Progressive Basics in Self-Protection at Kingham Hill School (diary entry)

8 Defence from guard to standing8 (small) Talking Hands (small)02.10.19

My third self-defence lesson at Kingham Hill School this term further built on the basic areas covered last week. This included tightening up and layering tactical escape principles as well as progressive pre-emptive strike tactics. The importance of developing day-to-day survival behaviours and aspects of the aftermath were also addressed.


We warmed up with everyone walking with purpose taking in their environment. This included locating exit points and potential hazards. The class also paid attention to gait and posture. The more I look at the non-combative side of frontline self-defence training for the average civilian the more I think cross-discipline research into behavioural science to basic parkour is required for teaching progress.

Walking changed to running with changes again into posture. When we walk and stand at the pre-fight stage our physical stance is more like a meerkat’s classic awareness pose – head up, shoulders back and hands at the ready yet disguised in a passive, mobile gesture. The walking or standing also promotes a staggered leg position that is primed to launch a pre-emptive strike.  When we run we are at the in-fight stage – even if we are escaping – and we adopt a more defensive stance – crouched posture, shoulders up, chin down and hands higher.


When running I introduced various quick commands – covering and changing direction, heading to exit points, running sideways, changing levels, sprawl and knee strike, and punching forward. Then I added on agility ladders and cones, training chopping foot movements (forwards, backwards and sideways) on the ladders and serpentine running (forwards and backwards) on the cones.


After a brief lecture on the functionality and application of all this warm-up training we moved onto the fence. Revising last week’s lesson we began with target familiarisation exercises. Here we looked at the way a hand gesture is used to create an effective barrier. All students noted that even when simply drilling their partners had difficulty, at first, to breach this barrier. I then changed to the focus mitts and tagged on the referencing hand (covered in last lesson) and tactical escape. Striking is taught to be repetitive and not as a single strike but rather a continuous and uninterrupted stream of strikes that only when the target is covered. More attention was paid to develop force as well as re-setting for each pre-fight start. This can be quite difficult to maintain given the abrupt changes in heart-rate and the release of stress hormones once heavy striking begins. Nevertheless, students need to be prompted to relax and consciously breathe once they have completed striking and running. One pair of students introduced chasing after their escaping partner. This was a great way to encourage more investment in the escape part. Given the amount put into each set from fence to striking to escaping, I do not recommend more than five repetitions of this exercise before changing over or taking a short break.


The class were then introduced to incidental combinations. Here the students change their striking technique as the target changes.

The class’s finishing lecture on soft skills concerned the aftermath.

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