10 Questions with Samir “Sandman” Seif
Take a moment to tell us a bit about your training and professional backgrounds
My professional background began at Red Lobster, ironically enough. I was working tables, washing dishes and cooking, trying to pay off my Police Sciences degree – that course now is called Police Foundations. I had done some “bouncer” type stuff at parties for cash, on account of my martial arts background, yet nothing too serious. One day as I was serving a table, a man named Randy introduced himself to me, and complimented me on my people skills. He asked if I had ever thought of doing security. I told him I wanted to be a cop, and he said this would be a perfect start. That was the start of my security education and the end of me ever being a cop. I worked the hardest, grimiest bars in Hamilton for 2 years. It was a security temp (Ranton Security) agency, so I was sent to the bars no one else wanted to work. In 1993 two things happened, I began training in wing chun and I met a bartender who introduced me to the Canadian Division head of Griffon Group International who trained and hired me. I went from being a bouncer/martial artist to a professional in executive protection, close protection, and casino security. Training took place in Toronto and Windsor Universities. These were my formalative years transitioning from a martial artist into a professional Law Enforcement/Security specialist trainer. Working the travelling casino’s, protecting clients and training correctional/Law Enforcement in baton, handcuffing and pepper spray use-of-force programs. The training was based on effective communications, prevention and prediction. That lasted until 1997 where I went on my own and began training people under the Samirs Combat Reaction name. I continued training in Pain compliance and control systems under Stay Safe President Steve Summerville. I learned how to be a true professional and legally articulate use-of-force. That brought me to the next level of teaching and applying Law and Security in my professional capacity as a trainer and operating in the field. I was hired on full time as the use of force trainer at a large security Company in Hamilton. Doing work protecting Liberal assets (insured persons), fleshing out RCMP details, and running large security crews for multiple night clubs.
Who have been your major influences in training and teaching?
Major influences in my training and teaching has been Wayne Wells of Griffon Group International. If you look him up, he has a long line of martial arts qualifications himself. Ironically he was the first that treated my black belt in jiu jitsu and black sash in wing chun as only a small part of the greater subject when it comes to combatives, close protection and security/law enforcement. His socially acceptable techniques, politically correct nomenclature and proper training heavily guided my own hand when I began designing programs. His experience also played a factor in my development as he had committed so many years of his life to training trainers as professional, with himself having trained with the best in the world. For locks and holds- specific to control and restraint, and with corrections experience my next major influence would be Master Robert Krantz and Master Alex Andrews. I was a member of the CJC, and CJA during the 90’s. Master Alex taught me small circle ju jitsu and Judo that would work specifically for Corrections and Law Enforcement. The timing was perfect, as I was able to apply my skills as a trainer for Wayne’s company and use the skills myself as the head doorman at several clubs. Master Robert actually graded me in one of my jiu jitsu black belts under the WKF. He has a no-nonsense style of locks, and with his correctional back ground his method was invaluable. Between the two, I tightened up my physical locking game, and brought a very high level game to handcuffing and grounding subjects.
The greatest striking influences was Master Chris Hader for giving me the gift of wing chun. The only martial art that allowed me to assimilate every physical course I have learned and apply it within a solid theory and concept. He was an old school, hardcore Sifu that put his stamp..and his foot on my spine.
The last phase of major influence in training and teaching has been Grandmaster Bram Frank and Shuki Drai. As much as I had been doing weapon training throughout my entire professional and martial arts life, a fundamental and moral pillar changed. From a young age I trained with known weapon experts like Grandmaster Rudy Timmerman, Master Robert Doiron and Guru Brian ‘Buzz’ Smith. All three are traditional martial artists. Gifted,respected and in the Kuk Sul Wan, Hap Ki Do and Kuntaw world very well known. They trained me to strike to kill. In the sense, how most martial arts train..the kill shot. Meaning that my use of weapons was literal, with no thought to the law and the consequences of armed combat. I was a martial artist ,with a martial artists mindset.
Meeting GM Bram Frank and then continuing my work with Shuki taught me a new world of reality. How society views weapons of gun, stick and knife. How I view it as a tool like any other item you might find in a tool box. Knowing case law, applicable law of use and defense. My teaching ability and success by using GM Bram’s “train the trainer” methodology and gross motor skill progressive training under pressure has swelled the curve of skills and attributes. I can teach and learn new skills or refine old skills in 1/10 of the time it used to take me. Thats how we get our troops ready-in months not years. My understanding of anatomy, nerve systems and use of modern day weaponry (firearms) has made me a much more evolved combatives instructor and practicing combatant. Bram in particular introduced me to many men and women that either had seen or yet remained in active duty in the war theatre, active duty as a police officer or form of duty that included weapons. It forced me to reevaluate my martial arts training, and get to the range ,and work with skilled shooters. The impact of reality training, experience in the field coupled with my own experiences has made me search and continue to develop realistic skill sets for modern Combatives.
Lastly the literature of Bruce K. Siddle and Lt.Col Grossman along with the translation and interpretation of Book of 5 Rings by Steven Kaufman have influenced me since I was old enough to pick them up and study them. They are constant companions to all my combative efforts. Their work is influential and in my personal opinion iconic.
What systems have you trained in that you find applicable to the kinds of attacks you see in your profession?
The systems that I have trained in that have been most applicable to the kind of attacks in my profession as a security specialist, and close protection specialist has been Wing Chun, Kali, Muay Thai, wrestling and Jiu Jitsu.
Wing Chun has allowed me to deal with the conversation that goes bad. Most people speak with their hands. They point, they grab and push. Welcome to hundreds of hours of chi sao (sticky hands). If it’s standing and arms are in the touching or within the intimate zone of personal space wing chun has been the answer. Then the use of KALI becomes equally important as weapon sense from bottles, ashtrays (back in the day), stantions and anything else a person could grab comes into play. The relationship between wing chun and Kali is synergistic and they complement each other in the CQC area. If wing chun didn’t have the answer, my Kali filled in the blanks and vice versa. When it comes to subjects that are actively resisting and striking back, I have to say Muay Thai is the most applicable and has been personally the best “show stopper”, in the arsenal. The neck-tie up (plum), and the devastating elbows conclude any form of aggression very quickly. I have personally had great success with single strikes to assaultive subjects using the elbow, the knee and the round kick. Wrestling tie ups and takedowns go hand in hand with Muay Thai clinching skills; its never my first choice to fight on the ground, yet it’s my first choice for anyone I’m trying to control. Wrestling allows me to apply that pressure when number of people, size and strength come into play. A hard head snap or duck under and boom down they go. Saying that, brings me to the last art I find applicable to my profession. Bjj/Jiu Jitsu. Grounding a subject and skillfully lifting them back up with minimal effort and damage to oneself and them. The controls gained by vascular restraints, joint-locks and come-a-longs are invaluable. When it comes to mitigating collateral damage, liability and negligence the system of Jiu Jitsu is hand crafted for my profession.
What role does MMA play in your training?
It’s the pressure tester of the weeks drilling, training and specific sparring. MMA training allows for learning, growth and adaption under real or closely simulated combative pressure. Resistance to submission attempts, and being stuck in a pound-and-ground position. Basically have full resistance with protective equipment to see how everything works, and improve the next weeks drilling where the holes were found.
Does MMA prepare someone for street violence?
That really depends, as does the last question on what you define as MMA and how it’s being trained/taught.
If your “MMA” training does not include the following variations of multiple opponents, weapons, hostile environment and role playing I do not believe it will fully prepare you for street violence. An example is on several occasions I personally have taken out high level MMA fighters, and watched even my own staff of guards take out good level MMA fighters for drunken and disorderly. Their mindset prepared them for the one-on-one, and in that they won hands down. It was the follow-up of hostile environment, tables, people, hard surface, wet surface and multiple opponents that quickly overcame them.
MMA only prepares you for resistance and pressure. Cardio under battle stress, elevated heart rate and blood pressure. Exertion and blunt force trauma. It does not prepare you for pre-indicators of violence, violent confrontation through words. Threat cues, prediction and prevention. The anatomy of violence and street confrontation can be markedly absent from MMA training. For the record I would put my money on a well trained MMA fighter to survive a confrontation better than a traditionally trained martial artist. That being said, as the variables increase, so does the MMA fighters advantages decrease if he is trained in MMA rules, single opponent training.
How can martial artists alter their training to make their system suitable for the street?
As previously mentioned I believe to street-proof any system the following fundamentals must be included. Multiple opponents, weapons (stick,knife,gun), hostile environment and role playing. Then all of these need to be trained with progressively increased pressure of resistance.
This is just the physical aspect. One needs to learn the physiology and phycology of violence to oneself and to others. The ability to prevent, predict and proactively train. Confrontation does not just happen. There are cues and steps that are not part of the regular martial arts training program. These have to be taught and trained. It’s a science and must be treated as such.
What are some common traits you see among unprovoked attacks?
The common traits I have observed that unprovoked attacks carry are the attackers are 99% male and under the age of 40. My reports and court cases would average late 20’s. They include intoxication or drugs. They involve criminal elements, meaning that person or persons doing the unprovoked attack have either been through the criminal system or associated with a criminal element. The person being attacked almost always have their hands down, and are not in control of their intimate zone. It’s like they don’t realize they are in an argument or that the other person could actually hurt them. The number one has been the attacker was prepared to fight or attack, and the victim or victims were not.
Among the ambushes you’ve seen, what tactics have the defenders employed successfully, and what tactics have they been unable to employ successfully?
I have seen many ambushes via cctv in my years of working security. Among the ambushes the defenders have had success or failure dependent on the reaction to the attacks. I use the 3F system (First,Fast,Furious) to measure success or failure. If the attack is first, then the counter-response must be fast and furious. In all cases of success the reaction time from the subject not simply becoming a victim is they retaliated fast and furiously. They grabbed a weapon and closed the distance instantly. If no weapon was grabbed they gave up no room and instantly grappled. The most successful move is to crash the attacker, hug and hold the attacker and not allow for repeated blows of the dominant hand. They also covered up initially as they moved forward, blunting whatever attack was coming in.
The reaction that failed almost every time was moving backwards or away. The environment did not allow for unimpeded movement. That means they tripped or fell and damaged themselves more on the way down, were continued to be attacked and mounted in most cases. Ironically it’s not the first reactive block that fails, it’s the fact that time and time again the victim has continued to try to block without any counter. In one case I watched as the first block worked to stop a knife, and that the person being stabbed had not realized they had been ambushed with a palmed knife. They continued to back away from “punches”, and was stabbed 3 more times still trying to block the same angled attack in the same manner. They at that point collapsed, and the ambushed escaped. In another example, the ambush happens perfectly, but someone behind the ambusher flinches and the victim reacts by putting out their arms. The knife is blocked barely and the victim slips to one knee, where they are “nicked” in one artery and nicked in a vein,they barley survive and take 6 months to come out of serious condition.
Blocking and not moving forward, blocking and repeating the same block allowed for the ambusher to gain momentum,timing and distance .
Successful defense against the ambush has been that the reaction has not only been fast and furious,but also that the furious included striking and defending.
Failure has come from being slow to react ,creating too much distance that allowed the ambusher momentum and increase in number of attacks. They also were not being struck back, as the victim was too busy concentrating on defense and not counter attack.
The ambush attack in all cases was missed,as it was clear watching the videos that all threat cues are missed. Clenched fists,blading of the body, puffing of the chest, lifting of the chin..all for naught. In one case I remember watching in awe as a male takes their jacket off and makes like he is turning away. He takes off his jacket..how does one miss this..??!!
If someone could do only one thing to defend themselves successfully from an attack, in your opinion what would that thing be.
Be First, Be Fast, Be Furious.
That’s my one thing. You feel it coming, you see it coming, you predict it’s coming..Doesn’t matter.
Be FIRST! Thats a concept and that’s a technique. Eyes, Groin and Neck.
Smash it, bite it, kick it, slap it, stab it, bring blunt force trauma..Just make sure your FIRST.
Being first makes you FAST. You will be at the right place, at the right time to bring on maximum force, with minimum effort.
Which brings you to a place of momentum. When the engine is rocking and rolling, it brings a furious energy. Chain your attacks until no one is standing. Bring an element of controlled passion and anger and rage and even cold tempered steel. BE FURIOUS.
No matter what reaction you have, nor the style you train you need one method to withstand a seen attacker and the unseen ambusher. BE FIRST, BE FAST, BE FURIOUS.
Where do you see the martial arts as a whole in ten years?
In ten years I see the same evolution of what UFC did for martial arts, blending and merging the best techniques and concepts to create the MMA era happening in the Reality Based Self Defense and Combatives. The difference will be the best technologies will be brought to simulate weapons of modern and traditional origins. We will see swords, knives, bats, guns, explosives and multiple persons. We will have simulated gang attacks, and small armies battling. We will know how the sword works against the axe, and crossbow against 45 pistol. The martial will be brought back, and it will become an arena for true to the death combat between not just two dueling combatants, but a plethora of situations that will include multiple simultaneous attacks. They already have multiple opponent MMA in Russia. They have prototype weapon and at our dueling in Australia. A decade from now we will simulate injury, pain and trauma to find the essence and truth of combat which is death on the battlefield without actually killing anyone. That is I’m sure until someone wants to try it for real. Then we may even return to gladiators and the true arena.
– Interviewed by: T.J. Kennedy
Hybrid Fighting Method
Samir Sandman Seif
Master of Goshin Ryu Seif Jiu Jitsu
Peace and Love/Strength and Honor
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