Category Archives for "Misc."

Dynamic First Aid course

I recently attended the  Dynamic First Aid course taught by Caleb Causey of LoneStarMedics.com. The course was taught at the Tactical Arts Academy in Austin where I also train Filipino and Indonesian Martial Arts.

The course was interesting not only because of the material taught but also because my wife attended with me.

Dynamic First Aid course with Caleb Causey

A “first aid” drill – my wife kneeling at the guy that’s laying to the left. Caleb Causey (in black shirt) providing instructions.

I had previously attended a CPR certification course but I didn’t feel confident that if the need arises I can provide first aid to someone – or myself.

It turned out that Dynamic First Aid (more precisely the material taught) is something completely different than the CPR-First Aid taught by the Red Cross… And, I’m glad that I went and got the training!

What I learned:

  • Assess the scene – scan, make sure it’s safe for me and then proceed or don’t if not safe
  • How to approach and where to approach from
  • How to assess the level of consciousness of the patient
  • How to direct bystanders to assist (like call 911), or simply to stop them from using a smart phone for videotaping – especially if certain body parts of the patient are exposed
  • CAB (circulation, airways, breathing) sequence
  • Put on gloves if assisting someone different than myself or someone I know (like a family member for example)
  • Clothes cutting/removing to expose injuries
  • When, where and how to put on a tourniquet (C-A-T or SOF-T Wide) – on myself or others and for how long the tourniquet can be left in place
  • How to stuff a wound to stop bleeding

The course was a half-day long but it could have easily been a whole day. The printout we were all given in the beginning included the material above but also other material that we merely touched upon like drags/carries, impaled objects, broken bones, burns, seizures, heart attack, eye injuries, shock.

What I especially liked was the role-play drills (the pic above). They provided levels of stress, which is what really tested how we would really do in similar situations (we would probably would do even worse since there wasn’t any real injuries or blood, etc.).

Role-play drills are the type of hands-on that is of most value in courses like this. It’s similar to the force-on-force in firearms training. The reason is people break under even moderate levels of stress and what is simply learned as theory isn’t usually what will be applied in a real-life situation if there isn’t any realistic (under stress) training.

I still feel like I need more knowledge and even more practice to really feel confident, but at least now I 1) finally have my own IFAK (individual first aid kit) for my EDC (every-day carry), and 2) I know how to self-apply a tourniquet to stop bleeding from gun shot wound to the extremities… or do that and some of the listed above procedures to someone else.. should the need arise.

Next, I would love to get some training in Tactical Medicine (which is also offered by LoneStarMedics).

What about you – do you have any training or experience with Dynamic First Aid or Tactical Medicine?

 

Defensive Handgun Skills: Defensive Pistol 2, Force-on-Force, Low light shooting

This past weekend I attended a 13-hour course at KRTraining, which was comprised of three separate defensive pistol skills courses: Defensive Pistol Skills 2, Advanced Training 2: Force-on-Force, Advanced Training 1A: Low light shooting.

Defensive Pirstol 2 at KRTraining

Defensive Pistol 2 at KRTraining: Training getting the pistol off a flat surface without the risk of it sliding out from underneath your fingers… when you need it most.

For this day of courses I used my new Ruger LC9s Pro sub-compact pistol.

I have to say that out of all the previous courses I’ve taken at this defensive shooting training school these three were the most impactful. More specifically the Force-on-Force scenarios.

Here are the main things that struck me the most:

  • If something is happening somewhere and you are in an adjacent place (could be another room in your house or the main building of a gas station – somewhere where you are not at the moment but you can hear or see things happening): “If there is nothing worth dying for don’t go in!”
  • Do not provoke! Do not start conflicts! Do seek to deescalate conflicts! Watch your body language and tone of voice!
  • If you are in a convenience store (coffee shop, movie theater, etc.) as a licensed CHL/CCW holder your job is NOT to be the policeman. Your only responsibility is to protect yourself, wife/children from imminent danger of losing life or limb, or to prevent a mass-murder. In any other case stay put.
  • If you are in a situation in which you were legally justified in drawing your weapon do not hold the weapon when the cops come! They don’t know who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy (that’s assuming the bad guy is not a threat any more)! Identify yourself as a legal CHL/CCW carrier.
  • Draw your lines mentally as to what you can live with in case something is happening near you and you are not legally required but are legally justified to protect others from something horrible happening to them. What is morally the right ting to do? What can you live with if you do or not do what is morally expected of you?
  • Do not give full statement when first responders arrive, but state that you will comply fully as soon as you consult with your counsel. Provide the most necessary information without going into great detail. You need to make it clear that you were in fear for your life but you don’t want to say something that is not accurate at the moment that goes on record and can be used against you later (adrenalin spill, inadequacy, profound stress can all be a cause of that).
  • Train yourself to be in constant Condition Yellow (relaxed alert) when outside “your castle”. Train your situational awareness. Don’t miss clues! Don’t ignore when the gut’s telling you something doesn’t feel right! (in Force-on-forece role playing I got robbed at an ATM – I ignored the clues!)
  • Legally carrying REQUIRES of you to ALWAYS be at your best behavior, knowing the consequences if you are not! In my view, well-educated CCW holders, by deciding to carry that day, require of themselves to avoid situations that they or other people would normally not care too much to avoid. In other words, legal carrying when combined with the required education, makes for a very safe and highly responsible person (contrary to common belief).
  • All men are genetically predisposed to aggression – and that appears to be normal. But when aggression is combined with lack of empathy – the result is a sociopath! (this comes from an excerpt I was given to read during class from the book “On Killing” by Lt. Col David Grossman)
  • On adjusting to low light: Full adaptation of the eyes to darkness can take up to 40 min. It takes an instant to adapt back to full light. It is pointless, therefore, to wait to adapt to low-light. That’s what tactical flashlights are for. And, it makes perfect sense to flash in the eyes of an adversary to momentarily and completely take away his being adapted to low light conditions. Being directly flashed in the eyes is something you must avoid for the same reason.

I also learned that although sub-compact handguns may be okay as a part of your EDC or minimally uncomfortable for concealed carry, they are definitely not okay for defensive handgun courses. The low capacity (7 + 1 rounds in my case) makes it very stressful and difficult to complete drills. As one of my instructors stated near the end of the day, “You are fighting the small gun syndrome”.

Now, almost a week later I’m still processing the information received that day. And, I know it will take a while to fully process all that happened and all that I was exposed to.

In the mean time, I look forward to my continued education in the area of self-defense with firearms – Combative Pistol 1 with Tom Givens and after that MAG-20 Classroom with Massad Ayoob.

“This can’t happen to me!”… Until it does! The OODA loop and how to be prepared!

This happened when I was 19. I have never talked about it before..

4am – early morning. I was walking back home with a friend after a night out. The area was quiet. We were walking on the street lane, not on the side walk. We felt that walking in the middle of the street was safe since this wasn’t a busy street, it was dark and we could see headlights from afar. There was also no one around us.

All of a sudden my friend and I heard quickly approaching steps far behind us. We both turned back to have a look. We saw three shadows quickly approaching. Whoever they were they were walking on the street too – just like us and in a straight line directly behind us.

We kept composure and the frequency of our stride remained normal. The steps we were hearing were becoming more and more well pronounced. We looked back again. The three shadows have already closed half the distance and were quickly approaching. We had about 10 seconds or so to decide what to do.

My friend sensed danger and said: “This doesn’t look good! Let’s run!”. I also sensed danger but deep inside I refused to imagine a scenario in which  an attack with the purpose of mugging could happen to me. So, I replied: “No. Just walk and pretend that we don’t see them”.

I’m sure at this point you have a general idea of what happened next.

This is what I remember from the following moments. The steps were right behind us and it was too late to run. I turned my head to look back and I in a split second I saw a baseball bat hitting my friend in the hip and then I heard a thump. Then numbness in my head.

Next thing I remember I was on the ground. Quickly becoming conscious again I gained focus. My friend was frantically fighting two of the attackers. He was bent forward, the back of his shirt over his head, pulled up by one of his attackers, his fists swinging violently in all directions. The third attacker standing a few steps away looking as confused as I was. I managed to quickly get up, leap to where my friend was and get in the brawl not really thinking-or knowing- what I was doing – only trying to swing and kick as fast as I could in the direction of the two attackers.

What seemed minutes but in reality was just seconds later the two attackers with the bats started running in the direction they arrived from, quickly joined by the third attacker who until that moment stood confused on the side.

At this moment I started gaining perspective of what had just happened. I felt something warm coming down in a streak over my face and over my lips, then flying out of there almost in spray form due to my fast and deep breeding in and out. It was blood that was coming down my forehead ending up in my mouth and down my shirt. I realized that the thump I’d heard seconds ago was the echo of my scull receiving a baseball bat strike.

The only reason that I was still alive was the fact that the second before the thugs attacked I turned my head sideways trying to find out what was going on behind us. By turning my head sideways the strike, which was intended for the top center of my head, actually fell at the hairline of my forehead, coming down in a slanted motion removing the skin and causing swelling in the bone at the spot of the impact.

My brave buddy ended up with a big bump on the side of his hip.

The rest of it doesn’t matter much. We both didn’t tell anybody about the incident. Our parents didn’t find out either.

To this day – more than 20 years later I still have this bump high on my forehead at the front hairline. It will be there for the rest of my life. It’s only noticeable when I ware a buzz cut hairstyle.

The details of this story are not that important. What’s more important is why I decided to talk about it now after so many years. The reason is only one – I just now realized why in that day, at that time, in that very minute I made a conscious decision to ignore the clear warning signs that the situation was dangerous and instead decided to trust that my own imagined, safe scenario will play out…

The OODA Loop

I learned about the OODA loop exactly two days ago at the Defensive Pistol 1 class that I attended. I’d never heard of it before that day. I came back home and went online to see what I can find out about it. The results of my findings follow..

The OODA loop is a 4-step decision making process, devised by USAF Colonel John Boyd. OODA stands for:

  1. Observe – collect data from the environment by employing the senses
  2. Orient – form a mental perspective of the most current situation, based on the most current data gathered
  3. Decide – decide on a course of action based on the most current mental perspective of the situation
  4. Act – act out the decided course of action

This is a very simplified representation of the OODA loop.

John Boyd's OODA Loop

A lot has been written about the OODA loop by much smarter individuals than me over the years. I won’t even make an attempt to try to explain it here for you. This is not the intent of this article.

The OODA loop is very complex in the way it applies to every-day life and I do not have the knowledge, capacity and time to even touch on all of its aspects. I most highly recommend that you read up and study it as much on it as you can. A great writing on the OODA loop can be found here.

The OODA loop is such a powerful concept! It’s an entire philosophy. It has the potential to change how you interact with the world from now until the rest of your life. It applies to all areas of life, including business. Most importantly, it may end up saving your life and/or the life of others.

I wish I had known and understood it when what I described above happened to me..

Too shallow and too slow..

See, everyone of us goes trough his or her own OODA loops in all kinds of different situations that require decision making. We do this by constantly comparing the new reality of the world around us (the situation and how it has changed) to mental models that we have in our minds of possible similar situations.

The loop goes on constantly (or at least it should–in all reasoning individuals) as the situation changes constantly. Continuously changing situation requires constant observation, orientation, decision making and acting on that decision (the decision step can be skipped in certain situations thus going directly to acting).

There are two ways (as I see it) things can go wrong in the OODA looping, causing arrival at the wrong decisions or causing “resetting” and no decisions made at all.

1. Too few mental models

When the situation around us is changing we continuously compare the new situation to already existing in our head mental models of similar situations. A problem arises in a situation where we can’t find a corresponding model to the newly presented situation. And, when we can’t we try to force an old mental model to a new reality. We suffer from “the man with the hammer” syndrome!

Pay attention now! This is exactly why I almost had my head open by thugs with baseball bats – I did not have a mental model that said, “People get mugged in the dark all the time — and this looks exactly like what it’s going to be!!” Instead, my outdated mental model said, “It’s just people walking on the street and they happen to be behind you.. It happens all the time – day and night. After all that’s what people do – they walk. And, they choose where to walk, not you.”

Well, we both know what happened that day when I had to force-employ the old mental model. The sad part isn’t what it happened – this happens to people all the time all around us, and for many it ends far worse. The sad part is that it took me more than 20 years to figure out why it happened the way it happened – why I made the decision not to run that night.

The OODA loop gave me the answer. After observing the situation I did not have the mental model that most closely corresponded to the dangerous situation and instead I used the only mental model I had at the time. In terms of the OODA loop I got the second step “Orient” totally wrong, and Orient happens to be the most crucial step in the entire 4-step decision-making process.

Too few mental models! As they say in the article I recommended above the only solution to such a problem is – “Build a robust toolbox of mental models!” In other words, have multiple scenarios for all kinds of possible situations. How? By investing your time in sciences, by reading a lot, philosophizing, training different defense and fine motor skills, role playing. And, by constantly being in Condition: Yellow when you are in an unknown territory, in an unfamiliar situation with unknown players.

2. Faster tempo = faster OODA looping

This is where conflicts of all sizes – from individual conflicts to wars between countries and continents are won or lost.

Tempo is the term used by John Boyd to describe the speed with which an OODA loop is completed. Most generally speaking, if you can complete your OODA loop faster than your opponent and start the cycle again you are in much better position to win the conflict.

Here is how it works: Let’s pick 1 second as the time you need complete all four steps of the loop in a particular situation. The last step is “Act” which means when you execute that last step you change the environment by creating a new situation.

Let’s now assume that your adversary can only complete step 1 (“Observe”) successfully for that same time. By the time he reaches step 2 (“Orient”) the situation has changed, which causes him to go back to step 1 again – to observe the new situation.. and on and on. Basically, you “reset” your opponent’s loop by making him/her go back to the very beginning each time you complete your loop. Thus your adversary never reaches step 3 and 4 and fails to act.

In a real-life situation this could mean that you gain valuable moments — while your adversary is stuck in Observe-Orient — which will allow you to resolve the conflict in your favor.

Here is a simple representation of OODA loop resetting:

John Boyd OODA Loop resetting

Colonel John Boyd made the point that it’s not as simple as just having a faster tempo, but also varying the tempo with which you complete your loop. This causes additional confusion in your opponent and messes up his “Orient” step completely (he continuously fails to match mental models to a continuously changing environment). This confusion in your adversary is best described by him having an “uhhhh” moment.

The great potential of the OODA loop to create competitive advantage by resetting the opponent’s loop was the main reason why the OODA loop was taught in my Defensive pistol 1 class the other day. At the time I only gained a faint idea of what that advantage was and how it could work for me in a bad situation. But I knew that there was a lot more to it than that – and I’m glad that I spent the time to learn more about it.

For me I know that knowing how the decision-making process works in our heads has the potential to give me great advantage in all kinds of situations in all areas of life. I know that from now on I will be constantly vigilant and aware of situations and how those around me observe and try to match already existing mental models to the most current situation. With enough learning and training I should be able to exploit this process to my advantage.

And, to have an advantage I must have a much much larger “mental models toolbox” than my current one. This will allow me to be able to complete a decision-making process faster than an adversary.

The poor mental models toolbox was what got me in trouble that day when I was attacked 20+ years ago. Now I know how to prevent that in the future. I know what I have to do, and I have already began doing it! How about you?

What you (and I) didn’t know about human violence

Here is the thing.. If you think that: 1) You know a lot about human violence and are prepared, or 2) You radiate positive energy and that’s what you attract – and therefore violence only happens to others, you need to listen to this audio.

My fellow MovNat-ter Daniel Vitalis, who is an expert on the negative effects contemporary lifestyle has on us humans and how to reverse these negative effects without rejecting civilization’s achievements, has very recently interviewed Rory Miller, himself an expert – in human violence.

Rorry Miller on human violence podcast

Rorry Miller on human violence podcast – click image to go to podcast page

I highly recommend that you find the time to listen to the entire recording. I promise you that you will come away with quite a few facts and truths that you new nothing about, and that will make you think deeply about how you previously viewed the world of human violence.

I won’t try to give a full account of what Daniel and Rory talked about, but I’ll list below some of my notes that I took while I listened. These notes made me ponder my understanding of human violence and I’m not done pondering yet – I won’t be for a while:

  • “If you’ve studied human violence as an art and I’ve studied human violence as a tool I have a huge advantage over you”.
  • If you think bad energy can’t come into your life because you are putting out only positive energy and that’s what you get in return, then you are the perfect victim!
  • Social violence – related to the fifth level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – self-actualization – if you are bad you strive to get to this level because hurting people gives you pleasure and you like it.
  • A certain body language – “If I don’t make eye contact and I don’t give him reasons he won’t hurt me” – is the right answer in a social conflict, BUT it’s exactly what stimulates a predator to attack even more! Watch this shocking video of a Russian girl getting literally stomped!
  • Attackers pick those who look like they are not likely to provide resistance – those who look weak, small, distracted, meak. So, make sure you don’t look or behave that way!
  • Firearm skills – you will probably never use them but if you ever need them you’ll need them in extraordinarily high level!
  • Allow yourself to notice and process more data from your immediate environment. Your awareness will increase! (This reminds me of the main point in Gavin de Becker’s “The Gift of Fear” – a highly recommended book)
  • People are attracted to power and there is huge amount of power in violence – if you are good at it (hence why some become attracted to inflicting harm in immense quantities to other humans – they feel powerful).
  • None of us contemporary humans are products of ancestors who refused to be violent in order to survive (it’s in our blood to be violent).

Think about some of these bullet points for a brief moment. How did the Russian girl video make you feel? Can violence happen to you? No? Never? I hope so. I sincerely do!

But, help yourself and pull your head out of the sand, acknowledge that human violence exists! Make sure that your senses are open and you don’t ignore your gut feeling. That’s the very minimum you can do. And, if you do just that – and nothing more – it might end up saving your life.

Listen to the podcast, think about it and see in what directions your thoughts will take you. The only bad direction is the direction of ignorance. Every other direction will be of benefit.

And finally, Daniel, thank you for putting together this wonderful recording, and for everything else you do to help cure us of ignorance! (I’ll do a separate post on your work)!

It’s not about fitness and bodybuilding anymore

This is mainly a note to myself (you don’t really have to read it), and to a lesser degree it is an explanation, if anyone should care, about changes that will incur on this website starting today…

– – –

Since I’ve had my own website – going on 12 years now – I’ve always kept it on topic. The topic was bodybuilding, fitness, nutrition and health.

This was all great… but until now.

Lately I haven’t been feeling much like writing here not because I don’t have what to say, but rather because I have been feeling restricted. See, it’s true that I’ve been an athlete longer than I have been anything else in my life – and I still am, and I hope I will be to my last day – but I have so many other interests besides sports and health.

And, because for one reason or another (or many reasons actually) I’ve always felt that I should keep this website on topic – and since the topic was fitness – fitness it was. Well, this scheme doesn’t work any more because this topic doesn’t represent me well. In fact, it doesn’t represent me well at all.

“Blog” (“web log”, which this website is actually) means that a website is the online notepad of one person. It’s like writing in your book but instead of using a pen you use a keyboard. So, what do you write about in your personal notepad – about anything that excites you, about anything that you care about.

So, why don’t I do it?

Exactly! Why not?

Image source: acmptoronto.org

Image source: acmptoronto.org

It’s my website/blog and I can write about anything that I want to write about and remember. It’s about me and it’s for me. Up until now my focus was the others. Me? Not in the focus. That is changing starting today!

I do what I want to do in my own house – my house is my own space – a real space. My blog is just like my house – it’s my own space, too. Only a virtual one.

So..

Anyone who cares to know what I write about myself and what excites me, my passions and my pursuits – in many seemingly unrelated areas, is welcome to come and visit (and behave respectfully in) my virtual personal space. It will no longer be about health and fitness and bodybuilding anymore. It will be about those things… and many, many… did I forget to say many more!

This is the only way for the true Ivan to come out… And, honestly, I can’t wait.

New Questions and Answers forum on IvanNikolov.com

Do you have a health, wellness, training or diet and nutrition-related question? If yes, now you can ask me directly here on my website.

For the longest time I’ve been getting questions sent to me via the Contact form on my website. There is nothing wrong with this – always glad if I could help with a good, valuable answer.

The problem with this setup is that I spend time to research and formulate my answer and the answer goes back to just one person. I thought that my time will be better spend and my answers will be of more value if they are posted on my website. This way others who might have similar questions may find the answer that I’ve already given.

Moreover, other folks may have far more in-dept knowledge than me on a certain topic and may (hopefully) decide to contribute their own valuable answer.

So, I went ahead and created a Questions & Answers forum, which happens to be of a very similar setup to the very popular in tech (and non-tech) circles Stackexchange/stackoverflow Q&A forums.

The Q&A can be accessed from the top menu and there should be a direct way to ask a question or access it through the right side bar from pretty much every page on IvanNikolov.com.

Here is a direct link to the main Q&A page.

 

Calculate ideal body weight

I mentioned elsewhere on the website that I’m a practitioner of logic and I am attracted to logic in basically all its forms (there are way too many illogical things and people on this planet – have enough of that already). I also mentioned that I am an amateur of one type of logic in technology – programming.

Any way, I just slapped together (in JavaScript) a calculator that calculates Ideal Body Weight (IBW). It’s almost too simple to use, but what’s interesting about the formula for calculating Ideal Body Weight behind this calculator is that it’s the formula that, based on my search through the years, provides the best estimate of one’s ideal body weight. It only takes gender and height as input. As far as I know this formula is used by insurance companies to estimate health risk (if you are overweight or obese you will cost them more money) of individuals.

That being said, go to the IBW Calculator page to find out your ideal body weight.

Mind Games Following the Smell of Grilled Meat

I was taking walking toward the gym this morning. My usual route takes me by the local yacht club. As I walk walking by it the smell of grilled meet hit me in the face (well, it is Saturday, so I’m sure a lot of cooking is going on there).

“So, what’s so special about the smell of grilled/charred meet”, you may ask. Well, most interestingly it reminded me of a 4-5-moth period of time – about 2 years ago – when I tried to follow a vegetarian diet (some eggs, very little dairy, but no meat of any kind).

Now, I certainly eat meet these days and I’m definitely not a vegetarian. Moreover, I even advise against vegetarian, even more so against pure vegan diets, as not a part of our genetic development as homo sapiens. Does this meant that there are no people that are doing (even temporarily) okay on vegan diets? No. It doesn’t . In fact, I know that everybody is uniquely different and certain people can handle certain lifestyles (including vegetarian/vegan) much, much better than others. It just goes hand-in-hand with the saying that there are no universal diets that work equally well for everybody – for the chief reason that we are so different from one another.

But, I know vegetarian diet doesn’t sit well with me – not with my wife, either. I need meet, so does she. We both tried it and we both know this to be a fact, not only from science (anthropology, history, biochemistry, biology, etc.) but from personal experience, as well.

If you care to know why, well here are a few facts: I lost close to 20 lbs of lean muscle (I generally maintain 8 – 9 percent body fat, so there wasn’t much to lose, as far as fat goes), I felt a well-pronounced loss of energy, loss of the feeling for well-being (I didn’t feel healthy), and what’s worse than all of the above – I became noticeably short-tempered and snappy.

But, back to where I started – the smell of burning/burnt meet.

Surprisingly (kinda) for a very brief moment it evoked a feeling of disgust and it woke up memories of what I felt during my short stint as a vegetarian. Just the thought of meet made me feel sick to my stomach back then… until I made myself re-introduce meet to my diet and then I was fine again.. It was just that brief moment, during which I felt like a vegan.

This whole deal, in turn, brought about some quite old memories – from around the year 2000 when I was near 220 lbs – or at near my fattest. You can see a mug shot of my fat face here (scroll down a bit).

Any way, back then with my (or should I say “our”) limited knowledge on nutrition, I believed that fat is the macro nutrient that makes us fat and if I didn’t want to be fat I absolutely had to avoid it. Well, you know what happened – I replaced the calories with extra carbs and I ended up fat.

But my point is back then I used to get that same feeling of disgust, mixed up with guilt if anything resembling fat touched my lips and I felt the grease on them. It’s the same feeling that I had toward meat when I tried without it and the same feeling that I had today for a very brief moment, regardless of the fact that I am an omnivore and I’m convinced that this is the best diet for most, if not all humans.

What I’m trying to get at is this: although I personally do not approve of vegan diets for health reasons (moral reasons is different) I think I do understand how vegans and even vegetarians feel some times when they are around meat eating friends, and more so when they are exposed to the smell that makes them sick to the stomach..

Just my thinking from earlier today.. That’s all.