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The Effectiveness of Martial Arts in the Executive Protection

One of the most common questions asked is ‘What is the best form of martial arts for Executive Protection Agents to learn?’ Within your team, you may have various agents that are trained in various disciplines, each with their own benefits and restrictions. But which one is the most effective?

To begin, it’s important to understand that it’s an essential requirement that all Executive Protection agents are initially trained in some form of martial art. As protection agents, this is a vital skill for them to hold. Within any discipline, the agents will learn about some of the most advanced forms of self-defence and certain techniques that can make the difference between life and death in certain high-threat situations.

Avoid Using Martial Arts Where Possible

Let’s imagine that you and your VIP are in a high-danger situation and an attack is imminent, either to yourself or on the VIP in your protection. There are three main objectives that you need to complete. Firstly, you’ll need to create distance between your party and the attacker. Secondly, you need to disable the threat and eliminate any pending danger. Finally, you need to ensure the safety of your VIP.

However, there are also some points that you’ll need to consider. As an Executive Protection agent, despite knowing some form of martial art, in an ideal world, you’ll never have to use the skills in the field. It’s your job to ensure that you and your VIP never come so close that you’ll have to use a form of martial arts as protection. Additionally, if a mistake is made and you utilise a martial art technique on a civilian wrongly, this can result in criminal prosecution and even a law suit against the executive protection company. One way to consider this is by remembering that everything you do will have video evidence that could be used in a court of law against you. You must be able to justify everything.

Furthermore, if you have to use force in a field mission, you have led your VIP into a danger zone that should have been avoided from the start. If your VIP was to be attacked, the chances are that another backup attack is prepared and waiting for the ideal time to engage. This secondary attack would usually be more organised and well implemented since they now know that they need to attack you, increasingly a danger if previously you were operating undercover. If you are operating in a two-man team and you’ve engaged a threat, your secondary agent will have already left the scene with the VIP. This means you are alone to handle the secondary attack.

The Benefits of Martial Art Disciplines

However, if the threat is well-organised or another security entity, such as an intelligence firm, has failed in their job, you may find yourself in a position where a form of martial arts is required. In this situation, you’ll need to be in top form. Returning to the main question, which discipline is the best? To answer this question, you need to question how ‘the best’ can be defined. You need to define what the end goal of engaging in martial arts is.

In most cases, and during martial arts training, the primary objective is self-defence and how you can stop an attacker from harming you. However, in the executive protection industry, this defence may be in implemented to protect your VIP. However, training in martial arts can also be very beneficial for other lifestyle choices. Training can help you increase your physical and mental well-being. Regular training can help improve your fitness levels as well as enhancing your ability to focus and stay calm in stressful situations.

Unfortunately, when it comes to self-defence, there are too many variables to consider. For example, one medicine doesn’t cure all illnesses or diseases. There are so many random events that can happen in one given situation that it’s safe to say that martial arts won’t be able to protect you in every single self-defense situation. Consider this. A civilian who is trained in martial arts will have completely different priorities to a law enforcement officer or an executive protection agent. As you can see, you can only gauge how effective something is based on your defined goals.

However, as an executive protection agent, you’ll be conducting a martial art discipline from a security-related point of view. Since this is the case, you’ll need to break down the concept of security. There are two elements to consider. For most people, these are preventative actions and reactive actions. Obviously, preventative is to stop an attack or threat from happening. The latter is engaging with a threat that is too late to prevent. Reactive actions should only be implemented as a last resort.

The best way to prevent a dangerous situation is by avoiding the situation altogether. This means physically accessing and examining an area before entering it. If, however, you’ve entered a high-threat area, the most effective preventative action you can take is to leave, even if this means physically running away. As we mentioned above, you should create distance.

However, if the threat is organised or some other variable in your mission has failed, you may have already encountered the danger. Your initial reaction may be to engage, however, if you can still exit the scene, this is the way you should progress. As an executive protection agent, everything, even your human instinct, may tell you to engage and ‘eliminate’ this threat. However, noting the possible consequences listed above, running away is still your best option. If you become overpowered, your VIP will be in danger which will lead to the failure of the mission.

As a rule of thumb, the best thing you should do is to is to use your head before your fists. Prevent a physical interaction before making the situation worse. But, as we all know, this isn’t always possible. If you ever find yourself in a situation where physical engagement is necessary, everything changes. You may find yourself backed into a corner with no way out. If you’ve tried reasoning with the individual or group and they haven’t listened, which it normally always will, you may not have any other choice.

The self-defence discipline of Krav Maga teaches us that running away is still the most effective form of self-defence. Let’s say you are backed into a corner, a fast and effective punch may disorientate your target, giving you a chance to escape, defusing the situation there and then. One of the most common problems that people have when it comes to self-defence is re-enacting techniques that they have seen in movies, television programs or other physical contact situations, such as wrestling of UFC fights. This does not depict reality accurately and should never be replicated.

With this in mind, many people simply cannot resist the urge to ‘square up’ to the opponent. This is a poor choice of actions. Not only are you putting yourself in real danger, but you’re also prolonging the inevitable. As an executive protection agent, you’ll be looking to defuse the situation as quickly as possible. If the threat begins to square up to you, simply apply a small disabling move that will stun your opponent, allowing you to escape.

In any situation where you face a very real threat, you have no idea whether that threat is determined to seriously harm you or possibly even kill you. However, you don’t want to be seriously harming or killing other people. You need to be smart, collective and thoughtful, no matter what the variable.

The Differences of Training & Reality

When you’re training in some form of martial arts, it’s important to realise that this is not an accurate depiction of reality. While training, you’ll be surrounded by similarly experienced individuals that pose no real threat. You’ll know, even at a basic level, what kind of attacks to expect. In reality, you have no idea what attacks lay before you, even more so if weapons are involved.

In short, it’s extremely to apply the physical aspects of your martial arts training into a real-life situation. Imagine you’re in a real situation where three people approach you with knives. The moves you perform will not be as graceful or elegant as when you were in a training situation. However, the mental disciplines you have learnt from your training sessions are essential. When applied to a real-life situation, the objective isn’t to attack as hard and fast as you possibly can, it’s to be smart, well-prepared and to actively protect yourself and your VIP. Use your instincts wisely and never proactively worsen a threatening situation.