Book Review: ‘Rules of Engagement: A Life in Conflict’ by Tim Collins – Garry Smith

This is an epic read and thoroughly interesting and entertaining in equal measure. As former head of the SAS and as commander of the First Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment he describes dealing with murderous terrorists in Ireland, the West Side Boys in Sierra Lone to the invasion of Iraq with clarity and some humour.

A compassionate man by nature he is also fiercely dedicated to achieving the mission he is set. He has a wonderful grasp of the importance of culture, religion and sets incredible examples of peaceful conflict management in some very frightening places where there is little respect for life from some people.

Tim Collins embodies the diplomatic warrior, his skill lies in using soft skills first and foremost but there is an iron hand ready to follow if that does not work. He has proved himself to be an expert negotiator and strategist but honestly discusses the things that went wrong. He clearly commanded the loyalty of his forces as those who lead by example do.

This book is a behind the scenes look at how modern war is waged, it is very different than what we see on the news. What struck me was the complexity of the operations and the scale of everything and yet Collins was still able to focus on the individual be it friend or foe. The book itself is epic in scale and gripping, a real page turner.

For me this was a great read. Tim Collins made a legendary speech to his troops as they prepared to cross over into Iraq, I do not have the original but here is a recreation by no other than the great Shakespearian actor Kenneth Branagh.

Collins is one of that rare breed of men who wears his heart, alongside the Union Jack, on his sleeve. A gentleman and a scholar.

Read the book, it is a cracker. This man should be Prime Minister but that is just my opinion.

Review by Garry Smith.

Facebook Quote of the Month – Bradley Welsh

This UWCB (Ultra White Collar Boxing) mob are going to get someone killed….

16 hrs training in a hall, with no Boxing Coach is not enough to then throw someone into a boxing ring, add to that they don’t adhere to matching opponents by similar weights and levels of Experience, all combining to create the most dangerous life threatening EVENT…….. this money making model is a CIRCUS… a complete joke, masquerading as a Charity event…. CANCER RESEARCH is nothing more than a business paying its employees and CEOs millions of pounds yearly…. it’s been researching cancer for over 150 years FFS …… it’s greed knows no boundaries… allowing young men and woman to be thrust into danger on a weekly basis in pursuit of financial gain….. for the record UWCB does not pay 1 penny to Cancer Research….. nope it’s YOU the MUG taking part in this LIFE THREATENING CIRCUS that gets all your friends and family to donate the monies they claim to have donated……. they UWCB sit back and take the Ticket Money you gave them for themselves…. money from your friends and family as they cheer you on, baying for the blood of your likewise untrained unevenly matched , heavier or lighter opponent…. ???

Someone is going to die…. a brain clot incident earlier in the year…. hundreds of Knock-outs and concussions…. now this ( just for the record… in thousands of Amateur Boxing Contests up and down the country yearly… there is no such injuries… because it’s PROPER BOXING PEOPLE running it with codes of practices in place to facilitate it…. as we have done for decades under the stringent AIBA rules and regulations.

If you know someone in Scotland, taking part in one of these GLOSSY PROMOTED easy access ( it appears to be Free but costs all your family and friends money and you perhaps your life ) then it’s more than likely that even after you show them this …. they will still do it… ( that’s my Experience in the past on warning people ) they are caught by the cancer lie but in the most are deluding themselves and won’t pull out…. I have a message for anyone signed up or considering…

Boxing is not this easy… you are fooling nobody but yourself…. proper boxing people LAUGH at this UWCB and see it’s set up and designed for people, somewhat lacking… in what I’m not sure…. but if you want to box… there’s hundreds of proper boxing gyms in our communities…. GO DO IT PROPERLY and not make a fool of yourself…. sorry but that’s how it is…. it’s by calling out the people who do this as well as the UWCB CIRCUS that will eventually stop this, giving the government don’t care and while unscrupulous INSURANCE COMPANIES like BLUEFIN give them dubious insurance policies on the basis of self accredited details… it’s going to take a death to shine a bright enough light on this to unpick the lies and failures to adhere to basic boxing rules.

Now anyone who would wish to disagree with the above, please. You only qualify to comment here If you have at least 25 years of specific boxing Experience… I’m not interested in your opinion or defence of this because you had a jolly old time having your ego rubbed when you took part in your mis-matched spectacle.

Strong words for a Wednesday morning as the kids go back to school….. yup this summer I took Amateur boxing training to some 2600 Edinburgh kids…. I’m sure to have these Clowns destroy what I work hard to build.

Please take a moment to Tag in people who might be considering this and also our brothers and sisters in the REAL BOXING WORLD… it’s your duty to your sport to speak out against this Circus

In sport and community…/dad-34-nearly-killed-after-130821…

Bradley Welsh
Former ABA Lightweight Champion ( 1993 )

40 years in Boxing

As Boxer / Coach / Promoter

Just finished kids initiative in Edinburgh delivering Free Boxing Classes in 12 communities for kids 2600 participated in partnership with Boxing Scotland Ltd .

The Rory Miller Interview Part 5 – Elie Edme

English version reprinted in Conflict Manager and on CRGI website with kind permission from Corps Global.

Rory – Do you have any tips for how to cope with this aftermath (besides seeing a qualified professional) as a civilian who just went trough an episode of brutal violence?

Rory – Some. Remember I’m not a counselor or clinical psychologist, but I definitely have some opinions.

Long before the event, know yourself. Know where you draw the line for right and wrong, what you could do and could or could not live with. What you would rather risk a beating, your life, or your health rather than tolerate. And don’t romanticize any of this. It’s easy to fantasize about dying in a noble cause. Don’t forget that only some people die. Some are blind or condemned to wheelchairs or shitting into a colostomy bag.

If you ever have a use of force, you will either be the good guy or the bad guy. The more solid you are in your knowledge (not bullshit belief or rationalization) that you acted as the good guy, the better you will recover.

After the event, let yourself be okay. It’s actually kind of weird that society thinks this is supposed to be traumatic. This is how many of our ancestors lived to be our ancestors. Anyway, your feelings are yours. There are no wrong feelings. If you’re dealing with it pretty well, don’t let anybody convince you that you’re supposed to be messed up.

There’s a growth/assimilation process afterwards. I don’t want to call it healing. That implies you’re broken. It’s more a recalibration. In this process, don’t mistake process for pathology. For instance, dreams are one of the ways our subconscious processes events. If those events were bad, you can expect some bad dreams. Bad dreams aren’t a problem, they are a sign of healing. So if you medicate— or self-medicate with alcohol— to bypass the dreams, you also risk losing the healing benefits.

You will change. Big events change you and there’s no going back. It’s not a big deal. You’ve changed before. Your first taste of violence is usually far less profound than falling in love the first time or having a child. But, because violence is more rare, we think the aftermath is more intense. It’s not, it just feels that way because we usually have fewer people to guide us through the process.

I think the people who are most damaged are the ones who decide that who they were before the event was the “real” them, and they try to get back to that. You can’t go back. But you can grow forward, and grow into something stronger.

If you need help, like a professional therapist, absolutely get help. Look for someone who will listen and not judge. If you get the slightest feeling that your counselor is using your experience to work out their own issues, get another therapist.

Elie – Would you have some insights about a remedy or a solution, from an individual and a collective standpoint, to world violence? (Tough question I know, it’s just to put things into perspective :D)

Rory – It’s not a tough question, it’s a stupid question (sorry). Remedy implies it’s a problem. Take a look at the sun. The sun is an unshielded atomic fire, something that would never be allowed in any industrial setting. It causes skin cancer, burns, and eye problems. It also feeds the plants that feed all other animals. It makes the wind and water move. It evaporates the water to make the rain fall. You would never consider seeking a remedy for the sun.

Violence is similar. It’s a primary element and driver of nature. It’s the way animals are nourished. It’s a tool, and if we decide only bad people can use violence, we cede the world to bad people because the will to do violence becomes a super-power when it is rare.

For the most part, the answer to violence is in the nature of violence itself. It’s a high-risk, costly strategy. That’s why animals freeze first, and then run, and only after freezing and running have both failed do they fight. (Hunting is a different thing).

So violence is always in the background, but humans are coming up with better strategies all the time. Trade gets almost all of the benefits of war without the risk, cost or damage. It was technology that shifted slavery from the economic necessity it was to the morally repugnant act it is.

Violence will decrease whenever humans use their cleverness to come up with safer, easier strategies to accomplish the same goals. But it will not go away, not as long as we have anything like nature.

Haven’t you ever wondered at the irony— the only way to get a perfectly peaceful society is to kill all the people who disagree with that goal. And then create a mechanism to kill anyone who figures out violence after that.

Elie – What link do you make (if you do) between your experience of violence and spirituality?

Rory – I had a really strong spiritual training long before I got into a force profession, so taking that out of it, most of what I learned from violence echoed with Buddhism. I can’t remember who said, “Nothing clears one’s mind as much as being shot at” but I have to agree.

In the instant, you have to be a perfect animal, mind, body and spirit working together as a single entity. No voices in your head, no doubts, no hesitations. That is an immensely powerful feeling.

In the aftermath, and especially over multiple exposures, you realize how few things are important. When people have tried to stab you, someone calling you a bad name doesn’t mean anything. Violence orders your priorities. Once you know what’s precious, you also know that 90% of everything is bullshit.

You see things as they are, without attribution. Attribution are the things you add on. This echoes with the Buddhist attachments. If a blade is coming at your belly, that’s the only fact. You can’t waste any brain power on “why” or whether or not the guy trying to stab you is a bad person. Or whether good and evil exist. Or any of that. Because it’s all bullshit.

And, if you can hold onto the mental space it’s still all bullshit even when no one is stabbing you. Judging, rationalizations—all attributions. Attachments. Bullshit.


Take What You Can Afford Part 2 – Jake Goldstein

So what can we learn from this, and extrapolate about how road rage incidents (or really any conflict or negative social interaction for that matter) unfold? I think most people would agree that the way someone reacted to my wife’s admittedly passive aggressive (though by today’s standards, not unreasonable) reaction to being cut off in traffic was extremely far off of reasonable or normal. Let’s call this an outlier. What would a rational person do? Do nothing and keep driving? Act surprised and apologetic? Probably respond in kind is the most likely, but all of those seem well within the realm of possibility. But that’s not what happened at all. Instead the reaction was extremely disproportionate to the perceived slight. There was certainly no regard for the safety of anyone on the road. It was a single-minded emotional overreaction to get “the last word” and feel vindicated. There was certainly no sense of mission, as advocated by Varg Freeborn.

My purpose in all this isn’t to pick on or berate my wife, but to force her to start thinking through her choices and courses of action so she never has to experience anything like this again, ideally. If I’m being honest though, the more likely best outcome I can hope for is simply better preparing her to respond appropriately when it does. That means managing the situation through more effective setting of boundaries and a happy medium of enforcement of them per Erik Kondo’s model, as well as understanding and defining mission. What is the ultimate desired end state? How does each choice we make advance toward that?

So let’s return to the concept of what you can afford. Let’s think of the sum total of everything you are and possess to bring to life’s situations (“the fight”, if you will) as a bank account. You make deposits by what you invest in yourself. Your choices often cost you something, which we will call withdrawals. How much of a reserve do you have? I will take the analogy one step further. Just as a wise investor will diversify their financial assets, your skill-set and tools should be diversified as well.

It is important to have self-awareness. What tools have you made available to yourself? Again, what investments have you made? This takes the form of not just the physical items you carry with you, but also the training, conditioning, and inoculation you have gained from experience. The more well rounded your portfolio is, the more potential solutions are available to you, which in turn increases your likelihood of finding a suitable solution that leads to a desired outcome. The problem is when you only carry a hammer everything begins to look like a nail. Simply being completely unequipped is also a non starter. Both can be equally bad.

My wife is a rather petite, diminutive woman. Despite her intelligence and common sense, she has virtually no training, conditioning, or inoculation relevant to the issue at hand. I think her rather naïve reaction to what happened makes that fairly evident. It seemed to exist outside of her frame of reference that anyone would behave in such a manner. What should you deduce from this? She probably shouldn’t be engaging anyone where there is any viable alternative. She doesn’t project anything remotely aggressive or otherwise threatening. What does this mean? She doesn’t typically engage people in the same way as, say, someone like me. On the other hand, there are those that look for victims, people who present soft targets on a cursory evaluation. I guess this all begs the question of what is more likely to invite conflict. I suppose the short answer is both equally. It depends largely on the very specific circumstances and with whom you are dealing, even down to particular stages in the process where the wrong course of action or approach can make things worse. Over and under enforcement of boundaries are both huge problems.

How do you know at what level you are operating? Well in truth you really do not know for sure. The best thing you can do is develop your skills to take a read on people and situations. Beyond that, you’ll generally know when a situation is not improving toward a positive resolution and is even likely worsening. That means it is time to adjust and/or change tack. Would the outcome of an otherwise identical situation have changed had I been in it instead of her? It is tough to know for certain, at least in terms of the factor that is furthest from my control. That is to say, the other party always gets a vote. Would he have backed down or been deterred seeing me as a harder target? Or would that have simply provoked more escalation? I know I would have made the choices presented to me differently, but there are so many variables that we get to choose and some not that can completely alter the course at any time.

People who appear to be victims on the surface benefit even more than others from weapons as equalizers. Unfortunately the sword is double edged, so to speak, in reality. Weapons in play increase the risk of any encounter and raise the stakes. They cannot be discounted, especially vehicles. Yes, your vehicle is a weapon that is just as dangerous as any instrument purposely designed as such. We live in this day and age where the conversation about violence revolves around guns and seems to default to that, especially in the United States. What’s to stop someone who is angry over a traffic dispute from ramming the target of their rage or running them off the road? What if said target doesn’t expect it, or is driving something much smaller that can’t withstand or contend with the weapon being deployed against them?

There are a couple of other points about vehicles that demand consideration where conflict is concerned. The first is about both communications and judging intentions. All you can see of someone in a vehicle is typically from about the chest or shoulders upward. You often can’t see their hands or what is in their vehicle. Now add to this the proliferation of tinted windows to obscure even more, and the fact that you are both variably in motion much of the time. It is a very impersonal, almost detached experience as compared to a face to face interaction within personal space. What this can create is a lack of empathy, understanding, and sound communication. There is simply no context for anyone else’s behaviour. This makes it far easier to misread someone’s actions and escalate into hostilities. It also makes it much harder to correctly perceive capabilities and intentions should that happen. Think about the challenges of managing an unknown contact, and now add all these further complications. Talk about muddying the waters in the already complex process of making a reasonable determination of how you should defend yourself.

The final piece of this puzzle is your own discipline and self-control. Effective strategy based boundary setting is as much about oneself as those around you. Read the situation. Take your own ego out of it to prioritize achieving an outcome of your own choosing. Make no move that does not advance this end. “Right” though you, or my wife in the aforementioned case, or anyone else may be; what have you gained by escalation? If you make that choice, what are you prepared to follow it up with when the other party follows suit? You have now potentially lost control of the situation if you haven’t thought it through and prepared for all outcomes. What it all comes down to is a bunch of gaming of “if _____ happens, then I will _____” ad infinitum, with a healthy dose of soul searching about your internally and externally imposed parameters and boundaries. Define what your mission and ethos are. If you’re not clear on any of this, you can’t begin to even formulate how you will go about standing your ground and enforcing your boundaries. Stand ready and be confident, in yourself and what you bring. Do NOT be too eager to use what you possess. Remember that every action has a reaction, and it may not be what you expect. Everything costs you something. Could be your pride, blood, money, freedom, or life. Make choices that advance your goals, not feed your ego. First and foremost, you should always be asking yourself what you can afford.


There Is Nothing New Without The Old – Kevin O’Hagan

Between the ages of 16 and 22 years old I was fortunate in my Martial Arts journey to spend a great deal of time training under the direct tutelage of Japanese Sensei.

I learnt many lessons from these Masters. Some of these lessons were immediately apparent, others took years to suddenly make sense.

Here I am going to discuss one particularly valuable lesson I learnt as I progressed to my black belt and beyond.

I hope it will help and clarify some prominent issues for those on their own journeys.

The Japanese have a term in Martial Arts named SHU-HA-RI.

This term isn’t just exclusive to Martial Arts but generally how they learn any traditional art.


HA- Means to BREAK


Let’s look at these 3 points individually.

In Martial arts terms SHU (preserve) means when you first learn a technique you practice it exactly how your Instructor showed you. You don’t deviate from it in anyway.

The way it is initially shown might not be the only way, but it is a starting point that you adhere to until a time were another piece of the puzzle will be revealed to you.

As a ‘Gung Ho’ young man full of testosterone and a burning desire to prove myself I used to get frustrated when I was told to perform a technique repeatedly.

I wanted more. I was eager to run before I could walk. I didn’t want to wait.

I see now that physically I may have got the technique down well but mentally I wasn’t ready to move on.

Training back in those days under Japanese Sensei was 2- hour classes of repetitive training of maybe tops 3 or 4 techniques. That was it. Fuck telling them ‘I’ve got that, what’s next?’

No, you kept your mouth shut and kept on drilling unless you wanted a broken arm or leg.

SHU is the foundation of your art. It is the deep roots of the tree going way under the soil.

The tree and its various decorative branches is only as strong as its roots.

Many of us as Westerner’s cannot grasp these principles. We live in a society now that can’t wait for anything and need instant gratification.

I now firmly believe in the saying. ‘All good things come to those who wait.’

Ask any high ranking black belt of their art that trained under Japanese supervision how many front kicks, wristlocks, hip throws, sword cuts they have done over and over.

The widely touted theory, highlighted in a 1993 psychology paper and popularised by Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, says that anyone can master a skill with 10,000 hours of practice.

Scientists, however, remain sceptical. They also say you can add intelligence, age, personality or maybe something else into the mix.

But let’s say it takes you 10,000 hours to learn a Martial Art.

How long would you need to train a day? Well to put it in perspective if you trained 90  minutes a day (which is the usual length of a training session) it would rough take 20 years to be on the ‘tipping point’ of greatness.

Train 8 hours a day that time will drop.

The question is how good to you want to get?

Also, what is the quality of the training you are doing?

We have the old example of the guy who says he trained for 3 hours in the gym today.

Reality says he trained an hour, scratched his balls and looked in the mirror for another hour and the final hour was taking up chatting to his mate and eyeing up the woman.

When you see an athletic at their peak winning gold, a football team winning the world cup a tennis player winning Wimbledon or a fighter winning a world title then you are beginning to understand what it takes to master your chosen art.

Dabbling isn’t going to cut it. A once a week 90-minute class isn’t even going to get you to average.

Japanese Sensei didn’t want average. They demanded greatest. Most students didn’t cut it. Many fell by the wayside when the going got tough.

Now don’t get me wrong after 40 years of training I am still looking for greatness, but the difference is I am still on the mats trying.

The lesson to be learnt here is a good instructor at the top of his game and his intentions honourable and not for self-gain will know when it is time for you to grade, move on or learn something new. Not you.


This means at this level the student can now start to take apart technique and examine the material. Now with solid roots in place they are ready to play around with things and determine the principles and reasoning behind them.

Their technique now is not just a bunch of ‘tricks’ they are delving deeper into their origin, inner core and meaning.

You may have learnt a technique in a certain manner up to this point, but it doesn’t mean that is the only way to do it. Also, you will begin to understand why that technique has been taught that way up to now and why you are going to see it in a different light.

Again, many don’t stay around for this level and have given up with a half assed idea of what that Martial Art is all about.

My base art of Japanese Combat Jujutsu originates from the Katana (sword). How many people out there training or teaching jujutsu know this let alone be-able to show the links between sword and unarmed?

I know this because this is what my Japanese Sensei showed me at HA level. Why? Because I stuck around and came through the SHU level.

Ri means to separate.

At this point in your training you are now expected to take those core principles and techniques and add your own expressions to them. To have the knowledge and ability to come up with new or different interpretations.

You should have gone through the rough, scrappy training phase and now developed a smoothness and flow to your technique. You will have been through your ‘proving stage’ and you will be now working towards a higher level of mastery.

This really outlines your journey from white to black belt.

Higher mastery goes with you through further Dan grades and how far you wish to go in your chosen art.

I recall as a young man hell bent on achieving my black belt and Japanese Sensei telling me that you will have only then learnt the basics. Once you have reached your goal of black belt that is when you really start learning.

Now I know they were right.

In this rapidly evolving world of Martial arts we must always be working to move forward after all we are only as good as the last time we stepped on the mats, but we must never forget the lessons learned from those who went before us. Those lessons are surprisingly still relevant today.

But as Winston Churchill once said, ‘Wise men stumble upon the truth and get up and walk away.’