Under: karate, Self-defense
30 Mar 2010


I remember how often planes were hijacked to Cuba when I was young and thought that would be inconvenient to be diverted to Cuba like that. As I recall most of the time everyone was returned to the United States without harm (or at least that is my memory).


As you know today we are facing not only common criminals but a new breed of thugs called terrorists! Terrorists are not really new as one might argue the Trojan Horse in Homer’s Odyssey was a terrorist act but today men, women, children and pets (is nothing sacred?) strap on bombs to kill the maximum number of innocent people.


In this post I will attempt to show how some flight attendants are trying to counter some of this senseless violence by taking karate and self defense courses to protect passengers! I will also show some videos discussing this trend and the TSA crew member self defense course. I’ll round this out by highlighting how important it is for every day citizens to take part in their own safety so maybe some future attacks can be stopped and show a 9/11 video. Here is the recent story I saw in San Diego.



So this guy was a acting crazy and the flight attendant had to incapacitate him for every one’s safety. I think it was good she was trained in karate and took the initiative to learn some close quarter grappling. What if she was not trained in hand to hand combat? Would some of the passengers have come to her rescue? Do you think flight attendants should have special training made available to them? Watch this next video for some discourse.


I thought it was kind of interesting the question about mandatory training for flight attendants. If I was a non-violent person (and I am mostly) – I think I would feel safer knowing how to choke someone out if I had to rather than watch a bad situation happen.

I just don’t understand people that think nothing bad will ever  happen to them. I hope nothing bad will ever happen to me but as a father and a male in a quazi violent (at times) society I feel a responsibility to to learn a few moves (Ok I did that at age 12). But you get my drift… be realistic and even though your goal might not be winning the UFC championship, you should learn how to fight your way out of a paper bag! Ok off of my soap box. Here is a video of the Federal Air Marshal’s self defense course for flight crews.

Now I like that – straight forward training focused on keeping crew members (and passengers) safe! I also like that it was stressed that one should practice or the new skills will fade with time.

Some of the moves I liked are palms, elbows, hammer fists and knees but this was just a small sample of what they practiced. So are you with me and see the value of flight attendants learning self defense?

I think the shoe bomber and Chrstmas bomber stories are evidence that lay folk CAN make a difference in an attack. I also think the more people (including flight crew) that know basic self defense – the better chance the flying public has in the event one of these vermin strike! Do you want to know how I really feel? (as an American – you can probably guess) :)

I remember that fateful day on September 11, 2001 (we had another attack that galvanized the American public at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941), as I was driving to work in San Diego. I heard on the radio that a jet had slammed into the World Trade Center in New York city. I called my wife (it was early in San Diego) and she turned on the TV. A while later a second tower was hit and then the Pentagon! Another plane crashed in Pennsylvania that day too. Those memories will forever haunt most Americans and for better or worse – they in effect woke up a sleeping giant! Here is a CNN news story of the first jet crash into the WTC. Never Forget and Learn Self-Defense!

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8 Responses to “Flight Attendants Learn Karate! Fight Back!!”

  1. Zara Says:

    I think everyone with a higher risk or exposure to violence should receive basic training in self-defense (or at least given the choice). In those cases a condensed, bare-bone practical program should be implemented. Learning karate or any other martial art might be a good idea for those that have the commitment to years of training but for the others karate or other traditional art will not give them the tools and the confidence to hold their own in a fight, at least not with such a short training-course. Learning how to bow properly, how to stand (imo there’s way too much emphasis on stance in karate: there’s basically one fighting stance with a few minor modifications depending on whether you’re defending or attacking and that’s it) and how to punch takes up way too much time (especially in the mechanical way it’s usually taught: marching up and down the mat punching the air), let alone memorizing kata & other purely ornamental/traditional elements. Basically all of this is superfluous when it comes to the practicalities of fighting and while I don’t dispute the pedagogical value of this approach it’s clearly not the way to go unless you expect airlines and governments to basically sponsor people’s martial arts education.

    That being said the first, second and third line of defense remains the police, intelligence agencies, customs & the armed forces. One of the main tasks of the government is to protect us and it’s clearly not the task of the ordinary citizen to tackle an armed & dangerous terrorist (let alone several). 9/11 is the result of a major intelligence screw-up and it would have never happened if the people in charge had done their job properly. If flight-attendants, pilots or other laypeople who did not ask to put in the line of fire and aren’t properly trained are all that’s left between us and the terrorists (who clearly should be eradicated, although I’m not an American no reasonable human-being will ever condone or support terrorism) then our national security is a joke. Surely thinking nothing bad is ever going to happen to you equals living in a fantasy world but there are realistic risks and dangers which you should expect and prepare for and there are those situations that are beyond our control and responsibility. For that we have professionals and if they fail, how on earth could we reasonably expect to succeed? Personally I’m far more concerned about the incompetence of our intelligence agencies (if you still haven’t found Bin Laden, enemy of half of the world’s states nr 1, after 8,5 years then you are indeed incompetent or lazy or you somehow have a stake in using him as a boogie-man to enforce unconstitutional laws and creating a police-state) than I am about whether the lady who pours my coffee on my holiday-flight knows karate or not.


    PS: in the case of the shoe-bomber (I’m referring to the case of the Nigerian who attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas day 2009), doesn’t it strike fear in your heart knowing such a complete amateur actually managed to sneak explosives aboard a commercial airplane? It’s all nice and well people stepped up and overpowered him but that’s not the point here: if a professional and properly trained Al Quada operative had done this the whole plane would have been blown up (most likely above a densely populated area to maximize damage) and there would be no heroes because no-one would have had a chance at stopping the guy. Again the CIA & homeland security screwed up in the most unforgiveable manner possible: the guy’s father warned them for god’s sake, what more do you need? Celebrate the Dutchman and the flightcrew who intervened and do expound the values of self-defense and martial arts training but don’t forget about the real dangers and solutions here.

  2. Pat Says:

    Learning a martial art gives you confidence and skill to handle things that get thrown at you in the world. Most women do not want to take the time to defend themselves. They have too many other things going on in their lives.

    However, you really have to take some sort of defense program. At least you will have something to work off of in a tough situation.

    Practice is the key and repetition of movements is critical. You can’t learn everything in a quick course and you probably do not have the time to take a full blown out course. Just take some training!
    .-= Pat´s last blog ..Self Defense Training updated Sat Mar 27 2010 1:40 am CDT =-.

  3. Zara Says:

    I just watched the video about the flight crew self-defense training and honestly it’s quite ridiculous: do you really think you’re going to stop a determined individual (let alone several hijackers) who probably underwent extensive training and who is basically willing to die to achieve his aim and achieve martyrdom with just a single day of training? I don’t care how good or experienced those instructors are but those ladies will probably forget everything they’ve learned once the shit hits the fan and freeze up or break down and be overpowered easily. Hell it took me years to develop an automatic response to attacks & a sense of killer-instinct and my sensei surely wasn’t a dunce, how on earth are you going to develop those reflexes with mere hours worth of training, even if they take the course a few times. We’re not talking about teaching someone to hit a few times and then run away screaming: we’re talking about close-range combat and physically defeating a motivated, trained person who has no qualms about killing you to achieve his mission. If terrorists are intent on taking over an airliner or blowing it up with some kind of explosive and they can’t have access to weapons you bet they’re going to train their asses off in unarmed combat and they’re going to make short work of those would-be warriors and friendly flight attendants. But then again this course covers it all and will turn these peace-loving men and women into true warriors, I quote: “this program is designed to better protect crewmembers in all aspects of their lives. In this class you will learn everything from proper stance when performing self-defense techniques up to and including how to deal with an attacker intent on using deadly force.” Since I can’t seem to put this into italics I’m going to repeat it: “up to and including how to deal with an attacker intent on using deadly force.” Please, I can’t believe he could say that with a straight face: they’re claiming to be able to teach anyone how to survive deadly violence in a matter of hours, even with follow-up classes? This is completely unrealistic and utter nonsense and anyone buying into this crap is an idiot, plain and simple.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m a big fan of self-defense training and it certainly can’t hurt but to expect this to be a solution or even the beginning to a solution to a worldwide, very complex and immensely threatening problem is ludicrous and up in the clouds wishful thinking. It’s just a boost to moral, that’s all it is and it’s not going to make international airline traffic one bit safer. What you’d need to stop a real terrorist threat (not some weirdo making a ruckus) are trained men up there who are experienced in violence, preferably armed with knives or other close-combat tools if using firearms is deemed too dangerous. It’d be a better bet to send those instructors up there instead of relying on civilians who clearly aren’t fighters and aren’t trained for the job. Most of all people should be screened properly and no individual suspected of Islamic extremism or ties to any type of violent or revolutionary movement should be allowed anywhere near an airfield let alone on a plane. Hell, if they’re known terrorists and there’s no doubt it that they are dangerous and indeed plan on bringing destruction to the western world then shoot the bastards wherever you find them (if you can’t arrest them). Just don’t expect your average flight attendant or pilot to stop them, not unless his name happens to be Steven Seagal or Matt Damon.

  4. Dr. J Says:

    I saw this and of course with my background in the martial arts and being a pilot found it interesting. Originally, flight attendants were RN’s, and now this. The world is crazy, no? I have imagined if sitting next to a passenger in my four seat plane that became violent, using a good side kick to help them out the door, exit stage right :-)
    .-= Dr. J´s last blog ..Lab Notes: Market for Cholesterol Drug Expands; Net Surfing May Be Detrimental to Your Health =-.

  5. TheMartialArtsReporter Says:

    Hi John,
    That’s a really good post and reminder to all of us.
    Whether we have been doing martial arts for decades
    or simply very focused goal-oriented self-defense
    I think it’s good that flight crews are getting the
    training (finally). It also increases awareness of
    situations before they escalate. IMHO that’s an
    important part of self-defense.
    I also whole-heartedly agree with you that the more
    are trained the better for all of us to fight the bad
    Our chances to beat them every time they show their
    ugly heads have just increased significantly.
    .-= TheMartialArtsReporter´s last blog ..My Conversation With My Filipino-American Barber – Revisited =-.

  6. CombatSkills.net Says:

    I suggest that flight attendants should carry non-lethal, non-destructive weapons, such as pepper spray, and be trained to use them. They should also be taught simple, effective attacks and the pressure points to strike for maximum results.

  7. Stevendev Home Protection Says:

    Do they let Flight Attendants carry stun guns and pepper spray?

  8. Matt Klein Says:

    Perhaps us martial artists could offer our services as “air martials”, excuse the pun, and get a free upgrade. Would not be able to get into the Moet Chandon stash, however. I would be glad to to it.