2nd CQB International Seminar
Liverpool YMCA 8th August 2004

By Lee Morrison
This second International seminar saw the largest group of combatives instructors, trainees and enthusiasts that I have seen in one place so far. It was as Den called it 'a gathering of Gutter Fighters.' We had people from all over Europe, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Italy and one guy even made it over from the States. The turn out and standard of people training was absolutely inspiring. We all met up around 10am in the upstairs hall of the YMCA where I've got to say that the training environment was similar to that of a green house and I think we were all feeling the effects of the heat during the hands on stages of the course. Hat off to Dennis Martin for organising yet another gold mine package of information there was a perfect balance between sit down lectures and very physical hands on drills interspersed with frequent water breaks which made the heat a little more manageable.

Over the next two days there was a huge amount of information to take in, lots of training drills and excellent lectures all supported with superb hand out material. I for one have taken a lot, from all the great people teaching and training over this weekend and I will now strive to recall the whole experience from my notes and memory. I will record it here as I remember it I apologise if I haven't reported events in exact order but here we go. We started with an excellent presentation by Mark Gitting and James Farthing regarding the training syllabus taught by Fairbairn & Sykes during the different phases of instruction dating back from the Shanghai period to the Commando and home guard right through to the S.O.E period and how the Close Combat methods were adapted to meet the environmental needs of the Operatives through each of these periods in time. Note was also made of the changes illustrated in the various manuals that Fairbairn produced through out these different phases all making for a very interesting lecture.

Mark Gitting giving his lecture on the changes in Fairbairn's methods over the years.
 
The first physical warm up incorporated task specific movements that translated to certain combatives skills. In this example the first exercise was push ups performed by using an Ax hand formation of the hands and wrists followed by Ax hand strikes on the pads in addition to this there were various floor exercises that fatigued the anaerobic ATP system such as mountain climbers, high knee lifts and violent marching. I also liked Den's take on sit ups which made use of the hands held in your natural flinch/fend position as you sit up with each rep again forward thinking and task oriented. The warm up took us nicely into the hard skills specifics and basic strikes. Each Instructor was given the opportunity to present a particular strike along with each individual's take on how they train that specific skill. I was up first with the Tiger's claw followed by the slap with John Pardoe who bought excellent use of the fence and role play into the drill, verbalisation and posturing was offered by the pad man who would then present you with a target to strike. The chin-jab was next with our guest instructor from Norway Kjetil Vigre who as always came up with some really cool methods of employing this staple strike; such as flicking the groin to bring the head forward onto the chin-jab, striking with the chin-jab followed by an vertical elbow drop into the sternum this also trained you to keep the elbow in. Also using the strike from a crouch like sumo position about three feet away from your aggressor from where you would explode forward, off your legs to rapidly close and smash through with your strike. This can as I have now found in training since, apply to a strike from a seated position, blasting up and into your aggressor against say a forward moving assault or as some kind of intervention method. The thing I like most about Kjetil's teaching is his intensity, his demonstrations really fire you up to train hard.

The knee strike was next with Mark Gitting who incorporated various ways of using the knee in and out of the clinch, along with MacCann's method of violently walking forward. Also the knee drop to a felled opponent. Then we looked at the hammer-fist/cycling with Simon Squires who taught the strike as an aggression and ATP conditioning drill which basically required one guy holding a shield like a rucksack where you would now grab a hold of the shield with one hand and strike with continuous hammer-fist blows with the other using as much forward pressure and aggression as you can muster while a third person will pull at your face and try to pull you off and basically provide stress. The whole thing is continued all out for ten seconds which is your approximate maximum ATP output and then the exercise is repeated for a total of three times for each trainee. This was an excellent drill and it was most interesting to me to see how each instructor has taken each of the basic gross motor strikes of the CQB syllabus and come up with some great and unique ways of training them and producing them as a teaching module.

This continued with Den who taught the elbow strike with a little influence from John Styers who wrote the classic text cold steel. He would use the elbow in a wheeling forward moving attack which Den had us practice as an offensive attack and as a reaction from a flinch cover to counter attack and also as means to take down someone's guard; all good stuff. Through out the first day we were given an array of physical drills and partner work. It was awesome to see so many enthusiastic people training hard everyone I train with or teach will all know that for me, it is all about INTENTION in training. Tenacity and aggression in all striking drills with lots of forward pressure coupled with a passion to win. This is how I train and how I teach and this is the main thing that I see people struggle with i.e. creating this intention in a training environment. But here I am pleased to say it appeared in abundance. The atmosphere during some of the drills and especially the scenario work on day two was simply electric so much so that when I came home and taught my first class back on the Tuesday, I was completely fired up and anxious to re-create the same atmosphere with my guys. One drill that I liked in particular was taught by Tony Da Costa he told us that it had been adapted from Geoff Thompson's circle drill {see 3 second fighter video} the drill required three people, two wearing a pair of focus mits that offered a third trainee who stood in between them, four targets to hit. The pad men would flash each pad randomly at varying heights from 360 degrees of direction where you have to react by striking as fast as you can. The drill started with Tiger's claws and progressed to using any strike to the targets fed by the pad men. The whole point is to develop reaction time and to train you to actively scan and use peripheral vision.

Day two started with an excellent lecture by Dennis relating to Operator Performance under Psycho-Genic stress. This started in true NLP form with the stimulus from a visual clip, taken from the TV drama SHARP with Sean Bean which showed Sean as Lt. Sharp on a battlefield on the eve of battle with a large bunch of recruits all of which had had no previous combat experience what so ever. He told them that tomorrow this battlefield would be a smoke filled place of fearful and disorientating confusion, this he re-enforced by having his men fire musket shots over the heads of the new recruits who quickly ducked for cover. Then he said something along the lines of; 'all that it will take to ensure victory is for each and every man to stand his ground load his gun and fire at the enemy, then reload and do it again, these guns will allow you to fire and reload approximately three times a minute, keep this up until the other side is no longer standing or retreats.' 'Now I know that each and everyone of you can reload and fire three shots a minute.' 'But can you stand?'

This was an excellent analogy for defining the mental state needed to be truly combative. Combatives were designed for one purpose and that is for defeating violence and aggression. The quote that fits is 'you do what you do despite what your enemy is doing.' The following is a brief out line of an excellent power point presentation from Den. I have focused on just a few points relevant to this topic but you will probably notice that I have gone into a little more detail here than else where in this review the reasons being that first of all I really like this kind of information; clinical facts that dispel myth and create understanding and secondly this topic is so essential that without some degree of understanding what we are about to talk about, individual operator performance will always be hampered. So to start we looked at the security control centre of the brain, this is called the AMYGDALA and is the threat detecting organ of the brain. During stress such as that of a violent confrontation the Sympathetic nervous system will take over. A neural surge causes an increase in heart rate and raises our blood pressure this results in blood being withdrawn from our extremities in order to be pumped to our vital inner organs. Blood is also drawn from our brain cortex for the same reason; the result of which impairs our thinking, in particular our decision making abilities. Due to this restriction in blood flow to the brain, the Neo-Cortex or higher brain is gone and the Limbic System which is the part of the brain that is responsible for emotions takes prominence, making all complex decision making impossible. The result is that we are now reduced to the intelligence of a dog. In addition to this is what's known as adrenal dump this will create a release of endorphins that will make you stronger, faster and more resistant to pain and shock.

The flip side of this coin is the mental implications that will also have to be dealt with. These include auditory exclusion or impaired hearing, tunnel vision where our peripheral vision closes down hence the need to actively scan. Time distortion where events seem to play in slow motion as our perception speeds up to process information and also what's known as cognitive dissonance this is after action recall, when things start to appear jumbled or out of sequence and is why it is a good idea to reserve your right and wait for 24 hours before giving a statement after any event that may incur police involvement.

Just give the dynamics of the situation such as 'he attacked me and I defended myself I will give a statement tomorrow.' At which time everything will start to appear a lot clearer. Immediate post-event of a stressful situation such as after a violent confrontation, people often feel the need to babble and come out with every word that comes into their head in an attempt to justify their actions. Under such conditions where cognitive dissonance is present there is a good chance that your facts won't be straight. One point that this brings to mind is that a lot of people have been found guilty for what they have said rather than what they have done.

Then we went on to discuss the Vital Pyramid and how all this relates Mindset, Tactics, Skills and Kit. We looked at programming your sub-conscious through training in order to develop the correct response that can be released during stress along with the importance of keeping everything simple. Our motor performance will start to be affected as our heart rate increases; at 115 bpm we lose fine motor skills, at a 145 bpm we start to lose complex motor skills i.e. movement combining different skills and from 150-175 bpm gross motor skills are actually enhanced. This is why all of our hard skills curriculum are based around gross motor actions. Everything should be as simple as picking up a rock and hitting with it; this also applies to weapons and kit. The final part of this presentation looked at the training implications of Operator Performance under stress and I will sum these up with the following points;
1. All feelings associated with these phenomena are a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. These reactions are natural and realise that others have coped in this situation and so can you.

2. These feelings must be experienced in a training environment through scenario training. It is important to emphasise that for effective training, it is essential that we add this emotional content.

3. Also verbalisation is a Psycho-motor skill and it needs to be practiced along with the physical. This applies to all role-play, posturing, deceptive dialogue and trigger words.

4. Finally you must break tunnel vision by actively scanning during pad drills for example strike the pad then actively scan by turning your head left and right etc. This is the same in shooting where you are taught to draw, fire and scan then holster the weapon.

Quote; by Jean-Pascal Espercail of the French Special Operation Force.
''we train to perform reasonably well under extreme stress, rather then exceptionally well under reasonable stress.''

The next presentation was by Norwegian instructor Kjetil who never fails to captivate his audience with his charismatic approach to teaching. This was a real treat for the historians. Kjetil's lecture related to the S.O.E as they operated in Norway during WW2 all made very interesting material. This was followed by a superb presentation by my mate from CODA Jimmy (Fatwing) Farthing which related to the use of various objects to be employed as improvised weapons. This is a topic that I am most interested in and encourage all my students like wise. The hard skills continued after the warm up for the day with Kjetil teaching the Thai kick and various methods of employing it from a close range to the inside and outside of the thigh. In addition to this Kjetil showed a method of using this kick as an intervention technique by running in from a distance and Thai kicking out both of the aggressor's legs as you come in. A superb demonstration from an immensely powerful man. Next up was Mika who taught the Ax hand/edge of hand blow as his module. He emphasised the importance of conditioning the hands for this strike by repetitively banging them on hard surfaces such as walls and floors. Then we worked the short and long Ax hand on a partner for practice then as a line drill using a sinawali figure of eight motion on the spar-pro for impact.

Swedish based combatives instructor Mika Soderman demonstrating the edge of hand blow.
Next up I had the opportunity to teach one of the lesser known strikes from the WW2 curriculum; the cradle blow this was originally down for fellow instructor and a good friend of mine, John Deacon to teach but unfortunately John couldn't make it so he asked me teach his slant on this excellent strike I hope I did it justice. I taught the basic strike first then in combination with other strikes on a partner and for impact on the spar-pro in power lines. Then I showed one method developed by John, that employs the strike in a covert fashion by combing the strike to the throat with a simultaneous shove on the chest with the other hand this could be used such circumstances as clearing a hostile individual during a crowd situation whilst protecting your principle during BG work or for a door supervisor where CCTV will make necessary use of such covert methods.
Here you can see the trajectory of the cradle blow which employs the web of the hand during a piston like strike to the throat accompanied as always by a drop step whilst consciously striking through your target.

The presentations continued with a ground fighting module from Mika who showed us various methods of fending from the floor and also some excellent close ground grappling techniques that employed the tactics of biting and gouging all real world stuff.

Mika demonstrating kicking out from the ground to create the opportunity to get back to your feet ASAP.
 
The final two presentations before the pressure testing scenario work began were both my own. The first was a lecture relating to the great Charlie Nelson and his direct link back to the combatives of the WW2 period right up to the latter development of the legendary Nelson system. Then my final contribution took place as a training module that offered some ideas relating to dealing with multiple assailants. As we were now getting a little pushed for time this had to be tapered down to just one drill. Finally the moment that all had been waiting for in true pre-fight anticipation, the padded assailant scenario stress test. The moment where everyone had the chance to put all they had learned into one functional experience that would bring them that much closer to the personal belief, that what they have will stand up to the pressure of confrontation.
The first part of the stress test called for 20 push ups with an instructor pushing down on your back this is followed by a fast sprint to the end of the hall for a 20 strike blitz on the spa-pro only good strikes were counted as the instructors on hand shouted encouragement.
From here you had to sprint back to corner of the room passing a verbal assault from the instructors {all part of the role play} as you go. Now you face the padded assailant with the added pressure of having to wait until he attacks you, taking away the benefit of pre-emption from here you have to effectively dispatch the padded assailant ASAP.
Instructors were on hand to ensure safety and the whistle was blown as a signal to stop. Now was the time to put it all together and pressure test. As we have said before this kind of training is where it's at for making what you have learnt operational.
As we have all found this can become very scrappy, very quickly and a lot found out that it can go to the ground almost immediately.
 
Here's an excellent photo of fellow instructor Tony Da Costa striving to keep the padded assailant at bay just before taking him out.
Here you have to look for the beauty within the scruffiness; as Geoff Thompson would say. Learning to apply your craft within this pressure realm is the key to making it work for real that's why it's nice when you drop the padded assailant with clinical shots and also when you see someone making his art work and applying it with aggression and forward pressure, what I would call ''making it combative''
As an example here we can see Greg Hall making his Thai boxing skills work as he takes a text book Thai clinch before blitzing his aggressor with knees. In the next picture we can see Brian demonstrating good situational control with his fence an instant before dispatching Si Squires in the fist suit in text book form
CQB Instructors Simon Squires and John Pardoe deserve the strength/endurance medal of the year after going through 30 individual fights each during the padded assailant scenarios hats off to both of them seeing as they were wearing fist suits in a training environment that was as warm as a green house.
A few more pics from the International.
The intensity displayed by all who took part in the combative drills was nothing short of inspiring. I don't think that I have ever seen so many good all rounders in one place before. All had good skills but they also had that essential ingredient, MINDSET, plenty of impact power and sheer tenacity the atmosphere was electric.
Lee and Simon teaching the Tiger's claw module.
This was the line up of contributing instructors that supported the excellent course structure. From left to right we have Mark Gitting, John Pardoe, Simon Squires, James Farthing, Mika Soderman, Lee Morrison, Kjetil Vigre, Tony Da Costa and Dennis Martin.
Here's Den with some of the guys from the course.
 
To sum it up a great training experience was had by all. Speaking as an instructor I for one found it an honour to take part and contribute with such a great group of people. I look forward with anticipation for the next one and I would personally like to thank all who attended, contributed and made it all possible. Last but by no means least my thanks to Dennis Martin for continuing to inspire to grow within the field I love… Cheers Den.
Peace, out…