Some MAP forum commentary on Stavit, also from 2002, including quotes from the stavit.com site (which was laughed off the Net in a couple of weeks):
Art of defence
From the Evening Press, first published Saturday 7th Sep 2002.
STEPHEN LEWIS discovers the advantages of a Viking martial art with a modern twist.
DAVE Watkinson doesn't look out of the ordinary. He is mild mannered, slightly below average height, with a faraway gaze. Which makes what happens when you try to bash him over the head with a baseball bat all the more galling.
He doesn't seem to move: yet in the blink of an eye there you are, rolling helpless on your back while he stands over you with your bat in his hand.
It doesn't matter what kind of weapon you go for him with, either. I tried them all: fists, knives, baseball bats, bottles, wooden poles. Every time, the result was the same. Before I had even realised he was moving there I was flat on my back again.
It's only what I should have expected, of course. Dave is, after all, a highly trained martial arts expert and Master of Stavit.
Stavit? Never heard of it? Hardly surprising. This is possibly the world's newest martial art, having been officially recognised only a couple of months ago by the Great Britain Martial Arts Association.
If you're anything like me, martial arts probably aren't your scene. But Stavit, insists Dave, is different from other martial arts. It's not macho; it's not a performance sport; it's not there for show. There is no hocus-pocus, no aggressive posturing or screaming for effect. It is, he says, just a simple, quiet, easy to learn, non aggressive and devastatingly effective way of defending yourself against attack, that can be learned by anybody, regardless of age, sex, strength or fitness.
But what is Stavit? It is based, explains Dave, a 47-year-old former mineworker and steelworker who lives at Burton Agnes with his Filipino wife Nelly and five-year-old daughter Fe, on the ancient Viking martial art Stav.
It was designed to counter attacks by sword, axe and other long weapons. Dave has adapted it for defence against any form of street attack.
The beauty of it, he says, is that because it uses the principles of body mechanics you don't need to be fit, young or strong to use it effectively.
What you are doing is using the attacker's own momentum against them by deflecting (not blocking) their attack, then twisting or levering them off balance.
There are 16 basic defensive stances with Norse-sounding names such as hagl and tyr and a set of core moves. But they all look so low-key and natural the attacker has no idea you're actually preparing to defend yourself.
I ask Dave to slow down his movements so I can see what is happening when he disarms me.
As I advance, baseball bat raised threateningly, he remains calm, standing seemingly relaxed.
Because there are no aggressive moves, my eye isn't able to register he is getting ready to defend himself. He simply raises his hands calmly as if to plead with me. Then, almost without me noticing, he places the back of one hand behind my right wrist to act as a "fulcrum" and uses his left hand to lever the baseball bat down. Because of the levering motion, there is nothing I can do to stop the bat being twisted out of my hands. His left hand follows up with a natural twisting movement which has my arm behind my back and me sprawling.
The same when I grab him with two hands by the shirt. Again, he raises one hand in a non-threatening, almost pleading way. Before I know it, he has snaked his arm down between my two hands and levered them apart the way you use a tyre iron to remove a tyre.
It is all devastatingly simple and quick. "By the time your opponent knows something is happening, you are walking away and it is all over," Dave says.
Best of all, adds 55-year-old former para and Stavit black belt and instructor John Covington, it appears so unthreatening.
"It avoids any form of movement that appears aggressive and would prompt an aggressive response," he says. "The moment you get aggressive, it triggers the attacker's fear response, and that means even more aggression."
Appropriately enough, given it's Viking origins, York people are among the first in the country to get the chance to train in this newest of martial arts. Dave and his team of black belt instructors will begin running courses at Bridlington sports hall on Monday, September 16: and then on Sunday, September 29, there will be two introductory courses at York Barbican Centre.
The two-and-a-half hour courses, from 10am to 12.30 and 2pm to 4.30pm, cost £20 on the door or £15 if you book in advance.
If you want to take it further there are a range of belts you can work towards, from green which will equip you to defend against holds, grabs and hand-to-hand assaults to black, which will equip you to defend yourself against just about anything, Dave says - knives, guns and broken bottles included.