PART 2: Richard Dimitri Interview
HAVEN’T READ PART ONE? — CLICK HERE
Richard Dimitri is one of the foremost authorities in reality-based self-defense and hand-to-hand combat. Recently, the Combative Corner had the honor of asking Mr. Dimitri “10 Questions.” He was so generous with his words that we’ve decided to separate this particular interview into Part1 and Part 2. For more information on Richard Dimitri and the close-quarters conceptual tool know as The Shredder™, please visit his website at Senshido.Com (or click on the picture).
(6) How is the best way to exercise/employ psychological self-defense into your training sessions? [How does one become “mentally tough”? … do you have a trick/method that you practice?]
That’s very hard to define or explain in an interview brother. There are so many ways and variations and methods depending on the individual’s perceptions, beliefs and state of mind, it cannot be applied generically and therefore requires a variety of examples, drills and methods in order for the general public to “absorb what is useful, apply what is specifically your own and disregard the rest.”
That’s the thing, there is no solidified best way, all I can do is give you an opinion like anyone else as everyone’s different, if there truly were a ‘best way’, wouldn’t we all be gravitating towards it as a species? People are much more complex than we have made ourselves believe. There is no black and white or absolutes when it comes to the human mind, its belief’s and its perceptions to reality, if there is such a thing.
Obviously, there is a standard and guideline, formulas and the like and one has to be pliable and yielding when working with those in groups such as seminars, workshops, group classes etc.
(7) If you could pick one aspect of what you do…. what are you most passionate about or what is your greatest “hope to achievement” in your profession.
Senshido has shifted from being what has come to be known as one of the top Reality Based Self Defense Systems (RBSD) in the world, to also becoming a worldwide Movement for betterment and human evolution. 2005 Was a defining and monumentally significant year for both Senshido and I. My world as I knew it then, had collapsed from under me (much of course to my doing as well as being a blessing in disguise). I was to undergo tremendous life change between 2005 & 2009…. going through 2 divorces, a few business & personal ‘setbacks’, loss of 2 homes, 2 lawsuits, an intense rekindling, 6 moves, the sale of the Senshido School itself, a shedding of an old skin & soul and a final move leaving North America for an indefinite period of time. Quite a bit for a 48-month period…
Through out these trials & periods of growth, I began to see the world from an entirely differing perspective; I let go of my egocentricities and began focusing on the collective-centricities. I began seeing the bigger picture. I started to understand that humanity, is not a mass of individuals but a collective… and through that shift, Senshido began to change with me. I saw life as a singular energetic entity and not a vast sea of individual lives, species and races… but one single, driving energy lead by love.
Senshido the RBSD system is now and has always been the vehicle we use to reach people. Senshido has expanded much, much beyond the RBSD/martial arts realm. Consider RBSD Senshido’s roots but the stems and leaves that have grown from these roots have become Senshido’s focal point. Going from the perspective of Self Defense for Self Development, our testimonials went from thank you for the skills that helped survive a violent confrontation to thank you for changing me and my family’s life. This set me off on a new direction again. I wanted to reach people way beyond the Shredder.
The movement started long ago and lead by people like Jesus Christ, Mother Theresa, Gandhi, John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Bono, Angelina Jolie, Lady Diana, Martin Luther King etc. We all live in this world, someone once said to me, you are either moving towards love or away from love… by every word, every action, and every intention. I took those words directly to heart and so a legacy project had begun on April 11th 1994. I just needed to define it and focus on the ripple effects of it all. This is because legacy work differs greatly from other good, solid and valid work. If you want to do or create something that will provide tremendous value to others and outlast your own life, you have to be able to clearly answer the question, “How will this really help humanity?”
So I created a cause that was greater than myself. Hope resides in each and every one of us… but as long as we all simply wait for the other to take action, nothing ever gets done… this is why we invite people to unite worldwide and begin living the changes they want to see, becoming those changes regardless of adversity or perceived threat from the ego and the status quo. Senshido International would like to offer a platform, a venue, and a way for those like-minded to unite, express and spread that message as there is power in numbers and as Pink Floyd prophetically sang on their “Wall” album in their song “Hey You”… “Together we stand, divided we fall.”
We also appreciate the fact that we are far from perfect, that we have and will make mistakes along the way and that we will learn as we go along. Some may look at this and think or feel, too big a goal, impossible… why even bother? Or, I have no time to contribute, no money to contribute… etc… but I have seen the changes, I have felt the ripple effect of our movement and the lives that it has saved, empowered and enriched from the simplest of acts…
Help us network regardless of where you are in the world or what you do… share your stories with us, with others, spread your love as a little always goes a long way with the right intention and energy behind it. Be a part of this massive positive ripple effect.
And so I am still in transition with all of this, I am still developing this ideology more and more as days, weeks and months go by and everyday there is a new revelation, every day I discover or rediscover something that shifts my focus and evolves the direction in which I and Senshido are going… I understand this maybe and is definitely frustrating to some and so I thank you for your patience during this transition. I Thank you all for reading and understanding, I offer my apologies to those that disagree or maybe disappointed in this new direction, however, like I stated earlier… this is much bigger than you and I. ;`)
(8) Do you follow the popular sport combatives, such as UFC, Pride, or Extreme Cagefighting? [if so, what’s your opinion of it and are there any athletes that you pull for/are impressed by?]
No, I don’t, I haven’t since maybe the 8th or 9TH UFC. I honestly haven’t watched television since 2005. Good one!
(9) For all those that don’t know, what is “The Shredder” and principles behind it?
Since the Shredder has becoming such a revolutionary and misunderstood concept, I will explain it as detailed as possible.
The Shredder has been tried and tested in real violent confrontations the world over with an incredibly high success rate, from cops to soldiers on duty to women using it to defend against violent rape; as a matter of fact, we’ve only had 2 testimonials in over 15 years so far that stated it didn’t work for them compared to the literally hundreds, perhaps thousands we’ve received stating it not only has worked, but with incredible success and ease as well. There is always an exception to every rule and stated prior, nothing’s black and white.
Testimonials come from people from all walks of life, from law enforcement officers, military personnel, security, corrections officers, SWAT, businessmen, nurses, doctors, trained martial artists as well as men, women & children the world over. Though definitely not the end all and be all as nothing ever is, the Shredder is a notoriously controversial concept in the martial arts world because of its utter simplicity. Though there are no guarantees is life, we, along with thousands worldwide consider it to be the easiest, quickest and most efficient tool the average civilian can learn to protect and defend themselves in almost any and all close quarter situations.
Why the colourful “Shredder” name?
Frankly, it was publicly decided and coined after one of our then long distance students & good friend from Brooklyn New York, Warren Ng was taking a private lesson with one of our Team, Marc Ste. Marie. Marc was going over Senshido’s 5 Principles of Physical Retaliation on the heavy bag, specifically the economy of motion/non telegraphic principles, and as Warren was going over his assault on the heavy bag, he said “Oh, like a Shredder MP?” to which Marc jumped up and said exactly, “like a Shredder, now Shred the damn bag!!!”
Warren gets back to NY and gets on our forum and begins to explain how he learned the Shredder concept at Senshido Head Quarters and presto, everyone who’s understood Senshido’s approach and methodology at the time all began calling it the Shredder… so did we and the rest as they say….
The Development of the Shredder:
One of the factors of the development of the Shredder concept were the instant reactions the Shredder had on those it was used on, even at its early development stages and later, in full out demonstrations in seminars. I would do this live demo countless times; challenging myself mainly in front of what must have been thousands of people the world over from 1993 to present date in my last Australian and Belgian seminars last March 2010.
As per the UK’s own Lee Morrison of Urban Combatives after attending our London 2004 Shredder seminar:
“The thing that impressed me the most about Dimitri was the way that he put forward his instruction and then put it under pressure by calling out one of the biggest and strongest looking guys in the crowd, who was in this case a very capable striker and grappler and told him to attack him with anything he wanted as hard as he could. How many instructors have you ever seen do that? This will give you an indication into Dimitri’s ability and belief system in both himself and his material. Needless to say his opponent was dispatched quite rapidly with his ‘Shred’ & even though it went to the ground Richard was dominant throughout.” ~ Lee Morrison Review on 2004 UK Shredder Seminar on UrbanCombatives.com
As Lee stated above, I would invite anyone in the room regardless of skill or size, and there have been all kinds of takers, from BJJ Black Belts to pro boxers, to cage fighters to a 400 +pound bouncer and everything in between attack me as hard and as fast as they wanted over the last 15 +years, anyway they wished in front of countless witnesses worldwide no less. It didn’t matter, the second the Shred was engaged, the threat was instantly controlled and eliminated. The reaction was always the same, instant panic and attempts at defensive disengagement. Something occurred on a psychological level though, it wasn’t just the reception of pain but a complete predator to prey shift. Senshido’s physical retaliation principles dictated its path. We have 5 principles of physical retaliation; they are (in no particular order)
1. Economy of motion
2. Non-telegraphic movement
3. Opportunity Striking
4. Tactile sensitivity
5. Primary target acquisition.
These principles dictated that when striking, it was logical to make sure that the time frame between strikes was as short as possible in order to offer your opponent less of a chance to reflexively & defensively react to the attack. Because the startle to flinch response is a reliable physiological process that acts as an effective protective mechanism (we utilize it in terms of a launching pad off an ambush or surprise attack), I deemed it necessary to come up with a retaliatory concept that bypassed this phenomenon.
As I analysed this process and realized its validity as a defense mechanism which is not only quicker and much more reliable than any memorized technique but also non perishable and impossible to bypass when it overrides cognitive processing, I began to design a concept of attack that bypassed this ‘involuntary’ triggered response.
The Science behind the Shredder:
Real violence will more often than not begin with an attack on the mind, which triggers an emotional response. Our survival mechanism is connected to what is called the autonomic nervous system; this system controls all voluntary and involuntary functions. It is also divided into 2 systems, one being the parasympathetic nervous system and the other being the sympathetic nervous system.
The parasympathetic nervous system is the one that controls our actions and thoughts in non-stressful environments. It controls fine motor skills, cognitive processing and a host of other functions related; however when threat is perceived, the sympathetic nervous system takes over which triggers the survival mechanisms or ‘fight or flight’ response. The release of adrenaline by the sympathetic nervous system increases blood flow and arterial pressure causing a large amount of blood to be pumped into the larger muscles resulting in gross motor functions and applications.
The sympathetic nervous system hinders the functional use of cognitive processing, visual performance and fine motor skills. Modern scientific research and studies have shown us that under the influence of the sympathetic nervous system, only gross motor skills are performed optimally.
Consequently, the ambush or immediate threat introduced quickly and with minimal or no prior warning will trigger the sympathetic nervous system. Understanding that these physiological rules preside during high stress situations, these scientific facts became the corner stone for the concept of the Shredder.
For starters, each tool used had to be based on gross motor applications due to the very fact that the cognitive brain’s overriding by the mid brain restricted access to finer motor skills found in most martial arts. Therefore the tools had to be instinctual and primal in nature but simply fine tuned in a way that allowed its delivery to be more acute then if one were to ‘just go berserk’. The ‘beat’ in between the delivery of each strike had to be shortened from the traditional ‘half beat’ to a quarter beat, meaning, the time frame in between each tool finding its intended target was much shorter and therefore quicker then, for example, the usual jab/cross combo in boxing.
Although a real fight is arrhythmic in nature, it still functions in ‘beats’, a frame of time between blows/strikes. The very nature of the retraction of a tool (fist/foot/knee/elbow etc.) creates a beat as the time frame between each strike triggers the ‘victim’s’ amygdala (a small almond shaped portion of the brain which triggers the protective/defensive flinch) to kick into action creating a defensive reflexive response. You see it in murder victims, defensive wounds in the hands and arms. The reason being is there was a time frame there caused by the threat of the attack (the gun being drawn or the knife being cocked back to slash or thrust) that permitted the victim’s arms to reflexively come up and instinctively protect their vitals (eyes, throat, facial area, head etc.). Therefore creating the defensive wounds often seen on murdered gunshot and stab victims.
With the Shredder however, because there is no telegraphing, like a gun being drawn for example, the attack is launched off of a deceptive posture while your opponent is either still mouthing off or has decided to strike you first instead, rendering it non-telegraphic (one of the 5 principles that make up the Shredder concept) and allowing the primary part of the assault to successfully land making the rest almost impossible to stop. Hence, the strength of the Shredder.
The ‘primal regression’ to gross motor skills and a lack of cognitive processing occurs without a choice. We cannot cognitively process this response and choose to adopt it. Much like when driving a car, if a child or a dog all of a sudden jumped 5 to 10 feet in front of your moving vehicle, you do not have time to process this information. Your brain and body takes care of that for you, the stimulus is introduced too quickly and the startle to flinch response kicks in causing you to swerve out of the way while hitting the brakes as hard as you can hopefully missing the child and not killing them.
Only once the situation is over do we regain access to cognitive thought process and realize what just happened and we feel the sudden blood rushing into our feet, the heart palpitations and the realization that we almost killed someone. We cannot choose to regress to that state; it is an automatic hard-wired process and response.
Why is it so different than regular striking or eye gouging?
What makes this approach so different to conventional striking or ‘dirty tactics’ such as the proverbial eye gouge or the throat strike etc. is that striking requires three integral elements to make it functional:
1) Distance 2) Grounding and 3) Torque.
These 3 elements requires proper positioning, a certain level of strength & athleticism as well as clarity in the moment; a luxury, as stated above, we do not possess when facing threat and danger. The Shredder requires neither of these elements. It can be applied in any close quarter position, whether lying down, grappling, wrestling, while falling (being taken down), at extreme close range etc. It’s comprised of tools that create maximum damage with minimal effort. Its uniqueness is to be found in its delivery and the science that backs its success.
Conventional methods of attack are all so common that through the media, the martial arts, being exposed to real fights, entertainment etc. that we have come to accept and expect a certain ‘way’ of fighting. We are to a certain extent, desensitized and so our minds are somewhat ‘prepared’ for a certain kind and type of assault, a certain beat in rhythm, etc. Conventional methods are designed for distance tactics (kicks, punches, elbows, knees, head butts etc.); or grappling tactics (clinch, takedowns, submissions etc.)
What makes a grappler so devastating is the fact that a striker no longer has the range, torque or grounding to make his strikes effective enough to intercept or hurt the grappler. Therefore everyone figured, correctly might I add, that they also needed to learn to grapple. The Shredder however works best in extreme close quarter situations, grappling, ground-fighting and especially the dreaded clinch. The closer to the opponent you are the better. The Shredder is the equalizer, or as it has been referred to by most of those who have been exposed to it including other self defense experts such as Sammy Franco of Contemporary Founding Arts, “The Missing Link in Martial Arts/Self Defense Training”.
Can anyone learn and use the Shredder Concept?
The advantage of the Shredder is that it is a concept and tool that was designed especially for those who didn’t have great physical strength or athleticism, for those who could be perceived as victims, for those who truly concerned about self-defense. The Shredder can and has been used by one and all regardless of age, gender, size or athletic ability. Although this comes across as a ‘marketing ploy’, I assure you, it is absolutely not.
The very nature of the Shredder’s creation is for it to be used by those who truly need it, those who do not possess the strength or stature to “knock someone out”. It is ‘user friendly’ and requires no memorization of techniques, no necessity of repetitive training, no need for high levels of athleticism and is in accordance with the mind and body’s physiological rules.
This offers enormous value and is a tremendous asset to any teaching and training curriculum as it can only pragmatically enhance any person’s survival skills regardless of their past experience. As stated, there are hundreds to thousands of people worldwide who have successfully used the Shredder to survive violent confrontations and martial artists and law enforcement officers worldwide have adopted this concept into their training curriculum since its conception.
The Shredder is a scientifically supported, physiologically based and behaviourally driven concept. It is not a technique or a system, it is a conceptual close quarter tool and in our and hundreds of thousands of others opinions; By far the most successful self defense tool any individual can use with the highest probability of success rate compared to anything else, and this we stand by.
(10) How has your system* evolved since you first began? And what’s in store for the next decade (any changes/additions/progressions that you foresee) in your system’s evolution?
I think I pretty much answered this one in the question previous to the one above, I’d honestly be repeating myself :`)
¤ FIN ¤
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