Saturday, 27 March 2010

The dreaded kubotan

The Kubotan is an effective & simple impact tool. Unfortunately for Darren Day it's also got him in trouble with the law.

Darren Day apparantly had a Kubotan in his possession when searched by the police, & the constable searching him had a martial arts background & charged him with possession of an offensive weapon.

I am generally a huge supporter of the police. They have a difficult job to do which is often thankless, & much of what they do goes unreported & is done without fanfare leading people to think they're 'not doing anything' at times. In this instance I think they've made an error in judgement for a number of reasons.

One thing that British Police have always had, & in the past used to great effect was 'Discretion'. Unlike some countries they wouldn't just rack up a huge list of small charges on anyone & everyone just for the hell of it. If you were obviously a decent person & not a local scally they would often let you off with small misdemeanors with just a warning. They'd save their time & effort for people more deserving. This seems to be something that is sadly changing.

The newspapers have as usual hyped the Kubotan up to be some evil form of deadly ninja fang of death, & this does no-one ANY favors. The reality is that Tak Kubota originally marketed the Kubotan as a NON LETHAL SELF DEFENCE TOOL......not a 'weapon that is lethal with the right training' as one of the papers reported. The Kubotan training manuals I have entirely consist of control & restraint methods, with escape techniques added in for civilian use. Can the Kubotan be used to apply lethal force? Of course it can, but so could a sturdy pen, or short piece of wooden dowel, or cigar holder, or flashlight........anything shaped like a short stick. The Yawara used in some Japanese Bujutsu systems has both non-lethal & lethal applications; but lets be honest & realistic, if a bad guy wants to cause serious harm to people there are MUCH easier ways to do it than with a Kubotan.

I personally think that the officer who charged him is being a little over-zealous. The Kubotan is singularly ill conceived as an 'offensive' weapon, it would be ineffective as a muggers tool. If I wanted to mug someone I'd rather have a pool ball in a sock, or a proper baton, or a knife! The police officer could quite rightly point out that under UK law there are no provisions for 'defensive weapons' & thus all weapons are offensive, so he was simply applying the law. I just think that a bit of discretion should have been employed, & a simple 5" plastic rod on a keyring should have been overlooked or a warning given. It wasn't like they were dealing with a local chav with a long history of muggings & violent crimes.

I think its time that the government in the UK realises that the decent law abiding people in the UK should have the right under law to carry something to defend themselves with. It seems to me that politicians find it difficult to use logic, & have no knowledge of the real world. In the real world criminals & societies predators are very often armed, & they hunt in packs. An impliment like a kubotan is a 'force multiplier' that allows someone with a small amount of training to have at least a small chance of avoiding injury & escaping from predators. In the real world it is unreasonable to tell the public to just hand over their valuables in the hope that the bad guy just goes away, because often they don't! Your capitulation leads to an escalation, & turns into a beating, rape or murder anyway. In the real world you don't have your own personal policeman to look after you, & when you're attacked & you call 999 you're going to take a hammering while waiting for the cavalry. In the real world we need to wake up & give the decent law abiding people the right to carry something simple & suited to defensive use like kubotans, stingers, DTL's etc.

Remember though, its the mindset & training that is important- NOT THE TOOL. So as much as you can be charged for posession of a Kubotan (my god, that piece of plastic rod on your keyring looks SO frightening, better ban them before there's a kubotan massicre somewhere) remember that you can use a good sturdy pen, flashlight, piece of wood.....or a zillion other things in the same way.

Please though, if anyone from 'the powers that be' reads this- lets have some sanity. Lets look at modern society in the UK realistically & give the decent folks here the right to carry something to protect themselves with without the fear of arrest.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

British Airways & the strikes

I'm flying off to visit my friend & teacher Jim Keating in April, so I'm watching the whole BA debacle with great interest. I have to say that the morons in the union 'Unite' make blood squirt out of my eyeballs.

Lets apply a bit of logic to this. We're in the middle of a financial mess at the moment, & its pretty much global. British Airways has been losing money hand over fist. & is not doing particularly well financially. Now you have cabin crew wanting better pay & conditions........while their company isn't doing very well in the middle of a financial crisis. Their Union is guiding them to strike.........while their company isn't doing very well in the middle of a financial crisis. From my humble viewpoint the people striking should just be happy to HAVE A BLOODY JOB at the moment. How intelligent is it to put a company that is already fighting to stay afloat in even more difficulties? Are they just morons? How happy will they be when their actions sink the company & they don't have a job & millions of people end up losing money on tickets they bought from BA, or stranded abroad? How happy will they be when they have NO pay or conditions because they have no jobs? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what the potential ramifications could be.

I don't have a great deal of time for unions. I have been a union member in the past. I was a member of a union when my employer wanted to change everyones pay & conditions, remove shift enhancements, & generally rape us. I am absolutely CONVINCED that our union rep sold us down the river after receiving a large fat brown envelope. I didn't like or trust him from the second I met the little fat slimy man, & he advised us all to just roll over & give everything up. I think unions tend to be amongst the most corrupt institutions on the go. I find it strange that the government has the power to introduce legislation that will intrude into our internet surfing. They can introduce legislation to remove any rights that they think we don't need. They can introduce legislation to give them additional controls over banks & other businesses. But they say they CAN'T interfere in the BA / Unite debacle & the impending strikes that will cause misery for so many people. The more sceptical amongst us could be forgiven for thinking that this could just be because of the amount of money that Unite throws at the Labour party! Personally I think that it should be illegal for political parties to be given donations from ANY unions or lobbyist groups; that would stop shenanigans like this. I also call upon politicians to make it ILLEGAL for unions or employees to perform strike actions which stop travel & business in this manner; the misery & trouble it causes a massive number of people can't adequately be put into words. Ordinarily I'm a firm believer in 'small government' but there are certain things that I consider to be vital, & the ability to travel & conduct business without being held to ransom by unions is one of those things.

I had to listen to the head of the union on TV & Radio yesterday, the guy sounded like a walking talking stereotype; I had an image of 'Wolfie Smith' in my mind. I hope someday I see him in an airport when he's flying to a meeting somewhere to stir up more trouble...........I wonder if I could fit him in a suitcase & get it lost in Terminal 5's baggage system for a few years, hehe.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Bootleg ComTech DVD's

Jim has been having problems with this cockroach selling bootleg ComTech DVD's on Ebay & Amazon. If you've bought anything from him can you PLEASE contact Jim on as he's looking for ammo for a lawsuit. He's Jims original post-

This guy has been bootlegging my videos for years now. He is on Amazon and Ebay, selling DVDs as "used" but not our labels or laser engraved originals, bootlegged. Please report any sales to me. LAWSUIT is upcoming and I need Ammo = evidence. Help is needed and rewards for help in swift, sure prosecution as well.

R gurro
4532 Whipping willow
Woodlands TX 77380

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Some thoughts

I was reading an ancient copy of a martial arts magazine that I dredged up in my gym, & while I was reading it I saw a letter on the letters page from a reader. The letter was from someone who basically said that he thought it was nonsense that so many RBSD instructors were ex-doorstaff or had some sort of military connections, & that it didn't make any odds to what they taught. After reading this I thought of a 'video blog' sort of thing that my friend from Edinburgh Tactical Edge showed me because it made him cringe. The video on youtube was by a guy he used to work with. He's a doorman (or maybe ex-doorman now) & he had worked with him in the past; He said he was the doorman that was always 'in the toilet' if anything serious kicked off. I've met a few in my time, & sacked them all (its amazing how many of these paper tigers you meet working the doors, & generally they're the ones who are the first & loudest to pontificate about their experience & knowledge). In his video this gentleman is pontificating on RBSD as if he's some sort of authority on it; when in actual fact he hasn't got the martial arts or combatives pedigree to allow him to open his mouth & have an opinion worth listening to.

The gist of his video was off the back of the Bob Spour debacle, & how people should 'be sceptical' about their instructors claims & credentials. He goes on about instructors that claim to have worked 'heavy doors' but no-one has heard of them, etc etc etc. The trouble I have is that very often the people who come out with this stuff are the LAST people who should be! Now, I agree...........people should question things more; lets face it, it's how fighting systems evolve. Not all fighting systems want to evolve- & that is perfectly ok by me. If you practice a fighting art that preserves methods that are hundreds of years old as a warrior tradition I don't want people to go messing about with it. The Tenshin Shodan Katori Shinto Ryu don't need to be thinking about 'evolving' their material- it's perfect the way it is for what it is. If we're talking about something that claims primarily to be a self defence system it has to evolve with the times to be most effective. Lets face it, we're constantly learning more about the way the human body & mind works, so if we incorporate these new discoveries into our training we become more effective. Also, the 'methods of attack' change subtly over time with different trends coming to the fore, so we need to keep on top of that to be really effective also.

The trouble is, that we now have a situation where people who are to my mind inexperienced & underqualified to comment on things presenting themselves as 'experts' & setting themselves up like they're some sort of authority on whatever they're wanting to be 'experts' on. For example, the bloke pontificating on RBSD really has very little in the way of a martial arts or combatives pedigree. Is he a senior dan or degree grade in something? No. He's a no-body who has what seems like an over inflated ego & sense of self importance. Some of what he has said makes sense, but in the back of my head is a niggling little voice saying "how dare YOU be doing the questioning about people who have a damn site more experience than you". I have to say, as someone who is a trainer of SF I have very little time for Bob Spour after what he did. I think his RBSD material is terrible, quite honestly its some of the worst I've seen. But, I don't know the guy as a person, so I'm not going to start calling him names; & his pedigree in Muay Thai is a damn site deeper than many of his detractors can claim to have.

We have too many people with little experience or knowledge setting themselves up as experts, & I guess this is the curse of this interweb thing. Trolls are everywhere. Take for instance the people on a Filipino Martial Arts forum who were slagging Jason Gibbs & Jim Keating over 'The Battlescarf'. They seem to be a bit thick, because they don't slag Tarani or Baliki for their Sarong material, & it's the same thing- a flexible weapon. They did it when Jim first released the Bandanna material. Once again, it's people who don't have the brain cells to conceptualise things or think outside a very narrow alleyway of thought pontificating- & making themselves the arses in the end.

In Arbroath I have people setting themselves up as Martial Arts instructors who have no business teaching. I have one guy who has opened a kickboxing club after joining an organisation that is headed by someone that I consider the second biggest cowboy & purveyor of rubbish in UK Martial Arts. This guy teaches & actually grades his own students WEARING A BROWN BELT! The organisation he belongs to will turn you into an instructor after a short 'boot camp' as long as you're ex military & have a little self defence training; you don't even need to be a black belt! I've already inherited four of his students, because he is so unprofessional & he can fool some of the people some of the time but he can't fool them all all of the time! I have also got a 'Grandmaster in Ninjutsu' spring up. One of my students tore his poster down from the shopping centre notice board he thought it looked so 'cowboy-ish'. It was like a nightmare poster from the 1980's before desktop publishing. The guy had the class location down as a residential address, & worryingly had it down that he taught adults & kids. I checked with someone in the Bujinkan & this guy is an unknown! It looks like someone has decided that they're a Ninja, & felt like a Grandmaster of their own Ryu that day!

So whats my view on RBSD & some of the comments that have been raised? Well, firstly having worked a door does not an RBSD instructor make. A good instructor is NOT just someone who is good at what they practice. I know some elite level sports martial artists, world champions; but they're lousy instructors because they have terrible interpersonal skills or are more concerned in their own ability than in their students. I know a kickboxing instructor who was a pro boxer, but he is a terrible instructor. With RBSD just because someone is able to fight it doesn't mean they have a great deal of knowledge, professionalism, or the ability to impart knowledge & develop ability in students. So what advantage does doorwork give the RBSD instructor over an instructor without that experience? Its actually not really to do with fighting. My 19 years in nightclubs & pubs gave me a deep understanding of how interpersonal conflict really happens. Over 19 years I saw literally thousands of violent incidents, so I have an understanding of the reality of what we're needing to train the student to operate against. In my case I did doors where there was a great deal of trouble, & got involved in other stuff that put me in harms way a great deal; so I got to 'field test' what I teach too. My experience & knowledge wouldn't mean squat if I couldn't get it over to my students though- & I think I'm quite good at that actually.

What about ex military instructors? The guy who wrote the letter into the magazine felt that they had nothing they could really offer RBSD. In truth, military combatives DO NOT make better civilian self defence systems! Military systems by their nature tend to teach skills that are 'too hard' for the street- the methods are high up the force ladder & would often result in the defender in legal trouble after using them. For instance, use a Fairbairn 'chin jab'. Its a great technique, but when your opponent (who has just swung a drunken punch at you, or grabbed you & is threatening you) has their teeth chipped & splintered, jaw broken, bites their tongue off, or dies because the back of their head hits the tarmac; you'll be seeing the wrong side of the justice system yourself. So just because a system has been taught to the military doesn't mean it's going to be a good civilian methods of self defence. Also, military systems are meant to be able to be taught in a VERY short period of time to the densest squaddy. The WW2 combatives needed to be capable of being quickly taught to some farmers boy from the highlands who had half a brain & too much affection for sheep! The methods work, but if you have a bit more time to devote to training there are more sophisticated options that you can learn (note- 'sophisticated' is different to 'complicated') which give you better options when you are needing to defend yourself in the civilian world. My Tactical Edge system for example originated as a method of combatives for SF use. Over the years a civilian syllabus developed that keeps the concepts developed in the military system, but has expanded greatly upon the syllabus & has geared what we do to the different 'role' of the defender.

What the military or ex military trainer brings to the table is an understanding of how people act under extreme duress. They should know how to train people to operate effectively under severe stress, & they should have some good basic fighting skills that they can conceptualise into effective methods that can be lawfully performed by a civilian. Being ex-special forces doesn't mean the person is going to be an amazing instructor though, for the same reasons given in the 'doorstaff' paragraph.

Now, I'd like to put my 'tuppenceworth' in. I have a guy here in Arbroath who advertises himself as a 'self defence specialist' even though he's got no combative experience. The guy has never worked a door, so he's not really seen how violence happens in any depth. He's never had to deal with violent situation after violent situation, so he doesn't know if what he teaches really works or not. He's never found out whether his tactics or mindset will disolve in the 'fog of war'. So how can he be a 'self defence specialist'? Ask yourself a question. If you had to get an operation done, would you allow someone who had never performed surgery to do it? They've read all the books, but they've never cut up a cadever or done any time in a hospital. They've read 'Greys Anatomy' & seen ER plenty of times though. Comfortable with that? I thought not. How about the next time to fly off on your holiday? Would you be happy if I stuck someone in the pilots seat who had never actually flown an aircraft, but had a couple of thousand hours on Microsoft Flight Sim? Once again, I thought not. I think personally that anyone who puts themselves up as a 'self defence specialist' at a high level should have a great deal of martial arts experience & lots of real life knowledge & experience. It might be that they did doors for a long time, or were active military & had instructional duties in a specialist unit, or were law enforcement in a place where they were very active dealing with violent crime for several years. At the least they need to have been trained DIRECTLY by someone with this knowledge & experience, so that it can be imparted to them in a meaningful way. Most of all, they need to be able to impart this knowledge & experience into their students so that they don't have to go through what their instructor went through; & that brings us back to simply having good instructional abilities & interpersonal skills.

If you teach a sport, be proud of it & teach it for what it is. Don't tell people its self defence, because it isn't. As a rule of thumb, if it involves punching people in the head & face it's not ideal for self defence. Go down to the local A&E dept at around 3am on a Sunday morning & you'll see why, as all the chavs roll in with broken fingers & knuckles from punching people in the head. Those little piggies don't stack up too well against that thick skull. Now, I know you maybe do zillions of knuckle press ups, or use a forging post & can punch a brick without damage. Remember, a brick is sitting still & your opponent is trying not to get hit. I've seen very skilled boxers & high grade martial artists break their hands in real life when their opponent moved & they didn't hit quite right. Punching works well then the target doesn't move, or if you're wearing gloves. Otherwise, use something more resilient. If you're in military combatives then it becomes more critical. If you're on a four man unit behind enemy lines, & you break your fist on some hard jihadists head you are now a liability to the rest of your team. Servicing weapons is now a pain, loading magazines, working with explosives or detonators, or using comms gear is now very difficult. If you're law enforcement punching to the face & head is not ideal either. Using the fist to the face has a real risk of splitting the thin skin across the knuckles, & getting blood on blood contact with a smackhead that is HIV positive isn't good. I personally know of someone who this happened to & he spent a year taking anti-retrovirals & shitting himself! In TaeKwon-Do we see classes that basically just teach 'sport TKD' having 'Korean Art of Self Defence' on all their posters & flyers. Like I say, be honest about what you teach. I tell anyone who comes to my classes that we don't do competition, so if they want sport or to compete they would be best going somewhere else. If you teach sport be honest with yourself & your students, & don't kid them that their sports martial arts is going to work against a chav with a crow bar.

So finally, I'd like to say that the martial arts is a HUGE world with a MASSIVE amount of great stuff out there from some great teachers. It's a shame that there are some cowboys & trolls that inhabit the same space & time, but it's the same in any endevour I guess. Be honest with yourself, & be honest with your students & you can't go wrong. If you train in sports martial arts be proud of it. If you train in 'Traditional' martial arts be proud of it. If you train in RBMA be proud of it. They're all great until people start trying to make them into something they're not. Don't listen to every pedigree-less troll on the internet, don't waste your time. Go out & make up your own mind.

Limb Destructions- 'Breaking the four corners' workshop

My 2nd in command in Tactical Edge, Marcus Houston, has booked me to perform a workshop purely on the combative use of Limb Destructions. Tactical Edge uses Limb Destructions as its primary method of intercepting an attack. This is for several reasons. The closest vital areas to you when an attacker is trying to hit you are usually the parts of the body they're trying to hit you with. If you block the attackers limb then you've stopped it from hitting you but not much else, but a limb destruction will cause pain & trauma on the first beat, re-set their 'ooda loop'- & if they're armed blow the weapon out of their hand or at the least weaken it so it is easier to strip or disarm. Because it 'resets the ooda loop' it gives you a far safer entry into striking & takedowns, & causes cross extensive reflex action to take the opposite limb offline for a short time too.

When we use a Limb Destruction we're either targeting motor nerves or joints. When we target a motor nerve we're striking deep into the muscle & inhibiting the release of acetycholine, this means the limb & the brain are no longer communicating! Targeting joints we're destroying the skeletal structure of the body; either way we're taking the fight aggressively to the bad guy, & counter-offense beats defence!

We'll be looking at different methods of destroying an opponents limbs, some of them scalpels & some of them sledgehammers. We'll explore how they can be used against different methods of street attack, & how they allow you to bridge into striking & takedowns; & also how they allow you to more easily effect techniques such as 'returning blades' or 'strip & retain'.

Tactical Edge Founder Mark Davies has used these techniques numerous times against both unarmed & armed opponents, this isn't theory- it's been field tested!

Contact Tactical Edge Senior Instructor Marcus Houston for booking details.

Tactical Edge Unarmed Combatives & Basic Impact Weapons Seminar

This Saturday (13th April) GMac Martial Arts in Livingston is hosting me to perform a workshop on unarmed combatives & basic combative baton. We're going to work on entry techniques against striking attacks, using limb destructions, passing techniques & trapping to enter into a range where we can use close range striking & takedowns. We're then going to use the same concepts with the baton. On this course we're going to leave the valuable 'attribute building' side of single stick to the side, & concentrate on how it can be used to defend ones-self. Think conceptually, what we do with a stick can also be done with a rolled up magazine, a large flashlight, a walking cane, or even a ripped off car aerial at a pinch (think of a sjambok). Contact John McIllvaney at GMac Martial Arts for booking details.

Friday, 5 March 2010

MP's get pay rise while our military suffers

So our MP's have received a 1.5% pay rise, & predictably there is somewhat of an outcry. The unions spokesmen are slating it, & I would imagine that the tabloids will be stirring the pot of public indignation over the next few days.

Now, I am in NO way a socialist. I have NO problem with people earning good wages, & I absolutely hate concepts like 'wealth redistribution'. We own our own home, which we work VERY hard for running our own business; & when I go across the road to the council flats where my brother lives at the moment I see scores of professional dole scroungers- people who don't WANT a job. They are happy as they get money from their benefits, they get their housing paid for & council tax paid for. When I see them they have enough money to be out of their faces on either booze or drugs. I'm sorry, but I'm not warm & fuzzy about society. How you are is a CHOICE! I know many people who had an underprivileged childhood, & came from the wrong side of the tracks; but they CHOSE not to live that lifestyle & are now real achievers! I want a small government that does its job of running the infrastructure of the country & stays out of my life for the most part. I don't want to be taxed to death like we are, & consequently I don't expect the government to wipe my backside & do everything for me, or pay me so I don't have to work & can get smashed on white lightning cider (apple free) or smack!

Sorry, rant over people. I appreciate that there are some MP's who are VERY hard working, & who genuinely work very long hours helping their constituents. I have to admit though that I'm a bit irritated to see their pay rise & the size of their wages. I'd like to put this into perspective for everyone. I have a friend who is a serving member of our Special Forces, a genuine hero in the 1st degree! He was wounded terribly on operations, & spent some months in hospital as they put him back together again. The 'big man' as he calls him (Gordon Brown) visited him & sat at his bedside. He asked him if there was anything he could do for him (& I have to admit, as much as I pretty much despise the Labour Government as it stands Brown went up slightly in my estimation there) & my friend thought "sod it, what can they do to me for speaking my mind?". This is what he pointed out to 'the big man':

Our Special Forces are out there putting their lives on the line all over the world. In Afghanistan they are fighting & dying along with regular 'green army' & reservists every single day. Yet these warriors are earning less than some of the 'coalition' soldiers who never go outside the wire because their governments won't let them! This is absolutely wrong! Mr Brown tried to tell my friend that the government had done this that & the other with their taxes & stuff, but my friend wasn't having any of it- & pointed out that soldiers in some other countries units don't pay ANY tax while they're in Afghanistan; & that it seems very unfair that our guys are still paying tax while they're already earning less than soldiers from other countries who never go beyond the wire surrounding their compounds. When MP's are now earning well over £60,000 per year (plus expenses) this situation seems a little obscene to me.

Worse than this is the current training situation for our reserve units. I'm truly concerned about the operational safety of our reservists now, many of whom are in combat supporting the regular forces & are taking casualties alongside them. Many people don't realise that we have Special Forces reservists, who do high risk operations alongside their regular counterparts. Our MP's have seen fit to award themselves a pay rise, yet the MOD has cut funding for Reservist training. The TA have had their drill nights cut, & training weekends cut. The powers that be have decided that to make up for this they'll double the time of pre-deployment training for soldiers going on operations. The thing is, this JUST DOESN'T CUT IT! Heavily committed & specialised units need 'unit integrity' & the MOD has just booted unit morale square in the 1%! As someone who trains people on a professional level I can tell you that you can't just let peoples training levels drop off & then hope to pick it up properly by giving them extra training before they go on operations, it doesn't work like that; & I truly believe that this penny pinching is going to result in casualties. If this happens I hope that the Labour government realise that those deaths or serious injuries lie at their feet, as they enjoy their extra pay!

Major Seb Morely very publicly resigned his commission some time ago over the equipment being issued to Special Forces in Afghanistan. He felt so strongly about it that he felt he needed to make BIG waves about it. The government spouts on about how much they've increased the money going towards new kit for the guys at the sharp end, but the reality is different. If it was true where are the helicopters, why have the guys been using unarmoured land rovers in places where IED's are as common as potholes? The main reason training has been cut for our TA units is despicable.........apparently its all over travelling expenses! Some more specialised TA units have members who come together from all over the country, & these members get travelling expenses for the miles they have to travel to drill nights or training weekends. The government can up the wages for already wealthy & well paid MP's, but they can't pay for the training of people who volunteer to serve in the TA & THEN VOLUNTEER AGAIN to go on operations to fight at the behest of those politicians. Those bean counters involved in this absolutely reprehensible penny pinching should hang their heads in shame. The same politicians who threw millions at propping up the same banks that screwed up our financial markets (only to see those banks handing out huge bonuses again) should throw some more money at the people who are dying for them in their wars!

I hope they enjoy their pay rise..........