Three Pistol Breaking Points

The first pistol I ever fired was in 1969. After that I’ve had 26 years of formal police and military training, intermixed with “outside” courses and courses after, above and well beyond the original 26 years. While I have qualified expert several times in the Army and Texas police work, and for a brief period was even on a police shooting team, I was much, much younger and frankly, could see much better. I am not and have never been what you might call a “crack shot,” and now I get by. Today, I can positively attest that I can pass the “Barn Test.” I indeed hit the broad side of a barn. I have also investigated a thousand or two crimes  and hundreds of violent crimes in military and civilian police work, and then some as a private investigator. I have attended numerous police forensic courses, some taught by the greatest medical examiners in the Unites States reviewing their cases. I have learned many things about shootings, and have strived to create the best, training doctrine. To paraphrase that kid in that movie, “I’ve seen dead people.” As well as survivors too.

(11 years ago in Finland)

Today, my sole interest is interactive shooting with any kind of simulated ammo we have handy. In situations. (You must learn to shoot the doorknobs on barn doors elsewhere, not from me.)

One pistol outline I wrote is about three, what I call, “breaking points” in shooting pistols in gunfighting/combat situations. Dissecting and probing these 3 breaking points have been helpful to me in experimenting and teaching pistol material.

And since I mentioned shooting doorknobs,  finally as a last disclaimer before we start, I will not and do not teach target range, marksmanship. I shouldn’t. I can’t and to be painfully honest, I find it extremely  boring. It’s not for me. I am only interested in teaching interactive, safe ammo, situational skill drill development and scenarios. There are a ton…well, at least a few pounds worth of great marksmanship instructors out there. If I start naming some, I will no doubt accidentally leave a few out and that would be a mistake and a disservice. Go find them. Go shoot on the range forever.

“One Break,” is the breaking point on a pistol trigger. Gun scientists will say “the “blade” of the “trigger system” is the exposed portion of the overall triggering mechanism. That is the part where the shooter applies finger pressure to fire the gun. Mere mortals simply call this – the trigger. The trigger “breaking point,” is that precise point in which the pistol cracks-off/fires. I will also avoid stepping into the world of hyper-mechanical, gunsmithery and if you need to know more about this clockwork? Ask someone for the details.

But, the finger-trigger squeeze is a big deal in hitting stuff. The further away from the bulls eye or bad guy, the more the trigger squeeze becomes a big deal. The trigger squeeze topic enables me to touch upon what interests me on this subject, as in the finger position.

For me, I know what it is like to be under great stress and grab a sudden “handful of gun,” which can mean a range-imperfect attachment to the grip, and a range-imperfect finger inside the trigger guard. Your hand can become…a blob. I know, I know, I know, the “square-range” people will insist that you must complete so many more bazillion reps to insure the acquisition of the pistol each and EVERY time is a pure, robot-replicated magnificence. The grip. The finger pad tip on the trigger. To a certain point, this cause is true and helpful, but the world is a chaotic place and drawing, and combat is usually in awkward positions and places.

Not doing that picture perfect grip and trigger touch when falling down a flight of stairs, leaping from your car, or while being choking? Many will suggest adding another bazillion reps. But really that next bazillion should be done in that awkward position/situation. Reduce the abstract.

We have situational pistol grabs affecting the finger on trigger position. Through the decades, I have learned that every hand is a different size and every handgun is a different size and fingers different lengths. You have to learn to bond with your hand on that gun to maximize this attachment. I mean, a hand is a hand and pistol is a pistol, yes…but…size matters. My challenge in recent decades is working with my pistols from desperate, realistic situations. This involves for me, more finger on the trigger and in the trigger guard. My best finger position is different on my 5-shot snubby than my .45.

That big “handful” of gun. It can be hard to be “first-padding” your trigger when your blob clutches your gun from your holster. I know some of you are vomiting now, but this consideration is a deeper, personal step in my training, “my-hand-my-gun-my-finger.” Nowadays, think of these range-safety, insurance rules, the growing amount of places where a person cannot draw from a holster to rehearse the grip and draw, offering even less of an opportunity to work on this hand acquisition stuff. You didn’t do it enough before and now “they” are making the opportunities even less. But you can still try to “squeeze in” the best trigger squeeze (and finger positioning) practice at the range.

The group-think/group-teach range method is the heart and soul of the shooting business and the operating methodology of civilian, police and military instruction. It simply must operate in assembly-line, range instruction mode, and not so much “your-hand-your-gun-your squeeze” personalized, problem-solving.  This equation also takes you back in time to your handgun selection. But, some agencies and militaries issue guns and you have no choice in the matter. Your income may offer you no choice. Factors other than finger position and trigger squeeze may offer you no choice. This pistol selection is another topic.

When possible, in emergencies, I have noticed I did not have the advised fingertip pad on the trigger. My trigger finger was much deeper. And I learned later I could shoot well with a deeper finger. This idea was quietly spoken years ago, because it was taboo to say otherwise. But many big name, super vets have come out in very recent years supporting the realistic “more finger on trigger” idea. And I appreciate the support. It was lonely out here in outer space.  When people like Pat MacNamara and Tom Givens started writing about this finger insert problem, I know it it gave me the confidence to voice my opinions too. And now? I see this idea everywhere. This expression “the size of the gun, the size of your hand” is popping up everywhere.

Your best squeeze might not be your group’s best squeeze. Your personal achievement is getting that “straight back” pull, with your size hand, your size finger and your size gun, in what you perceive to be a the oh-crap, moment-grip. It might be that, the first “pad” of the finger  squeeze (very unnatural for most folks), might instead be the middle of the finger for you. Or even the bend of your finger. In all the pistol qualifications I’ve done, when at long distances, when trying for higher scores, I always seemed to shoot unnaturally.  How about you?

Anyway, this first breaking point I like to think about here is when the trigger pull fires the pistol. How much finger? The challenge remains how do you physically translate this personal affair into sufficient training methods and class time in an assembly-line, world of group instruction?


“Two Break,” is the physical breaking point, spatial decision to go from one-hand to two-hands, or vice-versa. There is a close quarter measurement in inches, feet and yards where you must hold your pistol back and with one hand away from an enemy. Some call this a “retention” position – which is a fine name for it.

But, we all really would agree that shooting with two hands is way more solid and wiser, UNLESS YOU ARE TOO CLOSE TO THE ENEMY. And close statistically happens a lot. Experts say about half the time, give or take, we are “close.” Define close?  I don’t want to argue exact footage here, or the percentages either, but you will hear experts spout that 40% to even 60% of all pistol shootings are…quite close. Yet, trained folks still like to shove the gun out, extended, into a two-handed grip vs paper targets, training partners and real bad guys. Also, lets add “up high” too, high enough as in eye level, to get that mandatory, sight picture.

Too close, way out and high. We can’t shove the gun out too  and high too close to the bad guy. And a bazillion more reps will not solve this situational problem. Yet, “muscle memory” (please note the quotes on that phrase) have us shove the gun out and up anyway.

Now, I am not making up a problem that doesn’t exist. I have been doing, teaching very close, simulated-ammo situations for decades and I see this a lot in training people, also in training photos and instructional films. Magazine articles and books often depict a two-handed grip too close to an enemy. How did this two-hand, extended grip become mindless, mandatory muscle memory for so many civilians, police and military, no matter the distance? I have an idea. They call it…training. Actually, training too much for events least likely to occur. Two much distance shooting and the absolute, almost biblical adherence to two-hand, sighted instruction.

Here’s a dangerous example. I started to witness this “muscle memory” in the 1990s. When showing lots of civilians, police officers and soldiers pistol disarms, I started seeing that when the good guy disarmed the pistol from the bad guy, said hero would usually/often next take this newly acquired pistol into a two-handed grip and virtually shove the gun right back at the bad guy, sometimes near or even inches from his face! This put the precious gun right back inside the bad guy’s range to take back and, or disarm. We know better than to do this, but it still happens.

Common, modern police training suggests the danger zone is “two giant steps and a lunge,” from a suspicious person. Give or take, huh? Someone excited can really spring off and perhaps surprise you from further out than that. Making things worse, many trained and even untrained, instinctual fighters will instantly chase their lost gun. Some call this “weapon recovery” and that’s good name for it. So they chase their just-lost-lost gun and you have helped him by shoving it back in his can-do range. Do not return his lost pistol back into his recovery space with a mindless two-hand, extended grip. As an aside, when I correct this? The heroes will agree instantly, almost with a “duh,” self-head-slap, but after 5 or 6 more reps…they FORGET…and return that pistol right to the bad guy’s face with a two-handed grip. It is hard to alter this repetition training.

How to fix this in training? For an example, let’s round off a number to easy-math, 100 rounds per training session here. You typically start the day very close to the paper target and do some shooting. Maybe so close you get to slap the paper target with your free hand. Or elbow the paper target and draw and shoot. One-hand, shooting stuff. You are in the pistol-back, retention grip position. It’s really hard to screw up at that distance. Center mass torso shots. You’re killen’ it! All so easy. Too easy! The staff has to start moving you back. Next, maybe 5, feet? In fact, it’s still too damn easy!  You are performing like John Wick! And the rangemaster knows this and he has to challenge you, by God! Okay, you’ve shot your 5 or 10 beauty rounds, too close and too perfect. Your gift, high score shots are over, Mister!

So, out of those 100 rounds, you might shoot 10 very close? 10%. Even though a high percentage of shootouts are quite close like this, the rangemaster starts moving you back very early in the gun day. He’s supposed to make it tough! You move back and then start shooting immediately with two hands, back, then back, then back some more. This is now become and all two-handed, of course. At the end of the day, you’ve shot 10 rounds with one hand. rather close, and NINETY rounds with two hands and back and back and back. Run the numbers of a 500 round course. 50 rounds close. 450 rounds two-handed. How about a 1,000 rounder day? A major preponderance of 2-hand shooting.  We have created an all-purpose, “muscle memory,” two-hand grip, shooter. Grab the gun, go to two-hands.

An idea involved in this distancing method also is, if you improve your distance, bulls eye shooting (with two-hands) it will automatically improve your bulls-eye shooing in closer distances. Yes. Yes, it will, but it also is furthering and creating the two-hand monster when in a one-hand world. The rangemaster has kind of, inadvertently, created a two-handed monster.

So, later in real life, then the crap hits the distributor, what do you expect the replicating robot to do? Thoughtlessly, mindlessly draw and shoot with two hands of course, very often too close to an enemy, who can slap the gun aside, grab, arm wrap, try a disarm, whatever. What else can we expect from them? We…made…them…do…this. And without simulated ammo training versus a real person, we have not taught them the feel and savvy of distance versus a real person.

I believe that a properly trained, responsible gun-totter, must be free to make a conscious decision, each and every time they pull a gun, to end up with a one-hand or two-hand grip, based on the geography of the situation, NOT from the mental detachment, or target practice boredom or the bad math of a civilian, police or military rangemaster. In much further experimentation, practitioners must experience – feel – the distance of an attacker. Feel the distance. Like a football running back versus a linebacker. Or a football receiver versus a defender. That kind of intimate feel. The physics of a fight. It can be surprising how far away is actually safe for a two-hand grip. In other words, you might think that a two-handed grip is okay and you are still too close to his sudden dash and lunge at your gun. People still use the term “force on force,” training, but whatever you what to call it, you have to do a lot of situational training.

One-hand grip. Two-handed grip. Two-handed grip to one-handed grip. One-handed grip to two-handed grip. In summary, this breaking point is your personal footage when you really need and can safely hold a pistol with two hands or one hand. Perhaps people need to spend a little more time live fire shooting closer with one hand. Closer, in direct relation to the who, what, when, where, how and why they predict they will be shooting. We all vocalize this, and know this, and say we know this, but the challenge remains how do you physically translate this into sufficient training methods and time, in an assembly-line world of group instruction?


“Three Break” is that physical breaking point where you have the time and space to go from an “emergency aim” to a serious, dedicated, front and back-sighted aim. “Emergency aim.” Oh boy, a tenuous term, huh? One might want to say something like “point-shoot” instead, or something fast and frisky. The gun world has become such an anal retentive, obsessive hole of hair-splitting viewpoints, and growling complaints. It can be a minefield to leap around with these terms. And what a “claymore” the term “point-shooting” is, huh? But I think you know what I mean when I say “emergency aiming.” People have been close to enemies, barely put up their handgun and shot them successfully. Maybe from hip or rib height? No sight acquisition. No two-hand grip. They did officially “aim? So to speak. Kinda’? But not by the rigid definitions of many an instructor as they did not completely acquire the front and rear sights in that one perfect, breathless union.

You can better understand the meaning of this by two extreme examples. In one, a ground fight – a guy is over you with the tip of a Bowie knife about to pierce your eyeball. You have his knife limb in a death defying grip, and you pull a pistol and shoot him in the torso. Not much “sight-acquisition” going on there. Not much two-handed grip, jibber-jabber. The second example is that of a sniper, working to shoot a seated despot general having several tequilas on a jungle patio. Lots of prep time. Breath control. Terrific finger position on trigger. Windage check. Okay, well…yeah…that’s with a rifle, not a pistol. But you get my overall drift.

The clock and the yardstick. Time/No-Time? Space/No-Space? Sights/No-Sights? I think that real life often happens somewhere closer to the no-time clock. And then often too, in no-space or not much space, yardstick.

I recall a time, a rant-rage period, when gun guys preached the absolute, mandatory acquisition of sights each and every single time you shoot. It was/is MANDATORY. I remember an instructor (with no real world experience by the way) who ran a somewhat successful range business, lecturing this point. EACH and EVERY time the sights must be accessed or you are wrong, wrong, wrong no matter the situation. Otherwise, you are screwing up the space-time continuum of the universe. I recall these instructors also demanded a two-handed grip EVERY time too. Maybe this rant-rage-speak, this type of advice, is still as around in some gun circles? I don’t know. Maybe I have tuned them out. But, these people need to read the news more. Look at youtube shootings. (Many of these naysayers, did naysay BEFORE the proliferation of youtube shooting films. I wonder if they still sing the same tune now?) I don’t know what planet they live on.

On this subject, Warrior Poet Society, Ranger war vet John Lovell observes that his range class shooters, when doing for force-on-force, shoot low a whole lot – “The shooters were quite literally AIMING LOW. Again, WHY IS THAT? I have a theory on why we miss in fights but not on the range. When we are afraid and are presented with a threat, we REFUSE TO ALLOW anything to block our view of that threat. This means, your fear response refuses to allow your sights and gun to block any part of your view.” So, the gun is lower and the shots are lower. I can see that (no pun intended).

I would like to add that after some 25 years of organizing simulated ammo shooting, people often shoot at what they look. A lot of opponent’s guns and gun hands are shot. That might be where they are looking and might also be, that  when shooting center mass, the guy’s gun hand is up and gets in the way. But, Hips are shot when the other guy tries to draw his pistol. 

In summary, this third breaking point is deciding when you can unofficially aim, or officially aim. The challenge remains how do you physically translate this into sufficient training methods and time, in the common, assembly-line world of group instruction? One universal solution to these problems is do more live fire, close up. Shoot more with one hand. Another big, big solution for me is to do way more safe ammo, interactive exercises. Way more. Lots more. You learn and better relate to the chaos, and actually experience the distances.

I know I have pissed off a lot of gun instructors through the last 23 years, even some recently, when I’ve said, “you are not really learning how to gunfight unless you are shooting at moving, thinking people who are shooting back at you.” Simulated ammo. Pissed or not, growling and grumbling aside, this idea really marches on. Thank goodness this has been a growing trend. You’ll find it in civilian, police and military training. Not enough, but it’s growing.

A “gun day” training. I suggest people shoot their real guns. Then after a point, after shooting to familiarize yet again with their real guns, next spend some considerable time doing safe ammo training versus a training partner.  You might choose a 20%-80% split? With the 80% being scenarios. Or 50%-50%, Whatever, but if you are not doing a LOT of interactive training, you are missing out on a lot of vital, preparation opportunities. This stuff should not be ignored, and should not be done rarely like a novelty. Some people think I am endorsing paint-ball games on basketball court, when I talk like this. No. Something better organized (though a little paintball might go a long way with moving our stiff and fatty asses.)

The Three Pistol Breaking Points. Pistol shooting training can be a personal process. You might think of a few more breaking points to suit your ideas and outlines. Go for it. But within the Three here are:

* Hand sizes are different. Gun sizes are different.

*Understand the stress grab and drawing from awkward positions.

*Find your best finger position for a squeeze, gun-by-gun.

*You cannot/should not always shoot with two-hands.

*You cannot/should not always shoot with one hand.

*You cannot always shoot with an acquisition of sights.

*There is probably a good chance you are doing too much shooting with two-hands in comparison to close quarter incidents/statistics.

*Through experiments, know the best distances for single and double-hand, pistol grips.

*Train with simulated ammo in likely situations.

None of this is an excuse not to become the best marksman you can be. This is just some stuff to think about, and stuff I worry about from a training doctrine perspective. Using the three breaking points nickname have helped me focus on these subjects.


Hock’s email is

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Will the Real Dr. Winston Clancy Please Stand Up? (Or… How to Throw a Man Out a Helicopter Over the Gulf of Mexico)

Will the Real Dr. Winston Clancy Please Stand Up?  (Or… How to Throw a Man Out  a Helicopter Over the Gulf of Mexico)

After I retired I did a 3 year stint in private investigations in Texas. Then Jane got a job in northern Georgia. I was licensed in Texas, and knew no one in Georgia, so I did not renew the TX license. (Jeez what a money racket that licensing was! I write all about that in my police books).  People are morbidly interested in my “private eye” days.”  The topic sometimes comes up and they ask, “Were those days like the Rockford Files?”

I tell them “Oh yes. Exactly, except there were no car chases, gun fights or sex. ” But there was certainly some “Rockford” weirdness. Like this – one of my PI cases.

Through the years I’d met an architect from the Miami area I’ll call Phillip for the purposes of protecting the so-called innocent. But ol’ Phillip was not so innocent. He was longtime married in Florida; but when his national business took him through the Dallas-Ft. Worth area for various periods of time, he would often appear at various functions with a knockout Dallas cougar, blonde, hanging off his arm. Back then a “cougar” meant the animal, but by today’s definition this babe was for sure a “cougar”.

Hey, I liked Phillip. He was a macho guy, an alpha male. He was a skin diver, a hang glider, a sky diver, and an overall adventurer. Carefree. Careless. He would often ask me and mine to accompany a group to a show or a concert. In the limo, he would often lean over and ask me, “Are you packing?”

I would squint a bit, half shake my head, and give a quarter smile. “Yeah,” I’d whisper. I usually had my .45 or a small revolver.
He’d get a kick out of that. I didn’t know why. I never did quite figure out the guy and why I was his sometimes pal when in town; was it me and my charm? Or because he liked having me and a gun around?
Phillip. Carefree. Careless. Careless? One year he corralled me at a big north Dallas house party of the well-to-do with a certain pleading eye that was not so carefree.

“Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?”
With a Seven and Seven in my hand and a beer in his, he steered me over to an empty front room of the house. He told me he’d lost over two million dollars. And he was not alone. Several of his East Coast friends and associates let slip about the same amount. He and those other friends and associates had invested millions in a Texas oilman-driller named Dr. Winston Clancy and his latest “sure thing” oil well. This was his latest oil well drilling project in west Texas. Let me be more specific. Phillip had even introduced those friends to Clancy and gotten them involved.

“I am pissed. My friends are pissed at me. And I mean I can’t have some of those people pissed at me. The well was a scam. A con.”
“What people?”
“People with money. People with bad friends. Some think I am in on the scam!”
“What do you want, Phillip?” I asked.
“I want to find the son of a bitchin’ bastard,” he growled.
“And if I find him?”
“Hmmm, yeah, well. Let’s take one step at a time. You find him first.”

Okay. I’d go that far. We’d see what happened next. I couldn’t, I mean I shouldn’t get involved in any violent debt collection. Shouldn’t…

“Okay, when can you fill me in on everything you got on him?” I asked.
“Tomorrow. Can you meet me tomorrow?”

He turned toward the big archway. “Michael!” he shouted into the living room.
Michael, the stock salesman, walked up to us.
“You have a business card on you?”
“Ah, yeah,” and Michael opened his wallet and gave him a card.
“Okay. Thanks,” Phillip told him; and with a light, friendly push, he steered him back to the party.

“Can you meet me here tomorrow at 2 p.m.? This is a local office where I set up shop,” he said, and he handed me the business card. It was a finance office in north Dallas.
“Hock, this is no favor. I am going to pay you for this.”

And the party resumed. Phillip acted very normal, very typical the rest of the night, his usual gregarious self. But I noticed his attention span drop when others were talking a bit too long. He often stared off with the blank expression of a guy in a jam. What “friends” might go after old careless, carefree Phil?

I showed up at the finance office the next day dressed appropriately, but not too much, just good jeans, boots, white shirt, and a blue blazer. That’d get you inside anywhere in Texas, in a millionaire’s club or a slum crap game.

Phillip was summoned to the lobby by a beauty behind the front desk, and we entered a stately conference room. Phillip stepped out. I got a cup of coffee, top-notch of course, unlike that law office mud; and he returned with a stack of books and files.
We went over his mess.
“Here is a book he made of his prior successes.”
He handed me a large hardcover book like a textbook with color pictures. Or more like a school yearbook to my mind. There was a profile on Clancy with a color photo of our con man with a white cowboy hat standing before a wall of photos. One photo was of a luxury yacht. I looked on. Clancy had a plush office all right, full of leather furniture, statues, paintings of cowboys and cattle, and a giant, ornate dark wooden desk. The walls were full of oil well pictures. Problem was, he apparently was, as we say down here, “all hat and no cattle.” Problem was, it was as realistic as a cardboard set of J. R. Ewing’s office from the old TV show Dallas.
The rest of the book was a series of successful wells drilled all over. Snapshots of the drills and the roughnecks displaying good all-American hard work and sweat. Photos advertised the eventual pumps, the happy and rich landowners, and the happy, happy investors raising drinks and grinning from ear to ear. I thumbed and fanned through the pages.

“Some of those stories were real, the thicker chapters, and some were not. A lot were not,” Phillip said.
Clancy claimed he had an amazing success rate in finding oil in the ground. Winston Clancy looked the total oilman package: that hat, Western clothes, and expensive Western jewelry. He bragged to Phillip that he’d earned a doctorate in geology at SMU in Dallas, and Phillip got some of his Florida and New York friends involved with that “sure thing.” Clancy even flew to Miami and met them all at a dinner party at Landry’s Steakhouse. Winston had the schematics, maps, geology reports, and what-all to convince people that his next well was sure to be a gusher. A gusher! Glasses were raised in a toast. Riches to all!

In the end, Clancy walked away with millions in investment money from his far west Texas oil well project.
“In the beginning, we got monthly progress reports and some photos with them. A look at the site. Breaking ground. The well under construction. Then those reports came every two months. Then three….”
“Then none,” I said. (This tactic was not new.)

This actually was not new at all. I’d worked cases like this before as a police detective. Bad news for Phillip, though. You caught the guy, and you put him in jail. The guy got convicted, and the scammed money was already spent or well hidden. The courts made him pay a dribbling amount of restitution to the victims. They never got real recompense. Clancy got out on bond or served a short prison hitch, and he was out. But then, I was no longer in the “catch and release” game. I could play other games.

I found some of the news reports in the stack. Eight-inch by 17-inch sheets of paper, folded in half, and stapled together. Picture quality not good. Must have been run on a basement copy machine. Envelopes?
“You have any envelopes?”
He sat up, leaned across the table, and shuffled through the pile. He found one. An actual stamp was used on the envelope. Postmarked Dallas.
“All these have the same postmark?”
“Don’t know. Threw them away when I got them.”
I got a bunch of details from Phillip and the pile.
“Let me take this book,” I said, grabbing up the advertising, rah-rag yearbook.
“I’ll get with you if I find anything.”

I left the office with a plan. I drove straight to Mockingbird Lane. Why, you ask? Because that book was made just last year, printed by a book company on Mockingbird Lane in Dallas. I’ll just call them Scuttle Press for this story. The name was in the fine print in the opening pages and on the spine.
“I sure need to talk with a salesman,” I told the receptionist at Scuttle.
“Yes, sir, may I have your name?”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Hock.”
As I suspected by looking around the stately lobby full of samples, this outfit would make any book. School yearbooks, textbooks, anything. A smiling face met me within minutes, and we walked off to his office.
“This is going to sound crazy, but I need to find someone. I have found myself in an oil deal. The land is rich with oil, and we need a driller. A real wildcatter. Someone with Exxon gave me this book and told me flat out to find this guy for the job!”
I slid the book across his desk. He spun it for a look.
“Y’all made this book for him!”
“Is … is his address not in here?”
“He’s moved.”
“I have to find this guy. Is there any way you can help me? Any info on him? A phone number? New address?”
“Well, I don’t know, that would be….”
“The whole purpose of your making this book for this man was to advertise his business! That was what he wanted you for. I, sir … I am business!”
“Let me see what I can do for you.”
He took the book and left the office. I think he fell for my tall Texas tale.
About 10 minutes later, he appeared with some copy machine papers.
“All we have is this Dallas address. That might be the one he moved from. And this phone number. Those books were delivered to that Dallas address.”
“Oh, oh, thank you,” I said. I got the sheet of info and the book and left Scuttle Press with the scuttlebutt.

The phone number? A Houston prefix. After a while, you got used to a lot of phone numbers from working cases; and this one was in the Houston area. But was I going to drive straight to this Dallas address and find this swindler?

It was rush hour now, and Dallas could be a bear like any big city. When I got to the house, I sized it up. Not a super nice house or neighborhood. Nice enough, but not super nice. Not oilman nice, anyway.
I walked up to the door and rang the bell. Nothing. I took a peek into the front windows. You guessed it. Empty. Empty and no “For Sale” sign to be seen. I wandered around the backyard. No signs of life.
There was always next door!
“Hello, I was looking for the folks who lived next door.”
“They moved a few months ago,” the lady who answered the door told me.
“They? He and his wife?”
“Yes, I think, I don’t really know if they were married or not.”
“Uh-huh. Do you know where they moved?”
“I don’t, but Melinda across the street was friends with the lady. She might know where Melissa is.”
Melissa? Okay, long story short, with the same story of me hunting for an oil expert, Melinda told me that the Clancy clan left for Houston. There was more to the neighborhood visit, but it turned out to be unimportant for you to know. Suffice it to say, I learned a great deal about “Mrs. Clancy,” and the city of Houston was second on my list to visit.

First trip on the list? First I absolutely had to drive out to the supposed oil well site so that I could confirm, with my eyes and without a doubt, there was no well.
Back at my home office, I called a Texas Ranger I knew in Austin who I worked with when he was a local highway patrolman and who owed me a few over an old missing person’s case. I gave him the Houston phone number, told him I was investigating a statewide oil scam crime, and asked for his help. This was a Texas-sized problem, and I would fill him in on the end result for his intel when I was done. I needed the address of that phone number plus any and all the horsepower he could muster up on the house where the phone was installed. Residents. Utilities. Etcetera.

Two days later, I was on my way out to west Texas. Easy run. I found the tract where the well was supposed to be and, well, no well. I snapped a few photos of nothing. No permits were filed at the county. I made the long drive home with real confirmation of the scam.
I waited for the Ranger’s call and got it a few days later. The house belonged to a Melissa Keefus. Utilities, too. Two cars were registered to the house, both in Melissa’s name.
But some other info from the house, stuff I won’t mention here, had the name William Alex Sanford. The Ranger said Sanford’s mug shot matched the photo of Clancy I had faxed him. Yeah, that’s right, mug shot. The name belonged to a con man on parole with mucho prior arrests for swindling and fraud. This was the real Dr. Winston Clancy.

Right after that, I took one of two drives to Houston to this Clancy-Sanford house. Another decent neighborhood, but no millionaire digs. And good news for me, the garage was on the front of the house. If it had been out back, I’d have had a little trouble parking back there and waiting for their cars to come and go; and at the same time, I’d have missed any action at the front. I had a truck and a four-door sedan at my disposal, the sedan being the most boring and overlooked car. I watched the house at various times of the day. And at the end of the two trips, I tallied up several sightings of Melissa and one of the mysterious Doctor himself, Mister Clancy.

When I got back home, I made the phone call.
“This is Hock.”
“I found our doctor. He is in Houston.”
“Oh, that is great news. Great. Tell me about it.”
I gave him the synopsis.
“All this will be in a report I will mail you.”
“With a bill for your services,” he said.
“Okay. What happens next?”
“I’ll handle it,” he said.
“You will? How? What?”
“Not to worry, Hock.”
“I had to pull in some favors to get this info. Clancy is a parole violator, and a Texas Ranger now knows about this. I promised him a full report would be forthcoming. I assume eventually his parole officer will be officially notified by the Ranger.”
“Hmmm. Okay.”
“What I meant to say is this. You couldn’t collect much from a guy in jail. And you would be the complainant who the parole officer must contact to see if his guy was still committing crimes. There had to be a crime report for him to work on.”
“Anyway, this could be a bargaining chip to use with him. Against him. To get your money. I could…”
“Don’t worry, Hock. I got it from here.”

And with that, we hung up. I sat quietly for a moment at my desk staring out the window. What would happen next?
I prepared a bill and shipped it off with some photos. I got over $5,000 plus expenses. Not a bad haul for the 1990s. About two weeks later, I sent a packet as promised to my Ranger friend in Austin. He would do with it as he wished. Tell parole? Open his own investigation? Stick it in a pile in a corner? And, that was that!

Until about one year later. A dinner party, and who was there? Phillip and the cougar! He waved across the room; and about an hour in, he ushered me out to the backyard.
“Thanks for all your help and that … deal,” he said with a smile.
“It worked out? What happened?”
“I told my Florida friends. Retired friends from New York. People who knew people. Doctor Clancy was kidnapped one night.”
He smiled broadly at me.
“Ah … what?”
“He was kidnapped. Duct tape on his mouth and hands. Everything. They tossed him in a car and drove him down Galveston way. The Gulf Coast somewhere. They put him in a helicopter, and they all took off over the Gulf. They opened the side door of the chopper and hung his ass about half out of it. They told him to pay us back; or they would do this little trip again, only worse for him.”
I smiled back at him.
“They drove him right back to his car. They stayed in Houston for the week. We got our money back by the end of the week.”
What could I say to that? I nodded my head and laughed. He laughed.
“Happy ending, huh?”
“Happy ending,” I repeated.

I would see Phillip a few more times. Then I heard he had a terrible accident hang gliding. He just about destroyed his shoulder. He was getting way too old for that stuff. I also heard he divorced his wife and took up with the cougar woman. There were a few natural deaths within that group of friends, and Mrs. Cougar returned for the funerals. All connections dwindled away.

I worked another oil well case around that time. Two rival oil companies were fighting over  a well in the south. One illegally took it over and I was hired to go there and take it back. I picked up a gang of the kicked-out, rough-neckers and we cut the gate chains and ran off the illegal crew. Our guys held wrenches and tools. The other guys, pretty much knew they were there illegally and took off.  But that’s another story. 

Justice does come in all forms. Sometimes it comes in the cold, cold midnight wind off the Gulf boosted by helicopter blades at about 300 feet above sea level.


Hock’s email is

This is excerpted from Hock’s true crime book. Thousands sold all over the world. Get the ebooks. Get the paperbacks. Find them, click  here

Patterns and Sequences: Made to be Broken

Patterns and sequences are made to be broken.

I started out in Parker Kenpo in 1972. (and I was not a kid – that’s how old I am). Parker had his program together in many ways and many levels. It was revolutionary for the time. His writings and advice were as good or better than Bruce Lee’s in many ways. But alas, Ed never made those movies! (Folks forget or don’t know that Dan Inosanto and Larry Hartsell were 1960s Parker black belts, in a very, very blood and guts era.)

Anyway, one complaint of modernists versus old “kuraty” today, is over what appears to be choreographed dance steps in scenarios. Yet, choreographed combinations are practiced BY ALL, and these complainers don’t have the intellectual depth and savvy to recognize this point. Even sports teams – baseball, soccer, football teach things in combinations. My God, take a look at focus mitt drills in boxing and Thai. At their best, they are plans to respond to the reactions of the opponent. (I repeat – when at their best, because sometimes they are just constructed at random as “busy work” in classes.) In all combination experiments you gamble on the reactions and results.

Now I fully understand that doctrine has splintered and strayed for many systems, through the years. And I do share in some of the complaints. I still shake my head at many things. But Parker worried about some of these problems too. As in the quote of this photo.

This problem-solving application concept was taught in the Parker Kenpo beginnings. Somehow I never forgot the concept and used it through the years and use it today. You must be free to respond to what you see.

All training drill patterns and sequences are meant to be broken. But you have to start somewhere…or you can start nowhere and probably end up nowhere.

Hocks email is

Fightin’ Words – Get the e-book or get the paperback, click here

The Dead Baby

Through the years, I worked several cases involving dead babies. Dead babies in murders and car wrecks. Frozen in cars. A rape. Beatings. But one was by far the weirdest and most ironic.

In Dallas, Texas, in the last few years, the city had started what they called a Baby Moses program. This program was where unwanted babies could be dropped off at fire stations and safe havens with no questions asked rather than be abandoned or killed. As I watched this news feature about the new program on television, my mind flipped off into the various dead baby cases I had worked in the past. Would the Baby Moses plan have helped? All had a snapshot stain in my brain of a telling moment or two. But … one sight, one night sticks in my mind.

That case involved what was probably one of the most ironic moments of my life because it was intertwined with the law, races, friendships, death, abortion, poverty, education, and, … well, so much it was too hard to categorize it all. I will just have to tell you about it, and I promise you won’t know what to do with it either.

I will start by recalling a guy named Sam Till for you. Many of our officers knew Sam Till. Sam lived in one of the projects or “poor” parts of our city; and, yes, it was the black part of town. Sam was a Vietnam vet and a retired, high-ranking Army NCO. He was a hard-working, ambitious person and ran two successful businesses. One was a large, citywide sanitation company; and the other was a well-established funeral home. On any given day, you might spot Sam supervising a garbage truck or even loading one on a route; or he might be giving a sermon at a funeral or driving the limo to a graveyard. He often came to crime scenes and collected the murder victims or scraped together what was left of accidents and suicides. Sam, like the other funeral home folks, would transport the bodies to the lab for autopsies if needed. Sam pitched in and did it all. Yes, Sam was a black guy.

One day, he and two workers saw a crazed man beating one of our officers and trying to take his pistol. Sam and the men jumped on the criminal and saved the day and the life of the already-unconscious officer. Sam was one of the locals who renovated his house and remained in the projects as many successful people did at that time. It was where he grew up! Where he wanted to be. He was even mildly involved in city politics and become involved with various good causes. He had several good sons who stayed out of trouble despite where they lived.

During my years as a patrolman or a detective, Sam supplied me with a lot of information about people he knew and suspected of crimes. I could go to him anytime for intel and gossip. He in turn would give me a phone call if he thought he’d discovered something. I think he knew I meant well for the community. He also knew that one of the most influential people in my life was a black Army NCO named Gaston; and, therefore, I mustn’t have been much of a racist. But racism was an overall problem back then—not as bad as before the 40s, 50s, and 60s, but still bad in the 70s and 80s.

I was a fairly “new” detective in 1981 or thereabouts (technically “new” as Texas goes as I was one in Army) . I was dispatched one chilly, early evening to meet a patrolman about a “family” problem in that part of the city. When I arrived at this sprawling, older home, a patrolman introduced me to a mother and father. The parents had become burdened with a problem, and neither they nor the patrolman knew what to do about it.

I first met the officer standing outside on the walkway and alone in the dusk.
“Hey, Hock,” the patrolman said. “We’ve got a problem here. I don’t know. I don’t know what to do with it.” The officer shook his head. He opened the front door and steered me in.
What is there not to know? I asked myself. Then I found out.

“Sandra has not been well, and her friends have told us something,” the mother spoke up. “Sandra was pregnant. And we had no idea.”
Pregnant? No idea? I saw the family color portrait on the wall. The parents were big people, and I mean really big people. Sandra, who looked to be about twelve years old in the picture, was a very, very big girl. We all sat in the living room.

“Her friend told us she was pregnant, and she had the baby,” the father said. “Sandra has not been to school in a week. She’s been throwing up … we just thought … we just thought she was sick.”

“Where is the baby?” I asked. “Is there a baby … yet?”
“No one knows,” the officer added.
“Sandra’s friend says she had the baby last night,” the distressed mother said.
“In there,” the father said, pointing to a bedroom.
“In there. Have you looked yet?”
“No, Mr. Hock, we were afraid to look.”
“Any … ahh … crying or…?” I asked with trepidation.
“No. Sandra is in there now. She won’t open the door.”
“Well, Mrs. Rankin, this is your house; and you can go anywhere in it. Let’s go,” I said.

We all stood, and the mother announced to Sandra that we were coming in. Sandra wouldn’t unlock the door, so I kicked it open. The bedroom was quite large, yet it was stacked and cluttered with … with just about everything you’d find in a teen’s room at the time times 10. Clean clothes. Dirty clothes. Furniture. Some stuff just stacked and other things grossly shoved and tossed everywhere, all atop a dirty carpet and a few pieces of old wooden furniture.
The mother started to explain to her why we were there. Sandra was now about 15 years old and still quite a large young girl, much larger than the photo I’d seen in the living room. It was possible to live around her and not detect a pregnancy? I guessed. Possible? As they talked, as she denied, I started prowling the room, lifting, and looking. And then I spotted a newborn baby pushed against the wall and buried in towels and clothes. Dead.

The parents knew I’d spotted something. I must have grunted or something. And in an instant, they charged over to look. They moaned and screamed.
“Don’t touch,” I said quietly. Regretfully. “Let’s all get out of this room.”

I left the house for my sedan radio. I requested our crime scene man, Russell Lewis, to come as well as my supervisor, Detective Sergeant Howard Kelly. Kelly called the house phone, and I ran down to explain the deal to him. He would contact a Juvenile Division Detective to take over any investigation, but that wouldn’t be until tomorrow unless something unusual happened. It was my mess until then. I hung up the phone. I knew the girl would eventually be charged for something that would probably be impossible to prove or disprove back then. Stillborn? Starved? Killed? Not too sure what the prosecutors would do. But my involvement would be temporary.

Now, I am trying to keep these details brief. Russell came. We snooped around, and he took pictures. Then he left. What came next is why I write this…

A funeral home was called to handle the dead body after we processed the crime scene. Sam Till’s was next on rotation and took the call and drove right over as soon as he could.

As soon as he could, because he was still in his garbage truck! Not the usual Till funeral van, as Sam was out delivering a truck to his office and was already nearby. Sam came in and was greeted by the parents as though they were longtime friends. He sat with them. He listened to them. Sympathized with them, as Sam always did so well. There would be a proper funeral. The family left the house for the police station, where I would later collect some preliminary statements.

Then it was just me and Sam. The baby would next go to his funeral home and as soon as possible be driven to the Dallas County Southwest Forensics lab for an autopsy. Sam had a white towel in his hands, and we walked to the bedroom and up to the baby. He was talking about something to me the whole way. I don’t remember what. He grabbed this baby by the ankles, and with it hanging upside down, we went back out on the street. While we discussed whatever it was, he laid the towel down on the passenger floorboard of the garbage truck and laid the baby atop the towel. We said goodbye.

He roared the garbage truck engine as I walked to my car and unlocked the car door, but I just stood there for a second, you know? What just happened? As he drove away in the garbage truck, I stood rather dumbfounded on the city street; and I knew I had just witnessed a most ironic, twisted, odd, social statement or situation. I mean, how can I describe this? The words “dead black baby born in secrecy and removed from the slums … in a garbage truck at night.” Is that how the report could read?

I have a vivid memory of that moment in my head.  Standing on the street watching the garbage truck drive away. A memory, to this very day, I just don’t know what to do with.


Hock’s email is

This is excerpted from Hock’s books Don’t Even Think About It. Get Hock’s True Crime – Detective Books. Click here

An Unholy Alliance with Amazon Books

January, 2019. It’s book, bookkeeping time of year. Thanks to all who bought one of my books for Christmas presents in the end of 2018, in various versions, hardcover, paperback, ebook, Kindle, from our various distributors. Now, for some insider info of the book industry.

Brace yourselves, the business of books is sad and tough. Since 2015, records show I have sold over 33,000 ebooks (about 8 of my books have e-book versions. This doesn’t count paperbacks and the martial textbook, hardcovers I’ve sold.) 

Not one individual book of mine, (ebook or otherwise) sold over 25,000 copies, which, officially, you could declare one a “bestseller” in ads on the cover. (Some folks, flat out lie about this). It sure would be nice to be a bestseller. Maybe someday. Indie publishers throw that word “bestseller” around in their ads. No. Unless they preface it with “Pudunk Press” bestseller. Then yes.

Now…33,000 ebooks alone since 2015. (We have no pre-2015 stats, so there are more sales. Wow. Sounds like I should have a new sports car? No way. Let’s take Kindle (Amazon). Their algorithms are bizarre screw jobs changing in roller coaster sales, wheels and deals. Sometimes an author gets pennies. Sometimes fractions of pennies. I have. In the records there are times and groupings where I sold 300, 400 ebooks and received only a few dollars for the whole batch. Then you get tossed into the 99 cent sale. Sometimes the “free sale.”

It is mysterious and explained away in happy, positive, sales jargon campaigns. But once translated – Amazon keeps all the money. Translated – author screwed. One of my friends sold 187 of his ebooks and made…81 cents. Thanks Mr Bezos.

Plus, you-the-author cannot contact the purchaser-reader. No list. No emails. No author-reader relationship. 41,000 stranger-readers that otherwise I could advertise to. But they want to keep me apart from them, so I will not cut Amazon out the of the middle in future sales? (Our German publisher lists for us every sale they make adding reader emails when they get one. But if they sell to stores, then stores sell to customers, we don’t know who they are either. But the Germans at least try. )

It is an unholy alliance with Amazon books (Kindle). Can’t make a living with them, can’t live without them. Indie authors hate to admit their books are not selling well so they lie about the money they make and the volume they sell.    

Through all book-racket-business, I still want to thank everyone who bought a dang book of mine! Really. Thanks. If you buy one directly with me on the below page or in my appearances, it helps keep me in hamburgers and flip-flops better, and there is only ONE middleman company then, who lets me keep a few dollars more and not fractions of pennies.

We can see my Gunther westerns do pretty darn well, and if we have our own little bestseller? I think its Fightin’ Words, but it’s all hard to decode, decipher and add up.

Gunther will return late this year in Rio Grande Black Magic. I loved writing this book. Did Gunther help assassinate Pancho Villa? And my Gun book should be done, adding to the martial set (so many photos, so little time).

THANK YOU so much again! I hope I entertained you and caught lightning in your jar, even if for just a second.


Hock’s email is


Click here for all of Hocks books

Pre-Fight? What About Pre-Crime?


“Keep your ‘scene’ just a ‘scene,’ and not a crime scene, baby.” – Kojak

There has been much ado these last years in training/seminar circuit about pre-fight indicators. Instructors present a list that has actually been around since the 1970s. So new? No. Just new to new people, that is. Through those early years the list rarely filtered down into the local “kuraty” clubs, so to speak, so its later arrival decades later, was big. I wonder if the “pre-fight” fad is dying down a little? And how many pre-fight indicators end up in a shooting or mutual gun fight?

It seems that most pre-fight indicator lists, and their courses however have been about “boys in bars fighting.” Not about criminals and crime. The advice covered is about what a angry person does before he or she hits you. Which is a crime, but not a premeditated criminal plan-ambush. Not that these emotional “sucker punches” aren’t important too. Criminals about to attack you also have biological symptoms too. So for the record, we list are the classic tips.

What are Some Tip-Offs He May Attack You? This info was first taught to me in the 1970s at military and Texas police academies. I’ve collected it all, adding some, and the list is in my teaching outlines since the 1990s and in Fightin’ Words book. Since you are not reading those now, you are reading this, here they are for you here.

Now, I do not want you to over-emphasize this information as some kind of cure. Just read over the list and keep it in mind. The list was created and repeated here because these tips/events have happened. I have seen them when dealing with people for decades in this upset and angry, drugged or drunk “people business” called police work.

When a person becomes stressed, angry and aggressive, his or her body reacts, not always, but sometimes demonstrates some changes. Here are some of these changes that research, history and experience may induce a sudden attack/leap upon you. Many people suggest that in a real fight situation, a person has no time to read these clues. Sometimes, yes, I agree. But, this is not always true. Sometimes there are confrontations and people do have the time to see these tip-offs. Every professional and every citizen needs to read this list and at least become aware of these points.

Obviously the clues vary from situation to situation and person to person. But, better to know these on the list, than not, or to ignore they even exist. I have seen them unfold myself on polie calls and arrests.

I want to say that I have found one of the biggest tip-offs to trouble is a crouch! When the other person crouches. This is a springboard to athleticism. Not only might they attack you, or run off, in the gun world, people have a tendency to crouch and draw knives and guns.

Head Examples
– His eyes bulge.
– He has that 1,000 yard stare.
– He ignores you.
– He squints.
– He assesses your body parts and gear as potential targets.
– His mouth becomes dry, creating odd lip and jaw movements.
– His teeth clench.
– His voice changes.
– He actually, clearly voices violent intentions.
– His words become spastic and distracted.
– He twitches.
– His nostrils flare.
– His breathing increases.
– He takes one big sudden breath.
– His face color changes, maybe reddens or pales.
– His veins bulge.
– His chin tightens, or drops.
– His neck tightens.
– His jaw juts (dumb but he still does it).
– He babbles as though his thoughts are not guiding his voice.
– He doesn’t babble and actually vocalizes his plans of attack.
– He actually tells you his plans! “Why I’m gonna…”

Hands and Arms Examples
– His arms swing, maybe with body turns (a big deal and easy cover for a sucker
– His fingers and fists clench (blood leaving those extremities).
– His fingers drum surface tops.
– His hands shake.
– He extends a hand to shake yours. Could be a trick.
– Hands go to weapon, carry sites on the body (previously listed)
– He turns away (critical sucker punch set-up).
– His hands and arms travel to near obvious pre-fight postures and positions. He positions his hands high on his chest, neck, chin or head. Raises up to  seemingly innocent, high positions as in a fake head scratch, like a yawn or a stretch.
– He strikes a pre-fight posture, such as a boxer.

Body Examples
– He raises from a seated position.
– He tries to wander.
– He bends slightly at the knees.
– A sporty body crouch (is never a good sign).
– He gets too close.
– His body blades away from you.
– He suddenly takes off his shirt, jacket or watch.
– He “expands” his chest.
– Heel and toe tapping.
– Positioning near potential improvised weapons.
– Shirt lift about his belt line (this is NEVER a good thing).
– Keep adding to this list.

Pre-Crime. But, what of pre-crime indicators? I am not sure that the average Joe and Joan grasp the fact that the thrilling, pre-fight indicator list can be quite different than the PRE-CRIME indicator list. Oh, and I can hear the snoring already beginning because this now reads like…“crime prevention.” BORING! Huh? Crime prevention is often cluttered with “locking your doors,” and “putting up outdoor lights,” and…and…still awake? Still reading?
How does one…pre-crime? How do you detect an ambush crime?

Pre-crime studies are different than pre-fight studies. And I believe that while many virgin schools and virgin seminar attendees are so happy to hear about “fist clenching” and “1000 yard stares,” that the presenter and attendees miss the crime prevention aspects.
Stopping rapes, robberies, abductions/kidnappings, home invasions and murders. Who, what, where, when, how and why do you get ambushed into a crime? Sometimes there’s a little overlap between the two categories, sure. But pre-crime is different and diverse. For example, there are usually little if any pre-fight indicators in a criminal ambush.

What can we do to make pre-crime sexy again? It’s hard. Publishers use to create a fair amount of crime prevention books years ago. They were quickly rendered onto the Dollar Sale table. No sales? No more books.

People do somewhat remember The Gift of Fear. Why? The stories, that’s why. Years ago, Gavin Debecker wrote that entertaining book, The Gift of Fear. First editions really promoted an ESP-ish, Spidey-Sense as the gift. Neuro science developments in the 2000s proved otherwise – that it wasn’t magic, rather we react from learned behavior. Your “gut” instinct is almost completely a trained mind from vast sources. The Gift stories were thrilling (psychology has already proven that stories and “war-stories” are the best, longer-lasting teacher). But take out the cool stories? And what’s left, the skeleton of advice? Strip out the tales and you have a BORING crime prevention hand-out from your local police department. “Lock your doors.” “Put up lights.” “Watch out for strangers.” “Watch out for dark places.” Etc. Yawn.

The routine crime prevention pamphlet can leave something to be desired. It usually lacks a certain first-person, in-the-moment advice from…stories. Whereas watching a news story about an unlocked door, and a sobbing crime victim, is a better teacher than a McGruff pamphlet.

For one example of a study area for pre-crime – I wrote about this in my book Fightin’ Words. I worked a rape once by a bus stop. In the daytime, this ¾ enclosed bus stop looked normal and safe. A curved sidewalk ran behind the little clear, plastic edifice. In the middle of the walkway, beside the curve was a small grassy area, then tall fences of an apartment complex. This area had a gigantic bush-looking tree next to the sidewalk. Looks safe and normal. In the daylight. But at night? It was a trap. Poorly lit. A college girl walked by and was snatched by a thug from behind this bush. When called out to the case, I saw this scene at night and could see what a trap it was, from a criminal mind perspective. Daytime? No. Night time, yes.

Geography, plus architecture, plus criminal mind.

An equation for trouble. Who, what, when, where, how and why? These questions can be investigated with good intel, research, experience, and an adequate mind, to predict crime scenes. With the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions.

Who are you as a victim? Study victimology.
What crime could occur?
Where are you most or partially vulnerable to crime?
When are you most or partially vulnerable to crime?
How will the criminal approach?
Why are you there?
This is just the beginning of the exam…

Hey, I let’s make crime prevention interesting again! I mean, doesn’t “Pre-Crime” sound cooler than “Crime Prevention?” We can do this.

“Keep your “scene” just a “scene” and not a crime scene…baby.”

(Just a side story about the crouch. Years ago I attended at Simunitions course alongside some police officers, some military and some gun instructors. Long story short, I shot a man with a camera. The suited-up trainer stood before us and did or did not do something. We students didn’t know what he planned. The guy’s hands were behind his back. He put a hand up front and held an old an old school camera and I drew and shot him in the chest. One-handed. The other attendees hemmed and hawed. “Hock shot a cameraman!”
The training was filmed and at the end of the day we watched and commented. My cameraman/death part came up and I squirned a bit in my chair. But then we saw why I drew and shot. The trainer crouched. Deeply. His hand came out like a fast pistol draw. His hand on the way, twisted into a vertical looking grip. His eyes inside his face shield went wide.
This all happened so fast, I nor anyone caught this to comment. But on the film, we got to see why I drew and shot. “No wonder he got shot,” One said. The trainer completely replicated a quick draw but produced a camera instead. This is not how a person, when questioned, would show he held a camera in his hand. But…I still shot an innocent person. At least it was in training. Gun people in training need to have humans in front of them doing things like this.
The crouch is a real sign of trouble.)


Hock’s email is

Get the book Fightin’ Words, paperback or ebook, click here

Uncles, Criminals and Enemy Soldiers!

In my Force Necessary (FN) courses, (oh, and remember the subtitles that go with that course title;

“Using only that force Necessary to win and/or survive.”

“Sometimes force is necessary.”

“We are Force Necessary, NOT Force  Unnecessary.” – as in not doing a lot of flashy, unneeded things.

Need we mention? “It’s a hand, stick, knife, gun world.”

Though police virtually live and breathe on the line “using only that force necessary,” but my police course is called “Police Judo”. It’s not Judo-Judo. There are no guns in Judo huh?  Police Judo is just an old-school name for defensive tactics I still like and use.)

And we resume  to the subject– in these courses, we fight three “enemies.” A quick answer to one of the “Who” questions.

  1. Your “drunk uncle”
  2. Criminals
  3. Enemy soldiers

Drunk Uncles: It is very common in life to fight people that you do not wish to really hurt. Like your drunk buddy or uncle/relative. In police work we are also expected to fight but not really hurt people unless things get “out-of-hand” and the situation escalates. But, poke your buddy’s eye out, bite off his ear, hammer-fist his throat or neck, smash his face, shatter his knee, and then see what happens to you. Usually, often, jail and lawsuits. Money and problems. There is a whole lot of domestic violence out there.

Criminals: Essentially speaking, a stranger, (or for that matter even a friend, uncle or not, officially becomes a criminal when they assault you. You could just lump your uncle into this category. But I don’t because of the intricacies about family violence. ) But, what crime is being committed? Who, what where, when, how and why? The level of crime, the situation takes the temperature of your response. Crime often starts out with an ambush. “Where,” “when” and “how” subjects.

Enemy soldiers: We know what those are. We usually like to kill them from as far away as possible, but often can’t.

Civil law, criminal law and the Geneva Convention, as well as human ethics – look at fighting these three “bad guys” differently. Our responses (AFTER the who, what, where, when, how and why of avoidance) the reactions to these confronting “uncles, criminals and enemy soldiers” are very situational and may be:

  1. Surrender
  2. Bargain (talk, show weapon, etc)
  3. Escape (you leave or he leaves)
  4. Hurt, on up to maim
  5. Kill
  6. Detain, arrest and, or take prisoner

All are worth exploring in training. All have happened and will happen. I make it a point to cover all of the above in the Force Necessary courses. These are important subjects. This can be helpfully organized in the pursuit of the Who, What, Where, When, How and Why questions.

Since we are Force Necessary and not Force UNnecessary, I do not teach sports or arts. I have done sports and arts for decades. I investigate sports and arts. I only borrow from sports and arts for practical applications to solve these “uncle, criminals and enemy soldier” problems. Sports and arts are great laboratories, but it takes constant vigilance to know where to draw the line.

Some people never think of these things. They just head-bang. Which is why I mention them here.


Hock’s email is

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Dead Man’s Wallet

It’s hard for many to escape what is now called Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome/Disorder at some level if you let yourself think of trauma you’ve seen or felt. It seems to manifest in so many different ways. Can anyone truly escape it? With me, I might be all screwed up because, frankly, I don’t know what normal is. I have my jacked-up moments. My nightmares. Brain damage. We think we are okay, but I have seen much crime in person and know of so much crime and war otherwise.

I’ve learned in my life that people’s faces are just masks that they trot around behind. These masks all float around you day by day. What they really think behind their masks, what they really do when sight-unseen is a mystery. It’s a mystery to a detective. And what stress and what pressure will cause them to pop like a vomiting blister is anyone’s guess? If you work in the profession long enough, you learn to live among this angst. One thing? Very little surprises you.

Billy Bob Thornton calls it, “angst and shit.” What angst is left that haunts me still? Haunting? Haunting me is…a wallet. Through the years, I have removed many wallets from the pockets and purses of dead people. People who have been blasted, decapitated in car wrecks, shot or stabbed. Some wallets smothered in blood, or stinking, or crawling with maggots. Suicide victims, accident victims, murder victims and people who have just flat collapsed from natural causes.

You open the wallet and find the dead person’s history. You find out who they were. Where they live. How they lived. You find out to whom you have to deliver the death message. You have to find out how they died. Then there is the revenge part, oh, oh excuse me…justice.

Sometimes when I open my wallet, I catch myself thinking about this simple act of opening a dead man’s wallet. It all comes to me in a rush, a blur, as if all turmoil filters down into this one symbol, a wallet. And, I can’t help but imagine an officer or medical examiner’s investigator, EMT? Someday, later? Ten minutes later? Three hours from now? Next year? Ten years? Looking into my wallet, looking to discover who I am, and who to call about my death, following the very steps and routine I’ve had to do so many times.

I don’t usually remember my dreams, any more. But when I do? In almost every one, I am a cop again, patrol or detective. Trying to solve unsolvable problems. In a human rat-maze I only half recognize. In a city I half recognize. Abstract chaos. Half nightmare, half dream. Sometimes I shoot bad people in my dreams. When I am shot, the instant before the bullet lands, I wake up, in a gulp.

Then I stare at the dark ceiling for a bit. If I drop back to sleep again, will I return to that instant? Will the bullet hit me? Last night I dreamed an armed robber tried to shoot me with a machine gun. I shot back and my bullets went slow and askew like weights on a cast, fishing line. I was sure a goner in that nightmare.  Dreams and I are not friends. I have to sleep, but it is a very unfriendly district to work in. Still…I report to work there.

When these feelings come over me as I put the wallet back in my back pocket, I try to put it all behind me too. But sometimes I am caught thinking about the shortness of life. The random, consistent tragedy. Some people like to say that death is “God’s Will.” Makes them feel good to think there is a plan in place. But, “God’s Will” is all past tense, chin music. Some people really need an explanation that there is a special, master plan to excuse all these disgusting horrors of the world since human beings first started their trotting upright. I don’t think there’s such a grand plan, though. Not like that.

I think the “God-head,” the “Intelligent Designer,” whatever, was worried more about establishing the trees and not worried that much about the leaves. The leaves? Us. We just blow every which way. That is the sorry plan we’re left with down here on ground zero. Bob Dylan said it once, “The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind.”  But, that’s no answer, really. The wind? Hell, that’s just a direction.

I use to call police work “social sanitation.” I’ve spent a goodly portion of my life with a social rake in my hands, piling up social leaves in the social wind, and I can’t help but wonder sometimes which way this wind blows, where all the leaves end up, and when I am “dead right there,” who will be the last person that has to look in my wallet and try to figure out who in hell I am?


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This is excerpted from Hock’s book Dead Right There.  Get the paperback. Get the ebook download


You Who’s on Fire!

Our tenement apartment building was ravaged by a fire two days before Christmas way back in the 1950s. This put us homeless on the streets of Union City, New Jersey. I was about five years old. Our apartment had been two rooms, a kitchen and a living room. No walls. One big open area. My parents opened a couch into a bed, a “hide-a-bed” as they called it, right in the kitchen-dining room area to sleep. I had some kind of small fold-away bed, too. The apartment was one small open area with a bathroom about three or four stories up. Millionaires had elevators. We had creaky stairs. My grandparents lived upstairs.

The fire was one of my earliest memories. My mother, grandmother, and a wee, small boy (me) were walking up Bergenline Avenue when my mother spotted thick smoke in the late afternoon sky ahead of us.“Look, Momma, look at that smoke!” my mother said to my grandmother.“Oh, I hope it’s not our place!” my grandmother said. I heard that. I remember that. I saw the smoke clouds too. I remember that because it was indeed our building. Within minutes, as we got closer and closer, we knew it was.

My grandfather had been napping upstairs on his couch. The fire-truck sirens woke him up; and he ran upstairs to the sixth floor, broke down a locked door, and rescued a crazy old invalid lady. He threw her over his back and ran down the stairs. Firemen saw this and helped him at about the second floor. They said she screamed and grabbed at all the banisters along the way down.

Then he spent the rest of the time helping firemen with the hoses on the fire trucks behind the building. I still vaguely remember seeing him in one of those white tank top, muscle shirts and dress pants, covered in soot, and helping the firemen. His t-shirt was tucked in. He wore a dress belt. Even at 5, I was impressed with my grandfather that day. A rescuer. A helper in an emergency. He was a hero at least that day. He was pretty much a loser in life, an ignorant, unemployed, or poorly employed drunkard in fact, but not that afternoon. The inconsistency of heroism. According to Julius Caesar, “All glory is fleeting.”

The building was quickly gutted. An old tinderbox. We lost everything. We retreated to the nearest safe street corner with the rubberneckers. And another first memory of mine was seeing my father walking down a side street to us. He got the call about the fire at his factory job, and they let him off work. He took the bus up Hudson Boulevard from Jersey City. It was dark by then. Flames, sparks, and smoke curved over the side street. He was just a silhouette on the city sidewalk under this blazing red overhead show, but I recognized his walk.

An Italian guy owned a furniture store on that corner. He and his wife let us wait outside the store in the vestibule after my dad got there. My mother was typically hysterical. My dad, ever the WW II vet used to the slog of life, was calm. I remember his crouching down to a squat and lighting a cigarette with his big, heavy lighter, the flames and smoke in the distance. Years later I saw a photo of him in his scrapbook down in that same squat at a calm moment at the Battle of the Bulge. His forearm was resting on his knee, the ever-present Camel cigarette dangling in his open hand.

The fire raged on, and we couldn’t leave. We didn’t own cars! And we didn’t have anywhere to go if we did. Our relatives lived miles away; and they were also poor folks in small, tiny, shared apartments. The store owner and my dad towed some old used furniture out of the store and into the dirty hallway outside it.

That night after the fire was extinguished, we slept out there on two or three used couches under some mover’s blankets. The owner had to eventually lock up the store and go home. Unable to fall sleep on a small couch, I saw my dad pee in the street in the middle of the night. Later, I did the same. I lay there on the couch looking out at the dead-of-the-midnight street. I guess a sense of fleeting detachment stuck with me from that moment. Plus, I saw the calm of my father. The heroics of my grandfather. My hysterical mother. My first real memories of life came from that night.

They took up a collection at the can factory for us. I remember that. We begged and borrowed for a week or two here and there, much of which I can’t remember except for feeling like a refugee. It was a moving blur. You know, there weren’t many hotels back then, not like there are today. And I don’t know what we did that actual Christmas Day. Where did we go? There was no official Christmas that year. My parents cobbled it all together and got another apartment on a street closer to the Hudson River in a small city called West New York.

They are all dead now. Only I remain. I think about that fire just about every Christmas. Not every Christmas, but many, especially as I get older. I did this time. I think about sleeping in that dirty hallway of the furniture store. I learned that things could go to hell in a minute, blow up, burn up, and disappear. Best not cling too dearly to things. Best not.

Everyone is dead now, but me. I think about that fire just about every Christmas. Not every Christmas, but many, especially as I get older. I did this time. I think about sleeping in that dirty hallway of the furniture store. I learned that things could go to hell in a minute, blow up, burn up, and disappear. Best not cling too dearly to things. Best not.

I learned that you could look up in the sky and see smoke and then look down and realize that it might just be you who’s on fire.

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This story appears in Hock memoirs/police books. Get the paperbacks or ebook downloads.

WHAT are you Wearing?


(Or how I learned to not wear a baseball uniform when practicing Tennis…)

(If you are happy camper doing classic martial arts in classic uniforms? Gis. Barefoot? You are just drawn to the idea? Then ignore me. What do you care what I think? This is just a personal rant.)

I was invited by some folks to a big reunion in the Philippines the other day, and I had to gracefully back out again. Because…because I just don’t go to such things. I am kind of a puzzle piece that doesn’t fit well in most places. When they asked why, one of my rambling answers was, “…yeah and you know,” this…that…“and I would have to wear a uniform, and…” 

Wearing the martial arts uniform. How many times have I dodged events through the years partially because I might be, I would be expected to wear a uniform? Thinking about it, I have not worn a gi of any system in probably in some 20 or so  years. Wow. I don’t have THAT uniform anymore. Nor any uniform. No black belts shoved in a corner. There are all long gone. I don’t recall throwing them away, but they are simply gone from my closets. And I’ve had many a gi since 1972. Kenpo. Karate. Kempo. Jujitsu (old school, not just wrestling). Aiki-Jitsu. Modern Arnis. Arnis de Mano. Not counting Thai shorts. All…gone.

I did show up, non-uniform, at a few events many years ago. One time in the 90s, I taught at a big event in San Francisco alongside Wally Jay and Uncle Bill de Thouars. There was about 300 people there.  ALL in gis except me and Dean Goldade. We wore t-shirts, blue jeans and shoes. We really stuck out like sore thumbs. Like disrespectful bums. I hear now that t-shirts and gi pants or sweat pants are acceptable in some big events and gatherings. Which may get me back in circulation? My Kuhl pants might work?

Being a “60’s, redneck-hippy,” I kind of rebel against uniforms. I had to wear an Army uniform and a police uniform. And I was detective for a long time, and had to wear a suit and tie for many years, and that is kind of a uniform in a way, but a step aside a regular uniform. On special assignments we wore only the smartest, tactical of clothing for what we were doing. The ultimate goal, I think. Which is getting to my point about playing dress up…

But I am a little twisted. Decades ago, I didn’t get into the martial arts to be a “martial artist.” I just wanted to learn all the …you know…the secrets…of fighting. And, through those decades, where else could you go to learn such things? I started in Parker Kenpo in 1972 and the classes were draped and adorned in classic uniforms. I mindlessly accepted this policy as an annoyance. Terrible, huh? Then, in police training in 1973, I noticed that when attending the – what has become defensive tactics – classes, police showed up in sweat pants, athletic shoes, t-shirt and usually brought along their pistol belts.  At least they wore shoes for God’s sake. At least they brought their belts, but many times they did not wear the belts unless the training switched to gun-related stuff. And what’s with the sweat pants?The clothing question remained for me since 1972.  Why are we not training in the clothes that we will probably be fighting in?

I’ve always analyzed stuff through the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions?  

WHO am I to be wearing a uniform? WHO is he?

WHAT exactly am I wearing? WHAT is he wearing?  What gear?

WHERE will I be fighting? In terms of smart and,or common clothing for the location?

WHEN will I be fighting? In terms of clothing? Season? Night? Day? 

HOW will I fight in these clothes?

WHY am I REALLY dressing in training this way, anyway?


In my classes, in my school I operated years ago in north Texas, there were no uniform requirements. People could wear whatever they wanted. Several of my students were cops and they would show up for class in their actual uniforms, which I encouraged. I know this is not good for school sales and the school-money-systems set up by the franchise programs today. I sold and still sell t-shirts, but they are not required. I understand the requirement though. The whole group-thing, and the martial uniform is supposed to create all kinds of group psychological “unity,” – yeah – I know, but I didn’t care about all that sales structure stuff. I mean we are not preparing a military unit where such group/unit psychologies really shine. 

Through the years I have seen all kinds of “fashions.” Some random notes on the fashion subject…

  • The old Jeet Kune Do guys and gals were often seen in the 80s and 90s in tank tops and really short, shorty-shorts. I did that too. That changed through time. Thank goodness. I was tired of trimming my pubic hairs.
  • The US Army, for example, did do much of their new combatives courses in an Army uniform, sure, but…a lot of it barefoot! (The whole “save-the-mats,” forever thing.) And the real sin – mostly WITHOUT standard gear like helmets, belts and backpacks, etc.  
  • The newer looks of Krav Maga dodge the classic uniforms, but many if not most, require you to wear their sweat pants with stripes and THEIR t-shirt. The whole sales/branding thing of businesses. (I get it! I understand the process. Do you as a student understand the process?)
  • Some of the BJJ gis look to me like walking, color billboards. Huge swaths of colors. How about those checker pattern ones from Korea? Warning! Watching them in motion might cause seizures! (As an aside, as a clothing anecdote, I noticed  that there are a number of BJJ guys who slip on blue jeans and have instantly/suddenly become hand, stick, knife, gun masters. The martial, underground call these people, “BJJ in Blue Jeans.”)
  • Then there is the “no-gi” “BJJ-ish” crowd. Sounds smart, I mean who wears all those pajamas “in the street” when they wrestle? Yet, they seem to be tossing aside the classic uniforms for modernity, but have instead switched over to like…rubber, skin-tight, Spiderman suits (what colors and designs!) and they are still…barefoot. It’s like they said, “Hey, let’s trade in that silly old, gi, bulky, uniform idea,” (for yet another silly, skin tight, but yet rubberized one.) You end up with the same abstract problem for “the street.”
  • One of my friends is an ex-ninjitsu player, with many trips to Japan under his belt. He told me that the Japanese people are mystified as to why Americans (or anyone) still dresses up like a ninja. He said they feel the same way as most Americans feel in general about people dressing up in Civil War clothes. Then imagine if Japanese people came to the USA and dressed up in Civil War clothes. (I personally don’t care about this at all, I just find this observation amusing.)
  • Some Sambo uniforms are interesting, with the typical gi top and tight shorts underneath. I think Sambo is great but at first glance, don’t you look and think they forgot their pants? Then after a bit, you get use to the idea.
  • How about those extremely, cumbersome Aikido outfits? Kilts gone wild.
  • In the 1980s, I once attended a “Plain-Clothes” Shooting course, for detectives, put on by retired FBI agents.  We wore what we wore, which at the time for most of us was suits and ties. It was actually very informative, full of great “cop” tips” and very much to the point.
  • The group pictures where everyone is dressed the same sure look nice.
  • If you are training to fight in a Thai boxing match, and you train in Thai shorts? BINGO! If you are training to fight in a Judo meet, and you train in a Judo gi? Bingo! And so on down the list. But what if you take, say… like, Kung Fu to learn to fight an urban rapist or an urban attacker? (What about “rural” attackers?)  It’s still abstract dressing and I think some bingo numbers are missing off your board.

In seminars, I ask attendees to wear street clothes and shoes. We need pockets and belts. Even if they wear “street short pants” they still have pockets and a belt. A shirt over your gun is important, as is a holster. Don’t just show up with a rubber gun and no holster (and belt.) If you have a fixed-blade training knife, you need a sheath to draw it from, else you probably would not have a fixed blade knife with you, walking around the farm or downtown. (This is a BIG disconnect in training schools. A zillion, rubber, fixed-blade knives and no sheaths.)

And, no need to overdress in my seminars as though one is being dropped into Cambodia for two weeks (unless, of course, you are actually being dropped into Cambodia for two weeks). I always wear mat shoes, as I hope every attendee will too, because we often don’t know where I will be teaching and if there is a “no-shoes-mat-rule? We respect that. I, at least will then wear socks because I must hide my horrible Amazonian Jungle, Toe Fungus. Believe me I know CDC is happy that I am not passing this strain around on your mats, around the world. (I know of a system that actually sells socks with their logo on it.)

As a so-called, “self defense instructor,” or whatever it is exactly that I am, I have made a rule for myself I always hope I can remember and consider when drawing up outlines, books and teaching – “reduce the abstract.” This is not easy challenge, given the circumstances of your school or your training grounds.  I have fallen short of this self-imposed standard many times, but I try.  But please consider the phrase, reduce the abstract. And one way of reduction, is to dress right for the who, what, where, when, how and why of your perceived fight. Now, we cannot create 10 or 12 movie sets with a group of improv actors to make everything seem ever-so-real to a student, but we can at least… at very least… dress appropriately.

You don’t find tennis players in practice wearing baseball uniforms. Baseball players are not practicing in football uniforms. Army soldiers do not practice in scuba suits. Know your goal, your mission and dress accordingly. I know people love to belong, love immersing themselves into groups. They love clubs. Tribes. Teams. And showing their pride. This usually means outfits and outfitting the outfits. I get it! I really do. Again, If you are happy camper doing classic martial arts barefoot, in classic uniforms? You are just drawn to the idea? And you understand the questions I am asking? Then ignore me. Ignore this. This is just a personal rant. Who cares what I think anyway? Doing any of the aforementioned things is better than sitting on the couch. I only ask that you at least kick around this idea, understand it and can articulate your opinion on these types of fashion choices.


Signed, The Perennial Outsider


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