Thursday, 31 March 2011

CSP Masterclass - Month 2 Review

Saturday saw the second instalment of our CSP Masterclass “The Arts” Seminar Series

This is a 6 month journey, consisting of one seminar per month, with each month focusing on a specific theme or range of martial arts.

The Masterclass is a closed-door affair, one which I am making sure we enforce in order that the students, who have sacrificed money and a lot of their time to attend, gain the full benefit.

However, I felt compelled to write a short blog on last weekend’s event and share them with you as it was a fantastic session and one which I know has left the 20 or so attendees of the Masterclass, buzzing, enthused and feeling like winners.

Each month we invite a special guest instructor to come along and join the instructor team to share their own area of expertise with the group. This month we were privileged to have our friends Simon Squires and Peter Wilson travel all the way down from Liverpool and Manchester.

Simon, not one to court publicity or celebrity instructor status, has been quietly studying a wide variety of arts for many many years, and amassing a wealth of knowledge in various areas, the most impressive of which is Combatives.

Simon, an instructor under the legendary Dennis Martin, has been teaching Combatives to some of the most impressive professional groups in the world for many years.

This month’s theme was “Reality” and so we wanted to cover a host of arts with the main focus being on the “reality” elements and what works for the street. Simon brought with him his trusted paddy assailant suit, heavily modified to take the beatings of seriously determined defendants.

Whilst I cannot go into the process or the finite details of what we covered during the day’s session, the culmination was each of our students who were fit and healthy to do so, entered into a violent confrontation with Simon in his padded suit. The students were all put under pressure, exposed to real adrenalin and fear, and then allowed to do whatever they needed to in order to survive and overcome the assailant.

Simon, with years of experience and mastery of this type of training, carefully brought the best out of each and every student.

As we later discussed, it’s a very fine line, putting your students through stressful and high pressure training scenarios in order to expose them to the feelings and realities of violent encounters, whilst not going too far and breaking them, physically or mentally. It takes great care, compassion and skill to push a student farther than they think they can go, and yet not too far as to damage them or set them back on their journey of self discovery and self belief.

What I like about Simon more than anything else, is his honesty towards Martial Arts and Self Defence – the two being linked but separate at the same time. From my own Animal Day experiences, this training was a great reminder of what we all need to include in our Martial Arts if we dare to promote what we teach as a form of Self Defence.

There needs to be pressure, there needs to be a threat of danger or injury or pain. There needs to be physical adversity and there needs to be consequence for not performing to your best. However, at the same time, there needs to be an underlying safety, a caring and controlling instructor who can encourage and facilitate growth, and a feeling of success and self-belief at the end.

This is what we did many years ago with our Animal Day Sessions, the only difference being both sides of the encounter were undergoing the same pressure and fear as we didn’t have the benefit of the passes suits. It was basically a fight with little protection, without rounds, and only stopping when one party was unconscious, unable to continue due to injury or submitting. It was brutal, honest and exposed our weaknesses in technique, fighting strategy and mental toughness.

Once you expose weakness, then you can repair it, and strengthen it, and this is exactly what Animal Days did.

As I cannot show you any of the fight footage from the Masterclass, I thought I’d share a few snippets of some very old Animal Day footage. It’s quite primitive, quite basic, lacks a lot of technique…….. and is Honest and Real and very commensurate with the reality of a fight on the street that has gone on past the first couple of punches.

It also shows self control, cognitive thinking under extreme pressure, and a respect for a partner who you are still trying to beat.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Simon and Peter, once again, for their support and contribution to the Masterclass series and also their time and support of everything we are doing at CSP.

I would also like to congratulate everyone who attended both the Masterclass and the CSP Sunday Morning class in Coventry. We were all extremely impressed with every single person’s efforts and abilities. The determination, the courage and the heart of everyone who entered the arena was outstanding – you should all be very proud of yourselves – Well Done

And to quote Mr Tully…. “Now tell me Martial Arts doesn’t change lives for the better!”

Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al Peasland Personal Safety Expert

Sian O'Callaghan - Lessons for us all

On Saturday 18th March, 22 year old Sian O’Callaghan goes out for a night out with friends

On Sunday 19th March at 2:52 am, Sian is filmed on CCTV leaving the nightclub to walk the half mile route home.

Sian was not seen again until 24th March, when her body was found after a suspect, who had been arrested, offered information as to her whereabouts.

At the point of writing this article, facts about what happened to Sian are still very limited and so we can only surmise as to what happened after she left the nightclub. However, having spent many years working on the front line of nightclub security, and having witnessed countless lone females leaving the various clubs and pubs that I worked, on their own, late at night and accepting lifts from waiting taxis and cabs, this incident highlights parallels of events that happen almost every weekend at almost every nightclub.

Below are some basic self defence tips that I offer to women and men when we’re talking about personal security / self defence when travelling on public transport or in taxis, cabs, etc

- Walk facing traffic – help prevent vehicles from slowly approaching from behind

- If a car stops, don’t approach – use your voice - Never accept lifts from strangers or those professing to be taxi drivers

- Only use pre-booked taxi drivers

- If taken home at night, ask driver to watch until you are inside

- Most taxi companies will text you the colour, make, model of the taxi you should expect – they can even give you the registration and name of the driver

- If a different taxi arrives, call the head office, don’t just assume it was an innocent change of driver and vehicle

It’s worth noting at this point though that we generally have the premise that taxi drivers are safe, honest and trustworthy, and especially if you are a lone female, helpful and considerate in ensuring you feel comfortable in their car and arrive home safely. Sadly, it would seem, judging by the limited facts published at the time of writing this article, this is not the case in the story of Sian O’Callaghan, who went missing on her way home from a night out, and was found murdered the days later, with a taxi driver being the primary suspect.

If we are to make some assumptions at this time, it is looking highly likely that Sian, who was last seen walking away from the nightclub, only about half a mile from her home, either chose to get into the taxi or was abducted by the taxi driver.

If she accepted the lift willingly from the taxi then we must use this as an opportunity to remind people that it is firstly illegal to flag down private hire cabs, and secondly, that it is not good personal security to accept lifts from taxis and cabs that you have not pre-booked. If Sian was more forcibly abducted by the driver then some of the other basic points about personal security on foot are more important.

Those of being aware of your surroundings, ensuring you walk facing the traffic, you don’t accept lifts and you don’t allow yourself to be goaded and drawn near to the vehicle. Often attackers will use dialogue and questions to attract your attention, asking you for directions to draw you closer to the vehicle so that they can grab hold of you.

Vehicles may actually drive past you several times in order to assess your awareness and how alert you are to their presence, in order that they maintain the element of surprise when the make their move.

It’s with a heavy heart that I have used this very real, very sad, and very current case to highlight these points and it is wrong to criticise poor Sian in her actions that evening. However, we can all learn from these events and we can all work harder and take more precautions with our own personal security so that we do not make it easy for these vicious murderers to carry out their despicable actions.

- When on a night out, ensure you are in familiar, and sensible company.

- Never walk home alone, even when it is only a short distance away (we often allow our guard to drop the closer we are to our home as the surroundings become more and more familiar)

- Never accept lifts from strangers, taxis or cabs that you have not pre-booked

- Never allow a stranger to befriend and accompany you on your journey, even if they seem like a good Samaritan

- Always pre-arrange your transport home

- Ask the driver to wait until you are safely in your home

- If you are in a cab and feeling nervous or uncomfortable, then ask them to stop at the next well populated area, or somewhere you know you can gain attention from others (asking to stop at a petrol station for money or cigarettes is a good ploy)

- Make sure someone knows where you are going, when to expect you back and how to contact you while you are out

- Have emergency numbers set to speed dial on your mobile – ensure it is well charged

- If you are being followed, walk more confidently and try to gain more distance between them and yourself, (only run when out of sight as it can indicate you are panicked and scared and will encourage them they have found the right victim)

- Know you limits – Alcohol can impair your judgement and rational thinking and is the most common date rape drug

Sadly, whilst we should be able to trust taxi drivers and others in positions of responsibility, we are ultimately still responsible for our own personal security and must always remain aware and alert to anything which could pose a threat to our safety. Whilst the taxi company in question have commented that they do their very best to ensure their passengers are safe, with all the good measures such as texting the car reg, etc – perhaps more should still be done in vetting their drivers.

But even that may not be enough if the person responsible for this crime has a clean record or has never been caught of any previous criminal activity.

And this is even more reason that we should always take the very best, the very safest, and the most sensible care ofourselves. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sian O’Callaghan’s friends, family and loved ones.

RIP Sian.

Stay Safe

Al Peasland

Personal Safety Expert

What They Don't Know

“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”

Sometimes we may not know we have received a gift until much later on!

A short while ago, Lou and I were enjoying a wonderful meal with a couple of friends, and for some reason we got round to a lovely, heart warming subject.

We were talking about going out as teenagers, the things we used to get up to and the times we would come home a little later than promised. Our friend said she never realised it at the time but whenever she arrived home in the early ours of the morning, her father would just ‘happen to be up’, and in the kitchen, making himself a drink.

You know how it is in the middle of the night, when you wake up with a thirst and you can’t wait until the morning so you take yourself downstairs to the kitchen for a glass of water or something a little warmer.

And just by pure coincidence, this would happen whenever his daughter was arriving home, so that he would just happen to be in the kitchen when she came through the door. Nothing particularly would be said, just a “Hi Dad, I’m home” “Hi hun, did you have a nice time?” And then off to bed.

Obviously, looking back on this as we chatted, it was clear to see that her father was just making sure his precious daughter was ok and home safe and sound, but without all the fuss of “where have you been until this time”, or “how did you get home”. The usual, and understandable, worried parent questions.

It was a lovely story that made you feel warm inside that our friend had never realised during her teenage years that this is what her father was doing. Almost a secret act that his daughter never realised, but one day would and when she did, she too felt warm inside and very loved. So we sat there and I’m sure we all started to think at the other things our parents had done for us, consciously or without thought, that would only become apparent many years later. A kind of secret treasure that we would unearth as our own knowledge and wisdom grew to give us the right tools to dig up this bounty.

Now, this isn’t an article on parenting, and so I won’t end the article here by asking you to look at what you are doing now that you can leave as pure gold for your offspring to find in later years. I am a martial arts instructor and so for me, this lesson draws a huge parallel with my job and role as an instructor to my own students and those I train with.

When I look back on my early years in the world of martial arts, I trained in a fiercely tough Karate club run by the legendary Geoff Thompson. As a young and impressionable 12 year old I had no idea that this was anything different to your run of the mill clubs, and so the hard sparring, the broken bones, the nose bleeds, the blistered feet and the continual ache in your gut from fear and anxiety of the next session, just seemed par for the course. However, as the first few years passed by, the toughness of the training I was undergoing didn’t cease. In fact it grew more and more as the years passed up to the age of 15/16, the training, quite literally, became brutal. We would fight for hours and most sessions wouldn’t pass without someone being knocked out, and usually that was me and often at the hands of my instructor. Sometimes it felt like I was being bullied or that I had done something wrong, but only partially. There was always something deep inside that kept the trust with my mentor and my guide, and the faith that this would all be worthwhile. The hard sparring, the punishing rounds, the leg crumbling workouts, all seemed like “extra special treatment”.

And then, without actually realising it, there became a shift in my training. A step change that saw me going from the one being knocked out continually, to the one holding his own with grown men, far stronger than me. I became hardy, robust and battle hardened. Handling my fears became a fun challenge and no longer something that crippled me and held me back. I became confident and self-aware, an understanding of myself that allowed me to take on anything. I was starting to unearth the treasure!

It was years later, working as a nightclub doorman on the troublesome doors of Coventry City pubs and clubs that several punches in the head from an 18 stone, 400lb bench-pressing goliath finally brought to the surface my beautiful bounty. The fact that I remained on my feet, weathered the storm and turned the altercation around to a victorious conclusion, unlocked the box to my sparkling secret treasure that had been carefully, intelligently and lovingly imparted and hidden away those years before. What I didn’t know at the time, my instructor knew completely.

What I struggled to accept and questioned at the time, my instructor proceeded regardless, confident and certain of the value of the gold he was offering and with faith that one day I would unearth it. Unearth it I certainly did, and so I continue to do so, almost every day. A secret gift that has carried me through many situations, both physical and mental and a bottomless well of treasure that I trust will be there whenever I have to dip my pale to draw out some more “tough” currency.

So now, as an instructor myself, it is my turn to hand over some secret treasure. Something that my students may not appreciate or grasp until they are further down their own path. As I’ve mentioned in many articles before. It is no accident that I teach classes early on Saturday and Sunday mornings and it is no accident that I don’t divulge everything we are going to be doing on an approaching grading. Nor is it an oversight that I only ask my students to do what I’ve done and can do and it should be no shock that I am always honest with my own beliefs and opinions on what I teach, the arts and self defence. It would however, be wrong of me, and perhaps a “Marty McFly” moment, in danger of altering the future, if I was to highlight all of the things I now do for my own students What They, perhaps, Don’t Know. But rest assured, I am doing them and they will become apparent in years to come and I hope they remember to look back on this article then!

Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al x

Monday, 21 March 2011

Casey Heynes - Bullied Fights Back - PART 3

If you find the following blog of interest - why not take a look at my website. Lots of articles, and information about Personal Safety and Self Defence - Al Peasland, 5th Dan British Combat Association

As a final follow up to my previous two blogs on the Casey Heynes bullying story, I wanted to highlight a few of the points that Casey, so articulately put in his recent interview.

I’ve also posted a video blog of the event, pulling out a couple of points around the act of Self Defence in this situation and how the bullying has most likely gone on for some time leading up to this event. It would seem, judging by Casey’s comments, that we were correct in making that assumption.

So, here goes….

Casey says the bullying has been going on for several years, on a daily basis (at least 4 years during his high school). This was also corroborated by a friend of Casey’s family who kindly took the time to message me via Facebook.

This just confirms our initial assumption that these types of event don’t just happen, there will be lots of bullying and intimidation that will lead up to physical confrontation such as this, usually escalating in magnitude and severity.

The particular bully in the clip had allegedly been involved for the past couple of weeks, starting with teasing and some slapping, until it reached this level of violence.

This is classic “Target Selection” that happens, not only in bullying, but in the vast majority of violent crime, assaults, muggings, street robbery, etc.
Muggers, attackers and bullies are usually quite cowardly and won’t attack someone who they think will retaliate or has the ability to beat them. That wouldn’t make sense and wouldn’t be good for ‘business’. So instead, they “test” their potential victim. In street crime this can be simply to walk past their victim several times to assess if they are switched on or day dreaming and unaware that they are being observed.
Sometimes this can be to ask questions and conduct ‘interviews’ in the street in order to assess their victim’s reactions and state of awareness.
In bullying it starts at a lower level, verbal abuse or psychological intimidation, in order to test whether they have found a suitable victim to continue bullying.
This is why it really helps to be assertive, and take a stand early on before it escalates to a situation where your options are limited and possibly only left with using a violent response.

Casey says in his interview that he didn’t react to the teasing and intimidation, and he believes this is why it continued.

Casey also says that his friends had slowly dissociated themselves from him when the bullying started. A sad fact but one which is worth noting as, his friends will have acted in order to protect themselves from being bullied too. I say “friends” in the loosest possible way, as good friends would stick together, but it shows how groups of individuals can often still think as individuals and take any threats of bullying personally, without being able to step back and consider that sticking together will create safety in numbers and possibly prevent bullying from continuing in the first place.
This is another good course of action during the initial stages of bullying. When it starts, stick together and it will help to prevent it from escalating.

Casey also confirmed that, it was probably because he was now alone, that they continued to pick on him. The bullies had effectively separated out their prey, isolated the one who was proven to ‘not retaliate’ and removed all chances of support and back-up for their victim.

What I have also talked about in my video blog is the act of Self Defence.
Casey states that he acted in Self Defence, and this is something that others have questioned.
I agree, looking at the video from the comfort of our safe homes, we can see other, less aggressive, courses of action that Casey could have taken. Equally, as we have a legal duty to escape at the earliest opportunity if we wish to claim self defence, we could argue that Casey should have run away, pushed his bully back to create some space, or shouted for help; anything rather than picking him up and slamming him to the ground.
However, we have to consider a few things here.

Casey will have been extremely scared, and with adrenalin comes fear and irrational thinking. He may not have even realised there were other options open to him, and we have to take this into account when we sit and judge his actions.
He actually states that “he snapped”, indicating he was no longer acting rationally.
Also, we have to consider Context, as I have mentioned before. Context means, not only do we have to look at the situation played out in the video, but the surrounding factors such as Casey may be acting to prevent further assault or increased severity of violence in the future.
We’ve already seen how, by not retaliating in early, less violent, events, Casey has confirmed to his bullies he is a good choice of victim, and so their bullying campaign continued and escalated. So, Casey knew that, unless he did something different, things would only continue to get worse. This, in my opinion, is good self defence!

What’s also interesting is that Casey says, it all happened really quickly. “He came out of nowhere”
This is a classic statement made by victims of muggings, and street crime the world over. All too often we let our guard down and our awareness slips to allow attackers the opportunity to strike. The element of surprise works in both war and on the street in violent crime. And, when an attacker does surprise you and “comes out of nowhere” you are often then left in a momentary “freeze” state, unable to logically process the situation and your options, and always, your options will be drastically reduced to what they would have been had you noticed the event sooner.

Staying aware means you spot potential attack earlier, leaving you more options on how to react and avoid the confrontation.

What was saddest of all was that Casey says he had contemplated suicide when the bullying was at its worst. To hear that from any child is awful and means we need to look at ALL options on how we can stamp out bullying and not just the views of those at either end of the spectrum.

I’d like to thank Casey and his bullies for giving us all this video to bring to the fore the world of bullying, and highlighting this as an issue that needs to be addressed.
I’d like to congratulate Casey on handling the situation extremely well and also for the way in which he has handled this explosion of media interest.
I thought he interviewed brilliantly and came across as very articulate, intelligent and a gentle human being.

I’ll end my blog with his final comments that
“School won’t last forever”
Everything will end, just stick at it and it will end, even if it feels like it won’t.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have found something of interest in my blogs and look forward to posting more on these and many other subjects around personal safety and self defence in the very near future.

Stay Safe and Have Fun


Personal Safety Expert

As a footnote to this and to keep a balance, I thought I'd include the interview of Ritchard Gale (Casey's bully)

Fence Concepts DVD - the most effective self defence tool to manage confrontation!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Casey Heynes - Bullied Fights Back - PART2

If you find this blog of interest, feel free to take a look at my website where I have lots more articles, products and information on Personal Safety and Self Defence. Al Peasland - 5th Dan British Combat Association.

Following alot of feedback from my latest blog around the viral video of Casey Heynes and his bully, Richard Gale, I thought I’d post a brief follow-up to answer a few comments, and give some more analysis on the event.
Also, as it’s National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence tomorrow, I thought It’d be a good opportunity to create a Part 2 of the blog post

Jeremy Vine Show – 17th March – BBC Radio 2 – listen to it here...

Listening to the Jeremy Vine show today on BBC Radio 2, I was a little bemused by the comments of Christine Pratt, who had been brought onto the show as an “expert” on anti-bullying and founder of the National Bullying Helpline.

A very worthy cause, and one which I am happy to link here...

One comment she made however, is something I’d like to challenge
During the interview she said something to the effect of “not advocating any type of violence as a response to bullying”.

When pressed, she offered the following suggestions as to how Casey should have responded and acted in the situation we have all seen on the video.

This has been taken from the National Bullying helpline website and I will happily remove it from my blog if permission to include it here is denied.
If you believe you are being bullied, it's Cool to CRI
1. Confront the Bully. Tell the Bully to stop. Tell the Bully how you feel. Remember, Bullies bully because they can – so don't let them.
2. Record the Bullying. Keep a log of the Bullying. Start a diary. Keep a record.
3. Inform someone. Tell a responsible person. Tell a Teacher. Tell an adult.
Basically ,she said Casey should have followed the strategies of CRI, which firstly requires him to Confront and then Record. However, Confront does not mean body slam his bully to the floor.

Whilst I agree with this advice during the on-set of bullying behaviour, I think we can all see that this particular situation has gone way past the, discussion and reasoning phase.

Encouraging the bullies to see the error of their ways through rational discussion and statements that inform them of just how the bullying makes you feel, is hardly going to stop the kid from punching the bullied in the face.

These steps need to happen very early on, after all, most bullying is systematic, prolonged and progressive.

She did say that there is one condition that could allow the use of violence as a response and that is a self defence situation. However, having read something that my good friend Marc MacYoung has written, I have to suggest that this wasn’t a full blown self defence situation.

Ok, so let me clarify all of this.

Firstly, when I teach self defence, the primary option of the defendant is to escape, and the sooner they can do this the better.

Based on this fact, Casey could have pushed his aggressor away and ran off, making his escape and staying safe.


However, one huge factor in “Self Defence” is CONTEXT

Context means to look at not only the threat, and the environment, but also the context in which it is all happening.

If this had been an incident between two individuals who had only just bumped into each other and were highly likely to never meet again, then the context would allow for the likes of Casey to make a sharp exit.

However, as we can all see, the context here is that of a school, where the kids involved most likely all go to the same school. They are going to see each other every day, the aggressor is most likely to have a large following, the victim is highly likely to have had a prolonged period of bullying that has slowly escalated to events of this magnitude.

This context means that, whilst Casey running away would solve his immediate self defence problem, it would most definitely not do anything to halt the bullying. In fact, based on my own experience, actions such as this are only going to help escalate the levels of bullying in the future. ‘Casey is now a victim, he won’t fight back and is easy pickings for any bully.’

Of course, Casey could have then gone to get help, reported to an adult, and got the support from his parents. I doubt this would have made much difference!

Lets also look at the aggressor in this event. He is younger and much smaller than his victim. This means he will have had to perform an element of target selection and, as he’s not preying on his victim to rob him, the chances are this selection process has gone on for some time.

It would have started with initial “tests”; verbal abuse, monitoring the responses from his victim; making note how his victim behaves when others are doing the bullying, etc etc

All information gathering to bolster his own confidence before he “bravely” steps forward to start his attack.

This is all a case of vying for position and status in the pack, the aggressor looking to show his strength in his group by picking on a much larger and older adversary.

This event, as Marc MacYoung states, is not Self Defence, and more of a fight. Both individuals have engaged in the fight, whether provoked or not, and one person has come out on top.

The aggressor decided to enter and start the fight in order to gain status in his group. To pick on an easy target that he has probably done many times before – hence his courage to get into the fight.

The victim decided to retaliate as, “enough was enough”. He could have run away but this would not have solved his major problem, that of the continued bullying.

The aggressor was still in the fight when he managed to pick himself back up off the floor, until he realised his leg wasn’t performing quite as it should.

Casey didn’t immediately run away after he had dumped the kid on the floor – implying that he was either in a “freeze” state of fear and adrenalin, or more likely, still “in the fight” and actively deciding what action to take next.

What Casey did was enter into a fight in order to solve a bigger problem. He probably did this without rationally thinking it through, as is understandable under the adrenal state he would most likely have been in.

He took action that some are shocked by, but one which I feel he had no other choice but to do. As I said, running away would only have encouraged his aggressors and bolstered their confidence further.

He also responded in a composed way and did not continue his attack once the threat was neutralised, something we see in a lot of “self defence” class drills.

One final thought is this. Our aggressor has already entered into physical confrontation, which means this is a language he understands and respects. He feels that by physically dominating another individual he is better than them and higher up in the status rankings. If this is his language then the best way to communicate and get your own opinion across is to talk in the same language, and unfortunately that means having to become physical yourself.

Casey Heynes vs Bully by kleksiq

Thank you for reading

A brief clip of the forthcoming exclusive interview

Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al Peasland
Personal Safety Expert

NB: I have now posted a final follow-up to this blog, with some more analysis and feedback from recent comments - CLICK HERE to jump straight to the article

Fence Concepts DVD - the most effective self defence tool to manage confrontation!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Casey Heynes - Bullied Fights Back

If you find the following blog of interest - why not take a look at my website. Lots of articles, and information about Personal Safety and Self Defence - Al Peasland, 5th Dan British Combat Association

If you have any presence on Facebook, Twitter, the Internet or any other social networking, you can’t help but to have seen this latest viral video, of a school boy who finally snaps and fights back at his bullies.

In order to look at this video in a little more detail, I first have to express a few comments and assumptions.

We only get to see 40 seconds of this event, which means we can only surmise what has happened in the lead-up to this event both in the previous moments and in the days, weeks and months of torment that it has been reported young Casey has been subjected to.

We also only get a limited view of the scene, and so it’s difficult to appreciate what else is happening around the two who are the focus of the video. What support the younger, smaller bully has with him (clearly he has one person who’s helping to film the event) and towards the end of the video, a larger, older lad steps in to confront Casey, and actually starts to follow him as the video ends.

Finally, I also don’t feel comfortable using this video as a way of analysing how our victim could have applied better self defence techniques and better confrontation management strategies to protect himself against the abuse and the assault that he was subjected to. He was clearly feeling intimidated, clearly trying not to fight back and only defend himself and probably in quite a lot of emotion distress.

As a bullied child myself, being bullied all the way up to the age of 15, I can totally understand and relate to how Casey will have felt, both during, in the days, weeks, and months leading up to, and after this event.

We can only speculate that this won’t have been the first time Casey had been confronted in this way, especially for a younger and smaller boy to be doing the intimidating, it’s clear he would not have been doing this unless he thought he would get away with it and wouldn’t receive any retaliation.

Casey Heynes vs Bully by kleksiq

So, lets examine the footage without being critical of what either party have done.

Casey has his back to the wall. Not always a great place to be in terms of options to escape, but if he was faced with several members of a group, and we can assume our attacker isn’t alone here, then putting your back to the wall at least reduces the angles that you can be attacked.

Casey actually has his hands out in front of him, which is as we always recommend with Fence strategies, however, our attacker is still allowed to get close enough to grab hold and then punch.

This illustrates that when you are in a confrontation and you know it is aggressive, your Fence needs to be far more controlling and less passive if it is going to have any effect.

What this also shows me is just how, regardless of size, strength or ability, we can all adopt a victim and passive mindset when we allow feelings of intimidation and fear to take control. Again, this is no criticism of Casey, just a statement of how we should all understand that the most effective part of our self defence strategy starts with our mind-set, not our physical prowess.

After the first punch has landed, Casey then becomes more pro-active in stopping further assaults.
The point to note here is that Casey manages to block the next attempted right hook to his face, and some may use this as justification for using blocks as effective self defence. Unfortunately, whilst the block may have prevented further attacks, it did nothing to stop the assault from continuing. It did not remove the threat, nor did it improve the safety of the victim. Blocks don’t work when we are dealing with real self defence, at best, they merely reduce the damage you may receive at any moment in time, but will very rarely remove the threat. Attack is the best way to take control of a confrontation and fighting back is the only way to prevent further attack, when you have exhausted all other options such as escape, or verbal dissuasion, etc.

What happens next is a fantastic show of superior strength from Casey, who simply charges in, grabs our attacker, picks him up and slams him on the ground.

Whilst this may look quite violent and extreme, lets consider for a moment that Casey didn’t hit back, nor did he slam the attacker onto the low wall behind him or dump him on his head. These and many other options could have resulted in far worse injury for our attacker. Whether this was a conscious decision by Casey, displaying a cool presence of mind to choose a course of action that would stop the attacker without really hurting him, or whether this was pure luck during his instinctive reaction, we shall probably never know. Either way, our attacker here was very luck not to receive far worse injury.

Casey then steps back away and monitors the situation.

Something to be applauded and a lesson for anyone who teaches self defence with combinations that show the victim throwing an assailant to the ground and then finishing them off with blows or kicks to the head. The first bit is self defence, but the finishing blows can then become assault.

When I teach self defence I always talk about escaping at the earliest opportunity, so if the situation progressed to this stage, the defendant should have ran away the moment the aggressor was on the ground.

However, situations such as these can become complicated, especially when you know your attackers and may have to face them again on a daily basis. Sometimes, when you turn the tables such as this, you have to stand your ground and remain at the scene to back up your actions with lots of verbal and posturing to ensure anyone else thinking of taking the bullying helm, are deterred and left to ponder how it will feel if the same things happens to them.

What we see here though is the victim still being in a state of fear, adrenal dump and shock. He is focused on the attacker who is now climbing back to his wobbly feet, and not really paying much attention to the rest of his surroundings, including the taller lad who then steps forward to face him.

This, again, is a classic case of in-fight fear and adrenalin. Casey has not yet got to the stage where the fight is over, and so is still in a heightened state of awareness but has become target focused.

Fortunately another bystander pushes the taller lad back, but as we see, at the end of this video, the taller lad moves around her and follows Casey down the corridor.

When we have fights with people we know or in environments where we frequent or have no option to return to, such as school, places of work, streets near our homes, etc, fights such as this are never over just because this single altercation has ended.

What happens next is our victim (and I still call him the victim as he was the one being bullied to begin with), will now have massive post fight fear and adrenalin. The fear of what will happen next, the fear of comebacks and retaliation from the bully and his supporters and the fear of punishment from authorities. Often these fears, along with the pre-fight fears that lead up to these events, are far worse, far more damaging and far more personality destroying than the fear you experience during the fight. Often, when pushed to the limit, the body switches into autopilot and it just gets on with the task in hand, not leaving much time to consider the consequences, the dangers, the unknowns.

It’s only when we have time to stop and think that our minds can run away with us and start to create stories that will conjure far greater fears.

I think finally, this also shows how few people are prepared to step in and help in situations such as these. I wonder what our comments would have been if we’d only caught the tail end of this video with the much large lad picking up and throwing a smaller, younger boy. Thankfully we’ve seen more of the story, but we can also wonder if even what we’ve seen here is the full picture!!!

I congratulate Casey in turning this event around and I hope that everyone involved can move forwards, learn from this and lead better lives as a result.

I don’t think we should be watching this kind of thing for enjoyment, but I do think videos such as this are a source of education, not only for school children and teenage bullies, but for us all, as a parallel to more serious violence and self defence principles.

Thank you for reading

NB: I have now posted a follow-up to this blog, with some more analysis and feedback from recent comments - CLICK HERE to jump straight to the article

Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al Peasland
Personal Safety Expert

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Dedication Requires a Why!

Is there anything you do that you would love to be World Class at?

When you look at others who are clearly at the top of their game, does it make wish you could achieve the same dizzying heights in an arena of your own?

Are you someone who is inspired by others who are in a league of their own at their chosen specialism or does it expose your own feelings of inadequacy, leaving you deflated and unfulfilled?

If you are one of the latter, then I suggest the knowledge of this simple formula will change your perceptions of others who are clearly experts in their own class.
Passion + Dedication = Awesome
Quite simple really, but those three little words, when formed in this way can lead to World Class results and it works like this...

To get good at anything, and I mean really good, then you need to spend a lot of time doing it. Repetition is the key and the magic number of 10,000 hours, or 10,000 repetitions comes into effect if you want to get to a high standard at one particular skill.
However, this effort and this training has to be functional and not just a case of going through the motions. You have to be fully engaged to make every single repetition valuable and of benefit to your overall progress.
The problem is, this takes massive dedication. Huge amounts of selfless commitment and focus in order to stick at it when your mind wanders and your body tires.

Dedication to the task in hand and the ultimate end destination is crucial if you are to aim for expertise and jaw dropping Awesomeness in whatever field you choose.

Dedication isn’t just something you turn on, it’s something that has to be driven from within. The kind of dedication that a World Class level of expertise requires simply cannot be manufactured or falsely engineered, it has to be an internal desire and a limitless will to reach this dream elevation.

Viktor Frankl in “Mans Search for Meaning” says you can suffer any number of How’s if you have one reason Why.

What he meant was, if you have a good enough reason to do something, you will overcome any hurdle that is thrown in your way. Ask a mother who will brave an inferno to race back into a house to save her child. Once you have a big enough reason to do anything, you will be able to push yourself through any hardship to get there; nothing will stand in your way.
Dedication requires a Why!
In this case, the best reason why is to have something that you are passionate about. As an example, take something that you ordinarily do for a hobby. Often, we do hobby’s in our spare time, time which is valuable and which we can choose to spend doing anything we want, and so we choose to do a hobby that is what we would consider the best use of that time.
In addition, we often spend our hard earned money on our hobby, buying equipment or kit, paying for club memberships or licenses, possibly evening travelling far and wide to study and practice our hobby.

This is your passion and this is your reason Why.

So choosing something you are passionate about, such as your favourite hobby, pastime, or sport. These are the most likely areas that you will find a big enough reason Why to dedicate yourself to a level where you can reach expertise and awesomeness.
Passion + Dedication = Awesome
However, I’ll let you into a little secret. I got the formula slighty wrong. It’s not Passion PLUS Dedication, it’s actually Passion TIMES Dedication
Passion x Dedication = Awesome
Once you find something you are truly passionate about and have a dream and an internal desire to be world class at it, then your dedication will be repaid in multiples. You will want to practice your chosen specialism more than there are hours in the day. You will want to live, eat, sleep and breathe your field of expertise.
And with this kind of dedication, you simply cannot fail to get good.

The two clips linked in this article demonstrate my formula in the most impressive of ways.
Both of these professionals are simply at the very top of their game, performing feats that are both awesome and majestic to watch. Things we could only dream of being able to accomplish.
But the key here is, we all CAN accomplish these extremes of skill, if we too share their passion and their dedication to become World Class.

So choose what you want to excel in, and dedicate yourself to it, you’ll be surprised at the results when this little formula starts to kick in.

Thank you for reading
Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al Peasland
Personal Safety Expert