Tuesday, 23 December 2014


By Lance Manley, P4

I am currently reading a very informative book entitled The Little Black Book of Violence by Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder. It has the subtitle "What Every Young Man Needs to Know About Fighting."

This book was lent to me by a fellow practitioner at Krav Maga Midlands.

While perusing it last night, something struck a chord that is fundamental to the principles of Krav, but is sometimes oh so very easy to overlook in favour of the "sexy" bits of what we do.

A preface by Rory Miller (a police sergeant in the US when the book was published) states that he believe most people reading the book will simply cherry pick the parts they like. He goes on to say, "I don't think you can see past your own ego. I think that you will risk your own life and piss away good information to protect your daydreams."

Something that has occurred to me a lot lately is how violence is best stopped by anything other than violence.

I used to be a UK police officer and the experience was soul destroying in its stupidity, lack of basic common sense and political correctness over officer safety. We weren't trained to fight, only to subdue through holding and baton strikes absolutely COULD NOT be aimed at the head, regardless of what the Bad Guy might be coming at you with at the time. We spent 6 weeks on Race & Diversity training, but a measly 4 hours on use of baton and 1 hour on how to fire pepper spray (the only weapons 95% of UK cops carry on patrol).

Krav Maga to me is what the English police should be about. It teaches you to avoid conflict. That "F**K OFF! STAY AWAY!" shouted at the top of your lungs is the best method to try first, if you have the distance and time. Krav talks about avoidance, de-escalation and getting the hell out of there if it can be achieved. It says violence is a secondary alternative that is played only when less confrontational options won't work.

But as we know, Krav also teaches us to be as brutal as possible, as quickly as possible with the minimum of effort and THEN get the hell out of there.

It's how the English police should be. Common sense and a lack of ego but able to be baddasses if the occasion demands it.

Problem is for me that it's very easy to get enticed by the funky side of Krav. We've all seen sparring sessions at our clubs where two good fighters go hammer and tongs on each other with grace and power. I personally imagine being whoever is the victor.

Then there's the everyday interactions we see where we wonder exactly what we would have done had someone called us a "c**t" in traffic or pushed in front of us in a queue. I personally imagine them being humiliated, maybe even working in an Educational Block like Krav Vader, to make certain they keep their distance.
Problem is that my daydreams quite often cloud my judgment.

I don't like sparring cold bloodedly, although I'm not bad at it when I actually have a go. I can assess threat reasonably well and I'm not a coward. But all my badass fantasies, as I move further into Krav Maga and up the grades (currently P4). I got a busted finger 6 weeks ago in training for trying to block a stomp kick with my fingertips (I was tired, error in judgment...that I'm still paying for). Having seen movies where people simply pop dislocated joints back into place I never envisaged in a thousand years, having to be on restricted duties at work for 9 weeks, repeated visits to the fracture clinic and a special splint being made at Warwick hospital.

The least useful appendage on my entire body has affected my ability to train and means my cardio is so out of practice that I get out of breath running up the stairs.

Ego can be a killer. I've had it for most of my life and always imagined it to be a friend, mistaking it for confidence. Ego isn't confidence. Confidence is feeling that you are able to deal with what is in front of you. Ego is feeling that you can not only do it but do it perfectly and then have loads of women want to shag you because you're such an awesome badass.

It has taken 30 minutes of Yoga a day for over 2 months before I've become supple enough to kick higher than the belly button level of an opponent. My lack of flexibility was something I worked around until I became a teaching assistant at a Kiddy Krav class, and was having rings run round me by 6 year old girls (not to mention wincing as my back strained every time I bent down to pick something up during the class). I now have flexibility again, like I did in my 20s. But it's through adherence to a regime of stretching instructed by someone who knows more than me on the subject.

I see rude or threatening people in public a lot and 10 years ago I'd have jumped in to tell them to leave Mrs A or Mr B alone and be on their way. On some weird level I used to take all obnoxious behaviour as being somehow directed at me, if I was around when it happened. I think my logic was, "You know I'm here and are still doing this in front of me. Therefore you must think I'm a pansy who won't try and stop you."

Krav (plus a few other things) has helped me to mould and tailor my ego so I no longer feel that I'm a superhero. When I'm drunk, all bets are off, but over this past year particularly I've got involved in things that have made me realise my own limitations and not to be ashamed of them but work with them.

Nick Maison and Jose Silva's Air Safety seminar was a sobering experience and as close to a hijack on a plane as I ever want to get. Forget being a hero, you are lucky if you can even see straight as the "terrorists" shove you around, order you not to look at them and do their best to disorientate you. Nick even said before we started, "If any of you feel like taking on any of the hijackers then feel free...but we WILL give you a kicking and then throw you off the plane"

Having met both Eyal Yanilov and Zeev Cohen they are both softly spoken and humble men who appear without ego BUT are badasses. After the second day of P Weekend in December I was in reception at Harlow Leisure Zone when they both left for the evening. They did not stand out at all, did not swagger and would have blended into any crowd.

Ego can be dangerous. It ties me into adolescent fantasies about vanquishing the evil hordes and being the bully hunter I always wanted to be. It's only be accepting the drab reality of my own limitations that I can now build upon that and walk through life in a way that means I will assess situations logically and with my mind, not my ego.


Monday, 15 December 2014

Krav Maga Midlands Warzone Gun Seminar 2

Stratford-upon-Avon High School 
Sunday 8th November 2014 
by Lance Manley- P4

I had been looking forward to this one for over a month. Having missed Warzone 1 last year, this was the chance to learn how to disarm both pistols and automatic rifles and then face a "hostage situation" scenario at the end of the training. KMM Chief Instructor Bartosz was super keen for this event, with students from clubs as far away as Bristol, Reading and Southampton having signed up to attend.

With anticipation at it zenith, it was with much swearing and ill temper that I then got a dislocated finger during sparring 2 days before Warzone 2. 

So...with much chuntering about the unfairness of life I was determined to go along anyway and just watch.

On the day a lot of guys were there early and seemed pretty pumped up, looking forward to the training. I spoke to Patrick Day-Childs from No Fear Academy who said "This looks awesome, really wanted to come to this."

After a warm up with the students, Bartosz and another KMM instructor Russell moved on to demonstrating the Glock 17. They had a functioning replica version powered by gas, and would prime the pistol just before demonstrating a disarm, mainly to show that during a struggle the weapon can still fire and you need to have your techniques sorted. It also became apparent that due to the release button, the magazine can quite easily come loose in a fight. Bartosz stressed that the priority is to ensure you are safe and the area is clear, before you decide whether or not to go back for it.

The initial disarms were stuff we'd covered in class over the last few years but then the unique stuff was shown. The first method was if you are on your knees with a gunman facing you, pistol pointed at your head. The practice relies on swiftly moving the gun to one side of your face and then utilising the momentum of the gunman attempting to pull the gun free, to get to your feet. A technique from behind was then shown where it was clear you have to actually be able to feel the barrel touch the back of your skull before you react, so as you can gauge distance as you grab.

Further techniques involved being on your knees but then kicked in the chest so you are laying on your back. The gunman then sits astride your chest and there is a method to specifically deal with this and also if you are laying on your front with the pistol in the back of your head.

They then moved on to the bit I'd been looking forward to for so long, which was the AK 47 automatic rifle disarm. The techniques are very different due to the fact that it's a long weapon so you need to take into account the shift in weight and positioning as you grab the barrel. The replicas themselves are quite heavy which adds even more realism to the actions. One positive bonus is that there's more to grab onto than with a pistol disarm. After trying that out for a good while, and switching positions Bartosz then split the guys into two big groups for the finale.

A smaller room with chairs against one wall had been set up to resemble seats on an aircraft. Two volunteers stepped outside while the others chatted nervously and then the door was kicked open and a couple of nasty looking types with AK47s and balaclavas burst in yelling "EVERYBODY DOWN ON THE FLOOR!!!" and other threats. The idea was that in a situation such as this, if someone tries to take out a gunman/ terrorist then the others in the room absolutely HAVE to react quickly in order to neutralise the threat. In real life a gunman watching potential hostages or victims attempting to take down his partners will almost certainly react by shooting. The first group tackled the initial gunman very well, but left the second guy alone for precious seconds. After some feedback from Bartosz, two more guys stepped out and the exercise was repeated. This time the response was better with people getting thrown down in big rugby scrums. It resembled watching a soldier getting overpowered by zombies on The Walking Dead. Goz Gozwellings of KMM had three guys on her but wouldn't let go of her rifle, constantly yelling "GIVE ME YOUR MONEY, I WANT YOUR MONEY!!!" refusing to accept the inevitable. Bartosz pointed out on the debrief that in real life she would have been subjected to elbow, fists and feet into her face and body so hanging on to the gun was unrealistic. Between this and the next scenario the school caretaker came in to fiddle with the lock on the fire door. I initially thought this was due to us overrunning slightly on time but then we had one bad guy emerge through there, while the other ran in the other side. Again complete bedlam with bodies going down on the floor and lots of grunting and shoving.

The best bit was yet to come when the half of the group that had been left in the main hall with Russell then burst in to try and overpower the other guys. A melee of epic proportions as everyone piled in, and James Gale of Krav Maga Defence Academy running across the length of the room to drag No Fear Academy terrorist Patrick Day-Childs down to the ground.

At the end Bartosz and Russell signed the attendance certificates. I jokingly asked if I got one for observing and Bartosz handed me mine, pre-printed days before. Everyone who had participated then lined up to get theirs, with a handshake and a round of applause and they went their separate ways.

Excellent tuition and it looked like a lot of fun. Just need to avoid any niggling injuries in time for next year's Warzone 3.