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Number of posts : 9061
Registration date : 2007-06-27

PostSubject: BCA Masterclass   Wed 11 Jul 2007, 15:01

Coventry, Nov 2003
By SlackBladder

I must be the luckiest man on earth.

I arranged to go to the BCA Seminar at the AT7 Centre, Coventry on very short notice. Work didn't want me to turn up on Sunday, so I took advantage and saught the opportunity to train with the inimitable Dennis Martin once again. Crackerjack.
A pleasant surprise waiting for me at my parents house was the shock visit of my sister, recently departed to University. I love my sister dearly and wouldn't have any harm come to her for all the world's riches, so I put two and two together and persuaded her to attend the BCA seminar with me. At the very least, she could learn something and walk away richer for the experience.

We turned up at the AT& and sat down on the sidelines, swapping greetings with those who also tuned up early. I was priviledged to meet Nick Engelen (whose English is much better than my Belgian) and the indominatable Alan Beckett (who can kick, punch, slap and elbow like a train, btw) as well as some familiar faces from the Stress inoculation course like Si, Romulus (my hand still hurts) and Patrick. Poor old sis was was getting more and more scared as bigger and bigger guys kept walking through the door and setting down kit bags. I pointed out a few "famous faces" like Peter Consterdine and Geoff Thompson to her and she sounded suitably impressed, despite being a total stranger to the scene. Bless her heart.

The seminar kicked off with a presentation from Dennis about the principles of Close Quarter Battle. This was absolutely superb and utter gold to anyone who had half an idea of the topic at hand. I know a bit and read very widely on the subject of violence and I learned an absolute stack of information. Happily, my sister was taking it all in as well and judged the presentation as "really interesting" an accollade seldom awarded to anything which involves sitting still for an hour or more. I'll post my notes on Den's presentation sometime soon.

The physical side of things was very similar to the those shown in the stress inoculation seminar. Fatigue drills, basic combinations of strikes and the aggression drill were all in evidence. As the hand-to-hand stuff progressed, I certainly felt my technique sharpen (even if I was incapable of listening to instructions from Nick Engelen on the focus pads) and I was witness to my sister becoming vastly better than she was at the start of the day. I feel that I should extend enormous gratitude to the kind gentlemen (the only ones of whom I know by name is Nick Englen and Alan Beckett) who were good enough to swap with me and let my sister train with guys who actually know what they are doing. They were under no obligation to make that kind of effort and I appreciate it greatly, and I am certain my sister does too.
Unexpectedly for me, my sister has a real talent for deception. She has had no formal training whatsoever, but she was pulling tricks out of the bag so startlingly good I'd swear she had read the notes to Romulus' "Artifice" presentation. For example, when Den demonstrated his "Hat Trick" (bring striking hand to touch the brm of your cap and then throw a chinjab) she adapted it "The Hair Brush" where she flicked a strand of hair out of her face before launching into the pad. When rehearsing the "Have you got the time, mate?" drill, she replied "Night-time!" before launching a palm smash. *sniff* I'm so proud.

Romulus gave a short yet consise introducction to the Spar-Pro and its uses in training, particulary the value of conditioning yourself to forcibly strike a human torso and to summon the aggression against a humanoid opponent. I'm expecting delivery of my Spar-Pro sometime in the next 10 days, so I'm looking forward to that already...

The next topic was the use of the stick in Combatives. Den demonstrated the Fairbairn system first of all, explaining his changes to the prescribed syllabus (Fairbain taught students to hold the stick with the right hand palm-down and the left hand palm up. Den teaches vice-versa) as his solution to marrying the Syters system to the Fairbairn system. We all practised the Fairbairn system for a short while before moving on to Styers. Unusually for my sister, who is loathe to turn to weapons of any kind (I have to pester her to carry a biro!) she was genuinely impressed and expressed a desire to keep a stick in her room for the worst-case scenario. Kudos to Den for managaing that Herculean feat! I was very impressed how such a small yet significant change to Fairbairn's stick can result in such a powerful repetoire of techniques that can be accessed right from the word go. Jolly well done that man.

One small blip on an otherwise great day was my lunchtime escapade. A load of great books were on sale and I didn't have enough cash to indulge my literary appetite. When the 30 minute lunch-break came around, I hopped into my car with Sister to get to Sainsbury's, get some cash, get some lunch. I parked up, switched off the engine, jumped out, locked my door and slammed it shut. Before the sound of a door slamming had cleared itself from my ears, I knew my keys were still in the ignition. Sister had also locked and shut her door, so I was stood there looking at my keys through a pane of glass and no method of getting to them. In a fit of denial and rage, I yanked on the door handle, hoping to yank the door open. AS the door handle snapped off in my hand, I could see the cost of my carelessness escalating still further. After a few minutes of staring dumbfounded at the puzzlebox that was my car, I decided to achieve what I came here to do and get some beer-tokens from the cash machine. Tellingly, all four machines were out of beer-tokens.

Journey wasted.
Car immobile.
No money to buy a lunch.

A number of options were available to me. I could:

a) Call a locksmith to open the door without damaging the car.
b) Leave the car and call to have my spare keys delivered to my by a parent.
c) Stove in a window and get the keys.

The cons were:

a) I'd have to wait at least an hour for a locksmith, pay him a small fortune and then be 1) poor and 2) miss the second half of the seminar.

b) Leave my car in that car park with the keys swinging from the lock, clearly visible? NO WAY!

c) Fork out for a cost of a new door handle and window.

Option (c) seemed to offer the best trade-off between money and time, so I picked a window, the small one on the driver's side, and lined up a palm heel. Mercifully, common sense kicked in and I realised that I was going to damage my hand badly, be it from bashing it against hardened glass or pushing it through shards of broken glass. I was totally without an improvised weapon like a biro or kubotan or even a housekey (inside the car!) I was wearing trainers, so the prospect of kicking the window in was non-existant. The only thing I had which could be used as an impact tool was...the door handle I'd torn off in my temper. A few solid whacks to the centre of the pane resulted in nothing more than a few scuff marks on the glass. I was less than chuffed with that and gave it a few more. Same result. Then I remembered seeing a fire-safety demonstration years back and among the information given was: "always strike a corner of a window pane, as it is weaker there than in the centre." A few taps to the corner of my window proved the fireman corect and it shattered all over the drivers seat. Pushing the glass in with my hand, I reached in and opened the door manually. Using the door handle to brush the seats clear of glass (how useful a door handle is!) I made my way back to the AT7 centre with my newly installed air-conditioning inlet blasting cold air in my face all the way. It was at this time I noticed my right hand was leaking blood. The staff at the AT7 centre were most helpful and gave me a plentiful supply of antiseptic wipes to clean my hand. Some paperwork later, I was released back into the general population.
Some time later, Den walked over and asked me which doorway I slept in that night. I told him how my transport was the issue at hand (literally) at the moment and to his credit he laughed out loud and waved three fingers in my face declaring "These things happen in threes!" I'm glad you found that funny, Den.

Problem is, I'm relatively new to driving (passed my test three years ago, but bought my first car last week). The "third thing" will probably be soemthing that makes my insurance premiums costlier than National Debt of Bangladesh. But that is another story on which I will keep the forum up-to-date.

Sadly, I had to leave before the seminar finished as my Sister had to catch a train. Many apologies to those I did not say a proper farewell to, but you know how things go...

It was a great day and I consider it money well spent. I had a fantastic time and would heartily recommend Den's seminars to anybody who feels they might go. If my sister, an utter novice, can attend and walk away more confidenent in her ability to deal with thugs who grant her too much attention, then so can anybody else.

Once again, a big thanks to all those who made my sister's experience an educational and enjoyable one. She had a whale of a time.
[Review by SlackBladder,]
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