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 1st International combative seminar

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Registration date : 2007-06-27

PostSubject: 1st International combative seminar   Fri 29 Jun 2007, 09:52

International Training Seminar 2003
review by Nick Engelen


The seminar was held in the YMCA in Liverpool on 26th and 27th July 2003. I arrived together with two people who I met at the hotel the night before. There were around 30 attendees that came from different European countries, however, most were from England, some from Wales others were from Sweden, Norway, Italy, and I came from Belgium.

The day started with an air of excitement. Dennis began to explain the origin of what we know today as ‘Combatives’. The syllabus of what we were going to be taught, originated from people like, Fairbairn, Sykes, Applegate and Styers. It was taught to Commandos, SOE, Home Guard and other allied forces during WW2. ‘It’s not a martial art, but it’s the most effective way to end a violent confrontation’ Dennis explained.

A quote by Kelly McKann goes: ‘The main difference between Martial Arts and Combatives is that Martial Arts are something you do with someone, where as Combatives are something you do to or on someone’.

Next Simon Squires and his group explained the ‘Vital-Pyramid’. A way of presenting the core priorities of self-protection, it’s been adapted from the famous ‘SAS’ Survival Manual by Lofty Wiseman.

Like with a building, good foundations are the most important point, in this case ‘Mindset’. You can know the best techniques and have the most heavy calibre handgun, but without a good ‘Mindset’ it will be useless.

There is a saying: ‘Proper intent is more important than proper technique’.

The first part of the seminar was about ‘Hard-Skills’. First we did a warm-up with Shuttle-Runs and other variations including high repetition exercises. I was already tired after the (light) warm-up. (Probably the beer the night before.)

Next came the ‘Hand Blows’, which most of them are shown in the books ‘Get Tough (All in all Fighting)’ by W.E. Fairbairn and in ‘Kill or Get Killed’ by Applegate. All techniques were open hand blows. This will save the fingers in case you hit a hard part of the opponent’s skull.

It was vital Commandos and SOE-people protected their fingers, because they needed to use weapons and place explosives etc. Another advantage is that when you hit your opponent with an open hand, you can sometimes grab their hair or ears and tear them off.

The first move we were taught was the ‘Tiger-Claw’, which we practiced on pads. Then we combined the move into a fitness-programme. While we were training, Simon’s people walked around with a video camera, which gave us all a reason to perform well.

During the drills, Dennis played some music with an upbeat rhythm. Not that we were doing some kind of Tae ‘Gutter fighting’ Bo, but the music was used so we would associate the music and its rhythm to the physical activity.

The next technique was the slap. Dennis said, ‘If you hit someone with a slap it looks less aggressive than when you use a fist’. First we practiced the ‘Slap’ and the ‘Backhand-Slap’ on the pads, and then we had two opponents to practice with.

After that we did the ‘Edge of Hand Blow’. First we were shown a short version with drop-step and then the longer blow. With my right hand it was going very well, but after trying it a few times with my left hand, my ring finger had swollen to twice its normal thickness. Dennis also showed us the Japanese strangle, also known as the ‘Sleeper Hold’ and the pivot kick.

The second part of the training on Saturday was the ‘Master Class’. We started with the ‘Elbows’. Dennis showed us a drill he called the ‘V-5 Elbow Drill’, named after the US V-5 close combat manual. We were also shown the ‘Perrigard Drill’, which contained all moves we saw that day and was in my opinion pretty hard to perform. It’s named after the author of the book ‘All out hand to hand fighting’.

To finish off we were then taught the ‘Chin-Jab’. After practicing the body mechanics on our partner, we practiced on a ‘Chin-Jab-Pad’. When the drill finished, Dennis complimented us all on our performance. It was nice to here we were doing well.

We also covered stick work. Most ‘Stick Fighting’ taught these days are the Filipino Martial Art ‘Escrima’. That’s where they use rattan sticks to attack the bony portions of the body. In the Filipinos it’s very warm, so the bony portions are uncovered. Here, however, in North-West Europe, we are constantly covered in thick clothing. Therefore, we are taught the allied stick fighting system by Fairbairn and Styers.

After the stick work, we learned about the ‘Offensive Knife’. It wasn’t about ‘Sentry-Neutralisation’, but just using the knife in an offensive way. Knife against knife is very rare in the real world. Usually one as a knife and the other doesn’t. Therefore it’s better to have your knife out first. We learnt about angles of attack, targets and what to do against blocks, etc.

Before the day came to an end, Dennis showed us a small part of his knife collection and then ended with a group photograph.

This was the end of day one. During the course we did some positive self talk, we did it standing and lying on our backs with our feet only inches from the ground, (wishing Dennis would talk faster.)

So far the journey from Belgium was proving to be worth the effort. I’d enjoyed myself immensely and learnt a lot. I couldn’t wait for day two. That night most of the pupils stayed in Liverpool, which gave us all a chance to get to know each other. We had a few drinks and dinner at a Chinese restaurant before retiring for the evening in our hotel.

The second day began with the same air of excitement. Everyone was fired up for another great day. Day two started with the ‘Instructor Program’ and Dennis explained the different phases of its contents. Thereafter, Simon Squires and his group took over. The first thing they explained was some important concepts from the CQB syllabus.
The next speaker was a man nicknamed ‘Romulus’ to explain deception, artifice and improvised weapons. His methods of hiding an attack were effective and sometimes even funny (as an onlooker).

Simon Squires conducted the next presentation. He talked about ‘SAS’, not the 22nd SAS regiment, but SPEED, AGRESSION and SURPRISE. Using these elements will allow you to overwhelm your opponent and maximises gross motor striking. Next he demonstrated the ‘Fend Drill’, which incorporated those three principles and is a nice strategy.

After the presentations, the attendees exchanged some knowledge about self-defence. As we had doormen, military personnel, security people and martial artists among us, there was a wealth of knowledge flying about.

After this lecture, Dennis gave a presentation about teaching. One nice quote he showed us was ‘Qui Docet Discit’ or ‘He who teaches learns’. This is very true. I also teach and talk about things I’m researching about myself. To be able to teach something, your understanding about it has to be deep. You have to know what you are talking about, so what better experience is there than first hand experience?

The teaching incorporated ‘NLP’ or ‘Neuro Linguistic Programming’, which in human language is, the ‘Language the Brain Uses to Learn’. Dennis spoke about the ‘Neural Based Instructor’. Marcus Wynne said, ‘The NBI crafts a learning process, which allows the trainee to experience certain significant lessons’.

We also learnt some presentation skills, which I wished I’d known a few years ago when I had to do a presentation at school, however, better late then never.

For the ‘NLP’, Dennis invited a friend of his named Tommy McNally who possesses a lot of knowledge on this subject, which for us, was a privilege to listen too.

After the presentation we had a warm-up and took a glimpse at ‘Modelling’, which is an important part of ‘NLP’. We took the pivot kick as our technique of choice. As I’m from an Aikido background, my performance of kicks was bad. After modelling the best kicker in our group, I improved from 50% to 70%. Actually everyone improved at least 20%.

Last, but certainly not least, we covered ‘Scenario Based Training’. One person in a protective suit simulated an attack. To keep the pressure high, the victim had to let the assailant touch him instead of pre-empting. First some of Simon’s group showed us how it had to be done then it was my turn. I felt my adrenaline start to rush, but I stopped being nervous once I got into it. I don’t remember exactly what I did, but the people who watched told me that I performed well.

That was the end of the seminar. Was it worth it? You bet it was-it was fantastic and I learnt loads that weekend. We had photos taken and then we went our own way. Some went home, others went for a meal in ‘China-Town’ the oldest ‘China- Town’ in Europe apparently.

During diner we spoke about our weekend and we all came to the same conclusion; it was a magnificent seminar. The food was great, the waitresses were pretty gorgeous and the beer was first class. (I think the Chinese got the recipe from the Belgians)

After paying for our lovely meal, we left the restaurant and saw the most beautiful Chinese gate. Dennis explained ‘that it was a gift from Shanghai, which is a twin-city with Liverpool’. Is it a coincidence that the roots of ‘Combatives’ also lay in Shanghai?

We all said our goodbyes and swapped contact addresses. Dennis and his assistant Brian were so kind to walk a large part of the way with me to guide me back to the train-station. Without their guidance, I’d still be in the UK looking for my passage home.

It was a weekend worth remembering. We had a great teacher, some fantastic speakers and kind people to share it with. I would highly recommend this course to anyone; you won’t be disappointed.

By Nick Engelen
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