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simoncito's picture
A nice example of "flow's not a good thing in a real self defense situation"

Just yesterday Iain said so during the seminar in Berlin. I've heard him say it at other seminars, right before he had us practicing flow drills. :-) 

Now I've just found a nice example of how a nice flow is not the perfect thing to achieve in a real self defense situation


The cop (security guard, whatever) connects two dozen times or so, not a single decisive technique among them. If the other guy suddenly gets a beer bottle or something from somewhere, or his friend turns up from behind, then the nice flow is coming to a very sudden stop. 

They almost look like two guys doing a well rehearsed drill they've practiced very well, with one guy acting as the clumsy untrained attacker. The other guy - the uniformed one - clearly is trained - see him blocking the first wild swing - but doesn't do damage. Too much time in the gym/dojo/sparring with good friends?

That's how I see this. I may be wrong, though, I'm no expert on street fights. What do those who are think about it, i wonder?

PASmith's picture

This to me just shows how hard it is to land a telling blow in the chaos of a real fight when both parties are moving freely. The cop lands with at least one technique that visibly staggers his attacker and under other circumstances (a less resiliant attacker maybe, blow an inch higher or lower) may have turned the fight more decisively. Luck does play a factor. People can be hard to hurt. People can take a lickin' and keep on tickin' as they say. Even Geoff Thompson fought people that were just plain hard to knock out or down.

Equally you could say that the cop doesn't get hurt much either so at least his training achieved something. :)

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

On the one hand I think PASmith has a real point, sometimes stuff just doesn't work out well, and the guy did avoid injury so there's that.

On the other, maybe the video is a good argument for the "husband and wife hand' concept? it's much harder to land real blows without some kind of tactile information, and that simply is there to a lesser degree when you choose to do the dancing bit.

Another good thing to ask, what kind of violence is this? Is this someone trying to actually hurt someone else, or is it someone trying to display dominance over someone?

I'm willing to take the video at face value, but I actually did wonder if this was staged when it first started making the rounds..I know now that it isn't, but I agree that it does almost look rehearsed in places..I guess it's what you get when two people with roughly the same "plan" get into it - just one was much better at it.

Jon Sloan
Jon Sloan's picture

Well, he's clearly (kick)boxing. He's not doing karate hitting though - which for me means attached hitting - control/index with one hand and then hit with the free limbs.

But, yes, hitting an adrenaline fuelled opponent live and dropping them is not easy. ;)

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

simoncito wrote:
Just yesterday Iain said so during the seminar in Berlin. I've heard him say it at other seminars, right before he had us practicing flow drills. :-)

Probably should clarify that statement for those that were not there :-) My point was the ability to flow is needed, but we don’t actually want a situation to flow in reality. We want the situation to end quickly either with escape or incapacitation. If we find ourselves thinking, “this is following brilliantly!” it means the situation has lasted longer than we should want it to. The ideal is we hit the guy once and he drops. No flow then as the situation ended too quickly for flow to develop .Flow is what happens when the ideal is not archived. Flow should therefore never be sought nor should it be regarded as desirable.

Flow is only needed when techniques are ineffective. We need to be able to flow from ineffective methods to hopefully effective ones in such a way that advantage and initiative are maintained; so we must develop that ability. However, in reality, flow can only ever exist if techniques that have proved ineffective are also present. We should therefore aim to end things fast such that flow is never needed; whist having the ability to flow as a back-up if things don’t go our way. Viewing flow as “desirable” is therefore not good in my view.

If the ship is sinking then I need a life raft; using a life raft is not a good thing though. Same with flow. We need to have it; but making use of “flow” is not what we want.

As regards the clip, I think the cop flows well and does maintain the advantage. I’m sure he’d rather have finished it faster though such that his ability to flow was neither needed nor demonstrated. Flow is a back-up; it’s not something we actually want to use though.

All the best,


miket's picture

What I saw: To me, this had nothing to do with 'flow' drills as I understand them unless you mean 'combination flow' or continuous movement, whcih I believe Iain points out is (to me) a training method, NOT a series of techniques.

I think the original point about no DECISIVE technique landing is quite valid.  Someone where i teach (not a student) asked me who was going to win the latest UFC.  I answered:  'The guy who puts the first solid INJURY on the other guy will probably win'.  Many of these shots DO appear to land, but they land 'inneffectually'' or 'undeciseively' as noted in the original post.  That first shot to the brachial LOOKED solid but I was surprised by the result and the slow motion appears to show a lack of follow through?   Ultimately, I saw the same thing as PA:  to me, this is a good illustration of how HARD it is to get a solid contact once the fight is mutually 'on'.  Last Pacquiao fight he counted himself at a mere **37%** hit accuracy according to something I saw on Facebook.

Also for all you fans of 'reactive 'blocking' out there, I notee that the only technical 'block' the guard gets is on the FIRST entry (which I also noted was against the ubiquitous right haymaker), and unless you are counting the defensive coverage that he achieved simply by keeping his hands in a solid guard, which I note was pretty effective against the rest of blue's blind wides (the only thing he threw).  So 'controling centerline was pretty effective for the guard as his opponent evidentyly had no training.  And, the only block the non-guard gets is keeping his chin down and staying moving.  I thought this was a pretty good illustration of the fact that once a fight is 'on' I think most blocks  are so much fantasy football.

Last point I noted was that the mighty Thai leg kick (which I teach, sheepish :-) )  did virtually nothing against an adrenalized opponent.  As you see in the UFC, it is really the repeated accumulation of hits to teh same spot that makes that technique mopst effective, assuming you don't apply it against a joint. 

Bottom line, I think the guard ultimately did EXACTLY what he had probably trained to do.  I would like to be able to ask him what he would adjust going forward, if anything. :-)  The video starts is in the middle of the confrontation.  I don't know that he is going to have much luck convincing a jury that he was 'defending' himself if it came to that?

nielmag's picture

To me, this looks a lot like iains tekki/naihanchi beyond bunkai.  I think it shows how hard it truly is to realize one strike one kill (although I think Peter Consterdine consistently has ko'd quite a few drunks!) and how important it is to have a backup plan. Not suggesting we plan on drawn out fights, but make sure to include contingency plans while drilling. Here's the entire video

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

nielmag wrote:
To me, this looks a lot like iains tekki/naihanchi beyond bunkai

It’s not the same though :-) It should be noted that my “Beyond Bunkai” drill keeps constantly attacking and flowing around presented obstacles until effective escape is possible. There is no “flow for flow’s sake” in that drill. Nor is there any move out, move back in and reengage (as we see in this video). When it is possible to escape, then the drill has us escape. It's a self-defence drill so it would not be in keeping with the objectives of law enforcement etc. It is certainly a flow drill though, but a flow drill in line with the thinking I expressed in the above post:


All the best,


PS Thanks for the full video!

Neil Cook
Neil Cook's picture

Hi All,

i've seen this video a few times now. I will agree that the guy has flow in a sence that he can throw continuous combinations, which wouldn't look out of place in a ring. I think this is a perfect example of Iain's last podcast on context. The securety guards strategy and possibly his idea of 'winning' was misplaced. I have no idea about his background or even how this fight started, do we know if this was a set up fight in as much as they both agreed to the fight? or maybe reputation led to it.