Hello all, well it is time to get right back on track with some self defence oriented blogging. To start I would like you to make yourself comfortable, watch the following clip and then we will begin.

Ouch!!! That hurts on so many levels. I know the word on the tip of your tongue is ‘awareness’ and that is OK, but, does the guy look like an attacker or just another customer? To me he looks like another customer waiting his time at the counter. That is why when the attack is launched it comes completely out of the blue from a true snipers position, you never hear the one that gets you. No time for stances or squaring off, this is how criminals operate, they stack the odds very highly in their favour. They may or may not be stupid but they can work out the shortest most effective way to get what they want off you, in this case $2, (I always said MacDonalds was bad for you).

Thanks to the internet we can pull off hundreds if not thousands of clips like this to illustrate points we wish to make, I got tired of watching them some time ago and as for these Ninja Commando type instructors who maintain a safe distance at all times, “nobody gets within 6 feet of me without me being ready to take them down”, are living in a bubble, a fantasy world. This morning I went shopping in Sheffield, I went to buy fish from my former brother-in-laws stall in the Castle Market, (yes I know the price of fish and Conger Eel). I stood at his counter chatting and chewing the fat paying no attention to others at the side of me, I could have been the guy in the vid. It is not necessary, probably psychologically unhealthy, to maintain high levels of alertness at all times. We work off subtle signals and crude stereotypes to assess threat levels unconsciously, once signal are detected then we begin to consciously assess what is happening around us. We have developed these skills through the long process of evolution and we are uniquely adapted to our environment.

Marc ‘Animal’ MacYoung wrote a great piece recently about these subtle signs and social rules in a piece entitled High Risk Behavior and Knowing Where You Are’, (come back and read Marc’s superb piece later just click the link). I kind of work to a colour code system, white, yellow and red. White is daydream time, doors locked Sunday snooze after dinner time or when I am alert and aware of the environment I am in and who else is there and feel safe. Yellow is when I have picked up the scent of something not right, a subtle signal, a smell or sound, it does not matter what causes it but my awareness and preparedness are beginning to kick in. Red is when it is going or gone wrong, time for rapid OODA, Observe, Orientate, Decide and Act, QUICKLY. Ok you may think that is over simple, you are entitled to your thoughts and opinions but simple works, remember KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid. It is not just suckers who get taken out by a sucker punch, it can happen to us all if we do not see the signs, misread them, fail to understand them or, unforgivable, ignore them or we come up against the predator who can mask the signs superbly.

The thing with colour or any other codes is they work when we know the rules and others stick to them. In the vid above our chap is in code white, the world is ok, he knows the rules, so does the other guy, but the other guy also knows how to break them. He has decided to break them and to do so quickly and efficiently. That could easily have been me this morning at the market, it could be you in a post office, bar or at the bus stop. Most of our self defence training works within the rules, we think we are Romans in Rome, but the Barbarians are amongst us, they look like us and dress like us and can often be indistinguishable, they walk amongst us like shadows. However, quite often the crude stereotypes work well, I will use one group as an example, the Chav.

Here in the UK there is one trendy lefty who writes of ‘Chavs; The Demonisation of the Working Class’,  he argues that Chav is a derogatory term used to identify working class youth sub culture.He gets quite a bit of air time especially after last summers riots in which the chav held centre stage along with many other underclass sub groups. Let me describe chavs. Chavs are mostly undereducated, unemployed, unemployable, ignorant layabouts who are responsible for much anti social behaviour and congregating largely on workless social housing wastelands to drink cheap alcohol and smoke weed, they can be viewed daily on the Jeremy Kyle Show on daytime TV, a bit like your Trailer Trash in the USA, not that I am prejudiced at all.

So when in Chav territory it is code yellow for me, this also applies if they encroach on my territory. Social rules apply in everyday life and in conflict because conflict is part of everyday life. The social rules of the chav are different to mine, they are the Barbarians in my Rome. Our value systems are different and they and I know it, there is mutual suspicion and distrust, we have had chav incursions into our area many times in the past, lets say they were run out of town. They come to our quiet little suburb to escape being policed in their own areas and because they believe, wrongly, that they can do what they want here, they take liberties, but not for long. The stereotypes click into place, order is restored and life goes on, communities defend themselves as well as individuals, however, I digress. Chav or any other ‘threat’ means a move up the colour coded warning system, if the threat becomes active then it is game on, like small birds mobbing a Magpie, it is time for the prey to confront and eject the predator, (chuck out the chav).

When I work with groups I ask them to thing of predators and prey, to begin to identify subtle signs and indicators and to play a game using this knowledge. I ask them to visit our main pedestrian shopping area, Fargate, and to observe people with two aims, one is to assume they are the predator and to identify likely victims, then to reverse their role and be the prey looking out for predators. It is a cool game and for those who profess the hold no stereotypes or prejudices it will expose you as fakes, ok that is a bit rude, as idealists then. It is a mean game, it strips away our pretences that we hold dear the idea of equality, we may all have the vote, we may all need to take a piss etc but when it comes down to natures red claw, it can be a war of all against all.

You cannot train realistically for an attack like the one in the vid because the fact that you are training ruins the drill, yes you can practise likely scenarios and differing levels of intensity but it is still plastic. A few of us took our training out of the dojo last year and into the woods, uneven ground, natural obstacles, for a wood, and changeable weather introduced whole new variables to our training. It got even better in the dark with just a couple of lamps and head torches, the target you are hitting is hard to see and that great footing in the dojo is not there in a bed of leaves and sticks on a slope, so the kicks and punches lose some power. We called it Wild Wednesdays, our emphasis was on fitness and stamina with lots of pad work thrown in, it is really good. The fight bsimulations are trickier than in the dojo for sure. We have now decided to take this a step further and are about to launch Skirmish Sunday, the idea being that we must cover a set route and distance within a time limit, along the route we will set one another mental tasks such as quiz questions and problems, there will be padwork stops and random attacks, anyone on anyone, one, two or more attackers with or without weapons at any time, it sounds like fun it will feel like hell I hope, it is designed to be tough.

When Rory Miller was over here recently he held one session in a grungy nightclub in Swindon courtesy of Andi Kidd, I know of others who have hired a bus, used deserted premises, car parks and in cars and all manner of strange places to train. This is the way forward I believe to take people out of the comfortable classroom, dojo and gym because real attacks happen in real life in the most ordinary places. The snipers are out there with the bushwhackers, muggers and sociopaths, the prowl the urban savannah selecting their victims with stealth and care but always ready to take a target of opportunity when one presents itself. How do you break the mould and train for real attacks? I am really interested in what you are doing and what you think of our stuff? Lets do what we do best and share our radical training ideas, I am interested in putting a book together to capture some of the great stuff different people are doing, do you want to be part of that? Let me know by commenting on this blog, bye for now, stay safe, Garry.

Oops I forgot, here is a guy who can spot a sucka OK,