Monday, September 24, 2012

SELF-DEFENSE: Southnarc (aka Craig Douglas) - A "Systems" Approach to Building a Profile

“SouthNarc” is the on-line pseudonym for Craig Douglas.  He worked in a multi-agency drug unit, in the southern United States, hence "SouthNarc." He has served in Law Enforcement since 1990 and has held line assignments in corrections, patrol, narcotics, and investigations.

SouthNarc has over thirty+ years background in Phillipine, Indonesian, Brazillian and Japanese martial arts and is a veteran of the U.S. Army. He has been conducting training in the private sector in the U.S. and abroad for the past 5+ years.

IMO, he is one of the top-tier instructors teaching Self-Defense currently. With his kind permission, I'm posting some of his articles/pieces.

A "Systems" Approach to Building a Profile
by Southnarc (aka Craig Douglas)

Often in the self-defense community we hear the word "system" used to describe the eclectic education that many have accrued over a lifetime. "System" sounds less martial-artsy than "style" and I think that that's one reason that many prefer the term. System just sounds more serious.

What exactly is a System? A lexical definition of a system is "an arrangement of units that function together". Following this line of logic, we would assume that when we call the data in our profile a "system" then all of it would function together. But does it by definition or even in reality?

How often have you heard someone say "Well I do a little grappling…a little stand-up…and I incorporated some FMA for weapons work"? My question is usually "Well that sounds great but does it all work together"? The person in general is somewhat nonplussed and doesn't really know how to answer.

For what you do to truly be a system, as per Webster, your "units" have to work together, or more importantly be common. The movements to deploy tools, strike, etc. need to be as close to one another in execution as they can efficiently be. Why, and moreover why should one strive for systemization?

If our lines of movement to deploy a handgun, strike with a reverse grip knife thrust, hit with a pocket stick or a horizontal edge of hand blow are all the same, then that equates to less time needed to figure out the appropriate scheme of maneuver, with a specific tool, to the given threat. Time is critical in a fight and the more dissimilar your responses are to one another, the longer it's going to take to react. All motor skills have a neural basis of reproduction. Each separate skill requires a complex and specific set of neurons that run that skill. Without making this article a neurology lesson, let it suffice that the more similar each motor skill is, the more easily it can be incorporated into a neural pathway. The strengthening of these neural pathways that carry our critical survival data from brain to muscle, is the result of highly differentiated and connected pairings between dendrites and terminal endings.This strengthening, in turn, is the result of a complex series of chemical reactions.

Myelin, a fatty protein, coats the axons of each neuron and promotes insulation of the initial electrical signal that travels down the axon as an "action potential." Auxiliary cells called "Swan cells' wrap around the neuron to create myelination. As the connection becomes sufficiently "myelinated", it's performed without effort. So it's logical that if the vast majority of our movements are similar, then when we train one, we train them all.It stands to reason then that a true system will always be faster and more efficient in sustaining the rigors of life or death battle. There's simply less to do and less to think about doing. A system should work like a seatbelt: automatically and under the vast majority of circumstances.

When we look at our profile, (which is a word I use to describe one's accumulation of knowledge based on training and experience), and decide on whether it meets the criteria for a system we should be honest. Can you seamlessly transition from range to range, method to method, and tool to tool seamlessly?

The first thing we should do is examine the basis for our profile. That's usually three or so core martial arts that we have invested the vast majority of our time in. Do they work together well? An example of this would be does a Shotokan stylist look towards Judo or Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu? Judo is probably closer to what he's already doing in terms of movement and overall attitude.

Ask yourself, "Am I well versed in various ranges of combat and have I spent the proper amount of time to be a well rounded combat technician? Is what I'm doing sound?" If we see that our profile is rigid or that our transitions are staccato then we may need to spend time in a core art that's more similar to our others.

After examining our profile one may decide to incorporate a new skill set (a specific tactic). It may be stand-up grappling, blade-work or other contact weapons, or pistol-craft. Before incorporation, examine the available methods that represent the skill set. That means research and time. It may mean that you discard quite a bit before coming to a conclusion that successfully mates with the rest of the existing skill sets in your profile. A hard style karateka will probably find the Modern Technique of the Pistol (Weaver doctrine) more similar to what he's already doing than say the Modern Isosceles template for gunhandling. As long as what one's doing is sound then there can be stylistic differences.

Finally after one settles on a particular method, rigorous scenario training, which not only focuses on the new skill set but also how it segues into the others, must take place. It shouldn't take long to see whether or not it marries into the profile. If you have adopted Catch as Catch Can wrestling (a method) to address your stand-up grappling (a skill set), can you access and utilize your folding knife in a way that is compatible with other skill sets? Do you have to switch feet, adjust your balance, and generally make a mental switch to draw your concealed pistol?

In the systems approach to building our combative profile, all skill sets are as similar as possible. Gun-handling is similar to knife work, knife work is similar to striking, and generally all footwork is the same. A good system should allow for the appropriate skill set to be utilized with essentially zero conscious thought, following a streamlined, learned, decision making process. With the proper system and the proper decision making process, one's success in battle should be high.

The analogy of the system's approach is to a well-trained unit versus a collection of individuals. A good unit, which works harmoniously, will always be more successful because everyone contributes their specific role to the overall success of the mission. Good team members in a unit complement each other. They know their job and how it relates to their buddies' responsibilities.

Likewise, a good system's individual skill sets work in conjunction with one another to accomplish the overall objective of survival.

You can contact Southnarc via his site:

In case you missed my other Southnarc/Craig Douglas entries I've posted, please check out:



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