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Friday, January 7, 2011

Review: One Against Many

I didn't specifically seek out this DVD; I won a copy from Wim Demeere in a contest on his blog. I don't know how much that influences this review, save that it means that a) I didn't pay money for this DVD, and b) I made an effort to watch it sooner, rather than later, because I told Wim I'd send him my review when I was done with it.

You can read Wim's own thoughts on the DVD here, if you're interested in a second opinion.

As the title indicates, this is DVD about dealing with multiple assailants, as taught in Mr. Tudjan's Multiple Opponent Survival System (M.O.S.S.). (Incidentally, the least intimidating martial arts acronym ever.) It starts with an overview of Mr. Tudjan's "Three Rules of Self-Protection", which are essentially the same as the PDR Systems 3 D's. Mr. Tudjan say's "Avoidance, De-Escalation, and Fight to Win" instead of Detect, Defuse, Defend, but the basic message is the same. Getting into fights (especially with multiple people is bad), so try not to have it happen. There's not a lot of discussion on any of these points, which is understandable, though somewhat unfortunate. I would have loved some discussion/information on avoidance or de-escalation strategies for multiple assailants, but they don't really come up much here.

One comment from this section I really did like was the advice that while one shouldn't underestimate one's opponent, one shouldn't overestimate them either.

The next section is a review of four common mistakes that Mr. Tudjan sees in multiple assailant training; taking the fight to the ground, applying locks or holds, high kicks, and assuming an aggressive or posed stance. There's a short demonstration accompanying each point, enough to get across the basic point.

These mistakes are followed by a short lecture on the "Dynamics of Fear". What Tudjan calls "fear" is what a lot of trainers call an adrenaline dump (Tudjan himself acknowledges this). He points out that it's quite natural and normal to experience it, and gives some advice on what to expect, and some ideas on how to deal with it. Again, none of this is terribly in-depth, which I found a little disappointing. I'm perhaps being unfair here, because I'm used to Tony Blauer's coaching style, which spends a lot of time on this very point, and not all trainers do. The DVD isn't really about managing fear, it's about multiple assailants. Nothing Tudjan says is bad or wrong, and I can't fault his ideas. I just like hearing more about that particular subject, so I wanted more.

There's a very short section on "Athletic vs. Tactical Responses". This section, I will fault for not being in-depth enough. It basically boils down to Tudjan saying that you shouldn't have separate counters for every attack, but instead, have a single dynamic counter for multiple types of attack. Again, fair, and in line with Blauer, Rory Miller, and many other instructors. But Tudjan never clearly shows or explains a particular response, instead demoing a couple of SPEAR-like movements before moving on. I really wish that he had spent more time on this section, because I think it's probably very important, and could have used a bit more info.

The next section covers a variety of strikes, most of which are the bog standard of combatives: palm strikes, hammer fist, headbutt, biting & gouging, elbow, knee, front kick, groin slap (no groin, no krav!). The one standout is the "Handball Jump Strike", which is a sort of superman punch/hammer fist attack. It's definitely a bit outside the box, but I can see how it might have some applications. Otherwise, I wish this section was a little shorter. I suppose if you have never trained in any striking system, the other stuff is helpful, but if you're an experienced martial artist, you may not find much new there.

After all of this, we start getting into the drill section. The first series of drills are designed to "instill the will to win". Which is cool: many instructors preach about building the will to win, but very few even try to devise drills specifically for it. The drills are entirely physical, and all focus around both parties trying to achieve a specific goal, usually through some kind of grappling struggle. (Or grappling vs. someone trying not to be grappled). Kind of wacky, but could be fun to play with.

These drills are followed by tactical footwork drills, which seem to form the heart of the MOSS system. One of the, the "fist on chest drill" is almost an exact duplicate of a drill I use for Muay Thai fighters for developing footwork, and while the application is a bit different, the principle seems to be the same. These are followed by "Circle drills", which introduce an extra level of chaos and difficulty.

The DVD then shifts back to a discussion section, where Tudjan reviews the MOSS core tactics and strategies. Everything presented here makes sense, though I thought the placement on the tape was a bit odd.

The strategy section is followed by a brief discussion of ground survival, and protecting a third party. Nothing terribly in-depth, but straight and too the point.

What I Like
Though it might not seem like it, I do actually like this DVD. A lot of the drills are interesting, and seem like they could make a good addition to a multiple assailants training program. Many of the concepts and principles that Tudjan teaches line up with the ideas I've gotten from other sources, which I usually take to be a good sign.

Tudjan himself is a fun and energetic presenter; English is clearly not his first language, but he's comfortable enough to present the information clearly and accurately. He does sometimes seem a little impatient, as though he'd rather just being DOING the drills instead of talking about them, which I think sometimes contributes to the shortened discussions.

I love the fact that Tudjan does not present this as the ultimate bad-ass system, or any similar nonsense. He repeatedly acknowledges that fighting is dangerous and bad, and that you probably want to avoid it if you can. Nice to hear.


What I Don't Like

As I've indicated several times, there are places where I think more in-depth discussion was warranted. Besides the "athletic vs. tactical" thing, there's the fact that Tudjan repeatedly recommends striking first in a multiple assailant situation, but doesn't discuss how one sets up that initial strike, nor the legal ramifications thereof.

I would have liked to see some advanced drills where the good guy was wearing gear, so that the bad guys could actually try and crack him. There's a lot of grabbing, and not a lot of convincing hitting on the part of the bad guys, even in the advanced stuff.

Who Is This Good For?

Combat Athletes will find very little useful here. While Tudjan rightly points out that these drills can give you a good workout, combat athletes will be better served with other drills.

Instructors who teach self-defense will get a lot of useful ideas and information out of this DVD, and will probably find it worthwhile to check out. Similarly, students of self-defense may find some new and refreshing ideas, or just new takes on old ideas.

Martial arts students or instructors may or may not find any use in this DVD, depending on how open-minded their school is to practicing this sort of thing.

In general, the DVD is worth checking out, fi you like this sort of thing. You can find it on the Paladin Press website.

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