There might have been a slight case of ‘cart before the horse’ in that the previous article was about how to to talk to someone who has made contact with you. This article is about how to establish that contact in the first place. Never mind, it is all part of the same process. We know that we need to create leaflets, posters, web pages and adverts for publications but what should we put on them that will get the attention we want?
Obviously the exact content depends upon your needs but there is a basic formula which is always worth keeping in mind when creating any publicity material. You can remember the format with the acronym AIDA.
A is for attention, this usually means the headline so it is well worth giving a lot of thought to the heading. Spend some time studying newspapers and how they construct their headlines for the front page and for individual stories. We tend to take these headings for granted but in fact a great deal of thought and experience goes into creating them.
I is for interest, the first sentence or subheading needs to build interest. A question often works well here such as. “Would you know what to do if you had to to defend yourself or a loved one?” Again study newspapers and see how the first line or two of the copy ensures that your interest is further developed.
D is for desire, this will probably be the longest part of the copy. This is where you show how they can get something of value to them by training with you, more confidence, greater fitness, self-mastery etc.
A is for action. Often very good copy and layout finishes without a clear call to action. The best action is something which gives them something for free but enables you to capture their contact details. So it could be an invitation to visit an opt-in page on your website and download a booklet on the history of your style. Through opting in you get their email address and name. Or you could suggest they telephone you to register for a place on a free introductory class. Or simply invite them to their first class for free if you can accommodate that. Just make sure you tell them to do something.
If you include an illustration then it is probably best to put it towards the top right of your layout and don’t forget to include a caption. Be willing to test several variations in your design content and layout. The AIDA basic structure usually provides a good foundation but it is up to you to develop the details.
Final point to consider. Remember that your potential students are interested in what your club and classes can do for them. Your grading, how long you have been training, who you trained with and how many people attend your classes are not of primary interest to them. So get attention and build interest by stating how your club can benefit them. Keep instructor grades and similar information for the desire building section and even then be careful to stress the benefits of having a 6th dan instructor and bear in mind that many people new to martial arts may have no idea what ‘dan’ means or if they do they may be intimidated by the prospect of being instructed by such a being.
Good copy writing to create really effective adverts in any medium is more of an art than a science. It needs a lot of attention to detail and a willingness to test responses. Examine carefully as many different examples as you can and learn from them. Then have a go, create something and get it where people can see it. Remember, even a really mediocre advert that is on display is going to have infinitely greater effect than a masterpiece which is never actually finished and seen by anyone.
For more information about Graham, please visit: www.iceandfire.org. If you would like to add your own thoughts/experience to help others promote their clubs, please leave your comments below.
After a bit of a break, here is the 3rd article by Graham Butcher, Author, International Stav Teacher & Master, to help you market your club. Although we may think of ourselves as above “selling our classes”, any interaction with a prospective student does really include a sales process. Graham gives you guidance below to help you to be more effective at this.
At the end of this article, you will find a link to an interview that I did with Graham back in March 2012. Well over to Graham for his article:
You may think that you don’t actually sell your martial arts training. Well perhaps not in the way that a car dealer sells a vehicle. However you will have conversations when someone comes into your Dojo and asked about training with you. Or they phone or email and ask for more details. Or you may be at an event such as the charity martial arts event which took place in Portishead early this year and find yourself in conversation with a potential student. In these situations you owe it to yourself and your club to deal with a potential student in a systematic and professional way.
According to marketing expert Chris Cardell there are five factors in making a sale. The first step is rapport, next knowing needs, then meeting objections and finally closing. The fifth factor is an overall belief in what you are offering, if you don’t have that then you will be neither convincing to others or being honest with yourself. So lets look at this in more detail and consider how you can apply this concept to a martial arts club.
Rapport basically means getting on with people and making them feel at ease. This largely means being relaxed and simply being yourself. If you are tense and frustrated about something then it is going to be difficult for you to make others feel at ease. You can also help by mirroring the other person, this means adapting your communication to them. So if you have a confident young man in front of you then a fairly loud and fast voice delivery and some gesticulation may well be very appropriate. If if is a middle aged woman who is interested in taking up martial arts for the first time and is rather nervous at the prospect then speaking slowly and quietly may be best. If it is a small child then sitting or kneeling to make eye contact on the same level as you talk may be a good idea.
The most important thing in establishing rapport is that you pay attention to the other person and that brings us to the second stage, ascertaining needs. The temptation when trying to make a sale is to start telling the potential customer how wonderful your product is and bombarding them with reasons why it is so great. This is a big mistake because you have already managed to convince them that your style is worth considering. You know this by the fact that you are having the conversation with them at all. So now you need to be discovering what their needs are. You will do this from asking them questions and, much more important, paying attention to the questions they ask you. It is also essential that you are honest with them as to whether or not your club is really going to be right for their needs. If you have someone asking about the spiritual benefits of practicing Kata as moving meditation and your training is all geared to preparing for MMA competitions then you may do well to direct the person to the local Tai Chi class. Have names and phone numbers at hand if possible.
All instructors find themselves confronted with the same situation and other teachers may well make referrals back to you when appropriate.
Once you have established that your class may meet their needs then you have to be ready for objections. Objections are usually based on cost and risk, eg how much is this going to cost me in money, time and effort? What am I risking if something goes wrong? Money shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you are clear up front about the costs. If they claim it is expensive then point out that you rent an appropriate premises for training, that classes are kept to a size so that there is individual attention for each student and so on.
Just make sure they know that there are no hidden costs that are going to be sprung on them later such as huge fees for gradings. If gradings are expensive because you get a top instructor over from Japan to judge progress then this may be a plus point. Just be up front about it from the beginning. Often people are afraid of getting hurt and that is a legitimate concern in martial arts training. All you can do is emphasize the care with which classes are managed, your first aid training, insurance etc.
But again be honest and let them know what the risks are in your class, for example a postman has to be able to walk a long way each day for his job so if strained knees are an occupational hazard in your style our hypothetical postie might be forgiven for thinking twice before training with you.
A common way is to overcome objections is to offer a free first class so that the potential student can try out the class at no financial risk. This can be disruptive to the rest of a regular class so if you have a lot of inquiries it may be a better idea to do a special introductory session specifically for first timers. Which brings us to the fourth stage which is the close.
It is all too easy to have a very satisfactory conversation about your style and agree that your class sounds absolutely wonderful and then the person just wonders off and you never see them again. So if you really think this person should be training with you then close the sale with a call to action. Ideally get them to give you their contact details so that you can send them more information and keep in touch with them. Don’t pester them relentlessly but six further contacts over a reasonable period would be okay. If someone doesn’t want to be contacted any more they will usually tell you directly. Otherwise it is reasonable to assume that they just haven’t gotten around to showing up yet and they actually appreciate the continued effort.
Reasons you might create for making contact might be that you are holding an introductory open class, that you have published a new leaflet which you are sending them, created a new website for them to visit, opening a new class near to where they live, taking part in a open event and they may like to attend. Even if they don’t respond themselves there is every chance they will pass the information on to someone else who will.
To summarize, be approachable and establish rapport, pay attention to the needs being communicated, be ready to answer objections and then make a call to action at the end. All the time be true to your beliefs and values in everything you say and promise.
For more information about Graham, please visit: www.iceandfire.org. If you would like to add your own thoughts/experience to help others promote their clubs, please leave your comments below.
Stav is a very rare Norwegian Martial Art, which dates back to the Vikings. Along with numerous weapons and unarmed combat, it also has a very deep philosophical, spiritual and self development side to it, which is very different to anything that most of us would usually associate with the Vikings.
One of the World’s leading authority’s on this rare and ancient martial art is international Stav instructor and author, Graham Butcher; who has kindly agreed to do this interview.
Graham has a lot of insights to share which will be of benefit to any martial artists, regardless of style. This is despite the fact that it was developed in North Europe’s, whilst most martial arts have their origins in the Far East. In fact in some ways it gives a fresh perspective, whilst at the same time still having a lot in common.
So, on to the interview:
CW: Graham, I believe you practiced other martial arts before you found and focused on Stav. Can you tell us which other styles you trained in?
GB: As a teenager I started with Kyushindo Karate under Sensi George Mayo. I followed that with Feng Sau Wu Shu where my teacher was Graham Horwood. I also trained in Shotokan Karate in Southgate before I took up Kick boxing with Joe Holmes and the last style I trained in before I took up Stav was Nambudo which I practised for a couple of years before moving to Humberside where I met Ivar Hafskjold.
CW: Stav is a very rare martial art. How did you come across it?
GB: Sometime in October or November 1992 I was scanning the magazine stand in a Hull newsagent and I felt compelled to purchase the current edition of Fighting Arts International, a publication belonging to Terry O’Neill. I hadn’t bought a martial arts magazine in a long time so it was strange. I got it home and read it an there was an article called the Viking and the Samurai by Harry Cook. The piece was an interview with Ivar Hafskjold who had recently returned to Europe from Japan and settled in the UK. Over four pages the article covered Ivar’s experiences in Japan and Stav, the family system. It also turned out that Ivar lived only a few miles away in Beverley and he was interested in finding students to teach. At the time I was teaching a self defence class and I felt that getting in contact with Ivar Hafskjold was the right thing to do. I wrote him a letter and received a phone call in return. We met up and talked and I was shown some of the training Ivar had received in Japan. Not having done Japanese weapon arts let along seen Stav before it all seemed a bit strange but something made me think it would be a good idea to learn from Ivar. He was holding a class in Driffield at the time so I joined that and began training with him.
CW: Having practiced other martial arts, what was it about Stav as a fighting art that appealed and made you want to stay with it?
GB: Difficult to say really but I think it was two things. Firstly it was realising that Ivar could teach me stuff I didn’t already know and I wanted to learn from him. Secondly it was the emphasis on realising one’s own potential rather than having to attain an arbitrary external standard. That’s really it, I have learned stuff from Ivar which I am sure no one else could have taught me, and I anticipate that there will be new insights to gain from him when I train with him on the summer camp in July. And I continue to explore and develop my own potential using thepractice and principles of Stav as a framework and guide.
CW: Tell us a little bit about Stav as there’s a lot more to it than just a fighting system isn’t there?
GB: It is very dangerous making a comparison like this but I will risk suggesting that Stav can be compared to, say, Taoism in the sense that Tai Chi may be a Taoist art but Taoism is not Tai Chi alone. Stav may be learned, practised and expressed through martial training but there are many other aspects to it. Stav literally means “knowledge of the rune stav/e/s” . The runes have a roughly comparable place in European culture as the Iching does in China. (I know these are very imperfect comparisons but they may be helpful). The runes are symbols for learning traditional wisdom and accessing the intuition. The runes also provide the inspiration for the stances which are rather like a Chi gung form. Doing the stances daily promotes a good posture, maintains a full range of movement, develops deep and natural breathing, encourages the flow of Megin (vital energy) and induces a relaxed and focused mindset.
Stav also teaches an awareness of environment including plants, trees and animals as well as the seasons, weather and topography. Socially Stav is concerned with self-reliance and being able to take care of yourself while also understanding how society works and how human beings interact. The five principles of Stav help us with this.
Then there is learning to see the Web of Orlog which is about understanding how things are made and connected to one another. This is about seeing the underlying reality of any situation rather than just the surface impression. This applies to all aspects of life, relationships, business, health and making and creating things.
CW: With all these different facets to the art, do you practice them all equally, or is there any aspect that you specialise in?
GB: I do the stances daily and I have a particular interest in martial arts and martial training so I give time to that. I also work at making, building and fixing things in my Handyman business. I am interested in marketing, teaching and communication generally. I use these to promote my Stav teaching and the Handyman business. I sometimes work with runes directly and they are effective tools for developing self knowledge but I don’t give a huge amount of time to that aspect at the moment.
CW: Stav includes a number of weapons. Obviously knife defence is as applicable today as it was centuries ago when Stav was first created. What other weapons do you teach that are still directly applicable in today’s world?
GB: Firstly we teach basics with the staff because it is a very effective way of learning how to use the body. Techniques done with a long two handed weapon give very clear feedback on the positioning and alignment of the body. An almost imperceptible movement of the hand becomes a displacement of several inches at the end of a staff which the hand is holding. Not only can the teacher see this but the student quickly becomes aware of this for themselves and the staff in a sense becomes their teacher. When doing two person drills working with thestaff breaks down the difference in size and strength between those training. So the principle can be explored and seen more clearly than if all contact is body to body. So we would regard weapons primarily as teaching devices to build knowledge, awareness and confidence. Once these qualities are developed they will easily transfer to unarmed training.
Secondly we have to realise that human beings are tool using animals and weapons are just tools with a specific function. Unarmed self-defence is only relevant in the very artificial situation which exists in current western society. Does anyone teach tool free DIY or implement free gardening? The idea would be ridiculous and in reality so is unarmed self-defence. However present social conditions make it difficult to carry a weapon on a regular basis so we do need unarmed self-defence skills although we would do well to remember that however good we may be a weapon can confer a massive advantage to an opponent of even mediocre skills. You may obey the law in not carrying an “offensive weapon” but you can be reasonably sure that someone who is determined to hurt you for some reason may not be so deterred. The weapons which are most accessible to us (and least likely to be considered “offensive weapons” by those whose job it is to regulate, sorry, protect us are tool handles, walking sticks, walking staffs, martial arts “training” equipment etc. The humble stick in whatever form will never be obsolete as a weapon so teaching staff (broomstick) axe (pick handle, baseball bat, golf club) and cudgel (walking stick etc) will never be irrelevant.
Post interview note: Here is a video of Graham demonstrating knife defence. He also demonstrates the 5 principles of Stav, referred to above:
CW: How relevant do you feel it is to practice ancient weapons such as axe and spear in today’s world?
GB: Personally I use an axe and its smaller cousin the sax (a heavy bladed machete) on a regular basis. My work often involves clearing overgrown vegetation including trees. Cutting wood and other plant material is a great way of learning to handle an axe or sax, building strength, learning to see the web line needed for an effective cut and earning money all at the same time. Stav is a totally practical art.
Another reason for working with the axe is that to develop good defences you need a very good attack to defend against and the axe, in the hands of a competent person is a very good attacking weapon, so once again it is a teaching tool. And as stated above in extremes the axe is as good a weapon for self-defence today as it ever was for a Viking and you can have a perfectly legitimate reason for owning it.
A spear is essentially a longer staff so training with it adds some variety to practice of basics. That is the main reason. Of course if necessary a spear is very easy to improvise and in skilled hands it is the ultimate close quarter weapon.
I certainly have reservations about martial training systems which aretechnology based. By that I mean that they train with particular kinds of swords and everything is really geared to exploring the potential of the sabre, or rapier or broadsword or whatever. In Stav training we essentially with four sticks; long, staff or spear, medium, axe or two handed club, short, cudgel, walking stick or possibly one handed sword and tein, which can be a short baton or represent a knife or dagger. Each of these enables you to train for a “real weapon” but each is highly effective for self-defence in exactly the same form as you train with if you know what you are doing with it.
CW: I note that your website and other Stav websites use the title “Ice and Fire”. Clearly opposites! Is that the Viking equivalent of Yin and Yang? Does the Stav philosophy have a lot in common with the philosophies of Eastern martial arts?
GB: The Ice and Fire name comes from the Norse creation myth which describes how the world came into existence in the Gunning Gap a place between fire and ice and in the vapour that formed life developed. I suppose it is a similar concept to Ying and Yang but I think the Vikings were a bit more literal in their thinking, Ying and Yang are abstract concepts, Ice and Fire are everyday realities. All human beings have to engage with the same fundamental issues so there will be parallels in martial arts philosophies too. However it would take a long time to unpick them all.
CW: Are there any areas where Stav philosophy is significantly different to the Eastern martial arts?
GB: Another tricky one to try and unpick in a few lines. There is a major Confucian influence on Eastern martial arts hence the seniority of the teacher and submission to that seniority becomes an overriding imperative in the practice of the art. Whereas with Stav as a western system the emphasis is on the development of the individual. There is a lot more to be said than this about superficial differences but ultimately they are just different paths to the top of the same mountain.
CW: Martial arts are different things to different people; sport, combat, self development, business, combination of things. Can you sum up what is your personal philosophy on martial arts?
GB: For me it is primarily self-development, I think self-defence is important but the best way to protect oneself is stay out of trouble. I enjoy teaching martial arts and would like to do it full time, but to achieve that it will have to be a reasonably successful business.
CW: You describe Stav as your “primary activity”. How does Stav affect your day to day life and what benefits do you feel you get from your daily practice?
GB: It keeps me fit and healthy which is obviously important. It also helps me see things clearly which is very helpful for solving problems which is basically what I do in my ‘day job’.
Despite being centuries old, Stav is still being developed to make it morerelevant in today’s society.
CW: Can you tell us a little about your role in this development and what specifically you have brought into the mix?
GB: I have been working with Ivar since the beginning to make Stav into a system which could be taught as a public system rather than as a family tradition which is the way the Hafskjolds had passed it on for centuries. By learning the system myself and then seeking to teach it to as many people as possible I think we have got a little closer to having a teachable system than we had at the start. Ivar is an amazing teacher but he would admit that you have to be in the right place to start learning from him. I have focused on how to teach Stav from scratch to any one who is serious about learning.
CW: I note on your website that you have a particular interest in martial art training for older people. This is an area of interest for me too. Do you have any general advice for the more mature martial artist?
GB: Big subject, but very briefly I would recommend getting very focused in one’s training. Take an 80/20 approach where you concentrate on the few exercises and techniques which will bring the greatest benefits. Don’t over strain yourself or waste energy.
CW: You teach seminars in several UK cities as well as in Germany and the USA. Are there any other countries that you’ve taught in and how did this come about when so few people (even in the martial arts world) have even heard of Stav?
GB: I have taught a seminar in France a few years back and Ivar has taught in Australia and Scandinavia. It has been mainly people seeing the websites and getting interested enough to organise a seminar.
CW: You have written a book; Stav: The Fighting System of Northern Europe. How did this come about and is it the only book available on Stav?
GB: I wrote it when I had been doing Stav about three years. At that stage I felt I knew enough to produce a kind of manual. Quite recently I wrote a supplement to it which I provide to anyone who buys a copy. There are some booklets on other aspects of Stav available from my website. It is high time I wrote a new book but these days I feel like I don’t know enough, I just need to get over that and get on with it.
CW: You also run a blog about Stav at http://iceandfire.ca/stavblog which you post on regularly. Has this been well received and what type of issues do you focus on?
GB: I do get good feedback and I focus on any aspect of Stav and related issues, which pretty much means I can write about almost anything. I suggest readers have a look for themselves.
CW: You are currently doing Geoff Thompson’s Masterclass. How much of this do you find fits in directly with your Stav training and do you find any parts to be very different?
GB: The concept of the fence fits very well with our training in the five principles. Okay, I haven’t tested Stav in 300 fights but I do have some experience of violence. I find his teaching on fear and how to manage it very helpful and I am incorporating that into my teaching more than I used to. None of Geoff’s teaching seems alien but he certainly emphasises stuff I hadn’t always paid enough attention to.
CW: What are you future plans for your own training and for spreading Stav?
GB: I am looking more at the unarmed/self-defence aspects of Stav training, Geoff Thompson’s influence has been very helpful there. I am doing much more impact training than I have done for many years using punchbags etc and that is interesting. As far as spreading Stav generally is concerned I will be making more training dvds and writing more. I am also taking more opportunities to teach Stav at multi style events, these are always a good chance to spread the word.
CW: Do your Stav seminars have much to offer martial artists of other styles who are not looking to change style, but just want to explore the whole ethos of martial arts more deeply?
GB: Depends a bit on which one they come on. If I am focusing on five principles or working with the web training then these concepts are useful to someone doing any style. If I am teaching stances, or axe training or nine guards with staff or spear it is a bit more specifically Stav but it could still be of interest. I would suggest calling or emailing me first and saying what it is you are looking for and I can see whether or not that particular seminar is likely to be suitable for your needs.
CW: How should people contact you if they want to train with you, or to book you for seminars?
CW: Graham, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview and for your insights. I wish you every success in your future projects and I’ll have to come and train on one of your seminars in the future.
For anybody interested in obtaining Graham’s book, you can get it from Amazon:-
I asked in my Newsletter and Facebook page if people would like another category on this website for information on marketing their martial arts clubs. Several people replied that this would in deed be useful. My friend, Graham Butcher, author and one of the World’s leading authority’s on Stav has taken the initiative to write the first article for which I am very grateful. So below is Graham’s submission, I hope you find it useful.
When Charlie said that he wanted to include a section on Marketing into his newsletter I decided to offer to contribute to it. Why should you be interested in anything I have to say about marketing? Three reasons. Firstly my day job is running a Handyman business with my partner and we do okay and have plenty of clients so we must be doing something right. Secondly I have been studying marketing with Chris Cardell and Jon McCulloch for the past couple of years and I will be happy to share some of the principles that they teach. Thirdly, for the past 19 years I have beenteaching and trying to develop interest in Stav. Many of you will know how hard it isto get people interested in well known Martial training systems such as Karate and Aikido. So you can imagine its rather harder promoting something as unknown and frankly improbable as a Norwegian martial training system brought to the UK by a Scandinavian nobleman with Viking ancestry and a profound knowledge of the runes and Norse mythology. I think you see the problem.
So this September I am launchinga new class in Crewkerne (the Somerset town where I live) and I intend to make asuccess of it by throwing every marketing trick I know at the good people of Crewkerne including having leaflets and website critiqued by Jon McCulloch before the public sees them. I will be happy to share the process with you over the next few months and let you know what works and what doesn’t.
This month’s tip, Chris Cardell’s three principles for growing a business. Don’t objectthat yours is a club not a business. If you are taking money in return for a a service(providing martial arts training) then you are running a business. Even if the club is run on a cooperative basis and no one actually takes any money out of it personally the organisation still needs an income to pay its bills. If you can increase that income you may be able to rent a better hall, bring in guest instructors or purchase better training equipment.
So in order to grow the business you need: • More customers (students) • More transactions with your customers/students • More value from each transaction
And you need to combine all three because there is a level at which customers/students actually cost you much more than they give you in return. If you offer a free lesson as a taster then every week you might have five more students coming for just that free lesson. Well your marketing must be working well on one level in that it is bringingthem in, but they aren’t giving you anything in return and will be drawing a lot ofattention away from your regular students. So yes, you want to be increasing the number of students at your club but look at this. If you just increase the number of students by 10% (and they are actually paying for the class) then the income increases by 10% and that is good but if you have say, 10 students paying £5 for one class per week over a 10 week period that is an income of £500 (I will keep to nice round figures for simplicity).
There are three things you can do to increase income by 10%, one more student raises income to £550. On the other hand if you put in an extra class every ten weeks, say a Saturday morning special technique class that would add that extra £50 or you could raise the price of classes by 50p and that would be worth £50 over ten weeks. Now combine those and see what happens: 11 students x 11 classes = 121 at £5.50 each is £655 or an increase of over 30%.
Something to think about and remember that if you are making a better return you can provide a better service.
For more information about Graham, please visit: www.iceandfire.org. If you found this useful and would like more similar information, please click the “Like” button and leave your comments below.
Charlie kindly asked me to contribute to this site after our Stav demonstration in the Martial Arts Festival which was held in Bath in May 2010. After a gap of a few months I am very pleased to do so. Members of Ice and Fire Stav were honoured to take part in the Festival and since Stav is a relatively unknown training system it gave us a valuable opportunity to showcase our practice. I am also grateful for the opportunity here to explain more about Stav and shed more light on its unusual origins.
Stav was brought to the UK by Ivar Hafskjold see in the early 1990s. Ivar grew up in postwar Norway where he learned the family tradition of body, mind and spirit training from his Grandfather and elder uncles. Stav had been passed down through the family for many generations but was being lost simply because the post war generation were
finding better things to do such as studying at university etc. There is a similar trend in the orient today where Japanese and Chinese young people would frequently rather play baseball than learn traditional Bushido or Taoist arts. Ivar however had a serious interest and learned as much as he could from his uncles and Grandfather but there was a limit to what his elderly mentors could teach him on the practical side of things. So in his early 30s he went to Japan where he remained for 14 years and during that time made an intensive study of Japanese martial arts.
Stav literally means “knowledge of the rune staves” and these 16 symbols are the basis for the system. They are used most directly as posture, breath and meditation exercises which we call the stances. When performed in their basic form the stances look very much like a simple Tai chi form. The more advanced versions use chants to enhance breath and raise energy levels and these are comparable to Chi gung forms. If you daily practice Stav then your Stav practice is to do one version or another of the Stances every day and these are a sort of Kata. The runes have all kinds of uses beyond the relevance of this article but one of their purposes is to reveal the Web of Orlog. This simply means the underlying reality of a situation. The web is made up of lines. These may be lines of a structure, or lines of effort and energy, or simply lines of intent. In a combat situation there are lines which connect you to the opponent and vice versa. There are lines that matter and
those that don’t. When attacked we need to be aware of the lines of force which can hurt us, so avoid or divert them. Also the lines which are of no importance and simply ignore them. When countering we are looking for the line or lines which will collapse the attacker’s web and neutralise them. This means more than just hitting someone on a vulnerable spot, although that can be pretty effective. We are aiming to take the line through the body and thus disrupt their balance and take them down.
In order to develop an awareness of the lines repeated cutting practice is used.
Actually cutting wood with an axe or sax (Scandinavian equivalent of a machete,
Anglosaxon; Seax) was probably the traditional way of doing it and this is a very effective way of learning to take a clean line very accurately. But we also do the kind of cutting training that comes from Ken jutsu or the striking exercises which come from Jo jutsu. These Ivar learned during his 14 years in Japan where he attained 4th dan in both these arts. We now use the axe and full length staff rather than boken and jo but the principle is still the same. This weapon practice teaches us to work with the lines outside the body while the stances teach us to use them internally.
The third element of Stav training is practising drills which teach the five principles of Stav. Ivar teaches five simple exercises with the staff defending against attacks with sword or axe which he learned from his grandfather. These are our traditional Kata and it is the application of their lessons which makes Stav effective. I’ll briefly outline the five principles: The first one is called the Trel or slave principle and this one teaches you to back off from a situation where you have no real interest in getting involved. The second is the Karl or freeman principle which is about keeping people out of your space. The third is the Herse or warrior principle which is about enforcing your will on an opponent and taking them under control. The fourth is the Jarl or priest principle which is where you deal with the attacker by disassociation. The fifth the Konge or king principle which is where you take them down simply because you can, or take the consequences. Over the past 20 years we have developed a number of two person drills with different weapons and unarmed which teach the five principles. These are effectively short kata with very direct applications. In all
training we are looking to work with the web and this very often means using one
stance or another, or combinations of them to provide techniques and to interpret the technique according to the principles we are working on.
This has created a very satisfying martial training system to work with and it provides a very practical selfdefence training system too. This works because we learn how to act in a conflict situation before we need to worry about what we should actually do. Supposing the classic: “Who the **** do you think you are looking at?” scenario starts to develop? If it is none of your business and there is nothing to prove then you adopt the Trel mindset which is solely concerned with avoiding getting hurt, this means being firm and confident but strongly communicating the message that you are not going to fight and simply removing yourself from the situation. If grabbed or punched your response would simply be to put sufficient distance between you and the attacker to render any further attack pointless. Once your tormentor has proved his point that
he is “the man” and you are “not worth it” then hopefully he will cease.
If the scenario is someone trying to force their way into your home or other space for which you are responsible then you need to operate on the Karl level. This basically ensures that an intruder doesn’t get past you. Again you hope that confidently communicating the message that they are not going to be allowed to come in will do the trick and most of the time it will. If they do try to force their way in then shifting your body so that you can block their head and lead foot simultaneously will prevent their entering, once momentum is checked then pushing them outside and shutting the door or calling for help should be possible.
If you do have some responsibility for keeping order, such as being a policeman or a doorman then you are in the Herse role. In this case the key is to make sure that an opponent knows that you have the authority to order them to leave or detain them. If you can communicate this effectively then you will probably manage the situation just fine. But if you do have to get physical then the person should be taken off balance and controlled as decisively as possible. You should of course also have some way of summoning back up as soon as possible.
In the case of dealing with multiple opponents or you have greater concern than the fact you are being attacked, dealing with a casualty for example, then you are probably in a Jarl role. This means you are allowing your sub conscious mind to deal with the attack while your conscious mind focuses on more significant matters. This can be very effective but does require a well trained mind set.
Back to the idiot who was bothering you in the first example. He doesn’t back off when you made it clear you didn’t want to fight him, his mates are blocking your escape , no one around is likely to help you so what have you spent 20 years studying martial arts for anyway? The Konge attitude is: “ a minute from now he is going to be very sorry he picked on me, or I will realise that I might as well have being doing embroidery rather than sweating in a dojo.”
It should also be clear that it is your responsibility to be honest with yourself as to which principle you can realistically get away with any given situation and switch principles when necessary. They are essentially options for choices, you make the choice, you live or die with the one you make.
It should also be clear that although the concepts can be explained in a few hundred words it takes years of correct training and regular practice to get to the point where “seeing” the lines and using them instinctively becomes second nature. I will look at some of the ways we train for this in subsequent articles.