Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Gattuso versus Jordan - Fight Analysis

Following some interesting responses to a short video I posted to youtube, I thought I’d add a few more notes in this blog to support the clip.

For those who missed this story in the press a few days ago, the situation basically revolves around a footballer losing his temper with his coach, culminating in a confrontation at the end of the game where the footballer lands a head-butt on his coach’s nose before being pulled away.

What I wanted to do with my clip was not to go into the details of this actual event, who was at fault, the integrity of those involved, etc etc. For one, I am not a massive football fan and so don’t really know any background on anyone pictured in the clips let alone the main two protagonists in the altercation.

My aim is to use this footage merely to highlight some parallels between this incident and the types of violent confrontation that seems to becoming more and more commonplace on UK streets.



So lets get straight into it...

The main situation was preceded by an incident earlier on in the match where Gattuso came face to face with Jordan, and finished by pushing Jordan away by the throat. Again, I don’t know what led up to this incident or who was to blame, but what we can learn from this is as follows:-

Gattuso pushed Jordan away by the throat and then immediately turned and walked away. He did not hang around long enough to risk taking any retaliation from Jordan and he did not back up this single action with further acts of aggression. He was very animated and loud as he walked away, but in my experience, a lot of this is to hide an underlying nerves and lack of willing to continue a fracas that he has just instigated.

What we have to remember in incidents such as these is, often, the player knows he is surrounded by other guys who are likely to jump in and stop any fight before it really gets going. You can even seen a player from the opposing team walk over to Gattuso and try to calm him down. The fact that this player was able to place a hand on Gattuso’s face without him lashing out or knocking the hand away shows that gattuso wasn’t actually in a blind rage or fighting frame of mind, but was already happy to allow others to calm him down.

In addition, because nothing was really done about this action, and certainly nothing physical in return. Psychologically, Gattuso has now gotten away with it, which instills a few values in Gattuso at this point.

1. That Jordan is not likely to fight back and so vulnerable to further abuse – a safe target

2. That the it’s likely no one is going to step in a fight on Jordan’s behalf – he doesn’t have any dangerous backup

3. That those around are more likely to try to step in and calm things down rather than be additional threat – supports a feeling that others are also scared of him

Now we get onto the later incident.

At the end of the match, Gattuso is already spoiling for the argument and it’s no surprises that he heads back towards Jordan, the guy who he got away with being physical with earlier.

Obviously, I point out that I did not watch the match and so am not able to comment on other events that have happened or played a factor in how this final altercation came about.

Once the two guys are face to face we can see a lot of ballooning and posturing by both men, but certainly by Gattuso. This is a classic animalistic approach to try to scare your opponent in order that you can make him back down without actually having to fight him.
Sometimes this is because the aggressor doesn’t want to hurt his victim, but often it’s because the aggressor is actually a little afraid of instigating the physical attack, possibly a result of some self doubt.

I’ve seen this countless times where guys will act tough and aggressive and hope that it is sufficient to scare their target without having to get physical, and usually this is because they are actually afraid that if it does get physical, they may not have the tools to back up their threats.

My next comment is more of an assumption, and that is Gattuso, now surrounded by his teammates, is secretly hoping some of them step in to drag him away before it gets to the stage where he actually has to do something. Unfortunately, they are not as quick as he had hoped and so the situation very quickly moves to a stage where he has to act. The result is a very half hearted head-butt to Jordan’s nose. One which clearly doesn’t cause any harm or damage other than to surprise Jordan a little.

At this stage, we can identify a few areas where Jordan could have done better to protect himself, such as using more of a Fence position to maintain his personal safe space and monitor Gattuso before he threw the head-butt. It shows how vulnerable he was with his hands down by his side, and unable to react quickly enough to defend against this head-butt.

It also shows how fast situations can escalate from initial verbal confrontation, through to posturing and finally through to initial attack. It all happens in just a couple of seconds, leaving very little time to prepare, and defend unless you are observant and able to take necessary steps and precautions earlier in the preceedings.

What also happens next is classic of an aggressive individual who doesn’t really want to fight. The head-butt is delivered, and Gattuso steps back rather than forwards to continue the attack. As soon as the other players grab hold of Gattuso and he knows he is being held away from his target, he then launches into a violent “let me at im” rage.

Again, from personal experience on many occasions, I am fairly confident that if the guys holding Gattuso back suddenly released him, he would have remained there as if held back by an invisible barrier. I’ve seen many a “tough” guy being held back from fighting me and others by their girlfriends who are half their size.

It’s a classic case of the aggressor looking for a way out and an excuse not to have to fight, but still maintain face and appear to be the tough guy.
In both parties, Adrenalin is also running high. Gattuso will have built up his adrenalin in the minutes leading up to this event. Slowly growing the anger, the rage and the courage to start this course of action, which is very similar to attackers on the street who have to build themselves up, often egg’d on by their friends, before they instigate the attack.

Jordan, on the other hand, had a big dump of adrenalin the moment the head-butt landed. It wasn’t hard and certainly wouldn’t have stopped him from fighting back but the rush of adrenalin had more of an effect than the head-butt did. For a second you can see him freeze, with the realisation this had actually happened. Shocked, if you will, before he gathering his thoughts or simply reverted back to instinct and came back at Gattuso.

This is also confirmed by the statements following the event, once everyone had had chance to calm down and assess the career limiting actions that they had taken during the confrontation.
Adrenalin can play funny games with the mind, not least of which, the ability to shut down and bypass cognitive and rational/logical thought processes and revert back to instinctive and primitive decision making. The conscious decision of whether or not this is a good idea, can often be clouded or bypassed completely once Adrenalin has been invited to the party.

Situations such as these can be seen up and down the country on any Friday and Saturday night. Especially with the inclusion of excessive alcohol, we see scenarios played out on every nightclub door across the land.

However, once you start to look below the surface you can start to understand the processes that are at play. The psychology that is happening, even without the knowledge of those involved.
It’s primitive, it’s basic and understanding it can make a difference on how you should act in order to stay safer.

Joe’s first option should have been to avoid the incident completely. Especially after the first incident, he should have removed himself from the situation or had the player removed.

If this wasn’t possible, his next step should have been to notice the build up of aggression in his player and prepare himself for this.

Finally, by positioning himself more safely during the confrontation, by preparing for some kind of attack and having a safer “Fence” position with his own hands and body, he would have been able to take control over the fight without necessarily having to fight or strike back.

Worst case, he could have got the first shot in and ended the confrontation quickly and decisively. After all, if the head-butt had done it’s job, Joe could have been rendered unconscious and so all chances of protecting himself and using self defence would have been made redundant.

I hope this article has been of interest
Thank you for reading

Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al Peasland
Personal Safety Expert

Monday, 21 February 2011

Hero versus Gunman

The Hero versus The Gunman

I read with great interest the latest story of a “have-a-go” hero, thinking nothing of his personal safety, tackling an armed jewellery thief and then slipping away into anonymity before anyone could praise him for his actions.
A great headline story from many aspects, not least because the robber was armed with a handgun and also with an accomplice.


I’m writing this, as an author and self defence specialist, having only read a few newspaper and internet articles and looking at a handful of photographs snapped by an Evening Telegraph reporter who happened to be there at the scene on another job.

Risking Own Safety
Obviously, the main issue is the risk, to his own safety, that this “hero” (lets call him the vigilante for the sake of this article) put himself in, in comparison with the perceived value of the crime he tried to prevent.

Perception of Level of Crime Affects Decision to Intervene
It’s possible the vigilante had no idea what level of crime had been committed, so whilst it’s easy to say he should have not intervened, as risking your life over a handful of gold chains isn’t worth the risk. It’s highly possible that he thought something more serious had taken place, and in fact, this could well have been the case having also heard that the jewellery shop owner also tackled the gunman too.

Perception of Level of Threat (armed or not?)
It’s also quite probably that he had not spotted the weapon held in the gunman’s hand, in which case, he may have considered it more of an even fight between himself and the thief, with a good chance of a successful outcome.

Adrenalin Clouds Rational Thought Process
In addition, as other witnesses have attested to with comments such as “it all happened in seconds”, the vigilante will have been thrust into a self defence situation he may never have been involved in the likes of before, triggering adrenal dump which will have limited his cognitive thought process and resulted in him acting on instincts.

What, to the readers of the subsequent reports may have seen as a dangerous and foolhardy course of action, from their comfortable breakfast tables with coffee in hand, may have seemed perfectly logical and sensible to the vigilante with mass adrenalin coursing through his body.
So, lets assume the vigilante was acting on instinct, under the affects of adrenalin, trying to do his bit to prevent a crime of magnitude that he considered more than just that of theft of a handful of gold, with a thief who he perhaps considered unarmed…. What else could he have done differently?


Well, there are lots of martial arts out there who will show you self defence techniques to disarm gunmen, but sadly, when you go from a safe environment of a sports hall with plastic and wooden handgun replicas and assailants who are compliant and happy to let you practice your technique, to the real world with an aggressive, armed robber who’s in possession of a “real” firearm, those techniques are massively less effective.

Whilst the mechanics of those techniques taught may be perfectly viable, performing them under extreme stress, with the real danger of instant death should you make the slightest mistake, will make them far less effective. And let’s not forget, you only need to mess up once with these types of self defence techniques and you could be dead.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?
So, moving away from any fancy Martial Arts techniques to disarm this robber, what could our vigilante have done better?

Well – it seems he was able to knock the weapon out of the robber’s hand, according to some reports, but the photographs we have seen show him clearly hanging onto the robber by his empty hand – allowing the robber to wave the firearm around and even point it in the vigilante’s general direction.

Who knows why he wasn’t shot as a result? Perhaps the firearm was only a replica, empty or jammed, or perhaps the robber didn’t want to risk escalating a jewellery heist into a murder. Either way, our vigilante was extremely lucky to get away unscathed. (NB: latest reports do suggest the firearm was real)

Neutralise the Immediate Threat - Knock Out the Assailant
In any incident with a weapon, where you have no option but to fight back, your first priority is to neutralise the most immediate threat which, in this case, is the firearm in the robber’s hand.
This should have been the first thing the vigilante went for, if only to prevent it from being discharged in his direction.


Yes, the robber still has his other hand, feet, head, etc, to attack with but priority one is not to get shot.
Whether the weapon is then removed from the robber’s hand, or put under control, the next step is to render the robber unconscious.
In a one on one altercation against an armed assailant, there is no room for applying a citizen’s arrest, or trying to restrain the individual. The robbers need to get away will be far greater than the vigilantes motivation to restrain him and so, often they will break free and this could result in gunshots.


Knocking out or choking out the robber is the only safe course of action in this type of situation, and therefore, you need to assess your own abilities to perform such actions before you consider becoming a vigilante.

Well Done That Man!!
I say congratulations to the vigilante on this occasion. Through his determination, his honourable course of action and a big chunk of good luck, he was able to hamper the escape of an armed robber, long enough for photographs to be taken and evidence to be gathered. He also managed to escape serious injury himself which is of a priority. I believe we are still surrounded by people who will step up when the situation demands it and perform heroic feats such as this and we should applaud anyone who puts themselves in harms way for the protection of others. I think it’s also important, however, to use these types of cases to study violence and human behaviour as much as we can so that we can all learn for the future and better equip ourselves should we be the next potential hero.

Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al Peasland
Personal Safety Expert

Monday, 7 February 2011

Full Circle

Last weekend saw the first seminar of 2011 for myself and CSP, joined by my ever ready teaching partner, Mick Tully.

We were invited up to teach a group of martial artists in Sheffield, at our friend, Michael Keys, Ronin Self Protection Systems, club.

Unfortunately, as fellow martial arts instructors will be all to familiar with, my vehicle tends to take quite a pounding each week. Carrying lots of kit around from one class to another and doing considerable miles at weekends, driving from one end of the country to another teaching on seminars and workshops.
So, it was only inevitable that at some stage we’d have some car troubles on one such journey and this weekend was the one.
It resulted in me having to call out a very nice AA man, who turned up in quick time and spent the next 40, finger freezing minutes, taking my car apart and repairing the problem. The guy was a legend, and we were obviously most grateful for the help.

Mick and I got chatting to our friendly AA man and I’m not sure how we got onto the subject, but we spoke abit about the history of the AA.
He told us that it was formed in 1905 when motorcars were just beginning to appear on roads around the country.
What was fascinating was that the original purpose of the AA was to have employees stood on the roadside and warn motorists who were displaying the AA emblem on their cars, of police speed traps further down the road. The motorist would slow down from 14mph to something more acceptable, and then pass by the policeman, who was probably timing their speed with a calendar and everyone was happy.

As time went on, the AA obviously branched out into other services for their ever growing client base. However, what was even more interesting (well, to me anyway as I knew it would make for a good theme for an article) was that in 2005, the AA went full circle and posted on-line a map of all speed camera locations so as to warn all of their members where speed traps were placed. Apart from the uproar this caused with the Police, it was a classic example of how you never forget your roots and how things often tend to go full circle.

“So”, I hear you ask, “What on earth has this got to do with Martial Arts”.
Well, let me tell you….

When we’d finished the martial arts, we all sat down and spoke a little about what we had covered and how it was just a small part of what we do. I explained how I was a traditional martial artist by trade and the whole “Reality Based” image I seem to have acquired is just an extract from my real passion and beliefs, which is “The Arts”.

I’m sure most people think I’m just a “Reality Based” instructor when in actual fact, I consider myself a “traditional” martial artist.
I have grown up in the traditional arts, working up through the ranks, marching up and down doing technique drills and repetition, performing the prescribed one step sparring and the dance like patterns we know as kata.
These arts are have formed me and shaped me into who I am today. They have given me my solid foundation, upon which I can build almost anything.
What I didn’t do is then move completely into the world of Reality training, all I actually did was teach and train that aspect as a small part of my syllabus.

If I only taught what works outside, my syllabus would be very short and brief and most of that would probably be taught outside of the dojo.
What I do is teach The Arts, the limited few I have experience with and to the best of my ability. From these arts I will highlight what I have found to work outside but I won’t stop at just teaching those parts.
And this is what we were doing at the seminar. Going full circle and introducing people to the arts, with a touch of what works for real and probably a bigger portion of what doesn’t or most likely won’t work as well.

You see, I see martial arts as a language. OK, brace yourself for another one of my analogies here….

When you learn a language you try to gather as much of the vocabulary as you can. Learning as many words and ways to say things as you can so that you can converse at any level, to anyone and in a manner which fits the situation. More importantly, you dive into the structure of the language, understanding the rules and principals of how words should be strung together in order to make the most sense (my article writing is not the best example of that…. Ah, such irony!).

What I may do is also learn a few swear words, for those moments where only a swear word will do. Something that requires a short sharp response that gets straight to the point and exhibits a little more assertiveness and aggression that any other statement simply could deliver.

To me, the structure of the language is the Basics in Martial Arts. The stances, the balance, the posture, the body mechanics, the art of combining techniques, forming long strings of flowing moves.

The vocabulary is the techniques, the moves we learn from different ranges, some long, some short, some which work best when coupled together, some which are fine on their own.

The swear words are the “Reality Based” techniques, the ones which are more appropriate and most effective in violent confrontation.

Swear words, on their own, would make for quite an assertive language. It’s fair to say that people would be quite sure of your intent and attitude when you spoke, however, it does limit your ability to make friends, to converse in a more rational and welcoming way and also limits you in terms of what you can actually communicate.
And even when you’re only swearing, the structure of the language is still quite pertinent in order for you to make some sense and have some effect, just as the basics in your traditional art are vital when you are delivering your “reality based” techniques.

There are no short cuts, there are no “Reality Based” fast tracks and to kid yourself that there are, or to sell to others that you have some is misleading and wrong, in my humble opinion.
To get good, effective reality based techniques, you need a solid foundation, with great basics. And if I’m going to go to the trouble of learning those basics, then I might as well pick up a few other "words" while I’m there. Get a better grasp on the whole art, where those reality based techniques have come from.
It won’t be time lost, it will be time well spent, as this knowledge will make you a far more rounded and competent player.
And finally, when I want to hone my street based fighting further, I simply need look no further than the basics. By going back and improving my foundation, my techniques, reality or otherwise, can then grow stronger and more powerful as they have the right support beneath them.

So yes, just like the AA and it’s 106 year history that has seen it do a full circle in one of the services it offers, I have done the same. I started in the arts and I continue to train and teach in the arts, it’s just that I’ve learned a few swear words along the way!


Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al Peasland
Personal Safety Expert

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