CLOSE-CONTACT WEAPONS PROGRAM
Merseyside, November 2005Review by Nick Engelen
The seminar was held in the Prescot Leisure centre in Prescot Merseyside on 6th, November 2005. I travelled to Liverpool on the day before. From there I went to the Prescot Leisure centre to meet the guys that had their final day of the instructor program. There were interesting lectures, very innovative and inventive drills and a very demanding end-drill. For the latter I had the honour to be the cameraman, I hope it went well. I enjoyed seeing people performing and sometimes the music matched as on a certain moment one of the guys performed on the soundtrack of ‘last of the Mohicans’ where after they had a cool down on Enya’s soundtrack of the ‘Lord of the Rings’.
Most of the guys were staying in the Rainhill Travel Inn which is close to the venue. Unfortunately I had booked late and the Internet said that the hotel was full so I had another travel inn hotel close by. We had planned to go to the Chinese restaurant together so I went with the guys to the Rainhill hotel to have a drink while they prepared. When I arrived at the reception of the Rainhill hotel, the receptionist recognised me. I told her about the situation and it seemed there was still room in the hotel. She kindly arranged things with the other hotel. At the Chinese restaurant the food was good, the waitresses looked good and the beer was also good.
Next day after breakfast we all drove together to the venue. This day we didn’t have to hurry as the seminar was half an hour later than on other occasions. Inside the Leisure centre a bunch of fellow Combatives-practitioners were already present. I saw a lot of familiar faces from previous courses and a few new ones. Kit was unloaded and everybody was giving everybody a hand. There were around 30 attendees and most were from England, two from Italy, another was from Wales, one from Scotland and I came from Belgium.
Inside the venue there was an air of excitement. Dennis had asked me to bring some of my collection of ‘clandestine edged weapons’ with me. I showed my collection of knives and books to the people interested.
After the necessary admin, the course started.
Den gave an intro to the course. The course was going to be mainly about WW2 stick and knife work. He explained; man is a tool bearing creature, one of those tools was the weapon used to counter predators, both men and animal. Fighting always involved weapons, when these weapons are taken away, history proves that men found other objects to use as a weapon. Even Fairbairn stated that hand-to-hand combat was only to those foolish enough to be caught unarmed.STICKS AND STONES
The physical part started with a light warm-up.
The first weapon we encounter in the Bible is the rock that Cain used to kill Abel. So the rock was the first weapon we learned to use. The drill consisted in hitting a pad with a taped brick.
[The now famous "tactical brick training"]
This first drill reminded me of the movie ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ where the hero also uses a rock to fight of assassins.
The next weapon we discussed was the stick. The advantage of a stick is that you can find it everywhere. Old men carry canes, which in Korea and I believe also France was developed into a martial art. Then we carry the umbrella when it rains, Den advised to take a good old sturdy umbrella instead of the weak modern variations. As a last we can always break a branch of a tree.
Den explained: ‘Most ‘Stick Fighting’ taught these days tend to be the Filipino Martial Art ‘Escrima/Kali’. 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 whereas here in North-West Europe, we are constantly covered in thick clothing.’ Another reason is that the Filipino system can’t readily be adapted to the use-of-force guidelines associated with police batons..
Therefore, we‘re taught the allied stick fighting system by Fairbairn and Styers.
We did a mix of practicing the moves in open air and practicing on the pads. The advantage is that as you don’t move your hands, it can be done with every stick without roughing your hands up.
We also did some other strikes like the pool-jab and a bayonet-attack where the stick does have to be smooth as it slides trough the hands.
Then the word was given to guest instructors James and Phil-W. Their presentation was about the police baton world which was very informative.
A lot of different batons were showed from the old wooden to the modern tonfa-like batons.
Phil taught us about the use of the expandable baton thereafter we had a try on the pads. I couldn’t help but being afraid to hit too hard with so it would bend. Then there were the slaps and blackjacks.
[Slacky working with Mick Coup]
After playing with these toys Den took over and explained about the use of flashlight as an impact weapon. We started with the mini-maglite. Then the six D-cell maglite is just a heavy stick again.KNIFE
This module started with Den reviewing the Shanghai knife, the Fairbairn Sykes dagger and the V42-dagger.
Most of these knives were of the double-edged dagger variety. Den explained that Shanghai knife was for knife fighting and the FS-knives were designed for killing.
Thereafter Den showed us some drills from his own extensive research, as well as material Mika uncovered after talking to veterans of World War Two. It was very few slashes and much stabbing. The Romans said ‘slashes wound, stabs kill’. A stab will penetrate the vital organs whereas a slash or cut doesn’t.
It was simple but effective.
Phil” the Bristol Bloke” Matthews did a presentation about Biddle and Styers. He discussed the knife-fighting style which is actually sabre-fencing as the knife used in the book Cold Steel is a shortened bayonet.
This was followed by Mark Gittins who covered the snap cut demonstrating it with a real bowie knife and his wooden practice knife. This and a Shanghai knife fighting drill resulted in a big bruise on my hand.
Then we had a break during which people got a look on my small collection of knives.
Then Pete [Slackbladder] Morgan did an outstanding presentation about the use of a knife in a clinch situation. These days people look into grappling as a result of the success of the Brazilian Jujitsu guru’s in the caged fighting arena’s. When knives or other edged weapons come in to play going into vertical grappling is a fatal mistake.
All today’s lessons came into play in the final drill, to complete the circle the brick also came back into play. First I had the opportunity to play aggressor with a stick. Although the knives used were only practice knives I found myself using the stick for defence as soon as the knife came out. When performing the drill myself I was amazed at my inability to locate the brick. I was already thinking someone had hidden it, people pointed it out and it was just behind me. Then when they attacked me with the stick access to the knife was the hardest. I succeeded to brandish it where after I counter attacked my aggressor. He went defensive and started to back-pedal so I couldn’t hit him. This made me driving forward and swinging the knife to every target in range until the directing staff ended the drill. Everyone performed very well; I accidentally wounded one of my partners. Sorry for that.
As a finisher there was some administration where the new instructors were graduated, and Mark Gittins achieved his Weapons Instructor certificate.
I received a beautiful cup and a pot of Horlicks. Thanks for the Horlicks and cup and a congratulations to all the new instructors.
The remaining four attendees drove to the Chung Ku Chinese restaurant on the docks.
During diner we spoke about lots of things but most about our day and we all came to the same conclusion; it was a magnificent seminar. The food was great; the waitresses very nice and the company very enjoyable.
After diner I said goodbye and Pete Morgan was kind enough to bring me to the station from where I went back to Manchester. It was again a great day.
Review by Nick Engelen.