Monthly Workshop

March review


On Sunday the 25th of March we held our monthly workshop at the usual venue in Southampton. Attendance was good with 12 guys and gal turning up to take part. After our initial introduction and overview we started things off with our first module which covered elbow and knee strikes as both pre-emptive and follow up tools. Here we looked at striking from both attached and unattached positions. Then we placed the said tools into a flow drill for the elbows, then a conditioning drill for the knees. Finally working the knee drop/pin and big knee strikes into the body and head from a cross-side ground position.


Unattached elbows, five position flow drill for elbow strikes and clinch knees for conditioning.



Here we can see the knee drop/pin as a strike or a control and the first of several depictions of striking…


with the knee from a ground cross-side position…


Next up we looked a Head Controls. Basically where ever the head goes, the body must follow and one sure way to put the man down after striking him is via some method of head control. The head twist takedown is an excellent follow up from any kind of attached strike to the face or head. In this example we initiate with a palm heel strike to the jaw as we simultaneously pull the target onto the strike via a sharp slap/pull to the back of the head. Regardless of whether we get a knock out or not, we are going to continue to control his descent to the ground by placing our striking hand low on the chin and our attached hand high on the back of the head. From twist the head like you’re turning a steering wheel as you step clear of the direction that you want him to go. Continue the momentum by driving his head down into the ground to where your foot was moments before. From here you can drop your closest knee onto his head/neck area to finish the job.


Here we use the head control as a takedown after a Chin-jab strike as an entry off the fence…



Here is a depiction of a head twist control used to control a subject’s exit. Here we are looking to turn and control the head (after an attached palm strike to the face, in conjunction with a slap/pull to the back of the head) by using a smearing action to the side of the nose. Just push the nose to the right as you control the back of the head with your left hand. Using this anti-clockwise movement, continue the turn by pulling on his shoulder (as shown) until he has his back to you. Keeping his head back; take his weight on the inside crook of your left elbow and lock the head into place with your right hand. In this sequence I am controlling the head via the philtrum (nose and upper lip) but you can also use the bottom of the jaw bone to lock it all in place. From here use your man for cover and walk him backwards to the nearest exit.


From here we looked at taking the head control from a flanked or rear approach, like a method of intervention. We finished with a drill that had the whole class stood in a variety of positions i.e. facing you, side on and back to you etc in two big lines and the idea was for one student to run the gauntlet up and down the lines, taking everyone down from a variety of positions. Because numbers were only a dozen, everyone got to have a go. In fact this drill turned into a bit of a free for all, where everyone was just sneaking up on each other and taking them down real quick. Great fun.


Using the head control as a means to intervention from the flank or rear…


Mental Imagery for Combat Visualization was our next module. Here we looked at several simple drills, before applying visualisation to the rehearsal of a critical incident.  The thing to bear in mind is that we can make real physical changes by thinking, simply because our body responds to our thoughts. Our thoughts affect our muscles directly by enhancing our Neuro-muscular pathways.  Mental rehearsal or visualisation really means seeing mental pictures. Mental Imagery enhances these pictures by using any or all of our representational systems. Employed together.  Visualisation works because we can use our thoughts to program our muscles.  Mental imagery mimics real physical action and provides us with a blue print for the successful application of that action. When you have done something in your mind for a number of repetitions it is no longer new or unknown, instead it now feels familiar. When we visualise and imagine a movement employing all of our representational systems, micro-muscle movements mimic the same muscle activity, employed during the physical application of that movement. Ask yourself how could I use this to make me more combatively functional?  The following quote from the excellent book Defensive Living clearly depicts how;

Crisis rehearsal via visualisation of violent incidents, ‘’how you will WIN’’ is what will create the correct MINDSET to respond, in addition to a  mental attitude that will overcome the fear of injury to take extreme risks, coupled with a physical response that is immediate, direct and explosive…

Defensive Living Sanford Strong


By employing mental imagery and visualisation of a particular event over a consistent period of time, striving to make such practice as quality as possible then you can rest assured that regardless of whether you’ve actually lived that experience or not, your sub-conscious mind will create a file or logged response/solution to that said situation or problem.  The documented fact remains that your sub-conscious mind cannot decipher the difference between a physical or imagined experience particularly when that experience is created during a heightened emotional state. The sub-conscious with simply log it as an experience and store the information.  Hence the reason that Neural-based scenario training is so effective, because the mind cannot tell the difference between a live, simulated or imagined experience particularly as said before, when you add emotional content.


Mental Imagery uses the pictures in your brain to pre-set a particular situation, it is a good idea to play out high-risk situations by using mental imagery at least three times a week. What is meant here is to put yourself into a situation that you are likely to encounter. Play it out in your brain like you are watching a VCR, not losing but WINNING the particular confrontation. By pre-planning, using mental imagery, it is totally possible to be able to reduce your lag time because you have actually experienced the event in your head. No, you haven’t experienced it in real life, but you have played out the scenario or like-type scenario in your brain so an end result is already pre-programmed.  This will allow you to respond instantly without having to think through it. Remember, that most people don’t plan to fail; they just fail to plan

Dave Spaulding from Handgun Combatives


We can use mental imagery in a multiple of ways here are some suggestions.


As a means to drill a new stimulus or skill set

To rehearse what you already know

To continue practice If you are injured

For training and practicing tactics

For creating a specific state or emotions

In preparation for a situation/scenario

To counter act negative images or previous mistakes

For learning from your game, like a mental de-brief



Cliff and Dan, Mark and Rob working lead side tool development…


The next scheduled module was weapon disarms; but unfortunately I managed to forget the bag full of training weapons…duh… whilst preparing the KIT for class, must have been something to do with the lost hour of sleep when the clocks went back on Saturday night. So instead we did a module on lead side tool development; focusing on your less dominant side, this was left hand/foot for the majority as an estimated 86 percent of population is right side dominant. Here the relevance to such a restriction was either an injured dominant side (arm in a sling for example) or as we practiced here, making it relevant to a significant other. Here each person held a large pad in their dominant arm, signifying a small child/baby held away from a potential agitator, or pushing someone behind you in order to protect them. Here the trainee must employ lead hand palms, slaps and hammer-fist strikes, along with spike and edge of boot kicks off the lead foot whilst keeping the feeder at bay and away as he/she attempts to grab/attack your precious cargo.


Dan keeping Cliff at bay with physical skills and aggressive verbal boundary,

as he protects his simulated precious cargo. 

As a final drill in this module, we worked from CQ (Close Quarters) here we jam encroachment with the forearm gain an attachment then fire a lead knee or spike kick into the low-line, followed by a fast snatch takedown and a finish with the feet. Here we simulated an injured dominant side by keeping it out the way and/or behind your back.


Clinch knee to snap down…


The final module for the day looked at Subject Control; here we looked at employing a lower level of force to a lower level of threat individual. In my opinion and from my experience, the only way I have found Subject Control and Restraint to be effective against a high threat individual, is when you are working as a team of 2,3 or more and/or the restraint is preceded with some kind of a strike or at least some kind of distraction. This is the only way I would use restraint on the door, unless it was against a low threat individual in which case it could be employed as a solo restraint, (but working as a team is preferable.)Outside of this pre-emptive impact is always the best option. Here we are looking at employing a lower level of force means to a low threat individual; one example might be that you need to remove a pissed/argumentative individual/relative from a building.  He doesn’t really warrant striking and there is only you on hand to do it. The following methods of restraint are just a couple that I have found workable for me in such situations.


Here I use a fast Push/Pull to compromise the subject’s base, then I blast through him with forward pressure to the nearest exit… If he starts to struggle just fire in with a succession of knee strikes to the outer thigh (peroneal nerve) as a low level follow up striking option…




The final skill of the day was the flesh grab; this relates to methods of pinching and ragging the subject’s bodyweight via small amounts of flesh from sensitive areas of the body, such as the face/neck, between the bicep/triceps area, inside the thigh and the love handle area of the waist or the fleshy part at the front or back of the arm pit. This is a good method to use to get someone up off the ground or out of a seated position quickly, particularly if they either fall over or deliberately drop their weight in an act of defiance. All you are going to do is slap your open hand onto an area that offers a fair degree of loose skin, then pinch grip hard with your finger tips, not prints as you rag the non-compliant subject up and out, to a position of your choice.


This example depicts the flesh grab and rag to the loose fleshy cheek area on the side of the face.

This pretty much brought yet another successful workshop to a close…all that remains, as always is to thank everyone in attendance also thanks to my son Dan for being my demo partner and also thanks and well done to Rob Pepper for making the trip over from Dublin, in order to train with me over the weekend, taking successful level one and two grades and taking part in the workshop. Thanks again and I hope to see you all at future events…

Peace LM