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 Stress Innoculation seminar

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Number of posts : 9082
Registration date : 2007-06-27

PostSubject: Stress Innoculation seminar   Wed 11 Jul 2007, 15:12


By SlackBladder

For me, the fear began on Saturday afternoon when I shut the door to my house and walked away. I had signed up for Dennis Martin’s “stress inoculation program” many weeks ago, and had remained free of the drip-feed adrenaline until that moment. For those who do not know, Dennis had rather ominously included the phrase:

“This is not an entry-level program, so we must restrict the course to those who already know the strikes and techniques of Close-quarter Combatives. You must be healthy, fit and able to endure the various stress aspects the day will provide.”

This phrase stuck in my memory somewhat. My combatives “training” consists of lots of strenuous book holding (“Get Tough”, “Cold Steel” and the assorted works of G.T.) and sitting down. However, I thought I could squeeze some training in before the seminar itself. How wrong I was. Training partners are rather thin on the ground in my social circle. One friend agreed to train with me, but grew tired after a mere twenty minutes and refused to play the game after that. Pah! So with the wealth of twenty minutes experience under my belt, it was no wonder that I was somewhat nervous as I made my way to a seminar where I knew that bullshit artists were not tolerated.

In hindsight, I should have realised what kind of weekend I had in store when I turned up at the train station just in time to watch the train I needed coast away from the platform. Not a huge problem as it was an hourly service, but the first straw had landed on this camels back and the impending haystack was yet to arrive. I settled down with a paperback novel (essential public transport survival equipment) and waited. I arived in Liverpool at roughly eight o’clock in the evening, hefted my bag onto my shoulder and set about the business of finding the YMCA in preparation for the next morning. It took scant minutes to find a map with the YMCA clearly labelled on it and even better still, it was only a five minute walk from the station. I stepped into the reception and asked for a room.
“Sorry mate, we’re full.”
“Do you know anywhere else where I can get a room?”
“Try over there *points outside*, down there *gestures up the road* and down there *waves downhill*.”
A little chizzed at the idea of having to pay premium rates for accomodation, I set about finding a B&B. The first one I tried was full. And the second. And the third. And the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. Et cetera, et cetera. Time was ticking on and I was still without a bed. In desperation, I tried asking for rooms in the larger, more expensive hotels. Alas, it was not to be. Liverpool were playing Celtic the next day and it seems that everybody north of Birmingham had turned out for the match. By eleven o’clock I was still touring the city with a huge bag on my hip and nowhere to put it down. I was haggling with hotel managers to give me a room for twenty-five quid if I came back at three in the morning and they had a room available. Most undignified, especially when some Saville Row-clad desk pilot stood behind you snaps up the last room in the hotel as soon as they hear the words “only one room left, sir.”
My bag was fast becoming a source of curiosity for the drunken masses. Heads would turn as I ploughed down crowded streets and catcalls would float over tarmac to greet me. Mercifully, I look like a right thug and wore a look of extreme irritation on my face, so no scallies tried their luck. By midnight, I just wanted to find somewhere warm to sit down and have a cup of tea. No such luck. The only café open at this time was the cabbies café and that was a “members only” job. I did get a cup of tea out of them, though. I think I should point out at this juncture that it was bitterly cold in Liverpool that night. I had to keep walking because it was the only way to keep warm, but I was knackered as well, so walking was beginning to become less and less appealing. Finally, at two in the morning I called it quits and elected to sleep rough. The only other option was to walk all night with a heavy bag on my shoulder and I’d already done that for six hours.
The Church of Christ The King (the huge church that looks like the Apollo 11 re-entry module) was my new home. You learn things very quickly when you’re frozen solid and I soon learned that protection from the wind was Priority #1 in the Urban Campers handbook. Recessed doorways are favourite, but recessed doorways seem to double as public toilets in the fair city of Liverpool, so that option was quickly exluded. You need a recessed area large enough to lie down in, but DOES NOT face into the wind. The Church of Christ The King has a number of grooves running vertically from the top of the building to the ground They offered protection from the wind but not rain. It is in one of these grooves that I made my home for the night. I sat down and huddled myself into the smallest shape I could devise to conserve heat. Every now and again the wind would blow my way and my legs would shake uncontrollably until the wind switched itself back to the direction nature intended. After two hours of being sat in the vertical foetal position I was numb and cold. To cap it all off, the hours of sitting on cold concrete meant that haemorrhoids were making a comeback. Funnily enough, I wasn’t bored. My mind just roamed and drifted; stoic when frozen with wind-chill and content when I wasn’t. In an effort to lessen the torture, I lay on my side and closed my eyes. After a while, I actually got comfortable. Or rather, I accepted that this was about as good as I could expect. My mind relaxed and I settled down to get some much-needed sleep. Just as I was drifting off, at five-thirty in the morning, it started to rain. I felt the first drop land on my right calf and immediately decamped to a nearby bus stop I knew had a ceiling. Just as I got there, the heavens opened and I stood waiting for the rain to stop. With less protection from the wind, I soon felt really, really cold. Frozen. Shaking like a Spaniard’s honeymoon mattress, I marched on the spot to warm myself up. I did that for two hours because being warm is better than being knackered. At eight o’ clock I set out to the YMCA to get some breakfast. I thought that maybe a few combatives students might be as thrifty as me and get a room or breakfast at the YMCA. As I ate my breakfast (a plateful of hot food at only 2 quid? Bargain!) I cast my eye about the canteen for kindred spirits. Judging by the jailhouse tattoos, the abundance of dressing-gowns as morning attire and self-harming scars on the forearms, it grew apparent that this was not my crowd. Obviously, the guys who attended the seminar were on better terms with their bank manager than I was with mine.

I made my way to the seminar hall at half past nine, and found it to be brimming with guys. I dumped my kit, got my training gear on and made idle chit-chat with TheBristolBloke, FatAl and a few others. Dennis arrived and there was a bit of “show and tell” with knives such as a first pattern F&S dagger and a V42 stiletto. I have GOT to start saving some cash for new toys.
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Number of posts : 9082
Registration date : 2007-06-27

PostSubject: Re: Stress Innoculation seminar   Wed 11 Jul 2007, 15:13


Proceedings were kicked off with Den giving a brief introduction of the course in general and the names of the guest instructors (Note: I didn’t always have my pen and pad handy to note the names of the guys who were teaching. I cannot remember all your names and my notes are far from exhaustive. Many apologies for this folly. I mean no disrespect). They then gave a presentation on the survival pyramid (from the base up: Mindset, Tactics, Skills and Kit) and how it applies to combatives. He stepped aside and the course began with Mike giving a history of the combatives system, the names, places and dates that were important. He explained the progression of Fairbairn’s system from the creation of SMP Defendu to the SOE silent killing curriculum. He also showed us some literature and advised us on what books we should be reading and where we can get them from. Mike is a VERY knowledgeable guy who should post far more frequently than he does. *hint*

The next section was given by Steve on fitness and the importance of physical training to the field of self-protection. I learned some interesting stuff from this, especially on the importance of stretching to any training programme.

Next on the agenda was “Lesser known strikes of WWII” hosted by Lee Morrison. Lee had previously posted a thread on the same topic some months ago, so it was good to see how the strikes were performed because actions really do speak louder than words. The method of ‘first knuckle, second knuckle’ was shown to us and then the various methods by which it could be deployed: The rising strike to the jaw with follow up to the throat, concentric temple strikes, rising backhand strike to the groin and backhand to the face.
I found them interesting, but my knuckles are still really sore from hitting the pads in this fashion, so I’ll be sticking to axe hands, hammerfists and chin jabs for now.

Next was the Fatigue Drill. This is not nice, nor even is it nasty. Dennis must have an evil genius for physical drills. I was already weary from the warm up, so this was the icing on particularly ghastly cake. The drill goes thus: You do five reps of a given exercise, then ten strikes on a pad. Then you move down the line to a different pad-man, do five reps of a different exercise and ten different strikes. And so on. After a long, long time (about 5 minutes?) you finish your given exercise and are told to do ten strikes AS HARD AS YOU CAN. The pad-man will only count those he judges powerful enough to knock a man down. I was lucky that I had chin jabs on this drill because my kicks and knees wouldn’t have knocked a child over. This drill was hellish, but good fun.

The next section was about kicks and knees. Patrick, our instructor, seemed able to kick dents in the fabric of space and time. Knees were first on the agenda. The stabbing knee and the roundhouse knee both presented problems. I’m not a kicker. I was always last to be picked for football because of this very simple fact. Even the chubby kids could hoof the ball if it came their way. So generating power from the hips was a problem for me at first. BUT at the end of the section my knees were impacting with far more power than they had been at the beginning. I was just beginning to get the knack of that when we switched to kicks. C’est la vie. The kicks shown were: The stamp, the forward thrust kick and the roundhouse destruction. Again, my competency improved by leaps and bounds. At the start I could not kick, at the end, I was getting the swing of it and impacting with real power with every other shot or so. I’m well chuffed with that kind of progress in such a short time, so many thanks to Patrick for that.

The next item on the menu of violence was Aggression. Den introduced us to his aggression drill, guaranteed to turn the mildest mannered accountant into a creature of slavering bloodlust. I’m not sure if I should detail this online, so I’ll leave it to Den to elaborate if he thinks it is prudent. Needless to say, it was pretty cool and certainly got my juices flowing.

Next was Pain drill. This is designed to condition the action of striking whilst enduring pain. Den gave out kubotans and gave an explanation of how to create a painful experience by placing the kubotan across the wrist and squeezing. The guys I was training with found this rather painful, but I was never really uncomfortable in that lock. Maybe if the drill was modified so somebody beats you with a flexible weapon (e.g. sjambok) while you throw strikes it would be guaranteed painful and thus condition the reaction far deeper than kubotan training. The scars would be difficult to explain to the wife though.

Next was the presentation on artifice, or as it is known today: deception. This is a source of interest to Romulus and it shows. It was shown to us that we train to use strikes with our hands starting in various positions, so it would make sense to adopt these positions using natural actions. Thus, the strike is chambered without the target knowing. Actions like cupping a hand to an ear, picking your nose, scratching your arse/bollocks all lend themselves extremely well to certain strikes. Also covered was the use of disgust to gain distance and therefore time. Forcibly evacuating a nostril onto the floor will cause anyone standing on that bit of floor to step back, as will spitting and pissing (for those awkward moments in the gents toilet). It was also noted that conversation stops when the listener yawns, coughs or sneezes. The use of the mobile phone as both a fistload (a la Fairbairn’s matchbox) and a tool of distraction (“Is this yours, mate?”) The handout given with this presentation is the best article on “deception & disgust” I have seen. It is a shame, Romulus that you neglected to put your name on it so people know who to thank. *hint*

Next was the ‘fend’. This is the classic ‘arms around the head’ position which will prevent an opponent from hitting your head with punches such as the jab, cross or hook. The uppercut will get through (sorry FatAl) but that is a small weakness that the opponent will not have time to realise before he is knocked into oblivion. This is absolutely essential for anyone who trains for ambush style attacks.

Next was ‘basic ground escapes’. This started with the opponent mounted on your chest and intent on punching your head into something resembling a pizza. You assume the fend position and select a time to deliver hammerfist punches as fast and as hard as you can into the face/chest/genitals/stomach of the opponent. Acting on his surprise, you buck him, catch an arm and roll. Follow up with any strike you like. I was pretty nervous about this because my groundwork is appalling. I make upturned turtles look like judoka masters. It worked out okay and nobody pointed and laughed, so I guess I got away with it. This is the good thing about combatives, if you screw up but carry on with as much vigour as possible, things work out in your favour.

Finally, we encounter the bulletman. Or rather, three bulletmen. The drill went something like this: You walk toward BM#1 and he woofs at you. You’re NOT allowed to fence up, but you are allowed to control distance with shoves. When BM finally pops a few at your head, you’re meant to fend his punches, close distance to spoil his style and then clamp his head down while Mr. Knee introduces himself. Lots of whistle blows and shouts of “CHECK!” tell you when BM#1 is judged to have had enough. Then you lie down and BM#2 assumes the mount. You put up the fend and he pops a few at your head. You then do the hammerfist, buck, roll, strike combo until somebody tells you to stop. After this you do ten press up, then a shuttle run up and down the gym a couple of times. Then you spend twenty seconds on the punch bag and face BM#3 utterly knackered. The same rules apply: no fence, no pre-emptive. He woofs and postures and your job is to survive him. I did my best to deescalate and loophole, but he wasn’t having any of it. He threw a punch; I fended and charged him into the ground. The helmet came off and I was denied the opportunity to go caveman on his head. Another day, perhaps.

And that was that. The course ends, the guest instructors are all certified instructors by Den and people make their way home. Thirteen of us headed to Den’s favourite Chinese restaurant (damn good food it was, too) and discussed the days events, the variables of modern bodyguarding and the sad truth that Den does not keep an Atomic Kitten in the boot of his car for special occasions. Dennis closed the dinner with a request for any questions/comments on the course. I didn’t have one then, but I do now:

Can the next course be held when Liverpool are playing AWAY!

[Review by SlackBladder]
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Number of posts : 9082
Registration date : 2007-06-27

PostSubject: Re: Stress Innoculation seminar   Sun 19 Sep 2010, 12:32

Here's another review, combined from the thoughts of several participants.....
The course began at 9:30 Dennis Martin arrived and the place started really buzzing. Gathering everyone together Den gave the safety talk then had four of the Potential Instructors run through the Vital Pyramid. Consisting of "Mindset, Tactics, Skills and Kit"
Mark G started off the course by giving us an excellent presentation of the course of W.E. Fairbairn's Career and the evolution of his system from Defendu to Gutterfighting
Then we had another presentation on Fitness for Combatives paying particular attention to the importance of Stretching. A very well researched presentation.
Next we had a physical arm-up conducted by Brian. Tough exercises starting with shuttle sprints, Circle running and following commands at the same time (changing direction, side to side running, turning around etc to quicken reactions) this was a gruelling Warm-up and is a hallmark of Den Martin's courses!
Positive Affirmations followed "I will do whatever it takes"
Den stressed the importance of proper recovery breathing, Upright posture, breath in though nose, hold for 5 seconds then breath out through the mouth.
As we were doing this he explained that the warm-ups were "time-economical" designed to warm every part of the body in a short timescale and with limited room.
Pad work followed with re-familiarisation of Knee, Elbow and Tiger Claw strikes being conducted.
This was followed by Lee Morrison giving a presentation on some of the Lesser Known Strikes of WW2 this was based on influences from Charlie Nelson and Dennis Brinkley. This module covered various closed fist knuckle to flat strikes from various Chinese systems and some of Charlie's specialties.
Next up Patrick Ryan ran through his presentation on "Combat Kicking", front kick, inside edge of the boot, pivot kick, front and roundhouse knee. Patrick really knew how to get power into his techniques and he showed everyone how to get a great deal more impact power in his techniques.
The first part of the Stress Inoculation tests began with what Den called ''Vasbyte''
Taken from a South African word meaning "to bite down" it's meaning is very similar to the Japanese word "Ganbarru" meaning "Gut's, Hold Out". Vasbyte was a fatigue drill to get us used to fighting when we really didn't feel like it or up to it!
7 exercises at 7 stations, when you finished doing the given exercise you had to strike 10 reps of the given strikes on the pads. Very fatiguing, everyone was feeling the burn and giving it their all.
Organised chaos is what anyone looking in would have thought had they seen the next drill which was to stimulate aggression in the recipient. This basically consists of groups of 3, with a big pad and a padded safety stick. One guy holding the pad another holding the stick and the third guy doing the drill in the middle. The third man works 10 perfect strikes
followed by 10 fast strikes on the pad to pre-tire the muscles then a final 10 all-out strikes are counted out by the pad man.
On the very last set the Stickman starts beating the striker with the padded stick all over the head and body while another guy is pulling and pushing him, holding his clothes and body and verbally abusing him as he is being ragged around.
After the strikes the guys swap roles. Stickman is also the Safety Enforcer who shouts, "Check, Check, Check" if he needs to stop the drill. "Stop" is not used, as it's a common word that you don't want to use in a drill. What you do in the Gym you do in the street.
It was perfect madness organised chaos. Tommo bust a stick over one of the lad's head and all I could see from them were 3 happy laughing faces. These were very determined people giving their all. No holding back.
The Pain Drill was next again in groups of 3's
Den ran through the whole concept of the History and Development of the Kubotan. He even related some of his own experiences with ""The Instrument of Attitude Adjustment"
Kubotan man, Pad Man and Striker, the striker had a pain compliance hold put on him by the man with the Kubotan and had to do three strikes to the pad whilst the hold was on. The pain was intense but it was an interesting thing to find that not only could you fight through the pain but that the pain made your strikes harder! Short-circuiting the body's natural stop's it really did the job! 3 strikes then swap over

Den explained that the morning had been about Pain and Fatigue - two of the biggest things you have to overcome in yourself in a fight. As someone once wrote (It was actually Master Po but don't laugh) "It's not a fight until you want to give up, but can't" Another important lesson learned.
Situational Control was next up and as Den explained: "WW2 gave us the curriculum but we live in different times. Situational Control is the bridge which allows us to evaluate and respond effectively to situations as they arise"
Body Language, we all understand on a subliminal level. All of us are putting out signals which can be picked up on. It can be very useful.
Proxemics was the term used to define our own bubble of personal space and the fact that some sociopaths have extremely large ideas of personal space. You can get too close for their comfort even though you think you are in talking range. This might lead to trouble!
Next came a personal space drill with a partner to determine what our own levels of personal space were. Next Den brought up the subject of "Range" in fighting; some experts have argued that there are 8 ranges of fighting. Den explained that there were only three; Long, Middle and Close Range.
Long being just outside of kicking range
Middle being punching range
Close being Grappling rang
As he showed with John Deacon a guy can go from Long to close range in less time than it takes to blink.
We then went onto Pre Attack Clues and all of the above, Den ran through some pre attack rituals and clues to show how we could determine If someone would attack us. Looking around (Targeting or maybe Escape Glance), distraction and deception. The 1000-yard stare being a dehumanisation option employed by scum.
What Den term's "Unobtrusive Ready positions" were next on the list, the positions allow us to assess a situation and respond correctly whilst not giving the signal of being overtly defensive/combative. It can buy you the time you need to escape or pre-empt.
The Fence - "Your hands are always higher than his" Never be afraid to be rude, if it is a mistake you can always apologise. Hand Awareness - "Can you see his hands - especially his palms" Den gave us the African story: A beggar comes up with both hands in front of him, palms together like he is praying. This is the body position for asking in that locale, whilst you are distracted by looking for some change or a fag the blade comes out from in between the hands and you are carved up.
John Deacon's presentation on Deception followed. This was Artifice at its best the perfect analogy of Geoff Thompson's 4 D's "Dialogue, Deception, Distraction leading to Destruction" All artifice must be natural and common this will affect the way in which the other person views and treats you. Deception creates a normal situation where none exists.

The Fend drill was next demonstrated by the terrible trio of Si, Matt and John P
Two elbows are held like the old style boxing armadillo guard almost a cross between a guard and a fence. As the aggressor throws punches you strive to destroy his fists with your pointed elbows as you dive through his space and guard and Thai clinch onto his neck.
Another exhausting drill of one minute of punching against a partner who is in the fend position. Proves that the Fend works against most straight and looping punches. Another drill of the fend from the mount position (Ground) Fend; buck then hammer fist or elbow to finish The fend against padded assailants 3 power lines - I saw a lot of Adrenaline and Exhausted people, everyone had a go though.
When you first go through the Adrenal Stress of the Padded assailant you feel like they are 10 feet tall, all the guys went through it on their own though, none of the lads inside the suits were "helping them" - they really did it by (and for) themselves.
Surprised when Den got out his gum shield and went through it also. Total humility and confidence in his techniques, his fence was in a completely different league! Total situational control, Fence and Body language in expert mode- this was an eye-opener in itself.
This drill was all about aggression and the will to win, some serious training going on here by some serious lads.
Quote "I've been doing karate for years but I wish I'd learned this when I was 18 years old" - Tommo
Vehemence Presentation by Lee Morrison
this was all about summoning a controlled explosion of Aggression. The importance of pre-emption and forward movement (The best place for me to be is where he is now) my goal is to replace his foot steps with my own. The importance of the mind in self-protection
switching your aggression "On and off" Going from being the prey to the predator
Take the fight to them and overload them
A drill from Kelly McCann was used to demonstrate the development of the switch the pad man wears a strike shield like a rucksack for you to cycle hammer fist strikes into elbows. Using only gross motor techniques.
As the drill progressed I could see some weird and wonderful techniques coming from some peoples toolboxes! Visualisation and Intention, the importance of brining your mind into you self-protection.
We then got onto the last part of the course - the full padded assailant training. Everyone queues up then has a go, one person going through it, two assailants and a safety checker and encourager.
No fence, just "Fend, Guard and hit" the Padded Assailant in a stand-up situation until he is dealt with, then fend another assailant from the mount until you reverse it and finish him with strikes follow this with 10 press-ups then 2 shuttles runs followed by hitting the heavy bag in straight blast style (making it touch the wall for 20 seconds) Then deal with another stand up Padded Assailant until again he is dealt with.
"Encouragement" was give all the way through by the other seminar participants, shouting all the time. When you know you are watched by everyone it feels very lonely out there.
Si, Matt and john P also did amazingly well, keeping up with the training all the way through they also fought almost 40 men in those suits one after another. A real feat of endurance and stamina. After the course we went for Chinese and beer we had a good laugh! All in all this was a great day!

Check Six,
Dennis Martin
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