The Tesco test

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The Tesco test

Postby rne02 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:20 pm | #1

In this day and age I don’t usually make a habit of buying magazines, but I decided to buy the latest edition of Martial Arts Illustrated as it proclaimed it was a Self Defence Special.

It turned out to be quite good actually, but one thing in particular caught my attention.  In one interview with Simon Keegan he mentioned Terry Wingrove and his Tesco Test.  

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to train with Mr Wingrove let me fill you in. His Tesco Test is this, if you are stood in the isle of Tesco at 11 o’clock at night, and someone takes a swing at you (Mr Wingrove always refers to Tesco, I think he must shop at a particularly dangerous branch lol) anyway, if someone took a swing at you  would you use this technique.  If the answer is no then he doesn’t see the point of training it.

Now, as I train purely for self defence, I would generally be in agreement with this statement.  However, in practice you are only going to need a handful of techniques for the purposes of most Self Defence scenarios.   And so while in theory it would make sense to select your chosen few techniques and drill them ad infinitum, this would of course become rather laborious and uninteresting over time.  I mean, who is going to want to do the same handful off techniques for 20+ years?

So whilst I can see the point, and generally agree with it, I suppose there is a purpose for training techniques which you know you are unlikely to ever use, but you do so because they are still “interesting” or maybe they are just fun to do!

The other point of course is that if two people learnt an entire syllabus, the handful of techniques they would each chose would be different, so you need to still need to teach a wide range of technique’s to allow people to have more options to Cherry Pick from.
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Re: The Tesco test

Postby nry » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:51 pm | #2

No use for me, I shop at ASDA :)
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Re: The Tesco test

Postby captaintau » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:47 pm | #3

rne02 wrote:if you are stood in the isle of Tesco at 11 o’clock at night, and someone takes a swing at you (Mr Wingrove always refers to Tesco, I think he must shop at a particularly dangerous branch lol) anyway, if someone took a swing at you  would you use this technique.  If the answer is no then he doesn’t see the point of training it.

Now, as I train purely for self defence, I would generally be in agreement with this statement.  However, in practice you are only going to need a handful of techniques for the purposes of most Self Defence scenarios.   And so while in theory it would make sense to select your chosen few techniques and drill them ad infinitum, this would of course become rather laborious and uninteresting over time.  I mean, who is going to want to do the same handful off techniques for 20+ years?

So whilst I can see the point, and generally agree with it, I suppose there is a purpose for training techniques which you know you are unlikely to ever use, but you do so because they are still “interesting” or maybe they are just fun to do!

This is it entirely. For true physical self defence you need very few techniques. But that would be boring. So pretty much everyone does stuff that isn't practical, and that includes EVERY pragmatist that I know. My personal perspective is that you have to be honest about what you're doing and where it fits in. There's no harm at all in "fun."


rne02 wrote:The other point of course is that if two people learnt an entire syllabus, the handful of techniques they would each chose would be different, so you need to still need to teach a wide range of techniques

Correct. What works for one person won't work for another. And therein lies one of the differences between students and instructors. Instructors need to be able to teach stuff that doesn't work for them.
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Re: The Tesco test

Postby Creaky Knees » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:33 pm | #4

I attended an excellent 'Manstoppers' seminar run by a RBSD jujutsu sensei called Kevin O'Hagan in Bristol and he used a metaphor for this subject by saying it is like carrying around a note book in the street but having an encyclopedia at home. Your few chosen high percentage techniques that you would use for self defence would be your note book and these you should drill and drill until they are second nature but all the other stuff that you learn for fun is your encyclopedia. This metaphor makes a lot of sense to me and is a good way of avoiding what Peter Consterdine refers to as 'log jamming' (which is where martial artists will often freeze in a real self defence situation because they have too many options to chose from) whilst at the same time being able to practice and learn a wide variety of techniques as part of your art. Just make sure that 'your notebook' is your primary focus in training.
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Re: The Tesco test

Postby captaintau » Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:20 am | #5

That's a very good analogy. Thanks
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Re: The Tesco test

Postby nry » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:16 pm | #6

I feel it is perhaps more about the general principles of 'entry'?  We get taught lots of 'If they do X, do Y' stuff, at least every club I've trained at does...yet the 'reality' is that we don't know what letter of the alphabet our friendly neighbourhood attacker will choose.

Rather than train a few core 'high percentage' techniques, we should perhaps be training an underlying response/entry, which in itself leaves openings for other things to be found.  To me, this is exactly what the nice chappie above is doing (He has some videos on the Tube Of You which cover some of his ideas...) and is nothing different in the grand scheme of things to 'The Fence' (Mr Abernathy) and other extremely similar ideas I've had shown/taught within one or two JJ styles over the years.

For me, Mr O'Hagan is simply re-enforcing this concept and shows that techniques should come from the result of your 'standard' entry, as opposed to coming from the specific attack (punch/kick/grab etc.).
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Re: The Tesco test

Postby BrassMan » Mon Apr 29, 2013 5:34 pm | #7

As a side issue, can I recommend the Phil Else interview in that issue?
"We do PRECISION GUESSWORK based on vague assumptions and unreliable data of dubious accuracy provided by persons of questionable intellectual capacity."
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Re: The Tesco test

Postby Hirsty » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:13 pm | #8

nry wrote: ...nothing different in the grand scheme of things to 'The Fence' (Mr Abernathy)...


Sorry to be pernickety, but wasn't it Geoff Thompson who coined the term "The Fence"?  I'm sure he is not the first to use this technique but he was certainly writing about it prior to Ian Abernethy.
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Re: The Tesco test

Postby captaintau » Wed May 01, 2013 12:50 am | #9

Hirsty wrote:
nry wrote: ...nothing different in the grand scheme of things to 'The Fence' (Mr Abernathy)...


Sorry to be pernickety, but wasn't it Geoff Thompson who coined the term "The Fence"?  I'm sure he is not the first to use this technique but he was certainly writing about it prior to Ian Abernethy.

Yup.

Geof Thompson invented the term "the fence" although it has probably been around in some form much longer. Geof Thompson, Al Peasland and so on have refined it and developed it.

Iain Abernethy does promote it, but he prefers his hands to be more active.
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Re: The Tesco test

Postby rne02 » Thu May 02, 2013 9:43 am | #11

Thanks for your input all, some interesting stuff.
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Re: The Tesco test

Postby Simon Keegan » Wed May 22, 2013 12:23 pm | #12

Hi. Thanks for your interest in my article. I'm glad you found it interesting (or at least partially interesting!)

Just to elaborate on what I said in the mag...

It is probably an over-simplification of me to say that I've discarded every technique that I wouldn't employ in a baked bean mugging, in principle it is more about a thought process.

My thought process when it comes to self defence is this:

Self defence must include the study of three key things:

1) Understanding the realism and nature of violent situations
2) Training techniques based on fundamental principles that transcend or underly the individual moves
3) Drilling these techniques and responses so that they become instinctive.

(I call these The Three Sciences - the Science of Violence, the Science of Technique and the Science of Learning, but the name is un-important.)

So firstly we learn about violence. How exactly are we going to be attacked (in Tesco or otherwise). While I can't guarantee "an attacker will grab your lapel with his left hand and hit you at an angle of 47 degrees with his right hand therefore you must block with an Uchi Ude Uke" what I can do is guarantee that if/when you are attacked it probably won't be with a spinning back kick, a jumping crescent moon kick or a superman punch. So when we defend, we defenc against habitual acts of violence. Punches, grabs, shoves, grappling, headbutts and so on.

Secondly we learn the principles. Yes, I could teach 50 different throws, but really 50 different throws would be variations on a theme of about 8 different throws. What is important is the underlying principles.

So we look at entering into the opponent's space, moving outside a technique, moving inside a technique and we tend to drill throws that can easily be pulled out of the bag in a variety of circumstances. Osoto Gari and Tai Otoshi being my favourites. One takes the guy backwards, the other takes the guy forwards. Change your leg a bit and you have a Kosoto Gari, change your hips and your arms and you have an Ogoshi.

We drill good habits - being relaxed, using the waist, using two directions, and we practice techniques in a finite way.

Instead of "tippy tappy" Ippon Kumite, every defence must result in either taking the opponent down (such as you would with a throw) or making the opponent tap out.

Finally it is no good me being able to do a technique and the student being able to copy it. Techniques must be drilled until they are instinctive. This is done with a range of drills, two man forms and testing through free practice like sparring and grappling.

So with this self defence approach in mind it is then translated to the arts I teach. Personally I teach a Karate class and I teach a Jujutsu class, but it would be the same if I taught Wing Chun or Ninjutsu.

We learn the requisite techniques of the style, paying homage to the art's stylistic and cultural origins, but we practice with the goal of effective self defence.

For example in my Karate class, I teach the full Shotokan range of punches, kicks and blocks. When we do them in Kihon we do nice deep stances, nice high kicks as this builds up a good understanding of hip movement, balance and form but when we apply our skills in self defence (or Ippon Kumite) our responses are more realistic.

Again, when we perform kata, the performance of the kata itself is traditional, but when we look at the bunkai applications (oyo) the resulting techniques are combat orientated.

Often new students will say "why do we practice Osoto Gari and Tai Otoshi every week when there are hundreds of other throws" but then one of my seniors students will make the point "because there are still 50 variations of Osoto Gari you don't know".

One of my Dan grade students is a frontline police officer who has had cause to apply techniques like our throws, locks and chokes when subduing suspects and he has found that the simple approach we teach is what works for him.

So in answer to the question, it is possible to do both. You can learn all the techniques you like, but I would rather focus on practicing the ones I know I could make work if my life depended on it. ("I don't fear the man who has practiced 5000 techniques once, I fear the man who has practiced one technique 5000 times" - Bruce Lee I think).

But I also subscribe to the view "spirit first technique second" - we spend a lot of time in hands on study, grappling (lots of MMA style groundwork), sparring, plenty of padwork, keeping trim. I don't want to be thought of as one of those Pressure Point Jutsu classes where nobody ever sweats!

As for Mr Wingrove, I just want to make it clear I'm not a student of his. I trained with him a few times, and haven't seen him since about 2007, but I did find the sessions very thought-provoking.

My goal is to teach traditional Karate and traditional Jujutsu, true to the combative origins of these arts, but I am more committed to teaching self defence that works.

All the best
Simon

http://www.bushinkai.org.uk
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Re: The Tesco test

Postby nry » Wed May 22, 2013 9:15 pm | #13

Excellent post Simon, well put together and pretty much in line with my own thoughts on kata etc. :)

For someone who knows nothing of you or the magazine, what styles do you train in?
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Re: The Tesco test

Postby Simon Keegan » Tue May 28, 2013 5:07 pm | #14

Thanks! I've trained in a mixture of styles really. I started young training informally as my dad, uncles and great uncles had studied martial arts (my dad started in Jujutsu in 1959 with Berni Blundell, my great uncle was blackbelt circa 1945 with Gerry Skyner - both Liverpool Jujutsu).

I trained for eight years with Steve Bullough Sensei in a system called Bushido Freestyle which was a mixture of Karate, Judo, Aikido and Kickboxing. I did competition Karate and kickboxing at this time in the mid 1990s. I took my 1st Dan in 1999.

I trained for nine years with a Chinese internal martial arts school (Yang style Tai Chi, Sun style Tai Chi and bits of Hsing-I and Chinese sword).

From around 2001-2010 I trained in Seiki Juku with Bob Carruthers Sensei which was largely Shotokan with other aspects of Karate and Jujutsu and also stickwork. Bob took me for my 2nd Dan.

I also trained on-and-off with Reiner Parsons Sensei in Nisseikai, a style of Goju Ryu Karate headed by Tadanori Nobetsu, which combines Goju with Feeding Crane Kung Fu. Reiner took me for my 3rd Dan and was on the board that awarded me my 4th Dan Renshi. Reiner has excellent grading lineage he took his 5th Dan under Nobetsu and his 6th Dan under Shoto Ryu headteacher Ikuo Higuchi.

More recently I've trained a little with Phil Handyside Sensei (who graded me 5th Dan). Phil was the instructor of Bob Carruthers, so it's not a separate style, but his method is closer to traditional Budokan (a Malaysian style founded by Chew Choo Soot based on Kanken Toyama's Tomari Karate Jutsu) and Kanazawa's Shotokan. He graded under both.

There's been other influences obviously. I graded in Jujutsu as well and as I said been on a few thought provoking seminars with Mr Wingrove, Patrick McCarthy etc, but my main teachers have been my dad Dave Keegan, Steve Bullough, Bob Carruthers, Reiner Parsons and Phil Handyside. I could name drop a few Japanese and Chinese masters but I was just a paying punter training with them.

I teach Karate and Jujutsu based on the self defence approach I outlined in the previous post and I also teach Tai Chi. My Tai Chi is probably more practical than the average grannies Tai Chi class but not quite as physical as the Karate and Jujutsu.
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Re: The Tesco test

Postby nry » Wed May 29, 2013 9:32 am | #15

Tai Chi is one of the few MA's I've not looked at the actual 'application' of the techniques, it is often shown as you say 'granny style' but as with most, there's the 'proper stuff' behind it all :)
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