I have been trying to keep my mouth shut about the Florida school shootings this February, 2018, and for that matter, about all school shootings. Parkland, Florida was indeed a perfect storm for the school shooting. All systems failed. A perfect, horror storm of failures. I am not expert on school shootings and I just read over what Ohio Officer Greg Ellifritz and Police Academy Director Ron Borsch write on them. Pretty comprehensive stuff, as Greg and Ron have made it their passion to collect this info. Recently a friend asked me to endorse and comment on his new school shooting book and I flat out told him I couldn’t because I am just not an expert on it. I can however bark about a few points from my personal experience and opinion.
I just have a few simple, overall solutions rattling around my head, like locked, bullet proof doors and windows around those doors – maybe even the whole first floor windows? Then some guards and, or special police officers. Each campus will be different and needs a customized plan. Then, the freedom of some teachers to carry weapons if they wish. And most importantly making an interconnected police computer program to collect and share the selected data on crazy people and guns. As they say, “there outta’ be a law.”
I am not interested in any misguided, hippy solutions, using small populations or mind-controlled countries as examples of gun-free utopia. These countries still have gun crime and problems. But, remember, these samples of the world do not have 340 million people with 400 million fireams out there already, all over thousands and thousands of square miles. If you believed the detached-from-reality crap the media spits out? We should all be dead by now. Instead only the teenyist, tinyest amount of people are shot and/or killed each year, in comparison to 340 million people, and our interactions! There are literally billions of safe interactions between all kinds of people everyday, coast to coast EVERY DAY. American people…do get along quite well and quite safely, despite what is fired up in the airhead news.
I was put in a school for a short period. Forced. Ordered. In my agency many moons ago, we got a new detective sergeant, who had no teeth for being an investigator – zero – as he was just a patrol guy “Peter Principled” into filling a gap. He believed so, so strongly in School Resource Officers – that is assigning police to “live” at a school. But the police chief at the time didn’t have the same dream. Not enough manpower, the chief said. That did not stop Sergeant Zero though, as he quietly assigned a few detectives under his bailiwick to wear raid jackets and get out to the biggest high school in the city and…stand around… especially in the morning and afternoon rush. And just hang around the schools? The school admin was so happy and expected way more. But this is just NOT detective work.
So, I got stuck in this mess too. How? Part of our expected responsibility as detectives was to also develop and work dope cases “on the side.” By “dope” I mean any and all drugs. It is just something we oldtimers did. At the time I was working on a side case when I could, of LSD sales at this biggest high school. From time to time, I climbed on the roof with binocs to eye-follow a certain couple of skunks. I caught one little rat selling LSD. School admin was so happy, and then somehow at that very time, I was swept up in this sergeant’s SRO cause. “Oh can we have Hock out here too?” asked the happy admin. Well, crap. Some of us even found ourselves in a week-long SRO school that Sergeant Zero mandated and my agency “higher” didn’t even know about. (We were also under a strange, detached CID LT at the time too, and the SGT and LT didn’t even talk to each other, when passing each other in the hallway. Police agencies are usually like disfunctional families when you pull back the curtains.)
Standing around a high school is like absolutely the LAST F___ing thing I wanted to do, and keep in mind I was working a murder during this time period, as well as other cases. I couldn’t, shouldn’t (and wouldn’t) be standing around a damn school. I simply quit showing up out there when this same Sergeant Zero assigned me a second murder. A woman found strangled by a wire hanger in her apartment. What in hell was he thinking? I had a clone, or what? I simply ignored the whole school thing and worked my cases. I waited for his complaint, but none came, because that, and my logical and sarcastic response, would reveal and contest the Sergeant Zero, little SRO “plot.”
Since then, the SRO programs became official PATROL programs and almost mandatory in most places in the USA. Many SRO cops see it as a day-job, retirement with weekends off and not at all like guarding a forward-operating-base in Afghanistan, anticipating machine gun fire every several hours. That’s what citizens want and expect right? A super cop who can suddenly machine gun fight an ambush attack? Actually all these security jobs are very boring. Stagnant and boring. I have done all kinds of security jobs since the 1970s. It’s a real challenge to stay ready and alert when the real odds are that NOTHING will ever, EVER happen.
On this cops-waiting-outside thing, which some folks have really asked me to comment on and why I am writing this. First, it’s odd that it took several days before this info came out. Isn’t it? The first rush of news passed over in a big way. Everybody took their usual brainwashed positions, and then…
“Oh and by the way, “our cops didn’t go in”
…news slips out a few days later? What? A lot of people are now talking about these Broward County cops, or in particular, this one SRO cop Scott Peterson waiting and, or “cowering” outside. The media likes that word, cowering.
There is an aggravating history of “police waiting outside.” I was around during the In the early days of the proliferation of SWAT teams – and the days were confusing and there was a period where many police managements had a “wait for SWAT” attitude and orders. This culminated with the Columbine school shooting. I nearly kicked my TV screen in when I saw the live footage of officer’s waiting outside the Columbine school for SWAT as people were shot and even bled to death inside. Once you have SWAT, then you have to use SWAT or maybe get sued for using them or maybe even get sued for not using them. (This is a subject of a whole other essay.)
But the general, police-admin consensus at the time was “Have Swat? Patrol Waits.” Patrol backs off and waits. “Secure the scene!” Yes, wait. Wait while all the team pagers go off, team members drive to the station. Team members dress up and dress up and dress up. They arrive in their team van or vans. They prepare a team tactical entry. We know now that is way, way too long, way too late. I …could…tell…you…stories about this.
After that Columbine carnage a lot of police admins and SWAT guys made public statements supporting the “SWAT-Wait” policies that they themselves had invented and dictated. But simple common sense could tell they were wrong and the whole “wait” idea was wrong, wrong, wrong.
Thus, after Columbine, the “Active Shooter” courses slowly began – with their own growing pains – which sort of returned the police patrol officer back to pre-SWAT day expectations. All kinds of things were then invented for the common street cop to enter schools, like in groups of…4 (what? Waiting for 3 others to arrive now? And in so close a grouping that one machine gun burst of 3 rounds, or a shotgun blast could take out two or more of the clustered cops. Entry must be made instead a military manner of cover and move, not parade.)
But lets look at the SRO situation at that very school…
“A Broward County SRO must carry a political hat and be able to intercept behavior, modify his/her action based on a specific policy need, falsify documents, hide evidence, manipulate records and engage inside the system with an understanding of the unwritten goals. Broward County school law enforcement are given political instructions, and carrying out political objectives. They are not given law-enforcement instructions. The school officers are the primary foot soldiers carrying out county political policy. Physical security of school students is not their role, they don’t have time for that. The Broward County SRO is in place to protect the school system “policy” and ensure students are not arrested for criminal conduct.”
In my ancient days of policing, police were supposed to deliver babies on up to killing people, and everything in between. We are now expected again to enter school shootings and not wait. And, you have to enter like a solo soldier. How many cops have this soldier DNA in them? Some. And speaking of DNA? What about teachers? Can some teachers act like soldiers too? Well…some.
As an aside, a whole lot of people are blabbing on the web and Facebook about what they would have done. You know, unless you’ve been in gun fight and most of you haven’t, you don’t know what the hell you would have done, and what you would do may vary from week to week based on a whole bunch of reasons and circumstances. So how’s about a little less of that blow-heart bull from you inexperinced, shadow-box heroes.
When someone is on top of you, beating the snot out of your face, you are not thinking about “why” he is doing it. Not the psychology of why. Not then. But when?
But later in the “drawing room,” it might at least be interesting?
In my courses, in the “genesis chapters” of them, if you will, I place major league importance on the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions. I…we…need this mandatory outline to properly prepare for the interviews and ambushes in our lives. And so, securely fastened in the formula of this “bible” is the “why question.” Why is he, she, they committing this crime? This war? There are other whys also.
I think that some people in the pursuits of fighting or self-defense – whatever you want to call it – may find this “why” too interesting in the wrong place and time, so to speak. Often at the expense of the vital, physical fight training time. I cover the subject briefly in seminars, but not too much, because it is a “drawing room study” and not something to over-dwell upon in action, physical seminars that I and most people conduct and attend. If you are teaching in a room full of sweaty guys and gals with mouthpieces, that is not the time to start a psychology session.
When? For example, I cover the “why” extensively in my new book, Fightin’ Words, for one avenue because I too am overly interested in all these “why questions.” They are fascinating. I just find them fascinating. “Why” covers a wide berth of psychology, culture, history, economies, brain maladies and disorders…on and on. Why? Why? WHY! Why also helps you unravel the other “who, what, where, when and how.”
The “Ws and the H”- the genesis of fighting, crime and war. The biblical questions. Not to be ignored. Just remember the best “where” for the “why” questions. Best mostly… for the drawing rooms, I think.
“This is outrageous.” – civilian
“How can police be this stupid to leave their guns unprotected in a car?” – civilian
“I’m wondering why you would ever leave a gun in the car if you’re not there.” – civilian
“I never leave my gun in the car.” – civilian
“My gun is on me 24-7.” – civilian
Outraged, critical citizens. Panties in a twist because awhile back, a police officer’s squad car was burglarized and stolen from within – an AR-15 and some pistols. I can’t recall why it made the national news, but it did and the auto burglary report was passed around Facebook. The car was legally parked while an officer ate dinner. Many righteous, indignant citizen comments, even cusswords were made about him by Facebook gun experts, rampaging about these guns “left” in a car. (Remember that the horrible, negligent, police officer himself was still armed while eating.)
I too am guilty of leaving guns in my car. I confess. For the record, someone burglarized my detective car one night in my driveway, first breaking the window glass to find nothing quickly removable, then prying open the trunk and snatching a back-up revolver and a shotgun. The good news was that the very next day while I was stewing over this personal violation, I had a midnight-shift, worker-snitch in a factory contact me, saying that a guy was snooping around the parking lot of the factory, trying to sell “police guns.” He said someone he knew in the factory was interested in buying them. I told my guy to help massage the sale and keep me posted. Then the next night, myself and another detective, Danny McCormick observed the night shift transaction from afar. We swooped in and “fell” upon the suspect. The two guns were indeed mine. I was very lucky.
Hey, it was a lucky recovery, but that loss only happened once in my 26 years of cop guns, cop cars and crime. When you think about the overall 40 some-odd, years that guns have been inside my cars off and on, the odds were and are pretty good that they remain safe. So are yours. What about the rest of us cops? There are some 2 million law enforcement officers (depends on the definition) in the US. And there is no sure way to know how many take-home cars there are, but we can safely guess are thousands and thousands and thousands of patrol, detective and admin cars are take-home, on the drive-ways and streets of America at night. “Abandoned,” as some civilians might critique. Some car salesmen suggest a quarter of a million police cars are take-home cars. Do you think that each and every night, every single officer carts every single weapon into his or her home? I’ll bet not. And still there are hardly any police car burglaries in comparison to the big national, picture. I know for a fact that hundreds of agencies in the US “assign” a shotgun to a patrol car or detective car. Take-home cars or not. Those guns are in those cars on government parking lots all the time. (Alarms today do help.)
But Dear Panty-Twisted Dipshits, do you not realize that every time officers leave their cars on a call, and lose sight of their cars when inside a mall, a business, a house, where ever, they are leaving a car with guns in it? Every time. Shotguns. Rifles. Pistols. Like that officer did when eating on his dinner break. Brace yourself. Armed police cars are left unattended ALL THE TIME, everywhere.
How about you? Do you leave some guns in your car for a few minutes? An hour? Overnight? Once in a while? Think they are safe in the trunk? Mine weren’t. And for this indiscretion I too, will be called all these derogatory invectives by these civilian, virgin, gun-toters, the same denigrations as the ”holier-than-thou” disparaged on that hungry officer mentioned earlier. (Watch how many people reading this will comment on how they judiciously pack and cart all their guns and shark repellent and so forth into their house EVERY single night. “Well, I do every…” They will declare.
Great. “You win a cookie,” as the late, great smart-ass, Don Rickles would say.
But this essay so far is just a round-about way to get me to pontificate about, and for you to think about…guns, cars…and even the gym. Yes the gym? Yes, the gym and your cars on the parking lot of the gym.
I was and still am a gym rat. I was and am in a gym 5 days a week if home. My dilemma was what to do with – first decades ago, storing my big-ass .357 magnum Colt Python, then storing my .45. Oh, and my badge too? Leave them in the car? The trunk? You know the lockers in the gym were burglarized regularly and the idea of leaving them in one was too dangerous. So the lockers were out of the question. Could I…wear the big-ass Springfield Armory .45 while working out? What about those extra magazines for when MS 13 invaded the weight room? (Have there been any mass shootings in gyms? I don’t know.) Should I be one of those people that hauls around a gym bag with my hand chalk, lip gloss, shark repellant, tourniquet, 3 mags and my handgun? Those gym bags also had a knack of disappearing off the gym floor too. Could I absolutely keep track of that bug-out/work-out bag, 100% of the time?
“Dear Chief…I was star gazing into the aerobics room and someone grabbed my gym bag, with gun and badge inside.”
“Dear Chief…I was bench pressing and while concentrating on my max, someone grabbed my bag with my gun and badge inside.”
Should I wear one of those “fanny packs?” (Watch out with that term because it means different things in different countries.). And then worse, I also ran both inside and outside when possible for a portion of the workout. It’s no fun running with a Colt Python or .45 bouncing in a fanny pack. But there are tighter “spandexy” kinds of fanny packs and drawers (underwear) body holsters. Do you carry a smaller gun for these gym workouts and runs? If so, where’s your big main gun? Whoops….in the car?
I did a casual, little survey back in 2016 on this subject with a whole bunch of cops I know from around the world. Know where their guns were? Locked in their cars, for most. I only found a few officers that wore a small gun in some manner in the gym or running (yeeessss, primary gun was – back in the car). And there were a few who did the gym bag thing. One bagger got in a bind with some bad guys he’d once arrested and pulled the gun out for a threat while in the gym. That incident was the single gym-gun-pull incident I could find in my gossipy, non-scientific study. But never mind the police. What about concealed carry people? What do they do with their handguns when at the gym? They have the same problems.
Police and citizens! Where is that gun or gun-tottin’ gym bag when you take the shower? In that flimsy locker? In a safe in your car? Just in the car? In the trunk? If you will listen to some zealous, gun guys? They sound like they shower with their pistols on them, or have them resting on nearby soap trays.
Look, I don’t care where your gun is now. I am not preaching about grafting a pistol to your body. I don’t really care what you do. But, just ask yourself – when you’re at the gym, or a restaurant? Or on a quick shopping or business visit? Work? Or, sleeping in your beds at night? Where are all your guns, Rambo? Honestly?
Fightin’ Words! Get the paperback. Get the ebook.
Filipino stick training. Filipino martial arts. When it comes to the FMA stick, it’s kind of schizophrenic. As usual I write about things as they “come up.” And last weekend's seminar was another example of the routine question I hear once in a while – “Hock, I study Escrima, and the instructor told me you can’t grab the other’s guy’s stick because it’s supposed to be a bolo.” (Bolo being FMA for the sword or machete)
“Yeees," I say. "True," I say. "But what we have here today is…just a stick.”
The fact that this question continuously pops up, is reason alone to write about it. A Filipino stylist should know about this sword/stick thing and be able to explain and articulate on the subject. A stick is a sword? A sword is a stick? Not really. Can’t grab? Shouldn’t grab? As a person doing Arnis/Kali/Escrima since 1986 as an obsession at first, and now as a curious hobby of sorts, let me sketch this out for you.
There are MANY Filipino systems, way more than you have heard of. We just know the lucky-break ones. And systems are being invented all the time. In most of these old and new systems, practitioners have replaced the “wooden” (rattan) stick for the machete, sword as a safer training device. This replacement causes the confusion.
Do Filipinos carry sticks? No. I’ve been to the Philippines several times, in some big cities and out in the provinces like the Negros Islands and whether it be the municipal areas or the isolated jungles, no one is walking around with a rattan stick on their belts. Plenty of machetes though. Plenty of sharp knives and sharp farm tools. No sticks. In the Philippines, or say, in Mexico and just about any farming culture locations anywhere really, if you are to be killed with an edged weapon, it will probably be a nasty old, rusty farm tool. In Mexico I am told, the expression is, “you will be killed by the $5 machete.”
Remy Presas would tell me stories of his youth and how he watched men with crop machetes fight and die for sport and money on the Negros. But there was a safer way to do this! And they used the round stick instead, which Remy Presas did for money also. So, a sporting/betting alternative to the machete was born. The stick! (And by the way they did have dulled “training machetes” to use also, but the round stick caught on better. Oh, the lucky breaks.)
I guess for some I should introduce or remind folks the difference between a round stick and a flat sword/machete. You see, one is round. One is flat. There ya go! But really, they swing different, weigh different and if you are limited to flat edges, one should really be applied differently. A stick is an impact weapon that strikes with the tip, the staff of it, and the handle.
On the subject of the stick and sword handle – the sword handle can be round so to speak, but often very contoured and form-fighting for the hand. While the Filipino stick is usually just round with no designated end for an official handle. In fact it might be a little taboo to have a designated handle on your FMA stick? We sometimes grimace a bit when we see an over-taped or customized baston handle, don’t we? While FMA swords have all kinds of admirable, customized grips. And proud of it, too.
Many of the machetes around the world are single edge, and the swords are not necessarily single edged, and can come in all kinds of interesting and elegant shapes, but FMA swords usually that not big and wide like…like say, European broadswords. (Please do not send me photos of giant, Filipino broadswords – I know they exist – I used the word “usually.”) But with the “roundness” of a stick, you lose the very vital, flat-edge-ness of the sword. Oh yeah, and swords are more deadly, faster finishers and need less power application than sticks.
To accept the stick hand grab is too ignore sword tradition and perhaps believe that in our next street fight, we would be stick-dueling with some thug? The designated thug will use the exact same-sized, designated stick we have! Then again, will you be sword or machete dueling? Outside of a few big "civilized" countries? Well…yes.
Somehow the sword shape-shifted into the stick so deep in our hearts and minds. Oh, for the love of sticks! For decades, the FMA lover just used sticks, stick, STICKS! The art, the tricks of STICK fighting, stickk-centricm alone developed. Many lovers do not know, or do not care that the sticks are supposed to be swords and machetes. And with the stick, comes a lot of double-hand grabbing and opponent stick grabbing. Look at Tapi-Tapi and Balintawak, for just two pop examples. We all accept the rules that sticks are sticks, sticks have become embraced in FMA and by God, we’ll grab them whenever and where ever we want.
So, in the 1990s stick enthusiasts came out of the traditional closest and started declaring “you must remember this, a stick is just a stick, a sigh is just a sigh. The fundamental things of living, as time goes by.” And I agree! Just understand you are using a stick. The round stick acceptance was easier for me perhaps because, being a cop, I always thought of the rattan baston as a police stick (or an axe handle). My interest in the FMA stick was not an esoteric, artsy pursuit. People are not “Kung Fu fightin' – fast as lightning” with matching 28-inch sticks in the alleyways of London (I hear they are throwing a lot of acid these days) or on the south side of Chicago. I wanted to know stick/baton stuff.
Then, I somehow eased into decades of fun, hobby, certainly social, Filipino stick fighting/dueling stuff. I actually run TWO kinds of stick courses. One, the main big one is Force Necessary: Stick which explores blocking, striking and grappling with an modern impact versus hands, sticks, knives and gun threats. There is zero implication that this is based on any swords. And if you want me to? Ask me to? I will do the Filipino stick vs stick materials I have learned since 1986. Granted I have cut that down too. I play stick-checkers not stick-chess, seeking the essence of it all and not mindlessly, endlessly replicating established – and often BLOATED systems. Or while away my time, seeking out the next stick system, and oh the fascinating magic that THEY do. I don’t run a stick museum, and hell…it’s just a damn stick. (As Remy would often say – “of course, you could just hit the man in the head with the stick.”)
So we learned that legions of FMA-ers picked up their rounded sticks, sewed on their Filipino patches in revolution and clickety-clicked onward. As though machetes and thin swords never existed. It really is amazing how many FMA-ers blindly accepted the rattan stick as the real-deal McCoy when you think of it. I mean what would Japanese Katana fanatics think of waves of people using broom sticks and calling themselves Katana experts? Would golfers use hockey sticks? Would Chinese fan fighters use tennis rackets? Would a carpenter use a file instead of a saw? Thus the odd, FMS Stick, schizophrenia I suggested.
Everyone seems so happy with their sticks and stick bags. But still, you can hear these darn spoil sports complain that you should not and cannot grab your stick with two hands, nor can you grab your opponent’s stick with your free hand because it's a sword! You fool! How dare you! It’s a sword! A bolo! A machete!
The stick is just like the sword? Is this an excuse? That the universality of FMA weaponry makes them ever so interchangeable? Swords, sticks. Hands. Thin lamps. Rolling pins? "Who throws a shoe, honestly?" I don’t know because while some elements are the same, there are differences bigger than mere nuance. A sword…is kinda'…just like a sword.
In the last few years I have noticed an increase in…Filipino sword fighting! Yes. Haven’t you seen it? Hundreds of FMA folks have picked up the thin sword. FMA sword grandmasters have arisen from the ashes. I applaud their interest and their understanding that the whole FMA shebang really comes from swords and machetes. My old friends like Chris LaCava and Christof Froehlich, just to name a few, have jumped deep into the roots, understanding the big picture.
And listen up you "grab-complainer instructors!" If you are so damned offended by people grabbing sticks and forgetting the stick is a machete? Look what’s in your hand! Look what YOU teach with! PUT DOWN THE DAMN STICK AND PICK UP A TRAINING SWORD INSTEAD! That will straighten things out. You know, you can buy dull, safe training swords and plastic swords and machetes too. You are NOT limited to the round “wooden” stick as an abstract facsimile. If you are going have hissy-fits about it? Then practice what you preach and use a damn sword! Pick a theme! A direction! Seriously! If you think the stick is a sword? Don;t confuse your people. Just use a training sword.
If you use a stick? It’s a stick. Grab it.
So, play it again Sam…
“You must remember this.
A stick is just a stick.
A stick is not a sword.
The fundamental things in FMA, changed as time….goes….by…”
Hock's email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
Strike! Thwart! Thwarted! the Single Stick 35 Essentials. Get this DVD or Download
See something interesting about this photo from a gun magazine? Anyone?
Two guys. Apparently a fight has started. But if you haven’t spotted it yet? The bad guy is…unarmed. No knife. No gun. You might not spot that fact quickly because now more than ever, you’ve seen a lot of photos (and videos) like this and your eyes may glaze over the fact. Unarmed, yet our hero has decided, in this unarmed scuffle, to pull his pistol. It is all tucked back nice, tidy and tactical-like. Will he shoot? We don’t know? I believe many just assume so! The gun magazine photo and the article failed to tell us what happened next, like so much media we see? Did this able-bodied man decide to…to draw and shoot this unarmed man? Who? What caused this? Where? When? Why for? How come? What happened next? I dont know. You don’t know. We just get the photo flashed in out head.
Questions unanswered. Photos, books and videos depicting this situation are indeed quite prevalent these days. The overall theme of these types of gun articles and videos is sort of –
“realist-dealist, gun fight training you don’t do!”
It tries to push gun shooters into the next level of reality. It’s up to you, to up your game. The shoe is on the other foot now, but does it leave some laces untied? The message is “you will be fighting unarmed. Learn how,” which is fine. But the subtle message we are frequently flashed with is, “You are hand fighting, you are armed. You eventually draw your gun.” The message seems to promote a lot of pulling your pistol in unarmed fights. Watch out. You may know better, but art imitates life, life imitates art. Seeing a preponderance of these kinds of photos and samples could be a mental (and legal) problem. And where is the real finish to the fight?
Think about them – the photos in many gun magazines or a lot of those youtube instructional videos you see. What I see, and hear about from gun mags, internet videos and international seminar attendees, is an unarmed man attacks and you maneuver, squirm, push, pull, pin or pass his arms to draw your gun and bam. Exercise ended, huh? Severely wounded or dead, Mister Unarmed guy drops on the ground, and unless you’re James Bond with a license to kill, your work there is done. No legal probs, huh? You won, 007? Is this the message? Are you a “Double-O?” You shot an unarmed man and now all the ugly “after” of the “before, during and after” begins.
In the years past, once in awhile, experts have written on this subject, but I am taking a new over-look on the problem due to this odd, media proliferation these days. I am adding some very specific points and solution exercises for people to work on. Things that I have been developing and using these last 22 years (LONG, long before it was “cool,” as it today).
I have worked many shootings and subsequent murders through the decades as a police investigator. I’ve attended dozens of schools on this subject. I’ve also been “taken to school” by vet prosecutors and vet criminal defense attorneys. When we investigate, indict and move to prosecution, (no matter what country the process is in) I learned the cracks, the elements, the loopholes and yes, the distortions that can exist in each case. The simple becomes complex. The small, big. The big, small. Shooting someone is a rollercoaster ride. While there are some whacky results in whacky cases, what I am about to line out are overall, acceptable standards and advice.
Some might call it, “gun arm grappling,” as I have too. The topic is about clearing an opponent’s arms to draw your gun and, or stop him from drawing his gun, (or knife maybe?). This sort of close-up “struggle-draw-shoot” is indeed new to a lot of gun range people, because they never do it. Oh, they probably have seen it these days in the media, but they don’t do the work. It’s an “athletic endeavor,” but quite unlike normal athletics. Fighting is not golf or tennis, maybe a bit like football, rugby or Australian “Footie.” Certainly more like MMA. It’s rough. It’s tumble. People can and do get hurt in training. The vast majority of gun owners in the USA and other countries don’t and won’t study MMA, least of all MMA with pistols. Most won’t exercise at all. But the messy problem happens to gun people. Where does this stress draw fit in the bigger situational picture of shooting?
“Draw/Don’t Draw” is one step in the process. Here are the other steps, as I teach them-
Step 1- There/Not-There – (Why are you there? Or then, why are you staying?
Step 2- Draw/Don’t Draw
Step 3- Aim/Don’t Aim (The gun can be drawn and not pointed)
Step 4- Shoot/Don’t Shoot
Step 5- Stay/Don’t Stay (Don’t gasp. For many in certain circumstances this might be an option)
Live-fire range people don’t, can’t and shouldn’t grapple with live firearms. It’s dangerous and well…they usually don’t have the gear, time, grade and the martial savvy to organize a training outline and maximize their efforts. So, the preponderance of live-fire shooters never work any real, practical close-up, hands-on, gun-wrangling, problem-solving. This does lead to some confusing problems and mixed, missed messages when these articles and films are written, read and photos seen.
Now before I continue, I do not want to appear that I am picking on the participants in the top photo above from a popular gun publication. Not at all. The moment captured may be during a very early, step-by-step training progression, an introductory stage that I will discuss later. The context might be exactly what I am warning you about here and demonstrating the controversy. I just want to use this singular, published photo of an overall training situation, to discuss an incomplete training trend.
And, a single photo tells us much less than a photo series. I just recently saw yet another series of several “fight scenes” in very popular “weapons” magazines. These prevalent series can be even more ambigious for motives and endings. Our hero struggles with an opponent in each set, standing and grounded. The hero gets to his gun and draws his pistol on the unarmed man in the last sequence of each photo set. Man freezes. Set done. Photo series over. But, what happened next to Mister Freeze? Was he shot and wounded? Shot dead? Fled? Arrested? Controlled until authorities arrive? No explanation in the photos or text of a finish. (I hate to show examples of these photos here because they contain people who read this blog and page, are friends, and editors of these magazines – the editors responsible for publishing the material.)
So, back to it! Draw on an unarmed man? And, or shoot an unarmed man? Or, to bluff? Draw and bluff/scare unarmed man…off? Hit him with the pistol itself? Or, a pre-emptive draw? Maybe our hero in the photo up top drew his pistol because he is predicting the empty-handed man has a pocketed knife? Did he see the print of a concealed handgun? It would be nice to know so we could better understand the legalities. We always knew about these problems through handgun history, but when did we REALLY start worrying, working on and grappling with these realities? We CANNOT ignore them.
Rubber Guns – Part of the confusion begins with using rubber guns. You know “force-on-force” training, right? The term? The idea? Much of it, popularity-wise, was and is done with rubber guns since the 1990s. A step in the right direction, it seems to have started with police training back then, and it did spread into the civilian gun world. Since the fad inception, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen the two police work-out partners, one a trainer, the other a trainee, have an assigned, orchestrated situation to work through. The trainee manages to draw his pistol and aim it at the trainer. The gun is drawn AND THEN, BOTH PARTICIPANTS JUST…FREEZE. They freeze. As if the fight is over. Then they do it all over again, and again, freezing again, as if just pointing the gun at the attacker completely ends the situation. This innocent, thoughtless approach is not just a police problem anymore either. Citizens do this constantly too. As a result, this mysterious sort of “freeze” ending appears in magazines and videos. This was and is unfortunately often practiced without verbal commands, unless the instructor insists. This encounter is NOT over yet. The worst part is yet to come. Rubber guns don’t shoot safe ammo, and help create the “Mister Freeze” finish.
The “Mister Freeze” Finish – If you have been “around,” I think you’ve seen this draw- and-freeze, in training, books, magazines and videos. Think about it for a moment. Photo spreads of standing or grounded folks ending with a pulled rubber gun pointing at an attacker. The attacker is often unarmed. And if the attacker is armed with say – a knife and about to plunge down? The knifer still just freezes at gunpoint like a statue. Even if a charging knifer was shot, he could still fall down on you in a gurgling, wounded mess.The knife still very much a danger, something the shooter needs to experience in training. This is not good training without a legit finish. (There is a working list of such endings for citizens, police and military and that too is a whole other essay.)
If you use Simunition ammo (painful and expensive) the training partners need significant gear, altering the reality experience, and it is hard and expensive to do this like 50 times or so. Then move to another scenario and do that 50 times. (That’s probably over $100 Simunitions ammo already) One can only be shot by hardcore Sims…so many times from pain and expense. If you use BB Guns, well, watch out for your eyes? Airsoft? Gas or electric? Make sure it’s a sturdy version! But the introduction of training guns that don’t shoot anything, causes false endings and perhaps bad, inconclusive habits. A rubber gun is important, but like a big boxing glove, is a temporary tool in your tool box to be used when it makes best training sense to. There are also other sturdy guns, like wooden guns, that can also shoot safe ammo. Safe ammo training builds the Shoot/Don’t-Shoot decision shooting.
Okay – Gun’s Out – You still have to remember that your weapon pull must be justified and you have to be in great fear of your life and others to shoot someone. Say you are in a touchy situation. You just can’t draw every time someone bear-hugs you, or messes with you, shoves you, or touches you or grabs your arm, as seen in so many photos and in training. Once you draw your gun out you have four big possibilities with that gun:
Possibility 1: Shoot right away.
Possibility 2: Bluff right away.
Possibility 3: Re-holster after bluffing because your bluff didn’t work.
Possibilty 4: Hit him with the pistol.
Pull and Bluff? – Will your gun bluff work, which must include good verbiage and great command presence because you have to scare the revved-up, opponent off of you and away. Also, will the grappling enemy always hear your bluff, understand your bluff, and actually see your gun in the chaos of a close-up wrestle? A gun bluff is very controversial for some. Not for me at all, because I used it dozens of times as a cop. But some admin people in police and military authority, do not believe in any draw-and-bluff. None. They claim that if you need to draw, then you absolutely needed to shoot. NO bluffing allowed.
If you draw and bluff, another thing to consider is that your mighty handgun has now been removed from its retention holster, for all that might follow. What happens next? Gun arm grappling on you and your drawn gun? The enemy has two free hands to screw with your weapon bearing limb, bash you, or do both. Anyway, the skills of the gun bluff are a whole other long article (coming soon) and I believe that if a gun-carrier isn’t quite familiar with the pros and cons of the “gun bluff,” they are moving around their world in legal and physical danger.
Pointing and Brandishing – You cannot automatically assume that all citizens are pulling their guns out and, or aiming it under legally justified situations. Smart gun owners ask me about this and worry about the terms of “presentation assault” and “brandishing.” Some very general examples of “non-contact” assault are 1) swinging a baseball bat but not hitting a person, 2) swinging your fist at someone without hitting, 3) and pointing a gun, loaded or not, at someone. (This is why there’s a difference between pulling out your gun and not aiming it, and pulling and aiming it – there certainly is in many police agencies today with “use of force” reports, in that if you pull and do not aim? No use-of-force report is needed. If you pull and aim? A report is needed)
Brandishing is a broad term. Military vet and NRA instructor Ben Findley, who wrote the praised book Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection writes, “brandishing” or “improper exhibition” or “defensive display” or “unlawful display” (or whatever your state and jurisdiction calls it) depends specifically on your state and jurisdiction. Very generally, however, for an operating definition “brandishing” means to display, show, wave, or exhibit the firearm in a manner which another person might find threatening. You can see how widely and differently this can be subjectively interpreted by different “reasonable” individuals and entities. In some states it’s a Misdemeanor crime and in others a Felony.” (More things to worry about, huh?)
Handgun as an Impact Weapon – Another controversial tactic is hitting the enemy with the front, top, bottom and sides of your pistol. Finger off the trigger! This is a subject too long, and a click off-topic to discuss here. It’s the subject of a whole other essay (coming soon). Some gun and police authorities condone the idea. Some vomit at the thought. Be aware of this and investigate it.
Multiple Opponents – One cannot discuss this subject without at least mentioning multiple opponents. So here it is. Sometimes you might be able to draw your pistol, and be able to legally shoot unarmed people if there are a bunch of them and you can logically articulate that you feel doomed.
Training the Introduction – This “always-draw/always shoot” theme and its related “muscle memory,” makes me very nervous. In the beginning, for a short period inside the training progression I teach, I do have people draw guns, sticks and knives under various, simple experiences of physical stress. The trainer is a generic stressor. In the beginning, an unarmed trainer makes certain common physical difficulties that the gunman has to overcome to draw. He swings. He pushes. He grabs. You trip. You’re down. He kicks. Etc. You are standing and seated. Grounded. You pin, pass, pull or push his arms. It’s not a scenario yet, it’s a virgin, introduction to the body mechanics and the difficulties of stress draws. I explain this to participants, then as quickly as possible we move to justified situations where the trainee sees real danger like a trainer pulling a weapon. I do not want to create the muscle memory of people drawing and shooting unarmed opponents just because they are in a fight. So, pulling a weapon? From where?
A Quick Review of Weapon Carry Sites you must watch and worry over-
*Primary- Usually around the belt line and pockets…
*Secondary – Usually the “back-up” spots, boot knife, neck chain, takes a little “digging”…
*Tertiary – sites off the body, lunge and reach…
(Study the arm/hand movements to these 3 sites.)
Some Draw and Shoot Exercises- There are so many ways to set up these safe ammo training scenarios. For example, here are six big ways I have folks train this problem with simulated ammo guns:
1-Argue: Argue and at some point a trainer draws a weapon in the middle of the verbal mess. Trainee responds.
2-Kickbox: Kickbox and at some point a trainer draws a weapon in the middle of the kickboxing mess. Trainee responds.
3-Crash into a bear hug: At some point, a trainer draws a weapon in the middle of the bear hug mess. Trainee responds.
4-Ground fighting: At some point, a trainer draws a weapon in the middle of the ground mess. Trainee responds.
5-Recreating actual crime and war events
6-Draw after he draws, even after he shoots you. (Never say die)
Your first step/response might not always be drawing your gun, but stopping/messing up his draw, then you draw. This is why I place such a priority on recognizing the body movements associated with common weapon pulls. I don’t think you are a real-deal, “gun-guy,” unless you can also fight unarmed, recognize weapon draws and know how to disrupt them if possible. Unarmed combatives.
These sample drills create the proper response to the weapon pull. Good experiments. Often, the best, first response might be with empty hands. Many times clocking the guy in the snout first for a good brain splash, and, or while grabbing his weapon limb in the best spot is the first, smart thing to do. You learn with Sims ammo that if you just pull your gun after he pulls his, you both shoot each other. Sad news. I have seen many, MANY mutual shoot-outs in these drills where both guys are shot with sims in an instant or two.
Unarmed People Can Fight Differently than Armed People – Another really interesting point about all this is, if an unarmed man is attacking you, or holding you, the unarmed attacker may be in a few common UNARMED positions. But, but…but, if the bad guy is drawing a weapon from the 3 common carry sites, or has one drawn out already and holding you? That is another set of positions. His body WILL NOT BE IN THOSE EXACT, UNARMED MAN POSITIONS. So not only is the common-fad-prep of brainwashing you to draw and shoot unarmed people wrestling with you legally problematic, it’s not teaching you to grapple against ARMED attacker movements and positions.
The “Hulk Hogan/Pee Wee Herman” Standard – Shooting an unarmed person is very, very situational. If an unarmed, enraged Hulk Hogan is attacking Pee Wee Herman and Pee Wee shoots the Hulk, the police, prosecutors, judges and juries may be very sympathetic to wimpy Pee Wee. But If the Hulk shoots an unarmed, angry Pee Wee attacking him, the Hulk cannot expect these same empathies. People will say, “Come on Hulk! You didn’t need to shoot him.” See what I mean? Fear of life kind of thing? Now, extrapolate that in degrees from there. Old versus young? Infirm versus firm. Etc. Etc. This has a lot to do with the WHO of the who, what, where, when, how and why questions, the bible for survival. Who are you and who is he? We cannot begin to list the many situational examples of successful and unsuccesful shootings. Case-by-Case. Situational. We have real, rare “wow” examples, and we all can concoct particular situations in our minds where such shootings would legitimately occur.
On the subject of “infirm,” NRA Texas gun Instructor Karl Rehn, owner of KR TRaining reminds, “One of the flaws in the presentation of this all this unarmed combatives material (and people’s perception of it) is that all the demos in magazines and films involve young, fit, male people fighting other young, fit, male people. To those that are martial arts enthusiasts, it’s easy to believe in the outcome of winning in an unarmed fight. That’s not true for all gun carriers, many of whom are older, weaker or simply do not have any training or confidence in their skills.”
My old friend and attorney David Kenik wrote in Shooting Times in 2015 – “Bubba is heading right for you, smacking his fists together and yelling that he is going to beat you to death. You are scared for your life – and rightfully so – but he is unarmed. Can you use your firearm to defend yourself? The answer is 100 percent, unequivocally, positively; maybe.”
Sims Scenarios! – Science Daily researched studies on gun ownership and practice levels in 2017. They quoted an Oregon State University study that concluded gun owners can train and mitigate risk by working through simulated scenario practices, which typically involve practice drawing/using a weapon in simulated scenarios with inanimate targets, digital images on a screen or using actors, and may include taking armed self-defense training courses. This calls for excellent scenario training modules and simulated ammunition guns. These scenarios do not require Oscar winning performances and set-ups and some instructors like to concoct. They can be easy and cheap to set up and do. Get a training gun that shoots safe, semi-auto ammo, even a rubber band gun will do to learn the concepts of “shoot/don’t-shoot. This interactive exercises should augment live fire training. This is something I believe in and have organized for about 22 years now. I was and am not alone. This is not new.
Finally, Some Actual Self Defense Law! – Some folks like to declare and repeat some legalese “all strikes to the head and throat/neck can be deadly” when this topic comes up. What are they suggesting? That you can draw, shoot and kill anyone who does this to you? I do get the idea that they are suggesting this. A national, “Self-Defense Overview from Lawyers dot com checks in,
“People have the right to defend themselves—this much we all know. We also know that there are limits to what one can do in self-defense. For instance, the self-defense doctrine doesn’t allow someone to use a minor scuffle as an excuse to shoot the opponent. At its core, the doctrine of self-defense applies when someone:
• isn’t the aggressor
• reasonably believes force is necessary for self-protection against imminent and illegal violence, and
• uses a proportional amount of force.
Self-defense can be boiled down to three basic components:
• proportionality, and
• reasonable belief.”
Note the word “proportionality” and “uses a proportional amount of force.” Your reasonable belief that the other guy is going to KILL you with his empty hand strikes, must be explainable, understandable and make common sense within the situation.)
In Summary – I don’t think anyone would argue that shooting an unarmed person can create a lot of depressing and expensive problems. The FBI stats report a scary high percentage of people we fight in America are armed with some weapon. People in other countries are also carrying weapons. Be on the look-out, as we say in police work, during the fight for a weapon pull. Yet, it is almost impossible to mine how many armed citizens shoot unarmed people under the auspices of self-defense, perceived or real. Just try to research this on the web and you will be smothered in “police-shoot-unarmed-black-men” links, articles, protests and reports. Citizens shooting unarmed attacker stats are on page 412 (if you can last that long looking?) and would fall disguised into other common crime categories. Locating them and then locating their legal disposition would be tediously hard.
So, just how big this problem of citizens-shooting-unarmed-attackers is in the USA or worldwide, I don’t think we will ever know. And, perhaps these suggestive photos and videos are somewhat displaced by a growing list of traveling firearms-self-defense-law classes that are pick up around the USA. Which is good. Every gun carrier needs these lessons.
Thinking, reading and listening cannot replace “doing” and these simulated ammo, situational exercises with fast, easy and cheap simulated ammo guns are very important. I know I see way too many photos, photo sets, videos and hear seminar testimonies on unarmed people being drawn on, and, or “shot” in training. Or, the scenario not be properly finished and participants “Mister Freeze” at the gun point – the endless ending.
Remember the Treyvon Martin-Zimmerman case in Florida to name just one? Shooter shoots an unarmed man that’s on top of him, punching down on him. Zimmerman pulls and shoots. Seems logical, but LOTS of legal (and social) problems. He was set free in the end. Of course there are some situations where a person can legally justify shooting an unarmed attacker. Case-by-case basis review. I am just warning you to watch out for some popular magazine articles, books, photos spreads and videos “out there” where folks are mindless pulling training guns when they shouldn’t and shooting attackers when they shouldn’t. Art imitates life. Life imitates art, and you might know better, but still do it impulsively anyway. Those nasty Mirror Neurons in your brain! I repeat a key line from above, “I do not want to create the muscle memory of people indiscriminately drawing and then shooting unarmed people.”
It will always be difficult trying to convey a big lesson, and the context of such, in one single photo, or even a photo series. It’s a real challenge for authors, magazines and books. Because of this, we must be careful of the unintended consquences from these imagines being scattered around, even amongst the most thoughtful people.
One of my long time students is very successful heart surgeon. He is about 55 years-old and in moderate-to-good shape. He always works out in our hand, stick, knife, gun materials. He does well enough with it all, but routinely proclaims that, “if some young punk tries to rob me, unarmed or not, I can’t fight with him. I’m an old man. I am shooting him dead.”
What can you say to that? It is all very, very situational. He’s already heard all my speeches, warnings, advice and worked through the shoot/don’t shoot exercises. I just say,
“Well…okay, Doc, I hope that works out for ya.”
* Read up on the precise laws of “fear of life,” “lethal force,” “self-defense,” “imminent, bodily injury, “stand your ground,” “retreat,” etc, with examples, right here.
* Read the great Massad Ayoob’s coverage of some of these cases: Click right here
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
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Through the years, and in just the last couple of interviews I have been asked this classic question, “If you had 30 minutes to teach someone some self-defense techniques, what 2-3 techniques would you show them?
I guess it is some super self-defense, touchstone question. And I I know…I know… some people will say, "eye-jab," or "running away." I am not really an official "self defense instructor." I am not sure what I am really – maybe just a guy who has collected some tricks people are interested in – but inside what I teach is obviously some self-defense. I guess in some sense it is all about defending yourself, huh? But, I am certainly not one of these “Reality-Based, Self-Defense” people, as I find that title/term silly and redundant. Like ordering pizza with your pizza at a restaurant. Or, “I’ll have a cheeseburger, please, and oh…can I have a cheeseburger with that?” Self defense is just self defense. Is or it isn't.
Anyway, I have no answer to that touchstone “2 or 3” question. No matter what one suggests, it may not apply to the situation. Suggestions would cause endless debate, because it is all situational whether the debaters realize it or not.
Perhaps if you told me WHY I only had 30 minutes? It might help me figure out what to suggest? You know, like knowing what exactly was going to happen in 31 minutes?
Situation: “Zombies, who only die when decapitated, will finally break into the karate school in 31 minutes. What 2 or 3 things will you teach?”
Well, then, I guess…decapitation.
Otherwise? I got nothing.
A follow-up! This little essay, which I posted in several pages, has been shared, and re-shared about a hundred times in 48 hours with hundreds of comments. As I had feared, for many, it became a chance for them to list 3 things to be taught in 30 minute deadline. You have to understand the 30 minute context is a bit of a sarcastic joke and fallacy. It’s a ill concept for the great unwashed to ask experts and presumed experts what universal three things must be taught in this false time limit pretense. Why 30 minutes? Why just 3?
Many simply agreed with me. Many, offered a solution list (which I was trying to avoid collecting. I mean the whole original essay is about why you SHOULDN’T and CAN’T make such a list without knowing the situation).
The list included:
-high line fake, lowline kick, highline strike
-get a pistol
-elbow strike, hand claw, shin kick
-carry a knife
-avoid dangerous places
-learn basics of Brazilian wrestling
-the Thompson Fence
-on and on….
So, you have 30 minutes to teach a soldier how to survive, when in a mere 30-plus-1 minutes, he will be in the snowy mountains confronting ISIS? And you select…negotiation skills? See what I mean? You need a situation.
Why I am bothering to respond to this, what I found as an interesting take-away from these many comments, is this! People’s definition of their “fight.” How they perceive “their fight” and how they would solve their idea of their pending fight. The fight is undefined in the original question, yet the comments are solutions to defined, pre-conceived notions of fights. Their notions. Their idea of their fights revealed! They conceive of a violent encounter where they can just run away, despite the fact that you can’t run from all fights – as bad guy or guys might chase you, or you can’t abandon your kid sister, or you’re cornered in a place where you can escape, or you’ll be shot in the back. Or, they conceived their fight to be a unarmed, stand-off duel, where they can bob, weave, probe with a jab, or just fake high, kick low… They conceive their fight to be walk-away-able, negotiated with diplomatic banter. (It’s hard to de-escalate a mugger – he just wants your watch). People quickly responded with solutions to their perceived fights. That’s interesting to me and a teaching point. What kind of fight to you think you are training for? Maybe this stupid little 30 minute question is somewhat revealing?
I say “unwashed” above because…because…if you are savvy, experienced, if you understand the big picture, you understand that this is a hand, stick, knife, gun world…a mixed weapons world…and fights, crime and wars are in urban, suburban and rural areas, inside and outside of homes and businesses. The nature of the encounters and diversity of the situations are numerically vast…VAST. The architecture and geography in which they occur, big as a mountain, or as small as closest…VAST.
The big picture solution is never quit working out with hand, sticks, knives and guns, with and against them, never quit your study and curiosity of the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions to define high and low priorities, and build a certain, overall “fighting savvy” inside your brain and gut. I have zero problems with people creating baseline, need-to-know skills. Of course we need them. Then examine and experiment with skills to survive situations. Sure.
Just not in this 30 minute, clap-trap framework.
Hock's Email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
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(Now here's ya some readen'. Interrogated by one of the greats, LAPD decades-long vet/investigator and author Paul Bishop strapped me in for some incriminating questions about my writing! I confess! I confess!)
Hock: BOLO! Calling all cars! Calling all cars! Be on the look-out for W. Hock Hochheim! Grew up in New Your City area and became an illegal immigrant in Texas in 1972. Finally granted Texican citizenship after an Apache initiation. Be advised. Former Army patrolmen, Former Army investigator. Former Texas patrol office. Former Texas detective. Has several black belts in martial arts. Once described himself as – first and foremost a writer, second a detective, third a martialist. In that order. Since retirement, travels the world (11 countries) —like Cain in Kung Fu — teaching hand, stick, knife and gun combatives, but would prefer being a hermit and writing westerns, with an occasional crime thriller and how-to-fight book.
Bishop: When did you first consciously begin to develop the skills of a storyteller?
Hock: As a kid, as I was fascinated with comics and books — and covers! Both hardcover and paperback. I began to draw and write in the ‘60s, in what is now called graphic novels—a combination of illustrations and words. In my case, while they played off each other, they also took from each other. I noticed that in phases of time, the art was fantastic and the words seemed to suffer, and vice versa. Great words, lazy art. It seemed I had only enough energy for one at a time. I created western stories back then for some unknown reason, as I was interested in all genres. I majored in art and was bound for art college in New York City, but instead, climbed on a motorcycle and took off for points unknown.
Bishop: You have written a diverse mix of non-fiction and fiction. Is your approach to each different or the same?
Hock: If there is a singular approach through all, it is to be different than the usual formulas. Not follow the mainstream storylines. Say, in terms of a western, the "cattle man vs the sheep man" formulas. The "land grabber vs the settlers." My western character Gunther is set in the early 1900s, which is already different. He is reading HG Wells and Freud. This approach has not endeared me to classic western readers, but it’s still rather classic—with a twist. In Last of the Gunmen, Gunther is up against a minor league baseball team whose players commit robberies when they are playing away games — robbing church money being sent to the Pope, is their big caper. Not exactly a classic saloon, cowboy showdown.
In Blood Rust, our hero was an NYPD detective. I love good NYPD detective stories when the style is just right. I wanted to capture that motif, but not in the usual way. Enter Rusty who, after being shot in the head in an ambush, becomes a New Jersey criminal—he’s a psycho, until he finds out he convicted the wrong man for murder. Something goes…BOOM…in his head. Crazy Rusty has become a popular character and, with any luck, I can write the next one in a few years. But the approach is recognizably the same—but different.
Bishop: When writing your books specific to tactics and strategies of self-defense, how do you separate yourself from the other books on the subject?
Hock: The how-to textbooks are very rote, step-by-step, unless there is a support essay, in which a bit of personality may appear. Fightin’ Words: The Psychology and Physicality of Fighting book is full of personal, flavorful essays on fighting subjects. In my novels, all this fighting stuff manifests in the action and fight scenes, which I am happy to say readers like. I try to put people in the driver’s seat. In terms of writing, the fighting the fictional fight, it becomes checkers not chess. The sentences are structured to be quick and personal, matching the speed of the fight whenever possible. Violent poetry.
Bishop: How is what you teach in seminars different and how did you develop your tactics?
Hock: I started doing Ed Parker Kenpo Karate in 1972—I was not a kid, which will tell you how old I am — right before I joined the Army. I have never stopped studying various martial arts since. I messed with them from a police and military perspective, so, I realized arts and their dogmas were not perfect fits for fighting crime and war. I studied many different arts, always looking for the next best thing. I discovered there was no next best thing. Soooo, I decided to create the next best thing—The essence of hand, stick, knife and gun.
Bishop: What are the most common self-defense misconceptions you run up against?
Hock: Oh, like…that size doesn’t matter—It does matter…it’s why God made weight class/levels in combat sports. That being alert is the key to safety. You can be as alert as a skittish fawn, but then you may well have to fight. How much gas (endurance) and how much dynamite (explosive power) and savvy (fighting time and grade) do you have? It’s great you were alert to a bad guy approaching, but how long will you remain alert when he is smashing your face in? Another misconception is a knife or gun solves everything. People have to draw these weapon under stress — with almost no practice for doing so — and often it is morally, ethically, and illegal to shoot or stab somebody based on the situation. That’s just three. It’s a lengthy list.
Bishop: What prompted you to turn your hand to fiction and the slam-bang action tales of adventurer Johann Gunther?
Hock: Serial characters make the world go round, whether you are a child reading Dick, Jane and Spot, a teen reading Harry Potter, or adults reading and watching Harry Bosch or Batman. People fall in love with serial characters. We like to stick with good characters, especially when they age. I wanted to take a shot at that concept. Gunther exists in a time gap between the western gun fighter of the 1890s, and the Sam Spades of 1920s. He is a mix of both. Detectives were indeed popular then, and Gunther is a "problem-solving" detective.
Bishop: Did you have a specific real life of fictional character who provided the inspiration for Johann Gunther?
Looks-wise, since Gunther is an immigrant German, I imagine him to look like the actor Rutger Hauer, when he was in his ‘30s and ‘40s. Gunther is a highly realistic, fully-fleshed out version of the old Paladin, from the 1950s TV show Have Gun, Will Travel, which was a sophisticated show in its day, but not by modern complex standards. We learn how Gunther wound up in the US, the Army, the stint as a deputy in Paris, Texas, his appointment to West Point, etc. So, he is a mix of various fiction models, but different. My first fictional character was Jumpin’ Jack Kellog, a Houston area police detective in Be Bad Now, who is a mix of several real Texas detectives I worked with and knew. Ol’ Rusty, of Blood Rust, is not anyone really—just a red-headed, crazy guy, who can’t think straight and solves his problems and the crime with half psychopathic measures.
Bishop: Have you found anything in the psychology or practice of martial arts that has application to the writing process?
Hock: I guess so. In the arts end of martial arts, they try to develop various qualities of perseverance and—if you think about it—the good qualities of a bring a better person. For me, sitting down to write is a torturous process with rare flashes of rewards. I guess these martial arts qualities help keep me in the chair through the torture.
Bishop: Your new book, Dead Right There: More Memories and Confessions of a Former Military and Texas Lawman, Private Investigator, and Bodyguard, is a sequel to your first collection of real life cases in which you were involved—Don't Even Think About It. What prompted you to share more of your experiences?
Hock: In the 1980s, while I was a police detective, my father-in-law was visiting. He was reading a non-fiction, book written by an insurance investigator. He loved it, claiming, “These stories are great. Interesting.” I looked the book over. Jeez, it was the most boring, paper-crime, cases. Fraud cases. People like this? I mean, a few days before I cleared a murder and we were shot at trying to arrest the guy, but people were mesmerized by the very simple fraud stories in the book. Really?
I thought about this. People like true action. They also like true procedurals. Everyone loved the stories I told them. I was very lucky to have been a detective in the Army and in Texas for about 18 years. It was a very interesting time and place in Texas and law enforcement history. A lot of things happened, killings, robberies, rapes, and it was the era of lone-wolf-detective. You got your cases, or went to the crime scene when on call, and you worked them hard—by yourself. Occasionally, you could ask your close-friend detectives for help. It wasn’t just detective stories. People also liked to hear my patrol stories. (I have an odd sense of humor).
I always felt the urge to write, and had been doing it on the side. I was the editor of the international Close Quarter Combat Magazine, and had many articles published elsewhere, as well as a history book on Pancho Villa, and the police novel, Be Bad Now back in the 1980s. However, it was about 2002, when I began writing down these true police stories. It’s a long, back story.
I collected the stories and composed quite a hefty book called, Don’t Even Think About It, a line I used a lot when arresting people and predicting they were going to resist arrest in some way. I think I heard Randolph Scott say it in a western once, and it stuck with me. The book was bought. Then, publishers bought out publishers and the book was in the classic development-hell of a hidden file cabinet somewhere. I pretty much forgot about it.
Then in 2009, someone called and said they now owned the book and were going to publish it and others they had acquired. Next, they told me the book was too big and needed to be cut in half. I cut it in half, still trying to keep some chronology of the stories. Thus, Don’t Even Think About It—half of it anyway—made it into print. A promise of a two-book deal contract was forthcoming, to cover the second half of the original big manuscript. The contract never came—and like all other vanishing, distressed book publishers, these people caved too.
So, there I sat with a whole other complete book. I then owned the rights to book 2 Dead Right There, which was what I had titled it. Over the years, thousands of copies of Don’t Even Think About It have sold. People liked my blogs, and they liked the book. So I hope they will also like Dead Right There. “Dead right there,” was another phrase we used back in the day — “Do that and your dead right there.” There are a lot more action stories in this new one.
Bishop: Will there be a third Texas Detective book?
Hock: You know, I don’t know. I don’t think so, but my wife keeps reminding me of strange stories I have told her, which I have forgotten! So, maybe there is another one in the future.
Bishop: Clearly your schedule is packed with seminars and writing. Do you still find time to read for pleasure, and if so, which authors do you reach for on your bookshelf?
Hock: I am gone so much, I write a lot on planes and in hotels. But I write obsessively at home, too. It is not healthy. I work out quite a bit, and listen to a lot of audio books. I usually have one book going on audio and one paper book going at the same time.
I recently went through a lot of Matt Helm books and revisited Mike Hammer. Also some Ian Fleming. I have read several Longmire books lately. Like I dissect a boxing match, I dissect these books for plot, pacing, style. Why do they work? When did they work? I think fiction is the poetry of non-fiction. The emotional connection that, most times, non-fiction can’t seem to touch. Let’s face it, more people know about the Civil War from the movie Gone with the Wind, than any history class they attended as kids and teens. Such emotional fiction is very powerful. And, the writer’s challenge is to make the uninteresting, interesting—you know those in-between scenes needed to knit a story together. make them iteresting! Write it and skin it like Hemingway. What’s left is the poetry, if you’re good—If you’re very good.
I am currently reading a history book on Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and listening to The Memory Illusion, which covers the very latest neurology research on memory. If I pick a new author of a fiction series, it’s like I investigate them. But, most of book series leaves me scratching my head.
Bishop: What are you looking for in the year ahead in your writing and in your seminars?
Hock: I have to write a textbook on gun combatives. I do not teach marksmanship. I only cover interactive shooting with safe ammunition. I have amassed quite a bit of knowledge on how people shoot each other, in common and some uncommon situations. You are not really learning to gunfight unless moving and thinking people are shooting back at you. I use safe to painful, but not real, ammo to organize this exercises. Fiction – and, I am pitching a book about a terrific female action character and Japanese terrorists. And my German publishers/distributors have accepted my third Gunther plot, Rio Grande Black Magic. I am really excited about it — as all writers say – but that ones for 2019.
As far as seminars go, I am 65 years old and the stopwatch is ticking on how long I can zip around teaching hand, stick, knife and gun combatives. I tell people every weekend that I only play touch football and everyone else plays tackle. But when you’re older, even touch takes its toll. Then, there’s that flicker of macho, a flash of youth I shouldn’t have, then there's mistakes or missteps I shouldn't have taken. Wrong place. Wrong time. Wham. I just survived my most recent surgery from being hit with a stick at the wrong place, wrong time. But I will go on until I can’t or shouldn’t—or I get a big book deal that makes even Clive Cussler and the ghost of Clancy jealous!
Bishop: Thx Hock for sharing and for all you do for law enforcement across the country and around the world. You are a true warrior…
Hock: And I thank you!
Hock's email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
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Austin Danger Powers – “Danger…is my middle name.”
Willie Violent Jones – “Violent…is my middle name.”
Violence Combatives – “We fight violently.”
Violence Self Defense – “Self defense is sheer violence.”
Consider what I say here. I’ve been in the martial teaching business since 1990 when I opened my first classes and school. This escalated/evolved to the point I started traveling to teach, whereupon I had to close my school. Too busy. Since then and for 22 years, I have taught in places all over the planet as far as China and Australia. I’ve literally seen hundreds of courses and schools come and go. I constantly interact with school and course owners. It has helped me identify doctrine and dogma problems, planned and mostly unplanned obsolescence, successes, but more failures. I have definite opinions on martial success and failure.
And I have opinions on using the word “violence” or "violent" in system names and ads. I’ve seen a training trend through recent years, to include these words in the title of courses and programs. “Violent This-or-That,” course, or “This-or-That Violence” course. I don’t think it’s a good idea or a good name, or part of a name. Maybe it’s okay for a movie? For a B-Movie at that. But, for a training course, for a successful business? No. It’s back to the "who, what, where, when, how and why" review to see why.
WHO? For starters, remember the customer. The "who-things" like – who are your customers. Do they just want to be violent? Why do they want be violent? Yes, who is the customer? Your next customer? The one you haven’t met yet. And may never meet because of your message. Your viewers? Your readers? Who wants, as a main attraction – just to be violent? Who responds to your violent shingle? Who shuns it? (Also remember the who includes the police. The Prosecutor. The Judge. The Jury, all are “consumers” of your message. Remember that line, as it will come back again later in the essay.).
I also understand the attempts of various people at sounding oh-so-tough, like tough-guy courses, with skulls crushing everything and so forth. I mean, while I don’t like it, and I see through right it, I kind of understand what they are getting at, what they are trying for. Usually this is a very small slice of the market catering to, I would say, based on my observations, oh…white males mostly between 17 and…oh…36, 38-ish? And a certain type at that. Are you stopping there? Very few people are around that "get" what you are trying to say and do.
Then WHAT. What's in a word, anyway? This word violence? Violence and violent will always be perceived as negative words. It just…does and will. Look at the common definition.
Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something. synonyms: brutality, brute force, ferocity, savagery, cruelty, sadism, barbarity, brutishness More strength of emotion or an unpleasant or destructive natural force. "the violence of her own feelings" synonyms: intensity, severity, strength, force, vehemence, fury, fire; "the violence of his passion"; LAW- the unlawful exercise of physical force or intimidation by the exhibition of such force.
Not one single good or positive message in definition and synonyms. And, that phrase – “The unlawful exercise of physical force or intimidation.” Wow. So now you want to teach something with the word violence in the title? Every definition of violence is negative, with a part and parcel, negative message attached, whether you, yourself perceive it so or not, and no matter innocent it may seem to you? Bubba, it’s negative.
Of course, books can cover this voilent subject. They are politically correct. I have seen books like “Understanding Violence” by reputable doctors and so forth. Understandable, acceptable and informative in a professional studies sense. They are psychology books like:
-Violence and Domestic Abuse
-Youth Aggression and Violence
-Children Exposed to Violence
-Violence: The Enduring Problem
-Violent Men: An Inquiry Into the Psychology of Violence
A search on the web will open many magazine and news reports that worry about martial arts and violence, and of course, especially the impact on kids and teens studying them. Run a search and read the concerns. Bullying is also a major, pop topic these days, and a hefty vein of violence comes with it. Bullying runs hand-in-hand with the the definitions of abuse and violence.
In every literary aspect the word violence has a negative connotation, doesn't it? We the people don’t like violence. We the people want to stop violence. Violence is a problem. But then next, you/we want to teach physical violence! But from only a self defense perspective? Yes, but folks, don’t call it “violence- anything, because semantically, overtly, covertly, it’s a big problem. How’s that going to flesh out for you? I add the word “flesh” for an obvious reason. How in the world are you going to beat, bruise, stab, cut or shoot flesh in a legally, morally and ethical, acceptable method. It’s a tightrope we in this business walk.
Ye ol’ martial arts schools have violence cleverly hidden in their titles, haven't they? Kung Fu. Krav Maga. Jujitsu. Judo. I mean they are not called “Kung Violence.” Not “Violent Maga.” Not "Violent Judo." Would you send your kids to “Boxing,” or to a class called “Boxing Violence?” Would the advertisement read, “Learn the Violence of Boxing?” No, not a good idea. All martial arts are indeed teaching violence and fighting, but they don't use that term. Smart, huh?
Look at the three biggest, monster movements out there – Krav Maga, BJJ, MMA. All absent a title with the terms of "violence." They seem to be about something else on the surface, but they're not, are they? Bruce Lee's, Jeet Kune Do is another example. It has been crazy popular since…since Bruce! It translates to "way of the intercepting fist," Intercepting an attack. Thwarting the violent attacker. And it seems we can get by with "combat sports," fairly well. It's SPORTS! And slip by these days with even some "fight clubs." Not "Violent Sports." Not "Violent Fight Clubs." On the use of "fight club" monickers, I think the further time takes us away from the orignial movie and closer to combat sport competitions, the better, the title "fight clubs" are accepted.
The word, the title “violence” is absent from all the big successful ones, yet semantically, we know that violence is also their, and our, true core, work and business. They are just smarter at tagging it, selling it, packaging and covering over it. It’s all still a tightrope. It's all how you massage the name.
Even, consider subliminal violent ads. Business wise, remember the old NAPMA study done with karate advertising? Two people, one punching the other in a very classical pose. To the true-blue martial artist, this seems brilliant. The good, person wins. The school owner, the school staff, the photographer all recognize the puncher as the victor, good guy. YET! Regular citizens, regular people looked at the ad on the web, door-hangers and print ads, saw themselves as the one being punched! When surveyed they ask, “will I be punched in the face like this? Every week?” (well, yes, maybe, but do we want them to understand the overall context? But the overall, context is survival. Self defense. Proper use of legal force. Do we want to make that difficult message worse and add violence to the title?) To us? A classical, meaningful, positive “karate” message. To them, a negative. How do you suppose your new potential, customers will perceive your course, your school of “Violent Combatives,” “Violent Countermeasures?” “Violent This-or That?” How many martial arts literally became dance routines when occupied by enemy forces?
Also, while we are at it, consider your logos. How many bloody weapons are in it? Smashed skulls? Figures of bodies smashing bodies? Highly successful courses usually have abstract artwork of some sort. I just was hired by the British government to teach counter-ambush courses. Do you think they would have hired me if I boldly advertised I was in the "Edged Weapon Costa Nostra?" and, or had screaming skulls in a pile of corpses as a logo?
Think of the word "engagement." Most folks just conjure up weddings unless you have some military DNA. Even the established infantries and special forces use the term ROE, "rules of engagement," not ROV "rules of violence." It's a quandary we're in, this name-game trap. If we use the titles "crime prevention" and, or "self defense," people's eyes glaze over. They immediately conjure up a boring lecture, or a meeting at the old folks home. Or, an excuse for a Tae Kwon Do class for parents to come in and do some eye-poking. Still, I refuse to use the titles "violent" or "violence." I am even slowly disassociating myself from the term combatives, but I don’t think that selling "combat" and "combatives" is as bad as selling "violence."
I think you can inspire and motivate people to use proper force, with and without weapons, and not turn them into “Amok, Vikings of Violence.” What then? For many decades now, “Force” or “Use of Force” has been an acceptable standard, a term, an expression that has flown flags all the way to the Supreme Court of the USA. Police, military, civil and criminal law. It’s all about levels and appropriate use of force. The terminology is acceptable by various levels of maturity, and acceptable by various levels of institutions concerned with the big pictures of societies. Twenty-two years ago, I started switching over to the title “Force Necessary” from martial arts, after a short stint of foolish, dabbling with thuggish names like “street-fighters” (I too, was once 30 years old). I’ve used Force Necessary supported with sub-titles:
-“Sometimes force is necessary,” and,
-“Only use that force necessary to win or survive.”
…to further explain and define the title, and my message, my mission. (To a civilian, there are many definitions of winning, not just leaving a pulpy corpse on the sidewalk, shot full of holes or impaled with the latest, over-priced, tactical knife.) I have had success using the old term "Police Judo," as oppossed to "Police Combatives," and other admin-cringing acronyms.
I said I would mention the police, prosecutors, judges and juries before closing out. So the police hear, “I am a student of Violent Quantifications” as the arrested person reports, in handcuffs, after defending herself, thinking such study is a plus. Indeed, your last step in surviving the violent act is thwarting jail or lawsuits. Civil or criminal courts. But, if you are trained by, or certified by…
– “Violence Kinetics” or,
– “Violent Measures” or,
– “Seven Degrees of Violence,”
…and have the tattoos or the t-shirts advertising them? Watch out. Any and everything will be used against you in court. Anything with the words violence and violent in it, and you are probably starting off your defense behind the old eight ball for a jury to grasp. Do you have a perceived super-hero, system-head promised to fly in and rescue you with his brilliant testimony? What's he look like and sound like? Where's he been? He'll explain to some virgin, nimrods on a jury in 20 minutes about the essence of, the importance of sheer violence in mankind's evolution, and therefore explain away your sudden, imperative, violent act?” Good luck with your situation. Be advised from a veteran street cop and detective, you might very well however, statistically, be squeezed into a plea bargain before you have your system-head appear in court.
I am frequently asked about this-or-that course. "What do you think of Ralph Williams 'Violence Development' class." I really try to keep my mouth shut on such matters, but bubba – just for starters? Wrong name. Right out the chute. Bad idea. Think about what you call yourself. What you do and what you teach? Who are you? Who are your “customers?” Who do you want to help? As many as possible? How do you advertise? Are you happy with a small group of amok Vikings? Which is fine, I guess, as long as you know where you are and where you will shall remain. Small.
What is your overt and covert message? Are your good intentions muddled by your name? How big is your telescope? How smart are you about what you are doing, in the big picture? The tightrope we walk is already shakey enough.
It all starts with your name.
In the languages of the world, violence is a very bad word.
Is violence your middle name?
Hock's email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
Yet another injury/surgery. Monday, (December, 2017) I had a tumor/cyst (being evaluated) cut out of my armpit and chest. Some 5 inches by 4 inches. (its tentacles went deep.) It is 99% non-malignant at first glance the doc says, and testing on it will be done as routine. The doc thought from the CT Scan it would be a quick, 10 minute, open-and-yank-out deal so we used a local numbing. I say “we” because he thought that and I agreed.
But, I was on the op table for 45 minutes, AWAKE, as they cut every square inch of the damn thing out. It went like 3 to 4 inches deep in parts. Jane was in the room since they thought it would be a breeze. As they went deeper into un-numbed areas, I “told them,” and they needle-numbed deeper.
When they first hit these raw nerves, it sent burning, skinning sensations into my armpit and down my arm. Felt like someone was skinning my skin with a shaving razor. I yelped, they injected. But, I couldn’t help but think about those poor people getting bullets extracted similar to this process, under minimum or NO pain killers in battlefields and gunfights. Wow. You would have to tie these people down because the shocking pain would cause anyone to jerk and move. Bite a bullet too? (I also thought of the old military armpit, saber stab we teach – sooooo, that's a mere hint of what THAT feels like!)
Looking at the just-after-pictures, I swear I have seen gunshot wounds that look better than this. Still, compared to some, this was endurable and a few jokes were cracked in the operation. In comparison – my son-in-law’s brother, David Miller died a few days ago, just a super guy, fighting complications from Crohn’s Disease. THAT is serious. This was just an extraction.
Anyway, this has really jacked up by right pec, armpit and inside upper arm. Many layers of stitches from way deep to surface. I can’t even climb stairs because a sudden rise in blood pressure might pop those inner, deep stitches open! Whole upper right side hurts like a car wreck or something. I cannot do ANYTHING for a week but vegitate. Then a few small things after that first week. NO GYM for weeks! I will grow even more fatter and out of shape.
Now, what caused this? I am prone to cysts on injury spots. This may be my third surgery from them. Two on my hands, from hitting folks years ago. How’d I get this big, chest one? About 6, 7 years ago, while stick fighting, I dodged a head shot and the top inches of my friend’s stick missed my helmet and smashed/clipped into this area of my right chest/shoulder. Of course I had no torso protection. And it REALLY hurt, ergo, I REALLY remember it. The doctor asked me about injuries there and I recalled this one. He nodded and said, this is probably where it came from. Probably, though. You know we can’t be sure. There are some of these things just pop up, so I cannot say with 100%. best guess.
Some of these things are filled with a fluid and some with fat. Most go away and some like this one and my other two I had? Don’t. They just hang out and keep growing. With tentacles.
So…martial arts? How did I lose half my upper, right arm in the 90s? Shadow boxing with baseball bats instead of sticks one day in my 40s. Snap! You know, using bats to get bigger, stronger and faster. Riiigghht. Instead I got an irreparable, muscle rip and life-long, half strength. Lets not even get into my hip replacement and wonderful, brain damage. And I still can’t let anything cold into the left side of my mouth from a very special punch in the mouth years ago.
My public service announcement is…take better care of yourself when young. And older too. Seriously, folks. People ask me when I am going to quit teaching, quit this schedule. I tell people that every weekend I only play touch football and everyone else plays tackle. But when you’re older, even “touch” takes its toll. Then, there’s that flicker of macho, a flash of youth I shouldn’t have or do, then there's mistakes or missteps I shouldn't have taken. Wrong place. Wrong time. Wham.
Once again, take care of yourselves. I remember that line from a martial artist once, that after a certain middle-age, injures are not just injuries, but turn into small, life-long disabilities.
Some of those, not so small.
Hock's email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
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