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.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

Reality Check

So there we were, all gathered around in a circle at the end of class, nothing unusual, just a good way to finish up and debrief what we had been working on. Now is a good chance for students to ask questions and an opportunity for all to express their thoughts.

"When can I actually hit someone?", asks one of the students. Hmm, this will be interesting, and so it was......

Let me elaborate further on the details relating to this question. The student works at a night club as a doorman / bouncer / security guard, call it what you like,. He went on to explain an incident (if you can call it that), which he was involved in during the weekend, your typical run of the mill scenario that nearly every doorman confronts across the country over a typical weekend, which went something like this:

Student: Whilst at work, he was outside after having  just helped evict a club patron. The evicted man  becomes slightly aggressive and confrontational, and starts to verbally abuse and berate the workers from a distance of no immediate threat. Now at this point Im thinking so far so good, typical behavior with no immediate threat or danger to be overly concerned about, but the student insisted that he did in fact feel threatened, and wanted to know at what stage could he legally hit someone, in this case the evicted man. For the record, I asked how close was the man when he was being aggressive to which he replied, " Oh, he was on the road and I was on the footpath outside the club"

Immediately the comments flowed from other students, and instructor, something along the lines of this:  "As soon as you feel threatened", "If he get's to close" , "if he clenches his fists" or this is a good one, " Just direct him away from the camera's and then deal with it", blah blah blah.

Holy shit what the hell am I hearing!!! These types of comments were baffling to me, and this coming from students of a reality based system. Now if you are continuing to read this you would no doubt have gathered that my thoughts on the matter differed somewhat to the ignorant black and white comments and statements mentioned. When it comes to real life confrontation there are so many shades of grey it's not funny.

Let's look at a couple of scenario's here, both with very different outcomes using hypothetical action's  for the sake of this exercise:

Scenario 1: Let's say that after the man had been ejected, he did in fact choose to confront our doorman getting right up in his face using aggressive language and posturing. Now lets imagine that given the circumstances the doorman, (going by the advice of the fellow students) strikes the  man causing him to back up and think twice about continuing his rant. So he decides to leave, bruised ego in check, the doorman is satisfied with his action's and he is looking pretty good to his mates and the onlookers. Conclusion: No damage done, everyone goes home with nothing more than a black eye/cut lip, whatever. So has he handles the situation effectively in this scenario? Given the minimal details outlined above it is really hard to say, only he can honestly know if at that moment in time there was no other option due to the perceived threat.

Mmm, no other option??? We will come back to this shortly.

Scenario 2: As above, the difference now being the end result. So the man is up in the doorman's face and blah blah you get the point, he is struck and on this occasion he falls back, and his head strikes the concrete as he falls to the ground. This scenario is all too familiar. There are people everywhere, plenty of onlookers and all they seen was two guys at close quarters, one is struck and next thing you know he is on the ground and not moving. They didn't see any attempt to avoid the situation any further, there was no signs of verbal de-escalation and for those not in range to hear what was being said at no time did at appear apparent that the doorman was trying to defuse the situation. (Evident through body language)

Conclusion: The aggressor is taken to hospital, he is now in a coma and sadly he dies. His families life is turned upside down in an instant, his children have no father, his wife lost a husband, so on and so on....  The doorman is now the subject of a manslaughter case that could drag on for a very long time. His family is also devastated by the event, you can see the point. The ripple effect from the above is immense, all because of one small incident.

"Mr Keohane, who remained unconscious for 218 days after the attack, needs 24-hour supervision and will be dependent on anti-convulsive medication for the foreseeable future." (Sydney Morning Herald).

So now is the point where I have heard many people will say, " Well he friggin deserved it", " He shouldn't have been acting like a dick", typical ego related responses. But hey, it's easy to make these statements when you're not involved. And yes the above is only a hypothetical, but it is one that occurs so often it can be found in any newspaper quite regularly.

So my point is, well let's get back to the original question, "When can I actually hit someone"?
I am of the belief that in the eyes of most legal systems, it is only acceptable to use physical force  to defend yourself or another, only when the person being defended can not escape. (ie: All avenues for prevention have been exhausted)

Now that you have read the above does your opinion differ? First and foremost we teach and educate our students on Avoidance, through awareness, target hardening and intuition. At no stage in the above did it appear avoidance was even considered. Secondly, we teach, educate and drill our students on de-escalation and diffusion. We want to give the aggressor an outlet, presenting him/her every possible chance to walk away.

It is only if this fails, that we consider a physical response. By doing the above diligently, we essentially roll the dice in our favor, the benefits of this approach are massive, not just to allow for an effective physical response, but also on a psychological, moral, and legal level.

What about considering the variables, which are plentiful. The threat could be directed at you from a friend, who may be drunk and being aggressive. Or what about a young lady , or an elderly person. How do you react if you feel threatened in theses situations? As I stated previously, real life confrontations have many shades of grey, the dynamics are changing constantly. If your current training does not cover these many different scenarios and you don't train for avoidance and de-escalation, you are not even scratching the surface for what REAL self protection is about.

So taking into consideration what has been discussed above, have you changed your views or opinions on how you would approach a potential threatening situation, given the variables and potential outcomes? Or does it challenge you to raise questions about your own training?

Is this a reality check for you?

Note: This article may have started with reference to a bouncer/doorman, but is in no way directed at those who do this type of work. Thank you.

Corey 'Creamy Pawes' Hawes
Senshido International Team Member
Senshido Australia

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