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.

Rubbing Elbows, Not Always Elbow Strikes.

Many years ago, maybe 20?  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. Just 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 minute, with a 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 or so 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 BJJ schools. I mean their growth is like a virus and their addiction is like crystal meth.  And numerous MMA schools doing multi-discipline, “modern, street-fighting” and I hate that term, but it’s an easy, identity-name-drop. (I don’t consider BJJ multi-discipline but rather an advanced, evolved Judo.) But there are plenty of official places to go and get mixed material in new official systems, yet with all the classical trappings. The need for these little 4 or 5 man renegade groups in gym corners has dropped. They have other places to go now, usually Krav places.

Through the years I have observed all sorts of “martial” groups and “arts” groups. From the ball-busting on down to “artsy” groups. In my mind I have divided them up into”

1-Martial groups

2-Martial arts groups

3-Martial artsy groups

4-Artsy groups

There are people out there, in them, who don’t know the differences between some of these categories, but I believe I do. I can spot them on a number of levels like admin, doctrine, interests, etc. I don’t care a bit as long as THEY know where they are and what they are doing.  

Some members of these smaller, loose martial, 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. Like a magnet. 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 too.)

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 that 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. 

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 real 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 somewhat 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!) 

– One guy in England, never interacted with his students outside the class times. The class congregated by themselves. There was a back door with much regalia on either side. He actually had a fog machine and started it up back there. A layer of fog permeated the air around the door.  He put on exotic music and “appeared/manifested into the classroom. (He is currently out of business, if anyone needs a fog machine.)

     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 Instructor-Friend Ws and H Questions!

– Who…are you, as an instructor? Who are they, as practitioners?

– What…do you really want?  What do they want? What do you do that attracts them?

– Where…will they find you? Where will you host this group?

– When…can you meet regularly?

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

– Why…do this anyway? Your motive? Their motive

– Ask more big and small Ws and H questions. You could write a book answering these questions.

It’s 2019. In 2018 I still saw these little groups of three, four and five folks, making the time and effort to get together in gyms, garages, backyards and parks, etc. I think Bruce Lee would be proud. I think it will be the same in 2019.  I was and still am nostalgic because I started my “freedom-from-classical-doctrine” times in 1987 in the corner of a gym with a small group, just like those 4 cats in the Cincinnati gym.

I have no school in the Dallas/Ft Worth area since 1997. Too busy for that. But I was recently contacted by a guy near me who was doing combatives. I mentioned that once in a while I do a seminar in the Dallas/Ft Worth area. He said, as a dig at me and my approach, that when their group gets together there is no leader. They don’t need one. They just “work out.” I guess he thought I would…move in and try to take over?” But, work out doing what? I tried to picture that group function. So, If I went there, we all should ignore 40 years of my experience and play pot luck, roulette with a bunch of dabbling civilians? You still have to have a “boss-man / chief / organizer” with some experience and a thirst for knowledge and experimentation, running the session. Most all the modern teachers running these small groups have some savvy and have various reputable, black belts or something hanging in their closets. It’s a time, grade, savvy, experience, maturity thing. It’s a people thing too. (Their leaderless, work-out group dispersed by the way. I guess no one suggested what time to meet next Thursday.)

One time in Europe, a guy walked up to me in a seminar and told me he was going to train soon with _______ in a seminar. “He is not a good human, but I want to know what he knows.” Not a good human? He spoke in broken English and I thought that was an odd way to express the point. But, I got the translated point. I know _____ and he is a bit of a prick. Somehow some of these instructors still manage to draw students. Some are downright abusive. I wonder how long that gig will last? What kinds of citizens are attracted to this? How long can you put up with whack-jobs, dopers and pricks?

Dinner 1

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. A business education. You can spot the mistakes. Often the successes and failures are situational, or geographical and customized. Sometimes, they limit themselves to the point of “shooting themselves in the foot.”

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? Whose elbow are you rubbing? 

*****

Hock’s email is Hock.Hochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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FW sample cover

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.

images

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 observations. 

     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 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” by many, 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 explanation 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.

bk-hochheim-footwork.med

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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Countering the Home Invasion

     Home Invasions. It usually slightly annoys cops to hear people declare, "my house was robbed!" Houses don't get robbed. People get robbed. Or, we hear, “I was robbed!” when their house was burglarized. Houses get burglarized, or experience theft. But it is a problem for police dispatchers answering 911 lines and hearing some yell, “I’ve been robbed!” when their house was burglarized 7 hours earlier, discovered when arriving home. Other than that, I guess it’s case of semantics and impatient policing.

      But houses can be involved with robbery crimes – consider the home Invasion. Simply put, a home invasion is when a criminal enters a home for crime while occupants are there. Actually Wikipedia has a nice and true definition – "Persons charged with "home invasion" are actually charged with robbery, and, or kidnapping, or a homicide , rape , or even assault charges. But law enforcement has been seeing the increase in "home-invasion robberies" since at least June 1995, when "home-invasion robberies" were the topic of the cover story of The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. They state the crime is considered an alternative to bank or convenience store robberies, which are getting harder to pull off cleanly due to technological advances in security. In this same article, the FBI recommends educating the public about home invasion. Before the term "home invasion" came in use, the term "hot burglary" was often used in the literature. Early references also use "burglary of occupied homes" and "burglar striking an occupied residence."

HI

     Usually, often victims get shoved around, roughed up and hurt. Some killed. As a detective, I have investigated numerous, such, mixed-category "home invasion" crimes that included robbery, assault, rape even murder through the years. I have hunted down and caught home invaders. So, from experience, training and further research, I have some information for you. In the “who, what, where, when, how and why” of the crimes, there are some important patterns to worry over.

     Anywhere in the world, Omaha, NE or Budapest, Hungary, there are two kinds of home invasions. One is the premeditated home invasion, where the suspect absolutely knows, expects and wants you to be home. And then there are accidental home invasions when criminals break in, thinking no one is home and are as surprised as you are when face to face. Most thieves/burglars prefer an empty house. Many are unprepared for a resident to be home, or come home.  This shock on both parties makes for unpredictable results.

      While I really want to remain on the subject of occupied home invasions and not the common, empty house burglaries, some pre-hit basics must be covered that include both subjects.

      The criminal stake-out?  Was there one? Burglary victims often assume that burglars are stealthy masterminds staking out their houses from various clever vantage points for days or weeks on end. But more often than not, they skunks are not so movie-like, and the criminals are just quick creatures of opportunity. Some burglars do prowl a bit and quickly watch over neighborhoods for the easiest, superficial signs. One method is at early, common, rush hours, burglars try and catch residents leaving for work.  Some congess when caught that they follow a resident out of the neighborhood to ensure they do not return and head back for the house. (This is an issue especially for homes with garages that face front, as burglars can see how many cars are in the garage as the driver leaves.)

      Many burglars are not such early risers and will just do a quick visual inspection of your home looking for signs of interior life, and good cover to break in. They will knock on the door or ring the doorbell. No answer? They invade. Often through the covered, concealed areas of your house like the backyard, but there are plenty of bad guys that bust right in through the front door (certainly so in apartments.)  You, being home, hearing and then not responding to the doorbell, the knock or the phone, are assumptions of vacancy and parts of their invitation to bust in.

     Two types of home invaders. An official home invader either wants to creep around while you are asleep, or wants to ambush people to essentially take them hostage for other crimes. He strikes at evening, night or on weekends hoping people will be inside to capture and mess with. The creepers are a different breed of criminal. Some of these a.m. home invaders for example thrill at bring in your house and just stealing things, thrill at spying on you asleep. Their entries are quiet. And then some are rapists, and have other plans and crimes in mind. 

      Many home invasions occur when residents are present and awake! Daytime or evening hours. I would like to define here the three main ways in which criminals invade houses while you are there in the usual waking times. In old school, cop talk, this covers the big three – the surprise, the con and the blitz.

 1: Where? The front door. How? The con – a ruse at the front door.

 2: Where? Driveway/Garage: How? You are followed or waited for and rushed/attacked as you pull onto your driveway or into your garage.

 3: Where? Entry Points: All windows and doors. How? The criminal breaks into your house. The surprise entry into your house and your life is a shock and awe ambush. The blitz is being rushed and over whelmed and overcome.

The Con: The Front Door Ruse. The con is at the front door – any number of participants may get you to answer, to open the door or get themselves invited even to use the phone, bathroom, escape the weather, etc. One evening, in a gated, housing edition in Jupiter, Florida, a man answered his front door to find a young woman acting distraught.

      "I am lost! Can I use your phone?" The home owner kept the girl at the door trying to guide her out of the edition with verbal directions.

      "I can't keep track of what you are saying! Just let me use your phone."

      The home owner said, "don't worry, I just called 911 and the police will be here to guide you out."

      "What? 911?" she said, "you just called 911!"

     With that she ran from the front door and suddenly two men jumped from the bushes and ran off with her. Guess what they were up to? How did they get onto this gated community? We don't know, but these gated communities are not impervious to all criminal entries. Most likely the woman was going to pull a gun on the occupants once inside and then let her friends inside the house. Or, once the door was wide open, they all would barge in.

    Many of us have seen or recall the comical bug exterminator TV commercial where a giant insect rings a doorbell with a silly excuse to get in the house and use the phone. Funny, but a stranger at the door should be regarded with the same concern as a giant insect.These are classic examples of front door ruses. Not unlike all the others you should not fall for. No matter the set up, always be very suspicious of ALL people who come to your door with a story. They might not even ask to come in, but linger long enough for your door to open wider, then barge in.

      Remember to have and use a peephole on your door. Some people even have security cameras combing the front area of their homes. (Even a dummy camera high up over your front door bothers these ruse criminals and they chose another house.)

      An elderly couple in my city ate a very expensive, local restaurant one night. When finished, they got into their new, expensive car and drove home. They drove into their residential area of nice homes and pulled into the driveway. The man punched the garage door button and the door slowly open. He pulled his car into his garage. And with no great haste, hit the button again to close the garage door. As he opened his car door he was rushed by a young man with a pistol who ran into the garage, before the garage door was half-closed. The door’s electric eye stopped the descent and several others entered also. This began several hours of torment and hell. They were beaten, robbed, but were left alive.

     Within a month, after a few breaks in the case, I identified the home invaders. They were career criminals from Ft. Worth, TX.  Their MO (method of operation) was indeed to follow elderly people home from expensive restaurants and rush them in their garages before the garage door closed. I arrested them, but this couple was too afraid to fully press charges in this case. They simply denied the unequivocal identification of the robbers I presented them, my other collected evidence so they could dodge any further legal proceedings. The couple feared gang retribution. Fortunately, we had other charges on these thugs and they still did hard time.

     Home invaders use this method and many other similar schemes. So, you should identify places where you visit that might be construed as a victim, pick up for potential victims. Take note to see if you are being followed, from anywhere really but certainly from these "prime hunting" grounds locations. If you are suspicious that you are being followed? Make several, sudden turns to test your guess. If you are still followed? Use your cell phone to call the police and try to set up a trap. No phone? Shame on you! But, you might drive to a police station, or drive to a populated area to call the police.

     In August, 2010 in North Texas a group of thugs were out "on the hunt," trying to catch anyone pulling up to their house in the early am hours. It’s like fishing for them, and they netted a big one. They attacked a family returning from a vacation as they unpacked on their driveway. Do you see how this could have been a home invasion had the “fishermen” forced the family into the house. Instead, it’s just an outdoor, armed robbery. But what about such unplanned driveway attacks?

      What if you might be jumped right at your house? Front or back? What if they operated on some intelligence and identified you and yours as a potential and "just ripe" victim, coming home at a certain time? If it is driveway robbery or a home invasion, where around your driveway would attackers hide, within range of ambushing you and/or barging into your garage and house? Install lights there. Clear brush. Watch to see if someone sneaks into the garage as you pull in. Let your eyes run over your property. In some very familiar locales, you might even spot strange cars parked on your street, road or area.

      As a rule, don't exit your car until the garage door has closed behind you. This way you can stay in your locked car if confronted. Have a gun. Have a cell phone. If caught in your garage after the door is closed?, Open the door electronically. If criminals interfere with the door opening, hit the gas pedal and crash out. A new door is cheaper than the horrors to follow if taken hostage, and cheaper than any funeral.

      Are your doors locked in the daytime even when you are home? Or early evenings? Most people say no. They ask," why? We are home." But when you and yours are home, your most valuable possessions are inside your house. You! Anyone in policing (and crime) will tell you that most house burglars strike in the daytime, hoping that no one is home.

      But if the plan is an evening or weekend home invasion/robbery, multiple criminals are usually involved and they might enter your house anyway they can. Windows, doors, open garage doors, any way. And you won't have your alarm on either.

 The safety rules here are: lock your doors and that includes your garage door and the door between the garage and your house. Buy your doors solid! Lock your windows. In fact, follow the basic and common tips that deter and defeat house burglars, and you will slow down or stop the surprise entry. Common crime prevention pamphlets will wisely warn you that criminals break into the cars on your driveway to get your garage door openers. The invasion begins.

      Make a plan with your family about such a sudden entry. I will tell you one of mine since it won't matter. If I or my wife see a sudden invasion inside the house or even at the door, we plan to yell at the top of our lungs one word. One. "GUN!" Maybe we'll yell it a few times if we can. This way me or in your case, other members of your family deeper in the house have time to react. Get the gun. Have a plan for them to react. If you don't have a gun or two around your house? Well, you're an idiot or have a thinking disorder, or you are stuck in a naive, idiot's regime. Good luck with all that.

 A quick summary

    Be aware of cars and the heads/faces of the drivers and occupants when you are leaving your garage or just leaving your house.

    Be aware of cars following you at any time.

    Be aware of cars and the heads/faces of the drivers and occupants when you are entering your garage.

    Be leery of all strangers at your front door.

    Keep your house as secure as possible at all times, whether you are home or not.

    Have a plan to alert your fellow residents if you are blitzed anywhere in your house.

    Have weapons, phones and escape options.

    Good short video by Massod Ayoob, click here

 

 

Hock's email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

Coming soon, Dead Right There – the second non-fiction police book of Hocks' adventures and misadventures

2 Police Covers Med

Face the Face Facts

Dogs. 
People.
Faces.
Facial expressions.
Micro-expressions

     Scientists have proven that your dog studies your facial expressions and reads the slightest change. CNN, to name but one source reported dogs can recognize a person's emotions just by looking at his or her facial expressions. They have been quite adept at reading the micro-expressions of faces. Much like dogs, humans, whether we realize it or not in the moment of interactions, have become adept at reading the big and small facial nuances of people they interact with, also. How accurate is that read, though?

2012-Tulla-Angst

     We all know what a simple facial expression is, but maybe not a micro expression? “Micro expressions are very brief facial expressions, lasting only a fraction of a second. They occur when a person either deliberately or unconsciously conceals a feeling.” says Dr. Paul Ekman. (see a link below for his work.)     

     In the last fifteen years, some traveling martial arts instructors have wowed attendees with their revelations about violence and crime, and the wonders of psychology and fighting, But a pop topic on their amazing tours on violence is often “reading criminal intent” and facial and micro-expressions. And since old things need to constantly introduced to new people, and re-introduced to the forgetful, and tortured by the skeptics, I will expound a bit on the subject of faces, expressions and micro-expressions, and who, what, where, how and why you can’t completely trust your textbook judgements, or your seminar advice, and even tell a quick story about how tricky it all might be. Keep in mind, I am not a psychologist. I don’t even play one on television. In the end, resort back to the experts.

     A simple facial expression is defined as one or more motions or positions of the muscles beneath the skin of the face. Facial expressions are one form of nonverbal communication. It is universally regarded that there are seven micro-expressions, as mentioned above: 

1: disgust, 
2: anger, 
3: fear, 
4: sadness, 
5: happiness, 
6: surprise, 
7: and contempt.

     Facial expressions can change quickly, but last longer than a micro-expression. Experts report that micro-expressions are quick changes and are very brief, unintentional, involuntary moves on ALL our faces. A flash. The lab experts state that these emotions often occur as fast as 1/15 to 1/25 of a second. THAT…is fast. And we (and dogs!) can see them!

     “In other words, people in the US make the same face for sadness as indigenous people in Papa New Guinea who have never seen TV or movies to model. Dr. Ekman also found that congenitally blind individuals—those blind since birth, also make the same expressions even though they have never seen other people’s faces.” Reports Vanessa Van Edwards, a published author and behavioral investigator.     

     In my travels around the world, be it in international airports or even to the most primitive places I've been in Philippines, or isolated villages in South Korea, I saw so many similar expressions at appropriate times as Vanessa suggested. A smile at the right time. A frown at the right time. Very generic situations.

     People are fascinated by this face-reading subject, though it always seems though to lean toward the subject of lies, lie detection and salesmanship. People want to “read” other people and detect the truth. Oh, and sell stuff. Some folks sell you on how to do it. One ad for doing this said, 
“read people like a superhero!” Or, 
“be a mind-reader.”

And who doesn’t want to be mind-reader? But can you? Can you count on all this when push comes to shove? The human race is constantly trying to quantify and categorize everything. Laying a square grid on a round terrain. What do the critics of this say?

mad rush 2 ways 3

Criticisms:
Critics of this “always happens” simplicity will state that the research test methods identifying emotions with expressions are too simplistic. Another criticism is that test takers and people can only identify what they are used to from their personal experiences. Another complaint is such studies on this are rare and more research is need.

Problems – Some Faces are indeed tricky.
Nick Morgan of Forbes studies politicians and communication and looked at politicians whose faces and words do not match, creating a distrusting awkwardness. “What happens when your words and body language don’t match? Audiences believe…

For the rest of this article, read Fightin' Words, click here

01 Book Cover-med

Anatomy of a Common Street Fight and the Mysteries of De-Escalation.

     In this age of widespread interest in de-escalation and verbal skills to defuse any and all encounters, this is a tale about how convoluted a quick, on-the-spot verbal solution might be. It's a short story from back in the 1980s – a case I worked on.

     A driver pulled his truck up into a handicapped parking space to drop his wife off at a post office. He did not put his truck into “park.” She got out and walked away. He reached down, did something for a second, and was about to back out of the spot, when a man walked by the front of his truck, scowling and yelling at him, waving a hand in the air.

     The driver rolled down the window and said,

     “what?”

     The man yelled in outrage about the driver parking in a handicapped spot. The driver, aghast at the outrage said, “I am not parked. I am leaving.”   

     The man started cursing and closing in. “I had to park over there,” and he pointed down the lot. “You can't park here!”
“I'm not parked here!” But then he now was, as the driver put his truck into the parking gear and got out, telling me later he thought that the man would come over and kick in and dent his truck, or reach into the open window after him.
     The driver got between the man and his truck and said,

     “WHAT is your problem?” (what a classic line! The classic answer is – “you're my problem” and so on and so on.) And so it goes. You know the dialogue of this movie from this point on. You already know it. I often tell you that these pre-fights words are like movie scripts and usually quite predictable.

     The man swings at the driver. The driver fights back. There are witnesses. The police are called and the man gets arrested for assault. Later this man files an assault case back on the driver and it becomes a “he-said, he-said” deal.

handicap

     My sad part of the story is that one morning in a detective squad meeting, I got both cases dropped on my desk. My Lieutenant says, “this ain't going away.” Meaning these two guys are calling us and complaining about each other and how each were in the right. And of course, one of the two had even called the chief. Another day in Detective Heaven.
     I started with this angry man. I asked him to come in and give us a written statement, which he jumped at the chance to vent. He showed up for the appointment, loaded for vocal bear, and in a small, interview office I let him unload. The guy was panting when the oratory was over. I did not say a word.

     “Okay,” says I. “let's get that whole story down on paper.” I had to read him his rights and now the story was officially counted. And line by line, we got it all down as I typed his words as he said them. He calmed down and his remarks took a turn to another topic. The real cause and motivation. Handicapped people and handicapped parking…
     “What's the ratio of handicapped people compared to non-handicapped people?” he asked.
     “I don't know.”
     “Well you should know. People like you in your business should know.”
     “Hmmm”
     “I know this much,” he continued. “I know that there are too many handicapped parking places. There has to be too many of them compared to regular people. If you go down to Kmart you'll see all those front parking places are reserved for the handicapped. What a dozen? Dozen and a half? Are there that many handicapped people? A regular person has to hike to the store.”
     I did not answer. Then I said,” you want me to mention your parking spot concerns in the statement?”
     “Hell yeah! Maybe someone will read it for a change?”

     This theme rolled on. I realized that the guy wasn't mad at the driver because the driver had pulled into the slot for a second. He wasn't protecting the rights of the handicapped. This guy was mad at handicapped people and how many parking places they got. He was ripping mad because …

For the rest of the article, read Fightin' Words, click here

01 Book Cover-med

 

The Filipino Martial Arts Turning Point

The FMA Turning Point
     When was this for me? The "Filipino Martial Arts turning point" for me? Keep in mind, this is just me and my personal view on things. Don’t hate me cuz I’m viewtiful!

tissue ears 2

     I started doing FMA in 1986, in among other arts like JKD, karate and jujitsu. Where FMA? The USA and the Philippines. In about 1993 I had covered a lot of material and a friend called me and said,

    “Hey Hock, this weekend, Guro ______ is coming into Dallas! He is going to do two full days of ______ double stick drills. Are you coming?”

     I guess this phone call had an epiphany moment when several ideas flashed through my head. I said,

     “two days? Double sticks? Well, I think I’ll pass. I mean, how many double stick drills are there anyway?”

     “You’re gonna miss it! A chance to learn THEE _______ double stick drills!”

     We hung up. I examined my epiphany moment. Well, from the Inosanto world, Remy world, and Ernesto world, I’d already collected 53 double stick drills according to the lists I keep. FIFTY THREE! I suddenly asked myself,

    “why am I doing this?”
    “why am I doing this, this way?”
    “how many more could there be, anyway?”
    “how different could they be after a certain basic point?”
    “what makes them different?”

     But then finally the epiphany question!
     “How are they the same?”

     How ARE they the same? I realized for me, it was more important to organize the drills, not from the “who” or the “what” fan club systems, but instead how are the drills all the same? So similar. And how and why am I wasting my time collecting endless double stick drills from a near endless group of known and unknown people who think theirs are ever-so-special – many of which are so much the same and with only one slight different tweek here or there. Rather, I should try to understand the essence of all of them. The essential core and skip the rest.

     Then…then I asked myself why I didn’t view ALL aspects of the varied FMAs the same way? Why not find the universal core, essence of mano-mano, stick, knife, double weapons in this clean manner? Study those first. Deal with the needed and probably unneeded variables that might come up later for those “history/museum” collectors we know?

EPSON MFP image
Ray Medina and me doing the double deal, 1986

     (There will always be happy museum and history collectors, who like to sort-of, name-drop stuff like – “at this point, Reehan moved his kneecap this way, while Roohan kept his meniscus here…” I can talk some of that artsy smack too, just from training years osmosis, and delight the esoteric fanatics with these tidbits. I can also tell you that Ed Kranepool played first base for the Mets in late 1960s. Hey! I know stuff!)

     Annnnd with that idea? I started constructing the generic PAC course. Pacific Archipelago Combatives, an irreverent, skeptical look at the related core of those related arts. (It did not make me popular with existing entities, in fact I was shunned by some, and it is still not my most popular or even my favorite course. But hey, it's fun to do.)

     I later asked that friend back in 1993,
     “how was the _______ double stick seminar?”
     “It was great!” he said,” We did 30 drills. Many of them are a lot like what we already do, just a little different.”

Imagine that!

(Did you happen notice that this essay contains – at least once – all the words “who, what, where, when, how and why”)

 

Hock's email is hockhochheim@forcenecessary,com

For all the PAC training films, DVDs and downloads, click here

Essentials cover ad

 

Hick’s Law – Reaction Time in Combat

Myths and Misunderstandings in Martial Training
Hick's Law – Reaction Time in Combat
Or, How Modern Research Challenges the Value of the 70-Plus-Year-Old Hick's Law!"

     Remember when saying, "I'll be there in a second!" meant that you would be there very fast? A second is a very fast and elusive time. Now imagine milliseconds. Can you? I have trouble doing so, grasping the length of milliseconds. Did you know there are 1,000 milliseconds splitting one second? Can you imagine that split? ONE THOUSAND! UCLA researchers state that an eye blinks in about 100 milliseconds. That’s an eye blink! How fast can you go? How fast can you get?  
     In fighting and in sports, we all know "action beats reaction" If you are reacting to an attack, as the good guys generally are, you are already behind the action curve. Just how behind is your response? Or any mental, then physical response to anything? 
     Scientists have labored to discover this over the last 100 years? Like splitting the atom, scientists have split the single second into those one thousand parts. Then, you know scientists and quantum physics and stuff, and…well, they needed things cut down again, to nanoseconds. Whew! One second is equal to 1000000000 nanoseconds. 
     But, we usually find seconds discussed for "common man lingo," and milliseconds discussed by the not so common folk, and those being dramatic and poetic. Once in a while milliseconds gets a mention when discussing rave cars, the Olympics and car or horse races. 

     "She lost by 44 milliseconds!" 

     Wow! And we wonder what infinitesimal event occurred during the race that lost her a 44-millisecond lead. A small breeze at the turn of lap 5? A muscle twitch? One careless thought? Olympic athletes have complained about the seams on their uniforms slowing them a costly few milliseconds down . A butterfly's wing flutter 50 feet above? What? How fast can we go? How fast can we think? How fast can we react anyway?
 
     But it was about 30 years ago in the late 1980s when I attended a police defensive tactics course and I was rather insulted by the attitude of the P.P.C.T. instructor. We were treated like Neanderthals. He declared, 

     “KISS! Keep it simple, stupid. Hick's Law says that it takes your mind too long to choose between two tactics. Worse with three! Four? Forget it! Therefore, I will show you only one response." 

    Huh? I wondered then and there–am I to stay this cavemen simple and stupid my whole life? Is this indictative of the fast-moving world I see around me? Who is this Hicks anyway, and what is his law? It takes too long to know three things? How long was long? How long is TOO long, I wondered? 
     That training day, we learned one block versus a high punch. What about against a low punch, I thought? My one high block fails to cover much else but that one high attack.   
     Plus, this was contrary to ALL sports, martial arts, military, and police training I'd received up to that point. I first thought this statement a quirk; then I began to see the message spread. It seemed my choices were on some sort of mental Rolodex that I had to laboriously thumb through and inspect to find a single response? All while being beaten or slaughtered. This didnt match the kick boxing I was doing in karate.

     Later that evening while coaching my son's little league baseball team, I saw this very same police instructor coaching his boy's team on another ball field. He was teaching 10-year-olds to multi-task and make split-second decisions as his infielders worked double plays with runners on base, and various other situations. It was clear the coach expected more from these kids than he did from us adult cops that morning. Hick's Law was not to be found on that kid's baseball diamond. He could not make the connection? The perfomance connection?
  
     Intrigued, next I slid both feet into this base thing called Hick's Law to discover it was a growing favorite among law enforcement trainers. Other famous police trainers kept mentioning Hick's Law too:

     “… selection time gets compounded exponentially when a person has to select from several choices.”
      "… it takes 58 percent more time to pick between two choices." (add that up exponentially and you have a 
slow motion world. FIFY-EIGHT percent. Where did that number come from? Why not 53 and 1/2%?
     “… it takes 'about a second' to pick one tactic out of two tactics.”
     “… lag time increases significantly with the greater number of techniques.”
      "…tests have shown that when an individual has too many choices the result can be that they make no choice at all."  

      Six or more choices really runs the response time numbers up then huh?! Four hundred milliseconds to choose or two, four, or even six seconds to Rolodex through all of them? Remember the police trainer's quote of "about a second per choice?" 
     Let's go back to the ol' ball game. We expect a common shortstop in baseball to perform a select list of actions instantly, thoughtlessly, and at the crack of the bat. The baseball shortstop is expected to: 
     Catch a ground ball to his left, or
     Catch a ground ball to his center, or
     Catch a ground ball straight at him, or
     Catch a line drive, or
     Catch a pop-up, or
     Tag a runner out, or
     Catch the ball traversing across second base for a double play, or
     Instantly consider consequences to the overall game, like diving for the ball or missing.
 
      But all this in a world of milliseconds, what is the official definition of "significant time" by all these people? And 58 percent of what? What exactly is "about a second"? And what do they mean by "exponentially"? "Compounded"? I had to delve even deeper into these very cavalier statements. If I was going to become this pessimistic, I needed more proof. I hit the textbooks and contacted the experts. (And no internet back then either! The info explosion came decades later and is all here.
  
     The actual original Hick's idea was based on a paper written in 1952 that simply set up an equation that states it takes time to decide between options. Just for the record, the equation is  "TR+a+b{Log2 (N)}."
      You have a colored light that suddenly comes on with a color. You have ten and later eight colored lights in front of you. The test light comes on. You hit the matching light button. Hick and buddies count the response times.
      Then somehow, this 1950's idea was then extrapolated over into human performance? Usually based on very primitive, 1950's old "see-then-push-button" tests were used.  Somehow from this 1950's button-test, in some twisted path, I suddenly couldn't learn two punches in the 1980s? The mythology of the slow brain, the slow, stuttering, decision-making brain premise developed into a modern combatives training doctrine thanks to some people reading, misusing, and misinterpreting Hick's Law.

      Today, programmers still ponder Hick's, like when they make long menu lists on web pages, preferring to use shorter lists to attract customers with short attention spans. And many computer and web people are familiar with their world’s application of the Law. Jason Gross of Smashing Magazine, a popular publication about computer science says, 
     "We have to remember that Hick's Law did not come about with the invention of the Internet. Hick's research simply shed light on how a website's options (choices/menus) affect the speed and ease of the user's decision making. This makes for a pretty broad scope because we aren't measuring physical responses…."
     What now? Not about measuring physical responses? Then why are all these instructors ragging on about Hick’s Law then? Those extrapolating computer screen readings over to physical fighting often use the term "exponential time for decision making." Instructors often ignorantly tag Hick's Law with "exponential math." Bear with me as I repeat the math experts here–"any exponential function is a constant multiple of its own derivative." 
     That will really slow you down. Many still just blindly associate a never-ending, doubling ratio to Hick's Law- that is, for every two choices, selection time doubles per added choice. Yet, despite all these quotes on times, Hick made no official proclamation on the milliseconds it takes to mentally decide between options. Meanwhile, experts say that logarithm math actually relates more to Hick's, not the doubling ratio of exponentials. Still, doubling persists in trainers' minds, doctrines, and outlines.
  
     There is a general consensus in the modern kinesiology community that "Simple Reaction Time," called SRT, takes an average of 100 or 150 milliseconds to decide to take any action. That's considerably less than a quarter of a second, or 250 milliseconds, or a 500-millisecond "half-a-second," or the loss of "about a second" we hear from martial trainers. 
     Based on the doubling/exponentially rule with the commonly discussed SRT average, then choosing between two choices must take 300 milliseconds. Run out that timetable. Three choices? Six hundred milliseconds. Four choices? One second and 200 milliseconds. A mere five choices? Two seconds and 400 milliseconds! Six? Four full seconds and 800 milliseconds. Should a boxer only learn one or two tactics? A few moves would mean nine seconds and 600 milliseconds to choose one tactic from another? 
     You would really see people physically shut down while trying to select options at this point and beyond. Has this been your viewing experience of a football game? Basketball? Tennis? Has this been your experience as a witness to life? Under this casual, exponential increase rule, it would seem athletes would stand dumbfounded as index cards rolled through their heads in an attempt to pick a choice of action. Every eye jab could not be blocked if the blocker was taught even just two blocks. The eye attack would hit the eyes as the defender sluggishly selects between the two blocks.
     One then begins to wonder how a football game can be played, how a jazz pianist functions, or how a bicyclist can pedal himself in a New York City rush hour. How does a boxer, who sees a split-second opening, select a jab or a cross, hook, uppercut, overhand combination, or to step back straight, right, or left? If he dares to throw combination punches, how can he select them so quickly?
     Simple, modern athletic performance studies attack the simplistic, loose "doubling rule," but we need not just look to athletes. How can a typist type so quickly? Look at all the selections on a computer? Twenty-six letters plus options! How can you read this typed essay? How can your mind select and process from 26 different letters in the alphabet and spell with speed? How can an elderly person drive a car across town? A child play soccer? It is obvious that the exponential rule of “doubling” with each option has serious scientific problems when you run a simple math table out or just look about you at everyday life. And, despite the constant use of the word exponentially by quoters, real experts clarify that logarithms should be used. These exponentials or logarithms, the math of many choices, do not play in the life we see around us.
  
     New tests upon new tests on skills like driving vehicles, flying, sports, and psychology have created so many layers of fresh information. Larish and Stelmach in 1982 established that one could select from 20 complex options in 340 milliseconds, providing the complex choices have been previously trained. One other study even had a reaction time of .03 milliseconds between two trained choices–.03! Merkel's Law, for example, says that trouble begins when a person has to select between eight choices, but can still select a choice from the eight well under 500 milliseconds. Brace yourself! Mowbray and Rhodes Law of 1959 or the Welford Law of 1986 even found no difference in reaction time at all when selecting from numerous, well-trained choices.
     Why all these time differences? Sometimes experts challenge test results by questioning the test process and equipment involved. In 2003, I conducted an email survey of 50 college university professors of Psychology and Kinesiology. It is crystal clear to all of them that training makes a considerable difference in reaction time. Plus, people, tests, and testing equipment are different. Respondents state that every person and the skills they perform in tests vary, so reaction times vary. One universal difficulty mentioned by researchers is the mechanical task of splitting the second in their testing–that is, identifying the exact millisecond that the tested reaction took place. Many recorded tests are performed by undergrads in less than favorable conditions.
     Discoveries made in the 1990s, decades well after the 1950's Hick's Law began, blowing the original, antiquated "mental Rolodex/task selection" concept out of the water as an important martial training tenet. The brain does not operate like a Rolodex. The brain has a fast track! Neuroplastician Dr. Michael Merzenich, regarded among experts as a leading source on the human brain when reporting in the book The Brain that Changes Itself, "We can change the very structure of the brain and increase its capacity … unlike a computer, the brain is constantly adapting itself." Below, researchers Martin D. Topper, Ph.D., and Jack M. Feldman, Ph.D., write about them: 
     "Currently, the best explanation is provided by psychologist Gary Klein, Senior Scientist at MacroCognition LLC, in his Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions, he's proposed that the human brain is capable of multi-tasking. Dr, Klein is a good-to master sourse on the subject of decision making, having spent years researching the subject. Gary's theory works like this: 
     "A visual image is picked up by the retina and is transmitted to the visual center of the brain in the occipital lobe. From there the image is sent to two locations in the brain. On the one hand, it goes to the higher levels of the cerebral cortex, which is the seat of full conscious awareness. There, in the frontal lobes, the image is available to be recognized, analyzed, input into a decision process, and acted upon as the person considers appropriate. Let's call this 'the slow track' because full recognition of the meaning of a visual image, analyzing what it represents, deciding what to do, and then doing it takes time. Some psychologists also refer to this mental process as 'System II cognition.' If you used System II cognition in critical situations like a skid, you wouldn't have enough time to finish processing the OODA Loop before your car went over the cliff. 
      "Fortunately, there's a second track, which we'll call "the fast track" or 'System I Cognition.' In this system, the image is also sent to a lower, per-conscious region of the brain, which is the amygdala. This area of the brain stores visual memory and performs other mental operations as well. The visual image is compared here on a per-conscious level at incredible speed with many thousands of images that are stored in memory. Let's call each image a 'frame,' which is a term that Dr. Erving Goffman used in his book Frame Analysis to describe specific, cognitively-bounded sets of environmental conditions. I like to use the word 'frame' here because the memory probably contains more than just visual information. There may be sound, kinesthetic, tactile, olfactory, or other sensory information that also helps complement the visual image contained within the frame–fortunately, the fast and slow tracks are usually complementary, one focusing on insight, the other on action. Together they produce a synergistic effect that enhances the actor's chances of survival." – Dr. Gary Klein. (For the record, there are other reserchers who say that one CANNOT multi-task, but rather switch specfic tasks lightening fast and seems they can. Yet, we walk and chew gum.) 

book, Kelin shadows

     Doctors Richard A. Schmidt (a decades-long expert) and Timothy Donald Lee in the groundbreaking 1980's book and subsequent new editions, Motor Control and Learning, reported that task selection is made up of two parts, RT (reaction time)–seeing the problem–and MT (movement time)–physically moving to respond–and thus may be a "few milliseconds" for fast, simple chores, not this compounding, exponential, doubling, half-second, and full second formats.
     And another major factor, so simply explained in a sentence or two, concerns "arousal." Arousal is another word for alertness and also adrenaline in performance sports and psychology.   
     "One of the most investigated factors affecting reaction time is 'arousal' or state of attention, including muscular tension. Reaction time is fastest with an intermediate level of arousal and deteriorates when the subject is either too relaxed or too tense." (Welford, 1980; Broadbent, 1971; Freeman, 1933).
  
     Practice helps. Dr. Robert J. Kosinski of Clemson University reported on his research in September of 2010: "Sanders (1998, p. 21) cited studies showing that when subjects are new to a reaction time task, their reaction times are less consistent than when they've had an adequate amount of practice. Ando et al., 2002, found that reaction time to a visual stimulus decreased with three weeks of practice, and the same research team (2004) reported that the effects of practice last for at least three weeks. Fontani et al., 2006, showed that in karate, more experienced practitioners had shorter reaction times…." Visser et al., 2007.
    
     In 2012, in the new book, Wait, the Art and Science of Delay, Professor Frank Partnoy collects numerous studies on the split-second or millisecond-second decision-making of mental and physical choices. He has all the very latest 2012 medical and psychological testing on sports, self-defense, and on down to fast-paced, internet stock trading. It is interesting to note that in this new book, the infamous Hick's Law is not even mentioned, not a whisper. That is how research has advanced in this field from the 1950s.
     Wait breaks down the three critical steps–vision, decision, and reaction averages–all in the milliseconds arena with the latest high-technology and knowledge. In many ways, Wait refutes a former bestseller, Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, by proving that the very best-of-the-best performers know how to delay reaction to the last–well–millisecond, making the best choice. 
     The secret? Some genetics and a lot of proper training. Blink tells the reader to go with your first impulse. Wait tells you to sometimes go with your last impulse, not your first. All these choices occur in less than a second anyway, and the book makes for good reading. 

Wait, Partnoy

     Perception, Cognition, and Decision Training, a fantastic textbook written just a few years ago by Dr. Joan Vickers, is all about response times. In quick summary here, Vickers barely mentions Hick's Law, but for two respectful, "historical paragraphs" referencing the obligatory history of the subject. Tips of the hat. She states that Hick's selection times can easily be increased by simple training. For more on this, you must absolutely read this book.  Get it! Read it, and read it again once a year.

Decision Vickers book

    Dr. M. Blackspear of the Brain Dynamics Center at the University of Sydney, Australia, reports that the: "… study of functional inter-dependences between brain regions is a rapidly growing focus of neuroscience research. “People select and change options "mid-flight" in milliseconds split into milliseconds.

     Smarter? Faster! Intelligence matters as a variable in Deary et al., 2001. “there is a slight tendency for more intelligent people to have faster reaction times, but there is much variation between people of similar intelligence." (Nettelbeck, 1980) The speed advantage of more intelligent people is greatest on tests requiring complex responses. (Schweitzer, 2001)

 How can we possibly improve reaction times?
     Aside from the fact that the generic Hick's Law exists within in a small world of 1,000 milliseconds within one single second, here are some proven methods that improve overall reaction time and performance:
  
     * Sequential Learning–the stringing of tasks working together like connected notes in music really reduces reaction and selection time.
  
     * Conceptual Learning–is another speed track. In relation to survival training, this means a person first makes an either/or conceptual decision like “Shoot/Don't shoot” or “Move In/Move Back.” Rather than selecting from a series of hand strikes in Conceptual Learning, the boxer does not waste milliseconds selecting specific punches, but rather makes one overall decision, “punch many times!” The trained body then takes over following paths learned from prior repetition training.

     * Implicit and Procedural Memory–In Dr. Lee Dye's 2009 article for ABC News, "How the Brain Makes Quick Decisions,” he reports: 
     "[People] … have been helped by a kind of human memory that scientists have been struggling to understand.” Dye reports that people use "implicit" memory, a short-term memory that people are not consciously aware they are using. Doctors Ken Paller at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and Joel L. Voss from the Beckman Institute and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have conducted long-term research on this subject; and while they did not specifically involve athletics, the conclusions are consistent with other researchers who are also studying how top athletes can make split-second decisions and take action. 
     How does a batter hit a fastball when he has to start swinging the bat before the ball even leaves the pitcher's hand? “He relies on visual cues, even if he doesn't know it.” Athletes and people learn to predict and act and react spontaneously based on very little information. One way is implicit memory.
     Implicit memory (IM) is a type of memory in which previous experiences aid in the performance of a task without conscious awareness of these previous experiences. People rely on implicit memory in a form called procedural memory–the type of memory that allows people to remember how to tie their shoes or ride a bicycle without consciously thinking about these activities. Implicit memory taps into procedural memory. 

     * Procedural Memory— One more related subject in this chain of memory and performance. Procedural memory. Connecting small multi-tasks and problem solving. Examples of procedural learning are learning to ride a bike, learning to touch-type, learning to play a musical instrument, learning to swim, and performing athletic tasks like sports. For our readers, here this includes martial moves, fighting, self-defense, and combatives. Experts report that procedural memory can be very durable, however perishable, like any task. And the physical fitness to perform these tasks may not be so durable. Given the ravages of aging, a pro tennis player away from the game for many years is still likely to pick up a tennis racket and beat most common tennis players, but not qualify for Wimbledon.

The Good, the Bad, and the Simple 
     Sure, sure, sure, simple is good. I am all for simple. Absolutely. And there is the old, great expression, “our training should be designed to be as simple as possible and as complex as is necessary,” What a key phrase, "as complex as is necessary." Dwell on that phrase, please.  
     And reaction time is an important concern when you are dodging a knife, pulling a gun, driving a car, etc. And there may actually come a point in a learning progression when there are way, way too many reactions/techniques to counter an attack; and if these moves are a bit unnatural, not guided somewhat by some natural reflex, and taught poorly and trained poorly. Poor systems and poor training may lead to untimely confusion. But we are not as simple and slow as Hick's Law misleaders want to scare us into believing.
     Earlier I listed the scary quote "…tests have shown that when an individual has too many choices the result can be that they make no choice at all." This is in direct relation to sales, purchases, customers and computer menus – all topics where you find the transactions of Hick's Law today. Not jabs or crosses, or tackles, or shooting a gunman. 
  
     Decisions all to be executed in the sheer "splitest" of a split second? Then, our ape-man ball player has even more split-second, follow-up decisions to make with runners on different bases. Even a child playing shortstop has a lot to decide and very fast, AND can do it faster than four or six seconds or more! I hope that the police trainer I mentioned at the beginning of this essay is reading this article and will apply it not just when he teaches his kids in Little League, but when he teaches his adults in law enforcement tactics. In fact, I hope all martial instructors are reading this and paying attention.  

In Summary 
This quote from a true leader in the industry says it all.
     "Hick’s Law is really not applicable to use of force incidents. People simply don’t consider all the options they have available. They choose their favorite option or the one that is most available, effectively limiting response options to a very small number. They never consider ALL of their options, so the idea that having too many options will slow reaction times never comes into play." – Dr. Bill Lewinski, University of Minnesota, Force Science.
 
     For years and perhaps still, this original "paper" I wrote on Hick’s Law was the highest viewed on the web for this subject. Therefore I got a lot of love and hate mail. More love than hate because people understand the logic, the research, and less hate. Recently in 2011, someone accused me of claiming that Hick's Law doesn't exist and that I was ignorant of what Hick's Law really is.  
     I replied – “Of course, it exists. A Mr. William Edmund Hick existed. This British psychologist, Mr. Hick, created a test; and his test had results. The results were that response took time. That is the main conclusion. Things take time. And the central point of all this reaction research? Milliseconds. Mere milliseconds. 
     

     Probably the few reasons the misunderstanding and myth has spread on Hick's Law , infesting the police, martial, and military fields is
          1: people can’t grasp or define how short a millesecond is.
          2: The concept has been used as a sales pitch to sell training programs. Since the 1970s, I have been a police field training officer and presented/taught police at police academies since the 1990s. In my world of observing training programs, I have to tag Bruce Siddle's archaic, P.P.C.T., and then Tony Blauer's SPEAR program as main spreaders of this dumbing-down years ago in the 1990s "era." Others heard and still hear these words and terms from “the instructors” of the day, and they automatically revere them as biblical and mindlessly regurgitate them. The thoughtless virus spreads and frankly, it mutates into worse versions. PPCT is all but gone now and I say “good riddance,” and I do not what Tony says about it anymore. He's a pretty smart guy and probably has adjusted his outline with new research. 

     But this and a few other subjects were all once 1990s, insider, pop-psychology marketing to spout and then re-spout it. The over-emphasis, myth, mutations and misunderstanding of Hick’s Law can still be found today in police, fire military and martial arts training doctrine. And after all, its a great admin tale and a personal excuse to be lazy in training programs.

     But just how fast can we get? How dumb should we be to fight back confusion and stalling out? Don't ask Mr. Hick from the 1950s. Mr. Hick was not conducting tests on baseball or fighting, and the 1950's computer he used long ago became a stone-age museum piece. 

     1) Hick's Law certainly exists, in its most generic sense of an idea. The overall idea is good to know. Things do take milliseconds to see and respond.
  
     2) There are 1,000 milliseconds within one second. Not many grasp this. Almost no one can conceive just how fast 100, 250, 500, or even 750 milliseconds actually are. 

     3) There are other, more modern, reaction studies with differing and prove even faster results than Hick's. 

     4) It is blindly regurgitated and over rated in training courses. 

     5) These misuses and misunderstandings are frequently used to sell training programs or to feign a certain "insider" expertise. 

     6) Hick's Law  is often used to dumb down police, military, and martial arts programs. 

     7) People can only get so fast within these milliseconds anyway. Losing or winning by milliseconds may not be consistantly manageable. 

     8) Hick's widely accepted version of math and expanding delays between multiple choices cannot be played out in the reality we witness in our daily lives around us such as walking, driving cars, or the common sports events that even children play successfully. 

     9) Many other definable issues can cause choice delay. And all delays simply cannot be blamed on the root, Hick's Law principle. Stress and emotion can cause delay. Stuns and gas can confuse and delay. Also lack of sleep, antihistamines, and numerous other ailments. Also your “zero-to-sixty”alertness before the needed response is important and the subject of a whole other essay.

   10) Hick's Law and its milliseconds are rather inconsequential as a martial training tenet.

     “They” sell you Hick’s Law for about $1. It may only be worth about 15 cents.

 

Chalkboard_Einstein

Hocks email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

 

 This is excerpted from Fightin' Words

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