Anti-Grappling at Kingham Hill (diary entry)

eye gouge standing eye gouge24.11.2021

On Wednesday I continued to teach my self-protection course for Kingham Hill School. As usual, this consisted of two lessons taught to two different groups of years 12 and 13. We got to the business of dealing with a grappling attack. The following areas were covered:

  • Grappling is not the first choice for high risk self-defence situations
  • Grappling is a good choice for middle and low-risk situations
  • In order to defend against grappling, students need a rudimentary knowledge of basic grappling grips
  • Adopting a low stance with the hips back with a full appreciation of balance points is essential for building an anti-grappling base
  • Using the hunter’s drill and the above information, we can coach striking whilst being gripped and having one’s balance compromised. This is an important tool to reinforce striking whenever it is possible and to not default to the human reaction of grappling with a predator
  • Bites are introduced as an optional add on. The objective is to regularly activate pain receptors rather than to tear.
  • Eyes gouges, head-butts and elbow strikes are used to create space in order to get back to hand striking. Again, as per the above the information, it is imperative to get into strong positions with low centres of gravity.

Topics raised included the general squeamishness students understandably take when it comes to tactics such as eye gouges and biting. Reactions to such areas are interesting. At one end of the scale you get people in the RBSD world who think the employment of such tactics are almost magical. They are not and their effectiveness is greatly reduced when not built on solid positional strength. Worse still, these people often get into a “Rough and Tumble” mentality that was officially adopted amongst some all-in fighters in 19th century USA. These bouts were consensual duels or competitions where the objective of the fighters was to disfigure one another into submission. They did not meet the definition of a self-defence scenerio. Another confusion is the verbatum transfer of combatives. In this instance, you have soldiers employing such methods in order to swiftly neautralise enemies. Again, taking out sentries or engaging in hand-to-hand combat in war does not meet the definition of self-defence.

At this end of the scale, we have the aforementioned problem with squeamishness. It’s a healthy reaction in an everyday civilian. Most people do not wish to physically harm their fellow human beings. They are operating within a society that we have nurtured in our pursuit of safety. Such people are learning self-protection in order so they may avoid inter-personal violence or deal with it swiftly in order to return to safety. However, such swiftness means effeciency of tactics. It means using methods that can be effectively employed against another individual who has very high accessibility, capability and intent to change or end their life. When we think about it, eye gouges and bites, seem viscerally worse than percussive strikes and strangles yet they are less effective. More people are killed by the latter two yet it does not arouse the same level of distaste. The business of defending oneself is an ugly one, but the emphasis will always be on doing what is necessary in order to stop violence.

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