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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 100 films on self-defense and more than 12 fiction and non-fiction books, 5 of which are on how to protect yourself. His products sell in more than 40 countries.

Participation vs. Observation in Seminars

Teaching Seminars Lesson 18

I am entering my 24th year of traveling and teaching seminars. I average 20 to 25 seminars a year in 10 to 14 countries. I tell you this because perhaps you might listen to my advice and ideas on teaching seminars.  

I ask, what is the seminar ratio of observing-participating in your seminars? Or the ones you attended?

My point is not just about guns, but let’s say, for a clear example, you are off to the gun range for a shooting seminar. Two, seven hour days. Twenty “gun” people signed up. When you get there, you discover that, after lecture times, only 2 people can shoot at a time. Yet, there are numerous, other, open shooting lanes. Still, the other 18 people must stand and watch the 2 people shoot? And wait their turn? Is this the best use of your 14 hours?  You will spend 12 hours observing, and maybe 2 hours shooting, participating.  I would say that this format at the gun range is counter-productive and makes for unhappy customers. So much so, when have you seen it at shooting courses? Almost never. There’s a reason for that.

Sometimes you might be forced into this, such as a session with shooting around cars. You might only have one car out at the range and have to rotate people? And, there are occasional, firearm safety issues with various topics. Common sense things that shooters understand. (Take a bunch of newbys at an intro to machine gun class. You can’t turn them loose! They need hands-on oversight.  Newbys are often amazed and entertained just watching people shoot fully auto. I am not talking about those situations.)

But understanding or not, I have been in this position many times and I apologize and regret them for the lack of participation leading to, too much stand-around, observation only. I hate to see paying customers congregate and wait. However, being forced into this by circumstances, is different than allowing/planning for it.

That’s with guns. Stand around time waiting with open lanes is usually inexcusable. But this isn’t about guns.  Why does “stand-around” time, work then within some fighting, martial seminars? When you attend a hand, stick, knife, self defense, MMA, BJJ, ballet, baseball, whatever topic, do you find yourself stuck in the teacher’s methodology where you are standing around, watching half or most of the training time? How is this different than your impatience at the gun range? Do you mindlessly accept this idleness? Have you even thought about how much time is being wasted?

In the last decade or so there has been an “observational movement” in martial seminars I’ve never seen in the 80s and 90s, that I find distasteful and wasteful – this observe, “stand around and watch.”  A situation gets taught. Words and demo. People stand around and watch that part. Okay. Then the situation gets physically exercised, and what then?  8 out of 10 people , or 18 out of 20 people,  still stand around and watch as a group of 2, or maybe 2 groups of 2, participate with each other and do the exercise. The rest, just…stand around, with their thumbs up their internal exits. Why aren’t all 20 people doing the drill in groups of two? Over and over again.

Think about this from the lazy and/or small curriculum, instructor’s viewpoint. This is a fantastic stall. Look at the seminar time it takes to observe 5 to 10 groups one at a time, as they go through the drill. Everyone else watches. Maybe the instructor pontificates a bit. When an instructor has only a little material in his repertoire, this kills a whole lot of teaching time. And it kills off the student’s participation/repetition time too. The click keeps ticking. 

These observe-instructors have some excuses for this. They will claim that:

“Time spent watching is learning too. And I have even heard that,

“It teaches people to be better witnesses to crimes.”  THAT, is a real stretch. S..T..R..E..T..C..H.

Others will say, “well, it adds stress to be watched, and stress is good.”

At what point in a training progression is stress really good?  When you are first figuring out how to do something? No, not really. And having 90% of the attendees standing around, 90% of the time is a big WASTE of THEIR time and money in comparison to doing it.

“Watching something is learning,” they will say. Somewhat. Hey, I’ve watched about 40,000 hours of pro-football in my life, but no one has asked me to play, or coach, or even advise an NFL team. Watching is one, very, very limited thing. Doing something is better, having actually done something for real is even better, especially when the subject matter is physical. (Speaking of football, all the football, film footage, play breakdowns on sports shows are always explained by veteran, retired football players. When players watch Monday game films, the coaches are veterans.) Watching/observing is limited learning in the physicality world.

Watching…as the teacher, I try and watch everyone as they work out. I watch. You do. That’s the relationship. I correct if possible. If the problem exists with several groups? I stop and make a point to mention it to everyone. That’s my job. Their job is work out and experiment. 

“Counters” to standing around. Having a good facility and some extra instructors is a great plan. For one example, years ago in the 1990s, in Las Vegas, Steve Krystek of Progressive Fighting Concepts and I concocted a great, simulated ammo gun, set-up. We had several rooms at UNLV. We wanted to run a car-jacking scenario outside and a restaurant, robbery scenario inside. We would be running ONE PERSON at a time! But what to with the some 20 people/students not participating in the scenarios? Plus, we also wanted to surprise each practitioner with the scenario topics. So, we ran an interactive, safe ammo, pistol class in one big room with the 20 folks and an instructor, and pulled a person out of that room, one at a time, to go through the scenarios. When done, we swore them to secrecy and shoved them back in the big room to work out some more with the 20. No one stood around. No one wasted time. The teaching and experimenting never stopped. The reps never stopped. No…idle thumbs up exits.

Another counter? Think about what I said here and fix it with planning. Make the observe/participate ratios the best they can be. 

As I said a few lines earlier – as the teacher, I try and watch everyone as they work out. I watch. You do. I correct if possible. If the problem exists with several groups? I stop and make a point to mention it to everyone. That’s my job. Their job is work out and experiment. I do not make everybody watch everybody one at a time.

What is the seminar ratio of observing/participating in your seminars? Or the ones you attended? I suggest you shave it to a minimum.

Let’s keep these thumbs busy.


Hock’s email is

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Knife Fight and The Jailhouse Superbowl Ring

Funny thing, I was watching the DVDs of the first season of FX’s TV show, Justified and in one episode there was a side character who was a retired football player and Superbowl champ in the plot. There were some photo shots and discussion about his Superbowl ring. Made me think of the story I wrote and published many, many years before the TV show, of a similar situation that happened to me with a Superbowl champ. Funny how these coincidences occur huh? Funny how they wind up in a TV show later. Anyway, here again is the story.

Our city boasted two Superbowl player residents. And the two of them were as different as day and night and as racially typecast as one could imagine. One was a retired white guy in a very big house with many investments. The other was a black guy from what one might call our slums, or projects. He had no such monied investments. And no such home. He was older than most players but still playing ball. And every off season he would return home to Texas. And every season he seemed to get into trouble of some sort. Both these guys wore the big brash and legendary Superbowl ring. I never met the white guy, but did meet the black guy. In fact, he kind of saved my ass one Saturday morning…in a knife fight.

Saturday morning, 1970s. Patrol.
In one “hood” in our city we had a old drinking place called The Wine Tree. It was a bar, but not a bar. It was an open house with a jukebox and the booze flowed (illegally sold) along with the drugs. An old, crippled man named Willie lived in the back room and “ran” it with a henchman or two. Through time you learn, either by emergency calls or by investigation that many of that area’s crimes, at some point started, ran through, or ended up at the Wine Tree. Did Willie have a liquor license? A business permit? No. It was just a house. An open house party 24/7. The neighbors didn’t care. Hell, they hung out there, too. The attendees parked everywhere and the dancing and drinking and conniving and hustling spilled out onto the pounded-down and dry front lawn, and out onto the streets. There was even a jukebox in there.

The next mornings, especially after weekends, The Wine Tree had a hang-over. There were always stragglers still hovering on or about the property. One Saturday morning either a neighbor reported a fight in progress out front of the Wine Tree, or I drove up on this fight. I just can’t remember. I was a young turk back then and worked this district. I was just as fearless as I was dumb. As I drove up to the Wine Tree, I saw at least three men arguing and another two others apparently interceding and peacemaking. The peacemakers weren’t doing so well. In total, five knuckleheads bandied about.

Two of the arguing guys started a sloppy fight. The other three guys started in cheering or jeering. Some in the general area scattered. Some remained at a distance, on-looking, rubber-neckers in the general area.

I got out of the car and tried my hand at this peace-keeping routine too, but these men were charged up on who-knows-what from the night before and pissed off. My Gestalt therapy training just wasn’t working, and the two main men crashed in on each other. I dove in trying to separate them. And wild fists flew. Then a third guy jumped in, and I’ll tell you it was a free-for-all. Everybody against everybody, and I wasn’t winning. I wound up half-wrestling, half-punching with one of them as the other two, struggled off a few feet and bumped into us.

Then one of them pulled a knife. It was a switchblade. He was cursing up a storm, and this whole event was going south very badly. He was not cursing or pointing the knife at me, just the other guy he was originally mad at. Then, to satisfy the arms race, one of the onlookers passed the other unarmed man a knife!

“Put down those knives!” I ordered.

The peacemakers and a few gathering onlookers did bail back about 15 feet when those knives came out. Some did! Some onlookers got involved and grabbed my arms. I think, as if, to stop me from shooting their friends? They kept me away. They tried holding my arms as if to protect their fighting friends from me.

HA! So that “drop it,” command of mine didn’t work and I had this gut-crushing feeling this would end with my gun out, maybe shooting somebody and it all turn, six different kinds of crazy bad, because I couldn’t get a handle on the situation. I pushed back, got free and damned if they didn’t re-grab me.

These two armed goons cursed a blue streak and were dueling as in a comedy of drunks! Slashing and stabbing at each other in uncoordinated, wild lunges and swings. Wild enough for one fool to almost fall over.

Then suddenly a stout black man charged up. From the proverbial “nowhere.” He was not drunk. He hit the guy hanging on my right arm, using his shoulder and we both pushed this pain-in-the-ass off of me. Without hesitation, he pivoted and ran up to one in the knife party dance and belted him in the side of his head, with a fist, a forearm, or an elbow? I can’t say which. It was a blind side, sucker shot. The man did not see it coming and was so stunned, he dropped the knife on impact, stumbled off and fell.

Arm now free, I pulled my Colt Python pistol. The onlookers gasped and cursed and groaned at its sight. I stepped before the other armed man and told him I’d kill him if he didn’t drop the knife. I got in such a position that the other drunk that was first fighting with me, now shared my gun barrel time too.

The guy with the knife just stood there, tip of the knife aimed at my face, his eyes all google-eyed, bloodshot and watering, his lip busted open and bloody. He was wavering before me like a heat wave on booze and drugs. It would have been funny, but for the knife, the jerks around me…well, frankly, I guess it wasn’t much funny at all.

“Don’t even think about it,” I warned him. Good God, was I going to have to shoot this stumbling drunk? I decided I would if he lunged at me.

Meanwhile, this hard-charging citizen hero snatched up the loose knife from the ground and walked right up to the man before me and removed the knife from his hand while the drunk just stared at me. I ordered the two men on their knees. The first was already grounded. The hero stood there like my professional backup! And, I wondered where my official back-up unit was, speaking of backup. They didn’t get there in time.

Don’t let your imagination run wild about this, as if it was a cool, fight scene in a movie or something. These guys were staggering, stinking, drugged jerks. Yeah, yeah, dangerous and all, sure, as the textbooks would remind us, but a lot more low-key than it reads here. Two pair of handcuffs hung on my belt, and I had three men to shackle! I cuffed the bystander guy fighting me with one pair, figuring if he were damn fool enough to fight with me before, I needed both of his hands linked up now. Then I split my second pair of cuffs with these two so-called, “knife fighters.”

“There ya go. Now go on and beat yourselves to death now,” I told the two handcuffed slobs. “See if I stop you again.”

At this point I didn’t care if they clobbered each other down. One cuff to one’s right hand, the other cuff to the other man’s right hand. This way if they both ran off, it wouldn’t be too easy to run. In theory, one faced one way, one faced the other, (but in actuality, one of them could cross their arm over for them to run. Anyway, that didn’t happen.)

Other units arrived, and we carted the men away. Armchair, Sunday-morning quarterbacks would say that I should have waited in the squad car until backup arrived. But how do you do that? Imagine sitting in a police car like a timid, church mouse while men fought with knives for several minutes just a few yards away? Waiting for backup? Impossible. What if one killed the other while the police watched safely in their locked car? No way. No way. No way.

I had to get the name and address of this hero for my crime and arrest reports. I thanked him profusely. He was all smiles and told me everything. I’ll call him “Ray Wilson” here.

At the station, our Patrol Lt Gene Green wandered into the book-in room and wanted the sitrep. After my report, he said,

“Ray Wilson? He plays for the _____________. Ya’ met Ray! Ya’ see his big Superbowl ring? He comes home every off-season and stays with his momma. He gets into some kind of trouble every year.”

“Well, he sure helped me out of a mess here!” I said. “He needs a medal.”

“Just wait,” Lt Green warned. “You’ll see him in here for somethin’ er’ another.” By “in here,” he meant the book-in room.

“He comes home every year and sorta cleans up after his relatives’ and friends’ bad business. He has a helleva’ family. Always in trouble.”

That Wilson clan. Oh, yeah. Those kin folk! Well, I saw his point. What a shame. The guy just charged right in and helped me.

About a month or so later we were on midnight shift, and I walked through the station to the squad room. The old headquarters was situated kind of funny because you had to walk through the book-in room of our jail to get from the front side of the station and into to the back squad room. There on the book-in room bench, sat a handcuffed Ray Wilson. My Wine Tree hero. He was arrested for assaulting some men with a baseball bat! Some kind of a family, revenge/vendetta, just like Lt Green had said.

Ray nodded to me as I approached and passed through. His possessions were laid on the book-in counter, ready for safe-keeping collection. A worn wallet. Some pocket change. An old watch. A belt…and a big, golden, Superbowl ring.

“Take care of that ring,” Ray asked cordially.

“We always do, Ray,” the arresting detective said.
He retired in our city, took over the family’s, older home and then years later died of old age, but a poor man. He was one of the regulars I would stop and talk to through the years.

Hock’s email is


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Watching Two Men Shot – Texas Church Shooting.

The men? Their names were Anton Wallace, 64. Richard White, 67,

I really hate to comment on these things, but I am pissed. I really try to keep my mouth shut about these mass/group shootings. Lord knows each and every one on the web jumps on to babble on and on about every little factor of mass shootings, pushing their dissected “one-ups-man-ship” on who is the smartest, group shooter adviser/expert, trying to find that angle that specializes themselves as THEE, go-to, honcho analyzer. The woulda’s, the coulda’s and the shoulda’s, the Monday mornings  of shootings. But here goes…

News reports –  “Wilson said he and other members of the security team were watching Kinnunen when he walked into the sanctuary because he was wearing a fake beard and fake wig.”

Watching? I know times have changed.  I attended a conservative political rally once…could be 8 years ago in downtown Dallas, TX. Outdoors. There were actual patriots there, the kind of people that are sick of, and against “big government, big tax” as I am. The kind of event attended by normal, adults, yet walking through the grounds was a guy, by all shape and movement, a guy in his 20s, wearing a “V” mask. His face was covered. Hands exposed, he was a white guy. He was the only one person in some 200 people, masked. If I was working there? I’d find out who that guy was, out of the presence of the crowd, with a contact. I’d be looking for signs of weapons, etc. 

Now, in the many years prior I’ve worked security in events – the first serious one in the 1980s as a police detective, was with President Bush senior, a speech in a college stadium and dinner, where I was assigned to the US Secret Service. My job was to walk the arena and look for local crazies and knuckleheads with an S.S. agent as a partner. No one was getting anywhere near the building, in any mask, or a fake beard or wig. No inappropriate clothes for the weather. No one, I repeat no one, and I repeat again, NO ONE like that, would have stepped a foot on the parking lot. Did I say no one? If one did, we would have bounced his ass off the premises and into some dark hole somewhere for intense search and questioning. Years later, retired, I organized security for a Jimmy Carter book tour through Texas with his Secret Service. Same rules. Crowd watching.

Since then, I’ve had many security, event contracts of semi-famous and very famous people – the biggest was organizing security for Rudy Giuliana with the NYPD bodyguard team.  I always hired local SWAT officers over their typical, overtime rates, because almost all were multi-talented vets. Since the 1980’s, where I was  security, or a security manager or event manager, if you found someone walking around in freaking masks or disguises, atop bulky clothes, they were stopped and removed.

I guess it has become politically incorrect to remove masked and disguised people in such events? Was that it? Is that it? Now I am not talking about a Muslim woman with her face covered, even though I find that practice an atrocious symbol of female oppression. She’s a victim of a group thinking disorder, brainwashed, goof-ball, whack-job society. If you suppress women? You suck. If you have a system that does? You’re stupid and your system is stupid and it sucks. You suppress anyone, in fact? You suck.

But this White Settlement Church shooting in Texas, so heralded as a positive example by so many – the church security guy shooting the bad guy mass shooter. The good guy with a gun theme. We love it.  I love it. First off, hey, I am happy the bad guy is shot dead. In this world, there are just some sons a bitches that need killing. And I hope that everyone sitting in that church had a pistol. Two pistols each, in fact. Sure, great. But, here’s the real deal, two really, innocent great, special guys died in that church before the wonderful, heroic shooting. THAT is why I am pissed. This is my point. The security was a professional failure. I don’t expect normal people to easily recognize this, and more than not, church security is made up of normal people with a pistol.

Any professional would easily recognize that this was a mess and professional, security failure.

Numerous people (to include the guards,) saw him wearing a bad wig and a fake beard. And clothes long enough to conceal a shotgun. How much clothing does one need to cover a shotgun? To sit down while concealing a shotgun? The couple sitting next to him, got up and left. And security, just…watched.

In my world, my time, you walk across the my parking lot, you try to enter my building, my doors, into my lobby,  you try take a seat in my event, in a fake wig, and a fake beard (cheap ones that untrained citizens recognized) wearing enough bulky clothes to conceal a shotgun? Baggy enough to conceal one while seated? Well bubba, you ain’t getting in the door. Your ass is bounced off to the dark side of the moon.

I understand I am dinosaur from a past age. I understand that the politically correct world today has officially in some cases and unofficially de-emasculated many police and security people into wormy little, paranoid, sycophant, pussy cats. Afraid to stop people. Afraid to confront people. Afraid to march them off somewhere. Afraid to pat them down. But probable cause and common sense tells you, you can. You’d better. Especially by a school. Especially by a church. the Supreme Court calls such things, “totality of circumstances.”

IF I ran a city – which I never would or could because timid, liberal dipshits seem to abound everywhere. In my city, no one would wear a mask or disguises at any organized event except Comic Con.

The parking lot. The doors. The lobby. The event. These armed, church, security people may hit a bulls-eye on a shooting range and have great trigger control, or even teach shooting,  but they first need to evaluate people and situations. They need to run proper parking lot security, and proper, entry-door control and observation,  lobby and seating observation. And they need the balls, and verbal and physical skills to stop people and, or remove people, and not let them pass, not let them inside just to…to “watch” them.

That first contact could-should be cordial, charming even. Then it de-escalates or escalates, depending upon his answers. If you stop a suspicious, acting/looking stranger on the church parking lot or in the lobby, this is where charm and verbal skills come in. Is he “coming-to-Jesus” for the first time? Or, a whack job killer? Verbal skills determines.

But…but  WATCH him? Watch him shoot two wonderful people? It’s called intervention. You intervene. 

“I saw Lee Harvey Oswald and he looked real suspicious, so I watched him. Then he shot President Kennedy, so I shot him.”

You’re too late, hotshot. This Wilson guy will now get a medal.  The hero who “let.” The hero who “watched.” I would not give him a medal. I would send him back to security school. Protectors have to know when to go “verbal,” when to go “confront,” when to go “hands-on,” and that the “hands-on” may turn into a scuffle, even a gun fight. When you put on the “big-boy hat” and “big boy badge,” It’s a zero-to-60, mixed-weapon, world. And you carry that gun? You also need to know why and how NOT to use it.  You do that this particular time, (and often) by every step I just listed, from charming to bad-ass.

Watch people? Watch people shoot two great guys? No.

No masks. No disguises. No wrong clothes.

Just…just No.

(And I don’t teach church, security courses. I presume all this stuff is taught in them? Or, in some,  are they just shooting paper targets? )


Veteran Tom Crawford checks in – “After 40 years spent in security and law enforcement, my first reaction to hearing about this was some relief that it was not worse, and how the presence of some good people probably saved lives. I have no wish to detract from that. But I also recognized it as a serious security failure.

This is what “amateur hour” looks like in the security field, and what happens when the responsibility for protection at an event is left to well-meaning volunteers who have not had the benefit of professional training and experience. Having said that, these people, including Jack Wilson, did the best they could given what they knew about security, which clearly wasn’t that much. This is what can happen when shooting skill is conflated with security knowledge.

I can only think about how this may have turned out differently had these good people had the benefit of professional training and supervision in their program. It might well have made any shooting unnecessary. I’m sure even Jack Wilson, who reportedly was responsible for “training” this group would agree, and if he had it to do over again, would have gotten some professional instruction for his team in exchange for having two good men still alive.”


Hock’s email is


“Protecting the Belt,” Holster Retention Observations

I would like to tell 5 quick, pistol/holster retention stories

Retention story #1:
Several years ago I taught at a major US city police academy, an in-service combatives course. Running there also was the rookie class.There was a woman in this rookie class that was consistently having her pistol taken during defensive tactics classes. Instructors told me she’d purchased a high level (many tricks to draw) retention holster. There were so many twists and turns, pushes and pulls, that she herself could not draw her own gun. Their final qualifications were coming up and she absolutely refused to give up her new safer holster, even though she literally could not pull the gun out on demand! I left before there was a conclusion. My best guess though, is she changed holsters.


Retention story #2
I was teaching a Chicago seminar once that was attended by a large group of area police officers. One of the scenarios I taught was drawing and shooting after your strong-side/gun-side arm had been incapacitated as in injured or shot. You cross-draw, pull your gun with your support hand, taking care not to accidentally insert your pinky into the trigger guard, a common discharge problem from this angle. You either shoot the pistol upside down (can you do this with your pistol?) or use a knee pinch to get the gun right-side-up. We do this standing and on the ground with simulated ammo as the practitioner actually has to shoot a moving, thinking person closing in and/or shooting back. Next came a short break and I saw all the officers over in one corner of the gym, their support arm stretching and reaching unsuccessfully around their backs to pull their pistol. Only the skinniest, most limber, police woman could do it. I asked them what they were doing, and they told me that their guns and holsters were department issue. The holster retention device would not allow for such a frontal, angle removal. That holster company feared that gun takeaways would usually occur from the front. In order to pull the pistol from that model holster, a shooter had to grab the gun pull/angle it back, and then out. This holster prohibited the easy, common sense draw I, and so many others, teach. (And, what about drawing while seated in a car?)


Retention story #3
In the 1990s I was teaching an Air Force SWAT-style team and the San Antonio SWAT team. I was, once again doing simulated ammo scenarios and was doing one on the ground, on my back. I asked for a gun belt and an SAPD officer quickly gave me his. On my back, when time to draw and shoot, I could not remove the pistol from the holster. We all gathered around closely to inspect this. The SWAT officer’s holster had several retention tricks built in. His holster, that company, had also decided that most pistols were removed from the front, requiring a pull backward first, then out. Since I was flat on my back, I could not pull the gun back. No one, all seasoned vets, in the class had thought of this, least of all this SWAT officer until this experiment. One would think that a holster company would put such news on the packaging label and advertisement.

“WARNING! You cannot draw this weapon when down on your back!”

We learned that to draw from such a 3 o’clock, hip holster, you had to roll half-over, or lift your body into a half a crab-walk position.


Retention story #4
“Back in the day,” as a detective, I was working with a fellow investigator on a case when we heard of a very nearby armed robbery on the police radio. We were so close, we actually saw the suspect run from the store. We drove as far as we could to chase him, then had to bail from the car and go on foot. A few fences were jumped and the robber got into a cement factory with a large, open gravel lot, and big trucks. We’d split up, but we both saw the robber stop by a truck as we could see his legs under the truck. We split further apart, circled the truck and drew our guns as we closed in. My partner pulled his .45 out on the run. He pulled the pistol AND paddle holster out and pointed it at the bad guy. He made a violent jerk and the holster flew off the pistol. The robber, facing our two guns, surrendered. We laughed about it later because we were a little crazy back then, but we also learned a lesson about holsters.


Retention story #5     The Sandpit Travesty.  One of my officer friends once, lost his pistol and was shot and killed by a fugitive. Without revealing any personal details, this SWAT officer had a retention duty holster on regular duty, but when on a SWAT assignment had a “drop” holster as shown previously, a low, thigh, tactical holster, minus any retention. His pistol was taken in a ground fight and he was shot in the head. Since sad events like this, retention devices started appearing on the most “tactical” of holsters, (even Taser holsters,)
His agency went on a PR, press junket to prove how much they cared about the subject, suggesting that holster retention was so well trained. They filmed a news segment for TV with their officers training in a sandpit. A trainer grabbed a trainee’s holstered pistol and tried to remove it. The trainee held on and basically the two engages in a stupid, standing wrestling match – four hands on a holstered rubber gun. Sometimes falling down in the ruckess.
Perhaps to an ignorant novice, this seemed like terrific, tough-guy, training? But it is not. No one threw a punch, kicked a nut, yanked head hair, popped an eye, or broke a bone. A bad guy wanting to kill you will do all these things. An officer, wanting to stay alive will do all these things. All the things that can not happen full speed in training, but can be partially simulated, yet still are totally ignored. And like you learn to forget to punch in Judo, bad training makes you forget how to survival fight. This is not preparing an officer, or any one toting a gun, to respond properly to a disarm attack.
And that is why, this sort of sandpit style training is a stupid travesty. And it doesn’t have to be in a sandpit either, as you’ll find stupid anywhere.

Words of wisdom – Military vet and weapons instructor Mike Woods sums up by saying, “Buyer Beware. So, if you’re shopping for a holster – as an individual or as an agency buyer – you need to go beyond the ratings and advertising hype by fully understanding how the various security features work. You also need to ask hard questions about the specific tests and criteria that a manufacturer uses to rate their products. Until the industry unites around a single standard, it’s not enough to assume that Brand X’s Level III rating denotes a comparable level of security, durability and quality as Brand Y’s Level III rating. Your choice of duty gear is too critical — and your safety too important – to be influenced by clever marketing. Ask tough questions, get the details, and make sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples.”

Protecting the belt! There are many such stories. Keep your eyes and ears open for them. And, keep experimenting. Just think about handgun/holster retention. In 26 years in line operations, I have had only 5 attempts on my holstered pistol. There are many attempts on record all over the world. It happens. Statistically your odds on an attempt may be like one in 40,000? But if it happens to you? It’s one in one.

Hock’s email is

Beat, Break, Damage or Wait? Real “Ground” Fighting

It is the duty of every martial person to learn each joint and the directions they go in and the directions they don’t go in, standing thru on the ground, whether they think they are studying “survival fighting” or “arts/sports.” This joint knowledge is useful and can comes from many sources. (My personal favorite being “Catch Wrestling,” and bits from here and there.)
The “ground.” Ever been fighting someone on the so-called “ground?” And I mean – 
  • on the tile floor?
  • on the the cement?
  • on the asphalt?
  • on a stairway?
  • a gravel picnic ground?
  • a slimy hillside in the pouring rain?
  • a room full of furniture?
  • accomplices around?
I have. Arresting people. I’ve worked in the field,  line operations, spanning three decades. I’ve caught people in the act and served many warrants.
So, you get some control. And you hold on in a submission. It seems stabilized, but now I have to transition to handcuffs. I might struggle through several holds/transitions to travel to that goal and geography, as well as get one hand free/loose to get the cuffs out. If I lose the hold, lose control, the fight just continues, unlike mat sport, tap-outs. Unless the guy is totally exhausted (which happens at times, thank goodness), when you let go, loose control, the other guy just keeps right on fighting again. Injured or not (remember what adrenaline does), you cannot depend on holds, submissions to end a fight situation.
Lots of times my submission holds might mean my partner, or arriving back up jumps in, to help (whew!) I wait a short time or  worse, a longer time? How much time, though ? How long can I keep an angry, resisting person in a submission hold?  And, I have not always had backup.
(In my later years, we could not choke anyone. In the 1970s and 80s, chokes were a great police tool.)
So, what does a civilian do? Beat him, break him, damage him up, or wait? And one must consider the legal issues with each.
– Beating is ground and pound.  
– Breaking him his breaking up body parts. 
– Damaging is busting him up, but not to the breaking point. 
– But waiting? Submissions? Waiting  for what? Wait for who? What happens next?
I must repeat though, It is the duty of every martial person to learn each joint and the directions they go in and the directions they don’t go in, standing thru on the ground, whether they think they are studying “survival fighting” or “arts/sports.” This body joint knowledge is useful and can comes from many sources. You still simply have to know this material. 
My personal path is one of “no hero-worship,” no “system-worship,” as martial arts are cluttered with these distractions.  I am not a hobbyist, nor a “joiner.” I am a skeptic. An analyzer. A survivalist. Your path is your path.  Whatever path, get on the path of learning the joints and which ways they do and do not twist and bend.
Hock’s email is

Innovating and Re-Inventing the Basics

Are you an innovator, or a replicator? After a thought provoking discussion on Facebook, starting with this photo…

…the comments came up that the basics (of fighting arts, or perhaps anything). Are so basic, that how could one possibly innovate the basic-basics. After all, they’re so darn basic!

On the basics, I replied – I am constantly impressed, year after year, how college and pro football trainers invent, and re-invent better ways to enhance the basics of football, the basics of positional football. Open-minded trainers, always looking, always thinking. That’s an open eye to innovation… of the basics.

Can…should the basics be innovated? Yes. But, you first have to find your end goals. Your Mission.

  • Why in the world are you doing what you are doing?
  • Is it just for exercise? There might be better exercises?
  • Survival? There might be better ways?
  • Is it just a hobby-love? Like:  “I am addicted to wrestling.” “I just live double sticks.” “I just love shooting paper targets.” “I just want to thoughtless;y do whatever Master Quan wants to do. He is my hero!”

Then…your happiness is achieved! I get it.

Once true mission/goals are established, then the future training  can be kicked around, and one thing is to examine the whole approach to those “basics,” the collection of “basics.” The martial arts for example are loaded down with unneeded “basics.” Even when you want to become THAT specific martial artist, you are still, often dragged, mired down into doing unnecessary basics. They should all be examined and after a while, re-examined. It so important to be free of dogma…unless you like dogma?  It’s my old “who, what,  where, when, how and why question game again.

  • Who gets to make the basics? Who made them your basics? What really are your basics?
  • Who suffers, or needs or flourishes doing these basics?
  • What is the real mission, the real goal to establish what is basic
  • What better, smarter ways are there to teach the basics?
  • What can best motivate people to keep doing the basics?
  • Where will these basics actually be needed?
  • Again…who gets to make the basics?

For example, one dissection of “why do you do this?” A friend of mind was proudly showing a martial arts, ground movement, kata on youtube. Eight guys and gals, all dressed the same, flipping and rolling and stopping a second in a position. It was an elaborate show.  He was proud of them. They were proud of themselves. I watched the routine a few times and could see that really,  the “stops” were about 7 stretches with dancey moves between each one. The dancey moves did not conceal the point to me that they were actually stretching and in actuality, the kata itself was about stretching. For a guy like me? I would much rather do the 7 stretches. No dance. One could probably do each stretch longer and deeper, if they just did stretching alone.  But, I understand my goal. My mission.  Some people like to…dance around. (There are professional dancers!) And some people derive pleasure from it, memorizing it, and performing. Not me, but some do. That’s why I always ask people, to ask themselves, why they do what they do.  If their happy, I’m happy. Just be on-mission, on-goal. And know…

But, if the basics are so basic? Can you innovate the basics?

  • Is there another way, another drill to enhance a basic?
  • What do individual people, not groups need to advance?
  • What do groups need, not individuals, need to advance?
  • Can you innovate, customize the education format?
  • Can you reduce the abstract?
  • Can you innovate the inspiration?
  • Can you recognize that, what is basic for some is advanced for others.
  • Can you recognize that, what is advanced for some, is basic for others. 
  • I mean, shouldn’t we always be asking, “Is there a better way?” About everything?

 I often see many instructors spend 30 (or more) minutes explaining some painfully, simple movement. Some people love all that. Some don’t.  But we don’t need to hear about the DNA of the Missing Link through current mankind to show how to punch someone in the nose. Unless you are a virgin geneticist? 

Vetted, core, basic things. Oh, like wind sprints. You might say, “How can you innovate a wind sprint? But wait, wait! Innovating coaches and trainers have developed numerous ways to improve your basic sprinting, and they have with all kinds of core basics.

You can’t always innovate. everything, but you can always think and worry about innovation. 


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Cornfield Combatives – How Urban Is Your Combatives Cotton Patch?

     I live in the outer reaches of the ever-expanding Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex in north Texas. This geographic term “DFW” just continues to grow and grow, but up north here we are still surrounded by farmland and ranches. Around here, it looks like an occasional housing addition, then a ranch, then a strip center, then more farmland and ranches. That breakup is what I like about the area.  It’s still very much country and wide-open spaces. I am a good judge of what is rural, suburban and urban because I grew up in the thick, dense New York City area. Basically, I know city and I know country, and today’s cavalier, tossed around term “urban,” confuses me.

     So, there’s a new, small strip center in the cornfield near me. The first entry in this isolated small building was a place called Urban Nutrition. Brick wall, gaffiti, art sign. That ubiquitous claw ripping through the brick art, too. Urban Nutrition is a big city name suggesting, well, what exactly?  Real, inner city … ahhh…inner city eating? Inner city, muscle growth? Inner city…vitamins? What exactly does it mean, Mister Franchise Owner? Who is it supposed to attract? Because, last I read, and for some years now, urban areas were having trouble getting available fresh food and good nutrition. So…copying urban nutrition plan is not much of a goal.

     A photo of this store as we see it, with cows walking around it, in open fields, would capture the very dichotomy of that name in that place. “Wazzup, Farmer Jones? Howdy, neighbor! Learn how them inner city boys get real big and muscular?” (Wouldn’t you rather be a big strapping country boy? Eat fresh country food?)”

     Sure, sure, sure, in the next 20 years a few things will pop up all around the nutrition store, but I will never say that it will look remotely urban, like Watts or Harlem, or any urban city around here. It will look suburban at best. The name sends an odd, off-mission message. It’s just odd to have an Urban Nutrition store in the middle of a rural cornfield.

     Urban. Suburban. Rural. The U.S. Bureau of the Census defines urban as a community with a population of 50,000 people or more. To me, I think people attach an inner-city feel, mood, culture and look to the word “urban.” The dictionary says that – “Rural areas are referred to as open and spread out country where there is a small population. Rural areas are typically found in areas where the population is rather self-sustaining . Suburban areas are references to areas where there are residences adjacent to urban areas. There is a marked difference between the three. We all know this.

    I see a lot of urban stuff these days and, of course, even the rather ubiquitous urban combatives name dropped here and there in system names and school system descriptions. I wonder why? I find this title curious, too. Urban Combatives. A sales pitch might be …

 “… all these techniques have been tested … in, you know … urban … ahhh … areas.”

“Wazzup, suburb boyz? Country boyz! Fight like inner-city, urban boyz! Word!”

“Fight like Boyz in the Hood.”

“No crime, no fights happen in the suburbs or out in the country, you stupid rednecks, just so you hicks know, down in the projects is where you really learn how to fight.”

 “Are your punches and kicks all kinda’ … urbanized? Run through that special, ‘urban” filter’ of urbanized special fighting that only urban thugs can do.

     Seems to me urban people have no monopoly in fighting well. Have you investigated the UFC champs for example? You know Matt Hughes is a farm boy from southern Illinois. Brock Lesnar is from Webster, South Dakota. Randy Couture is from Cornellous, Oregon. I could go on and on with this country-boy list. Not exactly an inner-city or urban majority. I’d put money on Randy in a Harlem alley fight, wouldn’t you? WORD! And they say words count, so who are you training to fight where?

     We’ve defined the geography, now for the terminology. We know what “Urban Combat” is for the military today – fighting with firearms inside cities, as opposed to say … jungle warfare or the “forest combat.”

     So, what does “urban combatives” really mean to citizens? Actually, crime and/or fights will occur anywhere. Rural, suburban, or urban. Some of the worst crimes and baddest fights have occurred behind the barn in Idaho or in an alleyway in Branson, MO. Alleyways are everywhere, even in Mayberry. Per capita, a whole bunch of violent crime happens outside the so-called “urban” inner cities.

     Let’s talk martial business. Yes, fights, crime and war occur in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Indoors and outdoors. A comprehensive fighting program, appealing to the most customers, must include all these turfs. Generics at first, specifics later as the “who, what, where, when how and why” are developed and explored. Picking one name like “urban” is actually quite limiting as far as a smart business plan goes, unless you are in a specific urban zone, teaching specific urban people, to solve specific urban problems. Just like the military jungle fighting school teaches jungle fighters to fight in the jungle.

     Just let yourself think about this for 30 seconds. The marketing name of something, or advertising catch phrases, counts both overtly and covertly as in subliminal or obvious. Subliminal advertising is a major influence in the success of business. (Hey, businesses can be tricky and tough to name. I empathize.)

Flip it abound and look at it this way:

  • Will “Georgia Barnyard Combatives” work in Manchester or Prague?
  • Will “Harvey’s Suburban Combatives” work in Camden, New Jersey?
  • Will “Jimmy Bob’s Hearth of the Homeland Combatives” work in Detroit?
  • Will we ever see “Outer City Limits Combatives?”
  • Is there even a “Rural Combatives?”
  • Is there even a “Suburban Combatives?
  • I have seen the expression, “wrong side of the tracks,” used in advertising, for rough-tough, rural background creds.

Funny thing is, many rural and suburban people that don’t otherwise like the “big city,”  don’t like the laws, politics  and restrictions, some still embrace the term “urban” this or that,  despite where they are and what they need. I guess “urban” sounds just way, way cooler to someone who doesn’t think about it past 30 seconds?

“Urban.” It’s a big city word, but also a very small one in oh so many ways. It’s not cool to me. Not at all.  


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Quick Sweden Interview

Quick interview published by Håkan Linnarsson whilst in Sweden…

QUESTION: Name? W. Hock Hochheim

QUESTION: Born? Before my time…

QUESTION: Started out with what martial art?
“I Started out with Ed Parker, Kenpo Karate in 1973”

QUESTION: Main style?
“Generic essence of combat.”

QUESTION: Other styles / degrees?
“Various Arnis / Kali systems, Aiki-jitsu, the whole Jeet Kune Do concepts-family-world, Karate, Jujitsu.”

QUESTION:What made you do martial arts?
“I guess seeing fights in movies and TV shows. Not necessarily martial arts movies, but other types of TV shows and movies. I saw the need to know how to fight criminals and enemy soldiers.”

QUESTION: What would be your best advice to someone who is thinking about doing martial arts or has just started?
“Try to determine what EXACTLY it is you are interested in from the start. Arts? Sports? Self defense? Investigate these differences. Deeply. And then pick your subject. Try to know the “who, what, where, when, how and why” of the system you are selecting and of yourself. What do you really want? What do you really need?”

QUESTION: Which is your most joyful or ludicrous memory from martial arts?
“In terms of martial arts, back in the late 1980s, probably going toe-to-toe, and at times even beating my first very serious, freestyle, JKD instructor Ray Medina in kickboxing. Ray was a local kick boxing and karate champ and he took me from ‘zero to sixty.’ From a clown, to someone who could beat him. If you knew Ray, you know what that means to me. Ray took me out of the dark ages. Terry Gibson handed me a flashlight.

My most ludicrous moment was when a rather famous, pressure point, superstar in the 1990s tried to knock me over with a no-touch, ki/chi power. I didn’t move or blink. Surrounded by people, he had to say that my chi power was very strong. Well, no, I just wasn’t a hypnotized culty follower.”

QUESTION: Do you have any favorite technique?
“Just the best one for that particular, chaotic situation – moment. Unlike the Highlander movie expression, “there can be only one. In this case, ‘There CAN’T be only one.’ “

QUESTION: If you where to sum up “budo” and “martial arts” in one word, what would that be?
“Summing up? The terms “Budo” and “martial arts” are esoteric, artsy, abstract approaches to realistic hand, stick, knife, gun fighting. Crime and war. Arts are filled with distracting uniforms, ideas, misguided hero worship, misguided system worship, off-messages and confusing goals. So, these are terms I don’t easily relate to. But, you have to study and toil (with a very suspicious eye) in these arts and glean, filter the actual truths in fighting, but this takes time, real maturity, enlightenment, and an “eye” for seeking the truth that you really need. Tear down the curtains until you see the back wall. Everything is missing something.

So… for me… personally, summing up the terms “budo” and “martial arts” in one word? – the word would have to be… “distracting.”



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Preemptive Strikes and Weapon Brandishing

Preemptive Strikes and Weapon Brandishing,
or “Officer, The Guy in the Red Hat Started It.”

Preemptive strikes and brandishing. How are these two subjects connected? In an unarmed preemptive strike, you are detecting an impending attack upon yourself. You are making an educated or uneducated guess, smart or not smart, and you slug the other guy first before he slugs you. With brandishing a weapon, you are detecting an impending attack upon yourself, and with an educated guess or not, smart or not, you somehow display your carried weapon with just a peek or a flash of a jacket or vest, or…do a full pull out of a pistol, knife or stick.

In my Stop 1 Showdown-Standoff training module, and in the Level 1 of the hand, stick, knife and gun courses I teach, we cover sudden, unarmed attacks, and a whole lot of weapon draws. Stop 2 through Stop 6 and Levels 2 through 9 cover the mixed weapon, standing though ground, follow-ups. But…so, in the auspices of the Stop 1 boundaries, and in the Levels 1, it is imperative to discuss these two violence initiating subjects. Who does the physical initiation?

Unarmed Preemptive Strikes
The topic of preemptive striking and kicking a pending attacker has always been suggested in martial systems. So many folks think this is the best idea. But there are a few drawbacks. Just a few. “Red hat” drawbacks, I’ll call them. In recent years there have been a lot of YouTube videos of superstar, fad martial artists beating the snot out of a training partner who is just standing still, hands hanging down, before them. Presumably there has been an argument to kick this off? The two are close and our hero springs forward, slaps, pokes, shin kicks and smacks the other guy down in a pile, in one second. The surrounding crowd is thrilled with his amazing skill. So amazed, I hear that he charges some $800 for a two day seminar.
Where’s the “red hat” come in? It just helps define whose-who and whats-what. If the superstar is wearing a red hat, witnesses will report to the police,

“Officer, those two guys were just talking, and the guy with the
red hat hit the other. He started it.”

Handcuffing ensues. Of you. I am not saying that preemptive strikes are a bad thing, they might be wonderful at times. It just can be tricky in the big picture (especially with witnesses around.)

Weapon Brandishing
In simple terms, is just pulling a stick, a knife or a gun always sheer brandishing? When is it? When is it not? Like with an unarmed preemptive strike, what is the pre-draw situation? Federal law defines brandished as:

“…with reference to a dangerous weapon (including a firearm) means that all or part of the weapon was displayed, or the presence of the weapon was otherwise made known to another person, in order to intimidate that person, regardless of whether the weapon was directly visible to that person. Accordingly, although the dangerous weapon does not have to be directly visible, the weapon must be present.” (18 USCS Appx § 1B1.1)”

In Canada, a weapon is referred to in legalese as an “object.”  So, one must do a dog-and-pony show on what “object” was used in the situation. Pencil? Screw diver? Tooth pick? Potato chip? Thumb? (Thumb? Actually, few, if any – there’s always one wacky place – regard unarmed tactics as a “weapon,” and the myth of karate-people required to register their hands as lethal weapons is just that – a myth.)

The US Carry webpage says, Brandishing a weapon can be called a lot of different things in different states.
– “Improper Exhibition of a Weapon.”
– “Defensive Display.”
– “Unlawful Display.”

Retired special operations Ben Findly advises, “…‘brandishing’ or ‘improper exhibition’ or ‘defensive display’ or ‘unlawful display’ (or whatever your state and jurisdiction calls it) depends specifically on your state and jurisdiction. Very generally, however, for an operating definition “brandishing” means to display, show, wave, or exhibit the firearm in a manner which another person might find threatening. You can see how widely and differently this can be subjectively interpreted by different “reasonable” individuals and entities. The crime can actually be committed in some states by not even pointing a firearm at someone. In some states it’s a misdemeanor crime and in others a Felony. So, focus, think rationally, know your state’s law, and be careful out there.”

In other words, say you are the one wearing the red hat again. Things go bad and you try to scare off trouble. You pull your jacket back to show a weapon. Or, you pull a weapon to scare off this problem person, what will the witness say?

“Officer, they were just arguing and the man in the red hat pulled out a big ___!”

Fill in the blank. Knife? stick? Pistola?  Handcuffs ensue.

A quick review of several state, weapon brandishing laws include  words as legal terms like:
– rude, (was the gun-toter obnoxious and rude?)
– careless  (was the knife-toter waving it around?)
– angry, (was the stick-toter yelling and red-faced?)
– threatening manner…

…threatening manner? What? For many the whole point of aiming a stick, knife and gun at a brewing bag guy is to be threatening! What then is the line between a smart preemptive strike, a smart weapon show or pull and a crime? How can we make it all become justified self defense?  As a cop of three decades, I am alive today because I pulled my gun out a number of times, just before I REALLY needed it. This idea can work.

The remarkable researcher and police vet Massod Ayoob says, “When an unidentifiable citizen clears leather without obvious reason, folks start screaming and calling 9-1-1, and words like “brandishing” start being uttered. Thus, circumstances often constrain the law-abiding armed citizen from drawing until the danger is more apparent, which usually means the danger is greater. Therefore, often having to wait longer to reach for the gun, the armed citizen may actually need quick-draw skills more than the law enforcement officer.

A. Nathan Zeliff, a California attorney reports, “Brandishing – drawing your firearm pursuant to a lawful act of self defense should not be considered “brandishing”. However, if it is determined that you drew your firearm and the facts and circumstances show that you drew or exhibited the firearm in a threatening manner, and that such was not in self defense or in defense of another, then you may face charges of brandishing.”

I am not to sure this brandishing topic comes up all that much? Or not enough. So, here’s some collective words of wisdom on the subject. A collection of advice looks like this:

  • 1: Prepare for problems by using the Who, What, Where, When, How and Why  questions.
  • 2: Avoid possible dangerous arguments and confrontations when possible. Conduct yourself with smart, self control. Leave if you morally, ethically can.
  • 3: Obtain a valid, concealed carry license for all your weapons.
  • 4: Keep your weapon concealed. Do not open carry it.
  • 5. Do not display a stick/baton, knife or pistol, or threaten deadly force unless you, or others are threatened with imminent death or serious, bodily harm .
  • 6: Do not in any way reveal your stick/baton, knife or gun, point to it, indicate that you have a them.
  • 7: Attend a fundamentals of fighting with and without weapons training and learn the use of deadly force laws in your city, county, state and country.

Witnesses and “pointed-at, victims” can be stupid, bias and vindictive. They have cell phones and big mouths. And, don’t get caught wearing the red hat!


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Stabbed! by Julie Werhnyak


Stabbed! By Julie Werhnyak
Retired police officer, professional trainer, speaker, author

“Every day I donned my Tempe police uniform I spoke some version of the same mantra. “I expect and accept I will be involved in a lethal encounter today and I will do everything I can to ensure my survival.”

With 19 years on, that March day in 2015 was no exception. However, something FELT different that day. I couldn’t shake the eerie, persistent feeling that something terrible was going to happen.My wife Karin was our audit and compliance sergeant and our paths rarely crossed at work, but they did that morning. As I left her office she called me back and said, “Just be careful, ok?” This was quickly followed by her telling me she loved me. I later learned Karin had a bad feeling as well.

That morning on patrol was uneventful until my second radio call. Another unit and I were dispatched to a check welfare. The caller said a female acquaintance left a message for help earlier that day. The caller was now at the woman’s apartment and heard talking inside. When he knocked on the door, he thought he heard her scream.I arrived first on scene and contacted the caller. When asked, he said he was unaware of any history of family violence between the young woman and her boyfriend. He added, he is actually, “a really nice guy.”

Officer Latasha Hampton arrived as I continued gathering information. She immediately expressed an uneasiness about the call and advised she would be turning on her recorder. The two of us knocked and announced more than 17 times. We spoke with neighbors who reported not seeing or hearing anything out of the ordinary.My attempts to call the 23-year-old woman went unanswered. I left a voice message asking if she was ok. I then had dispatch text the same message and add that we were not leaving until we knew she was.Latasha summoned me to the back of the apartment. She was standing by the sliding glass door and said she heard music turn on and off several times. We listened. “Do you hear that? I hear him unraveling duct tape,” she said.

I ran back toward the front of the complex while calling for more units. As I rounded the corner, I saw a man with a panicked look on his face. He said, “Officer, officer, I received a text from my daughter. All it says is ‘I love you.’ Not that that’s not nice to hear, but I’m concerned.” This panicked filled man was the woman’s father. I assured him we were concerned too and we would do everything we could to make sure she was okay. “I’m hearing muffled screams from a female inside…it’s muffled as if something is covering her mouth,” Latasha radioed. I knew I had to act fast to break through the locked metal gate that protected the wooden front door. I didn’t have a halligan tool but the woman’s father had a tire iron that he handed to me.

While working to pry open the security gate, Latasha yelled hoping the woman could hear her, “Hang on, we’re coming to save you.” Within seconds Latasha radioed, “22, I hear her screaming inside!”

Back up officers arrived with the tools needed to breach the doors. We formed a stack. The sergeant made short work of the security gate with a halligan tool and another officer hit the wooden door with the battering ram. It didn’t open but the lower half shattered to pieces.I crouched to enter, peering into the apartment. Never was I so keenly aware of the drastic difference between the harsh brightness mid-day Arizona and the darkened interior of a home. The lights were off and the window shades were drawn. The sliding glass door on the far side of the apartment shed enough light to create a backdrop for the silhouetted scene that was unfolding.The suspect was standing over the victim. He reached high overhead and dropped his weight, swinging his arm as if he was striking her. Once. Then a second time. I realized I was not hearing any contact. He swiftly spun, looked in my direction and ran out of sight.“He’s running! To the right!” I said as I cleared the door. I hugged the left wall of the narrow entryway and waited for other officers to enter behind me. I held on the corner to the kitchen that was approximately 4 feet ahead of me and to the right. Both the entryway and the kitchen opened to the family room.

“Where is he now?” the sergeant asked as he entered. I didn’t know but believed he may have gone to escape or barricade himself. I pointed and said I thought he went to a back room. I began slicing the pie around the corner to the kitchen, anticipating a long threat. As I took one more step, the suspect, who was directly around the corner, leaped from the kitchen wielding a large hunting knife overhead. Evil itself had leaped from the darkness.

My immediate thought was, “Oh Shit!” not out of fear, but of knowing I was about to be stabbed. Try as I might, I knew I could not get out of the way. Crystal clear thoughts rushed through my head. I thought, “he killed her and now he’s trying to kill me.” Immediately followed by, “that knife is coming at a very strange angle.”The scene was now playing out in slow motion. At least in my mind. I began canting my body and moving to the right while simultaneously trying to block the blow with my left arm. My right arm was extending. My gun touched his body as I squeezed the trigger, firing my first round. At the same time, the knife penetrated the front of my neck, just above my left clavicle.

I sensed an invisible wave of energy between us that launched me backward. As I sailed through the air. I fired my second round and crashed to the ground. My head hit the tile floor and my shoulder was hurt. Other officers also fired at the suspect.

I instinctively sprang to my hands and feet and scrambled back out the hole in the shattered door. I ran for cover and radioed,

“2-Paul 13, I need an ambulance…I’ve been stabbed.”

I was bleeding profusely. “He hit my carotid artery,” I thought. I focused on slowing my breathing and wondered if fire could save me. Thankfully, another officer was there to stay with me, comfort me and render aid. He called Karin and put her on speaker phone. When I told her I was stabbed, she said: “I know, are you ok?” Turns out she was listening to the call unfold on the radio from her office.

The suspect died at the scene. The victim was found bound, beaten and stabbed multiple times. She survived and later said Latasha’s words gave her hope.The knife missed my carotid artery by less than an inch. I was hospitalized for three days due to complications from the stab wound. I also suffered a concussion and a shoulder injury that required surgery.Several media outlets reported the “strange twist,” that the officer stabbed was a martial arts expert. There is no “strange twist.” The fact is that action is faster than reaction and if someone is hiding around a blind corner, in the dark and they jump out to stab you, you will be cut.

It’s What You Do Next That Matters! It was a miracle, and not a coincidence, that I survived being stabbed. I remained calm because I was Physically, Mentally and Spiritually Prepared, in the best shape I could be on that day and had fueled my body for optimum performance. In addition, I was 100% Present in the moment, which enabled me to fully utilize my extensive training.I also survived because I Had a Plan. I always made a conscious effort to identify my cover and concealment. In this case, I knew exactly where to go when I made my tactical retreat. Another part of my plan was to get outside the perimeter so Fire could treat me in the event I was ever critically injured, just as I did in this case.

My survival is also attributed to the police officers, dispatchers, firefighters, EMS personnel and hospital staff who were 100% Prepared and Present that day as well. I will be forever thankful to all of them!

While my training prepared me for the incident itself, nothing could have prepared me for the aftermath; the chaos, both mental and emotional. I sensed I had lost my footing and was overwhelmed by the onslaught of attention from friends and acquaintances, to media outlets and strangers. There were people who didn’t know what to say and others who didn’t know when to stop talking. It felt highly intrusive.There were times where nothing that had anchored me before the stabbing seemed available to me as I struggled. All I had previously known as normal no longer existed. Karin and I were about to enter a journey of recovery we had not prepared for.  (Part 2 coming soon)