10 Questions with Andy Holmes (Kombat Cave UK)

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1) Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at the Kombat Cave – what’s the Cave all about and how did it come to be?

I have been training for 12 years and started my interest in martial arts in the 80s at the age of 13, with Judo, then Wado Ryu and Shotokan.
Then discovered cars and girls and had a 20 year lay off!
When I started again at the ripe old age of 35 it was in Chinese Kickboxing. During my time training I was attacked at work with an axe and started to realise the shortfall of sport based arts on the street.
I started attending Krav Maga seminars in Leeds whenever I could and also started attending seminars with the best reality based instructors in the UK.
After obtaining my first Dan in kickboxing I decided I wanted my training to go down the reality route, but could not find any clubs locally, so decided to open my own.
A chance meeting on Facebook and a phone chat with Simon Morrell lead me to make the three and a half hour drive to north Wales on a regular basis to become an Instructor under Fight Fortress worldwide and the BCA.
The Cave was finally born in April 2012.

2) How does self-protection fit into what you do?

Self Protection is the basis of everything we do, we teach people to defend themselves in the real world.
We cover everything from awareness and the law to adrenaline and aftermath, and students have to demonstrate knowledge and ability through physical and written gradings.

3) What motivates you in your training? How do you get yourself going when you’re not in the mood or you have other things to do?

I want to be better than my students so need to put in extensive personal training.
I’m also not getting any younger so want to achieve a lot more in the arts before the bath chair beckons!

4) What would you say is your greatest skill or attribute as a teacher?

Honesty with my students, if I don’t know the answer I will say so, we will then work the solution.
I’d like to think I am also good at communicating with students and always striving to evolve my syllabus based on their needs.

5) What would you say is the most important aspect of your training, skill you develop or attribute you cultivate at the Kombat Cave?

People are able to develop skills that are natural to them and are more likely to be delivered under pressure, I don’t believe in changing their skills but building on what they already have.
The CSD (Cave Street Defence) syllabus is built around making defences that deal with attacks and we offer various solutions, it’s up to the student which strategy works best for them.

6) What is your favourite exercise, training method or drill?

I love Pyramid drills and pad work, punching and kicking drills using the length of the Dojo and increasing/decreasing in intensity.
We start each session with Kombat Fitness designed to improve the skills/endurance used in training and defence situations as well as overall strength and fitness.

7) What do you like to do aside from training and teaching? What interests you?

I read a lot (martial arts books I’m afraid), watching movies and I like to go to the theatre with my long suffering Wingman (the misses who is the brains of the club).

8) What advice do you have for the students out there reading this?

Make sure you are training in the right art for you, work out what you want to achieve and ensure your art will deliver, if not, find one that does.

9) What advice do you have for the instructors out there reading this?

Teach what you are happy teaching and be adaptable as the arts are changing.
Many people no longer want to spend years studying one art, I believe with the quick fix mentality of today we must evolve to meet the student’s needs.
Don’t get drawn into the world of the keyboard warrior and be honest about your ability, leave the ego at the door and don’t get involved in martial politics.

10) What is your ultimate goal with the Kombat Cave? Where do you want it to lead?

Ultimately I would love a dedicated Centre and teach on a full time basis.
I want the Cave to be a recognised reality based club that teaches people from all walks of life the essential physical and mental attributes to protect themselves and families.
As well as a fun and friendly place to train.

Simon Morrell and Andy Holmes Simon Morrell and Andy Holmes

You can get in touch with the Kombat Cave on Facebook or on Twitter (@KombatcaveUK), see them on YouTube or visit their website at http://www.kombatcaveuk.com/.

Review: ‘Powerkick’ by Peter Consterdine

Consterdine, Peter. Powerkick. Protection Publications.

Review: Powerkick:
by Josh Nixon, ESP

This review is part two of a two-part series. Part one is here.

As we’ve come to expect from a British Combat Association video, this one begins with a very important point – that kicking above the legs is generally a bad idea in real combat. While this is common knowledge to all who have received good training in self-protection, for many it may still not be, so it’s important to raise awareness on this issue.

That said, the most important thing to realise about this video is that it isn’t just a method for power generation – it’s a method for power generation within the parameters of maintaining a square-on upper-body position as best as one can while kicking. In terms of hook kicks, this is difficult but in this video Peter Consterdine presents his method for getting power into kicking while trying not to compromise one’s stability of structure. The importance, in this method, of the hands’ motion and that of the upper body in general is emphasised.

Following on from the previous Powerstrike (reviewed here), effective lineups for the kicking is gone through logically and accessibly, along with tactical information on useful targets to pick out for kicking once you’ve set them up well. There’s also a truly insightful nugget of information about flinch responses and reactions that I had never realised before I watched this, so it taught me something potentially very useful that I might not have otherwise realised! I won’t say what it is here of course – buy the video if you want to know!

As with all the best methods of striking, a biomechanical approach and an awareness of tension and relaxation is what this is video’s teachings are built on and as such I definitely recommend it as a worthy addition to anyone’s collection.

This video is available on DVD or for digital download (much cheaper, understandably) from http://www.peterconsterdine.com/store.htm. Further information and a download link can also be found at http://www.peterconsterdine.com/powerkick.htm.

Review: ‘The Pavement Arena Part 2′ by Peter Consterdine and Geoff Thompson

Consterdine, Peter and Thompson, Geoff. The Pavement Arena Part Two: ‘The Protection Pyramid’. Legend Video Productions. 1993.

Review: The Pavement Arena Part 2: ‘The Protection Pyramid’:
by Josh Nixon, ESP

This review is part of a series. Part one can be found here, this is part two, part three can be found here, part four can be found here and part five (sort of – it follows on from part four but isn’t part of the Pavement Arena series) can be found here.

’Confidence […] from simplicity of approach’ – that sums up the efficiency of Peter and Geoff’s approach to self-protection, and indeed the approach of this series. Early on in the video Peter Consterdine advises people that if they bought a self-protection video that’s just a series of ‘physical tricks’, they should go and get their money back because that’s not what self-protection’s about. He’s spot-on. This video in the series deals with the psychological and conceptual side of self-protection; the proactive, preventative aspect that is often missing from or inadequate in many approaches. Going beyond the often-heard and easily-said ‘just stay aware and run off if you can’ that some still consider enough for this area, this video introduces the ‘Protection Pyramid’.

This video goes through concepts around personal security (as an umbrella term for threat awareness, threat evaluation and threat avoidance), attack scenarios, fear, types of attack, assessment (numbers of attackers, weapons, etc), perceptions, reaction (tactics, response and environment), lineups (‘the fence’), adrenaline switches, ranges and tools, targets, pre-emptive striking, multiple attackers, strategy and tactics in that order. As I’m sure is evident, this video is a highly useful and well-thought-out resource for anyone to learn from. The concepts above may sound complicated or even confusing at first glance, but the way they are explained makes the information readily accessible and easily understood.

The ‘Protection Pyramid’ is a graphic and visually illustrative way of presenting the complex problems and solutions of self protection. The Protection Pyramid continues the ‘no nonsense’ theme established in part one of this series and with re-constructed ‘street attacks’, the viewer can see clearly the reality of how traditional, unabridged martial arts systems will not work in such confrontations.

Each section of the pyramid illustrates a separate concept and build up to a comprehensive system for defensive tactics. This video does not only cover the physical aspects of self defence, but tackles the often forgotten aspects such as fear and how not to be psyched out by opponents. (Information taken from http://www.peterconsterdine.com/arena2.htm, 31.12.2012.)

I can’t recommend this enough. If you get any of the Pavement Arena series, get this one. The amount of information packed into this video really is phenomenal and it is essential for students, instructors and untrained members of the public alike. If you’re not well-educated in the theoretical side of self-protection then I recommend you invest in this video. If you are, I would anyway because you could learn something regardless. I did.

This video is available on DVD or for digital download (much cheaper, understandably) from http://www.peterconsterdine.com/store.htm. Further information and a download link can also be found at http://www.peterconsterdine.com/arena2.htm.

Review: ‘The Pavement Arena Part 1′ by Peter Consterdine and Geoff Thompson

Consterdine, Peter and Thompson, Geoff. The Pavement Arena Part One: ‘Ultimate Self Defence’. Legend Video Productions. 1993.

Review: The Pavement Arena Part 1: ‘Ultimate Self Defence’:
by Josh Nixon, ESP

This review is part of a series. This is part one, part two can be found here, part three can be found here, part four can be found here and part five (sort of – it follows on from part four but isn’t part of the Pavement Arena series) can be found here.

This video begins by making a very important point; that martial arts, self-defence and self-protection are not synonymous. Self-defence being reactive in nature and self-protection being instead proactive, this distinction is highly important to make clear and this video begins by doing so which immediately sets the tone of a well-thought-out methodology.

For many, this video and the resultant series was their first introduction to the difference between traditional martial arts training and efficient self-protection training for modern violence. This video includes sections on:

      • Distance Control
    • Mental Disarmament
    • Lineups
    • The Knockout
    • Pre-emptive Strikes
    • Power Kicking
    • Close Impact Targeting
    • Fear Control
    • Threat Awareness
    • Aggression & Response

(Information from http://www.peterconsterdine.com/store.htm, 30.12.2012)

Don’t be put off by the fact that they’re wearing Karate clothing in some of this. It’s not a traditional martial arts video. Some martial arts concepts are mentioned, such as Zanshin, but they are applicable to the subject matter of the video and the series on the whole. The importance of an understanding of relaxation and biomechanics in striking to generate effective power is emphasised throughout, and Peter Consterdine’s concept of the ‘double hip’ striking method is introduced.

What stands out is that it’s not one of those videos where the masters tell you how to do things and you see others doing it, or a voiceover with footage of training, but they talk you through it in a natural and easily followed manner while they show you themselves. Everything is explained thoroughly and logically, again in a well-thought-out way, and the language used is very accessible for anyone to understand.

Nearer the end, the three-part understanding of threat awareness, threat evaluation and threat avoidance is introduced, which touches on the personal security aspect of self-protection which is expanded on in the next video; The Pavement Arena Part 2: The Protection Pyramid.

This video is available on DVD or for digital download (much cheaper, understandably) from http://www.peterconsterdine.com/store.htm. Further information and a download link can also be found at http://www.peterconsterdine.com/arena1.htm.

CSPS Seminar Writeup–Endon Scouts, 19.10.2012: Night Safety for Children

Last night I had the pleasure of being invited down to Endon Scout Group’s headquarters where I gave a two-hour introductory seminar on staying safe at night for children. This is more a reference for anyone who attended than anything else, but it may be interesting for parents wondering what their son or daughter did on Friday too.

First off, I just want to thank everyone involved for the warm welcome and excellent atmosphere throughout. The kids, parents and staff that I spoke to were excellent and made us feel very welcome. The whole evening was an absolute pleasure!

We started off with a quick run through basic ideas of respect, honesty and awareness. Here’s a few points for your reference:

  • Respect: All CSPS sessions are based on a system of constant and mutual respect between all present. It’s not ‘teacher and student’, and not ‘adult and some kids’ but a group of people training together. Respect is earned, but we all deserve it the same as everyone else.
  • Honesty: Honesty with yourself is vital. If you don’t know why you’re training something, or can’t work out whether it’s going to work or not, then you have to be honest with yourself and accept that you don’t know! Then you need to be honest with your instructor and ask your questions! Honesty with yourself also means accepting your limitations as well as your strengths, and examining your attitude and mindset too. Honesty with your parents is also vital! If anything happens – whether it’s a small incident of bullying at school, a big incident of bullying at school, or an adult who tried to take you somewhere, or anything else that you didn’t like, you must be completely honest with your parents/guardians about what happened, in as much detail as you can manage! If the police are involved, no matter what happened again you must remain completely honest in every detail!
  • Awareness: Here’s the colour-code system that we played with last night:

White: Unaware. Able to be bashed without seeing it coming. Don’t be in this state unless you’re asleep!
Yellow: Threat awareness. Looking around, listening, etc. Not paranoid or scared – relaxed, but observing everything. Ready. Be in this all the time.
Orange: Threat evaluation. You see something you’re not happy about – whatever it is, and whether or not you know why you’re unhappy about it – and you start evaluating and thinking about what to do. You may cross the street, go the other way, find a safer route, etc. Still calm.
Red: Threat avoidance. You may need to run or hide. You may need to de-escalate by talking someone out of their anger, etc. You may even need to pre-emptively strike or similar in order to make your escape opportunity.
Black: Survival. This may be running, or hiding again, or it may be fighting tooth and nail to survive. A bad situation you really need to escape from ASAP.

This system isn’t mine – it was made by a man called Jeff Cooper, who I’ve never spoken to but I’ve heard many good things about. I’d recommend researching him if you’re interested. This is just my take on the concept, and may differ from some other people’s.

After that we got into the physical combatives focussed around striking and getting out of grabs predominantly. Then we drilled running away from someone insisting that we show them to a place. If you take nothing else away from our brief little session, remember this:

YOU SHOULD NEVER ALLOW ANYONE TO TRY AND TAKE YOU ANYWHERE. Your social awkwardness around saying ‘no’, not holding someone’s hand or running away without being physically attacked MUST BE IGNORED! I cannot stress this strongly enough. Social awkwardness will not save you! Leave it for social situations. Someone trying to commit a crime on you is not a social situation (depending on how we’re using the term), and as such the rules of social interaction such as awkwardness in particular do not apply!

Then we had question time, which seemed to be preoccupied mostly with what to do if you end up killing somebody! Funny as it may be to be asked that a few different times in a few different ways (especially the acid bath question made me laugh! Ahh, dark humour…), it’s a perfectly valid and important question. To simplify, I refer you back to the previous stuff about honesty. When telling your parents and the police in that situation what has happened, honesty is what you need.

What I will do for you when I get the chance is ask a police officer I know what exactly should be your considerations in a situation like that. Until then, I recommend a book called ‘Understanding Reasonable Force’ by Mark Dawes. Full details of the book, with review and room for discussion can be found on the CSPS forum –> Resources –> Literature at http://cspsonline.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=literature&action=display&thread=144 and you can get it easily on eBay or Amazon. Another recommendation I have on the legal side of things is to simply call the police on the non-emergency number (101) and ask! If there’s anyone who can give you advice on these things, it’s them. I’m a self-protection instructor, but not a police officer and not a legal advisor, so I really do encourage you to make your own enquiries.

Any questions, comments, etc are welcome and you all have my contact details. Thanks for an awesome night and I hope to see you again soon!

FCIns. Josh Nixon of the CSPS is at Stoke College’s Disability Day–25th of April 2012

On Wednesday the 25th of April 2012 FCIns. Josh Nixon (that’s me) will be representing the Combative Self-Protection System at Stoke College’s ‘Disability Day’. From 10:00-14:00 you’ll have the opportunity to speak with me and I’ll answer any questions you have about the CSPS or training in general. Details are also on our events page.

The event will be held at Cauldon Campus on Stoke Road, Shelton, ST4 2DG, in the Sports Hall from 10:00-14:00 on Wednesday the 25th of April 2012.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have said on their site:

The aim of the event is to raise disability awareness and provide information, advice and guidance to individuals within the college and the general public. There will be over 60 organisations on hand to provide the most up to date information on a range of disability issues to an eager audience and the celebrity guests will be ‘Race2Recovery’ who have recently been on the BBC’s Top Gear.

(From http://www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/2091.asp on 14.04.2012.)

It’s going to be a great opportunity to speak with a lot of interesting organisations and individuals so I heartily recommend coming and taking a look – everyone’s welcome! I’ll be on hand for the full four hours to answer all of your questions on training with or without disabilities for self-protection, health, fitness and personal security. I’ll also be representing local martial arts class PHDefence, which I am Co-Instructor of. There may be an offer available to people who attend this event…

See you there!

-FCIns. Josh Nixon, CSPS

P.S. There may also be sweets…

Martial Art? Combat Sport? Self-Defence? Self-Protection? What’s the difference? Why does it matter?

By Josh Nixon, ESP

Please note: This article is now outdated. It is merely retained here for archive purposes, so the changing nature of things here can be seen by all. Consider the following just my older thoughts on the matter, from which the current ones have come.

Here is the updated version of things: http://evolutionaryselfprotection.wikia.com/wiki/Self-Protection

In discussions of different training systems, it becomes immediately apparent after a quick Google or a sift through YouTube that the terms used in the title of this article are used more or less interchangeably by a great many people. This may seem unimportant, but it is becoming a big issue in the martial arts community today. In an attempt to help with this problem, and also to clarify my use of these terms online and offline, I thought it would be useful to produce a short list of these terms, and how I would define them, with some examples of common traits. Note that the following is merely my personal use of these terms, and other peoples’ usage of them will vary, as they are of course completely free to do so.

Martial Art: A martial art is exactly what the name suggests – an art. An art is a method of expression through application of creativity, and is typically concerned with aesthetics. As such, martial arts are often concerned with aesthetics, historical traditions, cultural customs and philosophy. These systems will often focus most of their training on one aspect of fighting, though not always. Martial arts can be traditional or modern, and different systems are often mixed into hybrid systems, usually in order to address what the instructors feel is a shortcoming of their original system. These are often termed Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), though this term is now used more for combat sports systems so many adopt the alternative term Hybrid Martial Arts (HMA) to avoid confusion. Martial arts can be thought of as a method of self-perfection rather than necessarily self-protection, though of course all martial arts training will have some real combative merit, and will often be extremely potent systems with which to protect oneself, so they should be respected as such.

Combat Sport: A combat sport is, again, exactly what the name suggests. If a system focuses on competition then it is a combat sport. These systems are often characterised by points-based sparring, where points may be awarded according to damage dealt, submission, knockout, etc or on aesthetic grounds, for example. Tournaments are often held on a regular basis, and the more well-known ones are the ones you see on TV and online. If training is focussed solely on fitness with any combative merits being considered secondary then that system could also be considered a combat sport.

Self-Defence: Self-Defence is where this topic gets confused on a regular basis, and arguably where it matters a little more pressingly. Self-Defence is a term used for reactive systems that are geared towards dealing with a combative situation by reacting to a physical attack. This includes Reality-Based Self-Defence (RBSD) systems. These systems are not concerned with aesthetics, historical traditions, cultural customs or philosophy.

Self-Protection: Self-Protection is a term used for systems that, in addition to the reactive methods of Self-Defence, incorporate proactive methods such as pre-emptive striking, and a great emphasis on awareness, evaluation, avoidance, evasion and communicative, noncombative strategies such as verbal de-escalation. An understanding of psychology thus often features prominently. As a result, self-protection systems are concerned heavily with how to stop a situation from becoming physically combative in the first place so that in a sense the physical combatives are secondary in focus. However, these physical combatives will often take up a large portion of the training time in sessions. These systems are also not concerned with aesthetics, historical traditions, cultural customs or philosophy.

So why does it matter? It matters because any confusion between these terms can lead to extreme differences of expectation and reality in training. For example, a traditional martial arts class marketing themselves as a combat sport might not be delivering what the students who have seen their posters are looking for, if they rarely hold tournaments or are not very competitive in their training. Similarly, a combat sport class focussed on UFC-style cagefighting could accidentally mislead prospective students by marketing themselves as a martial arts class, as people seeking a martial arts class may be looking for the tradition, philosophy and artistic values that a sports-based class would simply not be concerned with. This becomes more concerning when martial arts are marketed as self-defence or self-protection, however, as confidence in a martial arts technique trained from a perspective which is concerned with aesthetics can often be extremely dangerous in a real combative situation, or even fatal.

This article is not a criticism of any system, style, art or form, but rather a comment on the terminology used to denote them, and an appreciation of the effects that the confusion of these terms can have. Remember though: don’t judge a class necessarily by what it categorises itself as, because at the moment there is almost an interchangeability in many of these terms. Now that these terms have been clarified however, at least if nothing more our ESP-related discourse will be clear and unambiguous.

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