So why has GM Keith R. Kernspecht now published a newly-conceived technical programme in a separate book of more than 180 pages?
Because he wanted to utilise the findings in “On Single Combat” in proposing solutions to an attack situation which is still more or less ignored in martial arts circles. Although this specific form of “combat” certainly takes place in our bars and streets thousands of times each year, often resulting in serious injuries or even death, no German-speaking self-defence author has previously concerned himself so intensively with this “natural phenomenon”, indeed to the extent that GM Keith R. Kernspecht found himself obliged to lend a name to this phenomenon himself.
GM Kernspecht is referring to ritual combat between men, which tends to begin with questions such as “What’s up?. Have you got a problem?” or “Are you eyeballing me?” and increasingly often ends with kicks to the head and serious or fatal injuries.
This ritual combat forms part of the wide-ranging topic of single combat. Even though it is only a partial aspect of the whole, this is the type of combat that occurs most frequently and will threaten just about everybody at some time in their lives unless of course they remain locked up in their homes.
Since he began studying Confucius, GM Kernspecht has been aware that if one recognises something as correct and necessary, one must also translate it into practice as a logical conclusion. Having recognised that 95% of his students and readers will almost certainly be confronted with a ritual combat situation at some time, he could no longer innocently continue to prepare them for a mere duel.
In 1987 GM Kernspecht already wrote that the real fight takes place beforehand, and that the victor is already decided during the critical few seconds before the first blow is struck. As a totally committed educationalist it has always been his aim to make non-technical aspects teachable as well. For this reason GM Kernspecht carried out his own research on the conflict behaviour of animals and man. As a high school student and trainee police officer, and when others were visiting bars to get drunk or get to know the opposite sex, Kernspecht would sit down in notoriously rough establishments with a glass or orange juice and a notepad in order to study the territorial behaviour of the human male. At that time, when e.g. his friend Eberhard Schneider (author of “Power Training for Kung Fu & Karate”) excitedly reported that a former German boxing champion had opened a bar in Kiel and was in the regular habit of exercising his skills on his “guests”, they suddenly had nothing better to do than to go and watch him in action. After just a few minutes they were treated to the spectacle of the previously unbeaten boxing champion being knocked out with a single punch by a skinny but extremely angry weakling (in a fight over a woman!). This rocked GM Kernspecht’s view of the world to its foundations, for he had previously been a follower of the Asian philosophy extolling the “mind like water”, and believed that the calm, unexcited man who keeps a cool head will beat the hothead in a fight. After this experience he began to see the sense in “psyching up” and talking oneself into an angry frame of mind for a fight (a message the notorious Count Dante was beginning to spread in the USA at the time). Before this incident his aim had always been the emotionless fight, and excited, angry opponents had always disconcerted him as they gave rise to feelings he was unable to identify. At that time his reaction to an impending physical disagreement was always: “Quit stalling and throw a punch, let’s get it over with!” As a karateka, whose first technique was supposed to be a block, Kernspecht often had to wait for several minutes as his opponent built up a good head of steam while his own legs began to tremble because he was obliged to wait for the attack.
During his studies Kernspecht encountered rituals which go back thousands of years and are instinctively familiar to any streetfighter, but which hardly any scientists have so far considered to be worthy of examination. However, these atavistic rituals govern the immutable processes that occur during most physical conflicts. Knowing them means knowing yourself and knowing your enemy. According to the famous Chinese strategist Sun Tzu, this is an indispensable prerequisite for victory.
In fact winning is not the object where Chinese Wu Shu and Kernspecht are concerned, but rather preventing a fight in the first place. A fight always represents a loss, even if – like Pyrrhus – you are victorious. The object must be to limit the damage, i.e. to prevent violence from escalating even further.
Preparation must not be exclusively devoted to the physical aspect of a confrontation, otherwise people who are not trained in the verbal and tactile phases, and who practice only “physical” but not “mental” self-defence, will be obliged to resort to even greater violence to resolve conflict situations, for “If my only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail to me.”
For this reason GM Keith R. Kernspecht teaches his students to aim at defusing the situation during every phase, be it the visual phase, the verbal phase or the beginning of the tactile phase.
Only if this is unsuccessful are the fight-stopping techniques recommended by Kernspecht to be used within the definition of reasonable force and humaneness, so that one can always be sure of acting within the law even when subjected to very severe stress.
In 20 years of work Grand Master Kernspecht has developed and coordinated de-escalating pre-fight behaviour as well as deception, distraction and combat techniques with the world’s major elite police and military units.
From the sum of these effective techniques he has selected those which can be learned and most variably combined with “non-violent” control and restraint methods in the shortest time by the average man or woman.