Tailored Programmes, Bystander Bullying & Some Combatives History (diary entry)


My second evening lesson was my teacher consultancy where we continued to discuss material for a children’s self-protection achievement programme, a specific programme for teenage girls in Varanasi, northern India and also a brief overview of this Saturday’s clinic on MMA ground-fighting.

The achievement programme is layering in information from Dave Kovar’s Aware programme on anti-bullying. This is something my client is bringing in to provide simple skills for youngsters to help provide more information on bullying. We then further discussed long-term and short-term Bystander Effect self-protection. An underlying theme with my self-protection education is to teach proactivity and taking control. In the short-term defeating the Bystander Effect takes the form of establishing eye contact and to giving specific instructions to bystanders. This comes into play when students are trained what to do when they decide to take action to protect another.

I brought out my old Clubb Chimera Martial Arts syllabuses for juniors and seniors. These haven’t been referenced since I closed my official club in 2014 as I no longer grade students or teach my system as a single martial arts method. However, it will be interesting to see if my client has use for them in the development of her new child self-protection programme.

We decided that the courses being run in India require more information from the prospective students. Although we are confident certain robust principles can be applied in a self-protection programme it is important to hear the problems first so that specific necessary adaptions can be made. This has always been the way forward for me. I always want to be able to provide a bespoke course for any stakeholders in my work.

We touched upon historic self-defence pioneers. The name William E. Fairbairn has appeared a few times on my client’s radar recently. Fairbairn and his co-teacher, Eric A. Sykes worked in the Shanghai police force in the 1920s and ‘30s where they developed their famous fighting knife. Their combatives work and the amount of literature that Fairbairn released is often cited by Reality-Based Self-Defence. They created a system called Defendu which was originally designed for police usage but later adapted for the military. Technically, much like E. Barton Wright’s Victorian eclectic system of Bartitsu, Defendu is pretty much an extinct martial art with the only people training and teaching it being those who have based their knowledge on the material left by Fairbairn and Sykes.

Self-defence, as it is taught to civilians, has an interesting history. All the early treatises are largely based on warfare and then duelling. Colonel Monstery’s work of 1800s is worth a read for its inclusion of as many different fighting experiences the famous duellist had access to in his time. He was certainly a martial arts cross-trainer with a strong emphasis on different fencing styles, associated stick/staff work and bare-knuckle boxing. However, he and virtually all of his contemporaries had a curious duellist mentality when it came to self-defence. E. Barton Wright felt he was making a larger jump when we introduced concepts from Japanese ju jutsu to the west along with European stick-work and British boxing, focusing more on non-consensual violence than the square-go. This, along with the promotional work of Kano Jigaro’s travelling teachers, began the close association between self-defence and ju jutsu/judo. Unfortunately this also led to the prevailing reactive concept of self-defence training whereby systems became based on providing a series of technique answers to attacks. Systems such as Aikido and methods such as one-step sparring became popular. There were few exceptions before the reality-based revolution of the 1990s by such luminaries as Geoff Thompson. In 1912 Jean-Joseph Renaud provided one of these few exceptions. He preached the benefits of cross-training, critiqued the value of different systems and training in different ranges as well as advocated pre-emptive striking. The last point was exceptionally rare and would remain so until John Styers produced “Cold Steel” in the 1950s. However, this was also an exception to the rule.

My client is building a programme that is based around animal metaphors I have been using in my teaching material. This was completely on her initiative and I am honour that my contribution in this form has been included. The very young are started a meerkat achievement level. The meerkat is a great representation of awareness and attitude. The rabbit is the next level which is a great symbol for escape and evasion. The bear is the latest edition which is currently being inserted prior to the final level. Bears symbolise various issues regarding relationships with one’s parents to gain independence. Finally, the mythical chimera comes in as both the symbol of eclecticism and chaos. To get to know these concepts is to get the heart of handling the unpredictable nature of violence.


Both my “The Way of the Shark” podcasts cover Combatives evolution and history. There are links in the shownotes:

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