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A Fighter’s Intuition

Hey, you awake?

Frankly, if you’re like most people, you’re probably asleep at the wheel, spending most of your day in a kind of waking dream, on the phone, texting, listening to music. Thinking about something else, anything except what’s happening around you. Believe me, the bad guys love this.

Police reports tell the story. Big red flags that something was about to go terribly wrong gone unheeded and ignored with tragic consequences for the victim. It’s understandable. People just don’t want to believe that another human being would want to beat rape or kill them.

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It Happens All The Time

You wanna get scared shitless just go online and check out that “sexual offenders” website. I’ll bet you discover a dozen or more of these goons are living right in your neighborhood. And that’s just a tip of the iceberg.

Which is why developing a fighter’s intuition is crucial. It doesn’t mean you have to become paranoid. No, you just have to start listening for the subtle warning bells — to make sure you’re not being set up for a bad day.

Thirty five years ago, in my Special Forces days, I saw a LOT of action on the battlefield and in the streets. Those were bloody days. Many times my early-warning “sixth sense” alerted me that the shit was about to hit the fan. Other times I was caught off guard. Yep, it can happen to anyone.

With more than 100 stitches in my face from beer bottles and the likes, I don’t know if I would have survived, without training and practice. Let me make my point with a quick story.

This Really Happened

Several years ago I was in Aberdeen, Maryland relaxing at an Applebee’s. I was new in town and didn’t know anyone, my first night in town and “Family Night”. I was sitting at the bar and ordered a beer and food. I’m alone. I’m minding my own business.

The place was lively, families coming in for dinner, a very non-violent atmosphere and a group guys beside me loudly debating where Egypt is located. They obviously had a few drinks in them.

Initially there were no indications trouble could be looming. The guy sitting right next to me insisted that Egypt was in the Middle East.

His buddy laughed. “It’s in Africa, you idiot.”

This went on for a while and the guy sitting to my right asked if I was ever in the military, stating I should know all the answers. I thought he was drunk and decided to accommodate the conversation by answering. Besides I was new in town.

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One Simple Rule

A moment later the aforementioned “idiot” shook my hand and offered his thanks for my military service. I initially declined, but he became pushy, insisting I let him buy me a drink to show his appreciation for my military service. I didn’t want trouble or to start off wrong, so eventually I accepted with a simple rule.

I told him I typically will not drink shots during the week, because it never has a happy ending. I agreed and told him here is the rule; you have to drink one with me. He told me no problem order what you want and he would pay.

I ordered two double shots of tequila one for each of us. He proposed a toast and we clicked glasses and I started to down my shot. At the exact time he placed his shot on the bar in front of me…

Ding, ding, ding a RED FLAG immediately popped up for me.

The Sucker Punch

I drank my shot, set the glass down, and told him he had to drink his too, that’s the rule! I was laughing when I told him this. As I was in the motion of pushing the shot glass back to him, he punched me in my face while I was sitting on the bar stool. These particular bar stools had a high back to them, which worked out in my favor.

Problem for him is that my skull is made of steel or something very much like it. As his fist came in contact with my face, I immediately placed my feet onto the floor, guarding and pushing simultaneously with my left hand on his chest, palm out and pressing. I call this hitting three points of contact.

In a split second, I was defended and already launching my offense– a simple overhand right. Initially I could only see his chest and down to the base of his chair and floor as I had tucked my chin and bulled my neck on impact.

It was the wildest thing because I immediately noticed the front legs of his chair tipping over backwards as I was press punching him. Odds would have it, my favorite headhunting technique, “the overhand right” landed on his jaw knocking him out in his seat.

A Brutal Response

I continued to push through after the knockout blow was delivered in order to control the distance. He was rendered immediately unconscious while falling backward in the chair. So on his way down his ear came in contact with a lower table chair, ripping off half his ear.

He then landed on his head, splitting his skull open. The poor bastard had toppled over hard, chair and all, and, as an extra bonus, he struck his head on the lower chair on the way down. By now (a split second from start to finish), I was fully engaged and my radar was turned on, looking for his friends and any others who may have wanted to be a hero.

I stood over him and briefly considered finishing with a head stomp. It would have pointless though. He was sprawled out, unconscious, and wouldn’t have felt a thing. He was fully bleeding out, nearly dying. The joint fell into a shocked silence.

On a number of occasions I’ve knocked out guys then felt the need to finish up by stomping on them. Of course I was concerned others may get involved. That did not happen. There was so much damage and blood that the crowd thought he was dead, rendering them motionless.

Justified Defense

I could see no one wanted any part of me. I went back to my beer while I waited for the police and EMS to arrive. The manager flew from his office hysterical and indignant shouting “You are going to jail, I’m calling the police,” blah, blah, blah. I sipped my beer and downed my unconscious friend’s shot of tequila while waiting for the law to arrive.

Later, as the paramedics loaded him onto a stretcher, the cops went into the manager’s office and watched the security video which 100% confirmed my story. A crafty experienced man ambushed me by bringing my guard down with his friendly antics, then sucker-punched me in the face while I was minding my own business.

The police captain was impressed with my handy work and asked me if I wanted to press charges. Press charges? Nah, I wanted nothing to do with him and figured (if he lives) the scar through his skull and missing half an ear would forever remind him of my sexy smile, so I didn’t bother.

I believe if you are justified in your defense, it is best to damage your attacker so badly they will never come back at you. In fact I heard later he was telling his friends from the hospital “3 black guys beat me up”. What a jerk.

The Moral of the Story

So what does this fun story have to do YOU? Just this, the most powerful tool you possess is your intuition and training. Don’t be afraid of it, and don’t ignore it. I highly recommend to all GO WITH YOUR GUT!

Observe people in restaurants, parking lots, bars, gas stations, around your neighborhood, and everywhere else you go. You don’t have to be a hyper-vigilant nut case. Just put down the phone for a second and look around.

Listen to what your gut is telling you. If you ever hear two or three alarm bells go off, it’s probably time to get the hell out of there.

In my case I let my guard down and was lured into a false sense of security – even though the red flag indicators where present the whole time.

That pisses me off at myself. I am lucky to the extent my training and previous fight and sparring gave me an advantage. When you are under fire, you will do what you know. Practice, practice and practice.

Jim West
Retired: Special Operations Technician
U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group

Jim West is a 20-year U.S. Special Forces combat vet who has earned a half a dozen medals in the “first” Iraq war… spent 13 years in the “covert operations” as a member of the Green Berets… Jim was a member of HALO, SCUBA Teams and a combat veteran. Jim has trained organizations with a top secret clearance, including Special Forces, Delta Force, CIA and Clandestine Foreign Operators and Navy Seals. Jim West has also trained two UFC Fighters, Vale Tudo Champions, Professional Boxers and Kick boxers as seen on HBO, Pay Per View and USA Tuesday Night Fights.

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88 thoughts on “A Fighter’s Intuition”

  1. I have a question does anyone have a good way to remember the techniques they have learnt because i know if i ever need them my mind will switch off and adrenaline will enter allowing me to only know alittle

    ps i practise with a partner

  2. My experience has been you will instinctively do what you train to do. If you do lots of sparring this will help.

  3. Due to receiving emails from your site I have been taking Krav Maga Lessons. This helps with working in a jail. Good thing is I have not had to use any of the techniques yet, but….Chance favors the prepared mind!

    Thanks for the information and stories.

  4. Thanks, for the lesson both phyical and spiritual. I’d like to have the 23 lessons you mentioned, of course if theres a cost I’ll pay it.

  5. Outstanding and solid advice. I’ve been taught that way and have taught that way for 40 years. Jim your instruction is spot on!

  6. If you do something long enough and often enough, you won’t have to remember anything. Its called ”muscle memory”. I’ve actually learned a few things from a couple of Jim’s training videos. That and other things I learned over the years have come in handy.

  7. Great defense story. I had a similar incident back in 1980. I am 63 now and don’t know how I would react?
    A coworker and I worked 2nd shift in Woburn, Ma. Stopping at a 99 restaurant in NH on a Friday night was normal. We lived 38 miles from work in NH and drove separate cars, because he was also a police officer in his hometown and sometimes had to leave when on call. He was 6’2 and in great shape for 48. He always carried his weapons. I was 5’4 and only 26, but in good shape and knew Judo. We always sat at the bar had a couple of beers with some appatisers, just to wind down from the work week. This one night it was unusually busy and the bartender asked an older man to move over one seat. So we could sit together. This
    Upset the man who argued for a while but angrily moved over. I drew the short straw and ended up next to him. He mumbled some curse words when I thanked him for moving over. The bartender said don’t worry about Joe he’s just grumpy tonight because his wife left early. Somehow that made more uneasy sitting next to him. Every time I tried to talk to my friend Joe would mumble something about me turning my back to him and taking about him. I apologized to him a couple of times but it only made him madder. When he asked for another drink the bartender said you’ve had enough and I take away your keys and call your wife to pick you up. After a few minutes of back and forth very loudly the bartender said he was going to call the police if he didn’t leave. I was unaware my friend; who was a local, knew Joe and had had a few run ins with him while in uniform on duty for the local PD. Let’s just say Joe was no stranger to local drunk tank. Before Joe got could get up my friend politely showed him his badge and escorted Joe out to the parking lot. The bartender called the PD before my friend got back to his seat. After a couple of minutes as my friend was telling me about Joe’s drunken episodes and how violent he can be, I felt an arm land on my shoulder and Joe with a small revolver pointed at the bartender and yelling I’m going to f’n kill you! Then as all hell broke loose at the bar. As my friend started to get up and reach for Joe he was telling me and the bartender to
    get down he pushed me into Joe’s arm and the gun hit my cheek accidentally. I didn’t even have time to move out of my friends way I just instinctively grabbed Joe’s arm near the wrist and twisted it down slamming it into the bar top, the bartender thankfully pulled the gun out of Joe’s hand before he pulled the trigger. I just continued to hold him pinned down to the bar, I must of snapped his wrist because he really started screaming as my friend reached over and put him in handcuffs “real metal cuffs not plastic zip ties”!
    My adrenaline was pumping so fast by then it took a few seconds for my friend to get me to let go of Joe’s arm so he could put the cuffs on. I didn’t realize until after the PD came and took Joe away that I was bleeding on my cheek and Joe had hit me on the back of my head and pulled a patch of hair out trying to get away and probably start shooting ? After the police got our statements and left the bartender gave us a round on him and thanked us for the quick reaction because that wasn’t his first go round with Joe, his drunken episodes and once before pulling a gun and threatening to shoot him and others in the bar. After that incident it took years before I could sit at a bar and feel comfortable. I opted to work the extra 2 hours of OT on Friday nights my company offered. I did eventually go back to the same restaurant with my wife and two young boys but only during the day on weekends because they had great food at a good price. One last thing I never saw Joe again and have retired and moved to Arizona and until a month ago when my wife and I sat at a restaurant bar and had fried Cod and New England Clam Chowder it was the first time in all those years I felt comfortable sitting at a bar. I still have the memory as if it happened yesterday and am more aware of my surroundings and don’t drink anymore I thank God I’m still alive to tell this story. Thank you for what you do and keep up the great advice.

  8. good advice, thanks.
    but for the majority of people who never have
    trouble, its not easy to go into aware mode automatically.

  9. Sincerely sir, thank you for your honorable service to our country. Glad you could handle the jerk.

  10. jim,
    Great story,i wish I had been there to see that !! As a 57 yr.old former Marine myself ,I have found myself in similar predicaments quite often,seems a lot of these cocky young bucks think they want to lock horns with the old buck to prove to their friends and/or what not that they are tough,They really don’t have a clue and 99% of the time it ends baddly for them.I trust my gut 100% of the time and it’s kept me kickin’ for the last 40+ yrs. My fight or flight response seems to be broken ,I ain’t built for running no more ,and Uncle Sam was a damn good teacher so…you know the rest of the story…bottom line TRUST ‘UR GUT !! Keep it real, stay prepared,and expect the unexpected,I got a wife and kids to come home to,I don’t much care whether the other guy does,(somebody should have taught him better) I won’t lose,not an option.Trust your gut, it’s always right there with you…Semper Fi Mike B.

  11. That old remark “Sock It To’em!” still applies
    “Always be prepared”
    Liked the story, appreciated your response to the challenge.
    Good Luck & Safe travels.
    David of Dogpatch ???

  12. Great job! ?
    But with all your other action – maintaining your balance and pushing him backwards – how did you get the power and accuracy into your right overhand punch to knock him out?
    Where was your contact – the point of his jaw?
    I would’ve thought an uppercut would do better…

  13. see, i dont get it. enjoying a quiet beer, listening to “friends” arguing. a family restaurant. free drink from an admirer and he tries to deck you. i just dont think that way and it scares the crap outa me that i probably will never be prepaired. again, i just dont get it. with your help i am a lot more aware. dont know how much it will help. got the head butt down….

  14. Thank you for your service Jim and thank you for providing us with your experience and knowledge, it is appreciated!


    Joshua J. Couts, USAF/NYANG Veteran and current VA Employee

  15. Very true Jim, I know excatly what you are saying. Having been both sides of situational awareness, it is much better to be alert instead of unaware. I was lucky and was able to learn an important lesson. I know others who weren’t so fortunate.

  16. Intuition has save my ass a few quite a few time’s in my life. I like Jim West’s
    Philosophy on tis subject. It is a reminder that you always need to be aware of everything that’s going on around you. I thak you Jim West for serving you’re country !!

  17. That is a awsome story. Ive been in that position but have always been the one on the floor. I have zero training but have been in countless fights. I guess being a loner just makes me more of a target. And i hate that. Worst thing is because of the constant attacks i only leave my house once a day. Work errands maybe eat quick and back home. This is not a life but it keeps me safe an has sort of for the past 6 years.

  18. I just wanted to say Thank you for your service ! I appreciate all of the sacrifice you have made during your years of service. Thank you! I also enjoyed your story. It is a shame that there are people who think they can take from others any time they want. I am glad that man met you! I bet he thinks twice before he does that again!
    Thank you again
    Love and Peace

  19. thanx jim -thats great that you tell it like it is –there are a lotta a/holes out there when they drink and feel brave–well done!–adrian z

  20. No were to run to, I mean what if your family that is putting in uncomfortable situation. Do leave them only take wounded or do stay and try to wait it out.

  21. I think every ex-serviceman has a story like that. Shortly after my discharge, I had people try to pick me, just to see what I had learned. What I had learned was to protect myself, my unit, my nation and the Australian Army trains her personnel well. I am proud to have served, I walk on a cane as a reminder of my service, but, when asked the question if I am ex-military I always ask “why would you ask a question like that”, often people will tell you that they hate soldiers, so say no and walk away. If you want to, wait for them outside and explain to them why they should respect those that have served. I have found the best fight is the one that never happens. In Jim’s tale he is fortunate there was a CCTV camera to back him up, there is not always a camera. But, if you have to fight, win, it is better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6. Winning is not as hard as most people think, for aggressors plan to have an easy victory, they are blinded to the thought of losing and that means that they are predestined to lose.

  22. A group of guys who had been drinking and loudly debating over some trivial thing? I think my antenna would have told me to get out of there asap.Surprised Jim wouldn’t have thought of this as well.!

  23. Many of us past military individuals have had similar events after our service time and pretty much thought the fighting was over once we returned to the world. Something I’ve taught everyone in my family is to be omni-present. That means be constantly vigilant of everything going on around you. After all, today we see people getting run over at intersections because they were on their cell phones. How stupid is that? Thanks for a great story and remember this. Where ever you are, BE THERE!

  24. I noticed most fights start out with. When I was at the bar I have never had to fight due to the fact I stay out of area’s that invite a fight every fight and murder in our town was due to drugs and drinking

  25. I am a black belt. PA full contact Marshall arts champ. 92. I have fought 5 people at the same time. Graduated number one at champ luejune.. I am disabled .
    Semper Fi
    Not every law enforcement would be happy with this behavoir

  26. Sounds like Applebee’s is a good place to stay away from. Three weeks ago we took our son to college. I was not aware of it b cause of all the back ground noise. But when we got to car maybe wife and son said there was a guy behind me trying to start something. They intentionally ignored him I didn’t even hear him. Glad he left.

  27. You cant trust the bar scene. Jim took care of business, and did a damn good job. Talking about red flags and intuition, there are some guys i see often, and in their face their a aura shows evil. I keep my eyes on them. Semper Fi.

  28. He was awesome and I like his technic. Pluse I’m really impressed with his. military experience that I would love to have him come to Early Texas for our Veterans day service in November hosted by( WITSOC INC )WALKING IN THE SHADOW OF CHRIST INC. I’m a VietNam veteran. God bless Chaplain Dale Stearns