No styles, no systems, no rituals, no lineages, no masters, no labels, no belts, no katas, no uniforms, no dogmas;

Only the process of self actualization & personal expression of truth through functional combative movement and fitness.

On a purely physical level, we share how to individually and collectively use all of our natural tools as well as extended ones, offensively and defensively in a strategic and tactical manner and in all ranges of combat.

We're put through functional physical fitness training where we learn to push ourselves through our own perceived limitations. We also have much to offer on nutrition, health and optimum performance.

On a more cerebral level we learn about the psychology of violence, fear, stress & confrontation management skills, deescalation strategies and holistic survival tactics.

As the mind navigates the body; by challenging personal self defense dogmas and individual & core belief systems, personal growth and evolution occurs.

On a human level, we learn about the ripple effect and the moral, legal, and ethical consequences of our chosen actions while self examining our darkest emotions. We are encouraged to question everything, to learn to think for ourselves, to be more accountable and research everything we learn and to be open and responsive to life without judgment.

On a personal level, the training can make you face and slay your own demons.

Everything shared here is highly encouraged to be individually researched, to “absorb what is useful, add what is specifically of your own and disregard the rest.”

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rich Dimitri Finland Interview 2010

The following interview with Richard Dimitri was done by Senshido International Team member Ville Kaivonen of Tampere Finland during Richard's last trip there and was used as the source for the February 2011 Finland Fight Sport magazine interview.

Richard Dimitri Interview, Tampere Finland - November 2010

1. You lived in Cairo, Egypt from Oct. 2009 to Oct. 2010 mainly doing charity work, what lead you there and how was the experience?

Indeed I did. It had come to a point where I needed a drastic change and considering the fact that I could work anywhere in the world with Senshido, I was going to move to Guadalajara Mexico.  I was looking for warmer climate and after speaking with my folks who were living there retired since 2006, I decided, why not Egypt?

I was working with 3 international women’s movements there with the goal of bringing forth education on the subject of rape which is unreasonably high there as their definition of rape is quite culturally different.  However, cultural or not, when other human beings suffer due to these or any other ‘cultural’ or 'religious' differences/beliefs, then it is time these cultures evolved some and joined humanity on a more humane level.

I worked in conjunction with 3 women’s movements: Girls Gone Gorgeous, the Association for Women's Total Advancement & Development (AWTAD) and The Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women (ADEW) to bring forth education and information on the empowerment of women in Egypt. The majority of it was charity work as I was only paid once for a workshop I did there and it was a quarter of what I usually make.

I definitely wasn’t there for the money lol. I was looking for a change of pace, growth, personal evolution and I had gotten everything out of Montreal I possibly could by then.  Egypt was quite the humbling experience, quite the cultural differences on so many levels. Yet, people are people wherever I go in the world… the same passions, the same drives, the same desires and fears at the guttural levels, no matter where you go.

The levels of poverty were astounding. What was more astounding were the levels of wealth there as well and the way the wealthy treat the poor… many are inhuman in their ways. I’ve come to know families that literally lived in closet spaces, boxes and streets.  My wife and I would regularly buy groceries for some of these people, as well as blankets and pillows.

I learned a lot about myself there, things I wouldn’t have touched upon otherwise. I learned to become more tolerant, patient and fluid. You kind of have to over there or else, the alternative is mass murder because it’s like thinking was somehow made an unwritten illegality punishable by extreme torture and slow death.  Things like having a cab driver ram you from behind, then exit his vehicle to give you shit because you stopped and should have known better, get this - that he didn’t have breaks! And I mean things like this on a daily basis, two, three, sometimes 5 times a day regularly depending on how long you remain in public.  Uncanny.  I have so many more examples, and most no one would believe either unless they’d lived there…

All in all however, the experience was very fruitful on many levels.  I made many exceptional life long friends. We managed to make a difference there in many, many lives over the year, according to the majority of the testimonials from those who attended our workshops, the most common comment was that it was life changing… for me included. Matter of fact, the ripple effects of our work there are still manifesting, the following is an email I received from one of my students there:

"Hi Richardd,, its Kenzy...

I came across this yesterday and it reminded me of you: "When you lose your ego, you lose your limits; you become infinite, kind and beautiful". Ever since your "preaching" in the self-defense classes, such thoughts have really grown within me!!

Hope you are doing well!"

2. Speaking of warmer climates, now you’ve moved back to Canada, to Jasper Alberta, a small town in the middle of a preservation area. Tired of the city life or what?

Yeah brother… I did the city life for most of my adult life.  I’ve been looking for peace and quiet for a long time and I’ve finally found it.  Jasper is a tiny tourist town in the middle of the Rocky mountains in Alberta with a population of less than 5 thousand.  Everyone knows everyone here and there is very little crime.  It’s funny because the first couple of weeks here, we had no internet access at home as we were kind of in between homes so I went to work from a Pub where my wife works, which would normally be a recipe for my ass to be targeted by someone escalating to potential violence, but not here… I worked for 2 weeks almost daily, without a single incident. I could barely leave my home in Montreal without something happening somewhere to me.

I was also getting tired of always having to live in ‘code red’.  I burnt a lot of bridges in Montreal in my younger years both on a personal and work related level (working in security, bouncing and body-guarding) and there were people looking for payback or to make a name, either way, not a very pleasant and healthy way to live.

So I moved to Egypt for a year and decided not to renew my contracts there at the last minute when my wife suggested we move back to where she lived for nearly 12 years then, which is Jasper Alberta.  The very fact that I can wake up in the morning and see these majestic mountains right in front of my face and deer walking on my lawn while breathing clean, crisp air is enough to keep me here for at least another 10 years… life permitting of course… as life always dictates in the end.

 3. Senshido is considered one of the top 5 "Reality Based Self Defense" systems in the world, with little to no publicity you are pretty much underground with not a lot of instructors or schools. Is this by choice?

Absolutely by choice.  Which kind of frustrated some of my team at first but I do believe they fundamentally understand me now.  Sort of. Some of em anyway lol.... Speaking of the Senshido International Team, we’re 20 in total and I’ve been in business for over 16 years now.  The reason being is simple.  Primarily, I need to get to know the people who are to be on my team on a personal level.  We have to have a similar vision, goals and aspirations.  I have to know they are more than good  people. And I am proud to say that I personally know each and every one of my team members and they all know each other as well. 

The team is like a family.  One of our team members last year, his 12 year old niece was gang raped. When he told the team, we all pooled together and every single one of our team members sent this young lady a bouquet of flowers and a personal card, full of love and support.  She received over 15 flower bouquets from all 4 corners of the globe.  This tremendously touched the family and the young lady who is doing much better now.  I am also the Godfather of one of our team’s kids. We crash at each other’s place when we travel and each and everyone of us knows in our heart of hearts, that if the chips are ever down, no matter how low, they have family worldwide that will have their back and give them love and support anyway they can. 

The reason for our remaining ‘underground’ after 17 years of business and still considered one of the top 5 reality based systems in the world with clients such as the British SAS, The Finnish CTU, SWAT and presidential security teams, etc. is precisely because if one grows to the levels of franchises, multiple national or international schools, countless ‘affiliates’ or ‘certified instructors’ worldwide (most of which you wouldn’t even know their names or would recognize if you walked by in a mall), then the system itself has to be diluted.  The system has to be watered down.

It is impossible to mass market a pure reality based self defense system, the grim reality of it is, the truth of it is - it simply is not marketable.  The average civilian doesn’t want to get hurt in training every other day, every week, every month.  The average civilian doesn’t want to deal with the scenario replications on a weekly basis where one gets verbally, psychologically and emotionally abused through the very nature of having to deal with the grim reality of violence and what it entails.

Not to mention, any true self defense system worth its salt can be efficiently taught to the average civilian in less than 20 hours depending on their needs.  Where’s the money making in that?  And so they’ll tell you it’s impossible and yada, yada, yada but the fact is, it is indeed possible, very possible and it has been done by us for over 17 years now, worldwide no less and with countless testimonials to prove it.

The bigger one gets, the more watered down the system has to become.  Take a breakfast place that was founded in Montreal in 1993 for example.  It was a little family restaurant they called ‘Eggspectations’ and the food was fresh, amazing and home cooked.  They were making a killing, so they decided to expand.  They now have Eggspectation restaurants all over Canada and the US as well as India soon.  The food is no longer fresh nor home cooked.  It is processed, in my opinion tasteless compared to when they first opened and 3 times as expensive… yet they are packed and there are line ups to get in on Sundays… sound familiar? ;`)

You cannot maintain a pure and applied reality based self defense system while mass producing it.  The general public will not take to a pure applied system because it isn’t very fun, it’s full contact most of the time, it’s going through verbal, emotional and physical abuse replicating the most heinous of crimes like rape, attempted murders and pedophilia. Nothing the average civilian wishes to entertain on a regular basis nor put their children through.  It certainly isn’t about hitting pads, bags or wooden dummies or applying cool moves, locks and joint manipulations on a willing partner… the people peddling that crap as self defense are either ignorant or charlatans in my most professional and humble of opinions.

And so you cannot buy your way into our team.  I literally refuse over 40 to 50, per year (at 2 grand a person, that’s over 80 thousand dollars I categorically refuse per year) who request affiliation because they are not on the same wavelength, or I don’t get a strong sense of their values or reasons behind wanting to teach self defense.  I take that very, very seriously, gravely serious as a matter of fact. 

People entrust us, they come to us and basically trust us with their lives.  You have to want to teach self defense because it is what you feel you were born to do.  Not because it’s cool or you’re a certificate collector or because you’re tired of your present job and want to try something new or want to see your own face in the magazines. There are countless systems popping up out there, one no different from the other yet claiming to be "new" and "innovative".

And so we will remain underground in order to ensure and maintain the true essence of personal protection.  I do not want to grow to the levels of JKD, Krav, Defendo or whatnot, bless them too because we’re all on the same team anyway in the long run, we’re all out to help people in one form or another… I am more than comfortable with the progress and steady growth Senshido has, and is presently having and I most certainly do not want hundreds of team members or Senshido schools across the world… that to me, would defeat the purpose…

4. I noticed in the seminars you talked a lot about the "ripple effect" and the consequences of violence on a broader scale. Could you elaborate a bit more on this?

As human beings who are looking for peace, looking for better places to raise our children in, looking for good, healthy living, it is imperative as self defense instructors and practitioners alike to make certain that we do not become what it is we are trying to defend against.  That we do not, by our very actions, actually sustain the circle of violence we are all supposedly trying to avoid… however, I can understand that if violence and general crime truly did reduce worldwide a significant amount, well then, most self defense instructors would be out of a job now wouldn’t we? Just sayin’… lol.

And so taking into consideration our own actions, that is being accountable for our part in this world, is in my opinion another critical facet of self protection. For example, someone verbally aggresses you, you decide he’s too aggressive and so you pre-empt right away taking the dude out.  You step on his chest, raise your hands in victory and go have a beer with the boys… what happens next?  What happens to the guy you just knocked the fuck out?

Most will say who cares? Fuck him, not my business, he shouldn’t have picked on me.  Well, that guy might now go out, get drunk then go home and beat his wife and kids.  He is going to end up raising 3 bullies or outcasts who are going to raise 2 of their own each… and the circle grows… and we end up with school shootings not just in the slums of America any longer, no, now we have them in Finland, Canada and Germany as well… and people think it’s out of the blue?

I'm not saying to care for and nurture an attacker, not at all matter of fact.  I am saying that resorting to a violent ending to a potential assault when other options are present is doing exactly the opposite of what we are holistically trying to achieve, and that is a more peaceful and serene life.

Every action has a reaction, every cause has an effect.  Even thoughts can now be scientifically measured in energetic weight which can illustrate the true strength of thoughts alone… imagine intentions and actions?  What are we putting out into the world?  What are the ripple effects of our actions?  

I deem it absolutely necessary, while in the verbal stage of the assault, to determine whether we are dealing with a good guy having a bad day with fate crossing our paths or a genuine bad guy fucking with us.  We use proven psychological and behavioral principles to determine this in a very short period of time.  These principles are also directly linked to our physical arsenal and work together in conjunction to provide the most reliable, moral, ethical and legal method of defending one’s self if need be.

Resulting in a clear conscience, and maintaining our humanity in the process.  Ensuring that we didn’t actually promote more violence with our actions.  Our job as self defense instructors, teachers, coaches, whatever semantic suits you best, is not just to avoid violence and if need be defend against it, but to also do our best to out-birth it.  To ensure it doesn’t evolve past our point in time, for ourselves or others.  To be accountable for one’s ripple effects via their chosen actions.

In Canada several years ago, 2 fathers were at their children’s hockey game. A fight broke out between the 2 fathers of opposing teams, and with their children watching on the ice, one father knocks the other one out with one punch, dropping him like a sack of potatoes.  Upon his falling, he smashed his head against the cement ground and died instantly.  Right in front of his kid. The result of this stupid ego based battle? 1 dead man, 1 man serving a sentence, 2 fatherless sons – 1 growing with extreme sadness, the other, with both sorrow and anger… how will these kids express themselves later in life?  It depends…. But what are the probabilities vs the possibilities.?

We all play a part in this world… it definitely doesn’t revolve around any single person or group… it’s a collective effort and once people begin to realize this on a fundamental and pure level, we will be living in a better world, not a perfect world…. But definitely a better one.

I get criticized much for my methods, but then again, I always have from the start of it all so I know I'm still on the right path :`)

5. If there is one thing that you wish people training self defense would understand what would this be? 

That self defense begins with the self, first and foremost. We all heard the cliché “No one will ever hurt you more than yourself.” Well I fundamentally believe that to be true from personal experience.  As ego is the primary motivational drive of all confrontations, Senshido began primarily addressing the individual’s own emotional state (fear, stress, anger, hatred, insecurity etc) as the springboard of self-defense. 

Anyone harbouring any or all of these ego based emotions, should be more concerned about the damage they are causing themselves and their loved ones, be it directly or indirectly, for it will always be worst than anything any “bad guy” or criminal will ever do to us. The simple understanding on a higher level of this concept alone is empowering enough to change one’s entire life for the better.

It's another ol' cliché but an eye for an eye does indeed leave the whole world blind.  Learn forgiveness, learn to move forward without dwelling and harboring negative and destructive emotions, not only to ourselves but towards others.  The realization that evil is to be out-birthed through education, compassion and understanding.

Hatred is weak. Someone once said that it is like an acid which only burns the container which harbours it.  That is so true on so many levels.  It is these types of emotions that will damage the quality of our lives a hundred times more than any stranger who might attack you one day.  Now I’m not saying not to also prepare one’s self for the possibility depending on lifestyle etc. but to focus more on the truly important yet not as ‘cool’ aspects of personal protection, key word here being ‘personal’… it begins with us…followed by accountability. The ability to take responsibility for one's own actions and predicaments.

Vengeance is a natural emotion for most of humanity if not all and it is a nurtured one for the most part via the media, politics, entertainment etc.  It is also, and speaking from experience, one of the most self destructive emotions one can harbor and acting out on it, again, speaking from many experiences.... leads to a world more of hurt one way or another therefor continuing the very cycle we originally abhorred.

Very simply stated, and most will agree yet very little will act upon when the time comes:

Do not become what it is your are defending against.  

6. Judging from your talks you are a huge fan of Bruce Lee's work. Do you have any other "icons" or "heroes"?

Icons or heroes… not sure I’d view them in that light, I believe it would erode the respect I have for them, a Facebook friend of mine, John Lew recently expressed it perfectly:

"We live in a culture that wants our heroes sanitized and stuffed, because the real message behind Martin Luther King day is this: he could do it, you cannot, so you honor him. His dream is dead, we have embalmed it, and you will pay respects.

The most dangerous concept in our culture is a human hero, with human flaws, human weaknesses. Because then the message is: you know what? ANYONE CAN DO THIS."

But yes, there are many i admire and for varying reasons.  My father for starters, a man I aspire to be like, when he is in his light, he is truly an amazing human being.  My mother, for her sanctity. 

I also very much admire people like Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Christ, The Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Angelina Jolie and Bradd Pitt, Bono and any other selfless human being who rose above mediocrity, above their fears, above the status quo and changed the world for the better in one way or another, who helped countless lives breathe easier, healthier, better, and with choice.  These are some of the people whom I draw much inspiration from today. In contrast, I am also an admirer of those who have the balls to speak their truths, to speak their minds, like Joe Rogan, Doug Stanhope and the late George Carlin to name but a very select few...

7. Well thank you very much for the wonderful insight into the world of Rich Dimitri and Senshido International, it was a pleasure and honor for us to have you here in Finland and we wish you well with all your endeavors.

The pleasure was all mine, thank you for the time and opportunity to express myself.  It is always a pleasure to visit your beautiful country.  Much peace.

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