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IFS Combatives

UC-Seminar Berlin

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On the weekend of the 16th of September 2010 we held our 2nd UC Seminar in Berlin Germany. Our first time here was back in May where we held a two day event covering the basics of the Self-Protection Game Plan, Combative Hard Skills, the Default response and some Counter Weapons tactics. This time we looked specifically at employing efficient Combative skills from conditions of confinement and restriction or working from Extreme Close Quarter conditions along with some horizontal counter grappling concepts and scenario training design.

We began by looking at our primary option of striking from an ideal standing position, along with the correct body mechanics on impact pads and shields, we then starting to implement ways in which we could put our primary Hard Skill strikes under restriction whilst still achieving significant impact.

From here we moved onto our options from an ECQ scenario. Our options here are: Restricted Striking-Biting & Gouging-Ballistic Manipulation-Environmental Damage and Weapons of personal carry or opportunity. The concept here is to be able to apply any of the said means to a situation of confinement or restriction, such a stand up grapple within a confined environment, along with grappling on the ground (from a street perspective) dealing with a seated ambush, fighting from a seated position or fighting in an elevator or on a stairwell as further examples.

Seeing as impactive striking offers us the most effective means of dealing with any Combative subject, it was here where priority began. We looked at specific drills to manifest impact on pads from a variety of restrictions namely; off the knees, off our back, seated and from a very short range. From here we brought in all the other said options such as biting/gouging, use of the environment etc.

From here we started to integrate all of the said options into a simulation format. Day two for this event was going to be primarily scenario training. Our host Sven who is a Berlin based Krav Maga instructor made it possible for us all to train on a double decker bus at the local bus station, here we had the chance to use pretty much the whole place, including the store sheds, outdoor parking area and a bus making it an excellent urban setting for scenario training.

So day one focused on putting all we had learned in terms of fighting from a confined restriction, into various seated, grounded and standing simulations along with some body armour, role-play and dialogue in preparation for tomorrow.

Once the student understands the key dynamics of a good Self-Protection curriculum, starting with the Soft Skill elements of Awareness and Threat Recognition, all geared towards avoidance and/or de-escalation we then look at our Hard Skill requirements and Combative tools should a physical response be the only option left now.

Under such circumstances we always work our physical employment of force; from both a Pro-active as well as from a Counter-Offensive perspective. These are all the elements that we covered during our first event in Berlin, back in May. Now it was time to start working our contingency plans for the 'what if' factor. This particular theme was what if we get caught at confinement from restriction, hence the topic for the weekend.

We looked at working offensively and counter offensively from our knees and off the ground putting all of our ECQ options to the test. All possible scenarios were covered on the ground including escapes from the scarf, mount and the guard positions. We re-created a seated scenario sat both on the outside with means of escape as well as boxed inside, seated by a wall with the only means to escape being through the Combative subject.

Day two was all set for scenario training day; this was held at the said bus station. We all began with a good warm up then straight into some essential Counter Offensive options, namely a recap on the Default 'startle response'. This would be a key essential for the seated scenarios on the bus, although as always we began from a pro-active perspective based on the earliest pre-threat cues picked up via our awareness and observational skills.

From here we all moved onto the bus taking half the group upstairs and the othe other half downstairs. Throughout this seminar I was gratefully assisted by one of my UC apprentice instructors from Frankfurt Sebastian Scholz, so everyone got due attention. The whole class was briefed by me on each module then taken through a careful progression before going into full on simulation.

Pre-emption was the basis of our first module; once no chance of escape or de-escalation was realised then we are looking to take the offensive, on the earliest confirmation via any pre-threat cue available. Here we employed a variety of Combative principles such as closest weapon to nearest target, the high/low principle as well as use of deception among a variety of other concepts. The vehicle that drove these directives to our successful conclusion was our basic hard skill strikes from restriction, along with biting/gouging, ballistic manipulation and use of the immediate environment, in short everything that we drilled in the gym the day before set the scene for our options here.

Here we looked at the high/low principle, smashing the head then the groin with a back hand hammer-fist then add-lib your follow up strikes to initiate escape from there... Every drill was practiced on pads then in simulation with a partner, before adding some protective head gear and groin guards and taking the general theme into scenario work to pressure test the previous day's training.

Here are some of the simulation examples employing good ECQ options from confinement and restriction.

In this example I'm boxed inside and employ a short head butt to create just enough space to follow up and blast through the gap...

A hit and run tactic such as this may be all you need to escape if you have the outside position.

The same scenario from the inside seated position may require you to continue your attack and blast your way through...

Unwanted encroachment can be effectively discouraged by booting out with your feet, hereby using the environment to your advantage to maintain a strong base and reasonably good mobility...

Here are a couple more examples of the practiced simulations; bottom line to any good Combatives curriculum is if you want to know how you will react during a non-compliant struggle, before such an event then you must simulate!

The next module was Counter Offense. Here we worked off the premise of worst case scenario coming from lost initiative. Anyone who is at all familiar with UC will know that we always seek to avoid and escape or de-escalate trouble, but if the physical is imminent then we always look to be pre-emptive working within a force to threat parallel. With that said it is unrealistic to believe conditions will always offer such opportunity therefore during such times of lost initiative, we must look to be Counter Offensive. Such contingency plans begin with our Default response...

Working the Default cover and the principle of Cover, Crash & Counter from a confined ECQ position; here the subject is sat next to me, I'm seated inside by the window in this example. Here I cover my head from a fast shot that I just catch out the corner of my eye, bearing in mind that without such inclination from pre-threat cues, the cover simply will not happen, hence the need for good observational skills. This is what my friend Southnarc calls an 'oh shit moment!' the only inclination here is that something is coming at your head, real fast!

From here I get a tactile attachment and rag him forward and down, reversing position as I get up and start my immediate offensive via cycling hammer fists and elbows. Once the confrontational dynamic is reversed I make my immediate escape from the confined conditions.

Here we see the same scenario, this time from a stand up ambush from sudden encroachment; again this is a worst case scenario event from limited pre-assault cues, had you seen this coming earlier you'd be well advised to get to your feet.

The Default cover is employed followed by immediate attachment as you crash in to stifle his movement.

From here I'll rag the subject forward and down, smashing him into the environment, namely the window and any hard edges around it. Now I'll employ follow up strikes as needed and make my escape without haste

Here the same situation begins with some pre-fight blurb (dialogue) this time the environment is slightly less confined as there is no seat boxing me in, in front. Again there is a need to Default out of lost initiative...

Here I cover and crash forward standing as I do so, taking advantage of the push off I get from the wall and the floor (use of environment) from here I get tactile by ragging the subject forward as I reverse my position with him, employing follow up strikes as they present themselves.

In this example multiple knee strikes provide a good starter for ten!

Next we looked at counter-knife hold ups and a brandishing blade threat. Of course it was made clear that if you end up here, then you've clearly missed something, and if this individual wanted to stab you then guess what? You're getting stabbed. What happens from that scenario depends on where you've been stabbed, how bad you're hurt and how you deal with it psychologically...Here we just looked at a hold up threat, our principles here are simple: clear the weapon from the line of threat, seize the weapon bearing limb then eliminate the threat quickly and clinically.

Once this concept was practiced and understood, each student was told to shut their eyes, from there their partner would employ a holdup threat to any part of their anatomy in an attempt to make it difficult to counter. If room was given or the weapon limb released then they were instructed to stab with the training weapon as they see fit.

What we found was that as long as the principles were adhered to very good counter responses were immediate and effective...

Our final module for the day looked at third party intervention. Here we looked at methods of intervention to protect someone else, maybe a significant other or just a fellow member of the public. Maybe the situation is on a bus, train or plane and someone gets up brandishing a weapon, we all know how the acts of 9/11 have changed a lot of people's thinking in regards to our obligation as citizens to DO SOMETHING during such a potential act of terrorism.

Regardless of the scenario, it was first made clear here that the mentality needed to protect someone else is a very different mentality to that of your own Self-Protection. Here, you are in fact taking a risk with your own personal safety by choice, so there is a need to get your head right first in order to get over any psychological hurdles so that you can now respond with 100 percent commitment to deal with the problem.

Here, the guy on the inside starts beating on a fellow passenger; the man in the seat behind him immediately intervenes by ballistically manipulating his head, taking him down and over the back seat for a position of control. This provides an opportunity for the third party to escape...

Finally we see the same scenario with the subject boxed inside by the window as the subject turns on him. From here the guy behind intervenes from his flank, ragging him out of his seat with a method of head control again creating an opportunity for the other guy to escape...

This brought the day's events to an end along with a successful conclusion to a brilliant weekend of Combatives training. UC in Berlin will be an annual event along with additional seminars in Munich and Frankfurt in the near future. Special thanks to all those who trained really hard and took part, and also to Sven for all his hard work hosting this event and finally to Sebastian for his help and assistance.

Big thanks to all that took part for this UC Berlin event...