A while ago, I interviewed Loren about his book Total Defense. This is now the second part in that series, where I interview the other author, Mark Mireles. Mark gave me some real in-depth answers, explaining in detail how the book came about and more importantly, why.
Here’s the interview, enjoy!
Total Defense: Interview with Mark Mireles
Q: “Total Defense” has a specific topic: defending yourself against the most common techniques used in a street fight. Can you give some examples of these?
Total Defense is a unique book because it takes the perspectives of two martial artists with tons of real life observation and observational experience. It outlines what we considered to be the most common street attacks.
The observational of the book takes decades of street police work and encompasses what Loren and I have seen on the mean streets. This was not hypothetical but in the first person for both of us. The broken bones, bruises, lacerations, and emergency rooms that were all part of the job. We’ve had the opportunity to interview thousands of victims of attacks and between the two us we have about a half-century of policing.
Additionally, we have both broken up our fair share of barroom brawls. As Loren and I prepared the scenarios for Total Defense it was like we had been on the same calls: common themes in violence emerged. From this perspective, Total Defense is street forensics 101.
The operational is the hands-on stuff you need to walk that blue line.
When you’re the one who separates good and evil, when society brakes down, someone is eventually going to try to see what you’re made of. As a police officer, you have a duty to protect people and property and, unlike a regular citizen, there is not an expectation that running away is a method of self-defense. In fact, if a police officer were to run he would be disciplined or terminated from his position. I think it’s important to understand that police work puts us on the front lines and that’s a huge benefit that Loren and I bring to the reader. We simply share the totality of our martial arts training balanced with our observation of how violence unfolds.
That said, operationally Loren and I have been in our share of both lethal and non-lethal force encounters. The violence we saw and experienced did not occur in a sterile environment or in a police academy classroom. It was up-close, visceral, real world violence. This book demonstrates what has worked for us as we share it with the readers: Loren uses his unique methods of striking, ripping, and gouging to launch devastating attacks and I demonstrate grappling based response to the attacks.
Don’t read into this too much though: Loren does his share of holding and mauling (grappling) and I use strikes in conjunction to grappling. We also outline the criminal mind from our real life experiences to illustrate points.
Q: How did you come about selecting those specific attacks?
Total Defense is broken up into two parts: unarmed and armed attacks. The first part covers what Loren and I have determined to be the most common street attacks: the overhand looping right, the tackle, the bear hug, the head lock, and a whole lot more. These are dangerous attacks; some of them can be just as deadly as being attacked with a weapon. For instance, a headlock can turn deadly if your blood or air supply gets cut off. Loren and I take two approaches to break down the ideal counter-attacks so it really is like getting two books in one.
The second half of the book deals with common street weapons and the criminals who use them. We demonstrate how to counter weapons such as bats, knives, and guns, the tools of choice among the criminal element. That means the attacker has a weapon and the model in the book is unarmed because most people don’t carry weapons. In the United States it’s a matter of state jurisdiction if you can carry a gun or a knife. I live in California where gun laws are strict as to carrying them in public as opposed to having a gun in your home. There is also a multitude of laws on what type of knife you can carry. In Europe weapon laws are even more restrictive than in the States.
The fact is that most people are unarmed when faced with an armed attacker because most societies don’t allow citizens to carry weapons. Whether that’s right or wrong is beyond the scope of Total Defense but is a reality.
That’s the framework and it helps to understand where Loren and I came from when selecting the meat of this book. We understand laws and public policy and how it relates realistically to self-defense. So that’s what the book deals with, the assailant is armed and you’re not – worst-case scenarios. Moreover, we address the legal standard of what is reasonable and what is necessary to neutralize the threat.
The selection process for both parts of the book were based on what Loren and I determined to be very common themes in street fighting, unprovoked street violence and predator crime, and the common weapons criminals carry to commit violent crimes: guns, knives, and blunt force objects are their weapons of choice.
One other factor was critical in the design of this book. We selected realistic environments to demonstrate the central issues. E.g.: the “fighting in tight spaces” section was photographed between parked cars. Because if some turd is going to try to rob you, there is a high probability this occurs in a parking lot were your space is limited because that works best for the crook. He tries to control the environment by limiting your escape routes and concealing his crime from witnesses. We demonstrate effective counterattacks that have worked for us.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the carjacking gun takeaway section. When Loren and I were designing the book, this was a must because it is something that happens daily. Somewhere right now someone is being carjacked at gunpoint. Wait 30-45 more seconds and again, somewhere someone new is being carjacked.
Real-world scenarios brought us to performing gun take-aways while seated in a car. The dynamic of being seated in a car changes the gun takeaway modalities in many ways. This is what happens in the real world:
You went shopping and then get into your car when suddenly, there is a bad guy standing at your car door with gun in hand. Now you’re in a worst-case scenario. You don’t have the much mobility seated in a car, your footwork is gone. I demonstrate how to use the frame of the car and the environment to a distinct advantage and Loren provides his outstanding insight.
As you can see, Total Defense is a martial arts book that addresses street violence and crime at many levels.
Q: Could you give an example of a situation in which you used one of these techniques?
In Total Defense, I outline two actual experiences where I was looking down the barrel of a gun. In those two encounters I had two different responses based on the distance the assailant was from me. Also, I outline an incident that I had with a knife-wielding attacker who actually went for his primary knife in a sheath on his hip and then during the altercation, he went for a back up knife on his ankle. I share with the readers what I did to survive and between Loren’s and my experiences, we hope that we can give a bit of knowledge to other martial artists. Knowledge that helps them survive if that day were ever to come.
The book deals with the tactical mindset a martial artist needs to survive a violent encounter. We address realities such as the gun discharging when you are performing a takeaway and sustaining a bullet wound while fighting for your life. The technical aspects are just one side of the book. It’s the mindset that we provide the reader with that makes the book complete.
Q: This book has a unique approach: two authors show techniques to solve the same problem and give totally different solutions. Doesn’t this mean you both contradict each other?
The book has two approaches. My sections are a grappling based form of self-defense. A lot of the techniques I show are seizing the attacker (or the weapon) and dropping him with a sweep, trip, or throw. Then comes the exit plan: escape and/or evasion.
Loren utilizes his unique from of punching, kicking, stomping, ripping and gouging, he gets downright medieval.
Q: Is the book geared to a particular grappling or striking art?
Total Defense is split right down the middle between these types of arts. Beyond what specific style used, the most important thing is the mindset that we offer the reader. In a violent encounter you need to have the will to survive. That cannot be understated and I think Total Defense takes the reader into real world violence and addresses issues that are contemporary to self-defense in the 21st Century. We have a section on being robbed at gunpoint at an ATM, brawl scenarios, sucker punchers, and knife wielding attackers. We tried to cover the current topics and give solutions that are practical and direct.
Q: Who would benefit the most from reading the information in “Total Defense”?
The person that benefits from any book is the individual that reads and applies knowledge with an open mind. Some martial artists are more comfortable grabbing onto someone and others like to keep their distance. There is no right or wrong to any of it, but you should work on your deficiencies and weak areas too. We all have them. Clinching and takedown methods are weak areas that are often neglected by martial artists. Remember that if that day ever comes where you’re in that bad spot, it’s just going to be you and your training. The better you are trained will influence directly your ability to survive a worst-case scenario.
Total Defense is a book for every martial artist:
- Loren and I have very unique fighting systems that work well as an augmentation to an experienced martial artist.
- For the beginner, they get a look at an environment and mindset that is different than going to the dojo. It puts everything in perspective and allows the reader to see the types of threats and responses that Loren and I have delivered, based on our experiences.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add about the book?
Total Defense is a not a sports martial arts book. None of my works are sports books. In the advent of mixed martial arts grappling has become very popular to say the least. I wholeheartedly agree that MMA is a sport and not real fighting. MMA is prizefighting between professional athletes. Real fighting can have two or more adversaries, weapons, unfamiliar environment conditions, and fatal consequences. MMA is a contest, in a cage, and has rules that both fighters understand and agree to follow. Real violence is too unpredictable and vast to label in one genre. I say this because there has been a little confusion as to the grappling based methods I have demonstrated in my books.
In the past, the majority of the reviews on my books, products, and seminars have been very positive. But I have received some criticism that I’m showing judo or wrestling techniques that are based in sports. There may be similarities but as a whole this is untrue: none of my books are about sports, they’re focused on specific aspects of real fighting and I’ll address that a bit later. One or two critics have even gone on to say they doubt the techniques would work in a real fight, that if I did a couple of the throws I demonstrate I would break my knee caps on the cement implying the techniques were designed to the padded dojo, and that I have not used the techniques myself.
This again is all untrue and my techniques are based on actual, real fighting experience and applied training. I have used one aspect or another of everything I wrote about. I waited ‘till I was about forty years old and had almost twenty years of street cop experience before I fired up the laptop.
It would be irresponsible to demonstrate techniques based on theory and Loren shares this same concern. What I have done is share my findings based on practical application. I heard a lot of positive feedback from students and teachers that have used grappling based self-defense to augment their systems. Loren and I write books with the readers in mind. The readers come from various martial arts backgrounds and have varying levels of experience. We write with the attitude that this is what’s worked for us and we present it to you. A book is only going to take you so far though. You have to train hard and train diligent and we constantly point that out.
Here’s another example: In Fighting in the Clinch, Street Stoppers, and Total Defense, no one is wearing a gi and all the techniques are demonstrated in street clothing. On the street the bad guys don’t wear gi’s so the gripping game as it applies to a judo contest is irrelevant. The “hip throw” for example exists in judo (as well as many other forms of wrestling) and is demonstrated in several of my writings. But because the hip throw is found in contest judo, that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant to self-defense. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
The approach just has to be modified for real fighting, the attacker needs to be grabbed and thrown without a gi. Remember, we’re looking for the end result, an adversary being tossed through the air and impacting on the cement. Trips, sweeps, and throws with impact on such a hard ground certainly have their combat value in a real fight.
I’ve written this before but when I began working as a police officer, I was simply thrust into the world of real violence. I had been a wrestling and a judo player since I was a kid and when I hit the street, I found that I needed to make adjustments both mentally and technically. Sport based combat was not the same as real fighting. So over a period of several years I worked to take what I knew back to its martial roots. That’s right, back to the original martial arts that sports developed from. The Romans, the Greeks, the Samurai (and a whole lot more warrior cultures) used combat based grappling as a necessary adjunct to their weapon systems.
For instance, sumo was original practiced as a marital art. Many samurai trained in sumo, including the legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, and there is no doubt he and others of that period used that training and incorporated it into their much larger martial arts core.
In sumo, if any part of your body touches the ground or you are removed from a very limited circle then you lose the match. The quicker you can dispatch your opponent, the better off you are. This is based on the samurai training method that you could or would come into close contact with an adversary in the heat of combat. If you could throw that attacker to the ground then the standing samurai could go to his primary weapon to kill the downed adversary. This was practiced in addition to everything else, because it was a reality of combat. On the other side of the coin there was a very real incentive to not be taken off your feet in battle.
As you see, you have to look at the sports antecedent to understand the why and get to the combat properties.
The old masters such as Gichin Funaoshi (founder of Shotokan Karate) and Jigoro Kano (founder of Kodokan judo) understood and appreciated sumo too. Kano incorporated not only two forms of jujitsu into his judo method but also Western wrestling and sumo too. Again some may argue judo is a sport but it wasn’t when Kano founded it and many of the techniques were used by the samurai in battle.
Now here is the point, I advocate the grappling as an adjunct to a person’s primary fighting system. Because grappling based self-defense is a great technical option for in-fighting.
Our book Street Stoppers is a specialty book that looks at these techniques specifically. Our book Fighting in the Clinch again is a specialty book that addresses one specific area of fighting: to control and win the in-fight.
Violence and self-defense is a large subject matter and what Loren and I have done in the two above books was to look at one particular area of fighting and give a little advice from our experiences. We do not advocate either as a complete fighting method, rather as an augmentation to broader fighting systems.
Q: Do you have any new books or projects in the works?
This year I just want to train. Loren and I knocked out back-to-back projects in the last couple years. I want to just get to the dojo and train. I had a hectic year with work and I didn’t get to the dojo as much as I wanted or needed. When you’re busy that’s when you need it the most. Besides, that’s what it’s all about for me: the training. It’s been a part of my life for so long I just don’t feel right if I’m not getting the training in. The dojo and the training grounds me.
I also want to catch up on my own reading; like training you have to make the time to read. For a true martial artist reading is a must. Not only does it allow you to experience the mindsets, ideas, and time periods of other great martial artists but it also allows one a depth of understanding that is critical to become a discerning and self actualized person. I really enjoy reading and there are so many great authors and books out there. There are some really good martial arts books that are out there and I’m trying to get my hands on them. I have an electronic reader and have vowed to turn it on and learn how to use it. I must admit, I love the feel of a book in my hands so we’ll see if an old dog can learn a new trick. So I think this next year will be one of study and growth. Then I will see where that takes me.
Click here to buy “Total Defense” now.
Special thanks to Mark for this great interview!