Archive for military

A Short Study of the Smallsword

Posted in Fencing, Styles, Swordsmanship, Weapons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2015 by chencenter

smallSword_AngeloThe small sword (or court sword, l’épée courte) is a weapon that began to spread across Europe as early as the 1630s.  This weapon, effective in both attack and defense and designed for the thrust reached the height of its popularity in the late 17th-early 18th century; particularly in England and France.  Due to the small sword’s practicality, lithe & lethality, it became the weapon used to dissolve disputes*. Because the small sword required fencing kill to handle, and due to its piercing nature, the small sword duel was deemed “more civilized” than weapons concentrated on slashing and hacking.

Goodbye Rapier

The rapier, a popular image of today due to its use in movies (Zorro, The Princess Bride, The Three Muskateers, etc) became less and less popular in the late 17th century.  There were many reasons for this, one being the rapier’s bulkiness/ un-suitability in confined quarters, and changes in men’s fashion.  Richard Cohen, author of By The Sword wrote,

In 1663 the “suit”- the first piece of menswear to fasten in the front – made its appearance.  The rapier, easy enough to carry and draw in the days of the doublet and hose, did not sit well with the brocaded jackets, breeches, and silk stockings.  So popular in the 1640s and 1650s, it had become antisocial, “an infernal nuisance to passers-by.”

Description
Small Sword trainerAlmost essentially a thrusting weapon; although records exist of its occasionally being “sharpened as a razor” for dueling, the major French small sword instruction treatises focus solely on the thrust.  The sword is easily recognized by its shorter blade (29-35in.), Pas d’ane, quillon and knuckle bow.

*The picture to the left is of a small sword trainer made by Triplette Competitive Arms (Elkin, NC)

The small sword gave rise to a new school of fencing, “escrime francaise.”  Author Cohen writes:

In 1653 a book by Charles Besnard of Rennes, a leading master showed conclusively that the French had finally improved on the Italians, whose masters had never allowed for purely defensive movements -every parry had also to be a thrust.  Besnard (alleged to be the first to use the word “fleuret,” the French word for “foil) saw that always trying to do two things at once was a mistake and separated attack from defense… Besnard also introduced the formal salute, a symbol of courtesy and good form.

What’s better?

Are all swords equal? No.  Each of the various weapons of the past and present were/are constructed for specific purposes. What remains true (like all martial arts) is that skill (in this case, wielding the sword) is paramount.  The evolution of weaponry has always been based on the necessities of battle (in other words, what tool is need to overcome a foe(s)), it’s intended use and trial and error.  Fashion and practicality aside, the small sword was designed for the thrust – which as always been the most lethal of blows.  It’s shorter length, gave the fighter more agility and control over the blade.  Even though a dagger was often needed for close-quarters, the small sword carried on strong until the Napoleonic Age.

The Beginning of the end

In 1799 a coup d’état brought General Napoleon Bonaparte to power in France.  A formidable fencer by the time he reached military school, Bonaparte relished fencing, but despised the duel.  His thoughts were that “A good duelist made a bad soldier.”  By the time he had seized power, although there were still no laws banning dueling, Bonaparte had seen too many great fencers die or become disabled due to this reckless pastime.  Being a superb weapon in the battlefield, especially on horseback, the thrust-centric small sword was not.  Through Napoleon’s battles across Europe and into Russia, the only bladed weapon was the cut-centric saber/sabre – which he used to great effect in his heavy calvary charges.  (more on sabre’s in another article!)

NOTE TO READER (via Michael McQuown)

The ‘dueling sword’ and the smallsword are not the same weapon. The dueling sword consisted of a simple cup or bell guard, a handle, pommel, and a blade, with no quillons. It was never meant to be worn and was often made in pairs and carried in a case solely for the purpose of dueling. It is the direct ancestor of the modern epee and was often called the ‘epee du combat.’

Small Sword vs. Basket-Hilted Backsword

This is one of my favorite choreographed sword fights of all-time [movie fight review: click here]

True Combat

One of the most realistic scenes involving the small sword can be seen in the first fight in the movie, The Duellists.

More Information

For small sword and bladed weapon enthusiasts everywhere, you’ll be happy to hear that the CombativeCorner will be conducting an interview with Jeannette Acosta-Martinez, possibly the foremost expert of the Small Sword and the French School of small sword combat living today.  She is one of the main instructors at the Martinez Academy in New York.  Read our interview with her husband and fencing maestro Ramon Martinez.

OTHER FENCING LINKS

FENCING LANGUAGE IN “THE PRINCESS BRIDE”

FENCING LANGUAGE IN “I LOVE YOU, MAN

10 QUESTIONS WITH MATT EASTON

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM

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Do you yield coach joyceCoach Michael Joyce teaches classical foil fencing in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  Mr. Joyce got his training at both the St. Louis University (1998, 1999) and University of NC-Greensboro (1999-2002) Fencing Clubs.  He has been teaching (fencing) professionally since 2005 and enjoys fencing with the French Smallsword, the Chinese Jian (straight sword) and Shaolin Rope Dart the most.

GUNS: A Tool For The Weak?

Posted in Crime, Discussion Question, Safety, Self-Defense, Violence, Weapons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2011 by chencenter

Gun-related homicides have slightly increased each year since 2002.  People between the ages of 15 and 24 are most likely to be targeted by gun violence as opposed to other forms of violence.  Intimate partner violence can be fatal when a gun is involved – from 1990 to 2005, two-thirds of spouse and ex-spouse homicide victims were killed by guns* (usdoj.gov).

In a 2002 crime study* (UN/OCJS) the United States ranked #4 (behind South Africa, Colombia & Thailand) in gun-related homicides [#8 per capita].

Let’s compare that with our neighbor to the north, Canada.

United States- 9,369  ¤  Canada- 144

In Detroit, a US city fairly well-known for its crime, recorded 308 criminal homicides in 2010 (a 15.4% drop from 2009) (DN).  However, a tweet from director Michael Moore alerted me to the fact that Detroit’s city across the river, Windsor, had a total of ZERO gun-related homicides.  Whether you are a fan of Moore or not, you have to ask yourself a question, what is it about us that drives us to kill one another?  Is it because of our gun laws?  How about our access to guns?  Is it just our American nature?

I posted a video on my facebook page on Monday that featured musician Henry Rollins in a 1994 MTV ad on violence (the video).  In this clip, Rollins proclaims, “…The strong don’t need guns.  Guns are tools of the weak.”  I got a fair amount of comments on this video, and I’m glad it attracted the attention it did.  This topic has gone on time and time again, and yet, gun-related homicides continue to rise.

My (personal) stance on guns?

Guns serve little purpose in today’s society other than: getting people hurt, creating accidents (many-times harmful and fatal ones), and killing or maiming innocent animals for sport (which I’ve always been against).  Guns, to me, are relics of a by-gone era.  While I understand that our military and law enforcement may need the protection of a ballistic weapon, our “every-day-citizen” does not.

What about my Second Amendment right?

Yes. This Constitutional amendment “protects” the right of the people to bear arms.  But with this, I think back to the words of comedian Chris Rock that said, “You could drive a car with your feet if you WANT to, that don’t make a it a good &%# idea!”  What are we scared of that we need a gun around for?  Le révolution?

Ok. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.  So there’s a revolution.

My next question would be, “Who do you think you are?”  Am I trying to be funny by asking this question? Well, yes AND no.  While it may be exciting to think that we’re a Clint Eastwood character, it’s humorous to believe you’re going to “Make someone’s day” without first getting yourself killed.  Your best bet will be to drill for oil/”juice” and barricade yourself in your fort (see film, The Road Warrior).

What about hunting?

Too cruel for me, but if that’s what you enjoy doing…and if you’re like Dexter and you need to exercise that need to kill something (or you’ll just blow your top), then go right ahead.  I can’t stop you.  But why not try to wrestle an elk down with your bare hands?  Why not learn to spear fish?  Give the poor animal a fighting chance, by God!  Don’t just dangle its food source in front of him with a hidden spike in it!  Wow, you out-smarted a fish!  Wow, you sniped a deer as it was walking through a meadow (which was probably the only natural clearing available with all the nearby freeways).  I might be impressed if you smeared yourself with dung, crept within range and used a slingshot or bow and arrow to bring the animal down, but that’s just my opinion.  Whatever you do though, don’t display the animal’s head on your wall and grin with pride.  How barbaric… but then again, somewhere inside of you you must feel that it is too.

Additional Note

If you do plan on owning a gun, make sure it is stored in a safe place and you educate yourself properly on the care, use and handling of the firearm.  Understand the state laws and keep in mind that injuring and/or killing (even a criminal or attacker) may like hold with it a prison sentence for you.

Suggested Reading:Facing Violence” by: Rory Miller.

We’d love to you what you, our readers, feel on the subject.

The underlining question IS, however, “Are guns needed” and “Are guns the biggest problem with America (when it comes to violence)?”

Sources:

United States Department of Justice, The Eighth United Nations Survey on Crime Trends &, Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (2002), The Detroit News. January 2010 (Hunter)

Improving Self-Defense, Add Violence

Posted in Crime, Self-Defense, Training, Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2011 by chencenter

The highest concern for me as a self-defense instructor is to properly facilitate and encourage (by way of writing, coaching, lecturing, etc) practical, safe and effective training methods; period!  Not ones that effect a person superficially, but ones that cut deep to the marrow of reality; the very real world in which we live.  To be honest, we (for the most part) live in harmony.  We go to work, we come home to our family, or we go out to dinner with friends.  Most people don’t even concern themselves with the very real possibility that a vicious assault lays just around the corner.

We all lack confidence, just in varying degrees.

As we “free climb” upwards from where we currently are [self-protection readiness] we must have a strong and sturdy grip [abililty] to change our state to one of: high intensity, strong-willed, 100% determined.  Our foothold to this climb is our confidence.

Believe me or not…it does not matter.  Somewhere within that skull of yours you understand that in order to effectively conquer a violent aggressor, the modern man or woman must find it within themselves to not only reciprocate the violence being done to them, but to break rules, to go against (in most cases) their religious/social/cultural beliefs.  What is right?  What amount of violence is right, if any?  At what cost?  What must be at stake for us to act in such a way?  All of these (and more) are important questions to ask yourself.

Most people (including myself) have a natural aversion to violence.

As a kid I trained in the martial arts so that I wouldn’t have to win through violence.  Everything was properly planned out, and when needed, I would respond with the same energy, skill and grace that my heros displayed on television and film.  I would always be in the moral right.  I would always be merciful.  I would always beat them with a calm, collected mind.  And I would walk away from battle without a scrape or bruise.  The sorry chap would never seek revenge or vendetta because of the fear of being humiliated twice over.

Luckily, I grew into a man.  And although I can still hold a smile to my “invincible youth,” I can easily decipher fantasy from reality.  Reality comes into play when play is wild and spontaneous.  Training for real world violence, therefore, should be conducted with as much zestful aggression as one wishes to have in the moment.  Punching a bag for the sake of punching amounts to very little.  It’s as if you were trying to drink up a lake with a fork.

I leave you with this question…

When violence becomes necessary… by this, I mean, when there is no other recourse but to fight for your survival, how might we know if we have what it takes?

My belief is that it rests on two key components: how you change your entire physiology to aid in your survival, and how we build our confidence through proper, situational, and realistic training methods.

Many martial artists insist on fighting fire with water.  But I strongly believe, and it is essential to know, that there are times when you must fight fire with fire!

¤

Please give your thoughts below.  Let me know if you disagree, and/or if you have something to add.

Michael Joyce

His Combative Profile

»»» click the picture above to visit a short interview of Coach Joyce in this month’s Skirt Magazine (Jan. 2011).

10 Questions With Luke Holloway

Posted in 10 Questions, Self-Defense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2010 by Combative Corner

The Combative Corner is proud to introduce you to a guy that is (and has been) making a big name for himself in the field of close quarter combatives, security, crisis response and risk management (Law Enforcement / Military / Special Forces).

The Combative Corner became aware of Mr. Holloway through his many channels on YouTube (TeamWuJin, RCI Japan, Raw LEO Combatives, and more!).  Luke Holloway is the founder of Raw Combat International and is now in 24 countries.  Find out more about this extraordinary teacher at his websites Luke-Holloway.Com and Raw-Combat.Com.

Now… for our exclusive interview!  Enjoy.

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What brought you to teaching tactical self-prtotection?

I was simply sharing tactics based on my experience in my job (event/club security, protection, investigations and risk management consulting). I guess I just attracted a bunch of like minded people who saw it necessary to develop and maintain such skills. I never meant to create a ‘system’ or anything like that but people just started watching me on youtube (which was up for local students benefit in the beginning) and then I started to get asked to share things in many places (19 countries in the past couple of years).  As certified by the Australian Government in Risk Management, Security, Protection, Crisis Management, Sports Coaching and Work Place Training & Assessment (etc) I was able to structure things pretty easily.. things kinda just.. fell into place.

You’re currently in Shinjuku, Japan.  Where did you grow up and what brought you to Japan?

I’m in Japan because of a circumstance which I won’t go into for protection of my own privacy & personal security if that’s ok.  But I’d worked here before and spoke the language before I re-located here after doing a bit in Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, China and Taiwan.  I am originally from Queensland, Australia and grew up hunting/shooting and doing not much-else then that and martial arts.. hahaha, a sheltered childhood maybe??  lol.. just wasn’t into football or anything like that really…

What’s the biggest obstacle for you as a self-defense instructor?

Training civilians with ‘too’ much experience.  I think every instructor knows what I mean.  Although I just see myself as sharing what I got, people need to understand that martial arts and tactical training are two COMPLETELY different things! I don’t care if you put the words ‘Tactical’ or ‘Commando’ or ‘Combat’ or ‘Extreme’ or whatevers goin’ on these days, you can take one look and know it’s shit! Most of our members or active operatives in Security, Law Enforcement/Customs or Military including Japans newest Special Forces Group (CRF). I know what backgrounds, what training they have and what training they need to be able to respond to incidents effectively in a professional manner and therefore it’s easier to ‘train’ them.. but civys with a chip on their shoulder about doing a krav maga seminar and 2 kickboxing lessons I don’t have much time for to be honest. Too many shit dribblers! Talking about how they do ‘military martial arts’ or some shit how they are a ‘bodyguard’ yet don’t know the first thing about personal security concepts as they just mentioned their wife’s name, their kids names, where they live and where they’re from.. (displaying the fact that they don’t have a clue about any of the BASICS of protection on a professional level) I got all I need now to find them if I need to, lol.. just a waste of my time!

The fact is professionals, as in cops/military don’t need to know the style’s master, a bunch of foreign terms and how to wear pajamas and act as ‘in character (asian dress up party) as possible to learn how to survive the streets! They don’t need Jurus/Katas they need drills to become skills that they can employ immediately! Don’t get me wrong, I love martial arts, but I accept it for what it is and even though I live in Japan, I got no interest in trying to become the last Samurai! lol, but on the other hand I’m not one of these guys that loves to sit there and talk about how shitty martial arts techniques are but have no real answers myself..Trying to ‘prove techniques wrong’ is a waste of time I think, especially if you haven’t learned the foundational elements nor had to adapt and employ it in the field… other than that, yeah I got no time to talk about shit cos I’m too busy training! Feel me?

What would your reason for the “Streetfighter”/RBSD practitioner to learn a softer art such as Tai Ji Quan?

I don’t see myself as a ‘street fighter’ or this or that, my name’s Luke, I’m from the land down under and I don’t cop shit from anyone! That’s how it is, in my world; Respect is the only currency! I give everyone a dollar in the beginning, they sit there and expect the world and don’t show any real appreciation, gratitude or consideration but when it comes time for them to ask me for that dollar back I say ‘Sorry mate, but you only got 10 cents left in your account’.. and leave it at that!

I’ve dealt with armed attacks on myself and clients/patrons in public and also in private and I am training tactics that rely on assertiveness with committed, controlled aggressiveness and intimidation! That’s how I am, I made up my mind in the beginning that I refuse to be the victim!

As for Taiji, if you train push hands you learn to move/deal with any line of force/tension and or ‘energy’ (without being cosmic about it, let’s just say ‘gravity’).. So the expression of the ‘technique’ is irrelevant if you are truly ‘listening’.. not waiting but LISTENING (what you technicians like to refer to as ‘ting-jing’) which is making use of your hightened sense of awareness to expand that awareness through your own structure and into your opponents.. Now, I know I’m probably loosing more than half the people reading this by now so I can go back to being gutter mouthed sharp shootin’ Aussie! It’s simple: Control yourself and you can control your opponent (if you TRAIN how to).. knowing how is one thing but maintaining your skills and awareness levels is another thing! In short Taiji has helped me BIG TIME in shooting, grappling and restraining, contain & removal in the field; Simply because you train to deal with anything in an instinctive, natural/fluent and appropriate manner! The biggest misconception about taiji is that it’s some sort of spiritual cosmic bull shit and that you need to try and be more asian then the next fella to be able to do it/teach it. I stopped wearing the pajamas (guilty but I admit I once did, come on.. we were all brain washed at one point lol) once I started push hands and found that it saved my arse more than a few times in the field wearing gear and all!

What is one of the hardest things to teach (in your opinion)?

Kids classes!

hahaha, I’m a parent my self so I’m very passionate about kids becoming self reliant and making the right choices in life and of courses making their personal security a priority a long with training self protection (self defense is just not being pro-active enough as they train to wait for the attacks). I started teaching in the year 2000 and I’ve found that doing kids classes is very rewarding and enjoyable but hard to maintain your personal life/space as parents try and get involved or try and get you involved in their shit fights etc.. it’s quite hard to maintain a balance sometimes..

The other hardest thing to share with people is Taiji, it really just takes patience and commitment like no other art, but the mental, emotional and of course physical benefits are like no other.

What are some of the things you’d want every woman to know about personal self-protection?

As I work a lot as a security consultant advising corporations and most recently even regiments on risk management/crisis responses and prevention planning it is quite easy to give advice to women because most of them don’t know to start.. You can see it when they walk.. put yourself in a stalkers shoes, does she walk with intent? Does she look like she’s off with the fairies (day dreaming)?  Any other indications of being an easy target such as: Ipod, mobile phone being used, dark street she has chosen to take, etc?

The main thing is not setting a pattern and preventing stalkers (who have the potential to become kidnappers/rapists and other scum that just haven’t stepped over the line yet but are heading towards it with intent). Making privacy protection a priority ie – not adding people you don’t know on facebook (etc) when you put up your whole life on there including where you are at what time (like anyone gives a shit).. actually it’s funny cos a lot of these dudes who are ‘Tacti-coool’ trainers don’t obey basic principals of privacy protection/personal security either.. again, jokes in my book! But yeah, it’s not about learning mad martial arts skills it’s about using your head! Martial arts requires maintenance where as personal protection requires simple common sense, sometimes you just gotta show them how to develop that.. Can I leave that one there for now?  I think it’ll go on way too long! hahaha, sorry..

We’ve noticed from your videos that you enjoy knifeplay.  What is the draw?  And do you feel that knife drills are important for every “serious” self-protection student?

It’s like this, people in the UK ask my why I bother with it and people in the US ask my why don’t I show more of the ‘tactical stuff’ on youtube (free)?   Well, it’s the situation and the impacting factors (as always!) but think about this, even if you aren’t carrying a knife and you do disarm it/one and you don’t have a clue about survival tactics (with the knife, I’m not talking about martial arts – screw that for the time being)/ Weapon Retention it’s probably more dangerous to you than it is the assailant. Plus, our knife work is adapted to house hold utensils, pens, screwdrivers you name it, we’ll use it when necessary! Don’t get me wrong, again, I love martial arts but I’m a big white guy in the line of work who needs urban survival skills for myself AND others! I’m not a little asian guy and I don’t try to be! I don’t play dress ups anymore, I live in the real world and have had to deal with real shit.  Anyone else seeing what I see has woken up to them selves!

What has your experience (thusfar) as a full time trainer taught you?

Shit, I don’t know where to begin, off the top of my head (like the rest of these answers) I guess just being able to deal with different people..

I have taught security, law enforcement, customs and military/SF in more countries then I ever imagined visiting and when you look at different people in different jobs from different countries you get a pretty good variety. A lot of positive things have come of it; Patience, Tolerance, Flexibility and I guess another big thing is not giving a shit anymore.. by that I mean I used to care what people think about me/my material and now I’ve got bigger things in my life to be concerned with. Kids talking shit on the internet doesn’t mean much to me, they’re the one’s loosing sleep over it all! hahaha

What are your thoughts regarding Traditional Martial Art form work?  In your opinion, do they help or hinder a practitioner’s ability to react spontaneously with the proper intent?  If so, do you feel there should be a short, CQC (close quarter combat) form or kata?

No.

I do not believe that Kata/Jurus helps you with that at all! Not only is there no-one in-front of you, there’s no situation/incident which is spontaneous/random/intimidating/un-fair etc.. However, it’s like pad work.. it just develops a certain skill. In Chinese arts we do forms (Taolu) and in my southern training a lot of it was based on developing intrinsic energies within the body which create explosive power, in Japanese arts it’s kata and all about basics being reliable (however in my jujutsu training here in Japan there was never kata) in SE Asian (Malaysian/Indonesian/Filipino) we have Jurus and to me they are much more realistic (as they are more savage when the Buah ‘application’ is trained) but still are limiting.  And this is why we do a lot of scenario based simulation training with no rules/limitations (mind you I’ve lost the same tooth twice doing it recently haha) but it’s worth it, well worth it! I sometimes still train my tonglong forms/drills cos they rip the shit out of you and develop and insane amount of energy but I don’t bother with Jurus much anymore, I’m not a muslim nor an asian so I don’t pretend to understand the ‘cultural benefits’, when I’m in SE Asia training Silat I simply follow and of course appreciate whatever is shared with me, weather it be ‘the deep dark secrets of jungle blade arts or a nice meal and tea, but my own personal training has a different objective. Today, I’m still training taiji, regardless of what anyone says – it’s the real deal.. unfortunately it will take most people until they are in there 50s (no longer to do what they can now and have to look at an alternative) to realize/appreciate that.

Where does Luke Holloway see himself 10 years from now?

Everyday brings new things/beings and situations into your life that will effect you, I try and make the best out of every situation.

So I’m just crusin’ along seein’ what’s goin’ on… make sense? As long as I have the health and safety of me and my family, I’m not too bothered about what I’m doing. Of course I’m passionate about it, but I’d be just as happy to be doing other things that are positive and productive for me – it’s not about leaving a ‘legacy’ or ‘being remembered as this or that.’ I couldn’t care less! I’ve have met wonderful people and had a wonderful time appreciating everyday and making the most of it, if it ended tomorrow I’m still content, if I’m still doing it in 10 years and we are still happy and healthy we are blessed.

Bonus Questions: We just recently had a Roundtable Discussion.  The question was “What’s your favorite (martial art/inspirational) book that you OWN, and why?”

I collected martial arts books in high-school/college and realized they were all B.S. when I started in my profession, that was even further supported when I saw a lot of those clowns on youtube. In a book, you can say what you want and show what you want in slow motion and make yourself out to be anyone, from anywhere doing anything… same in MA mags which are total B.S. these days, they have ‘Halls of fame’ Bwhahahaha, what a joke! The ‘famous’ guys are the ones who have spent over 10 grand on advertising with them. I advertised in a magazine once and before then no matter how much I tried they wouldn’t put my material in their news or do a story or anything.  If it’s not profitable, they are not interested, which is fair enough. But I went home earlier this year and I don’t have any idea why but I brought a magazine (MA) and it’s still got the same fat guys in pajamas talking the same shit about how ‘samurai’ they are or how their lineage is more ‘correct’ or how ‘scientific’ their techniques are.  It’s all a big joke to me and so are books in most cases! I would rather read someone’s story and get into the guy’s head if I wanted to learn from him.  A recent book I have is called ‘The Art of Deception.’ It is full of case stories about one of the worlds best hackers and manipulators of the human element of security through social engineering.  It re-enforced that I am on the right path as a consultant & active operative but also gave me the chance to see it from another point of view, the criminals.

I’m sorry mate, that’s probably not really what you wanted to hear and I know a lot of people may be offended by some of the things I’ve said.  In my experience it usually means I’ve hit the nail on the head and that nail was on their weak spot!  But nothing is mean to be in vain or offensive, you asked my opinion on things and I gave it, I hate preachers and shit dribblers so I refuse to be/act like one.

Anyhow, I’d like to say thank you and the Combative Corner for giving me the chance to be heard.

Bless you all.

¤


10 Questions with Tony Blauer

Posted in 10 Questions, Self-Defense, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2010 by Combative Corner

Tony Blauer is one of the foremost instructors of self-defense and has been teaching for over 30 years.  Michael Joyce got an opportunity to sit down one-on-one with Mr. Blauer and ask him 10 questions in the Combative Corner’s first-ever video interview (8-Part).  Mr. Blauer is the founder of Blauer Tactical Systems, the inventor of the concept known to many as S.P.E.A.R. and of High Gear®, the market’s most lightweight, mobile and thus, effective tactical training gear.  For more information on Tony, please visit his website by click on the image above (or here).  To view his products, including his line of High Gear®, click on this link.   Now, without further ado, Mr. Tony Blauer!

[Total Duration= approx. 1 hr. 15 minutes]

The fast-track to our videos, subscribe to Combative Corner on YouTube

MANY THANKS TO MR. TONY BLAUER

*Please leave any questions or comments in the spaces below.  When we get around to giving a second interview, we will pick several of the questions from the comments that you guys send.  Be sure to bookmark The Combative Corner and/or Subscribe.  Many great interviews and articles on the way.

Next up… a 10-Question Interview with Mr. Geoff Thompson!

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PART 2: Richard Dimitri Interview

Posted in 10 Questions, Self-Defense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2010 by Combative Corner

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).

PART 2

(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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