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Dynamic movement
for self–defence

Alex and Graham demonstrating
at the 2018 Stavcamp

Taking balance

Managing distance

What are the True Principles of Self–defence?

Are you someone who can solve a problem from first principles?

Do set techniques actually work in self–defence situations?

Is it time to discover the principles of self–defence for yourself?

Martial arts and self defence are often taught as set techniques. Real life self-defence situations never exactly match the techniques you learn in a class or at a dojo. However, if you are trained in Principles Based Martial Arts you don't have to try and match a pre– determined technique to a violent situation. Instead you can simply see the encounter as a problem to be solved. You may use the principle of awareness which enables you to avoid the situation in the first place. There is also a principle of safe distancing which means that an antagonist does not get close enough to become a serious threat. Perhaps you need to use the principle of breaking away using the appropriate combination of action and movement. If it is absolutely necessary to strike someone then you can use the principle of dropping power to generate the maximum force with minimum effort.

Principles Based Martial Arts does require certain practical skills so that you can combine action, intention and movement. However, your most important tool is the ability to think clearly about what is actually happening, not what did happen or may happen, but what is happening right now. Having assessed the situation, appropriate action can then be taken according to the fundamental principles of combat. No one invents principles since they are nothing more or less than eternal truths. What we have to do is learn how to see underlying principles and then develop ways to test, and when appropriate, use them.

My father was a petrochemical engineer working on chemical plants in the 1950s and 1960. At that time all kinds of new technology was being invented and put to use. The engineers and technicians who built and commissioned the new production plants had little previous experience or examples of the new systems to go on. All they could rely on to guide them were the fundamental principles of chemistry and engineering. My father certainly appreciated the value of knowledge, but he also knew that when you reached the limits of existing knowledge you had to start getting creative.

When I was a child my father passed on his experience to me. He taught me that if you looked hard at a problem and gave it some serious thought you could always figure out a solution. Then you could go ahead and fix the problem.

When I got involved in martial arts training as a teenager I was taught many different techniques which, I was told, would enable me to deal with any situation I might find myself in. I soon realised that training was extremely valuable in terms of the range of skills it gave me. However, on the occasions when I had to defend myself I soon realised that my response to real violence had to be appropriate to the actual situation.

I soon realised that martial arts training could reveal to me the principles of combat, but the application of those principles had to be congruent with the situation I was actually faced with. I also realised that martial arts training was not just about learning techniques for the sake of it. It seemed to make more sense to me to discover the principles contained in the techniques and training methods in any given style. The problem can be that many instructors are very good at doing and teaching their style but they seem to have no idea that there are principles to be dicovered through training with their techniques.

I was lucky that my first martial arts teacher George Mayo was aware of principle and encouraged his students to find these truths for themselves. I trained with other teachers over the years and sometimes the relationship was less than ideal as I looked for principle within their teaching as they emphasised technique and style.

Over 25 years ago I met Ivar Hafskjold who had just returned to Europe after 14 years learning traditional martial arts in Japan. Ivar also wanted to teach his family tradition of Stav which had little in the way of technique but was based on sophisticated martial principles. His combination of Japanese expertise and the principles of Stav set me on my way to developing the training method I use today. My approach to training develops physical skill and efficiency combined with an understanding of essential martial principles.

The Principles Based Self Defence Course consists of nine distance learning modules and a six hour training session. The distance learning modules consist of PDFs to read and short video demonstrations of exercises and drills for you to practice. You will receive the first module when you book onto the programme, subsequent modules will follow at weekly intervals.

Topics covered in the nine modules include:

  • Basic exercises for balance, movement, avoidance and simple striking
  • What is violence?
  • What is Fear?
  • Cultivating awareness
  • Managing distance
  • Using the principle of the web in self defence
  • Using the body's natural weapons
  • Tactical responses using action, intention and movement
  • Five strategies in combat as principles in Stav
  • Ethics of force
  • Energetic attraction of violence and how to avoid it
  • Taken together the nine modules build into a pretty comprehensive manual of self-defence supported by practical video demonstrations.

    The training session on the 15th of December will give you a chance to put into practice the material you have learned from the nine modules. We will particularly focus on:

  • Posture, structure and balance
  • Exercises for managing safe distancing
  • Break away and push away drills using the principle of action, intention and movement
  • How to practice for dropping power so that you can develop maximum power with minimum effort and not telegraph your intentions.
  • A simple but effective way of protecting yourself from the ground
  • Five principles knife defence, which is partly about knife defence but much more about understanding the principles of strategy.
  • Is Principles Based Martial Arts Training suitable for you?

    If you are interested in learning from your training, rather than just learning how to train, then yes, this is the programme for you. If you are still not sure then you can try the distance learning programme first. If my approach does not resonate with you then just let me know and I will give you an imediate refund.

    Cost and Booking

    There are a maximum of six places for the training session on the 15th of December. Cost for the programme is £60 which comes with a guarantee. As soon as you have paid for the programme I will start you on the distance learning modules. If at any point before the training session on the 15th of December you decide that this training is not for you then just let me know and I will make a full refund straight away.

    If it is not practical for you to attend the training on the 15th of December you can still receive the nine distance learning modules for the cost of £40

    You can pay by Paypal using the form below or by BACS, please Email Graham for account details.

    Book on the whole programme or just distance learning