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    You’re walking home on an otherwise nice brisk evening with your family or loved one when, out of nowhere, you are surrounded by aggressive and intimidating people that want to harm you. They may just yell and/or push at first. They may grab you, or swing or threaten you with a gun or a knife. What would you do? Would you know what to do to protect yourself and your family? How would you feel? How would you react? 


    Any of these scenarios are scary at best and deadly at worst. Over 1500 people die from injuries involving knife attacks each year; 5 times as many as those killed by rifles. Statistics aside, the brutal reality is that knives are prevalent and dangerous, knife wounds are nasty and becoming a victim is totally preventable. It is wise to train to defend against threats and attacks with knives, and the best time to think about this is not when the attack is imminent and real. I highly recommend that every reader get some training. For the purposes of this article, I will address 5 hacks that could save your life in a knife attack scenario.

1. Understand the Threat. 

    Knives are a real threat! They are common, easy to carry and conceal, and can inflict severe wounds and damage, up to and including death. I really don’t think that most people understand how nasty slashes and stabs of the knife upon human flesh can be. This is a mistake. Awareness of the seriousness of the threat is an important step in preparing to deal with it. Awareness can also help you to pay attention, noticing who around is carrying a knife well before any threat exists. 

    On the other hand, it’s very important to know that it’s very possible to survive an attack if you know how to. In the best case, of course, you have trained in advance. The time to condition to react correctly is when the threat isn’t real; I often remind my students that, “it’s a good thing to get stabbed with a rubber knife all day long”. What can be a painful or deadly mistake in real life is, in training, only feedback. 

    With or without training, it is important to understand that fighting back aggressively will more likely improve your situation. We know from the defensive wounds of attack crime reports that the victim will not often be killed by the first, second or even first several attacks. Most attackers are not trained knife fighters, but rather an angry person attacking viciously with an overhand (icepick) stab, underhand upward vertical strike, stabbing or slashing, and probably repeatedly, but probably with more aggressiveness than accuracy. It is for this reason that actively defending is so important, and this leads us to knife hack number two.

2. Aggressive Counterattack

    As I alluded to in number one, the victim that tries to defend without fighting back is the most likely to be killed by a knife attack. Of course, if the scum bag threatening you with a knife just wants your money, you should give him your money because, as I have also already suggested, a knife fight situation is not something that you really want to get into. The variables are many and the stakes are high; so, if he wants something that you can easily replace, the right play is to give it.

    My teacher once told me, though, that when you are dealing with a terrorist, you should consider yourself already dead, and that any move that you make to improve your situation improves your situation. While I am certainly not saying that every knife attacker is a terrorist, I am saying that not everyone with a knife will leave you alone just because you give them what they want. You will have to make the call of which one you are dealing with and act accordingly.

    This decision only applies to a knife threat, of course. Once the knife is in motion towards you, your decision time has been ended. This is the time when, as I say, you must deal aggressively with the problem. In my system, Krav Maga, we will use a block and a simultaneous counterattack. While the block will hopefully stop the first attack and, if not the first then the second; the aggressive counterattacks address the problem. The problem isn't the knife but rather is the attacker wielding the knife, and that problem must be dealt with aggressively.

3. Control The Weapon

    As soon as we block and counterattack, we should also attempt to control the weapon. The exception to this rule would be wherein we counterattack strongly enough that we make enough distance to completely disengage and get away so quickly that we don't have to, which is even better. In close proximity to the attacker, however, by necessity or because we can’t move quickly enough, we must control the weapon hand as soon as possible, stopping its ability to continue cycling the attack. We need to control long enough and well enough to affect knife hack number four.

4. Disengage or Neutralize

    As stated in number 3, making distance and getting away from the attacker and attack is the best case of all. The disengagement can happen directly after the initial defense and counterattack, if you made sufficient distance to escape and are fast enough to do so; or it could be after you entered and controlled the weapon, have already struck multiple times in the correct areas to slow down the attacker and then you disengage and exit the area while scanning for more attackers. Still other times, the situation may dictate that you can’t leave the scene; perhaps a small child or elderly parent keeps you from the ability to flee quickly. In this case, one must be able to neutralize the threat to ensure that he’ll be able to get his family home safely.

5. Prepare Today

      At the risk of being redundant, the very best thing that you can do to survive a violent knife attack is to start preparing for that scenario today. Be aware, of your own abilities and limitations, and also of your surroundings, including where you are, with whom and who else is in the area. Practice doing this always. At first it will feel funny, or even awkward; but like all new skills, awareness will become natural when practiced over time. If you can, get some training from an experienced instructor trained in a reality based martial art including knife defense. If you already train, practice seriously. I believe every Krav Maga student should have their own training knife and training gun. The combination of proper instruction on how to best defend yourself, with significant repetition and practice under stress, is the very best way to prepare today to defend tomorrow.

     I hope that nobody reading this ever has to defend themselves against a knife attack. In the best case, should you decide to take my advice and get some training, all the preparation will be only insurance. In a great school, the training will come with some bonuses including fun, fitness, friends and family, as well as the confidence to walk in peace. I pray every day that none of my students ever has to use the self-defense that I teach them because, by definition, somethings gone really bad and someone’s going to get really hurt. The only thing worse than having to defend, though, would be to have to and not be prepared for it. This is why we pray for the best, but train for the worst today.  

--Stephen Del Castillo  

 Grand Master Del Castillo (Shihan Steve) is the Founder and Master Instructor of Krav Maga Martial Arts. He has over 35 years of martial arts experience with the last 15 specifically in the Israeli Self Protection system known as Krav Maga. He is a 7th Degree Blackbelt and Master Instructor with Blackbelt Schools International, an MBA, and the Chief Instructor of KMMA USA, with affiliate instructors and schools around the country.

What an eventful weekend we had.  In fact, we have had quite an eventful month!  Now we are already into May and I am beginning to reflect a bit.  I will likely be doing several posts about

Words cannot begin to describe how proud I was this past weekend as Rita Kennedy tested for her 2nd Dan in Han Mu Do.  What an honor it was to stand beside her and to be her crash test dummy! That woman is phenomenal and is an example to us all of courage and tenacity.  She has a condition called Arnold-Chiari Malformation I.  From what I understand, it basically means that the cerebellum in her brain grew differently than that of other people, blocking the outflow of cerebrospinal fluid and compressing parts of the cerebellum against the skull.  She has had surgery to relieve pressure and other technical procedures that, frankly, I do not completely understand.  What I do know is that these procedures left her with an inhibited ability to remember things and her balance has been affected.

Mrs. Rita began training with Master Mateo Lopez at the gym and was able to reconnect her brain to her body.  She was doing physical therapy, but she attributes much of her progress to the practice of Han Mu Do. The repetition and practice in balance helped her to regain basic function in her body and mind and spirit---although, I believe that it would be very difficult to break Mrs. Rita's spirit. She's got a great deal of determination, discipline and energy. Just being able to train in class shows amazing resiliency.  How much more does it show that she has been able to push beyond the limitations set upon her and test all the way to 2nd Dan? This means that she has demonstrated the ability to remember and perform over 250 different techniques as well as over 20 forms (hyung)!!! 

As she has continued to train, she has inspired and empowered so many of us to excel and become better people through training; to push through those things that seem hard to succeed on a level beyond what we could imagine.

So, congratulations to Mrs. Rita Kennedy on earning your 2nd Dan Black Belt in Han Mu Do and thank you for inspiring us all to be better at what ever we attempt to accomplish!  I look forward to training with you more over the coming years!  God bless you, my friend!!

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month: There are organizations worldwide that are working to prevent rape. Please take a minute ad read about one such organization:

NO MEANS NO - Kenya is an organization that works to provide simple, high impact self defense training to as many women and children as possible worldwide. This organization works hard to prevent sexual assault. They work with boys and girls in schools in 6 week cycles three times per school year, with the number of students ranging from 7000-9000 per cycle. For far too long the overwhelming focus has been on aftercare strategies -- this needs to change. It is believed that self defense training can raise a woman or a child's chance of prevailing in a sexual assault by up to 85%!!

I agree with this organization that the best response to the epidemic of sexual assault is to provide our male and female student with an awareness of the causes and effects of sexual gender based violence and to provide the skills to intervene or prevent it. You may not live in Kenya, but the need for effective self defense is important worldwide. Please consider attending our workshop Saturday, April 22, 2017 from 2-4.  The proceeds go to support an organization that works to prevent sexual assault in the US. To register, click on the picture of the flyer or on the button below.

We asked kids in an online survey: "What should a coach care about most?" You might expect them to answer "to focus on winning." But "Put me in, coach!" is what most kids really want.


In fact, the majority didn't think winning was all that important. Only 7% of girls said coaches should be most concerned with winning, while about 18% of boys said so.

Here's what boys and girls value most in a coach:  

64% said giving everyone a chance to play

27% said teaching new skills

9% said winning  

Striving for excellence is a great goal, but when coaches and parents apply too much pressure, kids can get overly worried or push themselves too hard physically, leading to injuries. Some kids may even go on unhealthy diets to lose or gain weight to be better at their sport.  

And when sports become too competitive, kids who have only average or below-average skills might spend too much time on the bench instead of learning new skills.  

10th Degree master instructor Greg Silva says, "I have been a  martial arts instructor for 46 years.  I believe there are no better coaches than martial arts teachers."   Martial Arts instructors know that the door to success open "in" not "out".   That means the success to building an athlete who is well balanced yet understands that being in top shape and a top performer begins with the proper attitude, confidence, self esteem, sportsmanship and self control.    This building from the "inside out" will prevent kids from being lazy, giving up, or quitting.   The nature of martial arts with setting continuous goals is a key to it's success.   And there is no bench to sit on.   All kids learn, train and compete while playing the "game" in every class they take.  

To see how martial arts teaches so much join us in our free "Beginners Krav Maga" Workshop on Saturday, April 1. Adults will train from 10:00am-11:15am. Juniors will train at 11:15am-12noon.

Self-esteem develops over time.

And if it's low, it can be raised. Here are some things parents can do:

Help your child learn to do things. At every age, there are new things for kids to learn. Martial Arts is one of the best sports in which you can enroll your child because they will be learning all the time while having fun. Learning basics, the proper way to exercise, traditional martial arts kata and self defense are all skills that increase competence. Competence increases confidence and self-esteem.

When coaching kids how to do things, show and help them at first. Then let them do what they can, even if they make mistakes. Be sure your child has lots of opportunities to learn, try, and feel proud. Don't make new challenges too easy -- or too hard. Holding pads too high for them to reach may seem funny, but can also lead them to believe that they are not talented.

Praise your child, but do it wisely. Of course, it's good to praise kids. You praise is a way to show that you are proud, too. But research shows that some ways of praising kids can actually backfire. At our school, we use a technique called a praise sandwich. We praise effort, make a correction and praise improvement after the child practices more.

Here's how to do it right:

Avoid over-praising. Praise that doesn't feel earned doesn't ring true. For example, telling a child he kicked almost straight up when he know he didn't feels hollow and fake. It's better to say, "I know that was a tough class, but we all have off days. I'm proud of you for not giving up." Add a vote of confidence, "Tomorrow, you'll be back on your game."

Praise effort rather than fixed qualities.  Avoid focusing praise on results such as doing the best in class or fixed qualities such as being smart or athletic. This kind of praise can lead kids to avoid challenges that may threaten the good "reputation" they get praised for the most.

Instead, offer most of your praise for effort, progress, and attitude. For example: "You're working hard on that split," or "You're getting better and better at these combinations," or, "I'm proud of you for practicing and going to classes -- you've really stuck with it." This kind of praise encourages kids to put effort into things, work toward goals, and try.  When kids do that, they are more likely to succeed.

Be a good role model.  When you put effort into everyday tasks (like raking the leaves, making a meal, cleaning up the dishes, or washing the car), you are setting a good example.  Your child learns to put effort into doing homework, cleaning up toys, or doing great stances!

Modeling the right attitude counts, too!  If you train in martial arts along with your child, get excited about the classes (or at least do them without grumbling or complaining), you teach your child to do the same.

Ban harsh criticism. The messages kids hear about themselves from others easily translate into how they feel about themselves.  Harsh words ("You're so lazy") are harmful, not motivating. When kids absorb negative messages about themselves, they feel bad about themselves, and act accordingly.

Focus on strengths.  Pay attention to what your child does well and enjoys. Make sure your child has opportunities to develop these strengths. Nurturing strengths is better than focusing on weaknesses if you want to help kids feel good about themselves and succeed. All students progress at different rates at different points in their martial arts journey. It's not a belt race - it's all about becoming a black belt over time not "getting" a black belt. --

I had the privilege and honor to teach a break-out session and a couple of self defense sessions at a local women's conference this past weekend.  It was such a wonderful, refreshing time spent with strong women who make a big difference in our community and church.  There were ladies there from a wide age range, all different backgrounds, skin colors, socio-economic stations; single ladies, married ladies, divorced ladies; some in church ministry, some lay workers, professional women, business owners, employees; -- all were so beautiful and valuable in their own way.  It was truly beautiful to see so many differences overlooked with love and true ministry to the hearts. There were too many things that we have in common!

This was a retreat put on by our church, but the women these were not your typical church ladies.  They are the ones that go out into the world as ambassadors.  It was not a "bless me, I deserve it" weekend.  It was a "fill me up so that I can go out and pour out on the world" weekend. Empowering!

There were many great moments this weekend and one that broke my heart and also gave me hope. The women were invited to cast off misplaced shame. Women who had been physically and emotionally abused, assaulted, raped, molested - injured at the hands of someone else and had carried the blame on themselves responded to that call. Probably 4 out of 5 of the ladies there were affected by these things. I watched in amazement as powerful and lovely women began the process of healing. The change was palpable.

This was real life. This is what doing life together looks like. It's not judgment. It's not finger pointing. It's binding together in hope and love, becoming vulnerable and finding healing. It is my firm belief that the realm of safety that was established was there because of the blood of Christ. That is where we all find help and healing and comfort. I am so grateful to be a part of a ministry that takes seriously the call of being the body of Christ and ministering to our community.

Find a way to make a difference in your community today. Help to provide for a local shelter, take on the challenge of caring for a child, make a meal for a friend or a stranger, make a needed repair, pray for others. Let's do life together!

Oh, and if you want to train some Krav Maga, you are more than welcome to come on by the gym this evening and join us.  There will be a group from COTR training at 7 pm.


I am working on a talk that I am giving this weekend at a women's retreat for my church and I thought that you might enjoy a bit of a preview!  Every single one of us has this wonderful gift -- FEAR!  I have to give credit to this thought process to Gavin de Becker and his book, The Gift of Fear.  However, I have done other research and would like to share a bit of it with you.

Why do I feel that we should not hire that nice babysitter? Why does that guy make me want to move away from him? A stranger helps carry a woman's groceries. Is he a good Samaritan or is he after something else?

The word fear can have several different things: terror; dread; panic; alarm; reverence and respect.  Most of us would associate the word with the meaning that it is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.  It is often associated with the release of adrenaline and other bio-chemicals that can lead us to either fight, flee, or freeze.  This is an amazing ability and when we train to understand our body's natural response to stress, then we can learn to utilize fear to move us into action.

Our brain is so wonderfully made that it picks up on subtleties on a subconscious level that our conscious thinking interprets as emotion.  So, when our subconscious sees abnormalities in our normal life, then it send the signal to our conscious brain that something needs to happen.  This can be interpreted as fear. Trust that instinct!

THIS is why some people give us the creeps.  THIS is why we feel weird about that very nice babysitter.  THIS is how you determine whether the guy is a good Samaritan or if he's after something else. I personally love to see the best in people and think the best of others, but I am learning more and more to trust that beautiful gift!

If you attending the retreat this weekend, you will hear so much more and have the opportunity to train with me. If you are not attending the retreat, then you are more than welcome to come and train in the gym!  I am always spouting out stuff I have learned over the years! -- Dan


From Grown and Flown - parenting never ends.   

 Quitting. We quit jobs, we quit marriages, we walk out on friendships and sometimes we let people down when the going gets tough. Sometimes it is necessary, even the right thing to do. Our kids quit teams and music lessons, art classes and after school programs.

 Sometimes it’s necessary, but sometimes they are bored or don’t like the coach or would just rather play video games at home. Deciding when to let your kids quit something, be it Gymboree, Little League or SAT prep, is a question that never goes away.

 My kids have tried it all.  I have driven them to sports, found drum teachers, glass blowing lessons, painting and ceramics classes. They have tried their hands at their school newspapers, student government, ESL tutoring and computer programming camp, though why that qualifies as camp, I am sure that I will never know. In the end, they did not commit to most of these activities, but at the same time, I never let them quit a single activity.

 Our rule is simple: Try any activity that we have the resources to make possible. Go once, go even twice but if you commit, I told my kids, there will be no quitting. At the risk of overgeneralizing, I think our children have so many choices of ways to enrich their lives that sometimes kids quit an activity as an easy response to frustration or boredom.

 I regret many of the things in life that I quit, not because I was enjoying them when I left, but because if I had stuck it out and reached any sort of competency, I might have found that elusive enjoyment. In reality, this meant that my kids had to stick with the team until the season ended or an art class until the sessions ended. There was no walking out on computer camp because it was dumb or quitting drums because we recognized a dearth of musical talent. Every activity was to be seen through to completion.

 Why was I so tough on them? Why draw what might seem like an arbitrary line in the sand?

 Constancy, commitment and loyalty are all values I hoped to instill in my sons. Learning to endure something even when it became boring or unpleasant, when the coach or teacher didn’t like my kid, or vice versa, seemed a lesson truly worth teaching. I thought that the first time I let them walk away from something just because at that moment it didn’t suit them was the last time I had any credibility about endurance or resilience because the refrain henceforth would have been, “but you let me quit….”

 Over time, my kids learned they were never going to be allowed to quit things so they should be careful about what they committed themselves to, because the word commit was going to be taken literally. The result? Good things and bad. Perhaps they didn’t try things they might have, although we usually made clear up front that you could try something (say by going once or twice) but after they signed up we were done with discussions.

 But we had bad days, really frustrating end-of-my-rope days. There were tantrums and miserable practices and screaming scenes where I reminded them that this was something they had said they wanted to do. The upside? They had long, enduring relationships with instructors, coaches and teammates who changed and enriched their lives. One high school son has been on the same soccer team for nine years. It is the stuff that childhood memories are made of.

I sound so confident now, but on a weekly and sometimes daily basis I was wracked by self-doubt and misgivings and even now am not sure if what I did was right. The one thing that I have observed is this: My college-age sons have true passions, things they study in school and activities they are involved in outside of the classroom.

Passions are not like dreams for most of us, we don’t wake up one morning and find they have miraculously come to us in the night. Parents often talk about helping kids find their passions. But passions do not always reveal themselves unbidden, as often they are a result of hard work and dedication, the joy that comes of doing something well.

My kids’ passions are the result of endless hours spent learning a subject or mastering a skill. In each case, it is something that in childhood they begged and pleaded with me to quit and in late adolescence they have told me how much they enjoy. I made them stick things out because mastery, even at a child’s level takes time and repetition.

Competence breeds confidence but success and accomplishment breed self-esteem and social well-being. One of my college kids, by his choice, still plays on a soccer team.  Yet in a particular parenting low point, I pushed his 12-year-old self out of the car to make him play when the practices had ramped up and become far more difficult. 

"Martial Arts helps kids learn to stick with things and have fun along the way.  Through a series of goal setting and learning new skills kids are constantly motivated, inspired and gain competence.  I have personally trained 100 or more black belts kids.  They all have gained skills like self esteem, confidence, courage, tenacity and perseverance," says 10th degree black belt Greg Silva.  Parents tell me "Of course the kids have highs and lows in training.  Many have wanted to quit along the way.  But that's okay.  It's okay to want to quit.   The real important things is to team up with the parents, child and instructor to make sure the child doesn't quit when that feeling come along.  


We are having a Beginner Martial Arts Workshop this week called Winners Don't Quit.  Call 903-908-4314 for more information. 
In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought you'd enjoy this video from KMG Singapore.  Love is in the air!!
Personal blog by Dana O'Neal

I had my ticket in my hand to fly to Vegas and test for the next level in Krav Maga. I was nervous because I hadn't trained like I wanted to due to severe leg cramps and lack of sleep.  I decided to get checked out by my Dr. and discovered that I have diabetes. My blood glucose levels were over 500. I was not well.

Devastated, I cancelled my trip and began the pathway to getting healthier. My diet didn't change all that much. I typically ate a pretty clean diet, now I HAVE to eat really clean. My exercise levels didn't change all that much. In fact, due to the medicines, I was unable to do some of the weight lifting for a while and striking labs left me incredibly sore. My emotional state was crashed. I had missed the deadlines for all my goals for the year. I had taken quite a hit!

What do you do when you get hit? Don't get hit again! Block and counterattack.  How do you do that when it is your own body fighting against you? Start restating that story. How's that? I'll tell you:

Freaking FIGHT BACK! I am worth fighting for. I am an overcomer. I am starting with the emotional and spiritual aspects of this journey because that is what defines how my physical body responds. When my mind is in the right place, my body follows. Somewhere deep in my psyche I had a core belief that I deserved to suffer, that I was not good enough to excel, and that I wasn't strong enough to achieve. I'm changing that narrative. It is taking a lot of work, but with the help of the Lord I am changing it.

I have found myself thanking God for this spiritual trial because I know that it is through these trials that I will become stronger. It is through this type of resistance training that we all discover the amazing strength that we possess inside of us.

You are more than welcome to join me on this path of discovery!  Join us for a few training sessions and see - you are a beast!