KMM's chief instructor Bartosz (Expert 2) runs the Night Parks seminar once a year in mid to late summer. This was my 3rd one, with the previous editions focussing on protecting third parties and how to deal with spontaneous violence and the threat of harm.
This time the focus was on robbery, with guns and knives taking centre stage and much less emphasis on protecting other people. We were going straight for the jugular, with some brutal techniques and takedowns.
I got there about . After a while the rest of the guys turned up, including Patrick from Total Krav Maga in
who had also joined us for
Warzone 2 last year. Bartosz was running this event with G5 instructor Russell,
who I work with on Mondays at the kiddy Krav class JSKM. After a quick warm up
and some funny looks off passers by, we moved into techniques involving being
threatened with knives. Thames
By coincidence, on the same day of the seminar, new laws came into force in the UK that make it a much more serious offence to be caught illegally carrying a bladed weapon in public. Those caught for a second time by the police now face a mandatory 6 months minimum term in prison. Knife crime, and in particular robberies and sexual assaults have risen by 10% in the last 4 years in the
Bartosz made it very clear that the best thing to do in any situation is to comply with a robber who simply wants your money, especially if they are right up against you. He acted out several scenarios with Russell where he handed over some money but dropped it on the floor to distract the assailant, enabling enough of a distraction so he could run away. He emphasised that splitting is THE most important thing to do because if you linger, then the robber may want more. Him and Russ then amusingly acted out Russell wanting more and more until he eventually led Bartosz away saying "Let's go and find your car."
After a good workout with the training knives, we then moved on to guns. These are bright yellow for the simple reason that it makes it glaringly obvious they're not real. Russell recounted a story of the police armed response unit being called to deal with his friend who was playing with a BB gun in the garden.
The techniques for gun disarms are something we'd done before but a new addition to the repertoire was grabbing a gun from someone who's gesturing with it near your body in unpredictable patterns. Something I learned a LONG time ago is that you always keep your finger way clear of the trigger guard, even on a bendy, banana coloured replica pistol, unless you want to be howling all the way to A&E in the back of an ambulance, cradling a broken index finger.
As the sun began to go down we finally moved on to what Bartosz always calls "the fun bit" but we call the Tunnel of Love. Next to the river in the park is a pathway with bushes and tress either side. Perfect for a multiple attackers scenario...especially in the dark. Unlike last year we didn't go through with a partner to "protect" but instead had to navigate the walkway on our own. A Go-Pro camera had been purchased since the last seminar and also a chest harness so the first guy through was wearing that. The last two seminars, we'd been given specific tasks by Bartosz but he told us to improvise and alternate between sticks, knives, guns and simply being innocent people who either wanted a chat or to ask the time. He made it clear that anyone not in grabbing range of a gun who refused to obey a gunman's instructions would get push ups as a penance. This emphasised the importance of safety rather than heroics that may fail and get you killed.
I was second one up and even though I've done both this type of thing before plus Wayne Hubball's Fast Reality, it always gets the blood flowing and the fear factor high. A camera flash went off while I was trying to negotiate my way past Graham Matthews and Mark Broadhurst and the next thing I knew Mark 'stabbed' me to death. Moving on I had people wanting a hug, trying to persuade me to have a threesome with them and another woman, and a guy who simply took a flying kick at me. Finally making it through, I had the usual amnesia over 80% of the journey but was told I'd handled it all well.
As people went through it was interesting to watch the different personalities and methods. One guy lashed out at everyone who approached him, even when four of us simply asked him the time. Bartosz was following him through shouting "They're not attacking you!" but got no response. This proved just how wired it is possible to get in this type of situation and the "blinkers" will come on, causing tunnel vision to threats.
When Anatoli Krassavine, a former Olympic wrestler came through, Russell stood as River Bank Monitor to the side just in case anyone got thrown, rag doll fashion into the cold waters of the Avon.
When Ewa Krav was in the tunnel I held my arms out as if to give her a hug but then cuffed the side of her face with my hand. She instantly responded with a dig to my left eye, which sent my contact lens to the bank and had me backing off. Goz was her usual feisty self, not giving ground and screaming her head off at anyone who got in her face.
Finally we all got through and lined up on the grass for feedback. One very valid point raised was that there were a lot of passers by who could hear what we were doing, who did not know WHY we were doing it but had made NO attempt to either intervene or call the police. This proved that you need to be self reliant in situations like this in real life, and not assume that help will be there.
After a few words from each of us about how we felt we then did the final kida and moved to the Dirty Duck pub for a well earned pint.
As usual, top notch training and the added treat of the Tunnel of Love at the end to test everyone's muscle memory, resilience and "courage under fire".