I Got My Butt Kicked by a 68 Year Old Woman...My Experience at a Target Focus Training Seminar
Yep, I'm not ashamed to say that is totally true. I've got the full story on it below.
And let me just say right up front, if you're AT ALL interested in self-defence (or if that title just grabbed your attention) and keeping yourself and your loved ones safe, this is an article you definitely need to read.
I attended a live Target Focus Training self-defence seminar in Chicago, run by Tim Larkin himself and I want to give you the full rundown on my experiences with the seminar and with the TFT system (including getting my butt kicked by a 68 year old woman, of course!)
When I first signed up to attend the Target Focus Training seminar, I honestly didn't know what to expect. I had watched the DVD's and read through several of Tim's books previously and really liked what I saw but live training is really whole different ballgame.
Now, if you're not familiar with Target Focus Training (and maybe if you're wondering what this possibly has to do with fitness or training!), here's the scoop...
Target Focus Training (TFT for short) is a self-defence system that does NOT rely on a bunch of set moves or strict techniques or complicated maneuvers that take a lot of time to master. The philosophy of TFT lies in targeting vulnerable areas of the human body when faced with a violent attacker and causing injury to those areas so your attacker is incapacitated.
This is a fancy way of saying in the TFT system, you're going to learn how to hurt people and hurt them real bad FAST.
Because when it really hits the fan, YOU want to be the one going home at night. And severely injuring the person(s) coming after is the surest bet that it WILL be you walking away.
So what does this have to do with fitness and training?
Good question...and I'll tell you my perspective on it.
Being big and strong can be great for intimidating "normal" people...a lot of people are going to think twice about taking a swing at you when you're a big guy with a lot of muscle.
These are NOT the people who pose a real threat to you.
It's the people who aren't intimidated by strength or muscle mass in the least because they know if they crack you the head with a rock first or stab you or shoot you, muscle won't help you. They don't live in the "action movie" world where the muscular hero cleans up a room full of bad guys who, inexplicably, take turns coming at him one at a time (just an observation).
REAL violence happens when you're not ready for it. It happens when you're putting your groceries in the car and you're distracted. You don't get time for the "staredown" and there will be no opening handshake. There will be the guy jumping you when you're not looking, followed by him and his friends kicking you once you're on the ground.
Don't get me wrong...training and being strong is a GREAT thing...but it's knowledge like the TFT stuff that will really make the difference.
Back to the seminar and how I got my butt kicked...
The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door was that everybody in the room was just an "average" person. This wasn't a room full of bodybuilders, MMA fighters or martial artists or anything like.
Go the mall and you'll see people just like this...all ages from a 16 year old kid there with his dad to a 300 lb former police officer all the way to that 68 year old woman I mentioned. There is no age limit...no considerations for physical ability or strength. It's all about attacking the targets.
Tim's introduction really gets your attention. Graphic videos of real-life violence happening set the stage for the information he shares with you here. It's not gratuitous...it's very educational.
Tim also makes it VERY clear, this stuff isn't for anti-social situations (like when somebody spills a drink on you at the bar or cuts you off on the road). Breaking an elbow over a spilled drink will get YOU in jail.
This is for "ASOCIAL" situations...like when somebody walk up and puts a gun to your head and demands your wallet. For situations when talking won't help and violence is the ONLY answer.
To be very clear...Tim is not trying to turn you into a cold-blooded killer.
But this is stuff the bad guys already instinctively know. If they want something from you, the easiest way to get it from you is to injure you so you can't fight back.
And this is what you need to do to THEM. Because once you've dealt them an injury, their brain is no longer thinking about hurting you...it's consumed with the pain of the injury (if the person is still even conscious at that point).
The first target Tim talked about was the eyes. He showed us several techniques for gouging a person's eyes, which would, of course, make for an extremely effective injury. The next target was the groin...obviously a commonly-known target there.
We all partnered up and took turns practicing on each other.
Tim and his instructors went through several more targets and explained exactly how to attack each one effectively with just your "body weapons" (as Tim calls them - i.e. your forearms, knees, heels, and your bodyweight, which is the BEST weapon of them all).
We learned strikes on the liver, kidneys, throat, back of the neck, side of the neck, bridge of the nose, knees, ankles, solar plexus and more. We also learned (and this is big distinction from a lot of other self-defence systems) how the body REACTS to being stuck in each area.
For example, when hit in the groin, you bend forward with an arched back but your head stays looking up with your chin sticking out. But struck in the solar plexus and you hunch forward and look down.
These body reactions are critical because you NEED to know how the person will react when you strike them in a certain place. Because it'll lead you directly into the NEXT injury you're going to cause them.
Again, the emphasis is on creating an injury - no wasted movements. Every time you strike somebody, it's to cause an injury to them.
Then the fun began...free fighting...
This was a unique experience to me. There were 36 people in the room, all partnered up, all going through slow-motion attack sequences on each other. And all in complete SILENCE.
(Tim and the instructors make it a very strict rule...in asocial situations, there is no talking. There is no bravado or banter. There's just you and the guy who wants to you put you down as quickly as possible so you don't get a chance to do anything to HIM.)
As I mentioned above with learning the reactions to strikes, the "victims" in the free fighting session know exactly how to react to each strike that's being dealt to them so it's more realistic
CRITICAL MINDSET POINT...You Are NEVER The Victim...
Each free fighting begins with your partner moving aggressively towards you...either taking a slow swing, putting a hand on your shoulder, coming at you with a rubber knife, etc.
YOU then become the "attacker" (and this is key...when somebody comes after you, DO NOT think of yourself as the victim...EVER) and proceed to strike your partner, chaining one target attack into the next available target that presents itself. After several strikes (when you're sure your partner would not be a threat to you in a "real" situation"), you get up and turn your back to them.
That's the signal for the next free-fight sequence to begin.
And this is where I got my butt kicked by a 68 year old woman.
Ok, not literally ...she was my partner in one of the free-fight practices and had no trouble at all putting me on the ground with multiple severe injuries.
Same deal for her 70 year old husband. He kicked my butt, too.
Oh, I got my revenge on them, though...and also on the 300 lb former police officer! I got to shatter his collarbone and rupture his spleen.
The second day, we went through knives, clubs, guns, and multiple attackers...all in the same format. What I REALLY liked about Tim's approach to weapons training is that it's pretty much EXACTLY the same as somebody without a weapon (naturally, there are some modifications you need to make to account for the weapon).
But bottom line...your goal is NOT to attack the weapon but to still immediately get your injury. Because a person with a knife, when you take out their eye and crack their knee, will no longer be a person with a knife.
Multiple attackers...same deal. Tim's approach to multiple is really elegant...put an injury on one then get yourself on the OTHER side of your "victim" so THAT guy is between you and his buddy. Then put an injury on the OTHER guy coming at you.
Stupid simple...and once you have the targeting techniques to back it up, your confidence level will really go up.
Naturally, don't read this then go out and try and take on two thugs at once without any specific knowledge or practice.
LEARN THIS STUFF FIRST.
And I Really Have To Say, You Would Be CRAZY Not to Check This TFT Stuff Out
From my perspective, not having a big background in martial arts, I know I could take somebody out pretty easily with the knowledge I gained just from that 2 day seminar.
The only thing was when I left the class, I felt like a Terminator, walking around assessing the available "targets" of every person I passed...
And I'll say one thing...this system really teaches you valuable lessons about why you really don't want to get into a fight over something trivial with anyone.
Somebody steals your parking spot? Let them have it. It's not worth YOU going to jail for "teaching them a lesson" and severely injuring and possibly killing them.
Somebody jumps in the cab you called? Let them have it. What if you grab this person and they have a gun? Don't get shot over a cab.
This information is really going to change the way you look at violence AND how you, personally, would react to violence if it happened to you.
So...are YOU going to be a victim?
Or do you have the knowledge to immediately become the attacker yourself?And finally...are you willing to BET YOUR LIFE on that knowledge?
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