Total Defense: Interview with Mark Mireles

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.

Total Defense

Total Defense by Loren W. Christensen and Mark Mireles

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. [Read more…]

Total Defense: Interview with Loren W. Christensen

A few months ago, Loren W. Christensen and Mark Mireles released their latest collaboration: a book on self defense called “Total Defense“. It has an interesting concept (which I’ll explain in the first question) and when Loren told me about it, I asked if he wanted to do an interview. He agreed and here we are.

Also, Mark Mireles has also agreed to do an interview so you’ll get both perspectives. You can read it here: Total Defense: Interview with Mark Mireles.

Total Defense: Interview with Loren W. Christensen

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?

A: Not at all. The idea is that the reader sort of gets two books in one. Mark is a wrestler and jujitsu guy with decades of experience in competition and on the street as an LAPD cop. I’ve got nearly 46 years as a punch/kick fighter (a combination of karate, kung fu, muay Thai and boxing), as a grappler (jujitsu, aikido, chin-na and police defensive tactics) and in arnis. In the book, Mark does just a little hitting and I do just a little grappling. Mostly we stress our primary arts to show how each of us would, or have in the past, defended against a specific attack.

In all of my books, I stress the importance of simplicity in battle. Such is the case in Total Defense. Mark shows how easy it is to dominate an attacker with simple grappling moves and I show how easy it is to dominate using clawing, ripping, gouging, and hitting.

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? [Read more…]

Guest Post: Mark Mireles on MMA and self defense

This is a guest post by a fellow author and amazing fighter, Mark Mireles. I’ll do a follow up post in a few days to touch on the great insights he gives here. Enjoy!

The Ultimate Martial Arts Question – Which Came First the Chicken or the Egg?

I’m a Wim’s Blog reader. I don’t say much here on the blog but I read and reflect. It has been said “observe much, learn much, train much”. Sage advice. In my voyaging time, I had the opportunity to follow the thread that outlined the argument between self defense, martial arts training and mixed martial arts.

The discussion was that no matter how visceral and brutal MMA is at the end of the day, it’s a sport that is governed by rules. There were several posts that interjected the fact that MMA does not include weapons defenses and multiple attackers. These are good points indeed. Although the self-defense crowd was very professional, at the end MMA was viewed as sport.

The MMA crowd argued that MMA was an effective fighting system because it arose out of the traditional martial arts. MMA was deemed a modern fighting system that was a sport but could be effectively used as a practical form of hand-to-hand combat. The sum was greater than its parts. Transversely, the traditional form of martial arts was viewed as limited because it didn’t address all ranges of real fighting.

At the end of the day, it appeared that the two groups agreed to disagree agreeably. From my computer (being a voyeur) I thought both sides made solid points and it got me thinking. Contemplating the point of view of both camps, I had the opportunity to witness something and wanted to share it with the “Wim-ers” (yes I just coined us, Wim’s Blog enthusiasts). If you don’t know me or my books let me tell you were I’m coming from.

Mark Mireles (top left) at an LAPD charity

Wim did an interview with me some time ago. If you didn’t read it, let me introduce myself. I’ve been a street cop for over 20 years and been practicing martial arts since 1977. After years of street experience and martial arts training, I came to my own conclusions related to real fighting, training, and teaching. [Read more…]

Interview with Mark Mireles

Here’s another interview, this time with Mark Mireles. Mark is one of the most decorated police officers in the history of the LAPD and also has extensive martial arts training. He’s written a couple books on street-grappling with Loren W. Christensen and you can find out more about him here.  Enjoy the interview.

Q: How did you get started in the martial arts? Was it a specific incident that drove you to them?

I can recall when I was 8 or 9 years old I began entertaining the thought of studying martial arts. I grew up in a suburb right outside of San Francisco and there was a large Chinese population in the city. That meant Kung Fu Theater on television every Saturday afternoon; Bruce Lee was on the silver screen, Game of Death had been released, and Chuck Norris was getting started with Good Guys Wear Black. The future was bright and Kung Fu seemed right for me.
There was a kung fu academy around the corner from my house and it had the look of what I thought a dojo should look like. I walked in for the free introduction lesson and learned the X-block in a nifty private room.  The whole studio was magnificent. There were pictures of dragons and tigers on the wall and the upper students were wearing black Gi’s.  This studio not only taught kung fu but it had also incorporated the word karate into the sign. With so much to offer, I could really see myself fitting into the world of crouching tigers and hidden dragons.  Looking back over the last 30 years, the term McDojo hadn’t been coined yet but this studio may have been the first of many.

Only one problem stymied my quest for kung fu greatness: no cold hard cash. I grew up with everything I needed but I certainly didn’t get everything I wanted.  Kung fu fell into the “everything I wanted” category.  The preferred method of fighting for my parents was a fighting art that was economic.  My dad was a master of the way of the intercepting wallet.  Sometimes life takes funny little turns.  You’ve heard the saying “be careful what you wish for because you may get it” well that wasn’t the case.  My circumstance was a twist that was beyond fate.  It was just being in the right place even though no one really knew what they were doing.  My dad selected the most economical marital art: Judo.

In the United States, Judo is taught in numerous Japanese-American cultural centers.  Judo is taught as part of the culture and not for commercial purposes.  That meant it fit my parents sole requirement.  The fees for learning Judo were nominal, a big hit with my folks.

What I learned quickly is that you paid in other ways.  Judo is physically demanding and taught in a very disciplined setting.  You paid with a little blood, a lot of sweat, and a few tears. Judo was fun, but it was also a lot of work and required dedication and reverence even at a young age. [Read more…]