Ottawa residents visited the Overbrook Community Centre on Saturday, Nov. 10, to learn self-defence tactics taught during the Second World War and watch original top-secret training footage used during the war.
Most recruits received only eight to 12 hours of hand-to-hand combat training in classes of up to 600 people during the Second World War before moving on to their next lesson in basic training.
“That’s not a lot of time,” said Cris Anderson, an expert instructor in Second World War self-defence techniques.
Anderson, who partnered with John Collins Jiu-Jitsu, said they wanted to tie in with Remembrance Day since it landed on the weekend.
“We wanted to do something to tie into Remembrance Day,” said Collins. “It puts everything in perspective.”
Anderson, an Ottawa South resident, taught a variety of self-defence strategies, including close-armed and close-quarter combat.
“"I think this is a time of year when people have more thought to what people went through,” he said. “It’s our tribute to those who went through the war.”
Anderson said training had to be "quick and effective” in order for the troops to grasp and retain the lessons.
“The techniques are designed for the beginner,” he said. “It’s got to be simple; it’s got to be fast.”
Anderson first became interested in the combat techniques after reading about a Second World War spy school in Oshawa, Ont.
“It sounded like something that interested me,” he said.
So he went about learning and absorbing as much information as he could, from history books and veterans of the war.
“I only know this much,” he said, holding his thumb and pointer finger close together, “of what they (the veterans) know.”
Julie Ethier said it’s important these techniques are taught to the younger generations or else they will be lost.
“It reminds me that World War II, that era, how little time ... they had to be trained for the situation,” she said. “It’s part of history that’s getting harder and harder to hang on to.”
As the veterans of the Second World War pass away, so too does their knowledge.
“If I don’t show this, it’s gone,” said Anderson, whose class also collected items for the Ottawa Food Bank. “These things disappear ... a part of our history disappears with it.”