Monthly Workshop

January review


On Sunday the 28th of January we held our monthly workshop at the usual venue in Southampton. Attendance was good with some 25 guys and 1 gal turning up to take part. It was a great pleasure to have two guys over from Ireland, Jon and Rob both of whom are hoping to start training on our UC Instructor’s program in the near future. After our initial introduction and overview we started things off with our first module which covered the hard skills of Palms strikes& Hammer-fists. Here we looked into a variety of ways in which we could apply the palm and hammer-fist related strikes to an array of different scenarios. The thinking here is to take a couple of workable tools that can give you a variety of options, both from a pro-active and reactive perspective, then work those said tools to a high level of competence, with both hands from any position.


Attached striking with the palm via either hand from any direction.


The Hammer-fist strike as a pre-emption tool and as a follow up strike.



Next up we looked at the employment of the Default position for re-gaining initiative. After gaining an understanding of the dynamics and relevance of such a support tool we went on to practice an array of drills that focused on using the emergency tactics of cover, crash and counter via a default response.



The default response to a straight right…


Working the dynamics of cover, crash and counter; in this example via clinch knees to snatch takedown.


We also worked a couple of drills that trigger the said response via some kind of inclination; be it visual, auditory or tactile. The visual cue was worked within a four man drill, all with focus pads. One trainee stands in the middle, he turns his back until one of the three pad men decide on who will attack, he then turns back for one of the three to assault with a multiple punching attack. The trainee must pick up on the earliest visual cue then employ the tactic of default cover and crash into clinch knees then disengage. Each person had about three goes then switched around. The auditory cue is performed in the same way, only this time the trainee closes his/her eyes and one of the three will now shout out the trainee’s name just before he assaults, as an auditory cue to respond with the default. The tactile cue was worked in pairs; here the trainee shuts his eyes and stands two feet from a wall and waits for the pad man to shove him/her into the wall (tactile cue) then from the shove the pad man will start his multiple punching attack which in turn will cue your default response.


Working the 3-man visual and auditory cue drills…



Here are some of the lads working the Default cue drills…


Next up we looked at the application of a flash light or TFL (Tactical Flashlight) be it anything from a mini-Maglite to a Surefire E2 Defender. The latter is the product that I prefer and recommend. In a physical sense we looked at employing such a tool from an ECQ or Extreme Close Quarters perspective. First we worked from a situation where you’ve been shoved into a wall and closed down, with all movement stifled. We manage to access the tool and manipulate it into the body, for example we press it up under the chin and shove with both hands, just to create enough space to follow up with strikes. We then practiced the same drill on the ground from a closed mount position.  Each person had several goes, working with complete non-compliance. This created a good learning opportunity as each and every time the energy and target opportunities were completely different. It also demonstrated how any item of similar shape and structure could be used in such a way.


Here I’ve managed to access the tool and manipulate one end up and under the chin, from where I could apply pressure with both hands to create enough space to cycle in with attached HF’s with the butt end of the torch…


Here’s another example with different energy. This time I can’t get to the high-line so I apply one end of the torch up and into the floating ribs to create just enough space to blast out his base with a knee strike to the low-line, now I can free my arm and acquire another target for my cycling HF’s, this time with the lens end of the torch into the kidneys and spinal area…

Here are a couple of examples of the same tactics applied on the ground to escape the mount…


Here the target is manipulated and the mount reversed, giving me access to the high-line target…


Here are some of the lads working from the stand up clinch at ECQ…

The next module looked at the use of deception & action triggers. Here we looked at a few ways of employing deception or artifice via miss-direction and brain engagement and also at the use of a verbal and tactile action trigger as a means to access the fight state in a physical sense, as well as a means to remove all indecision of when to go, on our part. First up was the use of a tactile cue to trigger our pre-emptive strike.  Here we employed the 2-touch fence rule ala Geoff Thompson, where we never let anyone touch the fence more than twice without taking action.

The act of coming forward or slapping your hands out the way both count as touching the fence and as we all know, the final precursor to the assault is distance closure and an attempt to come through your barrier.  Here we shove the shield man back on his first attempt to come forward and reinforce our physical fence with a strong verbal boundary.


This is met with the unpredictable behavior or either, backing up whilst continuing the verbal blurb or immediately coming forward again in an attempt to remove the fence or simply giving the impression that the person is backing off only to blast forward and try to catch you unprepared. In either case the very next time the feeder makes contact with the lead hand (tactile cue) he gets blasted with a continuous barrage of palms, HF’s and elbow strikes with forward pressure and maximum aggression. As always we strive to break state then tactically disengage the subject.


Here are some of the lads working this tactile action trigger drill…


To close this module we looked at the use of a verbal action trigger coupled with the use of misdirection, which cued in the use of deception or artifice. We all know how we can employ dialogue such as a brain engaging question just before we strike. This offers the two-fold benefit of acting as an action trigger for our attack, as well as engaging the brain of the recipient. To be good at deception, there is most definitely a need to sell it. Everything that you do must be natural; you need to think of it as role play or enactment. You are playing a part with an objective in mind, that being to create a momentary distraction that will allow you to seize, maintain and exploit the initiative. In a physical sense we looked at a variety of ways of doing this, below being just one example. Here the pre-emptive strike is a fast double palm strike to the lower jaw; performed literally as if to blast it through the back of the target’s head. This is set up with some cool misdirection, from what Charlie Nelson used to call an ‘’innocent and curious’’ demeanor. From a compressed fence the shoulders are shrugged and the hands are brought in to towards your chest, while the face pulls a puzzled expression and you say something like ‘’what have I done? From here the strike is blasted through the head allowing follow up opportunity via attachment and multiple elbows if needed.


‘’Hold on mate, what have I done?’’ BANG!


This was worked on the pads for impact then with a partner for the cross over effect of target acquisition etc.


The final module for the day was a discussion, depiction and practical example of Understanding the Combative mentality. Here we concluded the workshop with a look into the Combative Mindset or what we mean by the term and similar terms such as Killer Instinct or the access of fight state. We then looked at a couple of drills that we can use to develop this useful resource. This module started with a some auditory quotes from others within this field and their interpretation of mindset. Here are a few examples

Quotes by Paul Vunak of Progressive Fighting Systems

‘’Killer instinct is the burning lust to damage your opponent, it is the cold, hard calculating application of bad intentions!’’


‘’Killer instinct is the firm gripped control over some of our most intense emotions!’’

‘’To achieve the full potential of killer instinct we must absolutely be able to control our emotions from a cold unfeeling machine, to the uncontrollable rage of a berserk grizzly bear and back again in a second!’’


A Combatives trainee must always be aware of their actions, for the safety of others of course, but more so that we can act appropriately, decisively and ruthlessly when the need arises to defend our loved ones and ourselves’’


‘’in a crisis, you will not rise to your expectations, but fall to your level of training!’’


Reframing your Perspective & Beliefs

Then we took a look into our individual perspective of a Combative event and whether or not it’s where we need it to be in an emotional/psychological sense and if not how we might reframe it into something more workable. The fact is if you are scared and intimidated or worried about the consequences of the event, then you will not operate effectively in a physical sense. In such an example we need to reframe our perspective in order to access the necessary resources to deal with the problem.  In order to survive a violent, life threatening critical incident, you need all of your psychological and physical attributes lined up and ready to meet a clear cut objective, that being to eliminate the Combative problem in front of you. If you are intimidated and fearful of injury then you will not operate effectively, in-fact you will not do anything incase you get injured. Conversely to that by changing your perspective to any of the following, you will line up your beliefs, physiology and mindset to where they need to be at that moment, in order to effectively deal with the problem and eliminate the threat. You must think only of what you are going to do, not what he/they could do. This is what Miyamoto Musashi meant by his quote ‘’think only of cutting down the enemy!’’ the same clear cut thinking was/is employed by warriors from the likes of Musashi to those of the present day.  A couple of examples of pre and in-fight perspective are as follows;

‘’I am a ferocious animal, you’re a piece of MEAT and I am f##king starving!’’

De-humanize him into an interactive target that you’re gonna beat on!

‘’I’m the only f##king predator in this ally!’’

Anyone familiar with Neural Based Learning or NLP applied to the field of counter violence (as many of us are becoming now, thanks to the likes of Marcus Wynne, Darren Laur, Bob Spour etc) will remember, that your beliefs are operational in that moment. Access the necessary state, via such perspective then double it, double it again and you have a workable resource that will see you through the event. If you need to fool yourself into it, it doesn’t matter because if your beliefs are your reality in that moment, then they are operational.



Staying with NLP we then looked at the principle of modeling. It makes sense to model those that thrive under pressure, those who channel their emotions under stress and don’t get overwhelmed by them. We can find such inspirational people in books, sports TV media and film.  Modeling is reframing for a successful result. An example for dealing with violent confrontation that I heard recently comes from Bob Spour’s excellent and highly recommended DVD set, No Doubt, No Fear where they talk about old style British army training. A corporal shows his war face during bayonet attack training, he says to his soldiers here is mine as he demonstrates, in that moment he believes that he is the badest muther fucker on the planet, and it shows in his physiology, now show me yours!

By modeling such excellence you make it your reality. Reality is what YOU make it to be. Act it out, your physiology directs your mind and it directs your state and in turn directs your actions. Act, role-play, model!  Model violent ruthlessness in such individuals as a clinical resource to get the job done, read and research such individuals ask questions find out what they do, say feel and hear, what is their perspective in such a situation? Then model what you need from such a person, as a resource for when you need it.


Next we looked as a visual reference taken from a film that depicts the necessary perspective and the clinical access of the fight state for the duration of a two on one violent altercation in a pub, followed by a break in state much like an on/off switch. This is exactly the way we should model such a resource, much like a shotgun under an overcoat only to be accessed under extreme circumstances, so that we are where we need to be in order to pool all of our natural resources for the successful conclusion of the incident. The visual clip of Jake the Muss from the film what became of the broken hearted gives us a visual depiction of the state of mindset required, for successfully dealing with multiple assailants before, during and after such an incident.


I am a ferocious fucking animal!

You are a piece of meat!

And I am f##king starving!


In this movie the main character Jake the Muss played by Temeura Morrison depicts a violent sociopath. Of course we wouldn’t want to model the likes of such a character in our daily lives there are certainly enough of such ilk walking around amongst, we are however interested in modeling the likes of such an individual for the duration of such an incident. Remember your beliefs are your reality in that moment and are therefore operational.

We concluded this excellent workshop with a couple of drills designed to help us access and control the necessary fight state in a physical sense, then anchor that state to a physical drill task specific to the event.


Fight State Access drill:

Here is an illustrated example of a continuous attacking drill that can be 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. Paedophile 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 you understand the movement close your eyes and take about 30 seconds to visualize a critical incident in your mind that will invoke this state of ANGER, feel what it feels like and imagine what you would see, hear and feel as clearly as possible. Notice how your physiology starts to change, your muscles may tighten, your breathing pattern may change as your heart rate increases and your fists may clench. Take control of this feeling and harness the energy it provides, then on your own signal (use a trigger word) open your eyes and explode into the pads with your continuous assault of HF’s and elbow strikes as hard and fast as you can, with as much aggression as you can muster. Be guttural as you strike using your voice as you shout out your trigger words from the pit of your stomach.  Stop on the signal (whistle) take a few breaths to regain your composure, now break state by answering a question from the pad man Examples include; recap your car registration/National insurance number, or have the trainee read a highlighted passage from a newspaper out loud, or ask them to work out a simple mathematical equation or recap what you had for lunch yesterday.


All are a means to break your previous state in order to re-instate a higher level of brain function.  Notice how you have just harnessed a powerful resource of energy, but in a controllable way. Then ask yourself ‘’how useful is this as a resource during a critical incident?’’ Once the final whistle is 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!




Here are a couple examples of this state access post mental imagery exercise…


The final drill for the day comes with influence from my mate Jimmy Fatwing, which he first demo’d at the last International in Liverpool. This was a stress and fatigue drill, each trainee does 10 push ups, then lies flat as a partner lays on top of him, he has to wrestle him off, get up access state and blast a pad for 10 seconds. This is repeated a second time then finally a third time, this time you have to wrestle two people off get up access state and blitz the pad for a final ten second blast…Very tough the only thing that gets you through is the will, and perspective to win! very specific to this module of events.



As you can see from these pictures everyone gave it their absolute all…




Tenacity and the will to win is what allows us to prevail…


This was an extremely good start to the year for our UC workshops we had good attendance and all in all everyone enjoyed it and took something workable away with them, you can’t ask for more than that. Thanks to everyone in attendance and I hope to see you all at future events…

Peace LM