Sunday, April 22, 2012

Questions from a Reader: Krav Maga, Relocating, Preparedness in Europe

My name is K. I am a huge fan of your work. Some of my family and friends read your blog so I was wondering if you post this if you could leave my name out. Even though they read this they think I’m a little “out there”.

I have been reading through your back log and have some questions.
1) I read your post on Poxitas tape and would like to get some to try out but I can not find a supplier. Do you have any ideas on how to get this?
2) I read your post on Krav Maga and while I respect your knowledge, experience and expertise I must say that your view seems a little harsh. It seems to me that what you don’t like is the sensationalism surrounding the system. I have seen the same sensationalism used by proponents of any system out there. I have not studied any system extensively but there are benefits to most. As for the “to dangerous to practice on people” business, its kind of BS. Any system can and potentialy is dangerous either through technique or carelessness. Protective gear and anatomical stand-ins allow a complete knowledge of the system. Things like choke holds should never be “practiced” on people and yet we see them in MMA everyday. What I have learned of krav maga is that there is a philosophy to it which I will try to summarize: Be fit(by continuously working hard at it), avoid any fight you arent forced into, attack week points using any thing you can as a weapon then retreat, protect your “group”. The choice to teach one martial art to every person in the country as there is mandatory service is sound considering there neighbors and a certain political faction would love to kill them. It teaches them to use what they have and to improvise with basic moves that work. My question here, I guess, is have you ever taken or “audited” a serious class in Krav maga? Sorry that was kind of long.
3) My girlfriend and I have talked about retiring to South America. I found your site while researching it. Would you recomend Buenos Aires as a retirement options? Also how do you pronounce BsAs? Is it just an abreviation and its pronounced normally? If you were retiring with about $1million USD in South America where would you go?
4) How are you finding northern Ireland interms of your preparedness? What are the money issues? Are there any specific things you would like to do but are prohibited? Are there any things you couldn’t do in Argentina but can do there? How is the economy/Job market/petrol prices/expatriate situation?
5)Are you planning on doing any preparedness events in europe or even back in America? My GF and I are Gearing up for a big trip in the next year or so after we get school loans paid off and I would love to see the european side of preparedness.

I have a bout 30 more questions but I’m gonna lay off and try to shrink the list and give you some time do your thing. Moving to another country has got to be an adventure and a bit of a hassle, then pile on work and side projects. Then some guy on the other side of the planet wants you to write a small book for him.

Anyway, I just wanted to say congrats on your good fortune of getting out of a bad situation. I know you put in a lot of hard work to accomplish it and I thank you for sharing it with all of us.


Hi K, thanks for your email.
1)A lot of people have asked me about Poxitas. They are a very neat product but I haven’t found it outside South America. Its basically the equivalent of a short duct tape strip, like a plaster or band aid, made of a thicker material with a stronger glue. Gorilla tape is actually pretty good, maybe not as strong as a Poxita but close. Its worth keeping an eye out in case you come by something similar under a different name. On the meantime I can only recommend you using Gorilla tape which is outstanding, so strong that it cant be compared to ordinary duct tape. Keeping a couple feet wrapped around an old loyalty plastic card or a lighter like I do will allow you to have some when needed and you´ll soon see how useful it is on various occasions.

2)Yes I’ve taken classes of both Krav Maga and Kapap. I found Kapap to be better, but it still have many of the same problems in my opinion. Its one thing to use a system that boosts a soldier´s self-confidence and then hand him over an AR rifle, and its another to do it with a soccer mom and have her think she can kick anyone’s ass. Fortunately enough, odds are that in the civilized world most soccer moms and dads live in, they will never get to know how misguided that confidence was. The problem is that as someone once said, the world is ”moving” and the odds of actually having to put that to test are increasing even for those that live in the nice burbs with neatly trimmed lawns. When that day comes a criminal or other determined violent person will painfully portrait how na├»ve it was to think that you can learn how to fight for real without ever getting hit back in return.

I don’t want to get much further into this. Last time I commented on it I got more hate email from krav maga fans than I would have gotten from thirteen year old girls if I had made fun of Justin Bieber. My recommendation is sticking to both Brazilian jujitsu and Muay Thai and having some modern combatives thrown in the mix so as to learn how to combine that with gun, knife and stick. The most important thing is finding a good instructor. No need to get the latest MMA champion or yakuza assassin, just a honest instructor that knows what hes doing and you’re comfortable with. Whatever martial art or system you are doing, how useful or not it is will strongly depend on the instructor you have. If there’s no sparring against non cooperative partners, chances are you’re just wasting your time. You must fight someone that fights back. Even with gloves, even with rules, its MUCH better than doing it for real on the streets for the first time, bare knuckled and doing it to save your life, of all things.

3)Because of everything I’ve written the last four years I’d definitely stay away from Argentina! I don’t know if you kept up with the latest knews, Argentina just nationalized Spanish owned YPF and is threatening to nationalize other foreign companies. Crime is as bad as always if not worse, and inflation makes it more expensive to live in than USA. If that’s not bad enough the loss of freedom in Argentina has reached amazing proportions. You’re not allowed to buy foreing currency, you can’t even leave the country with dollars unless you can explain where you got them from, and I saved them up isn’t an explanation any more. My sister in law is telling me some horror stories. She’s trying to come here to visit and learning the latest “requirements” to be allowed to leave the country. Among others, you must have an USD account in Argentina so as to explain where you’re getting the money for the trip. I’d be surprised if 1/10 of the population has such an account, meaning that according to the books they can now restrict most people from leaving if they feel like doing so. The price for getting an Argentine passport for leaving te country doubled last week.

If it has to be South America, I’d go for Uruguay. While Uruguay is probably your best option in South America, its still a far cry from the life and the freedom you enjoy in USA. Especially with the funds you mention, I think it makes no sense whatsoever to go to South America. You can already live pretty well with that money in USA if you invest it wisely. In Argentina the government will eventually steal most of it, one way or the other.
Bs. As. stands for Buenos Aires, which means “good air”, kind of ironic giving the smog and pollution spread all over the city. The way you pronounce it correctly is by phonetically saying “s” on the ending of each word instead of “z”, s as in snake.
If I had a million buck? Oh my God I´d stay in USA of course! Find a nice town in a nice State, close enough to a bigger city. If you put a gun to my head and force me to go back to South America, then Id go for Uruguay.

3)I’m loving Northern Ireland. Its exactly what I thought it would be, maybe even better. I tried to keep it as down to Earth as possible when doing my research for relocating so I dug deep into everything bad I could find about it, so as to move within a certain margin of error so to speak. Its beautiful, safe, not as expensive as England or Scotland. It rains a lot of course, but it never gets that cold. This winter there was no snow in my area at all. Schools are great, great place to raise kids. Gun laws aren’t as bad as in the rest of UK, you can own handguns. Houses here are nicer than in England and Scotland, a bit more American without being cheesy and poorly built Mc Mansions for the most. I like how the urbanization is laid out. You have lustrous green countryside all over with mostly small towns and cities sprinkled evenly. Everything is surprisingly clean and tidy, people don’t litter as much as they do in USA, let alone South America cities which at times it looks like a dumpsters. Gasoline is very expensive, about 9 or 10 dollars a gallon! Thanks fully I don’t have to drive that much and it does help a lot that the country is relatively small, so in spite of the price difference if everything is 2 or 3 times closer compared to the distances you would have to drive in USA, the price of fuel has much less of an impact.
Here is where realistic preparedness clashed with fantasy preparedness. I didn’t go for the common yet unrealistic survival strategy of being as far away as possible from cities. I went for the much more logical and realistic one of being in a small town yet close enough to a mayor city. If the worst that can happen to you is a 15 minute drive to the big city whenever you need it and your daily driving is just 5 miles because you are close enough to everything you need, then the price of gas doesn’t affect you as much. As a contingency plan, given that 90% of your needs are so close you could easily use a bicycle to get around. That’s much smarter than being half a gas tank way from the nearest town, because as well all know, people will riot in cities, turn into flesh eating zombies and head to the country…

About jobs, there’s less unemployment than in the rest of UK, but at the same time because its smaller you will probably have more trouble finding one. The nice thing is that any job you manage to get will allow you a very nice quality of life, because its good in general terms. In terms of immigration, there’s very few immigrant which I like a lot. A lot of people still think that Northern Ireland is a warzone where Catholics and Protestants still bomb each other on daily basis. Not so, while there is the occasional incident here and there its not common and rarely gets people seriously injured or killed. Among the middle class people I guess we all just want to get along in spite of the different political agendas each one may have, and simply live in peace. Besides certain specific locations where segregation still exists, there’s no clash between immigrants of different cultural and religious backgrounds. I read how sometimes in England they have these Islamic terrorists, the diversity gets shoved down people’s throats because its so different people forced to live almost one on top of the other. An added benefit to that is that being the rare immigrant, people are more opened to you and less suspicious. Locals are surprised you even chose to immigrate here. ”Why did you move here?”. My answer is “because it’s a great place to live in!”. That brings a smile to people’s faces and they quickly agree, proud that someone thinks that way instead of just looking scared because of what they’ve heard of the Troubles.

4)The survival and preparedness community isn’t that big around here. There’s some folks that I met that are interested in shooting and are more like minded, but for the most you don’t see it as clearly as in USA. The huge nanny state certainly doesn’t help. If I find enough people interested locally I might organize a few meetings or classes, but mostly to get to know like-minded folks and network a bit. There is interest in bushcraft and wilderness survival, which as much as I enjoy I know it has very little to do with modern survival of the type that I write about. For a post economic collapse scenario haggling, sales or even marketing would be a much more useful skills than starting fire with a bow drill, and a class on knife fighting and defense would be much more valuable than a carving class where you make your own wooden bowl.

I still haven’t gone that much into it. Spain, France, Sweden, Norway and Germany are places where theres some potential, not to mention Switzerland. If anyone in these places or others is interested in organizing a meeting or event, feel free to contact me. About doing something in USA, I had planned to go to the next SelfReliance Expo, but settling is taking bit longer and I just wont be able to make it. We’re happy but relocating the way we did to a place that is completely new to us takes time and lots of work.
Take care,


Fran said...

Fernando, been reading your blog for years. I work in New York City and I can't tell you the amount of immigrants recently to the US from Northern Ireland, not just the Republic. They all tell me the unemployment situation there is dismal. It could be perception I percieve but I've met illegals from Aintrim, Tyrone and Derry in the last week in force.

serge said...

Hi Fernando, have you heard of this guy Kicillof? He sounds like a modern-day Castro. Scary!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Fernando, did you consider the Rep. of Ireland when you decided where to relocate? If so, what were the factors causing you to chose the north over the southern part of the island?