Friday, 16 September 2011

Rapid Response

In my last few blogs I have waffled on about one of my passions, the Japanese sword and the Japanese way of life. 

I have been inspired by many instructors and authors over the years such as Dave Lowry and Steven Turnbull and many leading authorities on Japanese civilisation.

As much I am tempted to carry on writing blogs about the knowledge I am gaining on these subjects, today I would like to write about a subject with many different names. Self Defence, Street combat,
 Defensive Street tactics, Close quarter combat etc, etc and the list goes on. 

Of course the name of our system is no different E.S.D.C.S - Evasive Self Defence Combat System. A long winded name I agree but it has a purpose.
E – Evasive, move and keep moving. A moving target is harder to hit.
S – Self, well it’s like it says, self. You’re trying to protect your body from harm.
D – Defence, defence can incorporate many thinks such as your personal protection to the protection of your family or property.
C – Combat, to be combative and respond in a manner appropriate to the level of conflict a person is experiencing.
S – System, whatever it needs to be in order to stay safe.
Like all things in life we are not born with the knowledge or the immediate skills that are needed for daily life experiences. 

A person must study and were self defence is concerned they must train. Simply reading a book or watching a DVD does not give the person the physical experience or the experience of mental stress that can inhibit your responses and reaction times.

Occasionally I go back to former martial arts clubs and train. I do this for two reasons: one is to catch up with old friends and instructors, ninety nine percent of what I know has been taught to me by these people and two is to keep the arts fresh both mentally and physicall, even if I am getting older and fatter.

Just like the authors of ancient Japan and my instructors of the sword I have also been inspired by many of today’s leading instructors of dealing with conflict. Like most people into defensive systems I have read the books and studied the DVD’s on the market. 
But lately I find myself looking at the old school way of thinking and training. 
It’s my belief that a system must grow and change with the times, if one does not improve one’s techniques to make them faster, easier, fluid, direct and simpler to perform under pressure then it just becomes the way. 
My methods within the club continue to grow, always looking to improve the system and make the student more aware and better at what we do. I encourage the students to test the techniques and to explore all avenues available to them, including training at other clubs and with different instructors to gain more experience.
Our club exists because of its members, no members no club. There are experienced and novice martial artist alike as members, people who have never trained in any martial arts and guys that train in mixed martial arts. 
Each person has a different opinion and outlook on life and I believe it is the same with martial arts and self defence or combat systems. What may set our system aside from others is that the techniques are moulded around the students’ abilities rather than the person been forced to learn a prescribed set of movements that are not natural to them. 
A kick is a kick, a punch is a punch and an elbow is an elbow no matter what the applications maybe. As human beings we are all unique, the way we move, think and act. Even a person's physical abilities will affect the outcome of their actions, this is why the system techniques are moulded around there abilities. They elbow, kick and punch etc to suit their natural abilities. 
Given time we can all become very adept with our techniques but how many practitioners of martial arts and self defence systems alike have had a real high pressure violent experience to test their responses when it matters the most?
In a safe training environment we can all be confident in our abilities but can we act the same way when it matters the most.  Reaction times, dealing with the adrenaline rush and your sudden experience of violence creating fear, how will any of us act until it happens? You may well ask about me! What gives me the right to waffle on about the experience of violence? Well, feel free to contact Sunderland Royal Infirmary A&E for details. 
This does not mean I’m a fighter it just means I was too stupid to back down or run like hell. On the positive side I have experienced the feeling of getting the hell beat out of you, which can desensitises you to the shock of been hit.
Now it’s a safe bet to say that most martial artists and defensive system practitioners have heard the usual comments from those who don’t train or have a misunderstanding of why people like us do what we do. 

Karate kid, mister Miyagi, Bruce Lee, Jap Slapper and Hong Kong Fuey, should I go on? It goes with the territory I suppose. I also love the one, if I kick you in the nuts your knackered mate! If only I had a quid as they say, truth is they might be right.

Just because we train on a regular basis in whatever style we do does not make you an effective fighter, my personal feeling is that it does not matter how black your belt is if you don’t see it coming for whatever reason and he connects with your happy sack then say hello to Mr cauliflower bean bag and a load of pain.

I have had a similar conversation with a chap who is very good at what he does - MMA. He’s physically fit, has a good knowledge of his techniques, confident and well trained; the last place I want to be is wrestling on the ground with this guy. 
I have learnt a lot from him and he’s become a good friend. But he also understands our methods of training and that they're not for three rounds in a ring. An MMA fighter has to abide by the rules of the cage but outside the ring he’s just like us. 
He can also head butt, eye gouge, finger snap and rip, tear, strike the groin. And my personal favourite biting, sinking your teeth into flesh, chewing muscle and sinew will make the biggest of aggressors feel pain. Of course these techniques are for the extreme and I don’t condone them for everyday use.
What’s my point you may ask? Simple, should it matter what we do if we enjoy it?
Any of us could become a victim during physical confrontations for any number of reasons, especially if you don’t see it coming and you’re taken by surprise. 
I don’t believe having a black belt or practising a martial or combative systems make a person a fighter. It may make you good at your particular style, but how do you know if you can fight if you have never fought to experience all the emotions and actions that occur during an assault? 
I teach to the best of my abilities which are with the help of my students continuing to grow, I make them no promises either that the system is the be all and end all of defensive training. 
Could it work? Should it work? How will it work? Will this or that happen? The truth is we won’t know until it happens and then only the person will understand and respond in any number of ways with many different outcomes. 
The top and bottom of it is you just don’t know. New members, friends and family always ask the same question, so what you do if this or that happens? And they always have the same look on their faces when you give the same answer, I don’t know.
Rapid response
I think a lot of people misunderstand this statement for the use of violence or self defence. It can mean a few things like the ability to run or talk your way out of the situation. 
But were fighting or possible conflict may occur I am a big fan of the pre-emptive strike. Hit hard and hit fast and if it turns really nasty and the situation warrants it then eye gouge, grab the groin and twist or snap fingers. 
If your life is at risk were weapons or techniques to end your life are in use are you really going to apply complicated techniques such as joint locking etc.
As an example let’s look at the police, they taught restraint and control and conflict resolution training to defuse situations peacefully. 
But because they have to uphold the law they are also subject to the same laws as civilians. 
How many times have we seen on the reality TV shows four or more officers trying really hard to overpower a single person to get the cuffs on even with batons, pepper spray and tazers? 
If a police officer were able to use any means necessary I thinks some criminals would think twice about having ago.
I do not condone violence or brutal techniques I am simply saying if you can't run and you have no choice then keep it simple; be assertive with a rapid response and if necessary be brutal. Gouge that eye, grab the balls, head butt, claw the face and bite if it’s really going to save your ass whilst you’re in the process of been raped or beaten to death. 
Dealing with weapons is even harder to deal with under pressure. Run if you can run, the nearest shop, someone’s house – run in screaming for help rather than run four miles home. 
But if you have no choice then be rapid, be ruthless and end it as soon as possible. 
Will it work, can it work? I believe none of us can answer that until it happens. 
If person sticks a gun in your face for your car keys give them the keys or you had better be supper confident and faster than a bullet can travel. 
I have never had a gun rammed in my face and I don’t want it to happen either. 
Ask yourself a question. What would you honestly do if you came face to face with a pistol in your chest or mush? 
I mean what would you really do if you knew it was a real gun with real bullets and there’s no option to comply or respond? 
I think my first action would be a change of underwear or magic tree air freshener tied to my jeans.
I was reminded by a new student of an old saying that I agree with: I’d rather be tried by twelve that carried by four.
Let’s enjoy whatever we do, but let’s not be blinded by it or believe it’s the be all and end all. 
Train and enjoy your style or system, get the most out of it and who cares what others thinks so long as you happy. 
But remember life’s just too short to fool yourself either. Take the blinkers of and think outside the box. Train hard, question everything but above all enjoy it.

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