Decades ago, I was working out with karate expert friend, and I grabbed his arms. He’d never been grabbed like this, and he had the epiphany-realization in that moment he needed grappling. But he then started years of Judo. But, this was yet another sport-art. They are both sports-arts. Combining them is still two isolated segments of sports-arts, each deficient in their own categories. Adding and doubling, tripling up on more sport-arts atop each other is not going to best solve the survival problem. It complicates it. It distracts it. It needs blending, not adding.
I see a lot of Mixed Martial Arts being taught and spread. This morning I saw a school advertisement for a “Boxing and Ground fighting” school. Their attached photos show official sport “boxing” and official sport Brazilian wrestling. I get the idea that the advertisers, as well as the customers must think…
“Wow! That’s so complete. I’m getting both.”
“Ready to be attacked by any and all!”
Combatives is supposed to be above all this isolation. But, once you accept the combatives mission-mindset you are faced with the next problem. Collecting and cleaning up the material, material that mostly comes from sport-arts! And you must possess the “martial IQ” to evaluate the material. This process is not as easy as it sounds. It needs blending, not adding.
Try if you must, there is still much sport leakage around. Even in some Krav Magas – present supposedly as a final cure for sport leakage, but I still see…sport leakage, naively, accidentally falling back too far into sport-art. Instructors are often brainwashed from their old art-sport systems. They still think and solve within their brainwashing when there might be a better, faster, unbiased way. Hey, I still find more of this cleansing about every week – “Why am I doing this when I should be doing that.” The process never ends.
Some things the “Ws and H Questions” for you to ask and answer…
* WHO are you?
* WHO is the instructor?
* WHO do you want to become?
* WHAT are you seeking exactly? Precisely?
* WHAT – is there a better, faster way?
* WHERE do you go to seek your result?
* WHEN have you really found the “it?”
* HOW will you find “it?” How do you or he dissect “it?”
* WHY are you motivated to try?
“Learning different martial arts is pretty much useless in modern MMA. It is now its own sport and anyone interested in learning MMA would be much better served to join an actual MMA gym. Learning separate martial arts before starting MMA would be, quite frankly, a waste of time.” – Sprawl CO.
Modern MMA as we see in the UFC etc, is the closest art-sport you will get to reality. But you still need to add weapons, cheating, delete safety rules and weight classes and worry about trying all the moves of these full time, young professional fighters. I’ll bet you are not a full-timer, young professional fighter-athlete – 99.99999% of us are not – so you probably can’t and shouldn’t try to do what they do.
(And of course people have hobbies and they want to pursue their hobbies for a variety of reasons. They should answer those questions, know what they want to do and its limitations. I just ask, do they know what they are doing? If so? Hobby, hobby, hobby on and be happy!)
Boys and girls! Another episode in the thrilling days of yesteryear Texas Policing….
When I walked onto the Criminal Investigation Division floor to start my evening shift, I could tell something was “up.” The day shift guys were scrambling to get their tactical vests and assorted personal gear and standard-issue, shotguns.
“Hock!” said one, “Hurry up here!” and they directed me up to the third floor meeting room, which was a large room constructed like a small theater.
“We will hit this house….” …and the briefing went on, conducted by a new sergeant who also was a traffic cop at heart promoted to detective sergeant in the foolish card shuffle I call the “admin police fandango.” I’ll just call him here, “Sgt Larry.”
Down in our city’s projects, in an old, two-story wooden, house bound for demolition, a local crack/cocaine dealer, ex-con named Willy Vics was running a dope house. It was a magnet for bad guys and hookers from the region. Our narc guys had a freshly signed warrant in their hands, growing stale by the minute.
“David, Benny, Jeff…you three will enter here and will move upstairs…Tony…you…” and Sgt Larry laid out the plans. There was a somewhat discreet effort to rest the SWAT team a bit in those days. Recently, a certain team had set a house on fire with a flash-bang that – once shot through a window, ignited a curtain, and the ENTIRE house burned down. And, well, there was a movement, you might call it, to tone down militant appearances. Some line operators finally started asking the question, “Do we really need SWAT to do this?”
At some point, someone in the fandango decided regular detectives should do this one, not our SWAT team. This was reminiscent, pre Sgt. Larry and of the pre-SWAT days. We detectives were once the “SWAT team.”
So, his chalkboard was filling up with tactical brilliance. White arrows were laid down aggressively, but there was a bit of a problem manifesting. Call it – “the back.”
You see, the back of the house emptied out to a big yard beside a side street and connected to a neighborhood of other yards. On the board, the arrows ran out of people to cover the escape routes! I would say there were at last six detectives assigned these arrows. Sgt, Larry looked up at newly arrived me, gearless at this point and still in the required suit and tie-
“…and Hock…you take the back.”
Huh? Famous last words. Okay. Me The back. Take it. Pretty big back “take” though. A few of us had run dozens of these deals through the years and we all had “taken the back,” at one point or another. Still, this was a pretty big “back.” Nothing new here, though. Most of the time, the suspect, and or suspects, upon hearing officers at the front door, would then peek outside a rear window, see a troop standing guard back there, and often surrender. Usually. Some hide in the house. We still had had to chase a few. I would often put something across the back door causing a fleeing felons to trip. There’s a few tricks there I won’t reveal. I witnessed one investigator throw a brick and hit a fleeing suspect in the head. Took him right down. He couldn’t shoot him! So he bricked him.
Within a few minutes, everyone hit the streets in their unmarked cars. I threw on my body armor and raid jacket and left the shotgun in my car (too cumbersome in close quarters for me on most deals of this nature). The plan was to give me a minute to park down the street just a bit and trot up to the yard. This was a corner house. Then =once I was ensconced, several cars would skid up to the house front, men bail out, destroy the door, and rush in.
I barely had time to jump the very tall, pre-demolition, chain link fence, when I heard the sound of skidding tires and men yelling out front. The usual soundtrack. It is always tricky to exactly coordinate these things.
There were about six back windows and a back door. The first floor extended out beneath the second story. This extension made for a sloping, large ledge under the upstairs windows. I tell you this now because in an instant, every hole in the back of this building had people pouring out of it, out the first floor door and windows as folks leapt, hung and dropped from the ledge to escape. And here they came!
“Halt! Police! Stop!” I yelled from the middle of the yard, my .45 drawn. HA! I recall at least 10 unarmed people ran by me as though I was not there. Fat hookers, skinny dopers, teens and old fogies. You name it. If I had actually started shooting at them? Well hell, I’d be writing this from the penitentiary right now.
BUT! One of the escapees was Willy Vic himself! He ignored me, too, so I figured since he was the subject of the entire raid, I would chase him. The sprint was on. Willy had to vault a fence, and I was counting on that slowing him down. I holstered my weapon. I couldn’t shoot anyone here anyway.
He jumped on the fence and starting climbing, and I reached up and grabbed him. He clung like bat on the chain link. I reached around, cussed and slapped his face a few times. Hammer-fisted his hands, loosening his grip. He dropped back into the yard.
Thereupon came the scuffle. Willy landed on his back and my mission was to get him cuffed, which he didn’t want either. He still had “rabbit in him” (which was Texican lawman talk for he was a runner).
He was a big guy, but in his mid-50s and these guys are still dangerous when excited, plus I was rather surrounded by his escaping customers and his gang who could double and even triple the odds in Willy’s favor. Ever try to fight a mean, angry, fat hooker while trying to handcuff someone else?
Meanwhile, the “team” was cautiously SWAT-tip-toeing through the house as though terrorists with sub-guns and bombs were behind every corner. I could hear them yelling, “Clear! Clear!” as they secured every empty room and closet in the 2 story house.
One thing was very “clear” to me, I was all alone in the yard, fighting a guy right beside all his buddies, who I hoped were all busy trying to escape. I had to toss a few snappy body punches into Willy, all the while yelling for him to give up. He quickly ran out of gas, and I muscled him into cuffs. His passing help? There was no loyalty among these thieves, and all the escapees got over the fences and were log-gone daddies. Some climbs I saw were comical. I stood alone with the drug dealer, and I was, all at once, a failure and a success in my mind.
I pulled the portable radio out of my back pocket and called Sgt. Larry. I reported that I had caught Willy Vics in the backyard. I hooked his arm, lifted him, and walked him through the house to the front porch where the dopers who were caught in the front rooms were cuffed and sitting on the steps. It made for great front page, local, newspaper photo of about six guys, now Willy among them, cuffed and sitting dejected on the front porch steps and about six of our guys in raid jackets and shotguns towering over them. What a picture. What a photo op!
I stood off from the victory photo-shoot and was a bit disappointed in myself because I had let about, oh, 11 people get away. I was about 29 or 30 years old then and had very high expectations for myself. Hell man! “One riot? One Ranger!” Audie Murphy and Sgt. York took hundreds of prisoners. I couldn’t stop ten dopers and four fat hookers?
But, it all became quickly apparent that, in the end, I had caught the big fish they were after, and there was a tactical mishap in planning. Being me alone…”taking the back” – you know, the place where everyone seems to go when the front gets raided?
This mishap became an “inside joke” with the troops for awhile. For the next year or two there was running joke with CID that anytime we would plan anything, (even a football party), it would finish with, “…and Hock, you take the back!”
Sgt. Larry really was a traffic cop at heart and no Kojack. (This is a common problem in policing, promoting football players into basketball games and vice versa. He returned to that position after much negative ado.) If he heard the rib, he took it with good nature. I guess?
There was an old 1960s comedy bit done by the now disgraced Bill Cosby about the Lone Ranger and Tonto. (I once loved Bill Cosby.) The Lone Ranger would say, “We’ve got to go to town and find out what the gang is doing,” meaning that actually Tonto himself, – alone, – would have to go to town. Whereupon he would routinely have the snot beaten out of him. Bill Cosby said he and his young pals would scream at the TV set,
“Don’t do it, Tonto! They’ll beat the snot out of you!”
Cosby suggested Tonto say instead, “Who’s ‘we,’ Kemosabe?” Which for a while back then, that line become a bit of a cultural, well know joke. You might still hear it a bit now.
But that one day? I was Tonto out back for sure. And Kemosabe was nowhere to be found.
Hock’s email is Hock@SurvivalCentrix.com
This story is excerpted from Hock’s Dead Right There book and appears in the Wolfpack E-book Omnibus Kill or be Killed, click here for more on these books.
Attacking the Neck for Restraints, Takedowns and Chokes
A martialist must have a working knowledge about the anatomy, physicality and the law when it comes to wrapping arms around the neck for any reason, a walk-away, takedown and/or any choke. Here is quick, mandatory report on what you should know on the subject in general.
First, I would like to establish my anecdotal experience. I am from an era, starting in the 1970s in martial arts and police work where chokes were very popular and roughly trained. A choke was a go-to, common enforcement move and in 26 years I have choked out about 10-12 or so people. That is not a lot, As an obsessive martial artist, training and experience has helped me use alternatives to choking. But I have witnessed and partaken in some 40 or more. Every suspect quickly recovered as we were taught to monitor the suspect’s responses. And I have been attacked by a few chokeholds, most during during arrests (read on for the worst). And in those olden training times, it was not uncommon to be accidentally choked out (and knocked out) sometimes in class. Times have changed.
Chokes were treated very flippantly in those olden times. Sadly, in the recent decades that followed, for whatever reasons – be they a lack of knowledge-training, etc., simple chokes have caused damages and deaths that have enraged into socio-political, national and international uproars. You do not want you or your students, compatriots and-or employees to be a part of such uproars. Results may include imprisonment these days, by ignoring the facts. Chokes are risky yes, but, still, a martialist must have a working knowledge of chokes and non-choke, neck grabs.
While such sport-choke and related sport neck takedown methods are useful to practice and know, they are small in comparison to self defense, crime, law and war problem-solving. So, this subject-study will include civilian, enforcement and military realities, as well as generic, applications of arm wrap, chokes and neck grabs.
Due to popularity and fandom of martial arts sports, most of the neck-related, training attention, time-hubris is spent on sport tap-out chokes down on the mats to win matches and pro fights. This sports version eats up “all the oxygen” (if you will pardon the pun) in youtube videos and internet searches. Several martial arts will claim there are “100s” of chokes, but no. Instead, there might be hundreds of chess-like approaches and situations to inch into these chokes. The choke itself is “checkers simple.” Blood and air.
And important – all neck attacks are not chokes…however, neck attacks are loosely, flippantly called “chokes” or “chokeholds” by many. We’ll be looking at the common arm-related ones not crushing-hand chokes, but crushing hand chokes might cause similar injuries as arm wraps.(It should also be noted here that choking by the hands not arms is a very big domestic violence problem. That’s another essay. But generically speaking, the injuries are very the same.)
The big two… for our rear arm wrap attack and takedown essay and yes – as well as grounded problems, here are two main neck arm-wrap-grabs for rear chokes and takedowns. See the drawings below, single arm and double arm wraps. You will find there are numerous nicknames for chokes. Some do help identify the move-position. Blood chokes are often called “sleepers” because the “chokee” thinks he is really just neck-uncomfortable and still okay… and… and… he’s out. While an air choke will probably cause the chokee to “air swim,” like he is drowning on dry land.
What are the legal and medical definitions? Law Insider defines a neck restraint as “the use of any body part or object to attempt to control or disable a person by applying pressure against the neck, including the trachea and-or carotid artery with the purpose, intent, or effect of controlling or restricting the person’s movement or restricting the person’s blood flow or breathing, including chokeholds, carotid restraints, and lateral vascular neck restraints.” (For the record, a “Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint® (LVNR®) is a control technique applied to the sides of the neck, using a combination of physiological factors to restrict blood flow to the brain which may cause the subject to lose consciousness.)
Dr. Google defines choking as a strangulation. “Strangling cuts off the flow of oxygen to the brain in one or more ways. Strangulation compresses the carotid artery or jugular veins, resulting in cerebral ischemia. Cerebral ischemia is caused by disruption of the blood supply, and thus oxygen, to the brain, particularly the cerebrum. Global ischemia is caused by cardiac arrest, shock, carotid occlusion,hypotension, asphyxia, or anemia. Focal cerebral ischemia is usually related to cerebral vascular atherosclerosis. Strangulation is defined as asphyxia by closure of the blood vessels and/or air passages of the neck as a result of external pressure on the neck.”
Non-choke neck grabs, restraints and takedowns can look like attempts at unconscious choking, but can be just temporary control measures. You can just remove-escort or takedown people via the neck area without choking them. Or you can follow up a takedown that includes a choke. With your decision to squeeze-choke the neck, your legal and medical strangulation clock is ticking…
Tick-Tock…. In May, 2023, a former U. S. Marine interrupted a disturbance and threats on a New York City subway with a choke, one that according to witnesses the hold lasted 15 minutes. The person died. The Marine disputes the time length and denies lethal intent, but nonetheless the man died. This caused a serious socio-political incident and put the Marine under indictment for murder. One must be very cautious when doing any neck wrap choke-contact for criminal and civil problems. Did a restraint slip into a prolonged blood choke or an air choke? Did the hold last too long?
Very Well Health reports that, a “A medical evaluation is crucial if someone’s been strangled. An injury to the trachea may not appear to be serious right away, but swelling in the tissues around the trachea can lead to a secondary restriction of airflow a few minutes after the neck is free.”
So how long can you squeeze? Police files report officers that have blood-choked suspects held for 30 seconds have died. That’s a short time. But shorter times are on record. There are other times the suspects hang on, struggling for longer. The old and general advice with a blood choke is to monitor the opponent. You can feel when someone “goes to sleep.”
How long is long then? “A 17-member panel of submission experts (including BJJ black belts, experienced grapplers, former MMA athletes, and medical professionals) analysed 81 UFC matches between 1993 and 2020 that ended in strangulation submission due to a LOC (as opposed to tapping). Each examiner reviewed each film (blinded to the other’s interpretation) to determine the time between full application of the technique and LOC. The mean time to LOC was 9.0 seconds, with a standard deviation of 2.5s. (Note: this had to have included ground chokes and this section of Level 2 takedowns is only covering standing rear arm wrap chokes. Still we can glean related information.) These results were consistent with previous studies in compliant volunteers, indicating that skillful application of a choking/strangulation technique will cause LOC regardless of defense mechanism…the triangle choke (probably down on the mat) displayed a significantly faster time to LOC of 7.2 seconds.” – Sam Gilbert
Crushing the trachea can cause death. There are incidents on police records of officers who are relatively untrained in this subject matter and they have accidentally crushed the trachea. The damage can range from minor vocal cord weakness to fractures of the larynx or trachea. These fractures can cause air to escape into the neck and chest, leading to significant respiratory compromise and even death if not treated quickly.
Basic neck structure injuries too… As I have mentioned not all neck-related, rear pull takedowns involve blood and air restraint, choke-to-unconsciousness intent. In terms of using the neck for takedowns and counters, in some cases you must worry about damaging the neck skeletal structure. But non-chokes are not without some medical, legal and civil law dangers.
The most damaging neck takedown I have seen and had done on me, thankfully incorrectly, is what was once called the “Ranger Takedown.” In the remote northern areas of South Korea, a criminal Army Sergeant snatched up my throat from behind with a single forearm across my neck and jumped back, as diagrammed here to the left. In the taught move, the Ranger lands on his chest. The enemy soldier lands on his back. Neck? Snapped or very badly broken. I landed instead down on my side, saving my neck, with his forearm across my windpipe. he continued to choke me. Since his hand was somewhat next to my chin, I broke a finger on his wrapping arm causing him to release me. For such escapes, always breaking a finger is not possible and will not always work, but it did for me that time.
I tell you this to explain the worst-case scenario of what a single arm, (or double arm,) rear neck-wrap takedown can do at its most “bone-damaging.” You can still single or double arm throat pull, slower, and NOT land flat down into this death move, but rather make space and pull him slowly down on his back, with you remaining bent-half-standing or kneeling. Blood choke if you must, but let go at the right instant.
Other related neck structure injuries? I know of a few rather world famous, life-long MMA champs that have stents placed in their trachea due to decades of rough training simulated chokes, and real competition chokes. This operation is called a tracheostomy.
Dr. Earl Morgan, Forensic medicine (and a Judo Black belt) adds…”In all of the combative grappling sports the “choke” hold rules require varying degrees of cervical spine protection. Of course, what makes repetitive chokes in combative grappling so safe (in class) is the health and conditioning of young martial artists. My college judo coach cautioned me to seriously consider allowing chokes in anyone over the age of 40. At the time I was in my 20’s and had no idea what the big deal was. He also spoke of the ‘40-year syndrome.’ This is where you turn 40 and suddenly you have all the aches and pains from all the ways you abused yourself when you were young, whether with drugs, alcohol, athletics, manual labor or other factors, it doesn’t matter. He was a much wiser man than I realized.”
Worrying about the counters… Through the decades in training various counters to chokes and side neck guillotines, I noticed that complying savvy workout partners, always let go of their friend-trainee’s necks when they are flipped or tripped. I don’t think many real-world opponent’s will let go of your neck, instead they reflexively hang on (to anything!) as they lose their balance. This means serious neck cranks, not seen or warned in training class. This innocent-helpful, classroom, “let go” practice leads to misleading and dangerous reality results. There is a lot that can happen between step 3 and step 4, in the drawing to right-above. After issuing similar safety concerns publically about this in the past, I received numerous reports of minor to major injuries from people countering chokes in classes. (I also heard from macho, low I.Q., half-wits denouncing me as a wus. Do they denounce Bass Rutten as a wus too?)
Even MMA great Bass Rutten wisely warns on record and on film, after demonstrating counter-choke flips like the ones shown on the right and above, that you might break your neck if the choker holds on as he flips. Needless to say a taller, stronger, heavier enemy probably won’t be so easily flipped over you. And, your body drop to flip him over could leave you… “hanging.” All practitioners should examine suggested choke counters for neck safety.
Banning chokes...I have been paid by some police agencies through the years to write subject-matter-expert studies on the validity of neck restraints and chokes. In some jurisdictions worldwide police agencies have continued to defend the use of the carotid restraint hold for decades, claiming that it is safer and more effective than using a police baton, taser, or pepper spray. Other jurisdictions have banned its use entirely while still other jurisdictions have ruled that it may only be used in extreme situations where deadly force is justified.
Most enforcement agencies worldwide have banned this “choke’ tactic (or any neck contact for that matter) for many years now. Some allowances exist for when the officer is faced with deadly force. Yet, in a strange Catch-22 circle jerk, these last-resort, life saving choke options are still NEVER TAUGHT, for fear of…being publically seen-caught just teaching the dreaded chokes!
There are some departments that allow these no-choke, neck-grabs and even neck-squeezing controls on unruly suspects and detainees, and a tiny percentage of people continue to suffer temporary and-or grave injury and death. Due to these virtually devastating socio-political problems from these “I can’t breathe” accidental deaths, and due to the rodeo-like wrestling of suspects, a blood choke can often accidentally twist and slip into a throat choke-crush. Because of this slipping mishap, I must warn police administrations against the common use of chokes in less-than-lethal situations. This usually translates to an admin – “leave the whole neck alone unless you are being killed” policy. Don’t blame me for my warning. Train your troops!
At least think about this...In a military context, other than when trying to capture prisoners, a choke is a strangulation meant to kill the enemy. But for citizens? These same legal-test concerns hold true for citizens. Civilians must be justified under a reasonable dire threat to windpipe choke someone. If you can’t comprehend the facts here, or be able to consider, discuss, teach and articulate them, you and yours might someday be in moral, ethical and legal (jail and lawsuit) dilemmas.
(This essay on non-choke and choke related neck wraps rear takedowns appear in Level 2 of my Force Necessary:Hand course, thus the essay here, which appears in the outline and my upcoming Unarmed Combatives book in 2024.)
I am again hearing the start of Presidential nominee campaigns and that one cute repeated question, “What is your favorite Constitutional amendment?” I sometimes wonder how I suddenly would answer that question. In a strange way it’s like asking,
Your “table setting” and “know your table” have big meanings, in the self defense shooting world. Ever shoot from a chair, behind a table at the live fire range? Not often I’ll bet. When done, the seated, range training set up, the “table is set” this way – it takes-makes the assumption that you are the “Lone Ranger,” seated alone, shooting an unidentifiable, abstract somebody (the paper target imagined threat) always shooting straight forward from your seat.
I still some see gun courses on film and in photos with people sitting at tables and drawing and shooting while seated, (even reloading there in the chair! And at times doing really awkward 360 checks while seated.) Or shooters fully stand up exposing most of their bodies. Does the table ever get flipped over in this ‘Lone Ranger’ model? Think about all the calibers out there and the fickle deflection angles and how some flipped tables might help.
But this essay is not just about flipping tables. Sometimes you can’t, but rather about all the probable table situations and responses. “Know your table and the table-setting” shooting training via the “Who, what, where, when, how and why” question checklist.
- The WHO questions. Who are you? Who else if any is at the table? Nearby tables? Who is the enemy?
- The WHAT questions? What is going on? Robbery? Domestic? Crazy guy? What kind of table? May it offer you some level of protection, even concealment. Shape? Heavy? Metal? Plastic? What’s on it? What kind of gun does the enemy have? What kind of chair are you in?
- The WHERE questions? Where is this happening? A home, restaurant, conference, meeting? Gun show? Trade-days? Thanksgiving dinner (don’t laugh!) Where exactly is this armed enemy? Where do you carry your pistol? In a booth – probably some 50% of the time you are in a booth not a table. Where is this table anyway? The table? Where are you seated? Is there space to do this between the table and the wall?
- The WHEN questions. When exactly should you shoot in this situation? Or not shoot at all? Flip a table? Stand up? Dive? Finish dessert?
- The HOW questions. How do you react? How close are you seated to the table for your draw? Will the chair move easily on the carpet? Maybe flip this table? How do you shoot around it? Will the table completely turn over? How often are you seated alone to flip a table over?
- The WHY questions. Why did you go there? Why are you still there. Why are you still seated? Why reload while seated? Why stay seated?
- Continue asking and exploring and answer these “Ws and H” quesions.
Set the real table with questions and answers. Hopefully in these live fire range classes, these samples of the “Ws and H” Questions checklist was-is mentioned in the opening lecture to introduce and remind the bigger problems of the table-setting shooting?
I do wonder, do the table-chair courses ever finish the live fire range segment with any of the best training experiences? Doing the simulated ammo situations with actors (just other attendees) in common makeshift table settings. (Sim-ammo is all I do.) Real, vital “shoot-don’t-shoot” decision making, interactive experiences.
Yes, you must shoot some live fire from the chair and table a bit. Yes. And then hopefully, in this ‘Lone Ranger’ range set-up, practitioners might practice a segment of oh…flipping tables over and shooting too, and also worrying about where Tonto is, and work on all the other probable things in simulated ammo situations, rather than completely ignore all the training of many other chair-table probabilities.
How do you set the table for table-related gunfights?
A DEEP HIP STYLE ROLLOVER THROW (Or a standing “Fat Man’s Roll?)
This application of an “arm” takedown I have done once in police work in a domestic disturbance. While sorting things out in a house, a man charged me from the rear, having escaped the verbal control of another officer nearby. I heard the officer yell “Stop!” Before he could wrap my torso with two arms (to do what, did he know?) I was able to react.
This reactive move is found a few places but was based for me from high school wrestling from back in the 1960s! (Back then was only some 10 years earlier.) In such wrestling, there are “neutral starting’”positions and “referee positions.” One of the common “referee position’ starting points inside a match was one person was down on their knees, the other atop and somewhat beside him with one arm wrapped around the bottom guy’s torso (rules can differ). No clasping “bear hug” allowed yet at this point. This is not a collegate wrestling course so we will leave it at that.
One of the series of moves we practiced back then was the bottom guy grabbed that wrapped arm and rolled him over. When just freestyle practicing, this also happened when the bottom guy partial stood up at times. I frequently did and saw this work. This complete standing version starts looking a bit like like a classic hip throw, at least in part. Anyway from high school I still had this move, this concept embedded in me.
I remember that the guy rushed me to the point that I might fall over forward anyway. I tried to turn and then this old move from inside me busted out. Stepped back, dropped and rolled. His feet smashed into furniture. We arrested this man and the jailer told me the next day that the man begged for aspirin from a bad headache all night long. I think he hit his head on the floor, possible like in these photos.
- Note in photo 1 the one arm grab.
- Note in photo 2 the arm blocking his second arm from coming in and clasping me.
- Solid grab on his arm in photo 3, which includes capturing his elbow.
- Note in photo 5 the man landing on his head (in a perfect world).
- Note small photo 6…keep rolling! As you roll over him to get up, an elbow strike oportunity might arise.
I am a proponent of the “double the force” concept – a late phase counter when being taken down. Can you grab the attacker, hang on, join with and add to the force of falling maybe with a turn? Putting him at a disadvantage 1) upon, during impact, or 2) after impact? Sometimes. Yes.
If you are going to practice it, try it a few times about knee high like some Judo (this known as Soto-makikomi) and wrestling does. Watch out for your partner’s head! Don’t forget to hit him at every opportunity, which Judo, BJJ and wrestling does not.
(I only did this one “for real,” one time in my whole life, but I ain’t dead yet.)
- 1: Strategy
- 2: Morality
- 3: Legality
- 4: Ethically
- What is your mission?
- What is your doctrine?
- What is your end-user product?
- What are you trying to “make” of yourself and students advertantly and…inadvertantly?
An Orderly or Tactical Retreat, (safely walking or running away!) Stay or retreat? A retreat has several definitions, like “retrograde” movements or a more modern “tactical retreat.” Usually, these definitions suggest that one retreats from a superior force in battle. Military. In today’s civilian world, remaining to fight and take action, may become a physical, legal (criminal law and civil law) nightmare and monetary problem. Winning and the law are often at odds.
Whatever the terms, retro, orderly or tactical, it still means you leave, escape, withdraw, whatever, with the best plan to do so. For a smaller, personal situation an orderly retreat is leaving a confrontation, safely and without being chased, at all, or much.
“Just run away!” these pseudo experts will say. But, just how far can you run? How fast? How long?
The law will ask, if there’s trouble, why did you go there and why are you still there? Can you leave people behind? Will you be leaving family, friends and comrades behind? Can you leave? Should you leave? Sometimes you can’t leave. Your choice is highly situational. Think of any violent situation from a fistfight to a crime, to an active shooter, on to war and ask these questions about staying or leaving?
- Who are you and who will you stay or retreat from?
- Who will you leave behind?
- What is happening that causes you to stay or retreat?
- Where is this happening that might cause you to stay or retreat
- Where will you retreat to?
- When is this happening that might cause you to stay or retreat
- When will this be over?
- How will staying or retreating unfold?
- How will this end?
- How far and fast can you run? Can he run?
- Why is it important enough to stay or go?
How exactly will you retreat? If you stay, there will be violence. If you go? Best go in an orderly fashion. When you add the term “orderly,” it speaks of significant specifics. What is this “orderly” version? An orderly retreat?
For one classic explanation, we can learn from Alexander the Great. His army suffered very few casualties and inflicted death upon some say 1.2 million soldiers more in comparison. The differences in death tolls were remarkable.
In his beginning battles he had some large causalities usually from chaotic retreats. When his troops hit their perceived “breaking point,” hey turned and they scattered, most were killed from behind, running in disorderly retreats. Long known, psychological factors reveal that it is easier to “kill from a distance” and to “kill from behind,” without seeing a person’s face, without seeing a “personality.” (This relates to crime also.) Then, Alexander adopted he Macedonian Phalanx, an infantry formation some historians say developed by his father Philip II, then some say the Sumerians. It consisted of blocks of heavily armed infantry standing tightly shoulder to shoulder in files several ranks deep. The blocks advanced. The blocks retreated by remaining in a tight Phalanx, still facing the enemy and moving backwards in formations, rather than splitting up, turning their backs and running away. This organized or orderly retreat principle has held true in crime and war.
Simply turning and running away, sounds like good advice, but how far and fast can you run, and such may make you easier to be killed, and may ignite an anger, and/or ignite a hunter-chase mentality in a criminal or a enemy soldier. Departing, withdrawing as smartly as possible is better choice.
Turning and leaving. In the martial word, just turning from a too close opponent standing or down on the floor-ground, is “giving up your back” and means something specific to martialists – exposing your back is an invitation to be choked. In crime and war your turned back make you easier to be beaten, captured or be killed. When you turn to leave, it should be done by first backing away in some manner to a safe distance and then turning to leaving.
When you turn to leave, it should be done by first backing away to a safe distance and then turning. That’s about the best universal advice we can offer for an orderly retreat, everything else is ever so situational. How do you do this retreat all the time? There is no one universal answer. It is highly situational. After studying the Ws and H retreat questions, then examine these options.
- 1: Back away, still facing the opposition with de-escalation words? That may work sometimes.
- 2: Back away, still facing the opposition saying nothing? That may work sometimes.
- 3: Back away, still facing the opposition with threatening words? That may work sometimes.
- 4: Pre-emptive strike. Then back away, still facing, then turn. That may work.
- 5: You are thrown down. You get up, then pick one of the four choices above. That may work sometimes.
- 6: You beat the holy hell out of the opposition. Then pick one of the choices as to if and when to leave. That may work sometimes.
- 7: Your draw and presentation of a knife or a gun has a good success rate of freezing the opposition. How about any expedient weapon? Then pick one of the choices above to leave. That may work.
- 8: This course is an unarmed course but pick up a nearby expedient weapon. This has a good success rate of freezing the opposition. Then pick one among the choices above to leave. That may work sometimes.
If no physical contact is made yet, we are still in the Stop 1 parameters and leaving the projected fight scene before it starts, is a quintessential Stop 1 situation-problem. But the option to leave may occur in any of the Stops, Stop 2 through Stop 6.
My old friend and advisor Colonel “Hack” Hackworth, vet of WW II, Korea and Vietnam, and at one time, the most decorated U.S. Army soldier, always had a “go to hell,” plan – for when things went to hell and that plan always included the best escape under the worst circumstances. He told me,
“Hock, sometimes you gotta’ blow the horn,” (the horn being thetrumpet of retreat.) “Always have a go-to hell plan, and another one when that one goes to hell too.”
“For he that fights and runs away, May live to fight another day.” This is attributed to Demosthenes, an epic Greek orator. Sometimes even heroes with the most hardcore, “never say die,” mottos are smart to retreat. Every stand-off, showdown and ambush is different. There is no one equation to retreat It’s all situational. All we can suggest is that if you can, if not escaping an active shooter or a bomb, you conduct an orderly, smart retreat should you decide to retreat. Face the person with words and command presence, a knife, or a stick, or a gun and back away. When a considerable distance is achieved then you might turn and leave. Sometimes with a weapon, you might even successfully order the aggressor to leave and he might comply under threat.
There is no one way to prescribe any one universal orderly retreat, but it is important to understand the concept, teach the idea, and develop and practice some real, “go to hell,” plans.