Monday, September 24, 2018

Dave Camarillo 21 Sep 2018

The seminar was held at Higher Jiu Jitsu, in the City of Sydney PCYC, hosted by head instructor John Smallios.

The seminar was no gi. The techniques are equally applicable to gi, MMA, and possibly self defense or law enforcement arrest techniques.

Warm up Games and Drills

Start from a wrestling crouch. Attempt to touch your partner's knee with your hand and not get tapped yourself, while he attempts to do the same and stop you tapping his knee. If you get tapped, do a pushup.

Switch it up so everyone in the room is trying to tap everyone else's knee.

Same starting position, look to get a two handed grip on one of his wrists, then get your head in a good control position under the side of his jaw and drive him around for a few moments. Reset.

Same as above, but try to get an arm drag position, with the other hand controlling his wrist. Same head position as above.

A drill, no resistance from your partner - arm drag, to two on one,  shoulder pressure and turn to front headlock, drive him down so at least one of his hands is on the floor, turn and take his back. Swap.

Guard passing and/while pinning

All passes should end up in a pin. Dave's system does its best to allow us to pin our opponent all the way through the pass.

Three fundamental concepts to understand are:

  • The elbow line
  • The knee line
  • The battle zone

The battle zone is the area between the opponent's elbow, knee and hip on the side to which you are trying to pass. So your objective, for example when passing to his R or trying to maintain side control there, is to occupy the space between his R knee, hip, and elbow.

In these passes, we stay low, and try to keep the opponent pinned with pressure, and when possible, grips, as much as possible throughout the movements.

Passing Half Guard, with no Knee Shield

We apply "OCD of the knee." Both the bottom and top guys should be obsessed with occupying the battle zone with our knee.

He has our R leg in half guard. We should go straight for a far side underhook on his L arm with ouR R. Our head is posted on the mat next to his R ear, looking out to our L, driving our head into his, bending his neck to his L. Our L foot is out to the L. We are keeping our R hip low as possible so as to turn him on his R side with his R knee on the mat.

We control his bottom R knee with either our L hand, or if we have the flexibility, our L foot, holding it place so he cannot follow our R knee as we move it toward his head.

We free our R knee from his half guard, by tripoding up on our R toes, lifting the hips, holding his R knee in place as we extract our knee from his guard. As soon as we can, we drop our R knee over his R thigh, thus using it to occupy the battlezone. We do not take our head from the mat or loosen our far side underhook at any time, we stay as low as possible.

Once the knee occupies the battlezone, we can stop holding his knee in place with our L hand or foot. We drag his R elbow out from his body with our L hand and get an underhook on his R arm with our L. We join our hands in S, butterfly or gable grip under the base of his neck, flaring our elbows out to separate his arms from his torso.

Use our L foot on his top R knee to push it toward his feet and free our R foot.

We move to side control, short base, hiding our R foot. We move back/down slightly to lower our base even more and increase the pinning pressure. Our head stays next to the R side of his head.

As he moves to try and create space to escape, we must similar move to reclaim that space. If he moves his hips away to our R, rein him back in by clinching hard with the R elbow, and chasing down his hip with or R knee, driven from our toes.

If he manages to recover half guard at any stage, or later on, repeat the process. If our position gets compromised at any stage setting up the pass, back out and reset.

Passing Butterfly Guard, using the Tackle Pass

We start learning the pass in a position where he is on his back. We are on our feet. His shins are inside our thighs and we are in effect sitting on his shins. Stay upright so as not to give him gripping opportunities on our upper body.

We sit/push down on him using our bodyweight. hoping to get him to react by kicking us off using his shins. As he kicks, we straighten our legs and lift our hips, while "diving" forward over his knees, wrapping our arms around his thighs above his knees, like a rugby tackle. The grip Dave uses is one hand grabbing the other forearm, like an anaconda choke or guillotine.

Our head goes next to his R hip as we switch off to our R, twisting our torso to the R, driving our R shoulder into his abdomen or hips, pinching the grip by pulling our elbows in. We should be facing his knees.

Get our L knee under his knees, and his it to drive his legs out to our L, his R, flattening his torso out, but with his legs twisted to our L we can now hunt with our arms for the double underhook pin position we used in the first pass.

We could also drive his legs further still with our L knee until his R knee is on the mat, and drive our L knee between his thighs to achieve the classic leg drag pass position. From here we could pass, or fairly easily sit back to the Irimi Ashi Garami position (John Danaher's terminology, check Google) and start working your heel hook game.

Passing Z guard with the Tackle Pass

Z guard is half guard with a knee shield. Assume he has our R leg caught again. Our starting position for the pass is to be upright. We do not put any pressure on his knee shield. We should already eave our knee up and over his bottom R thigh, fairly close to the groin, because we also want to grab his R knee from underneath with our L hand. Grabbing the knee both prevents him getting a base from which to do a technical standup or slide backward to bail out of Z guard, and will allow us to get our arm underneath him and encircle his legs when we go for the pass.

We stand, lift our hips and "dive" over his knee shield as before, our arms encircling his legs. Once we have the grip, over his thighs, we sprawl hard, driving our R leg back,, flattening the knee shield and our hips to the mat, freeing our leg. We keep our weight on his legs.

If his legs stay flat, we may be able to just crawl up to a mount position, where we get the double underhooks and head control as for the first technique.

Otherwise, we can drive his legs across as before with out knees, this time to out R. We can look this time at sliding our bottom L knee under his legs, stepping over them with our R foot, then coming in top, triangling our legs around his knees, R ankle behind our L knee. We can move up to mount here. Or switch off to side control at any time we feel our mount is being compromised. There is ample opportunity to use wind shield wiper, grapevine and other leg work techniques here to change positions and move around his defences and counters.

This video, from the excellent Sonny Brown, shows how the "leg clamp" Dave shows as a prelude to getting the mount is used extensively in MMA by Khabib Nurmagomedov, among others.

Setups - Up/Down, Left/Right

Up/Down: if the guy is sitting up as you approach him, grab his ankles and flip him onto his back, pushing his legs over his head. As he reacts by rolling forward and sitting up, drive forward through his half guard, going for the first half guard passing technique above, with OCD of the knee, head position and the far side underhook. If he gets the knee shield, we go for the tackle pass.

Left/Right: push one or both of his knees to one side. His reaction, swinging them back in the other direction, will give you an opening to go for the tackle pass.

Up/down and left/right should be seen as principles rather than specific techniques. You always need to adapt to the actual movements of your opponent.

Troubleshooting and Maintaining Control

If his legs stay flat diring the tackle pass, we have the opportunity to go to mount. If he starts lifting his knees before we consolidate the mount, we should be prepared to switch to side control.

If he have the double underhook elbow control, and he is pushing our head away, we can just slide our linked grips down to his thighs to a tackle pass position, and work our way back, We are so far away from his arms in the tackle pass positions as to negate the value of any attempt to pass.

We do need to be careful of guillotine attempts, though these are of limited value when the head is on one side and the legs on the other. The choke is pretty much unworkable then, while at the same time we are given the opportunity for a Von Flue choke.

We should be able to keep constant pinning pressure with the body lock on him all the way from the elbow line to the knee line and back.

If he starts sitting up while we have the tackle position, we need to break him down immediately. Dave did this when the guy came up his elbow by grabbing the posting forearm with one hand around the front and one around the back, pulling the guy toward him while driving forward and breaking him back down. Try to stop such counters immediately, before he can post all the way up on his hand.

In Sun Tzu's The Art of War, military leaders are advised to take high ground and let the enemy try to attack from a lower position. Fighting from an elevated position is said to be easier for a number of tactical reasons. Holding the high ground offers an elevated vantage point with a wide field of view, enabling surveillance of the surrounding landscape, in contrast to valleys which offer a limited field of view.

So, don't let your opponent up.

Once we have our hands linked around him, we can in effect slide them up and down his body between the elbow line and knee line, switching sides and positions, constantly adjusting to nullify his attempted defense's and counters and keep ahead of him as he tries to catch up in the OODA loop.

Realistically, we may need to release and regrab our grips, especially if the mats are not slippery and thus not conducive to easily sliding our clasped hands up and down his body.

He gets an Underhook

We have the bodylock side control with double underhooks we reached after the first pass. Somehow he manages to get an underhook, say with his L arm under our R arm.

We switch to head and arm position (scarf hold / kesa gatame / headlock control). Dave will keep his hands clasped rather than change to more conventional hand controls here. Lift his head off the mat so he cannot bridge.

We turn our head to look towards his feet, bridge up slightly, turn our body toward his feet, walk our feet in the same direction, as we drop our L elbow to the mat near his R hip to occupy the battle zone, reach over and behind his legs and encircle his thighs with our arms as we turn into the tackle pass position, with our head on his L hip and our L shoulder controlling his hip.

While we are turning from kesa gatame, our weight distribution should be such that we are trying to keep him turned slightly to his R side. This both makes the tackle pass setup easier, and also makes it much harder for him to roll us to his left.

Dave is not a fan of kesa Gatame as a long term control - he feels the back is too exposed, especially if the guy has access to a blade with his untapped hand (the one he got the underhook with). I can't argue with this, though I'd like to hear Josh Barnett's opinion as well ;)

Go to SAP (standard armbar position)

We get the double underhooks elbow line side control from the first pass, on his R side.

We move our head from the R side of his head to pinching his L arm between our R arm and R ear. We take our L arm out from under and pass the L hand under his chin and get the L elbow on the ground, our arms encircling and isolating his L arm. We can now drag him up on his R side with our R underhook, and then start hunting for the Kimura position and then move to the standard armbar position (SAP) per Dave's first seminar in 2016.


These moves are as much about concepts and principles than specific technique. We need to constantly adapt to his movements and stay at least one step ahead. Dave reminded us of the Zen of position - not becoming too attached to a position and trying to hold onto it once it becomes compromised. Move on to a more suitable position.

Dave is all about systems. Systems are all about dilemmas for the opponent. Ryan Hall and John Danaher also talk about this on their instructionals.


Similar but different approach here:

Similar ideas from Lachlan Giles:

This is not quite the same thing, but this BJJ Scout video of the Miyao brothers no gi bodylock passing style has some interesting parallels. Interesting ideas about blocking his hip movement.:

Links to Previous Seminars with Dave Camarillo

Until 2019...

Monday, September 17, 2018

IBJJF Rules and Knee Reaping - Gordon Ryan, Texas Cloverleaf

Gordon Ryan is a successful Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor at elite levels. Much of his earlier success came in competitions with rulesets allowing use of a range of leglock techniques which are banned by the most popular sport Jiu Jitsu body, the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF).

Gordon Ryan trains under John Danaher, a celebrated Jiu Jitsu and MMA coach operating out of the Renzo Gracie academy in New York. Several of John Danaher's students have done very well using his leglock system in professional matches, most notably Gordon Ryan, Gary Tonon, and Eddie Cummings. These students are sometimes referred to as the Danaher Death Squad (DDS).

Some in the Jiu Jitsu community regard the IBJJF Jiu Jitsu competitions as the pinnacle, and imply that the DDS's supposed "avoidance" of IBJJF competitions, and preference for lower profile (though not necessarily less challenging) competitions meant they had yet to be tested at the top levels of the sport. Also, that as leglock specialists they were in effect "one trick ponies", who had not developed the fully rounded Jiu Jitsu skills required to be regarded as truly elite.

Gordon Ryan recently put such criticisms to bed by winning double gold at the 2018 Pan Jiu-Jitsu IBJJF No Gi Championship. This under IBJJF rules, which allow no "knee reaping" or heel hooks, which are the DDS' bread and butter in non-IBJJF competitions.

Interestingly, he enquired about and addressed the various issues surrounding the legality of various leglocks, especially from the cross ashi garami (411 / honey hole / inside sankaku) position, after a detailed discussion of the rules with the Pan's head referee.

This article contains a couple of videos where Gordon explains what he learned. Unfortunately the sound quality is not great, and, despite what the article claims, is no better if you view the videos on Instagram, where they were originally published.

The takeaways are:

The cross ashi position is only illegal if the foot of the opponent's leg trapped by your legs, the "inside" foot, is also trapped between your armpit and hip.

So an underhook or "scoop " grip on the inside leg in cross ashi is perfectly legal.

Overhooking the "outside" ankle, the one on the leg not trapped by your legs, is also legal in cross ashi. This is John Danaher's "double trouble" position, so called because you are controlling both legs.

BUT ... combining the outside leg overhook and inside leg underhook in the "Texas Cloverleaf" submission is illegal and will get you disqualified.

The Texas Cloverleaf

This seems to be contradictory and inconsistent. I queried this via Facebook Messenger with David "Silver Fox" Karcher, "The Grappling Referee" on social media. While he is not the IBJJF head referee, he did attend an IBJJF rules meeting in Boston recently where the subject was discussed in detail. I have corresponded with him on Facebook for a while and respect his opinions, though quite often he seems as perplexed as anyone about certain match situations shown on video.

According to Mr Karcher:
It's about isolating the reaped leg, either by attacking the foot, clamping the foot, or trapping the foot in the Cloverleaf. 
if you can move the foot or escape the foot, its legal. 
the thought process is if the foot is trapped, you can hurt the knee.
There are Youtube videos of people winning IBJJF athletes winning matches with the Texas Cloverleaf, but as far as I can tell these all happened before the current knee reaping rules were introduced in 2015. I read somewhere where a person on social media claimed a referee disqualified him for a Teexas Cloverleaf in 2018, and the referee told him afterwards that the submission was legal in 2017 but not 2018. I have no way of determining the veracity of these claims.

The rules remain inconsistent and arguably even contradictory in places, and leave grey areas in aa number of situations. This is likely to always be the case in a constantly changing sport with almost infinite possibilities. We referees just have to keep doing the best we possibly can for the competitors, I guess.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Wing Chun Forms

These videos are of myself performing Wing Chun forms - which are solo movement patterns, analogous to kata in Japanese systems.

These forms are from the Traditional Wing Chun system of William Cheung. My instructor, Rick Spain, teaches them with modified stances and extra footwork from those normally taught in a Traditional Wing Chun school, but he claims that these are variations first demonstrated to him by William Cheung.

I believe that forms should be passed on from instructor to student as they were taught. However, after a decade or more in the art, I believe it is beneficial to experiment. Rick Spain's senior studentss may experiment with the forms as regarding sequencing, different footwork, adding or removing techniques, etc.

Surely there comes a time where a half decent student should start thinking for him/herself. Progress in most human endeavours comes from creativity and experimentation, not blind adherence to tradition. Traditional Chinese Martial Arts seems to be regarded as different by some, but in my opinion for no good reason.

As noted by Jordan Peterson, tradition requires constant regeneration through close attention to changing times, and creativity. Wilful blindness to changing conditions leads to stagnation and death. Horus and Osiris.

I was aged 62 or 63 when all of these videos were taken. I am an adherent of the maxim, "slow is smooth and smooth is fast."

I started training in Kung Fu in 1977, Wing Chun in 1988. I am also a student of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu which I began studying in 1998, and in which I currently hold a black belt first degree.

Siu Lim Tao

This is the first form of Wing Chun. Note the front stances and incorporation of baasic footwork with the striking. I include another form, Tien Shou / Heavenly Hand, from David Crook's Bac Fu Do system, in this video after SLT.

Chum Kil

This is the intermediate empty hand form of Wing Chun. I recorded this on New Year's Eve, 2017/2018, so there is a related missage at the end.

Bil Jee

This is the third empty hand form, usually taught last.

Butterfly Swords

There are two Wing Chun weapons, as the system is usually taught. The short weapons are the twin Butterfly swords. Arguably I am coming close to breaking the law here by practicing with these weapons in public even though these are unsharpened practice weapons.

The other weapon usually taught in Wing Chun is the Dragon pole, A heavy, tapered pole ranging in length from approximately six to thirteen feet. It is held at one end and brandished more like a spear than like the Japanese bo. I may publish a video of myself executing this form at some future time.

In keeping with the necessary spirit of Creativity and innovation, many practioners practice with other weapons from Filipino Martial Arts, other Chines or Japanese systems. or Western martial traditions. I have dabbled with combat folders, karambit, La Canne and Uno Baston Dos Manos, for example, though I would not claim any great expertise in any of them.


Here I am performing the San Chien (Three Strengths) form from Bac Fu Do, a system taught by David Crook. There are similarities ot the Sanchin kata of some karate styles. I was going through the 22/22 pushup challenge at the time, so you get to see some staggered hand pushups as well.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

It Seems to be Working Part 3 - Media Adventures

Media Interest. Really?

I was involved in a serious road rage incident on May 11, 2018. Described in It Seems to be Working - Part 2.

Senior Constable F had asked me for my thoughts about possible media attention. I told her that I wasn't opposed to the idea, if some good were to come of it. She asked if the Police Media Liaison until could talk to me, as apparently there had been some interest from the Channel 7 Sunday Night documentary program. I spoke to a gentleman from that police unit, and told him that I would be willing to discuss possible media articles or appearances with them. At the time I thought this was highly unlikely to go anywhere.

The Floodgates Open

My attacker's court hearing was scheduled for June 27th. Early afternoon on that day, I started getting Facebook messages from friends from the gyms where I train and teach, Lange’s MMA, and the Red Boat Wing Chun Academy, saying several media outlets had contacted them, requesting to be put in touch with me. I started to panic slightly, and tried to phone the police involved in my case, to make sure I wasn't going to do anything stupid by talking to reporters.

Unfortunately, none of the police dealing with my case were contactable. I presume they were either rostered off, or busy, out catching criminals. Which is perfectly fine by me.

About 3 PM Sophie Walsh, a Channel Nine reporter who occasionally also presents the weather on the evening news, rang my doorbell. She was shortly followed by her Channel 7 colleague, Tom Sacre. The people you see regularly on television look good on screen, but are preternaturally, jaw-droppingly beautiful human beings in the flesh. Like supermodels, or angels. These two had clothes, hair, everything just right. Tall, slim, perfect. I wondered if genetic engineering or Faustian bargains were involved.



I invited them in and sat them down and Pat and I had a nice chat with them. I wasn't prepared to put much on the record until I had talked to the police, and told them so. They probably stayed for twenty minutes. They told me that my attacker's name was Chances Moana, that he had not turned up to court, and that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. I could have tried harder to find out his name before this, but knew it would come up eventually. I was trying to move past the event, and not fixating on such details was a strategy I was employing to manage that.

Pat and I watched a story about my attack on both Channel Seven and Channel Nine TV news that evening. The dashcam video of the attack was shown along with a picture of me, in a Jiu Jitsu gi, dating back to about 2012.

Embarrassingly, I was referred to, "ironically", as a "Kung Fu master" and a "Jiu Jitsu black belt". Technically true, but ... iyiyi. One of the channels said I took myself to hospital after the attack, which hopefully makes me sound slightly more badass than I felt at the time.

It's somewhat disturbing to know you can be tracked down so quickly and easily, though not difficult to work out how they probably managed it.

Sunday Night

 That evening I had a call from a Sunday Night producer, Rebecca, who was rather annoyed that I had spoken to both Sophie and Tom already, after she ostensibly had gone to the trouble of clearing things with the Police Media Liaison first.

She asked if she could come and talk to me the next morning. I agreed. Senior Constable F and Constable R both called me the next morning and explained that my attacker had missed court because he had been hospitalised after a motor vehicle accident. "Karma, perhaps," was suggested by Senior Constable F.

Rebecca arrived at around 9:30 the next morning. She talked to Pat and me for maybe a couple of hours, about perhaps interviewing us both.

She asked about other interests we had, besides Jiu Jitsu, and I mentioned I like to take long walks and exercise in a nearby Park, which backs on to a large tract of bushland. From this a tentative schedule of interviews for both of us, and the video recording of a short bushwalk together, was to be set up for the next day.

It took until around 10 pm that night to finalise the details, for the first interview at least. I came to realise quickly that most of this was being worked out on the fly. I took the train to Hornsby the next morning, and walked to the Hornsby RSL, where a large room had been converted to a temporary TV studio.

After a while everyone had turned up. I met the technicians, who were there first, and then Rebecca's co-producer Mick, and presenter Matt Doran.

Soon Matt and I were sitting down, and we talked about the incident for well over an hour, to camera. He told me during the interview that my attacker, Chances Moana, had in fact been in a serious motorcycle accident.

He had been in intensive care, in a coma for five days, with a punctured lung, both legs and his pelvis broken, and with other internal injuries. His recovery might take two years.

Telling it like it is ... truth bombs

Obviously, they did it this way to capture my reaction, which is perhaps trickery, but, I recognised, done in the pursuit of the best possible story.

I took no pleasure from his fate. If that was karma hitting back, it was quadruple overkill. I said as much in the interview.

Matt suggested that I record a video statement to be shown to Chances. I told him, or at least, the camera, that violence had solved nothing, and only caused additional problems for him. I told him I hoped he made a full recovery, that while this was in his past and present, it didn't have to be in his future. I suggested he sort himself out, try to do something positive with his life, and to try to do some good for other people. Fairly straightforward and predictable, perhaps, but sometimes the obvious is also the best ... and I was making it up as I went.

I found Matt easy to talk to, and, while nervous, I felt I spoke well and genuinely, and would come across that way. I enjoyed the experience. I felt that I had been slightly tongue tied and went off on tangents, but having watched a few articulate celebrities being interviewed since, I saw that they did much the same thing, and still came over quite well. Fingers crossed.

I talked a fair bit about martial arts and Jiu Jitsu, how I felt my training had kept me in control of myself, and kept my injuries to a minimum, during the attack.

Afterwards, Rebecca asked me about the possibility of them filming some Jiu Jitsu. I thought, "Hell yeah!"

I messaged Nikki Lange, Anthony's wife, to inform her of this development, and both the Langes were keen to get involved. I gave Anthony's number to Rebecca, and she started setting something up with him for the following Monday.

Rebecca drove me home, grabbing us some Macca's on the way, enough for Pat as well. We were having bathroom renovations done, and a friend of ours, Susan, had kindly volunteered to mind the house, while we were out swanning around the local bushland. The bathroom tradies had finished for the day by the time we were ready to go out, so Susan's offer turned out to be unnecessary, though much appreciated.

I had suggested a location to Rebecca which was in bushland, but still close to the road, making life easier for the techies.

Pat and I took innumerable walks, hand in hand, along a path, being filmed, talking about how much worse things could have been with the attack and how lucky we were to have each other and be healthy, yadda yadda yadda. All of that is true, but it becomes weird and absurd after nine or ten repetitions.

Still, nothing to complain about. I was finding the whole extravaganza fascinating.

We all went back to our townhouse. Matt Doran had arrived and was now schmoozing Pat for her interview, while the techies converted our kitchen / family room into something resembling an interview studio. Matt talked to Pat on camera for more than half an hour. They left about 6:30 pm, leaving Pat and I looking at each other, wondering what the hell had just happened.

Jiu Jitsu Day

Rebecca and the Langes had set up the film shoot at Lange's MMA in North Manly for 11 am Monday morning. There were six of us - Anthony and Nikki Lange, Will Spillane, Andre Powell, Nick Pudney and myself.

Anthony had obviously put some thought into the presentation, as we drilled defences against a puncher while we were downed on the floor - or perhaps, in a car seat, dealing with an attacker punching us from outside the car. We did some other self defence sequences and some more spectacular throws and takedowns. A few sequences of Anthony dispensing the wisdom, belt tying, and me walking up to the camera looking tough in a gi, and we were done.

Anthony was throwing some fairly hard punches at me for the defence sequences, and Nikki actually called me later because they were a bit concerned I might have been triggered by the verisimilitude of that particular sequence. No, I was fine. I enjoyed the whole thing immensely. Jiu Jitsu with friends in front of a camera - what's not to like?

Rebecca asked if she could borrow my car for the afternoon, because they wanted to go out to the attack site and film a re-enactment, with actors. Seriously? So I drove her car back home.

She told me that they would film Matt Doran and myself driving through the incident site the next day, Tuesday. The plan was that Rebecca would drive back to my house that evening, and swap our cars back, but she rang about 6 pm to ask if she could keep my car for the evening. I agreed.

Road Games

Next morning, I drove her car out to Adams Street, the cross street to Forest way with the set of lights where the incident occurred. When I got there, I was pulling in to park and the guy in the car behind pulled up beside me and motioned for me to wind the window down. Deja vu? Too soon.

He told me that one of Rebecca's brake lights wasn't working. I thanked him, and told him it wasn't my car, but that I'd inform the owner. Which I did.

I wore a Red Boat Kung Fu hoodie, hopefully to provide product placement advertising for Rick and Amy Spain. Lange's MMA was already doing well out of this odyssey, and I wanted to share the good fortune around.

After affixing four Go Pro cameras inside and outside the car, and a few false starts and replacements getting them to work, getting wired for sound, etc. etc., Matt and I got in the car, and I proceeded to drive him around an extended block around the back of Forest Way Shopping Centre about eight times, repeating pretty much the same conversation each time.

The crew wanted me to stop at the lights at Forest Way and Adams Street, but timing this, even approximately, was close to impossible in the fairly heavy traffic. One of the last times through we stopped at the side of Forest Way (legally!) for an extended chat. Matt remarked on how busy the road was with traffic, and he was right. Not a place to get out of your car and start a fist fight or wrestling match with another driver.

The final time around the block we pulled into Adams Street, and finally got out of that damned car.

They had set up a surprise for me, bringing out Steve Bloor, the truck driver who had helped me after the attack, and who was responsible for the dashcam footage, from where he was concealed in a nearby driveway.

With Matt moderating, we exchanged the predictable thanks, pleasantries, handshakes and hugs. It was genuinely wonderful to see him again, though the nature of the occasion made our interaction a bit stilted. Not to take anything away, I was genuinely very grateful for his assistance and generosity on the day, and to the crew for setting it up. And for Steve's concern - he had been calling Senior Constable F repeatedly to try and find out how I was, but privacy regulations prevented her from telling him.

I also met the young actor who was playing my attacker in the reenactment. Unfortunately my own stunt double was not there. I would have been interested to see who they had chosen to play me - I would have liked Guy Pearce in Jack Irish, but probably would have ended up with John Jarratt in Wolf Creek.

We had a quick lunch in the Forest Way Shopping Centre Food Court. I was shouted a pretty good Thai Chicken Fried Rice. I was able to have a quick informal chat to Steve. He is passionate about road safety and spreading its message, and how people place themselves in danger around trucks, by not appreciating how limited the truck drivers' vision of the road immediately ahead of them is. Don't pull in right in front of a big truck! The driver cannot see you! If he is distracted or forgets you are there you will be turned into a human pancake!

Steve had spent the morning at Dee Why RSL being interviewed by Matt, since 7:30 AM. His rather large truck was concealed somewhere around the back streets of Frenchs Forest or Belrose. I swapped cars with Rebecca again, because they were spending the afternoon using my car for the reenactment, along with Steve in his truck, and a ute like my attacker's, which they had borrowed or hired.

I drove home and veged out until Rebecca arrived home with my car around 6 pm. Pat and I talked to her for a bit and then let her drive home, back to her office, or wherever her hectic lifestyle required her to be next.

The "Logical Next Step"

I thought that would be it. Haha. Next morning, Wednesday, Matt Doran called me. He told me they had been to talk to Chances Moana in hospital, and shown my recorded video statement to him. Matt said he was very remorseful, had a nice religious family who were concerned for him, but were horrified at what he had done, etc. etc. All of which was probably true.

You didn't have to be Einstein to work out why he was calling and telling me all this.

He asked me to think about going to Royal North Shore Hospital and meeting up with Chances. I knew they all thought it would be good television etc., and I thought it would be the logical next step to take on this journey. In hindsight, they oversold how it was going to be, but I also got carried away with the supposed magnificence and heroic nature of the gesture, and oversold it to myself.

Extreme Ownership. The outcome is always your responsibility.

I don't blame Matt or Rebecca for doing that. I'm sure the job is like herding cats, and I have no problem with being manipulated to a reasonable degree, for what appears to be a good cause - which, hopefully, is what the finished product turned out to be.

Robert Anton Wilson calls this "constructive gullibility".

I'd pretty much decided to do  the hospital thing there and then, but told Matt I'd call him back mid afternoon after I'd had time to think about it, talked to Pat, etc.

In reality, I wanted some time to myself to do my usual Wednesday lunchtime no gi Jiu Jitsu class at Lange's, have a quiet lunch and shower after training, chill out with Pat, etc., before I allowed the circus to descend on me again.

I called Matt back and told him I was in. He was happy. I knew Rebecca would be in touch with details.

I met Rebecca in a cafe at the hospital at around 4 pm on the next day, a Thursday. I took my takeaway coffee up to meet the techies and Matt, at an outside area near the hospital chapel.

We took a few sequences of me crossing an internal street in the hospital, supposedly on my way to somewhere, and a few takes of Matt and I discussing what I was about to do, and how I felt about it. I felt more nervous about this day than anything I had done for the program so far - though I was hardly apoplectic. I told Matt I was nervous because I wanted to turn this meeting into a positive outcome for everyone concerned. Which was the truth.

Chances' uncle and cousin brought him out in a wheelchair. He did not appear to be in good shape. He seemed very shy, and a bit overwhelmed by the situation. He was soft spoken, to the extent that the sound technician had a great deal of trouble capturing what he said - they didn't want to put a wire on him because of his injuries, and were relying on the boom microphone. With Matt's encouragement, he was able to look me in the eye and apologise for attacking me. I was able to forgive him and say some encouraging words about making a good future for himself and helping others, and shook his hand.

As with Steve, the nature of the situation made everything a bit stilted, and probably embarrassing, or even intimidating, for him. Hopefully, it makes for good storytelling and television. I shook hands with his uncle and cousin, who seemed genuinely grateful for my presence and actions.

After the nerves and excitement wore off and I was riding the train home, alone, I realised this wasn't anything like the climactic moment, act of courage, or catharsis that I had talked myself into believing it would be.

Chances will be in hospital for a long time, and his full recovery could take two years. I think it is possible that he may be unable to work in his chosen profession, that of tree lopping, again.

I believe it is a family business, and I'd hope they could find him some less physical way to contribute to their business, and earn an income, until such time as he can fully involve himself again. But, his injuries are still going to keep him out of life's rich pageant for at least two of his best years. Pathetic, and I mean that in a strictly technical and not a derogatory sense.

There is little upside to this, and I can't take much positive for myself from it.

I wondered if he finds talking to strangers difficult. Perhaps the circumstances of the accident on Forest Way were too daunting for him to negotiate verbally, and thus he panicked and resorted to violence.

Effective communication is vital to civilisation. Negotiating with words is far more likely to end well, than any physical alternative. "Verbal Jiu Jitsu", as recommended by many, is a thing.

Peak experiences and transcendent events can't be planned. Sad but true.

While it was not uplifting, climactic, or cathartic, as I was expecting and hoping, I still think this was the right thing for me to do. I hope it brought some comfort or relief to Chances, and everyone else involved.

"Virtue is its own reward," as the saying goes. Whatever virtue I embodied certainly did not seem to be packaged with an ultimate catharsis, a huge dopamine hit, or a transcendent moment of oneness with the Godhead.

Still, it is all there was, and it was enough.

I went to Jiu Jitsu training the next day, Friday, and had lunch afterwards with some Jiu Jitsu friends. I related the whole strange and terrible saga from go to woe, as one of my lunch companions had heard none of it. Now, THAT was cathartic.

It had been a fascinating few days, and an experience I enjoyed. I knew I'd been schmoozed and manipulated, but understood the reasons for that, and know it was done, in part at least, in the pursuit of good - a road safety and anti-violence message - and not evil. I can see that Rebecca, Matt, and the other media professionals work hard, and for long hours, and believe in what they are doing. I respected Rebecca and her work ethic in particular, and found her good company.

After meeting Chances at RNS - Loz (camera), Rebecca (producer), me, Matt (presenter), Will (sound)

The Final Cut

Final show as released for TV

What must have come close to ten hours of filming was condensed into perhaps fifteen minutes or less of final product. The Jiu Jitsu sequence at Lange's MMA was cut to about forty-five seconds. Pat's and my walk through the bush didn't make the final cut, but only appeared for a moment in one of the trailers. All the driving I did with Matt was condensed down to maybe fifteen seconds.

My meeting with Steve Bloor, the truck driver, was relegated to an extra clip on Facebook, though they did include a good deal of that, and I got Rick Spain's Red Boat Kung Fu product placement into that clip. Result!

My story was interwoven with that of another road rage incident. Several people have remarked that I presented a far more positive image than the other interviewees (Steve Bloor excepted) - though, as I replied to them, the bar was pretty low.

I had intentionally sat during my interview with my hands clasped in a Gable Grip, a standard wrestling grip that I hoped viewers who trained Jiu Jitsu would notice and remark on, a sort of Masonic secret handshake recognisable only to the initiated. An in joke. But my clasped hands never made it into the final product.

The Gable Grip

My story was followed by one about women who were having poor medical outcomes from breast implants. Before each ad break, there was a brief clip indicating what was coming up next. I was playing the program video on my computer, while running a video capture, and doing other things in the meantime.

At one stage I looked up at the screen briefly to see an glimpse of my face to camera, immediately followed on screen by the image of a pair of breasts. Not sure of the subtext of that.

Take Aways

I was conscious while I was doing this that the crew were forming an impression of me, a persona, if you like. I see that what I brought to the camera is similar.

Hopefully, I appear as a potential victim, who chose not to be a victim, and someone who could rise above the situation, act rationally, articulate his reaction to the experience competently and intelligently, and even reconcile with, and forgive, his attacker.

I am much more complex and flawed than this. I had been very conscious through this of the need to protect, and live up to, this persona, to avoid having it come crashing down, and the whole moral thrust of the program’s theme damaged or ruined. So, careful driving, no breaking the road rules, no accidents. Act politely towards everyone, with grace.

A persona perhaps, but with with some fleshing out, perhaps a better or ideal self. That persona would seem to be a goal, at which to aim up. This then, hopefully, can continue to be useful to me, beyond the short term requirements of the story.

The Ideal Self

It has been quite the experience. Remarkably, there have been many unexpected positives coming out of a very brief, though serious, assault. Overall, I'd have to say that, in the final tally, the positives well outweigh the negatives, and my life has been made richer for it.

The Latest

On August 8, Chances Moana was sentenced to 18 months jail, minimum 15. He will stay out until October, while being assessed for possible home detention. His injuries apparently prevent community service from being an option.

This was a harsher sentence than I expected.

I truly hope he can move forward after his recovery and sentence, and live a good life.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

It Seems to be Working - Part 2 - Road Rage

What follows is long, detailed, and no doubt boring. I wrote it this way intentionally to give the reader a feel of how tedious and disruptive the aftermath of a fifteen second violent confrontation can be.

The Event

On Friday, May 11, 2018 a bit after 1 PM, I was driving north along Forest Way in Frenchs Forest, a three lane dual carriageway, towards the traffic lights at Adams Street.

Here the left lane ends, the middle and right lanes go in an S, so they become the left and middle lanes, and an extra lane is introduced on the right.

There are extensive roadworks through the entire suburb related to the new Northern Beaches Hospital, and this change to the traffic conditions had only been in place for a few months. Prior to this, Forest Way was three straight lanes through the intersection. I usually to go another way, but other roadworks on that way meant occasional delays.

The intersection of Forest Way and Adams Street, Frenchs Forest, before commencement of roadworks and at the time of the incident

I followed the right lane through the S formation, where it becomes the middle lane. Another driver was on my left. I believe I was driving in my lane correctly, and he sideswiped me from my left, he not correctly following the curve of the lane markings. This was a minor collision, with minor panel damage, and I was not hurt.

He pulled in front of me and stopped. The lights turned red, I believe. I assumed he would have looked for a place to pull over so that we could exchange details and deal with the accident. He got out of his car, I assumed he would want to talk to me. OK, whatever, here will do.

I started to open my door, thus opening the automatic lock, to meet him. I sensed his intentions were hostile, and thus remained in the car. He kicked my side of the car, perhaps the rear vision mirror, and opened the door. I sensed he was going to attack me, turned to face him with my feet up and protected my head with my arms as best I could. He threw several punches with his right hand, perhaps two connected solidly with my face and head. I was wearing glasses and these were knocked off my face. He started back to his car. He did not speak.

 Our two cars collided again, with mine lurching forward and rear ending his. I thought I had put the car in park with the handbrake on. It is possible I knocked the gear lever into drive, or had left the car in drive and accidentally hit the accelerator. The latter seems unlikely, as the car remained stationary while he attacked me, and I was defending myself with my feet off the pedals. t thought momentarily he might have reversed back into my car, or that someone had bumped my car from behind, but the video evidence says not.

I was not facing forward in the car when this happened and certainly did not cause this to happen intentionally. I was in no state to consider retaliation by driving into him. That would have been a monumentally stupid idea. I had no desire to prolong or escalate the altercation.

I spent a fair while on Hyundai and motor insurance forums online, afterwards, seeking answers to exactly what may have led to the car moving forward, but without success. Exactly how this happened remains a mystery to me.

He came back and attacked me again in the same way, connecting with one or two more punches, though from the video about fifteen were thrown. I took the same defensive position, and did my best to block and deflect his punches. Again, he said nothing. Neither of us spoke during the entire altercation. He returned to his car and drove off.

I am surprised this was so newsworthy. I am disappointed the video embedded in the link doesn’t really show how I blocked or deflected the vast majority of strikes.

I shut down the ignition, set the handbrake, and got out once he had gone, to consider how to get my now undrivable car off the busy road. I was not seriously injured, but had blood dripping from a few facial cuts. I was not concussed, but was heavily adrenalized, and not thinking straight.

I also wanted to show witnesses, and myself, that I was still conscious and ambulatory.

My main concerns at the time were how to get the car off the road, that other drivers would be inconvenienced and would get annoyed with me, that my wife and I had relatives staying with us and we would be down to one car which would spoil our plans, and inconvenience and annoy everybody involved. Which was completely wrong, but illustrates how far off the mark my thinking was. A long way from rationality.

Fortunately a B double truck had pulled up behind me, and a smaller truck on the left stopped as well. The B double driver, Steve Bloor, and the two guys in the other truck helped me, and got the car off the road and onto a grassy area at the corner. They also called the police. Those guys were helpful and kind.

I made some joke like "Well, that was fun!" to Steve, mainly to convince him and myself that I hadn't been mentally reduced to a gibbering mess.

Steve told me his truck had a dashcam, but he would need to contact his office to obtain the footage. One of the truckies found that the attacker’s spare tyre had come off his vehicle in the collision. I took it off the road and left it on the grass at the corner.

Three police officers arrived. I was wandering around a grassy area on the side of the road, trying to process what had happened, and decide what to do next.. One of the truckies gave me a bottle of water.

Senior Constable F told me to take a seat in the back of their truck, in case I started to pass out or otherwise had a bad reaction, but probably also to get me out of the way while they talked to other witnesses. Fair enough. They called an ambulance. The police officers were pleasant and sympathetic towards me.

 Senior Constable F told me initially that they could arrange to get the car towed, but I would have to pay for it. I had no idea as to where I should get the car towed, and was not in a great state to decide. As they got more details, they told me they would instead be having it towed to their premises, for forensic testing at their expense. Awesome, one fewer issue to deal with right now.

I went back to the car just to gather my personal effects, and look for my glasses. I figured they would be totally bent out of shape, or be smashed to pieces out on the road. Incredibly, I found them intact, lying in the back of the car in the footwell, folded neatly all by themselves. They look flimsy with super light frames, but they are made from titanium, and their ability to flex and retain their shape afterwards is probably what saved them. They were quite expensive, and as I told one of the police officers, I could be grateful for small mercies.

The ambulance came and two paramedics checked me over. They asked if I wanted to go to hospital. I was initially reluctant, but they convinced me gently but persistently.

We ummed and ahhed about whether I should go to the SAN at Wahroonga, or to Hornsby Hospital.

The SAN is very good, but you usually have to pay a sizeable fee upfront.

Hornsby is public, the buildings and some facilities desperately need refurbishment. But in my experience, and that of my brother in law who suffered a TIA (mini-stroke) two years ago, there is no compromise on care.

Decision made. The paramedics drove me to Hornsby Hospital. They spoke to me quietly and calmly about innocuous subjects, which I guess was to help me calm down. I had my blood pressure taken en route. I had been for a check up recently and scored 114/78, which is in the normal range. A half hour after the accident, it was now 140/90 (I asked). Interesting.

(I was later billed over $500 for the ambulance ride. Fortunately, my private medical insurance covered it.)

We arrived at Hornsby Hospital Emergency. As I arrived in an ambulance, I went straight in. I only waited fifteen minutes for a bed. They sat me on a chair while we were waiting, and one of the paramedics stayed with me and chatted about his and my recent histories.

I was moved to a bed and told to take my top off and put on a gown, lie down and get under a blanket. Dr J came and gave me an initial once over. Another half hour later, my blood pressure was now down to 130/85 or thereabouts. I was interested to see how my physiology was impacted.

I was in the hospital for three or four hours. Pat arrived a half hour after me, and was pretty shaken up herself. They checked me out for facial and spinal fractures (none) and potential concussion, and other brain or internal injury. I took a number of vision, movement, and cognitive tests. A more senior doctor, Dr A, also checked out my injuries.

I had a few facial cuts (probably from my glasses), a black eye, the eyeball slightly bruised and bloodshot, and the eye starting to close, a 15 mm cut inside the top of my external ear, probably from a glancing blow, and a cut inside my upper lip which just penetrated through to the top side, probably from getting smashed against a tooth. A slightly sore neck, but I’ve had much worse training. And a couple of chipped teeth. I've had similar, and worse, injuries from training, as well as having been knocked unconscious.

The two doctors agreed a cleanup, and a single stitch inside my lip, would be all that was required. However, both Dr J and Dr A had to apply that stitch together, as it was in a difficult spot. I accepted the local anaesthetic offered, feeling I'd been stoic enough for one day. It was tricky to hit the right spot with the anaesthetic needle, as it was close to my eyeball.

This provided a training opportunity for some junior doctors, and so a couple came in and watched, after I gave Dr A my permission. I could see the utility of this, plus some humour in the situation. Tempted to sell tickets.

They stitched me up before the anaesthetic fully hit, but the pain was only 3 out of 10. Dr J had a significant amount of paperwork to do for my discharge, but got through it and I was out of there at 6:45 PM. I had a cut on my ear which they would have liked to have stitched, but that wasn’t feasible, so they used a couple of Steri Strips instead, to keep the wound closed.

It's just a flesh wound!

I got a call from one of the officers on the scene, Constable R, while Pat drove me home. He asked if I was happy for some other police came to see me at home that night. I agreed, keen to pursue this. I managed to shower, change and eat, having missed lunch, before they arrived.

The two police who arrived took a statement from me, and went over it a few times, asking me questions repeatedly, probably in an attempt to identify any potential lies. Which I don’t begrudge, as I told the truth.

They told me they had obtained the dashcam footage, had identified the car, which was owned by a company, and would be going to talk to the car’s registered owner immediately they left my house. LSC A also asked me to call her on Saturday night, when she hoped to be able to tell me that my car was available for release, after completion of the forensic tests.

The forensic technician rang her while she was at my house, said they had obtained some fingerprints, and asked a few questions about blood on various items in the car, which I think was all mine.

Like all the other professionals involved, cops, paramedics, medical staff, and the drivers that stopped to help me, these police were pleasant and sympathetic. They left about 9:30 pm. So, a long day.

I didn’t sleep all that well, not because of my mental state, as much as the fact that my injured ear was on the side I normally prefer to sleep. I have a separated A/C joint, Jiu Jitsu related, on the other side, which makes sleeping there uncomfortable. So I was restless, but not because of trauma, flashbacks or nightmares.

I did very little on Saturday. I spoke to some  Jiu Jitsu friends over the phone, Nikki Lange and Luca Altea for a fair while, and Peter King on the Sunday, and crashed for a couple of hours in the afternoon. I called LSC A, who had taken my statement, in the evening, as she requested. She told me the car had been released and available for pick up, but that there was no rush.

I had little energy that day, found it hard to collect my thoughts or get organised, and was quite content to watch videos and read.

On Sunday morning, Constable R emailed me the form I needed to allow the towie to get my car from the police lockup. I called my insurance company and started a claim. They said they would arrange to tow the car to an approved repairer close to home. This took a while, but was much less complicated than I had feared it might be.

She had a couple of questions about the police report, etc. that I couldn’t answer on the spot, but was easily able to resolve those with a call to yet another helpful Constable S, at Dee Why Police.

On Sunday night Constable R called me to say they had found the attacker, and arrested and charged him with two accounts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and one of leaving the scene of an accident without providing details. The hearing was set for June 27, at Manly Court.

I was very pleased, told Constable R that, and thanked him and his colleagues for their assistance and excellent work.

 On the Monday, I emailed the release form for the car to Mona Vale police. Tuesday, the car was picked up and towed to the repairer at Thornleigh, near where I live.

 A week later, the necessary administrative work (police report, assessing the car, etc.) had been completed, and I was told repairs had commenced. I got the car back on June 8, just before the Queen's Birthday long weekend.

 I had to pay the insurance excess, $695, to the repairer, to collect my car. The insurance company refunded it to me once the police report had been processed, and it confirmed I was not at fault. This finally happened on August 3.

It is fortunate my wife and I own two cars. Otherwise, we would had to have significantly reduced our travelling, or hire a car, not a cheap exercise.

I took it easy the next week. The thought of complex interactions with many people, or dealing with complex logistics, was daunting and I begged off some, though not all, tourist style trips with my relatives, and a planned day of Jiu Jitsu refereeing the following weekend. I felt such activities would have exhausted me mentally within a short time, and I might not have met my responsibilities adequately as a result. Those potentially affected by my absences took them with good grace.

I trained a light Jiu Jitsu session twelve days after the accident, and was back to and enjoying my normal routines, including martial arts training and Jiu Jitsu rolling, after two weeks.

There are more events to this story. To be continued.

Analysis - from a Self Defence and Martial Arts Perspective

This was not an act of courage or heroism. I did not volunteer. I did not save anybody else.

I am a science and IT nerd, not a professional warrior. 

I believe that martial arts training has allowed me to develop a certain toughness and stoicism, as well as some physical and mental tools to deal with interpersonal violence.

The old cliché is “it all happened so fast”. 

I had only a vague idea of the attacker’s appearance and would have been hard pressed to recognise his photo, or pick him out of a lineup. Mostly, I remember he belonged to a specific ethnic group. Racist? Well, that’s what I remember about him.

He was wearing a hi-res shirt or jacket, probably yellow, maybe orange, and work boots. Long dark work pants, I thought, but I couldn’t be sure.  A labourer or tradesman. I only have a vague idea of the car as well, a white table top utility, and no idea what the number plate was. I had no opportunity to look. 

I believe I neither caused the accident - and the police made no suggestion that my driving was at fault - nor did I do anything whatsoever to provoke the assault.

However, following the philosophy espoused in Jocko Willink's book, "Extreme Ownership", I believe I need take my share of responsibility for the outcome of this event, and consider what I might have done to prevent it.

My error was not allowing for the possibility that my attacker might make one. We are imperfect creations, works in progress. None of us are immune from mistakes, and thus not allowing for the potential mistakes of others, as well as our own, is to be optimistic to the point of foolhardiness. 

That aside, I have thought my defensive actions over a multitude of times, and strongly believe that if it happened again, I would act the same way. 

Some martial artists, or even some non martial artists, might think I should have got out of the car and done battle with the attacker. And believe that they would have. 

It took place in the middle lane of a three-lane busy dual carriageway. Getting out of the car, blocking and slipping punches, then hitting him with a double leg takedown, getting mount, slapping his face and getting him to turn, taking his back, and choking him unconscious, could easily have resulted on one or both of us getting hit and killed by a passing car, and thus putting a third blameless driver through a similar crappy odyssey to the one I had to work through - or worse. 

I doubt I could have pulled that technical sequence off faultlessly under such duress, in any case. No mats, gravel, oil, broken glass ... Defeat is not the sole province of non martial artists.

Also, I didn’t want to engage the attacker in front of witnesses. I could have ended up on dashcam, and on a serious charge myself, had I done so. I decided to defend, but not retaliate.

So, I'm a Jiu Jitsu black belt, and have taught Wing Chun Kung Fu for decades, and you think those credentials demand that I should have got out of my car, and delivered some rough justice.

Consider this. A quote from the article linked to beneath it:

On December 1, 2015, a man died horribly under the wheels of a garbage truck after a roadside clash with another driver that lasted about 15 seconds. It happened ... beside the southern lanes of Brisbane's Gateway Motorway. There were no weapons or bizarre twists involved, just two seemingly ordinary blokes — Shane Merrigan, 50, and Tamate Heke, then 36 — heading home from work on a Tuesday afternoon.
A New Zealand national and father of three, Heke was a factory worker with no criminal history, due to marry his long-time partner the following week; Merrigan, married with four daughters, was a professional driver who'd already been counselled at a former workplace over several road-rage incidents.
Somehow, the pair got into an all-too-familiar anger spiral: both tailgating and vying to get ahead; both cursing and giving one another the finger. According to court evidence based on CCTV footage and witness statements, Merrigan was in front when he gestured for Heke to pull over. Both vehicles stopped and the drivers got out – so close to traffic rushing past at 100km/h they were buffeted by disturbed air — and stood yelling at each other.
Heke was then seen to deliver a single punch to the head or neck of Merrigan, who fell backwards onto the road and disappeared in a moment beneath the truck. He died instantly of multiple injuries.
A distraught Heke admitted throwing the punch to police at the scene, saying Merrigan had assaulted him first. This claim was found to be unsupported by evidence at Heke's second trial for manslaughter in Brisbane's Supreme Court earlier this year, after his first trial ended with a hung jury. Heke, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, was ultimately cleared of manslaughter but found guilty of unlawful striking causing death, for which he's now serving six-and-a-half years in prison.

The long judicial process served to illustrate how widely the horror unleashed that day has spread, starting with Heke's anguish at the scene, where he was physically ill and shook uncontrollably, crying, "What have I done? What have I done?" Later treated for depression and suicidal thoughts, he told police he'd tried to grab Merrigan as he fell, and that he "didn't mean it".

The courts heard of the grief and devastation of Merrigan's loved ones and friends — "The happiness I had has been drained … pretty much everything has been destroyed," wrote one of his daughters in a victim impact statement — and of the after-effects suffered by the truck driver involved, and by other motorists who stopped to help.

"There are many victims of your stupid, frustrated action in punching Mr Merrigan," Justice Peter Applegarth told Heke during sentencing. "You made a foolish decision to accept [his] invitation to pull over. Nothing good was ever likely to come of that."

Yeah, but they were just untrained palookas.

Any of the Gracies would have got out of the car, and made the guy pay.

Actually, no.

Here are Rener and Ryron suggesting you do no such thing, in a Gracie Breakdown of a road rage incident which resulted in the death of "Guma", an accomplished competitive Jiu Jitsu black belt, in Brazil.

Gracie Breakdown.Viewer discretion advised. Grim stuff. 

Still think a real man, you perhaps, should have got out and punched on? You obviously aren't as old as me - sixty-three - and if you insist on that attitude, I wouldn't bet on you living to that age. At least, not without a spell or two in gaol.

Consider how a criminal record might affect your employment prospects, ability to travel, relationships, etc. Think about how savagely the wings of your dreams would be clipped.

Good martial arts training gives you OPTIONS for self defense. It doesn't give you any OBLIGATIONS as to how you should react.

So, what DID I do?

I spun in my seat to face him as he opened the door, adopted Rodney King's "Crazy Monkey" defence position (a position also taught to me by John Will, and called the "Shell") with my hands on my forehead and elbows close together, lifted my left foot and knee up to provide further protection, like a Jiu Jitsu open guard, and did my best to block and absorb his punches, without retaliating.

Rodney King's Crazy Monkey Defence System

(Shortly after the attack, I found that Rodney King was visiting Australia. The universe was sending me a message! I signed up for and attended a seminar with Rodney at George Adams' gym three weeks later. Interesting and thought provoking, some good, alive training, and I enjoyed meeting Rodney himself.)

In the car, I was surrounded by steel armour on three sides, plus above and below. Almost like being in a shark viewing cage. No better place to be. 

In the car, I could really only be attacked with straight punches. No hooks, uppercuts, headbutts, elbows, knees or kicks.

Getting out of the car made no sense whatsoever from a defensive standpoint.

The observer part of me was evaluating the punches ... Nope ... No ... Oh, that one got through, but not so bad, maybe a six out of ten ... No ... Ouch, give that one an eight ... Nope … 

I thought implementing the best defence I could, and doing nothing to escalate the situation, would be the best, or the least bad, option, of many potential options with likely much worse outcomes. In situations like this, there are probably no tactics you can adopt that will avoid a bad outcome. It’s a matter of trying to make the outcome the best of a bad lot. 

I felt fear, but not panic. I believe I made good decisions quickly under duress. While I did not fight back, I felt I made effective use of my martial arts and self defence training, and that it served me well when I needed it. 

An essential part of which was leaving my ego right out of the situation.

Stay safe. Getting out of the car because your ego is threatened is what puts you in hospital, gaol, or the cemetery.

Self defence is about SURVIVAL, not victory, dominance, or punishment. 

Imagine if instead of me – and I’m a 63 year old male, fit and capable, but hardly in the prime of potential warriorhood – it had been a 75 year old lady driving? Or a mother with preschoolers in the car? An invalid? How badly could that have worked out? 

I thought about scenarios where weapons were involved, improvised or otherwise. Just glad that wasn’t a factor. If I’d have got out and retaliated, he might have grabbed a crowbar from his truck ... Not going there. 

I have had some fairly tough situations in training and sparring. But the level of stress and adrenalin in those situations compared to a real attack is like that of throwing a medium sized rock into a pond, compared to setting off a large bomb in its depths. 

Maybe not that large a bomb

But ... I  found I could handle it. The adrenalin dump.

I enjoy my training, it is a significant part of my life. As I said, I felt it saved me here, but training does not, and probably cannot, fully prepare you for the shocking, frenzied chaos of an assault. It comes out of nowhere very fast, is unexpected, and most likely will be significantly different to any practice scenario that you can devise.

I’m really not sure how much more I could have done to prepare. I think visualisation and mental rehearsals of potential attacks and effective responses work. Enough pressure testing that you are prepared for solid contact, and physical and mental duress, is essential. 

Hopefully, this gives you an idea of how shocking, disruptive, time-consuming, and downright inconvenient this sort of incident can be, even if you don’t get badly hurt. And how things could have been unbelievably worse. 

A couple of my martial arts seniors, who I fully respect, and who have real self defence experience (like I do now ... another one off the alt-weird bucket list), both tough as nails, told me to expect flashbacks, etc., as they had had from incidents in which they were involved. None of that for me so far, but who knows.

The attack lasted about fifteen seconds. I was still dealing with its aftermath, from a purely logistical point of view, nearly three months later. 

From my mental perspective, I do not think of myself as a victim, and believe I dealt with an awful and difficult situation well, without losing control, and making sound decisions at every point, even under duress. 

The only things I’ve come up with that I might have done differently, had I known this was about to happen, would be: 
  • Keeping the car doors locked and waiting for a clearer picture of his intentions
  • Using a slightly spikier defensive configuration, like Rodney King’s Three Point Cover, making it harder for the attacker to hit me without potentially spiking his fist on my lead elbow 
  • Using the half full plastic water bottle I had with me as an improvised defensive weapon, as advocated by Raymond Floro. 

But still, too many variables. The Butterfly Effect, of any of these potential small changes, could still perhaps have had a significant negative effect on the outcome.

The incident and its aftermath have increased my confidence and belief in the value and utility of my training, and my ability to deal with adversity.

Some other useful protective configurations for dealing with punching attackers: 

The Visor  - John Will and Dave Meyer

The Battering Ram - a bit like Rodney King's Three Point Cover 

The attack didn’t put me off driving. I’ve now driven through the same intersection multiple times without incident - no freakouts, albeit somewhat hypervigilant.

I have fitted a dashcam to my car. If it goes well, I'll buy another for Pat's car.

I met one violent individual on the day, but I also met about two dozen heroes - the drivers that helped me, the cops, paramedics, and hospital staff. On balance, that's reason for increased faith in humanity. 

The evidence against the attacker seemed pretty overwhelming, and I expected him to plead guilty. If it did go to a hearing, I would have absolutely fronted up to court, stood up straight with my shoulders back, looked him in the eye, and told the truth. 

But there were more twists and turns to come with this story. To be continued.

My attack made the front page of the Manly Daily, and at least two Sydney TV news channels.

Another related news article, includes video:

Monday, June 11, 2018

Rodney King's Crazy Monkey Defense System seminar - 10 June 2018

The seminar was held are George Adams' gym in Lakemba. Thanks to George for arranging the seminar and to his students for their friendly and welcoming attitude.

Seminar group

The best place to get an idea of Rodney's background and qualifications to teach personal defence, and an overview of his system and its rationale, is on these websites:

Rodney's website
Crazy Monkey Defense website

Suffice to say he is very well qualified.


We face our opponent, one foot forward.

Our feet need to be wider than our hips for the fundamental concept of balance. When moving, we never want to end up with our feet narrower, or crossed up, as our balance and ability to defend or strike will be compromised.

We should be up on the toes of our back foot. Both feet face forwards at the opponent. We need to be able to drive forward from the back foot without adjustment. Turning the back foot out to the side is a  giant no-no.

We pull our stomach in and try to pull our upper body down into our hips, rounding our shoulders to pull our elbows down and in to protect our flanks.

Our shoulders are raised and our chin and head pulled down to hide and protect our neck and jaw. The neck and throat cannot easily be conditioned and must be protected.

If your head is up and you get hit on the side of the jaw, the shock tends to go up into the brain. With the proper CM stance, the shock will go down through the body into the ground.

Hands are up near the cheekbones, protecting the face, for now.


We do not want to compromise our balance, or ability to move again, defend or hit. Movements should in general be small. Better several small steps preserving the integrity of our stance rather than one big step which compromises balance or stance integrity.

For an orthodox fighter (L foot forward), forward movement requires us to push off the back R foot, and take a small step with the L foot, always coming back to the same stance. The same applies to stepping to our L or circling anticlockwise. Make sure the back foot comes back to the correct stance every time when drilling, do not let it drag and compromise the stance.

For the orthodox fighter to move back, push off with the front L foot, step with the R, bring the L foot back to the correct stance again. Same for moving to the R or circling clockwise. As before, take small steps and make sure each steps lands you back in the correct stance.

Forming a Fist

A proper fist is formed by pointing the fingers outward laterally (for the L hand point the fingers out to the L), then closing the fist, keeping the forearm muscles tight. If done properly, this will prevent the wrist from bending forward and collapsing.

You can test this by forming a fist without pointing the fingers outward and having a partner trying to bend your wrist with his hands. It will be bendable if you do not align the fingers as discussed, but if done correctly with the fingers pointed out first, your pratner should be unable to bend your wrist.

Jab and Cross

The jab should be thrown with the chin kept on the chest, so it is tucked securely behind the deltoid of the punching arm, and thus safe from counter punches.

The cross requires you to open your hips so the rear hip can come forward behind the punch. An orthodox fighter should step his L foot slightly to the L to allow the R hip to move. Turn the L foot slightly in so it still faces the opponent. Bend the R knee and allow the stance to drop slightly as you throw the cross. Remember once again to keep shoulders lifted, head and chin tucked and keep the chin hidden behind the deltoid of the punching arm. Always finish in the proper stance, retaining stance integrity and balance.

If throwing the jab cross combo, step the L foot out as above with the jab to set up the cross that follows.

Drill: Jab/cross on focus mitts or Thai pads, bare handed. Partner should move around and hide and flash the pads each time, so the puncher can work movement, timing, and distancing. Use broken rhythm.


Against hooks to the head

From their position down near the cheekbones, slide your hand up and grab the back of your head. Hide your chin and lock everything in tight. You need to grab the back of your head as the target may be anywhere from the jaw to knockout points on the back of your head. After blocking the punch return your hand immediately to the guard position.

For most of the drills, you want a defence position with your hands touching your head, up near the hairline. With gloves on, the fingers of the palm side of your gloves should be on your head, without gloves, your palms and fingers are on your hairline as if running your hands through your hair. do not take your hands off your head while defending - you will end up hitting yourself in the head or leaving gaps to get hit through.

Drill: Partner has focus mitts, you have boxing gloves. Partner throws slap-style hooks with the pads, you defend as above. Start light and ensure the punchee is not so pressed as to abandon good form.

Against straight punches, jabs and crosses to the head

From the defence position with hands on your head, shift your elbow into the centre, blocking the punch with the bone of the forearm or the seam of the glove. You can block a L jab with either your R or L forearm. You can block a L jab R cross combination with a L forearm and R forearm, an R and an L or two L forearms (blocking with two R forearms might be inefficient and risky). You should mix the responses to avoid becoming predictable.

Drill: Partner has focus mitts, you have boxing gloves. your partner should left his fingers and strike with the flat of the pad, rather than the forward edge, for safety. Partner throws jabs and crosses with the pads, you defend with the forearms.

You should not block punches and step straight back for more than a couple of steps. After that, start circling away to the side. You should practice circling away to both sides and mix them up while drilling so as to avoid predictability.

Our gaze should be on the "Bermuda triangle" between his shoulders and his sternum. You should not try to watch the hands. Rodney demonstrated how his reaction time to block the glove, while watching the triangle, is very much faster than when he watches the gloves.

The other value of circling is that it allows us to get a look at the wider lay of the land - other people, obstacles, exits, etc. while still keeping our attention on the opponent. As we have a tendency to "tunnel vision" under stress, and we never want to turn our heads away from the immediate threat and "Bermuda triangle", the circling can be very useful.

You will be able to move quicker from a base of movement rather than stillness. So, both move in the stance, but also keep moving your hands on your head constantly, as your reactions and movements will be faster that way. Rodney used the analogy of a tennis player waiting to receive a serve. No one stands there awaiting the serve in a horse stance.

Drill: Partner with mitts throws jabs, crosses, hooks, mixing them up. You defend and keep circling away to both sides.

Drill: Partner with mitts throws jabs, crosses, hooks in various combinations, you defend and cricle, then he holds both pads out for you to return a jab cross. Return to defending, then hold the pads up, repeat.

"Rimshot" Range

This seminar is an intro to "CM1", which works where we are at a range where he cannot hit us without taking a step, but if he does take a step, he can hit us or we can hit him. This is "Rimshot" range.

"CM2" deals with closer ranges than this. We are not ready for this yet. There are CM3 and CM4 after that.

It is important that we understand how to stay at rimshot range and  be able defend ourselves there. If we get too close, we can be hit, clinched with, taken down, etc. If we are too far away, we may not have time to close and hit or grab/smother him if he tries to access a purpose made or improvised weapon.

If we are able to "ride the storm" of his attack and retaliate with our own strikes, we need to be mindful that once we stop striking him, his automatic reaction will probably be to retaliate with strikes of his own. We need to move back out of range without giving him the opportunity to hit us while we are doing it.

As we move away, we need to jab, jab, jab to keep him from following until we are back at the relative safety of rimshot range. The jab away may be a hard push or slap to the chest rather than a punch to the head if the situation does not yet warrant punching. Much like Geoff Thompson's push away, when they start closing in on your Fence.

Drill: Similar to the previous - partner attacks with the pads, then hold them up for the jab cross. Then he presses in at you. You should circle back to rimshot range while throwing jabs. Often, only the first jab might connect.

A short video from the seminar recorded by George Adams

Progressive Stress Inoculation

It is important to start slow and ramp this stuff up at a level the student can cope with. Certainly not go at them full speed, full power from the get go. "Challenging but achievable", perhaps? As Keith Owen (IIRC) said, "If you break your toys, you don't get to play any more". This applies to training partners, and of course applies to Jiu Jitsu, and other aspects of martial arts training, as well as boxing.


We want to avoid violence. Don't make such situations a battle of egos. Try to use verbal Jiu Jitsu to defuse situations. You do not have to beat, dominate, or punish the other guy. If you cant defuse the situation with words, defend just long enough to make an exit.

If you can distract the guy and get out of there, that's SO much better than a knock down drag out confrontation where you might end up dead, or in jail. Dead hero is an overrated state.

Rodney and myself