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In the combat Arts, as in all the Arts, “the difficult simplicity” is a major key that few reveal. The economy of movements obviously doesn’t mean inaction or nonsense. But beyond an exquisite coordination, the aforementioned difficult simplicity is a stepping stone sine qua non toward effectiveness and martial excellence.
The author of this article is already well known by the good readers of this publication. His magnificent service record is only one aspect that doesn’t fully shed light on his true skills as an instructor. The years go on and Olivier continues evolving, refining, always on his path of simplification, effectiveness, power. After years in South America, he visited Europe, a place where he resided for some months, teaching here and there until establishing himself in Belgium, where he has dedicated himself to illustrating his combat Arts to special groups. Currently, again in Argentina (and married…) he hasn’t ceased to occasionally attend to his (already many!) international commitments. The result of this success, which we have already presented in this magazine, is evident when one sees his videos. Olivier works in that direct way that simply disconcerts professionals. He follows his own guidelines, all of them reflections based on direct experience.
S.O.G. is not a way of working exclusively of elite forces, it is way of effective defense that has this “difficult simplicity” that we all look for in each task of our lives. It is for this reason a delight for the true expert that sees beyond the complex forms (however aesthetic they might be), the movements stylized by years of training, the customs… S.O.G. is a proposal of simplicity, of effectiveness, and of good sense to the service to all those whose task or labor concerns security or self-defense.
So, we are sure that Olivier’s new project will interest you, the man who is always a source of inspiration whatever your style.
Text: Olivier Pierfederici
Photos: Budo International Publ. Co.
Dear friends, I have the pleasure of presenting you with my second video with Budo International concerning the techniques used by the Detachment of the Belgian Army Security Agents (D.A.S.) whose mission is to protect important personalities. In my case, being an advisor to this army has allowed me to coin this term in order to present to you the part that interests you, that is to say, self-defense, or more exactly, personal attack, given that the loyal students of S.O.G. know that it deals with a system that is more offensive than defensive, that it is based on the concepts of military Close Combat developed during World War II. Although in the majority of cases the D.A.S. personnel work as civilians, in the video they show us their techniques with their military uniforms to call your attention.
It is worth highlighting that these techniques can be applied by everyone without having to belong to any special Security Force or Corps. In any case, a S.O.G./D.A.S. agent has to be faithful to the concept of S.O.G., which means that the techniques will be as simple as they are fearsome, and so easy to apply that after five days of intensive training the practitioner is able to apply the program in any situation of stress, given that stress management is one of our priorities. Furthermore, it’s about the student understanding that on the battlefield, the supposed “duties” that are instilled with such effort don’t work, and to believe the contrary would turn out harmful for the practitioner. As I always say in my seminars: “It is better to be judged by a jury of twelve members than that six people carry our coffin.” I believe that it is not difficult to understand that concept in terms of the psychological training that we give special importance to in S.O.G./D.A.S.
As far as the technical part is concerned, it must be noted that the S.O.G. practitioner has to be able to move himself as comfortably as possible and at the same time know how to defend himself in the following three distances:
I insist, if the distance allows it, resort to the artillery, the mule kick or the backward kick to the tibia, to the genitals… If you are in hand to hand, strike with the hammer fist or with the palm to the genitals and finish with a strike with the forearm to the neck. The combatant has to be trained in all these areas, for that, the student is taught the most important notions in “quick” combat instruction on the ground, and though one doesn’t learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, one will be capable of getting out of any position on the ground.
Let’s not forget the final aim of S.O.G./D.A.S.: “Maximum efficiency in a very short time.” The practitioner must learn to attack from behind, which in military terms is called “the elimination of the sentry”, using the knife, stick, objects of daily use like the belt or shoelaces, as well as empty hands.
Now we will tackle an essential aspect in the military field and in self-defense, in general: weapons, and more concretely, the knife. When one speaks about the knife, or bladed weapons, generally one thinks of the Martial Arts from Southeast Asia, like Kali, Fencing or Pencak Silat. As an expert in Pencak, I can tell you that I do not at all agree! The objective of this article is not to question any martial discipline, but I am going to clarify some details: the Indonesians and the Malayans live in countries whose average annual temperature is at or above 86 degrees (F) and with extreme levels of humidity. When these styles were founded, the people didn’t wear shoes and their way of dressing was adapted to the external temperature with the result that cuts were easier. Try asking a Swede, a Londoner, or even someone from Madrid in the middle of winter to walk without shoes and in a T-shirt… What am I trying to say? Simply this, that in winter and in a cold country where people wear heavy clothes, it is practically impossible to cut in an efficient way, unless one has a hunting knife, which is quite unusual. Furthermore, in the military field, the bullet-proof vest has changed things a lot. For such circumstances, the S.O.G. school emphasizes puncturing more than cutting. The only cut authorized is that on the hand, or more concretely, on the fingers.
Before finishing this brief presentation of my second video, I want to speak to you about two bladed weapons that are very apt for self-defense and whose origins go back to World War II: the bradawl and the Bodkin (see photos). These little blades were employed by the commandos and the British secret agents who operated in Europe during World War II given that they didn’t have the necessary time to receive long instruction and they had to resort to accessible and easy to use weapons. This is precisely the spirit of S.O.G., a simple, efficient, and lethal system.
Conclusion: reader friends, when you practice these techniques, never forget that the ultimate aim of S.O.G. is to teach you to survive in any situation; this is not a competition, here one isn’t trying to score points. Don’t behave like a shy lamb, but like a hungry wolf. Like Machiavelli said: “The end justifies the means.”
My name is Jean-Michel Lerho, and I am a sub-official of the Belgian parachute commando unit, commando instructor, black belt in Krav Maga and Judo, and, since a short time ago, I am also an S.O.G. instructor, both civilian and military. I discovered S.O.G. in a seminar given by Olivier Pierfederici in the commando training center in Marches-les-Dames (Belgium). That day, Olivier revealed another aspect of Close-Combat, and he quickly convinced us of the efficiency of this system to which I got hooked immediately. For us, as members of a commando unit, it is fundamental to respond efficiently to any kind of aggression, with weapons or with empty hands, in a defensive way but with great aggression in the response.
S.O.G. taught me a more offensive aspect, another way of conceiving of combat and stress management. Olivier Pierfederici’s training method is easily to assimilate for a great number of people, independent of their environment. The Belgian army chose Olivier Pierfederici to train instructors and monitors S.O.G. in the Institut Royal d’Education Physique (I.R.M.E.P.) in Eupen, Belgium and it was very successful.
The society in which we live, whether as civilians or soldiers, forces us to react faster and faster to take the initiative to keep us “standing” and to continue the “combat” in any sphere in which we have chosen to live.
Jean-Michel Lerho, Sergeant of 1st Parachute Command