Reveiw by Lee Morrison, Nick Engelen and James Farthing
The 4th International Combatives seminar, followed on from 2 days of superb instruction from Marcus Wynne’s neural based instructor course and promised to be the best International Combatives event, held to date. This was held at the usual venue, the Prescott Leisure Centre in Liverpool starting on Saturday the 2nd through to Monday the 4th of September. There were about 65 guys and 1 gal in attendance, instructors and trainees alike from all over the world, England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland others from Sweden, Norway, Italy, South Africa, Holland and Belgium. We were fortunate to have the author and training consultant Marcus Wynne, as a guest instructor. Marcus came over to teach at the NBI course where we learned a variety of skills relating to Combative performance enhancement. This international seminar to follow, was great opportunity to apply our new learned skills.
Dennis Martin Introducing the 4th Internation Combatives event.
The day started with an air of excitement as Dennis began to explain the origin of what we know today as ‘Combatives’ along with an overview for what lay a head. After the short intro every individual instructor introduced himself to the group. We were truly fortunate to have the crčme de la crčme all present in one place, the training hall was literally buzzing with experience and enthusiasm to share knowledge.
The first module was a presentation by our very own researcher Phil ‘the Bristol bloke’ Matthews who presented a PowerPoint lecture on the life and work of Hector Grant-Taylor also known as ‘the Hit man’ who was one of the lesser known, but still significant instructors from the WW-2 era. Phil talked about his methods of CQB pistol skills with as always, well researched and very informative material.
Phil Mathews giving his lecture on one of the lesser known instructors from WWII, Hector Grant Taylor.
I liked the way Phil set the scene by showing a short clip from the hit movie, Collateral and made reference to the similarity between Hector Grant Taylor and the smooth as snake sh*t hit man, Vincent played by Tom Cruise. I particularly like some of the quotes the HGT would give his handgun students relating to critical incidents. Here are a few I took from my notes;
‘’Situations arise which are not of our choosing, you must be fully prepared to meet them with confidence, whatever they may be!’’
‘’You kill at conversation distance… You can’t let it get to you…You’ve got to be able to watch the whites of the poor devil’s eyes turn up, kick him in the face in case the jobs incomplete and forget…
Especially forget him.’’
‘’Don’t waste time and effort on dramatics.’’
CQB instructor from Sweden Mika demonstrated a practical addition to Phil’s talk about HGT. This related to practical pistol shooting and the methods employed by HGT. Certain principles were taught to enhance the pistol skills of his students namely; Open mouth/relaxed jaw, point with the belly button, shoot from here, you can’t miss, give them 2 shots/double tap. Keeping relaxed, opens up your vision. Hector’s methods were all about installing confidence into the operative via a high degree of unconscious competence, commonality here to modern day neural based learning strategies, with a focus on the inner game and a positive approach.
The Imagery of Combat:
Next up was a superb presentation on the imagery of combat by Mr ‘Let your opponent see the stars’ K from Norway. This was all about using Visualisation or Mental Imagery, to enhance Combative ability. Visualisation as a training tool has been around for a very long time, used by athletes, warriors, high profile business people, movie stars and every successful individual out there, regardless of the field of endeavour. From a Combative practitioners point of view, once you become good at visualisation and you start to visualise for example, any technical skill-set be it a Chin-jab/knee or whatever, taking that mental rehearsal to the point where it is as clear as it can be, represented and supported by all of your senses, then you will start to fire off the same neuromuscular pathways that you would in a physical sense of practice, but during the mental exercise. In true NLP style Mr K said ‘’ask yourself how can I use this tool to make me a more efficient practitioner?’’ Well the clear answer is we can use it in a multiple of ways. Here are some of Mr K’s suggestions;
˛ As a means to drill a new stimulus
˛ To rehearse what you already know
˛ If you are injured
˛ For training and practicing tactics
˛ For creating a specific state or emotions
˛ In preparation for a situation/scenario.
After a detailed explanation Mr K had us lying down on the floor, so we could try it out ourselves. First with a simple representation, in this case visualising a lemon, seeing its colour and texture, smelling the zest, tasting the bitterness of the lemon, employing all the senses to make the experience as vivid as possible. Next we made the drill more task specific to our needs. The drill had us visualising protecting someone close to us, from a life threatening incident seeing and feeling ourselves accessing state and dealing with an aggressor in the worst case scenario sense, incorporating sight, taste and smell to enhance the experience making it as real as possible. The effectiveness of such a drill is only limited by the power of your imagination. Personally I have used this kind of mental imagery for years and know the effective benefits it has to offer.
Mr K demonstrates his corkscrew takedown as a model for us to visualise and then put into practice.
Finally Mr K had us witness his guys perform a skill, in this case a neck twist takedown as a visual example for us to model. Then we lied down again, getting into a relaxed state and visualised the whole sequence as Mr K talked us through it. Finally we put that visualisation into kinesthetic practice by actually doing it with a partner, which went onto prove the effectiveness of such a practice. Personally this was one of my favourite modules, delivered by an instructor of extreme talent a truly humble warrior at the top of his game.
This led us into the hands on phase and overall warm-up, Den handed over to the instructors for the Fundamental hard skills. Instructor Simon Squires took the first module on the Hammer-fist strike. Si is known specifically for his great drill design and here he successfully managed to include, some of the neural-based material from the course with Marcus Wynne a few days before. In particular here was the use of mental imagery, visualising a nasty bastard messing with someone you care about, making the picture in your mind, bright then blowing it up big and stepping inside it, then adding either a verbal of Kinesthetic trigger before launching into a ferocious hammer-fist/cycling attack into the pad. After switching on the aggression Si emphasised coming back to a state of observation, by actively scanning the environment. Si continued with a variety of drills focused around the HF strike, working for impact and body mechanics, under the effects of fatigue and stress, also for the cultivation of intention etc. All good stuff as we have come to expect from this very competent instructor.
Some of the lads working during the Hammer-fist module.
Elbow strike module:
Next up was my own presentation, which was my own interpretation of the Wheeling elbow strike ala John Styers. What makes the Wheeling elbow slightly different from other uses of the elbow as a tool is the way that it’s employed and the body mechanics behind it. The strike in itself is very gross motor in nature and compared to the way an elbow strike is thrown among more traditional martial arts such as Muay Thai for example, you could say that the wheeling elbow employs a somewhat exaggerated motion. This can make it somewhat telegraphic if thrown as a first strike, therefore in my opinion it lends itself best as more of a follow up tool. The way that we employed it during this module will incorporate the strike as part of an attacking sequence, proceeded either by some kind of distraction or an additional strike.
Simon Squires being my ever faithful demonstration partner for the Wheeling elbow.
˛ Push/Pull to Wheeling elbow:
Here we pop the shoulders using a push/pull motion as we flank the aggressor to dis-orientate and create a chest to back position. This opens up the rear high-line target, particularly the area where the neck joins the shoulder for a succession of Wheeling elbow strikes. Here we can really maximise the mechanics of the strike/s as we drop body weight through the target.
˛ Close Confrontation, pelvic shot to wheeling elbow
From very close proximity, you are caught with your hands down; here we shoot a closed fist shot into the pelvis or groin, this will create forward energy from the aggressor, from which we follow up with a W/elbow to the back of the head/neck taking him to the ground, finish with a limb stomp.
˛ Cycling into W/elbows:
Here we integrate the W/elbows into cycling hammer-fists strikes, as a continuous aggressive attack, with forward pressure to plough through the enemy.
Again here the focus was on taking what we had learned from Marcus and applying it to what we already do. I.e. access of the fight state coupled to explosive aggression with forward pressure, followed by active scanning and tactical disengagement. The last drill we looked to employ, after a couple of minutes of visualisation, in or to access state then achor the same to the said skill set. I call this the Vehemence drill, the combination of HF cycling into elbows strikes really switches on and maximises my aggression well. We looked at this on the spar-pro then with a shield holding feeder reluctantly giving ground, to program forward pressure into this.
The Swedish Valkyrie, Lynx blasting Phill with clinch knees, other guys working the same.
Knee strike module:
Next up was the Knee strike as low line/offensive and midline/defensive application; presented by Den. Here Den showed the knee strike to the perennial nerve on the outside of the thigh as a low level of force option, in addition to use as a third party intervention skill that has you running in and blasting the base out. Finally Den use a principle from weight training called ‘’I go, you go’’ Where the feeder holds the shield for Thai clinch knees for 5 reps then switch sides for your partner to go and so on, until the signal to stop.
Thai/pivot kick module:
Then Mr K from Norway showed how the Thai-kick can be used at both a long range tool as well as from a closer range, attached position. Mr K presented a fine example for all to model in true NLP style. Again we looked at intervention to a third party situation, by running in and blasting the legs out from under the aggressor this was simulated on a big shield held by a rather reluctant training partner. After these basics were covered, we all went for a much needed break and some snacks /water etc then back ready for the next presentations.
The awesome Mr K demonstrating the Thai kick.
Strength training module:
First up here was John Brawn, who showed us how to work out with the kettle bell for strength. The kettle bell is an old weightlifting device which is regaining popularity. John has become a big fan of this type of training and includes kettle bell routines on his DVDs where he takes you through a variety of exercises such as the one arm snatch, the one arm clean and press etc. All good functional stuff if you can obtain a kettle bell for yourself, mail order is one option, although ‘’the postman will f**king hate you’’ as John notably pointed out. Next up was Liverpool Gutter fighter’s Larry; to show us how to work out with the medicine ball, personal I find the MB a great piece of kit for functional training I use it specifically for upper body plyometric work and also for desensitisation to upper body impact. Last up, was Mick Coup who showed us how to use bricks instead of dumbbells for general upper body conditioning. Mick also talked in-depth about developing core strength, via the use of stability discs and balls to work the support strength structure of the transverse abdominals, which along with rotational torso work is really where it’s at for task specific combative strength. This whole module was very interesting and I would have liked to contribute here myself, had I known it was going to be part of the International; I use a lot of plyometrics and functional strength work with a vast array of kit, perhaps next year.
‘The Strong will survive’.
Larry on Medicine ball training, John Brawn with his Kettlebells
Mick Coup Puts Phil through his paces with the Bricks.
Developing the Will to WIN:
Next was a great module presented by my good friend James Farthing on the development of ferocious resolve and mental toughness. First of all Jimmy got everyone’s attention and installed the desire and need for such WILL power, by relating a true story about a climber who fought through a variety of obstacles which finally led to him having to cut his own arm off in order to survive, after getting his arm pinned under a rock whilst hanging from a cliff. Without going into the whole story, suffice to say that this individual survived this critical incident through pure WILL TO LIVE, nothing more. He fought through and way beyond where most would have given up and survived to tell the tale. This set the stage for what was to come next; here we did a variety of drills to install mental toughness and the WILL to win. The first one was a 4-man dead weight drill; which started by lying face down flat on the floor, from here one training partner of approximate equal weight will lie as a dead weight on top of you, there is no holding or striking allowed from either side your objective is to get this guy off you and get up as fast as you can to blitz a pad for 10 seconds of all-out HF strikes.
James Farthing giving an ideal of example of the Dead weight stress drill; an excellent invention of his own.
This is then repeated for a second time and finally a third time, only now you are extremely tired and have 2 people lying on top of you making it doubly hard to get up. The only thing that will make you get up is the WILL to WIN. The second drill was equally nasty, first of all you put your strong dominant arm inside your clothing to simulate an injury, from here you Hammer-fist a pad all-out for 10 seconds from a standing position, as a third man administers stress by pulling at your hips, vigourously rubbing your face and covering your vision etc basically spoiling any chance you might have of employing a decent strike. After 10 seconds the drill is repeated for the same duration on the ground, working off your back with the same strike, same stress deal. Finally this is repeated once more for another 10 seconds only this time from the mount again same strike and stress deal. Good stuff, 2 drills that with teach you a lot about yourself try them.
‘’Fatigue represents fear, that tries to dissipate your WILL to WIN!’’
One mind, any weapon:
After this we looked at expedient weapons of opportunity under the guidance of C2’s Mick Coup, here we looked at ways of employing the likes of which you’d find in an alley like a broken fence post or half a brick along with everyday items from B&Q such as hammers, chisels crow bars etc. Basically any street or household tool improvised as a weapon. First Mick explained the definition of a weapon and how to use it under stress and the commonality cross over to any basic hard skill strike. Basically any linear strike, angular/hook line or back hand strike can be employed in the same way with the same mechanics, employ any weapon with one, or both for longer weapon formations. This is the fundament principle to the Filipino methods of weapon use but with the combative addition of hitting the GLF switch. Impact weapons were followed by their edged weapon counter part, the use of the knife. Again important points relating to grip and body mechanics were emphasised in with the true professionalism that we’ve come to expect from this excellent instructor. Mick constructed a blade target from an old rugged carpet, rolled up folded and hung from a chain to simulate ‘Meat.’ All good stuff, got lots of good photos here. The following quote by Fred Perrin sums up this module perfectly:
‘There are no tactical weapons, only tactical minds’.
Mick’s armoury included every day items found in the street, home, shed and car, along with weapons by design, training weapons and basically anything you can hold in your hand you can hit with.
Tools most likely found and used in the street, alley or a skip; half a brick and a broken fence post.
Offensive knife work on MC’s hanging target.
Here some of the lads enjoying the make shift weapons module: Talk about stress relief
The Combative use of a claw hammer……. A crow bar………
A Maglite torch……….
A Redman training carbine..... and a regular old cosh.......
Luckily there was only one minor injury, Nick Engelen from Belgium cut his finger, which required the urgent and immediate attention of ...a plaster.
Death locks from WW2:
The final module for the day was from Swedish instructor Mika, who covered a short piece about the death locks and chokes from WW2.
Mika demonstrates a rear naked choke and bite on the spar-pro.
This ended the first training session of the international from where everyone went off for some much needed rest only to hook up later for the ritual Combative food fest.
DAY TWO: Training started again at 10.00.
First we had a warm up with Tony from the Liverpool Gutter fighters group. This led us straight into impact training where we had to go from station to station to practise a variety of blows.
Warm up striking drills:
Next Marcus gave a brief discussion on the importance of observation skills, the objective being to pick up on any pre-threat cue as early as possible as well as the enhancement of peripheral scope. This is very important and worthy Combative skill to acquire. Under stress we often experience what’s called tunnel vision but it’s important to break out of this as the opponents tactics play upon this via the pincer approach movement.
Instructor’s group drill/Vision skills:
The following drill was developed by part of the instructor/student group, including myself that took part in the Liverpool NBI seminar with Marcus a couple of days before. To demonstrate our grasp of Marcus’s material the entire group was divided into smaller groups and given the task of developing a new and unique drill, specific to the 3 main topics covered during the course. Our topic/drill related specifically to the enhancement of vision skills. The drill we came up with employed the following resources;
· One trainee/recipient.
· One aggressive role-player.
· 3-5 additional partners.
· An array of weapons, live or practice.
· One coach/safety man.
One of the main objectives within NLP is to install a workable and demonstrate able improvement within the student, in a very short time frame. The object here was to improve the recipient’s observation skills along with an improved understanding of Body Language cue acuity, in relation to the carry and accessing of a weapon/s. We called out a volunteer from the crowd and told him that nothing in a physical sense was required from him, nor will anything in a physical sense happen to him. For the purpose of this drill, he will remain relatively static and the focus will be on what he observes within the scope of his current peripheral vision. He was not told anything more specific than that, until his second opportunity to repeat the drill which will come after enlightenment.
This photo clearly depicts the danger of frontal fixation, in this example missing the gun to head threat.
From here one person will role-play a deceptive ruse that will quickly escalate into aggression, in an attempt to distract the recipient and make him fixate on what’s going on in front of him. Depending on the level of stress offered will depend on the degree of tunnel vision he receives. Whilst this is going on, the rest of the group of 3-5 people will move in and out within his potential peripheral scope, as they display certain subtle and gross motor weapon carry and access cues, which may or may not be picked up within the student’s potential line of sight. What this showed on several volunteers was just how easy and fast a potential weapon threat, could be brought into play, particularly when engaged in dialogue from the front.
From a Self-Protection point of view, we all know that we should assume two things, one; a weapon might be involved and two; there is probably more than one aggressor. We should also understand the M.O of a street attacker and their use of the Pincer Approach within the context of a criminal assault. Under such circumstances we would of course strive to move, in order to obtain Situational Control and improve our positioning for increased observation and awareness of threat, this would be our transition to the above drill and how we’d translate it in a combatively functional sense. The focus and context of this drill is simply enlightenment to the possible dangers, within any confrontation and the importance of gridding each potential contact within the immediate vicinity, into the said 4 quadrants as we apply focus to the hands of each one, as quickly as possible. Of course, to do all this while still maintaining situational control and soft focus on the guy in front, is no easy task.
The first time round saw each individual miss the majority of potential weapon threats, which were to be called out as they were picked up. For the drill any weapon man spotted and called out, for instance ‘’knife’’ ‘’gun’’ etc would then remove themselves from the drill, the object is to spot them visually nothing more. The second repeat of the drill saw an immediate and demonstrate able improvement, with the majority of cues and weapons getting picked up on, whilst controlling the man in front. Like I said the transition of movement, situational control, active scanning and pre-emptive action would be implemented to make part/s of the said drill functional and applicable to the operator in a real world sense.
Next was a module on team-tactics by Mick Coup. The Chinese term Gung Ho means working together; Mick explained that on the doors it was not smart to try to take someone out on your own. The advantage of working together is that you can subdue someone quicker without causing a lot of damage to the person. Hence the preference to Defensive as opposed to Offensive Tactics; for security and police restraint. First we looked into Cover and Contact, where the contact engages the potential threat supported by a cover man ready for immediate intervention. Two guys working together in this way can cover each others backs over 360 degrees of vision. Mick also talked about subtle visual cues as action indicators, as well as physical methods of single and group restraint. Then we practised how to take the opponent under control so he could be removed from the premises, this was drilled to a point of understanding and then further pressure was added, via the additions of verbalisation, role play along with a non-compliant aggressor wearing boxing gloves. Good basic drills demonstrating the essential principle of contact and cover within the field of security and door work influence here from defensive tactics for police officers.
Mick demonstrates how to take control so the individual can now be removed from the premises.
Under the pressure of non-compliance.
Multiple assailant drills:
Here we see some of the lads practicing the Zombie drill in
Guys working strikes from all directions during the S.O.E crowd drill.
Next up was Clint O who represents Den’s Combatives in South Africa; here Clint did an excellent module on the offensive use of the knife. Focus here was really geared toward gaining the mentality needed to employ such a tool offensively. We looked at a variety of drills for gained an immediate lethal entry. This started with a very sneaky attack, which gave everyone an insight into the knife fighter mentality as well as knife fighting from more of a duelling sense along with the attributes to be gained from such a practice.
Two of my students Alban and Steve getting some excellent coaching from Clint O.
Greg Hall and one of our brothers from Norway go at it from largo mano range.
The next module focused on employing groin attacks at Extreme Close Quarters ECQ, either as the only available target, or as target of choice due to height differential. Methods included slapping, grabbing and twisting attacks to the testicles as well as a take down employing the same method. Also we looked at a low line shot to the pelvis in order to acquire a high line target into a take down and limb stomp, from an ECQ scenario. Thanks as always to my friend Simon Squires for being my demo partner.
From the groin slap, move quickly behind, (chest to back) switch hands and rip the groin back as you drive his torso forward for a fast takedown.
After this came the grand finale; the stress scenario; slightly different this year, a whole team of guys ready to take each and every trainee through his paces. Guys would come in four at a time then stand and face the wall in a semi squat, hands behind the head stress position as they wait their turn. Then one is taken to the mat and hooded with a pillow case, from here it was my job to administer stress via disorientation, i.e. ten fast turns in a circle after bending forward, pinching the nose with the eyes closed, then they had to fight the padded assailant then move over to a pad man and blast out knees for 20 seconds, then fireman carry a partner up and down the hall, then finally fight their way through a hostile crowd to the freedom of the exit. Everyone here did really well; all trainees and feeders gave a lot to make this a good stress inoculation experience. But hat must go off to the guys in the smurf suit who did an excellent job. The new helmet design employs an American football helmet that has allowed these guys to take the stress training to an interesting new level, so well done for that.
Kitted up and ready to rock, the boys in blue.
The helmet design is way above most others that I have seen, in terms of quaity safety design.
The Fist suit scenarios followed the
stress of dis-orientation...
20 seconds of knees...
Fireman carry to crowd escape brought the stress drill to an end...
Instructor and class group photos.
Den with the Vikings.
A big shout goes out to Nick Engelen who did fantastic during the stress drill, he showed good tactics maximised with aggression and will to win. Well done mate!
On Monday there was a short session planned for the remaining few who were still in town, about 30 in total showed up. The session started with Den who went onto show us some of his kit including the hide away knife, flashlight accessories. Marcus had brought over the latest Hideaway accessory a wallet with integral sheath the class were the first people to see this kit We just looked at some of the carry options – Den had some, as well as Mika. Then we went through a warm up where you work with a pad man, who puts the pads in various spots for the different combative strikes.
Den showing his hide away knife…
Clint taught us his version of the power slap and how to do it with artifice,
from a static position and on the move, smiling,
walking up not looking, asking questions, tactile to placate then whack! Not
dropping the arm right down, going from where it is. Not necessarily making
eye contact with the baddy. Also
linking this in to weapons access so you’re performing the slap then going for
your weapon (i.e. firearm / knife for many people).
Next, Clint shows the Powerslap, as Larry holds the mitt...
Next up came the Rapid Eye Attack, Marcus – explained history….came from Paul Vunak’s Seal Blitz, changed as needed to fit an air marshal situation, had to be straight lines up/down an aisle, also look at seat wrests…ideal for breaking people on. Doesn’t like it being called the “Marcus Wynne Rapid Eye Attack” as it’s a variation on a theme. Den & Pete – demoed with x-ray paper, and then we all had a go in pairs. Then used in conjunction with the hammerhead for the take down (into Kjetil’s screw or eye gouge take down). Eye attack the paper then transfer to HH and take down to ground (working in 3’s). With the mechanics of the eye attack you go from prey to predator as you motor forward and the body position goes from leaning back cowering to leaning forward and attacking – this works in reverse for the original attacker! This skill set is useful to take you from a defensive position/state back to the fighting position. This technique is particularly good for women’s self protection.
Lynx from Sweden trains the mechanics of the eye blitz on x-ray film with Mika.
Then Marcus did a speech about cloaking the intent. While sometimes it can be useful to show bad guys that we aren’t a victim and that they are going to get hurt when they think they can take us, in the same vein it is also useful to hide this intent to lure bad guys in to thinking they are safe. In some jobs it’s a necessity for example a shop detective or low profile security where you don’t want unwanted attention. A cat good at catching mice doesn’t show its claws.
Finally was a module with Ireland’s John Brawn also did a nice module on the On/Off switch a drill from JB’s Punching Power DVD. We worked in pairs with mitts – small burst of punching (for 15sec) then swap so other has same burst, then swap…keep going….thinking of the person you hate the most as you punch the mitts. Goes on for about 1˝ or 2min…all about the aggression, not the technique.
This brought all events to a final close, everyone left in attendence said their farewells All that remains is to thank everyone who made this event possible and may we have many more.