by Sensei Mark Hannah
June, 1993

If we are to rely on anything throughout our Karate experience, I would say it would be basic techniques and the repetitive practice of them. At least this has been my experience.

I have found that whenever physical conflict has arisen in my life, I automatically turn to what I have been trained to do in such circumstances.

In the past seven years I have been a policeman (three in the military, four with Metropolitan Toronto) and during this time I have learned that the best way to handle conflict has been through verbal means and a cool head.

However when it is inevitable that physical force must be used, I have automatically relied on what training I've had as a policeman.

This training is designed to restrain a person and subdue them with as much force as is reasonably necessary and no more thereafter.

While doing this training, several fancy techniques were taught, and once again I have come to rely on one or two of these. They are the ones that came the easiest to me and I practised them continuously and still do while on the job. I have found these techniques to be very effective. A large percentage of the time, restraint techniques usually do well to assist the police officer on the street.

I have found that when confronted in a physical manner and restraint techniques fail to assist and prove useless, something takes over as a second nature, and your body and mind goes back to basics.

One time in particular I really caught on to the importance of repeatedly going over the basics.

It was in early January of last year when my partner and I had stopped a taxi cab. Inside the taxi there were two passengers in the back seat that the driver had just picked up from one of the heavily used drug areas in our division.

We had removed the two males from the rear of the taxi and were investigating them on the side walk. My partner was talking with one male and I was speaking with the other.

Then something happened, and it happened so fast, that only after it had been done had I realized what had happened.

The male who I was talking with began to reach inside his jacket at the waist. He then pulled his hand back out and began raising it to my mid-section. In his hand, he grasped a 9mm semi-automatic pistol.

My instincts then took over and I side-stepped to the left while applying a soto-uke/gedan-barai combination block. The gun then flew from his hand and landed behind me. A foot pursuit took place and this male was eventually subdued and arrested.

Up until then I had not been practising Karate on a regular basis for seven years or so.

I believe that had I not studied Karate in all of its repetitiveness, I may not have survived this encounter.

It would be very fair to assume that I am now back and practising Karate on a more regular basis with the Grimsby Beach Club.

I would like to say to anyone who is just starting to learn Karate -especially the younger ones who are feeling frustrated with doing the same techniques over and over again- stick with it and keep doing it, because in my opinion it works when you need it.

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