After having Tony Blauer on the podcast, I attended his seminar over in Atlanta for the CrossFit Self Defense program.
I’ve got some martial arts background mixed in with boxing, so I was probably a little ahead on some things required to pick up the movements easier than some of the other attendees in terms of stance, centering bodyweight, etc. Things that are useful in learning self-defense. Tony’s SPEAR program is a very simplistic, yet effective set of movements that can be picked up quickly by a novice. The program through CrossFit mixes the things that you already know how to do and then puts them to use in a defensive manner.
But this isn’t to say that it’s all aggression and an attacking system. Tony started the seminar with philosophies towards sensing danger, staying aware of your surroundings and defusing situations. He presented these and then offered his own experiences and those of his past students.
The best part, in my opinion, was when he asked us if we wanted to do a WOD to warm up and acted as if he was just throwing movements out there for us to do….some were not paying attention and I could tell by the second thing he wrote on the whiteboard that he was talking about doing Fran. Damnit, Tony.
So here’s the premise as it ties into CrossFit; If you can front rack a loaded bar, you have an elbow strike. If you can throw a wall ball, you can do a double hand chin strike, Mountain Climbers? Boom, knee strikes. Let’s get back to the mental side of things. I really like the SPEAR program because it breaks down the aspect of the mental side of fear, potential violent situations and how the human brain works in conjunction with all of this.
Unlike practically every martial art out there, the program Tony had developed can be used in ways that aren’t dependent on specific attacks. I’m reminded of the scene in “Napoleon Dynamite” with Rex Kwan Do….”Grab my arm, my other arm..” For those of you who have studied any sort of martial arts, which is usually some sort of Karate, the defending movements depends on someone to do a specific move. “Ok, come at me with an overhead blow…” Boring, predictable.
Violent encounters aren’t scripted, the person that is looking to harm you depends on nothing at all, only that they want to harm you in some way and will come at you anyway they can. I want you to do this experiment with someone. Tell them to take their arm, extend it fully with a fist at the end. Have them set that fist near your friend’s ear on their shoulder and the goal is for you to bend their arm. Do this slowly and not a lot pressure, you don’t want to hurt them.
Grasp your hands together and pull down on their arm that elbow. You’ll find that after some resistance, you’ll be able to bend their arm. Now do this again, only this time, the fingers are open or splayed as Tony calls it. You’ll find the difference to be harder for you to bend their arm.
Regardless of build, arm strength, etc….this is down to physics and the way that the human body is built.
You’ll notice going through the site that Tony refers to Outside 90 a lot. This is the one and only way that he will only refer to any sort of stance in the SPEAR program. Note in the photo above, you’ll see this Outside 90 in use with the guys in a red shirt and gray shirt. Trust me, this is one of the most effective actions I’ve ever learned in all my years learning martial arts, self-defense movements and all that. You can learn the SPEAR system quick if you have an open-mind and can move as you do in CrossFit WODs.
I got to hang out with Tony and can now call him a friend. If you have an opportunity to attend one of his seminars. I can’t recommend it enough for the Old Swoles out there.