The „Corona-crisis “and the increase of public violence

August 31, 2020 by Norbert Tannert  
Do you feel prepared?
by Norbert Tannert, police swat team unit leader


We live in strange and somewhat troubled times these days.
Not only the „Corona-virus“ has influenced almost every part of our lives, but it seems that far more unfounded aggression has become part of our daily life.

There is a tendency for violence to become more accepted in certain parts of society, as long as one is quoting to use violence for a proper reason, such as fighting an unpopular political system, a political adversary or representatives of the state; the police for example.

While this is not the place to analyse these dangerous trends and the effects on our societies, but as students of Systema, we have to face the fact that as violence gets more common, so is the possibility of being involved in an unwanted physical confrontation.

But that’s exactly one reason, why we are training in Systema, you might reply.

True, but are you sure, that your current training will prepare you?
Are you sure you are dealing with the behaviour of potentially dangerous adversaries in your training?

In a public-confrontation-situation, it is often unclear who the actual attacker is or might be and it is nowadays unlikely, that there is only one attacker involved.

In addition to this, people who beat up other victims regularly have created their own method of how to do this successfully, which means minimizing the chance for the victims to defend themselves.

Those people are usually hiding their intentions, trying to close the distance towards the victim by using talk, intimidation and distractive movement and then use a sudden devastating attack to finish the victim off. The time to react without proper preparation, is far from being sufficient for a defence in such a case, even if the victim is a trained martial artist.

Furthermore, it is common nowadays that helpless people (on the ground for example) continue being attacked by the aggressor (or bystanders) and a lot of serious injuries occur after the initial attack took place, while the victim is in a helpless state.

To create a chance for defence, it is essential to study the methods of these people, accept that it has little to do with Dojo-like training and create a strategy to overcome this situation. If you never confront yourself with these facts before it happens to you for real, there is a good chance that a „professional bully“ will succeed with their sudden attack, even if you are a very experienced martial artist.

A key to avoid the sudden attack of a „professional bully“ is to get physical contact with the potential attacker before he launches his initial strike.
Similarly to an aggressor, you should hide the true intentions of your movements to position yourself in such a way that the aggressor is not able to close in under an arm-length of distance.
Through the constant physical contact, every attacking motion can be detected instantly, without relying solely on your vision.

The reaction time to a sudden attack in a close distance scenario, by eye vision alone, is much too slow for a sufficient defence motion.
A sudden and determined strike with the fist from a handshake distance, for example, will reach its target in about 0.25 seconds. The reaction time, by eye vision only, starts at best at 0.6 seconds, which would be a remarkable reaction time. More realistic is a time from 0.8 up to 2 seconds and more, depending on the fact, whether or not the defender is distracted (by fear or the behaviour of the aggressor, or both).
Objectively considered, there is no way of defending yourself against this type of attack if you rely on eye vision. This is sadly also true when you are attacked with a weapon (a knife) in this distance.

On the other hand, if you have physical contact (fingers against the chest for example) with the aggressor, every motion-information, even the preparation of an attack before it actually starts, will be transmitted with nearly light speed to the receiver. With training, this enables the defender to react instantly.

Now we can summarize:
To react adequately to sudden attacks in all situations of physical combat, it is important to have some kind of physical contact to the attacker, but in a close distance scenario it is essential.

“Ready for Combat” positioning is when the body is slightly turned to the side and therefore the reaching arm has its full length extended towards the aggressor. The fingers are soft and even if it is looking as if to stop the aggressor by pushing backwards, it is not like that. Fingers and arm are sensors to adopt any kind of aggressive movement.
If you put pressure to your extended arm and even your fingers, you won’t feel this anymore.

Your body positioning should not look aggressive at all and with no similarity to any kind of fighting stance. This ensures, that other people, who might be around, will state that you were not the aggressor, if questioned later by the police.
You can underline this by using loud words like:
„Please Stop! I don’t want any trouble“.
These words also draw attention to neutral witnesses and are usually remembered.

If you include this kind of behaviour and especially the use of your voice into your training, this will improve your chances of avoiding a sudden attack, even by an experienced aggressor. Furthermore, there is a chance that the aggressor, because of your uncommon behaviour and the presence of possible neutral witnesses, stops at that point from attacking.

If he does attack, however, with the described positioning, you should have a good chance to bring your physical Systema training into play and deal with it.
In addition to this article, I created a short video to show, how to work from the RfC-positioning in case of a sudden attack.

If you combine this with the training of your peripheral vision, preferably while you are dealing with an attack, you can also avoid being surprised by opponents who were not visible as such in the beginning of the confrontation.

I created a whole 2-hour lecture about the facts of real-life-confrontations, especially in comparison to Martial-Arts-training, with a lot of advice on how to avoid situations like that, or if not possible, to overcome them.
A looked onto the possible long-term consequences of being involved in a real-life-confrontation and added PTSD = Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
If you are interested in further information about this theme, feel free to contact me.

I hope that these few ideas will help you and that you’ll never have to use this in reality!

Stay safe!

Norbert Tannert Norbert Tannert is a certified Systema instructor; training and teaching since 2000.
He is in active police duty since 1980, acts as a unit leader of an SEK (SWAT team) and is the officer responsible for tactical training for over 22 years.
Norbert has 30 years of martial arts training. He teaches regular classes at Systema Bonn.