Evolutionary Self-Protection FAQ

I’m not in great shape at the moment. What if I can’t keep up with the class?
There’s no pressure at all to ‘keep up’ with anybody. Everybody in the class will be going at their own pace with the exercise. If at any time you just need to stop, or to rest, then by all means feel free. It’s your training, so you get pushed only as hard as you want to be pushed. We’re there to motivate you, not to abate you!

Do I have to learn Japanese/Chinese/Thai/Israeli/Russian or complicated technique names?
You can if you want to, but it would have no useful application in our training! (Unless there’s a Japanese/Chinese/Thai/Israeli/Russian person training with us that is!) Seriously though, the terms we use are just plain English common-sense descriptions. We’d prefer to put the time and effort within an ESP session into learning how to protect ourselves rather than learning another language or historical customs, however fascinating and beautiful other cultures can be.

What’s different or unique about ESP training?
You will notice some marked similarities with other approaches as you train, but there are many differences. The most significant difference is that our method of training is much more natural than most methods. We don’t stand in lines counting in other languages, and we don’t learn Forms, Sets, Patterns or Kata. We also teach about the psychological side of combat; personal security, awareness, how to deal with fear and its effects, and how to handle verbal confrontations. In short, there is no need to adapt your training to real life, as we strive to make our training as realistic as possible. We also believe in a holistic approach to training and to combat, which is discussed in more detail later in this section.

Is there a joining or monthly fee? What about insurance?
This depends on the class, but generally if the class can allow for it then you simply pay as you go session by session. This can be extremely difficult with small classes, but we always prefer if it possible. Full details are on the classes page of each individual class. Insurance is from the British Combat Association, which is just £20 a year (including all postage and admin). This means you are a member of the British Combat Association, and receive a grading record book from them which is useful if you choose to train with anyone else in any other systems. You will also have access to the BCA Members’ restricted area on their website, where further information can be obtained. The BCA is a very highly reputable institution and all of our instructors are insured with them. If you do choose to train in other systems as well as ESP (perhaps a martial art or a sport) then you can find a list of BCA clubs and instructors here, where the insurance and grading record book you purchased for ESP training will be valid.

This is all well and good, but you can’t use this on the street though; I mean, you can’t legally use this training in the real world, can you?
The short answer is: Yes, you can.

The longer answer is: Yes, you can. The Criminal Law Act 1967 Section 3 (1) states that:

‘Any person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of a crime, or in effecting or assisting the arrest of offenders or suspected offenders unlawfully at large’.

The use of reasonable levels of force in the event of a crime being committed, for example an assault, is perfectly legal (and natural). The above question represents a surprisingly (and dangerously) common misconception in the public consciousness. Remember that this is current UK law to the best of our knowledge at the time of production; it may not apply elsewhere. Also the concept of ‘reasonable force’ is subjective, and a constant matter of debate. If you’re outside the UK you should always check the laws of wherever you’re going to be. However, I’ll direct you back to the short answer: Yes.

As an aside, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 3, clearly states that: ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.’

The law and your relationship with it isn’t simple and shouldn’t be taken lightly however, and so in ESP training we strive to maintain that you are aware of the legal implications of everything we train, and teach how to deal with the aftermath of violence too, including the legal issues that arise. That said, we are not providing legal advice here and you shouldn’t take it as such. For that, we recommend you contact the police on their non-emergency number (101) and make enquiries.

Does this work? How do you know?
Yes, it does, and we know from experience, which is the only way to know. Aside from unfortunate real conflicts that teach us a lot, everything in ESP training is pressure-tested and constantly questioned by instructors and students, and so it evolves naturally.

How long does it take to attain a Black Belt? / How long is there between gradings? / How are gradings conducted? / What’s the grading structure like? / Can I carry over my existing grading in […]? / How much do gradings cost? / What kind of belt do you wear?
ESP training does not have gradings, as it is not required in efficient self-protection training. Not only does this increase efficiency, but it saves you (what is often) a lot of money!

Is ESP more ‘internal’ or ‘external’; more ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ as a style?
By our understanding of terminology usually applied to martial arts, a ‘soft’ approach is one which emphasises energy work, economy of motion, channelling and diverting momentum, working with less force but more tactical application of said force. ‘Soft’ combatants are arguably more likely to recover from a mistake or redirection as their techniques are low-commitment. A ‘hard’ approach is more likely to meet energy with energy; striking with more force and thus more commitment. As such, ‘hard’ combatants often find recovering from mistakes and redirections more difficult. ‘Internal’ systems emphasise the less tangible elements, focussing on psychological and spiritual elements. ‘External’ systems tend to emphasise biomechanics and applied force, focussing on more tangible methods.

In ESP we strive towards a truly holistic approach, so sometimes we are ‘soft’, sometimes ‘hard’. Usually we are both at the same time! Internally, we are ‘internal’, and externally, we are ‘external’. Both work together because both are merely two aspects of the same system: you. We believe that the only way a system or individual can be successful is to have this kind of holistic approach.

How common are injuries in training? How likely am I to get hurt?
During any form of training, there is always the risk of injury as there is in any other part of life. No moment is without risk. However, we actively try to minimise the chances of this in our training. Even with partner work, our approach towards the training should ensure that the chances of injury are minimal. The most common cause of training-related injury in is when people don’t listen, are disrespectful, mess around or show off. This behaviour, of course, is not tolerated for the safety and comfort of all taking part in the sessions and so it is not at all common.

Do I have to do […]?
At no point is anything mandatory in your training (it is just that – your training) aside from respect. You will be encouraged to do things that test you, but you will not be forced to do anything. Your rights in a training session are the same as your rights out of them.

Are there any spiritual or religious aspects of ESP that I would have to adhere to?

Last updated 03.06.2013


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