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Harry “The Hammer” Wigder

PPCT Instructor Trainer; Kid Escape, Bully Escape and Date Escape Instructor,
Founder and Director of Action Fighting Arts, “A Total Threat Management
Training System.”

Thinking back a few decades, I was a hardnosed state parole agent working different urban and rural territories throughout Pennsylvania. By definition, since we got the offenders who had been sentenced to a max of at least a deuce (two years), we usually got the worst of the worst, those offenders with the longest records, and those who were the most resistant to counseling, therapy and whatever else we tossed at them. Still, with our caseloads throbbing with robbers, drug dealers, thugs, strong-arm specialists, and even hit-men, the offenders whom most parole agents thought posed the most immediate danger to the community were the predators who preyed on young children and small adolescents incessantly.

I retired a few years back after about 34 years, the last 20 as the lead Use Of Force Instructor for the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, and, although I still conduct numerous PPCT Instructor Seminars for law enforcement, military, security, corrections, probation/parole personnel as well as civilians, I turned my attention to designing a training system that could teach our children how to defend themselves against the predators who still plotted daily and lurked almost everywhere simmering with a relentless desire to abduct, molest and slay our sons and daughters. I immersed myself into researching the instructional options and what I learned were a few principles I guess I already knew:

  1. The Martial Arts was not a viable teaching option, and
  2. A young boy or girl (aged 4 to 13), no matter how much traditional self defense training he or she was given, no matter how many hours @ day and days @ week of training was involved, would be absolutely no match against an adult male recidivistic, probably psychopathic and desperate (sexual) predator focused on abducting that child(ren)!

So, when I talk about teaching children personal protection skills, I need to be clear that these principles and skills are very different from those taught in the typical martial arts studio or dojo. Survival Techniques and Intervention Concepts for Kids/Parents S.T.I.C.K.) is actually a sub-category of the COMET-Kids training system, committed to teaching simple Avoidance, Escape and Evasion Skills and Techniques to small children and adolescents. STICK is designed around specific, task-oriented skills researched and refined around the specific demands or situations a child-victim might find him or herself in if menaced or attacked by a sexual molester or child abductor(s). STICK is not martial arts, and although martial arts have value in many situations, they more often than not fail under the critical (survival) stress of a spontaneous, close quarter surprise attack where the child’s heart rate spikes from a resting heart rate of 60 beats per minute (BPM) to well over 250 BPM in a few seconds. Under this high-stress circumstance, martial arts, which rely mostly on Complex Motor Skills, almost always fails because an escalated heart rate activates the Sympathetic Nervous System, which causes a deterioration of our ability to employ Complex Motor Skills after the heart rate soars quickly by 145 BPM, the limit for Complex Motor Skills. To make a tedious, complex and elusive medical explanation of this phenomenon fairly simple, the child, once attacked will experience the following mental and physiological phenomenon, all of which are incompatible with the effective use of the martial arts:

  1. Increased respiration.
  2. Increased Heart Rate.
  3. An Inability to concentrate.
  4. Numerous Visual Dysfunctions, including
    • An inability to focus on the threat.
    • A loss of 70% of peripheral vision.
    • A loss of depth perception.
    • A loss of night vision.
  5. Loss of Cognitive Skills (the “Primitive Brain” takes over because decisions to manage the threat must be made quickly. The “Thinking Brain,” therefore, is bypassed), resulting in an inability to make good decisions and to recall complex motor skills learned in training (unless there have been over 5,000 technique repetitions).

Comet-Kids’ STICK program, then, is not the martial arts. It is the Fighting Arts. The Fighting Arts are basically a few, simple, easy-to-perform, easily-retainable Gross Motor Skills designed to perform a cluster of survival moves in specific, predictable “combat” situations. In this context the Fighting Arts for children (STICK) are:

“If you have to think, it is already too late---“ John Hall, Founder, Kid Escape.

  1. Gross Motor Skills, which are strikes, kicks and moves that actually are more effective the higher the heart rate. Since I know that Survival Stress will disturb a child’s ability to recall techniques learned in the past, to make critical decisions and/or to employ complex skills and techniques, everything taught in this course is simple and based on Gross Motor Skills (GMS). A good example of a GMS could be kicking open a screen door with a Front Kick and stopping that same door from slamming with the heel of the same foot (Mule Kick). A GMS is a symmetrical skill such as a Push-Pull bench press as opposed to a complicated martial arts takedown requiring three or more independent body parts. If you understand the two events, you know that the higher your heart rate the more weight you can press, but, using another example, the higher the heart rate the harder it would be to successfully accomplish gymnastics on a Balance Beam, another Complex Motor Skill event.
  2. Simplicity: Increasing the number of self defense options for any child, according to Hick’s Law, a learning principle, shows that the child’s Survival Reaction Time (SRT) will increase. Taking longer to resist an abduction can be fatal, which is another reason the Fighting Arts is superior. STICK relies on only a curriculum of a few effective survival skills.
  3. Realistic: Finally, STICK is based on only a few skills and tactics designed mainly to enable the child to safely disengage or escape from the predator.....Next Page

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