Soke Ben Mangels

Ben Mangles_Teaching

Soke Ben Mängels is the founder and honorary life member of the South African Institute of Unarmed Combat. He started his career in 1954 as a young police officer in Durban, South Africa. He soon learned that the rough and tough sailors were a force to be reckoned with, so began his training in Kodokwan Jujitsu. He discovered that what was taught in the dojo was not how things happened in real life. Most techniques were just not effective when dealing with street-wise sailors. This prompted Soke Mängels to analyse and modify techniques to suit the reality of the streets and dockyards of Durban. Keeping It Real has always been Soke Mängels’s central philosophy.

Soon after obtaining his black belt in Kodokwan Jujitsu, he obtained a black belt in Judo, and became a South African middleweight Judo champion. Soke Mängels then progressed to Karate, obtaining a black began Shotokan Karate. Here he was frustrated with Karate’s inability to deal with a grappler or competent Jujitsu or Judo fighter (years later kick-boxers would have the same problem when confronted with Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu).

The solution for Soke Mängels was to develop his own system, so taking the best from various Martial Arts (Jujitsu, Karate, Judo, wrestling and boxing), he created what he now calls Atemi-Jujitsu. Soke Mängels used to say that his system was best described as “Street” Karate; a fighting system that could be used in real life situations.

Soke Mängels became an officer in the South African Police and Captain in the South African Air Force. He was at times the chief Close Quarters Combat (CQB) instructor to elite special forces units, including the South African Army Commandos, South African Naval Marines, and British Special Air Service (SAS).

In 1981, Soke Mängels established the South African Institute of Unarmed Combat (SAIUC) in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, establishing several schools (dojos) in South Africa. When Soke Mängels emigrated to the US he handed the SAIUC over to Shihan Thaya Moodaley (7th Dan Atemi-Jujitsu) who had been training with him for almost a quarter of a century.

Soke Ben’s resume is impressive: he was appointed National Director of the International Combat Military Advisors Group (ICMAG) (an international body of ex-specialist servicemen that trains military and police anti-terrorist units), president of the International Association of Close Combat Instructors (IACCI),  senior advisor to the American Martial Arts Association (AMAA) and representative for South African to the Combat Military Advisors Group. The World British Federation of Martial Arts recently promoted Captain Ben Mangels, to 10th Dan in Jiu-Jitsu. Ben has also been inducted into the US Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

Soke Ben teaches that unarmed combat does not make someone unbeatable. He compares it to being thrown overboard, you might not be a strong swimmer capable of swimming to shore, but if you have had some basic swimming training you might be able to hold out until rescued, With some training, your odds of surviving are better than if you had no training at all.

Additional Reading:

Growing Up Tough

Clinton Raymond Frieslaar grew up in a tough neighbourhood in Sanctor, Gqeberha ( Port Elizabeth), South Africa. He was 18 years old when he first started learning Atemi-Jujitsu under the guidance and expertise of Shihan Thaya Moodaley.

He was introduced to the system by his cousin Rushdie Lagerdien who told him and his cousin Kevin Mortimer about the “little old Indian man” who was more explosive than any martial artist that he has ever seen. On the first night, he was introduced to Shihan Thaya Moodaley he was overwhelmed by how humble he was and he could finally do something that he had always dreamt about. From the very first night, he and Kevin were hooked and trained every Tuesday and Thursday night to get to grips with the various techniques. They trained relentlessly during their free time in Kevin’s family garage to improve their skills, and this carried on for many years.

He then started training on his own to improve his skills and visted numerous fighting schools to observe and understand the various fighting forms.

In 1994 Clinton joined the South African Police Services and left them after more than 11 years of service. He stayed away from Atemi Jitsu classes for 7 months but kept on training on his own at the SAPS training college. Here he tested the system against the official system taught by the SAPS and found that the very basic knowledge he had from training with Shihan Thaya was superior to what was being taught to the SAPS students. When he questioned the instructor he was belittled and told that he does not know what he was talking about. For his questions, he was severely punished, military style and this continued for two weeks straight, and when he eventually he had enough he told the instructor that one of the techniques, a knife – disarm was ineffective and placed them in harms way.

This resulted in a challenge being posed by the instructor. He was requested by the instructor to show how effective the system (Atemi-Jujitsu) is and was requested to defend himself against one of the biggest and most respected students in the platoon. Being a man of a small stature, he was not fazed much by the imposing size of the attacker. After three aggressive attacks, the attacker eventually tapped out for the last time. He was beaten three times in a row by the much smaller Clinton applying Atemi Jujitsu. This resulted in a renewed respect for Clinton from the instructor and fellow students. He was later requested to aid the instructor during classes and train those who were lacking after lectures.

When he returned to Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) he returned to the teachings of Shihan Moodaley. Here he trained twice a week and every night at home to sharpen and hone his reflexes adn skills and would have someone attack him with a broomstick. This would continue relentlessly for two hours nonstop. Clinton would often go to classes battered and bruised and his desire to improve his skills resulted in him doing Aikido and Judo. His involvement in Judo led to him becoming the Eastern Province Judo Associations Registrar and later the Eastern Province Judo Association Vice-Chairperson. Having a family tree of bodybuilders, wrestlers and boxers it was inevitable that he would follow suit. All of this transcended into his martial arts and he became a formidable force to reckon with.

The striking and groundwork became second nature to him, particularly in his fighting style. Working as a police officer for more than 11 years and growing up in a tough neighborhood enabled him to use the skills he was taught by Shihan Thaya and really test them in real-life situations. The police and his tough neighborhood were the perfect environments to use it in. As a result of the skills he was taught, he was widely respected in the community as he would never fight unless it was essential or when thugs assaulted innocent persons. By using the system during active duty in the police, he made more than 200 hundred arrests and never had any assault charges of police brutality brought against him. He also started teaching and doing self-defence seminars, talks and lectures to various organizations for police-driven community and neighbourhood watch programmes. These lectures span over a period of more than 28 years and he is still doing it today.

Clinton started bringing his own fighting style into classes with the permission of Shihan Thaya. Here they worked on various techniques and variations and improved on many others. They also worked extensively on defences for women against sexual assaults and rape attacks. When graded to Black Belt he was promoted and became Shihan Thaya’s 2IC of the SAIUC (second in command). Shihan and Clinton then worked on incorporating more groundwork, Judo Throws and improved the restraining techniques. This was all due to the fact that Clinton could use what they worked on in class, on the streets as a police officer.

Due to his exposure to the police environment, he developed a training program for law enforcement officials and security personnel. This covered many of the shortfalls he identified whilst in the service and beyond. When Clinton was graded to his 4th Dan in Atemi-Jujitsu, Shihan Thaya Moodaley decided to go into retirement and stopped training at the Institute. He would only come in on an ad-hoc basis until when Shihan Thaya then handed over the South African Institute of Unarmed Combat (SAIUC) to Clinton Raymond Frieslaar.

Clinton incorporated more groundwork, grappling, rape defences, knife work, single-stick and double-stick fighting, firearm defences, handcuffing techniques, judo throws and more into the Atemi-Jujitsu system. He later changed the name to Frieslaar Ryu Atemi-Jujitsu now known as FRAJJ. His system is based on a round fighting system that can be taught to any age group.