I have been lucky I guess, having done CPR on a few folks though the years and they all lived. EMTs are doing it all the time. with mixed results. But citizens? Adam Gent of Real First Aid in the UK wrote this important consideration.
“There are two traps that prevent us from having difficult conversations in educating First Aid: Dark humor. Ill-founded optimism.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of dark humor. But if we create an environment where only dark humor is allowed, we do not allow any space for difficult conversations – every opportunity for a meaningful conversation is deftly deflected with an automatic joke and crippling bravado.
What do I mean by ill-founded optimism? Telling people “CPR saves lives” as though it is a given. Because it doesn’t. The absolute vast majority of people who go into cardiac arrest stay there. Forever. But I get it. We want to foster optimism; we want candidates to go out there and do their best. Why wouldn’t you try? But to tell people that CPR can restart a heart or that it can ‘bring someone back from the dead’ is just cruel.
I have lost count of the number of people I have met who have told me about their experience of having to do CPR, and it predictably follows the same format “…so I did CPR…but they died.” With a look of absolute desperation, blame and guilt. All because they were told that CPR saves lives, but in their case it didn’t. How unfair is that?
I know people who have performed CPR on their family or friends who are clearly dead, because the Call Handler told them to. Their last memory of their loved one is brutalizing their body and the taste of their vomit in their mouth. Because they didn’t have the confidence to accept they were dead and nothing could change it, because they were told “Only a doctor can declare someone dead” or that “once you start CPR you can’t stop” or some other nonsense.
Make time for difficult conversations about how woefully unsuccessful CPR is without a defib or within a reasonable time frame. About accepting that dead people tend to stay dead. They were dead when you found them, they were dead while you were doing CPR and they stayed dead afterwards. Nothing changed. It was not your fault. Make time to talk about loss and grief.
This reprinted as a service to the martial arts community.
Should anyone care, there is a class action lawsuit filed against the Premier Martial Arts franchise group, filed last November, that is not known about. This info-brief comes from “Law 360” and is as follows…
“A group of martial arts studio franchisees has thrown the opening kick in a sparring match with a national chain, alleging in a complaint filed in Tennessee federal court that the chain duped hundreds of people into sinking millions of dollars into money pit dojos.
Thirty-six (now over 50) franchisees have accused Knoxville, Tennessee-based Premier Franchising Group LLC, which does business as Premier Martial Arts, or PMA, of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, fraudulent inducement and breach of contract.
“Defendants have engaged in an ongoing, multi-year, nationwide scheme to defraud hundreds of people into investing substantial sums of money to buy and attempt to operate martial arts studios as PMA franchises,” the plaintiffs’ Nov. 18 complaint said. “The depth of the fraudulent scheme is still being uncovered but the devastation is already well-known: retirement savings obliterated, franchisees suffering from staggering debt, and a host of hard-working individuals and families on the brink of financial ruin.”
Founded in 2004 and franchised in 2018, PMA offers karate, Krav Maga and kickboxing lessons to children and adults at more than 70 locations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., and it has sold 564 franchises to 228 owners, according to a news release in January announcing the company’s sale to Bedford, Texas-based Unleashed Brands.
Unleashed Brands Chief Legal Officer Stephen Polozola told Law360 on Tuesday that “Premier Franchising Group disputes the claims asserted by this small subset of franchisees.” He declined to comment further on the pending litigation.
The franchisees’ attorney, John Jacobson of Riley & Jacobson, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. The franchisees allege that PMA founder Barry Van Over schemed with Omaha, Nebraska-based franchise sales organization Franchise Fastlane and its vice president of brand partnerships, Brent Seebohm, to downplay what it takes to run a PMA franchise while overinflating the potential profits.
For instance, the defendants purportedly told potential franchise owners that they’d only need to work about 10 hours a week at the studio when, in reality, they’d have to be there 40 to 60 hours a week to keep the business afloat.
Also allegedly said prospective franchisees would see profit margins of more than 40% and about $35,000 to $40,000 in monthly revenue, according to the suit, which states, “These numbers were simply not true.”
The complaint further claims that PMA pressured prospective franchisees to buy multiple studios, while knowing that they were “money-losing endeavors,” as a way to squeeze them for franchise fees that could be as high as $298,500.
According to the suit, PMA attempted to “cover their tracks” by fraudulently inducing franchisees to sign documents with a provision that purported to release PMA from wrongdoing.
The releases in question are unenforceable, the plaintiffs argued, because they were “procured by fraud,” among other things, but “nevertheless, they reflect the cynical and sad efforts by defendants to defraud their franchisees at every turn.”
Aside from PMA, the franchisees are suing Van Over, PMA Vice President Myles Baker, Franchise Fastlane, Seebohm and Unleashed Brands.
The plaintiffs are represented by John Jacobson of Riley & Jacobson. The case is Anthony et al. v. Van Over et al., case number 3:22-cv-00416, in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Tennessee. “
With advancing age and advanced age, one’s reliance on “kuraty” wanes. Someday I know I will be limping around with only my snub-nose, hammerless revolver in my jacket pocket as my only and last resort, despite all the years of training. And what of those who’ve never done any “kuraty?” These inevitabilities make one think about handy support, self defense weapons. Like the small handgun and one might be…the mysterious, intriguing…blackjack.
Andre Wong of Police One defines: “The sap, slapper, or blackjack is a heavy leather pouch, eight to twelve inches long, filled with lead and sometimes a flexible steel rod. Unlike a baton, a sap’s size and shape allowed it to be concealed inside an officer’s pocket. Saps may not look as intimidating as a gun or a baton, but thinking they’re not dangerous would be a mi stake. A sap is dense enough to break bones when the user has room to swing, and the leather edge is rough enough to cause a dull, ripping laceration to the face when used as a jabbing instrument. Slappers would be ideal for use in ultra-tight quarters like a fight on the ground against a large suspect.”
I noticed a number of folks selling and teaching these tools of late. And numerous training videos. I see a lot of artistic, photo displays of weapons on Instagram, and most include saps laid amongst knives and pistols, etc. Given the laws of most states in the USA and countries around the world, I am not too sure you want to be “caught” carrying one, or using one. I am not too sure many of these teachers, photographers or makers have ever used a blackjack in a fight? Not that, that is a mandatory rule. Smart people can invent and teach smart things. Or, have they considered the vast legal ramifications of wearing and using a blackjack?
The law? Here’s just one example, from the People’s Republic of California and the many states that swap legal weapons lingo: California Penal Code 22210 PC makes it a crime to manufacture, import, sell, give, or possess leaded canes or batons (or other weapons in this category). The offense can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. A conviction is punishable by up to 3 years in jail or prison. A leaded cane is a: crutch, staff, stick, or rod (later defined as any blackjack) that is weighted with lead so it can be used as a weapon. The statute also applies to short and weighted objects that can strike a person.”
Okay! Then, well, so much for California. You heard it’s illegal, but it sort of “brings it on home,” when you read the actual laws. I fail to see the word illegally “teaching” in there, though. Exponents, fans and sellers say that in most states you can own one (at home), but warn not to carry one or use one. ETSY sells them as “novelty paperweights.” Others advertise them as “change purses with stout handles,” with coinage inserted via a zipper on the striking end for weight. This fools no one.
Police carry. I was officially issued and carried one in Texas policing for many years in the 1970s and mid-1980s, though I rarely hit anyone with it as I was trained and training in empty hand systems so much, I used that first and foremost whenever I could. I noticed that others less trained, whacked the crap out of people with them. I have seen people stunned and knocked out by them, and upraised fists smacked by them – instant, significant reaction. In the U.S. Army Military Police and in Texas we were also issued batons, which again, I didn’t actually use much, though rules were pretty “stick-free-wheeling” in the MPs. (We were even taught to quick-search a body with a stick, rubbing it all around the potential weapon-carry spots, which now…would probably be considered rape of some sort.)
Where did we tote that thing? Believe it or not, in the golden, olden days, usually in our back uniform pocket! Able to be easily yanked out by any miscreant! In my small world I’ve never seen that happen, although stats tell us that lots of resisting people did and do like to grab our stuff and it has probably happened. I have had some attempted gun grabs (one on the ground) and handcuff grabs. Some uniforms had sewed-in sap pockets on the thighs. I hear that some uniform companies still add these “sap pants pockets” (costs more) as a matter of routine…but remain empty.
Empty? Many police agencies, mine included, decided one day in the 1980s to collect up all the blackjacks and hide them away in dusty closets. Night sticks also slowly de-evolved into expandable batons, then for many agencies all “sticks” also completely disappeared (along with those BIG flashlights).
Blackjack Training Issues and Problems. I sometimes consider slipping a “Blackjack Module” into my Force Necessary: Stick course, because it is an impact weapon. I often consider too, changing the name of Force Necessary Stick, to Force Necessary: Impact Weapons. But, it doesn’t “sing” so well as the core, four single nouns, “hand, stick, knife, gun.” Imagine that added, elongated song title of nouns –
“Hand, Stick-Flashlight-Blackjack-Sap-DanBong, Knife, Gun.” That makes for a long album cover name. Even adding the term “impact weapons” replacing the solo word “stick” rambles on, “Hand, ‘Impact Weapons’ (instead of just ‘Stick’), Knife, Gun” is still too long for me. It is hard to replace the simple, message “impact” (yes, pun intended) of single-syllable caveman, “Hand. Stick. Knife. Gun.”
With blackjacks I have other reservations other than just too many syllables and nouns in the title. Mostly those weapon laws, yes, and then “supply and demand” problems. First off, they are illegal to run around with almost everywhere to begin with, lest of all a box of them. But then so are samurai swords and that hasn’t stopped classes on them! Just don’t walk into a Walmart wearing a katana. People like to study all kinds of stuff from esoteric to practical.
If I taught the sap subject, I would need to travel worldwide with a supply of, a bunch of actual saps or training saps at seminars for attendees. You see, no matter how much we ask, people do not show up with the subject gear. Local schools do not have a boxloads of saps in their closets either.
In my world I’d need like…25 or 30 of them. And do you now much stuff I already fly with? Boxes of stuff. Why so many? There’s not much worse than having a specific, weapon-topic seminar, or a session within a seminar, showing up and no one or almost no one has that specific training weapon. I could tell you stories. You are talking to a guy who’s been stopped in Australian airports because I had a box of wooden pistols. What safety, look-a-like, substitute could I fly and drive around with such a box of stuff, that would be blackjack-like and yet, not get me tossed in TSA or the local hoosegow for illegal weapons? Just one real one in my luggage or to and fro the seminar could be legal trouble.
Making the blackjack subject matter a mandatory part of the FN:Stick course, makes these support accommodations on me mandatory too.
The padded knife-dueling tool shown here is an option but it is not perfectly shaped, removing the nuances of the weapon. (This is also a knife problem when trying to emphasize the knife’s edge with a rounded replica.) And…no strap! You have to experience the scenarios with the straps-lanyards.
In the spirit of “reducing the abstract,” Nok – Tak Knife sells a soft cleaver knife, with flat top that might better substitute for a sap. About $40. Again, no strap. And I am quite sure, someone reading this will supply a photo of replica training blackjack, with the quote like, “Dracula’s Obscurities sells foam saps for training!” And of course, more news that John Doe can make them in his garage. Great news for the sap training world.
If I did teach this topic, I would not replicate the mediocre police blackjack material of yesteryear, but rather teach the subject through the basic and advanced “Combat Clock,” I’ve used for 27 years now. The basics? “Slash and stab” at 12, 3, 6, 9 or high, right, low, left. Advanced? All numbers of the clock, standing through ground. And then the nuances, the nuances of that particular weapon. One such nuance would be sap-targeting, another is if you turn the standard, flat top, blackjack sideways, it is more stout and less “giving.” Another is suddenly grappling with one strapped to your hand or wrist – one must experience the “judo” and “jujitsu” moves of the world with one strapped-wrapped to you. I might also add that a blackjack handle within your closed fist helps reinforce your hand a bit when punching. There’s more of course.
Fad or Fad Not? In the big picture, I suspect that the subject matter is a fad. I am not a passing-fad-boy. And, I don’t mindlessly replicate fads or fad makers. Fun, but a fad and at this point, I can’t see it as much of a big, crowd-drawer or a big, crowd-pleaser in the big picture of the so-called “civilized world” – in that the damn thing is illegal most everywhere. Of course, I could be wrong and blackjacks and saps might sweep the globe. And in a “free state,” if asked I guess I would cover the topic.
Despite the legal hassles, still the lore and the look of these little scrappy, tough bastards are intriguing enough to stay alive for “free staters,” collectors, gawkers, historians and self-defenders.
Moving. Still. Parking lots and roads, all involve cars, still and moving, and both places are potential hotter spots for U.S. crime, not necessarily super “hot” spots as you might assume, but “hotter” spots. Parking lots and roads are places where all kinds of people of all types, pass by each other and interact in some fashion, if only visually.
In Part 1 here… I have tried to collect a lot of info on parking lot crime and related shootings for years now. For those of you reading this outside the United States, I hope you can glean some security ideas that may or may not relate to your country, but may help in developing equations for safety. For one universal problem, we all fall prey to the “frequency illusion” which leads us to believe that some things we focus on, or the media focuses on, happens more than others because…because we are looking-focused for that one thing, such as in crime in general and for this topic – crime, shootings, in, out and around vehicles on parking lots.
Usually, in reality, most all research is shallow and fallible. Experts take small samples and extrapolate them into bigger results. Keep this elusiveness in mind when reading what I have collected here. And I warn, this essay is NOT about auto burglaries, or auto thefts, or advising lot owners how to build safer parking lots. It’s about people in, out and around vehicles and shootings. There are attached areas like hallways, stairs and elevators, and if a person has left the immediate area of their autos on lots to these attached locations, they have left the scope of this essay.
Big Pictures. Big Pictures. You can open up any news page or search on the topic “parking lot shootings” and a lengthy list of individual crimes appear. Every shooting is a drama and trauma (and probably a lawsuit). Is this as rampant as this seems? The list is long and if you don’t recognize and dismiss the Frequency Illusion you’ll probably decide to cart a machine gun to MacDonald’s, as all parking lots (and life) are a war zone.
First, as a skeptic, I like to examine the big picture in any topic, so often neglected either by bias or ignorance, starting with the necessary topics to help define the subject:
total teen and adult driver population, (this gives us a comparison, crime versus populations, and numbers of drivers)
total retail transactions, (this tells us estimates of how many people might drive to and park at a retail location.)
total car ownership, (suggests parking lot potential use.)
local gun legal and illegal gun ownership laws.
types of parking lots, residential, restaurants, retail, etc….
reported parking lot crime (actually, parking lot crimes, and out and around cars and shootings.
there are other local, nuanced factors of course…
According to laws in every state in the U.S., an area of the law known as “premise liability,” businesses have a duty to protect its customers from violent crime while they’re on store property, crime that can reasonably predict.
Next, the actual numbers so we can see the big picture. In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau counted 331.4 million people living in the United States and more than three-quarters (77.9%) or 258.3 million were adults, 18 years or older. Out of this figure, in 2023 there are a projected 243.4 million licensed drivers in the U.S., which includes 89% of US adults. Hedges and Company, a popular marketing firm reports that in 2023 there are a projected 243.4 million licensed drivers in the US. In many states, teens under 18 are also driving. The CDC says there are over 8.3 million teen drivers.” Finally, the Federal Highway Administration estimates there are 275,913,237 vehicles in the U.S.. Not all folks drive of course, but can we say so many if not most do.
That’s a lot of big picture numbers so let me list them out:
331.4 million people living in the United States in 2020. (More in 2023.)
243.4 million adult licensed drivers in the US. (in 2022)
8.3 million teen drivers. (in 2022.)
That’s about 252 million total drivers. (in 2022.)
There are estimated 275,913,237 vehicles in the US.
Pew Research reports there are approximately 77.5 million adult gun owners in the U.S.. There are some 436 million guns.
Summary – Lots of drivers, guns, cars and lots of parking needed.
And They All Park, Somewhere. Parking lots and parking garages – do we really need to define what they are? I think not. I think we all know the full range of parking options, those covered and uncovered. How many lots? There is no way to really collect business parking lot and garage numbers in the US with accuracy, but we can surmise there are a lot of them. A whole lot. All these cars, drivers and passengers park and walk to and from vehicles every day. I hesitate to suggest precise, parking lot attendance numbers, other than it must be enormous.
Walmart Parking Lots. One Crime Case Study. The big store system everyone brags they hate…yet go to and and park. Let’s look at one of the most popular retail locations in the U.S. as a big sampling, case study, and use it as a means, an equation and method to consider how we might evaluate all parking lot crime in general. Handily for us, Walmart-haters have produced articles on “Walmart crime.” The numbers sound scary. Sounds like a lot, but the authors never compare crimes to total sales transactions or customers counts – again – the typical ignorance of the big picture, which will ruin their biased message about Walmart crime.
in 2022, Walmart reports on average in their 3,573 Supercenters in the U.S., each serves about 10,000 customers every single day. These numbers come from sales transactions. That rounds out. to 10,000 sales times 3,573 stores = to be about some 3,650,000 sales a day – over 3 and half million customers a day.
Dare we then cipher out 3,650,000 daily customers times 365 days? 1,332,250,000? So many of them equal a vehicle trip and parking as I think we can safely judge that almost all Walmart transactions probably represents a car and parking. That’s a lot of parking on Walmart parking lots. A lot of people and no matter how we crunch those numbers, we can surely assume a whole lot of people parked on Walmart parking lots. Then, were there 5 million crimes? 2 million? 1 million? Millions of shoot-outs? Thousands maybe? Hundred? Murders. Kidnappings, rapes and robberies? Lions and tigers and bears? Not hardly. Read on…
Now…crime at, and-or on, Walmart property? (2016 must have been a bad PR year for Walmart as the haters jumped on for a lot reasons…)
Time Magazine reported in “2016, police in many communities get more calls to Walmart shopping centers than anywhere else. For some stores, police are called multiple times a day. The problem appears to be far larger for Walmart (open 24 hours) for competing retailers like Target. And the crime ranges from mostly standard shoplifting and petty theft to the occasional rape, stabbing, shooting, murder, or meth lab hidden in a 6-foot drainage pipe under the store parking lot.”
This Week magazine reported that “Impoverished communities are more likely to be afflicted by crime in general, and these days a Walmart store is often the biggest retail hub.”
In 2016, Tulsa Oklahoma PD described the violent crimes over several year period – “Most of the calls to the northeast Supercenter were for shoplifting, but there’s no shortage of more serious crimes, including five armed robberies so far this year, a murder suspect who killed himself with a gunshot to the head in the parking lot last year, and, in 2014, a group of men who got into a parking lot shootout that killed one and seriously injured two others.”
Bloomberg reports that in 2016 there were “More than 200 violent crimes (coast to coast), at Walmarts, including attempted kidnappings and multiple stabbings, shootings, and murders, have occurred at the nation’s stores.
Note the highlighted word, “occasional” above. Those occasional violent ones are the ones that could, might involve a potential gun defense. And the… “More than” two hundred violent crimes? When you dissect the “more than” line…is that one more – 201? Five more – 205? If it reached fifty more, 250 would they still say “more than 200″? This bias verbiage to shock you, but whether it’s 200 or 300 crimes, that’s nothing much within 3,650,000 customers in 3,573 locations a day from coast to coast. Is this a real parking lot crime wave?
You can start to see how parking lot crime is reported and presented, minus the big picture numbers. And, in the Tulsa story, armed robberies (parking lot or inside registers? As the interior registers would not officially be parking lot crimes, but fleeing suspects on a parking lot are indeed a problem – they almost always have getaway vehicles desperate to escape.)
3,573 stores X 10,000 sales-customer a day per store = 3,650,000 daily sales-customers.
365 days X 3,650,000 daily sales-customers = 1,332,250,000.
1,332,250,000 = how many cars on the lot?
Bloomberg says 200 violent crimes in 2016, parking lot or otherwise?
What of Restaurants, Businesses, Residentials and “other” Then? Finances On Line, report that 163 million people eat out once a week. Times that by 52 weeks. That is… 32,760,00,000, which includes a lot of varied parking, couldn’t we assume? We can’t say exactly for sure how many, but there are a lot of people parking on parking lots to eat out. How about all the other business parking lots? And we cannot forget the private parking lots of businesses, houses, and apartments.
Statista.com reports that In 2021, that is within this total of millions and millions of parking events, around 16,617 robberies took place in parking garages or parking lots in the United States. No related report if they involve or justify parking lot shoot-outs, being robberies an armed victim, might be motivated to produce a gun.
Finally, The U.S. Department of Justice reports, “it appears thatthe risk of being attacked in a parking facility, is 4 in 1 million,and is really quite low. Interestingly, about 20 percent of violent crime in parking facilities is committed by persons known to the victim.”
This violent “20% known” involves gang wars, revenge, co-workers, affairs, domestic violence and all the other related “known” crimes we see in the news. By the way, where do you fit in this 20%? Is such a thing brewing in your life? Increasing your odds?
(Note: I’ve come across various sources with confusing odd, numbers that didn’t add up and deleted them from my number lists. Some were inflammatory as they sold courses and parking lot safety gear.)
So, On the Subject of Shooting? My purpose with boring you with these massive numbers is simply to remind you that there are lots of cars, drivers, guns and parking, and not a lot of lot crimes in comparison. Miniscule in comparison to many millions of daily parking events. With the Walmart parking lot study and the U.S. Department of Justice’s “4 in one million” chance, parking lots in general are actually, pretty darn safe and there is a lot of daily, safe parking, and safe to-and-fro walking, every day in the U.S.. Can we extrapolate the DOJ and Walmart examination to all parking lots? Somewhat…a bit, for example, there is anecdotal information that in some places like Memphis, TN., or in like some Chicago neighborhoods, parking lots that are extra dangerous. It seems most cities have problem spots. So local geography, local crime and time can certainly be situational (see below advice). But in the big picture and with the below preparation list, odds are greatly in your favor you will not be in a parking lot shooting.
When “Four in a Million” Becomes “One in One.”? Crime numbers change every year and in every location, that includes the numbers I have produced above. If a bunch of lot crime or not, people will still have guns on them and-or in their vehicles. Also, as I asked a few lines above, “Where do you fit in that “known to 20%” category?” What’s brewing in your life that will change the odds? Well, as I like to remind folks, if it is YOU attacked! The “one-in-four-mill” odds no longer count! Then it’s a “One in One” and the word “chance” is gone. It’s happening to you. Are you armed? Can you get away? Can you scare away? Duck, cover, move? Shoot? Shoot to kill?
The “fortune favors the prepared” classic quote was not said by Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Patton, nor Dick Tracy. It comes to us from a French chemist, Louis Pasteur, who said fully, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” In summary, one should go about their parking travels with healthy preparation and real, local intelligence information, not an unhealthy, panting, hypervigilant paranoia. I always resort to the “Ws and H” questions for preparation. Here are some sample questions…
WHO are you and who do you think will attack you on a parking lot you? How might these elements prevent or become a shooting?
WHAT is going on, on the parking lot, and district and city you are visiting? Crime rates? Problems? What is “brewing bad” in your life? What will he do to approach-attack you? What will you do? What are you wearing? What is your job? What are the local self-defense laws? What gun? What and how might these elements escalate into a shooting?
WHERE is this lot, and where on the lot will you park? By the front doors? Under lights? Where are the attack points? Where do you fit in that ‘”known to” 20%” category that you might be “hunted?” Where exactly is your gun? Where might errant rounds go? Where and how might this turn into a shooting?
WHEN are you parking, holidays? Daytime? Nighttime? When and how might this turn into a shooting?
HOW exactly would you be approached-attacked on the lot? How will he act? How will you react? How will this turn into a shooting?
WHY are you going there? Is it worth it, given the questions above? Why and how could this turn into a shooting?
Each “W and H” question is a book chapter, too much to burden this small, generic essay here. I lecture on these in my “Shooting In, Out and Around Cars” seminar. You must continue to answer these big and small, vital, “Ws and H” questions for yourself, your life and locale. Use these and make up your own list of answers. I have been using the “Ws and H” questions for over 27 years to investigate and teach potential problems in crime, war (and life in general). They’ve never let me down as the best way to plan, but you need good intel.
Live Fire and Vehicles. You can train live fire methods in, out and around cars, shooting paper targets. In the end, given some “in-to and out-of” vehicle shooting nuances concerning things like vehicle construction, ricochets, and glass issues, the physicality of shootings with all opponents outside of cars will be much like shooting anywhere else, with the exception that you will be somewhat surrounded mostly by cars.
Live fire – if so, are you training for the realities of your life? I see a fair amount of vehicle-related, live-fire courses were citizen attendees are outfitted as if for a two-week war in Cambodia with auto and semi-auto rifles, pistols, training knives, knee and elbow pads, and gear full of ammo. Such military, SWAT, police, etc. courses are absolutely ten times the fun. I have run some sims ammo ones and everybody just reveals in the experience. But unless you are on the far side of some special operations team or the Secret Service, this will not relate to your trip to the Dairy Queen and the small, hammerless .32 revolver you carry in your pocket.
All the live-fire, vehicle-related courses are a one-way street of early preparation. Vital, core work to experience. And it is also vital to train with interactive, simulated ammo, shooting at enemies who are shooting back at you. It is horrible and shocking for some to see how easily you can be shot, foot, ankle, knee, leg, elbow, arm, head and torso, even after working the best live-fire, range shooting methods in, out and around cars.
United States parking lots seem to be quite safe, when one considers the big picture. But when you or yours are victimized it is hard to respect and swallow the big picture evidence. I understand this, but there is a bigger picture that blankets the realities, training doctrine, laws and policy making. Within all that, within an amazing safety record, bad things can happen. I hope you will never be involved in vehicle-related gunfight.
Road Rage and Shootings, Part 2 of this investigation, coming soon.
The Dangers of Escaping Standing Chokes and Standing Guillotines, A Martial and Military Perspective
The world today is innocently obsessed with wrestling (okay, well, actually it’s BJJ with its own special, great mythology and the important, “tribal” uniforms, etc, and which is an addictive, terrific, fun, sport-hobby). And within the grounded, wrestling world, there are about a ton and a half of grounded chokes, cranks and escapes to study. All terrific to mess around with. If you are new to all this then go look the moves up, but most folks, smart enough to be reading this, know what I am writing about.
This essay is NOT about those things on the ground, but rather specifically, ONLY, stand-up neck wraps and some of the classic, dangerous, commonly taught counters to them. This is a safety briefing about the neck and martial studies.
Standing, your neck is grabbed in some sort of arm wrap. But in the arms of an experienced enemy or a stumbling inexperienced rookie, the grabs with a step or a misstep, can quickly damage and even kill you. And worse…with some of the innocently practiced common escapes, you can damn near kill your own self too in the very same ways the bad guy could do it to you. How? It’s all about the neck.
Physio-Life reports that “Even to a completely inexperienced grappler, it would come as no surprise that grappling can be problematic for the neck. In a sport where the aim is to control, strangle and submit your opponent, the neck is often a key pillar in a wide range of attacks…whiplash to permanent paralysis.”
In the study of mixed martial arts “Risk of Cervical Injuries in Mixed Martial Arts” by T Kochhar, D L Back, B Mann, J. Skinner, they list the guillotine drop as one of the 4 most dangerous takedown maneuvers. Dr. Google says – “What does a neck crank do? A neck crank (sometimes also referred to as a neck lock, and technically known as a cervical lock) is a spinal lock applied to the cervical spine causing hyperextension, hyperflexion, lateral hyperflexion, hyper-rotation or extension-distraction. This happens either through bending, twisting or elongating. Neck cranks-locks can cause spinal injuries. Many martial arts prohibit use of this technique given the potential for student injury.” Many do prohibit and of course, many don’t.
“Yup, already tried to escape one of these standing guillotine chokes, which ended up as a severe prolapse C5 C6 C7 followed by followed by muscle wasting in the left triceps and total loss of pectoralis minor.” reports Bjorn Wagner as one personal anecdote.
What I would like to put under the proverbial microscope here are potential injuries one does to oneself in escaping standing choke chokes and guillotines, as taught by many of the martial arts.
I had the accidental, Youtube experience the other day of watching the Gracie Wonder-Team-Twin nephews run through, oh, like 15 common escapes in 30 seconds from stand-up chokes and stand-up guillotines. My, such experienced, athletic kids the super twins are! They are indeed great, dedicated kids. They live this life daily. Full-timers. I ask quickly – are you? Do you? And yet, about half of the escape moves could get the escapee’s caught neck whip-lashed, broken and-or get them killed, especially the ones where escapees, in layman’s terms, “judo-ize” – flip-throw the chokers’ bodies over them and around into an array of sacrifice takedowns where they both, choker and escapee, happily, willingly, fall down to the mats (not onto the furniture or the hard ground or floors or cement of the real world).
Military Quicker Kills. Rarely taught. Rarely known. Rarely respected. Well, if you flip (or drop down) versus a guy whose got a death grip on your neck? You could hurt or break your own neck. Do most practitioners know how easily the standing choker can kill you, accidentally or on purpose? Or then, how you can damage yourself? It is obvious that these art folks and so many others do not know the list of the old school, rarely-taught-these-days, military quicker-kill, neck breaks. Folks seem to not realize how close their escape moves resemble military neck breaks!
Military Infantry Veteran James Brown adds-writes: “As our host Hock writes: Not many people are taught the really nasty ways to do choke-breaks. In the military, it’s pretty limited to infiltration units. When simply shooting someone in the head with a suppressed weapon isn’t advisable. Or sneaking up and zip tying their neck or stabbing them somewhere isn’t optimal, either. Most knife stuff I learned from military instructors was about sneaking up and making death quiet. A rear choke variation example: Ambush from behind. Arm sinks in around neck. Knee or pelvis lifts targets feet from the ground as second arm sets in. Then a fast and violent body drop by attacker. Target is out in about 3 seconds. Had it done to me. The air lift is critical. It takes away a second of possible response time while allowing a nasty body drop. It can also be done with a rear drag. There are also some front naked choke to neck brake patterns that are basically: One of these 6 breaks should work or buy time to get to a knife.”
These martial arts escapes can work so well “in the dojo” demos and training because:
it’s only learning-training.
both parties know what is going to happen.
There is no radical, chaotic motion that accompanies a real grab.
the martial chokers know how to roll, go with the flow and protect the escapees’ necks as choker is flipped.
the choker loosens-lets go of the trapped neck at a key moment to save his partner’s potential neck damage.
even in freestyle, the trained choker remembers what to do, “not to break the rules.”
when necks are legally caught tight enough, those caught know when to tap, even when standing, and they remain standing once tapped.
Rough Necks. Serious MMA and wrestler competitors’ necks can take a brutal beating. These are dedicated “pros,” are awesome athletes, and most both stretch and work on neck strengthening exercises. Neck strength is well known to be critical! Serious wrestlers have serious necks. Do you? Probably me – no, your instructors – no, your average military – no, police – no, the citizen taking self-defense courses – no. We will be in the 99.99999% percenters that are NOT thick-necked, professionals. (Still, “big” necks or not, there are plenty of “pro” neck injuries with takedowns and wrestling on the mats.)
Killing the Neck! These Military Neck Breaks. In the big picture, unarmed military combatives in general was and is rarely taught to the military. The in-the-field military is a weapons-based, explosives-based, equipment-based, teamwork-based world and very little time is spent on the one-versus one, unarmed topic in comparison to these other vital, more probable topics. This training time, prioritizing reality goes all the way back to the Samurai.
Why are the “military neck killers” somewhat ignored in the military? In a name-game twist, many militaries call anything close-up as “hand-to-hand combat” even with close-in weapons versus weapons. Still lots to do with weapons, just very close-in. Within today’s military combatives, neck breaks are still rarely taught percentage-wise. The methods exist of course if you can find them. Also, insiders know that for many recent years now, the militaries of the world have been hypnotized into a sport, martial arts priority. Plus, there is a real underlying mission-mandate for safe training (!) – not to get the troops hurt in any training, lest of all in the rare, short, combatives training courses.
Still, unless you are capturing a prisoner for interrogation, the military needs to kill the enemy as quickly as possible, and should you get a hold of his neck, you kill him there. There are many quicker ways to kill someone with neck grabs. For example, once a neck wrap or a choke is obtained, the choker can jump-drop back, forward or to the side and pretty much “kill-crack the neck” of the caught enemy. Needless to say a citizen or a cop fighting for their life would need these quicker kills too for survival. Briefly they are:
choker crushes windpipe (this will take a bit longer).
choker very suddenly, violently does situational-positional-directional snapping wrenches and yanks.
choker suddenly does situational-positional body drops.
other than in war, the choker had better be, logically, explain-ably, understandably in fear of their life to execute these moves. Or play dumb?
these can happen with stumbling mistakes in training and sports.
It would be smart for all to learn the military quicker kill ones for critical self-defense, yes. And no matter who you are, learn them also so as to avoid the possible mishaps in training. And when taught escapes and counters to this problem, you must assess these moves to see if they are indeed dangerous to your neck and your people’s necks.
These same devastating moves can happen accidentally in class, in competitions and real world fighting when you don’t seek such severe body damage and death, to your drunk friend or relative. Or, to someone you are arresting! (There are numerous accidental and incidental neck injuries and deaths in police work. You know this from the news.) Unlike in some advertised courses, not everyone you scuffle with is a Nazi commando to be executed!
Solutions to these standing choke-neck problems is a Training Mission 5, Stop 5 problem, neither of which I have filmed or written yet in book chapter form, like a chapter in a TM 5 book with 40-50 photos or more. It will be (I am only amassing TM 3, Stop 3 right now). Can’t do it all here. I got the outlines. Come to a seminar.
By the way, holding a blood choke for too long, standing or ground can be deadly. “How long can the brain survive without oxygen? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. For example, if the brain is receiving a limited supply of oxygen, it can survive longer than a brain receiving no oxygen. According to Medicine Plus a resource of the U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Brain cells are very sensitive to a lack of oxygen. Some brain cells start dying less than 5 minutes after their oxygen supply disappears. As a result, brain hypoxia can rapidly cause severe brain damage or death.”
Oh and lastly and again? Size and strength really does matter, especially when you are flippy-dippy, tossing people around. I know the esoterics like to say they don’t matter, but they matter. As with clothing, “one size does not fit all.”
All martial training can be dangerous. We persevere. I am not and you are probably not a full-time, 5 days a week, “Wonder Twin” – so take a hard look at standing choke and guillotine escapes “out there,” and in your classes. I am only suggesting that when presented with martial moves in and around the neck, see how they might be dangerous and see how many flippy, counter throws, takedowns and ground crashes could damage your neck and the necks of all those non-professional, non-super, non-wonder-twin athletes that you know, which is probably, just…about…everyone.
A Weeks Later, An Addendum: This essay is only about safety issues concerning grappling in and around the neck, and how some of the often suggested escapes might be neck-dangerous especially to the new and medium trained people. This is not about ALL “Judo”-BJJ-wrestling-grappling, not working.” This essay was dispatched a lot of places, very well-sheared, re-shared with thousands of likes. Very well-received. But a rare few hyper-sensitive, hyper-defensive people just “blew up.” Instantly they distort this safety issue and ignorantly leapt to protect their overall, “wrestling,” superiority when obviously, partially reading this essay and jumping to ignorant conclusions. I then, of course am an untrained idiot, a fake with no grappling experience.
Why do I think a bit about the neck? Some of my personal experiences, four for examples.
First: As explained in the essay, I am just not fond of Seoi Nage, the shoulder throw, the over the shoulder throw versus the standing choke. One time, experimenting in class, years ago, being 6’2” I have been grabbed by a 6’7”-er, working on this throw with a big heavy-set, guy and when I dropped a bit, butt extended back, to start this off, he repositioned and he “refused” to bend over. And the blood choke on me only increased. I essentially “hung there” in a worse choke than before. He chuckled. His size and weight and my size and weight absolutely mattered. Plus, I do have trouble with this move versus shorter people too. Height and weight-size is always an issue. (And a strong hesitation to turn my back to an opponent.)
Second: In South Korea in the 70s, I was tricked, and jumped from behind with that single arm wrap choke. He pushed the small of my back, then leapt backwards. He landed on his chest and fortunately for me, I landed on my side, NOT on my back because I am sure he would have broken my neck. We ended up in a north-south sort of position (on a frozen muddy, village road.) I escaped this by breaking his pinky, of all things, which he let go right away at the snap. I later knew this was a trained move, I’d seen it before somewhere and later found it in a 60s, 70s military combatives manual, back then called the “Ranger Takedown.” It is a neck-breaker. A killer! I was very lucky. My left side was severely bruised and sore from that frozen ground landing the next day. Oh, and my neck really hurt. I am not suggesting that all muggers know the Ranger Takedown, but I started thinking that chaotic moves and drops could hurt the neck. Drops like this (or accidental falls) could be dangerous to the neck.
Third: Teaching many years ago in Delaware, I was showing a frontal takedown, a pull-down. A classic. You kick and-or strike the guy to bend over, then grab his neck in a Thai-style forearm-like, clinch. Then yank him face down while stepping back. Since I had spent time with a Chin Na Chinese guy, one thing he showed us was a wavering, side-to-side, of locks and cranks, which really enhanced a bunch of them. In this pull-down, if you yank-jerk the head side-to-side in the takedown, it really accentuates the pull-down. I showed this application, THEN I warned everyone not to do this! For not even half-real, because of the neck damage. If so, try it once in very slow-motion. Well, two guys walked off to their corner, and did it too hard and too fast. The uke guy dropped to the floor, and…knocked out, had some sort of a spasm-seizure fit. Luckily, there was an EMT there training with us, and he took over. It looked really bad. The guy recovered but nis neck was killing him. He was done for the day, sat on the floor pale-faced and watched. He was a no-show on Sunday.
Fourth: In 26 years of police work, I have only choked out, oh maybe…9 or 11 people. Not many at all. The blood choke. Some of them were on the ground – as on floors (well, one was atop a couch and a coffee table, we were flat but not on the official ground-ground) and some standing. People snake around when neck-grabbed and the blood choke intent can become the wind-pipe choke by accident and they are the subject of many injuries and even death law suits. So much so, many (if not most) police agencies have disallowed ANY such neck contact, blood choke or otherwise. Holding these blood chokes for too long is also dangerous. A lot of this info is above, in the essay.
Fifth. Of note, a long-term neck injury. A well-known, international martial instructor (to name one) is getting a stint in his windpipe, having had it partially crushed and crushed too much in all kinds of training for many a year.
Anyway, my only point is – there are safety issues with neck grappling. In a world of early-phase, mid-phase and late phase, counters-escapes, there is little chance of late phase, choke escapes. Plus, research shows plenty of neck injuries exist. This is why I think about the neck and martial arts training.
The Fallen Drill, Live Fire and Sims Fire, Standing, Falling and Fallen Target Practice
He moved! A universal problem in many martial arts, mixed weapon fighting, combatives and survival firearms training is that people move. When people are struck, kicked, stabbed, slashed, shot, etc., they…move. They move from your set-up for the first strike, – yes, just the perception of your first attack be it facial expression, words, stance, chambering, drawing a knife, stick or gun, may cause them to move on cue just before you strike. Or they move after the first hit, the second strike or the third…
In many systems you’ve been trained for a set of attacks or shots. Sets of two? Sets of three? Stop and reload? These reactive movements on his part are often ignored or forgotten in training drills. Still we hit, stab or shoot the mitts, or a heavy bag, or a paper target in sets. In many of these sets the body targets are vague and not well defined.
These routines are organized by you, or by an instructor of a system. How smart are you? Are they? Is it? What is your-their “martial IQ? Do you or they ever calculate logical probable. post hit movements?
The faster you attack, the better chance the second strike-shot on the target might be where you planned it, such as maybe with a super quick, two-punch combination to the nose-face? Or say, two or three very quick trigger pulls on a gun? Yes maybe, and no maybe.
But as an instructor we must warn our practitioners about these reflexive-reaction, spoiler-movements, and advise them that many of the elaborate focus mitt drills, martial art combinations and shooting drills might be SNAFU-ED when the enemy naturally, reflexively, responsively moves. Warned that their first or next designed target spot may well move and you might have to chase it a bit. Or, ignore it and adlib something else.
I constantly see long, complicated focus mitt drills that have zero relation to realistic body reactions of those hit. These long drills become like demonstration dances to impress onlookers and make one sweat for a workout. I am not saying they are all worthless, no, just that they could be planned smarter. They could be composed to guess where the opponent might be after step 1 actually landed. Where then should step 2 logically be? In the unarmed world, good sparring gets this chaotic introduction done. You learn to chase targets. Adlib to take what you see, get..
I have been in numerous martial arts where we memorized 3, 4, 5 or more moves on an attacker who is just standing still like a statue after his own first punch at you. You block and respond, beating the statue-man to death in many moves. But the opponent is not reacting to the 1st, 2nd or 3rd strike or kick, the training partner-uke remains upright and still, until the scenario calls for his takedown. You then takedown, trip or throw the statue enemy. In this regard, it was an old school concept that the takedown you chose, is the one that best facilitates the direction he is already falling in after you’ve cracked him some great strikes. You don’t or shouldn’t change or stop his falling direction. You…facilitate his falling direction. So in this old-school rule of AIki-Jitsu and old Jujitsu, they recognized the opponent was…moving after being struck.)
I was always flabbergasted at various knife systems through the decades that memorized numerous elaborate 3, 4 or more body template, patterns of stabs and cuts. “Stab the heart, then deep cut down to the kidney, then stab…” First off, dear detached-from-reality person, the body has bones in it and second, the enemy…has probably…MOVED after your very first stab! His kidney is no longer where it was in your splendid, one-dimensional, flat, frontal template. Your 3-4 step templates are basically, misleading, distracting…BS.
The enemy movements will be…
frozen for a second?
arms up in your attack path,
stepping forward, sides or back away,
leaning, (slipping, dodging)
Frozen? Yes, he might be frozen in place, especially if your first attack alone isn’t strong enough to move him. We all know about the “flight, freeze, fight” studies, so to be thorough we must list it. But he probably will move.
In short, you probably have to chase the targets. The solution is to construct training responses that try to predict with some certainty where said enemy will move in response. To counter these practical problem in doctrine, an instructor with sufficient “martial IQ” must prep the students with these realities. This does sort of ruin and-or, de-emphasize the whole list of required, memorized 4-5 step statue fighting some martial arts demand. The instructor should warn – “After this strike, it is possible, probable that said person might not be where you expect them. His jaw is not there anymore. His liver is not there like in the set…he moved.”
Guns! Wrong End of the Barrel. I hope by now I have established the idea that people will move and may not be were you expected them to be from training drills? Since I teach hand, stick, knife and sims ammo GUN, I have to ponder this problem in the pistol and long gun world, which is what I really want to dissect-remind here.
The Gun Blast! Yes it is true, some people. somewhere. sometime will absorb some fast small caliber shots and keep approaching or freeze? Will they? And for how long to overcome the elements of just the gun blast alone? I mean, just stand beside someone shooting a firearm on the range without hearing protection. Take note of the force and sound expelled. Now imagine that aimed at you. I would like to mention that the sheer sound and blast of a gun would-could cause people to…MOVE, cringe, startle, curl, bend, jolt, shut eyes, dive, fall…
Will Bullets Move People? A number of gun folks like to discuss and argue about the force of a landed bullet. Science tells us it must land with about the same force as the recoil in your hand. Yet bullets landing on certain anatomical parts into certain positions seem to make people move more than recoil, and flesh and bone destruction can make them fall, least of all from multiple, successful bullet impacts. These reactions may ruin your second or third shot plan. Shot folks, or shot-at folks will also and quite probably move. These movements differ from the standard flat, full-frontal target picture you have been practicing your marksmanship on.
Handgun (and rifle) Combatives. I believe that people are not fully, really learning firearm combatives unless moving, thinking people are shooting back at them, or at very least threatening them close up in a deadly force situation like with a knife or tire iron. This experience absolutely requires interactive, safe, simulated ammo training.
Some old gun hands have called the shooting range a “one-way street,” and you need a “two-way street experience” to maximize your combative skills. It is somewhat horrifying to learn how easily you can be shot, even with the best one-way street instruction. I mentioned earlier “Good sparring gets this introduction done.” Interactive simulated ammo scenario exercises get this two-way street done too.
“It is somewhat horrifying to learn how easily you can be shot…”
Since I almost never teach live fire marksmanship and leave that to the patient experts, I concentrate on simulated interactive shooting. In a perfect world seminar, I always prefer to partner up with live fire experts whenever possible and ask them to do a live fire version of what I will teach later with simulated ammo, but I have a few live fire drills for a predicted response to shooting an enemy that moves and-or falls. Here’s one – thus the “Fallen Drill.”
The overall premise is, you shoot the armed bad guy and he begins to fall. He’s still armed. Still looking at you. You shoot him on the fall, and you shoot him when he’s grounded, should he seem cogent. The live fire version featured in the top photo above requires a little rigging of targets and the target stands.
By the time they get to my turn, practitioners have already done their important marksmanship training, and now we are shooting real people with the sims guns. We are shooting real people and the “scoring” is “miss or kill,” you might say.
Bullseyes or human figures? Since some instructors do obsess about scoring, scoring, scoring any and everything, we have the mode on the left. Note these have no weapons. Me no “likey.” I prefer folks shoot at armed human, photo, figures. And these bullseye targets are full, frontal flat and I am uncomfortable with that too.
For combatives, photos of real people, (not drawings) angled and holding weapons on the targets, is “reducing the abstract.”
I and a few others have written through the years about the sheer stupidity of forcing police and military shooting training to shoot unarmed, non-human shaped targets, to be politically correct. This is counter-productive and ignorant. This is a giant step backward in combat shooting. The training rule of “reduce the abstract” applies. While typically round, and-or non-human shaped targets are used for pure marksmanship development and competitions, when you get into the combatives training, human-shaped figures (photo pictures of real people are better than drawings). It is also not good to shoot at targets like this photo below, that are unarmed and threat-less.
We should not be practicing to shoot unarmed people! (About 99.9% of the time, as it is situational. And next we should not be shooting at unarmed people targets. It’s not good training for the brain and reflexes. Firearm combatives training targets should always include a weapon to prep-instill the instantaneous, mental recognition, justification for lethal force. It’s bad enough we spend so, so much time shooting at bland, non-human-form bullseyes and various odd shapes. When doing combat shooting training, at very least “arm” the realistic target!
Anyway, I invented this “Fallen” live fire and simulated fire exercise in isolation. You and others may have something like it already too, as most inventions are made in isolation. If so? Good for you. Now let’s pass it on…
Oh and remember, he moves, but so do you! Which is a whole other subject essay.
Who, what, where, when, how and why? The BIG “W’s and H” questions that one answers in a fight (and life).
“Where?” There are so many “where” questions to answer. One is knowing where your body parts are when you are not looking at them or can’t see them. Oh, I know the word is more technical and diverse than that, and normal people deal with the subject to improve normal activity, rehab injuries and surgeries and fight back age. But we? Oh we…we here, worry about…fighting. Where are your body parts when you are not looking at them in a fight? Especially a ground fight? Horizontal, not vertical?
“Proprioception is an important sensory function for all normal movement activities, including the ability to maintain dynamic balance and move accurately. All exercises elicit proprioceptive responses to some extent.”
The subject is teaching ground-fighting and one of the challenges for practitioners and teachers is not-knowing, not-seeing their body parts in a “horizontal world,” and of course moving in “flat” unfamiliar movements.
I often have to tell grounded practitioners to “FREEZE! Freeze right there!” I step in and grab their legs, knees, feet, whatever into the advantageous position. Lest of all have them freeze and say “take this elbow and strike this face right here,” because they are: a) brainwashed wrestlers, or b) new to the horizontal world, and cannot make the proprioception connection. Out of sight, out of mind.
Ground fighting to a combatives person is, (or certainly should be):
Knee-high versus standing.
Knee-high versus knee-high.
Knee-high topside versus those below.
On right side versus all…
On left side versus all…
On back versus topside.
On back versus kneeling.
On back versus standing.
(I include “seated” in this grouping.)
All strikes and kicks included.
Use of force laws & military rules of engagement, if any?
Hand, stick, knife, gun (pistol and long gun).
The vital W’s and H questions.
This is the 6th Stop, the Stop 6 of the Stop 6 “The Ground Fighting Collision,” my outline list.
Horizontal time in grade, reps, experience, coaching, all contribute to proprioception exercise. While wrestlers (including BJJ-ers) are developing or have developed this ground-fight awareness, combatives people and “stand-up-only-arts” who only dabble in ground fighting don’t, won’t, and haven’t achieved similar awareness. Modern MMA people work on it, (but without weapons and cheating). You can see the importance of organized doctrine timetables.
Another term for this, a bit more heard of, but not by much, is “Kinesthetic Perception.” I would suggest searching on the word to get the fullest understanding of it. Here’s one link, but continue the hunt.
If you are a FMA “stick versus-stick-fighter,” I think, about…ohhh…80%…85% (?) of the stick material typical taught, thee so-called by many – “fancy stuff,” fancy follow-up stuff is meant for the seconds AFTER your opponent is busted in the head (no soft sticks and-or no helmets) or busted somewhere painfully vital, that will diminish his speed and brains. The head shot (or any real diminishing blow) is the missing link between sparring and the follow-ups.
Do you know this, realize this, can you articulate this as doctrine to the shallow naysayers who belittle follow-ups? I think this “diminished fighter” message should be one of an FMA system’s “Ten Commandments.”
Lots of folks prioritize sparring as the initial, most important encounter (I think it is very important) but then many belittle a lot closer quarter stick moves (the 80%) like disarming, stick grabs, trapping, grappling, etc. as impossible because “oh, you can’t do that when actually stick sparring.”
Some follow-up material examples:
Checking the guy’s other hand, or maybe-
Catching his stick, or maybe-
Disarming with any of the 5 big disarms, or maybe-
Going 2, 3 deep to finishing blows or kicks, or maybe-
Any takedowns-throws, or maybe-
A standing to ground capture or finish, or maybe-
A stunning blow or two sets up everything in the martial world, why not here too? A good stunning, crack on the bare head changes everything, opens up the follow-up world. Stick sparring with protective safety gear does protect against a real, full diminishment. A head shot from a soft stick to a helmet or say – to a hockey-gloved hand is not a real-deal, it’s a practice deal (unless you are playing for points?). And such protected play probably won’t replicate the damage you really need to move in and do the 80% stuff. Folks want to believe that stick sparring is the “realest of deal-ests,” but it fails here at the missing link point. This “diminished fighter” concept must be recognized in FMA stick doctrine so that you can indeed do some of the 80% material against a wounded opponent. Wound him enough you might even tie his shoe laces together.
Some of our great, super-athletic, gifted, obsessed FMA-ers can go deep at “Superman speed” and execute some of that 80% collection without a head shot (of course this depends on the skill of the opponent, a rookie might be easily invaded). But fighting the diminished fighter is an important step to winning-surviving. I am not so gifted, not Superman and probably most of you aren’t either so we would need to (theoretically-simulate) bust some heads to move in and trap, catch, disarm, stick-grapple, etc.
FANNNNN-CY!This missing link which usually allows for a range change and finishes is just common sense but I am not sure all FMA-ers, new or old, know, teach, and proudly pontificate on this commandment. We cannot really hurt our friends in training. We SIMULATE the head shot (or whatever serious blow)! We segment the training. We don’t emphasize or fully recognize enough the missing link between segments that makes the second segment…work.
(Yes, that is tissue in my ears in this photo above. Sometimes I get stuck teaching without hearing protection in a room full of banging sticks. Decades of this banging contributes to a hearing loss, which I have. Warning! Hey, keep score of your ears.)
It’s always fun and exercise to mix and match martial arts. I did it for years too. Rather…mindlessly too. I knew it had abstract benefits for reality, and frankly, mix and match was good for my school business and student retention (1989 to 1997). And we all know doing just about any martial arts is certainly better than sitting on the couch. But I still only “kept” what I could to glean in the “what works” essence for police work. Fifty years later, this filtering is still an investigation I am addicted too. I still find little and big things to alter and totally remove.
But some things I knew right away, decades ago were “street-wrong.” Like a few “boxing glove cancers” for one of the categories of no-no’s. Those big gloves change things. This photo above, below and those like them, just drive…me…crazy when I see them. This one above is obviously a police training session. Could be a rookie academy or an in-service class. They are mindlessly replicating a sport, face-cover from boxing as a routine stance. Police, military, combatives and self-defense people should not be exactly, mindlessly emulating boxing, (wrestling too), sports or arts as a doctrine principle for crime and war, survival fighting. Each martial, application-blend needs to be investigated.
This “PAB” – Peek a Boo does not protect your face without big gloves! In crime and war survival, not this peek a boo. It’s a boo-boo. Don’t believe little ol’ me? Then to support my observation of common sense I will use two recognized authorities on two points, 1) no protection, and 2) distancing.
Foremost, the great champ. Bass Rutten, – who is in a world of small MMA gloves not boxing gloves – described this peek a boo “stance” and face cover as, “It’s a ‘meat block.’ I will punch and kick right through that.” Okay. Well, that about sums that up!
Secondly, JKD great Larry Hartsell agreed, as I heard him say in seminars. He said it was a big, boxing glove position. Hartsell, a former state trooper and Vietnam combat vet, also advised that, arts aside, from a JKD “street fight,” perspective, keeping your hands up and right on your face as a standard, also allows the opponent to get closer into you, even closer than when hands up and out, further shaving off your reaction time. “Make him EARN that space, fight for that space,” he said. This was a great quote that really stuck with me. Of course, Hartsell was also paid to teach the art-sport of boxing, kickboxing and Thai – all wearing big gloves. Hartsell taught those sports-arts and you will see photos of him in that formal process, too. He knew what went where.
Arms and hands can move very fast, and people might overcome a myriad of strategy mistakes with sheer speed. But, fast hands are not an excuse to teach thoughtless, off-mission, doctrine.
Many reality systems, retreat to a doomsday position and protect their heads with forearms WHEN NEEDED. It is NOT their full-time, formal fighting stance. They retreat momentarily into it.
(A quick, protective forearm beside your head when needed is NOT a “turban block wrap.” Don’t get me started on these mandatory, “turban-arm-wrapping-head” systems. Another topic for another time.)
Allow me to go one step deeper here in this subject. Are fooled by PAB? And do you think it’s dominant in MMA and Bare Knuckle Boxing (BN). By being fooled, I mean, if you train in a sporty-art system that emphasizes the “peek a boo,” and you see an opponent, a criminal or whatever take up this or any tight face cover pose in front of you, you might be brainwashed into thinking, “Oh darn! That guy is ‘covered,’ I can’t punch him,” from much big glove training. Actually though, he is not safe. Punch those hands right on or around his face as though his hands are not there (yes, yes, palm strikes and hammer fist too. Yes.). Be like Bass!
PAB is Dominant In….? Once in a while I see a slippery, anomaly comment that PAB is dominant in MMA and BN. Huh? PAB is big glove boxing, method-idea. Just because MMA and BN fighters have head movement, footwork and high hands does not define them as PAB, And I don’t think that with small MMA gloves positioned right-on-face, PAB is a big consistent and dominant in MMA. Plus in MMA many worry about kicks and takedowns, low stuff, and dismiss PAB as an important MMA strategy. Curiously, one of the biggest, related questions searched on the internet is “Why don’t more fighters use the peek-a-boo style in MMA?”Suggesting that it is not a dominant strategy among the interested masses “out there.” Pro-side, PAB-ers usually lose the follow-up, discussion.
So what about bare knuckle boxing? I have seen the PAB term mentioned once in a while by some, claiming that such-and-such BN-er is a “PAB-er.” As with MMA, when you look at their films, no, their hands are just…high up, sometimes one in, one out, both sometimes out, sometimes open and “cupping” the outsides of their face, NOT routinely plastered on their teeth as a foundation. In MMA and BN, all use head movement and footwork, also ramparts of PAB. Hands in fights need to, should move in and out, up and down. And, hands in motion are tools of deception.
In summary. Which leads me to the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions and doctrines. Are you teaching-doing sports or reality? As I said, it’s always great fun and exercise to mix and match martial arts. But beyond fun and exercise…what is your real mission? Are you making the mistake of mindlessly mixing sport-art things up with survival? What are you trying to do?
Boxing-boxing is just terrific. Jab, cross, hook, uppercut, overhand. Terrific. But are you, missing the “big glove point,” over-using boxing? Are you as an instructor, practitioner of police, military, combatives and self defense systems…are you creating and-or enforcing the best doctrine for your mission? I just groan EVERY time I see this bare knuckle version of the gloved PAB stance. It actually hurts my soul! I groan. Bass Rutten, just…just smiles. For him? It’s…lunch.
Fitness and Fighting and Fitness in Fighting Seminars
Fitness is always important and I use the phrase “Gas and Dynamite.” “Gas” for endurance, fighting for a longer lengths of time, and “dynamite,” how much explosive power do you have? Add too much adrenaline in the mix and that messes things up too. Lord knows the subjects are important. Sheer strength is important too, huh?
Percentage-Fighting – Percentage-Exercising? There are numerous martial classes and seminars “out there,” that spend various, sometimes copious amounts of class times just doing common exercises. I noted for one example, that the late 1990s rise of Krav Maga sure had a lot of physical fitness packed inside each class. In those Billy Blanks days, million-dollar, fitness-with-martial-arts videos were very popular and rapidly emulated by wanna-bes. Krav is so utterly diverse now, and nowadays from so many sources unknown, I don’t know what the many, many brands of Krav are doing in this percentage regard.
Remember Tae Bo? But even during the “I want to be the next Billy Blanks days,” so many tried for, I had a rule back when I ran regular weekly school classes (1989 to 1997) that people should try to show up for class in some shape. My mission statement was:
I’m not here for you to lose weight.
I’m not here for you to become fit.
We will be covering fight material.
You may inadvertently get better fit or might lose weight.
We had fight stuff to do. That meant most basic “gas and dynamite” fitness workouts should be done on their own, off-class time. Give them a gas and dynamite, work-out list. Send them to the internet now. I was not going to run a fitness class along with, within a fighting class. You were not paying me to count reps and me watch you do an assortment of fitness exercises. Our fight time was mission-oriented, precious. Where did I get this idea?
In the 1980s I attended the week-long, FBI Defensive Tactics school for policing. In short, about half of each day was stretching and doing fitness exercises. The tactics material? Minimal time. I was a young, work-out nut back then and I thought, “half of this was a waste of time.” Many of the other officers were in pretty good shape too, and already doing martial arts on the side. I decided that the fitness portion was just…”percentage fitness,” off-mission. This experience made me think about the percentage times. I have no idea what what the FBI is doing now or if they even still ramrod such courses for city, county, state police.
(By the way, I also attended a similar Secret Service program that bypassed all the fitness stuff. Their core system at the time was getting to the deep sides of, and-or behind the suspect. This was in the late 1980s and frankly folks, this looked a whole lot like what the “new kids” grappling proponents are doing today, the arm push, the arm drag or slip-unders, etc. to get to the rear, lest we think this positioning idea is such newborn genius. But I digress. More on that course in another essay.)
Too Much Strain? Through the years, with an eye and ear on police fitness and training, there were-are occasional, regular, exercise-related training deaths. Like SWAT school guys, forced to run excessively in a course, keeling over and dying, for example. Most SWAT guys are just patrol folks rarely called out and not like full-time, big city “SWATTERs” training like pro-football players every day. We’ve seen reports of out of shape, cops dropping dead in tactical classes or on the range. Some in shape, dropping too! Course operators, police or otherwise, must learn that you cannot overload attendees with their personal, lofty ideas of Delta-Force, SEAL fitness that show up for a few days or week-long course! Dear folks, do arrive in as best shape as possible!
When does a quick, 5% class warm-up become a 30% or 40% or more “Cross-Fit” workout? Martial classes are already “sweaty.” There is already a certain work-out, fitness element to doing fight material in a weekly class or seminar. Depending on the subject matter, they can be tough. It is functional and directly related to the physical movements, thus the term “functional.”
Pushing a wheel barrow with rocks in not mission-related, functional. I am acutely aware of a somewhat famous instructor who has seminar attendees spend a disproportionate amount of time pushing wheel barrows full of rocks up and down hills and other similarly torturous endeavors. The actual fight workout time was therefore shortened to less than half a day! And to make matters worse, he offers the same material up year after year after year. I am aware of attendees who won’t go back. Now without a doubt, the wheel barrow trudge is a helleva workout, like pulling or pushing cars, but what if a rookie, middle-aged person shows up, is shoved in front of wheel borrow of rocks and dispatched to the hill for 10 journeys up and down and…has a heart attack? Or dies? This is not like a ten-week, military course or lengthy academy where one builds up to a performance. This is a 2-3-4 day weekend!
I just run seminars now, no weekly classes since 1997, and I will not conduct pure exercise sessions within, because of the aforementioned experiences and problems, precious training time and potential low fitness levels of some attendees. My age range of attendees might be vast sometimes, 17 to…78! In an opening speech, I encourage attendees to “not-do,” and “sit-out,” when they see something they shouldn’t try. But…so…ask yourself, when does a quick, 5% class warm-up become a 30%, 40% or 50% Cross-Fit workout? Does your new customer know this when they get your first sales pitch?
If you sell your classes as part fitness and your customers know they will be extensively running laps, doing push-ups and so forth within, to get fit and in shape as a mission, then the instructors are on-mission with their sales pitch. Bravo. But you still must worry about the students…passing out or…or dropping dead! Some coaches advertise-offer a customized hybrid of fitness, nutrition and some MA for activity. For example how many people are so-called “boxing” as in hitting bags and mitts for weight-loss and fitness and will never, ever actually box another person!
Gas and dynamite. Gas up and keep the powder and fuses handy and dry. Endurance and explosiveness. I think fitness exercise basics should mostly be done elsewhere. Fight class time? Seminar class time? We have fighting to do. I only bring up this topic here, so that I might get you think about it. Who, what, where, when, how and why? The mission statement. The percentages of what equals what?