So a couple of weeks ago I had to jump in and protect some people that were about to get whacked about a baton-wielding Nazi (maybe not a sentence you expected to hear today): a brief description of the incident and some of the lessons arising therefrom below.

We left the main body of that day’s Anti-Fascist march in Central London to meet some friends of my friends in a nearby pub. On the way we saw the aftermath of a really vicious attack on a Trade Union leader outside another pub. Just after we reached the pub where the friends were drinking, a group of men that we had seen around that attack that were screaming racist obscenities (“fucking monkey” etc) came past and identified us as people taking part in the Anti Fascist march.

An unpleasant verbal confrontation ensued, I was particularly anxious that this did not escalate into a row as the people I was with were not exactly experienced brawlers. My focus was on the mob in front of us. To my left a guy had moved towards our group, quietly, not shouting like the rest. He wrenched a banner flagpole being carried by one of the girls in our group, stepped back and started a two-handed swing aimed at that girl and her friend, also a female. Classy guy.

I was able to jump in to the guy with left foot and left knee raised, this got me very close and in between him and the girls; this defended them, and me, as I was too close for him to cause any real damage with the baton; my left arm was raised high and straight -bit like a Nazi salute ironically enough-with the bicep close to my ear to defend my head, which was good as I did come away from this with a reasonably large bruise on the elbow. On impact I wrapped my left arm around the bat, stepped away with my left leg and hit the guy’s arms with a right vertical forearm smash.

I came away with the bat, said nothing and stood there holding it. This guy and his mates just went off and the cops showed up sometime shortly after.

Now, some lessons from this:

1. If you’re on a march, don’t leave the main body of that march, safety and solidarity in numbers.

2. Be aware of tunnel vision during stressful situations and it’s damaging effects. I will be forever annoyed at myself that I let this guy sneak in so close to our group when my focus was on the mob straight ahead of us, this was partly because I thought I recognised a couple of the guys but no excuses.

3. Train for a variety of attacks from different angles and specifically how to defend other people under attack, this was not a case of a guy fronting me up and wanting to swing for my head.

4. Train specifically on how to close the gap between you and an attacker quickly: I am too old for this shit as someone once said but in a situation where I had to close a pretty big gap quickly I had sufficient plyometric power and technique left to do so. Had to sit down for a nice cup of cocoa soon after, however.

5. Always cover and defend as you move in, particularly your head if  a bat is involved.

6. Train techniques that don’t rely on extreme violence, I really did not want this situation to escalate so avoided any attacks on this guy’s face with my forehead or hands that could have precipitated more aggro.

7. Some people suggested after that I should have whacked the guy with the bat etc. Would have been a very bad idea. Apart from escalating the situation, note that the police turned up very shortly after this happened: if a guy is on the floor and you’re beating him with a stick when the Old Bill turn up, it’s very hard to persuade them that you’re being progressive.

Thanks for reading, peace!