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David Price
David Price's picture
Defence and protection of children and toddlers

hi all wonder if anyone can help.

I’m interested in perhaps learning how to apply protection principles to children and toddlers, I’ve seen Iain’s videos on how to protect others though I know these were based around looking after someone of similar size. How could we deal with perhaps protecting a child in a pushchair, or a smaller child who is on foot?

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

David Price wrote:
I’ve seen Iain’s videos on how to protect others though I know these were based around looking after someone of similar size. How could we deal with perhaps protecting a child in a pushchair, or a smaller child who is on foot?

The same principles would apply, but you would have to push the chair and possibly carry the child (depending on their size) when escaping. The big issue is that you can’t practise it with a child because such drills could be traumatic i.e. the shouting, etc.

As I say in the text that goes with that video:

Such situations are high-risk and difficult and there is no “good” or fool proof solution. The chaotic nature of protecting others needs to be reflected in the drills designed to address it. They are not comforting drills because they make clear just how hard it is; especially against multiple enemies.

If you get threatened by a group, you have small children with you, and the group is prepared to harm all present, then it’s going to be very difficult. I understand that some people may want a simple “do this and all your problems are solved” answer; because such an “answer” would be comforting. However, such “answers” are based on empty promises that may reduce fear but do little to help people manage actual danger.

That would be a very difficult situation and all we can do is try to keep those we are protecting away from the danger, and to guide them to safety as best we can. Doing our best is all we can do.

All the best,

Iain

PS Here’s the video being referred to for those who have not seen it:

David Price
David Price's picture

Many thanks Iain, I appreciate the chaos and that there’s no fool proof methods. I’m branching out a little more into the SP area and am anticipating some of the questions people may ask.

PASmith
PASmith's picture

Imho when you're out with your kids good awareness and anticipation skills are paramount. Of course those are the bedrock of good personal self protection anyway but even more so with such vulnerable dependents in tow. Being prepared to leave a location, pub or venue if you notice things getting heated. Being ultra-aware of who is in the vicinity and maybe even expanding the personal space in which you won't allow someone dodgy into. In terms of physical skills maybe practice some bag or padwork while holding a 30kg sand bag in one arm and hitting with the other? :)

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

David Price wrote:
I’m branching out a little more into the SP area and am anticipating some of the questions people may ask.

I fully understand and such questions are inevitable. The motivations in asking such questions can be mixed. As per the previous posts, sometimes they are asking because they want to explore those possibilities, and other times they want the “magic bullet” that will make all fear go away. Both types of questions from students are legitimate; we just need to ensure our answers are equally legitimate.

We do see martial arts instructors give bad answers as they try to maintain a status as “expert” and false pressure to not “let the student down.” The best / most professional answer we can give is the honest one; even if it’s not that comforting.

As another example, a question I frequently get on short self-protection courses (2 hours long) is how to physically deal with knife attacks. As someone with the best part of four decades of training, I don’t feel confident with my ability to deal with a full-on knife assault. I don’t think anyone with an appreciation of such assaults would. I therefore tell the attendees, that developing a modicum of skill that area needs long periods of training and that’s something they don’t have. I will emphasise that the personal security elements are what they should focus on (most effective) and that knife crime, although on the rise in certain locations for certain demographics, is still very rare. I won’t be drawn into “discussing the basics” because that can create “reassuring” but 100% false beliefs i.e. “they know the ‘tricks’ to deal with a knife.”

As an aside, we can blame movies in large part of this. Look at how many martial arts films have the hero learn the “trick” which enables them to defeat the more experienced fighter with ease i.e. the crane kick ensured Daniel could beat Johnny; despite a huge differential in their training and ability. It’s therefore not at all surprising that the public have expectations of just needing to know the “tricks” that will make them invincible against those who don’t know them. As responsible instructors, we need to ensure we correct that false expectation.

PASmith wrote:
Imho when you're out with your kids good awareness and anticipation skills are paramount. Of course those are the bedrock of good personal self-protection anyway but even more so with such vulnerable dependents in tow.

100%! It always comes back to that; especially when teaching self-protection as opposed to martial arts. With self-protection students, you have people for hours. With martial arts, you have them for years; possibly decades. Good personal security habits can be meaningfully discussed in a short period of time and students can go away and successfully implement them. That’s not the case with the physical last resort stuff. On self-protection courses the only physical skills I teach are a pre-emptive slap and, time permitting, a dominant side palm heel.

When it comes to protecting others, that is for the self-protection element of the practise of committed martial artists. It needs practise to get halfway competent and self-protection students won’t get that.

PASmith wrote:
In terms of physical skills maybe practice some bag or padwork while holding a 30kg sand bag in one arm and hitting with the other? :)

That’s a good idea for a drill. It will be physically demanding too. Add in multiple people with pads and a pre-defined “safe zone” and that would be a solid variant of the drills in the video. Definitely one for self-protection focussed marital artists only though.

All the best,

Iain

PASmith
PASmith's picture

A couple of additional thoughts....master the fireman's carry. I pick my kids up like that all the time (bad back symptoms permitting) and they love it (especially with a double-bed "slam" to finish!).

It's a practical and secure way of carrying a child (one arm through the legs and gripping one of their arms) that leaves one arm free to grab, punch, fend off, open doors, etc. Get your kids used to getting into that position and you can scoop them up pretty quickly should you need to.

Awareness and pre-emptive action can be tricky. A couple of years back I was waiting outside a shop with my kids (wife was inside shopping) in a busy city centre when a "resident of the street" came and squatted down next to us. Very dirty and twitchy looking individual who immediately put me in code orange. So I decided to move away and wait somewhere else. Unfortunately that annoyed this individual (who was probably no threat at all really) and that caused him to get angry and mildly confrontational. So I said to the kids "we need to meet mum" and walked away. It can be a balancing act sometimes as pre-emptive actions can draw attention.

Tau
Tau's picture

Teddy bears (or equivalent.) There are various games and drills that can work around this, depending on your class ages.

I've actually done such as a drill with Rory Miller. We had to protect a focus mitt as if it was a baby and still defend or escape.