(*all images courtesy of Kennedy Tactical Concepts – I had my hands full) (*for more information on KTC and training, click here).
This is part 2 in a series documenting my involvement in the Kennedy Tactical Concepts Masterclass. Part 1 is available here.
Session 2 with TJ was on Wednesday July 26th at the Night Owl on College St., Toronto. (The usual spot).
Again, the environment was pleasantly realistic as we headed to the basement level of the Night Owl. We even had a band setting up while going through the techniques.
This week’s topics of practice were as follows:
Combative Control Positions/positioning;
Combative Control Transitions and;
Takedowns (in combination with #1 & 2).
As with the previous format, TJ began with introductions, an overview of what we would be covering for the night, a warm-up, and then we got right into it.
The realistic environment makes for a better appreciation of the realities you would be facing. A bar, stools, a stage, musical instruments, concrete walls and of course, a dirty cement floor. Though the Combative Control Positions and Transitions were not striking per se, they were very dependent on speed, agility and technique. After an hour of practicing and building upon each technique, we moved on to takedowns.
Starting slowly at first, we quickly moved to full-speed with follow-throughs. The result was fluid takedowns with a high degree of comfort in executing the movements. We also worked on improvising all the techniques of the night against larger and smaller opponents as we were all of differing heights.
Solid training. The next day I was sore as hell, but at least I wasn’t bleeding on a bar floor. I’ll be at the next one. Stay tuned and Stay Crafty.
I want to talk about a new option for Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area (and sometimes abroad).
Kennedy Tactical Concepts is a newly opened self-defence school operated in Toronto by TJ Kennedy. TJ has spent years honing his craft in real-world environments, training and working around the globe. Read more about him here. TJ is an invested and knowledgeable instructor who is not only humble and down-to-earth, but pays attention to his students’ learning needs.
I first met TJ during his first drop-in Masterclass at The Night Owl bar on College Street in Toronto. I figured that it was both local and very reasonably priced for a few hours of instruction. About five minutes in, I knew I’d made the right investment.
We immediately began working in the alley behind the bar. Very real-world with everything we were doing. After a while, we moved down to the basement of the bar and kept going. We worked on:
Clinch tactics from elbow & collar tie;
takedowns from a clinch…all from his Urban Defensive Tactics program;
some prone controls and rollovers from or Urban Force Options program.
This may seem like a short list, but for a few hours in an alley and bar basement, I was worked through. All solid techniques well-instructed and executed. No mats, just asphalt and barroom floor. Effective and reality-based. We also discussed the context of these techniques in self-defence in Canada and specifically in Ontario respecting self-defence and the use-of-force by security and bouncers. An important point of his philosophy to note is that they do not advocate violence or seeking conflict, but rather giving you the tools to identify, avoid and prepare for threats should you encounter them.
One thing I did catch as we discussed and practiced throwing each other around on a dirty floor was that this was NOT a traditional take on martial arts. This was simple, effective and hard-hitting self-defence based on real-world applications from such as Rory Miller and others.
As I left the evening sore and exhausted, I felt good about having met TJ and did some training. I felt good about his knowledge and skill, his high degree of professionalism and of course, he’s Canadian.
If you’re looking for something outside of a McDojo where you pay for your next belt and jump through hoops, check out Kennedy Tactical Concepts and add some real-world techniques to your arsenal. Be prepared.
I have strong feelings about this topic. Too often do I see people do careless and dangerous things simply because they weren’t paying attention. Many accidents and attacks on people are largely avoidable through attuned situational awareness.
So what is it? Situational Awareness (SA), is described in Wikipedia thusly:
“…the perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time, or some other variable, such as a predetermined event. It is also…concerned with understanding of the environment critical to decision-makers in complex, dynamic areas from aviation, air traffic control, ship navigation, power plant operations, military command and control, and emergency services such as firefighting and policing; to more ordinary but nevertheless complex tasks such as driving an automobile or riding a bicycle. Situation awareness involves being aware of what is happening in the vicinity to understand how information, events, and one’s own actions will impact goals and objectives, both immediately and in the near future. One with an adept sense of situation awareness generally has a high degree of knowledge with respect to inputs and outputs of a system, an innate “feel” for situations, people, and events that play out because of variables the subject can control. Lacking or inadequate situation awareness has been identified as one of the primary factors in accidents attributed to human error. Thus, situational awareness is especially important in work domains where the information flow can be quite high and poor decisions may lead to serious consequences (such as piloting an airplane, functioning as a soldier, or treating critically ill or injured patients).”
The above describes the what of SA well however, only a small percentage of the population actively uses SA in their day-to-day lives. How often do you see this:
These people are completely oblivious to their surroundings, the prevailing environment they are in and cannot identify or comprehend threats or hazards which they may be stepping into. No decisions can be made because no information is being collected by their senses beyond that of the screen in front of them. They are unaware of their environment and clueless about any hazards that may threaten them. This is not where you want to be.
Situational awareness is a key component to successful preparation and survival. In whatever environment you may find yourself, be it the wilds of the world or any concrete jungle, being aware of what is going on around you is important. For instance, if you are on a hiking trip, paying attention to weather patterns can determine if you set up camp prior to a weather front coming in, or being caught in a deluge. Alternately, by being unaware of danger signals on the streets of a city, you may find yourself in a position to be attacked whereas if you had picked-up on the subtle signs around you, you stand a better chance of taking steps to avoid a dangerous situation.
The environment around you produces a vast amount of stimuli which most people ignore as “background noise”. Sounds, weather, social interactions, architecture, temperature, motion, colour, patterns – all produce data for us to interpret. A great deal of this is ignored as our brains rarely fixate on things that are “routine”, until they are not.
Survival strategies are transferrable across environments. Urban or rural. Around your home or overseas. Taking a vigilant and keen interest in the goings-on around you will give you an edge in dangerous situation by providing you with valuable information with which to make choices for action (or inaction) which will hopefully keep you alive or unharmed.
Situational awareness is a way of being. When driving, you should constantly be checking your side and rear-view mirrors to be aware of the vehicles around you, plan lane changes due to signs, adjusting your driving appropriately for the road conditions, and anticipating other driver’s actions to ensure you avoid collisions. Most of the time, this is done on a semi-sub-conscious level. If you have been driving a while, you won’t be talking to yourself about looking at your mirrors, much like a brand-new driver who is still nervous and tense about the whole thing.
The same applies when you leave your home, be it in the city or in the outdoors. In the outdoors, do you catch the silence on the path? Why did the birds stop chirping? Are there branches snapping off the trail? What’s that smell? Am I looking at the path for potential hazards or obstacles as well at the trail ahead? In the city the same thought process should run in the background. This is a dark part of the street…is there anyone in that dark doorway? I’ve seen that car a few times today…coincidence? That guy has been behind me for a while now…is he following me? (In a parking lot alone at night…) Are those guys really fixing a flat tire?
I’m not trying to spread paranoia as most of the time those questions will only highlight innocuous situations. BUT, for the small percentage of the time where real danger may be involved, having foreknowledge of that danger can give you the opportunity to act.
The best way to win a fight is to not get into one in the first place. That’s what one of my old martial arts instructors used to tell me. It’s good common sense when you’re not looking for trouble.
At the end of the day, being aware of your surroundings and environment is a critical piece of the survival toolkit. If you practice it often and across all situations in which you find yourself you will get much better at it until it becomes a reflex which goes on in the background.