Many years ago I was asked what the most effective training environment for self-defence could be.
I answered them in seconds: “the set of Coronation Street”.
For our global readers, Coronation Street is a long-running British drama/ soap opera set in an urban Manchester street.
The person asking me the question was an expert in firearms, and he looked puzzled. Then I told him;
“The set (which I have stood on) has everything; there is a street, alleyways, shop fronts, houses, a pub/ bar, a kebab house and even a restaurant. Pretty much every type of environment where a person could be attacked. ”
While I might have been speaking slightly ‘tongue in cheek’ the sentiment still exists. A gym or a hall is the world’s worst environment for realistic self-defence training. However, it is the most accessible.
If you have ever trained with the founder of Defence Lab Andy Norman, you will know that he encourages outdoor training, nightclub training and also even turns off the lights in a hall, while playing club music.
He encourages the training environment to be real and for good reason. The environment changes things!
Unless you have used self-defence in a variety of situations, it’s hard to know what issues you will face that are caused by the environment.
In this article, we are going to tell you seven environmental factors you must know about and consider.
Have you ever been tripped over by someone?
It is a real pain in the ass but can be quite amusing.
Now imagine you are fighting for your life, and you get tripped over, not so funny.
Yet this is just one of the hazards that street kerbs present. We forget they’re there, but these short and little-raised blocks of concrete can deck you quicker than a right-hand punch.
2. Inclines Make A Difference
It was Star Wars Episode 3 where Obi-wan was fighting Anakin Skywalker, and he told him to give up because he had ‘ the high ground’.
Well, this is an excellent point that people never consider, inclines.
Stairs and even the pavement can give people opportunities to hurt you, both the one standing higher and the one lower.
So to fix this use the ‘eye line test’. Take a look at where their eye line is looking at and see how vulnerable you are.
Many years ago I watched a doorman standing on steps, and he had refused a person entry and sent them on their way. What the doorman didn’t consider was that the steps put his knees and legs in easy range.
So the angry man just grabbed the legs of the doorman and pulled them from under him, what followed was a punch!
The high ground does not automatically mean a tactical advantage, it all depends on the environment, but consider it!
3. Kebab Shop Floors
Ok if you know me, then you will know that I love a good kebab at the end of a night out. I have also been ‘hands on’ with people inside Kebab houses and let me say this. They are the worst places you can scrap in.
The floor of almost every kebab house is either tiled or some other ‘easy clean’ flooring. The reason is that after a few hours the floor is a mix of donner kebab, mayonnaise, ketchup and chips.
Great for skating, bad for fighting.
Ninja tip: if you are having issues in a kebab shop that might go ‘live’ tell the person you can’t hear them and ask them to come outside. This will give you a better chance to de-escalate the situation as fewer people will be watching. It also reduces third party involvement and reduces the slipping if things go wrong.
4. Avoid The Kitchen
House parties are far more widespread now than ever before.
Cheap alcohol, music on demand and convenience has made the house party an excellent choice for entertainment. However, every house party has an arsenal of weapons in the kitchen.
So if you are having a disagreement with a person, or you are a cop attending an incident keep out of the kitchen.
5. Nightclub/ Pub Toilets
After a few beers, you lose a lot of your awareness skills, and you often have no idea who you may have annoyed by your best attempts at ‘skipping the light fandango’ on the dancefloor. Not to mention if you have any enemies out there.
Many a ‘bad person’ will wait for you to go to the toilet before trying to hurt you. After all, there is no CCTV inside, and while you are face to the wall, you are vulnerable.
Now there is no fixed solution but a tip is to use a cubicle. For our female readers this is a given but another tip for everyone is to go to the toilet with a friend, there is always increased safety in numbers.
And yes I have had to fight inside a nightclub toilet, very messy, and I wouldn’t recommend it!
Road rage is a fact of life; I had a friend once that was mild mannered and quiet until he got behind a wheel and turned into a foul-mouthed maniac.
The issue is, just because you are in your car, and swearing at someone does not make you immune to repercussions
Now the thing is, when you are behind the wheel you are pretty vulnerable to someone opening the car door and hitting you.
Think about it, seatbelt on, steering wheel in your way. You are pretty trapped, and the same applies with carjackings.
Solution: Keep your doors locked at all times, be careful who you swear at and why! Now if you should choose to take action then get that seat belt off and remember the door is a weapon (if you time it right).
The last challenging environment to start going hands on with another human is a doorway.
Now I am not talking about nightclub doors; I actually mean an average door.
Police officers, debt collectors, postmen, delivery men and just plain old you and I meet people in doorways. Over the years I have seen doors literally slammed in faces, fingers trapped and even ‘booby’ traps laid in doorways.
If you think about it, they are pretty substantive structures that are designed to keep people out. So here are a few things to consider.
a) be careful about putting a ‘foot’ in the door.’
b) watch where your hands are on the hinge side (trapped fingers)
c) a door is just like the iceberg quote where you can only see a small part. You have no idea what or who is actually in the address.
Legality aside, if you are in a doorway, and things go wrong you do not want to be in that doorway for long. Be one side or the other but not actually in the middle.
We might learn our skills inside a dojo, but we apply them in a range of environments. Just by spending a short amount of mental effort thinking about these environments you can are better prepared for the future.