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Killer techniques

Does your training play the percentages when it comes to the realities of everyday violence?

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Teaching killing techniques might look cool, but is it sensible for self-defence?

Recently, before a class, I was shown a YouTube video of an instructor in another system doing a series of demos. It was noteworthy as the techniques demonstrated bore a strong similarity to the material I was teaching. After class I had time to watch a series of videos by this person, who is apparently developing something of an international following.

I watched the first video and it showed good movement along with some techniques I quite liked. But then I saw a clip in which the instructor took a student down and finished by stomping on his head several times. Hmm.

A second takedown follow-up saw him hold the student in a compromised position and strike repeatedly to the head and body, way past the point where the downed person in real life would have ceased to pose a threat. Uh-huh.

A second video featured knife work: he parried a strike then entered while delivering several cuts to the student’s weapon arm (a classic Filipino tactic) — but he finished by stabbing the student in the neck. A killing move.

This is not material that is appropriate for the average civilian student of self-defence. And it is totally inappropriate for those who train in self-defence for professional reasons: police officers, security staff, ambulance officers, teachers, front counter staff, etc. This is not training for ‘real violence’ as it commonly occurs. Yes, it’s probably suitable for special forces, but who else? Criminals and bikie gang members, maybe?

Let me give you three examples of real violence that occurred in the past two weeks.

One of my students unfortunately has a son who is in rehab for ice addiction. The son has a restraining order that prevents him coming to his parent’s house because of his violent turns. He arrived on his parent’s doorstep late one night.

The father tried to prevent him from entering while the mother was trying to calm the son. The discussion was tense but not heated. The father turned to his wife to speak and the son suddenly turned violent, taking the opportunity to punch his dad in the face. The father reacted automatically as trained, taking his son down and holding him there until the police, who were called earlier, arrived.

Secondly, another student of mine was attacked by his brother, who, fuelled by alcohol at a buck’s party, thought it would be amusing to rugby tackle his brother and slam him up against a wall. It was a semi-serious situation where someone could get hurt, so my student went straight into a ‘ragging’ takedown (where you grab the clothes on the back of the bent-over attacker and throw him to the ground).

Now, being up against a wall, a takedown wasn’t possible but it converted into grabbing his brother’s undies protruding from under his pants and yanking hard enough to apply a very painful and immobilising wedgie. The drunk brother backed off.

The third incident involved one of the managers at my work (who has trained, but not with me). He was woken at 5am by his visiting female friend who had another person in tow, both high on some drug, possibly ice. When he confronted her about her behaviour (she was a guest), she just turned on him. Swearing like a sailor, she went for his eyes, trying to gouge them out.

He grabbed her arms and tried to simply restrain her, ending up with severe scratches on both his arms. As it transpires, his main concern was to not leave a mark on his friend (now ex-friend) and wind up in trouble with the law for assaulting a female.

In all three incidents, the people involved in a physical altercation not only knew each other but had a close relationship. Australian Institute of Criminology statistics (available at: show that 81 per cent of female victims and 49 per cent of male victims of assault knew the offender.

In public places, overlay that with the number of security cameras around and people with smartphones to video incidents, together with situations that occur where the victim or intercede is acting in a work context, and you have to ask yourself: is training to absolutely smash people — or worse, kill them — training smart?

If your training works, then under pressure you will automatically do what you have trained to do. Yes, serious incidents requiring a very serious response do sometimes (infrequently) occur, but is training only for them playing the percentages? I think not.

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