Monday, April 28, 2014

Closed Door Session: Seminar Review

Normally I don’t do “reviews” of specific seminars. I have always approached Martial Arts as a place to learn lessons and not to try to determine the good and bad. Martial Arts is a personally journey and as long as you feel you are getting something out of it than that is great.

However, Sifu Nik Farooqi when asked me to give an honest review of his “Closed Door Seminar” I was hard pressed to say no. After all, the seminar was awesome.
Sifu Nik covered all angles with his class. 

The Big White Elephant in the room: Let’s not beat around bush. When you go to sign up for Sifu Nik’s seminar you will notice that there is a price tag attached to the event. I paid $100 to show up and I would be a liar if I didn’t say this made me think twice about the seminar. You see, like so many Martial Artists I am tainted by the fear of the McDojo. Was I paying for a belt factory seminar that was going to tell me I was a great Martial Artist and flatter my already large ego? After all, shouldn't Martial Arts be free or at least non-profit? Was $100 a reasonable price or inflated? I have paid anywhere from $5 to $60 in the past. Was this inflation south of the border? You can add in any saying or argument you want.
$100? Completely worth the investment. 
On a side note: The camera caught Tim while blinking making him the blind gunman. 

What “sold” me?: Of course, if I am writing a review I certainly showed up so something got me to walk through the door. I decided to give Sifu Nik a shot for several reasons. First I had spent an evening training with his assistant instructor, Jeff, before Christmas and the class was spot on. At the end of the night I got to discuss some of the Jeet Kune Do theories with Sifu Nik and he seemed to know what he was talking about. I kept in contact with him throughout the months and via the magic of Facebook saw that he puts a ton of research and effort into developing Ballistic Fighting Methods. That passion was a big driver to get me through the door.

As a Canadian I have very limited experience with handguns and large calibre weapons. I participated on a biathlon team and have a great deal of range experience with rifles thanks to the Air Cadet program. As a recent transplant to the United States of America I found myself confronted with two realities. For starters I was now in a country where guns are prevalent and with the new conceal and carry laws in Illinois I stand a realistic chance of being confronted with one. Second, my job calls for me to travel a great deal. Since carrying firearms on airplanes is illegal if confronted with a gun I would not have a weapon of my own. Given this, I should learn how to deal with them. Because of the professionalism I had encountered with Sifu Nik I decided to give it a shot and I wasn't disappointed in the least.
In Canada pistols are pretty rare. In the States not so much. 

What did I learn?: I learned a ton from Sifu Nik. Class started with a literal bang when as Sifu Nik shot one of the students. Twice. Granted it was an airsoft pistol, however, it served to make a very valid point. If you do gun defence wrong you are likely to end up with a couple of holes to help you breath. Which is why the class started with the seven most likely reasons that gun defence fails.
  1.  Distance
  2. Complexity
  3. Lack of Commitment
  4. Knowledge without Practising
  5. On-line
  6. Pressure
  7. Right Time / Wrong Reason
Sifu Nik really and rightly wanted us to know why gun defence fails. If you are training without the knowledge of how your defence can fail you can fall into the trap of fantasy. The trap of fantasy is where you don’t have any risk in your technique, thus, your techniques get more elaborate and fancy but less effective. Sifu Nik always had us returning to basics and asking if what we were doing fell into the reasons gun defence fails.
Sifu Nik shows the class the fundamentals of stripping a firearm.

He also took time to go over several different types of disarms and where each was appropriate.

  1. Strip Defences: The “fastest” disarms that are often shown in demonstrations because they are the flashiest. By attacking the gun directly you are able to pull it offline and retain it as fast as possible.
  2. Circle Defences: Sometimes depending on your position you aren't able to strip the weapon from your attacker directly. Therefore it becomes incumbent to remove the weapon via a circular motion.
  3. Strike Defences: There are times when the only thing you can do is remove the weapon from being on-line with you and to hammer your attacker with a hit. For instance, if you have a gun in your back it is nearly impossible to strip the firearm till you are back facing your opponent and he can’t be given time to recover.
Sifu Nik demonstrates a strike defence. 

Regardless of the disarm tactic that we choose to use we had to keep in mind three key elements.
  1. Distance / Proximity: Disarms against an attacker with a primed weapon don’t work from ten feet away. You will be dead before you complete the first step. Your opponent needs to be within distance to pounce. Sifu Nik gave us a great example by stating that “Bad Guys” move forward “Good Guys” stay back. A “Bad Guy” will want something, money, jewellery, car, etc… whereas a good operator will keep his distance in order to effectively deploy his weapon.
  2. Speed / Precision / Timing: As we learned with the reasons disarms fail many disarms become disasters is because of a lack of pressure and practice. You need to have your reflexes at a maximum and be able to execute your movement.
  3. Commit: If Nike ran Sifu Nik’s class they would say “Just do It.” If you are going for the disarm you have to go for it. A failure to commit to your attack leaves the opponent in control and you most likely a little bit leaky.
Conclusion: When you see a seminar that interests you go give it a shot. I promise you won’t be disappointed and you will learn a lot. I have only been able to scratch the surface of what I learned in Sifu Nik’s seminar in this review. It was a great experience and worth every nickel I paid. The only downside is I have to wait a month for the next one. 

Sifu Nik promising to shoot me if I wrote anything bad. 

Best regards and keep training,

Martin "Travelling Ronin" Fransham 

If you are interested in training together I would love to get together with you. Drop me a line on facebook and we can connect. I would love to learn from you. 

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