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The Shredder – Lee Morrison
The Tokei martial arts centre in Tooley Street London was the venue hosting one of the best modern combative seminars that I have attended in a while. Canadian instructor Richard Dimitri hosted his most excellent presentation of the Shredder; a close quarter conceptual tool that would make a useful addition to anyone’s combative arsenal. This seminar was part of Senshido’s UK tour and saw many proficient instructors and trainees in attendance. The seminar kicked off around 11am and for the next five hours we were presented with a goldmine of useful information and functional drills. The Shredder is a conceptual tool that is designed to override the startle/flinch mechanism that is the hard wired natural response to a physical attack. This flinch response is an immediate reflex to any indication that a physical assault is coming and is kicked into play via the Amygdala; an almond shape threat detector that is located in the brain. (For more info on this check out the review of Dennis Martin’s 2nd International seminar) The Shredder bypasses this mechanism through its avoidance of any pre-indication of attack by using a spontaneous assault of gross motor movements that to quote Richard; are launched on a quarter beat, attacking vital areas of the face and throat making the attack virtually impossible to stop or intercept. This method of attack is extremely invasive in nature as well as psychologically disrupting, creating primal fear in the recipient by switching the potential aggressor from predator into prey. This concept also fits in with Senshido’s 5 principles of physical retaliation these are as follows and in no particular order; Economy of motion, Non-telegraphic movement, Opportunity striking, Tactile sensitivity and Primary target acquisition. Richard went on to talk in depth about the principles of de-escalation from a natural position. He demonstrated this with some of the best role playing that I have seen. Emphasising important points of non-static use of the hands as you control space along with body shifting and moving, providing you with the opportunity to actively scan your environment as well as interfering with your potential aggressor’s position. Thus taking away his opportunity to set up for his attack. I must say at this point that Richard’s ability to put forth information was absolutely top class. Richard is a funny man who teaches with demonstrative passion, he makes you want to pay attention. This is a crucial element in teaching and is basically NLP based. The ability to change voice tonality as well as present demonstrative visual demonstration is what makes a good instructor and will appeal to everyone’s learning curve.
Assuming now that talking the situation down has failed us we then went into the dynamics of the Shredder. For those of us whose game plan calls for ballistic pre-emptive strikes may find the concept of just closing and grabbing the face and head a little against what you’re used to. But as soon as you see how effective this can be you will see how the Shredder can compliment your game. You can Shred pre-emptively then strike off that as a follow up with no pull back or time delay; a principle called worming. Or you could strike first then close to clinch and shred from there. Using tactile sensitivity as you rip, tear and gouge at the eyes, nose, ears and throat you could simple continue to incorporate shredding and striking as the opportunity presented itself.
Our first physical introduction to the Shredder took place in the form of a partner drill that called for turning to the person next to you, and taking hold of their head with one hand as you vigourously rub all over their face with an abrupt motion of your open free hand. Here you are keeping the hand flat and just getting an idea of how intrusive and horrible it feels for someone to anchor onto your head and mess with your face. You can just imagine how much worse the attack would be if it was accompanied by clawed fingers along with a ripping and tearing motion.
For our first drill we paired up with one person playing an aggressor by using aggressive role play while the other strives to talk him down and control space with the fence. At the first opportunity from a very close position you take hold of your partner’s face/head in one explosive motion with no indication of movement before the hands are on the target. (Closest weapon to nearest target) from here the shred is immediate. There is no technically correct way to shred, just get the head and face and simulate with pressure driving the nose across the face as you rip at the throat/ears, gouge and thumb the eyes and basically mash into the vitals with a constant and continuous motion. Picture the blades of a blender and you will get the idea. This movement is pure gross motor and has been around since the dawn of time. Just look at two women going at it on a clip from the old Jerry Springer shows. This was usually a ballistic clash followed by two combatants scratching at each others eyes and face whilst tearing each others hair out and you will get an idea of this primal instinct. The Shredder has taken this concept and made it into a non-reciprocal functional combative method. The difference between how it should be used for real and this replication drill is the clawed figuration of the hands. Which where possible we all tried to avoid although there was still plenty of scratch marks on view afterwards in spite of this safety measure.
instructor Joe Hubbard gets with the program.
The Shredder as a tool is capable of inflicting a severe amount of damage in a very short space of time. The amount of force you use must, where possible parallel the threat you’re facing. Understand that if you take out your opponent in the very early stages of the confrontation you can indeed have great success with striking, as most of you reading this will already know through similar experience. However I am inclined to agree with Richard when he says in order for punching or striking to work we need grounding, torque and distance. If we end up in a vertical clinch with an aggressor then all 3 of these factors are pretty much unavailable to us. From a personal point I train and teach to make the employment of striking with our most close quarter weapons from the clinch as functional as possible. Controlling and dominating from the clinch via tactile sensitivity will make you more adept in this range and to a certain extent allow you to maintain the 3 above mentioned factors to a degree. So for me I will always train that way, but as an addition to this the Shredder is awesomely effective. In fact I would say that shredding the opponent up from a vertical clinch is probable the best option available and is especially applicable if the grapple goes to the ground.
we can see how the Shredder can be applied on the ground just maintain
pressure on the target and keep shredding until you create the
opportunity to escape.
The next drill called for both partners to take up a mutual clinch. This time having one person shred as the other strives to stop him. This is what I liked best about this training method, all the drills were alive. From the very start you are striving to apply the shred on a non-compliant partner under the pressure of the acid test. This drill progressed into both sides attacking and defending at the same time. The object is to shred and not get shredded. This allows you to develop the necessary attributes via tactile sensitivity to avoid his attack whilst delivering your own. It’s just like simulated biting and gouging during scenario work. If you don’t train it you will be beaten by it.
The progression now was to have your partner attack you all out with anything they wanted, kicking, striking/punching and grappling were all fine while your objective was to try and read your partner’s attack cue and respond by getting the head and shredding him up. This gave us the opportunity to integrate the shred with striking and grappling and basically whatever else came out under the pressure of scenario replication and to be fair this concept worked very well in the arena of non compliance.
The thing that impressed me the most about Dimitri was the way that he put forward his instruction and then put it under pressure by calling out one of the biggest and strongest looking guys in the crowd, who was in this case a very capable striker and grappler and told him to attack him with anything he wanted as hard as he could. How many instructors have you ever seen do that? This will give you an indication into Dimitri’s ability and belief system in both himself and his material. Needless to say his opponent was dispatched quite rapidly with his shred even though it went to the ground Richard was dominant throughout.
I also like the way that the physical drills were interspersed with lots of information relating to all aspects of combat as a whole. Richard taught through examples of personal experience and from real life documented incidents. He talked about how a multitude of variables could affect the way that you respond in a live altercation. For example the time of day, the conditions of your environment and how you feel physically are all factors to consider. How you might react to a problem that occurs when you’ve have just left the gym after a good training session, that’s left you feeling alive, confident and ready for anything is vastly different to how you might react at 5am in the morning when someone has kicked your door in and attacked you in your bed as you’re wiping the sleep out your eyes. He also talked about the consequences of violence. Too many people are all too eager to respond in the physical sense without thinking about the reactions that their actions might cause. Again Richard gave us true incidents as examples; like the Russian martial arts expert who was walking with his wife in New York City when they were approached at gun point by two teenagers a boy of 19 and a girl of 18. The boy had the gun and demanded money, instead of assessing the situation and threat the Russian so called expert used a flamboyant technique of kicking the gun from the boy’s hand which worked by a complete flook by all accounts and then proceeded to beat the shit out of him. Taking no notice of the girl who then pulled out her own gun and blew the guy’s brains out. A clear example of underestimating the threat. Another example was the football jock who beat up a little Filipino guy with the help of his friends only to find himself some 7 months later coming out of the cinema hand in hand with his girl friend, completely oblivious to the fact that the same Filipino guy has just clocked him and proceeded to creep up behind the pair of them with a knife in his hand before stabbing both of them rapid and repeatedly in an act of vengeance. The jock survived but his girlfriend died as a result of something that he did some 7 months earlier.
Of course where there are no alternatives available and we now have to become physical in order to increase our chances of survivability then we must take our aggressor apart as quickly and clinically as possible there’s no argument there. But understand that there is no gratification to come from violence. At best you will stun and run and get away intact, worse case scenario you will have to deal with the victim of your justified assault or what’s left of him assuming that you are not the one who has ended up victimised along with the aftermath of adrenaline, the witnesses if any, possible police involvement not to mention the courts and any guilt that you might have. Bottom line is the consequences of violence are always negative, it’s ugly and horrible but with all that said these consequences are better than the alternative of finding yourself in hospital with a drip in your arm or worse in an open casket at the local funeral parlour. If it’s you or them then make it them but where possible always seek avoidance and escape, enough said.
Next we addressed the issue of the knife. Richard pointed out as I have said myself on many occasions that there is no guaranteed method for dealing with an edged weapon attack, unarmed. So we looked at what options are available and how we could employ the Shredder in such a situation. We started from a mutual clinch with one person concealing a training knife somewhere on his person. The deal was simple, look for any indication that your partner is attempting to access the weapon and strive to stop him. In some cases you will trap the weapon bearing limb and shred him with your free hand following up with whatever comes out. In another example the knife is on its way to you too quickly so getting a hold of the arm may not be an option, here you will just have to try to get away from the bearers weapon side and rag him into a position from where you can shred. This inevitably ended with both of you going to the ground (less than ideal) and just making the best of a bad situation. Here the success rate for me and my partner Simon came out to about fifty fifty in all probability we would have both got cut, so we tried for damage limitation and as you can see my training partner Simon Alpin caught one in the struggle from the training folder we were using. At one point I thought I was doing well as I seized my partner’s knife hand, shredded with the other and ragged him to the floor only to look down to see Simon slicing and dicing the back of my knee and Achilles tendon, nasty, go figure. Like he said there are no guarantees.
Simon’s battle wound
The final drill for the day showed the first of a progression of drill for dealing with multiple assailants in this case 3 people grouped together to simulate a two on one scenario. The crucial point here is positioning, the aim being to keep both opponents in a line by controlling the closest to you by shredding his clinched head as you zone to relocate position in order to keep away from the other guy. Then as the second opponent attempts to close on you, shove his mate into him and escape or engage. All very simple with plenty of room for progression.
The day was bought to a conclusion with a Q and A session with Richard and photo opportunity. This bought a fine end to a most excellent day. There were plenty of good people present which provided a great opportunity to network and share. My conclusion as to the validity of the Shredder is that I think it is an excellent concept, easy and natural to learn and retain. It works under pressure and is especially useful to women and in a horizontal grappling situation. It integrates nicely with hard skill striking and would make an excellent addition to anyone’s support system. For those of you who still remain a little sceptical, my suggestion to you is that you take off the blinkers and attend a seminar in order to gain a thorough grasp of this concept, apply it under pressure then make your judgement. I’m sure that you will be pleasantly surprised.
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