New York State of Mind:
Hank Hayes of No Lie Blades
Hank Hayes and Anton St James are revolutionizing self-protection – especially in the area of knife work. In the last issue of MAG we met Anton and now Scott Caldwell interviews Hall of Famer Hank
Q) How was your trip to the UK?
A) This is the second time in the UK. The first was after training some groups in Germany and I stayed in London for two days so didn’t get an extensive chance like this time. Great country, hospitality and class. Spent most time in Plymouth With Anton St James and visited HMS Raleigh and did some stuff on the military base – an outstanding group and great success with the groups working with the navy, commandoes and law enforcement and with Anton St James and the Krav Maga and other martial arts groups in the UK. Law enforcement and military is our area of expertise that we spend 98% of our time training in the states.
Q) You have an extensive martial arts background. What is your traditional training and what has given you the best insight in real world violence?
A) I started in August of 73 at age 10. And where I grew up unfortunately street fighting, the arts were something I thought would enhance that and it did, but I had to pull out what would work. Judo, Taekwondo, then Golden Gloves boxing, a big group in the States, then I got involved in a system called Vahda, a vicious fighting system and that’s where I hold a 9th Degree with a great bunch of guys who taught a lot about distance, how to feint, how to counter fight. Then I moved to California, learning under guru Dan Inosanto and Paul Vunak and learned a bunch down there. From there I went into military and close protection and that’s where I blossomed with the invention of the No Lie blade, which took my skills to an exponential level within months. The blade doesn’t lie. I don’t attribute a particular martial art to real world skill set, I attribute street fighting. The arts helped quite a bit but not as much as learning to identify body language, weapons of opportunity, making a successful energy and to dominate with a barrage of high forward pressure on my target. Another thing is how you think about your target. It’s not an opponent, it’s a target. I’m going to do it as quickly and viciously and effectively as possible.
Q ) What drew you to your profession where you’ll put your life on the line?
A) Growing up as a black guy in an Italian neighborhood in the 1960s in New York, it was rough, there were bad kids and it was a crazy way of growing up. Being picked on because I wasn’t the right color. Especially in New York where there was a lot of gangs. Protection and self-preservation is in my blood. I drew out something inside me that said I’m not going to be picked on and I’m going to take out anyone who is going to threaten me. I’ll happily do what is necessary to protect those that need it.
Q) In all of your years what stands out as your biggest “oh s***” moment?
A) I was protecting a very important business family in the States and my assignment was to protect the daughter of the owner of a number of companies. The daughter had a crazy ex husband. This was in my 11th year of doing executive protection and although it can be a lot of fun there’s burnout. I wanted to be married and have kids and that kind of life didn’t afford me those qualities. I was doing a close protection (one protector on one principal protectee) and she was out shopping. There’s a certain feeling you get pre-incident where things just aren’t right and aren’t lining up. We were in a shopping mall and I saw a white van in the parking lot and it was moving slow, it came round wide and slow and when it got into our way, and as it was moving the side door slid open and we were taking fire. Although I’m a tough guy a lot of things go through you mind when bullets start. I was trying to keep the principal down and I remember praying and saying “if you get me out of this I’m going to get out of this field, God”. I couldn’t fire back because of the people. We scurried in between cars and we got out of it. That was the biggest “Oh s*** moment. There were minor ones in New York City and travelling overseas.
Q) What is the main different between “Day 1 Hank” and Hank now?
A) Wow Scott you have excellent questions. During that time I was in my late 20s and did that up until my early 30s and there was invincibility. I’m the protector type. Although I run towards the trouble, I value life, mine and others whether it’s good guys or bad guys. One day when you finish reading this you’re going to run into someone and that someone is someone’s daughter or father or son. Someone will look up to them. Years ago “first day Hank” was much different, ready to go at the drop of a hat but now the big difference is – and it’s a deep question – but for the most part I would say its to be the good guy in all situations. But do not mistake my kindness for weakness.
Q) Being honest would you do it all again?
A) Hindsight is 20-20. What I’ve done has got me to where I am, which I wouldn’t trade for anything, the knowledge base I have today is pretty vast. I’m 52 with five kids and a great wife and lots of great friends. Are there things I’ve done that I regret? Absolutely? I can now see things with clarity of mind. I don’t care what people think. I’ve done so many things to be a people pleaser and that’s not me today.
Q) What do you bring to the table that sets you apart?
A) A great an easy question. What I bring to the table is a simple and straight path to results in fighting, neutralizing the attack and the target. Direct action, getting folks through that in a quick manner. No Lie Blades and Hank Hayes is known for a rapid learning environment, to get the target down to get you through fear, to make you as effective as possible in a short amount of time what sets us apart us rapid results in a short amount of time. I engage passion and dynamics in the training environment and into the integrity of martialling your arts.
Q) You wear many hats, writer, protector, family man, what drives you and where does that energy come from?
A) To be the best I can be and to bring the gifts I’ve been given to light, we get one opportunity at this thing we call life. The two greatest guys in my life – my father and my father-in-law, they were great men who set a great example. I want to provide THE best service to get the job done.
Q) What is the next goal for No Lie Blades (NLB)?
A) A question lots of readers will want to know if they’re a fan of what we do. No Lie Blades is not for everybody, it pushes you past your comfort zone. So what’s next is rapidly entering the international business scene and the combatives instruction for military. It is for those who want to stay alive and help others to stay alive. We have some more inventions coming out and we have online training coming.
Q) You launched an NLB instructor course. Was it received well?
A) Yes it went well. For those who are interested when is the next one? To be an No Lie Blades / NLB instructor, you have to be an instructor already whether it is martial arts, military or law enforcement, the next one is October 15 in Plymouth. We can do a lot of scenarios and pressure testing and make it safe. You can take the apprentice course but we don’t take on people who have motives that are not above board. We operate with great integrity and honesty and I can’t emphasize that enough. We are growing fast and we need good people.
Q) It’s been a real pleasure talking with you Hank and I hope to hook up again. If you had one hour with a student, never to see them again and you had to get them ready for a bar brawl, what would you show them?
A) I’ll answer that as specifically as it was asked – bar brawl. Usually these are nonsense fights. We always want to protect ourselves, get our loved ones out of harm’s way, so I want to look at getting to safety. Going into a bad place full of bad characters is a bad battle plan. Especially where there are bottles and glass, so get out of that area as quickly as possible. If there is a barrier preventing us from getting out we want to take the target out. I’m a fan of weapons of opportunity, a projectile, a distraction, to buy you time for a different strike area. Strike high then hit low, strike low then hit high using a weapon of opportunity. Additionally HVT – high value targets. Not only do you have these but you want to strike them – high pain points – eyes, throat, groin. Then we want to use a control point – get them out of the way and then get out of there. But you have to find what works for you.
Q) Any closing notes?
A) I heavily studied under others for 25 years and then started learning in other ways and through teaching, the military and so on, but the martial arts and combative arts absolutely saved my life. So for those who are reading this, if you are reading this for a reason, find what works for you and if it isn’t find out why. Find out what isn’t working. I would also say do something. Don’t be a guy that sits on the sidelines, make success, don’t wait for success. Every day you have a choice to take action, read, learn. Don’t be that guy who quits.
Hank Hayes can be found and No Lie Blades and NLB Defensive Measures www.nolieblades.com.