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Self-defense isn’t fighting

Part 1

This is my blog.
These are my goals.

“The chance reading of a book or of a paragraph in a newspaper can start a man on a new track and make him renounce his old associations and seek new ones …
and the result, for that man, can be an entire change of his way of life.”
—Mark Twain

My goal is to make people safer through this blog. Just like Mr. Twain wrote above. Someone reads something and thinks about it. If it’s provocative enough, it’ll stimulate brain activity, expand awareness, educate the reticular cortex… and voila, like it or not, they’re safer. And this applies to the layperson and expert alike. An intelligent dissection and discussion will make you safer if you commit to the discussion.

In the beginning

I’ve been thinking about self-defense since I was 6 years old. Back in the 60’s you didn’t really know what fighting was. It wasn’t mainstream like it is today. It was all I thought about. I was consumed by it. I was always imagining what I’d do if someone was hiding around that corner, always scanning and sizing people up, wondering what I’d do if… I thought I was weird and kept it to myself, never spoke about it because, frankly, no one spoke about it back then. Fighting infatuated me. The movement, the power, but it was mostly the fear that intrigued me. Fear of losing, fear of violence…

I started wrestling when I was 9 or 10. Then in 1973, during the Bruce Lee craze, I got hooked on martial arts. The only martial art school in my area was a Chong Lee Tae Kwon Do affiliate. I joined and trained every day for years. After a meaningless, testosterone-inspired fight in high school, I realized my TKD back-fist needed back-up, which lead me to start boxing. I was 15. I fell in love with boxing – chess with muscles at 100mph – you got stung when you zigged instead of zagged. I loved sparring and I loved getting hit. As much as I loved martial arts, so much of it was technical. In the ring, there was no more choreographed theory. Virtual become visceral.

When I was 15ish, my Mom asked me what I was going to be when I grew up? lawyer? doctor?. I told her, “Mom, I’m going to develop my own self-defense system, like Bruce Lee.” She smiled and literally pat me on the head and said,“OK dear, we’ll talk about this when you’re a little older.”

I haven’t stopped since then, close to 50 years of passion, infatuation, discipline, but more importantly, investigation. I question everything, I weigh & consider and introspect, this way I understand both the subject and the substance. Today, 5 decades later, after being transfixed by Robert Conrad as Jim West punch out bad guys in the original Wild Wild West & Bruce Lee as Kato them,ping thugs on the Green Hornet I’m still training, practicing, and coaching but most importantly, I’m still learning. And this year I had a realization:

Self-defense isn’t fighting.

…to be continued


Next blog I’ll be sharing thoughts on:

1. If self-defense isn’t fighting, what is it?
2. My big realization after my first student got his ass-kicked (actually, it was his face that got punched, that was a metaphor).
3. The world’s first functional definition for self-defense

Geography prevents many people from training with me, my team or affiliates. Finances may restrict many from attending courses, buying digital media or ultimately, purchasing High Gear for the most realistic level or stress-inoculation. But almost everyone has access to the internet. I hope you enjoy these ramblings. And please share them with family, friends, and colleagues.

*If you have a specific question please email it to [email protected] and I’ll try to feature it in an upcoming blog post.


Lastly, some rules about comments and discussions:

1. When I post a thought it’s to inspire introspection and invite discussion (even if the discussion is with yourself, in your head.).
2. Weigh and consider before you react. If you ‘react’, if you read something that pushes a button, creates some defiant reaction, might I suggest you meditate on that clue.
3. If you read something you don’t like, ask yourself ‘why?’. And if you write something, might I suggest you sleep on the reply before you hit ‘send’.
4. If you decide to post a comment because you don’t like something, explain why.
5. If you decide to post a comment because you like something, explain why.
6. Let’s have fun but let’s grow and improve awareness, vocabulary and intrapersonal skills.

About Coach B. 

Coach Tony Blauer is one of the only personal defense & combatives experts who has successfully affected training across all the combat related communities: self-defense, combat sports and the military & law enforcement sector. His research on physiology, mindset as it relates to confrontation management has influenced over three decades of reality-based martial artists.

Enjoy this montage from Coach Blauer.


So many years ago..great memories. Who do you recognize in this photo?


Probably 14 years (1974) old working on nunchaku skills in my basement.


My High Gear Impact Reduction Suit revolutionized scenario training. I worked on that suit for 5 years before the prototype was bought by NAVSPECWARCEN, my first client


Over the years I have the great pleasure and honor or learning from, training beside and getting to know some amazing people. Randy actually brought High Gear onto the fist TUF show. It was given to him b Evan Tanner who bought the gear on his own to practice ‘ground n pound.’


25 years after helping train Tommy Morrison for Rocky V, I bumped into Sly in LA.


I first learned about CrossFit in 2005, got certified in 2006 and have been part of the family since. In 2012, we started beta testing CorssFit Defense, a custom course built around the Box and the community that capitalizes on the athleticism the CrossFit methodology builds.


High Gear in action. 25 years later High Gear is still the go-to gear for progressive trainers.


Zoom in if you can. The picture below was taken 20 years early during a world tour in Australia. Robert, who took the picture brought it to a seminar 20 years later! Hey, mom, I’m teaching self-defense. ;-)


Working with a US Army unit in Germany.


We designed and defined the “No-room-to-shoot/No-time-to-shoot” scenario. This added another dimension to operators training and made them safer during extreme close quarter confrontations.


Even though I’m an empty hand guy, I still work on all relevant skills.


As a wrestler, the grappling/ground fighting connection was natural for me. At the age of 56, I’ve really started getting into formal BJJ and train as often as I can. This photo is from a seminar 20 years ago inCentral Park.


Working with Frank Mir before his fight with Nogueira. High Gear was an integral part of the training. It was also the first time Bog Nog was knocked out. Over the years, I’ve had the honor to work ground n pound with other MMA luminaries like BJ Penn, GSP, Urijah Faber, and many others. I love these guys!


I remember back in 1980 after Black Belt magazine ran a feature on my approach to self-defense. I told myself, “One day, I’m going to be on the cover of BB.”


Give me a white board and marker and buckle up. There is so much more to coaching than physical repetition. It’s why we share the ‘substance’ in all our courses. No mysticism. Modern neuroscience calls it brain-based education, I call it ‘good coaching’. :-)



Greg had a bunch of suits at his gym until a thief took them during break-in years ago.


Outside 90 – Fingers Splayed. No joke. That’s an 80,000-year-old DNA at work. The SPEAR System teaches the practitioner to embrace physiology and have the cognitive brain and reptilian brain sync up and do battle as a team


Coaching is my canvas. Being able to share our research and help make the world safer is what drives me.




We run camps every year. We try to pick different locations. This was at my training center in VA in 2009.








BJ Penn using High Gear to work isolation drills on a partner.





Love him or hate him (I dig him) Dana White is a visionary and icon who has helped change the world of combat sports.

Frank Mir using High Gear

Working with Mir on how to make close quarter strikes less telegraphic.





Urijah using the gear to protect his sparring partners. This is really what the gear is all about!






Some soldiers warming up before jumping into High Gear







Ouch. The beauty about High Gear is that it allows you to do contact reps without destroying your sparring partners and role-players. You still feel the shots, so there is fear of contact and risk, which are both necessary if you’re going to learn how to fight or defend yourself.

Frank working some GnP passes...

Frank working some GnP passes…while Miguel Torres looks on.

Frank, his belt and WEC champ Miguel Torres.

Frank, his belt and WEC champ Miguel Torres.





I love working with professional athletes, and hanging out g with all these guys at the same time was an awesome experience.


The Pit Master and GSP. I knew George before he was “Rush”. John is another legend and I have become good friends over the years. The martial arts journey has taught me so much over the years.

SPEAR vs Jab: you decide

Core to extremity. This is the same ‘push-step-drag’ a boxer would use to launch a jab. Using the forearm vs the fist, changes a lof the physics.


Fun session in Hawaii during one of BJs camps.


2 Responses to Self-defense isn’t fighting

  1. matt robet says:

    loved this post cant wait for part2
    chess with muscles is one of the best descriptions of boxing ive heard.

  2. Murray Porath says:

    Happy birthday, Coach!(2 May)

    A RealStudent never forgets…:-)

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