Category Archives: Personal Security & Self-defense
Personal Security, Protection and Self-defense related topics, from martial arts to modern day street safety and risk management in every day life.
Life in Japan and Budo practice (25 Oct 2011),https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sA77usCI1a4
Regardless of any arguments about the quality, practicality and other claims about the art (or any other art for that matter) and its origins, the history of its development is of particular interest for this article.
Today people still tend to see or treat martial arts as a black or white thing that has always been, static without change and impossible to improve on. Only the original ‘oriental’ masters are seen as true masters with genuine knowledge and expertise that can be trusted and have faith in. People are often afraid to try out other, less world renowned arts, particularly if the instructor is a foreigner not of oriental origin – a trait and mind state seen all too often in timid and introspective cultures such as that in Finland. These cultural classics are few in number and often seen as the only true and genuine martial arts.
This could not be further from the truth!
Daito Ryu, one of the Jewels in the crown of Japanese culture, was until the last century a disorganised mixed biryani of techniques and knowledge, engaged in technical disputes with the founder of Aikido, Uesheba. In fact, most of the modern Japanese unarmed fighting systems developed only since the 16th century after the Shogunate disarmed the samurai and eventually established a police force. Schools and arts were numerous until this time, with many small family styles practicing in the shadows. Since then, partly due to dictates (politics) and the fall out from the second world war, the martial arts were in most cultures consolidated into a few representative systems. Before the shogunate combat training was all about weapons with unarmed techniques being simple and basic merely as a small sub-syllabus as a back-up in case the samurai lost their weapon. This approach is still clearly reflected in popular systems such as Kali, Escrima and Silat today.
In truth, all arts expand, retract, live and die with the people that practice them to some degree. Today however, classical arts are frequently preserved as cultural antiques which, means that they no longer evolve with their practitioners or current social conditions and requirements. Whilst learning from the classical systems to balance your studies and provide a technical benchmark is a very good idea, there are today many other modern and independent arts and schools that are equally as good, far broader in their knowledge and better adapted to practical modern day usage.
For a rough summary of the different types of arts available today, see: http://www.liikanjitsu.com/html%20pages/liikan-jitsu/liikan_historical_jitsu-en.html
Today we have far greater access to the knowledge of other arts from other cultures that was not available when the classical arts were developed. This is amplified now by access to the internet and the almost unfettered sharing of knowledge that it facilitates. A quick look around Youtube and you will find a great many different arts with different foundations and purposes, ranging from self-defense to combat sports or just health and fitness. The selection can be confusing if you don’t know what to look for, as many do tell the truth about the characteristics of own arts or simply do not fully understand them themselves in relation to the bigger picture. However, to not take advantage of these resources is a big mistake and risks leaving your art and all its knowledge and benefits consigned to the dustbin of history. The arts, as with any training and learning are a journey, a process of personal development that is far more important than the specific outcomes themselves.
Self-defence is not something extra that you can just tag on to the end of a formal or classical training system. It is and must be an integral part of the everyday training process itself, as well as the broader system if it is to retain any meaning and purpose other than historical curiosity, health and fitness training that is not much better than a form of dancing. This is one of the greatest drawbacks and risks with kata based training especially. Few people ever advance enough to break free of the tram rails these provide, which is a big problem if they are designed only as illustrative movements in a pre-set sequence or as a recording of the ideal and only way to do a technique, regardless of the supporting pedagogical requirements for learning and development. The new knowledge gained from other systems and the adaptation of it for modern society and knowledge systems such as modern education pedagogy, criminology, security and risk management, sports psychology and NLP. These cannot be treated as separate silos of knowledge, but must be properly integrated into one common framework of analysis and understanding in a cross-disciplinary training programme.
Most people and modern schools use the ‘blue tak’ add-on approach, some however do try to continue to develop and integrate knowledge systems in the original and true spirit of the arts. Styles and schools such as Liikan Jitsu are a good example of the latter. In an effort to bridge the gap over the fractures that currently exist between the various levels of the education and security industries, Liikan Jitsu is also very closely ties and amalgamated with a higher education provider of learning in modern security, business and risk management, currently operating under the name of Spensort SETS.
For more information about Liikan Jitsu specifically, check out the following sites:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liikan.jitsu
- Liikan Jitsu Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/chrissuli
From Jiu Jitsu & Kung Fu to Liikan Jitsu and Kyusho Do,
Effective & Realistic training in modern styles & schools for modern day society.
Not a sport or just another hobby but, ‘Life Skills For Life’.
Parker’s hand postures
A blog by Dejan Djurdjevic
A Commentary in kind
Guards and Poses, a pocket full of roses – Ah tissue!.. and we all fall down.
A good blog and highly readable as always. One thought to add though ;-
Whilst the Parker postures may be fake in the sense that they are not directly functional guard postures, strange postures that the opponent has never seen before may serve to confuse and un-nerve the opponent during the pre-contact psychological warfare phase. Parallels to this can be found in various martial mythologies such as distance chi techniques and psychological brainwashing of students so as to bamboozle or even put fear into them and outsiders, thereby generating a deterrent effect to potential attackers, whilst keeping your own students under control. You wrote some very good blogs on these as I remember.
Although correct in your exposé of fraudulent claims, especially those that may otherwise bring all good martial arts and artists into disrepute, public exposure also negates this psychological aspect of combat and even practical physical advantage, which all training in the arts at all levels are intended and designed to achieve. Whilst high level martial artists may know what is going on, most do not. Arts traditionally kept their secrets for the very purpose of creating an advantage through the unexpected or just a residual doubt of uncertainty induce hesitance even in experienced outsiders. Mystique, mythology and legends are created by the arts expressly for these purposes.
As for the fingers specifically, most arts know only too well about the dangers of leaving the fingers spread out and the risk management benefit of maintaining closed fists. However, it tends to induce retraction of energy that is not conducive to free flow and forward projection, whilst at the same time limiting flexibility in response capability for striking or grabbing and grappling etc. With increased tension comes slower speed, more obvious predicators and decreased relaxation and coping skills.
Many of the world’s very best arts maintain open hand guard positions for these reasons. However, in fairness, many like my own also teach us to keep our fingers closed together if not curled (claw-hand like) and the thumb tucked in as a compromise. the extent to which the fingers are curled towards a loose fist form varies with the art and the preferences of individual practitioners. They are then only opened in some arts on the impact of a strike to prevent the clattering together of the fingers and the consequent bruising / injury of the finger knuckles. This seems to be the case in Tai Chi and Aikido much of the time. The part of the arm used for making the initial blocking contact and the shaping of the arm also make a big difference along with the angle of entry. It is also notable that the arts that predominantly advocate the fisted guard are those that are almost purely striking arts. Others, are simply misguided in thinking their art is only about striking due to the problems of trying to reverse engineer and reinvent the true meaning of katas that were never properly or fully explained by the original sources, who felt little incentive to divulge the full secrets of their arts to the Gaijin, i.e. us western barbarians! These arts or schools and practitioners are usually easy to recognise by their level of aggressiveness and challenging attitude to other arts and artists that do not correspond with their own, frequently promoting how tough and ‘hard’ they are in an effort to paper over the seismic cracks and fractures in their own.
My own training has included kick-boxing, kung fu, Kyusho, Katori and exceptionally high pressured Jiu Jitsu training, from which finger injuries have only come through leaving the fingers spread whilst defending / blocking or because of wrenching during grappling exchanges. Other notable influences are Kali/Escrima/Silat. In Jiu Jitsu, single technique counters provide the sought after simplicity for both pedagogical reasons and battle field requirements. However, in multiple attacker pressure training, four or five single attacks coming together or in quick succession can quickly start to approximate complex combination attacks, so the basic skills do build up rapidly. However, when fighting on a battle field protracted duelling (sparring / tactical fighting) is tantamount to suicide and if unarmed against weapons, duelling (i.e. sparring) is not an option. The whole objective is to lead them into a weak position or to over-extend themselves in order to make the counter possible at all, let alone with any margin of safety. You either move in or get the hell out of there, a trap I have seen even some schools of Jiu Jitsu fall into, particularly modern western variants that advocate just standing their in order to land a painful block in the hope or assumption that the attack is too stupid to notice and bypass or destroy the defending limb.
The Grand Old Duke of York
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
and he marched them down again.
And when they were up they were up,
And when they were down they were down,
And when they were only halfway up,
They were neither up nor down.
In practice, there is no inbetween, which is where most sparring tactical exchanges occur. I have heard this summed up in Tai Chi quite nicely (in not so many words) as ‘If they advance, go to meet them, if they back-off, withdraw’. At this level of combat it is all about strategy manifest in the control of distance and timing, surprise and the unexpected, such as ambushes. Strangely enough, this is where all good Jiu Jitsu starts from, as in my own art of Liikan Jitsu, but which then reduces the circle towards individual sparring in the early dan grades to develop the details and increase individual levels of skill within the few students that ever reach this level of training. There are many reasons for organising it this way, and in anycase the overarching process does not stop there. This stands in stark contrast to most other arts, particularly Kung Fu and Karate that start with the sparring in one form or another, be it Chi Sau, Pre-set or Contact Sparring etc. It is not clear to me from what I have observed over the years how much these arts ever escape this narrow focus in their training, though Ba Gua is one art the stands out and appears to be more in tune with the approach I am accustomed to, at least in the early years.
In the field, as a security officer and doorman over the last twelve years I also know only too well the psychological applications of various hand forms, not only for clear cut self-defence, but for de-escalating, managing and diffusing conflicts. Dynamic and eclectic stances also help control one’s own mind set, anxieties and the fight or flight mechanism that might otherwise overwhelm us. However, such extreme posturing in most modern self-defence situations is not desirable and might even be counter-productive, making other more subtle coping skills more important. Open hand guards are indispensible for these general self-defence and situational management purposes unless you want to precipitate a physical altercation. Many other variations and guises if not stance disguises also exist. As always, psychology before, during and after the fight is perhaps the largest part of the whole exchange. It is not easily or quickly learned or mastered and requires us to have something (ultimate) in reserve in order to act in a reasonable, appropriate and acceptable manner according to the situation rather than react to our own fears and weaknesses. It is confidence building to be a good and proven fighter, but that alone does not make a professional security officer – far from it. Those that are proud of their prowess as fighters in their duties as door supervisors are dinosaurs from a bygone age that have long since past their sell-by-date.
And all that from just the one original thought! 😉
Long live writing from the “flow of consciousness!” 😀