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Next Evolution Martial Arts Training Course Developed By Bruce Lee's Leading Student


Virgin Blue Airlines has recruited one of the world’s leading martial arts experts to develop a unique airline defensive tactics program to train its in-flight and ground crew members.

James DeMile, the first student of martial arts guru Bruce Lee, has arrived in Australia to assist Virgin Blue in developing a special program to equip staff with split second tactics to disarm and immobilise a threatening passenger.

The training provided to Virgin Blue crew includes many of the techniques that James DeMile has taught over the past 15 years to American FBI agents, Secret Service members, US Federal Marshalls and riot police.

It follows the events of September 11 and the more recent heroic crew action on American Airlines Flight 63 where cabin crew, assisted by passengers, were instrumental in foiling a potential terrorist incident by disarming and restraining the so called ‘shoe bomber’, Richard Reid.

US based expert, James DeMile is spending the next week in Australia with the Virgin Blue team and his Brisbane-based martial arts partner Doug Tritton, developing the program, speaking to crew members and giving them detailed training on how to physically defend against a larger, stronger and perhaps armed attacker in a limited space environment such as an aircraft cabin or flight deck.

Crew will be taught how to disable the attacker efficiently and effectively by employing some of the techniques developed by Bruce Lee and employed successfully with Federal Police agencies.

Virgin Blue Cabin Crew already do martial arts training as part of their course but this new and extensive course is one of several security and safety initiatives implemented by Virgin Blue since September 11.

Virgin Blue’s Chief Executive Officer, Brett Godfrey, said, We want to send a clear message that we will do whatever it takes to improve on-board security to all perceived threats. While Virgin Blue has Federal Air Marshall’s on board, we think it is also vital that our own crew are trained to deal with everything from air rage to an actual assault on themselves or a Guest. This very specialised training is considered a very worthwhile investment for Virgin Blue.

Phil Scanlon, Head of Security for Virgin Blue added, This isn't the kind of gung-ho stuff you see in the movies. These are logical, methodical, and very effective techniques that can be employed by any individual, even someone of small stature dealing with a much larger and stronger adversary. While we hope that our crew will never face any life-threatening situations, these skills will also be helpful in dealing with the occasional unruly guest and some of the crew have already commented that it would also add to their sense of security in everyday situations like walking to their cars at night.

James DeMille said, Bruce Lee was a short guy with a small frame but his techniques made him the most highly respected martial arts fighter of all time. It’s not about wildly swinging punches, it’s about being in the position to protect yourself with specific disabling manoeuvres. We call this the modernisation of martial art.

He continued, Flight attendants often have the greatest opportunity to be effective in a potential violent situation but they are often the most vulnerable and for this reason both flight attendants and pilots need to know techniques that can be carried out in seconds from a standing or sitting position.

Along with spending time talking to crew about physical tactics, James and Doug will also be giving advice on matters such as verbal pacifying techniques to be used both in the air and on the ground.

Two courses will be developed: Level 1 specifically for operating crew and airport-based team members and Level 2 for other Virgin Blue staff who are keen to learn basic defence.

Confidence is the key to dealing with any confrontation and we are equipping our staff to deal with a whole spectrum of aggressive behaviour. This along with their existing crew training program only enhances on-board safety for our Guests, finished Brett Godfrey.

After the final details of the course are developed, training will then be implemented by Doug Tritton together with Virgin Blue.