Criminal Defendants on Trial – Raising Major Defenses

Defenses to the charges are always an appropriate area to explore and raise early on in the litigation process. Some of them will require special documents to be filed and witnesses to be listed in a timely fashion or they will be deemed waived by the Court. The defenses listed below are general denials and are always open to be argued by the Defense at trial.

“I didn’t do it!”

“The State can’t prove a case against me beyond reasonable doubt!”

“No crime was even committed!”

Specific defenses that will need to be proven affirmatively at trial in order to be complete defenses raise other considerations for the Defense. Examples of these are discussed so that you can better understand the terminology and their significance. An affirmative defense is one that must be disclosed to the prosecution before trial and it requires the Defense to offer proof through testimony or real (physical) evidence at trial.

· Alibi

To many people the word “alibi” implies a trick thrown in just to “beat the rap.” It is often thought of as being any excuse, a connotation that trial attorneys need to dispel. An astute trial attorney will address this during jury selection so that the true meaning of the word alibi is clear in the minds of potential jurors. He/she should emphasize the meaning as defined in Webster’s Dictionary, “in law, the plea or fact that an accused person was elsewhere than at the alleged scene of the offense with which he is charged.” The law recognizes that if a home invasion occurs in Miami but the defendant was in Chicago, that he has a true Alibi defense and clearly is not guilty.

The rules require the defendant to file a Notice of Alibi no later than 10 days prior to trial. That notice must reveal the names of all witnesses that the Defense may call to prove the alibi. If there are any documents that would prove the defendant was in Chicago and not in Miami at the date and time of the alleged crime, copies must be given to the prosecutor. These documents might include hotel receipts, airplane receipts, meeting agendas, etc. Producing these will give the prosecution an opportunity to drop the charges before a costly and time consuming trial.

Like all affirmative defenses, Alibi is a complete defense. The jury will be instructed that, if they find that the defendant was not present when the crime was committed (had an alibi), then it is the jury’s duty to find the defendant not guilty.

· Self-Defense {Justifiable use of Force}

A man walks out of the movie theatre with his date. They almost get to their car when three guys appear. One swings a tire iron at the gentleman who quickly ducks, causing the attacker to lose his balance. As he does, the gentleman grabs the tire iron and hits the attacker on the head knocking him unconscious. The other two would-be attackers run off. The gentleman waits for the police and describes the event. Did he act in a justifiable way to protect himself and his girlfriend? What happens if the unconscious attacker is pronounced “dead on arrival” of the paramedics?

The law recognizes that a person is justified in using force against another when he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to “defend himself or another person against the attacker’s imminent use of unlawful force.” In many states, including Florida, a person is justified in using deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat. He can stand his ground against an attacker. He is justified in using deadly force to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm, or to prevent a forcible felony such as robbery or rape.

In addition, force is justified in defense of your home and (to an extent) in defense of other persons. There is (in Florida) no duty to retreat provided you are in a place where you have a right to be. In these cases, the law makes self-defense a complete defense to a crime of wrongful violent attack. Of course, the Defense Attorney must affirmatively prove certain underlying facts at trial to sustain his argument that this case involved self defense.

· Insanity

An issue might arise during a case regarding the defendant’s sanity during the time the crime was committed. This will require affirmative proof much of which will be from mental health professional expert witnesses. There is a two-part test in determining if the defendant was insane. First, can it be proven that the defendant had a mental infirmity, disease or defect? You might expect long testimony by several experts as to conditions such as bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, or other quantifiable disorders and how they might be affected by lengthy alcohol drinking or cocaine, lack of sleep, food and water deprivation, etc. Once these conditions are defined and described, however, there is more that is required in terms of proof.

Second, directly related to this disorder, can it be proven that the defendant did not know what he was doing or that he didn’t realize the consequences? Even if he did know what he was doing and realized the consequences, did he know it was wrong?

The law presumes people to be sane. This means the burden is on the Defense to prove the defendant was “not sane” or “insane.” It is an incredible burden to prove insanity. What the lawyer is telling the jury is that, “Everything the State says happened actually did happen-it is all true. However, you should not find him guilty of it because he was insane when he did it.” The murder or the rape of the child occurred, but you should find him the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity.

If the jury’s verdict is not guilty by reason of insanity, the Court will have jurisdiction over the defendant for the entire duration of the permitted sentence had he been found guilty. Instead of sentencing him to state prison, the Judge will place him in a psychiatric lock-down facility. The conditions of such a facility are far worse. The Defense cannot describe this to the jury directly during trial. For this reason jurors think that an insanity verdict means the defendant will simply walk out of the courtroom and onto the streets. As you can tell, the defense of insanity is very difficult to prove successfully. It is generally reserved for only the most difficult cases such as first degree murder or death penalty litigation.

In this article we have discussed the three major affirmative defenses that might be raised by the Defense in an appropriate case. Remember, in order to be able to argue at closing argument that one or more of these defenses apply, the Defense Attorney must be able to point to specific facts supporting these defenses from the record of the case.

For more helpful information on success strategies for a person charged with a crime, contact

Self Defense – 8 Phases of an Effective Self-Defense Strategy and Training Program

By far, the greatest thing missing from most martial arts and safety programs focusing on self-defense is a structured and systemized outline that helps to keep the student on track with what he or she needs. Not to be confused with the step-by-step self-defense moves taught in the preset techniques or kata of different styles, or a curriculum that spells out what skills and techniques the student will be learning at what level, what I’m talking about is a formula or outline of the areas of action that make up a complete system for real-world self protection.

There are 8 phases, or elements, to a complete self defense strategy. Each element is important in making sure that you have as many options as possible for handling as many different threats and dangers as possible. But, each can be seen as a piece of an overall strategy that allows you the freedom, skill, and ability to control and predict the flow of a dangerous situation and, not only be able to handle it effectively if things get physical, but you’ll also be able to:

1) Have many more options for attempting to de-escalate the situation through the use of non-physical self defense

2) Use effective cover, concealment, and escape techniques to avoid being targeted by an attacker, and…

3) Survive the post trauma and possible legal issues that may come up in the aftermath of a self defense situation

As I teach my serious students looking for self defense mastery, regardless of whether they are focused on traditional ninjutsu – the art of Ninja – or on modern, street fighting self-defense, the 8 Phases of an Effective Self-Defense Strategy and Training Program are:

1) General Awareness – awareness of and education about:

a. Danger exist in the world and CAN touch you
b. The types of dangers that you are likely to encounter
c. The environments where you are most at-risk

2) Situational Awareness – paying attention to and observing the elements and changes in:

a. Your surroundings (what weapons, obstacles, and dangers exist or are available to you?)
b. The actions of others (who is acting suspiciously, out of character, or is being overtly threatening?)
c. Your state and well-being (are you alert, healthy, and well or nervous, ill, distracted, or otherwise emotional unbalanced?)

3) Escaping to safety – awareness of and pre-planning to be able to:

a. Physically escape from a dangerous environment
b. Hide or conceal yourself from a potential attacker
c. Use barriers and other shields that will protect you from incoming gunfire, thrown objects or other weapon attacks

4) Psychological Distraction Tactics – confusing or otherwise distracting the attacker’s attention from you as a target. You can do this through the use of:

a. Acting (like faking a heart-attack, etc.)
b. Feigning Ignorance (like pretending that you didn’t hear or understand his threats or orders)
c. Using Humor (tell a joke or otherwise act as if the assailant is only playing around or that you’re too easy of a target for him and not worth his effort)

5) Dissuasion Tactics – confronting the attacker with direct, committed, verbal and body language cues that both give him a last chance to change his mind, AND communicates very clearly that you will not be an easy target and will not allow him to continue with his attack without resistance.

6) Physical self defense – using the properly applied and appropriate skills to avoid, evade, and counter your assailant’s attacks as outlined with the:

a. “5 D’s” of Effective Self Defense Strategy
b. 3 Keys to Effective Self Defense Action
c. 3 Core Strategies for Effective Defensive Action

7) Regaining Composure and Control – effectively handling and neutralizing the effects of post-trauma stress so that you can acknowledge that your attacker gave you no choice but to take the actions that you did in Stage 5. Contrary to popular belief, as it is generally applied in the psychiatric and counseling worlds, this stage is actually practiced and prepared for long before self defense action is ever needed.

8) Defend Against Any Legal Issues – this is the stage that gives a logical, rational, strategic reason to have stages 2, 3, 4, & 5, and to use them if possible before being forced to resort to physical action at stage 6. While self defense is legal, you will have to show that you did everything in your power to avoid physical aggression if you are to really convince many members of the legal system, or even administrators at your place of work, that you are not a martial artist or student of self-defense because you “like” fighting.

I have found over the years that most schools and programs focus primarily on physical techniques. While they are necessary, the true warrior or professional expert understands that strategic thinking and having a goal other than the conventional idea of “winning” as seen in the competitive fighting styles, allows for a sense of control over situations that physical techniques alone cannot provide.

That’s why I teach these 8 Phases of self-defense listed here. Each provides different options, but each level also adds techniques, tactics, and “intensity” to the defensive response not present in the previous levels. Having a complete understanding and control of this structured, 8-stage outline gives you a real sense of “mastery” and the ability to control and stop any assailant who would attack you.

Do you want to learn more about the way I do it? I have just completed my brand new online ecourse to self-defense success, “Foundations of Self-Defense Mastery”

Self Defense Weapon Pros and Cons

Choosing A Self Defense Weapon
If you don’t have military or police background, and aren’t a big fan of that movie where people purposely hurt themselves, you probably have never seen a stun gun, taser, or pepper spray.

While I believe it’s always best for a citizen to learn practical and effective empty-hand self-defense methods first, in some cases you may not have access to an instructor. And in other cases, it may not be practical for you to take a self defense class, due to physical limitations.

If this describes you, then you probably want some sort of self defense weapon that you can use right now to protect yourself. I understand, so I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you shouldn’t buy something to use for that purpose – because it’s your RIGHT to defend yourself!

But, if you don’t really know what each device does, you may have a hard time deciding which product best fits your needs. So, here’s a brief run down of each product category and what their capabilities are…

Self Defense Weapons And Their Pros And Cons
Defense Sprays – (a.k.a., “Mace”, pepper spray, tear gas)

This is my number one recommendation for a simple self-defense tool that almost anyone can use effectively. If you’ve used an aerosol can, you can use a defense spray.

Defense sprays are chemical sprays that incapacitate an assailant by their irritant or inflammatory effect. The defense sprays that most sites offer mainly rely on an extract of hot pepper plants for their effectiveness. This extract is called Oleoresin Capsicum (OC). OC is an inflammatory agent that has an instantaneous effect when sprayed into the eyes and face of an assailant.

The heat from pepper extracts is measured in Scoville Heat Units. The typical jalapeno pepper rates at about 2,500 Scoville Heat Units, while the some of the sprays on this website rate at up to 2 million Scoville Heat Units. So, to get an idea of the effect of getting sprayed, just think about the last time you rubbed your eyes after handling a jalapeno pepper, and multiply that feeling by about eight hundred times!

Probably the best thing about Pepper Sprays is the fact that you can hit someone with a good spray from several feet away, and although it usually takes 20 to 30 minutes for the effect to wear off, there are no long-term ill effects from being sprayed.

If you do decide to purchase a defense spray, make sure you get a good, quality brand like Mace, and that you replace it every six months to ensure your spray will work when you need it.

Stun Guns –
A stun gun is a device that relies on a pulsed electrical current to incapacitate an assailant. They are highly effective at stopping an assailant in their tracks, and the loud crackling noise that they make when you hit the “on” switch can be very intimidating to a would be attacker.

As effective as they are, stun guns do require you to make actual physical contact with the assailant. The stun gun must be brought into contact with the assailant’s body to exert its effect.

Also, a stun gun (like any weapon) can be turned against you. In addition, thick clothing can sometimes lessen the effect of the stun gun on an assailant.

For these reasons, I recommend you choose a good defense spray over a stun gun as a first line of defense. But, at close range where there is no room to spray the assailant without risking spraying yourself, a stun gun could possibly allow you the chance to escape.

Tasers –
Tasers are basically stun guns that work at a distance. Tasers fire a barbed dart (ouch!) that penetrates the assailant’s skin. The dart is attached to the handheld unit by two wires that deliver the electrical impulse that disables the assailant.

Most have a fifteen-foot range and come in two designs. The first design looks a lot like the “phasers” that you have seen on Star Trek. This design costs less and is probably easier to aim if you have never fired a pistol. If you have ever used a remote control to change the channels on your TV, you can probably aim this type of taser.

The second taser design resembles a pistol, and operates in much the same manner, but is equivalent to the standard taser in all other respects.

There are two main drawbacks with tasers:

1. You have to hit your target.

2. You may only have one shot and one chance to do so.

Also, tasers tend to be expensive. The fact is, pepper sprays are easier to use, so when in doubt, just buy a can of pepper spray.

Other Self Defense Weapons –
Kubotans – A kubotan (also known as a “pocket stick”) is a handheld device that attaches to your keychain. The effectiveness of the kubotan in delivering short, powerful strikes to an assailant’s vital target areas is unquestionable… if you know what you’re doing with it. Get training in empty-handed self defense first if you plan to buy a kubotan for self defense.

Personal Alarms – Personal alarms are devices that emit an extremely loud and high-pitched “whistle” when activated. Some include hidden switches that can ensure only the owner can deactivate the unit.

They are mainly useful for drawing attention to you if you are attacked, because the loud noise they make can bring unwanted attention to an attacker. No criminal wants to get caught, so the last thing they want is attention. At 120 to 150 decibels, personal alarms definitely draw a lot of attention.

Having said that, my take on them is that they are close to useless for self defense. My advice is to just buy a good alarm system for your home, and carry pepper spray with you in an easily deployed place on your body (preferably, on a key ring that you carry with the Mace can in your hand, ready to go).

Knives and Firearms – Are they effective? Of course. But, if you decide to carry a knife or firearm for personal protection I strongly encourage you to research and become familiar with the laws of your state first.

If your research leads you to believe it is a legal option in your area, the next logical step would be to seek expert instruction in their usage before you start to carry one for self-defense.

In future, we’ll be offering advanced courses in knife defense and hand-gunning for home defense at select Self Defense Black Belt Program locations, so be sure to sign up for our newsletter on our site to stay informed on when those courses become available.

Missile Defense in Europe

The U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) system is a single, integrated system to protect the United States, its deployed forces, and U.S. allies and friends against growing threats posed by ballistic missiles from rogue states such as North Korea and Iran. It is the policy of the United States to work with its allies to deploy defenses against existing and emerging threats from missiles of all ranges.

This is important because a ballistic missile carrying just one weapon of mass destruction payload could cause catastrophic damage to a country. The missile defense system deployed over the past four years protects the United States against long-range attack. It also integrates mobile sea-based and transportable land-based capabilities to intercept shorter-range missiles. In missile defense, geography matters.

The early warning radars in Alaska, California, and the United Kingdom and the long-range missiles based at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, are not positioned properly to defend Europe against intermediate-range and long-range ballistic missile attacks from Iran. The short-range defenses (including Patriot systems) deployed by a handful of European allies and current U.S. sea-based missile defenses cannot provide adequate defensive coverage and engage with high confidence the much faster missiles coming out of the Middle East. Iran is in an aggressive race to build on its shorter-range missiles to extend its military reach. It is also acquiring missile technologies and even whole missile systems through trade with proliferators such as North Korea. Iran has publicly announced that it is developing a space launch vehicle, which means developing the technologies and knowledge (e.g., rocket staging) for longer-range ballistic missiles.

These developments, combined with the statements by Iran’s leaders (e.g., Ahmadinejad’s stated goal “to wipe Israel off the face of the map” and his admonition that other nations must “bow down before the greatness of the Iranian nation and surrender”) are reasons for concern about Iran’s military direction. One must ask why a country such as Iran is acquiring ballistic missiles that can reach more than 1,500 kilometers, a strike range that would overfly Israel and the American bases in the region.

One possible answer is that Iran sees value in having the ability to coerce and impose Iranian policy on European leaders by holding them hostage. The power to blackmail and threaten European and U.S. leaders means that Iran might not need to fire a single missile to affect the foreign and defense policies of its enemies.

An operational missile defense system that protects European nations could counter any such move by Tehran. Preparing defenses against an emerging missile threat takes many years, which is why the Bush Administration decided to proceed with deploying 10 long-range interceptors in Poland and building a midcourse discrimination radar in the Czech Republic.

The missiles and the radar would provide redundant protection of the United States and an initial defense of Central and Northern Europe from long-range ballistic missile attack. The radar in Central Europe would supplement sensor coverage from the early warning radar in the United Kingdom, which is already integrated into the U.S. system, and other radars that might be deployed in and around the region on land and at sea. These Central European sites provide geographically ideal locations for protecting both the United States and our European allies. Allies in Southern Europe are not vulnerable to long-range missile attack from Iran, but in a crisis, they would need the shorter-range defenses offered by Patriot PAC-3s, Aegis BMD ships, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries, and other NATO missile defense systems. The United States has concluded negotiations with the Czech Republic and Poland. In April 2008, all 26 NATO nations formally endorsed the missile defense plan, agreeing with the United States that the threat from Iran is serious and that the Bush Administration’s planned defense approach is the right one. The benefits of this deployment are clear.

Long-range defenses in Europe will increase the options available to U.S. leaders to defend against sophisticated threats by providing more decision time and engagement opportunities. This deployment would strengthen transatlantic security by reassuring and defending allies and friends, complementing emerging NATO plans to defeat short-range and medium-range threats, and preventing coercion and preserving U.S. and NATO freedom of action. An effective missile defense system could also dissuade rogue states from pursuing ballistic missiles in the first place and deter ballistic missile launches. Critics of the European deployments worry about the predictable negative reaction from Russia’s leaders and the possibility of damage caused by debris. However, the 10 interceptors in Poland and the midcourse radar in the Czech Republic oriented toward the Middle East are incapable of intercepting the hundreds of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and the thousands of warheads in the Russian arsenal.

Russian concern that the United States could turn these defensive interceptors into offensive weapons is likewise groundless. Future U.S. activities at missile defense sites in Europe will be transparent to the Russians and to host nations. Perhaps more important, this concern does not make military sense from the U.S. point of view because the U.S. already has the capability to bring offensive strike submarines or bombers into a regional conflict. The United States has also assured its allies that the launched objects’ momentum will cause debris resulting from intercepts in space to continue along the missiles’ original trajectories and that most of this debris will burn up when it reenters the atmosphere.

Another way to view the debris question is to compare it to Europe’s experiences during World War II, when leaders found that shooting down enemy aircraft, regardless of where they crashed and the level of damage caused by the crashes, made far more sense than allowing them to survive and deliver their bombs.

One fact, however, is beyond dispute: Once a missile has been launched and its payload has acquired the target, our leaders and the leaders of Europe will have only the option of missile defense to secure the safety of the citizens of their countries. Find out more about the growing nuclear proliferation threat facing the world today. Visit 33 Minutes – Missile Defense in a New Missile Age, a new documentary film about missile defense in America. The site includes video commentary, animations of missile defense strategies, and extended missile defense resources and articles.

Youth Football Defense – How to Design an Effective Defense For Youth Football

The makings of a great youth football defense. How does it happen?

When designing a defense in youth football you have to first figure out what plays you are going to defend. I’ve done coaches clinics all over the country and I’ve yet to come across a group yet that didn’t think that the sweep was the play they HAD to stop first in order to be successful in youth football. Most also agreed that the Dive, Reverse,Off-tackle Power and Drop Back Pass were the #2,#3,#4 and #5 threats.Many youth coaches felt the sweep was so important to stop that they often listed the Sweep as #1, #2, and #3 in order of importance. I may have to agree with that to an extent.

The second step in determining your defensive scheme is to make sure you have a mission statement for your team. Your defensive scheme has to align with your mission. Our mission statement is: To develop a love and appreciation of the game in our players so they can benefit from the life lessons the game teaches. We want to play competitive football, where the average individual and the team can have success while playing everyone in all games regardless of circumstances.

Obviously if you are like us and are going to play everyone ( not all the same amount) or have minimum play rules, you have to ask yourself; “Where can my weakest players play where they can have personal success and add team value on each and every snap?”.You have to ask yourself, what schemes and techniques out there not only help us stop the plays we have to defend but also accommodate my goal of playing even weaker players on defense?

The 4-4

When we were designing the defense we use now we started with the base 4-4 that we got from Jay Smith who before coaching with us had coached at Canyon Springs California High School. They won two USA Today National Championships during Jay’s tenure there. While this defense worked very well for our “select” teams, it didn’t work well at all for our non-select teams. We found this defense required 2 pretty good down linemen, 2 rush ends that had to be fairly athletic, 4 reasonably athletic and aggressive linebackers and 3 descent defensive backs . While our “select” teams didn’t always have the perfect mix of players for this defense they were able to make it work well. Our “select” teams were the best players chosen from a group of 100-150 players, those not chosen were put on “B” teams and played other “B” teams of similar size and abilities. As you might imagine those “A” teams were made up of a much different grouping of kids than our “B” squads.

Need for a Change

While this league had no minimum play rules, I mandated an 8 play minimum play rule for all of my teams in the league and a 16 play minimum play rule for my own personal team, to show my other coaches, that 8 plays were easy to get in. With about 25 players per team we had to really hustle to get everyone their plays. We found we did not have the athleticism on these non-select teams to run the 4-4 effectively and get everyone in the game like we wanted to. Our weaker players were just whiffing while playing in all that space and we didn’t have 2 stud defensive linemen to anchor the middle, all the studs were on the “A” team. We were getting beat on sweeps because our 2 best linebackers had to play the middle and with the next 2 best players playing outside linebacker, they couldn’t cut off the sweep from their positions.

Designing Something that Works

We had to design a defense that would allow these less talented kids the chance to play and compete by stopping the plays most of our opponents were trying to establish, the sweep, dive, reverse/counter, off-tackle and drop back pass (lesser extent). We also had to factor in the passing completion percentages for youth football teams in our area. For age 8-10 it was about 20%, for 11-12 it was about 25% and for 13-14 it was about 30%. So we came up with a defense that concentrated on stopping the run with a heavy emphasis on stopping the sweep, stopping the home run play (reverse), clogging the inside and allowing even our weakest kids to get on the field. While our new homegrown defense didn’t look like anything we had seen before, it used some of the concepts of our old 4-4 for stunts and blitzes but incorporated a whole new group of techniques we found average kids could execute.

Colleges Using This Defense

Over time I discovered that this defense (minus a number of youth techniques and adjustments we have in place) was used back in the 60’s when College teams had to worry about defending the run more than they do today with all the spread passing that is so popular, imagine that. The problem is that many youth teams run the popular college defenses like the 4-3, 4-4, 3-5-3 etc which are designed to stop the college offenses of today, not the run based offenses of the 60’s or the youth offenses with their 20% pass completion rates. Our defense most closely resembles a youth version of the Wide Tackle 6 that Jerry Claiborne’s teams used at Virginia Tech and Maryland in the 60’s and ’70’s . When the college game moved to more passing, this defense was abandoned as they did not feel they had the coverages in it to effectively stop the better passing teams. It was very successful back in those days and widely used after Claiborne made it popular at Maryland and Virginia Tech.

Just 18-19 TD’s Given up in Last 8 Seasons Total

This defense has served us well, helping us to a 78-5 record over the last 8 seasons. Our first team defense has had just 18-19 total touchdowns scored against us in that time period. The first team has had just 1 sweep play and 1 reverse play of over 10 yards run against it in that same time period. For those that have the 2006 or 2007 season DVDs, they can attest to that. More importantly this defense has allowed us to play and even start some of our weakest players on defense. Many coaches I know play their best 11 on defense and then put their weaker kids on offense. This not only hamstrings the offense, but deprives the kids of getting the experience of playing both sides of the ball.Think about the plays you need to stop and how you are going to get everyone in the game before you choose a defensive scheme for your youth football team. While many will tell you to “coach what you know”, if you know a defense that is designed to defend High School or College offenses, that defense may not be the best choices to defend what you will see from youth offenses. And remember the College and High School teams aren’t required to play all their kids, it is an entirely different equation than those of us coaching youth football have to deal with.

Dave Cisar-

Dave is a Nike “Coach of the Year” Designate and speaks nationwide at Coaches Clinics. His book “Winning Youth Football a Step by Step Plan” was endorsed by Tom Osborne and Dave Rimington. His personal teams using this system to date have won 94% of their games in 5 Different Leagues.

3 Annoying Myths in Self Defense

There are a lot of self defense myths and falsehoods out there. Unfortunately, every martial artist has heard are fallen victim to one or more of them. I am no different in this case.

Yet there are three big ones that seem to trick people time and time again. So in hopes of exposing these myths, I am showing you these today.

Annoying Myth #1: There is an Ultimate Self Defense Style/ Course

The forums ring with people claiming this self defense course is the ultimate self defense course or this style is the ultimate self defense style. These people are often cleverly coined forum warriors.

These people are often affiliate marketers of a specific course or just wannabe martial artist, many of which have never been in a serious fight in their lives. No wonder so many of their comments leave people confuse.

In truth, when you want to determine a self defense style, a lot of things come into play. What is you size? How strong are you? What is your style of learning? All these things come into play when you are determining the best method for you.

You also have to look at the school. How well do the students.

Remember, when you are looking for a good self defense school, you do not need to find the very best. That is a life long journey. You just need to find a good school that will show you how to effectively get the job done of defending yourself. Thats all.

Once you get that down, then, only if you choose to, you can begin searching for schools that can advance your techniques because you will know what to look for.

So in a nutshell, instead of searching for the ultimate style, just focus on finding a style that you think works well for you, and a school where the teacher is a good communicator who answers your questions and the students are good fighters.

Annoying Myth #2: You Can Become A Deadly Commando In Just a Few Days With this Take-Home Self Defense Course!

You have probably seen ads for these on the internet or in self defense magazines. Some top secret law enforcement or army guy tells you that they have the ultimate top secret self defense technique that will turn you into an army super soldier in days. Yet when you get them, what you learn does not live up to the hype.

Again, we are not attacking take home self defense courses. There are some very goods ones out there that, when used along with live martial arts training can really help you to improve your overall technique.

However, when a scam artist states that their course can deliver impossible results with very little training, you have to wonder. Our opinion is, when you see these offers, dont get over excited. They may have some very valid tips, but nothing that will make you a one man or woman army.

So, again, martial arts training from a school mixed with take home self defense courses can be very good if you get the right one. But take home self defense courses without proper training from a school can often be incomplete and leave you unprepared for a real life-death situation.

Annoying Myth #3: Your Own Two Hands Are Your Best Self Defense Weapon

This myth is absolutely ridiculous, and makes me angry more than anything. This myth states that there is no better self defense weapon than your own two hands and feet. And to me, there is no sillier of a myth than this.

For those of who self defense dreamers with Champaign wishes and caviar dreams, who think that this empty hand combat is the only way to go, allow me to elaborate…

You are walking down the street when an attacker tells you to get in the car. You tell them, I dont think so, and put up your dukes. The attacker then pulls out a gun. Who will be the victor?

I can almost guarantee you it will not be you.

Now, if you have been specially trained in the art of unarmed combat through the military, law enforcement, and martial arts you’re chances are much better than that. However, those people know and understand the importance of using more than just your hands and feet.

Now don’t be mistaken, training in any empty hand combat is an excellent idea. It conditions you, and shows you how to effectively defend yourself. However, empty hand combat should only be used as an absolute last defense.

The truth is the most effective self defense weapon you could use is not your hands or feet, or anything else for that matter. The most effective self defense weapon is your brain. In other words, good old fashioned common since.

Think about it for a second. If you had a choice of a way to stop a criminal dead in their tracks, I am sure you could think of about 3 or 4 that might be more effective then just using your bare hands.

For example, you might think of using a taser gun, to stop them dead in their tracks. Or you may want to use a pepper spray to shoot at them for 6 feet away. You could hit them with a stun gun and run like heck or you could pick up a stone or brick and throw it at them.

You see what we mean?

Too many people think that the world is a kung fu movie, when really its not. The real world thugs will not only hurt you, they will kill you and they don’t care about your empty hand abilities or not. So you need to do as much as you can to legal stack the odds of survival in your favor.

But what happens if someone takes away my self defense weapon?

Well, there is a possibility that this could happen, but again, by educating yourself on self defense products you can greatly reduce the chance of you being harmed if this happens. For example, did you know that most stun guns have a disable pin that, once removed renders the device inoperable? That means they could never use your stun gun against you.

You may also want to think of the fact that having the advantages of having a self defense weapon on you far, far outweighs the disadvantages of not having anything to defend yourself with.

Think of a self defense weapon as the ultimate diversion. It is a doorway out of a difficult situation, so if you find yourself in a situation where someone is taking you self defense weapon away, don’t tussle with them. Throw it at their face. Use it to your leverage and always, always, run as if your life depended on it, because in truth it does.

Basketball Defense – Coaching Team Defense

Basketball defense is the foundation of any successful basketball team. Building a solid defense foundation is just as important as having an effective offense.

By executing the proper fundamentals, rotations, and communication strategies, your team will be able to anticipate their opponents’ moves and prevent them from scoring.

Defense can begin at any point on the court, depending on the opposing team’s strengths and the situation.

Full-court: pressing defense where defensive players guard opponents all over the court
Three-quarter: defensive players guard after the first inbounds pass, usually near the free throw line or at the top of the circle
Half-court: the most common defense level, where defensive players start guarding opponents at midcourt (this is the best approach to teach beginning players)
Quarter-court defense: guarding begins at the top of the defensive key (usually used when the opposing team has exceptional individual players)

There are three types of defensive categories: player-to-player, zone, and combination player-to-player and zone.

Player-to-player: This is the basic form of defense that all players should master. Each defensive player is assigned one offensive player to guard. Because this type of defense depends on the individual skills of each player, it can be both extremely challenging and rewarding.
Zone: This strategy assigns defensive players to specific areas of the court to guard instead of individual players. The size and shape of the zone should be altered to match the court as the ball moves to different areas.
Combination: This strategy involves some defenders assigned to specific offensive players and other players assigned to zones on the court. The Box and One is a common form of combination “D.” Combination defenses are often used when the offense has a particularly talented player who should be guarded exclusively.

Basketball Defense Tips

Every team should have a primary defense in which they excel. The focus for beginning players should always be player-to-player (man to man).
Encourage players to view defense as an area where they can shine. Beginning players often develop offensive skills at different rates, but any athlete can excel at defense if they want to.
Practice against all offensive situations so that there are no surprises on game day
Teach your team to think both offensively and defensively during game play to anticipate opponent’s moves.

Do You Know What Kind of Self Defense Techniques and Training You Need to Defend Yourself?

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make in learning to defend yourself is to just take someone’s word. Regardless of whether the person you’re talking to is wearing a black belt around his or her waist, is a 600th degree poo-bah in Tic Tac Toe, or is the creator of the latest, greatest, “kill-’em with one finger” self defense course, you must take responsibility for insuring that you get the kind of self defense techniques that will actually save your you-know-what, when the time comes!

This article sheds some light on one piece of knowledge that you should have so that you can make sure that you’re not trying to learn self defense from some guy who just has a few “ideas,” but has never really “been there” to prove that his stuff works! I can’t guarantee that, after you read this, that you’ll be able to spot a “want to-be” from the real thing, when it comes to self defense experts. But, you will at least know where to begin to insure that your are learning the kind of self defense techniques that will match the types of attacks you are most likely to encounter!

And, before I go into this lesson any further, let’s set the record straight that…

Self defense is NOT the same thing as “fighting!”

It’s funny but, when I was a cop and I was pulling two guys off each other, every single time both of them would tell me that they were just “defending themselves!” Funny. You both looked like you were fighting. That means that neither of you looked like you were trying to get away from the other!

And, that same mentality is prevalent in the self defense world. Every guru seems to have a “self defense” book, video, or program. And yet, when you look closely at the lessons being taught, what you see are lessons for fighting – for beating someone down – not escaping.

But, if we’re talking about self defense, we must include the context in which we are defending ourselves. We must also look at things like why we’re being attacked, by whom, and with what kind of attack or weapon.

What I mean is that, to understand and therefor be able to look for the right self defense techniques for you, you need to ask the question, “under what condition or circumstances am I likely to be attacked?”

Here are several types of self defense paradigms. Each one comes with it’s own set of needs, strategies, tactics, and purpose. And, these things in and of themselves, determine what “kind” of self defense techniques you need.

1) Self Defense for police officers and armed security personnel.

2) Self Defense for body guards and executive protection specialists.

** The above two types require almost the exact opposite when it comes to training, by the way!

3) Self Defense for the average citizen. (This is subdivided and can be further broken down to include self defense for women, rape defense, and self defense for children)

While there are general principles and concepts that are universal, regardless of which group you are in, the fact remains that if you are really going to learn the types of self defense techniques that you need to be able to defend yourself against “your” most likely attacker, who’s throwing his most likely attack…

…you MUST begin by knowing who and what that is BEFORE you even get started!

Effective self defense requires more than just a few “karate moves.” It involves the ability to think strategically, and understand how to defend yourself with as little wear-and-tear on you as possible.

Cook County Criminal Defense Attorney Courts

The nature of the criminal charges against you – traffic violation to serious felony – will determine where in Cook County your case will be heard. It could be one of several criminal courts in the county. Wherever your case is heard, you should choose an attorney who regularly appears there and has developed relationships with the prosecutors and judges.

26th and California is where main felonies in Chicago, such as murder, armed robbery, weapons charges and some assault and battery cases, are tried. Preliminary hearings may be held elsewhere in Cook County but the trial will likely be at this courthouse.

Daley Center is where most civil matters in Cook County are heard as well as many minor traffic offenses in Chicago, such as speeding. Typically, traffic charges will only result in a fine if you are convicted but sometimes you can lose your driving privileges or incur higher insurance rates. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you consult not simply any attorney but specifically a Chicago traffic defense attorney.

Skokie Courthouse (located at 5600 Old Orchard Road in Skokie) is also known as the District 2 court and hears both criminal and civil cases ranging from the minor to serious offenses.

Rolling Meadows Courthouse (located at 2121 Euclid Avenue in Rolling Meadows) is also known as District 3 court and hears both criminal and civil cases ranging from the minor to serious offenses.

Maywood Courthouse (located at 1500 Maybrook Avenue in Maywood) is also known as the District 4 court and hears both criminal and civil cases ranging from the minor to serious offenses.

Bridgeview Courthouse (located at 10220 South 76th Avenue in Bridgeview) is also known as the District 5 court and hears both criminal and civil cases ranging from the minor to serious offenses.

Markham Courthouse (located at 16501 South Kedzie Parkway in Markham) is also known as the District 6 court and hears both criminal and civil cases ranging from the minor to serious offenses.

555 W. Harrison hears domestic violence cases in Chicago and jury trials on misdemeanors. If convicted of either, you could be sent to state prison.

Belmont & Western (located at 2452 West Belmont Avenue), 3150 W. Flournoy, 5555 W. Grand Avenue, 155 W. 51st Street and 727 E. 111th Street are courts where preliminary hearings are conducted for felony crimes in Chicago. If the case on felony charges is going to a grand jury, it is transferred to 26th and California or one of the suburban district courthouses. These locations are also where bench trials on misdemeanor charges in Chicago are heard, such as solicitation of a prostitute, disorderly conduct, assault, battery and other crimes.

It is worth repeating that for practical but primarily strategic reasons, it is highly recommended that you choose an attorney who regularly appears in the courthouse where your matter will be heard and is, therefore, familiar with the prosecutors and judges at that location.

College Football – Meet the Illinois Fighting Illini – The Most Overrated Team in AP’s Top 25 Poll

Coach Ron Zook’s Illinois team took the Big Ten by storm last year, tying with Michigan for the runner-up spot at 6-2, and going 9-3 in the regular season. The Fighting Illini from Champaign got ahead by sneaking up on some opponents.

Then they arrived at the Rose Bowl to face Southern California and took about 49 shots to the head with a ball-peen hammer as the Trojans won going away, 49-17. Last year Illinois finished at No. 20 in the final AP Poll. All of last year’s fight and hype moved Illinois into this year’s AP Top 25 Poll.

The Illini, currently ranked No. 22, have no business being in AP’s Top 25, and will probably figure that out after visiting No. 16 Penn State at Happy Valley next weekend (9-27-08). They have a bye this weekend and will need all of the extra time to get ready to face Jo Pa’s (Joe Paterno’s) Nittany Lions.

Teams that did well last year generally get a free pass into the AP Top 25 the following year. Whether they maintain the ranking is another question. In Illinois’ case, while they are currently No. 22 in the AP Poll, the Sagarin football ratings puts them at No. 66, where they belong.

The AP Top 25 Poll is determined each week by 64 influential sportswriters around the country. It can be argued that it is a popularity poll. Jeff Sagarin’s NCAA Football Ratings uses a scientific, statistical analysis to determine the pecking order for the 245 teams in Division I-A (119 teams) and I-AA (the rest). Sagarin’s ratings are the gold standard.

Part of Illinois’ No. 66 rating at the moment is because the Fighting Illini have played a weak schedule of opponents, the 106th weakest schedule rank in the country to be exact. Sure, the Illini opened with Missouri (not exactly a walk in the park) but they also have squared off against Eastern Illinois (rated 157th) and Louisiana-Lafayette (rated 128th), not exactly college football powerhouses.

Here is also a news flash for the Fighting Illini, who gave up an average of 30 points to their first 3 opponents: You cannot give up 30 points a game and win a lot of games against good teams. Last year Illinois gave up 21 points per game and still won 9 games. This year the Illini defense gave up 52 points in losing to Missouri in their opener. Missouri is currently ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll.

The road ahead for Ron Zook’s Illini is interesting as they must face Penn State (currently 3-0), Michigan (1-2), Minnesota (3-0), Indiana (2-0), Wisconsin (3-0), Iowa (3-0), Ohio State (2-1) and Northwestern (3-0). The combined record of these opponents is 20-3 at the moment.

Zook just might get snookered before he sneaks up on anyone this year.

If you are wondering, the next 5 most overrated teams currently in the AP Poll are Fresno State, South Florida, Clemson, Kansas and Missouri (yes, Missouri). The two most underrated teams are Penn State and Brigham Young (BYU).

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Read my other detailed, knowledgeable, interesting articles on college football, including:

“College Football’s First Controversial Call of 2008 May Have Cost Washington a Huge Upset”

“College Football – It Is Going to Be a Very Long Season for Washington’s Football Program”

“Michigan State’s Javon Ringer Scores Five Times in 42-10 Victory Over Eastern Michigan”

“For the Michigan State Spartans, 7 Has Become a Very Uncomfortable Number”

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