Hard Skills III: Regaining the Initiative (diary entry)

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The third part of CCMA’s Hard Skills webinars, presented in cooperation with Keiryu Practical Karate and Athena Schools of Karate, addressed the first stages of when matters go wrong in a counter-assault situation. Our overall strategy has been to be take charge of a bad situation as quickly as possible. We can see their proactive approach runs throughout the CCMA combat strategy. Everything is geared towards gaining control and minimizing personal injury. Initially this is through trying to avoid the violent situaiton by being aware of people, places, changes and hazards. If immediate tactical escape cannot be attained or is not favoured due to a decision to help a third party then pre-emptive action is, by and large, the preferred first hard skill tool. After pre-empting, the defender needs to maintain the offensive until the threat has been subdue enough to tactically escape. This means uninterupted forward pressure and incidental combinations. Now we are faced with the next stage of a problem: we are compromised.

This is usually where martial arts and popular self-defence systems begin. They have a type of problem/solution reactive dynamic fed into the mainstream view around the turn of the 20th century via the press and martial arts schools for civilians. The average citizen is not regularly exposed to violence and has little experience of how the violence feels. The average person who regularly deals with violence has typically learnt through difficult to convey experiences. Martial art teaching is supposedly the bridge between these two people. However, conveying the realities of violence to someone who does not regularly see it in any direct way is not always easy. Popular methods that teachers find easy to teach and civilians find easy to digest resemble customer complaint policies. This policy is to always answer the complaining customer in an effort to offer a workable solution. In order to do this the person dealing with the complaint has to listen to the full complaint, demonstrate a full understanding of the complaint to the complainer and then come forward with an answer. Compare it to the typical staged self-defence situation: the attacker is allowed to present the problem in its physical entirety short of finishing the job whereby the defender reacts with a counter move. This might take the form of a block and strike or a grappling technique. In other words, the defender takes on the physical attack and then replies with their solution. We contend that if practical self-defence could be presented as a soft skill it would take the form of a verbal rape whistle being shouted down the ear of the complainer the moment it was confirmed a complaint was on its way. This verbal tirade would only cease when the complainer was out of ear shot or clearly no longer wished to talk.

Such an approach continues when the defender is caught out and in a compromised place. Whether they are not standing (kneeling, seated or lying down) or already been pre-empted, the defender needs to do everything to get back onto their front foot. Without giving too much away of the content (you will need to attend a webinar or book me for private lessons for that!) here is a brief summary: We began with hunting the target over obstructions followed by clearing obstructions, moving onto fighting from compromised positions (four postures/three transitions) and finishing with the cover.

My thank again to Lee Mullan for organising, promoting and administering this event and to Mary Stevens for hosting the webinar in an exemplary manner. Also, thanks to both Mary Stevens and Vijay Pathak for being on hand via Zoom to demonstrate certain aspects of the training covered.


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