Fighting Is Not Self Defence

I read the following post on Facebook today by Kevin O’Hagan, one of the Worlds best teachers of Reality Based Martial Arts.  It sums things up so well that I thought I’d share it with you:-

“I read alot of posts on facebook these days about the age old question,’What is the most practical and effective fighting system.  I hear shouts for Krav Maga, BJJ, boxing, Thai etc etc.

One of the things we must take into consideration is fighting is not self defence.  Fighting or having a fight is about two participants agreeing to engage in mutual combat.

Self defence is about one party minding their own business getting on with life when unfortunately violence comes their way unexpectedly.
These are two totally different things.  If you are prone to fighting in the street you will have a very short shelf life.  You will either be spending a good percentage of your life behind bars or eventually six feet under.
Self defence can be split into two distinct areas.  Confrontational and ambush.  That’s it.  A match fight is not in the equation.

In self defence if the situation warrants physical response and isn’t dealt with in 3 seconds it will deteriorate into a type of match fight but that is a rarity.  Normally the first person to land a shot wins.

Self defence isn’t about sparring up and feeling out your attacker before you launch your deadly attack, it is about somebody sucker punching you in the head before you even know it, or pushing a glass in your face or a knife in your guts.  There will be no posturing and twirling of the weapon or any bad ass dialogue before this happens.

It is about somebody grabbing you around the neck whilst you are checking your Iphone.

It is about being chasing down and having a pack of animals kick ten bells out of you.

In the world of match fighting it has been proved beyond doubt the big boys that stand up under pressure are boxing, wrestling, Thai and BJJ/submission wrestling. Why?  Because they are mainly practised as combat sports.

Self defence is situational and scenario driven.  It is a totally different world.  Its not to say these combat arts can’t make the change over but they need to be adapted greatly.  This is a huge topic on its own.

Having a row outside the chip shop or pub isn’t and never will be self defence if you have willingly engaged and not tried to find another solution.

Teaching self defence and teaching fighting are not the same thing”.

If anybody is interested in real world self defence, I’d highly recommend that you “like” Kevin’s page to find out when he runs his seminars.  I might well meet you there!

Review Of Kevin O’Hagan’s Anatomy Of A Street Assault Seminar

Kevin O’Hagan, 7th Dan Combat Ju Jutsu and author of numerous books is undoubtedly one of the very best Reality Based Martial Arts instructors in the UK.  On Sunday 2nd Sept, I attended one of his seminars on the Anatomy Of A Street Assault.  As per usual, Kevin’s seminar was very informative, practical and thought provoking!

Kevin O’Hagan demonstrating with son Jake

The first section looked into the different types of assault, perpetrators motivation behind each type of assault, how to identify them and how to avoid being selected or how to defuse a situation once you have been selected.  This is the part that this review will cover.  There was a very pragmatic physical side to the seminar as well, but that is not covered here.

Firstly, it was made clear that we were not talking about fighting.  Kevin defined fighting as either combat sport, or when 2 people decide to step outside and “sort it out”.  A fight is basically where 2 people, for whatever reason, both consent to having a fight.  A street assault (subject of seminar) is where one person initiates violence and the other is unwillingly drawn into it.

There are only 2 real types of street assault, which are:-
*      Confrontational
*      Ambush

Confrontational

Otherwise known as “social” violence, where the perpetrator is generally showing of to an audience; trying to intimidate the victim and make himself look tough.  It is easy for the victim to be drawn into this if not careful and then it could degenerate into a fight (where the victim is provoked to the point of consenting to fight).

Generally this consists of staring and excessive eye contact.  When the eye contact is met and matched (which the perpetrator is looking for), then threats are made (usually accompanied by a lot of profanities).  This can escalate into pushing and shoving, more profanities and louder shouting, then eventually (if one of them does not back down) a big hay-maker is usually thrown, followed by a full on fight.

Going back to the first stage (staring), Kevin explained that the you simply do not meet the stare.  You glance around at the perpetrator, you can even nod at him in acknowledgement, but you do not hold and return his stare.  But you don’t turn your back on him either.  This way you let him know that you aware of him (he can’t launch a surprise attack), but you are not returning the unspoken (at this stage) challenge.  This may be enough to avoid escalation by not giving the perpetrator an excuse to escalate.  However, if he does escalate and aggressively ask who you are looking at, you simply apologise and say that you were looking at somebody near or behind him who you thought you recognised.  Either way, it is better to simply apologise than to end up in a pointless fight.

Perpetrators tend to de-humanise their victims, so try to make yourself very human to him.  You could say something like “sorry mate, I’ve just lost my job and wife’s left me and I’m having a really hard time right now, I really don’t want any more trouble”.  It might be enough!

Each situation will be different, so you have to make your decision at the time.  Another possibility is to try to put doubt into the perpetrators mind that he might be picking on the wrong guy by saying something like, “sorry mate I really don’t want any trouble.  I’m still on probation from the last fight I had and I really don’t want to go back to jail”!

If this still does not work then it could progress to the pushing and shoving stage.  At this point, if you don’t think you can talk him out of it then you have 2 main options; pre-emptive strike, or face him down with your own show of highly aggressive behaviour.

Whichever strategy you choose, you should already be in The Fence position.  You may say something like “is there nothing that I can do to persuade you not to fight me”?  Possibly you might get a positive answer that there is something you can do to avoid further conflict.  If you get a negative answer, then you will hopefully have witnesses to testify (if required) that you tried everything to talk him out of it.  At this point as you ask the question, you should be lining him up for a pre-emptive strike to a vital spot which will hopefully finish it all then and there.

Alternatively you may decide to push him away really hard and step back slightly as you do so.  The step back gives the impression that he has been pushed further back then he actually has been and giving an exaggerated impression of how strong you are.  At this point you launch your own tirade of threats, abuse and profanities to try to intimidate him into thinking that he has picked an even bigger nutter then himself.

Other factors to consider include that male victims will often not want to back down if they with their girlfriend/wife and the perpetrator will use this to provoke further.  This can include directly insulting the lady.  But Kevin pointed that most ladies would much rather walk away then have their guy involved in a fight, so a guy is just making a bad situation for his lady even worse if falls for the bait.  If however you have a lady who would want you to get into a fight, then Kevin’s advise was “get rid of her, she’s trouble”.

But each situation will be different so a judgement call will have to be made at the time.  Kevin also emphasised that as well as practicing the physical techniques, you should practice the verbal lines above in role play with a training partner, or you will forget them under pressure.

Ambush

Ambushes are asocial and the perpetrator does not want an audience.  These people are more “professional” then those who seek confrontation and they give no warning or build up.  It just happens and you have very little time to react or prepare in any way.

Kevin explained that the best way to avoid this type of assault is through awareness.  The ambusher is looking for an easy victim who they can assault (mug, rape) quickly and efficiently without any witnesses.  An analogy was drawn with lions hunting.  Lions always try to single out the young, old, frail or injured; who has strayed from the main herd.  In the same way, the human predator looks for somebody on their own and somebody who is not really aware of their surroundings.  This could be somebody who is engrossed in texting on their mobile phone, lost in their IPod, or simply putting groceries into the back of their car and not looking around.

Simply looking around so that the street predators know that you are aware of their presence (so they won’t be able to take you by surprise) can often be enough to deter them and have them look for somebody else.

It was also emphasised that if anybody tries to force you into a car or to go to a secondary location, do not co-operate in any circumstances.  At the secondary location the perpetrator can do whatever they like without fear of being caught.  Although at the original location they may be threatening to kill or maim you, THEY are still afraid themselves of being caught.  You are better off facing injury at the original site, then possible death at a secondary site.

General

This review only covers part of the seminar and there was much more to it that what is covered here.  Most martial art courses deal only with the physical skills of fighting.  Very few deal with avoiding or de-escalating a situation so that you don’t have to fight in the first place.  Kevin O’Hagan’s courses are applicable to people of any style and I would highly recommend them to any and all martial artists.

To contact Kevin  or to keep an eye open for future courses, go to his website, at www.KevinOHagan.com or befriend him on Facebook.

Kevin O’Hagan’s Teaching Diploma

Having been to a couple of Kevin O’Hagan’s seminars, I can vouch that the guy is a great teacher and extremely practical.  Most of what he teaches is simple, effective and can be easily incorporated into your own style.  I certainly incorporated it into my Karate and into our DVD, Inside Bassai Dai.

Kevin and his son’s, Tom and Jake will be running a 6 month Teaching Diploma next year, which I would highly recommend.  Apart from Kevin’s practicality, he is a real gent who is very approachable, humorous and makes time for anybody who has questions for him (on and off the matt).  His son’s are the same.   I’ve posted about Kevin before, so you have a look at the type of things he does HERE.

Anyway, for information about the diploma itself, here it is Jake O’Hagan’s own words:-

DON’T MISS OUT ON THIS……….

I am writing to you with a unique opportunity so that you can be first to pencil it in to your training calendar for next year.

At the start of 2011 Kevin O’Hagan is planning to host his first ever 6 month Diploma course to qualify the lucky few as an official instructor in the O’Hagan Total Combat System. This diploma will train you to a standard where you are able to incorporate and integrate parts of Kevin’s system within your arts where possible and pass on to others. It will be authenticated and signed by Kevin. This will be a unique and highly sought after credential. Kevin is a respected internationally in the world of reality combat so this diploma will carry some weight.

This unique training experience will occur once a month for 6 months and will require full commitment to every training session to complete the Diploma. You will have the chance to train through intense 4 hour sessions side to side with Kevin as he works closely with you to hone your martial skills.

The course will be split in to 6 modules which will be based around topics such as anatomy of a street predator, predicting violence, understanding fear, threat assessment, Manstoppers, combat ground fighting, adrenal response, mugging rituals, multiple opponents, control and restraint, weapon defence and much more!!!

As you can see from the subject matter the Diploma is bursting with information. Theory and practical hands on training make up the subject matter. Both aspects are as important as each other in Kevin’s system. The Diploma will help you understand the street predator inside and out then focus on verbal and physical ways to systematically defuse defend or attack back successfully.

Kevin will impart over 34 years of knowledge in these intense 4 hour seminars to a small group of applicants on a very personal basis. He will be sharing the essentials and fundamentals but also be letting you in on all his martial secrets and favourites that will distinguish you from the rest.

This really is a unique and valuable opportunity for anyone who is serious about martial art. This course will not be padded out or sugar coated; it will be fast moving, jam packed and no nonsense. Due to Kevin’s martial arts up bringing in the Japanese arts of Goshin ryu and Kodai ryu combat jujutsu under instructors such as the hard and infamous Mickey Upham, ’Mad dog’ Dave Vincent, SBS veteran Mike Marshall and the renowned self-protection guru Dave Turton, Kevin has brushed shoulders and shared mats with the very best in the self-protection, Jujutsu and MMA world.

Kevin is now one of the few active instructors in the UK teaching these dying arts. He wants to preserve and promote them for the future. Will you be one of the fortunate applicants to aspire to this?

This course will change your training perspective forever! As pre-mentioned Kevin has trained with the best and is excited to offer this Diploma after years of hard training. This chance will be limited to a small numbered group and will be very personally taught at a very reasonable price; for martial artists from any background. We want to provide this opportunity to as many as possible in the future so we will guarantee you get your money’s worth.

If you are interested could send a reply to this or respond via phone; we will give more details and answer any questions you may have. Again this will be a unique chance and only available to a small group; so register your interest ASAP.

Thanks for your time and I hope to hear from you soon

All the best

Jake O’Hagan O’Hagan Total Combat System Tear Up Promotions +44 (0)7789 865 284

PS:  Please let Jake know that you heard about here!

New DVD: Inside Bassai Dai (Kata Bunkai)

Keith and I are very pleased to release our new kata bunkai DVD, “Inside Bassai Dai”.  For those not familiar with Bassai Dai, it is a very central kata in many Karate systems and is often used for black belt gradings to 1st Dan.  This is fitting considering it’s author is the Okinawan master, Soken Matsumura who is a very pivotal character in the development of Karate.

Matsumura was one of the prime movers in developing linear technique (previously, Okinawans practiced primarily Chinese based circular techniques).  He also taught Azato and Ituso, who went on to teach Funikoshi (who introduced Karate to Japan and hence the World).  So Matsumura’s impact on Karate is enormous.

Matsumura’s master was taught by a Chinaman and Matsumura is known to have gone to Shaolin to do some training.  It is therefore appropriate that I am working with Keith (a Kung Fu exponent) as it takes us back closer to Matsumura’s original influences.  It also makes this DVD a bit unique.  There is also a free DVD on Kicking Tips being given away with it.  Anyway, it’s been getting some great endorsements and is available at our store with full details if you want to check it out.

“This DVD delivers a down to earth and realistic look at the often misunderstood Kata of Karate.  Simple to follow and easy to understand.  It is great to see Charlie Wildish incorporating my ABC system of manstoppers in to his karate, it is must have principle for any serious combat martial artist.  Good work Charlie”.

Kevin O’Hagan:  7th Dan Combat JuJutsu, 6th Dan British Combat Association.

“This DVD is a must for any true Karateka who is interested in uncovering the essence of Bunkai, and understanding the true meaning of Kata.”

Mark Winkler:  6th Dan Wado Ryu Karate, Qualified Systema Instructor

 

Does Pressure Point Fighting Really Work?

This is an area that you will see debated from time to time with people for and against it.  Some claim that pressure points make your techniques ultra effective, whilst others claim that in the heat of the moment you will not have the accuracy to find the point whilst somebody is trying to hit you at the same time.

So who’s right?  Well in my humble opinion, the truth lies somewhere in the middle and it depends on the circumstances.

If you start a fight 6ft apart, close in, then exchanging blows with a capable opponent; I believe that it would be difficult (but not impossible) to find pressure point targets.  Just think when you are sparring against somebody of equal skill, it can be difficult landing a blow on their torso (which is a large target), never mind finding a very small pressure point to hit.  Furthermore, when you have just had an adrenalin dump, your fine motor skills do not work as efficiently.  For this reason, many people advocate concentrating on developing your techniques (regardless of style) so that you are fast and powerful and you will hurt your opponent wherever you hit them.

On the other side of the coin though, very few fights start 6ft apart.  They usually start much closer with the antagonist making impolite enquires as to who the fornication are you visually observing!  Or something like that.

In this kind of scenario, if you are genuinely convinced that you are going to be attacked and you are not able talk sense into your assailant, at some point you may take the decision that you will have to beat some sense into him instead.  I’m not talking about somebody calling you names or jumping a queue, but a real threat of imminent violence.  In this scenario a pre-emptive strike to a pressure point will be much more likely to succeed.  The opponent is still posturing, still psyching himself up; he’s not actually going for it yet.  You don’t step back into a guard as that only warns him that you are a proficient martial artist and tips him off to attack you even more vigorously.

You are better off using what Geoff Thompson calls “the fence”, with hand open and facing down in a universal position of neutrality, feet apart in a solid stance (but not a martial arts stance), engaging his brain with some dialogue (anything at all – isn’t it a shame about the polar bears!), then hit him as fast and hard as you can on a vulnerable point.

Now some traditionalist may get a bit hung up on this, as Funikoshi (founder of Shotokan Karate) stated that in Karate their is no first attack.  This has been interpreted by many as you need to stand there and wait for the other person to throw the first punch.  This is obviously not very practical.  What he really meant was that we should not go looking for a fight.  In other places, Funikoshi has described how to deal with an assailant by showing no sign of fighting, using a pre-emptive strike then running away to get help.

And as I’ve heard Kevin O’Hagan say, “you don’t really want a fair fight do you”? After all, he started it not you.

There are of course other considerations.  Firstly, if your assailant is drunk or high on drugs, they may not even feel very much as there senses are dulled, yet their aggression can be heightened.

Secondly, if your assailant is fully hyped up and adrenalized, they will feel less.  Have you ever cracked you shin against somebody elses in sparring?  You think “ouch”, give it a quick rub and carry on.  But the next day, it is throbbing like mad.

Why did you not feel it very much in sparring?  Its because you were fully warmed up and your adrenalin was flowing.  However, if you (or you assailant) are squaring up for a real confrontation, you have an awful lot more adrenaline in your body than when you are sparring.  You will absorb a lot more punishment without even thinking about it . . . . . and so will he!  Kevin O’Hagan reports of a case in America where a guy attacked a cop with a knife.  The cop shot the guy 4 times, yet the assailant still managed to get to the cop and stab him before collapsing.  How well do you think your pressure point strikes would work against a knife wielding assailant who keeps going with 4 bullets in him.

Boxers have been known to break bones in their hand early in a fight, yet still finish the fight.

I witnessed an incident in a pub many years ago where a confrontation broke out between two lads.  One obviously wanted to fight and the other one did not.  Very quickly a friend of mine, Daren, intervened to calm it down.  Now Daren is a very large, solidly built guy, who whilst having a very friendly disposition is not the type of guy you would want to get on the wrong side of.

As Daren tried to calm the aggressor down, he was met with a complete lack of reason or logic.  Daren lost his temper and went for the lad.  It took 3 of us to hold Daren back, swearing and snarling in complete animal rage, with his sister trying to talk him out of it.  The lad who had started it all turned white.  My friend Keith (who you can see elsewhere on this blog demonstrating bunkai with me) tried applying a pressure point to calm Daren down.  Daren in his complete rage did not even seem to notice.

After a while Daren calmed down and the other lad made a hasty (and wise) exit.  When Keith met Daren a few days later and asked him what all that had been about, Daren gave a cheeky smile and said, “6 months stress all out in a few minutes”.

Human beings are capable of taking an awful lot punishment when in a rage, adrenalised, or just plain determined enough to finish the job; so it does suggest that pressure points can be limited when against somebody in a rage or fully adrenalised.

That said, there are some points that no matter how drunk, high or adrenalized a person is; cannot be resisted.  An attack to the airways so that they cannot breath will always work, be it a strike or a choke.  However, much of a rage someone might be in, if they can’t breath, they can’t fight.

Attacking the carotid sinus (side of the neck where you feel the pulse), causes the blood pressure to the brain to drop and hence the assailant passes out.  This can be done with strikes (especially knife hand) or strangles.

Also an upward blow to the chin or the side of the lower jaw line causes the brain to “bounce” against the back of skull, causing un-conciousness.

These points (and a few others) should normally work under any conditions, though you are more likely to succeed with a pre-emptive strike than in an all out fight.

Whilst I believe that pressure points are valuable and have there place, they should not be treated as a short cut, or as a replacement for perfecting your technique.  Whilst most people recognise that technique may only be 50% efficient when under pressure, 50% of a good technique is still much better than 50% of a bad technique.  If you are not able to get in a pre-emptive strike, you may find yourself having to simply hit your assailant as hard as you can, wherever you can, until a good target becomes available.  By then however, you may be too adrenalised to spot the opening, because a side effect of adrenalin is that blood goes from your brain to your muscles, slowing up your thought process.

Even if you are lucky enough to get in a good pre-emptive strike, that strike will need to fast and hard, which brings us back to good technique.

Russell Stutely is recognised as Europe’s number one leading expert on pressure point fighting.  I recall one of his newsletters where people had been writing in asking him why he spends so much time doing pressure points.  However, his response was that he only does a small amount of training on pressure points, with most of his personal training being basics and power development.  When you look at Russell’s training program, he deals with balance points, power generation and other aspects before he starts on pressure points.  So if Europe’s number one expert on pressure points does not take short cuts and neglect his basics, neither should we.

This is only my opinion and I don’t claim to have gospel knowledge on the subject, but I hope it helps others to form their opinion.

Kevin O’ Hagan: Combat Jutsu & Manstoppers Course

I have recently had the pleasure of seeing Kevin O’Hagin and his two sons, Jake and Tom, performing a demonstration at the Rotary Martial Arts Festival in Bath.  It was fast moving, dynamic and one of the highlights of the Festival.  Kevin’s style of Combat Justu, based on his many years studying various froms of Ju Jutsu, and other related arts, is a no-nonsense brutal system for defeating an opponent quickly and efficiently.  The people that Kevin has trained with is extensive and reads like a who’s who of reality martial arts.

Kevin is a former professional cage fighter as well as successful author – brawn and brain 🙂    However, he separates his teaching between the sporting MMA side and his Combat Jutsu street defence style.

He has recently been awarded his 7th Dan in Combat Jutsu and is a 6th Dan Senior Instructor in self protection with the British Combat Association, the most respected reality based self protection organisation in the UK.  In short, Kevin knows his stuff.

I have inserted a few Youtube clips of Kevin teaching, so that you can see for yourself the type of training he gives.  Furthermore, Kevin is running a course soon in Bristol (UK).  I have inserted a copy of his promotional poster below.  I would say to anybody from the Karate, TKD world etc., who may not think that this is anything to do with your style; think again.  Many applications from our Kata’s/patterns/forms, are very similar (sometimes identical) to Ju Jutsu, so I’m sure that if you look carefully, you will find Kevin doing moves that you have seen before, but never thought of applying them in that manner.

(Note:  This third video looks quite close to Kung Fu Tiger style with the raking fingers)

To find out more about Kevin O’Hagan, go to his website: www.KevinOHagan.com