Archive for December, 2008

Restricted Sale

Monday, December 29th, 2008

I spent Christmas with the MIL and the rest of the family.  On the way down I stopped off at a Tesco to buy some last minute bits and bobs and needless to say I was the only one in there.

Anyway, I picked up the bits that I wanted and when I had finished found that there was a self scan checkout free.  Yippeeeee I would be in and out in a mo.  So I put my stuff through and all went well until a message flashed up “Restricted Purchase Wait For Assistant”I  stood and waited and people started to form a queue behind me.

I waited and waited and eventiually a Tesco girl with a massive bunch of keys came along. I dont know how old she was, but if pushed I would have said she was about seven, anyway she looks at the machine and my huble shopping and  said “Oh I can’t deal with this!” and scurried off.

Much huffing and puffing from those waiting behind me.

A few moments later the seven year old came back with an older lady who could have been her mum, but I dont think so.  The older lady put a key into the machine and puched some buttons, swiped a card entered a code and I was on the point of them both counting to three and simultaneously pressing a red button to launch a pre-emptive strike.  They stopped short of that, but started to smile their customer service smile when they stopped and looked at me.  “Are you all right sir?” said the girl

“Yes I am just a little confused, what was that all about?”

“You have purchased restricted items sir” she said very pleasantly but as if she was talking to somebody who was deaf or a little simple.

“I have?”

“Oh yes sir and we take the sale of such items very seriously” she replied

“So I can see, but what on Earth have I bought that warrants such security?”

She didn’t quite tut and roll her eyes to heaven at my stupidity, but instead smiled that smile that people have specially for us care in the community cases and reached into my carrier bags and indicated the offending articles.

Famous Names Liquor chocolates and Luxury (no expense spared this year) Christmas crackers (actually they were reduced and were a bargain).

“You’re joking” I found myself saying

“Oh no sir I am not” she bristled “We wouldn’t want these falling into the hands of little ones or the wrong type of people would we sir?”

My mind filled immediately with an image of some terrorist getting pissed on his Famous Names before holding the western world to ransom with the snappers from his box of luxury Christmas Crackers, but I just couldn’t see it somehow.  Then it struck me that maybe I looked like the Wrong type of Person.  I decided that for once instead of being a smart arse I should just sod off and guzzle the devils brew from my chockies by the Christmas tree while pulling a few crackers. Phanarr phanaaar.

The festive season was very agreeable, but it did strike me how complicated family life is these days.  Maybe it always was, I don’t know, but it was brought home to me this time because it was the first time I had spent any time with the BIL since his split from Dawn and the little Tete a Tete we had in the Holiday Inn.  I had no grudge to bear and said as much as soon as I saw him. He relaxed a bit, but I don’t think he was entirely sure.

He and Dawn were a little on edge with each other to start with, but in fairness that soon wore off and they were very amicable in front of the kids and everyone else.   I noticed neither drank and the FIL and I kept the famous names and the crackers away from them just in case……….. I mean lordy we didn’t want the Christmas afternoon showing of Mama Mia interrupted by drunks causing explosions.

I did get to watch most of my festive favourites namely Home Alone 1&2, The Muppets Christmas Carol, the Santa Clause and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.  The rest of the time I made War Hammer models, put batteries into things, assembled plastic Barbie houses repaired the things I helped build earlier and played a variety of very intellectual games the best one of which involved hitting a mole on the head with a plastic mallet.

Its bollocks really, but I did enjoy it.

Aled Jones

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

 I got back from our latest job yesterday.  Before we went I had hoped to be back a few days ago but something cropped up as is the way.

My pal has not had a chance to sort out pictures for the self defence stuff so we will look at that over the the Christmas holidays.

Actually our job went much better than expected from our point of view.  I am not entirely sure they would feel the same way.  We were in quick, quiet,  fast and hard and then out again.  This meant that we were left trying to get back to the UK ahead of schedule.  It was proving to be trickier than you would think,  when I got a phone call from Cyclops. He told me that he had had sister Marie (the French nun who runs the children’s home where Joseph is in Mozambique) on the phone saying “she had had rats coming to the  home”.

Tres odd indeed, why would she ring us about rats?

Despite the communications problem I eventually got through and she was very business like, which was odd because she is normally very friendly and full of life and joy and I got the impression sho could not talk freely.  There were two rats, one black and one white and they had been to the orphanage and had been making a nuisance of themselves

The rats had been interested in one individual only and that was Joseph.  Sister Marie knew that the black rat was not a local and the white rat was English.  She did not like either and had blocked them and arranged for Joseph to be moved, however she was concerned that the rats would find out very quickly where he was.

On hearing the news the team plan was changed unanimously and we redirect to  M, which turned out to be a hell of a lot easier than getting back to the UK.

16 hours later  we were there.  Tired, dirty, smelly, and seriously fucked off and I mean seriously fucked off.  However, it was a good sign that we had managed to get some hire cars sorted at short notice, even if they were what you might call an odd  mix.  A Mazda 4×4 pickup,  two Kia picantos, and a bloody awful Kia minibus thing.  Still cars are cars.

Sister Marie is a one of those people who restores your faith in human nature.  I look at her and people like her and marvel at their courage and tenacity at trying to cope in the face of a tidal wave of human misery.  She welcomed us, but was clearly distressed at the unwanted intrusion by the two rats and what I couldn’t understand was why such a strong old bird as her would be so rattled.

I asked the question and she looked back at me very seriously and eventually said “I think he is one of Mugabe’s men.  He is not from here, because he speaks very poor Portuguese. He is posing as a driver and always wears a jacket because he carries a gun- left side.  He has the look…” she tailed off an looked at us “Do not be offended Monsieur Norman, but like you and you friends”

“No offence taken I know what you mean”

She  smiled ” The white man is English and carries an expensive camera and has been asking lots of questions of the children.  He was giving sweets and tried ot bribe one of the cooks who works here.  Then they came in and he was asking questions about our work and where the children came from.  The black said did we have children form Zimbabwe becaue if we did they should go back if they did not have papers.  I said I did not know what he was talking about.  Alors, they went away and then came back again two days ago and had photo of Joseph.  I said he was not here and the English man said he was a friend of yours and that he had photgraphed Joseph here. It was clear they did not know you and I told them that I heard you were dead and that Joseph had left and was not here anymore and I didn’t know where he was.  That caused them some confusion and they left but said they would be back.”

“Do you know where Joseph is?”

“No Monsieur Norman, I had spoken to Monsieur Cyclops and he had got somebody to pick Jospeh up for a few days.  An old friend who works at your embassy, but I do not know his name or where he is Monsieur Cyclops said if I din’t know I couldn’t tell”

“How do you know he was the our man” I asked

She smiled because we had a code he gave me this DVD and wished me “Happy Christmas” She picked up a copy of the Snowman.

“Different, but I think we can take it that our boy is safe”

“They will be back again soon I think” she said.   I had a feeling she was right.

Time for a quick briefing and to knock some sort of plan together.  Initially we thought about having two mobile obo teams (2 blokes per car) who would follow the two rats and house them which would give us some background on our targets.  Then BF pointed out that really we didn’t need background  we were making life more complicated than it need to be.  As he said ” These fuckers are well out of order so lets cut the crap.  Pick them up here at the orphanage and remove them somewhere discreet and quiet for a cosy festive chat.”

I had a feeling that BFs idea of a festive chat would definitely get him on Santa’s naughty list.  He was right of course.

I went back to see sister Marie and we decided that the children would be moved to a nearby church for the day under the pretence that we were builders doing essential work.  As it was there was a fair few maintenance jobs to be done.   It was decided that BF, Bob Geordie and myself would work around the office where our visitors were likely to turn up and the others would get stuck into mending roofs, plumbing and other DIY joys.

To be honest it was good to be doing something as a team that was positive for the human race and the mood lifted despite the hard work, fatigue and heat.  It was about 35c but it felt hotter and stormy.

At 3pm a VW passat pulled into the yard in front of the office.  Hot dust filled the air and two men got out.  The driver was a big black fella and Sister Marie was right about him. Hi hand went to his gun as he got out of the car and he was looking all around him.  However there is no point looking if you cannot see and he did not take in the builders, even though the sight of a load of white mnen working on a roof in this knech of the woods was as rare as rocking horse shit.  Idiot.

The white bloke was about 40, and had the look of a man who lives in the city.  He was wearing Rohan clothes to show the world he was a serioyus traveller.  They might be impressed in Fulhan, Chelsea and Heathrow, but not here.

As arranged Sister Marie remained inside and BF and Bob approached them from the office where they had been mending a wonky bench.  Myself and Geordie came from behind them.  BF moved in on the black fella who was suddenly seemed aware that something was not as it should be and his hand was back towards his gun.  Too little too late.  BFs right hand shot out and up in a chin jab.  The palm of his hand struck the drivers throat and the rest of hand pushed forward and up into he jaw  and  his head shot back taking his weight over his heels.  He went down flat on his back like a sack of spuds.  I think the kick ploughed into his face before he had actually hit the dirt, but either way this was one geezer who was not getting up to carry on fighting.  Geordie was in on him kneeling on the side of his head with his full weight  which would prevent him doing much if he had been capable of doing anything. He was relieved of his gun and secured.

The white bloke jolted at the quick attack and actually let out a little squeak.  Bobs scythe kick caught him just behind the knees, his legs buckled and he went head first to the floor with his arms out stretched in a hopeless attempt to either fly or break his fall.  The second kick caused his head to look like a football.

Both men were disabled and secured before they could say yo ho ho.

They were dragged to their passatt and the driver was dumped in to the boot and the other bloke was bundled into the back because we wanted a chat whilst we relaocated them.  We left the two little Kias but took our  pickup and mini bus and headed out of town.

It was a hot uncomfortable day for a drive, but it took bloody ages before we found a suitable location for our final chat.

To cut a long story short our English friend was a journalist.  He had read about Joseph on this blog and thought it would be a good idea to find him and do a piece on him.

He recruited an individual as a driver, who being from Zimbabwe said he could verify the authenticitry of Josephs story.  Our journalist friend either didn’t think ordidn’t  care about just how this person could or would do that in a country where only those connected to president Bob got access to such information.

No he was a journalist after a story and he didn’t give a shit about the aftermath of what he was doing or who got hurt as a result.

Having listened to the journalists high handed moral arguement that he was after all only doing his job and it was not his fault if in the search for the truth and his story if people got hurt.

We could see his point, we understood and then explained that we too were only doing our job.

Hurt is a very personal thing,  and when it is you that is suffering, well you can be forgiven for not quite seeing it in such a detached way. As I said like the journalist we had a job to do which was to protect our little boy and in doing so people would get hurt in this case it was going to be  him and his thug buddy.

I feel optimistic that the man from Harare will never pose threat to our little lad again, well not in this life anyway.

As for the Journalist, well he will get over it, although he had a long walk back to town as his car had gone on fire and I have no doubt the walk would not be too pleasant with no snappy clothes, shoes and sore feet.

We got back to the home and saw sister Marie.  She asked no questions we told no lies expect to make sure Joseph was OK.  An hour or so later all the kids were back and we saw out boy.  He has grown and is full of life and energy and his new teeth look good.

That evening we sat down with these kids and watched The Snowman.  They sat and watched with wide eyes and open mouths at something they are never likely to see or experience, but they are children and gthe human being can imagine and escape from wherever it finds itself trapped.  At the end of the film they stood up and clapped and cheered and then went running round with their arms outstretched pretending to be snowmen.

The next day we finished our jobs and it would soon be time to leave.  Just before we were due to go I was called into the office by Sister Marie.  Joseph was there.

“Go on Joseph” said sister Marie.

Joseph looked down at the floor.

“Hey up son what’s the problem” I asked

He looked at me and said “Mister Norman” he blurted “Would you be my father please, not my real father I know he is dead and that he is in heaven and looks down on me and makes sure I am all right, but my father on Earth until you know we see each other again.”

“Joseph I would be honoured to be your father” His serious little face split into a huge smile and he jumped up with his arms in the air. I picked him up and held him to me and his wooly head rested on my should and nestled against my face.

We spent the rest of the day doing dad and son things  and it was the best Christmas present I could have been given.  We did what seems like loads of stuff,  which even included being chased by a rather mangy looking dog, but In wont bore you with that except to say the boy laughed like a drain.

And then it was time to go.  I said good bye to sister Marie and then Joseph he gave me a big hug and I gave him a kiss on his forehead.  He rubbed it and said “That felt nice” and then took my face in his hand and bent my head down towards him and kissed my forehead.

“See you soon son” I said

“Ok father”

“You can call me dad if you like”

He looked thoughtful then smiled “OK dad”

The children lined up to wave us off and just as we were about to go they all held hands and started singing the tune of the snowman or at least their version of it.

The best gifts dont need wrapping paper or ribbons.

And Jeff, should you ever try this again we will not be so understanding next time.  Nice house by the way and I hope you like the card and your kids enjoy watching the DVD as much as they did.

Happy Christmas everyone.

Staying Safe – Post script

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Thank you for the positive response and all the emails  to this little series.  I am really sorry I cannot answer questions at the moment and I am also sorry for the typos and if some of the text does not quite make sense.  If there is something you dont understand email me or place a comment. As a friend of mine is going to try to edit what I have written and maybe add some photos to make this clearer.

There is obviuosly a keen interest in this subject and people want easy to follow techniques.  These are easy techniques, but I am not so sure I have described them very well.

I am leaving today on a job and  I hope to be back around the 22nd or 23rd December.

In the meantime try these moves and stay safe.

Be lucky boys hope to see you all there as arranged.

UN

Staying Safe 4- Defensive moves 3,4 & 5

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

We have looked at two initial low key moves and now need to consider how to deal with a more aggressive antagonist.

All three of these actions are really designed to allow you to put the aggressor on the floor and remove yourself from danger.

FACE CLAW OR TIGER CLAW

This simple yet effective technique was developed during the second world war by British Commandos.  It was and still is a very very effective move because it is very simple to execute and yet the results are top notch.

In one line you grab your opponents face with your open left hand dig your fingers into the flesh and push back.  The harder you push back the more you will hurt him and if you do it hard enough you will push his head over his heels and he will fall backwards.

People do not expect it and they just do not know how to deal with it.  The second thing is that by pushing the attackers face back it immediately breaks their posture, balance, and their train of thought.

You may not realise this, but reaching forward and grabbing someone’s face and pushing it back is one of the most natural gross-motor movements your body knows how to do.  I know its not the sort of thing we do evry day at Tescos or Sainsburys, even though we might feel like, but the majority of our most natural actions are related to defending ourselves.

Add the clawing motion transforms a simple “face push” into a devastating technique.

It doesn’t sound much but it is not pleasant.  Dont believe me? well get someone to do it to you and might change your mind.  Now if you add aggression and the desire to defend yourself to the push and claw.

If you do this hard the palm of the hand near to the wrist will strike the attacker in the mouth and smash his lips into his teeth whilst the upper part of the palm hit his nose.

The advantage of an open handed palm strike to the face over a traditional punch is that you do not run the risk of breaking your hand or being injured by the target’s hard head or  teeth.  Plus the heal of the hand is all muscle where as the fist is unprotected bone and it will hurt him more.

It is a simple yet effective technique to create distance between you and your assailant, which will give you time to escape or to continue your counter attack.

It can be done quickly, naturally, and repetitively with effective results.  If all you did was Tiger Claw an assailant or group of attackers that will often be good enough.

EDGE OF HAND

I do NOT recommend teaching the techniques to boys under 18 and especially this move as it is particularly easy to execute and yet so powerful.  The trouble is that when someone is made aware of it, the find it hard to resist the temptation to use it.

This move is second nature to us and is an extension from the basic finger jab, except there is the sweeping movement of the hand.  It is such an easy move to do and demonstrate, but I am not sure it is that easy to describe, but here goes

Everyone knows what a Karate chop is, well this is a more fluid version of that.

Like  a karate chop you hit your opponent with the outside edge of the hand and arm ie little finger down to the elbow.  Your strike zones is above the collar bone.

A Karate chop is fairly rigid but the edge of hand is just a fluid sweeping or hacking motion at your opponent. Unlike the Karate chop It does not have to be a down wards chopping movement but can be a series of weeping blows.  Using both hand it is really easy to land a barrage of blows very quickly around the head and neck.

Should you find yourself trading blows with somebody this will also act as an aggressive blocking method.

It is a pretty simple movement and I suspect you all know the sort of thing I am talking about, but i will take you through it just in case.

Blade your body ie left side forward with you hands in front of your genitals.  Now raise your left arm so that it is straight out and fully extended and then bend it at the elbow to 90 degrees so that the left forearm is parallel to your chest.  Your hand should between shoulder.    Now simply bring the hand forward again so the your arm is now straight.   In order to becaom straight it has to make an arc and it is this arcing motion that creates the blow.

That is the basic movement.

You alternate  between using the left and right arm and move forwards quickly as you are doing this.  Aiming at the throat neck and face.

If you want to test the effectiveness of this simply put your right hand in front of you and chop at it  with the left and you will feel the force in the hand being struck.  Now imagine that hitting you in the face or throat.

You can curl your fingers slightly to make a sort of small fist, but it is better if you don’t.

Lordy please be careful you don’t hit the nasty wicked wobber or thug  in the throat with this because it could really hurt him and we wouldn’t want that now would we.

Now one point mind you should only use this and the next move if in immediate fear of attack.  If asked afterwards you were in immediate fear of attack and feared for your safety.

As I have said this is not a one chop defence, this is time for you to get stuck in and attack this bloke and really send the blows in with both hands whilst moving forward with fierce determination.  Don’t be a wus at this point, this bastard has threatened you and stepped outside the civilised box and in essence has thrown away his get out of jail free card.

Scything motions are good but you need to be controlled and focused not flapping about like a seagull with an injured wing. Be warned If you chop down you should not consider striking hard down on the collar bone, the near the neck as this is likely to break the collar bone and that would be very unfriendly. Although of course in the heat of battle you may well forget this and sadly accidents do happen.

It is a simple move so keep it simple strike above collar bone and take the attack to the attacker.  Now then when you do this your heart rate will drop but his will go up and he will start to loose the ability to think properly.  His Adrenalin will kick in and his flight or fight mode will be fully activated.  Hit him hard enough in the face quickly an dhe will not want to stay too long.  However if he does we employ the fight finisher which is the chin jab.

CHIN JAB

The “Chin-Jab” is considered by some to be the most destructive technique in martial arts and has one objective which is to put the other bloke down on his back.

The chin-jab is the fight finisher and is used after a solid series of jabs, tiger claws, kicks, and edge of hand blows, so that your attacker is staggering backwards.

The chin jab pushes the head back over the opponents heals so that he looses his balance and all he can do is fall backwards.  It is usually delivered with such force that a knockout often results.

A word of warning and I am being very serious here, the chin-jab is so powerful that there is no way to practice the move full force. It is banned from combat sport, and even in full protective training gear it can kill.

It is unlikely you will find this move being taught in normal martial arts.

So how does it work? very simply you move forward very quickly into your opponents space and taking your RIGHT hand you drive it forward and slightly upwards into his throat or chin.  When you come into contact with the chin/throat you push through and down so that you your hand has made a sort of arc.  This will snap his head back  over his heals and the continued motion will force him backwards and down to the ground.  When he is on the ground what you do is your decision.

Now then at the point where your hand is in contact with the chin your arm between the wrist and elbow should be against his chest, but don’t worry too much if it isn’t.

To practice this   ONLY DO IT SLOWLY and put your left hand in the small of your training partners back to support them as you push GENTLY against their chin.

You can vary the moves  slightly by putting you hand behind his back or by stepping past him and putting you right leg behind him and then striking him with your right hand.  This will reduce the impact of the blow but will still put him on the floor and is a safer move, If you just want an obnoxious drunk on the floor use this modified move.    This is more complex and need to be practiced.

The chin jab will hurt your opponent.  Try this little exercise.  Put the palm of your open hand acuouple of inches under you chin and then move it upowards NOT TOO HARD so the palm strikes your bottom jaw.  Now imagine that being done in anger of fear

Always bear in mind that our objective here is always to be able to remove your self from the place of conflict to a place of safety immediately.   Using the edge of hand and chin jab it is highly likely you opponent will end up on the floor and may well be injured.  That is not your problem.

In other words for Gods sake do not be tempted to stand there admiring your handy work.  Piss off out of it.

Staying safe 3 – Defensive Move 1 & 2

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

I am going to deal with a series of moves which escalate in severity.

They are all what are called gross motor movements and these are things you can do instinctively.  Wrist locks and the like are complex motor movements.  The trouble is that when under stress or frightened your heart rate goes up really quickly and most people will hit 175 beats per minute in the the blink of an eyes.  The problem here is that the majority of people loose the ability to carry out complex movements at around 145 beats per minute.  Unless you are very fit, well trained and disciplined you wont even be able to put the keys into your car ignition at 145 bpm, so how the hell are you going to do some fancy jujitsu?

Now you need to stay calm and keep your breathing regular and controlled so that you can focus on what is happening.  This takes me back to why I dripped on about not dashing about and being too stressed.  If you weren’t stressed before you will be when in a confrontation.  Your heart will be pounding in your chest, your breathing will be shallow your tummy will feel tight because you are human.   It is fine to be scared but what you need to do is try to keep these physical reactions to your situation to a minimum.

Confidence will help with this.

HTML clipboard

The Finger Dart or Finger Jab

I mentioned the exclusion zone ie an arms length.

Now as soon as your aggressor comes in to the exclusion zone their intentions are probably not honourable and you are going to have to make them rethink.  Some people say that you hit first, hit fast hit hard, but I couldn’t possibly comment on that!

The Finger Dart or jab is one of the most basic tactics in defending yourself.

It is not intended to cause damage to your assailant but to stop disorient, and hopefully discourage further forward movement from an assailant.  By stopping him you have the chance to escape or to move forward and to deal with him.

So standing left side on hands across your lap The finger jab is just a quick “flick” or “Jab” to the face with your left hand.  You are trying to land this to the nose or eyes.  It doesn’t sound much, but nobody likes being flicked in the face and the other person will usually recoil out of your exclusion zone puts distance between you and them.

Another thing is that because you have now extended your left arm this pulls the left side of your body forward and naturally forces you to “blade” you body more (removing all your vital organs from frontal attack), and immediately puts you in an offensive state.

The attacker moves backwards and in reality you are going to follow him keeping that arms length distance.  If needs be jab him again.

Believe it or not, many times the Finger Dart is enough to stall even the most obnoxious gobby drunk in a social situation. Trust me, NOBODY likes being flicked in the face and becasue the Finger Dart is so fast, so instinctual, and so effective that you can chalk it up to an accidental reflex when the drunken yob is doubled over whining about how you poked him in the eye.

For a slightly more intense version of this a rolled up newspaper or magazine (ouch) is very effective.

In the sitautions we find ourselves in the Finger Jab is effective as it forcibly stops the attackers forward movement and allows you to begin your own move forward and barrage of attacks with other strikes which we will come on to.

The Kick

 Moving on from the finger dart or jab is the Front Kick or Whip Kick.

You might be able to get away with Finger Jabbing somebody who has come a bit too close by making some excuse of it being an accident or some kind of nervous twitch as they hold their eye in agony, but when you kick somebody there is no way on this earth that you can make such a claim and so the fight is on.

Luckily, the Front Kick is already second nature to you.

Simply lift up your leg and whack him in the shin, groin, leg, wherever (with gross motor technique, any target is a good target) with a natural, whipping motion.  Personally I go for the kness or shins.

When doing the kick it is importand that the blow is delivered downwars on your opponents centre line which will give you forward momentum. To get this right lift the left leg so the foot is about knee high extend the leg forwards sufficiently to hit your aggressors knee or leg  and stamp down in front of you.  By trying to describe this I am making it sound harder than it really is.

I must strees that it is important that you follow through the downwards movement so that you left foot finishes on the ground ahead of where you started and that you keep your left side on to them and do not be tempted at this stage to move your right side forward.  You need your right foot to be behind you for balance and to help propel you.

How often do people say about kneeing someone in the balls and they demonstrate by lifting their knee up so it goes forward and then back down to where it started from.  This leaves them, standing on one leg like a frigging stork.   Their balance is wrong and they are easy meat to be sent sprawling backwards by anyone who knows what they are doing.  You must avoid doing the same, every strike, kick and blow must take you forwards.

On its own on ekick  will not send some 6 foot six prop crashing to the deck, but that combined with the finger jab will stop the advance of somebody being a pest and will put you in the position of being able to take put the confrontation on your terms.

The Finger Jab  and Kick combination is only an opening gambit to to stop your opponent from advancing and open them up for you to escape or put him downwhich ever you feel happier with.  Personally I think  if they are down they are less of a continuing danger as they are less likely to come after you.

So there you go. If you’ve ever wanted to know what to do when someone enters your airspace and you need to send a stern message while keeping your attack options open, the Finger jab combined with Front Kicks need to become your best friend.

Practice these on your own or with a friend and colleague, but dont get carried away.   If you dont have a training partner practice the finger jab with your sahddow on the wall and the kick can be practised with anything.  Cahirs and walls are good enemies becasue they dont move and dont hit back.

Staying Safe 2 – Being Confronted and Your Stance

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

HTML clipboardIn the next few lessons I will tell you some very basic moves.  I am assuming you are right handed.  Obviously if you are left handed just swap where I say left for right.

If you end up in a physical confrontation the overriding objective is to move forward never backwards and to put your attacker backwards and onto the floor.  If he is on the floor you can do a number of things to ensure he wont get up or you can gracefully retire.

OK so despite our best efforts we find ourselves confronted by some bonehead who looks hell bent on causing trouble or stealing.

If you are being robbed the important thing to remember is that things are just that, things.  They can be replaced, but people can’t.  Be sensible damged pride and indignation mend quicker than injuries.  Trust me I really know what I am talking about here.

This is a flight or fight situation.  Flight is always the first option. If you can move to a safe area where there are other people and make as much noise as you can.  In other words always consider running away screaming.

I could tell you how to disarm a bloke with a knife and do this that and the other but I wont.

The reason I wont is that this is a very basic course and it will probably never happen.  If you run off screaming put yourself in the position of the mugger,  are going to run after someone who is screaming?  If your answer is yes then I strongly advise you do not think about becoming a career criminal.

Seriously its a bad situation being threatened with a knife.  If you cannot escape to a safe place then hand over your money.  Better to be a live coward than a dead hero.

Now I know there are a lot of people who are going to say you can do this and that and so and so, but the truth is that unless you practice those moves day in day out you will just get hurt or killed.  Remember the whole point of defence is to stay alive.  As I said damaged pride and dignity etc just doesn’t come into it.

In almost every situation ordinary people find themselves in,  there is a build up which starts with a confrontation followed by the  threat and lastly an attack.

There are two important  things in the initial stages of a confrontation.  Distance and Stance

DISTANCE

Keep distance between you and the aggressor.  An arms length is the minimum.  If you keep this distance no matter what threats they make they cannot actually hit you.  In order to attack they have to come towards you and into the exclusion zone, if they do that then they are in play.  The distance allows you to watch your agressor and gives you just that litle bit of extra time to react to their moves.

STANCE

For the most part you are going to use your left hand for the initial moves not your right.   The mistake most people make is that they lead with their right not the left.  Look at boxers, they all jab with their right and reserve the right hand for killer blows, as the right arm is stronger.

You need to move your feet and adjust your stance so that you are not stand square on but standing  left side on, with your arms across your abdomen and your hands together in front of your genitals.  A bit like a footballer in a wall facing a free kick, but you don’t have to pull the ridiculous face, in fact if you do it really won’t help the situation.

This stance is known as blading and refduces the target area for an attacker and will allow you to protect your vital organs and keep your hands and arms  free to  move so you can block and strike at the aggressor.  It will also allow you to keep your balance and to propel yourself forward when you engage them.

Staying Safe 1. Prevention

Friday, December 5th, 2008

Herow Gwarshopper

– Thats the best I can do on ancient oriental accent.

I think we all agree it is always better to prevent than cure and I could spend hours on prevention but the point of this first lesson is to get you to think.  Now then I know nothing about you, your life and the demands upon you so I have kept this first lesson very general.  Take the points and think how it applies to you, your life and how you do things.  You may get to the end and say “Well stone me that was bloody pointless” or you may think “Yeah I can see where he’s coming from”.  Perhaps you could let me know either way.

Lets get one thing clear from the very outset and that is despite what the Daily Mail and other hemoroid papers say, for the majority of people the chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in the UK are still very low.  So for that reason most people have no reason to be scared.

Most criminals are opportunist and to be honest very few a really out to hurt you.

This leads me to the next very import intorductory point

Thanks to the great British Media, the fear of crime or being a victim of crime is a bigger problem and worse than the real problem.  Let me ask you do you actually know anyone who had been the vistim of a violent crime?  I dont mean somebody who got burgeled but somebody who was attacked and robbed with force or assualted for no reason.  I suspect not many of you do.  Ask the question of your friends and familly and I bet you will get a similar response.  Always bear in mind that the fear of srime is worse than reality.  Do not go round being scared shitless or I will guarantee you will become a victim.  You cannot live you life being frightened all the time, it is not healthy.

CONFIDENCE

How you conduct yourself in day to day life tells people a lot about you.  There is the old thing of the SDergeant major shouting “Eyes front! Heads up, shoulders back, tits out my lovely boys”  Don’t slouch about, walk and conduct yourself with confidence and bleive in yourself and mean business.  Let me tell you something, if you don’t believe in yourself why the hell should anyone else.  I don’t mean strut your funky stuff like dem boys in de hood man, but do not be timid or a victim waiting to happen. If you look and sound confident you are less likely to be a victim.  I do not mean aggressive I mean confident and determined.   If you have a problem with something or somebody tell them firmly but directly you have a problem and ask how it can be resolved.  Id doesn’t matter who or what it is,  be it the bank or the gas board, grasp the nettle, don’t be afraid to complain, do not be timid.

This may not seem related to defence,  butbelieve me it is all about you and the signals you give off.  Most people who are victims of violent crime are the victim of an opportunist attack.  If you send out the right signals that you are not to be messed with then you will be left alone.  I will be honest and say it doesn’t work all the time I grant you, but 99.9% of the time, if you are confident and willing to deal with things head on in a polite but firm manner you will reduce your stress levels and gain confidence.

FITNESS

Get fitter.  I dont mean pump iron and turn yourslf into Rambo, go for a few brisk walks during the week (but try not to get mugged) a few squats, leg lifts  press ups just so that you feel the msucles tense and firm.  Slowly but surely.

PLANNING

Your prevention starts before you leave home or the office and relates to time management.

You need to be prepared before you every leave home.  What I am about to say seems obvious but it builds in to a routine.  Think about where you are going, the route you need to take, where are you going to park, what you need to do whn you get there and how much time you need to do ALL of it.  Most people underestimate the time to do most things so they get stressed and rush.  If you do this you will not be able to adhere to the most important golden rule of staying safe and avoiding problems and then the second rule just will not fall into place and you are making your job harder than it needs to be.

The first real golden rule for staying safe is to pay attention to your surroundings and environment. The second golden rule is If you see something you don’t like the look of, take immediate appropriate action action.  However if you are wandering around in cloud cuckoo land or rushing like a mad thing, you just wont see the signs of possible dangers.

The biggest distraction, apart from being rushed due to bad time management, and we are all guilty of that,  is the mobile telephone.  Now then us blokes cannot do two things at once but you ladies are forever walking and talking or texting on your mobiles.    If you have to use it in the street find a suitable spot, stop do the biz and then put the phone away.  For a start you are not putting a nickable object on display and secondly  If you are not paying attention to what’s going on around you are putting yourself in danger.  When I say danger I do not mean just from attack but from all sorts of accidents and mishaps.  Most woman who are robbed in broad day light were on talking on their phones or texting at the time.  Apparently the statistics for women and young girls being knocked over  by vehicles whilst texting is also very high.

What is so important that it cannot wait and if something is that important you should give it your full attention.

SHOPPING

If you are out shopping don’t overload yourself.  Always try to keep one hand free.  I mention this with Christmas coming up, because If you are weighed down with shopping bags and boxes it is a sure fire indicator that you are likely to be carrying non traceable goods, cash, cards etc BUT it also tells me that you are in a rush, stressed and under pressure.

You have VICTIM COME AND GET ME in neon lights over your head.

The chances are that as a result you will be flustered  and as a result you are already under stress and your heart beat will already be up and it will just go through the roof the instant anything happens.  You will react badly and be unable to cope if anything does happens.  When I say anything happens again I dont just mean being attacked.   if  you get pushed or trip the natural reaction is to put your arms out to break your fall.  With all the stuff you are carrying you either won’t be able to do this and will face butt the pavement or all your stuff is going to go splat on to the deck. You will panic and will end up hurting yourself and being more shocked than needs be. Shock kills more people than anything else.  Try to conduct yourself in such a way as to minimise this.  Besides which its not good for you getting all worked up and you want to enjoy Christmas.

Plan Ahead, Plan Ahead, Plan Ahead.  OK now I accept that there are circumstances where it is not always possible,  but to be honest they are few and far between.  If you plan ahead you are prepared and this helps you stay aware of your environment and the situation around you.

Going somewhere for a first time, Do you know where you are going?  Not sure what the area is like?  If nothing else look at a map and get a reasonable idea of your route and destination.  By this I do not mean jump in the car and leave it to the GPS, I mean look at a map, Google it, have a look on Google Earth or Mappy but for goodness sake have a look.

If you buy a book or watch a film I bet you read the blurb on the back to see what its about, but so many people just head off blindly without a thought of where they are really going.  OK in view of my opening paragraphs this might seem a bit over the top, but if nothing else at least you shouldn’t get lost.  For me and my team this is standard procedure.  Granted we tend to find ourselves in “odd” situations with “odd” people, but there is so much information available to everyone before you leave home that it is daft not to have a little look-see before you set off.  How long will it take you and what have you got to loose?

If you are going on a meeting or trip, will you be going somewhere that may be a problem spot, if so can you go another way or get someone to go with you.  If in doubt dress accordingly, don’t carry anything other than the bare minimum, don’t wear expensive jewellery just blend in, there are times to stick out and times to be a sheep.

Last but not least I have slagged off the mobile phone but they are good tools if you use them properly.   If you really feel the need you can subsribe to one of the various mobile tracking companies that will give you the location of a mobile down to about 10m in some cases.  We use this a lot, but we are not quite run of the mill folks.     When I was a lad my mum used to be very strict on keeping  in touch if I was going to be late or whatever.  In our business its known as “ringing in” and is something we as a unit do all the time.  If somebody is out on a job and misses a scheduled ring in we try to contact him immediately.  If there is response we go to the locate system and mobilise a back up team to go seek and search.  It doesn’t happen very often fortunately.  Usually there has been an over run on a meet, but we would rather be safe than sorry.  I would always suggest you carry a phone card and get one for your kids because they are a good back up shpould they run out of credit or the mobile wont work for some reason – provide of course you can fins a bloody phone that works.

As I said at the start I could go on and on about how to avoid problems, but what this little course is about is dealing with them when they crop up.

Do not be scared.
Be confident and assertive but not aggressive.
Be aware of your environment.
Be prepared and in control and let anyone who comes into contact with you know you are reasonable,  but that you mean business. 
HTML clipboardCAR SAFETY

Fortunately very few people are actually carjacked in the UK but in the last few weeks there have been more and more instances of cars being stolen from the owners whilst the owners have been getting in to them.  The other things is that as more people choose to go to more bizarre and apparently exotic locations such as West Africa and even the Caribbean the chances of being targeted increase.

What do you do if somebody steals your car whilst you are about to get into it.  Well there are two things you can do.  The first is stand there to one side and think “Bollocks I had better ring the police and my insurance company” Or Number two you can try and stop the the thief.  Actually you are really trying to stop a couple of tons of metal and the odds of  you succeeding are very remote.  My advice is try to prevent this happening in the first place and if you dont, and some git does nick your car, I would go for the Oh bollocks option.  It is just a car.  Probably very nice and this incident will signal a period of grief and aggravation, as those robbing bastard insurance companies try to screw you, but at least you aren’t sucking steak through a straw or pushing up daisies and it can be replaced.  It is only a thing.

It is amazing how many people have their cars stolen when they are almost in them.  Most of the time the cars get nicked because people are sloppy and lazy.

The vast majority of cars these days have remote central locking very handy for owners and a godsend for thieves..

Ideally do not unlock all of the car doors at the same time – If your car has a traditional keyhole then use your key to unlock the door you want to open.

If you have no choice but to open the car remotely, then do it when you are right by your car not 50 yards away.  When I mean right by the car, I mean right by the car hand on handle.  If you have to unlock all the doors with the remote do so when you are right by the car, then open the door you want and immediately relock the rest of the car and only unlock it when you are ready to get in. The drill is press unlock – open door- get in- lock.  Same if you need to put stuff into the boot, unlock – open boot -relock car.  It sounds convoluted but if you practice you can get really quick.  The quicker you are the more you reduce the opportunity for somebody to attack you and either injure you or steal your car.  For women on their own in unknown and possibly hostile environments this is very important.  It also applies when travelling abroad in the less hospitable neighbourhoods.

In winter when it comes to defrosting your car  and depending on where you are do not leave it running.  De ice it first and then get in and turn it on.  Imagine its winter and you have got your engine running are getting it all nice and toasty warm inside. You’re out there scraping Jack Frost off the windscreen and suddenly your pride and joy is being driven off without you.  It happens a lot and as I write last week alone two people were killed and another seriously injured trying to save their cars after they were taken in just these circumstances.

I will deal with drills for car drills when driving later if there is the demand.

Post Amendment

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

In a recent post I  reproduced an email that had been sent to me.

I have been contacted by a member of the US security services who are investigating this and a number of other related incidents and asked to remove the email.  Two reasons were given a) it was not supposed to be in the public domain and b) There is a chance, albeit highly unlikely that a member of one of the service mens family could come across the post which may cause the family and others further upset.

I would not wish to cause any upset or offence to those concerned and have removed the reproduced email and altered the text accordingly.

I am however concerned about my Uncle Norman Privilege being violated.

DG – That should keep us in the clear see you at 7pm for a pint at The Leaky Civil Servant.

Be Safe – Stay Safe

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

A recent report by some genius at the home office predicted that crime would increase as the economic situation got worse.  There’s a thing, who’d have thought it.

In the last few days there have been a huge increase in robberies and thefts and especially  car jackings with two people being killed and another seriously injured.  In fact in Manchester alone over the last two days 20 cars have been stolen right from under the owners noses.

Most of these are preventable by the victims if they just jnew how to reduce the opportunity for the thief/murderer.

I have always had regular  requests from individuals and  groups about the possibility of giving self defence classes.  I have done some of this in the past for people and it has gone down very well and I recently did an evening session with a group of ladies in Manchester.  They beat and kicked the crap out of me.  However for a variety of reasons I cannot do that much at the moment, besides which the stuff I would show you is so simple you don’t really need my ugly mug in front of you to learn it.

I have put together a very simple  course which anyone can do.  It should help you avoid getting into trouble in the first place and will give you a good chance of getting out of it should you be unlucky enough to find yourself in a tricky situation.

The techniques are not complicated and do not require hours of practice  (although practice helps) super human strength or muscles in your spit.

I will try to publish a lesson a day for the next week, but I am not promising as I am away from Wednesday next week on a job and wont be back until a few days just before Christmas so time is not on my side, but I think it may be helpful for people.

Above the Law?

Monday, December 1st, 2008

I am more than a little amused by the hullabaloo caused by the arrest of the Tory MP Damian Green and the subsequent search of his house and offices.

First off what right have these people got to start blabbing in public about an ongoing investigation? No doubt if Green is charged and went to trial his brief would be up and belly aching about not getting a fair trial due to media coverage.

Secondly he has apparently been leaking highly sensitive documents which were illegally passed to him.  These papers weren’t just leaked by anyon, but  by a conservative party activist who has apparently worked for Mr Green in the past and has actually applied for a permanent post with him.   Now I am no ace detective, but that relationship strikes me as bieng more that a little bit fishy in itself.

Now then, the law says you cannot go round stealing sensitive documents and passing them around willy nilly.    You may remember that at the time of the Falklands war there was a civil servant called Clive Ponting who leaked the documents pertaining to the sinking of the Argentine battle cruiser The Belgrano to the Welsh Labour MP Tam Dyall.  Mrs Thatched had Ponting hounded down and prosecuted only for him to be acquitted.  She also wanted Mr Dyall prosecuted but everyone got cold feet.  Mr Dyalls defence was that he was doing his duty as an oppositon MP to question the governments version of events in the South Atlantic.

It was Pontings aquital and Dyalls role as an MP which prompted the then Conservative government to tighten up the UK secrets legislation with the introduction of the 1989 Official Secrets Act and removing the public interest defence which Ponting had successfully used to avoid being convicted.Mr Green is claiming he leaked the papers he had been passed because it was in the public interest.  Now whilst Paliamntry Privilege gives MPs certain rights and protection it does not cover handling stolen goods which is in effect wht these papers are.

Handling stolen goods is very naughty as is being a bad boy in a public office.  If you go round breaking the law or being suspected of being nauhgty you run the risk that the boys in blue will come round and feel your collar and ask you all sorts of difficult questions.   PLUS having arrested you, they can quite legally search your premises for relevant information.

Having been arrested and having had my home and business premises searched on several occassions I want to know why Mr Camerron or all the other MPOS who are bellyaching have never never leapt to my defence and asked the police to explain themselves.  I feel hurt very second rate.

Anyway since when has there been a law saying MPs cannot be nicked if they are suspected of breaking the law or that their offices and homes cannot be searched.  I have had a look at the various legislation and cannot see Parliament or MPs as an exception and why should they be above the law?

However the bit that really gets me thinking is why are all these politicians from all parties getting upset.  Is it because they could be arrested and their premises searched?  What are they hiding I wonder.? I am always suspicious when people start answering the questions they haven’t been asked.

Maybe PC Plod should spin all their offices.  I wonder how many Gary Glitters and Clive Pontings they would turn up.  By the hue and cry quite a lot I suspect.