Krav Maga Midlands
Stratford upon Avon
by Lance Manley
KMM's chief instructor Bartosz holds an annual seminar teaching students and non Kravvers how to defend themselves and defuse aggression while in public with another person. Having attended last year I was keen to try it again as the techniques are very useful. It's fine to apply the principles of Krav if attacked on your own but it's an entirely different game if you have another body to look after.
Katharine Burdett from the KMMSolihull club had recently left us to move to Essex and is now a member of Jon Bullock's Elite Krav Maga. She came back to attend the seminar and it was great to see her again.
The Royal Shakespeare Company park near the river Avon was again the location and we met up about 6.45pm with Bartosz. Unfortunately a load of children were playing games in the bit we'd used last year and come 7pm showed no lapse in enthusiasm while their parents sat munching on picnics and applauding their energetic offspring.
Problem solved by going into the neighboring area behind an ancient wall, which was better suited to our needs as we were in a much more compact space.
After kida! we split into pairs and Bartosz had us as Protector and VIP. The VIP was not allowed to fight, only to defend him or herself while the Protector's job was to keep other Protectors away who were trying to give his VIP a slap.
This is always harder than it appears, particularly if you get flanked by another pair while your bodyguard is busy dishing out some justice to a villain and gets distracted. After a few goes at that we then moved to how to get your VIP behind you if you wish to intervene in confrontation. Some of this was fairly straightforward, such as stepping in and using your forearm to push them behind you. Another method is, if holding hands (so less of VIP protection and more like “a baddy interrupted a soppy walk with your beloved”). In this case you need to twist the person's hand slightly and then pull them behind you. Very effective if done correctly because in real life people react differently and it's not uncommon to see someone trying to get involved even if it will not prove useful to the situation.
We then split into groups of 3 and had the same scenarios but with someone to actually protect. I was with fellowKMM member Simon Green who'd brought his wife Charlotte along. She was initially very hesitant of using force and when going for the groin kick would always shy away from making contact. Again, while practicing these techniques, it became clear that you have to keep part of your focus on your VIP. It's very easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment and turn all your attention on to the aggressor.
Bartosz then showed us a wonderful technique involving a gun threat. If you are behind the gunman and they can't see you, then one effective way to deal with the threat (they are pointing the gun at your VIP) is to crouch down and pull their legs away, meaning that they come down on their face. As we were taught to break fall it was fairly OK but still nerve wracking as you suddenly lurch into the grass at high speed, stopping the impact with your forearms or palms. To finish off, you then kneel on the attacker's neck while securing the pistol (who in real life would probably be spitting out teeth and wailing for mercy).
While having done quite a lot of pistol disarms in training, another interesting aspect of having someone else to protect is that if a bad guy is pointing a gun at you while your VIP is stood next to you, then you MUST consider where they are before attempting to take the weapon. Reason being that if you pull the weapon away and the barrel passes across the VIP, they would probably get shot.
Bartosz then got Protectors to carry a gun and a knife and work on attacking other pairs. He invited the VIPs to be “troublesome” such as freaking out, walking off or generally making their guardian's job more difficult, which could happen in a real life situation. I kept bellowing “PETER, HELP ME, NASTY PEOPLE AFTER ME!!” and pretending to cry while Katharine Burdett was going hell for leather, swearing and shouting at everyone that came to close to her.
As it began to get dark we moved to the bit I'd most been looking forward to, the pressure drill. Like last year Bartosz got us to walk down a piece of the river path that had overhanging bushes and trees and try to get out the other side. Twist on last year was that this time we weren't alone but had the VIP with us. I volunteered to go first and me and Peter stood by the equipment while Bartosz briefed the other students on what to do.
He then invited us to “simply walk from one end to the other”. In this type of situation your adrenalin is through the roof and your heart is racing. First guy that came out just asked the time but then pulled a knife. After a quick struggle I moved on, pulling Peter behind me and then met the endearing sight of Goz Gozwellings and Lewis Turpin, pretending to be a drunk couple on the way home. Goz kept saying how much she loved Lewis (while hiccuping) and when she got too far into my personal space I shoved her away which led to Lewis jumping in for “attacking my girlfriend!” I went down but managed to struggle free and pull Peter along with me. Next were two women armed with sticks. This was over relatively quickly but then Charlotte popped up from behind a hedge with a gun and demanded money. I approached her with my hands up and then did the pistol disarm before then meeting all 6 feet and muscles of Mario who wanted a scrap. Finally got out the other end, breathing heavily and we then swapped with Peter as the defender. This time Goz and Lewis pretended to have a domestic row, with Lewis miming punching her while she screamed for help. I whispered to Peter “just leave them to it” and we ignored them and moved on while Goz lamented “they're leaving me to get beaten up!!!” Another twist was that Charlotte this time threatened us with the gun but demanded we do 10 push ups each. Peter ignored her and marched up to snatch the gun and we again came out the other side. After some jiggling around we were given positions in the tunnel and another pair came through. It was interesting watching just how this type of scenario affects people. Goz was furious the whole way through, throwing punches, kicks and groin attacks at anyone who got up close with her while Katharine was very much into voice control, taking guns away and then demanding in a mighty roaring shout that people get on their knees until she was safely past.
The revelation of the evening came when Simon and Charlotte went through. Charlotte had never tried Krav before that night and was, as mentioned, very reluctant to kick to the groin. When she faced off to Mario (who was the biggest guy at the seminar) she went full on, shouting at him and fists flying. He had a full face fighter's mask on and I yelled to Charlotte “IN THE HEAD!”. Next thing she was raining punches into his face and he went down heavily to the ground. She moved on, pulling Simon behind her.
We then regrouped in the main field and I asked Bartosz if it was the correct decision to ignore Goz and Lewis's “fight”. My personal opinion was that Peter's job was to protect me and not intervene in third party incidents, regardless of how callous that may appear. After throwing the question out to the group Bartosz replied that there wasn't one correct answer. It was something you had to decide at the time and was neither right nor wrong to ignore it, you had to judge situations like that on their merits.
We then moved on for a quick pint at the nearest pub where Charlotte expressed a keen interest to join the club full time.
Great to try this again after a year, and it was a reminder of just how easy it is to forget techniques unless you practice them regularly. Even more fun than last year's seminar, mainly as we had the extra responsibility of protecting someone else.
A great time had by all. Looking forward to next year's.