Why we need to learn “Control and Restraint” techniques

Ok, so you might not be a policeman. And you do not secretly harbour desires to try out nightclub security. Nor do you wish to be a psychiatric nurse.

But I would still argue, whether folding people up like the proverbial deckchair is your job or not everyone must study and develop “control and restraint” techniques.


1. Not every problem is a nail not every solution is a hammer.

Learning how to handle a multiplicity of confrontational situations across different contexts by only having one option of response is a sure fire way to get yourself in hot water. That kind of training probably will get you locked up.
NB I am NOT using that haggard, tired, much abused phrase “that shit will get you locked up” – I’m merely pointing out the likely end result of applying the “maximum force” model (do as much damage as you can as quickly as you can) to a “minimal force” scenario : your 18 year old Rugby playing nephew has one nippy sweety too many at the family barbeque and wants to “test your kung fu” or the chav at the bus stop who is getting lippy with an old lady.
Would you want the old preemptive strike, blast, chuck to floor and stomp tactic to be the only thing you had available? Wouldn’t it be more fun to lock the kid up and introduce him rapidly to the concrete in double time?

More fun and more legal.

I dont want to be a party pooper but my last little sortie on to the doors of the UK with my bright shiny new SIA badge strapped to my chest opened my eyes to one glaringly obvious fact: the world has changed.

From 2002 to 2012 the screws have clearly been being turned HARD to clockwise to clamp down on “anti social violence”. I was, with some bewilderment now being asked to fill out “incident reports” for speaking to a patron in a loud voice and giving them the merest scruffing – 10 years ago you wouldnt bother your arse to fill one out unless you were 90% sure the police were coming. And they wouldnt come unless things had gotten fairly serious.

My point : CYA.

Cover your posterior, legally. A great way to do that is to not only EXHAUST all verbal dissuasion but now I am also advocating if not exhausting at least ATTEMPTING some kind of effort at restraint before moving up the sliding scale of force.

Just saying “if he moves into your space, crack him” is not enough anymore. The situation we face is more complex. And somewhat less in our favour as citizens seeking to protect ourselves. And less in our favour if we are nightclub security. And less in the polices favour too (important to bear this in mind).

2. Ethics

Whether you cringe at the word or not you are or you are not living by certain “codes”. In NLP terms these would be termed, beleifs, values, maps and meta-programmes.

Of course it is not right to handle every obnoxious, trauma suffering, butthurt, insecure, narcisstic, “sociopathic” plonker with “6 Seconds of Extreme Violence” however satisfying it might be. Think smart – who wins? If some total dick hole goads you into battering him and YOU get the criminal record would you consider that a “win”?

In my “map” of reality that is definitely not a win.

Shoving the plonker head first into the dirt with his arm up his back in front of people? Giving him no visible injuries to go whinging to the police with? Doing more damage to his bloated ego than his body?

That gets me misty eyed.  I’m sure thats what I got into martial arts for if I subject myself to 2 minutes of armchair analysis : having been the victim of bullying as a child, the deep seated desire to learn how to turn the tables on bullies.

Here are some anecdotes from a few years ago before my second round on the doors that you might find vaguely amusing.

“I got mugged once, they maced me whilst I sat strapped into my mates dads “mini moke” (sort of a little jeep), my cunning defence was to rub the mace into my eyes and start hyperventilating, sucking it down deeper. There were some off duty nurses near the scene at the time, they were drunk and inexperienced with mace. Thhey got me and my mates to try washing it out with water. Well you know how that goes. I was 13.

THE POINT IS: Not every situation is best resolved with extreme levels of violence.

To ignore the “Control and Restraint” Elements of Training is to leave a big gaping hole in your Self Protection Strategy.

I got my mate who is a former RAF regiment, bodybuilding, thai boxing grock a job on my door, about 6 years ago. Big lad, shaved head, tattoos, really looks the part. The first time I asked him to help me take two lads out of a fire exit was like watching a scene from a bad comedy.

I’ve sparred with this guy, he is not just big he is fit and fast (so much for the bodybuilders are all slow theory!) and he can lift the big numbers BUT he could NOT get his head around simply getting hold of someone and physically moving them out of the club.

It was like he just didn’t have the mental software for it.

When I asked him to grip this lad (not a big fellow) my mate went into a bit of a shutdown, eyes wide, jaw slack and his hands moving over all the guy a bit like he was patting him down for a weapons check, but really, really fast and light… poking at him but not GRABBING him! (obviously the smaller guy was totally bewildered and was just trying to brush my mates hands off him, not aggressively, just being a bit pissy about it, instead of saying “hey, ok, what do you want me to do?”- its best to keep comms clear, friendly and to the point in a crowded noisy club- bit of advice from me to you on how to handle doormen should you need it).

One of the other doormen in the club, who has never set foot in a gym in his life as far as I know, smokes like a chimney, is about 12 stone ringing wet and 5 foot 6 came to my mates rescue.

This smaller but way more salty doorman zipped straight past me and the guy I had hold of, caught the guy my mate was trying to move on the fly and he was out the fire exit before my mate could even catch his bearings.

Obviously I was laughing at my mates total fuckwittery and mocked him severely for a long, looooong time, such is my kind forgiving nature.

But there was a serious element to the incident: as you might know door environments are very bitchy and competitive, I had brought this guy in and he couldn’t do the basics; grab someone and throw them out. So I knew I had to retrain him before the next weekend (and find an excuse for the other lads to see him drag someone out properly, which meant he was running round the 3 story two section club to every single incident that came over the radio until he got someone!)

Now I had done some training of doormen at this time. That’s how I got into door work. I was working a crappy admin job, but just happened to have been put on a desk with a doorman working for the biggest firm in Liverpool at the time. On the same desk was a guy training to join the marines and a semi pro bodybuilder.

It was a testosterone fest. We basically spent all day talking about fighting, training and swapping stories and techniques. Eventually we were all quietly let go, which was fine it was a crap job and by the time we left we had all started supplementing our incomes with doorwork anyway.

Well it wasn’t long before we were all in the gym training. My doorman mate brought some of his door colleagues along and they would say “what would you do if someone did this” and I would show them anything I knew from martial arts that I thought might work. Some of it was just thrown out immediately and laughed off, but some of it really stuck and they would come back with stories of how they had used it, which for me at age 22 was a huge buzz. Real doormen using stuff I had shown them in real fights!

I was positively giddy.

Because these lads were not like the people I was used to training with in traditional martial arts gyms, respectfully accepting everything that was shown them as gospel, everything had to be kind of “sparred” or “tested”.

I had to evolve the way I trained people… and quickly!

My only experience at that point was from training people at University, who were all scared of me and just did as I said. These lads were absolutely not scared of me and not up for blind obedience.

Scousers. What can I say?

If you couldn’t get it off whilst they were resisting it or sort of play brawling with each other it just got binned straight away.

“Dats Shite Dat Richie lad, do us another”

(translation: “that last technique you showed us simply wasn’t up to par good sir, may we please impose upon you for a canny replacement?”)

So rather than just show them techniques and then test them on each other I started coming up with drills that would let them do what they do on the door- which is NOT mostly whacking folk as many believe, but mostly “collaring” and “moving” to the ratio of 1% to 99% or LESS if you are doing your job properly, are on a good door and have good verbal skills.

This is where the idea of the “A to B” drill that forms the core of the DVD was born.

Let the “techniques” and strategies be born from and dictated by the pressure test simulations of the specific activity being performed rather than trying to shoe horn prescribed solutions into the context.

Anything will work under the right conditions, a practitioner skilful enough and an opponent weak or drunk enough.

What they wanted back then, what you want and need now is the stuff that is “highly likely to work” across a variety of conditions.

This is called “redundancy”. That a strategy or technique will “work” to some degree across a variety of favourable not just in the most favourable conditions.

“Yes Tony, your complex double chicken wing with thumb lock come along worked last weekend because the skinny teenager you were applying it to was pilled off his tits. Don’t be thinking its magic… it’s a piece of piss to avoid here let’s try it…”

And so on.

(Actually Tony is a real character, very into martial arts, who according to the other lads has successfully done a double knock out – yes punching two people at the same time- I wasn’t there, but that’s the story. I know he’s mad enough to try it, I personally can’t see how it would work though…. unless he caught them both whilst they were looking away from him… which I’m sure he wouldn’t do…)

That explains the history.

My second story is just a show off one, but you might like it:

Summer Tenerife in 2004.

Two lads who thought of themselves as “gangstas” just because they sold a bit of beak were refusing to pay for their drinks and refusing to get off the “terrace” (there is no wall between the bar area and the street in many bars in Tenerife, just a terrace to define the boundaries of the bar, so when you throw someone “out” your job is actually to get them off the “terrace”, they have come back “in” if they set foot on the terrace again).

They were sat at their table, which was a metre from the edge of the terrace, with two empty glasses in front of them, a pissed off looking cocktail waitress stood next to them, slouched in their chairs affecting an arrogant air.

To be honest these two tw*ts had been coming the raw prawn for a few days, pushing the boundaries so their cards were already marked. That was the problem with Tenerife, you would get idiots who were big fish in their tiny little scummy pond back home bringing their small town mentality over with them.

For some reason I was in a glum, stroppy mood that night and didn’t feel like arguing. And I usually love a good argument, as you may know.

So I just walked up to the one who was doing the silliest tough guy faces (too much “scarface” my love?) and asked quietly:

“Are you walking out or am I going to move you?”

“What are you going to fucking make me?” Sneer, sneer, looks to mate for reassurance. Coward.

I just stood and looked at him ( I usually handle these things with a bit of humour and high energy, the fear of being humiliated by a loud gregarious nutter usually greases the wheels in these “ego stand offs” but as I say for some reason I had a cob on that night)

“Are you going to walk or will I move you?”

He did a little snort laugh out of his nose and turned away from me.

I grabbed his arm at the wrist and elbow and I launched him, from his chair and into the street on his arse 3 metres away.

I think why this worked SO well on this occasion was 1. I was expecting resistance so I really gripped him explosively stepped back and sank my weight deep into it and 2. I don’t think the little sh*tbag had ever had anyone call his bluff before and wasn’t expecting me to actually chuck him!

I was as surprised at just how well it had worked as he and the onlookers were, but I kept a poker face. “Yeah, I’m wong fei hung, dont mess, mmmkay?”

I’ve always felt it’s better to over commit and have something work MORE than you needed than be a bit ginger about it which gives them time to improvise a counter.

The longer you are in contact the more likely he is to adapt to your strategy, so you want it to be shocking and quick and over.

The technique, some will be displeased/bewildered to hear is actually from classical tai chi (I told you I skimmed from multiple sources) and is a great way of getting someone in front of you who is NOT fighting you (if they are trying to bash your face in then you would need to be very skilled or lucky or just totally outclass your opp. to get this one off) but is actively resisting you, to a space a few metres behind and away from where you were originally stood (it’s a “projection” a kind of throw, but you don’t throw them down you throw them away from you).

Now this move does take a bit of skill, sensitivity and timing, AND you must both take them by surprise and COMMIT to it


I show you exactly how to develop that skill and timing with a special drill on the DVD with step by step instruction.

It’s well worth the effort.

Just to finish the story, his mate found it an easy decision to choose to walk off the terrace, which was wise as the other doorman I was on with who had stood silently by throughout the exchange is a very well known “traveller” and bare knuckle boxer in Tenerife who would have happily smashed the lads faces for them had we not managed to find a more gentle resolution.

Now the lad was unharmed, his mate moved, I didn’t compromise my own safety by getting unnecessarily involved in a “clinch and wrestle”, we didn’t play pat a cake whilst I tried for an “arm lock” or “come along” and there was no undignified huff and puffing sprawling brawling effort to shove him out; one second he was sat down in a chair in my bar, the next he was in the street.

The stiff minded, scared to death fantasists will whimper “but if you give him space he can draw a knife”. Correct, many things can happen in a Universe of infinite possibility.

If only I could make people invincible eh?

To be honest with you, this type of thing is what I got into martial arts for. Ok over they years my desire was supplanted for something that was more visceral, more violent, more combative. But when I was a lot younger I wanted to get into martial arts not to head butt, eye gouge, smash head into wall and stomp,stomp, stomp.

I suppose it’s the notion of handling violence with a bit of skill and grace. When its low level violence you are dealing with it is possible. Anyway, that’s my show off story.”

If you’re interested in learning lower level techniques and strategies to Control and Restrain like arm manipulations (not locks), projections (not throws), head controls and tie ups pertinent to C+R (tie ups delivered from the back and side that don’t keep you locked to the person you are moving) then

the “Control and Restraint” DVD is now available from here

About The Author

richie grannon

Richard Grannon is a martial arts instructor and psychology coach.

Leave A Response