Category Archives: Hock’s Blogs

THE FIRST MURDERER I CAUGHT IN TEXAS, I THINK…

The first murderer I caught in Texas was an interesting case. I think this was the first one there, but it might have been the second. I can’t remember for sure. If you are indeed used to that kind of thing, it was typical of murders in many ways; if you are not and new to it all, it was shocking. But all murders have many intriguing, classical aspects in the timeless, human drama and trauma of life and death.

After years in patrol and an investigator in the US Army, I was no “first rodeo’ guy when I got to Texas. In my first few months on patrol in in Texas in the 1970s, I was riding shotgun with Officer Ron Atkins. About 4 a.m. one night, we got a call from an angry neighbor in what we once called “shack-town,” the projects, or the “poor” part of our city … you get the nickname; you get the very sad picture. The neighbor reported men fighting in the house next door. I later heard the original call on tape: “They’s fightin’ something horrible next door.They’s young, drinkin’ people, and I don’t know what all is goin’ on over there. They’s yellin.’ They’s screamin’ something horrible. I can’t get a nod of sleep!”

On this street, the walls of those single-story, old, small, wooden houses were very thin; and noise would carry. I reported “10-4” to the dispatcher, and Ron headed that way. As we got close to the block, Ron turned out the headlights to approach the house as quietly as possible. Classic patrol tactics. Then, as now, we boys and girls in blue would get ambushed in route to disturbances with some frequency. Lights out. Never park right in front. All that tactical stuff.

It was pretty chilly as I recall, and it surprised us both to see a nearly naked man alone and busy in motion in front of our target house. He was a tall, thin, black male dressed only in cut-off jeans. We coasted closer and watched him. Ron finally decided we needed to see what was going on; and he pulled on the headlights, high beams, and our takedown lights, powerful light bar beams from our car roof that really turned darkness bright like a movie set.

WELL! This young man was busy working at the trunk of his car. The trunk was open, and he was wrestling with … a lifeless body. The body was as long and lanky as he was; and as quickly as he would shove an arm into the trunk, a leg would roll out and vice versa. The man was covered in swirling blood stains, that is, blood painted in circles and swirls on his skin. In my business, that generally means people were bleeding and fighting.

He froze in the bath of those bright lights. I can still see that picture in my mind today. He was half crouched over, eyes wide. Incredulous and shocked. There was no way he could identify who we were behind our bright lights.

I turned to Ron and said calmly, “I guess we got a murder?”
“Yeah,” Ron, too, said calmly.

I sprang out of the car and pulled my Colt Python .357 magnum and pointed at the man. “Police! Hands up!”
He stood straight up and shoved his hands up high.

Ron and I approached from opposite flanks and handcuffed the man. Ron knew him immediately, “Terry, what is going on?” he asked.
“Ohhhh, MANNN! This mother-fucker tried to kill me.”

Terry was indeed cut by a knife and had multiple slashes. I looked in the open trunk with the help of my Maglite flashlight – the large black male in the trunk was also cut up. He, too, was naked except for cut-off blue jeans. I felt for a pulse. None. It was more than obvious that Terry had put the body in the car planning to dispose of it later. Terry tried a few real Swiss-cheese excuses as Ron walked him back to our squad car and used the hand mike to call for an ambulance, a Sergeant, and for CID. He sat Terry on the ground and started to talk with him and inspect his wounds.

Curious, I walked into the house with my gun up and out. The house was partially furnished and, where so, it was with very old and pitted junk. All made worse, if possible, by the signs of a struggle. The living room was an upturned mess; and where it connected to a dining room, a cheap table and chairs were tossed away and turned upside down. There was an ancient carpet on the floor, and it was covered in a giant bloodstain. And atop this ritual, wet, red site? Two big kitchen knives. I imagined two 6 feet 2 inches lean black guys in matching cut-off jean shorts, no less, ducking, stabbing, and slashing. And yelling loud enough to wake the neighbors.

I saw a dim yellow light on down a short hall; and gun barrel first, I made my way into the room. On an old bed lay a white girl about 20 years old, later I discovered quite drunk, and with long blonde hair. Her shoulders were bare. She clutched a soiled and crusty sheet up to her chin.

They were fighting over me,” was all she said to me. That pretty much told me a lot.
“Get dressed,” I told her. A duel. A duel for the “fair” lady.
She did, and I guided her out to the front of the house. By now, ambulances and supervisors were arriving. With my arms folded and the two of us leaning against a car on the street, I got a preliminary tale from the girl.

The sad story went that the girl was from out of state and attended one of the two big, local universities we had. She met Terry somehow (as Terry was hardly college material) and began this…this so-called affair. Terry then shared his best friend with her, but the sharing became too tense and complicated. Call it love? Territory? Honor, I guess? Call it what you will. And so, Sir Terry and this Sir Friend had to duel it out with kitchen knives over the fair lady in the dingy little dungeon of the castle. Murder ensued.

In the end, it was another torrid love story in the near-naked city of cut-offs, a mythic melodrama as old as the knights of yore. The duel of edged-weapons, as if told by Shakespeare himself. In the end of the courtroom case months later, the third act you might say, the prosecution could not prove who was defending himself against whom? And Terry Raygins received about a six-year sentence. He was out on the street in two and a half years on parole.

Terry was the first or second murderer I caught in Texas, that I can remember (after 50 years). The very least the first one with Ron Atkins. I got to know Terry as the years went on. He stayed out of major trouble after that. These fair damsels can make you do crazy things.

Post Script: And through the years, I also got to know most all of the Raygins family. All was not well at Raygins’ family castle either. They had a huge family and were a colorful bunch of troublemakers and sad sacks. Poppa Raygins was a hard-working factory man whose feisty wife had tossed him out of the house one winter. Tossed him out … to the garage, that is. Daddy Raygins lived in the unattached, dilapidated garage at the end of the driveway for several years. No heat, no air. We used to drive by and look down the driveway and see ol’ man Raygins watching TV in his garage, or showering in boxer shorts by the yard hose, cooking on a hot plate, and sleeping on an old couch. If he sneaked into the house, his wife would beat him and toss him out. A time or two, I had an occasion to walk up the drive and talk to him, because? Because that is what good patrol officers do. They know the people of their beats.

One day Daddy Raygins decided his hot plate was not enough. He needed an electric stove in his garage. With a stove he could cook better than on the hot plate, and he could also leave the oven door open and heat the place in the winter. He bought a used kitchen stove from RayBlevin’s Used and Repaired Used Appliances. He cleared a space in his cluttered garage, plugged it in, turned it on, touched the metal contraption and electrocuted himself. Fried stone dead. His crispy self lain in the garage a few days until someone eventually saw him, found him and called us. Kilt by a stove he was.

His wife said, “Good riddance to that old bastard.”
Sometimes, life ain’t so pretty in the various Camelots we find for ourselves. Things can get mighty rotten in Denmark. Sometimes.

Book 1 coming soon about the patrol years. But get this detective years Book 2 of Hocks Memoirs right now: Click here for it.

 

INTERRUPTING THE QUICK DRAW

“Interrupting the Quick Draw.” or, sometimes I’ve call “Gun Arm Grappling.”  Martial, police and military material I have been working on for decades. When teaching this segment, I must cover as first  prep, a review the Stop 6 problems. The gun (pistol and long gun) (also in the stick and knife course.)

  • Stop 1: The stand-off no contact, Showdown “collision”.
  • Stop 2: The Hands-On collision – fingers, hands, weapons grabbing.
  • Stop 3: The forearm collision.
  • Stop 4: The Frankenstein collision, hands ranging from biceps through neck grabs.
  • Stop 5: All the Bear Hugs collisions.
  • Stop 6: Groundfight collision.

    Through the Stop 6, must-be-covered topics are:
    * Identify situations.
    * Identifying gun carriers.
    * Identifying gun carry sites on the body.
    * Identify reasons why guns and knives are drawn.
    * Identify many physical tip-offs of quick draws.
    * Identify your drawn decisions (see photo attached).
    * Identify the elbow and-or hand position of common draws.
    * use arm-elbow-hand-catch grappling of many draws.
    * and more…

    The draw process for you and your enemy starts at the carry site, through the draw on up to the presentation, and firing-use. The photo above describes the actual decision steps of a crime or war draw. Some people think it’s just “shoot-don’t shoot.” But life… situations and circumstances define the big picture.

    -Sometimes, why are you there? Why can’t, didn’t you leave?
    -Sometimes, why actually did you see fit to draw?
    -Sometimes, weapon out, but should you lift and aim it?
    -Sometimes, shoot-don’t shoot?
    -Sometimes, stay or don’t stay? Wait-don’t wait?

    All this and way more in my FORCE NECESSARY: GUN (and FN: Knife and FN: Stick course applications) course. My gun course is nothing but sims ammo combat scenarios. No live fire.

    “Marksmanship aside, you are not really learning how to gunfight unless you are training versus moving, thinking people who are shooting back at you (with sims).” – Hock

See all the free, full hand, stick, knife, gun and FMA training films click here:

 

KNIFE FIGHT and the JAILHOUSE SUPERBOWL RING

It’s time boys and girls to rerun my knife fight story and the Superbowl player and the ring…
 
 
Our city in North Texas 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 off-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 I did meet the black guy. In fact, he kind of saved my ass one Saturday morning, back in the 1970s…in a knife fight.
 
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-all 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.
 
They did not. The peacemakers and a few gathering onlookers did bail back about 15 feet when those knives came out.  Some onlookers got involved and grabbed my arms. I think, as if, to stop me from shooting their friends I think. They tried to keep 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. 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 moves, slashing and stabbing at each other in uncoordinated, wild lunges and swings. But a knife is a great equalizer from fools to kings.
 
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, actually 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. One thing I could tell was, everyone there, knew this guy and were obviously more afraid of him, than me….me being the PO-lice! Who was that un-masked man?
 
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 together 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. 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 suggested would happen. 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, once in a while, through the years. He was a really good feller from and in a bad place.
 
—————–
Hock’s two new novels. Check out all the books right here.
 

QUADFECTA MARTIAL ARTS!


You’ve probably heard about the word Trifecta (three-bees,) but how about QUADfecta (four-bees?) Yeah. It exists in the Fourth Dimension, no big deal according to Dr. Strange.

Beyond the interview, beyond the avoidance, past the de-escalation, when push comes to shove, etc., in reality we struggle-fight the big three: criminals, enemy soldiers and our “drunk uncles” (a nickname I use for all those relatives who act up.) In researching solutions, I investigate the Martial Quadfecta:

1: Kickboxing
2: Ground n’ pound
3: Wrestling (I prefer Catch)
4: Weapons (modern – sticks, knives, guns, not ancient stuff).

What if any, can I use-adopt from these sources for fighting crime and war, not mirror images of one’s system in arts and sports. Some people like to say “steal” from these sources, some say “take” or “co-op.” “Borrow?” “Adopt.” Whatever. I am always on the hunt, keeping it checkers not chess. “Do it Fit – Don’t it fit?” Running it all through the “Who, What, Where, When, How and Why questions” to embrace or dismiss. Picking and choosing should be debated by people with a high 4-D Martial I.Q..

4-D? Any one of those categories alone is one dimensional. Two are two dimensional. Three? Three dimensional – and most old science discussions end with 3-D, huh? BUT we are now in the Multiverse says Dr. Strange (and so do MANY leading scientists by the way!) so we enter the FOURTH dimension, so to speak. The Quadfecta.

Lots of folks like being in their one or two or three dimensions. Great. I’m happy if you’re happy. All I ask is don’t be ignorant about it and know where your limited dimensions fit in the Multiverse, which I reckon is another way of saying “stay in your lane?”

Me? I hunt on a four-lane highway.

(I wonder if anyone will ever call their new school “Quadfecta Martial Arts. You can! I haven’t copyrighted it.”)

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STAYING APART IN COMBAT

I am full of old-school mainstays. Some I like. Some I don’t. In military training tips – I was in at the tail-end of Vietnam and went through Basic Training in Fort Polk , LA. Dubbed “Little Vietnam” for its weather, look and occasional “swampiness.” “Tigerland.” We were advised to stay a machine gun burst apart when maneuvering around. At times even a hand grenade blast apart if space allowed. Plus, distance apart opens up fields of vision and fields of fire. Ralph on the far right sees more than Jimmy on the left, and vice versa. (Jody is at home with your wife or girlfriend, there ain’t no use in looking back!) But, these very generic distance tips makes you think about moving formations of two or more troops. There was a lot of fire and maneuver with cover fire lessons to advance when seemingly un-advanceable.
 
In the old police academies, we were told to stay at least “one shotgun blast” apart. Okay, as they were not overly-worried about machine guns or like…bazookas. What about semi-auto pistols? They can spray pretty damn fast too, kinda like a machine gun burst.
 
So still, police, military or civilian common sense, staying apart if possible is a good generic plan. If you can. But in narrow hallways, passageways and tight spots of life, often there is no space to spread. Always risky.
 
I wonder, is the distance idea emphasized today like the olden days, though? Today (like many recent years) there seems to be a lot of clumping taught, even when there is space to un-clump. Sometimes you can’t. Take a look at the associated photo . A hallway. Not much space to spread. Narrow hallways, passageways and tight spots, no space to spread. Always risky. But now consider the guy in the back. The guy in the back might shoot the guy (or guys) in the front if the feces suddenly hits the proverbial fan. Some of these formations have the guy in the back, walking backwards! That’s some serious “6 Watching” right there. And not a terrible idea at all.
 
Or line-ups. Is trudging single file in a SWAT line some form of clumping? Lots of SWAT folks line up like toy soldiers to get from the staging area, say, van point A to point B doorway. It’s an efficient way to move, yeah. I could tell some interesting stories in sims classes about that. But I always wondered that in a world of planned terrorists and bad guys, after they have worked on a hostage deal or raid, or robbery, do they ever say to each other,
  • “Okay, now…where will SWAT park?”
  • “Where will the response team stage?”
  • “Where will the Bradley stage?”
Bombs and snipers are next to thwart the good guys from the get-go. Reminds me of the great L.A.P.D. SWAT plank member Scott Reitz recalling, when the van doors opened up once, he instantly had to shoot an armed bad guy right there at the doors! In my city, if any residents of bad neighborhoods saw the SWAT team van driving anywhere day or night, cell phones would light up with warnings. “SWATs out!”
 
Getting there. Getting into position. Sometimes just to encircle and guard-watch via a perimeter, toss in the phone? Or gain entry into buildings? SWAT has become very efficient “room-raiders,” perhaps at the expense of “open-field” crossing training, ignoring Point A to be Point B transit training worries? Does getting there sometimes mean crossing open spaces under sudden or known fire? Cover fire is an advancement solution but a tricky thing in the civilian world, Cover fire as in the right side laying down a field of fire so the left side can advance, then vice-versa. I’ve had a number of SWAT commanders and police admin say, “no way” to firing for such cover. Taboo. You either justifiably shoot directly at a bad guy or you can-not, do-not take any shot at all. (I do think there can be very controlled cover fire, but the generic response is no to the concept. (I still teach the concept to all with simulated ammo, and the subject of another essay.)
 
Anyway, citizens, police, military! To clump or not to clump? That be the question. One Shakespeare never pondered. But I wish more people would think about it.
 
 

THE “MUST HAVE BEEN IN FIGHTS” INSTRUCTOR STANDARD?

I stumbled upon yet another character on the web that criticizes knife instructors (in general) and their various titles. I was not mentioned and someone else was the real, make-fun-of target.  How dare we teach knife tactics and not be Jim Bowie? How dare you call yourself a knife “expert,” is the theme.

Lots of titles in topics, basic, advanced, expert, subject matter expert, master (lots of pros use that acronym “SME”– I do) etc. The complainers like to ask, “how many of these guys have ever been in a knife fight?”  Many of these complainers also like to say that knife trainers are not needed. “Just stick the pointy end in. Ha-ha.”  This ignores the myriad of laws, situations and skills. I am reminded of some of the 1960s and 1970s police ground fighting training we received that was summed up with,

“Tackle. Punch. ‘Swim’ to a choke. Handcuff the unconscious suspect.” Oh, it’s just THAT easy?  Then why all the time and grade training. That’s like the “just stick the pointy end in” easy?

Anyway, frequently these “pointy-end-in” complainers are so often  dedicated gun guys, who should then be content with just “sticking the pointy end of a bullet in.” Right? But instead, they spend fortunes on never-ending, redundant before-during-and-after shooting courses from…instructors who have never been in any gunfights either. Famous yes? Maybe? Close – but no real-world, cigar. Then they get certified from non-gunfight teachers. People think of the title master as a martial arts rank only but there are gun programs that create gun masters, gun experts and even gun grandmasters.

Which is my point (pun intended). Declaring that all knife instructors must have been in numerous knife fights to teach, is like asking the same of gun instructors. Same-same, yet the U.S. is chock full of very busy shooting instructors who have never been in gun fights. Chock, chock full. What about all these combatives and “Kuraty” black belts and instructors who have never been in so-called “real” fights (not talking about ubiquitous, average tournaments here. If you want to be a sports champion, there are many experienced sport champs around to learn from). But, the “must have been in” rule is either a broad rule for all, or not much a rule.

In the big picture, not many people have “been in” anything they teach. For example, we know that many business expert, college professors and economists have never run a single business. There are many trained expert astronauts that have never been in outer space. There are many trained Chinese history experts who’ve never step foot in China. Should I go on and on with this never-ending list? You know what I mean.

So, what about the “Next Best Thing” rule? Most of the world has never “been in” a hand, stick, knife and gun fight. Most of these other topic instructors never have either. And folks do like to learn from those that have been “in.” But such sources and contacts are hard to find and expensive. So instead, most of the world meet downliners and this is where we get the titles “first generation, second generation” instructor nomenclature and why such designations might actually be important. And folks learn from researching the field. After a period of time of one or both study sources, these thirsty downline folks can become smart, subject matter experts. Oops, there’s that “expert” word again. 

I myself have spent a lot of time and money traveling far and wide to train with really experienced people. I see and feel the experience. The advantage. The military and policing life have offered up these connections to me. But I would NEVER automatically belittle anyone who has never “not-been-there, not-done-that.” Some of the smartest people I know have never “been-there, done-that,” yet have the intelligence IQ and emotional IQ to excell, and are even smarter than the original, real-world experienced pros. Oh, yes. It’s like a genetic crapshoot, a macabre dance with nature-nurture and chance. That whole topic is called, “picking the right instructor!” (Find someone smarter than you.)

So why just pick on knife teachers? As I suggested I often waste my time by looking these knife complainers up. This particular aforementioned chap, works in a bread company, a bakery-factory. Oh sure, he has the prerequisite long beard and covered in tattoos for sure, but he makes bread. And…yes, he is a gun instructor. According to his resume, he’s never been a cop or in the military and I would bet, odds are then, never been a gunfight. Otherwise, he looks to be a great guy and a patriot and dedicated family man. Thumbs up, dude.  And he might be, could be still be a fantastic gun instructor, even sans a gun fight – yet still an expert handler of the material. But he is exactly like that knife instructor, sans a knife fight, he throws stones at. The saying “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” comes to haunt.

How important is “Have Been In?” How important is “Been-There, Done-That?”  How important is the “Next Best Thing?” Well, source-important is vital, yes, but the sources are a tiny minority in all fields and they’re hard to find and usually expensive. You learn from the best you can find and the majority of the time, it’s from those first, second, third or more generation sources. Let’s not be ignorant complainers and loudmouths living in glass houses about these first, second or thirders. They might be smarter than you. You “learn up the ladder.” Life, learning and skill is lot more than just sticking the pointy end in. Learn up.

______________________

Coming soon from Piccadilly Publishing in Great Britain…

 

THE ELBOW STRIKE

Force Necessary: Hand Level 6 Strike: The Elbow Strike

Yes, the popular elbow strike is number 6 in the strike list. Not that it is 6th in importance, it’s just that everything cannot be number 1, and things need to be stretched out for digestion. Remember our mission is not to create champion kick or Thai boxers, but develop self defense, survival skills.

The elbows are very close quarters strikes. Sport applications can easily be confused with survival applications by naive instructors within the spinning worlds of self defense and sport. I have heard various self defense system instructors regurgitate a lot of sport doctrine. Survivorialist borrow (some like to say “steal”) from sports and shouldn’t automatically, completely replicate them. So what’s different? 

Cutting AND Smashing? Take for example the generic instruction that the elbow is used for both cutting and smashing. Suffice to say that the best smashing impact deliveries are the striking surfaces just a bit below and above the elbow. 

The Striking Version. Many experts suggest incorporating your big bones as much as possible. You might say, “elbow-area” striking for self defense and elbow tip striking possibilities for sports cutting. It’s more than semantics.

The Cutting Version. Hitting with the very tip of the elbow may cause pain and bone chipping injury to the striker (and yes and damage to the receiver). Ever walk through a doorway and nick the tip your elbow? Your elbow tip is nicknamed the “Funny Bone,” but the sharp pain comes from the Ulnar nerve that is near-surface at the hard elbow tip.  This hurts in an odd way. Merely cutting the opponent’s face with your elbow tip is a sports assignment to mostly cause bleeding. Such is a “clock move.” A street survivor cannot, should not count on, or watch the clock tick-tock away for debilitating bleeding into the eyes. There’s no time for that. And also there are no refs studying the intensity of medical injuries to call the fight. I believe if you took a survey, Thai fighters would probably be hoping for, working toward smash hits and not little,  superficial cuts when striking the head zone. Cutting is an after  thought when a full smash failed. (Also, classic boxers will try to “cut” the face with twisting boxing gloves and maybe illegal, sneaky elbows to cause bleeding. Once again in boxing the clock and rounds and refs count for a lot strategy.)

Never an elbow tip? In being comprehensive, I would be remiss not to mention this “blocking” move. Some systems suggest stopping-blocking an incoming face punch with an elbow positioned in front of the face. Very Filipino. Standing or on the ground, this involves raising your bent arm up quickly, getting your elbow aimed at an incoming bare fist. Yes, this can damage the incoming fist. Some people have the wrong impression about hitting the incoming fist with one’s elbow in general – they think it’s like hitting a bullet with a bullet. “Chasing the fist.” The supporters say the attacker is punching your face, and your mission is to position your elbow up into the line, the punch’s common path. You are not chasing anything. You are placing not chasing. But, when upright, standing there are a lot of ancillary skills like prediction, athleticism and situations involved with this whereas simple dodging and blocking basics might be way more reflexive, comprehensive and simpler. And actually it’s easier on your back, on the ground. Less…”geography.” We report. You decide.

Better to Give than Receive. When in elbow delivery range, you are in elbow reception range, a common Thai Boxing theme.  Where does your support hand and arm go? Inexperienced practitioners, especially those who have played American football often innocently go fist-to-fist, or fists-near-fists, striking in what sometimes looks looks like an overly-done torso upper body pivot. This is an unsafe in that it  leaves the head exposed. Elbow striking Thai boxers usually put their support arm forearm up and somewhat straight up. Some Thai systems will place the back of their thumb on their the top of their foreheads as a matter of routine, creating a vertical “bar” in front of their face.

Catching-Trapping. Then at times the support hand might be used to capture targets like the head, and even the arms. And the thrusting elbow can be used like a strike for elbow hyperextensions and for shoves inside takedowns. 

Note: Thai boxers often deliver horizontal and near horizontal incoming elbow strikes with that arm’s wrist bent and hand pointing down. This allows for the deeper range and penetration of the strike, whereas the straight wrist and hand inhibits that deeper strike because your hand hits your torso. In big gloved Thai fights, this hand position is hard to observe. The bent wrist might not matter much. This is just what I was taught in the Master Chai Sirisute Thai Boxing system. We report. You decide.

The Basic Elbow Smash List:  The old saying is, “if you have a good hook (punch) you have a good elbow (and vice-versa), as the body dynamics are somewhat similar. The combinations seem endless and class time should be spent working on them. Do these standing, kneeling and on the ground (as in top, bottom, right side, left side), all where feasible.

Horizontal or mostly horizontal elbows.
– right traveling left.
– left traveling right.

Vertical or mostly vertical elbows.
– mostly downward direction, including diagnials.
– mostly upward direction, including diagnials.  

Thrusting elbow.
– to the front, sides and back.

Spinning elbow.
– mostly horizontal.
– 1/4 or 1/2 or 360  spins. Requires some foot and torso set up that at times can be similar to spinning kicks.
– should you feel uncomfortable spinning, you still need to see them used on you and defend against it.

This Level 6 Elbow Module includes all this and elbow scenarios, tricks and skill drills, all too much to to list here. Level 6 also includes the Level 6 kick – the Thrust Kick Module, the Level 6 Emergency Medical Module, and the 6th Stop of the Stop 6  Program which is the survival ground fighting module. Ask for the new and improved Force Necessary: Level 6 Requirements Outline. It’s free and available after 15 February, 2024. 

See all the free full training films on Hock’s Combatives TV Channel, click here.

“DEAD DRILLS AND THE FMA BLACK SWAN”

 
I have been around FMA since the 1980s. FMA was very popular in the late 1980s, 1990s and growing, but there was a stutter-step that lasted years, two surprises what is called “Black Swans” and their application to the martial arts. You know that Black Swans are surprise, rather unpredictable events. Randomness. 
 
Two main events occurred in the 1990s, 2000s that led to a decline in the growth and popularity of Filipino Martial Arts. One event was of course the cleverly orchestrated UFC and it’s “More Real” fighting. The second, separate proclamations from some “real-deal-rough-guys” that FMA was mostly full of “Dead Drills” that didn’t relate to really-real-deal-tough-guy fighting.”
 
These two events put FMA on the side shelf for years. The demographic of the time (what? 18 to 35 year-olds?) of macho boys fell for this hook, line, sinker. Even Inosanto-world,- which we were doing Thai and Shoot – was included in this disparaging.
 
But alas…“More Real” fighting, as it turned out, is-not, was-not just wrestling-BJJ, but actually “MMA” that had to evolve with an emphasis on kickboxing and ground n’ pound atop wrestling. Still though, through it all there was this lingering stigma-idea that FMA-ers were dancing, prancing around in abstract, dead drills.
 
But time passed. Decades. A new crop of young macho guys appeared in the marketplace of the same demographic of old. They missed that early FMA Black Swan. They saw the evolution of MMA-UFC was not just BJJ submission fighting. They saw weapons in a weapons world, a whole new breed of folks. They ignore the FMA dead drill commentary because they understand the learning progression, the concept of…drills.
 
I and a few others back then, with a little influence in the martial magazines and the growing internet, spoke out against this FMA Dead stigma. I began a name-game change when I simply publicized a semantic name title switch, from “Drills” to “Exercises.” It was not speed, flow and skill DRILLS, but rather speed, flow and skill EXERCISES. All fighters run, or weight lift, or do all kinds of support exercises vital to their performance, yet such would be declared “dead” and ignored in the definition of knuckleheads in comparison.
 
The word “exercise.” Calling them ALL merely exercises sort of changed the “dead drill” mindset name-game and shut some of these people up. All kinds of exercises improve and in many military, police and martial worlds, lots are called “__________ Exercises.” In fact, big themes are often called “________ Exercise Week,” etc.
 
While the words drill and exercise are interchangeable, using the term exercise is an all-inclusive, mind-changer. Big mind, if you will. Small-minded experts would declare “FMA Dead Drills,” then turn around and introduce their own drills that were in theory and practice, essentially the same ’dead’ as what they were just ridiculing. This displays a mental and intellectual detachment. One dead drill mastermind had to publicly backtrack a bit in a film, admitting that all performance exercises were…“okay.” This had to shake up their minds with inclusive definitions.
 
Through the decades, the most publicly recognized stick fighters were-are the Dog Brothers started by Eric Knaus, Arlen Sanford, Burton Richardson, et al. I have been close with many of these guys and done some minimum safety gear stick sparring myself until age limits healing time. As bad-ass as that gets, in the actual classes? Skills are slowly, carefully, professionally developed in progressive drills that would-be, officially have-been, declared “DEAD” by knucklehead standards.

(Ray Medina on the left, me on the the right.)
 
Martial drills of all kinds are bits and pieces of a fight (or sports) that enhance individual moves and puts them in a “before and after” action puzzle piece, all with progressing levels of speed with inserts. The only 2 major things to worry about are:
 
  1. Is the core movement-mission subject important enough? and,
  2. Do not over-drill and become mere “drill-masters” unable to freestyle fight. (This is important)
ALL drills to some extents are a bit dead, even sparring is, as they are not a real fight in crime and war, but, it’s probably a good idea to ignore these few remaining, “dead drill” hypocrites. Apparently, a whole bunch, a new breed of tough guys, a new wave of FMA interest these last ten years or so, agrees.
 
________________________
 
Check out the many free, full hour training films on Hock’s Combatives Youtube channel. Click here.
 

RUNNING TO FIGHT. FIGHTING TO RUN

 
Standing – Upright Footwork Routine #14: The Footwork Run
Number 14 in my Force Necessary courses. Many people just run laps, which is fine. Fighters will do their road work with shadow boxing. Moving forward. Fighting. Smart. I have incorporated fighting footwork into the process along with some balance exercises and what I nickname “gyroscopic” exercises.
 
First, one has to define a lap. Whats is a lap? The classic, universal track has 4 laps covering a mile. Inside and outside many gyms, with space constraints, covering a mile usually takes many more laps than the classic 4 – maybe something like TWENTY laps may accrue a mile in some places.
 
I find this more multi-lap-to-a-mile handy because I change “themes” on each lap and easily remember to do so. I don’t think I have the time and the mojo to do my whole workout listed below, changing themes every classic quarter mile on the big boy track. If you did one of these chores as one full lap, and four laps make for a mile…it would be a long (and exhausting) many-mile day.
If you are on such a classic 4-lap-track, you might define in your mind quarters, halves and so forth for points to change your footwork. For the purposes of this explanation I will use the simple term lap – but such is flexible based on your location, your “track” and your health-endurance.
 
These are for inspiring, not confining. Note that every other lap is “regular” running (intermingled with shadow boxing and wind sprints).
  • Pre-Lap: You might stretch a bit? Warm-up speed. Up to you. 
  • Lap 1: Regular running with a warm up in mind.
  • Lap 2: Side-to-side pendulum-style footwork, facing out.
  • Lap 3: Regular running.
  • Lap 4: Side to side pendulum-style footwork, facing in.
  • Lap 5: Regular running.
  • Lap 6: Run backwards.
  • Lap 7: Regular running. Start incorporating segments of wind sprints.
  • Lap 8: Moving forward with “zig-zag” footwork, (Do you have painted lanes on your track? I usually use them to guide control my zig-zag forward stepping)
  • Lap 9: Regular running, with some wind sprints and now some shadow boxing.
  • Lap 10: Moving forward with zig-zag footwork, leap-step and turn in (with a hop) with each advancing step and shadow box a punch (one or two?) when facing inward. Very practical.
  • Lap 11: Run backwards with shadow boxing.
  • Lap 12: Regular running, with some wind sprints and shadow boxing.
  • Lap 13: Three lane leaps. Traverse-hop three lanes while still moving forward in a bigger zig-zag, right to left, left to right. You may turn (or hop) inward and punch again, (I’m not to sure how practical the turn and punch is after a THREE lane advance, but you can still do it. The two-lane, turn-in seems to be more practical in a fight.)
  • Lap 14: Regular running with wind sprints and shadow boxing.
  • Lap 15: Run heel-to-toe on one painted stripe to build agility and balance.
  • Lap 16: Experiment with some kicks while moving forward, even if you have to stop for a second to do it. See which ones work or don’t work on the mover.
  • Lap 17 and Beyoooond. Continue on and create variables for your laps or segments of your laps. Some people add hand weights. Whatever. Review your footwork drills and see you can do them on the move. Experiment. Customize. Improve. Swing sticks and knives on the way. Try a few steps drawing out pistols, or carting long guns. The world is your violent oyster. Just don’t get arrested running with weapons in your hands, bubba! You will freak out onlookers.
I usually do this indoors because I can’t count on the weather and as my mind wanders, the shorter laps help me remember to change. Plus, much of Texas is blistering hot for months and one should not let weather interfere with your plans to conquer the universe. On average I cover a meager 15 miles a month.
 
Running will always be smarter than walking. Walking will always be smarter than “couching.” Couching will always be better while watching television with a handy coffee mug full of Merlot.
 
 
 
 

My GREATEST THANKSGIVING STORY

 
I have been going to and teaching in Australia since the 1990s, a chain broken by Covid. Often twice a year. I have friends in many cities that hosted me coast to coast. I have a very special place in my heart for the people I know there and Australia in general. I knew that I had to get my then wife Jane down there to meet them and see Oz. She went with me several times for a month and one year, a two-month long trip. These trips were adventures in rental cars and sometimes we had to fly. Jane called much of it “Windshield Tourism“ because we had had drive from city to city, weekend to weekend. We “freestyled” saw…a…whole…lot.
 
One year we went in October and November and over a Thanksgiving. Being that far away from the USA, the American holidays don’t loom. On Thanksgiving Day, we stopped in a smaller town and stayed in a rather primitive, worker’s-style hotel that had a hot plate, a fridge and a microwave, all in the short hallway of the single room. With that were a few crappy, dishes and silverware.
We had enough time to walk about the downtown area and wandered into a grocery store where Jane got the idea that while we could not have a turkey, we could at least have chicken and some vegetables for Thanksgiving.
 
I said, “How can you make all that with a crusty old hot plate and that nasty old ancient microwave in the small hallway of our room?”
She knew how. She proceeded to buy the ingredients. We returned to the motel, and she started in with milk, eggs and flour she breaded chicken thighs and prepped the vegetables (by the way, the veggies in Australia are science-fiction-huge!) We bought some Australian wine, which y’all should try.
 
When it was all done, we had our Thanksgiving dinner in this little motel room. It was way more than delicious. It was amazing, as she was amazing. I declared then and there that this was my best Thanksgiving ever. It wasn’t turkey, but it didn’t have to be. We even had to eat in bed because there were no tables or a desk. But it was still so special, spontaneous and perfect. Years later, it was and still is my best Thanksgiving ever. A magic day in a magic time and place with a magic person.
 
I lost Jane last July from a sudden heart attack, after 30 unforgettable rich, adventurous, deep years. Are there enough adjectives? I’ll run out of them. I was ripped from reality. I am very close to her daughter Sherry, and we worried about the upcoming holidays of which Jane was always such a brilliant foundation. Sherry asked me was there anything special she could make for me, for our upcoming Thanksgiving. I am not a desert guy, and I just couldn’t think of anything at the moment. But a day later, I thought about this…the baked chicken memory. Of course! I told her. She looked at me funny at first, but then she remembered the story I have told probably way too many times. So, yes, at her house many are coming and there will be the usual turkey and sides, but she is also also making me breaded chicken thighs.
 
Thanksgiving Day will be a real tough one. Some say they all will be from now on, to some level, no matter what else happens. I could see that. And oh no, not just for me, but for so many who have lost others from age, health, crime and war.
 
Past, Present. Future. You know Zen is not a religion, it’s a philosophy. Zen wants you to concentrate and live in the moment as much as possible along with solving some riddles. And when folks say Grace before a meal, they are stopping time. Freezing it, slowing things down, and saying-appreciating the moment, the luck, the joy, the irony that we somehow have some damn food in front of us in this crazy world, along with…somehow…at holiday times like these, people we love, like and know around us.
 
We can stop the clock for just one precious moment. It might be those valuable moments that gets you through life. May you have many such valuable moments, like a simple makeshift meal in a cheap hotel, or a festive gathering, or maybe just days, hours, or minutes of “windshield tourism,” if even just a trip around your town.
 
And that’s my greatest Thanksgiving story. I suspect it will remain so for the…duration. And hey, do try some of that Australian wine, why don’t cha?
 
Thanks,
Hock