Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Simplicity Under Pressure

As one of hundreds if not thousands of instructors teaching some sort of self-defence or combat method I am continually asking myself the same question. Are we really preparing our students for a real confrontation in the street? Are the safe training environments of the club or dojo giving a false sense of security to the students and how many students are now training to deal with multiple aggressors?
Government records show that of all the violent crime that took place in the UK last year more than half of the attacks were carried out by multiple assailants. Some of these cases report two or more people attacking one person (including the use of deadly weapons). The more traditional methods of learning any given art or system as most people know is the one to one approach.
Each student takes it in turns to practise the given set of techniques or combative drill. But what happens if you take them out of the comfort zone and add one or more aggressors to deal with? 

My own experience little as it may be has taught me a great deal, the biggest issues I have had to address were the reaction times and effective response to the threat. Many techniques that I have practised for years became difficult and ineffective under pressure against multiple attackers leaving me vulnerable and in danger of ending up on the ground where it becomes even harder to deal with opponents.

I have been taught a great deal by some great instructors about response times and the fight or flight situations that occur in the first instances of violence. But all that aside I keep coming back to what I believe to be the most important lesson you can learn in any self-defence or combative training system and that is one of simplicity.
Now please don't get me wrong, I'm not preaching to anyone on how or indeed you should teach or train in any given style. I am simply saying that the simpler the response the more effective it may be. Many actions such as distance, timing and foot work can very quickly be forgotten or less effective in the street or under the threat of real violence.
The one action or if you like "emotion" that I feel is missing during a student’s regular training programme is FEAR. Now I am not talking about the fear of getting injured or injuring a fellow student or indeed the fear of getting the techniques wrong during practise or grading, but real in your face fear is hard to show and teach in the club, after all no serious instructor really wants to hurt a student in the same manner an attacker would. So how do we go about preparing a student? For me this is a journey that I am still exploring with my students.
The one exercise our style practise is what we call E.V.P.A extreme - verbal - physical - assault. To put it simply students shout and scream at the tops of their voices all manner of verbal insults at each other from the start of the attack or during the attack to demean and disorientate the defender. These exercises range from the basic stand up argument to the sudden spontaneous attack. Again these attacks are done against one or more attackers to take the student out of their comfort zone.
Pain and fear can be huge shock to most people during violence, both at the start and continued throughout the act of violence. It can be very difficult to deal with both under pressure.
Below I have written the advice I was given many years ago by someone whom has experienced violence on a regular basis. But I would like you the reader to understand one thing, Reading the advice and using it when it matter most are two different things.
Pain and Fear
Pain is a function of the body’s nervous system – nothing more. It lets us know when our bodies are being hurt. In a fight we expect our bodies to be injured. Though it is possible to win without injury, it unwise however to assume that to be the case. Use your pain to drive your ferocity during the fight. If you sustain serious injury, do everything you can to concentrate on the fight. This is difficult but not impossible. Do not focus on your injuries. Think about surviving the fight. There will be plenty of time to heal later.
Just as pain is merely a function of the nerves, fear is simply an emotion. It can be harnessed, controlled and directed to your advantage. Never consider the attacker as bigger, stronger or better than you. This is self – defeating. You will lose the fight. Think of him as a target then systematically evaluate and destroy until the threat is finished.
Fear, in a fight fear is a big factor only if you let it be. Take firm control of your emotions and force yourself to act. As with pain use your fear to fuel your response towards violence. It is irrelevant that you might be afraid; the attacker is counting on it to make you the victim. There is nothing wrong with fear. Just don’t let it get in the way. It’s a natural emotion for all humans.

To find out more about Evasive Self-Defence Combat System visit or e-mail John Barrass at:

1 comment:

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