Danish Vagabonds Part 1 (diary entry)


I was delighted to be invited back to teach to Hinnerup Karate for a second time. Since I was last in Denmark both my cross-training programme, “Vagabond Warriors”, and my children’s self-protection programme “When Parents Aren’t Around” has considerably progressed.

“Vagabond Warriors” Cross-Training Martial Arts Workshop in Denmark (Part 1)

Vagabond Warriors is the Clubb Chimera Martial Arts approach to cross-training. We use a Single Objective Path diagram to illustrate how an individual may cross-train in order to get the most out of their main area of study. For instance, if you were looking to develop better self-defence hard skills you might look to modern Western Boxing for its isolation of punching techniques. However, one should be wary of the various specific drivers in this art that could distort or distract you when you return back to your self-defence objective path. Concepts such as the guard, complex combinations, feigning and sport gamesmanship are developed to deal with other boxers within a boxing match. Certain techniques have been better refined within the isolation of a highly invested professional sport like boxing and then reintroduced into self-defence, but the main value comes from the experience of boxing.

The cross-trainer needs to be aware of the Calypso Effect. That is the experience of enjoying a certain martial art so much that one becomes isolated from other factors and begins to reinvent violence. Please see my chapter on this topic in the eBook “Mordred’s Victory” and Iain Abernethy’s podcast “Reinventing Violence”. They also need to be aware that they don’t just simply techniques. This is the practice of introducing techniques from one art to another or to self-defence without careful considered integration. Western boxers might, by and large, have the most powerful and efficient punchers in the world of combative training, but this might be problematic if they can only pull these punches off when standing at sparring distance with their guard up or if they compete in a Mixed Martial Art competition with their lead leg open to the nak muay’s low kicks and the wrestler’s shoots and ankle-picks.

We warmed up using footwork. This is a case in point. Western Boxing has arguably the most sophisticated footwork in combat sports, but its direct relevance to a counter-assault situation is negligible. One does not move in and out when dealing with non-consensual violence. However, understand quick transitions to angles works well in a pre-emptive strike situation as well and in the in-fight stage. Even when escaping a violent situation tactical running can benefit a lot from learning good footwork drills.

We then looked at the jab. This is a boxer’s most important tool. It sets up so much of the fight and controls distance. As a self-defence technique it is not typically used with much effect. According to analyst James LaFond’s study of 1,675 acts of violence that took place between June 1996 and May 2000 90% of boxers involved in drunken brawls knocked out their opponents and none of them jabbed. However, the jab as a concept rather than a punch has huge relevance. Lead hands are used to set barriers, as in the use of the “fence”, at the pre-fight stage. There are also various tactics that might be used to set up pre-emptive strikes. Geoff Thompon advised on eye jabs. His mentor, John “Awesome” Anderson, taught me several methods from the fence comparable with certain versions of the jab. This included the pawing jab and a framing shove.

I began with the flicker jab. This is a great method for frustrating and distracting a sporting opponent, making them react to your constant jabbing whilst you set up your combinations. In self-defence hands and words might be used as distractions. The flicker jab is a highly mobile technique. It doesn’t have to be fast, but it is constant. Likewise, I recall Tony Somers teaching the importance of keeping a lead fence hand mobile to disguise its use as a posture. There is no point raising the hand when your enemy is far away. It is best used to state and maintain distance at the pre-fight stage.

The flicker jab’s close relative is the pawing jab. We moved onto this next. This obstructing technique is generally used to obscure an opponent’s vision. John Anderson taught me something similar from the fence. The pawing jab is a good set-up technique it can also be translated into a referencing tool for setting a datum which is an effective method in self-defence.

This session was then finished with some Muay Thai work. Here we concentrated on using the low round kick at close range. We also used Muay Thai’s high efficient way for using the hands to set up kicks. Because of Muay Thai’s very long and active history as a method for using strikes from punches, elbows, knees and kicks in combination with clinches its range transitioning is extremely fluid. From a self-defence perspective one might not use hand strikes and clinching to set up low strikes – as the objective is to keep the most dexterous tools on a target and generally keep space – but it can be a usefully adapted to drill low striking when being gripped or clinched by an attacker.

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