Interview of Sihing Kostas Ganotis

Interview of Criminologist and EBMAS Instructor Sihing Kostas Ganotis to a Greek  internet magazine on martial arts (

(Translation by Greek)

(07 -03-2017)

Speak to us about you. Who is Kostas Ganotis?

I am not used to talking about myself; I am not good at this. It's my first time that I give a personal interview so may you readers be tolerant with me.
I was born in Thessaloniki (Greece) and live here. I have studied Sociology and Criminology at university. I train martial arts from 6 years old, when I register myself to a Kung Fu school in my neighbourhood, excited and ready to be a young Bruce Lee (laughs). I have been training without stop till today…and OK I think that I have learned something!
I teach in Thessaloniki and try my best to transmit and communicate everything I know, with the intent to make my students much better than me. By this view, I consider myself more a teacher than a fighter. My dream is, if you like, to be a Cus D’ Amato and not a Mike Tyson. My university studies along with my experience as a second lieutenant in Greek army help me a lot toward this direction.

Which was your inspiration to train in martial arts from so young?

I remember as now…watching on TV a movie with Bruce Lee, and then I started asking information about him to my father. He was an idol fighter for me. I had combined it also with the idea of the warrior man of Great Alexander, Achilles and Leonidas, as shown in illustrated stories for little kids my mother used to read to me. And you can understand, a young boy is affected a lot by the ideal icons society has created, along with the media and of course those classical illustrated magazines…(laughs)
My parents were very positive to join a Kung Fu school in order to have discipline (I was a lively naughty child), to get fit and learn to defend myself, always provided that I would have finished my homework for the school. And so begins the story…

You have studied Sociology with expertise in Criminology. What do you believe is the reason for the increasing crime rates?

Well, the criminality in scientific view is far more complicated than it seems and we criminologists have to see beyond the obvious.
The social representations of crime or what people believe about the crime is affected by different factors, such as Media, without that belief to be necessarily true for science. A safer way of approach is by police statistics, which state some ups and downs in comparison to last year (2015) in Greece. They recorded a transition from as we say "vulnerable targets" or "low-risk targets" as robberies, thefts and burglaries to "high-risk targets" have decreased notably. So, they marked fewer bank robberies and more on houses, cars, stores and bag takings.
Although, here I will refer to something that possibly would sound strange to you. Criminology stats are maybe the least trustworthy of all the official stats being published regarding social matters. And this, because they include only what police has written down. There is also what we describe as the dark number of crimes which didn't make to overcome the social control filter. The majority of crimes, especially minor thefts never been referred to police, other have not been registered due to doubts of description accuracy and many other reasons which make the whole process difficult. The research has shown that at least half of the severe crimes, including violent rapes, robberies and physical assaults (intended to serious harm) are not referred to police.
The statistical office of USA carried out a research known as National Criminological Research, by interviewing 600.000 households from 1973 and on. The research confirmed that a big part of serious crimes didn't denounce. In the same conclusion draw the Britannic research of criminality. So, it’s hard to speak safely about crime rates, based only on stats.
In general, of course, the rise of crime rates in USA and Europe is correlated with the men's unemployment index. The economic crisis, explicitly, give rise to unemployment as well as the social inequalities and the delinquency is not to be forgotten that is a sub product of economic inequality. The lack of opportunities in a society which promotes the icon of the successful person creates a strain in the behaviour of the social individual, as gets pressure to achieve the material success in every mean, legal or illegal, a process that we call “structural anomie”. Of course, is of great significance how a state organizes its criminal policy, the immigration policy, the social control mechanisms and the Institutes of socialization. The rise of delinquency is a consequence of many factors, sociopolitical and of course economic, which unfortunately in our country have negative context. 

Outline us, if it is possible, the average profile of the delinquent individual.

In general, we avoid profiling the delinquent individual, due to lack of accuracy in most cases and some methodological problems, but I don't want to confuse you with epistemological issues of our scientific discipline. Of course, we take into account every element and indications of every relevant research, but we don't take anything for granted we survey it and be very careful in general aphorisms. Although even when we use a profile, it depends significantly on the crime category we research because in reality there is no such thing as "average delinquent individual." For instance, a specific category of crime (burglaries, bag takings, minor thefts and robberies in local stores) is reasonable to be committed by individuals who belong to poorer social strata. If we speak about a different crime category, as the "white collar crime", then the profile presents total different characteristics. Now, regarding violent crimes, which I think you are more interested, they executed more often by men in young age, usually under alcohol influence and not as many drugs, with low or middle education and come from particular social and family environment. And this, because it is more probable to proceed to this type of delinquent behavior individuals socially isolated who belong and act into deviant subcultures or subcultures of violence as they are said. For instance, in gangs, as they develop different axiological criteria, they develop a subculture which cannot be analyzed only in a theory of rational choice. In those cases, they learn and are encouraged to those behaviors from young, while the characterization of upper social classes feedbacks their actions primarily and by accepting the label of deviant secondarily. There is also a “social ecology” view of it. It is known, that the deviant behavior is different in the suburbs than in the industrial region of the city and its close core.

Based on your specialized scientific knowledge and experience in which way could martial arts help in the decrease of crime rates?

I will respond to your question, by explaining my syllogism on this issue. In the region of criminality, there is also something we name "folk argument", meaning the violent quarrel that can come up to physical and is usual in men.   It seems that in most cases, coexist causes of male value or self-confirmation that can be expanded in a violent quarrel with physical harm. The research of Beatrix Campbell goes a little bit beyond and shows that men's behavior is in part a reaction to a Masculinity Crisis in modern societies. The traditional role of man in family and society is tested and becomes more feasible in a society with big indicators of unemployment and women more independent and not anymore based on men for their social progress. These create internal conflicts and strain in the behavior of men which come out as violence also. Based on the above, I will continue my syllogism by saying that I strongly believe that martial arts must not be one-dimensional and need to have a social functionalistic role. If the aim is only the self-preservation then it is only the one side of the coin, which is incomplete. The other side is the self-perfection. By this I mean apart from other things, healthy self-image, self-discipline, and the insight in prolepsis issues.
The self-discipline, in my experience, can push someone to avoid a quarrel effectively and not to seek for it. When somebody knows himself in depth, knows his personal fears and shape his self-image in a healthy way he/she doesn't need to confirm anything to anybody. Martial arts have to make someone not only a strong warrior but also a smart fighter as well as to give him insight, to make him predict facts and situations.
In the section of women self-defense, we use a lot of prediction patterns. It includes verbal confrontation, passive confrontation, and finally physical confrontation. I use my university studies and teach my students how to recognize a dangerous environment, a suspect who is ready to assault, the de-escalation for violence avoidance with verbal use and body language. The research on victims show us that they are not chosen randomly by the victimizers, but for specific reasons and we use that information constructively in prediction tactics.
In completing my syllogism and talking about prolepsis, I will make a parallelism.
Crime policy aimed to criminality decrease, by means of prediction in many cases. When a martial art gives emphasis on prediction, then is like teaching its students an "individual crime policy" if you like. By this view, indirectly helps in the decrease of criminality.

EBMAS WING TZUN. What exactly is it and in how it is different from other styles?

Wing Tzun is a style wide known and it is a system of martial art and not fighting sport. In other words, it is clearly for survival in the street. Apart from getting known by the famous Bruce Lee and later by Ip Man's movies, we have not to forget that is a martial art been chosen by many different special forces of police and army around the world, in order to train in this because of its simplicity and effectiveness in the area of self-defense.
The name EBMAS comes from the initial of Emin Boztepe Martial Art Systems which is the name of my teacher, chief instructor and founder of the EBMAS federation. Although, he is very famous and well known in abroad and in general, I would like to make a small reference to him, as he is my teacher.
He is considered, and in my opinion, he is, one of the best fighters and teachers in Wing Tzun. He has taught many special units in the USA and elsewhere, FBI hostage rescue team and USA Marine Corps included. He has one of the highest ranks in this martial art universally and his experience in real fights confirmed the term "realistic fight outside DOJO".
The difference between what we do with other styles is quite big. It lies in its completely mathematical explanation of everything we do and I would say that its strategy is far more aggressive than other styles with much emphasis on close quarter fighting. Moreover, it includes ground fighting which is exclusively Wing Tzun and not borrowed elements from other grappling systems. As Dai Sifu Emin states: "Whoever can't use what is doing in standing fight in the same way in ground fighting he hasn't comprehend Wing Tzun totally". On this section that we call Counter Grappling, the evolution and progress owes much on Dai Sifu Emin Boztepe who with his experience and knowledge on grappling systems added elements and modernized, if you like, the Wing Tzun ground fighting, to be able to respond to the evolution and progress the grappling systems have done till today. What we believe in EBMAS is that progress involves four elements: learning, training, perfection, functionalizing. Most people believe that mastering a technique is enough. Although, we consider that if you don't do a technique functional by using it in a pressing sparring, then it is insufficient in effectiveness. For us, sparring is crucial, as well as training hard and not expecting a technique to be effective without pain and sweat. Those are some of the essential elements that make our federation so successful and is now trusted by 50.000 students-members in 40 countries.

An EBMAS Wing Tzun Seminar with Dai Sifu Emin Boztepe has announced. What are your expectations and what is your impression for the previous one?

Dai Sifu Emin Boztepe visits the Greek EBMAS Schools regularly four times per year at least, and we are very glad for this. Every single moment near a teacher of such a range is of high value from the point of knowledge and comprehension, vital elements of the martial art we train. The previous seminar was the first that we organized in Thessaloniki and had great response with participations from other martial arts and cities near Thessaloniki. The satisfaction of the students is evident and ascribed upon their faces when you see the photos. In this seminar which will take place on 10th of March our expectations are even bigger as it continually gets known that we represent the EBMAS Wing Tsun system in North Greece with regular seminars with the live legend Emin Boztepe. I believe in verbal advertisement more than anything else as it is different when we speak about our quality we provide than sayings of people who have experienced it. Our expectations are every time bigger, and our vision is to provide this valuable knowledge of martial art to more and more people. By this, we feel we contribute socially in the self-defense right every citizen has and especially to vulnerable social groups in this section. And I mean women and the average person that his full life routine, who their job and family business don't let them much time for spending it on ten years train in a martial art or to be in a perfect fit line and muscular strong to defend himself in a dangerous and threatening situation.

What message would you like to give to people train in martial arts and fighting sports?

My message to everybody no matter if trains in martial arts or fighting sports is that we are all a big family. Of course, we have our differences, difference regarding the way of approach, probably different intends or aims, but the starting point remains the same: the way of human fighting. For me, the variety is something beautiful, as I have trained in different styles till today and I believe I gained a lot from each one. Fighting is not to be particularized in fighting between human bodies. It is by itself a virtue as Kazantzakis (a Greek famous author) have written, especially when one fight for liberty and in general when someone achieves to live his life with a fighting spirit. It makes me sad to see quarrels between styles and teachers, arrogant statements and slanders. For us and EBMAS, the aim is not only to teach somebody how to defend himself in a possible and unprovoked assault against his physical wellness but also the self-realization. Make yourself a better person by martial arts, know yourself better and achieve the virtue! There are many paths for achieving virtue. I personally believe one of those is Kung Fu. Wing Tzun Kung Fu exercises body and mind simultaneously; it teaches somebody how to manage his breathing and his internal energy. Being fair, humble and courageous are important and universal virtues and initiated by the proper knowledge of yourself and by the knowledge and control of those unconscious instincts that you get in contact with when you learn how to fight and understand that most times your biggest opponent is you…