All posts by hockhochheim@forcenecessary.com

Hock Hochheim teaches hand, stick, knife and gun combat to military, police and savvy citizens in 11 allied countries each year. He's the author of more than 250 dvds on self-defense and more than 12 books on how to protect yourself. His products sell in more than 40 countries.

Personality of the Knife

Knives have personalities. The generic look. The generic history. Slashing look. Stabbers. The personal attachment look. What is the personality or your knife?

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I think there are several factors in knife personalities.

Culture of the knife Personality – One is the culture of the knife. Certain edged weapons have a history, a geographic flavor. Just think of the Japanese Tanto. The Kris. The Bowie knife. The Italian stiletto. The medieval dagger. The double-edged, commando knife. One in the martial business, or the knife aficionados, or makers recognize the aura/genre of many knives. This cultural attraction alone might be a main reason someone buys to collect, or buys to carry a knife. Somehow, some way, the look captures one’s fancy, imagination, expectation or whatever connection to books, movies, TV or past affiliation. Sort of a mysticism we mentally project upon a simple inanimate knife. After all, what makes us select the cars, pants, churches or sports teams we do? We are tribal, particular and peculiar from our hats down to our shoes. Hats and shoes as in style that is, not in size. We can’t change the size of our head or our feet. We can change the size and shape of a knife, but will the size be appropriate for our…"heads" and ”feet?”

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Slashing, hacking and stabbing personalities – The shape and size of the knife tells an experienced handler what it can do best. Some are better hackers. Some long, thin ones are better stabbers. Some are wide and are better shaped for slicing. Like a carpet layer needs a certain angle for exactly what is needed, so do all knife users. A novice to so-called, knife "fighting," a new-be to say, construction work, will not know what kind of knife does what best. Experience and education is called for.

Personal, knife personality examples – I knew a Green Beret, Vietnam vet who passed on standard Army/government issue knives and preferred his old own Bowie Knife, replete with a carved stag handle. It was a family heirloom you might say, and therefore more important to him than any generic, legend of Jim Bowie. He said it gave him a certain power, a certain mojo from which he garnered mental and physical strength. This is a personal touchstone, reminiscent of many cultures, such as some of the native Americans might carry a medicine bag of mojo. Same-same. 

     Another friend of mind sought an old-fashioned, traditional looking (and hard to open) pocket, folding knife with stag handles, with multiple blades, because his dad had a similar one and it was lost through time. Both, more “personal, private” personality, touchstone selections. Still, with game points awarded for symbolic and personal mojo, on the battlefield or for back porch whittling, the knife size, shape and handle must fall within a scope and range of usable practicality and common sense. Switch this over to a parallel concept – you wouldn't a pack a flintlock pistol around for self defense, just because you love the early American history era. Extrapolate this idea over to other weapons and survival.

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What personality knife do you really need? – Not just want for whatever abstract reason, but need? I think we have to return to the classic, Who, What, Where, When, How and Why questions I use all the time to best determine this.

– Who are you to need a knife?

– Who are you to carry a knife?

– What do you really need or want a knife exactly for?

– What do you exactly expect to do with this knife?

– What training do you have to make this a wise choice?

– What are the local laws for such a knife?

– What happens next? You use the knife and what will the police and prosecutors think of the name and look of your knife?

– Where will you carry this knife? Job? Protection? Handiness?

– Where on your body will you clip, or sheath or cart your knife?

– When will you need this knife? Work time? Off-time? Daytime? Nighttime?

– How will you acquire this knife?

– How will you use it? Do you know how?

– Why will you select a specific knife?

     Another, longer “what” question. The chicken or the egg? What came first for you? Or, what will come first, if you are just now thinking about knives? That mysterious adulation of …“the knife,” and then a knife training course? Or did you need a knife first for a task first, then seek a training course? This consideration might help clear a path for your knife selection and proper training. The collector, the historian, the practical user, the adulator? Who are you?

     But that last line of questioning…the “why.” Why will you select a specific knife? I suggest that you do not make a selection based on looks, genres, eras and or culture alone. I think you should select a knife on its ultimate practicality. Of course if you are a collector looking for this or that showpiece – “I own one! It’s a beauty!” –  have fun! (I am not much of a collector of things so I cannot relate to this, but of course, I do understand the hobby.) Or, if you are fanatic about say, old European sword and dagger fighting. Whatever. Get those weapons and mess around with them. Have fun and exercise. Shoot flintlock firearms (just don't carry them as a self defense weapon).

Knife circle 4

Knives have personalities – The generic look. The generic history. The personal attachment. If you plan to actually carry and use a knife? Whether on the job as a telephone lineman, a surgeon, a soldier or a cop, or just a citizen with a hankering for a knife, think of them as tools and well…think of them as shoes. You’ll be wearing them too, and like your hat and shoes, you can change the style, but you can’t change the size of your head and feet. Get the appropriate tool/knife. See clearly, be fleet of foot for the trails and paths of life, Kemosabe. Don’t stumble around with the wrong size, else you’ll trip, fall and fail. And like “running with scissors,” running with the wrong knife can be a minor or costly mistake.

Hock's email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

 

Like this essay? More knife essays coming in early 2018 in the book, Addendum to the Knife…

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And available now…

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Over 300 pages.

Some 1,000 how-to photos

Oversized, hardcover with color photos 

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The Knife Counter Knife Combatives book, click here

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FEEDING THE HABIT! Do You Care When Drug Dealers Die?

Do you remember a time when drug addiction was called…”a habit?” Yeah. A habit. This day and age of softening all words to make them sound all politically correct it’s odd to find the horror of drug addiction called simply a habit, as it was back then. Because, you know what a habit is, right?

“I take a walk at 5pm every day.” 
“I have scones with my afternoon tea
.”
Habits!
Not like, “I will destroy my brain, body and my family with heroin. And, if you excuse me, it’s 5 and I will go shoot up. Oh, It's just…you know…a habit of mine.

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     Comedian and social commentator George Carlin noted that many old terms, such as the old descriptive word, “Shellshock," we watered it down through the years to tidy slick terms like post-traumatic, this or that. Yet with drug habits, somehow in chronological reverse, we started out with the comfortable word “habit.” Is there a word strong enough to describe the ravages of serious drug use? Hey, there’s another lame, pop term, – “drug use.” If you drank Drano, would you call it “Drano Use, or something else?

     I started working narcotics in the Army in the 1970s (assigned, not by choice) and the word habit was common. As a detective in Texas we all were supposed to constantly develop “dope” cases (dope as in ALL drugs) and it was easy to fall upon and into drug crimes as so many criminals were users. They had…habits. Check forgers. Burglars. Robbers. They were often “feeding their habits” (another pop phrase of the time). Rapists and attempted murderers, killers, are often high when pulling their crimes.

     Today, many drug makers, dealers and drug users are dying in the USA and Mexico. People are shocked with, say, the Chicago shootings. Shell shocked by the drug wars in Mexico. And people are shocked with the massive use and overdoses of “speed” (methamphetamine) users. Didn’t they just smuggle in shipments from China the other day that had killer amounts of bad powder within?

Oh, we are all so sad! Huh?

     Ohhh…people dying. Whether it be Chicago or, Iowa, or the Tex-Mex border, the police, politicians and news media, cluck like mother hens about it all. Cluck. Cluck. Cluck. The formats for these news conferences have grown through the years haven't they? From one guy commenting at a microphone, to a dozen, grim-faced people standing behind the speaker before a bevy of media mikes. The assistant director. This or that supervisor. The head building janitor. This fools the public into thinking there is a TEAM of caring mother hens clucking for you. A team so worried about every community hang-nail or problem, and worried about things like the drug-war, killings. The ODs. The never-ending consumption of…drugs. Cluck, cluck. Cluck. But is it all so sad? Who is dying that we are so sad and clucking about it?

     One dark-thirty night in the 1980s, I got a phone call from the duty patrol lieutenant that there a guy in a hospital shot multiple times in the head. I stumbled out of bed thinking there was a murder. When I got that hospital I went straight to the morgue. All was quiet. No new dead guys? I went to the ER and asked,

“Where’s the dead guy?”
“Huh?”
“The guy shot in the head several times?”
“Oh, exam Room 3.”

     I walked in Room 3 to see a giant black guy, in like a medical/dental chair. Very much alive. A doctor was on a stool standing behind him removing small caliber rounds from his head from in and under his scalp. The guy seemed wide awake. He was a snappy dresser. In summary, none of the bullets penetrated his skull but scooted around under his scalp. 3? 4? Even 5 shots? I can’t remember. Hit men liked to use .22s back then because they expected the round to enter the skull but not have the mojo needed to exit the skull, therefore the bullet plays pin ball with said brains. But not this time! No entry.

     I watched the removal the slugs and the doc, with large tweezers plucking them and dropped them into a metal bowl with some colored fluid in it. I pulled up a chair and asked what happened. He told me he was from east Dallas and visiting the ______________ club, just playing pool when a total stranger walked up to him and for no reason at all tried to blow his brains out. Okay. That’s a lie. He insisted he did not want to press charges. And did not want any investigation. When it became apparent that I knew he was a drug dealer, he finally insisted, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of this.”

     We had a case-closing option – “Cleared by Exception” and one of the rules was, that if a complainant did not want to press charges, the case could be closed by exception. I looked him over and thought,

“Well. He might kill a drug dealer. Maybe if we’re lucky, they might kill each other. Hmmm. That sounds like win-win to me.”

     Such are the late-night, decisions one makes in the field. In fact, I had arrested several suspects in dope dealer shooting cases in the years past, and if the survivor didn’t take a plea, they beat the rap in a courtroom trial, claiming they shot back in self defense. It worked.


70s
Me, in the old narc days.

     When the bullets were removed, he insisted on leaving. I watched him pay a large amount of cash for the treatment, and walked him outside to a waiting car that drove him away. It was a nice car. I memorized the plate. At this point, like 5am, the night club was closed.

     So the next night I nosed around the club, talked to some folks and yeah, he was a dope dealer, shot by another dope dealer from another city. I made some cursory phone calls to the number he gave to “check on him” and duly noted the attempts. No return calls. I let the case gather a little dust on my desk and in about a week, I closed the investigation by exception. Me, my chain of command, the D.A.s office, we all knew the score and maybe, just maybe, if we were lucky? We’d have two more dead drug dealers (and hopefully outside our city limits too! Whew!)

     Outside our city limits? I always get a kick when Gibbs on the TV show "NCIS" battles the local city police over the case, when a Marine is killed off base.

“No, this is an NCIS case,” Gibbs demands.
“NO, This is a Baltimore city case!” The city cop demands.
HA! Folks, it don’t happen like this. Instead they try to foist the corpse off on each other. 
“You take it! Your guy!” 
“No, you take it! Your city!"

     Is it really so sad that dope dealers and gang members are killing each other? No. Never has been, unless you are a play-pretend, mother hen politician or play-pretend, police admin who must appear indignant and emotional while standing at the microphone before a staff of solemn team-members. And…all these white people dying of speed overdoses. Is that so sad? No. What is sad is when there are crying babies in the back seat of the car with OD-ed parents in the front seat. The collateral damage.

Collateral damages.
     What is sad is the financial and emotional damages done BY these people. The poor woman in Chicago walking to church and shot from random gunfire a block away. The poor kid shot down the street. I know this. I feel this. My only unsolved homicide is gang/drug related drive-by shooting. A guy sprayed a TEC-9 at gang standing in front of a tall wooden fence. 9mms penetrated the fence, hit and killed an innocent, college girl in the back yard. Her name was Ortensia. The best I could determine was that the drive-byers were from the notorious, Ft Worth, Stop 6 area and the escaped victims (none were shot) were from…east Dallas. She was the only one shot and killed. The death is…haunting. I kept a photo of her on my phone. Oh, I don’t mean like a photo on a gallery in thin, mobile phone. This was the late 1980s. I am talking about an actual, color photo taped onto my desk phone. Every time I used that damn phone, I saw Ortensia’s face. It was a high school, grad photo. The face of a pretty, young, smiling black girl, about to go to college. I…saw…it…every…day. It’s haunting.

     Ortensia’s mother in Waco demanded results. I couldn’t produce a suspect. Her mother hounded the police chief. The case was eventually handed over to a North Texas Gang Task Force. They couldn’t produce. Years later the case was given to the Texas Rangers. They couldn’t produce. After my retirement, the case was considered cold. The mother bothered the new police chief and it was re-assigned again, with no results. If the mother knew me, she would have known I would never give up on such a killing. Never. I had captured other Ft Worth gang guys that shot up our town. If there was some lead, any lead? I’d follow it. If I got a lead tomorrow on Ortensia’s murder, I would go work that case, retired or not. Ortensia was…collateral damage.

     And how about those dead babies? I've worked several dead baby cases and I worked a case one night where a baby froze to death sleeping in a trashed-out car while mom was shooting up in ghetto house.

     I know collateral damage. I…feel…collateral damage. Collateral damage is probably the real reason why we are still in the game. All the collateral victims, from property crime to murder, and the grieving families. It's what this "feeding the habit" does. Fighting the so-called "war on drugs" is really all about the collateral damage. At least when the Mafia killed off each other, they were careful not to hurt anyone else.

    If ALL the drugs were made "libertarian legal," there still would be collateral damage to deal with. The past clearly proves that alcohol related crime, drunk driving and stupid drunk people fighting, assaults, rape, even murder, causes a lot of social sanitation work already for police. Traffic wrecks, traffic deaths, etc.

     I am retired now. Old. I don’t play-pretend. One reason I retired is I've never been a clucking hen. If you ask me specifically, do I care about drug dealers killing each other? When tattooed, gang members die? Do I care about speed freaks and speed whores overdosing and dying?

     Fuck no.

 

HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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Maximum Age to Enlist in…the Military!

“I regret I did not serve.”

“I wished I’d served.”

“One of my greatest regrets is I did not serve.

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I hear a lot of this talk, sometimes in person, but a lot on radio and television. Somehow the topic comes up, along with the “thank you for your service,” when speaking about, to and with military vets. Thanks of thanks going around about this and all kinds of service now. During the last presidential campaign, Ted Cruz thanked a nurse for her service in a town hall meeting. Thanking people for their service can go deep and wide, in fact, I thanked a girl at Whataburger this afternoon, when she brought me my burger. Thanks…for your service. Someone commented the other day that "Thank you for service" is so overused, that it is starting to sound like, "Your call is important to us."

A Dennis Miller use to say, “I don’t want to go off on a rant here…” and I usually dodge these kinds of topics, but here are some “tongue in cheek” observations on the wishes, regrets and thanks…and the military.

I know it’s a bit of a fad thanking vets for their services these days. (You do realize that some military vets spent their entire tour filling soda machines?) And while I guess some vets dig this attention. I myself can take a pass on that thanks, thank YOU! If you spot me when I wear my Army ball cap, I wear it like you wear your college ball cap. It’s just an alma mater I attended, a real school of hard knocks I went to. As soon as I get another crew cut I won’t need that, or any hat, for a while to hide my wild-ass, cowlick, unkempt hair. Hair gets too long? Outta bed with crazy hair? ? I wear a hat till I see the barber.

I do see various old timers walking around with what appears to be oversized ballcaps with explicit, patriotic embroidery announcing what campaign, or what battle, or battleship they were on. Whatever. Do they just want to be recognized and be…thanked? Whatever. Okay. But dude, those hats are like…gigantic.

But I have heard a lot of wishes of “I had served,” “greatest regrets,” speeches lately, and from some younger guys too, like the radio host I heard yesterday, who happens to be a big NRA guy and conservative. (Just saying.) Next, voiced from the regretful people, we might hear a litany of excuses (none as long as Hillary Clinton’s recent excuses) on why they didn’t/couldn’t enlist, from diaper rash to who-knows-what-all. Some, smartly just regret not serving and give us no excuses. Whew! Thanks. Thanks for NOT sharing. That’s fine with me, too. Whatever.

But these heartfelt, “my GREATEST regret is…” This got me to thinking about the regretters. And…and, for that matter – what also about the ton of tough guys out there, no military, yet talking about guns and skulls and killing and flag and country and prepping and bragging, etc? Yakking about "Me-Infidel." Sheepdogs. And all that dressing up too? All that tattooing, macho outfits, gear and all those special forces beards and stuff?

So, I got to thinking –

“Dear Heart-Felts, Dear Beard-Men, you know, you aren’t dead yet.”

So, how old is too old to enlist? I decided to look it up.

  Army 35

  Army reserve 35

  Navy 34

  Navy reserve 39

  Air Force 39

  Air Force Reserve 34

  Marines 29

  Marine Reserve 29

  Coast Guard 27

  Coast Guard Reserve 29

  Army national Guard 35

  Air National Guard 39

  Canadian military 42

  French Foreign legion 39 and 6 months

  British military 33

Then each US state has state militaries too, and those ages differ too. You have to check out each one. Most military info webpages worry about the first legal age to enlist and some forget to mention the maximum age. But max ages vary and there are numerous stories of congressmen intervening and getting older hound dogs into various services.

And waivers! There are age waivers! (see the below story of a FIFTY-FIVE year old who got in! I think these 35 to 40 year old, cut-off ages are far too restricted. Older, experienced people could sure help out the cause. But if we go to a serious, world war, watch the age limits change as they will need ladies and gentlemen of all ages.

But for many of you out there voicing these deep regrets? Or, have skulls tattooed on your forehead and dream of macho combat? It might not be too late for you. Check your age? Or even write your congressman! When that diaper rash clears up? Maybe you too can still enlist?

Oh, to those who have served? By the way…yeah, yeah – thanks for your service.

(and so ends my “tongue-in-cheek,” Dennis Miller-ian, rant)

https://www.thebalance.com/us-military-enlistment-standards-3354001

 

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Fightin’ Words – The Psychology and Physicality of Fighting 

Fightin' Words – The Psychology and Physicality of Fighting  
by W. Hock Hochheim 

(This following text is on the back cover. I did not write this, the book folks did, but…so…well…here it is…)

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About the Author- W. Hock Hochheim is a former military police patrolman and investigator, a former Texas patrol officer and detective, and former private investigator. During his career, spanning three decades working in "line operations" only, he's investigated more than 1,000 crimes and arrested nearly as many suspects. He has graduated from numerous, national Assault and Violent Death police schools and street survival courses. He also organized protection and security for famous authors, politicians, musicians, TV and movie stars. Over the last 40 years Hock has studied martial arts and hand, stick, knife and gun combatives, earning numerous black belts in multiple systems.

In 1996, Hock founded Force Necessary, a training company that teaches situational, event-based, scenario-based fighting tactics to military, police and citizens. Hock has written prolifically about martial arts, psychology, sports and history in countless magazines and books. He is quoted frequently by experts worldwide. He currently teaches some 30 seminars a year in 13 allied countries.

For more than 15 years, Hock has also authored a very popular blog read by tens of thousands. He is known as an educator, entertaining skeptic, and pioneer, martial, myth-buster by citizens, military, police, and martial arts experts worldwide. You cannot find all these special studies, articles and essays on his blog page as they are collected in book.

"Fightin'" Words is a collection of essays and articles by Hock about his life-long, worldwide quest to uncover the best, base-line, fighting tactics, strategies and skill-developing methods. These essays are based on his travel, study and research of the psychology and physicality required to successfully fight criminals and enemy soldiers. The book is about fighting, or "fightin'" since Hock is a Texan and speaks like one. He dissects elements of survival, self-defense, war, crime, martial arts and combat sports. He explores the changing terrain of these systems and how they evolved. And meanwhile, reveals a little martial, history and gossip here too!

There is also a photo tribute collection to the many international hosts who have hosted him over the last 22 years.

Oversized paperback 
301 pages.

* Get the book mailed to you. 
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* Get the "Author's Cut! Paperback"
mailed to you What's the "Author's Cut, Paperback?" It's an autographed copy. If you just buy the book, it will be sent directly to you from the publisher/distributor, untouched by Hock. If you wish it autographed? Then a book gets mailed first to Hock, and he signs it and then sends it to you. This costs more in time, postage, handling and packaging, which in turn, costs more. But if you want an autographed copy? This is the way, or catch him at seminars.

Click here for more info and to order the book!

Amazon has a Kindle version.
The book will eventually be available at all bookstores, as distribution evolves.

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Stay Alive While on the Phone with 911!

I don’t know what precisely happened in Minneapolis. I think an important safety lesson must be spread immediately, despite the unfolding investigation, therefore I write this short message.

How did that poor Australian girl get shot? It PAINS me to see her pretty face. By now we know the public details, right? If you already know what happened? Skip this next paragraph.

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"Ruszczyk, a 40-year-old Australian native, called 911 on the night of July 15 to report what she believed was a  sexual assault occurring near her home in Minneapolis' Fulton neighborhood. Two officers from the Minneapolis Police Department, identified by authorities as Matthew Harrity and Mohamed Noor, responded to Ruszczyk's call. Officer Harrity was driving the squad car, while Officer Noor was in the passenger seat, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. As they neared Ruszczyk's home, Harrity indicated that he was startled by a loud sound near the car, after which Ruszczyk immediately approached the driver's side, authorities said. Noor then fired his weapon, striking Ruszczyk through the driver's side window, which was open. The officers provided medical assistance to Ruszczyk until medics arrived, but she was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office has confirmed that Ruszczyk died of a single gunshot wound to her abdomen." – web news report.

Define “loud sound?” I’d like to hear that definition. What a mess. Here’s a general, working fix for that to almost never happen, or not to happen again.

Through the years, I have had to respond to a few incidents while off-duty. Not just in my neighborhood, but while “out and about.” Even in other cities! As I left to “see what was happening” Before departing I told my wife to call 911 and tell them I was there and how I was dressed and to TELL RESPONDING OFFICERS about me. Locally, they would say “Detective Hochheim is on the scene,” but I would still want them to know how if I was dressed in my Mickey Mouse pajamas and Hồ Chí Minh flip flops.

When we were out of town, I told her to describe me completely to the dispatcher on the phone, tell them I was an armed police officer, describe me and my clothes. And to INSIST the RESPONDING OFFICERS were TOLD this info. These unfortunate events were not big deals and too distracting to retell here. And not the point, and I am still alive.

The working fix? The dispatchers told the responding officers who I was, what I was wearing, etc. The fix needs to be extended out to all dangerous calls. Cops should know this, but citizens do not. Who ramrods this commo? The 911 dispatcher. It’s a DISPATCHING PROBLEM! Communications.

I know for a fact this “fix” is already in many agencies. 911 operators virtually cling to their callers while officers are in route for a host of reasons, this type of shooting being one of them. Consider the “what if” questions…

WHAT IF…The dispatcher never hung up on the caller. If the dispatcher didn’t then…

WHAT If…The dispatcher warned the woman against going outside to see the officers. Or, organized the proper meeting over the air.

WHAT IF…The dispatcher remained on the line and told the woman, “STAY INSIDE!”

WHAT IF…The woman wanted to go outside to help and the dispatcher asked her what she looked like and was wearing? And the dispatcher told the officers, “Witness/caller, white, blonde female in pajamas will be standing by to answer questions, is outside or will be coming outside.”  

WHAT IF…The officers were expecting to see the caller/complainant, a white, blonde woman in her pajamas, with phone, as they neared the scene.

WHAT IF…The dispatcher ramrodded/coordinated the whole encounter?

Her husband-to-be (marriage in one month) admitted just today on the news that he wished he had never hung up the phone with her after she called the police. This would suggest that she and the dispatcher had hung up, for them to talk.

So, again, I don’t know exactly what happened in Minneapolis. For a period of time in the 1980s, I had to work Internal Affairs at my agency. I was not popular, as most aren’t, and my CID Captain eventually rescued me from the slot. I know well that facts and stories can get weird and crazy. But these dispatcher questions were the first issues that came to my mind when I heard about the shooting. (DEFINE loud sound!). And this is probably why, in the end, Minneapolis PD will also be a jam for dropping the commo ball. Bottom line? If the shooting officer is indeed an everyday idiot like many locals have tried to portray him? He’d have less of an excuse if all this info had been properly communicated. In the end, an innocent woman was shot and killed and that is a tragic mistake. Several fail safes had to fail for this to happen.

Let’s also take a look at the big picture. In the USA (and around the world) hundreds of thousands of calls for service are successfully processed each day. Citizens with dispatchers with police and…with criminals. Within these vast calls for service numbers almost NO ONE gets shot. Hardly ever in the big picture.

But as a safety lesson?

Dear Citizens of Gotham. When you are in a weird situation/location? On the phone with the dispatcher? INSIST the dispatcher tell the responding officers who you are and what you look like and what you are wearing and where you think you are and where you are going. And, maybe stay somewhere safe?

 

Coming very soon, new book…

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Rubbing Elbows, Not Elbow Strikes.

Many years ago I was in Cincinnati, Ohio on a seminar trip and made a run to a store in my rental car, kind of late one Saturday night. In the shopping mall near the store was a two-story gym, mostly made of glass and there inside as I drove by, I spotted 4 guys on a wooden floor, in plain clothes, training to fight. 4 guys. No school. No uniforms. 4 guys. They were doing – I don’t know – what you might call, “modern fighting.” The vision sort of stuck with me and made me think of the proliferation of “small groups.” One was probably the leader, the organizer. I actually stopped the car on the lot and watched them for a long minute. Strong sense of nostalgia and admiration.

     How many, many times I have I seen such small groups, and been a part of such small groups. How many of these groups of 4 have attended my seminars?

     One deep thread for all of them is a bond. A friendship. A social deal of some kind beyond just working out. Ever note how these people share various traits? Looks? Clothes? Interesting. What brought them together? Why do they stay?

     Schools and small “homeless” groups. Unlike back then, these days there are all kinds of Krav schools and MMA schools doing multi-discipline, “modern, street-fighting” (and I hate that term, but it’s an easy, name-drop). Official places to go to get multi-system fighting. There is a lot of BJJ out there, but I don’t consider that multi-discipline. Through the years I have observed all sorts of “martial” groups and “arts” groups. Even martial “arts-artsy” groups. Regular martial arts schools have galleons of kids to keep their ships afloat, and way less adults. Now with Krav schools and MMA schools, adults classes seem to survive without kids, maybe taking away from the small “homeless” groups? Observing all their ups and downs is interesting. Educational. You can spot the mistakes. Often the successes and failures are situational and customized. Sometimes, they limit themselves to the point of “shooting themselves in the foot.”

     Some members of these smaller adult groups will come and go, but a sufficient “leader” just seems to attract the rare kind of person that keeps a core group going. There just always seems to be a core subsection – the leader and two, three or maybe four people. Even in a standard professional, strip-center, school, these friends might eventually get officially hired to help the leader. But still a very social friendship is at the core of most success- however you want to define the word success. (Warning! Once hiring and money and dues/tithing get in the friendship picture, it might hurt the relationships. Seen that a lot.)

     What I am suggesting is – take serious note of how important the social/friendship “thing” is to the promotion, stability and financial success of your “school/program/work-out” group. Schools reeking in forced business models have this built in, especially for kids. Kids are easy. Movie night. Birthday parties. Laser sword gigs. Many organize these social events on “must do” commands from the "Kuraty" business group they pay big bucks to. What about adults that don’t fit this mold? What’s for them? Barbecue Sunday? Some adults prefer a drunken, debauchery night? What will it be? Groups are…customized. You can see it all around.The whose-who, whose with who. Why do they stay? Why do they not look "outside?" Our tribal selves!

Dinner 3

     Ever think about who you host for a seminar? Usually it becomes more of friendship than a strict, business-only deal. Great information imparted by a pain-in-the-ass person is not going to weave in well. I’ve heard stories where the seminar, super-star

– One stole a French guy’s passport.

– One star actually wanted a host to buy him expensive cowboy boots.

– One star wanted his teeth fixed!

– One wanted to buy cocaine.

– One wants to organize hazing that by today’s standards would have you sued and thrown in jail.

– One wants very expensive, booze and multi course meals for Saturday night feast (as your king is in town!)

– One star plucked a pistol from someone’s hands and tossed it on the ground.

– A once famous star taught a large group of US special forces. He wanted to be known as a real tough guy, but was famous for causing reckless injuries. 90 out of 100 of the SF soldiers, in an organized protest, wrote letters to their commander that the guy was basically a jerk and caused many unnecessary injuries. Today, shunned by several countries, he essentially lives in obscurity.

– I was at a Joe Lewis seminar years ago and during a break, he told a few of us, “my wife told me that if I wanted to do these seminars, I have to be nice to people.” (Darn it!) 

     I could go on, but let me say, that the systems you do, the schools, classes and seminars who you do them with, is very much a social experience. Think about that. Then think more about that.

     Me, I am a very “easy date,” and luckily, I like to hang out with all my hosts. In many ways, that is my favorite part of the seminar weekend. Sometimes just driving to and from the airport is my favorite part. Seriously. There are always photos on Facebook of the seminar dinner, or the Christmas party. As I get older and, or more sore and tired, it is becoming harder for me to teach 8 hours and then run out to eat on the busy Saturday night group dinner where all the good, noisy places have long, long waiting lines. Homey needs to lay down. Homey watch TV. Homey take pain-killers. Homey sleep. (Homey also must write a lot for deadlines). But, Homey still attends the dinners.

Dinner 2

Martial Friend Questions!

– Who…are you? Who are they?

– What…do you want?

– What do they want?

– What do you do that attracts them?

– Where…will they find you?

– When…can you meet regularly?

– How…will they find you?

– How will you find them? How entertaining are you?

– Why…do this? Your motive? Their motive

– You could write a book answering these questions.

     I still see these little groups of three, four and five folks, making the time and effort to get together in gyms, garages and parks, etc. I was and am still nostalgic because I started my “freedom-from-classical-doctrine” times in 1986 in the corner of a gym with a small group, just like those 4 cats in the Cincinnati gym.

You still have to have a “boss-man/chief” with some experience and a thirst for knowledge, running it. Most all the modern teachers with savvy have various reputable, black belts hanging/hiding in their closets. It’s a time, grade, savvy, experience, maturity thing. It’s a people thing too.

Dinner 1

Rubbing elbows is still important and the key part of doing what you want to do, for your localized “job/hobby/lifestyle/business." Your friendships, your personality, your ability to attract them and keep them are parts of the skeleton.

Think about that.

Then think more about that.

Our tribal selves!

Whose foot are you shooting?

 

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Fencing and Knife Fighting? How important is Olympic Fencing to it?

Sword.

Small sword.

Big knife.

Small knife.

Sword Fighting.

Epee sport fencing.

Dueling.

Olympic Fencing.

Knife Fighting.

Enthusiasts like to discuss and compare dueling and fencing with knife fighting and big knives and swords and smaller knives…and, and, and… The topic comes up now and then on how fencing skills help knife fighting skills and also, oddly, how fencing skills helps fighting in general. For me? Not so much.

It is confusing to discuss these things unless you set down some edged weapon world definitions. Some people can’t adequately define them, which causes a confusing debate and conclusion. They might say, “the best knife fighting training is fencing.” Well, what kind of fencing? There are several kinds of fencing with small letters and capital letters. And several different tools used when fencing.

Who died first med

A sword is…well, a sword. There are all kinds of swords, you know. We immediately think of the olden days and the swords of knights, and Cossacks and the Three Musketeers. As defined in most universes, “ a weapon having various forms but consisting typically of a long, straight or slightly curved blade, sharp-edged on one or both sides, with one end pointed and the other fixed in a hilt or handle.” A key word in our comparison is “long.” We might add that some swords are best wielded by two hands. Many still by one hand.

A Big Knife is…well, a big knife. It certainly will be handled by a single hand. Two hands need not apply. Some people consider any knife with a blade over 6 inches  and “less than a short sword” is a big knife. I recall one knife enthusiast remarked, “…is defined by a culmination of its features, a critical mass of its qualities.” That has a ring to it. People think of the ubiquitous Bowie Knife as a big knife. It is also knife-lore that a small knife is concealable.

A Small Knife is…well, smaller. One-handed. Easy to conceal, as the topic of concealment often comes up with defining sizes. It would stand to reason that a knife with a blade under 6 inches could be called a small knife. It is also knife-lore that a small knife is concealable.

Dueling is…well, you know, right? Look up “duel,” and you will find terms, like “pre-arranged combat,” “observed by witnesses,” “with guns and swords” and other uses like a “duel of wits.” Today, when we think of edged-weapon fights we often just think of a knife versus knife fight, sort of a touch-and-go, kind of deadly chess match, tag kind of thing? You’ll often hear me talk about the “myth of the duel,” in that unarmed or armed fighters “on the street,” usually aren’t in perfect stances and pre-arranged distances, in and out, experimenting with  jab results, to “win in round three.” Two fighters crash! But two fighters can indeed break apart and this might look like a movie duel for a period of time. A bad movie, but sure, which is why to be comprehensive, we must train for these bits of dueling times too, but the fight is much more.

A Knife Fight is…uglier? Less classy? And how is it that two guys are fighting with knives anyway? Who, what, where, when, how and why? To enter this ugly realm, I often say, “knife fighting is like football/rugby with a knife.” I realize this is a sloppy, somewhat incomplete description but it makes a point about how messy knife fights with real angry people can get. Then there are those folks that believe ALL knife attacks are hidden-knife ambushes. Or ALL knife attacks are madman stitching. Not so. Not so, as a true historian of war and crime will know better abut the diversity.

Fencing. When you fence, it can be sword fighting, and “sparring” training with any and all swords. You certainly fence in any sword class. Which next leads us to ponder, Fencing (with the capital “F”), the sport of “Olympic Fencing.” It is described as an “art or sport of using a foil, epee, or saber in attack and defense.” Most of us envision the single lane sport of forward and back, wispy epees and those special metal helmets and white suits. Most know that the modern fencers use electric epees and suits. But if you are a renaissance sword person, fencing (with a small “f”) just means using regular, dull swords to train and fight with. This is different form the sport of fencing. Is an epee a sword? Epee is French for sword, but today’s Olympic Fencing sword it is not like a “sword-sword” the Huns, Vikings or Samurai would use. It’s a wispy thing, often with electricity running through it. For a sporty game of tag.

     Martial artists reference Olympic Fencing at times, or they think they are when they say "fencing." Some go on and on about how we can learn oh so much from Olympic Fencing. I just don’t think so. I don’t share the love. Jeet Kune Do practitioners know that Bruce Lee praised and studied Olympic Fencing for the fast lead arm and explosive leg work. At one time he organized boxing, Wing Chun and Olympic Fencing as foundations of JKD. I can’t help but think that in the big picture of all that could happen in a standing, seated, ground, hand, stick, knife and gun fight, how Olympic Fencing could be so important. There are only a few, slim tricks that cross over. Any exercise is better than no exercise. And Bruce wasn’t worrying about knife fighting when working on boxing and trapping hands, even though Olympic Fencing was about “edged weapons.”

I don't like too much of a Olympic Fencing influence in knife material for several reasons.

– One is that Olympic Fencing is a suicidal game plan. I sacrifice my position, my…everything just to touch you first. That is all I care about. "First Touch." I touch first, I win. That is the Olympic Fencing, training goal. First tag. No matter that, even if the other "blade" cuts my throat after my "first touch" win. I won! My first touch, sport win may not be a successful real fight ender (what knife attack is, and someone should always prepare…

 

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Brain Damage Prevention Advice

"I have documented brain damage from too many knock-outs – police work, boxing, kick-boxing, 2 car wrecks, baseball (yes, baseball) – and I've been through the mental ringer over this, with many top neurologists since my various symptoms started. Migraines, vision distortions, occasional seizures, lost train of thought, fixations, well, odd things I almost cannot describe that I experience. Too complicated. When I warned people about head butts in the past, I was soften ridiculed. And misunderstood!

One famous stick-guy proclaimed on a video that I once said, "Head butts don't work." Never said that. What I did say is that head butts may work so well, they work right back at cha!" The bad and "newer" news, as in growing football and even soccer medical and forensic studies, is don't screw with your brains. Every little ding aggregates.

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Since, I try to warn people about this cavalier attitude about head butts, Since Chris mentioned me… I promised myself to make a campaign speech about this when and where I can. When you head butt someone? You are…headbutting yourself. In essence, brain splash is brain splash. We try to brain splash the other guy when we punch them, or slap them. In contrast, we should try to minimize our own brain splash. Through the years, young people refuse to listen to self-inflicting, head butt warnings.

Instead I hear- "Well, I did it once and the guy fell…" "Pete Smith is the head butt king, why, I've seen him…." (Ever check Pete's IQ? Why is he getting into so many bar fights anyway?) You are the king of head butts? Or did one once? Twice? Consider yourself then, lucky each time. They are risky. We all seem to have a story about the wonders of head butts, or know a guy named "Rocky" whose head-butted 30 people. I have stories too after 20 years investigating all kinds of assaults. Not many are good for the head butters.

Though they can work really well, they also can work right back on you. Next, the stubborn excusers like to say, "Ah…well, what we do at _________ school is we clutch the head, freeze it solid still, than take the hard crown of our skull and crush his soft nose." Great. Hope that works out for you. But I have to ask – "ever try to hold a head still in a fight?" The head can move powerfully supported by an isometric neck and torso movement. I hope that specific targeting works out for you. In a real fight, not a mutual training simulation.

Folks, "God" did not make your head to be an impact weapon. In fact, your body, nervous system, reflex, etc is built to protect your brains. Your brain is like Jello, with ALL impacts to your brain splashes in decelerated and accelerated motions inside your skull. And usually splashes a couple of times. First, the biggest Jello splash, then a lessor, Jello back splash, then even a third lessor one? It does not matter much to you whether you use the this-or-that hard side of your skull. Jello splashes inside. Some of the biggest head butt proponents have been "carried out" after they did one for real. I have had students in my old school, accidentally do fake head butts at the same time and one hit the floor. Out. The other drop to his knees. Which one was the good guy? Which was Captain Kirk and which was the Klingon?

Doesn't matter, "splashed brains is splashed brains." Which one was you? Old-timey, pro-head butt writings like by Geoff Thompson or Paul Vunak didn't know about these new concerns. (Although I know eye-witnesses who have carried famous "head-butters" out of bars having done them and knocked themselves silly. It's too late to warn you after they have made 6 movies on the wonders of head butts. The US military has done new and amazing studies on brain damage as in impact splashes as well as bomb shock waves just zipping through the brain. For example, Never mind simple, brain splash. What about newer stuff like "brain shearing?"

– Diffuse Axonal Injury otherwise known as shearing brain injury, is caused when …

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Body Templates, Angles of Attack and Targets

     All knife and stick systems have some form of template training, dating back to gladiator times. Maybe even back to smarter cavemen?Sticks, swords and knives. Hands too! And we sure do shoot a lot of paper targets, though live fire doesn't fit well with the following onbservations. 

     Remy Presas used a 12 angle of attack system in his Modern Arnis. He would say” Head-head, stomach-stomach,” and so on up thru eye-eye, top of the head. He would also at times just use the numbers, “one, two, three….” and so on. So would his brother Ernesto. Despite their differences in doctrine, they  still used the same 12 angle drill. But in regards to the body target approach, Remy also said once not to worry about landing onto and into those specific targets. He advised that the angles were meant to describe an attack delivery motion, an incoming direction, not just hitting those designated targets.      

     Remy explained in his entertaining broken English that the targets were named to help describe the angle. He (and others) would say that "Angle 12" for example, the downward strike, nicknamed “top of the head” could really land on any target, like a forearm strike on a weapon limb, or the back of the neck if the opponent was bent over from a previous hit. Angle 12 was any downward strike landing on any appropriate target down below. 
     Okay, glad he cleared that up, but I still thought this target naming was a bit misleading for all systems to generally name/associate body parts with angle deliveries. And I was happy to see Remy explain all this one afternoon. His explanantion worked for me, but the misleading approach for all continued and continues still in many systems. Some might dismiss my complaint as semantics, but I don’t. Then some other Filipino systems and fighting programs will describe their angle system as simple “high, high, medium, medium, low, low” and so on, avoiding the associated body part targets. I am not sure they all understand why, but they do it.

     Now if you are on the receiving end, training to counter against incoming attacks, I think it’s important to label the approaching attack as a “stomach” stab. And if you absolutely want to stab someone in the eyeball, that is a specific technique, that should be different from bigger, generic multi-delivery patterns.
     Perhaps I should list what I’m saying to best explain:
        1: Generic angles of attack training
        2: Working specific attacks training
        3: Countering specific attacks training

     To me, these are 3 different things. You don’t load 6 missiles on an Apache helicopter and say, “Missile one is for the walls of the fort. Missile 2 is for the oil tanker. Missile 3 is for any enemy aircraft….” Instead, you shoot whatever and where ever you need too. Nor do you say, “there are 7 angles of attack in my system because the name of my system has seven letters.” Huh? Such thinking is not clever or applicable. Should a tank be designed to only shoot 4 ways because there are four letters in the word “tank.” These are short minded, almost thinking disorder plans when compared with the demands of real fighting and combat, that you will find in martial systems. A certain…detachment.

     All this and a few other reasons are why in 1996 I converted over to the military combat clock for angles of attack. This way instantly is all about developing the delivery and not associating the delivery with a target. Basic training 12, 3, 6 and 9. Advanced training the whole clock 1-12. Thrusts or hooks. Standing, kneeling and grounded. This clock freedom is also a main reason why I had to retire from all the martial systems I was in. I could no longer teach these mandatory angles of attack in these systems, as ordered, as required. And, all other these angle of attack systems are vast in style and numbers and often illogically organized. And they are quite forgettable. You’ll never forget the clock  numbers.

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Those other angle systems, and my chosen clock angle system are usually practiced, or should be practiced:
    1: in the air (to check for proper body synergy)
    2: hitting training objects like bags or war posts
    3: on the body parts of training partners in various training speeds
    4: sparring/dueling

Now, on to these pesky templates.
Template training shares many of the benefits and downsides as angle of attack patterns. As mentioned at the beginning…

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Escalation! “If I pull my knife? And he is carrying a gun…?”

If I pull my knife? And he is carrying a gun?

"If I pull my knife? And he is carrying a gun? Will this cause him to pull his gun out? Will I cause the problem to escalate?”

An attendee to a seminar in Kentucky, someone with zero martial or martial arts experience, just a regular guy legally walking around with a gun and a knife, asked me this question.

What did I say? I said “yeah, that could happen.”
“That’s pretty messy,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said.
And everyone stared at me for words of wisdom and solution. I have none.

So often people want Magic Bullet answers to a lot of self-defense questions. There’s always big talk in the self-defense industry about "avoidance." If too late to avoid, then next up in the event list is what they call "de-escalation." Avoiding and de-escalating a common knucklehead before a fight starts is a cottage industry. Some folks confidently dole out solutions to confrontations in three to five steps or present mandatory checklists.
“Say these things!” 
“Do this!”
“Do that!”
“Stand like this!”
"Don't ever…."

Now, I think it is certainly good to be exposed to all these ideas and methods. Sure. Do so. But as an obsessed skeptic, I see the caveats beyond the advice. I don’t know about certain kinds of solutions, magic words, or stances when confronted or attacked.

I have investigated a whole lot of crimes through the decades; and while there are identifiable patterns and surprises, chaos can sure still reign supreme. But let me summarize by calling it all “situational.”

In the end, solutions are situational. Like calling plays in a football game, it depends on the situation. How you stand and what you say or do should be situational. Custom-built. (This essay is primarily about pulling out a knife but does and could certainly relate to pulling a pistol, too. It's just that if this was a "pistol-centric" essay, I would be writing more about pistol situations.)

pajamaBoy knife copy

So there’s an argument! Then a fight! Given you have already performed all your pop/psych avoidance and de-escalation steps. You are armed under your coat or in your pocket with a knife or even a gun, and this verbal stuff just ain’t working! The mean man won’t leave! Or worse, the men (plural) won’t leave. Do you pull that knife out? That weapon out? There are some situational concerns with doing this; and these concerns certainly do involve his possible knives and guns and the overall escalating ladder of weaponry, violence, and legal problems.

Here are a few facts and related ideas on the subject to kick around:

Fact: Some people do leave. For many a year now, 65% to 70% of the time when a knife or pistol is pulled in the USA, the criminal leaves you alone. (old DOJ stats) Simple statement. I have often heard the easy average of 67% used (sticks, by the way, are not in these study figures.) I must warn folks that this is not as clean and simple an escape as it sounds. There are many emotional, ugly events that happen in this weapon presentation / confrontation, even if the bad guy does leave. In my experience and investigation, if the criminal is alone he might be quicker to leave, if he is in or around a gotup, “his” group, he puts on more of a show before leaving. Trauma and drama. We discuss these details in certain topical seminars and other specific essays.

Fact: Some people don't leave. The good news with the 65%/35% split is you may only have to fight about 30% of the time! So 30% of the time, the opponent does not leave and the fight is on, whether he is unarmed or armed. The bad news is when you are now in that "unlucky 30%," or you might say you are now a 100%-er. You are 100% there and stuck in it. A hand, stick, knife, or gunfight!

Fact: Some people are armed. General USA stats quoted for many years past say that 40% of the time the people we fight are armed. A few years back the FBI upped that anti. More being armed! And another gem to add in is that 40% of the time we fight two or more people. Hmmm. So 40% or more armed times 40% multiple opponents. Not a healthy equation. Lots of people. Lots of weapons. Lots of numerical possibilities. The "smart money" in the USA or anywhere else is always bet that the opponent is armed.

Facts: Times and reasons to pull. Logical and physical. Time and reason might seem the same, but defining times and reasons in your mind and for your training is smart. 

Time equals “when” and reason equals “why.” Two different questions. The motive and the moment to move. Either way, remember

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