13 September 2010

Senshido's Shredder

For those who have been around the martial arts and self defence community for some time, you have probably heard of The Shredder. I have so far, been unable to get to a Senshido seminar to experience The Shredder for myself as yet. It is on my ‘to do’ list for sure.

Richard Dimitri from Senshido sounds like he knows what he is talking about. People who are very good at what they do, speak very highly of him. The Shredder is what Richard seems to be most famous for developing. There are other self defence, self protection or Reality Based Self Defence (RBSD) instructors or whatever else you want to call it, who teach similar tactics as the shredder. All have their merits as they follow similar guidelines. I have read about them and have received some similar training I feel whilst practicing at Sydney Self Protection with Nick briefly.

I have been interested in learning more about the shredder so that when I am finally able to find some free time to be able to go to a Senshido seminar, I can spend less time trying to understand and conceptualize it and more time practicing applying it.

I recently found an excellent write up and explanation of the shredder as the latest post came through my RSS reader from the Senshido blog. I thought I would share that here and highlight some of what I feel are the key points.


It is written by Lee Morrison and was posted on the main Senshido blog. Here is an excerpt:
The Shredder is a conceptual tool that is designed to override the startle/flinch mechanism that is the hard wired natural response to a physical attack. This flinch response is an immediate reflex to any indication that a physical assault is coming and is kicked into play via the Amygdala; an almond shape threat detector that is located in the brain ... The Shredder bypasses this mechanism through its avoidance of any pre-indication of attack by using a spontaneous assault of gross motor movements that to quote Richard; are launched on a quarter beat, attacking vital areas of the face and throat making the attack virtually impossible to stop or intercept. This method of attack is extremely invasive in nature as well as psychologically disrupting, creating primal fear in the recipient by switching the potential aggressor from predator into prey.
This is important. The shredder aims to override the startle/flinch mechanism. This is probably the first thing that needs to be dealt with in any immediate self defence situation because if you have not been ready, you WILL be experiencing the startle/flinch mechanism. If your approach does not include how to deal with or even better, utilize the startle/flinch mechanism, then your self defence approach is seriously flawed.

Just One Thing...

One thing I am not so sure about is the claim about bypassing that reflex. I am not so sure that is possible although my mind is open. I think high enough of Richard Dimitri to definitely listen to what he has to say though. The same goes for Lee Morrison. The explanation that it bypasses that mechanism by avoiding any pre-indication of an attack by using a spontaneous assault does not in my eyes at this time explain bypassing the mechanism. It seems to me that it just provides a very quick response which utilizes the mechanism, not bypasses it. I will give it some more thought.

Any attack or counter attack under the influence of the startle/flinch mechanism needs to use gross motor skills as in this state, there will be no fine motor control and this should be very widely accepted by now. This is included in the explanation. Any martial art or self defence instructor stating that their curriculum includes effective self defence needs to ignore fine motor skills and focus on gross motor skills. If they are ignoring gross motor skills and concentrating on fine motor skills, they are not teaching self defence tactics, they are teaching something else. Real combat is raw.

Instill Primal Fear!

Another important point raised here involves the psychology of changing the attackers state of mind from being the predator into the prey. This is especially the case in the event of more predatory attacks such as muggings and robbery. People have to accept that when a predator is choosing to select its victim, it is choosing that victim because he thinks he has a high chance of succeeding in his attack, and that their chosen victim will submit easily.

Any attacker has the element of surprise which includes the initiative. The attacker in this case definitely has the mind set of being the predator with the victim, the prey. An excellent tactic as mentioned in the description of the shredder, includes disrupting the attackers mind set and creating some real primal fear in them. This is the very best way of regaining the initiative in any combat. The predator will not be expecting this, so it is important that we do this. We do not want the attackers attack to go to plan so any method of counter attack which involves serious disrupting or even destroying the predators confident mind set has an excellent chance of succeeding. From Lee Morrison’s explanation of the shredder, we can see this is the case.

Senshido: On My "Must Do" List

From the explanation of the shredder as detailed on the senshido blog, I am even more interested in learning from Richard Dimitri when the opportunity becomes available. I think the shredder is a solid approach to real effective self defence and is suitable to both males and females.

The article on the shredder also includes some detailed explanations of some excellent training drills which develop the ability of the trainee to be able to apply the shredder appropriately at the right moment. These drills seem very good and progress nicely from one on one and fairly controlled up to unarmed versus an edged weapon and up to multiple attackers. Check out the Senshido article for some detailed explanations of these.

I also like how Richard seems to be very mature about everything he teaches and provides real accounts of how things have gone all wrong on the street which have unfortunately involved deaths. His point is to not get the mind set that with training you can beat anyone you may ever come across. The street is dangerous and sometimes, you may suffer the consequences of your actions many months after the event... Avoidance is the best path. Very sobering and good to see. A responsible and mature approach.

Image by siljegarshol

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2 comments:

  1. Hi mate,

    Just to provide an explanation of the sometimes cryptic claim that the Shredder "bypasses the flinch response", it isn't because the Shredder is so quick or non-telegraphic, it is because of the feral nature and constant momentum.

    Allow me to explain. If I am to strike you on the half beat (for example, with a jab-cross combo,) even if I manage to get the jab off non-telegraphically and you don't flinch, you are instinctively going to flinch and/or cover the same target before the cross arrives. This is why a jab-bodyshot combo will hit more often than a jab-cross.

    Now, when we shred we attack something ferociously, say a hammerfist to the nose. Now since we're moving on the quarter beat, as you flinch away from that strike I've already grabbed your ear and ripped it. As you flinch away from that my hand is at your throat, or your hair, or I'm kneed your thigh, or struck your groin, or spat in your face. You see, by constantly applying the principle of "closest weapon to closest target" in tandem with non-telegraphy, I 'bypass' your flinch mechanism by staying one step ahead of it. This is what makes the Shredder so devastatingly effective. The nervous system is completely overwhelmed and feels like it is being attacked from all angles. As such, the most common reaction is for the person to go fetal - our most primitive defensive structure.

    I'm happy to expand further, but hopefully that helps.

    Joe Saunders
    Senshido International

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  2. Ah that explains a lot Joe! Thanks for clearing that up. I was completely off track with what I thought that comment about bypassing the startle/flinch response meant.

    I thought that statement was meaning that the Shredder, as part of a counter attack, was bypassing that response in the counter attacker. As in when we are attacked, by using the Shredder, it bypasses OUR startle/flinch response.

    Now I can see that what that statement means is that when we launch our counter attack, it beats that flinch response in the attacker we are countering. So when we use the Shredder, it beats THEIR startle/flinch response.

    Thanks so much for clearing that up Joe. Appreciate it. Will no doubt be talking to you more about in the future, hopefully at one of the Senshido Seminars coming up early in 2011 if not before.

    Cheers.

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