One Against Many: Interview with Branimir Tudjan
Q: Could you give us some information on your professional background and training?
A: Hello Wim. First I would like to thank you for your interest in my MOSS video and for conducting this interview. You know, in the so called martial arts world which is nowadays unfortunately full of big ego “grandmasters” or “guru’s” and where every “expert” perceives others (and their systems) as a potential threat or less “realistic & effective” system then their own, it’s a pleasure to meet a person and a colleague like yourself who is competent, mature, confident and open minded. I am also genuinely impressed with your work with Paladin Press.
(Note from Wim: The pleasure is all mine. Thank you for your kind words, Branimir. Some more thoughts on this here.)
Also I would like to say hello to all your students and visitors on this blog.
I was born in 1965 in Zagreb (Croatia). I began my martial arts training at age of 8 in Japanese Karate. As a teenager I studied Wing Chun and Tae Kwon Do and Western Boxing. After the compulsory army service I traveled to Israel (1987) where I worked as a journalist and had my first encounter with the Israeli self defense system Krav Maga while teaching my Karate classes to the Kibbutz children.
After a while I relocated to The Netherlands where I first introduced Krav Maga (as an official representative of the Israeli Krav Maga Association- IKMA from Israel) and Takeda-ryu Aikido (from Japan). I also introduced Krav Maga to my native country of Croatia.
I was a police officer in The Netherlands for over 13 years and visited many police departments through the world (NYPD. ESPD, Israeli National Police, French GIGN etc).
I also served as a shift supervisor within the Surveillance Detection Team of the Security Office of the United States Embassy in The Hague (The Netherlands). For this team I developed, taught and performed various lectures and operational exercises such as “terrorist groups modus operandi”, “recognizing and dealing with the suicide/homicide bomber” and “advanced practical surveillance & surveillance detection techniques and exercises”.
I have been teaching Krav Maga, PATS (psychology, attributes, tactics and skills) and my MOSS (multiple opponent survival) system to the members of law enforcement, military, security and civilians in The Netherlands and abroad. I have also worked with leading Israeli private security firms and experts.
At this moment I am full time writer and martial arts instructor.
Q: What is the MOSS system and how did you get started to create it?
A: My MOSS system is greatly inspired by Rob Redenbach’s PATS, Krav Maga and my real life violent street encounters. I decided to create MOSS because in my opinion there where no specific self protection systems that dealt exclusively with this type of worst case scenario. The MOSS system aims to create a chance to survive the worst case scenario: multiple opponents attack.
- It will of course not make you a super human or invisible, but it will give you a fighting chance. It’s an honest and realistic approach to the subject of dealing with the multiple opponents. As we both know there are no guarantees in a violent encounter. Nor is there a perfect or “foolproof” self protection systems or martial arts. In my humble opinion the most important qualities one must possess to survive the (ongoing) violent encounter are the will to win/survive and not to give in to pain, fear and/or exhaustion. The physical techniques, tactics and strategies are all secondary.
- If you train seriously the MOSS system will give you realistic, effective strategies, tactics, techniques and skills to create an opportunity for you to survive this kind of violent encounter.
- With its realistic multiple opponents defense conditioning drills you gain familiarity with the subject and develop the confidence based on realistic knowledge. This will in turn dispel your fear and intimidation. Familiarity and knowledge are the biggest “enemies” of fear.
- It will teach you how to reduce the negative impact of fear.
- The system will greatly improve your physical fitness, stamina, balance and strength.
- The system can be implemented to every martial art or self defense style.
- Specialy suitable for law enforcement and military personnel.
Statistically speaking, the most violent encounters involve two or more assailants… Yet there are very few self defense systems dealing with the subject realistically. Many martial arts and self defense experts don’t teach defense against multiple opponents because they believe it’s impossible to defend against this kind of attacks. I partly agree with this statement because it’s very difficult to fight even just one determined opponent who fights at 100% physical and spiritual power. But not giving people the opportunity to become knowledgeable with the subject is a great error: it makes them believe they don’t have any chance of surviving a multiple attacker scenario. This is negative blueprinting.
On the other hand, there are many martial arts and self defense experts who teach their students a multiple opponent defense strategy based on very unlikely and unrealistic attack scenarios. E.g.: each of the attackers will attack the victim by waiting for his turn. Just like you see in many martial arts festivals or Jackie Chan movies. This is a capital mistake because the student will develop a dangerous and unrealistic confidence. This kind of false confidence is dangerous and will lead to disaster if a person is confronted with multiple assailants. This attitude is definitely a sign of unconscious incompetence.
With an honest, practical and realistic approach to the subject, the students will learn and realize that they have a fighting chance. To achieve this result you need hard physical, mental and emotional work. For instance: developing the will to win/survive and learning the fighting strategies based on simple, effective, gross motor skills and understanding the psychology of multiple assailant attacks and the group dynamics involved. This approach will help the person to develop the conscious competence.
Q: What inspired you to make the “One Against Many” video?
A: At the time I was considering making such a video, there were only a few videos on the subject of multiple opponents. Most of these videos showed choreographies and often ridiculous techniques, such a high kicking or static striking exchanges with the attackers. Yet some other videos were in my opinion too theoretical and lacked live techniques and drills. The trigger was the same as for my decision to create this system and of course to share my knowledge with a wider audience. I wanted to give people the tools to survive multiple aggressors attack, if they ever needed them.
Q: Is it necessary for people to have a martial arts background to learn from the video?
A: Yes and no. Among other aspects, this depends highly on the viewer’s motivation, his/her ability to interpret and to absorb the material. If the material is simple and easy to learn and based on natural reactions, it’s possible to learn from the video to a certain extend. Of course, nothing can replace or compensate live training under the guidance of a competent instructor. I see instructional videos as motivational tools which can compliment persons existing live training.
Q: You stress the importance of footwork a lot, could you explain why?
A: If we are talking about a multiple opponent situation, the proper footwork is of the utmost importance. A static target is easy to grab and strike. A moving target is difficult to strike or to grab. To create a chance to survive multiple aggressors you have to move fast. I am not talking about “fancy footwork” but about a natural and explosive way of moving. The closest description would be a type of modified basketball (or handball) footwork. This means being able to move fast and with good balance. Also, you have to be able to explosively change directions and at a same time strike your opponents. The bottom line is: stability in movement or mobility with good balance. So good legs (and a all-round body ) conditioning is paramount.
Q: Could you give some examples of multiple opponent situations from your own experience or from students of yours?
A: A few years ago I was unfortunately attacked by three thugs on the street. At the time I was 43 years old and I could have been their father: they were 25 years old. It’s important to say that I am a big fan of (violence) avoidance and de-escalation. But this was one of a few situations in my life when I could not avoid or de-escalate.
A friend of mine was with me at that time and without any warning or reason, one of these guys attacked him. When I tried to remove the attacker, I got jumped by all three of them. To cut this story short, I managed to knock out two attackers (one with a right cross, the other one with a head butt). The third guy managed to get behind my back and hit me. After that, he ran away and I managed (after a good run of 5 minutes) to get him under control. All assailants were later arrested by the police. Except for a few bruises, I was OK.
I am happy and fortunate that the attackers did not use weapons. Who knows what would have been the result then? At worst, I would not be writing this right now. In my book “Leef Safe”, I described this attack in detail.
Q: What are the biggest mistakes people make in a multiple attacker situation?
A: The biggest mistake is to end up in such a bad situation in the first place. You can’t prevent everything but avoidance coupled with common sense (not ego) can do miracles in preventing this kind of nightmare. If you are “switched on” chances are good you will spot the potential dangerous situation. Don’t forget that every violent street encounter can be your last one. You can get killed or you can kill somebody. Awareness and avoidance is the key.
From a tactical perspective, you should never trade blows with your attackers, take the fight to the ground, do high kicks or wrestle with them. Use deception to strike first, hard and fast. Move all the time: strike them while moving and look for an opportunity to run away.
Q: A question from Pieter: What kind of training drills do you use to simulate the stress of a self defense situation?
A: I believe that there are a few things you have to implement and embrace in your self protection training: verbal insults, non-verbal intimidation, fear, pain, disorientation and exhaustion. In my training drills, I use all these components. Of course, in a reasonably controlled way and with the use of protective gear.
Q: Another one from him: What are your thoughts on the benefits of combat sports for self defense?
A: Every combat sport or martial art can be good for self defense. At the end of the day, it’s not the system but the person that will decide the outcome of a violent encounter.
Q: Do you have any new projects in the works that you can talk about?
A: A few days ago I came back from Croatia and Slovenia where I conducted Krav Maga seminars. I am teaching my regular KM classes at Leiden University and give seminars. Right now I have representatives in a few countries: one in Croatia, one in Slovenia and a new one in Vancouver, Canada.
My second Paladin Press video called: “Street Krav Maga” got out in march of this year. I will shoot the second Krav Maga video next year in US.
My first book “Leef Safe” (published in The Netherlands in 2009) will be published in my native Croatia in a month, so I am preparing the promotion in the media with my publisher.
My second book “Krav Maga for Life- a secret recipe for a happy and successful life”, was published a few months ago in The Netherlands and next year, it will also be published in Croatia. In this new book I share my Krav Maga and life stories and adventures. But I also aim to apply the vital knowledge of this discipline for dealing with the difficult and challenging situations one may encounter in everyday life. In this “no holds barred” inspirational and motivational book, I use Krav Maga as a metaphor for life.
At the moment I am offering an 8 month long “Krav Maga for Life” Masterclass based on my book. This masterclass is a unique opportunity for everybody interested in personal/spiritual growth through Krav Maga training.
I would also like to wish you, your students and your blog visitors a wonderful holiday season and a most beautiful, peaceful and blessed 2011.
Click here to buy “One Against Many” now
Once again, special thanks to Branimir Tudjan for taking the time to do this interview.