For starters, I am not a knife or gun collector, no more than I would collect hammers, screwdrivers or wrenches. I just don’t care. You get the message. The “tool” message. I guess it comes from my Army and policing time and experiences. I am interested in efficiency. Don’t misunderstand me, I like looking at cool knives and guns, I admire them, I just don’t want them or need them. If you do and you have the money and time for such a hobby, then if you are happy I am happy. The only time that my eyebrows raise is when the lines between pretty and necessary-survival are blurred (and maybe bloody). One problem often blurry is the texture of grips and handles.
Speaking of bloody, Johnny Cash once wrote about the “kicking and the gouging and the mud and blood and the beer.” There’s also guts, water, oils, sweat, bad gloves and other substances that can make life very slippery and your hands and tools very slippery. Legend has it that the Gurkhas would dip their kukris in motor oil and then train with slimy grips. And what if your hands are injured and-or are freezing? I always shake my head when I see slick, metal knife handles and gun handles.
It’s bad enough when people have stupid hand-finger positioning on grips.
A considerable amount of time, money and research has gone into making working tools like hammers, saws, screw drivers etc., very grip-able. Still you will find slick-handled hammers and tools too! But like wise tool-makers, many wise gun and knife makers and sellers have also labored to make your weapons stay put in your hands with textured grips! People like to suggest that textured gloves solve some of these problem, but will you ALWAYS be wearing gloves? 24-7?
I am not endorsing anyone or anything here. I am just making a suggestion, forego pretty and slick, and get the most textured grips on your firearms, knives and sticks-batons. In my Force Necessary: Stick course Level 1, Force Necessary: Knife course Level 1, Force Necessary: Gun course Level 1, I emphasize the vital importance of grip-handle textures.
It seems we human through the ages, always knew we need to keep training to keep sharp, and if you keep that single motto alone, probably all your performance bases are covered. I mean to remind that even cave men practiced their spear throwing, they had to, and then we moved on. Life has gotten way more complicated than tossing pointy sticks and just about every job, chore, hobby and skill has multiple layers of mental and physical performance that are stabilized, honed or slowly disintegrate. The concept of “perishable skills” has evolved into our vocabulary after we stopped just cave man grunting.
The first time I heard about “perishable skills” was in police training a very long time ago. But we all heard the phrase “use it or lose it” and versions of advice thereof for decades. Older-timers heard of it for centuries. The term “perishable skills” is another fancy way of saying use it or lose it.
In policing, topics like driving, handcuffing, verbal skills, firearms, strategic communications and less than lethal are skills have been deemed perishable, that LEO’s must stay “up” and current on. But there’s never enough money or manpower to enforce rigorous training cycles. In the worlds of combatives, martial arts and combat sports, we center in on hand, stick, knife and gun methods.
How long before perishable perishes? In hot pursuit of training ideology, various US state police and military, even in the business-world, training criteria has segmented the disintegration times into three categories:
perishable skills (half-life of less than two and a half years),
semi-durable skills (half-life of two and a half to seven and a half years), and…
durable skills (half-life of more than seven and a half years).
How were these timetables developed? By whom? For whom? But, organizations have to start somewhere and justify their timetables. We were once inundated with the “10,000 hour to expertise” training-experience rule and this idea was most recently promulgated by Gladwell’s “Outliers” book, but then we quickly learned from about a ton of experts that everyone is different and “hours-to-expertise” differ greatly, person-to-person. Just look this subject up on the web. (And quit quoting the 10,000 hours rule, people!) I too would like to suggest that such time limits are arbitrary and discretionary because all people are different. This established, we might therefore, logically think that “hours-to-perish” is also different too for different people. Everybody is different on both the up and down sides.
At or near the end? There has been considerable study in these performance matters and the topic of tennis is often used in sports performance testing and analysis. So, I will use a quick tennis analogy. Imagine a lifelong super tennis champion, like Serena Williams or Federa. They age, they just lose a step, even though they are constantly working out and playing. Eventually they must retire as fresh kids rise up. They retire to a tennis club and become resident tennis pros. There they teach tennis and so forth. It is hard for me to imagine that a 60, even 70 year old Serena or Federer would not still beat almost ALL “normal” tennis people in the neighborhood, country club. I think this because they have indeed accumulated so much time in the enterprise that even Serena and Federer, at their near-worst, are still above-average, darn good tennis players. Aspects have perished, but since they were once so high up, that even with significant perishing, they might still pretty darn good for a long time.
I could go off on an in-depth tangent, deep-dive on this topic and I have in various books, essays and articles, but in summary, it’s simple, I (and we-many) think that perishable skill timetables are highly situational in topic and person. The subjects of multi-layer teaching (in what I nicknamed “triple canopy” teaching – (1) books, (2) films and (3) classes/seminars) and the tricks of retention are related to perishability and are other subjects for other pinpoint essays elsewhere.)
Ol’ René Descartes started that little ditty, “Cogito, ergo sum,” Latin for – “I think, therefore I am.”And we are human and therefore will stop thinking someday. Perish the thought! We’ll slow down and stop…playing. So, “I perish, therefore perishability is inevitable.”
But while we are still alive, kicking and unperished, we can use that caveman idea that we humans need to keep tossing spears, keep training to keep sharp and this simple caveman idea instantly covers all your bases. It’s always nice when extensive research still matches with, and backs up, your definition of common sense.
You still might end up a pretty good ol’ pro at the old Caveman, Spear Pro Shop and Country Club.
This “Mudda” title use to be a 1940s, 50s and 60s insult, bringing sons into fisticuffs over their beloved mother’s reputation. To this day, I still don’t get the insult. And today, many mothers wear combat boots, proudly. Their offspring share the pride. And, fashionistas do too!
I mention this pedal region insult because I was recently treated to yet another youtube street fighting video and watched two people spontaneously erupt into a sloppy fight. Both were wearing the proverbial flip-flops, slipping and sliding in them, and half-losing them. As usual the participants were stumbling and falling, from a host of reasons, but insecure, half-assed footwear contributed.
Got me to pondering about shoes. Shoes, boots, flip flops, sandals…fights, chases, climbs, leaps, escapes…a lifetime of footwear concerns as they relate to survival, fighting, sports and enforcement, military performance.
In the “Who, What, Where, When, How and Why” of life, the “What Question” covers the “what are you wearing? And shoes are part of that “what-closet” as are a few sub-questions like “when do you wear…?” “Why do you wear…?”
The guys and gals we see in these fight videos slipped on fast and easy footwear that day. Why not wear these light beach thongs today? Even the toughest-prepared-tough-guy might think that. They might have said…
“I’m just getting a bagel!”
I am sure that in the many fights captured by cell phones, the participants who slipped on lame footwear didn’t think they would be dancing around in their thongs or sandals that afternoon at the grocery store or on a parking lot. And, I am also pretty sure that some of these hardcore store-runners, chore-runners and egg sandwich seekers that slip on flip flops are also wearing a gun. Maybe even more? Knives? A flashlight? Spray? All that, but on go the flip flops. Those are bad treads on your tank in a fight. Aren’t they? Mr. Survivalist?
Regardless of being in a fight, skimpy sandals and thong, flip flops are risky. For example, the “British NHS spends £40million a year treating injuries caused by wearing the casual footwear. More than 200,000 people visit their GP or even end up in hospital every year after suffering falls or developing long-term problems. But experts are warning of the dangers of prolonged use, such as the risk of shin splints and joint pains. They say flip-flops force people to change the way they walk so that when taking a stride they put pressure on the outside of their foot, rather than their heel, causing long-term damage. And there is also the risk of serious injury from tripping over. Frequent complaints include twisted ankles, but some have broken their arms or wrists after falling because their flip-flops caught on uneven ground.” Read the full report here
Even the somewhat popular “Combat Flip Flops” made by vets, have the tagline, ”Bad for running, worse for fighting.”
Common commercial sandals have a few more straps than these thongers, not as many as say – the original Roman Centurion sandals of yesteryear. In pondering “sandal combatives,” I am reminded of the Vietnam era, “Ho Che Minh Flop-Flops,” footwear worn by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War and a nickname probably unknown or forgotten by the great unwashed today, but if you were in service during those times, you remember the moniker.
Professor Google reports – “These sandals set belonged to a member of the Viet Cong and was brought back to the United States by an American veteran as a trophy of war. Ho Chi Minh sandals are iconic for having been worn by the Vietcong during the Vietnam war.
These Viet Cong characters did a pretty god job messing with us in these cheap sandals, but tunnels, improvised bombs and guerilla warfare helped them out. The North Vietnamese Army wore shoes, but some are photographed in sandals too.”
Flip flops abounded in the era though. There was a terrible problem of “trench foot,” later called “foot jungle rot” to be sorted out back then with some powders, and sunshine with flip-flops. This was a diagnosis given those poor bastards, the “booney rats,” cast out in the jungles for days, weeks at a time.
There were of course “jungle boots.” Again Professor Google advises – “The use of ‘jungle’ or ‘hot weather’ boots predates World War II, when small units of U.S. soldiers in Panama were issued rubber-soled, canvas-upper boots for testing. A pair of jungle boots weighed approximately three pounds. Adopted in 1942, the design of the jungle boot was based on the idea that no boot could possibly keep out water and still provide sufficient ventilation to the feet in a jungle or swamp environment. Instead, the jungle boot was designed to permit water and perspiration to drain, drying the feet while preventing the entry of insects, mud, or sand.”
“In the early years of the Vietnam War, some U.S. Army soldiers used the ‘M-1945 Tropical Combat Boot’. 1965, newly-developed footwear was developed using developments since the end of World War. Although the weight increased, after American foot injuries from punji stake traps, their jungle boots used a stainless steel plate inside the boot’s sole to protect the wearer. Later jungle boots used nylon/canvas uppers instead of cotton duck. The footwear received other improvements.”
Troops of the Vietnam era (and now) also acquired some of these primitive thongy, flip-flops to wear to, fro and in the showers because the floors could be considered petri dishes. “Ho Che Minh Flip-Flops” soon became the nickname for all flip-flops and “casual wear sandals.” This flip flop style of footwear reportedly originating as early as the ancient Egyptians in 1,500 B.C, but here in the US of A, footwear manufacturers claim the flip-flop descends from the Japanese zōri, which became popular after World War II era as soldiers brought them back from Japan. But anyway, sandals, flip flops and sunshine were a big prescription for such foot problems. Given all the booby traps and nasties in the jungle, given a chance to wear foot protection, I think most would pick the foot protection over flip-flops when tip-toeing or scrambling “out there.”
In my days, the early and mid-1970s, in Army basic training and the military police academy back then we did everything in combat boots. Shiny ones. 10-mile, forced marches with full gear, obstacle courses, you name it. Boots. But we were taught some foot and shin care (shin splints being the next higher-up, problem) and we had plenty of Uncle Sam socks to change into daily if the Drill Sergeants didn’t hide them while we were gone. We ran our final physical exam 2 milers, in combat boots.
When I was a patrolman and investigator in the Army and even in Korea, I was never far from civilization and a drawer full of socks. But we were in boots (except of course my plain clothes investigation days) Day and night. Boots. We ran, we chased bad guys, climbed, we leaped over buildings…ah, no fences actually… in a single bound! We battled criminal soldiers and I always thought, wouldn’t life be lighter, faster, better in athletic shoes?
Enter my follow-up years in Texas police work. On patrol we could wear black cowboy boots or black, no design, lace, shoes in the late 70s. It was Texas and there was the insinuation that we should wear cowboy boots, but I immediately found the lightest pair of black plain shoes I could find. At K-Mart! Whereupon I continued the fine police tradition of running, chasing, leaping over stuff, climbing stuff and wraslin’ and dukin’ it out with bad guys in lighter “rubber’ shoes. Life was better, faster, smarter.
We need athletic shoes I yelled! Some of my Texican colleagues disputed my views, claiming:
“A pair of Tony Lama boots are just as good as athletic shoes!”
To wit I would reply, “Then why are they not wearing boots in the Olympics?
There was no good, further to-witting from the boot supporters.
Darwin would be proud. Years passed and a new series of lighter, athletic high ankle or short ankle police shoes came around. Black shoes of all sorts became “legal” to wear. Sneakers became standard-issue for the military after Congress passed a 2017 defense provision requiring the military to provide American-made, athletic shoes to recruits directly. Troops were supplied with running shoes. Boot “technology” improved also. Darwin would indeed be proud.
Martial artists are usually barefoot. The usual three reasons given are to “toughen the feet,” and “tradition” and really, mainly – “to save the expensive mats.” If I am forced to go shoeless when teaching in a matted school, I will at least wear socks. First off, no one wants to see my Dumb and Dumber feet. I don’t want to see yours. Secondly, statistically I will be fighting with my shoes on. “Wear what you will be wearing when training!”
Did you know, that “deep-in-the-weeds survivalists” suggest you should always wear the best athletic shoes when taking a plane trip. These experts say that should you survive a plane crash you need the best, solid, tight footwear to escape the split, burning hulk.
Weyland Billingsley checks in with more – “When I teach disaster classes for the Red Cross, I always tell people to wear real shoes. If you are going to a “safe room” for a tornado or hurricane, wear sturdy shoes, jeans and a long sleeved shirt. Otherwise you will be picking your way through a debris field in flip flops and shorts. (Others advise strapping on your bicycle helmet.)
I am not here to sell these new, great hiking sandals. They are like “near-beer,” as in “near shoes,” and are quite tight-fitting and protective. Given this general concept shouldn’t we all be wearing great shoes all the time? Even when buying bagels? There are after all, people who wear their guns inside their house to be safe and I have seen TV gun shows where residents walk out to their mailbox with a pistol AND an emergency medical kit on their carefully considered belt. Should I live like this? Should you? Should I be sleeping with my escape shoes on every night? Certainly with a pending storm, or going to a frisky neighborhood, or maybe even on a plane.
BUT! To me, for my insanity and paranoia, this also enters into the “What, When and Where Questions.” All the Ws and H questions really. When and wear do you, should you worry about such footy things? Realistically?
George Carlin once said, “Religion is like a pair of shoes…find one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear yours.” I am just suggesting, think about your shoes!
Are your souls slippery…er…I mean are your soles slippery?
Are your shoes tight enough?
Are they laced up? (That’s right idiot-boy, are they laced-up?)
Will they slip around or off when you are suddenly fighting someone at the bagel shop?
Will your Dumb and Dumber feet be exposed on youtube?
Your Singanture Moves and the Pareto and the Mental Model?
Mental models are descriptions of reality that apply across every area of our life, usually don’t get outdated, and provide good results by helping you make better decisions. What is an example of a mental model? One of the most famous and valuable mental models is called the Pareto Principle. Use the 80-20 Pareto Rule to create your signature moves
You probably know it as the “80-20 rule.” This mental models says that most of your results are going to come from just a small percentage of your effort or work.
Vilfredo Pareto, the man who “discovered” this principle noticed that 80% of the land in his area was owned by 20% of the people. He looked in his garden, and saw that 80% of the peas were in 20% of the pea pods. Then he realized that this was something like an organizing principle of life.
This phenomena applies across many domains including productivity, happiness, business, health, etc. Here are a few examples:
20% of relationships lead to 80% of happiness.
20% of exercises lead to 80% of health benefit.
20% of items on your to do list lead to 80% of productivity.
You know me, the eternal skeptic, and maybe the percentage might be 18% or 25%? But I do get the overall idea. This model is much more complex and it can be applied to infinitely more, but this basic concept allows you to quickly acquire what counts. In our “fighting world,” just look at the UFC and see what is actually and consistently done, juxtaposed with the total martial arts systems, techniques and methods of the world and history. Who, what, where, when, how and why?
In the “fight world” competition fighters have a small collection of go-to signature moves (and strategies). Opponents study those moves by way of films, personal observations and interviews to win. But what of war and crime? You might say that militaries have overall, signature strategies. But what of defending yourself against criminals? Criminals and the classic bullies have no films to study on you, to prepare for your signature moves.
I am not talking about hobby sports and arts here. Just survival. I would venture to say that you need some personal signature moves that best suit you, compiled after you do an extensive study in the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions. This is why the cookie cutter, martial arts systems are not the best manufacturers of the survival, self defense product, and they can be very one-dimensional. Thai fight Thai. Boxers box. Wrestlers wrestle with no strikes. Etc. One dimensional, offering abstract skills to deal with the harsh, mixed-weapon chaos of the world. (I might add that I do not like the words “self defense” and “fight” or “fighting,” as they can be misleading and hackneyed when discussing survival. Still, I must use them for the lack of more succinct nouns.)
You know me, the eternal skeptic, and maybe the percentage might be 18% or 25%? But I do get the overall idea. This model is much more complex and it can be applied to infinitely more, but this basic concept allows you to quickly acquire what counts. In our “fighting world,” just look at the UFC and see what is actually and consistently done, juxtaposed with the total martial arts systems, techniques and methods of the world and history. Who, what, where, when, how and why?
I resolved this signature concept by insisting that people study to develop their signature moves for their size, shape, strength, age, coordination and predicable situations-and then later, non-predicable situations. It’s the biggest part of the “Who” question.
“Who are you…really!”
“Who do you think you will really be fighting?”
“Who are you legally, as in the eyes of the law? (Pee Wee Herman or Hulk Hogan?)” I frequently confess in seminars that “I can never tell you how to fight.” That is your job and the job of your local instructor, if he or she has sufficient “Martial IQ.” Not my job as a traveling seminar circus. I must shoot for concepts. You must experiment, pick and choose your so-called signatures. That is why in my hand, stick, knife and gun courses, I want to expose people to a college-like, experience-collection of many good things. Work on them, select wisely and collect what you want, need and can do. You cannot and should not embrace them all, because, here is where we get into the age-old debate of “too many techniques.” Too many techniques to choose from and therefore slows you down, it is claimed. I don’t think there is a universal “too many line” to draw because every person is genetically different. in terms of retention and education-ability. I have decided to create an exposure course (like college). You pick your majors and minors. You experience diversity and savvy. Study systems, but study systems to defeat them, not become them. I do think one might become “Martial Sick,” just adding and adding and adding until you vomit. There are indeed some things that are so smart, so simple and universal.
Some instructors will say “get 5 things.” “Come to my ‘5 Things’ school.” But then they one-dimensionally speak of only unarmed things. What of stick things, knife things, gun things? Five, then 5, and 5 and 5 more? What of standing through ground problems? That’s a matrix of mixed things! That’s a whole lot of simple things. I struggle with this numbers games by seeking the drill/exercises that are multi-purpose. Learn one movement, change the position and weapons. I must be ever vigilant in finding these short cuts for you. That’s my job. My mission.
In the end your signatures are also facing perishability. Will you do these things, say…for the rest of your life? Or, will these signature things slowly erode away. Perishability is another topic for another time, but will your signature become dim and unreadable. And in this vein, let me mention quickly that you need to review your signature moves every 5 or 6 years or so because as you age, you may not be able to execute them as well, or at all.
We fight criminals, enemy soldiers and our “drunk uncles.” I could go on with a lot of anecdotal stories, lessons and name-dropping here, but I think you get the point? Please take a deep dive in the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions. Exercise and experiment with unarmed and mixed weapons. Collect things for you, yourself. Improve your “Martial IQ” and your “Martial Savvy”with skepticism and awareness. Don’t get yourself, “Martial Sick.”
This is all about YOU. Not me. Not the perpetual-ization and worship of systems and their god-heads. YOU! Get some signature moves for situations.
As I turned on my car radio this morning, the very first line I heard was “G. Gordon Liddy died, age 90.”
I once described my friend G. Gordon Liddy as a great “American Story,” among a list of other unique folks, in a piece I had published years ago. Think about it. The G-man was an FBI agent that once caught a Top Ten fugitive, and had a FBI record quick draw on their range. He was a state prosecutor, federal prosecutor, Army “arty” (as in artillery) captain, Nixon Watergate spy, state jail prisoner, federal prisoner (whose inmate lawsuits changed the systems he was incarcerated in), father of a Navy SEAL, TV series star, movie star, radio talk show host, author, gold salesman…well, I could go on but he qualified with me as a great, diverse American story. Of course some people angrily complained he was just a criminal, but he really did a lot more than that.
I first saw him in person, in the late 1980s, in a lively, fun debate with LSD promoter Timothy Leary at the University of Texas in Austin while I was down there attending a state police school. Years later, he liked my books and for a period of years while he had his show, every time I wrote a new book, he would have me on his national radio show as a guest. Lots of radio show guests could “call it in” from their homes, but I flew into D.C. every time just to hang out with him. Whereupon, off the air, lunch etc., I could interview HIM! After my first visit in the 90s, my webpage exploded with views, and really has not gone down since!
When there, we would swap police stories and he told me many of his escapades including some great FBI stories not known to the general public. He also never believed that J. Edgar Hoover was “a ballerina.” He too was an author of many political books – like the bestselling book “Will” (made into movie), but he also wrote some bestselling spy novels. His writing style was very proper and succinct. Whereas his non-fiction, politic books were as fresh as his easy conversation.
In recent years, show gone, his old age, we lost touch, dwindling emails as he disappeared from the “scene.” His mother lived to be 100 or a bit over, and I expected the same longevity.
WHAT a character! Some people hate him. Some don’t . I guess most people today might remember him from those “GOOLLD” tv commercials, and maybe, if old enough, from the Watergate scene where he held his open hand over a candle, expressing his commitment not to “talk.” I reckon that most younger folks won’t remember him at all.
I tell a story in my police books about a guy’s mean facial expression that was a lesson in life for me. In the 1970’s on patrol, I did the expected “50-10” thing when I could. Fifty minutes of driving and ten minutes of parking and watching. It was smart to park at busy places. I worked a lot in our city’s “projects” not just in the patrol division, but many years later as a detective too. In the 70s, I frequently began to see this same black guy pass by, whether I was parked or slowly driving around. As he came into view each time, he looked at me with a great disgust, a very angry face. “Wow! This guy must hate me, or really hate cops. Man!”This hateful glare went on for some time when the fates would have us pass each other.
Finally I said to myself, “The next time I see this guy I am going to smile and wave at him and see what he will do.” About two days later I saw him while I was parked on a street. As he got closer, we looked at each other and I smiled and waved at him. His angry face lit up, he smiled big and waved back. We were still a distance apart and after he did that, I had the time and space to see his face immediately return to one of anger. But then I realized, he wasn’t angry at all. That face – was just his regular, walk-around face! Sadly, it was a mean one. He was the angry man that wasn’t angry. As the weeks and months passed this happened time and time again. We never met. We never spoke. We just smiled and waved. And I thought about how many people are mislead by faces and expressions.
One of my tenets in self defense course is “The face is a mask, he could fight scarier than he looks and look scarier than he fights.” And the self defense, martial arts, security and enforcement business is rife though the years with all sorts of predictors about pre-assault and pre-crimes. (I might add here that pre-crime tips are usually ignored, as martial experts opt to talk about pre-assault tips.) Regular folks on up to professional investigators also want to catch lies and liars. Everyone wants the tip-off secrets, the bible of alarms and alerts from this or that body language master, poker player, psychologist, Navy SEAL or friendly neighborhood, karate guy. In this wanton process is the “Rise of the Micro Expressions.” (Key the exciting music here.)
Dr. Google reports – “A microexpression is a facial expression that only lasts for a short moment. It is the innate result of a voluntary and an involuntary emotional response occurring simultaneously and conflicting with one another, and occurs when the amygdala (the emotion center of the brain.) responds appropriately to the stimuli that the individual experiences and the individual wishes to conceal this specific emotion. This results in the individual very briefly displaying their true emotions followed by a false emotional reaction. Microexpressions express the seven universal emotions: disgust, anger, fear, sadness, happiness, contempt, and surprise. (As you can see, “micro expressions” officially became all one word at some point in my lucky, long life.)
I am certainly not going to dismiss body language or micro expressions. No. I am alive today because of various visual tip-offs within situations. But, being the eternal skeptic, I would like to instead, bring up some warnings and things to think about. I am here to say that while they sell you them for a $1 a piece, the tip might only be worth 75 cents? 80 cents?
Dr. Gad Saad is a respected evolutionary biologist and his new book “The Parasitic Mind” is a must-read. One of the many book’s subjects is victimology with interesting relationship to the infamous Munchausen syndrome. (Stay with me “internet clickers!”) As to reading faces, he recalls on page 103 a piece of research where people were presented a batch of facial photographs and asked them to pick out the “threatening expressions/faces.” Scary faces were picked. Then with new people, the scary faces were slowly removed until the batch consisted of only the neutral faces, previously ignored as non-aggressive and non-threatening. Without any scary faces to pick, the subjects began to pick a number of the neutral faces/expressions as threatening. Pre-conceptions. Looking for trouble. Finding the unfindable. Reading the unreadable. Interesting. Seeing hate where there is no hate.
There is also much ado about the detection of lying in this subject matter. The real frontrunner of this lie-with-microexpressions subject, Dr. Paul Ekman admits on his webpage – “There is no single, definitive sign of deceit itself; no muscle twitch, facial expression, or gesture proves that a person is lying with absolute certainty. Therefore, most modern-day methods of deception detection heavily rely on a variety of methods to collect, analyze and interpret emotional and physiological data. However, any data collected merely expose emotional clues that may or may not be related to deception. For example, sweaty palms during a job interview could indicate an interviewee’s fear of being caught in a lie about their qualifications. Or, sweaty palms could be illustrating their fear that the interviewer won’t believe their qualifications despite being totally honest on their resume. Or, their palms could be sweaty because they’re worried about something else entirely, like a sick child at home.”
President Reagan was famous for “Trust, but verify.” Unless the speaker already has a terrible record, perhaps. And we fall back to the totality of circumstances again. Situational study. An “investigator,” professional or not, must investigate. We must be very careful in some encounters not to jump to conclusions over a flinch or a twitch, etc. A terrible trait of some detectives I had to work with and around, is “conclusion jumping.” I’ll even go you one worse – some were also stubborn. They jumped to conclusions and then they were too stubborn to face the building, contrary facts. This is double-terrible in any criminal justice system.
I am often amused by people watching the news who claim that this or that suspect or witness is…lying. “You can tell!” they say. Yet these same people are enraptured by actors in convincing roles on TV and in the movies. Folks…they…are…ACTORS! The claimers watch a mystery and predict who the killer is and who is innocents are. Remember the killer and the innocent suspect are people ACTING, who are neither killers nor innocents in real life. They are fooling you.
And, even untrained people can act in, out and around microexpressions. Actors also conceal pending violence (like conmen ambushers) and know how to hide anger and intent or pretend anger to intimidate you into submission.
By the way, all this scares the hell out of me when considering jury trials, as jurors look at the faces, demeanor and clothes of lawyers, judges, defendants and witnesses.
(Or…How I Learned to Love the Hock, Stinky Arm Method!)
Texas got hit with a real pesky ice and snow storm last week, dropping temps lower than North to Alaska. It dropped our power grid and electricity (and water) for about a week. While some folks had none, we were lucky enough to have thee infamous “rolling blackouts.” Thirty minutes of power every two hours or so. Enough to charge your phone battery and fast-cook a hot dog. Now, while everyone is probably familiar with rolling blackouts, what about…rolling flashlights?
Yes, this week I had physical, mental and nightmare flashbacks of rolling…flashlights. Rounded flashlights that roll. Now look, I am a pretty “long in the tooth” feller and I go way back to the past days of military and police flashlights. Anybody could buy them but we had to use them. Daily. Starting in 1970s for me. Everybody bought their own when they could. They were ugly and not powerful back then for the common troop. You absolutely needed them at night and even in the daytime, because you never knew when you might have to dash into or investigate a basement or any enclosed dark space. If you were needed to use both hands on a chore, and laid these old-timey flashlights down, most would probably roll.
In the olden days, we were taught never to hold your light too close to your body because it was common knowledge that enemy soldiers and criminals would instinctively shoot at the light. I still believe this. So a typical search-carry would be the old “FBI” method of holding the light away from your body when possible.
Thereabouts, when-abouts those golden-olden days the long, baton-sized flashlight came along. It was essentially a club with extra batteries and a bulb and quickly replaced the nightstick for many coppers. Me too. The light wasn’t very bright, and if you laid it down on anything, a car, table, whatever…it would-could easily roll.
Then the Gods made the super-duper, ultra bright small, palm-sized flashlight. They were and are amazing. But around these times too, came almost a Moses-Mountain-Mandate to shoot pistols with two hands almost ALL of the time. This was a confusing time because how does one hold one’s Star Trek flashlight AND still shoot with politically correct, two-hands? Ahhh, well, a tactical conundrum!
But the two-hand shooters invented tricky ways (to sell these flashlights AND “use” two hands. I won’t name them here, it’s not today’s subject, but they were named after rather unknown gun people of the day as though they were doctors inventing special cures for cancer. Edison! Tesla! Like “The Johnson Method” which holds the light…(blah, blah, blah). The flimsy cures did not support the pistol like a solid two-hand grip, not at all, but it at least they got that second hand or wrist “over there” to help the terrible, horrible. misguided burden of shooting with one hand. And we older-timers immediately noticed that this puts the light, so often the target, right back in front of your chest or head! But the conundrum! The mandate to shoot with two hands! And holding flashlights.
I started shooting in 1969 and received all kinds of military, police and private training starting in the 70s, from people who had killed a lot of people back then. Especially in the military full of Korean and Vietnam war vets. (God bless em’ all.) And so, we shot a lot back then, A LOT with one hand, as well as two hands too, but a lot of one hand shooting. Again not the subject today’s essay. The subject is rolling flashlights today and most of the Star Trek flashlights were round and rolled a lot when you laid them down.
So then I retired. I have lots of these new Trekian flashlights around, and I love them, and even got another one last Christmas! This last powerless week in Texas, I had my best-est Star Trek, palm-ish sized flashlight with me constantly, in my hand or in my robe pocket. There wasn’t even any ambient light when the sun dropped. And any time I had to do something simple with two hands I had to set the round flashlight down and the damn thing round thing, – you guessed it – rolled away.
“I remember that problem!” I sezs to myself, as the little bastard rolled away from the shower and lit up the corner bathroom sink. As a cop since the 70s I recall the multitude of in-the-dark, predictable and unpredictable “two-hand chore” police problems and that damn round flashlight would roll off a fence post top, car hood, table, stairstep, whatever. I recalled that I cussed the problem and bought a hand-held, handled, big bulb light with a squarish, high-volt battery as a base. It produced a powerful, portable beam for the 70s and 80s and when I set that flat bottomed, mo-fo down, IT DID NOT ROLL! And a time or two back then, I had to hit somebody, as was-is required in my odd business, and jeez, that big-ass metal, battery was like a brick. (Something designed like this.)
I really do like these modern flashlights today because they’re like a martial palm stick in terms of fighting, but most of them are round.
I’ll bet 85% of these headlamps on the market do not match the light power of the new small handhelds. Might be from the required small batteries? I have a decent one and still cannot read a book well in the dark. With these mentions of headlamps, I can’t help but think about a household of two, three, four or more in a blackout. All four with handheld caliber head lamp lights strapped on their foreheads for 8 hours a day, all avoiding facial contact from a few feet apart to prevent power beams in the eyeballs. “Don’t you look at me!” Dinnertime! As the headlamp bible suggests they are for “Adults, Camping, Hiking, Outdoors & Hard Hat Work.”
Now I know someone reading this here will do a quick “one-ups-mans-ship” to report on my ignorance –
“…well, you should purchased the ‘Tact-9-Blinder’ because its conical delt is a four-sided, 17 ratio, militant square. It won’t roll.”
I don’t know nothing about no 17 ratio, militant delts, I just don’t want my light to roll, okay? According to Dr Google and to ElectroniCast, an estimated 141.6 million flashlights will be purchased in the United States this year and I’ll bet most of them are round. And, I would just like to officially remind people when shopping for a flashlight, try to get one that won’t roll off on you when you’re making pancakes, shaving in a shower, or reaching for toilet paper…or handcuffing a killer.
( A guy in river patrol read this and told me they had a lot of expensive flashlights roll off boats and ‘into the drink.'”) This message is not just for or about rolling blackouts. The point is…rounded flashlight “ends” in general are not good ideas.
In a pinch and I mean a real “pinch,” you might consider the official “Hock Stinky Armpit Method”where you put your rounded flashlight in your armpit and pinch, compress! (Can I get that title-method mentioned in gun magazines and join that infamous boys club? I could go down in gun-lore history! Name-dropped by the insider, educated. And you will only be shot in the shoulder if shot and you know that’s a just a “wingin” in the movies.)
Haven’t we all seen through the years, the paper targets of angry men holding guns and knives? Is this a good or bad idea?
If you follow me for even a short length of time, you know I do not teach anything to do with firearm marksmanship. I am too unqualified and too impatient for the job. I always team up with, refer you to, and count on my long list of qualified and patient friends to deliver great marksmanship development. Instead, I am solely interested in situational, interactive shooting with any sort of simulated ammo we can get our hands on, wherever we are. The gear has increased in its diversity and opportunity through the decades. I just called the course starting back then in 1995, “Force Necessary: Gun” (using the gun when necessary).
A number of years ago Dr Bill Lewinski and his collegiate Force Science team collected a whole series of studies on shootings and shoot-outs, and determined that one of the principle reasons for missing targets under stress was too much “internal focus” on the use of the handgun and not enough external emphasis. The internal emphasis was defined as the worrying too much about your draw, hand grip, breathing, arms, sights, etc. The Force Science experts recommended a major prescription for this was to work on more external focus. External being defined as the bad guy, location and situation. A professional psychologist would begin to develop therapies for external focus (which I have already spent years doing.) The problem is shooting at moving, thinking people who are shooting right back at you.
With this Force Science report, I immediately added a new sub-title for my gun course, “Force Necessary: Gun – External Focus,” bolstered by Lewinski’s FS and because that is all I do, my slice-share of the gun fight worries. Bring in the external! As the simulated ammo world developed (with much help from Japan) military and police slowly saw great value in adding it in, but just not enough.
After a vow of range shooting celibacy (as in teaching as I still practice shooting on ranges) I still have borderline/trespass comments to make once in a while, and one is on paper targets. It is a range thing and such things I order myself to avoid. But… here goes.
Quickly first, an established point – “bullseye target:” the circular spot, usually black or outlined in black, at the center of a target marked with concentric circles and used in target practice. A regular, round, bullseye target or simplistic versions thereof are good for shooting diagnostics, zeroing in and data investigation-collection. Maybe even some fun competitions?
I recall times, and they are recent and recurring, when ignorant citizen groups demanded that all human shapes be removed from targets. Their argument being that this teaches, people, police and even the military to shoot…people! To shoot unnecessarily and ad nauseum at people. Surely – the ignorant claim – surely if these human forms were removed from targets, less people would be abused-shot. Innocent people and guilty people too, as there are post-modernist groups who fail to acknowledge even the obvious self defense shooting of an armed attacker, screaming murder, especially against law enforcement.
Quite a number of groups and agencies over the years, ever wishy-washy, by virtue signaling, paranoia or the next level of ignorance, acquiesced. Gone were the official use of armed, ugly men photos and drawings on targets, replaced by the standard bullseye, scoring image. The organizations were applauded by being all-so-modern and all-so-caring and so forth.
The last big, anti-human-form, target scare brought quite a censor of target subjects. Compliers got rid of various popular targets to avoid being denounced. Remember the fad wave of zombie targets appeared? Remember them? Well, they are still around, but not like the censored past and blasting zombies were openly used in protest of the target censors. I mean, even far-far lefties want to kill zombies.
I also recall a rash of Bin Laden targets popping up in those tough times. But today in the 2020s, a target printer and-or seller must take care who they portray on a paper target, else they be deemed a domestic terrorist. I suggest you avoid putting any recognizable people on targets, just use generic, mean looking, white guys.
So, let’s take a stock for a moment…
Bad guys have guns (and knives, etc.) and commit felonies, rob, rape and kill.
Citizens can defend themselves and many have guns.
Police have guns and uphold the law.
Good guys and police are attacked by bad guys with guns (and knives, etc.).
The most contrary still accept the fact that gun-carriers need at least bullseye training.
There needs to be training methods to consistently ensure that deadly force be used only against deadly force.
I know gun instructors smart enough to tape or glue various pictures of deadly force weapons onto to existing unarmed paper targets. They “get it.” We talk a lot of a sight picture – “the sight picture is the image you see when the sights are aligned correctly with the target.” But another look at the term is the “sight” of a picture of an armed bad guy trying to kill you. One is more internal in processing, one is way more “external.” They know that in your sight, your “external sight picture” it is good to have a deadly force weapon included to justify a spontaneous shooting.
One way to help ensure the proper use of deadly firearm force is the visual identification training of a deadly threat. A mission to so this should be as early, often and regular as possible. Overtly or covertly (subliminal). I therefore believe that a shooting practitioner, new or otherwise should constantly shoot at a target of a dangerous person holding a gun or knife, etc. Doing so helps build a subliminal use of proper force message in a person’s brain. You are NOT going to shoot unless you are confronted with this sort of…deadly…vision.
This sort of prep education is not available with the flat, impersonal paper bullseye target. Such a bullseye-only target is detached from humanity. Instead, simply putting a scoring target inside the shape of an armed bad guy is so easy and of course, has been done.
I have tried to instruct with the mantra “reduce the abstract.” In hand, stick, knife and gun training, you can never recreate the reality situation. It’s impossible, but you can try. Each and every where possible. You can use the “Who, What, Where, When, How and Why” questions to set the stage, and of course, develop the training progressions from isolated to situational. This means a person may start out with just a bullseye target only, if the instructor wishes, and the training will increase with human shapes and forms to situational interactive shooting of actors, then competitors. (Other than zeroing in and other diagnostics (checking the spark plugs), I see no real reason not to quickly start a self defense shooter out with an armed human form target also with bullseye, scoring rings.
With this dual approach, there is still a bullseye and scoring, but inside a bigger legal “message” from the get-go. You get to score, track progress, but with a deadly force backdrop mandate.
Targets and further training with “armed human forms.” Things to think about:
Do you think that self defense shooters should only shoot at bullseye targets forever? Yes or no? Why? Why not?
Do you think that self defense shooters should be exposed to targets with armed human figures with added bullseye art? Yes or no? Why? Why not?
Do you think that an enlarged photograph of a bad guy is better than a flat artwork drawing of one? Yes or no? Why? Why not?
Do you think that eventually shooting an actual, armed actor is better than shooting at a drawing or photo of a person? Yes or no? Why? Why not?
Do you think that eventually shooting at armed “competitors” in interactive situations are like performance exams? And are a good idea? Yes or no? Why? Why not?
(I guess I would be remiss not to quickly mention these somewhat common “3D” or dummy targets in this discussion, even though they are a bit pricey and misused as in this discussion. Misused? They are frequently posted up on the range, naked and armless. Armless means no weapons held, defeating that need to shoot now imperative we are reviewing here. I have seen dummies wearing shirts from time to time, maybe even a hat, but still armless and weaponless. I guess you could slung a rifle over a shoulder? But usually you are still shooting an unarmed man! Err…I mean dummy. The 3D dummies with arms are rare because they are so expensive.)
You don’t have to answer these questions here. Just please think about them. The questions above are about a training progression. You can never stop working on your marksmanship and the “internal focus.” It’s a never-ending battle of eyeballs and trigger-squeeze. But my real purpose here is to get people to pull the trigger when legal and develop comprehensive training tips and ideas to implant the subject.
As this essay spreads across the world, I receive more and more reports of agencies and localities disallowing human shapes on targets, as well as ranges that just don’t care what target you bring in.
Back to the first opening question. Armed human shapes on targets. Good? Bad? My answer is good. The next time a political group demands that human figures holding weapons should be removed from training targets, inform them that human figures holding weapons, even in its most primitive form with flat, target-artwork or a photograph, is vital in teaching proper use of force, decision-making. Start that subliminal self defense, legal message from the beginning and keep it going as much as possible.
(My main theme here is usually about combatives, crime and policing, but I would be remiss not to mention my connections with the ROK Marines while in South Korea.)
The textbook manuals will define the ROK Marines as: “The Republic of Korea Marine Corps, also known as the ROK Marine Corps, or the ROK Marines, is the marine corps of South Korea. The ROKMC is a branch of the Republic of Korea Navy responsible for amphibious operations, and also functions as a rapid reaction force and a strategic reserve.”
“Korean soldiers were highly motivated. Because of their own struggle with Stalinist North Korea, they hated communists. They were also tough. Each man was trained in the art of tae kwon do, with 30 minutes’ practice forming an integral part of morning physical training. They were also subjected to harsh discipline. Time magazine reported in 1966, “Captured Vietcong orders now stipulate that contact with the Koreans is to be avoided at all costs—unless a Vietcong victory is 100 percent certain.” – National Interest Magazine
1975. The first days of the first week I was in country, up north in South Korea, HQ asked me to deliver some papers to Camp Red Cloud. They gave me our intrepid KATUSA – Mister Lee as a driver, and together in an old, open US Army jeep we made the long drive east. Once at the base, Mister Lee took us to the Red Cloud headquarters. On the open grounds outside stood a formation of Korean soldiers and a sergeant yelling and beating the holy hell out of a soldier. The troop stood as best he could, arms down and at a wobbly attention. Finally. the blows knocked him off right off his feet. Down, he was kicked.
“What’s going on over there?” I asked Mister Lee. “Ohhh, ROK Marines. Dey crazy. Dat Marine fucky up somehow.” Mister Lee said.
And that was my first introduction to the ROK Marines, other than having some of them, along with South Vietnamese combat vets, teach a few courses in basic training. Upon my return to our little crappy forward operating base, (FOB) as I was a “cherry” (new) I quickly learned that we also had ROK Marines stationed right with us too!
We, me, the MPs there were to do police work and help provide force protection for this FOB, but the grunt work of guarding was done by KATUSA (Korean Augmentation To the United States Army, a branch of the Republic of Korea Army that consists of Korean drafted personnel who are augmented to the Eighth United States Army), K-9s (dogs), MPs and ROK Marines. One big happy (?) family.
Missile jockeys operated on top of a mountain inside our camp and from that elevation, with binoculars one could see into North Korea and at times watch their knuckleheads doing PT or snaking around over there.
“The beatings will continue until morale improves!” And I continued to see periodic ROK beatings in their morning formations. We never knew what they did wrong, but they must have “fucky-ied up” in some way. The ROK officers and NCOs spoke some English but the typical ROK Marine did not. So while we saw them a lot, and they ate in our mess hall, we never got to know them beyond the occasional smile, a wave, and a thumbs up.
Part of our job description was to also patrol the outside of the base, check the perimeters, etc. and the ROK Marines did that routinely. We MPs did not have to go on every run, but we were supposed to go with some regularity, and keep abreast of the breastworks, so, with some regularity we went. On one trip, they found a cache of buried weapons, hidden by stupid commie sympathizers for North Koreans to sneak in and dig up. (I think a K9 smelled it out, as I recall). The commies were always sneaking in, or building tunnels under the DMZ, etc. Those days, the 60s and 70s were considered very dangerous times in Korea.
(Years earlier, the NKs perpetrated North Korea attempted assassination, “The Blue House Raid,” also known in South Korea as the “January 21 Incident.” It was just one raid launched by North Korean commandos to assassinate the President of South Korea, Park Chung-hee, in his residence at the Blue House. President Park was unharmed.)
Taking us out, taking our missiles out, or sneaking past us to go south was always a problem. We sat in the valley first invaded by the Red Guard back in the 1950s. One part of my MP job I discovered was to run an M-60 machine gun team on the northwest peak of the camp that touched that very valley. (When the feces hits the oscillated blades, we are all infantry.)
On one of these walk-arounds, the ROK Marine Sergeant (also named Lee) mentioned to me that old classic observation, usually attributed to the Japanese., “America will never be invaded,” he said. “It won’t, you think?” I said. “No, too many guns.”
Some of these inspections were run in the dark, a m. hours. Just cuz. Just cuz they could and really they should. The boogie-men come out at night. And as we passed a few guard posts, Sgt. Lee would stop us at a distance and stealthfully get near the post. He would at times catch the ROK Marine there asleep and steal something from them, sometimes their M-16s!
The next morning the ROK Marine would be chastised and then beaten in the formation.
I often wondered what these Marines thought when they woke up and saw their M-16 gone!
(Many decades later, a ROK Marine sergeant showed up at one of my California combatives seminars, held at the original UFC Gym. He was sent there to attend and invite me to teach knife combatives over there. The deal was cut, but their unit had to postpone because of missions. I have no great desire to return to South Korea, but I will. Because – “Have Seminar-Will Travel.”)
The rituals of death. Understanding them may save your life. But, when you try to research the term, all you are most likely to uncover are after-death, practices of various worldwide religions and funerals, like tossing a handful of dirt on a coffin to name but one. I guess the trouble with the research quest is the word “ritual” – so quickly associated with religions. Dig a bit deeper (no pun intended) and you’ll find a few ceremonial pre-death rituals like when archaeologists discovered that the Incas got their children sacrifices drunk before their deaths on coco leaves and alcohol. Still after much digging, not much is mentioned about before the death.
If you broaden your own the definition of “rituals,” of death, it starts you thinking. You might recall the many other kinds of political and religious killings, ones before the flame, the shot, the needle, the hanging, the guillotine, the firing squad, the electrocution, etc. We remember some pre-death, rituals with them. Before such events, we have been exposed to ritualistic habits like, “the last meal.” The “last cigarette.” The blindfold, “any last requests?” “any last statements?” These are also rituals of death, before the act. Why do people bother with them?
Think about the ritualistic procedures in the United States over a prisoner execution. There are many ritualistic steps and protocols. Think about how people reluctantly gather in to witness the execution. In the olden days, people gathered for the public hangings, nowadays seating is assigned at the prison death chambers to watch a person die. I feel as though any of the death row prisoners would much rather be surprised by a shot in the back at in the head at some late point than go through all that extraneous legal, ritual, nonsense. And, consider this irony, there have been postponements in prison executions because the prisoner was too sick on his death date. Too sick to die? “Let’s clear up that flu before we kill him.”
All these numerous rituals alone, suggested to me that most humans have a certain significance, a regard about death and often do things, also in crime and war to hesitate, postpone, celebrate or commemorate death. A ritual, however slight or small, might be created. It often seems to be in our human nature.
I would like to write about here a very particular situation when someone is cornered, captured, kidnapped and-or taken hostage. Short-term or long-term, and about to killed. As a police detective most of my adult life, and a graduate of a police, criminal profile course, I came across numerous cases, mine and others, of victims executed, or received threats of execution in the final act of rape, kidnapping, robbery, assault and so forth. And what about in war? Such as when someone is taken prisoner, or cornered? What did those last few seconds look like? What small ignored, rituals existed or still exist by killers. If we knew what the killers did, we might better prepare people to read upcoming signs and try to counter them.
In recent times now more than in the past, instructors like to present lists of pre-assault cues with all the anger, tip-offs. That list is long (and far from new – as the first one I saw was back in the military police academy in 1973.) What of pre-crime clues? They are different and largely ignored as people tend to dwell on the pre-assault cues. With pre-crime there might be a no-anger greeting, usually presented by smiling con men criminals setting you up with a minimum tip-offs, or not. Maybe just an overwhelming, sudden ambush? In this same vein of study, but not like the pre-assault, and pre-crime, are the verbal, physical and situational, last ditch rituals of…pre-death. Situational? The overall situation also counts like a ticking time bomb.
So, I became fascinated, in crime and war’s last moments, especially the last few seconds, the last few steps of these killing actions. What exactly went on? And to see if there are any big or small “rituals” even in these instances. They may or may not be spontaneous. The crime may be pre-meditated, but the actual physical act of violence itself unplanned. What happened? Learning this as a self defense, martialist instructor for civilians, police and military, might warn and prepare people for last resort counters to these problems. My real goal here is to inspire and provoke thought on these matters.
For example, Think of all the pistol disarms taught . Think of the more rare, long gun disarms. Think of the knife disarms. Think of the strangulation escapes. Lots of…”techniques,” as they say. But hardly anyone understands or covers the total “who, what, when, where, how and why” (the Ws&H) the victim wound up in this terrible moment, these terrible, critical last, few seconds. The context. The situation. What last ditch, last resort things could be done to counter the murder attempt?
The techniques? I have told this story for decades as an example of the “classroom disarmer,” of a student who learned two pistol disarms techniques earlier in the day at a martial class. He goes home and tells his friend how great the disarms were. The friend says “wow, show me,” and he gets a “clicker,” replica pistol and stands before the student, face-to-face, gun aimed at the student’s head, execution style. The student and friend stare at each other, like western showdown that actually hardly ever happened. The friend is a live wire, watching anxiously for ANY slight sign, a “tell,” (tip-off or clue) that a disarm attempt is coming. The student tries one of the disarms, j…u…s…t barely moves and…CLICK. The student tries and tries and can’t do either of the disarms. Disillusioned, he confesses, “I guess they don’t work.” This evaluation could be very wrong because forgotten is the unusual, multi-faceted crime and war situations people are thrust in. Gun men are often preoccupied running their overall crime scenes and rarely if ever, are they in this sterile, “face-to-face,” “anxiously waiting-for-the-disarm” waiting to pull the trigger, classroom situation.
Ws&H questions for examples…
The Who Question? For the purposes of brevity, let’s loosely list a few general “who’s-who” to get you thinking about this topic. (Remember I am not a psychologist and you must investigate these typologies yourself.)
Psychopath. Someone who might kill in an instant, without remorse, without ritual.
Psychopath who terrorizes. Someone who might kill and wants to enjoy terrorizing someone. There might be a ritual involved.
Realistic actor. Someone who is not a psychopath, but is somewhat “forced” into killing you due to circumstances. He might be resigned to the act.
Reluctant actor. Someone who is not a psychopath, but is really reluctant and really “forced” into killing you due to circumstances. He might be angry or depressed and resigned to the act.
Impulse actors. Various criminal studies state that many criminals have poor impulse control.
We could of course, slice and dice these very generic characterizations forever. But anyone of these might have tip-off tells of what they will do, verbal or physical. Perhaps your best predictive luck or chances are with the realistic and reluctant actors. If a true, cold-blooded psychopath decides to kill you, they might well do so in an instant. No rituals. No tells…just boom. Imagine a hostage situation where there is food for 7 people and he has 8 hostages. Boom, a random death upon discovery of the problem. Now there’s food for 7. If a non-psychopath has to kill you, he might say or do something…specifically at the moment…that is ”ritualistic.”
The What Question? There are numerous examples of what might be said or done.
Verbal. A psychopath may say nothing, or in the terrorizing version, enjoy saying extra-frightening things. Their rituals might be very personal and impossible to understand by sane people. A non-psychopath might ask for somewhat ritualistic things like, “Get down on your knees?” or, “Lay face down,” or “turn-around.” This is because he doesn’t want to fully see or not see your face. It is old military psychology now that you are harder to kill face-to-face for most “normal” people. The reluctant’s voice may get mean with a certain resolve and resignation. This could be because he is actually angry at himself and-or the situation.
Sounds. And this in not just about voice. There is a case in Gaven Debecker’s book The Gift of Fear when a rapist left the victim’s bedroom and turned the volume way up on the living room stereo. The victim realized this increase was to cover the sounds of her murder and screaming. She managed to sneak out of her apartment while the rapist was in the kitchen to get a knife. Translating sounds. What of the sounds of loading or cocking a firearm? Opening a trunk or a van door?
Physical. Sudden deep breaths before actions. Serious facial expression changes. Some might easily be read as a resignation that the reluctant has to kill. A terrorizing psychopath might smile with an enjoyment. It has been observed in a variety of situations that someone holding a long gun at hip level, resigned to murder, will grimace and lift the weapon to shoulder height. They might elevate the pistol from low to high. They could just shoot from the hip. These are last second tells.
The Where Question? First off, a rule of survival, never go from “crime scene A” to “crime scene B.” If you can fight and resist at crime scene A when you discover a planned transport? Do so. B is usually a prepared place of torture and-or death. A psychopath might kill you anywhere, or at crime scene B. A non-psychopath might ritualistically march you off to somewhere else, and often for no real reason. It seems to be a ritual of death to do so. The back room refrigerator of a convenience store for just one example. These marches may take you to a place where there are no sight or sound witnesses.
The When Question? The brewing situation should help a victim tell if an execution is forthcoming. Understanding the overall situation can set the clock for predicting your your planned demise. Many victim can predict their eventual doom by just seeing the face of a criminal.
The How Question? How will the murder be accomplished? Are you being marched off to a cliff? The meat locker? Does the criminal or enemy have a stick? Knife, pistol? Long gun? If so, do you know the common striking, stabbing and shooting positions? How close is the killer standing? Where are you standing? Has he approached with an “angry” strutting walk and face? How will your respond?
The Why Question? By keeping close track of your dilemma, can you anticipate why you need to be killed. Whim? Delight? No witnesses? Revenge? Understanding motives. Think of an on-premise, witness to a crime. Think of a crazed spouse, violating a protective order after many violent threats, showing up at a house with a weapon. Why must things end this way? The killer usually needs a motive, whether you understand the reasons or not. Again, studies show that many criminal have poor impulse control (especially under stressful and emotional situations).
Quick summary I would like for you to think about these Ws&H points. It usually takes about 6 passes of the Ws&H questions to collect satisfactory information. You might get down to the “when” question and you realize you need to reexamine the “who” question again. And we can’t forget that crime patterns, in your region, your city or street, can be a copy-cat ritual. Examine if you will, the many gang shootings in Chicago. How do they unfold?
What might the rituals of pre-death be?
You are cornered, captured, kidnapped and-or taken hostage. Short-term or long-term, and about to killed.
Pre-assault cues can be different than pre-crime cues.
Verbal clues like tones and words.
Visual clues like facial expressions.
Sound clues like weapons preps – racking, chambering.
Area crime patterns may be involved.
Situations that history and common sense lead to executions.
Brewing, overall situations.
Has he approached with an angry walk and face?
Last request questions.
Suddenly being treated nicely. A common – “sorry, good-bye ritual.”
Being marched to questionable and isolated places with a lack of help or witnesses.
Sudden lifting of firearms into common firing positions.
Sudden lifting of sticks, bats, clubs and tool into striking positions.
Sudden drawing of weapons.
…continue to develop your own lists.
On the rituals of suicide. I have probably worked more suicides than murders through the years and they might have their own meaningful rituals and death scenes. Some organized scenes were fascinating and not appropriate for this essay theme. But, recognizing the organized suicide scene and any ritual evidence is important to classify and conclude the case, but again, suicide ritual is another subject.
But I must mention that in the police world, we are long cursed with “suicide by cop” situations. There is suicide by civilian or military also. Whether cop, citizen or soldier, these suicidal people get you to shoot them by presenting you with these same ritual of death moves we cover here, like drawing a weapon, lifting a weapon, marching upon you armed, with angry walks and angry faces. Perhaps over-acted to get your reaction! Recognizing apparent suicidal situations may save you great grief and expense later on.
My goal here in this essay is not to teach weapon disarms, but rather to translate events, see clues and tip-offs, or “tells,” before counters are life-or-death needed. Of course you must exercise all unarmed combatives to solve these problems. Standing, kneeling, sitting, grounded on top, bottom and sides. All must include knowledge of weapon operations, yours and his. All positions must include striking, kicking and what might be called “dirty fighting” or “cheating.” These survival topics transcend typical martial arts found everywhere.
The rituals of death. They are not just about what goes in a funeral mass or at the cemetery after you die. It is also about the last things killers often physically say and-or do, just before they try to kill you, and how you must learn them to stay out of the deep end of a cemetery.
(And I remind you again, I am not a psychologist. Keep researching this and make your own lists. I only wish to provoke thought and planning.)