Personal Defence Flow...

“Jeet Kune Do does not beat around the bush. It does not take winding detours. It follows a straight line to the objective. Simplicity is the shortest distance between two points.” Bruce Lee - Tao of Jeet Kune Do

Effective personal defence is the art of simplicity applied. In application a process for effectively protecting oneself from a physical attack must be direct, instinctive and above all responsive. From beginning to end the overriding goal is to facilitate escape and by definition the avoidance of further conflict. Escape and avoidance are wholly dependant on personal awareness. This awareness of self, in regards to others, provides us the opportunity to change our behaviour responsively given the nature of the situation which presents.

In his development of Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee was heavily critical of the “classical” martial arts approach, largely due to their relative inability to be responsive. In his view the “classical” styles dictated that attack A would always be met with defense B and from this there could be no deviation. Moreover he perceived that the lack of biomechanical efficiency in some of the “classical” movements diluted their effectiveness in respect to personal defence. Bruce Lee derided the stylised response of “classical” martial arts, advocating the need to adopt a fluid awareness, where the mind could be free and allow for a responsive and direct “self expression”.

“Observe what is with undivided awareness.” Bruce Lee - Tao of Jeet Kune Do

The purpose of this article however is not to provide journey through the development of Bruce Lee’s martial arts philosophy. It is simply and directly to reinforce that the mindset for effective personal defence is one of responsiveness. Training is key and the nature of the training performed is equally key. One cannot expect to compete in a motor race without learning to drive a car at high speed. Repeatedly practicing driving the car and progressively increasing the speed is fundamental to ensuring the physical capabilities are developed in order to be successful. The same is true for personal defence. One cannot simply attend a singular “workshop” and acquire ninja like reflexes to enable the successful destruction of any would be assailant. Indeed true responsiveness for personal defence is necessitated by a fluid training approach. This approach must be able to provide the necessary repetition to hone and perfect techniques, whilst also providing the conditions to “investigate” and “test” the individual application. Through this training approach the physical techniques then become more unconscious, reflexive and instinctive. The method then becomes more responsive, allowing application without conscious obstacle or over-thinking.

Responsiveness is however not just limited to the application of physical technique. The mindset for effective personal defence must allow fluid responsiveness at all points. Risk analysis and safety awareness can be conceptualised using a myriad of differing terms and models. The essence of these, as is the case with most things,can be distilled and simplified into three key steps: #1 ASSESS #2. DECIDE #3. ACT The initial step ASSESS is the proactive observation and information gathering stage. This is the point at which all aspects of the environment are taken in and filters applied accordingly. For personal defence these filters require us to consider the source and nature of potential dangers.Are there potential dangers within the environment (such as moving vehicles, poor street lighting, issues with the terrain or obstructions present)? Are there any obvious and potential dangers from individuals or groups within the area (often these are highlighted by erratic physical behaviours,loud and potentially offensive verbal behaviour and/or generally suspicious behaviours which don’t “fit” with the general environment)? In addition to the details pertaining to the potential hazard, we also need to be gaining information regarding the general environment, including alternative routes, exits and sources of assistance if required.

Open minded awareness is critical for authentic and unbiased observation. Whilst we must be complete this assessment as quickly as possible, the more detail we have the better opportunity we have to make the correct decision. Each identified hazard should be rapidly assimilated into a virtual hierarchy, grading the significance of the threat posed, potential risk of harm and likelihood of occurrence. Essentially we need to complete a spontaneous and immediate risk assessment for each hazard. Having this information clear we can then respond in the most appropriate manner.

Step two DECIDE is the stage for determination of your response. The decision we take needs to be immediate and appropriate to the threat/risk identified. First and fundamentally we need to decide whether and what response is required. If the the threat is significant can we avoid or es