The Real Approach - Interview with Rich Dimitri
The Canadian based reality combat instructor, Richard Dimitri was once again recently in the UK. He did a whistle stop seminar tour along with ladies self defence expert Helen Stranzl at 3 UK venues. If you haven't experienced Richard's unique brand of teaching and training then you have missed something special.
Rich tells it how it is, no ceremony or bullshit. This man is the real deal and can 'talk the talk' and 'walk the walk'! His seminars are always an entertaining and learning experience from his colourful language, unique training drills and explosive street techniques. But what always impresses most is his expertise on the psychology of confrontation, aggression and violence plus his dissection of attack rituals and hand to hand fighting. To hear him speak on these subjects are worth the asking price of the seminar on its own.
The topics covered on the UK seminars were:
-Behavioral delivery system
-Cognitive defence tactics
-Flinch and reflexive response
-Senshido's 5 principles of physical retaliation and more
London based Premier Self Defence ran by Debi Steven and Carol Anne Ormsby were hosts for 2 seminars in London and one was held at Andy Crittenden's Martial Arts centre in Doncaster. Between the training sessions I was lucky enough to interview Richard and put some questions to him. Here is what was said:
Kevin - Hi Rich and welcome back to the UK. Firstly for the benefit of the readers can you give us a background into your system of self-defence, Senshido?
Rich - Senshido literally translates to 'The way of 1000 masters.' I chose an oriental name at the time (1993) because reality based systems and names weren't as common or as accepted then as they are today. I originally looked for a Chinese name but if I remember correctly 'The way of 1000 masters' in Chinese was 'Wong Fu Tien Si' and I didn't want people calling me up for an order of egg rolls and fried rice :. Senshido translated well and 'The way of 1000 masters' seemed fitting at the time.
At the time my system was eclectic and originated from various sources, so you can see the connection. Today however Senshido has evolved tremendously. Although there are many influences from other systems, it has become much more of a scientific transcendental methodology than a system per se. The first thing we do is help redefine an individual's belief system, changing it into one that is more congruent with the objective of survival. We then impart the necessary skills (profiling, situational and environmental awareness, intuitive radar, pre-contact cues and indicators, tactical threat assessments etc) to avoid a potential threat or confrontation. After that, we arm students with pre-contact psychology (fear and stress management, adrenal stress conditioning, physiological and biological results, perception time enhancement, reaction time reduction etc) in order to move, not necessarily faster than the opponent but earlier.
The third step is the physical portion. We cover all ranges of combat (contrary to popular belief, we're not all about eye gouges and groins strikes.) We rely heavily on athletic ability, conditioning the students through functional combative strength training. We cover tool and target development in the kicking, boxing, close quarter combat, grappling and ground fighting because you can grapple standing up. All the ranges are then worked together through resistance/no consent drills, sparring and scenario based training. If you are not sweating, bleeding and invoking stress on a physical, psychological and emotional level in your training then you are not training for reality.
The last step not necessarily in training time but for explanation purposes is to teach students the legalities of their actions. It is important to look at the legal, moral and ethical aspects of self-preservation, as you don' want to end up being someone's bitch in prison because you put some drunk in a coma through excessive force. The aftermath of a fight is equally important. Will your 'opponent' seek revenge? Did the fight occur in your neighbourhood? Was the 'individual' connected? Were there witnesses? Do you know how to talk to a law enforcement officer? A lawyer? Have you ever spent a night in the tank? Do you have a record? Do you know how long a record lasts and are you of its effects when looking for employment or wishing to leave the country for a simple vacation? All these are integral factors.
Kevin - What prompted you to create Senshido?
Rich - It was never really my intention to create my own combat system, but after studying several arts and acquiring a few black belts, I began to get involved in Bruce Lee's JKD concepts and functionally over 'art' per se. Several people would ask me to teach them in their basements, garages and backyards. I found myself mixing several of the arts I had learned and modifying them by the time I was 16 years old. I found out not only that I love to teach but that I am very good at it as well.
I was more and more interested in the practical side of things and by the time I was 18, I had begun working as an undercover security guard, a bouncer and a bodyguard on a contractual basis. In these fields, I found out quickly what worked and what didn't, to be honest much of what I learned in the traditional arts had no application in the real world.
I had studied over 10 different martial arts and got certified in 4. By that time, I had over 18 years experience in the martial arts and 5 years on the field in the jobs I mentioned previously. Because I was extremely passionate about teaching, I wasn't much of a 'scholar', and 9 to 5 was never my forte, so I opened my own place and created Senshido based on my experience, training and research at the time.
Kevin - How long have you been an instructor?
Rich - I began teaching functional combative training methods in 1987.
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