Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Complacency Kills

: a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better : a complacent feeling or condition

Complacency kills...has anyone ever heard this before? I bet a majority of you have and there is much merit to these two words. Everyone at some point in their life will reach complacency, this is okay. However, to reside for a long duration in a complacent state in your life is not okay. If you maintain a complacent status then this means you are not learning, or improving yourself.
I am a firm believer in that you must learn every day, a day without learning something is a day wasted. There is a time limit on your life whether you want to believe it or not. It is what you do with this time that makes your life worth living. What are you doing with your life every day that allows you to take a step up from the current platform you are standing on? Do you want to remain on the steps of where you are or climb to the top and elevate past your limits, for example, remaining at a "Yellow" level within Israeli Combat System instead of grabbing the bull by the horns and forcing the Masada Tactical belt test into submission. Do not let Complacency chain you to the steps. One day you will be slugged by life and realize there is no more time to climb, yet there are still so many steps left! If you want to reach the top and at the end of your time look back and see what you've conquered, only to look forward to see no steps left to climb, then complacency must be a state of mind that happens infrequently. Set goals and work toward them to accomplish what it is you desire!

Too often we struggle with this concept, too often we revert to remaining comfortable with how things are instead of pursuing what we want. We create excuses which transcend into us justifying why we don't or can't do something we want to do. We do this until we finally believe that there is no way to do what we want to do because we have told ourselves again and again until we actually believe it. This is the way complacency kills...if allowed it will sabotage our drive, motivation, and initiative to go outside our comfort zone and grab something we want by grounding us to believing we are satisfied with what we have. I am not saying you cannot be satisfied with what you have...but at some point if you have no wish for making things better, improving yourself, or the world around you, Then what is the point of being if you are only here to exist instead of live?

Complacency has other ways of putting you in danger and not the danger that has been explained already. When teaching self defense, this term comes up often, its definition is real and many individuals live in their own bubbles when out and about. We can relate this to not only self defense, but to give a separate example that causes one to fall into harms way, driving. It is the monster that distracts us from being proactive versus reactive when dealing with a potential encounter on the streets or on the road. Most automobile accidents occur 25 miles within range of your own home according to, "the relaxation we feel caused by the repetition of driving through our own neighborhood likely plays a role."  This is complacency, you are comfortable, and have reached satisfaction with how things are. Unknowingly putting yourself at risk because you fail to realize that today may be different from yesterday. It is the  attitude of, "nothing has happened yet, therefor nothing will happen now." 

This same attitude occurs when one walks to their car after a long day at work. You have walked the same halls of your job, taken the same routes from your office to the car, and have never had anything happen this far, every day for a majority of the year. Nothing has happened yet, so why would anything happen now? Would you be prepared if something did happen? Let's not only take complacency into account but then add distractions. Staring down at your cellphone while walking to the car, instead of keeping your head up and waiting to use the phone later when inside the car and locked. Looking down for your keys and fiddling with them, instead of grabbing your keys before you head to your vehicle. Talking on the phone, instead of waiting to call that person later once you are in a safe area. These are routine things people do that can be observed on a daily basis, all of which increase their chance of becoming a victim, increase their chance of failing to defend themselves, and decrease their chance of surviving an encounter. Criminals prey on those who are unaware and distracted, it makes for an easier target and an easier target means a higher chance of success.

If we practiced more vigilance and sought out to diverge ourselves from a complacent pattern we would all become harder targets. Keeping your head up and on a swivel, staying aware of your surroundings, grabbing your keys before ever leaving the building, and keeping your cellphone in a pocket or purse and not touching it until we arrived home. 
It is the little changes we make in our lives that can make the world of difference and even prevent us from falling into harms way.

Complacency is an enemy, not only to your mind, but also to your safety. Remember that there is truth to the words "Complacency kills." Do not let it kill you.


"Where Car Accidents Happen Most." (n.d.) Esuarance - Where Car Accidents Happen Most. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from where-accidents-happen-most   

Thursday, June 26, 2014

"Why should I invest in Self Defense?"

This is a comment I have heard a few times over the years working in the self defense industry and every time it puzzles me and has me asking the question, "why wouldn't you learn self defense?" For starters, you learn skills that ultimately could help you defend yourself, your loved ones, and those around you who cannot. As a civilian I would like think that if I could not defend myself, someone else who could, would step up in doing so...maybe that's wishful thinking. 

Not to mention you will develop skills to defend yourself but also achieve greater coordination within your own body by connecting with your mind in order to perform certain techniques. This allows you to build both your body and mind to be tough, resilient, and push the limits of your heart/psyche and find how far you can go before you even think about giving up. Every day I see people pushing the limits of what they thought they were capable of at our school and through our training here at Masada Tactical. Individuals who have even surprised themselves at what they can accomplish as long as they put their mind to it and don't ever quit. A fundamental teaching we have at our school, "Never give up!" 

Lets not forget the health benefits associated with just coming to a class and keeping active. This alone will create longevity and increase your quality of life versus deteriorating by staying inactive. Health is a growing concern in our society and a great way to battle this is to become active.  So why not become active and learn a valuable set of skills at the same time? It seems as though it is a no brainer but unfortunately I am beginning to see a trend in preferring electronics and technology over health and wellness. If times are tough do you cut your cable and television bill or your gym membership? Do you try to work your workout routine around your schedule or your schedule around your workout? These are questions to think about when addressing your priorities and do not forget your health is what keeps you going.

Plus, classes are fun, engaging, and invigorating, who doesn't like a little excitement from time to time or to blow off some steam after a hard day and hit something to release some of this frustration. Self Defense brings so much to the table and all of them are benefits to increase your quality of life, do not miss out, and do not wait until it's too late. I always say, "I much rather know it and never need it, then need it and never know it.”

Still not convinced? Still thinking that your time and energy could be spent elsewhere other than learning how to defend yourself? Well don’t just listen to me...listen to the facts about the area you live in...they are not pretty and violence is very much a reality of our society. We are constantly bombarded with bad news on television, social media, and other news related websites...but growing awareness can be positive if addressed correctly. 

Here are the facts according to…8,824!  What does this number mean? This is the number of violent crime we have on our own soil here in Baltimore. A number that is above the national average and although not staggering, it is something to take note of, especially if you are a Baltimorian. Assault, rape, murder, and robbery fall under Violent Crimes with assault stealing the spotlight from the rest with a total of 4,655 reported cases. This means that overall you have a 1 in 71 chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime and a 52% chance it will be an assault. Remember, these are only the reported violent crimes that have happened and it does not include the unreported violent crimes. 

Unreported crimes are a scary thought.   The idea that someone did something harmful to someone else and may never pay for their actions and have an option to repeat said crime. However, this does happen and is an unfortunate reality especially when it comes to rape. According to RAINN, 60% of rape crimes go unreported and although this is determined through the national total it is still a problem in our community here in Baltimore. If you take the crimes that are reported and what the numbers are telling us and then account for the unreported crimes that are occurring we have a good reason to learn how to protect ourselves and our loved ones. 

Investing your time, energy, and body into learning self defense in my opinion is worth it considering the alternative could be a tragic and life altering experience that may leave you scarred and mentally destroyed.

Learn real tools for the real world, do not become a victim.

Vince Spera
Masada Tactical

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Frustration

The nice thing about having a blog is that I get to vent.  I get to say what is on my mind and exercise my free speech right.

So here it goes: I have been living in Maryland for the past 15 years, most of which in the Pikesville area.  I own my house here, and my business is located here.  As part of my personal ethical belief I am a big believer of supporting your community, even more so when discussing one that is as fragile as the Jewish community in Pikesville.

Since we opened Masada Tactical we have been heavily involved in supporting the needs of the community, from providing self-defense and empowerment classes for victims of domestic violence to working with youth at risk.  Most of it at no cost to the organization.  We work with schools, synagogues, community establishment and other organizations for no other reason than we believe that if we can help then we should.

In recent month we have seen an alarming increase in violence at schools and community centers, specifically those affiliated with the Jewish community.  Notably are the attacks at the JCC in Kansas as well as attacks in NYC, France, and even here in Baltimore.

Many organizations think they are prepared, or at least that they are taking necessary steps.  For example, one organization contracted for a security professional to conduct a risk assessment.  Others rewrote new Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).  Yet others invested in physical security elements, such as cameras and alarms.  Most went about it wrong, ineffectively, and did little if anything to truly enhance the security of their organization.

It was at this point that I personally became insulted because at no point were we (Masada Tactical) given the opportunity to help.  We are professionals contracted by some of the largest organizations and those at higher risk, trusted by multi-billion companies, yet local organizations, the same ones we have been helping all along for free, chose to ignore us.

It is important to state that some so-called "Security experts" in the community not only are promoting ill-perceived practices, but are actually causing more harm than good by publishing the issues with different organizations making those more apparent and accessible to would-be criminal/terrorists.

As a response to the various attacks in our community, from vandalism to armed home invasions, Masada Tactical devised a program to train local organizations in how to prepare and defend against such incidents.  The program was to be offered at no cost, and provide every organization that was interested with the tools to learn how to deter, detect and defend against potential threats.  No self-defense or firearms stuff, but rather tangible skills like behavioral analysis, risk assessment and mitigation, and more.  This is a program that has been implemented successfully in NYC, London, and other places, which we were trying to make available to the local community.

The same community that is willing to pay in excess of $30,000 for a product that was no good for them, chose to pass on a FREE opportunity to get what others pay thousands of dollars for.  No surprise there.

As a member of the community I must say I was ashamed.  Here is a group of people who scream that something needs to be done to protect our children and community, yet prefers to sit idly and do nothing when the opportunity comes.

Many think this is not something they should worry about.  The mentality of ignorance and avoidance must end.  Not only is there a chance of it happening, it has happened...multiple times!  And the question regarding the next "big attack" is not of whether it would happen, but more of when?!?

So when the next person needs our help because the worst did happen to them, and they have passed on the opportunity to learn and prepare, they should remember that they have no one to blame but themselves.

Rant over.

Tzviel 'BK' Blankchtein (this does not reflect the opinion of Masada Tactical...just mine!)
Masada Tactical

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Biggest News of 2014!

For years we at Masada Tactical worked very hard to separate ourselves from the publicity and mainstream of Krav Maga.  There were many reasons for it, but more than any was the fact that we are dedicated to provide our members with the best skills possible, and we felt that Krav Maga in the United States (some exceptions apply) was delivering a sub-par product, commercialized and detached from the realities and needs of people seeking true self-protection training.  (Click here for more on that).

Over the years many Krav Maga organizations asked us to join their ranks, even offering leading roles within their organizations.  We always politely declined since we didn't think our interests, and more importantly: our values, would be maintained.

With that said, we are extremely proud to announce our new affiliation with a brand new Krav Maga organization: Ultimate Krav Maga!  The new organization is officially under the direction of Grand Master Yaron Hanover, a Krav Maga and martial arts expert in Israel.  In addition, the organization includes three more founding members: Guy Rafaeli, which our members are familiar with as he taught at Masada several times, Mr. Marcin Michalik-Lipka from Poland, and yours truly.

So why did we choose to join in with this organization?  So glad you asked.

First and foremost, it is an authentic Israeli organization, which maintains its ties to the evolution of self-defense and tactics as taught to Israeli military, police and security services today...not three decades ago.  It is updated, relevant, and true.  In addition, we will have input, which means that Israeli Combat System as taught at Masada Tactical will be integrated and influence the curriculum of UKM.

Being part of UKM is exciting to us because we can officially solidify our ties to a true Israeli system.  Our instructors and students will be recognized by the Wingate Institute in Israel and receive their diplomas from there, making them recognizable by the Israeli Ministry of Education!  Our Black Belts will be tested in Israel, further making their certificates globally accepted and recognized.  And, we are now a part of a worldwide system which includes Israel, the USA and Europe.

As Masada Tactical members you should expect to see little changes.  Our curriculum will stay intact, and as we consolidate our system with UKM we will be introducing new, updated, and state of the art skills that all of our members will benefit from.  All of our members will retain their ranks!  So no worries there :).  You can all still wear our shirts and logos.  Be proud of having the originals of what became part of UKM!  And lastly, you should expect to see more of our friends from around the world teaching at Masada, as well as other schools within the USA joining our ranks.

You should congratulate yourself for being a part of the new generation of Krav Maga!  You can forever consider yourself a part of this exciting new venture!

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to see me personally.  We are excited for things to come and looking forward to sharing all of them with you.

As always, stay safe!

Tzviel 'BK' Blankchtein
Masada Tactical
(Ultimate Krav Maga)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Home Invasion Defense

Last night we hosted an abbreviated version of our home invasion defense seminar.  Abbreviated because our complete class, which is about 8 hours long, covers some topics we did not have the time to get into last night, such as escaping restraints.

With that mind, the seminar was a huge success, covering many of the most important aspects concerning the legal aspects of home invasion, means to fortify one's home, and some self-defense skills we found are the most likely scenarios victims of such incidents may find themselves having to address.

In regards to the legal aspect we discussed what the law says about home invasions.  Specifically, we found that Home invasion is not a category on its own...but rather that the breaking an entry followed by a robbery or an assault is what gets documented and tracked.  Thus getting true statistics is hard to get.  we also discussed the rights of an individual to protect himself and his family within his home.  The castle doctrine, the obligation or right to retreat, and other case laws were discussed.

Naturally the conversation deviated to the use of firearms.  Although we, as instructors, do not think the use or reliance on firearms should be one's strategic security plan, we did discuss what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of various weapons.

More to the point, the class covered means for one to fortify his house so it represents a harder target. deterrence and prevention were the key terms.  From fences and bushes, to use of electronic means, we discussed how the outer permitter should be fortified.  Moving to the actual house structure we covered points of entry, including through the wall itself.  Expert locksmith provided first hand insight (and showed examples) of various locking mechanisms and some of the drawbacks to others.  Lastly, we covered the way one can protect himself and family inside the house, from use of tools to having a plan.

Moving on to the mat the class learned how to defend against an aggressive entrance by an unwelcomed person, from chokes to threats with a knife.  Followed by defenses on the ground and disarming an assailant armed with a handgun.

Home invasions are on the rise.  Armed and violent home invasions are a risk that everyone should be aware of...especially in our community where we had three such incidents in the last month alone.

Those who came last night to the FREE seminar are that much safer and prepared for it.

Stay safe!

Tzviel 'BK' Blankchtein
Masada Tactical

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Warriors Forged

Any one of our students that comes to classes, and even more so, has gone through a belt test can identify with the following statement:

The greater the challenge, the more glorious the victory.

Masada Tactical is unique in that we not only teach skills and educate our members about self protection and self-defense, but we instill the mindset to come out on top each and every time, no matter the obstacle.

Reality is that even when we trained with some of our mentors, for whom I have the utmost respect, in Israel, we noticed a tendency to go a little easier, to prefer technical competency over grit and heart.  Now, don't get me wrong, technical skills are paramount.  Even the most dedicated and driven individual may lose when fighting a superior technical opponent.  But in our mind, the will to win far surpasses the application during a physical confrontation.

The thing about refusing to quit is that it transfers to all other aspects of daily lives.  For example: many are the students we worked with over the years that have gone on to become police officers, soldiers, physicians, and many other mentally and physically demanding professionals.  Such that require complete fortitude of the heart to not quit and complete...and let us add, complete on top of their classes.

Many of our members have fought personal battles, combating misfortune to rise up to the occasion and come up ahead.

The will to win, to excel, to strive for the best is something that we try hard to instill in all our members, from the five year olds to the SWAT officer we train.  Did you know that the last teen belt test was almost five hours long?!?  And they all made it, like true champions!

So when I see other schools spend countless hours refining a skill on the expense of challenging an individual to fight his/her demons, I am left amazed.

Our members will battle their fears, pain, discomfort, lack of confidence, only to earn the right to stand along side their fellow Masada warriors, and perhaps even to not let this family down.

Boasting our own horn here, I am proud to be a part of an organization that not only provides its students with the best possible technical and tactical skills, but also with the mindset to win fights as well as every other obstacle life may throw their way.

That is how warriors are forged.

Stay safe!

Tzviel 'BK' Blankchtein
Masada Tactical.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Israel 2014

First trip to Israel is in the books.  Fourteen and one baby went, spent ten days touring, training, and experiencing Israel on all of its glory.

I could fill pages detailing the trip, the sites, the adventures, but no one has time for that.  What I do want to focus on for a second is the unexpected result of the trip.

We had the unique opportunities to visit some areas that are not typically accessible for the common tourist.  We visited the Gaza border the day 40 Qasam rockets were fired towards Sederot.  We toured with the IDF, border patrol and Israeli Police.  We saw how people live on 15 second cycles (the time that one has from when a siren is sounded before the rocket falls), and how within a couple of hours the area where the rocket fell is fixed as if nothing happened.  We visited a playground completely built inside a sheltered space.  We learned that life goes on even when the other side tries to get you off balance.  It is a different reality that most will never experience, understand, or appreciate.

The group by old rockets fired at Sederot.

It is the unfortunate reality that the way many Israelis live will never be exposed on popular media.  But, the members of our group got the unique opportunity to see it all first hand.

We also had the pleasure of meeting and training with special operations instructors and learn about the morality of the IDF and the resolute to end a fight and save lives at all costs.  We learned that a weapon is not a tool of choice but rather a necessity and one that the IDF will gladly put down once the enemy does the same.

We went to visit historical and religious sites, see the unique topography and beauty of a country.  What we came back with are fourteen ambassadors for the humanity and reality in which Israelis live by.

The Great Crater.  One of the wonders of the world.

That far exceeded any of my personal expectations.

As always, stay safe!
Tzviel 'BK' Blankchtein
Masada Tactical