The commonalities between corporate security and martial arts


About Dave Verma, MSc.

Dave Verma is recognized in the UK as a corporate anti-fraud specialist consultant, he has lectured on all related subjects including anti-corruption, fraud risk assessment and procurement fraud. Dave is also the founder of the MARA COMBAT SYSTEM, which he founded in 2012. He founded this combat system after 30 years in martial arts and having gained black-belts in Korean, Chinese and Japanese systems.


Developing and maintaining effective corporate security and developing and maintaining prowess in martial arts – both require three key foundational attributes, these being RESPECT, DISCIPLINE and ETHICAL CONDUCT. Successful corporate entities and successful martial artists are both driven and governed by respect, discipline and ethical conduct. Any breach in either of these key foundational attributes normally results in major problems. To expand the discussion further, the main commonalities between corporate security and martial arts at a more granular level can be summarised in the following 10 points:

1. Both seek to deal with threats from within and without. This means the threat from within an organization or within the household and also the threat from people with hostile intent from outside the organization or outside the household. Generally speaking, with regards to corporate security 80% of the threat is normally internal. This statistic can also be extrapolated to martial arts in terms of personal security, where the insider threat is generally more prevalent in terms of domestic violence towards certain types of the victim and also children in terms of physical/sexual abuse from persons known to the family.

2. Both seek to deal with social engineering threats to infiltrate organizations or our personal lives. This point links to point 1 above. Organizations and individuals need to be aware of exercising proper due diligence in whom they allow within the organization or within the household.

3. Displacement. In corporate security and also personal martial arts practice, we must understand that we cannot rid of the world of attackers. We can, however, displace corporate fraud and/or personal attack through appearing to be a less attractive victim. The way we appear less attractive as a victim is through exercising proper security. In the corporate world, this could be physical perimeter security, physical security guards, security dogs, anti-infiltration mechanisms and robust policies to pursue offenders. In the personal martial arts realm we can appear less attractive through our body language, our demeanour, our awareness, engaging in anti-surveillance strategies and also in de-escalation methods which show attackers that we are not a good target. failing this we can also attack first, attack hard and disable our opponent to deter the other members of the attacking team.

4. Both types of security require an understanding that using ‘blocks’ as your first defense simply won’t work.

The best forms of defence are to attack. For example, dealing with corporate threats once they have occurred is a very poor strategy, similarly dealing with physical attack by standing in one place and blocking will usually never work. Clearly, we do need strategies to deal with surprise, unannounced or unexpected attacks, be these in a corporate environment or physical attack. This however, is only part of the problem.

Preventative strategies, training and awareness and early detection regimes are all required to help prevent and deter attackers before they strike.

5. Therefore, both corporate security and martial arts only succeed if a proactive, preventative and often pre-emptive strategy is employed to gain optimal outcomes. Another way of putting this is ‘to take the fight to the attacker’.

6. To succeed, corporate entities and private individuals need to engage in proper awareness. I.e. within the corporate entity or within the martial art practitioner himself. Neither endeavour can succeed, heads are buried in the sand. We need to understand the environment in which we operate, what the threats are and how these develop and usually change over time.

7. Both corporate security and martial arts have a common thread in terms of the threat from information security. The corporate entity can experience theft of intellectual property and a range of other threats to the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information. Similarly, at a personal level, criminals may seek to obtain our data nefariously, in order to stalk, abduct, attack or harass.

8. A more specialist type of commonality is that of procurement fraud. Research shows that for corporate entities and individuals alike, procurement fraud is a major threat. This can occur anywhere in the supply chain, from corruption in the tendering and selection process to over-ordering and invoicing fraud. Similarly, for the individual, risks materialize in terms of buying online or any other type of major procurement, for example, building work to our own personal premises. These threats can inevitably lead to confrontation, hostility and the need for the individual to exercise effective combative strategies.

9. For corporate entities and the individual the threat of abduction, kidnap, extortion and the like are very real. The key officers within the corporate entity are continually at threat as they travel between meetings, travel abroad or expose themselves at conferences or other public engagements. These same threats exist for individuals with wealth, either with threats to their own person or threats to their vulnerable family members, for example, women and children within the family unit. Both corporate entities and individuals need to understand how attractive they are to criminals.

10. The final commonality between corporate security and martial arts is that of an undeniable imperative for the highest quality effective training. Without proper training, corporate entities lose touch with the latest threats – and individuals in martial arts lose touch with the latest threats to themselves and the latest alert systems, household security, weapons and other tools they could use for their own self-protection.

Commonalities in effective strategy:

Having identified the main common issues above – we will explore some key strategies both environments can adopt for success:

1. Undertaking a rigorous counter-attack risk assessment process, within the corporate entity and also a personal level as martial artists would be seen as an essential aspect of security. For corporate security, this could be done for all manner of activities ranging from health and safety of key officers, avoiding infiltration, avoiding fraud, corruption and bribery and also information security risk. Buying in specialist resources or professionals to undertake these risk assessments would be a key way forward. Similarly, for martial artists they need to understand the physical threats, wherever they operate, for example, I operate in London. Here the threat of bladed attack is ever present, as are threats from gangs and also multiple attackers. Therefore, I know I have to teach my students to engage in improvised weapons training, awareness and evasion methods, urban counter-surveillance, and pre-emptive attack methodology.

2. A good adage for both corporate security and the individual is to acknowledge, prevent and pursue any type of attack. Both corporate entities and private individuals need to develop strong preventative strategies, strong detection strategies and work hard to develop trained responses to respond to actual attacks in the moment. We have already mentioned effective training – but it cannot be understated in terms of the single most effective measure. Gaining organizational and individual reflective responses, which are potent and affective is the desired outcome.

3. The third common preventative measure is understanding how to use pre-emptive attack as a weapon. This means hitting the attacker before they hit you. This means understanding when you are in imminent danger and taking the fight to the attacker. We can achieve this corporately, in terms of affective due diligence, affective corporate governance and a host of anti-infiltration methods. Instead of simply not allowing individuals to join the corporate entity, they should be reported to the relevant government agencies, the police and other law enforcement. Their attempts should be dealt with and they should not be allowed to try the same thing again with other corporate organizations. For the private individual, Learning how to take the fight to the attacker is essential in martial arts practice. Using the element of surprise, confusion, distraction, how to throw objects and use improvised weapons plus how to attack the eyes, the groin and break bones in order to disarm, ‘defang’ and escape. Martial artists need to use sudden violence, controlled aggression and an animalistic attitude to fight pre-emptively to deter any accomplices and to cause the attackers to rethink their brave idea and instead to flee.

4. The fourth commonality pertains to the development of an affective security and ethical culture, i.e. an affective corporate security culture and an effective individual/family culture pertaining to security. At a corporate level this could be hiring individuals with the correct ethical belief system and character, the development of effective corporate strategies, staff codes of conduct and disciplinary policies. At an individual level this could be a culture of counter-surveillance, which is ingrained within the individual and their family members, i.e. from the moment they open the front door, how they approach vehicles, counter-surveillance while they drive, where they park, effective strategies for escape and embedding a combative mindset in any high-threat environment.

5. Both corporate security and martial arts need to understand how to engage with the law-enforcement community. For example, when a crime occurs in the workplace, specialist corporate security officers should swing into play to preserve evidence and effect the involvement of law-enforcement professionals. This is the same from an individual perspective as martial artists, we need to understand the law, our rights, our obligations and how we can defend ourselves according to the law and how this may change depending upon which country or state we are living in. Similarly, we need to understand how to exploit testimony from witnesses and preserve evidence. 

6. Perimeters, establishing trust add disaster response methodology

7. Controlled aggression. Displacement. Monitoring, surveillance and countersurveillance, espionage and counterespionage

8. Information technology security awareness and strategies. Corporate organizations and private individuals need to understand how best to exploit technology to prevent and detect infringements on their private data. For corporate entities, this could be the employment of specialist information technology security officer roles, Who are accountable for maintaining the security of firewalls, networks, access systems and backups. For the private individual this may be understanding how best to protect personal information and in particular social media and how one’s status may inadvertently be exposed in terms of geographical location.

9. Pre-agreed disaster response strategies. If something does go wrong either for the corporate entity or private individual, having an agreed disaster response strategy in place can save valuable time and can immediately provide the optimal position in terms of the pre-decided response. Corporate entities can do this for major breaches of information security, physical breaches or physical attack on the officers. Similarly, private individuals can develop a plan to cover burglary, robbery, physical attack and abduction or stalking

10. Roles, responsibilities and accountabilities. In line with point 9 above, deciding who will do what and when it’s not an essential part of any disaster planning. In the corporate entity, the chief executive and lead officers must decide who will be responsible for press handling, informing the police, invoking security departments and preservation of evidence. Similarly, for private individuals i.e. martial artists whilst they may often be alone, it would be important to decide what other family members can do if the main family member is defending an attack within the house or outside, i.e. the oldest child may be told that their job is to find appropriate improvised weapons and arm themselves and the father, the younger child may be tasked to call the police; another family member may be tasked to get personal details about vehicles and other persons present.

In summary, this paper has sought to describe the commonalities between corporate security and personal security for martial artist. The further two papers will explore some of the above strands in more detail. Paper two will explore particular training that the corporate entity can engage in to prevent infiltration, fraud and corruption. Paper two will also explore particular awareness training and pre-emptive striking methods which the individual can train in.

Paper three will explore specialist tools and methods available to the corporate entity, for example, counter-surveillance methods, social engineering awareness and information technology security. Paper three will then explore similar methods available for the private individual/martial artist, for example, social engineering awareness, information security and the use of improvised weapons.

Part 2 here.

Author: Editorial