For starters, I am not a knife or gun collector, no more than I would collect hammers, screwdrivers or wrenches. I just don’t care. You get the message. The “tool” message. I guess it comes from my Army and policing time and experiences. I am interested in efficiency. Don’t misunderstand me, I like looking at cool knives and guns, I admire them, I just don’t want them or need them. If you do collect and you have the money and time for such a hobby, then if you are happy? I am happy. The only time that my eyebrows raise is when the lines between pretty and necessary-survival are blurred (and maybe bloody). One problem often blurred is the texture of grips and handles.
Speaking of bloody, Johnny Cash once wrote about the “kicking and the gouging and the mud and blood and the beer.” There’s also guts, water, oils, sweat, bad gloves and other substances that can make life very slippery and your hands and tools very slippery. Legend has it that the Gurkhas would dip their kukris in motor oil and then train with slimy grips. And what if your hands are injured and-or are freezing? I always shake my head when I see slick, metal knife handles and gun handles.
It’s bad enough when people have stupid hand-finger positioning on grips.
A considerable amount of time, money and research has gone into making working tools like hammers, saws, screw drivers etc., very grip-able. Still you will find slick-handled hammers and tools too! But like wise tool-makers, many wise gun and knife makers and sellers have also labored to make your weapons stay put in your hands with textured grips! People like to suggest that textured gloves solve some of these problem, but will you ALWAYS be wearing gloves? 24-7?
I am not endorsing anyone or anything here. I am just making a suggestion, forego pretty and slick, and get the most textured grips on your firearms, knives and sticks-batons. In my Force Necessary: Stick course Level 1, Force Necessary: Knife course Level 1, Force Necessary: Gun course Level 1, I emphasize and display the vital importance of grip-handle textures.
This “Mudda” title use to be a 1940s, 50s and 60s insult, bringing sons into fisticuffs over their beloved mother’s reputation. To this day, I still don’t get the insult. And today, many mothers wear combat boots, proudly. Their offspring share the pride. And, fashionistas do too!
I mention this pedal region insult because I was recently treated to yet another youtube street fighting video and watched two people spontaneously erupt into a sloppy fight. Both were wearing the proverbial flip-flops, slipping and sliding in them, and half-losing them. As usual the participants were stumbling and falling, from a host of reasons, but insecure, half-assed footwear contributed.
Got me to pondering about shoes. Shoes, boots, flip flops, sandals…fights, chases, climbs, leaps, escapes…a lifetime of footwear concerns as they relate to survival, fighting, sports and enforcement, military performance.
In the “Who, What, Where, When, How and Why” of life, the “What Question” covers the “what are you wearing? And shoes are part of that “what-closet” as are a few sub-questions like “when do you wear…?” “Why do you wear…?”
The guys and gals we see in these fight videos slipped on fast and easy footwear that day. Why not wear these light beach thongs today? Even the toughest-prepared-tough-guy might think that. They might have said…
“I’m just getting a bagel!”
I am sure that in the many fights captured by cell phones, the participants who slipped on lame footwear didn’t think they would be dancing around in their thongs or sandals that afternoon at the grocery store or on a parking lot. And, I am also pretty sure that some of these hardcore store-runners, chore-runners and egg sandwich seekers that slip on flip flops are also wearing a gun. Maybe even more? Knives? A flashlight? Spray? All that, but on go the flip flops. Those are bad treads on your tank in a fight. Aren’t they? Mr. Survivalist?
Regardless of being in a fight, skimpy sandals and thong, flip flops are risky. For example, the “British NHS spends £40million a year treating injuries caused by wearing the casual footwear. More than 200,000 people visit their GP or even end up in hospital every year after suffering falls or developing long-term problems. But experts are warning of the dangers of prolonged use, such as the risk of shin splints and joint pains. They say flip-flops force people to change the way they walk so that when taking a stride they put pressure on the outside of their foot, rather than their heel, causing long-term damage. And there is also the risk of serious injury from tripping over. Frequent complaints include twisted ankles, but some have broken their arms or wrists after falling because their flip-flops caught on uneven ground.” Read the full report here
Even the somewhat popular “Combat Flip Flops” made by vets, have the tagline, ”Bad for running, worse for fighting.”
Common commercial sandals have a few more straps than these thongers, not as many as say – the original Roman Centurion sandals of yesteryear. In pondering “sandal combatives,” I am reminded of the Vietnam era, “Ho Che Minh Flop-Flops,” footwear worn by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War and a nickname probably unknown or forgotten by the great unwashed today, but if you were in service during those times, you remember the moniker.
Professor Google reports – “These sandals set belonged to a member of the Viet Cong and was brought back to the United States by an American veteran as a trophy of war. Ho Chi Minh sandals are iconic for having been worn by the Vietcong during the Vietnam war.
These Viet Cong characters did a pretty god job messing with us in these cheap sandals, but tunnels, improvised bombs and guerilla warfare helped them out. The North Vietnamese Army wore shoes, but some are photographed in sandals too.”
Flip flops abounded in the era though. There was a terrible problem of “trench foot,” later called “foot jungle rot” to be sorted out back then with some powders, and sunshine with flip-flops. This was a diagnosis given those poor bastards, the “booney rats,” cast out in the jungles for days, weeks at a time.
There were of course “jungle boots.” Again Professor Google advises – “The use of ‘jungle’ or ‘hot weather’ boots predates World War II, when small units of U.S. soldiers in Panama were issued rubber-soled, canvas-upper boots for testing. A pair of jungle boots weighed approximately three pounds. Adopted in 1942, the design of the jungle boot was based on the idea that no boot could possibly keep out water and still provide sufficient ventilation to the feet in a jungle or swamp environment. Instead, the jungle boot was designed to permit water and perspiration to drain, drying the feet while preventing the entry of insects, mud, or sand.”
“In the early years of the Vietnam War, some U.S. Army soldiers used the ‘M-1945 Tropical Combat Boot’. 1965, newly-developed footwear was developed using developments since the end of World War. Although the weight increased, after American foot injuries from punji stake traps, their jungle boots used a stainless steel plate inside the boot’s sole to protect the wearer. Later jungle boots used nylon/canvas uppers instead of cotton duck. The footwear received other improvements.”
Troops of the Vietnam era (and now) also acquired some of these primitive thongy, flip-flops to wear to, fro and in the showers because the floors could be considered petri dishes. “Ho Che Minh Flip-Flops” soon became the nickname for all flip-flops and “casual wear sandals.” This flip flop style of footwear reportedly originating as early as the ancient Egyptians in 1,500 B.C, but here in the US of A, footwear manufacturers claim the flip-flop descends from the Japanese zōri, which became popular after World War II era as soldiers brought them back from Japan. But anyway, sandals, flip flops and sunshine were a big prescription for such foot problems. Given all the booby traps and nasties in the jungle, given a chance to wear foot protection, I think most would pick the foot protection over flip-flops when tip-toeing or scrambling “out there.”
In my days, the early and mid-1970s, in Army basic training and the military police academy back then we did everything in combat boots. Shiny ones. 10-mile, forced marches with full gear, obstacle courses, you name it. Boots. But we were taught some foot and shin care (shin splints being the next higher-up, problem) and we had plenty of Uncle Sam socks to change into daily if the Drill Sergeants didn’t hide them while we were gone. We ran our final physical exam 2 milers, in combat boots.
When I was a patrolman and investigator in the Army and even in Korea, I was never far from civilization and a drawer full of socks. But we were in boots (except of course my plain clothes investigation days) Day and night. Boots. We ran, we chased bad guys, climbed, we leaped over buildings…ah, no fences actually… in a single bound! We battled criminal soldiers and I always thought, wouldn’t life be lighter, faster, better in athletic shoes?
Enter my follow-up years in Texas police work. On patrol we could wear black cowboy boots or black, no design, lace, shoes in the late 70s. It was Texas and there was the insinuation that we should wear cowboy boots, but I immediately found the lightest pair of black plain shoes I could find. At K-Mart! Whereupon I continued the fine police tradition of running, chasing, leaping over stuff, climbing stuff and wraslin’ and dukin’ it out with bad guys in lighter “rubber’ shoes. Life was better, faster, smarter.
We need athletic shoes I yelled! Some of my Texican colleagues disputed my views, claiming:
“A pair of Tony Lama boots are just as good as athletic shoes!”
To wit I would reply, “Then why are they not wearing boots in the Olympics?
There was no good, further to-witting from the boot supporters.
Darwin would be proud. Years passed and a new series of lighter, athletic high ankle or short ankle police shoes came around. Black shoes of all sorts became “legal” to wear. Sneakers became standard-issue for the military after Congress passed a 2017 defense provision requiring the military to provide American-made, athletic shoes to recruits directly. Troops were supplied with running shoes. Boot “technology” improved also. Darwin would indeed be proud.
Martial artists are usually barefoot. The usual three reasons given are to “toughen the feet,” and “tradition” and really, mainly – “to save the expensive mats.” If I am forced to go shoeless when teaching in a matted school, I will at least wear socks. First off, no one wants to see my Dumb and Dumber feet. I don’t want to see yours. Secondly, statistically I will be fighting with my shoes on. “Wear what you will be wearing when training!”
Did you know, that “deep-in-the-weeds survivalists” suggest you should always wear the best athletic shoes when taking a plane trip. These experts say that should you survive a plane crash you need the best, solid, tight footwear to escape the split, burning hulk.
Weyland Billingsley checks in with more – “When I teach disaster classes for the Red Cross, I always tell people to wear real shoes. If you are going to a “safe room” for a tornado or hurricane, wear sturdy shoes, jeans and a long sleeved shirt. Otherwise you will be picking your way through a debris field in flip flops and shorts. (Others advise strapping on your bicycle helmet.)
I am not here to sell these new, great hiking sandals. They are like “near-beer,” as in “near shoes,” and are quite tight-fitting and protective. Given this general concept shouldn’t we all be wearing great shoes all the time? Even when buying bagels? There are after all, people who wear their guns inside their house to be safe and I have seen TV gun shows where residents walk out to their mailbox with a pistol AND an emergency medical kit on their carefully considered belt. Should I live like this? Should you? Should I be sleeping with my escape shoes on every night? Certainly with a pending storm, or going to a frisky neighborhood, or maybe even on a plane.
BUT! To me, for my insanity and paranoia, this also enters into the “What, When and Where Questions.” All the Ws and H questions really. When and wear do you, should you worry about such footy things? Realistically?
George Carlin once said, “Religion is like a pair of shoes…find one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear yours.” I am just suggesting, think about your shoes!
Are your souls slippery…er…I mean are your soles slippery?
Are your shoes tight enough?
Are they laced up? (That’s right idiot-boy, are they laced-up?)
Will they slip around or off when you are suddenly fighting someone at the bagel shop?
Will your Dumb and Dumber feet be exposed on youtube?
Your Singanture 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.
As I turned on my car radio this morning, the very first line I heard was “G. Gordon Liddy died, age 90.”
I once described my friend G. Gordon Liddy as a great “American Story,” among a list of other unique folks, in a piece I had published years ago. Think about it. The G-man was an FBI agent that once caught a Top Ten fugitive, and had a FBI record quick draw on their range. He was a state prosecutor, federal prosecutor, Army “arty” (as in artillery) captain, Nixon Watergate spy, state jail prisoner, federal prisoner (whose inmate lawsuits changed the systems he was incarcerated in), father of a Navy SEAL, TV series star, movie star, radio talk show host, author, gold salesman…well, I could go on but he qualified with me as a great, diverse American story. Of course some people angrily complained he was just a criminal, but he really did a lot more than that.
I first saw him in person, in the late 1980s, in a lively, fun debate with LSD promoter Timothy Leary at the University of Texas in Austin while I was down there attending a state police school. Years later, he liked my books and for a period of years while he had his show, every time I wrote a new book, he would have me on his national radio show as a guest. Lots of radio show guests could “call it in” from their homes, but I flew into D.C. every time just to hang out with him. Whereupon, off the air, lunch etc., I could interview HIM! After my first visit in the 90s, my webpage exploded with views, and really has not gone down since!
When there, we would swap police stories and he told me many of his escapades including some great FBI stories not known to the general public. He also never believed that J. Edgar Hoover was “a ballerina.” He too was an author of many political books – like the bestselling book “Will” (made into movie), but he also wrote some bestselling spy novels. His writing style was very proper and succinct. Whereas his non-fiction, politic books were as fresh as his easy conversation.
In recent years, show gone, his old age, we lost touch, dwindling emails as he disappeared from the “scene.” His mother lived to be 100 or a bit over, and I expected the same longevity.
WHAT a character! Some people hate him. Some don’t . I guess most people today might remember him from those “GOOLLD” tv commercials, and maybe, if old enough, from the Watergate scene where he held his open hand over a candle, expressing his commitment not to “talk.” I reckon that most younger folks won’t remember him at all.
Haven’t we all seen through the years, the paper targets of angry men holding guns and knives? Is this a good or bad idea?
If you follow me for even a short length of time, you know I do not teach anything to do with firearm marksmanship. I am too unqualified and too impatient for the job. I always team up with, refer you to, and count on my long list of qualified and patient friends to deliver great marksmanship development. Instead, I am solely interested in situational, interactive shooting with any sort of simulated ammo we can get our hands on, wherever we are. The gear has increased in its diversity and opportunity through the decades. I just called the course starting back then in 1995, “Force Necessary: Gun” (using the gun when necessary).
A number of years ago Dr Bill Lewinski and his collegiate Force Science team collected a whole series of studies on shootings and shoot-outs, and determined that one of the principle reasons for missing targets under stress was too much “internal focus” on the use of the handgun and not enough external emphasis. The internal emphasis was defined as the worrying too much about your draw, hand grip, breathing, arms, sights, etc. The Force Science experts recommended a major prescription for this was to work on more external focus. External being defined as the bad guy, location and situation. A professional psychologist would begin to develop therapies for external focus (which I have already spent years doing.) The problem is shooting at moving, thinking people who are shooting right back at you.
With this Force Science report, I immediately added a new sub-title for my gun course, “Force Necessary: Gun – External Focus,” bolstered by Lewinski’s FS and because that is all I do, my slice-share of the gun fight worries. Bring in the external! As the simulated ammo world developed (with much help from Japan) military and police slowly saw great value in adding it in, but just not enough.
After a vow of range shooting celibacy (as in teaching as I still practice shooting on ranges) I still have borderline/trespass comments to make once in a while, and one is on paper targets. It is a range thing and such things I order myself to avoid. But… here goes.
Quickly first, an established point – “bullseye target:” the circular spot, usually black or outlined in black, at the center of a target marked with concentric circles and used in target practice. A regular, round, bullseye target or simplistic versions thereof are good for shooting diagnostics, zeroing in and data investigation-collection. Maybe even some fun competitions?
I recall times, and they are recent and recurring, when ignorant citizen groups demanded that all human shapes be removed from targets. Their argument being that this teaches, people, police and even the military to shoot…people! To shoot unnecessarily and ad nauseum at people. Surely – the ignorant claim – surely if these human forms were removed from targets, less people would be abused-shot. Innocent people and guilty people too, as there are post-modernist groups who fail to acknowledge even the obvious self defense shooting of an armed attacker, screaming murder, especially against law enforcement.
Quite a number of groups and agencies over the years, ever wishy-washy, by virtue signaling, paranoia or the next level of ignorance, acquiesced. Gone were the official use of armed, ugly men photos and drawings on targets, replaced by the standard bullseye, scoring image. The organizations were applauded by being all-so-modern and all-so-caring and so forth.
The last big, anti-human-form, target scare brought quite a censor of target subjects. Compliers got rid of various popular targets to avoid being denounced. Remember the fad wave of zombie targets appeared? Remember them? Well, they are still around, but not like the censored past and blasting zombies were openly used in protest of the target censors. I mean, even far-far lefties want to kill zombies.
I also recall a rash of Bin Laden targets popping up in those tough times. But today in the 2020s, a target printer and-or seller must take care who they portray on a paper target, else they be deemed a domestic terrorist. I suggest you avoid putting any recognizable people on targets, just use generic, mean looking, white guys.
So, let’s take a stock for a moment…
Bad guys have guns (and knives, etc.) and commit felonies, rob, rape and kill.
Citizens can defend themselves and many have guns.
Police have guns and uphold the law.
Good guys and police are attacked by bad guys with guns (and knives, etc.).
The most contrary still accept the fact that gun-carriers need at least bullseye training.
There needs to be training methods to consistently ensure that deadly force be used only against deadly force.
I know gun instructors smart enough to tape or glue various pictures of deadly force weapons onto to existing unarmed paper targets. They “get it.” We talk a lot of a sight picture – “the sight picture is the image you see when the sights are aligned correctly with the target.” But another look at the term is the “sight” of a picture of an armed bad guy trying to kill you. One is more internal in processing, one is way more “external.” They know that in your sight, your “external sight picture” it is good to have a deadly force weapon included to justify a spontaneous shooting.
One way to help ensure the proper use of deadly firearm force is the visual identification training of a deadly threat. A mission to so this should be as early, often and regular as possible. Overtly or covertly (subliminal). I therefore believe that a shooting practitioner, new or otherwise should constantly shoot at a target of a dangerous person holding a gun or knife, etc. Doing so helps build a subliminal use of proper force message in a person’s brain. You are NOT going to shoot unless you are confronted with this sort of…deadly…vision.
This sort of prep education is not available with the flat, impersonal paper bullseye target. Such a bullseye-only target is detached from humanity. Instead, simply putting a scoring target inside the shape of an armed bad guy is so easy and of course, has been done.
I have tried to instruct with the mantra “reduce the abstract.” In hand, stick, knife and gun training, you can never recreate the reality situation. It’s impossible, but you can try. Each and every where possible. You can use the “Who, What, Where, When, How and Why” questions to set the stage, and of course, develop the training progressions from isolated to situational. This means a person may start out with just a bullseye target only, if the instructor wishes, and the training will increase with human shapes and forms to situational interactive shooting of actors, then competitors. (Other than zeroing in and other diagnostics (checking the spark plugs), I see no real reason not to quickly start a self defense shooter out with an armed human form target also with bullseye, scoring rings.
With this dual approach, there is still a bullseye and scoring, but inside a bigger legal “message” from the get-go. You get to score, track progress, but with a deadly force backdrop mandate.
Targets and further training with “armed human forms.” Things to think about:
Do you think that self defense shooters should only shoot at bullseye targets forever? Yes or no? Why? Why not?
Do you think that self defense shooters should be exposed to targets with armed human figures with added bullseye art? Yes or no? Why? Why not?
Do you think that an enlarged photograph of a bad guy is better than a flat artwork drawing of one? Yes or no? Why? Why not?
Do you think that eventually shooting an actual, armed actor is better than shooting at a drawing or photo of a person? Yes or no? Why? Why not?
Do you think that eventually shooting at armed “competitors” in interactive situations are like performance exams? And are a good idea? Yes or no? Why? Why not?
(I guess I would be remiss not to quickly mention these somewhat common “3D” or dummy targets in this discussion, even though they are a bit pricey and misused as in this discussion. Misused? They are frequently posted up on the range, naked and armless. Armless means no weapons held, defeating that need to shoot now imperative we are reviewing here. I have seen dummies wearing shirts from time to time, maybe even a hat, but still armless and weaponless. I guess you could slung a rifle over a shoulder? But usually you are still shooting an unarmed man! Err…I mean dummy. The 3D dummies with arms are rare because they are so expensive.)
You don’t have to answer these questions here. Just please think about them. The questions above are about a training progression. You can never stop working on your marksmanship and the “internal focus.” It’s a never-ending battle of eyeballs and trigger-squeeze. But my real purpose here is to get people to pull the trigger when legal and develop comprehensive training tips and ideas to implant the subject.
As this essay spreads across the world, I receive more and more reports of agencies and localities disallowing human shapes on targets, as well as ranges that just don’t care what target you bring in.
Back to the first opening question. Armed human shapes on targets. Good? Bad? My answer is good. The next time a political group demands that human figures holding weapons should be removed from training targets, inform them that human figures holding weapons, even in its most primitive form with flat, target-artwork or a photograph, is vital in teaching proper use of force, decision-making. Start that subliminal self defense, legal message from the beginning and keep it going as much as possible.
(My main theme here is usually about combatives, crime and policing, but I would be remiss not to mention my connections with the ROK Marines while in South Korea.)
The textbook manuals will define the ROK Marines as: “The Republic of Korea Marine Corps, also known as the ROK Marine Corps, or the ROK Marines, is the marine corps of South Korea. The ROKMC is a branch of the Republic of Korea Navy responsible for amphibious operations, and also functions as a rapid reaction force and a strategic reserve.”
“Korean soldiers were highly motivated. Because of their own struggle with Stalinist North Korea, they hated communists. They were also tough. Each man was trained in the art of tae kwon do, with 30 minutes’ practice forming an integral part of morning physical training. They were also subjected to harsh discipline. Time magazine reported in 1966, “Captured Vietcong orders now stipulate that contact with the Koreans is to be avoided at all costs—unless a Vietcong victory is 100 percent certain.” – National Interest Magazine
1975. The first days of the first week I was in country, up north in South Korea, HQ asked me to deliver some papers to Camp Red Cloud. They gave me our intrepid KATUSA – Mister Lee as a driver, and together in an old, open US Army jeep we made the long drive east. Once at the base, Mister Lee took us to the Red Cloud headquarters. On the open grounds outside stood a formation of Korean soldiers and a sergeant yelling and beating the holy hell out of a soldier. The troop stood as best he could, arms down and at a wobbly attention. Finally. the blows knocked him off right off his feet. Down, he was kicked.
“What’s going on over there?” I asked Mister Lee. “Ohhh, ROK Marines. Dey crazy. Dat Marine fucky up somehow.” Mister Lee said.
And that was my first introduction to the ROK Marines, other than having some of them, along with South Vietnamese combat vets, teach a few courses in basic training. Upon my return to our little crappy forward operating base, (FOB) as I was a “cherry” (new) I quickly learned that we also had ROK Marines stationed right with us too!
We, me, the MPs there were to do police work and help provide force protection for this FOB, but the grunt work of guarding was done by KATUSA (Korean Augmentation To the United States Army, a branch of the Republic of Korea Army that consists of Korean drafted personnel who are augmented to the Eighth United States Army), K-9s (dogs), MPs and ROK Marines. One big happy (?) family.
Missile jockeys operated on top of a mountain inside our camp and from that elevation, with binoculars one could see into North Korea and at times watch their knuckleheads doing PT or snaking around over there.
“The beatings will continue until morale improves!” And I continued to see periodic ROK beatings in their morning formations. We never knew what they did wrong, but they must have “fucky-ied up” in some way. The ROK officers and NCOs spoke some English but the typical ROK Marine did not. So while we saw them a lot, and they ate in our mess hall, we never got to know them beyond the occasional smile, a wave, and a thumbs up.
Part of our job description was to also patrol the outside of the base, check the perimeters, etc. and the ROK Marines did that routinely. We MPs did not have to go on every run, but we were supposed to go with some regularity, and keep abreast of the breastworks, so, with some regularity we went. On one trip, they found a cache of buried weapons, hidden by stupid commie sympathizers for North Koreans to sneak in and dig up. (I think a K9 smelled it out, as I recall). The commies were always sneaking in, or building tunnels under the DMZ, etc. Those days, the 60s and 70s were considered very dangerous times in Korea.
(Years earlier, the NKs perpetrated North Korea attempted assassination, “The Blue House Raid,” also known in South Korea as the “January 21 Incident.” It was just one raid launched by North Korean commandos to assassinate the President of South Korea, Park Chung-hee, in his residence at the Blue House. President Park was unharmed.)
Taking us out, taking our missiles out, or sneaking past us to go south was always a problem. We sat in the valley first invaded by the Red Guard back in the 1950s. One part of my MP job I discovered was to run an M-60 machine gun team on the northwest peak of the camp that touched that very valley. (When the feces hits the oscillated blades, we are all infantry.)
On one of these walk-arounds, the ROK Marine Sergeant (also named Lee) mentioned to me that old classic observation, usually attributed to the Japanese., “America will never be invaded,” he said. “It won’t, you think?” I said. “No, too many guns.”
Some of these inspections were run in the dark, a m. hours. Just cuz. Just cuz they could and really they should. The boogie-men come out at night. And as we passed a few guard posts, Sgt. Lee would stop us at a distance and stealthfully get near the post. He would at times catch the ROK Marine there asleep and steal something from them, sometimes their M-16s!
The next morning the ROK Marine would be chastised and then beaten in the formation.
I often wondered what these Marines thought when they woke up and saw their M-16 gone!
(Many decades later, a ROK Marine sergeant showed up at one of my California combatives seminars, held at the original UFC Gym. He was sent there to attend and invite me to teach knife combatives over there. The deal was cut, but their unit had to postpone because of missions. I have no great desire to return to South Korea, but I will. Because – “Have Seminar-Will Travel.”)
The rituals of death. Understanding them may save your life. But, when you try to research the term, all you are most likely to uncover are after-death, practices of various worldwide religions and funerals, like tossing a handful of dirt on a coffin to name but one. I guess the trouble with the research quest is the word “ritual” – so quickly associated with religions. Dig a bit deeper (no pun intended) and you’ll find a few ceremonial pre-death rituals like when archaeologists discovered that the Incas got their children sacrifices drunk before their deaths on coco leaves and alcohol. Still after much digging, not much is mentioned about before the death.
If you broaden your own the definition of “rituals,” of death, it starts you thinking. You might recall the many other kinds of political and religious killings, ones before the flame, the shot, the needle, the hanging, the guillotine, the firing squad, the electrocution, etc. We remember some pre-death, rituals with them. Before such events, we have been exposed to ritualistic habits like, “the last meal.” The “last cigarette.” The blindfold, “any last requests?” “any last statements?” These are also rituals of death, before the act. Why do people bother with them?
Think about the ritualistic procedures in the United States over a prisoner execution. There are many ritualistic steps and protocols. Think about how people reluctantly gather in to witness the execution. In the olden days, people gathered for the public hangings, nowadays seating is assigned at the prison death chambers to watch a person die. I feel as though any of the death row prisoners would much rather be surprised by a shot in the back at in the head at some late point than go through all that extraneous legal, ritual, nonsense. And, consider this irony, there have been postponements in prison executions because the prisoner was too sick on his death date. Too sick to die? “Let’s clear up that flu before we kill him.”
All these numerous rituals alone, suggested to me that most humans have a certain significance, a regard about death and often do things, also in crime and war to hesitate, postpone, celebrate or commemorate death. A ritual, however slight or small, might be created. It often seems to be in our human nature.
I would like to write about here a very particular situation when someone is cornered, captured, kidnapped and-or taken hostage. Short-term or long-term, and about to killed. As a police detective most of my adult life, and a graduate of a police, criminal profile course, I came across numerous cases, mine and others, of victims executed, or received threats of execution in the final act of rape, kidnapping, robbery, assault and so forth. And what about in war? Such as when someone is taken prisoner, or cornered? What did those last few seconds look like? What small ignored, rituals existed or still exist by killers. If we knew what the killers did, we might better prepare people to read upcoming signs and try to counter them.
In recent times now more than in the past, instructors like to present lists of pre-assault cues with all the anger, tip-offs. That list is long (and far from new – as the first one I saw was back in the military police academy in 1973.) What of pre-crime clues? They are different and largely ignored as people tend to dwell on the pre-assault cues. With pre-crime there might be a no-anger greeting, usually presented by smiling con men criminals setting you up with a minimum tip-offs, or not. Maybe just an overwhelming, sudden ambush? In this same vein of study, but not like the pre-assault, and pre-crime, are the verbal, physical and situational, last ditch rituals of…pre-death. Situational? The overall situation also counts like a ticking time bomb.
So, I became fascinated, in crime and war’s last moments, especially the last few seconds, the last few steps of these killing actions. What exactly went on? And to see if there are any big or small “rituals” even in these instances. They may or may not be spontaneous. The crime may be pre-meditated, but the actual physical act of violence itself unplanned. What happened? Learning this as a self defense, martialist instructor for civilians, police and military, might warn and prepare people for last resort counters to these problems. My real goal here is to inspire and provoke thought on these matters.
For example, Think of all the pistol disarms taught . Think of the more rare, long gun disarms. Think of the knife disarms. Think of the strangulation escapes. Lots of…”techniques,” as they say. But hardly anyone understands or covers the total “who, what, when, where, how and why” (the Ws&H) the victim wound up in this terrible moment, these terrible, critical last, few seconds. The context. The situation. What last ditch, last resort things could be done to counter the murder attempt?
The techniques? I have told this story for decades as an example of the “classroom disarmer,” of a student who learned two pistol disarms techniques earlier in the day at a martial class. He goes home and tells his friend how great the disarms were. The friend says “wow, show me,” and he gets a “clicker,” replica pistol and stands before the student, face-to-face, gun aimed at the student’s head, execution style. The student and friend stare at each other, like western showdown that actually hardly ever happened. The friend is a live wire, watching anxiously for ANY slight sign, a “tell,” (tip-off or clue) that a disarm attempt is coming. The student tries one of the disarms, j…u…s…t barely moves and…CLICK. The student tries and tries and can’t do either of the disarms. Disillusioned, he confesses, “I guess they don’t work.” This evaluation could be very wrong because forgotten is the unusual, multi-faceted crime and war situations people are thrust in. Gun men are often preoccupied running their overall crime scenes and rarely if ever, are they in this sterile, “face-to-face,” “anxiously waiting-for-the-disarm” waiting to pull the trigger, classroom situation.
Ws&H questions for examples…
The Who Question? For the purposes of brevity, let’s loosely list a few general “who’s-who” to get you thinking about this topic. (Remember I am not a psychologist and you must investigate these typologies yourself.)
Psychopath. Someone who might kill in an instant, without remorse, without ritual.
Psychopath who terrorizes. Someone who might kill and wants to enjoy terrorizing someone. There might be a ritual involved.
Realistic actor. Someone who is not a psychopath, but is somewhat “forced” into killing you due to circumstances. He might be resigned to the act.
Reluctant actor. Someone who is not a psychopath, but is really reluctant and really “forced” into killing you due to circumstances. He might be angry or depressed and resigned to the act.
Impulse actors. Various criminal studies state that many criminals have poor impulse control.
We could of course, slice and dice these very generic characterizations forever. But anyone of these might have tip-off tells of what they will do, verbal or physical. Perhaps your best predictive luck or chances are with the realistic and reluctant actors. If a true, cold-blooded psychopath decides to kill you, they might well do so in an instant. No rituals. No tells…just boom. Imagine a hostage situation where there is food for 7 people and he has 8 hostages. Boom, a random death upon discovery of the problem. Now there’s food for 7. If a non-psychopath has to kill you, he might say or do something…specifically at the moment…that is ”ritualistic.”
The What Question? There are numerous examples of what might be said or done.
Verbal. A psychopath may say nothing, or in the terrorizing version, enjoy saying extra-frightening things. Their rituals might be very personal and impossible to understand by sane people. A non-psychopath might ask for somewhat ritualistic things like, “Get down on your knees?” or, “Lay face down,” or “turn-around.” This is because he doesn’t want to fully see or not see your face. It is old military psychology now that you are harder to kill face-to-face for most “normal” people. The reluctant’s voice may get mean with a certain resolve and resignation. This could be because he is actually angry at himself and-or the situation.
Sounds. And this in not just about voice. There is a case in Gaven Debecker’s book The Gift of Fear when a rapist left the victim’s bedroom and turned the volume way up on the living room stereo. The victim realized this increase was to cover the sounds of her murder and screaming. She managed to sneak out of her apartment while the rapist was in the kitchen to get a knife. Translating sounds. What of the sounds of loading or cocking a firearm? Opening a trunk or a van door?
Physical. Sudden deep breaths before actions. Serious facial expression changes. Some might easily be read as a resignation that the reluctant has to kill. A terrorizing psychopath might smile with an enjoyment. It has been observed in a variety of situations that someone holding a long gun at hip level, resigned to murder, will grimace and lift the weapon to shoulder height. They might elevate the pistol from low to high. They could just shoot from the hip. These are last second tells.
The Where Question? First off, a rule of survival, never go from “crime scene A” to “crime scene B.” If you can fight and resist at crime scene A when you discover a planned transport? Do so. B is usually a prepared place of torture and-or death. A psychopath might kill you anywhere, or at crime scene B. A non-psychopath might ritualistically march you off to somewhere else, and often for no real reason. It seems to be a ritual of death to do so. The back room refrigerator of a convenience store for just one example. These marches may take you to a place where there are no sight or sound witnesses.
The When Question? The brewing situation should help a victim tell if an execution is forthcoming. Understanding the overall situation can set the clock for predicting your your planned demise. Many victim can predict their eventual doom by just seeing the face of a criminal.
The How Question? How will the murder be accomplished? Are you being marched off to a cliff? The meat locker? Does the criminal or enemy have a stick? Knife, pistol? Long gun? If so, do you know the common striking, stabbing and shooting positions? How close is the killer standing? Where are you standing? Has he approached with an “angry” strutting walk and face? How will your respond?
The Why Question? By keeping close track of your dilemma, can you anticipate why you need to be killed. Whim? Delight? No witnesses? Revenge? Understanding motives. Think of an on-premise, witness to a crime. Think of a crazed spouse, violating a protective order after many violent threats, showing up at a house with a weapon. Why must things end this way? The killer usually needs a motive, whether you understand the reasons or not. Again, studies show that many criminal have poor impulse control (especially under stressful and emotional situations).
Quick summary I would like for you to think about these Ws&H points. It usually takes about 6 passes of the Ws&H questions to collect satisfactory information. You might get down to the “when” question and you realize you need to reexamine the “who” question again. And we can’t forget that crime patterns, in your region, your city or street, can be a copy-cat ritual. Examine if you will, the many gang shootings in Chicago. How do they unfold?
What might the rituals of pre-death be?
You are cornered, captured, kidnapped and-or taken hostage. Short-term or long-term, and about to killed.
Pre-assault cues can be different than pre-crime cues.
Verbal clues like tones and words.
Visual clues like facial expressions.
Sound clues like weapons preps – racking, chambering.
Area crime patterns may be involved.
Situations that history and common sense lead to executions.
Brewing, overall situations.
Has he approached with an angry walk and face?
Last request questions.
Suddenly being treated nicely. A common – “sorry, good-bye ritual.”
Being marched to questionable and isolated places with a lack of help or witnesses.
Sudden lifting of firearms into common firing positions.
Sudden lifting of sticks, bats, clubs and tool into striking positions.
Sudden drawing of weapons.
…continue to develop your own lists.
On the rituals of suicide. I have probably worked more suicides than murders through the years and they might have their own meaningful rituals and death scenes. Some organized scenes were fascinating and not appropriate for this essay theme. But, recognizing the organized suicide scene and any ritual evidence is important to classify and conclude the case, but again, suicide ritual is another subject.
But I must mention that in the police world, we are long cursed with “suicide by cop” situations. There is suicide by civilian or military also. Whether cop, citizen or soldier, these suicidal people get you to shoot them by presenting you with these same ritual of death moves we cover here, like drawing a weapon, lifting a weapon, marching upon you armed, with angry walks and angry faces. Perhaps over-acted to get your reaction! Recognizing apparent suicidal situations may save you great grief and expense later on.
My goal here in this essay is not to teach weapon disarms, but rather to translate events, see clues and tip-offs, or “tells,” before counters are life-or-death needed. Of course you must exercise all unarmed combatives to solve these problems. Standing, kneeling, sitting, grounded on top, bottom and sides. All must include knowledge of weapon operations, yours and his. All positions must include striking, kicking and what might be called “dirty fighting” or “cheating.” These survival topics transcend typical martial arts found everywhere.
The rituals of death. They are not just about what goes in a funeral mass or at the cemetery after you die. It is also about the last things killers often physically say and-or do, just before they try to kill you, and how you must learn them to stay out of the deep end of a cemetery.
(And I remind you again, I am not a psychologist. Keep researching this and make your own lists. I only wish to provoke thought and planning.)
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.
Since the 1980s I have been training police, rookies as well as “in service” officers in the “mechanics of arrest.” Not just in the USA but as far away as the UK, Europe and Australia. I’ve seen numerous things come and go, in and out, accepted and outlawed. And a big outlaw has been, the “choke.” I was asked this question the other day about…the “police choke.”
“Hock…I had the feeling when I initially saw the Atlanta situation that if the cop behind wasn’t afraid to use some type of choke/neck restraint…the guy might still be alive. Thoughts? I feel like they’re limiting police officers in a way that makes it more dangerous for certain people. If a cop is forced to pull and fire his weapon 10 times, it’s likely that 7-8 criminals will die. If that same cop chooses a blood choke 10 times (currently seemingly banned), it’s unlikely that any of the 10 would die. Again…thoughts?” – Joe Thoele, USA.
Well, yes, Joe. Chokes were a go-to move in my day, when times got tough. But, I have only completely choked out maybe…maybe 10, 12 maybe, 15 people in 26 years and hundreds of arrests. The restraint, capture alone worked many more times, especially when help arrived.
The classic rear choke with leg wrapping “grapevines” is worth a million bucks to me. One example – when a guy was grabbing for my pistol. We were fighting on top of furniture, horizontal, but not an official “ground fight.” He passed out from the choke after I tried to knock him out and just couldn’t knock him out. It was a blood choke. When they go spazzy and-or drop-out limp, let them go, (and by the way, that is one, “street” counter to a choke. Fake unconsciousness.) He, like the others, woke up in handcuffs.
You have, as I like to nickname them in courses. “Electricity, water and wind” attacks to the neck.
* Electricity: Strikes to the back and side of the neck to upset the “electricity” to the brain. No choking. * Water: blood chokes and strikes to the sides of the neck. * Wind: air chokes and strikes to the front of the neck (that might crush body parts.).
So far, forearms and hammer fists to the back of the neck are still taught in most police training. Striking the sides and certainly the front of neck are now officially problematic and for most agencies, a “no-go.” This might crush the windpipe or loosen and free up vein plague and send it in the blood vessels to the brain. (This has rarely happened, but rare is enough in paranoid, police work). But police chokes, not police strikes are today’s topic!
We can get kind of sloppy taking about the word “choke.” It means different things to different people. Let’s look at some official definitions…
*Chokehold: a tight grip around a person’s neck, used to restrain them by restricting their breathing.
*Carotid restraint, an officer applies pressure to vascular veins to temporarily cut off blood flow to the brain, rendering the person unconscious. The carotid technique is different from a chokehold, in which pressure is put on the front of the neck and throat, cutting off air.
*Neck Restraint: “Non-deadly force option. Defined as compressing one or both sides of a person’s neck with an arm or leg, without applying direct pressure to the trachea or airway (front of the neck).” A blood choke. (In some places a forearm placed upon the lower neck, high chest, holding someone back, or pulling them back, or taking them down to the ground would be considered a neck restraint.)
*Positional asphyxia, also known as postural asphyxia, is a form of asphyxia which occurs when someone’s position prevents the person from breathing adequately.
Words, huh? Terms. I am reminded that in the old Army basic training, these were all called “strangles.” A few months later in the military police academy these same things were all called “chokes,” as strangles were too rough a term for policing. Now we see the word, “neck restraints” as chokes are too rough a term. But, I think many people just think of and call all of these events, simply, “chokes.” A sloppy, loose nickname for chokes can cause arguments. But fights/arrests can get sloppy, with all the wiggles, waggles, twist and turns of an arrest, wrestling match your neck restraints can accidentally slip into official chokes. You first meant to do a neck restraint/control, you were trying to, but with twist and a waggle, you’re on his windpipe, then you are filmed on the nightly news doing a wind choke. Then it’s…as we use to say, a “Dear Chief” letter, explaining why you air choked someone on TV or phone video on social media, against department policy. Nowadays, you might be fired within 24 hours.
People in martial training like to remind and complain about restrictions by saying that “chokes” are done “all the time in class” without problems. But, remember that martial students (that includes all systems, citizens, police, military) usually acquire the choke positions without truly crushing the neck. It’s practice on friends! Secondly, students in practice feel the capture, a little pressure and “tap-out” before they pass out. Actual, full unconsciousness is not achieved regularly in classes, certainly not anymore, unlike the crush of a real fight or an arrest. Even in UFC fights, the captured frequently tap-out when they know they are caught. (Since the 1970s while I have been knocked out in classes, but I have never once been fully choked out in any JKD, jujitsu or Shoot class or seminar. People around me have, usually accidentally, and they were quickly “slapped” awake.)
Positional asphyxia has also been a well-known in martial arts and in modern, trained police work, for I’ll say, 25 years now. I worked positional asphyxia cases as a detective and private investigator as early as the 1990s. It is surprising to me that police officers anywhere are not aware of these problems. I did a police presentation on chokes once on the growing limitations on police choking, and one officer shouted that his agency still allowed chokes and therefore my whole premise was wrong, as if the Podunk Police Department was the end-all to policing.
“We still choke!”
I quickly checked the web on the next break to find that his department was quite small and quite “country,” and was recently sued THREE times for choking people, one a school cop choked out a teenager. Each involved big, news scandals in the area, especially the teenager incident. Just wait, Podunk. But…so… I am sure there are pockets of the country and pockets of police officers untrained and unaware of the problems with asphyxia, chokes and restraints. Sad. Shocking to me. But so.
Allow me to add one more definition here. Excited delirium is “broadly defined as a state of agitation, excitability, paranoia, aggression, and apparent immunity to pain, often associated with stimulant use and certain psychiatric disorders. “These folks, once arrested have a tendency to die later, in custody. Officers are immediately questioned about what horrible thing did they do to cause the death? “Did you dare choke him? Did you crush him at any point? Are the questions usually asked of the arresting officers.They are usually cleared by the autopsies.
So, worth mentioning, drugs, alcohol, medical conditions, poor health, being overweight contribute to bad results combined with “choking,” Officer Brett Gould reminds us that, “The issue is not just the vascular restraint. The 14 percent of the population that fight the police, thus composing a high percent of the prison population coincidentally, also has the highest rate of alcoholism, substance abuse, high blood pressure and diabetes.“
This news doesn’t really help the “choke” cause for decision makers these days, but rather hurts it. Police admin, lawyers, politicians, insurance backers and media must think, “If that’s who the cops are fighting? Then it’s no wonder they die from chokes. We can’t have all that choking going on.” (I know how they think.) Look at this negative with tear gas –
“Military studies performed in the 1950s classified CS as nonlethal. But experts today say these studies had limitations in design and applicability and should be treated with some skepticism. “Tear gas is designed to disperse and irritate. But it was designed and first used in an era when it was assumed it would be used against healthy, working-age males,” says Dan Kaszeta, who studies protection against chemical and biological weapons and has spent some of his 30-year career in the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps and the Secret Service. Lab studies have not revealed the effects tear gas can have on other demographics or people with preexisting conditions.
So you see, tear gas, like chokes, suddenly becomes a political “no-go.”
And still, “chokes” are not COMPLETELY taboo and illegal. What is still legally mandated, even in President Trump’s June, 2020, “no-choke” order, you will read that a choke, air or blood, can still be used in lethal, threat, self defense, as I did with the guy mentioned above trying to get my gun. (And I choked him out, not killed him!) “Fear of life” kind of deal. All those other chokes I did that I mentioned above were not done in such dire fear, just arrest routine versus the resisting. I tried several “lessor” in the struggle but they didn’t work. And today’s modern admins would expect me to not choke out them and do something else, something which may be more time-consuming and even dangerous. But we’re cops, life is supposed to suck.
And with the optics, the lawsuits, the media, training officers to choke/restraint will disappear, even if legal in lethal force situations. They probably just won’t know how to choke anyone. No will will want to teach the subject. Oh, there probably will be rare, “certified” courses in “Last Resort Choking,” but who will get to go? And, maybe it can “secretly” be taught in official “Escaping Choke” classes? Because after all – to escape chokes you have to learn what chokes are and how the “bad guys” use them? (We have long tricked police admin with this bait-and-switch approach, trick.) I don’t know how it will all work out?
I have been paid to write reports and studies about chokes and restraints for admins through the years. And the end conclusion of chiefs, sheriffs, directors and command staffs is – “any squeezing (and striking) around the neck” sides and front, is already taboo, or rapidly becoming taboo. Media nightmare. It’s just too hot a topic. It’s a no-go. In the end, police agency insurance companies and lawyers really call the real shots. They are always paranoid and timid. They dictate and influence the politics and police leaders. Management fears being fired. Sued.
Decades ago, my agency and a new police chief instituted Community Oriented Policing. It was all based on public perceptions and therefore public relations. Whatever the public perceived is what we had to tackle. It didn’t matter what the real crime rate was, if the perception of crime was high we had to manufacture programs to ease their mind. It didn’t matter what the real safety was, if the perception of safety was low we had to manufacture programs to ease their mind. These same issues count too. Things like “police racism” and with…chokes. Its all about perception. Not reality, just perception. So often junked up by the thinking disorder minds of the media, the unscientific, the emotional and the immature. I am pessimistic now and have been, about perception and police “choking.”
This essay was about police. This has not been about the civilian world…yet. I don’t want to argue with anyone here about air, blood chokes and neck restraints. I will always teach them. Every martialist needs to know them and know how to escape them. I think they are very handy, but they will go away in official, police training and use. Make no mistake, if retired, 68-year-old, civilian me gets into a fight tomorrow that I can’t talk (run) my way out of? Or get away? One thing I will seriously be looking to do is choke the bastard out. Especially if fallen on the ground. I’d like not to kill anybody and the choke is over when the resistance stops, like I was taught about 50 years ago in the first police academy I attended.
“I think people need to learn how to hand, stick, knife, gun fight first, then dive into your bobbies, sports and arts later. Get the pure protection, combatives done as a priority.” – Hock
Doing the training process in order that I mention in the above photo and quote has become much easier now than in decades past when a person (such as me) had to slog through 6 or more arts and systems to filter out the real core, generic survival, offensive/defensive material, while adorned in a bevy of different uniforms, rules, hero worship and system worship. Wants and needs. It comes down to a series of “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions.
Whose the best on the subject and will teach you?
What materials? What do I REALLY need? Want? Art? Science? Both?
Where can I go to learn what I want?
When are these classes and courses available?
How will I filter this?
Why am I doing this in the first place?
Wrong place? Wrong people? Wrong mission? In the late 80s, Steven Seagal burst on the scene and broke a guy’s arm in the first few minutes of a movie. I saw “Above the Law” in a theater and knew that very instant that Chuck Norris and Claude Van Damme were done. Chuck went straight to TV and Claude disappeared for awhile to reemerge in B and C movies.
The movie changed and -or motivated a lot of minds. One old friend named Ted for example told me back then, “I wanted to fight like Seagal. I turned my car into the first martial art school I drive by every day and signed up.” But, Ted pulled into a Tae Kwon Do school and very quickly realized he was financially contracted to the wrong place with wrong people, the wrong system for his mission. He had no “who, what, where, when, how and why” going for him. No one there was doing this…this …”Seagal-Fu” as in Aiki-jitsu- Aikido. My point being is that he started something out of an ignorance. What did he want, anyway? And what did he need?
Though I’d been in Parker Kenpo about a year before I went in the army in the early 1970s, the military and police experience really forged my who, what, where, when, how and why mission needs. I needed stuff. Needs that I never saw efficiently fulfilled in one, two, three or more arts. It was a long, hard slog back then to filter. It still isn’t easy really and truth is a daily investigation. But I WANTED what I NEEDED. Not needed to do what I wanted.
Today, Krav Maga is everywhere, though I am not always happy with many versions. It was the genius of Darren Levine who resurrected it into an international business back in the 1990s. He soon lost his “shirt and pants” doing it with insane over-pricing, and he has regrouped a bit since, but you can thank him for your local Krav school, and Krav notoriety, as Krav splintered and splintered and splintered away from him. And, It seems that “combatives” can be found here and there, though again, I am not always happy with the many versions. But, these are groups of folks that have already tried to filter the generics of established systems for you and save you time.
In the same vein, I find the modern-day, MMA of kickboxing, and ground fighting WITH strikes and kicks on the ground, to be diverse, superior and way more on survival mission. No frills. Just winning and what works. Money is at stake! Reputations! It is better than boxing alone. It is better than wrestling alone. But then, still, they have some sport rules and no cheating, no sticks, no knives, no guns!
The overall, international success of Krav, combatives and MMA tells me that a whole lot of people did not, and do not want, to get bogged down in arts, uniforms, abstracts, and that otherwise long slog of off-mission, distracting requirements. I have seen this is the disappearance of, and the slow decline of, old-school, martial arts schools around the world.
Hand. Stick. Knife. Gun. Standing through ground. The laws of your land. Savvy. Awareness. Studies of crime and war. It’s been an evolution I too have been part of, evolving and teaching for 24 years now. A movement. My personal suggestion and advice is one of common sense. Try and get those foundational defense, offense survival stuff first and then move off to more confining hobbies later. Needs first. Then wants.
“Fighting first first, systems second!” Remember that quote? I have used it for 24 years since I emancipated myself from all systems. But, like a college counselor ordering a college kid to take all the college courses in precise order – 101, 102, 103 – and then they simply can’t do that because of filled classes and scheduling, a student takes what he or she can at the time. You too, may have trouble completely doing all unarmed and mixed-weapon combatives first and then arts second. While it is easier these days for you to get right to what you want than in the past, you may have to do this training side-by-side? Generally people are busy with life and can only chip away at this stuff, anyway. Do something rather than nothing. Get off the couch.
Do something. Again, I always say I want people to be happy. Just know where you fit in the big picture. If you told me,
“Yeah Hock, I completely understand what you are saying, but I just want to do traditional ______. I just really love the culture and the country of _______. ”
I am thumbs up with you. Or, one might add to that “love” list,
“Hock, I get it, also just enjoy developing the overall personalities of children.”
Go for it. How about,
“I agree, Hock, but for me, my dream is to be a champ in the UFC.”
May your dream come true! You already know the high regard I have for modern, clean MMA. Unlike the aforementioned Ted, you all get the big picture and can articulate about it. Just know the big picture of “needs and wants.” All martial arts do have abstract benefits. And there are some established, “martial-artsy-named” schools that really try to get survival materials in the curriculum.
So…dance in some kung fus? Throat punch in some combatives? Art? Science? Nuts and bolts? Investigate and figure out what you really need and what you really want to do. Use the “W’s and H” questions. The choices and opportunities are more clear and obvious than ever before.
Finally, a litmus test question – look at it this way. Speaking of college, If you were sending your daughter (or son) off to a big city, college, would you want her to know, so-called “traditional karate?” So-called “Brazilian wrestling?” “Stick versus stick dueling?” Or, so called “unarmed and mixed-weapon, combatives?” What does she really NEED to know, first and foremost? What do you want her to learn, first?