The Real Approach - Interview with Rich Dimitri
Kevin - What sets Senshido apart from other arts and what are its core principles?
Rich - The principles are simple: to enhance survivability at all costs. I am more interested in 'landing the punch' than which knuckles to hit with or which angle the fist should leave at. How it differs from other reality based systems…well, judging from what I have been exposed to, it is much more fluid in its conceptual and philosophical processes than the majority of other systems out there, which seem to rely more on technical applications. Senshido translates to everyday life as well. Many people, from all walks of life apply our concepts to their everyday lives. Although those who have successfully applied our methods in violent confrontations speak volumes about the practicality of Senshido as a combative system.
It is the others - such as parents who used our work to help their kids overcome their fear of the dark, a mother who helped her daughter work through traumatic times from her childhood, a young man being bullied by his boss who applied our confrontation management strategies to put an end to the behaviour while maintaining his position, whom I believe makes us different.
Our approach is also nontraditional even for reality based systems. We don't' have a dark, brooding or too serious 'military' type approach.
I teach using humour and my own personality as opposed to becoming 'the instructor' or 'Guru' when its time to teach. What you see is what you get with me…I'm the same person whether I'm teaching, eating, hanging out with my friends or whatever. No mask, no pretense, just me.
Kevin - Have you experienced violence in your own life? Would you tell us about it?
Rich - As I mentioned before, yes several times, for three main reasons:
Job related working as an undercover security guard, a bouncer and bodyguard.
Stepping into a violent confrontation in which someone was about to be or being victimized - Wrong place, wrong time. I got into more confrontations than I care I have been in.
Kevin - What is the 'Shredder'?
Rich - The Shredder is a concept over 10 years in the making now. Its evolution has come a long way. The Shredder was discovered through comparison between real fights and how they were executed, through scenario replications with no consent performed in real time/real speed and the examination of performance in these situations by trained martial artists and untrained people as well. Another factor of its development were the instant reactions the Shredder had on those it was used on, even at its development stage. The reaction was always the same, instant panic with the inherent attempts at defensive disengagement. Something occurred on a psychological level, it wasn't just the reception of pain but a complete predator to prey shift.
Senshido's physical retaliation principles dictated its path. We have 5 principles of physical retaliation, they are (in no particular order)
- Economy of motion
- Non telegraphic movement
- Opportunity Striking
- Tactile sensitivity
- Primary target acquisition.
These principles dictated that when striking, it was logical to make sure that the time frame between strikes was as short as possible in order to offer your opponent less of a chance to reflexively & defensively react to the attack. Because the startle to flinch response is a reliable physiological process that acts as an effective protective mechanism (we, Senshido, utilize it in terms of a launching pad off an ambush or surprise attack), I deemed it necessary to come up with a retaliatory concept that bypassed this phenomenon.
As I analysed this process and realized its validity as a defense mechanism which is not only quicker and much more reliable than any memorized technique but also non perishable and impossible to bypass when it overrides cognitive processing, I began to design a concept of attack that bypassed this 'involuntary' triggered response.
Real violence will more often than not begin with an attack on the mind which triggers an emotional response. Our survival mechanism is connected to what is called the autonomic nervous system; this system controls all voluntary and involuntary functions.
It is also divided into 2 systems, one being the parasympathetic nervous system and the other being the sympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is the one that controls our actions and thoughts in non stressful environments. It controls fine motor skills, cognitive processing and a host of other functions related; however when threat is perceived, the sympathetic nervous system takes over which triggers the survival mechanisms or 'fight or flight' response. The release of adrenaline by the sympathetic nervous system increases blood flow and arterial pressure causing a large amount of blood to be pumped into the larger muscles resulting in gross motor functions and applications.
The sympathetic nervous system hinders the functional use of cognitive processing, visual performance and fine motor skills. Modern scientific research and studies have shown us that under the influence of the sympathetic nervous system, only gross motor skills are performed optimally. Consequently, the ambush or immediate threat introduced quickly and with minimal or no prior warning will trigger the sympathetic nervous system. Understanding that these physiological rules preside during high stress situations, these scientific facts became the corner stone for the concept of the Shredder.
For starters, each tool used had to be based on gross motor applications due to the very fact that the cognitive brain's overriding by the mid brain restricted access to finer motor skills found in most martial arts. Therefore the tools had to be instinctual and primal in nature but simply fine tuned in a way that allowed its delivery to be more acute then if one were to 'just go berserk'. The 'beat' in between the delivery of each strike had to be shortened from the traditional 'half beat' to a quarter beat, meaning, the time frame in between each tool finding its intended target was much shorter and therefore quicker then, for example, the usual jab/cross combo in boxing.
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