Saving the wife drill

By James Farthing

In September 2007  I presented a module at a International Seminar in Liverpool, England. Part of this module was an adaptation of a drill taken from Craig Gemeiner’s DVD called ” Defense dans la Rue Volume 1- Savate Street Kicking.” This short article covers the drill and the adaptations I have made.

The overall aim of the drill, for me at least, is to get people thinking about two things in unison- dealing with multiple opponents and the protection of a fellow human being. The end result is not perfection but a point from which to start. Start your practice, start your thinking process for another ‘ solution’ , start your pressure testing, start thinking of more than your self protection etc.

For the initial drill, as I will describe here, you (ideally) need the following piece of ‘kit’ – one heavy bag (or a manikin/dummy or a sand bag), two sets of focus pads, two sets of shin guards, three people. You can make do with less kit, improvise kit, or as will be explained later you can build upon this kit requirement.

Stage 1:

Start by facing off against the two ‘kitted up’ yobs ( yobs identifies them for what they are in this drill!).  Have them stand a few feet apart and just practice striking the pads and moving between them. Remember the different targets you have as far as the kit goes (focus pad, groin guard, shin guards) and also what those pieces of equipment relate to for real. Start off slow and gradually build up the pace, trying to keep them both in your field of vision while trying not to turn your back on one as you strike the other. This is where you make mistakes and can be guided by what the yobs see… so make sure they give you feedback.


Fig 1: Use of the hands as a weapon


Fig 2: Use of the feet as a weapon, note back is turned.


Fig 3: Consequences of turning your back

Stage 2:

Face the yobs with your back to a wall, and the heavy bag behind you (representing a downed person- could be a partner, friend, child, or just a parson you’re trying to help save). Repeat Stage 1 but this time have the yobs try and kick/stomp the heavy bag. Start off slowly and gradually build up the pace. Think about the move between then yobs, any game-plan that you may have in mind, and of course the protection of the ‘ heavy bag.’ Think about  causing damage but simultaneously doing your best to protect the vulnerable and defenceless ‘heavy bag.’ Ensure you start slowly and ensure that your training partners pick the pace up at a sensible rate, there is no point them both going hell for heather from off as you’ll not be learning anything.  Look at where  you are striking and again relate this to the real target and a real situation. Would you want to be punching  the guy in the pectoral muscle for real?! As with Stage 1 make sure that you are getting feedback from the yobs, and ‘onlookers’ if possible.


Fig4: Attempting to cover both ‘yobs’ whilst protecting the downed person

Stage 3:

This is the same as Stage 2 but with the addition of  more movement, more urgency on the part of the yobs, and plenty of verbalisation. Add the verbal and see how it changes, or maybe it doesn’t. Fore some people the sterile training environment is fine even when the pace is increased to a ferocious level, but add the verbalisation, the threats and the expletives, and it all comes crashing down. Others of course let them flow past like water off a ducks back but as the action increased they become less and less able to cope. It is down to the trainer/ pad-men to play this drill out to  ensure a learning experience is had… and it’s not just a cardiovascular piece of exercise !

Stage 4:

For this stage you just need to pick the person up off the floor and put them on your shoulder. Easier said than done when you take into consideration the difference in body size/shape and also paying heed to the safety to your back. For this reason I will not cover how to pick them up off the floor and just advise that you find someone with a military background to show you….. those guys generally have a couple of tried and tested means which they can demonstrate. With the heavy bag you will know how to pick it up, so just pick the thing up and put it on your shoulder…. then repeat to ensure you cover both left and right! If you cannot find anyone to show you a safe way to pick somebody up off the floor maybe just get them to climb on and do a schoolyard piggy back.


Fig 5 : The carry and attack as you drive the yob back

The Drill


2.1 min of ‘action’ – this is just Stage 3 with full aggression and verbalisation from the yobs


4.Yobs more away (they’ve been knocked out, or persuaded to change their mind etc) and you pick up the heavy bag. Move swiftly with the bag to the other end of the room and as you move there will be one yob in front of you. You should strike him (focus pads) and push him back( the other yob acts as safety guy). I would advise you use the free hand (or maybe two if you have a novel way of carrying!) to strike…with  the extra weight of the heavy bag down (gently…remember it’s a person!)


6.Turn around and start again with 1 min of ‘action’.


8.Repeat the carry back to the side from which you started, and then the drill is completed once you put the heavy bag down for the second time.

The drill itself can of course be modified in many ways such as the addition of more yobs or the addition of more protective equipment. It can also be pressure tested where equipment/ training partners allow or the time extended. You can have an extra person on hand to lie on the floor for you when it comes to the ‘carry’ but this I would only recommend if you’ve practiced and been successful with a lift of some sort, or are happy with the piggy back idea.

All in all it’s an excellent drill for making you think of dealing with more than one yob and also thinking of more than just yourself. When there is a third party to think of things do change…and if you have trouble remembering that then when the adrenaline kicks in why not take a picture of a loved one and tape it to the heavy bag. Do you want the yobs stamping and kicking your daughter into the ground ?!


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