Safety and Respect, Swords and Guns – Kasey Kleckeisen

The etiquette for handling, and passing off a firearm is very similar to that of handling and passing off a sword. The customs are put in place to ensure no one ever becomes complacent with the weapons of their trade. To show that you can be trusted in the field, and to show loyalty and respect. The more violent the culture, the more important it is to be polite. If a violation of conduct either actual or only perceived can have severe repercussions up to and including death, then strict rules of etiquette are needed.

Regardless of time, culture, or region the etiquette of warrior cultures shared a common core. They may have had differing rules, but the rules themselves served a common purpose. Safety, Trust, and Respect. Safe handling / presentation of a weapon shows you can be trusted and shows respect for your peers and your superiors. Being disrespectful / untrustworthy is hazardous to your safety.

Rules and customs are put in place to ensure safety and to demonstrate respect, both for the weapon and the peers you would fight with.

Those that use weapons, who are surrounded by them on a regular basis, are more likely to become complacent around weapons.

If you have a weapon on you all the time it becomes common place. This has pros and cons. You become used to it, it isn’t weird any more. You actually feel weird without a weapon. Your spouse doesn’t bug you about it anymore. You don’t have to argue about why you need a weapon every time you leave the house. It becomes no big deal. However because it is no big deal you run the risk of forgetting the weapon always presents potential lethality. When you are complacent with weapons bad things happen.

Complacency can have fatal consequences. As a reminder of this many fire arms training days for the SWAT team started with a power point presentation of Law Enforcement Officers that were killed with a firearm in training the previous few years. Either at their own hands, or by another Officer. The list grew every year. Rules are put in place to prevent, and mitigate complacency. These rules become customs.

You can find these ideas with any weapons, but let’s look at the rules for handling modern firearms and how that compares to etiquette handling a Japanese sword. Different cultures, but the same job, using the same ideas. All weapons are treated as if they are live. In the case of the sword, bokken (wooden training sword) and shinken (live sword) are treated the same. (I’m just going to use common language if you want to know specific Japanese terms there are plenty of sources available). The tip and the edge are always kept away from your peers. When kneeling the sword is placed on your left side slightly behind your knee, point back, edge towards you. (All the dangerous parts pointed in a safe direction). When you bow in, your left hand (non dominant – there were no left handed Samurai*) is used to place the sword in front of you. Edge pointed towards you. (Showing you are not a threat)

Left hand is also used to place sword through belt (Obi) to secure in place. Once secured the left hand remains on the hilt with the thumb over the guard, acting as a safety. Even if not secured through a belt, or with a wooden sword that has no guard, the left hand remains on the hilt with the thumb over the guard (real or imagined), acting as a safety. When you pass a sword, or hand your sword to someone your left hand with thumb over guard is used to remove the sword from your belt. Once the end clears your belt it is placed in your right hand making sure the edge is pointed at you. You bow and extend the sword. This is an act of trust because they will receive the hilt with their right hand. (If they want to use this sword against you, you are pretty boned). The person receiving the sword shows respect by turning the sword over placing the hilt in his right hand putting the edge towards him.

*in a homogeneous society like Japan natural left hand students were conditioned to be right handed. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t also use their left or become ambidextrous.

*reference Gaku Homma’s “The Structure of Aikido – Kenjutsu Taijutsu relations”
In the case of firearms all weapons, training, unloaded, or loaded are treated as live, loaded weapons. All loading and unloading is done at the firing line, weapons pointed down range. (All the dangerous parts pointed in a safe direction). If you run dry you will conduct a tactical reload. Keeping the weapon pointed down range at all times. (All the dangerous parts pointed in a safe direction). If you have a malfunction you will conduct an immediate action drill (fix the malfunction and get back in the fight). Keeping the weapon pointed down range at all times. (All the dangerous parts pointed in a safe direction). If the malfunction cannot be fixed with an immediate action drill, keep your weapon pointed down range. Alert a range Officer. The line will be made cold and training will cease until the weapon is made safe.

To make the line cold, all shooters remove their magazine and lock the slide or bolt back. Holding the weapon in their non dominant hand they show that there is no magazine and that there is no bullet in the chamber to the person to their right, the person to their left, and to the Range Officer. The weapon is then holstered or slung. Then the line is cold and it is safe to go down range. Similar process when handing off a gun, a shooter will remove the magazine and lock the slide or bolt back. Holding the weapon in their non dominant hand they show that there is no magazine and that there is no bullet in the chamber to the person that is taking the weapon from them. Usually a more senior Officer, or someone more qualified to fix a malfunction. After the recipient has seen the weapon is safe the passer hands the weapon to them grip first, muzzle down. (Showing you are not a threat)

Different rules for different weapons but the ideas are the same. Point the dangerous parts somewhere safe. Show you are not a threat.

Clearly there is a reason for all of this. If a shot is fired intentionally or otherwise you want the bullet to go down range. Where it is built to take bullets, not into a wall, floor, or ceiling, and sure as hell not into yourself or a fellow Officer. If you stumble with a sword you want the worst thing to happen to be embarrassment. You don’t want to be maimed or worse hurt your peers.

Lasering is a term that refers to where your muzzle is pointing. As if a laser is attached to it. Lasering your buddy is when you cross him / her with your muzzle. It is a good way to kill your partner.

So, rules are put in place to prevent, and mitigate complacency. When you must cross your partner’s path, you Sul your weapon. Sul generally means you place the muzzle down, the weapon is pressed tight into your chest. Sul is Portuguese for south, the phrase is a remnant of U.S. Special Forces training South Americans. Other agencies / teams practice pointing the muzzle up, like an 80’s detective drama on TV because it fits better with their tactics. They may have differing rules, but the rules themselves serve a common purpose. Don’t point your gun at your buddy. Don’t present as a threat to your peers.

With a sword, at times training will be interrupted for your partner to receive instruction. Like the Sul with a fire arm there are acceptable positions to show safety, and that you are not a threat. They include turning your hands over so that your right hand is crossed over your left, and near your left hip. Tip back edge down. Or in your right hand edge up (backwards) tip to the front, but pointed away from your partner and the Instructor.

Rules become customs
Your primitive lizard brain understands rhythm and ritual. Doing this has not gotten me killed. It is a proven survival tactic. I must continue doing this. Rules become customs. Customs become ingrained neurological patterns. Safety and respect become hard wired. Sound like bull shit? Don’t believe me? Any one reading this that has trained in a Japanese martial art where you bow off and on the mat, and bow to your partner to begin training with them knows better. They have undoubtedly bowed into or out of a room outside of the Dojo for no reason, say when entering their bedroom. Or have bowed to someone outside the Dojo, seemingly for no reason.

Customs become ingrained neurological patterns. So it makes sense to have customs that ingrain safe handling of weapons. Violation of custom has severe repercussions. Up to and including death. In all warrior cultures, especially after the rules have been taught, mishandling a weapon is going to get your ass kicked. Anyone reading this ever hand a loaded weapon to a superior? Or lean on a training sword like it was a cane? If so, I’m sure at the very least you got an ass chewing in front of everyone else. Educational beat down for you, and using you to educate everyone else that this behavior is unacceptable. Maybe it was physical punishment, drop and give me 50 pushups. Or social pressure, everyone else drop and give me 50 pushups while dip shit here counts them off for you. Be sure to thank him for this when you are done. Maybe you got smacked in the head? If the infraction was severe enough you may have even been removed from the organization.

Why is a violation of custom treated harshly? Trust.
Trust is twofold. The first if I can’t trust you to be safe under controlled training environment, how can I trust you to be safe in the field? How can I trust you to have my back? How can we maintain the public’s faith in us to come and handle dangerous situations if we can’t handle our own weapons safely?

So you have to earn that trust back. You have to pay a price. Kiss kiss bang bang. You get knocked down a peg, but you make up, you are allowed to continue to be part of that “tribe”.

The second, this one is older and I feel more deeply seated. If you violate the custom and you are not learning from the repercussions, that only leaves a few options. You are too god damned dumb to be part of this organization, you have no respect for the organization, or you are betraying this organization. Look at the customs. I am close to you with a lethal weapon. I show not only safety, but loyalty by handling that weapon in such a way that I couldn’t possibly hurt you with it.

I feel this is older because spies and assassins infiltrating the organization is not something I have ever had to deal with. Seems like a remnant of the past. But there are plenty of incidents recently in the middle east of enemy combatants disguised as local police or coalition forces. I also feel this is older because the reaction to betrayal has always been a higher level of violence. Every culture still has a death penalty for treason.

Some of the best knife defense training I have ever received is following a simple set of rules. (If you have ever trained with Marc MacYoung these should be familiar).

  1. Don’t join a violent criminal organization. I would add any organization that routinely uses violence criminal or otherwise
  2. Most of you reading this have already failed 1. So if you have failed 1, then do not betray said previously mentioned violent organization
  3. Don’t cheat on your significant other
  4. Don’t fornicate with someone else’s
  • You follow these simple rules and you are very unlikely to ever have to face someone trying to kill you with a knife.
  • You are unlikely to face the type and level of violence betrayal inspires in humans.
  • If someone is violating the customs of a warrior culture they will be removed. One way or the other.

The more violent the culture, the more important it is to be polite.
Being polite isn’t weak, in warrior cultures it serves a common purpose.
Regardless of time, culture, or region it shows you understand the weapons of the trade. That you can be trusted in the field, and demonstrates loyalty and respect to your crew.


Kasey Keckeisen is an experienced Police Officer, SWAT team leader, and SWAT training coordinator. Kasey Keckeisen is the United States Midwest Regional Director for the Edo Machi-Kata Taiho Jutsu organization, and the Minnesota State Director for One-On-One Control Tactics.

Keckeisen holds 6th degree black belts in Judo, Jujitsu, and Aikido and a black belt in Taiho Jutsu Keckeisen is also recognized as a Shihan by the International Shin Budo Association. He is also a catch wrestling and bareknuckle boxing enthusiast, and a terrific dancer.

Keckeisen, along with Marc MacYoung and Rory Miller is a founding member of Violence Dynamics

Keckeisen runs Judo Minnesota, an organization that provides free training to Law Enforcement and Military, and provides opportunities for youth to have positive experiences with Law Enforcement through martial arts training.


Eye Contact: Watch People-Read Body Language, Part III – Tristan Chermack

When you watch people, strangers or people you know, look at them for more than just recognizing who they are.  Look for a moment longer and try to get a feel for their mood or current attitude.  We are not talking about trying to read every person in a crowd.  It is very helpful to see when someone is showing signs that they are upset, angry, hostile or aggressive.  These signs start out fairly subtle, but are pretty plain to people who are even a little bit used to looking for them.

There are many books out there on reading body language and facial expressions, and you can certainly research much more on the subject.  It is not necessary to become an expert on the subject to look at someone for a few seconds and get a feel for whether they might be in a foul mood.  It is easier when you know them and are familiar with their normal state.

One particular trait to watch for is the person who is looking around to start trouble.  Bullies show their predatory instincts by scanning around actively and studying people they consider might be good targets.  This should be a warning flag to you.  It is pretty obvious, and is pretty easy to spot – as long as you are looking!

A bully, or bullies, might have taken up a spot and are ‘on the hunt’ for a good target.  The part to look for is when they spend more time scanning around outside their group than talking with each other.  Picture in your head a group of lions sitting on a hill watching for a nice, tasty antelope to happen along.  If you see this, then stay relaxed and calm but move along and get out of their sight quickly.

The goal of watching people and reading their body language is to get a feel for their mood and intentions.  Your instincts will almost always warn you when someone is up to no good.  In fact, we recommend not getting too caught up into researching tiny details of body language because they can distract you from using your instincts to get a good impression of someone’s mood.  

You should practice every day, which is easy and even fun.  Look at people you know and try to get predict what mood they are in.  You will have to do this before you talk with them.  Observe them for a few moments and guess their mood, then greet them and chat a bit to see if you were right.  Once you talk with them, their mood should be pretty clear and you will find out how close you were.

If you try it with strangers, you won’t be able to confirm if you were right but it is still fun practice and you can do it almost anywhere.  The more you play around with it, the better you will get.  Before long you will be able to spot people who are: relaxed, happy, nervous, upset, or in any number of other moods.

When you have built up this skill, people who show signs of aggression and anger or have the intention of causing trouble will stick out like a sore thumb.  Your instincts will tell you something is wrong.  It is up to you to listen and heed those warnings.  

Years ago when I worked one of my first security jobs, a seasoned pro showed me how well someone could hone these skills. We went from working the door in a bar to helping sort out getting a PA system set up. He never stopped scanning despite working on an unrelated task. He was particularly interested in those entering the room because he already sized up the patrons who were there. A man walked in and he quietly leaned over to me and said “Watch that guy. I guarantee by the end of the night we will be carting him out of here.” He didn’t look any different than any of the other patrons. He was dressed similarly, although he did walk in alone. He wasn’t scowling, or appeared to be carrying a weapon. I asked if the pro knew the guy from a previous encounter, but he hadn’t ever seen him ever before. There was something in his body language that told the pro that this guy was not here to enjoy a beer and some music. Sure enough, a few hours later we had to throw the guy out because he got aggressive.

I can still picture the guy’s body language, it was so subtle that it would not raise an eyebrow to most people. That old pro not only knew to look at every person coming into the bar but knew the body language to look for. Not even sure he could describe what it was either, he just knew it when he saw it and it gave us a heads up to take caution.

Eye contact and body language are huge factors in self-protection. You may wonder why I use the term self-protection instead of self-defense. Quite simply, they apply to two very different things. Self-defense describes the physical skills you use when in physical conflict. Self-protection describes the skills you use to avoid physical conflict. Self-defense is what you need to employ when your self-protection skills have all failed.

A great start to building self-protection skills are mastering eye contact and reading people. It’s pretty easy and fun to do.

What does learning look like?, Part III – Kathy Jackson

Learning sometimes looks like failure for a different reason. That’s because sometimes, a student perched on the brink of an “aha!” moment might not be making any measurable progress at all.

We sometimes – often – see this type of learning the first time we put a student on a moving target. They try and try and try to hit the mover, and get annoyed that they can’t quite seem to get the hang of it. We reinforce the fundamentals and remind them of the basic strategy. We coach them to see the front sight and press the trigger smoothly, simply moving the muzzle along with the target so that it’s exactly like shooting a target that doesn’t move. They try again and they struggle some more. Then all at once the light bulb goes on, the student says, “OH!!” as they hit the target cleanly, and apart from minor bobbles they rarely have trouble with moving targets again. After a long stall on the edge of success, they finally unlocked the code and they feel wonderful.

The middle of this process looks a lot like failure – like repeated attempts that don’t work, don’t get any better, and don’t achieve the desired result. What makes it learning instead of true failure, is that each of these failures is greeted with the kind of grit that gets up and tries again, again, again. And keeps doing that, over and over, until the result changes. That’s true grit.
It’s also the definition of insanity.

It’s insanity, that is, unless each try includes either a slightly different strategy toward achieving success, or a slightly better effort at using an already known strategy. (There’s a coaching hint in that sentence, somewhere.)
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston S. Churchill

Not long ago, I saw a charming online video of a young boy who made a “Rube Goldberg machine” – a multipart contraption that creates a complicated chain reaction to do a simple task. This particular creation would be started by knocking down one domino that would set off a series of dominoes, which would then knock a small bowling pin into a bowl causing a shockwave that would move a small gyroscope down a pair of dowels and then bump into a steel marble that would run through a spiral tube and then down a ramp where it would bump into a switch to activate a toaster that would cause the toast to pop up and a lever to rise that would … but you get the idea.

As the child explained on the video, because Rube Goldberg designs are complex, it’s common for them to fail many times in trials before the builder finally gets it right. The kid estimated that he would probably need to run the machine ten to twenty times before he succeeded. Then he began running his trials. As each attempt failed, he figured out what had caused the failure, corrected it, and tried again. By the end of the video, when his machine finally worked, he was dancing around and giggling with ecstatic glee: “It worked on the fourth try! Look, I thought it was going to be umpteen failures, but it was only three failures! That’s surprising! It worked!”

Having an expectation that failure – even repeated failure – would be a normal part of the process made it possible for the boy to keep working despite the effort it took to get it right. It gave him the energy to try different strategies and avoid discouragement. It set him up to celebrate his achievement when it came, rather than beating himself up for having to work hard to get there. Learning should feel good.

There’s something else. Every failure brought the Rube Goldberg kid incrementally closer to his goal. He failed in a different spot every time, fixing a different step in the process each time the machine went off the rails. Because he was committed to learning from each failure, he did not fail in the same place twice. He analyzed each failure and figured out how to avoid it in future. (And there’s another coaching hint.)

Although from the perspective of an accomplished shooter, a task such as drawing to fire a single round might seem incredibly simple, it’s actually quite complex – even more complex than getting a Rube Goldberg machine to work. For this reason, as we work with students it’s important to remember that sometimes, from a student’s perspective, learning looks a lot like failure. We must frame this reality in a way that keeps them motivated and helps them to move forward.

Here’s one more possible thing we might see when we look to see whether students are learning in class. It’s the flip side of learning looking like failure.
“You have learnt something. That always feels at first as if you had lost something.” – George Bernard Shaw

Sometimes, failure to learn looks like learning. Don’t let this one fool you. Some students are highly committed to looking good in class, and that means they are not risking anything, not learning, not growing. These are often the folks who were told as children that smart kids never get anything less than straight A’s in school, so they’re reluctant to tackle anything that might make them look bad as an adult. Their shooting often looks pretty good when you first meet them, but it will rarely get any better, because they’re afraid to push their own limits. Some students have ego riding on their existing level of accuracy, and thus won’t push themselves to get faster or to shoot at smaller targets or greater distances. Other students have ego riding on their existing speed, and thus won’t sacrifice even an ounce of speed in order to learn how to shoot more accurately. In either case, these students aren’t willing to learn and in fact they are not learning.

You may notice this when you tell your students to speed up and shoot faster. You don’t want them to miss paper, you might tell them, but it’s perfectly okay if their groups open up a little, perhaps from a fist-sized group to a hand-sized one – because that’s how they’ll learn what the right speed is for them right now, and that’s also how they’ll learn to shoot more quickly. They have to push their existing limits in order to learn where their limits really are and then overcome them. They have to risk the miss in order to learn the speed.

But some students won’t do it. Simply will not.
There are two ways to deal with this type of reaction from a student. No, three. The third and least-desirable option is to simply ignore it and let it slide, as if you’d never noticed what that student was up to on your line. Since this student will often be trying to avoid your attention anyway, it’s easy enough to give her a day of supervised practice without pushing her to learn much more than she came with. This sometimes might be necessary, but shouldn’t be done lightly, and never just for your own convenience.

“It is funny to see people complain so much about a miss… There is no pressure on you, there is no fear of death or injury. We are in a friendly environment trying to improve. Some people are more interested in stroking their ego than truly improving and that’s a problem.” – Jeff Gonzales

Because these slow but accurate students usually shoot small, beautiful groups, you might be tempted to think they don’t really need your attention anyway – but they do. Meanwhile, don’t let a small group size fool you into thinking this resistant student is learning well. She’s not. She’s simply practicing the things she’s already good at in a way that doesn’t risk her ego in front of others.
When you decide to reach this student and help her move to a place where she’s willing to risk looking bad in the eyes of the other students (or her own) in order to learn, you have two choices:

Say something. Challenge her to do better, privately or semi-privately, as you walk down the line reading targets. Withhold any positive comment about her group size or shot placement, and instead focus on her shooting speed: “You’re not pushing yourself enough. You’re shooting too slowly. I’d like to see you go at least 10% faster than you went before, and I think you can do that. Speed it up!” Sometimes, this student needs an explanation of the ‘wobble zone,’ and what it means to simply accept her human limitations and press the trigger smoothly so that she can speed up. Or she may need some other quick technical tip that gives her the tools she needs to trust her shots. Give those tips to her. As much as possible, as you talk with her, avoid giving her an ego boost for practicing the things she’s already good at. Instead, find ways to force her ego to ride on learning the new skill. (Then be sure to praise her for doing so!)

If more than one student seems to be resistant in the same way, you can call out the group as a whole. I often do this with groups of women: “One of the things I know about groups of women is that we often don’t shoot as fast as we really can, because we’re afraid of making mistakes. Right now, that’s not okay. Right now, our goal is to get about 80% of our hits inside the area we talked about. If you’re missing more than that, you should slow down to get better hits because that’s what you need to learn right now. But if you’re already skilled enough with accuracy to hit more than that on this drill, I want you to push against your limits so you can find out where they are. You can hit faster than you’re going right now! If you’re getting perfect little groups right now, you’re going too slow and I am not impressed with that right now. Right now, it’s okay to let a few shots hit paper outside our perfect area, as long as you’re going as fast as you really can. I will be impressed when I see you speed up. Go faster!”

Do something. Change up the drill to challenge this student indirectly, so that her ego will rest on her speed instead of on her group size – or it will rest on her speed as well as her group size. For this, I’m a big fan of a series of shooting exercises I call the Speed Up / Concentration Drill, learned from Marty Hayes at the Firearms Academy of Seattle. In this set of drills, students start with six rounds in each of three magazines. They begin by firing six shots, slow fire, while concentrating on the front sight and a smooth trigger press with good follow through. On command, they reload with another six rounds and are told, “If you were going 20 miles an hour before, speed up to around 35 miles an hour to fire the next six shots. You’re still going to do everything you were doing before – concentrate on the front sight, press the trigger smoothly, follow through – but you’re going to do it a little faster.” For the last magazine of six rounds, students are told to shoot as fast as they can hit: “Not as fast as you can shoot, but as fast as you can hit. You’re still going to do everything you were doing before – front sight, smooth trigger, follow through – but do it fast!” By forcing the entire line of shooters to work faster, the slow student begins to push her own speed so she can keep up with others. Make it even more powerful by recognizing and praising the students who finish fastest, so that egos ride on going faster.

“Take the risk of failure. Very little learning takes place when you succeed. Give yourself the benefit of failing. You learn when you fail. Fail magnificently!”
– John Farnam

There are other options that do the same thing. For example, you can take accuracy partially out of the equation by moving students closer to their targets. Or announce that it’s time to work on alternate indexes and tape up the sights. Look for things that will give her a “reason” to miss, an excuse she can use to shelter her ego as she works on her speed. This also often has the side effect of destroying the “perfect” target that’s currently slowing her down. To get the same result, you can swap used targets around between students, so that your perfect, slow shooter no longer shoots at a perfect little piece of cardboard with all the perfect tiny little pieces of tape in the perfect tiny little center, but instead has a visual that indicates some rounds have already gone outside that perfect little center. The presence of tape outside the “perfect” area indirectly gives her permission to miss a little in order to work on her speed.

Of course, sometimes this same basic problem happens the other way around: the student who prides himself on his speed at the expense of accuracy. He missed, but he was the fastest shooter on the line. For this shooter, his ego is invested in shooting super-fast, and he’s unwilling to slow down to get better hits or learn high-accuracy techniques that will help him in the long run. Give him a reason to slow down. Perhaps give him an anatomy lesson about the fist-sized human heart or tell him about the cranial hit zone that’s actually smaller than his iPhone. Put him in an uncomfortable shooting position that forces him to slow down and concentrate. Look for ways to force his ego to ride on his accuracy. When you change up drills for this shooter, try challenging him to be the slowest shooter on the line so that he can demonstrate his perfect trigger control for you.

Both the too-slow shooter and the too-fast one have something in common: they aren’t learning right now. They need information and they need a coherent understanding of what their shooting goals should be. They need to know why you want them to change it up – what’s in it for them? Learning something new is a risk, and often involves a blow to the ego. Give them a good reason to take that risk and make that change.

No matter what it looks like…
Regardless of how learning appears – whether it happens fast or slow, whether it comes with ease or takes a little more work, whether it looks like instant success or annoying failure or something in between – understanding what’s happening with different types of learning helps us do a better job as coaches and teachers. It helps us encourage and inspire our students to keep working hard when they might be tempted to give up in frustration or complacently rest on their laurels. As you work with your own students, you will soon learn to identify the different ways learning appears, and flex your teaching style to suit your students’ needs.

Handling a Haymaker Punch – Marc MacYoung

The simple answer is ‘See it coming and move.’

The not so simple answer is I just finished writing a 150 page e-book that covers this subject. It will be available next month. It’s called “Writing Violence IV: Defense” and it will be available for a whopping $2.99. I specifically go into some of why this kind of attack is so damned weird.

It’s weird because it’s both
a) the stupidest, most ineffective, amateurish, wasted movement, my grandmother hits harder attack, and
b) the one that freaks people out the most (and in freaking them out, THEY make the damned thing work)

Wait. What?
I’m not BSing you when I say that it is a stupid, clumsy and ridiculous attack — UNLESS the target does something specific. Then it works. The problem is that untrained people DO THAT SPECIFIC THING!

The power in this attack — and by that I don’t mean the force of the attack, but the psychological — is that it will make an untrained person freeze like a deer in the head lights.

Let me say that again and in a different way. The reason this kind of attack works is because untrained people STAND THERE and watch it come at them.

Any attack is designed to deliver maximum aggravation at a specific location (think GPS). This kind of wild swing, yelling, and bug eyed nonsense spooks untrained people into staying rooted to that spot. If they DO try to move, they try to back pedal. Which is unfortunately like seeing a train coming at you and trying to backpedal down the tracks. You’re still going to get hit by the damned train. Why? Because it can go forward faster down the tracks than you can go backwards down the tracks.

When I say move, I mean get off the damned tracks.
Wait until the guy gets close, then jump off the tracks. That is the fundamental strategy. Pretty much everything comes from there. If you can’t get off the tracks, you’re going to get hit. So pay attention to overcoming the natural reaction of deer in the headlights.

Second thing… well wait a minute, two things you have to know before the second thing not only really makes sense, but you can use the second thing when someone is trying to punch you.

Stand up and measure the distance between your eyebrows and the floor. Now lay that same distance down on the floor in front of you. That is your ‘attack range.’

That’s to say it’s the distance you can attack someone (barehanded) WITHOUT taking an additional step. Now I tell you about that because that is absolute distance someone can attack you at. And that’s someone who knows what he’s doing. From that distance and with his feet in just the right way he can land a kick. He moves and WHAM!!! Outside of that range the guy HAS to take extra steps to reach you.

In reality, most people can’t attack from that far out. So cut that distance in half and you get most people’s attack range. If they aren’t that close, they’re going to HAVE to walk over to being that close. You’re NOT fighting Reed Richards from the Fantastic Four who can stretch his arm and punch you across the street.

The other thing you need to know is a professional/experienced fighter will establish attack range BEFORE he launches his attack. An amateur will try to establish range AS he is attacking.
Putting that in other terms. An experienced attacker will slide into attack range and then WHAM!! He’ll nail you. This guy is actually MORE dangerous than the other guy because he doesn’t look scary until it’s too late.

An amateur will start his attack and charge into range to hit you. He’s relying on you freezing because he’s got this whole booga-booga-boo act going on.

So from a fighting perspective. You’re not looking at the guy’s fist. You’re looking at his feet. IS HE IN PUNCHING RANGE? If not, he can’t punch you. If yes, then you’d DAMNED well better be on the look out for him swinging on you.

Being able to recognize attack range gives you ALL kinds of time to spot when someone is about to attack. OR if he’s doing the booga-booga act to realize you have time to break the freeze because you haven’t been hit yet.

THAT’S the second thing of see it coming.
Start by keeping him outside of his attack range. (From his eyebrows to the floor.) This is where most inexperienced folks screw up (at least in the US) they’re so busy huffing, puffing and wagging their dicks around that either they let the other guy develop punching range or they’re the ding-a-ling who steps up INTO the other guy’s punching range to tell him to get out of their face. Then they’re caught with their dicks flapping in the wind when ‘unexpectedly’ get punched.

EXCUSE ME?! How can you be surprised that you got punched when YOU got up in his face? DUH!!!! Where it goes into sheer stupidity is “I didn’t see it coming.” Well if you weren’t so busy trying to scare him with how big your dick is, might have noticed you’d walked INTO his attack range.

Kinda hard to react in time when you’re busy doing the dumb.
That’s why I say “see it coming and move” are your two fundamentals. If you can’t accomplish those two fundamental requirements, then nothing else is going to do you any good.
Or as my favorite Mountain Man Rabbit Stew recipe reads. Step one: Catch a rabbit.

If you don’t have that first step, everything else that follows is meaningless.

Why Do We Do It? – Schalk Holloway

I’ve seen some of the looks in people’s faces when I tell them I teach close combat for a living.

There are different types of looks; some of these looks lean towards the positive and others toward the negative. One of them I frequently get is this litle frown coupled with a tad of confusion, as if to ask why would anyone do that for a living? Why would you teach people to hurt or kill other human beings? Why would you break your body week after week and year after year for what is usually not that big of an income? Why would you do this knowing that your retirement prospects probably don’t look that good? Why would you spend most of your life purposely focused on negative things like violence, aggression, crime, injury and death?

This question of why is important. Why do we do what we do?

What Happens When We Forget?

The question is important because if we don’t answer it clearly we run into problems:

The first things to go are usually our peace and our joy. We tend to become frustrated human beings. We mostly try to hide this frustration but it always seeps through – classes are a bit tougher, patience is a bit thinner, how we interact with our students and our clients go slightly off. This is not good. And this is the reason that I’m writing this specific article for CRGI. I have found too many instructors with unresolved inner conflict. Instructors that are not at peace with themselves and that have subsequently lost their own personal joy. It is difficult to teach others how to resolve conflict if you are constantly struggling with your own. And many times, for me at least, my inner conflict stemmed from the fact that I lost touch with why I’m doing what I’m doing. Purpose brings peace.

Other times we lose focus on what we should be trying to achieve. Instead of delivering the best training that we humanly can we start to focus on things like income and money. Our focus gradually shifts and the acquisition of students slowly starts to dominate our thoughts. Without realizing it we commercialize and turn into marketing gurus and salesmen. Not a problem when in balance with the rest of your business priorities – big problem when it becomes our main priority. I doubt any of us started our careers as martial arts instructors because we wanted to get rich quick. And yes, I understand the need for income is real, and yes, I understand the pressure of when the books don’t balance at the end of the month.

Some of us pull through these seasons of frustration and financial struggle. Others lose their passion completely and throw in the towel. Job satisfaction comes from three things: Knowing what you should be doing, knowing why you’re doing it, and knowing how to do it well. Let’s have a look at that all important question: Why are we doing what we’re doing?

Five Factors that Motivate Martial Arts Teachers
Some of us are in it because we simply progressed through our systems. This is an interesting point because you could have progressed through your system, become an instructor, but not really be a teacher in terms of your calling and or gifting. I have so much respect for any person that has mastered their art – but are you a teacher in your heart? Any person can learn to teach; skills can be acquired by anyone. But not all people should teach. If teaching drains you instead of energizing you then maybe it’s not for you. Not a criticism – just a fact of life.

Some of us are in it because our personalities do well with being in the limelight. I personally don’t like the limelight but I have friends who literally thrive in it. They’re not immature about it. It’s just that they’ve been hardwired to get energy from being there. So they actively seek opportunities where they can be in the limelight. What about you? Is this the only reason that you’re an instructor? Have you made the effort to mature and acquire the skills required to back up your personality?

Some of us are in it because of the opportunity to master our art. Certain individuals are strongly driven to master the activities that they are involved in. I know everyone wants to be good at what they do. But certain people can’t settle for good – they want to master. Teaching and instructing becomes a new method for your own personal growth. It forces you to engage with the art from a completely new perspective – one of creatively and effectively helping others to grow. The big caveat with this form of motivation is that many times it’s individuals with a type A or strongly task orientated temperament that displays this drive to perfection. Individuals that can easily become a dick when things aren’t going their way. So mastering is great – but you need to be a nice guy and a good teacher as well.

Some of us are in it because of the violence hovering under the surface. This can be a great motivator. The discipline and physicality of the fighting arts becomes our path to self control and expending the aggresion that some of us so frequently struggle with. It’s a forgotten fact that males primarily unload aggressive emotions through gross motor movement. The dark side of this motivator is that we sometimes unload these emotions onto other human beings. We use our martial art as a way of hurting because we ourselves are still hurt. This is especially destructive in instructors as they can easily start to damage students through verbal, emotional and physical abuse.

Some of us are in it because we have been called to protect. I firmly believe this to be first a human calling, then a male calling and lastly a very personal individual calling. Somewhere alongside the development of the human rights movement we have forgotten the very human idea of responsiblity to protect. Many, especially in the Western world, seem to think it’s solely the police and the military’s job to protect us. That’s great, I’m thankful for a standing force of brave men and women that have got our backs, but where have we forgotten that for millenia past it was our own individual responsibility to protect ourselves, our famlies and our micro and macro communities? There are some of us who deeply feel this responsibility and have been called to nuture this passion in others as well.

What Motivates You?
Maybe you should put some thought into why you are doing what you’re doing. Why did you start on this journey? What significant indicators were there during your life that can remind you why you should still be on this path?

For me personally – it’s about protection. I hate fear. I hate the crippling effect it has on people. It steals from them. Once a person starts to struggle with fear it’s like it grows tentacles. It’s crippling effects slowly start to take hold of every area of their lives. They lose their boldness and their authenticity. Honesty, business, risk, relationships, love – everything starts to suffer due to fear. And so I also hate violent crime – as it deals in fear. It buys with fear and it pays with fear. This is why I do what I do. I have the ability and opportunity to help others push back against violent crime in my country; I can help them deal with the fear associated with and left behind by violent crime. And in doing so I have the opportunity to free them up to live full lives. Lives filled with joy, peace and success.

Oh yes, and I really really like fighting as well.

What about you? What motivates you? My wish is that you may you rediscover your motivation and that that rediscovery will help you to be a more peaceful, joyous and above all – focused – instructor.

The Crowd by Gustave Le Bon – Reviewed by Garry Smith

I first came across this book in my studies at the University of Warwick in a class called Social and Political Movements taught by Professor Jim Beckford. Jim was a great tutor and a really nice guy to boot, his classes were always looked forward to although his rigorous analysis of ideas may upset some of today’s precious petals. The first class looked at the work of Le Bon and his study of the psychological nature of crowds. I remember liking it at the time but feeling that it was just too much guess work and overtly influenced by the authors experience of a turbulent and frightening period of French history.

That was back in September 1990, much water has passed under the bridge since then, so why come back to it now? Well it all comes back to a conversation with Rory early in 2015 about ConCom and the triune brain and I mentioned Le Bon and his theory. The simple analysis is that once subsumed in a crowd an individual surrenders their individuality and a psychological mind is formed through contagion, emotions spread throughout the crowd and freed from individual responsibility the baser instincts take over. The individual ceases to think about the consequences of their actions as emotions take over and acts of both barbarity and heroism are possible. Le Bon describes the ‘spinal cord’ as being in control and not the intellectually reasoning brain.

Ring any bells? Well it rang mine. The thing is in the PC days of the 90’s this became a bit of an Aunt Sally, by the students that is, to be fair Jim used it in its historical context to begin a much wider and deeper exploration of the subject at hand. For the students, fresh out of some of the top schools in the UK, it was to be belittled, corny, out of date, lacking in evidence etc. I was 31, I had been involved in a lot of crowd violence involving a full on riot with flaming barriers, thousands of people mobilised and hand to hand fighting with specially trained units of riot police, plus the occasional football riot, I thought differently.

Though written in a voice from a different age and though the criticisms raised were in part valid, it was not enough to write it off as a whole, I thought all along there was something of value here, by its presence on his curriculum so did Prof Beckford (nice man but a Spurs fan, sigh).

In his book ‘The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt revives the work of several theorists who were also sacrificed at the stake of political correctness and shows how resulting evidence almost conclusively provides the evidence they lacked which allowed the ‘PC mob to grab their pitchforks and light their torches. I am not claiming that much for Le Bon but he sure saw something the others did not want to see.

There is another parallel I want to draw with Haidt’s work that also prompted me to go back to Le Bon, Le Bon was here first and Haidt never heard of him, or if he did he never recognised him.

Maybe because Le Bon was last in some pseudo academic backwater is what I would think, forgotten and unloved. However, I suggest you go get your free copy from Kindle now, read it, read it in the full and tell me that it does not describe how the world is today. As I reread it I saw all the arguments, and candidates, in the forthcoming presidential election in the USA, it frames the rise of Islamic State, I will not prime you too much but this is a really interesting read.

There are bits that lack intellectual rigour, it is more polemic than analysis and his biases are obvious, BUT, that is not a reason to ignore it. Go get a copy and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thoughts on the Taharrush Trend – Toby Cowern

Since the media coverage of collective sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany on New Years Eve, more and more media outlets are discussing the Taharrush Trend and it’s (potential) impact on Europe and elsewhere.

Now, while it is a worthwhile discussion to have, especially given the desperate need for accurate assessment of the impact of unchecked mass immigration currently happening in many areas of the world, there was one aspect of the dialogue, I feel, is missing.

Before I go into detail, let’s just briefly surmise what ‘Taharrush’ is. Typically, a large gathering of men (Germany saw a gathering of 1000+ Men) will collectively form at a well-attended event or busy public place. In the formation of this crowd a woman will find herself separated from her friends, or just be out alone, she then finds herself encircled by a large group of men who grope her breasts, genitals and buttocks. Attempts are made to pull or cut her clothes off, and her body is pulled in different directions as men move her through the crowd. A short example here; Women regularly report digital penetration of the vagina and anus. Attackers have used sticks, knives and blades, and in several cases sharp objects have been inserted into the victim’s vagina.

The size and disposition of the crowd makes it exceptionally challenging for bystanders or authorities to effectively ‘rescue’ victims trapped within the confines of the crowd, meaning assaults can be brief or last for an extended period of time, with a woman being repeatedly assaulted by different parties for the duration.

Now, while certainly if this is a ‘rising phenomenon’ it should be one that we as self-defense instructors monitor and understand to the best of our ability. With that said, what do I think is missing in the discussion?

While the focus since the attacks that occurred over New Year’s Eve (The incident in Cologne, was just one of many) has been to discuss the motivation of the attacks, I see little or no investigation into the organization of the group. To muster a thousand people, quickly and in a coordinated manner, to then ‘ring fence’ an area to deny the victims a chance to escape is something that should not be overlooked.

If we think back to the peak days of football related violence, crews would spend days if not weeks, carefully planning ‘meets’ to fight rival firms often using elaborate messages and codes to ensure the meet could go down without the police being alerted.  Imagine if a football firm could quickly muster enough people to outnumber AND out maneuver the police!?!

Certainly technology plays a large part, but in combination, in this instance, with language being the ‘code’ that makes it difficult to anticipate what is going to happen and where. One of the ‘delicate’ items of discussing Taharrush in the media, is it is clearly aimed at the current ‘migrant situation’ and largely identifying them as the perpetrators. I am not interested to turn this article into a political discussion, but suffice to say the overwhelming amount of witness testimony highlights the vast majority of the perpetrators are identified as of ‘foreign origin’ mostly of Middle Eastern or African appearance. It is still early days in assessing this ‘trend’ but so far the vast majority of incidents reported all carry a very similar demographic makeup.

It should be noted a vast majority of the migrants entering Europe have done so via extensive smuggling networks which are well organized and deliver time sensitive information primarily via social media. This was seen at unprecedented levels during the emergency ‘border closures’ in the latter half of 2015. Suffice to say, it is not surprising that even after arriving in a ‘safe’ country many people still use, monitor and communicate through these established networks.  Now while this technology can and has been used for a large amount of ‘good’ we also can see it’s potential to be ‘hijacked’ for less well-intentioned means.

Given the large numbers of people currently being kept in poor conditions and suffering with anxiety and boredom waiting for their asylum claims to be processed, and being exposed to significantly different cultures, all with very little forethought to their education and integration from the various governments that ‘invited’ them, we should be swift in acknowledging, identifying and investigating potential new trends or threats as they emerge.

While awareness and avoidance are the cornerstones of defense, the fact these crowds can be so coordinated to ‘appear’ so quickly, means a situation can develop and escalate exceptionally fast. Many of us train with our students to deal with ‘worst case scenarios’, typically ‘more than one attacker’ which is an exceptional challenge to defend from. But rarely do we think in attacker numbers of tens or even hundreds… The events have already transpired to show this is now a potential scenario and the lack of successful prosecution or even authorities (by their own admission) having the adequate means to reduce the chance of these crowds forming again in the future mean it is advisable for us as instructors to assess and identify the solutions to these problems and impart them too our students.

As of right now we have seen coordinated assembly of large groups largely for these sexually motivated type of attacks. But knowing there is ‘strength in numbers’ and acknowledging there is likely to be increased polarization of opinion in a lot of European countries, it’s good to be aware of the potential for large numbers to gather at very short notice in a well-coordinated manner.

To caveat in conclusion. I empathize greatly with the situation many of the asylum seekers and migrants find themselves in and have been a clear advocate of caring for people as they arrive in their new host countries, but demanding far greater, well thought out and delivered policies from the governments that have so far monumentally mismanaged this situation. Yes, during my extensive volunteer work with many of the asylum seekers I acknowledge the vast majority just want a ‘quiet life’. All that said, we cannot ignore the reality of certain deteriorating situations or allow the discussion to get hijacked by politics or political correctness.

I have briefly touched on one potentially ‘newly emerging’ trend today, as an example of needing to keep constantly alert to notable changes in the areas we live and the societies we occupy. Mass migration has occurred many time in the history of humanity and can bring great benefits and rewards but also new trends and challenges. It is our responsibility to stay informed on our student’s behalf AND to offer measured and informed assessment of the developing situations we may see.

Simple Skills versus Complex skills. Is there a winner? – Kevin O’Hagan

In this article I am going to play devil’s advocate on a particular topic in the world of Martial arts that is regularly mentioned. I hope it will be thought provoking and spark interest and thoughts on the matter.

In the myriad of ‘reality based’ systems these days we hear many instructors preaching that in a real situation we should only use gross motor skills to defend ourselves as anything more complex will fail under pressure. Rising heart rate is blamed for this happening and when it reaches anywhere between 120 to 145 beats per minute fine motor skills begin to deteriorate and anything above that complex skills start to go. So the word is keep it simple and you will have more chance of success. Sound advice?Maybe?

But who is that advice for? Is this gospel? Does all the evidence available point to this fact?

Many studies have been done on this topic, particularly in military circles. In 1950 S.L.A Marshall’s, ‘the soldier load and mobility of a nation’, were the first to document performance deterioration under stress. Later Bruce.K.Siddle’s landmark research at PPCT took this further.

But now there is much evidence out there to argue the research. So is it true or not?

I want to give my humble opinion on this subject from my own findings. It is not set in stone but I can only speak from my own experiences and many of my colleagues and Martial arts brothers and sisters.

Well I have certainly preached the gross motor skills theory on more than one occasion and there is a lot of truth in this statement. I will tell you later to whom and why I preached it. But if this statement is totally true where that does put the Martial artist that trains day in day, month in month out, year in year?

This person has been working relentlessly on collecting and training a vast repertoire of techniques. They have worked their way up the belt ranks. They are instructor certified. Each day they train religiously working on a particular topic or technique. But if we took the previous statement about gross motor skills as read then what are they training so hard for?

If their ‘reality based’ cousins tell them that only simple, basis, gross motor skills will work in combat why are they bothering doing all the other stuff ? Maybe we should knock it on the head and just practise hammer fist and knee strikes. Job done!

Surely what we train in we believe we can make work in a real situation? All those years of learning kicks, strikes, locks, throws, groundwork and most of it won’t stand up in a ‘fight’.

Shit what a waste of time and effort. All that money invested. All that blood, sweat and tears.  You should have been practicing half a dozen basic moves, because that is about all that is going to work in reality. Fuck I have been cheated and all these so called Masters have played me like a fiddle! I am gutted….But wait….

I know firsthand of individuals who have knocked people out in ‘real fights’ with a spinning back kick or smashed them into the dirt with a shoulder throw. I know dozens of people who have taken others out with triangle headlocks, arm bars, wristlocks and chokes. But how could they? These are not gross motor skills. Surely these are fine motor skills, maybe even complex motor skills. So what is going on? Who is right?

Well let’s examine what I believe to be a Martial Artist. Anything that has art in its title must suggest that it is reaching for the highest levels of excellence. It is striving to be an art form.

Let’s take another view of this. An individual informs you they paint for a living do you presume they paint houses or portraits? Yes they are both forms of painting but one carries a greater degree of skill than the other. Could Rembrandt paint a door? Probably. But he also had the fine skills to paint a masterpiece on canvas. He didn’t limit himself to just painting a bowl of fruit. His belief system told him he could achieve much more. Surely as Martial Artist we should be working on the same thought process.

If fighting skills didn’t progress beyond just gross motor all our martial arts systems would be still  based on hitting somebody else over the head with a big ‘fuck off’ rock. Surely we have come forward more than that?

If I believed that the only things that will work in a ‘live’ unarmed combat situation was a kick in the balls or a punch on the jaw, how often would I have to train those skills. Every day? Five years? Ten years? More?  I don’t think so.

But if I wanted to apply wristlocks and arm locks to a real live resisting opponent or take them down with a hip throw, sweep or double leg, then that would require more time and more practise but it can be done. This is what makes champions. This is what they do.

To state only gross motor skills work under extreme pressure and the adrenal rush is doing all the Martial artists a big injustice as many can prove otherwise.

But you can counter argue many Martial artists have been beaten in the ‘street’ by an average street fighter. This is true and really warrants another article of its own. But suffice to say, it was probably more to do with playing in somebody’s backyard and not realising or understanding their rules than just the techniques not working.

But if the gross motor skill statement was solely true then how can a musician come out on stage in front of 1000’s of people and play a faultless piano or violin concerto. There is a shit load of pressure and adrenalin there.

What about the chef creating a masterpiece meal in front of the television cameras or a master tennis player coming out on centre court 2 sets down in the final and being able to come back and win the next 3.Isn’t this all pressure? What about the formula one racing driver zooming around the track at 200 mph? Or the skydiver?

If only gross motor skills worked under pressure how would our fire fighters or our military operate effectively?

Maybe the answer lies in time?

I think a more accurate summary would be if an individual had limited time to learn how to defend themselves, then simple gross motor skills are the way to go, no doubt.

If you were teaching a 6, 8 or 12 week self defence course then gross motor skills would be on the top of the agenda. This is when I have used this principle the most.

Systems such as for example Krav Maga were originally designed for soldiers with limited time to learn C,Q.B skills before going into war. They didn’t have the luxury of years of training so they had to learn something relatively simple that could be picked up in a short space of time. Gross motor skills will always be the easiest to learn.

The same can be said for our Police force. They get limited time to practise complex unarmed combat skills, so under pressure they are more likely to go for their baton or C.S gas than a wristlock or armbar.

But if you were going to open a club to teach week in week out based only on this theory how long would it be before people got bored with just practicing that knee to the balls or poke in the eye? Pretty soon you will start adding the intricacies of combination strikes, grappling or weapon work.

Do all these instructors that promote gross motor skills not train in any other aspects of the combat arts?

If you didn’t most people would eventually give up training or want to learn some more advanced skills.

So maybe we are padding out the skills and syllabus for money not fighting techniques? Oh dear what a thought.

If you are a Martial artist and prepared to devote a massive part of your life to training then you will be able to apply more advanced techniques and fine motor skills. As long as you have pressure tested them correctly and you have the right mental attitude then you can make anything work. Also you will require the patience and passion to stick around long enough to get to train them.

Back in the early days of the UFC you wouldn’t have thought you would have seen jumping spinning back kicks and backfists or flying armbars used with any success but these days we do. Why? Because somebody has decided to practise them and pressure test them to death to make them work. They have the vision and belief. They did not set limitations on themselves.

What does it take to achieve these things?  Time,effort,skill and belief. It depends on what sort of person you are. Do you want to read the book or wait for the film?

If we want to accelerate our martial arts training for example but can’t devote day in day out training how can we make the most of it and feel we are progressing towards our goals?

Experts reckon it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill or subject.

There are 8,760 hours available to us in a year. Take all the things we need to do outside of our training and we roughly have 3,500 hours left.

So how can we achieve?

Firstly 10,000hours is working to perfection. Don’t mistake this with excellent, very good; good, decent, not bad or OK…They are not the same thing by any means.

View 10,000 hours as a goal to work towards, an incentive. A journey begins with the first step or 10,000hours begins with the first minute. Time to start now.

If you don’t want to devote the time to be a Martial artist but would like to learn the rudiments of effective physical self defence techniques, gross motor skills are the way to go. If you want to stick around for the bigger picture you can certainly add more to your fighting skills.

Whatever skills you wish to learn the keys are to drill,drill,drill. Then pressure test in the type of environment you want them to work in (street, cage, contest mat, on the doors, etc etc).Understand and feel adrenalin and learn to work with it. Time is the key.

Proper training, time and effort can achieve great things. History proves that. Yes maybe not everybody will achieve these high levels of skill but I believe that’s what every Martial artist is trying to do when they step out on the mats every day, year after year. That is the goal and that’s what keeps them coming back for more, learning new stuff and pushing for higher levels of skill just like the musician, the painter, the sculpture, the poet, the writer etc.

To achieve a high level of competence in anything you have got to be prepared to work your ass off and sacrifice all. Most won’t. It is a big ask to be truly a champion, a winner and a success.

There are different levels of skill and depending on how much work you want to put in to your chosen field will determine what you will get out of it.

When I have a beginner come to my class I will teach to them simple, gross motor skills to start with but as time progresses and they improve I will gradually give them more technique to work on the same as you would do in any hobby, job or past time. Isn’t this were a syllabus comes into play?

Learning to knockout somebody doesn’t take a lot of physical training. Most people would be able to develop the power and technique to do so within an hour. Having the mental capacity and knowing when and how to deliver with proper timing will take much longer. That having said it wouldn’t take years. If this was your sole aim then there are martial arts systems certainly out there better equipped than others to do this and in a shorter space of time.

It will depend really on whether you just want fighting techniques to blast somebody off the planet if they get in your face or whether you wish to become a student and eventually master of a martial art.

Yes there are some Martial artists out there living in ‘cloud cuckoo land’ and practising the biggest load of bollocks on the planet but there are also many out there that are truly great and can make the most complex of techniques work for them under pressure. I have been fortunate to train with a great many.

This is why I am proud to call myself a Martial artist and continue after 40 years to keep honing my skills. I can also call myself a fighter because I have been there and done a bit.

I have immense respect for all the arts and for the people that have spent a life time in them. I may not agree with everything they say or do but I still respect them.

Much over the last 20 years has been written about how to train Martial arts technique more effectively and the explosion of MMA and its like has dispelled many myths that were carried around in those circles.

Simplistic skills are always going to be the easiest to learn and use but I believe with dedicated practise more complex skills can work and can start beginning that person’s simple skills. This is the foundation of all the Martial arts and their syllabus. For example a judoka’s Osoto gari to a layman is a complex skill but to the judoka it is a ‘bread and butter’ move. Can they make it work? Sure they can. They have done it dozens of time in contest. Could they make it work on the street? You bet. I have seen it.

In conclusion I sum up once again by saying that yes there are other important elements to add to the mix but essentially the length of time training a technique is one of the major keys to making it work under pressure regardless what that technique is.