This was our introductory lesson. We began with a discussion on the whole nature of self-protection. Its purpose is to reduce harm from interpersonal violcence. There are no right answers and it is far from being an exact science. Self-protection presents many variables and no one really knows how they will act in a real-life situation. However, we do have a lot of case studies, evidence and methods for testing that have produced some pretty robust conclusions regarding tactics.
Training begins with the pre-fight and personal security. The defender needs to be switched on within the context of a situation. In this instance the student wished to learn self-protection to have more confidence when going out at night and living in a different environment. Awareness is the sensible middle ground between the extremities of paranoia – an irrational fear of danger – and unawareness – being switched off, obvivious or in denial over potential dangers.
We use Jeff Cooper’s colour code as a rough guide for understanding stages of awareness. Code white is the state of being unaware and switched off. Code yellow is the state of comfortable awareness. Code orange addresses change; a possible threat. Code red is a confirmed threat. However, I feel the code is often taught in too general terms, but that is a subject for an article. What is important to consider is environment, people and times. They dictate the severity you take each state of awareness.
We looked at and discussed the nature of fear in simple psychological and physiological terms. This included the fight, fight and freeze response. The chemical cocktail that hits the body prepares it for survival in prehistoric times. The modern fighter needs to understand how best to utilize the effects of these hormones. As your heart rate increases so your fine motor skills will diminish. You will also experience tunnel vision, aural exclusion, possible nausea, dryness of the mouth, possible need to go to the toilet and difficulty to process complex information. However, it also provides the person experiencing these effects with increased strength, speed and greater tolerance to pain.
Mo Teague calls the code red stage, where you are confronted with a confirmed threat “The Crisis Point”. A threat can be defined by being someone who has intent, capability and accessibility. Here we have a series of options when met with a confirmed threat of physical violence if escape is not immediately viable. You can comply, negotiate, dissuade or fight. We discussed the pros and cons of each option prior to fighting. Certain situaitons will lend themselves to certain options. For example, a straight forward robbery would easily lend itself to compliance. However, other situations where the intentions of the threat are clearly to cause you violence leaves you no option but to fight. If your decision is to fight then you need to ideally strike first and with continuous uninterrupted forward pressure until you can secure your escape.
By means of some role-play and a simple test the student seemed to instinctively select the hooking hand strike. For reasons outlined many times before I opt to to teach beginners an open hand strike. We worked the strike off the fence in role-play and then on the focus mitts. The student was then taken through postures and trained the strike from restrictive distance.