray cite extensive studies of intelligence (and the lack of intelligence), which clearly shows that there are two different “curves” for the spread of IQ across men and women.

The IQ curve of women tends to be a narrower curve… On average, women tend to be of a similar IQ, all lumped in the middle of the curve, with not many at the extremes (extremely intelligent, or extremely stupid).
Men, on the other hand, have a shallower, wider curve… Indicating that there are many more male idiots… but there are also many more male geniuses and super-geniuses.

From Beethoven and Mozart to Joe Satriani, Elton John or the Beatles, men have the logical disposition for music… For music, at it’s core is actually rather mathmatical. There are very few classical masterpieces written by women… And not just in the renaissance, but today as well.

What’s interesting also is that, while “manly men” may scoff at men who are artists and musicians, women unilaterally do NOT.  Women tend to be attracted to creative men, men who are more “renaissance men” with artistic or musical capacity.

So, the next time you’re thinking of a new way to express your manliness, do what I did… Go out and buy a guitar or a drum set… They’re surprisingly cheap, especially used… And start teaching yourself.

I highly recommend online video instruction, as you can watch it as many times as you like, pause, and not feel embarrassed when (as with all beginners) you sound like a cat in a blender at first.

Here is a great beginner guitar system


Here is a great beginner drumming system (that I’m currently using).

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Stunt Driving 101: Shuffle Steering

Posted by Den on June 18, 2012 in Survival

When I studied with Bobby Ore, (stunt driver extraordinaire and instructor to stunt drivers), the first thing he focused on was not how to slam the car into a power slide… Nor did he jump into using the e-brake to lock up the tires and get a skid going that you could then use to flip a 180 degree turn. Here’s a video of him chasing me down the test course:

The most important thing that he laid down as law was actually HOW TO STEER.

Sounds sort of silly, but it’s true.  Precision drivers (and off-road drivers) use a technique that most people find foreign… A technique called shuffle steering.

This is NOT the steering technique you and I were raised with, and it seems somewhat counter-intuitive at first. To understand why shuffle steering works, it’s helpful to first understand why the way we normally steer DOESN’T work (as well as it could).

So let’s take a step back and look at how the “10 and 2” hand position evolved…

Back before there were cars, roads were trafficked primarily by horses and wagons. Oh… and LOSERS walking like chumps.

So the very first cars had large wheels similar to wagons… As a result, roads, (which were mostly unpaved), had large ruts or deep grooves.

Because of this, drivers had to pull hard on the steering wheel with both hands to get the car “out of a rut”. For additional leverage, the steering wheels were also quite huge. From this early need evolved the position of holding ones hands at 10 and 2 o’clock… giving a driver the most leverage to pull down with their body weight on the wheel. (And at the same time, the evolution of the phrase, ‘stuck in a rut’).

Times have obviously changed.  You’d be hard pressed to find a street vehicle that doesn’t have power steering, and most of us drive on highly civilized paved roads.  We also travel (and have accidents) at high speeds, and have these handy airbags that explode from the middle of our steering wheels… More on that later.

When I trained with Bobby Ore, the stunt driver who instructs stunt drivers, he explained that, while this hand position makes perfect sense if you’re trying to drive a Model A Ford and steer it out of ruts, it doesn’t make any sense for a modern car on a paved road with power steering.

“But race car drivers use this hand position!” I can hear you shout. To which I say “stop shouting!”

You see, race cars are nothing like the cars that you and I drive on city streets. A Formula 1 car, for example, is 1/2 turn from lock to lock… that means that to turn fully left, it’s only 1/4 turn of the wheel… and to turn fully right, it’s only a 1/4 turn of the wheel to the right. Race cars have extremely tight steering, and this is also why they can’t pull u-turns… They just aren’t made for the kind of maneuvers street vehicles are made for.

By contrast, the cars that we drive on city streets are a full turn and a half from lock to lock… That means that to turn the wheel all the way left you must crank the wheel 270 degrees.

If you sit at your steering wheel and hold your hands at 10 and 2, and then turn your wheel to the right, you’ll notice that after you turn it about 90 degrees, you’ve got to replace your left hand with your right hand to keep turning… and since you have to turn it 270 degrees, you’ll have to replace your hands several times.

A very common injury in car crashes is for the driver to break their thumbs on the steering wheel upon impact… this results from holding the wheel with your thumbs wrapped around it… upon impact, your hands continue forward, yanking your thumbs back against the wheel, and both breaking your thumgs and/or fracturing or breaking your wrists. I’ve been told by several ER nurses that this is an extremely common injury.

Another complication from the 10 – 2 hand position is that modern cars have airbags. Airbags explode from the center of the steering wheel. If you grip the wheel in the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock position, the airbag will slam into and possibly break or fracture your wrists.  If you turn the wheel and cross your wrist(s) in front of the center of the wheel, when the airbag deploys it will not only injure your wrists, but it will slam them into your face, causing serious injuries.

I really don’t like to hear my car say “stop hitting yourself!” as I smash my nose with my wrist, so I find these compelling reasons to shift my steering technique.

All we need now is a compelling alternative… And that’s exactly what Bobby Ore teaches. He calls it “shuffle steering”, and it goes like this:

You place your right hand at the 4-o’clock position, and your left hand at the 8-o’clock position, and grasp the wheel lightly with your finger-tips. Bobby is adamant about the light, finger-tip grip. And let me tell you, if this man can spin a car 720 degrees at 90 miles an hour through a pair of cones while gripping lightly, you can navigate the local Costco parking lot this way. It’s surprising how little effort most cars require, and how much most people over-grip the wheel.

This hand position solves all the problems noted above… by holding in the lower portion of the wheel, it feels unnatural to grasp with your thumbs wrapped around the wheel, so you use the finger-tip grip and don’t break your thumbs and wrists in an accident.

Your hands also never cross each other, nor do they cross the wheel center/airbag, so your wrists are free from the spontaneous-balloon-of-death airbag impact.

As an added bonus, the new more relaxed position isn’t as draining on your arms, hands or shoulders… Sweet.

When you need to turn the wheel, you use the “shuffle”. Here’s a breakdown of how it works (It sounds much more complicated than it really is):

If you are turning right, you do the following:

With both hands holding the wheel lightly, your right and left hands should be in the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions, holding with just finger tips, palms facing up.   To turn right, you simply grip with your right hand at the 4-o’clock position, and pull the wheel down and to the left in a clockwise direction, while lightening your grip with your left hand, allowing the wheel to slide through your left fingers, and moving your left hand and right hand together to the 6 o’clock position.  when they come together, the left hand grasps the wheel and continues the motion to the left, while the right hand returns to its starting position on the right… Both hands move away from each other, and the pattern repeats.

This results in your hands coming together and apart at the bottom of the steering wheel. The wheel slides continuously, and with a little practice you can turn it surprisingly fast.

This also results in a very smooth and even turn of the wheel, and you NEVER run out of real estate.  If you lock your hands on the wheel at 10 and 2, you will not only cross your arms, but you will quickly run out of ability to keep turning the wheel without letting go and doing a big awkward re-positioning.

While I first learned this technique doing stunt-driving, I saw it again when I was off-roading with some of the top drivers in the world… The guy driving with me had won the Camel Trophy and was a professional off-road racer… And also used shuffle steering.  It’s a great technique… give it a try and see!

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Attacking Anatomy: Understanding Your Strengths & Weaknesses When Attacking & Being Attacked

Posted by Den on March 10, 2012 in Self Defense, Survival, Survive
Self Defense Physiology

Where are you most vulnerable? Where are you strongest? How do you defend against edged weapons, and how does that change with impact weapons? Let’s find out!

Any mechanic will tell you the best tools in the world are useless if you don’t understand how to apply them to the vehicle you’re working on. The same holds true when it comes to techniques and skills for fighting and self-defense.

While it’s valuable to know how to punch, kick, block, or pull off an arm-bar… these techniques are only useful when applied at the right time, in the right situation, against the most vulnerable target on your hypothetical opponent. By the same token, if you’re attacked, knowing what part of your body to defend with against different kinds of attacks (knife, blunt weapon, fist, foot, brick) can mean the difference between life and death.

When I talk to people who haven’t studied the “martial” side of martial arts in great detail, it becomes clear that there is a serious lack of understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their own bodies, much less those of an opponent. When it comes to defending your life from an attacker, a solid understanding of your physiology, with all its strengths and weaknesses, is foundational.

Fortunately there is a logic to the ‘design’ of your body. Today I’m going to discuss how your anatomy is designed, how aspects of your physiology are more or less susceptible to different forms of attack, and give you a framework for defending yourself and surviving a number of different scenarios. Your body is designed to protect you from injury, whether falling down a mountain, being mauled by a cougar, or attacked by a fellow human being. But there are different parts of your body that are better served to protect against certain attacks, and which are vulnerable to other kinds of attacks.  Let’s take a look at some different concepts:0

General Concepts Behind Your Physiology
Like any good weapon of war, the ‘outward’ facing regions of your arms and legs are designed to be ‘armored’… The same is true of your entire backside, which is naturally your most vulnerable region as you can’t see or defend against attacks from behind. This is why, in a life-or-death situation, especially where there may be more than attacker, it’s important to keep your back facing a wall or other impassable object. In these regions of your body, there are virtually no vital veins or arteries, instead we are designed to have these protective regions padded with protective muscles. This helps you understand why a boxer uses their forearms, biceps and shoulders to absorb punches, and why Muay Thai fighters can absorb tremendous kicks with their outer calf and outer thighs…

With different kinds of attacks, there are different vulnerabilities, and different areas of your body that you need to protect.   Of the entire body, your eyes and throat are the most vulnerable. While the eyes are very small targets, even a tiny amount of force can be both physically and psychologically debilitating. Your throat is especially vulnerable because, relative to the eyes, it is a much larger target, and is vulnerable for both the veins and arteries, the esophageal airway, and the delicate neck skeletal structure and atlas (or top vertebra which connects the neck to the skull).

While the upper back is fairly well armored, your kidneys are found on both sides of your lower back and are somewhat vulnerable to attack.

The solar plexus is located at the bottom of your rib cage, right in the center of your torso. Being struck here, particularly upward, can lead to having the wind knocked out of you… a temporary problem but even a second of this kind of vulnerability can get you killed (I go into having the wind knocked out of you, and how to avoid it, in great detail here). While it can be hard to keep this area covered while also protecting your head, face, neck and short ribs, keeping your stomach tensed and flexed whenever an attacker is within range to strike will significantly reduce the chance of getting the wind knocked out of you.

By keeping your elbows tucked similar to a boxer, you can protect your floating ribs when someone is in close enough to hit you with a ‘body shot’.

Similarly, for a man, being struck in the groin can be debilitating (as well as psychologically damaging). To avoid this, try to not adopt a ‘goal post’ stance, with your legs wide open. Keep your front leg turned slightly inward, as this keeps your knee turned slightly in, which in turn closes the ‘door’ to your groin.

Your throat is especially vulnerable to attack, which is why it’s important to keep your chin down and your shoulders raised slightly. It is preferable to take damage to your arms and shoulders than to pretty much any part of your neck or throat.

Another important aspect to protecting yourself is to NEVER turn your back on an attacker… unless you’re well out of range and are running away (always the best bet). The reason is simple: when your back is turned, your arms, legs, hands and feet are all useless… they can’t protect you and they also can’t attack your attacker.

When your attacker is directly in front of you, they are in what we call your “100% Zone”. We call it that because in this relationship, you are able to strike them with both arms and legs… with 100% of your weapons. When they are to your side, you can only defend or attack them with one arm or leg… half your weapons. Thus they are in your “50% Zone”. When they are behind you, they are in your “0% Zone” because neither arms nor legs can do much to help from this position. You are now in a 100% defensive position… Leaving them in a 100% offensive position. They are now free to attack you with everything they’ve got, with no fear of being hit or counter-attacked. This is the worst of all positions to be in, and can quickly lead to your demise.

Conversely, if you are able to keep them in your 100% position, while moving yourself to THEIR 50% or 0% position, you increase your odds significantly.

Bladed Weapon Defense: Knife Attacks, Broken Bottle, Razor Blade, Sword (i.e., sharp objects)

knife_defense_diagramBladed attacks are most damaging to two areas: zones with veins and arteries, and areas with internal organs. It is much preferable to take a knife to your musculature, which will not bleed out nearly as fast or kill you. When defending against a knife, you want to focus on using the tops of your forearms… this is for two reasons: 1) the veins and arteries of the arm are all on the bottom “belly” of your forearms, so you are much less likely to ‘bleed out’ from a cut where there are no such targets 2) if cut on the top of your forearm, it will affect the muscles that you use to OPEN your hands. If cut on the bottom belly of your forearms, it disables the muscles which control CLOSING your hands. This means losing your ability to grasp your opponent, their weapon hand, or even your own weapon. Thus, taking a cut on the top of the forearm is superior to almost any other location on your body. It is also very far from your heart, and unlikely to lead to a fatality.

As gruesome as it is to think about it, your bones are also enemies of the knife. The knife is a relatively delicate weapon and works by slicing through skin, muscle, veins and organs. Bone stops a knife from being able to penetrate. The Ulna is a very shallow bone with almost nothing but skin protecting it… thus it serves as an excellent ‘shield’ against a knife attack. Wrapping a shirt around your forearm and positioning your hands somewhat facing your face will expose the ulna and afford you extra protection.


If you can’t run away from an attacker with a knife, you want to keep as much distance as possible. A knife is devastating at close range. Diving in to try and grab the knife is a quick way to get gutted like a fish. Also, it’s important to remember that you have options OTHER than trying to grab their weapon hand. If you knock them unconscious, or can grab another object that you can use as an improvised weapon – preferably with more striking range than a knife – you stand a much better chance.

Impact Weapon Defense: Attacked By Baseball Bat, Stick, Wrench, Hammer, etc.
On the other hand, bludgeoning weapons work on the principle of crushing and smashing. They are much less effective on the soft compressible muscles and tissues of the body, which absorb their impact. However, impact weapons are devastating to bones and joints… So if your attacker has a stick, baseball bat, wrench, etc., you need to think differently. Sticking your hands out is just begging to have the delicate, and important bones in your hands crushed to dust… standing in an extended pose with one leg way forward limits your ability to quickly move out of the way of an attack and exposes that forward leg and knee to a devastating and crippling blow.

Self Defense Physiology

The Author, Den Bradshaw (right) stick fighting at Fightology

Against an opponent with an impact weapon, it is preferable to keep a neutral position that allows you the most mobility. You want to be able to move quickly in and out of range of their weapon. If you can’t run away, your best chance at neutralizing their ability to tear you apart is by “crashing in”.

Just like a kick that takes a relatively large motion to generate its force, an impact weapon needs at least a little range to be most effective. By crashing in, you steal your opponent’s ability to swing their weapon effectively, and lessen the potential of a catastrophic injury. So remember: Bladed Weapon, block with bones and muscled areas, and protect the soft, veiny parts of your body that will suffer the most damage.

With Impact Weapons  protect your joints and try to crash in before or (ideally) immediately after your attacker has swung the weapon… this will be when it’s hardest to regenerate force for them.   This is just a primer on self-defense. I’ve trained for 15 years with Master Instructor Mark Mikita of Fightology.com and highly recommend learning to defend yourself. It’s better to have the skill and never need it, than one day need it and not have it.

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Protecting Yourself From Cancer…

Posted by Den on February 20, 2012 in Stuff Dad Didn't Teach You..., Survival, Survive, Thrive


The goal of this site is to teach you the things your dad should have but didn’t… But it’s easy to  get caught up in  crazy adventures and lose sight of the fact that often our survival hinges on day-to-day habits and activities… When most people think of “survival”, they worry about the short-term killers… Being shot by an attacker, having a semi run them off the freeway, maybe being crushed in an earth-quake or having to fight off sharks and mountain lions (at the same time)…

As much as the media builds up a lot of fear around these types of things, (especially the shark-cougar thing), these things are not what is most likely to take you out of the game. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes… these are statistically much more likely to be a deadly risk to you…

Which is why today I’m going to talk to you about a long-term survival play: protecting yourself from Cancer.

This subject really hits home for me, as it’s something that is on my radar in a big way… You see, my dad died of skin cancer when I was 22.  Melanoma is a very aggressive form of cancer, and for him it started with a mole that metastasized (turned nasty). This is an easy thing to recognize and prevent, if you know how… And that’s what I’ll be sharing with you today.

Since my dad’s passing, I’ve been to countless dermatologists, and had probably 20+ moles removed from my body. (Sadly, we’re a moley-group in my family).  In my many visits, I’ve learned what dermatologists call the “A,B,C,D’s” of detecting a potentially threatening mole. When you look at a mole, look for these 4 things.  Any one by itself isn’t cause for much alarm.  Two  or more should raise a red flag. 3 or more and you should go see a dermatologist immediately.  Obviously if you see a mole with all 4, get it removed and tested ASAP.

The ABCD’s of Melanoma Skin Cancer (How To Spot A Mole-Gone-Bad)
(images taken from the American Melanoma Foundation)

A is for Asymmetrical with Skin Cancer and MelanomaA stands for Asymmetrical… Most moles are circular and thus symmetrical.  If you have a mole that is NOT circular, but instead has an odd shape, this is a warning sign…


B is for Border in melanomasB stands for Border… Most moles have a smooth, even border around their outer perimeter.  If you have a mole with a rough, uneven border, take note.


C is for Color with Melanoma and skin cancerC stands for Color… Moles that are all one color are considered lower risk of being malignant (evil).  By contrast a mole with several colors is suspicious…


D is for Diameter with melanoma and skin cancerstands for Diameter… This is a newer addition that was told to me more recently (I used to just use the ABC’s listed above).  Diameter means how wide the entire the mole is… Anything over 6mm is of concern…


Now it’s impossible to tell what event or series of causes trigger a cancer to develop… But there are things that we know for sure… Prolonged exposure to the radiation of the sun without proper protection can be a huge contributing factor.  The UV-A and UV-B light tends to trigger cancerous developments on the skin, including causing moles to “go bad”. However this can largely be prevented by using UV-protecting clothing and sun-block.

Protecting Yourself From The Sun

Some of my all-time favorite shirts are Mountain Hardwear long-sleeve adventure shirts.  They’re made of great materials, have zippered pockets, mesh panels that let you breathe in warm weather, sleeves that roll up and button, and best of all, they’re UPF 30, providing sun protection.


Another one of my favorite outdoor clothing lines are the pants and shirts by Bear Grylls / Craghoppers.  Again, they have UPF 40+, as well as great stretch panels, non-wrinkling materials, zippered pockets (keep keys and other things from falling out) and the shirts again have the mesh venting.  Their pants, made of very durable stretch-materials are by far my favorite… (I’m wearing a pair right now).  And as I said, they provide solid UV protection without even putting on sunscreen.

I have a friend who just had surgery on the top of his head for melanoma… Not fun at all… Remember, just because you may have hair up there, you’re not necessarily getting the protection you need…

Anti-cancer headwearA good hat will not only protect your head and scalp, it will also protect your neck, ears and face from the sun, as well as rain and wind.  My favorite adventure hat is the Outdoor Research “Seattle Sombrero”… It’s made with GoreTex, water repellent  easily shaped so it doesn’t look dorky, sides can fold up like a cowboy hat, and looks pretty cool to boot.


Speaking of sunscreen, I did some research to try and find the best available… Here are the top SPF 30 sunscreen lotion and spray, as rated by ConsumerReports:

All Terrain AquaSport SPF 30
– Rated Consumer Report’s best SPF30 sunscreen lotion (88 out of 100 points). This provides excellent UVA and UVB protection. An important aspect of this sunblock is that it’s Oxybenzone and Paraben-Free, (no point putting on sun-lotion if it has carcinogens in the cream).  And for an adventure-seeker, the protection was shown to last even with full immersion.

I am, by nature, somewhat lazy (and I’m not horribly flexible in the “reach your own back” category)… Which is why whenever possible I opt for spray on sunblock.  Consumer Reports rated Copertone’s Sport High Performance Ultra Sweatproof spray as the best spray-sunblock… It’s waterproof and sweat-proof.  When i don’t have to worry about package size constraints, this is what I use.

Not Looking Like A Vampire

There’s no denying it: when you’re tan, you generally look better… Your physique looks more “cut” and it’s usually a healthier look (despite the fact that it’s actually much less healthy).

Well, I like being tan, but I’ve learned to avoid tanning beds and laying out in the sun just to get tan… I expose myself to enough sunlight in my daily adventures, and it’s just not worth the risk of cancer…

So I’ve learned to use self-tanning lotion in the winter when I’m getting a little to pasty-white.  (The vampire look was never a good one for me).  After looking around a lot for self-tanners that didn’t make me stink like a chemical experiment, I’ve found two great things.

One is a self-tanning lotion that you can put on your face daily.  It’s all natural and does a really good, natural job without getting TOO colored or looking at all fake. I read a ton of reviews on Amazon, and the “Nature’s Gate Glow” lotion not only had the best reviews I could find (at this writing, 35 reviews with 24 5-star and 7 4-star reviews) but it was also quite affordable.


The other self-tanner that I use after a ton of research is the Banana Boat Summer Color lotion… It has a tiny bit more odor (but nothing like they used to be) and gives a nice deep tan which adjusts to your existing skin tone.  The tan was very natural, and I saw a huge difference after only one application.  Again, the reviews were awesome on Amazon (110 reviews with 73 5-star and 18 4-star).  This one works well for the body, too dark for the face in my opinion… it also has pigment in it so you can see where you’ve applied it and where you haven’t so you don’t have missing spots.  You get an instant “fake” tan from the pigment, and when you shower it off, it’s just the tan from the ingredients causing your skin pigment to change to brown.  The next morning you’re pretty nicely tan.  Again, this was not only very highly reviewed, but also quite inexpensive (at the time of this writing, 3 bottles for under 30 bucks).

There you have it. Of course, eating anti-oxidants, avoiding deep fried foods, and not sleeping in an x-ray chamber with your head inside a microwave is also highly recommended.

P.S.: Please be advised, I’m not a doctor, and this isn’t medical advice… Please consult your physician before making any decisions regarding your health.  This site is for entertainment purposes only. 


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