“The Art of Survival” is an exciting new youth movement, helping young people (11-17 years of age) to learn new skills and to become productive citizens. Each Thursday the youth leaders host different mentors to teach and motivate the movement participants. I was honoured to be invited to provide a two-hour version of my “When Parents Aren’t Around” course. Unfortunately I didn’t get enough time to teach all I had planned, but I thoroughly enjoyed delivering the lesson.
The course content began with a definition of self-protection. We broke it down into “personal security” and “self-defence”, the former being soft (non-physical) skills and the latter being hard (physical) skills. I asked which of these two components should make up self-protection training. There were some interesting differing views, which aided us in our discussion. Most good self-protection teachers with experience in real-life counter-assault and security situations say that 90% of survival is down to non-physical skills.
We then moved on Respect and Attitude. This is quite a complex area but by starting with respect for oneself and other people, a lot antagonistic situations can be avoided. Attitude is also expressed in a willingness to absorb the material being taught and the inner strength to never give in when fighting for survival.
We then looked at Awareness. I took everyone through the Cooper Colour Code and discussed how people, places, times and hazards change situational awareness. We then did some physical training exercises. This began with a tactical escape warm-up and recognition of genuine exit points. It was crucial that everyone understood the importance of escape when faced with a potentially dangerous situation. Furthermore, just running away is not sufficient training. Participants were taught to look around when moving towards exits, checking for hazards at all times and avoiding one another (the call to “exit” occurred after everyone was commanded to run in different directions).
The next physical game was build-up “Tig”, “Tag” or “It”, which prepared the participants for Predator vs Prey, an escape, avoidance and self-defence game. PVP uses a small number people playing the role of predators as they mingle amongst the rest of the class who are the prey. The predators, without warning, then pounce on the prey holding them for five seconds. Those playing the prey have to do their best to keep a distance from the predators and to be wary of any form of engagement. If they are caught, they have to do their best to fend off their attackers. The game is always educational because everyone gets a chance to discuss how tactics work and what don’t, how the predators select their victims and give general observations on human behaviour.
We then moved onto courage. Here we discussed how everyone fears, what fear does to the body and how to control it under pressure. We also discussed genuine bravery before moving onto using the fence as a method for protecting a person’s personal space. This provided an opportunity to discuss options when being approached by a dangerous threat. We discussed situations when it was best to dissuade, comply, compromise or fight. I then began introducing the fence concept and the legitimacy of pre-emptive striking within context.
Thanks again to JT and Wendy for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful project.