(Article as published)
This is an open letter for the students of our Adelaide Urban Combatives training group.
Because of our thirst to maximize training time, we have not spent much time dwelling on the theory of our training. While it is important to train as real as possible, I would like you to take time to know why we do what we do, in the hopes that you will be able to explain it in the future.
Our training method in the Adelaide Urban Combatives Group revolves around 8 core principles:
1. Movements are launched from natural reactions and instincts – One blinks if an object comes into the path of the eye. It is not a trained skill but a God given instinct to protect ourselves. These patterns are biologically imprinted in our minds and make us react at unbelievable speeds, even without training. For purposes of self defence, one of the most basic things we use is the flinch. When an object one sees comes at you and in a split second, the mind senses danger, the hands would automatically move up to attempt to block the object. Car crash incidents, post mortem observations of crime victims would see wounds on the arms simply because the arm is raise to protect the head at the split second of impact. Our defence responses do not introduce numerous techniques to counter attacks, we just base all responses from the flinch simply because the more techniques introduced, the more delay it would take for the mind to react when it is needed (Psychology: Hicks Law). Numerous reality based personal protection specialists (e.g.: Tony Blauer / Richard Dimitri) have explored this concept further and are experts in their own right. We therefore use this concept and include it in our blade, improvised weapons, and firearms work. This is best described in a live demo on one of our classes.
2. Attacking and defending at the same time – Since the confrontations we prepare for are usually ambush types, not duel types, it is essential that the confrontation is finished at the soonest possible time, so attacking and defending is usually done in most if not all of the movements.
3. Non telegraphic movements – Under duress and if stress levels are high, people would normally send pre contact cues to signal that they will attack. A sudden grind of a tooth, a quick inhale before the haymaker punch, these things make an attack slow even if they are done quickly simply because an “im going to hit you now” signal is communicated to the opponent even before the attack is launched. This is because they are psychologically shifting from law abiding decent citizen to a predator out to kill or be killed. We dissect and study these cues that we may be aware of them and use them to read possible violence. We also use these to control them and send quick and untraceable attacks even if they are delivered at moderate speed. Again this is best described through a live demonstration.
4. We believe in mental and emotional confrontation, not physical sport competition – To put it simply, the mind of a cage fighter is mentally prepared to win a duel type of match, so does a soldier about to attack the enemy. These mental states are nullified if they are walking on the street with their family, having dinner, etc. We mentally prepare for an ambush of a criminal intent to get money or kill. Shifting from a civilized law abiding human to the predator –prey survivor takes skill, and that’s what we hone our minds to do.
5. Closing in on opponents – Most if not all of our movements are based in extreme close quarters (bite your opponent) type of approach. This is because if a weapon is involved (firearm/blade/etc), it would be fatal to engage an opponent in a boxers jabbing range and kicking range, anything farther than that and disengaging a potentially lethal confrontation is already possible.
6. Techniques are pressure tested through freestyle “anything goes” sparring with a resisting opponent who intently wants to do damage – Most martial arts exhibitions feature an (expert) creating a martial arts move while a (bad guy) donating an arm to trap and to perform a technique on. We believe that techniques performed in such circumstances will not work if pressure tested, if placed under an opponent with intent to harm the one performing a technique. So after a technique is introduced, it is pressure tested through freestyle sparring, if it works, it is retained. If it doesn’t it is discarded.
7. If it works, use it – if it doesn’t, throw it away. It is just that simple.
Paolo Aquino is a senior instructor of Kali (Filipino Martial Art) based in Adelaide, South Australia. He runs a regular “Urban Combatives and Research Class” in the University of Adelaide Thebarton Campus every Tuesdays (5:30 – 7:00pm) and Saturdays (4:00-6:00pm). In the last 4 years, he has been experimenting on integrating Traditional Kali Concepts with Reality Based Self Defence material by Richard Dimitri (Senshido) and Tony Blauer (SPEAR) through affiliate instructors and study groups, with a view to incorporating useful concepts to ancient blade fighting techniques.. He has facilitated seminars across the globe, from Vancouver Canada, to Tokyo Japan, to Singapore, to Manila to Sydney Australia, and has instructed people on the subject of self defence and personal protection from presidential bodyguards, to marines, to office employees to college students.