Monthly Workshop

September review


On Sunday the 24th of September we held our monthly workshop at the usual venue in Southampton. In-spite of most people taking advantage of cheaper September holidays, we still had a dozen guys in attendance. After our initial introduction and overview we started things off with a theory module, employing several visual training models that we use to determine each of our resources and options in turn. These are our main pre-conflict elements that will allow us to successfully operate within the full spectrum of a criminal assault.

Theory modules that were covered throughout the day included our options and resources; Cooper’s Color Conditions and the concept of the Ooda loop.


The next module looked at enhancing our Observation Skills. Here we practiced several drills to enhance our peripheral vision and scope, along with ways of retaining the same under stress. We started with a couple of drills that were practiced at the recent NBI course with Marcus Wynne in Liverpool along my own adaptations of that since my return.  The overall aim was the same, that being to make our vision faster by picking up on any pre-conflict indicators that may present themselves, so that we can react to the potential threat faster, along with improving our peripheral scope under stress.  During the day we managed to get some good photos, thanks to my friend and fellow instructor Richard who came along to watch, chat and take a few notes. So big shout to him for these pictures.


First up we have Alban checking the scope of his peripheral vision during a relaxed state…

Then again after the introduction of stress…supplied via some sudden aggressive dialogue and the unexpected presence of a fuck off BIG Bowie knife, needless to say tunnel vision was present which was the point of this demonstration.


This first drill had us check peripheral vision then access an aggressive state, as you blitz a frontal target for a timed duration.


It was noted how everyone tends to fixate on a frontal stimulus closing peripheral scope in the process.

On the whistle the attack was stopped and you are encouraged to re-check state and vision.



Some of the guys during this drill….


The object of the next drill was to build on what we’d just done, by making the student more peripherally aware of his surroundings. First we calibrate Peripheral Vision from a relaxed state, by holding your hands out to the fringe of your peripheral scope. Have one partner with a striking pad/shield stand in front of you, and another wearing 2 focus pads and stood behind you. On your frontal partner’s signal, which will be offered intention from him/her we access state and blast into the pad with multiple TC strikes for 30 seconds, pace this don’t rush.


At some point during the drill, the feeder behind you will feed either focus pad high or low, left or right within the scope of your peripheral vision. Your ideal response is to turn and throw in a single palm strike to that pad and then turn back to your frontal threat. Try and resist the temptation to turn and look for the pad, instead the idea is to try and pick up the cue in your periphery.


The feeder’s objective is to determine the limits of you peripheral scope in an attempt to help you broaden it. If however you don’t pick up on the feeder’s cue after 3-5 seconds he will hit you with the pad, which in turn will help install a learning curve.  On instructor’s signal stop your assault and re-calibrate your vision, check state then recount your phone or car registration number out load quickly, to simulate regaining your decision making abilities.


Here are more of the guys working this peripheral enhancement drill…


Next up was a module on the Situational Control of Proxemics. The focus here was situational control or the preservation of personal space. Now we should all understand how important protecting the gap between you and an unknown, yet to be determined as a threat can be, hence the reason we all employ some kind of fence, but here we looked into situations where we are in close proximity to a potential threat but they have not actually addressed us in any way, they are just near by or from the perspective of someone walking towards us or behind us, looking at discreet and unobtrusive ways that we can deal with that.  The first example might be; imagine walking on a narrow path toward an unknown person you can’t really avoid them or step clear without almost brushing shoulders with them. Being a polite and courteous individual (most of the time) I would probably move a side to let them pass, I might even smile or nod and say something like ‘’how you doing?’’ Regardless of that, as I pass I will raise my hand nearest them and gesture it toward my face as if scratching my nose. This places me in a position to either chamber a strike (in this case a backhand hammer-fist of Axe hand) or to employ an emergency cover or default in the event of an attempted ambush. The whole thing looks extremely natural, goes completely unnoticed and is the formulation of good street smarts.  Not paranoid just pro-active. It changes a potentially vulnerable position into a platform from which I can operate, nothing wrong with that.


Making a hand gesture towards the face as you pass, transforms a previously vulnerable position into a platform from which you can access your skills.


Now to make the drill more interesting we had, one guy facing a feeder wearing two pads, stood about 15 feet away facing each other. From here all we did for the next few minutes was walk past each other, up and down the hall, practicing the said subtle gesture from both sides. This also provided a good opportunity to the trainee to pick up on any equally subtle pre-fight cues, as well as the pad man to practice masking them. The idea was for at some point, random and of the feeder’s choosing to turn and fire in a decent shot to the trainee’s head as he passed by. It was emphasised that we should keep the pad man within peripheral scope even as he’s passed right by, by simply glancing with soft focus, forward towards the floor, thus plugging in the previous vision drills to the relevance of situational control.


    Here are a couple of examples of subtle unobtrusive situational control, as you walk by an unknown contact.


Here we see an emergency cover employed in response to a sudden ambush, made possible by inclination and situational control. The immediate response from here was to blast back with a huge slap and appropriate follow up from there.

Such tactics are as street smart as walking wide around a corner to increase my reaction time, or using the reflection of a window to see what’s behind me to enhance my observation skills.  The next drill employed the following; imagine you just walked pass someone who was previously stood against a wall doing nothing in particular, just hanging out. As you pass you catch sight of this person in your peripheral vision (because you are a switched on individual) and orientate that he is now walking behind you. May be nothing, probably co-incidence but instincts tingle regardless, even if they don’t this is still good practice. Slow down to a stop and turn to let the individual pass, where possible out of touching range, as you do this make a puzzled expression with your face and pat your pockets as if you have forgotten something. If you make eye contact just nod and say ‘’how you doing?’’ let the guy pass then go about your business, very natural behaviour that again has transformed a potentially vulnerable position into a platform from which you can operate. 


As I walk pass I notice the guy by the wall start to fall in behind me. Regardless of his intention I’d feel more comfortable with him in front.


Without making this obvious, I slow to a stop and turn, as I do so I am patting my pockets with a puzzled expression to my face as if I have forgotten something. This allows the guy behind me an opportunity to pass from here I just go about my business.



Here a couple of lads work the subtleties of this drill…


For the final module of the day we looked at Stress Inoculation and state management. This referred to the ability to control and moderate your own state, with a goal toward being able to adjust and command control of state change, on demand which of course is a crucial and worthy Combative skill to attain. Here we were looking at going from a state of heightened alertness, to the access of the fight state in order to deal with the threat, and go back to a state of alertness and control in order to make tactical decisions. The aim of the following drills is to cultivate a practice for flicking the switch of controlled aggression on and off.  Attainment of these skills will manifest itself via the implementation of STRESS such as fatigue, pain, dis-orientation and through the visualization of a critical incident which is the first drill that we started with.



Fight State Access drill one:

Here is an illustrated example of a continuous attacking drill that we used to practice switching on short bursts of controlled aggression.  Add visualization to the drill and try to muster as much emotional content as possible.

Accessing the Fight State!

Close your eyes and think about 3 things that induce aggression.



  1. Two  men molesting your significant other
  2. A man assaulting your Mother with a baseball bat
  3. Pedophile attacking your child


Now think of 3 trigger words that signify aggression.




F**k You!


Now work the mechanics of the following gross motor drill with a partner on a strike shield.




From a non-aggressive fence throw a series of cycling hammer-fist strikes.




Then flow straight into a sequence of elbows building up the aggression and power with each strike you throw.

Once the movement was understood, everyone closed their eyes for approx 30 seconds to visualize an incident that would invoke this state of ANGER, feeling what it feels like and imagining what you would see, hear and feel as clearly as possible. The guys were told to try and notice how their physiology began to change how your muscles may tighten, your breathing pattern may change as your heart rate increases and your fists may clench. Taking control of this feeling and harnessing the energy it provides, then on their own signal (using a trigger word) they open their eyes and explode into the pads with a continuous assault of HF’s and elbow strikes as hard and fast as possible, with as much aggression as they could muster. There was encouragement to be guttural as you strike, using your voice as you shout out your trigger words from the pit of your stomach. Everyone stopped on the signal (whistle) taking a few breaths to regain their composure, check state by calibrating peripheral vision then answering a question from the pad man (Ex: spell your Christian name backwards)

The guys were first given an example to follow…



Here we can see some of the guys accessing the battle state after the mental imagery exercise…


There was absolutely no doubt that everyone found state during this exercise, the feedback afterwards also confirmed this.



Everyone noticed how they had just harnessed a powerful resource of energy, but in a controllable way. Once the final whistle was blown, the aim is to re-instate a state of situational awareness (scan) and decision making ability in order to install within the trainee, the act of re-attaining a degree of focused higher brain activity, that would be necessary to find an escape route, administer first aid, drive a car, dial the emergency services for help, and/or speak to attending law-enforcement without incriminating yourself in the process!  We employed this principle to all of the drills in this module. Next up we introduced elements of stress to the equation, in order to help each trainee moderate their own state for themselves.

Fight state access/pain management:

This is a 3-man drill employing a Kubotan or a Yawara-bo with applied pressure across the radial wrist bone, in order to induce instantaneous pain. Once the pain is acknowledged by the recipient, he/she is then encouraged to sample it again, this time for a 10 long second duration, as the trainee hits a focus pad as hard and fast as possible, with as much aggression as they can muster. This little gem comes from Dennis Martin and was used on our first stress inoculation program back in November 03. The point of the drill demonstrates just how effectively we can mask pain and fight through pain if a controlled burst of aggression is applied. Hence the saying ‘’turn your pain to power!’’



Fighting through pain can be an enlightening experience...


The next drill was developed and introduced by my good friend Jimmy Farthing at the recent CQB International seminar in Liverpool. This is a 4-man dead weight drill; which I modified slightly by adding the addition of 10 push ups, followed 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 and your objective is to get this guy off you and get up as fast as you can, in order to blitz a pad for 10 seconds all-out with HF strikes. 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. Ask yourself how bad do you want it?

‘’Fatigue represents fear, that tries to dissipate your WILL to WIN!’’


Ten push ups…wrestle first guy off…


Beat that pad for ten seconds… Repeat pushups for ten, wrestle one guy off, get up, and beat that pad for ten.

Finale of the drill is ten more push ups; wrestle two guys off you then get up and beat that pad like your life depended on it…


Everyone gave their all during this drill...



Next we looked at the following State Management drill; Trainee stands in a corner at Close Quarters to a feeder, facing them with 2 focus pads. Keep proximity tight and confined, trainee maintains a hands high compressed fence. The pad man cues in stress via verbalization, pushes, shoves and if necessary the employment of a series of manic slaps to the head and face of the recipient. Object being to induce fight state in the trainee this may vary according to individual, but access state as quickly as possible and acquire a target to attack, by physically grasping one of the feeder’s pad bearing limbs, once attached, maintain hold and ATTACK with a succession of tight palm strikes, head butts and elbows etc.


Triggering the fight state in the trainee is induced by verbal, pushing

Shoving and slapping with the pads.


After 10-15 seconds the feeder will then attempt to struggle by pulling his pad arm free from your grasp. Respond to this by escalating your aggression further and strive to forcefully pull the pad to your mouth. From here BITE and shake your head with vicious guttural intent until you pull the focus pad free from the feeder’s hand. Once free, bite once more and throw the pad to the ground, then stomp on it as hard as you can, take your aggression to its peak by kicking/volleying the pad clear across the room to signify terminating the threat.

Acquire the target from the non-compliant feeder and blitz…

The previous feeder now becomes a coach, telling you to re-calibrate your vision, check state and recall out loud the following information; Name/address/phone number and D.O.B to simulate thinking and making decisions under post-fight stress. The final stress test for the day was a 3-man drill incorporating the following; the trainee closes his eyes, pinches his nose and bends forward, from here a safety man will spin him around in a circle, 10 times to create dis-orientation.


                 Stress is created via dis-orientation…

From here a pad feeder will rain an immediate multi punching attack towards the dizzy trainee’s head, who will now cover, crash and counter from the all-out assault with a default cover, closing into clinch knees.


        Followed by covering from an all-out pad man assault…


Close into clinch knees being sure to relocate position and actively scanning to break tunnel vision.

The trainee must relocate his position and actively SCAN for a further threat.  Next the trainee will pick up a training partner (simulating an injured friend) off the floor and fireman carry, piggy back or drag him into a corner, from where they will stand in front and protect them from two pad men, who will alternate presenting targets to strike for 15 seconds to finish. From here the trainee checks state and calibrates his peripheral vision, as he answers a question to reinstate a higher brain function.



Carry, lift or drag an injured friend to safety then turn into an active guard…


From here blitz the pad men… just keep firing at every target that comes at you…


Keep striking as you cover your injured friend from the pad men’s attempted encroachment, until the signal to stop then check state and vision etc to finish.

The workshop was drawn to a close after a much needed warm down. All and all everyone seemed to enjoy the day, all that remains is for me to thank everyone in attendance for making the effort to come and for working so hard. Hope to see some of you back at the next workshop on the last Sunday of October…