Growing up in Bishop Lavis I’m attuned to Safety and Security, many a time finding myself chasing down perpetrators of crime and reclaiming what was rightly mine at the time. From bird baths, to bicycles, to car jacks, to my Dad’s roses (10 of them, ripped from the ground overnight), I’ve seen and experienced quite a few adrenalin-fuelled events.
And so at some stage whilst donating blood more than a year ago and getting to know a particular employee at the WPBTS (Western Province Blood Transfusion Service), I happened to mention that I had an interest in MMA fighting. He, Mark Kapot, invited me to join them in close combat training mentioning that the training was unlike any other. Being a student and having to juggle between work, studies and maintaining some sanity around the home, I never accepted the invitation until, recently when 9 people were attacked during a hike in Silvermine. We were on that very mountain, on the day, and I vividly recall how the dynamic of our hike changed from being a relaxing Saturday morning out, to one where we needed to secure our group and alert other hikers to the danger that, quite possibly, was still lurking on the mountain. We kept the group tight and compact as we made our way down the mountain.
It was after this experience that I decided to contact an old school friend of mine, Nigel February, who happened to own the very gym where Mark Kapot himself is an instructor. We met, I explained that we wanted to better equip our leaders with knowledge on self-defence, and that we were looking for someone to teach the group. Nigel contacted me shortly after, made a proposal and the training began. Every Tuesday @7pm, the voluntary leadership team met at Mustang Gym in Parow, where Nigel, over a six-week cycle imparted knowledge and physical techniques that the team practised week on week to provide the confidence the team desperately desired.
At the first session Nigel spoke about the 5 steps in the self-defence process. These included the interview phase where the would-be perpetrator interviews the victim, watching hikers body posture and how we carry ourselves. The second stage is the approach where they either approach the hiker/ group or wait for someone who appears more vulnerable. The 3rd stage is where they make contact and start engaging with hikers. Examples, as we who been exposed to this before would know, would include questions such as,” hoe laat is it?”(what is the time?) and “Gee ‘n entjie” (Give me a cigarette). It’s only at stage 4 where the perpetrator gets physical and starts to attack the hiker. Stage 5 is the aftermath following the attack, either leaving the hiker seriously injured, or in the worst case, dead. Nigel suggested that if Hikers focussed on the first 3 stages, we could reduce or even avoid the potential for stages 4 and 5 to be realised.
Having recently undergone a minor back operation I unfortunately did not attend all the sessions but watched most of the videos the team made during training. I particularly liked the fact that Nigel did not simply jump into the training but offered the team valuable insights into the mind of a person who intends to cause us harm. For many this was new but for others, who grew up in this environment, it served as a refresher. Physical training commenced following the theoretical aspect and the team were shown how to use edged weapons, knives, screwdrivers and machetes as well as how to disable someone, in close combat, with the use of our bodies.
The last session took place at the gym on 13 March 2018. one of Nigel’s students participated as a sparring partner to demonstrate close combat techniques without any edged weapons. As usual, the team was gob-smacked by the techniques and the physical demonstrations of how to incapacitate someone within seconds. The training has been a considerable value add for Hikers Network and we appreciate the sacrifices and knowledge Nigel and his team shared with us
The training is highly recommended for anyone, not only those who use the mountains but anyone who feels they want to equip themselves with specific, Jason-Bourne like stealth and ability. I hope that none of us ever need to use the knowledge we gained but I certainly am better prepared and better equipped if I find myself at stage 4.
Nigel’s business name is Greyblade Security Solutions and if you’re wondering why Greyblade, have a look at the “ou kaapie” knife. It will answer the question immediately.
Until next time………..Salute!
By Wayne Davids