BRAD writes:

My brain still hurts from the PDR session and as I continue to re-view and write my road map, the pain does not go away, but it is good pain....  ;-)    This process has truly been a "magic carpet ride" Where I will end up is still a question, but I have learned more about myself and the behaviors of those I come in contact with on a daily basis than I have ever learned before.  Thanks again for all that you do.  Brad


Thank you Brad...

You know years ago, when I first became hooked on martial arts I read with reverence all the tales, all the fables and all the philosophy...beyond the physical was always the spiritual, the psychological, the transcendence....transcendence, that was the magic buzz word in all academic dissertations on the evolution of problem was that those masters who spoke or wrote of this destination in training were typically from esoteric systems....or they were perhaps more modern, but their dialogs were based on Zen research....the problem I always had was my 'fear' of violence was always more prominent than my desire to transcend (transcend what??), the serendipity of the PDR System is that it all started in the late 70's as a result of my fear and my need to overcome it....while I always dabbled in any & every martial art, something in me knew that there was something missing in the whole approach to training...I cant say there was an emptiness, but I knew there was something matter the training, the intensity, the hardship, there was always a doubt that I couldn't pinpoint....that was 25 years ago..over time I uncovered the doubt was that no system offered a turn-key exploration of fear management, self-coaching and performance enhancement...then there was 'context'...all training was structured and the arena and rules were preordained...this unwittingly bred more fear of the street since nothing was ever being done to address the street; at the time (early 80's) there were no organized 'simulation' systems, our PANIC ATTACK (1982) was likely the first ever force-on-force organized simulation program in the self-defense community program...finally I had a vehicle to confront my fears of violence.

When I look at what we were teaching in the 80's and compare it with today...I see a lot of the same important things...relative to the time and times, the early Panic Attacks were very organized, what has evolved over the years is 'polish', finesse, craft, presentation, more organization. Years ago, you had to do it to understand, now you can see it and understand, today's PDR program readily shows people whats missing (the ICE CUBE tray analogy comes to mind)...

But remember, looking is not the same as learning, you still need to sweat!



This was a question on the forum a couple of months back, I thought it blended well with the above:

"When did the SPEAR become the SPEAR? Were you working the flinch response and you just saw it, or did the name fit early on and it grew from there?"

I was working on a high risk isolation drill (1988ish) called the SUCKER PUNCH drill, my partner was very good (at boxing) He was allowed to strike me anytime to any target and the rules did not allow me to do anything other than avoid & evade, but the catch was that we had to start like an altercation - at talking range - not sparring range.

Including the dialog and the proximity changed everything. During the inaugural drill which lasted a couple of hours, I was forced to flinch often to protect my face. At the end of the session (bruised, swollen and a little bloodied) I reflected at the frequency of failure from the 'tactics' side of the arsenal vs the reflexive side of things....when I flinched I was almost always safe, when I tried some interception, block, parry I was 50/50 etc.

Over a period of time I rationalized and realized through intuitive research that most (all) complex motor skill counters require a specific well-timed blend and degree of skill, awareness, distance and timing to pull off, a lot to ask for in a credible street defense scenario! At extreme close distances with distractions, most sequential attack & counter relationships DO NOT co- exist...and when truly startled by a rhythm break or sudden attack,the body's reactive brain/survival system overrides the cognitive brain's control over muscle memory skills...this was the foundation for what I now refer to as 'counter-ambush principles'.

In other words...I flinched first to save my neck and then contemplated to experience, again, that was back in 1988ish....

The flinching fascinated me ( though I didn't know what I was doing or why), I began to monitor it but without interference (key concept!) all the while continuing to develop our other skills.

Another critical observation in the SUCKER drill was that closer was better when people were swinging. In short time I began penetrating the attack and then developed all sorts of drills and principles to explain and identify what & why (Mental Blue Print Theory/Psychological Voids, CWCT, Pre- Contact Cues, Emotional Climate Drill and more)...

The first time the SPEAR 'name' was used was as an icon for 'direction & commitment' when urging a tentative student to attack the attack at the pre-contact moment...i.e. "Be the SPEAR , you are the SPEAR, Charge the attack, MOVE IN!!"

The name was only coined in the early 90's after working with a military team on the West coast who asked me what the SPEAR acronym stood for... :-) there wasn?t one! 2 weeks later I was teaching in Normandy, France and was jotting ideas for S P E A R on a board and came up with a term that reflected what I was trying to tap into as it connected with sudden violence, close proximity and the suddenness of the startle/flinch...and an evolutionary system was born: S.P.E.A.R: Spontaneous Protection Enabling Accelerated Response....

the system continues to evolve to the present.


and one more

Lastly, here's an excerpt from our KNOW FEAR article:

Here's a short map of my journey through fear and what it has brought me:

When I started teaching self-defense in 1979 I knew something was missing, something in me. I decided it was an irrational fear. It was in trying to understand fear that I was compelled to try and understand & define the fear. That led me to design a drill to help attack the fear. That phase spawned the original PANIC ATTACK system (force-on-force training circa 1982). Then it was in trying to explain fear to my students and differentiate from the biological sensations and the psychological ruminations that I was forced to define a recipe and that spawned the CEREBRAL SELF-DEFENSE: Mental Edge program and the BE YOUR OWN BODYGUARD program. While trying to understand my fear during contact isolation drills and more dynamic PANIC ATTACK sessions I noticed the simplicity, reliability and suddenness of the startle/flinch response and then gave birth to the entire SPEAR SYSTEM. And, in support of all these programs, I realized that there was no training gear that allowed 'us' to really simulate realistically, at real speeds, in real environments and maintain levels of fear for the danger*.to address that, I designed HIGH GEAR simulation equipment.

Because of my commitment to the management of fear, all these other important discoveries were made. Managing fear defines you. Managing fear helps elevate & empower you.

It took me 20 years of teaching & training to be able to write the above article*it'll only take you 10 minutes to read it. You may live to be 100 but if you fear fear, your 'evolutionary' life might be over now! Get to know fear and live your life and learn its secrets.

Let me leave you with these immortal words from a warrior who, perhaps unbeknownst to him at the time, was offering penetrating insights into the psychology and remedy for fear. For my friends and colleagues in the LEO and soldier world, these are words to live by:

"Learn it right and you will do it right the rest of your life, learn it wrong and you'll spend the rest of your life trying to get it right, and in battle, you meatheads that get it wrong, the rest of your life will be very short."

-Sergeant Steve Prazenka- (Bloody Bucket Division W.W.II)

Know fear,

Tony Blauer


Like I said, this system is organic,and i welcome those along for the ride, because the research really is transcendent: you dont learn it, as much as you use it!! :-)


Note: (*Historic Point on the Panic Attack time-line: The statement that PANIC ATTACK was the first simulation system has irked others who think it was some sort of race ... I've received email in the past from someone who maintains that Model Mugging was the first or developed at the same time-ish...while Ive never refuted that directly, its the distinction, the actual drill, thats important... Model Mugging was not true force-on-force, as the participant was not in gear and therefore not being physically attacked; violent risk was minimized and that awareness changes everything (in my opinion)...thus making the training entirely different.)