Only a few people really know the whole story behind Combat Mindset and with the influx of the “how and why” questions in my inbox over the last few months, I thought I would put it out there.
Those that really know me, know that I’m a guy of few words and let my actions (or inactions) speak for themselves. When I do say something, I call it as I see it and it's usually either totally inappropriate or totally useful – but always straight forward and to the point… which has gotten me into more trouble than I would like to acknowledge over the years.
True enough, I own a gym… but I am admittedly not a fitness guru or diet freak. I very rarely eat the healthiest food and I’ve been known to skip a workout or two (or 30).
But fuck with me or those I care about and I will make you pray for death.
That’s the true essence of Combat Mindset.
It’s not about your caloric intake, or how many abs you can see.
The truth is – you can be the most skilled heavy bag puncher in the world. You can have buns of steel. You can deadlift 400 pounds. You can have a gun. Or a knife. Or a bolo. But if your mental isn’t stronger than your physical – you’re useless.
Obviously, if you're not physically strong enough to throw a punch, that's a whole other issue… But all those toys you have, all that training you’ve had is useless if you don't have the mental strength capacity to use them on another human being when necessary.
Shooting a paper target is way easier than pulling the trigger on another human being. Repetitively and viciously beating a heavy bag is way easier than turning that aggression on another human being.
And, unless you've ever done either of those… you are a fool to assume otherwise. That split second you hesitate is the only time that's needed for you to become the victim instead of the hero.
my gun is my self-defense.
Really? Do you carry your gun in your hand every second of every day you go out in public? Maybe you just walk around at the low-ready position, just waiting for some sucker to look sideways at you?
What are you going to do when your “self-defense gun” is stuffed inside your purse and someone grabs you from behind? Not a freakin' thing. You know why? Because being grabbed from behind wasn't part of your scenario. You know what else? You don't get to write your own scenario. Ever… unless you're the criminal.
Combat Mindset is about getting your mind right to do what needs to be done when the time comes… and getting your skills and power right to execute with a vengeance. It's not about tap-outs or keeping someone's feelings in mind. It's about going full-speed until a threat is neutralized… either by words, actions, fist or gun… or a bolo.
Combat Mindset is also not about playing fair. It's not about waiting for the other guy to get back up. In fact, once aggression has been established, it's about relentlessly and unmercifully beating your opponent until he can't fight anymore.
Some might say that I shouldn't teach that – that I should only teach to hit and get away. I agree – when you can safely get away, you should… but don't always rely on that, just as you shouldn't rely on that gun buried in your purse.
From Dubai to Manila to Los Angeles to Atlanta, I’ve been turning passive would-be victims into unstoppable beasts around the world for over 20 years either in one of my workshops, in my studio or in my personal development coaching programs.
It doesn't matter if you're an expat housewife in Dubai, a debutante in WeHo or a socialite in NYC… if you want to be a stronger you, then I can get you there.
But that wasn't my original path…
It was around 2004-2005, and I was doing preliminary searches for a company name. Back then they had a few sites that were “name generators”… I think one of the ones I went to was What's Your Stripper Name or something like that. To activate the generator, I put in my first name and last name and hit enter. That's all there was to it!
Midnight Felony came up as one of the results.
I would never have a horrid name such as that for my company brand, or even my stage name. However, being a cop for a few years – the felony part did catch my eye. I thought Felony was the answer, for once. It was tough. It was edgy. It was straightforward.
So, I went with it.
Almost a decade later, in March 2013, I started the business plan for a sport-fighting training center while sitting poolside in Manila Philippines and I could not think of a better name to portray what I wanted than Felony did.
To me, Felony Combat was the perfect name for a facility that was against everything you've always been taught about fitness centers and exercise routines; whose goal was to break the rules of training and conditioning by pushing the limits of what was standard in the United States, specifically West Hollywood California where I was planning to open.
I didn't want a juice bar, a room full of treadmills or any of the fad exercise equipment that is found in virtually every big box fitness center in the country. I wanted a blue-collar workout environment – one that could handle the most aggressive fighters, but also be respectful and welcoming enough to train their mothers.
In that one paragraph, I just broke every ‘business law' there is. I went against the flow of how everyone thinks something should be done.
I broke the rules of how a gym is supposed to operate.
So, I wanted to train fighters… and mothers?
Why the hell not? They both have goals. They both have a need to be better at something. The only difference, in most cases, is the intensity of the training.
I'm a firm believer that – while not all people are to be trained the same way – if you put them all in the same environment, they will all adjust to their training partner's level. They will feed off of the other's intensity – whether from pure athletic ability, or motivation to try something new – and both will come out better trained, and better conditioned.
Besides, I've been in training centers all over the world. There's not a more fierce group of people training than athletes… until someone's mother walks in.
In July 2013, I took a trip out to Los Angeles to scout some property and get some promotional photos for my concept. While I really didn't do much else to further the opening of Felony Combat; I certainly was making my rounds around the world – holding self-defense workshops under my personal brand and getting certified in just about everything I could.
But in 2015, everything changed.
While I can't go into specifics about the day it all changed… it was at that moment – as I was sitting wondering where I went wrong and what I could have done differently – that I realized that no matter what kind of equipment I had, what type of training I had, or what level of determination I had…
I could not protect everyone from everything. But I damn sure could make it my life's purpose to train people and give them the mindset and know how to at least be able to protect themselves.
Combat Mindset was born on August 22, 2015.
How did I decide on a name, anyway?
I completely understand that most people wouldn't immediately know or even care about the meaning behind my company's name and that the words “combat mindset” might as well be in a foreign language, simply because most of you have never heard of it before you stumbled across my brand.
But, in the circles I have been around since 1997, that one term sums up my entire adult life. It doesn't matter if you're a warfighter, a crimefighter, a bodyguard or a housewife…
A solid combat mindset is what you need to develop and hone in order to stay alive. It's the ability to act effectively and ethically under adversity, stress or extreme pressure – on the battlefield or in the streets.
Felony Combat just didn't have the same meaning for my new type of training studio as it did for the sport-training, so I wanted to find something that both hit home and summarized what it was I wanted to accomplish.
Besides, I was almost positive that something as risqué sounding as Felony wouldn't attract members as well as Dothan Fitness, or Dothan Strength and Conditioning, Dothan Self Defense or Dothan Kickboxing; or any number of variations of what it is we do.
By this time, I had changed the location from WeHo California to Dothan Alabama – even though I first opened in Dallas Texas… which is a longer story and this post is already long enough…
Combat Mindset was the first thing that came to mind.
After searching for trademarks and domain names – I found that both were available. So I paid $600 to the current owner of combatmindset.com and filed my trademark for the name with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
I received the registered trademark for Combat Mindset® the following year.
Granted, most of my current clients won't ever have to worry about being attacked while driving down a Kabul roadway but instead, they learn to develop their own situational awareness for the environments they are in.
In more ways than one, Combat Mindset still keeps with the whole “breaking the rules” of what you've been conditioned to think about fitness. But it was what I saw that was lacking in the martial arts, self-defense, fitness and personal development fields that made everything come together to make what the company is today.
Don't take what I say in the next few sections as me bashing the martial arts, fitness, self-defense or personal development industry as a whole, or any particular person as an individual.
As with anything – you have good and bad, you have honest-to-God great people, and you have shitbags that are only interested in what's in it for them and what they can squeeze out of you.
What's wrong with the martial arts industry?
Growing up in the 80s, you couldn't walk into any Blockbuster or Movie Gallery (I actually think the first video store in Dothan was called Video2Go or something… before Blockbuster came or Movie Gallery was started in Dothan) without seeing shelves full of martial arts movies.
Even with cool titles like Blood Sport, Best of the Best, American Ninja, Kickboxer, The Last Dragon and all those Ninja movies – none had more of a direct impact on people signing up to take karate classes than the Karate Kid.
It was like overnight – martial arts as we know it exploded into “must have” extracurricular activity for kids, even more so than school sports in some places.
The martial arts dojo that was already in place when the Karate Kid came out started booming, and even the ones that were opened because of the Karate Kid did well.
They all met a demand and could serve that demand by providing instruction on kata and traditional martial arts, even some probably taught the completely made up crane kick like Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel.
But the next wave that came started a wave of false advertising and a push to slap mixed martial arts on everything just to make a sale. The success of the Ultimate Fighter series in 2005 brought about tremendous success for the UFC.
It became mainstream.
Even though I was at UFC 12 in 1997 when they came to Dothan because no one else would host them, a lot of people hadn't even heard of the Ultimate Fighting Championship until they watched Forrest Griffin bounce around like a monkey in that first year of the series.
Overnight, it seemed like every place suddenly became an MMA training center, even though they had spent the last 15 years as a traditional martial arts dojo. To top it off, belt ranking has become more of a joke in some training centers nowadays as those dojos think of belt promotions as just another source of revenue for the business. So they push (sometimes aggressively) to reach a new level, even when the student may not be ready.
Don't get me wrong, traditional martial arts definitely has a place in today's society if for nothing else than to preserve the historical and traditional perspective by learning ancient ways.
What's wrong with the self-defense industry?
Also, please don't misunderstand me – practicing kata not only conditions the mind and body, but they are also good exercise for balance, fitness and coordination that often times puts the student in a meditative state of tranquility. And learning the way ancient martial artists practiced their craft is good for preserving history.
In the end, however, martial arts is still just art and should be preserved like the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper or The Starry Night. It should not be rebranded as self-defense or mixed martial arts when they do nothing else to move in that direction.
But, most martial arts dojo today that market themselves as self-defense really hasn't changed the way their traditional martial arts curriculum is taught.
It's borderline false advertising.
our dojo is now a self-defense training center, but we're still teaching the same stuff we've taught for 30 years under the “martial arts” banner.
If someone was dedicated to their art for decades – and actually trained instead of just repeatedly went through the motions, then maybe they can be proficient enough to use the art in self-defense. However, for most people, martial arts will not lead to a better understanding or proficiency of self-defense.
The problem with this, isn't the methods used – traditional martial arts was most definitely created for self-defense, so self-defense is possible with the right martial arts training. The problem lies within the fact that the typical martial arts instructor of today does not have the knowledge, experience or training in how people function.
They mastered their craft by practicing kata and breaking boards, and they are great at teaching kata and breaking boards – but they have no real clue as to how those techniques would work (or not work) in real life.
But the self-defense concept as a whole gets even shadier when you think about the technology available in 2019. Even worse than a martial arts dojo repackaging their art as a self-defense masterpiece with no actual transition to self-defense, is someone that orders a video course and becomes “certified” as a self-defense instructor literally overnight.
Not only is that a complete lie – it's also irresponsible and dangerous.
You have a guy with no training that's working at McDonald's one day (nothing wrong with that, btw) but then they pay $199 for an online course and – all of the sudden – they are qualified and certified to teach someone how to defend themselves. Welcome to 2019.
What's wrong with the fitness industry?
I bought my daughter a Hummer for her 16th birthday. It was a great little ride, maybe a bit much for a 16-year-old – but whatever. Even though I paid for such an awesome looking machine, I could not tell you how it worked under the hood.
The same is true for some personal trainers working today.
They have put in the time, money and work to get their bodies to look like you want yours to look, but they have no freakin' clue how the body works or how to motivate another human being on how to change their body.
When it comes down to it – being a personal trainer is a lot like being a police officer. People count on you to be more than what your title says. They want a mentor, a counselor, a motivator, a role model, a confidant… some of the time everything except what they're actually paying you for.
Just as being a law-abiding citizen does not guarantee even a half-way decent cop, being a gym rat does not guarantee even a half-way decent trainer.
Most trainers start training because they love helping people reach their goals. But if a trainer is more concerned with looking in the mirror every time they pass by, instead of the progress their client is making, then that should tell you all you need to know about your trainer.
At my gym, I not only encourage my trainers to take an active interest in our member's training goals but also in their personal life as well. I don't want my members to feel like a number or like a line item on our profit/loss statement. I want them to be part of our family and feel like each milestone they reach, is a step towards their ultimate goals and resolutions.
Fitness Center Business Model
The business model of most big box gyms (you know, the ones with a bunch of treadmills and low monthly membership fees) is built on you getting sucked into a contract but never using their equipment. That's why they make it so hard to cancel, even when you won't be back – you're screwing with their bottom line.
Who the hell opens a business supposedly to help someone reach their fitness goals, but their business plan anticipates over 80% of the people that pay them to help them reach their fitness goals… never shows up to use the equipment? Someone that's more interested in banking your money than reaching your goals. That's who.
Look. I get it.
Combat Mindset is a business – first and foremost. If people don't pay me for training, then I won't be in business very long. But relying on you to keep paying me, but not keep using what you're paying for – is just a bit backward.
I started Combat Mindset to help you.
Unfortunately, to continue to help people – we have to charge fees. But, if you're not getting the results you signed up for… I don't want your money. I don't deserve your money.
What's wrong with the personal development industry?
Tony Robbins changed the face of life coaching forever.
His energetic performances, firewalking, intervention techniques and larger than life persona he has built has brought awareness to a profession that was only known to a few. Everybody has a coach of some sort now, but I'm more surprised at the number of people who want to be a coach – even if they have no experience in the niche they claim to coach in – or not even any real life-experiences to base it off of at all.
Even worse than a self-defense instructor that has been certified from a video course, is a life coach that paid $25 to get certified from Udemy. All of a sudden, now they are a certified life coach – ready to give advice and direction in areas they have no business giving advice or direction.
But hey! They're certified, so what's wrong?
They are playing with peoples lives. That's what's wrong.
What's worse is they are running off of what might as well be a fake certificate from a diploma mill and passing it off as legit with no real-world experience or training to be able to make those decisions.
Yes. I know people can get certified as a personal trainer in the same way… but, except for injuries caused by improper or irresponsible training, a personal trainer can not totally screw your life up in the same way a life coach can. Not only that, but I strongly urge buyer beware when hiring any type of consultant or coach – do your own due diligence.
Places like Udemy are great for learning specific skills (like how to create formulas in Microsoft Excel) to enhance your current toolbox, but they are not and should not be considered as a legitimate certification source for any career path.
One Site – One Mission
For years, I always had 2 separate sites: one for my personal brand and this site. It just made sense because some things aren't gym related and others aren't personal development related. But, it also doubled the cost and doubled the amount of work. More importantly, it divided my already scarce time between the two – when I concentrated on one of the sites, the other suffered.
Then, just as my epiphany hit in 2015, another hit me once again in March 2019.
Everything I was doing on the personal development side was the mental equivalent to the physical training done in the studio – so not only could I combine the sites (and save me a lot of work and heartache) it was just the right thing to do to streamline everything and make everything accessible to whoever wanted (or needed) it.
Training in Dothan Alabama
Physical training at Combat Mindset is a lot more than tire flips and box jumps. It's also way more than paying a membership that you never use.
I want you to use my gym – that's why I have an accountability coach on staff that is supposed to ensure that you don't skip out on whatever resolution you make from month to month.
- Want to be physically stronger? We have a program for that.
- Want to lose those extra pounds? We have a program for that.
- Want to look better naked? We have a program for that.
- Want to get your confidence back? We have a program for that.
- Want to be a badass? That's what we're here for.
Workshops around the World
I still host my workshops as I have since 2010 when I first put on a self-defense seminar for a group of ladies gathered for the AVN Awards in Las Vegas.
The workshops range from 2 hours to 2 weeks and, while I typically try to include a wide range of self-help topics, the primary focus is usually either emotional defense or self-defense.
It was from these workshops that I saw a severe need to ramp up my coaching abilities to more than just showing someone how to properly punch a guy in the liver or break from a choke.
Working on a person's self-awareness is at the core of everything Combat Mindset was started for. Whether it's helping you look better, feel better or be better – it all starts with how you see yourself.
Since I started doing my workshops, I've met a lot of people that needed something more than just physical training. As a trainer, my clients had always considered me as a mentor, a counselor, an advisor and a coach. They would come to me to learn self-defense, but as time and conversations went on – we ended up working more on total lifestyle changes.
Some were in a toxic relationship and had no way out. Others were just toxic life cycle magnets and needed a change. And still, others were just victims of their own circumstance and needed a solid support system in place to navigate this world.
- That's exactly why I got my life coach certification, to be able to concentrate on the mental side of rePowerment as much as I do the physical side.
- Believe it or not, I was also certified as a relationship coach to be able to work with the countless number of abuse victims that would come to my workshops by helping them break away or develop an intentional life plan to stay away from toxic relationships.
- When I was certified as results coach, my primary focus was working with toxic life cycles and then as a stress management coach to work with all the stress that everything else brings about.
In the end, the programs we offer at Combat Mindset are the total package for anyone wanting to be a stronger, more confident and just an all-around less-fragile person. We work on the mental and physical side, preparing you for whatever life throws at you.
Combat Mindset: Goals and Numbers
My goal for 2019 was to reach 3,300 people to begin working through whatever demons or challenges they are facing. It's only 3 months into 2019 and we're over halfway there.
Most are from the personal development side of the house and my Edge program that is available to anyone, anywhere – but my gym in Dothan Alabama is slowly picking up speed and, next year, my goal will definitely increase quite a bit.
Dothan Membership Drive
In order for us to reach our goals on the gym side, we've come up with a great little incentive program.
- For every person you refer that commits to a year with us, I'll pay for your gym membership for one month.
- Refer 2 people, and I'll pay for 2 months. 3 for 3, etc – There is no cap or maximums
- The only limit is that the new referral has to sign to a program that's equal or greater than the membership I pay for you. That's only fair.
Breakin' the rules and all, we take it a step further
- Everyone that refers 3+ people, the one with the most referrals each month… I will double the months I pay for.
- So, if you refer 6 people – and you have the most referrals – I'll pay for your membership for a year.
For those of you with motivation, you can workout at my gym, take all the classes we have, and not pay a dime for any of it.
Do you have any more tips that might be helpful? If you liked this article, feel free to share it on social media so someone you know might benefit from it.
What You Can Do
The founder of Combat Mindset, Michael Saad, is a straight-forward and easy to follow Results Coach that helps athletes, fighters and tactical operators get mentally and physically stronger.