Review, held in
Cheshire 7-9 April 06
This most excellent instructional seminar began early Friday evening, with a warm welcome from Southnarc and our host Ian Thomas followed by the regular formalities of instructor introduction. Southnarc is a real-world operator in every sense of the term, having testing his wares under a vast variety of stressful conditions; he oozed confidence and know-how that just made you want to listen. Events began with an introductory module to Southnarc’ s take on Pre-fight tactics: & the Context of Criminal assault. This four-hour module was one of the main highlights for me as an instructor. Of course any combatives instructor worth his salt will teach a 3-phrase approach to Self-Protection; incorporating the Pre-conflict/Conflict & the Post-conflict phases of a violent confrontation but Southnarc’ s take on the context of events and how they unfold pre-fight, are some of the best that I have seen. The teaching method was clear and concise from an intelligent and articulate instructor. Which to be honest at times had me writing down words in order to look them up later, a clear indication to me that I need to read more. As always, the power base stems from Awareness of both environment and of everyone and everything within it. The main objective being to maintain range between you and an unknown contact which is yet to be determined as a threat. The logic here is of course, the earlier that you spot any attempt at encroachment the more time you have to do something about it. This was demonstrated by a little Proxemics drill where I stood in front of SN at just short of arms length with my arms down, from here he attempts to make fast touches to my abdomen as I attempt to stop his hand. Of course action will always beat reaction from this kind of range and position. The drill is then repeated by increasing the range between us by just half to one full step, which ofcourse allows me quicker reaction time to stop the hand i.e distance creating opportunity. This is further enhanced by the position that we take up, this being a kind of hands high fence, keeping the hands compressed so that they can quickly frame around the hand should the need arise and of course for a good non-telegraphic position for a pre-emptive strike as we shall see later. The body position is squared with the weight over the balls of the feet to allow immediate and explosive forward movement. The movement of the hands is alive and animated like ‘’talking Italian’’.
The hands high, compressed fence is employed, along with graduated verbal
Such as ‘’please, just back up’’ ‘’BACK UP!’’ To ‘’BACK THE FUCK UP!’’
Along with hard flanking to 3 or 9.
This contact management drill: employed a three-fold approach incorporating simultaneously the 3 actions of Hands up followed by graduating verbalization and the immediate conscious action of moving, or hard flanking to 3 or 9. The object here is to avoid task fixation i.e don’t look for logic, just keep your awareness keyed up and don’t lose focus. An example of the graduated verbalization might be to first ASK him to ‘’Please just stay there, thank you!’’ then escalate to a COMMAND such as; ‘’Stop, just Back up!’’ this may have to progress very quickly to the need to add profanity, in order to back up the statement such as; ‘’BACK THE FUCK UP, NOW!’’ We all know that profanity has its place, this is street speak and the language of contemporary combat. This is of course supported with the hard flanking movement to 3 or 9 which allows you to maintain hard focus on the now known contact, whilst pulling any unknown that may have been approaching from behind, into your periphery. The important thing here is to practice all elements of this drill in a physical sense, the hands up along with the verbalization whilst moving, must be automatic. The verbal must be pre-rehearsed and ingrained on autopilot, so that you can multi task what you are saying, whilst staying receptive to any information that he gives out. This brings us into another aspect of our awareness, that of understanding a street criminals M.O. This stuff was pure gold as it makes up the context of a criminal assault. This knowledge may be the one thing that allows us to operate inside the of bad guy’s ooda loop. First off the criminal will not care about your skill level, if you have been selected then you can expect surprise tactics, hence the importance of awareness.
They will employ a ‘Ruse’ via some kind of deceptive dialogue. This is fast becoming more sophisticated than ‘’have you got a light?’’ or ‘’excuse me, can you tell me the way to?’’ for example. A ruse along the lines of the bad guy playing the Good Samaritan such as; ‘’Hey buddy, I think you dropped your money, is this yours?’’ or ‘’hey man do you have a cell phone? My wife’s right around the corner and is about to have our baby!’ ‘Such tactics play on our own human instincts for financial gain or the need to help our fellow man. Just have a think about how you would close the distance on someone ruses work both ways, there is duality to these tactics that why we need to learn them also. In all cases regarding the use of deception we need to assume there is a second aggressor.
That’s why we should always assume 2 things in any potential confrontation, one, there is a weapon and two, there is more than one aggressor. Hence the need to hard flank to 3 or 9 keeping focus on the known and draw anyone who was behind, into your peripheral vision thus avoiding the need to break visual on the guy in front by looking behind in order to check your 6. Doing so would obviously create an opportunity that could be taken advantage of. Below I have constructed some rather crude drawings to depict the scenario that we were to practice as our first practical drill. The figures in the diagrams depict an overhead or bird’s eye view of a potential pincer approach set up. The dark headed figure depicts the potential target and the 2 lightheaded figures depict 2 street criminals worked together.
Fig 1. Shows left side aggressor (leaning against a wall) whilst acting as a scout, who then gives the signal to his mate (top right) as the potential target passes to initiate proceedings by engaging the target with a ruse,
Fig 2. Shows the conclusion of a successful pincer approach, with the aggressor from behind now about to employ an ambush attack or threat of attack. From here both may join in the assault, or the first aggressor may now act as a scout for the police or some similar disturbance.
Fig 3. Depicts a successful countermeasure to the above tactic, by moving a hard flank to either 3 or 9 whilst maintaining hard focus on the known and bringing the 2nd man, previously behind the intended target, into his now wider scope of peripheral vision. This acts in conjunction with the previously discussed contact management principles.
This is your contextual framework for noticing a threat early so that pro-active action can be taken. In addition to this SN told us how he obtained a lot of visual feedback via video and car cam whilst working as a cop in the US. Such footage provided valuable information by showing certain commonality amongst criminals, via a variety of body language cues that were commonly exhibited just before a situation turned violent. These were first explained and demonstrated, then we were shown a police cam video of a live bust where the female officer was shown these cues (unbeknown to her at the time) just before an assault on her person took place.
SN recommended that we all become students of human behavioral kinesis via the study of such footage and of people around us. Certain subtle, innate cues are often exhibited in a cluster just before the physical assault itself. Understanding and recognizing them offers us a counter to the all too frequent victim statement; ‘’it all happened so fast.’’ There are 2 major factors regarding the difference between training in the dojo and reality in the street. These are; Unequal initiative: not pre-decided equal initiative via the compliance that you’d find in the dojo. Here the aggressor is aiming to take the initiative ahead of you via either an ambush of some kind of ruse. Being first, or taking and seizing the initiative in any confrontation is a HUGE advantage, hence the need for us to be pre-emptive. The second major factor is Un-proportional armament: If he has a weapon out and is ready to use it armed with intention and I, have to now default to empty hand skills, then again this is a HUGE advantage to the criminal. We as civilians must have a criteria for Pre-emption or for taking the said initiative. This comes via the information obtained and from knowing and recognizing certain pre-attack indicators exhibited by our potential aggressor. This may indeed, need to be related to a court of law in an attempt to help justify our actions post-event. SN proceeded to gives us 3 cues that are often performed in a cluster, along with one stand alone cue that would indicate attack is immanent.
· Grooming Cue: this is demonstrated as some kind of gesture towards the face, such as scratching the nose or ear, covering the mouth or running the hand through the hair. All of which could indicate deception.
· Glance to the flank/rear: looking behind or to the left and/or right indicates looking around to see if the coast is clear. People don’t just look around for no apparent reason.
· Definitive weight shift: This could be subtle or very gross motor in action. Weight is shifted in order to gain traction just before launching an attack.
The final stand-alone cue is any kind of hand movement towards the waistband area. This indicates an attempt to access a weapon, as this is the most common carry place along with pockets and inside a coat etc. Up the sleeves or down the sock or boot is more common to the carry of contra-band. Of course such behavior can integrate together in a cluster real fast if not simultaneously, hence the need to avoid fixating on what is said and observe the cues unfolding. Again its important not to think about what you say, this should be practiced and automatic so that you can focus on the cues.
Next we got into groups of 3 in order to practice this Contact Management drill: Here you have 1 bad guy role-player who will approach with a ruse as he exhibits the said cues. The good guy role-player will employ his contact management i.e hands high fence with graduated verbal as he moves hard to the flank to open up peripheral vision. As he does this, he will observe these cues as he sees them and verbally say aloud; the word CUE! In order to map it into his subconscious. The 3rd person acts as a coach; telling you to keep your hands up, move! Etc in addition to catching the cues that you may have missed. This drill was the foundational platform that SN referred to as contextual framework; no physical skills were added yet. The purpose of the Friday evening session was to get this context across. Everything from here for the rest of the weekend was a progression from this. From here all pre-emptive strikes, situational offense via default and the application of weapons was first isolated, then taken back and plugged into context. This is really the meat of what SN was putting across over this most excellent weekend of instruction and was really the most interesting element for me, hence the detail here. The rest of this review will offer the dynamics of what we all covered without such in-depth detail. Next it was back to the hotel for a much-needed rest where I took the opportunity to reflect and write up my notes in more detail.
Group class attendees from Friday and Saturday
Saturday morning at 9 am sharp saw everyone huddled together on the mat in eager anticipation of SN’s continued curriculum. We started with a 20-minute recap of the previous days material. Which took us, as before into the criteria necessary for pre-emption. This tied us nicely into the first of two pre-emptive strikes, the eye jab. If we go back to our contextual issues we see that during first contact we are continually moving off the potential threat’s attack line. That being the case SN noted how it is often quite difficult ‘’to hit with any juice when you are moving’’ Hence a shot like the eye jab can create the desired effect without having to set your base for power. The strike is simply whipped into the target via a loose wrist from either a backhand motion or with a more frontal whipping action from close range. In both examples the strike allows you to land and set your power base for your main artillery follow up shot. The emphasis here was that all pre-emptive attacks or counter offensive in-fight must be ballistic and immediate. After isolating the 2 variations of the eye jab, we put it back into context via the Contact Management Drill and worked within a scenario format with role-play and with the contact wearing a Fist Helmet.
The backhand eye jab, with the wrist loose as it whips in to the target.
The backhand eye jab in context during simulation work & the close range eye jab again, with the wrist loose as it whips into the face.
Paul Scothern working the eye jab during a context drill with Alban.
We also worked a neat little ground drill which saw the aggressor trying to gain the mount as we keep him from doing so by barring him with our lower leg, kind of across ways to keep him off as you scoot round in the direction of your knee away from his forward motion. The whole time you should be firing multiple eyes shots into the face of the helmet.
In this drill we worked the effectiveness of keeping a guy out of the mount by fending with the legs and employing effective use of rapid multiple eye jabs from a ground position.
Next up was the Cradle or Yolk blow, again worked off the fence by either hand from where ever the hands are. This is another shot that can be thrown out of movement without first setting your base. Again this was put into context before moving onto to putting both the eye jab and the cradle blow together. Using one as a quick pre-emptive shot out of movement then following up immediately with the other once the base was set.
The Cradle or Yolk blow can be employed from the fence via either hand with no telegraphic intention. The strike is thrown from where ever the hands are as it whips straight into the windpipe.
Here we see SN’s eye jab as a fast pre-emptive strike before setting his weight for the Cradle or Yolk blow as it whips straight into the windpipe.
The next thing we looked at was the Default Position. This is basically our in-fight contingency plan should we lose our initiative and find ourselves now, having to negotiate an aggressor’s attack. This is what SN referred to as an ‘’oh shit! Moment’’ In such a moment it is practically impossible to be diagnostic therefore you need one non-diagnostic response that will cover the majority of eventualities, within that moment. If you’ve failed to take initiative then although the default position may not prevent you from getting hit but it does safeguard you against two essential things. Its 2 objectives are to allow you to stay on your feet and to stay conscious, thus allowing you to regain the initiative ASAP. All you know in that moment is that something is flying at your head, real fast and the default position allows you to limit damage and meet the said two objectives.
Southnarc showing the Default Position and the importance of leading with points and edges.
The cover protects your temples, jaw hinges and the sides of your neck, which are the most likely knock out points. The chin is less vulnerable due to the fact that you have created a tight cage around your head thereby supporting the head and limiting the brain shake via impact. First we drilled the position of the feet, keeping the hips square and orientated forward with the pelvic girdle back. ‘’Nose over toes’’ was the sought after position this went a long way toward preventing you from being bowled over whilst providing you with traction for your own forward drive. That combined with caging your head via your left hand holding the back of your neck, along with the elbow pointed forward and tight against your cheekbone thus covering your centerline and your right arm closes the cage by placing the bicep tight into the opposite cheekbone with the forearm presenting and edge. This provides a fair degree of cover from in-coming blows regardless if they are thrown left or right, angular or linear, single or multiple.
Here we see the Default position applied crashing in on the pads, then into an assailant.
We then went on to drill the default as a progression first just into the pads and then as a reaction to a shot thrown from either hand, on any line from the feeder. Finally we went back into context and drilled it with simulation and role-play. This took us nicely up to lunch break and when we returned we moved onto basic strikes as a follow up from this default position. The first tool of choice from this ECQ range was one of my favorite shots, the elbow strike. This was practiced in two ways first as a broken strike where the shot is just fired in and out allowing good repeatability. Then as a fluid strike as if flowing through a tight overhand line in order to come back as a backhand strike. Big influence from the Filipino martial arts here. Both methods were repped out on the pads then placed into a headache inducing role-play via contextual training.
SN demos Default in context and broken and fluid elbow strikes.
Repping out on the pads, Default to fluid elbow strikes.
Then in application on Alban.
The next strike we looked at off the Default position was the Hammer-fist. Just like the elbow strike the hammer-fist is a very versatile shot that can be thrown from any angle. In this example off the default it is thrown as a backhand strike in a tight little arc off the right hand. Both strikes are thrown from this tight covered, default position utilizing a range of no more than 5-7 inches powered by the hips. SN demonstrated a classic example that even a smaller man weighing in around 160lbs can still produce knock out impact even over such a small distance. You can see SN’s background from the Filipino systems that he’d studied early in his martial arts career. The tight angulations of his strikes so similar to the way the knife is taught, along with great body mechanics and an almost plyometric movement to his footwork all commonalties to the Pekiti Tirsia influence from Leo Gaje. We started working both shots in combination again through the progression of pads to partner, to context with role-play and helmet. The final drill for the day saw us tie everything learned so far into context via our contact management drill incorporating hands high fence, graduated verbal as we step hard to 3 or 9. The aggressor wearing the Fist helmet will give off cues offering us a criteria for the pre-emptive eye shot/cradle blow combination, only inside of that our helmeted aggressor can take the initiative any time he sees fit, forcing us to now default and follow up with the said elbow and/or hammer-fist skill set. Great stuff put together like clockwork. Needless to say continuous repping of the above brought day two to a successful conclusion. After a de-brief it was back to the hotel for shower and rest followed by a hot meal and great company at the pub.
Today is weapons training day, the focus was to start with reverse edged methods of offensive knife work. We started will a brief talk about the pro’s and con’s of employing the reverse edge from a Pikal grip as opposed the conventional forward grip that most of us are more familiar with. From here we moved onto to KIT in regards to edged weapons. Here we looked at Tactical Folders and at the best methods to access and deploy as well as SN’s own designs of the Clinch Pick & the Disciple. These are in my opinion, two excellent designs specifically made for discreet carry, fast access and immediate deployment via a reversed edge grip.
The Clinch Pick & the Disciple available from www.shivworks.com
So with reversed edge, as the method of choice we all took up our training knives where possible using either a fixed trainer or a folder already open, and placed the said tool somewhere along the waist band/back pocket etc from where we moved into specific drills. The first priority in regards to using any weapon is getting it into your hand when you need it. Of course as Kelly McCann once said ‘’the fastest draw is no draw at all.’’ So, if there is foresight available via awareness then we should seek to be pro-active regarding our draw if such a desperate need arose. But what we looked at was access from a F.U.T or a Fouled/Fucked Up Tangle as SN called it. Getting the weapon into play at ECQ under such conditions is the toughest thing in-fight. We were shown how to observe the Timing Rule, that relates to accessing the tool at just the right time. This is when you capitalize on the opportunity to immobilize the limb of the adversary that is closet to the location of your weapon. Once monitored your access must be tight with your elbow held close to your body and point of weapon orientated toward the aggressor. We drilled this from a stand up tangle and then took the same drill to the ground employing the same principles taken to the point of non-compliance. In both examples the point was made, not to get fixated with accessing the weapon just fight the fight and recognize the opportunity to access the tool when it presents itself. Then once access is gained open your target, (jockey him into the wall where possible) and employ tight, close in stabs to the targets of choice. This method is reflective to the use of Jailhouse shank.
Working in-fight weapon access from a F.U.T. Here SN demonstrates various ways of seizing the closet limb to weapon.
From here SN looks for immediate follow up with reverse edge/point methods.
Working in-fight weapon access from the ground. Again the same principle applies; Fight the fight until the opportunity to access presents itself.
This was a great photo opportunity showing Phil and Giles literally spent after the ground drill. I feel an overwhelming urge to add the caption ‘’Darling that was great, shall we have a cigarette?’’
Next we moved onto the dynamics of using the tool here I’m just going to overview what we looked at starting with mention of grip, that being a hammer-grip with the thumb around. This is a natural intuitive gorilla like grip. Also how point methods are considered more robust than edge methods particularly from the perspective of the F.U.T. additional points of interest are how a knife has no ballistic value and will not, therefore guarantee an immediate stoppage. Of course there are lots of variables to consider, but generally a knife stopping method can be largely psychological unless the damage is severe. Regarding small fixed blade carry like those of the Clinch Pick/Disciple, access is best employed from a carry point just ahead of the hip points. This is most convenient for access during extremis such as; a semi-conscious state or if exhausted etc. In a physical sense our best long-range skill is that of the backhand jab which is, exactly the same as the backhand eye jab. The blade is whipped straight to the high line from its point of access. This is the best long-range tool for keeping an aggressor at bay and prevents any further encroachment.
Access is made and the knife jab is whipped straight to the target, the rear hand covering the armpit is a traditional remnant from the Filipino systems. Covering the pit to counter a lean back to upward thrust from your opponent’s blade.
SN demonstrates the reach capability of the backhand knife jab on Slackly.
From this knife drill practiced solo and with a helmeted partner, then we progressed to ECQ. If your aggressor makes any attempt to ward off your knife jab on the way in, he is made to pay for it by employing the tactic of shearing, peculiar to the reverse edge Pikal method. From here the off hand is encouraged to integrate your empty hand striking skills, before closing to ECQ for a continuation of your jailhouse method. After reaching this point we took a much need lunch break and returned to put the whole thing together via a progression and back into context. This progression took up pretty much of the rest of the day climaxing at the end with a 3-man scenario placing all the potential elements together for a contextual simulation. Other topics on the agenda were methods of counter weapons and my own personal favorite; improvised weapons.
Here SN demonstrates the best way to apply a rear naked choke/strangle during the break.
Unfortunately there was no time or energy left for those topics here, suffice to say the this reverse edge method lends itself extremely well to a pen/pencil or indeed anything with an edge from a CD case to anything you can think of. The scenario employed 3 people namely the good guy, the known contact and an unknown contact, who comes in a few seconds later. All your tactics apply hands up flank to 3 or 9, graduate the verbal, as the cues are shown. Pre-empt where possible unless you have to default, negotiate the 2nd aggressor via footwork and access your weapon. If possible keep him off with your knife jab and follow up as appropriated. This is of course the ideal; without taking into account the Murphy’s Law aspect that often comes into these things, particularly during scenario work. The majority of us went to the ground in the red mist of things although there were a few textbook examples. Some of us where just happy to get the knife out clean in order to stab every one and their dog until time was called, regardless if it went to ground or not. Great scenario work though something I think if time had allowed, you would of got greater benefit from by having a debrief after each scenario, followed by a 2nd go to improve on what you just did, most enjoyable nonetheless. This brought us up to 5.40 pm and the pending conclusion to an awesome weekend. A debrief was followed by an open floor Q & A session with this extremely talented and articulate real-world operator. I conclude by thanking Southnarc for an excellent 20 plus hours of golden information also thanks to Ian Thomas for organizing what I hope is the first of many such events, thanks to my students/friends and training partners for the weekend Alban and Paul and of course to all and everyone who made it what it was I highly recommend training with Southnarc at your first opportunity and I for one intend to take him up on his kind offer to a visit in the U.S so I can improve my shooting skills thanks again.
A few additional pictures
Alban and Southnarc. Lee Morrison and Southnarc 9/4/06
Southnarc and Peter and SN demonstrating and Hawaiian choke on a willing participant.
Dennis Martin, SN and fellow CQB instructors.
A few guys during the 2 on 1 final scenario.