Trainees at the recent KEF–IC personal protection seminars ranged from solicitors and surgeons through to tradies, personal trainers and security professionals. The Level 1 courses, taught by Kinetic Fighting creator and Chief Instructor Paul Cale, ran from March to June 2019. After starting in Sydney, Cale then took the new program to Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth.
And the timing was just right for some, who put their training into practice sooner than anticipated.
“[Following the course] I was able to de-escalate a potentially violent encounter, simply because I was confident that I was able to handle the situation,” reported Sydney finance broker Simon. “It was empowering…the agitator quickly realised that I was not scared and that I was comfortable with the thought of violence, and chose to withdraw.”
The training Simon received was focused on the mindset needed to effect combative skills as much as the essential skills themselves. Another key topic was awareness — of one’s own thinking and abilities, as much as one’s situation.
The courses also drew a number of serving Australian Defence Force personnel, several groups of police officers and numerous martial arts instructors. However, sharing the mats with them were many others who lacked any prior self-defence experience at all.
One newcomer, Nikki, said she’d benefited from the inclusive atmosphere on the Brisbane course: “I had the best partner… he was very gentle with me,” she said. “I gained everything, as I had none of these skills prior. I believe they were all relevant, and a great basic introduction for being responsible when it comes to protection and control.”
Likewise, part-time self-defence instructor Patrick (a designer of online user-experiences by day) commended the mindset and culture on display in Sydney. “It shows in how the instructors interact with participants, how the participants conduct themselves throughout and how everyone practises the material: It’s done safely, practically and with a strong sense of realism,” he said.
Cale said he was pleased to see the leap in progress made by the beginners on each course. “Some, especially the women, were surprised that they could apply the simple techniques and principles. But, in many cases, it’s about believing you can; you first have to adopt the intent before you can realise the action,” he explained.
“People may not know it, but even within Army, we teach a lot of women. Female ADF personnel are taking more front-line roles these days and we prepare them for that through the Army Combatives Program.”
Paul Cale teaching ACP weapon-retention drills to female Army recruits
But once KEF staff had encouraged Kim onto the mat, everything changed. After completing the full Level 1-Alpha course, she cited among her essential takeaways “the importance of staying mentally and physically strong”.
“My beginning might have been humble, yet my smile in the photo tells me how much I have become empowered,” Kim reflected. “After the course, I indeed came home feeling stronger about myself.”
Cale said first-timers were often surprised by what could be learned in just four hours, even without the cognitive catalyst of high pressure.
“Our Personal Combatives courses — especially the first one — are not about breaking trainees down and heaping pressure on them, Army-style,” he said. “Instead it’s about changing people’s way of thinking about violence and how they approach it. We focus on behavioural and physical commonalities and how we can affect these by applying some very simple and retainable principles.”
Dr Dan Donner, a heart microsurgeon working in research, completed both Level 1 modules in Melbourne. He summed up the experience for many: “It’s an excellent course; confronting but critical information, even for a civilian like myself. The Bravo course imparts a practical understanding of the realities of violence and the priorities during close-quarter combat,” he said.
“Paul is an exceptional teacher and leader; it’s a real privilege to draw such insight from his demonstrated wealth of experience in the field. If only I had such captivating anecdotes to draw on in my lectures to med’ students, they might learn a thing or two!”