It seems we human through the ages, always knew we need to keep training to keep sharp, and if you keep that single motto alone, probably all your performance bases are covered. I mean to remind that even cave men practiced their spear throwing, they had to, and then we moved on. Life has gotten way more complicated than tossing pointy sticks and just about every job, chore, hobby and skill has multiple layers of mental and physical performance that are stabilized, honed or slowly disintegrate. The concept of “perishable skills” has evolved into our vocabulary after we stopped just cave man grunting.
The first time I heard about “perishable skills” was in police training a very long time ago. But we all heard the phrase “use it or lose it” and versions of advice thereof for decades. Older-timers heard of it for centuries. The term “perishable skills” is another fancy way of saying use it or lose it.
In policing, topics like driving, handcuffing, verbal skills, firearms, strategic communications and less than lethal are skills have been deemed perishable, that LEO’s must stay “up” and current on. But there’s never enough money or manpower to enforce rigorous training cycles. In the worlds of combatives, martial arts and combat sports, we center in on hand, stick, knife and gun methods.
How long before perishable perishes? In hot pursuit of training ideology, various US state police and military, even in the business-world, training criteria has segmented the disintegration times into three categories:
perishable skills (half-life of less than two and a half years),
semi-durable skills (half-life of two and a half to seven and a half years), and…
durable skills (half-life of more than seven and a half years).
How were these timetables developed? By whom? For whom? But, organizations have to start somewhere and justify their timetables. We were once inundated with the “10,000 hour to expertise” training-experience rule and this idea was most recently promulgated by Gladwell’s “Outliers” book, but then we quickly learned from about a ton of experts that everyone is different and “hours-to-expertise” differ greatly, person-to-person. Just look this subject up on the web. (And quit quoting the 10,000 hours rule, people!) I too would like to suggest that such time limits are arbitrary and discretionary because all people are different. This established, we might therefore, logically think that “hours-to-perish” is also different too for different people. Everybody is different on both the up and down sides.
At or near the end? There has been considerable study in these performance matters and the topic of tennis is often used in sports performance testing and analysis. So, I will use a quick tennis analogy. Imagine a lifelong super tennis champion, like Serena Williams or Federa. They age, they just lose a step, even though they are constantly working out and playing. Eventually they must retire as fresh kids rise up. They retire to a tennis club and become resident tennis pros. There they teach tennis and so forth. It is hard for me to imagine that a 60, even 70 year old Serena or Federer would not still beat almost ALL “normal” tennis people in the neighborhood, country club. I think this because they have indeed accumulated so much time in the enterprise that even Serena and Federer, at their near-worst, are still above-average, darn good tennis players. Aspects have perished, but since they were once so high up, that even with significant perishing, they might still pretty darn good for a long time.
I could go off on an in-depth tangent, deep-dive on this topic and I have in various books, essays and articles, but in summary, it’s simple, I (and we-many) think that perishable skill timetables are highly situational in topic and person. The subjects of multi-layer teaching (in what I nicknamed “triple canopy” teaching – (1) books, (2) films and (3) classes/seminars) and the tricks of retention are related to perishability and are other subjects for other pinpoint essays elsewhere.)
Ol’ René Descartes started that little ditty, “Cogito, ergo sum,” Latin for – “I think, therefore I am.”And we are human and therefore will stop thinking someday. Perish the thought! We’ll slow down and stop…playing. So, “I perish, therefore perishability is inevitable.”
But while we are still alive, kicking and unperished, we can use that caveman idea that we humans need to keep tossing spears, keep training to keep sharp and this simple caveman idea instantly covers all your bases. It’s always nice when extensive research still matches with, and backs up, your definition of common sense.
You still might end up a pretty good ol’ pro at the old Caveman, Spear Pro Shop and Country Club.
Your Signature Moves and the Pareto and the Mental Model?
Mental models are descriptions of reality that apply across every area of our life, usually don’t get outdated, and provide good results by helping you make better decisions. What is an example of a mental model? One of the most famous and valuable mental models is called the Pareto Principle. Use the 80-20 Pareto Rule to create your signature moves
You probably know it as the “80-20 rule.” This mental models says that most of your results are going to come from just a small percentage of your effort or work.
Vilfredo Pareto, the man who “discovered” this principle noticed that 80% of the land in his area was owned by 20% of the people. He looked in his garden, and saw that 80% of the peas were in 20% of the pea pods. Then he realized that this was something like an organizing principle of life.
This phenomena applies across many domains including productivity, happiness, business, health, etc. Here are a few examples:
20% of relationships lead to 80% of happiness.
20% of exercises lead to 80% of health benefit.
20% of items on your to do list lead to 80% of productivity.
You know me, the eternal skeptic, and maybe the percentage might be 18% or 25%? But I do get the overall idea. This model is much more complex and it can be applied to infinitely more, but this basic concept allows you to quickly acquire what counts. In our “fighting world,” just look at the UFC and see what is actually and consistently done, juxtaposed with the total martial arts systems, techniques and methods of the world and history. Who, what, where, when, how and why?
In the “fight world” competition fighters have a small collection of go-to signature moves (and strategies). Opponents study those moves by way of films, personal observations and interviews to win. But what of war and crime? You might say that militaries have overall, signature strategies. But what of defending yourself against criminals? Criminals and the classic bullies have no films to study on you, to prepare for your signature moves.
I am not talking about hobby sports and arts here. Just survival. I would venture to say that you need some personal signature moves that best suit you, compiled after you do an extensive study in the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions. This is why the cookie cutter, martial arts systems are not the best manufacturers of the survival, self defense product, and they can be very one-dimensional. Thai fight Thai. Boxers box. Wrestlers wrestle with no strikes. Etc. One dimensional, offering abstract skills to deal with the harsh, mixed-weapon chaos of the world. (I might add that I do not like the words “self defense” and “fight” or “fighting,” as they can be misleading and hackneyed when discussing survival. Still, I must use them for the lack of more succinct nouns.)
You know me, the eternal skeptic, and maybe the percentage might be 18% or 25%? But I do get the overall idea. This model is much more complex and it can be applied to infinitely more, but this basic concept allows you to quickly acquire what counts. In our “fighting world,” just look at the UFC and see what is actually and consistently done, juxtaposed with the total martial arts systems, techniques and methods of the world and history. Who, what, where, when, how and why?
I resolved this signature concept by insisting that people study to develop their signature moves for their size, shape, strength, age, coordination and predicable situations-and then later, non-predicable situations. It’s the biggest part of the “Who” question.
“Who are you…really!”
“Who do you think you will really be fighting?”
“Who are you legally, as in the eyes of the law? (Pee Wee Herman or Hulk Hogan?)” I frequently confess in seminars that “I can never tell you how to fight.” That is your job and the job of your local instructor, if he or she has sufficient “Martial IQ.” Not my job as a traveling seminar circus. I must shoot for concepts. You must experiment, pick and choose your so-called signatures. That is why in my hand, stick, knife and gun courses, I want to expose people to a college-like, experience-collection of many good things. Work on them, select wisely and collect what you want, need and can do. You cannot and should not embrace them all, because, here is where we get into the age-old debate of “too many techniques.” Too many techniques to choose from and therefore slows you down, it is claimed. I don’t think there is a universal “too many line” to draw because every person is genetically different. in terms of retention and education-ability. I have decided to create an exposure course (like college). You pick your majors and minors. You experience diversity and savvy. Study systems, but study systems to defeat them, not become them. I do think one might become “Martial Sick,” just adding and adding and adding until you vomit. There are indeed some things that are so smart, so simple and universal.
Some instructors will say “get 5 things.” “Come to my ‘5 Things’ school.” But then they one-dimensionally speak of only unarmed things. What of stick things, knife things, gun things? Five, then 5, and 5 and 5 more? What of standing through ground problems? That’s a matrix of mixed things! That’s a whole lot of simple things. I struggle with this numbers games by seeking the drill/exercises that are multi-purpose. Learn one movement, change the position and weapons. I must be ever vigilant in finding these short cuts for you. That’s my job. My mission.
In the end your signatures are also facing perishability. Will you do these things, say…for the rest of your life? Or, will these signature things slowly erode away. Perishability is another topic for another time, but will your signature become dim and unreadable. And in this vein, let me mention quickly that you need to review your signature moves every 5 or 6 years or so because as you age, you may not be able to execute them as well, or at all.
We fight criminals, enemy soldiers and our “drunk uncles.” I could go on with a lot of anecdotal stories, lessons and name-dropping here, but I think you get the point? Please take a deep dive in the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions. Exercise and experiment with unarmed and mixed weapons. Collect things for you, yourself. Improve your “Martial IQ” and your “Martial Savvy”with skepticism and awareness. Don’t get yourself, “Martial Sick.”
This is all about YOU. Not me. Not the perpetual-ization and worship of systems and their god-heads. YOU! Get some signature moves for situations.
I tell a story in my police books about a guy’s mean facial expression that was a lesson in life for me. In the 1970’s on patrol, I did the expected “50-10” thing when I could. Fifty minutes of driving and ten minutes of parking and watching. It was smart to park at busy places. I worked a lot in our city’s “projects” not just in the patrol division, but many years later as a detective too. In the 70s, I frequently began to see this same black guy pass by, whether I was parked or slowly driving around. As he came into view each time, he looked at me with a great disgust, a very angry face. “Wow! This guy must hate me, or really hate cops. Man!”This hateful glare went on for some time when the fates would have us pass each other.
Finally I said to myself, “The next time I see this guy I am going to smile and wave at him and see what he will do.” About two days later I saw him while I was parked on a street. As he got closer, we looked at each other and I smiled and waved at him. His angry face lit up, he smiled big and waved back. We were still a distance apart and after he did that, I had the time and space to see his face immediately return to one of anger. But then I realized, he wasn’t angry at all. That face – was just his regular, walk-around face! Sadly, it was a mean one. He was the angry man that wasn’t angry. As the weeks and months passed this happened time and time again. We never met. We never spoke. We just smiled and waved. And I thought about how many people are mislead by faces and expressions.
One of my tenets in self defense course is “The face is a mask, he could fight scarier than he looks and look scarier than he fights.” And the self defense, martial arts, security and enforcement business is rife though the years with all sorts of predictors about pre-assault and pre-crimes. (I might add here that pre-crime tips are usually ignored, as martial experts opt to talk about pre-assault tips.) Regular folks on up to professional investigators also want to catch lies and liars. Everyone wants the tip-off secrets, the bible of alarms and alerts from this or that body language master, poker player, psychologist, Navy SEAL or friendly neighborhood, karate guy. In this wanton process is the “Rise of the Micro Expressions.” (Key the exciting music here.)
Dr. Google reports – “A microexpression is a facial expression that only lasts for a short moment. It is the innate result of a voluntary and an involuntary emotional response occurring simultaneously and conflicting with one another, and occurs when the amygdala (the emotion center of the brain.) responds appropriately to the stimuli that the individual experiences and the individual wishes to conceal this specific emotion. This results in the individual very briefly displaying their true emotions followed by a false emotional reaction. Microexpressions express the seven universal emotions: disgust, anger, fear, sadness, happiness, contempt, and surprise. (As you can see, “micro expressions” officially became all one word at some point in my lucky, long life.)
I am certainly not going to dismiss body language or micro expressions. No. I am alive today because of various visual tip-offs within situations. But, being the eternal skeptic, I would like to instead, bring up some warnings and things to think about. I am here to say that while they sell you them for a $1 a piece, the tip might only be worth 75 cents? 80 cents?
Dr. Gad Saad is a respected evolutionary biologist and his new book “The Parasitic Mind” is a must-read. One of the many book’s subjects is victimology with interesting relationship to the infamous Munchausen syndrome. (Stay with me “internet clickers!”) As to reading faces, he recalls on page 103 a piece of research where people were presented a batch of facial photographs and asked them to pick out the “threatening expressions/faces.” Scary faces were picked. Then with new people, the scary faces were slowly removed until the batch consisted of only the neutral faces, previously ignored as non-aggressive and non-threatening. Without any scary faces to pick, the subjects began to pick a number of the neutral faces/expressions as threatening. Pre-conceptions. Looking for trouble. Finding the unfindable. Reading the unreadable. Interesting. Seeing hate where there is no hate.
There is also much ado about the detection of lying in this subject matter. The real frontrunner of this lie-with-microexpressions subject, Dr. Paul Ekman admits on his webpage – “There is no single, definitive sign of deceit itself; no muscle twitch, facial expression, or gesture proves that a person is lying with absolute certainty. Therefore, most modern-day methods of deception detection heavily rely on a variety of methods to collect, analyze and interpret emotional and physiological data. However, any data collected merely expose emotional clues that may or may not be related to deception. For example, sweaty palms during a job interview could indicate an interviewee’s fear of being caught in a lie about their qualifications. Or, sweaty palms could be illustrating their fear that the interviewer won’t believe their qualifications despite being totally honest on their resume. Or, their palms could be sweaty because they’re worried about something else entirely, like a sick child at home.”
President Reagan was famous for “Trust, but verify.” Unless the speaker already has a terrible record, perhaps. And we fall back to the totality of circumstances again. Situational study. An “investigator,” professional or not, must investigate. We must be very careful in some encounters not to jump to conclusions over a flinch or a twitch, etc. A terrible trait of some detectives I had to work with and around, is “conclusion jumping.” I’ll even go you one worse – some were also stubborn. They jumped to conclusions and then they were too stubborn to face the building, contrary facts. This is double-terrible in any criminal justice system.
I am often amused by people watching the news who claim that this or that suspect or witness is…lying. “You can tell!” they say. Yet these same people are enraptured by actors in convincing roles on TV and in the movies. Folks…they…are…ACTORS! The claimers watch a mystery and predict who the killer is and who is innocents are. Remember the killer and the innocent suspect are people ACTING, who are neither killers nor innocents in real life. They are fooling you.
And, even untrained people can act in, out and around microexpressions. Actors also conceal pending violence (like conmen ambushers) and know how to hide anger and intent or pretend anger to intimidate you into submission.
By the way, all this scares the hell out of me when considering jury trials, as jurors look at the faces, demeanor and clothes of lawyers, judges, defendants and witnesses.
(Or…How I Learned to Love the Hock, Stinky Arm Method!)
Texas got hit with a real pesky ice and snow storm last week, dropping temps lower than North to Alaska. It dropped our power grid and electricity (and water) for about a week. While some folks had none, we were lucky enough to have thee infamous “rolling blackouts.” Thirty minutes of power every two hours or so. Enough to charge your phone battery and fast-cook a hot dog. Now, while everyone is probably familiar with rolling blackouts, what about…rolling flashlights?
Yes, this week I had physical, mental and nightmare flashbacks of rolling…flashlights. Rounded flashlights that roll. Now look, I am a pretty “long in the tooth” feller and I go way back to the past days of military and police flashlights. Anybody could buy them but we had to use them. Daily. Starting in 1970s for me. Everybody bought their own when they could. They were ugly and not powerful back then for the common troop. You absolutely needed them at night and even in the daytime, because you never knew when you might have to dash into or investigate a basement or any enclosed dark space. If you were needed to use both hands on a chore, and laid these old-timey flashlights down, most would probably roll.
In the olden days, we were taught never to hold your light too close to your body because it was common knowledge that enemy soldiers and criminals would instinctively shoot at the light. I still believe this. So a typical search-carry would be the old “FBI” method of holding the light away from your body when possible.
Thereabouts, when-abouts those golden-olden days the long, baton-sized flashlight came along. It was essentially a club with extra batteries and a bulb and quickly replaced the nightstick for many coppers. Me too. The light wasn’t very bright, and if you laid it down on anything, a car, table, whatever…it would-could easily roll.
Then the Gods made the super-duper, ultra bright small, palm-sized flashlight. They were and are amazing. But around these times too, came almost a Moses-Mountain-Mandate to shoot pistols with two hands almost ALL of the time. This was a confusing time because how does one hold one’s Star Trek flashlight AND still shoot with politically correct, two-hands? Ahhh, well, a tactical conundrum!
But the two-hand shooters invented tricky ways (to sell these flashlights AND “use” two hands. I won’t name them here, it’s not today’s subject, but they were named after rather unknown gun people of the day as though they were doctors inventing special cures for cancer. Edison! Tesla! Like “The Johnson Method” which holds the light…(blah, blah, blah). The flimsy cures did not support the pistol like a solid two-hand grip, not at all, but it at least they got that second hand or wrist “over there” to help the terrible, horrible. misguided burden of shooting with one hand. And we older-timers immediately noticed that this puts the light, so often the target, right back in front of your chest or head! But the conundrum! The mandate to shoot with two hands! And holding flashlights.
I started shooting in 1969 and received all kinds of military, police and private training starting in the 70s, from people who had killed a lot of people back then. Especially in the military full of Korean and Vietnam war vets. (God bless em’ all.) And so, we shot a lot back then, A LOT with one hand, as well as two hands too, but a lot of one hand shooting. Again not the subject today’s essay. The subject is rolling flashlights today and most of the Star Trek flashlights were round and rolled a lot when you laid them down.
So then I retired. I have lots of these new Trekian flashlights around, and I love them, and even got another one last Christmas! This last powerless week in Texas, I had my best-est Star Trek, palm-ish sized flashlight with me constantly, in my hand or in my robe pocket. There wasn’t even any ambient light when the sun dropped. And any time I had to do something simple with two hands I had to set the round flashlight down and the damn thing round thing, – you guessed it – rolled away.
“I remember that problem!” I sezs to myself, as the little bastard rolled away from the shower and lit up the corner bathroom sink. As a cop since the 70s I recall the multitude of in-the-dark, predictable and unpredictable “two-hand chore” police problems and that damn round flashlight would roll off a fence post top, car hood, table, stairstep, whatever. I recalled that I cussed the problem and bought a hand-held, handled, big bulb light with a squarish, high-volt battery as a base. It produced a powerful, portable beam for the 70s and 80s and when I set that flat bottomed, mo-fo down, IT DID NOT ROLL! And a time or two back then, I had to hit somebody, as was-is required in my odd business, and jeez, that big-ass metal, battery was like a brick. (Something designed like this.)
I really do like these modern flashlights today because they’re like a martial palm stick in terms of fighting, but most of them are round.
I’ll bet 85% of these headlamps on the market do not match the light power of the new small handhelds. Might be from the required small batteries? I have a decent one and still cannot read a book well in the dark. With these mentions of headlamps, I can’t help but think about a household of two, three, four or more in a blackout. All four with handheld caliber head lamp lights strapped on their foreheads for 8 hours a day, all avoiding facial contact from a few feet apart to prevent power beams in the eyeballs. “Don’t you look at me!” Dinnertime! As the headlamp bible suggests they are for “Adults, Camping, Hiking, Outdoors & Hard Hat Work.”
Now I know someone reading this here will do a quick “one-ups-mans-ship” to report on my ignorance –
“…well, you should purchased the ‘Tact-9-Blinder’ because its conical delt is a four-sided, 17 ratio, militant square. It won’t roll.”
I don’t know nothing about no 17 ratio, militant delts, I just don’t want my light to roll, okay? According to Dr Google and to ElectroniCast, an estimated 141.6 million flashlights will be purchased in the United States this year and I’ll bet most of them are round. And, I would just like to officially remind people when shopping for a flashlight, try to get one that won’t roll off on you when you’re making pancakes, shaving in a shower, or reaching for toilet paper…or handcuffing a killer.
( A guy in river patrol read this and told me they had a lot of expensive flashlights roll off boats and ‘into the drink.'”) This message is not just for or about rolling blackouts. The point is…rounded flashlight “ends” in general are not good ideas.
In a pinch and I mean a real “pinch,” you might consider the official “Hock Stinky Armpit Method”where you put your rounded flashlight in your armpit and pinch, compress! (Can I get that title-method mentioned in gun magazines and join that infamous boys club? I could go down in gun-lore history! Name-dropped by the insider, educated. And you will only be shot in the shoulder if shot and you know that’s a just a “wingin” in the movies.)
Knife-to-knife dueling is a controversial subject. I have come to believe that knife dueling is way over emphasized and over-practiced in these so-called “reality” knife training courses. This is something I have long called – “the myth of the duel.” The “myth of the duel” is complex subject in the splitting and organizing of martial arts and survival training. (You don’t learn how to play basketball to become a football player.)
Too many knife practitioners, fooled or ignorantly thinking they are studying realistic, modern or military knife combatives, express themselves through too much knife versus knife dueling. A methodology that is a mythology.
If you should escape a prisoner of war camp with a sharpened butter knife, the people who hunt you down have machine guns and dogs. It is unlikely you will be in a Rathbone-Fairbanks duel. Though it has happened in peculiar military circumstances as I have recorded in my Knife Combatives book. It took extensive searching into auto-biographies, biographies and history books, here in the age of firearms, to collect military knife duel events. They are quite rare in the big picture of combat. There are a few more civilian-criminal events than military. The second murderer I caught in the act, in Texas, had killed a rival in a bloody. kitchen-knife duel!
We in modern times live in a hand, stick, knife and gun, mixed-weapon world and a stand-off duel of sorts is not common. Still we must practice a proportionate, appropriate amount of knife versus knife dueling because the uncommon event has and will occur. We always need many knife skills in combinations, slashing, stabbing, support strikes and kicks, footwork and many aspects of knife awareness.
For example, in the “who, what, where, when, how and why of life”, if you are standing with a knife in your hand, in front of another person with a knife? Why are you still there? If at all possible, an orderly retreat is in order. You better have a good reason to stay!
I think knife course instructors may knife spar at each and every one of their own classes and seminars for exercise as they wish, as long as they teach and grasp the Myth of the Duel concept. The legendary Dan Inosanto said once in a seminar I attended, “knife dueling is really about developing footwork.” Instructors have different reasons for pursuing the subject. History? Fun? Competition?
Reality knife dueling can occur! They have happened. But common instructors usually forget the stress quick draw, the usually complicated, overall situations, and the physical layout of indoor and outdoor grounds/flooring where duels occur. These are overlooked factors in reality dueling training.
Strange places? I worked a murder case once where a big-knife, Bowie versus K-Bar, duel occurred between the driver and passenger in the cab of a big lumber truck, traveling down a two-lane highway! Driving and dueling. The driver won!
When survival training we should work on the obvious things first, and not spend a lot of time on things less likely to occur. Once this doctrine has been proportioned, we can delve into the less likely, because, as I have said, these things happen too!
The same holds true for stick fighting. It is unlikely most people will be in a 28-inch stick fight, duel. Of course, if you do these things for fun, as a hobby? As a sport? Go for it! I am happy if you are happy. I just hope people know what they are doing, and why they are doing what they are doing in the big picture. (As I said earlier, you don’t learn how to play basketball to become a football player.)
At times, missions, rules of engagement, the law, and use of force standards require the capture, containment and control, not the death of an enemy. This is once called by professionals as “non-lethal” measures, but military and law enforcement specialists recognize that the term “less-than-lethal” is a smarter, and a more comprehensive phrase than “non-lethal” – as various tactics and equipment designed not to kill and called non-lethal, might still actually kill despite the intent, design and name. This renders the term “non-lethal,” into an operational misnomer and confusing liability.
A comprehensive knife program also covers less-than lethal applications. This is important for the mission and legality. Your knife course must drop all the death cult, over-the-top, violent, macho imagery (unless you are a member of an elite military unit where such imagery is psychologically smart -which is NOT the majority of us). The knife is “just a tool,” as the old saying goes, but a tool with stigma. The following tactics are less-than-lethal and can be substituted for lethal movement.
We know that the knife strikes with:
1-the pommel (and or the ends of a closed folder)
3-the edge or edges
4-flat of the blade
5-the clenched hand-fist grip on the handle
Less than lethal applications of this are:
1-the pommel (and or the ends of a closed folder)
2-if single-edge, a dull edge for striking.
3-flat of the blade.
4-hand grip as a punch.
Less-Than-Lethal 1: Verbal Skills and the Art of Surrender
Your presence, your weapon presentation, your speech, your threats, your disarm, in the onset of a fight may cause the enemy to surrender. At times, getting in and getting the tip of your knife up against the enemy, along with a verbal threat, may coerce him to surrender.
Less-Than-Lethal 2: The knife pommel strike
The pommel strikes, saber or reverse grips are other less-than-lethal strikes unless it cracks the skull. Or, your pommel has a “Klingon-spiked-end” which renders a whole range of pommel use, useless.
Less-Than-Lethal 3: All support hand strikes and kicks
Striking and kicking the enemy are less-than-lethal moves. The enemy has dropped his weapon and is theoretically an unarmed man and in many situations, both military and civilian cannot be killed.
Less-Than-Lethal 4: The knife hand grip punches
The practitioner can turn his knife grip into a punch with the flat of his fist, forgoing the stab or slash, with a saber or reverse grip.
Less-Than-Lethal 5: The closed folder
The practitioner may fail to open, or close his or her tactical folder and use the closed folder as a “palm stick,” impact weapon.”
Less-Than-Lethal 5: Knife slashes on secondary targets
With a working knowledge of anatomy, a practitioner may slash various “secondary” targets like muscles and so forth that may cause an enemy to surrender or collapse, without a fatality.
Less-Than-Lethal 6: The flat of the blade strikes a stunning blow and grappling
Many militaries teach the flat of the blade strike to the head of an enemy to stun and bewilder them, as a set-up for further action. When a less-than-lethal mission becomes mandatory this flat strike becomes an option for striking, as well as a considerable amount of pushing and pulling of grappling.
In Summary… Of course the use of the knife is always stigmatized trouble. It is a nasty weapon, but every one who dares “study” the knife for the military, for enforcement or self defense, one who engages in a knife system, should be aware of its full potential, and that includes the “who, what, when, where, how and why” to minimize its damage.
I really enjoy the numerous youtube videos of people being attacked and the victim unleashes a smart boxing combination and the badman drops like rock. The smart integration of boxing, kickboxing, Thai combinations are worthy studies in self defense combatives, not the whole systems remember, mind you, just what’s smart. Just what applies. (Untrained people – mostly everyone – respond differently than trained people, but we can’t go off on that whole topic here.)
“There is no second round in the street,”might be an old and corny expression for some, but some folks need to hear it once, or once in a while, to get them back on track for what they want, and what they are forced to do in classes and programs.
Attrition is defined as – “the action or process of gradually reducing the strength or effectiveness of someone or something through sustained attack or pressure.” It’s a word used in military battles and war, and here in sport fighting “physical attrition” is a strategy.
In sports, it is indeed the coaches job to map out a strategy to your first or next fight, give you a game plan. You know that in amateur and pro fights, where a history and film exists on your next opponent, these histories are studied and strategies evolve. A properly prepped, fighter, MMA, BJJ, UFC or otherwise needs to walk in with a strategy, a plan. And in this process, the plan is made and you might hear from your coach, “Do this, then do this and this, and the fourth round is yours.” “You…make your move,” Kind of talk. Or ideas about tiring him out in among the battle plan. “First round? Check him out, probe. Probe with the jab. See how he reacts. Second round do ‘this or that’ with the discoveries from your probing. Third round is yours, as you will…”
Coaches say – tire him, move around, also deliver body shots too and kicks too in kickboxing, to weaken and confuse the opponent in round one and round two for the theoretical victory in Round 3.
In one example of body shots, there were numerous successful (and unsuccessful) boxers who spent rounds pounding the upper arms of their opponents so that eventually their guard, through multiple rounds, would eventually drop, their beaten arms down for their eventual, head shots, so that the… ” ______ (fill in the blank) round is yours.”
I think it would be odd for a coach to simply say, “knock him cold with a head shot in the first two seconds. That is all. Now go jog and hit that bag.” Fighters do indeed knock people out quickly, but aren’t they always handed an overall, planning, staging, strategy, etc.? Despite the delaying plans, bingo!
For many fighters, this plan is laid out in the first meeting for training for a specific fight. This fighter then and quite possibly gets this message buried in his head for months, “Third round is mine. Third Round is mine.” Even in the first round, he is fixated on the third round, deep in his head.
This type off delay-progression, advice was advice I had been given for decades by various boxing, kick boxing, and even Thai boxing coaches.
The transition of these delay ideas and advice can get blended over and into, for lack of a better term, “self-defense-street-fighting” courses. Training by short-sighted, self defense course trainers and coaches can, have and will get these borders confused. I was told these off-mission tips at times in several self defense courses that included boxing, kickboxing and Thai methods. For examples:
I was in a very, popular, modern, street-fighting system back in the 1980s, in a course considered a pioneer program back then, that emphasized, “the probing jab.” In fact, the association newsletter was called “The Probe.” The head guy would often take months of money from certain “monied” people and make them study the jab only…for four to six months. The…probe. Yes, jabs only for many months? Imagine that. Then you graduated to the cross punch – for who knows how long – $$$$? People did not stay with him for that long when he tried that approach. Yet, he did many other things too, effective things too, but some of his people got caught in this “jab scam.” Once again that odd mix of overdoing some boxing strategies in with some survival strategies.
The military police academy boxing coaches, assigned to create a fighting spirit with a boxing program, taught off-mission, sport boxing concepts and strategies that weren’t the smartest things for street survival. I am convinced these instructors did not understand what I am saying here. Despite the generic “toughness” mission, they were immersed in boxing, taught boxing only, with boxing strategies. Wrong place. Wrong time.
Martial arts can get easily confused, innocently blending sport strategies with self defense themes, and vice-versa as self defense courses can get sporty-artsy.
The “who, what, when, where, how and why” questions arises again.. Briefly, as these questions run deep…
Who am I, who is teaching and who am I really going to be fighting?
What do I need to learn? What are they teaching here? What do I really want? What are my real goals? What are they turning me into? What am I wearing? What happens when I am not fighting a mirror-image of myself and regular thug?
When will I use this? When is this legal?
Where am I going with this course? Where will I use this training?
How will it work?
Why I am doing this in the first place? Why are they telling me and making me do these things?
I called these off-mission, missteps – “sport cancers” to be on the lookout for in all transitions from sports to the non-sports world. This is actually quite hard to dissect, especially buried within small steps. Even after 40 years I STILL spot things that I, or we, should not be doing. Enlightened coaches look for these, but I must tell you I don’t find many such enlightened coaches. Many are so immersed in what they do systemically, via their mindset, via hero or system worship or franchise dues, they will not or can’t detect the discrepancies and will not or cannot rebel against them.
“There was no second or third round in the street fight,”…to use a corny phrase. These street fights/arrests I was in and ones I had to break up and later investigate had little time for the experimental probing jabs, trick footwork or secondary blows to wear an opponent down through time, and other “second-third-or-more round,” ring sport, strategies.”
Upon self-examination, be happy with what you do and know why and what you are doing. I want you to be happy in your pursuits.
Physical attrition. We don’t have time for physical attrition. I hate to use the over simplistic term “street fight” because real encounters occur inside and outside of homes and businesses in rural, suburban and urban locations. But these so-called “street fights” were almost always hard, fast, crazy and over quickly. You were bum-rushed, or wild-man-tackled and, or sucker-punched, hit with chairs and lamps, etc…I was attacked once by a man with a big ax. No time for several probing, experimental sport jabs versus the swinging ax man.
“In Combatives, self defense and Krav Maga we should not spend exorbitant amounts of time hitting bags and mitts with big boxing gloves. It is ‘off-mission.’ We need to take things from boxing, but not with ‘big-boxing-gloves.’ When we fight crime and war we will be bare knuckle. Our bare hands and bare wrists will be unprepared. At very least train with MMA gloves.” – Hock
Any time this boxing glove topic comes up. I always wait for the comments on the open hand versus closed fist punching, etc. Closed fist punching and hammer-fists can occur on the torso, on the arms, on the neck on the lower jaw (because the jaw “gives” and the head can “give” on the neck. The danger zone is really, consistently the general, bicycle helmet area of the head/skull.
And heads drop when one detects an incoming blow. But, history is replete with successful bare-knuckle punching. Even my history (except for an uppercut once to a pointy jaw which led to a small hand surgery years later. Open hand strikes and elbow strikes are not without injuries also.) The sole point of this meme/photo being, when you train with big boxing gloves, you lose and miss a lot of important survival, experience, info and preparation. (Unless you are a boxer-boxer who boxes-boxes. Then the boxing gloves are very important.)
I know people with “cinder-block” hands. Let them hit tanks. I always think it is important for instructors, a system, to examine the hands of a practitioner and make an evaluation of “should they even punch? Should they be much of a puncher?” Rather than throw folks indiscriminately, small and fragile hands alike, into a crowd to punch away with everyone else, like I have seen in many martial arts. Most have no regard for the their student’s hands, and never looked at them, and never mention what might happen where you hit bones/people with them. Just punch, punch, punch away in the air or on soft things. Or, under the guise of self-defense, wrap and strap big gloves on them and let them for 5, 10, 15 minutes a class, let them mindlessly pepper away on a heavy bag, or…or have them hit focus mitts in endless, endless “show” patterns that don’t or won’t remotely match the actual responses of a real opponent. (People who teach kids can’t make these hand-fist assessments because their hands aren’t formed yet.)
You can work on punching impacts for survival short of having hand tumors and arthritis in your old age. Does punching hard things make your hands stronger? “Punching walls could theoretically improve hand strength by increasing bone density over time, but the chance of breaking your hands is extremely high. A better alternative would be to practice hitting the heavy bag bare knuckle, and increase the force over time.” – CombatMuseum.com
Hit smart things. I have come to appreciate these water bag options. To me, they have a “fleshy” feel. Different sizes available.
Another important point is bare-knuckle bag work (water or otherwise develops proper alignment of the knuckles, fists, and forearms, something totally ignored in big glove training in comparison.
Boxing gloves are for boxing, but I also use them as a tool to hit-on/distract practitioners while they are doing chores like pulling weapons, be they standing or on the ground, etc. under stress. Specific things like that. They are handy to have around for specific assignments.
MMA gloves are fine. Especially for extended use (and their open fingers allow for grappling). Big-ass boxing gloves are perfect for big-ass boxing. Even “official” bare-knuckle fighters still wrap their wrists. Sometimes I see them run a layer over their knuckles too, but mostly their wrists.
But my mission, the mission of combatives, the mission of self defense and Krav is NOT to create competition boxers or MMA fighters or bare-knuckle competitors. Nor do I make wrestling-only champs. I am not making pro boxers or pro kick boxers, people who square off and exchange blows in multiple timed rounds. In our world, we also kick a few nuts, face maul and hair pull too and throw chairs.
There are seriously off-mission, misguiding doctrines/schools out there. Be what you are supposed to be and not what you are not. For example, I know a quite famous combatives guy, who spends a few hours covering boxing with big gloves in his combatives seminars. Attendees mindlessly do and accept. Not good. It’s only good if in his fliers, his ads for those seminars, he advertises-
“Self defense combatives AND a very special session on sport boxing.”
Okay then. Explained. Couple that with an intro reminder speech before the boxing session. Then he is on-mission. No mixed doctrines. Or say the lesson plan calls for “classic boxing applications for self defense moves” (in which case, take off those damn big gloves!) Back on mission.
I have attended a few Joe Lewis (the kickboxer) seminars and he has a great line, “Nothing replaces ring-time.” Which I repeat. Getting in there and kick boxing a bit (not just boxing alone) and I agree with this experience. We do that as part of every Force Necessary: Hand test, but again, I am not making pro kick boxers. I don’t expect to see an Olympic sports performance. (I suggest people fool around with MMA over just boxing alone and just BBJ alone. MMA is bigger and better and does both. Take tips from it.)
Worth saying twice, there are seriously off-mission, mindless, misguiding doctrines out there. Be what you are supposed to be and not what you are not. Who, what, where, when, how and why. It is a hand, stick, knife, gun world, inside and outside of buildings in rural, suburban and urban environments.
Popular Science wants to inform you on how to properly, bare-knuckle punch Click here
How to condition your knuckles: A guide to harden your fists for fighting. Click here
(In my true police/detective books, I wrote an essay called, “Most Dead Ever,” a compilation of the calls and cases I went on where the tally was high to horrific. Here is one…)
1970s. North of our Army base in the U.S. was an enormous artillery range. Troops were constantly blowing up all kinds of big and small ordnance. For those not familiar, “ordnance” is defined as:
“All munitions containing explosives, nuclear fission or fusion materials, and biological and chemical agents. This includes bombs and warheads; guided and ballistic missiles; artillery, mortar, rocket, and small arms ammunition; all mines, torpedoes, and depth charges; demolition charges; pyrotechnics; clusters and dispensers; cartridge and propellant actuated devices; electro/explosive devices; clandestine and improvised explosive devices; and all similar correlated items or components explosive in nature.”
A Dud defined: A dud is all of the above that didn’t go boom. Now, enter the ordnance, the grenade. And enter then, the dud hand grenade story. Officially also – “DUD-a thrown grenade that failed to detonate after the expected fuze time has elapsed.”
As I said, artillery troops were always out on the northern ranges, blowing all kinds of stuff up. And a small percentage are duds. As the later investigations discloses – One fine morning, out on a said field, a young private stumbled upon what appeared to be a very old hand grenade. He closed in on it and looked it over. No pin. No lever. Hmmmm. A dud, he presumes. What fun!
He threw some rocks at it. His buddies giggling nearby. Nothing. Deadness. He hit it with a stick. Then he kicked it and jumped back. It bounced across the rocky, dry terrain. He picked it up, tossed it up and down a few times and then stuck it in his jacket pocket. What a coup. What a toy.! A dud grenade!
The unit took a long, one-hour bouncy ride in the back of a deuce-and-a-half truck. The private pulled the grenade from his pocket and declared to those around him, “Look what I found!”
The others leaned away, aghast. But it became clear by his manipulations and juggling, it had to be a dud.
Once at their multi-story barracks building, they bailed out of the trucks, unloaded and hit the showers. The private went to his multi-person quarters and tossed the grenade on his bunk. He combed his wet hair, got in casual clothes – civvies – picked up his dud grenade and walked to the day room (TV, pool tables, a rec room, etc.) for some fun and games with his new toy.
He got to the day room door and peeked in. He saw many of his friends day-rooming about in there. Some were with him on the training day, and some not.
“GRENADE!” he yelled. He tossed the dud grenade into the middle of the room, then he ducked back into the hall, just for effect. Big joke.
The so called dud hit the floor and exploded. It blew with all its originally designed and planned intent. BAM! In the middle of the day room.
Our private and other nearby troops in the hall and other rooms ran to the door. The room was a bloody mess. Shreds of the room still floating in the air, they said. One or two seemed dead. Others wounded. Dying. Splinters everywhere. Lots of blood and guts and whines, yells and screams. The first instinct of bystanders was to call for an ambulance. Someone did, and the hospital called the police.
I was one of the units dispatched. I was assigned that day to the patrol district next to this one, or maybe as a rover? I just can’t remember. When I arrived, I was not the first. The district police car and the patrol sergeant’s car were there and several ambulances. At the moment, I was not clear exactly what had happened, nor was our police dispatcher clear either. We only knew that some kind of a “bomb” went off on the third floor.
A sample photo of the actual building, another day.
Hearing of a possible “bomb,” as I parked, I looked up to survey the building. I didn’t know what to expect. Was the huge barracks building bombed? By whom? By what? I saw broken glass in some third story windows and curtains flapping in and out with the wind.
Soldiers were standing outside, looking up too. As I got close to the main doors, someone told me a grenade touched off up there. I entered the building, climbed the stairs to the third floor, and saw the commotion in the hallway.
When I stepped in the room, it looked like some 8 or 10 guys were pretty hurt. Another two or three were slightly hurt. Some laid dead still, mashed and abandoned. The room looked like, well, like a small bomb went off in it! I wandered around and tried to help out where I could, but the paramedics had done their triage assessment and were hard at work. Plus, some of the unit cadre were Nam vets and were already pitching in with the EMTs.
I walked out of the room and asked some Sergeants in the hall what had happened. They pointed to the kid who threw the “dud” in. I spoke with him. Our patrol sergeant walked up and listened to us talk it out. The kid was practically crying and in real shock. The district MP (military police) came over to us.
The Sarge pulled us aside and told the district MP to arrest the kid. “For what Sarge?” the district MP asked. “What charge?” “I don’t know. For something. Charge him with something,” he said. “We have to arrest him for this. Manslaughter. Something. Negligent something.”
Then the Sarge’s portable radio announced that, “CID was in route.” “Ten-four,” he said into the radio, and told us, “Good. Okay. We’ll let CID decide what to do with him.”
We stuck around until two CID investigators (our FBI, more or less) arrived. We filled them in and pointed out the kid. They looked around and marched the kid off to one of the nearby offices. And we were ready to leave. As the Lone Ranger would say, “Tonto, our work here is done.” A few hours later I had to go and give blood at the hospital. Three or four troops died, best I can recall.
I have thrown a few grenades. I have even qualified as expert on the old Army, grenade throwing range. I got the targeting knack quickly. It was like throwing a football only heavier, so I aimed higher than the target to offset the weight, be it a window or whatever set up we were supposed to blow up. I always joke about how cavalier vets and movie actors are about these small bombs hanging off their uniforms, in comparison to the very first ones they hand you and you baby them like they are nitroglycerin.
But they are certainly no joke. Very generically speaking, the grenade kill zone is 5 meters or 16 feet. The injury range is 15 meters pr 50 feet. Shrapnel can go even further. A hand grenade, especially an older one, ’70s and pre-’70s had a varying reputation back then. Some called them as devastating and some didn’t. There are lots of fascinating, jaw-dropping stories. They weren’t all always perfect like the distances above. I guess it was situational.
But that “dud” took a toll on the day room and the unit that late afternoon, and also took a toll on my memory.
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 book). 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.
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.”
“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?”
“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.”
“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 HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
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
W. Hock Hochheim teaches hand, stick, knife and gun combatives to military, police and savvy citizens.