When someone is on top of you, beating the snot out of your face, you are not thinking about “why” he is doing it. Not the psychology of why. Not then. But when?
But later in the “drawing room,” it might at least be interesting?
In my courses, in the “genesis chapters” of them, if you will, I place major league importance on the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions. I…we…need this mandatory outline to properly prepare for the interviews and ambushes in our lives. And so, securely fastened in the formula of this “bible” is the “why question.” Why is he, she, they committing this crime? This war? There are other whys also.
I think that some people in the pursuits of fighting or self-defense – whatever you want to call it – may find this “why” too interesting in the wrong place and time, so to speak. Often at the expense of the vital, physical fight training time. I cover the subject briefly in seminars, but not too much, because it is a “drawing room study” and not something to over-dwell upon in action, physical seminars that I and most people conduct and attend. If you are teaching in a room full of sweaty guys and gals with mouthpieces, that is not the time to start a psychology session.
When? For example, I cover the “why” extensively in my book, Fightin’ Words, for one avenue because I too am overly interested in all these “why questions.” They are fascinating. I just find them fascinating. “Why” covers a wide berth of psychology, culture, history, economies, brain maladies and disorders…on and on. Why? Why? WHY! Why also helps you unravel the other “who, what, where, when and how.”
The “Ws and the H”- the genesis of fighting, crime and war. The biblical questions. Not to be ignored. Just remember the best “where” for the “why” questions. Best mostly… for the drawing rooms, I think.
“Guns stolen from cars! This is outrageous.” – civilian
“How can police be this stupid to abandon their guns unprotected in a car?” – civilian
“I’m wondering why you would ever leave a gun in the car if you’re not there?” – civilian
“I never leave my gun in the car.” – civilian
“My gun is on me 24-7.” – civilian
Outraged, critical citizens. Panties in a twist because awhile back, a police officer’s squad car was burglarized and stolen from within – an AR-15 and some pistols. I can’t recall why it made the national news, but it did and the auto burglary report was passed around Facebook. The car was legally parked while an officer ate dinner at a restaurant. Many righteous, indignant citizen comments, even cusswords were made about him by the Facebook gun experts, rampaging about these guns “left” in a car. (Remember that the horrible, negligent, police officer himself was still armed while eating.)
I too am guilty of leaving guns in my police car. I confess. For the record, someone burglarized my unmarked, detective car one night in my driveway, first breaking the window glass to find nothing quickly removable, then prying open the trunk and snatching a back-up revolver and a shotgun. The good news was that the very next day while I was stewing over this personal violation, I had a midnight-shift, worker- a “snitch/informant” in a factory contact me, saying that a guy was snooping around the parking lot of the factory, trying to sell some “police guns.” He said someone he knew in the factory was interested in buying them. I told my guy to help massage the sale and keep me posted. That night, myself and another detective, Danny McCormick observed the night shift transaction on the lot from afar. We swooped in and “fell” upon the suspect. The two guns were indeed mine. I was very lucky.
Hey, it was a lucky recovery, but that loss only happened once in all my years of cop guns, cop cars and crime, over some 10,000 nights of parking. When you think about the overall total 40 some-odd, years that various and multiple guns have been inside my cars off and on, 20,000 nights? The odds were and are pretty good that they remain safe. (There are indeed some pretty goofy news stories about cops forgetting their big and small guns. )
What about the rest of the US cops? There are some 2 million law enforcement officers (depends on the definition) in the US. And there is no sure way to know how many take-home cars there are, but we can safely guess are thousands and thousands and thousands of patrol, detective and admin cars are take-home, on the drive-ways and streets of America at night. “Abandoned,” as some civilians might critique. Some car salesmen in a news article suggested a quarter of a million police cars are take-home cars. Some in garages? Two main ideas for the take-home programs are visibility (parked outside) and quick response. There are some studied that police cars parked in residential areas deter crime.
Do you think that each and every night, every single officer carts every single weapon into his or her home? I’ll bet not. And still there are hardly any police car burglaries in comparison to the big national, picture. I know for a fact that hundreds of agencies in the US “assign” a shotgun to a patrol car or detective car. Take-home cars or not. Those guns are in those cars on government parking lots all the time too. (Alarms today do help.)
So, Dear, Panty-Twisted, Rambo, do you not realize that every time officers leave their cars on a call, and lose sight of their cars when inside a mall, a business, a house, where ever, they are leaving a car with guns in it? Every single time. Shotguns. Rifles. Pistols. Like that officer did when eating on his dinner break. Brace yourself. Armed police cars are left unattended ALL THE TIME, everywhere.
How about you? Do you leave some guns in your car for even a few minutes? An hour? Overnight? Once in a while? Think they are safe in the trunk? Mine weren’t. And for this indiscretion I too, will be called all these derogatory invectives by these Rambo, virgin, gun-toters, the same denigrations as the ”holier-than-thou” disparaged on that hungry officer on a break mentioned earlier.
There are no reliable numbers for guns stolen from US cars in general. But the best guess is thousands. Locked cars and even unlocked cars. But the theft issue is one thing, the other is the lack of a handy handgun when you need one, because it’s, “out in the car.”
But this essay so far is just a round-about way to get me to pontificate about, and for you concealed carry people to think about…guns, cars…and…the gym. Yes the gym? Yes, the gym and your cars on the parking lot of the gym. Or how about parking on a lot and taking a jog?
I was and still am a gym rat. I was and am in a gym 4, even 5 days a week if home. My dilemma was what to do with – first decades ago, storing my big-ass .357 magnum Colt Python, then storing my .45. Oh, and my badge too? Leave them in the car? The trunk? You know the lockers in the gym were burglarized regularly and the idea of leaving them in one was too dangerous. So the lockers were out of the question. Could I…wear the big-ass Springfield Armory .45 while working out? What about those extra magazines for when MS 13 invaded the weight room? (Have there been any mass shootings in gyms? I don’t know.) Should I be one of those people that hauls around a gym bag with my hand chalk, lip gloss, shark repellent, tourniquet, 3 mags and…my handgun? Those gym bags also had a knack of disappearing off the gym floor too. Could I absolutely keep track of that bug-out/work-out bag, 100% of the time?
“Dear Chief…I was star gazing into the aerobics room and someone grabbed my gym bag, with gun and badge inside.”
“Dear Chief…I was bench pressing and while concentrating on my max, someone grabbed my bag with my gun and badge inside.”
…or how about this crime report from a citizen “Dear Officer, some one peeled that cheap gym locker open and stole my Desert Eagle.”
Should I wear one of those “fanny packs?” (Watch out with that term around the world because it means different things in different countries.) And then worse, I also ran both inside and outside the gym when possible for a portion of the workout. It’s no fun running with a Colt Python or a .45 bouncing in a fanny pack. But there are tighter “spandexy” kinds of fanny packs and drawers (underwear) body holsters. Do you carry a smaller gun for these gym workouts and runs? If so, where’s your big main gun? Whoops….in the car?
I did a casual, little survey back in 2016 on this subject with a whole bunch of cops I know from around the world. Know where their guns were? Especially when at the gym. Locked in their cars, for most. I only found a few officers that wore a smaller gun in some manner in the gym or running (yeeessss, primary gun was – back in the car). And there were a few who did the gym bag thing. One officer got in a bind with some bad guys he’d once arrested and pulled a gun from his gym bag for a threat while in the gym. That incident was the single, gym-gun-pull incident I could find in my gossipy, non-scientific study.
But never mind the police. What about concealed carry people? What do they do with their handguns when at the gym? They have the same problems. Police and citizens! Where is that gun or gun-tottin’ gym bag when you take the shower? In that flimsy locker? In a safe in your car? Just in the car? In the trunk? If you will listen to some zealous, gun guys? That’s a no-no unless its strapped on you. Some sound like they shower with their pistols on them, or have them resting on nearby soap trays.
A whole lot of people leave their guns in their cars, even the Rambos, even if they refuse to admit it. The clever line is, “a car is not a holster for your gun.” Many states have business locations that forbid carrying guns. Does Rambo walk up, read the legally posted sign, then…leave his gun in his car?
Look, I don’t care where your gun is now. I am not preaching about grafting a pistol to your body. I don’t really care what you do. But, just ask yourself – when you’re at the gym, or for that matter a restaurant? Or on a quick shopping or business visit? Work? A jog? Or, sleeping in your beds at night? Where are all your guns, Mister Rambo? Honestly?
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Play it again Sam… “You must remember this. A stick is just a stick. A stick is not a sword. The fundamental things in FMA, changed as time….goes….by…”
Filipino stick training. Filipino martial arts. When it comes to the FMA stick, it’s kind of schizophrenic. As usual I write about things as they “come up.” And last weekend’s seminar was another example of the routine question I hear once in a while – “Hock, I study Escrima, and the instructor told me you can’t grab the other’s guy’s stick because it’s supposed to be a bolo.” (Bolo being FMA for the sword or machete)
“Yeees,” I say. “True,” I say. “But what we have here today is…just a stick.”
The fact that this question continuously pops up, is reason alone to write about it. A Filipino stylist should know about this sword/stick thing and be able to explain and articulate on the subject. A stick is a sword? A sword is a stick? Not really. Can’t grab? Shouldn’t grab? As a person doing Arnis/Kali/Escrima since 1986 as an obsession at first, and now as a curious hobby of sorts, let me sketch this out for you.
There are MANY Filipino systems, way more than you have heard of. We just know the lucky-break ones. And systems are being invented all the time. In most of these old and new systems, practitioners have replaced the “wooden” (rattan) stick for the machete, sword as a safer training device. This replacement causes the confusion.
Do Filipinos carry sticks around? No. I’ve been to the Philippines several times, in some big cities and out in the provinces like the Negros Islands and whether it be the municipal areas or the isolated jungles, no one is walking around with a rattan stick on their belts. Plenty of machetes though. Plenty of sharp knives and sharp farm tools. No sticks. In the Philippines, or say, in Mexico and just about any farming culture locations anywhere really, if you are to be killed with an edged weapon, it will probably be a nasty old, rusty farm tool. In Mexico I am told, the expression is, “you will be killed by the $5 knife.”
Remy Presas would tell me stories of his youth and how he watched men with crop machetes fight and die for sport and money on the Negros. But there was a safer way to do this! And they used the round stick instead, which Remy Presas did for money also. So, a sporting/betting alternative to the machete was born. The stick! (And by the way they did have dulled “training machetes” to use also, but the round stick caught on better. Oh, the lucky breaks.)
I guess for some I should introduce or remind folks the difference between a round stick and a flat sword/machete. You see, one is round. One is flat. There ya go! But really, they swing different, weigh different and if you are limited to flat edges, one should really be applied differently. A stick is an impact weapon that strikes with the tip, the staff of it, and the handle.
On the subject of the stick and sword handle – the sword handle can be round so to speak, but often very contoured and form-fighting for the hand. While the Filipino stick is usually just round with no designated end for an official handle. In fact it might be a little taboo to have a designated handle on your FMA stick? We sometimes grimace a bit when we see an over-taped or customized baston handle, don’t we? While FMA swords have all kinds of admirable, customized grips. And proud of it, too.
Many of the machetes around the world are single edge, and the swords are not necessarily single edged, and can come in all kinds of interesting and elegant shapes, but FMA swords usually that not big and wide like…like say, European broadswords. (Please do not send me photos of giant, Filipino broadswords – I know they exist – I used the word “usually.”) But with the “roundness” of a stick, you lose the very vital, flat-edge-ness of the sword. Oh yeah, and swords are more deadly, faster finishers and need less power application than sticks.
To accept the stick hand grab is too ignore sword tradition and perhaps believe that in our next street fight, we would be stick-dueling with some thug? The designated thug will use the exact same-sized, designated stick we have! Then again, will you be sword or machete dueling? Outside of a few big “civilized” countries? Well…yes.
Somehow the sword shape-shifted into the stick so deep in our hearts and minds. Oh, for the love of sticks! For decades, the FMA lover just used sticks, stick, STICKS! The art, the tricks of STICK fighting, stick-centricm alone developed. Many lovers do not know, or do not care that the sticks are supposed to be swords and machetes. And with the stick, comes a lot of double-hand grabbing and opponent stick grabbing. Look at Tapi-Tapi and Balintawak, for just two pop examples. We all accept the rules that sticks are sticks, sticks have become embraced in FMA and by God, we’ll grab them whenever and where ever we want.
So, in the 1990s stick enthusiasts came out of the traditional closest and started declaring “you must remember this, a stick is just a stick, a sigh is just a sigh. The fundamental things of living, as time goes by.” And I agree! Just understand you are using a stick. The round stick acceptance was easier for me perhaps because, being a cop, I always thought of the rattan baston as a police stick (or an axe handle). My interest in the FMA stick was not an esoteric, artsy pursuit. People are not “Kung Fu fightin’ – fast as lightning” with matching 28-inch sticks in the alleyways of London (I hear they are throwing a lot of acid these days) or on the south side of Chicago. I wanted to know stick/baton stuff.
Then, I somehow eased into decades of fun, hobby, certainly social, Filipino stick fighting/dueling stuff. I actually run TWO kinds of stick courses. One, the main big one is Force Necessary: Stick which explores blocking, striking and grappling with an modern impact versus hands, sticks, knives and gun threats. There is zero implication that this is based on any swords. And if you want me to? Ask me to? I will do the Filipino stick vs stick materials I have learned since 1986. Granted I have cut that down too. I play stick-checkers not stick-chess, seeking the essence of it all and not mindlessly, endlessly replicating established – and often BLOATED systems. Or while away my time, seeking out the next stick system, and oh the fascinating magic that THEY do. I don’t run a stick museum, and hell…it’s just a damn stick. (As Remy would often say – “of course, you could just hit the man in the head with the stick.”)
Isn’t it odd that a round stick is chosen to replace a flat bolo or sword? That is like replacing a flat katana with a round broom stick. Isn’t it? katana practitioners would never accept that.
So we learned that legions of FMA-ers picked up their rounded sticks, sewed on their Filipino patches in revolution and clickety-clicked onward. As though machetes and thin swords never existed. It really is amazing how many FMA-ers blindly accepted the rattan stick as the real-deal McCoy when you think of it. I mean what would Japanese Katana fanatics think of waves of people using broom sticks and calling themselves Katana experts? Would golfers use hockey sticks? Would Chinese fan fighters use tennis rackets? Would a carpenter use a file instead of a saw? Thus the odd, FMS Stick, schizophrenia I suggested.
Everyone seems so happy with their sticks and stick bags. But still, you can hear these darn spoil sports complain that you should not and cannot grab your stick with two hands, nor can you grab your opponent’s stick with your free hand because it’s a sword! You fool! How dare you! It’s a sword! A bolo! A machete!
The stick is just like the sword? Is this an excuse? That the universality of FMA weaponry makes them ever so interchangeable? Swords, sticks. Hands. Thin lamps. Rolling pins? “Who throws a shoe, honestly?” I don’t know because while some elements are the same, there are differences bigger than mere nuance. A sword…is kinda’…just like a sword.
In the last few years I have noticed an increase in…Filipino sword fighting! Yes. Haven’t you seen it? Hundreds of FMA folks have picked up the thin sword. FMA sword grandmasters have arisen from the ashes. I applaud their interest and their understanding that the whole FMA shebang really comes from swords and machetes. My old friends like Chris LaCava and Christof Froehlich, just to name a few, have jumped deep into the roots, understanding the big picture.
And listen up you “grab-complainer instructors!” If you are so damned offended by people grabbing sticks and forgetting the stick is a machete? Look what’s in your hand! Look what YOU teach with! PUT DOWN THE DAMN STICK AND PICK UP A TRAINING SWORD INSTEAD! That will straighten things out. You know, you can buy dull, safe training swords and plastic swords and machetes too. You are NOT limited to the round “wooden” stick as an abstract facsimile. If you are going have hissy-fits about it? Then practice what you preach and use a damn sword! Pick a theme! A direction! Seriously! If you think the stick is a sword? Don;t confuse your people. Just use a training sword.
If you use a stick? It’s a stick. Grab it.
So, play it again Sam…
“You must remember this.
A stick is just a stick.
A stick is not a sword.
The fundamental things in FMA, changed as time….goes….by…”
See something interesting about this photo from a gun magazine? Anyone? Can you spot it?
Two guys. Apparently a fight has started. But some readers and viewers haven’t spotted it yet? The bad guy is…unarmed. No knife. No gun. Your eyes may glaze over the fact because we see the likes of it so often. Unarmed, yet our hero has decided in this unarmed scuffle, to pull his pistol. Will he threaten or shoot the unarmed man? We don’t know? Because so many published demonstrations end with the gun pull, like this as the last frame. But, in several ways, pulling a gun is a new beginning, not an end. Pulling a handgun is a “last resort” option. You shoot an unarmed person and now all the ugly “after” of the “before, during and after” begins. Is the gun pull on an unarmed man the end? Or the beginning? Why “freeze” there.
Many gun and martial magazine photos, web films fail to tell us what happens next. Did this able-bodied man decide to…to draw and shoot this unarmed man? This is a particular problem in modern police training films also – as we commonly see barefoot police on mats, wearing gun belts and drawing rubber pistols on unarmed people in arrests scuffle exercise. The scenario ends with the pistol pull. Ends? Who? What caused this? Where? When? Why for? How come? What happened next? I don’t know. You don’t know. We often just get the gun-pull photo or short film flashed ending in our head, working its way into a subliminal “okay” ending. I have had to arrest a lot of people, struggling with many, they were unarmed and I never dreamed of pulling my pistol unless something really drastic happened, like him pulling a weapon.
Questions unanswered. Where is the real finish to the fight? I have worked many shootings and murders through the decades as a police investigator. I’ve attended dozens of schools on this subject. I’ve also been “taken to legal-reality school” by vet prosecutors, vet criminal defense attorneys and courtroom testimony. We investigate, indict and move to prosecution, (no matter what country the process is in) and I learned the cracks, the elements, the loopholes and yes, the distortions that can exist in each case. The simple becomes complex. The small-big. The big-small. Shooting someone is a financially and emotionally expensive rollercoaster ride. Trust me when I say that the gun pull is a last resort move for you, for who you are.
Oddly and interesting, many gun magazines and youtube films, the better ones, spend a lot of time discussing self defense, legal issues, yet there is this unfinished detachment found when exercising, drilling.
The “Mister Freeze” Finish – If you have been “around,” I think you’ve seen this draw- and-freeze, in training, books, magazines and videos. Think about it for a moment, the photo spreads and films of standing or grounded folks ending with a pulled rubber gun pointing at an attacker. The attacker is often unarmed. And if the attacker is armed with say – a knife and about to plunge down? The knifer still just freezes at gunpoint like a statue when the rubber gun is pointed at him. Even if a charging knifer was shot, (see below photo) he could still fall down on you in a gurgling, wounded mess. The knife still very much an after-shot danger, something the shooter needs to experience in training. Freezing is not good realistic, legit finish.
Part of the confusion begins with using rubber guns. You know the typical “force-on-force” training, right? The term? The idea? This innocent, thoughtless “Mister Freeze Finish” is not just a police problem anymore either. Citizens do this constantly now too. As a result, this mysterious sort of “freeze” ending appears in magazines and videos even more. This was and is unfortunately often practiced without verbal commands – yes – unless the instructor insists. Man freezes. Set done. Photo series over. Film clip over. But, what happened next to Mister Freeze? Was he shot and wounded? Or shot dead? Fled? Surrendered? Arrested? Controlled until authorities arrive? If so? How? If an instructor only wants to teach the raw movements of a stress draw, isolated from beginnings and endings, this should be explained.
Beginnings Through Endings. Where does this stress draw fit in the bigger situational picture of a shooting? Here are the big events of draw decision, far more from just shoot-don’t shoot.
Event 1: There-Not-There. Why are you there? Or then, why are you still there?
Event 2: Draw-Don’t Draw. Getting the gun “out.”
Event 3: Aim/Don’t Aim. The gun can be drawn out but not pointed. Threaten off? Scare away? How do you do this? Another whole essay.
Event 4: Shoot-Don’t Shoot. Now you are aiming. Threaten off? Scare away? How do you do this? Must shoot? Another whole essay.
Event 5: Stay-Don’t Stay. For many in certain circumstances this might be an option, or sometimes the only option. The “orderly retreat.”
Every one of these 5 events requires a full lecture and a physical exercise or two, three, to actually experience, with safe, simulated ammo. You might conjure up some live-fire-on-target versions to support them.
This Shoot-Don’t Shoot Conundrum. In the who subject of “who are you?” My friend and very smart, NRA Texas gun Instructor Karl Rehn, owner of KR Training reminds, “One of the flaws in the presentation of this all this unarmed combatives material (and people’s perception of it) is that all the demos in magazines and films involve young, fit, male people fighting other young, fit, male people. To those that are martial arts enthusiasts, it’s easy to believe in the outcome of winning in an unarmed fight. That’s not true for all gun carriers, many of whom are older, weaker or simply do not have any training or confidence in their skills.”
Fighting like this is not golf or tennis, maybe a bit like football, rugby or Australian “Footie.” Certainly more like MMA (which is superior to BJJ in material and intent). It strikes. It’s rough. It’s tumble. People can and do get hurt in training. The vast majority of gun owners worldwide can’t, don’t and won’t work on this…this sort of “Gun-MMA” for a variety of reasons most won’t-can’t do any exercising at all.
In this same vein, one of my long time students years ago was very successful heart surgeon. He was about 55 years-old and in moderate-to-good shape. He always worked out in our hand, stick, knife, gun materials. He does well enough with it all, but routinely proclaims aloud that, “if some young punk tries to rob me, unarmed or not, I can’t fight with him. I’m an old man. I am shooting him dead.”What can you say to that? It is all very, very situational. He’s already heard all my speeches, warnings, advice and worked through the shoot/don’t shoot exercises. I just say, “Well…okay, Doc, I hope that works out for ya.”
Old friend and attorney David Kenik wrote in Shooting Times “Bubba is heading right for you, smacking his fists together and yelling that he is going to beat you to death. You are scared for your life and rightfully so, but the advancer is unarmed. Can you you use your firearm to defend yourself? The answer is 100%, unequivocally, positively…MAYBE!”
Remember the Treyvon Martin-Zimmerman case in Florida to name just one? Shooter shoots an unarmed man that’s on top of him, punching down on him. Zimmerman, losing, pulls and shoots. Seems logical, but LOTS of legal and social, situational problems. Zimmerman was set free in the end. Of course there are some situations where a person can legally justify shooting an unarmed attacker. Situational as it’s a who, what, when, where, how and why study.
Mister Freeze Summary. I do not want to create the doctrine, artwork (photos and films), and the muscle memory of people indiscriminately drawing on, or indiscriminately drawing and shooting, unarmed people. Nor should you. I am just here warning you to watch out for the “Mister Freeze” imagery from some popular magazine articles, books, photos spreads and videos “out there,” that show folks mindless pulling training guns when they shouldn’t and about to shoot attackers when they shouldn’t, or not explaining the various important things that happen before or next. Art imitates life. Life imitates art. You might know better, but still do it impulsively anyway from brain imagery, oh those nasty Mirror Neurons in your brain! If you draw, if you draw and shoot an unarmed person, you’d better have great and understandable reasons.
Solo Pictures and Series of Photos. It will always be difficult trying to convey a big lesson, and the context of such, in one single photo, or even a photo series. It’s a real challenge for authors, magazines, books, even short films. Because of this, we must be careful of the unintended consequences from these words and images being scattered around. Are you inadvertently training to shoot unarmed people?
Read up on the precise laws of “fear of life,” “lethal force,” “self-defense,” “imminent, bodily injury, “stand your ground,” “retreat,” etc, with examples,click right here.
Tomahawk, hatchet, axe, Pick a noun. Tomahawk sounds cooler. The last few years, my Facebook and Youtube pages have been peppered with various superstar guys doing/teaching theee….Tomahawk! Or Axe! I absorb the clips with some amazement, confusion, trepidation and distaste. Am I seeing an audition for Flash Dance or real-life, “Axe Combatives?”
The fad goes viral. Seeing the videos, geared to make ignorant jaws-drop. Mistakes? Before I start with this somewhat satirical, tongues-inside-cheeks review, I will state my “bona fidis” that qualifies my twisted opinion. In police work I have had an hand axe thrown at me. I was also attacked by a man rushing at me with a full, big axe. I have worked an axe murder, and several criminal investigations involving axe attacks. For many years I attended an annual “Death and Violent Assault “week long training school, where medical examiners from big cities flew in to discuss, show and explain their major cases for the year. Slide shows and narrative. Synopsis. These included reviews and slides on the occasional axe/hatchet murders and autopsy reviews. I am also history buff and have made several deep-dive studies into edged weapons in modern combat.
I have co-instructed a few seminars with the late-great, Dwight McClemore doing “historic tomahawk.” Dwight has spent a lifetime studying this very subject. And after hanging out for years with full-blooded Apache, Snake Blocker – an obsessive American Indian researcher and Apache, these guys might be 100 times greater than most of these other folks parading the globe with this-or-that axe/tomahawk course. I therefore, offer my sardonic observations…So, what about “axe-ical” training in war, crime and the martial arts? Well, sir and ma’am, it’s all about the “KATHUMP!”
In short, for starters, with the fads, I am asked about my own tomahawk, axe program. I have none and here’s why. if I were to dare initiate my very own, axe fighting course, I would officially call it, yes – Kathump! “Kathump” because when you actually hit a human being with an axe/tomahawk it goes…kathump. In fact, it might go so far deep, a kathump, it might take a foot on that body part to work, wiggle and pump the axe out. I am bedazzled by the flowing figure fours and multiple-step, follow-ups that the axe masters demonstrate when showing their moves in combat scenarios. Most of all that should really stop at the first good, kathump.
For example, there’s a video clip of an art-axe-man teaching a seminar, showing a sweeping, replica blow to head (simulated of course by going over the head because we can’t really hit the head) then he majestically sweeps down with the weapon and hits the Achilles tendon or at very least, hooks the ankle and pulls in a successful foot sweep, and said stuntman/uke cooperates and is pulled down. The mouth-watering, viewing masses, watching with their various rubber and plastic facsimiles in their hands cannot wait to simulate this two step, axe attack! I said to myself upon viewing this,
“Hold on a minute…wouldn’t that vicious swing into the head…just go…kathump? Thereby ending the flow, thereby stopping at step 1, thereby no cool step 2, ankle chop-chop or ankle, sweep-pull?”
Two steps? What of the three or more step sets they do? I have seen 3, 4 and 5 step, fake-axe moves taught, which clearly couldn’t be finished because of the step 1 or step 2 kathump. I watch and I just kept spotting motion-stopping kathumps. Doesn’t ANYONE realize the folly of what they are doing? Do they care? Should they care? Do they not know they have to remove-wrestle with the many embedded axe strikes? More on these problem steps later. Right now, who can claim rights to the tomahawk-hatchet-axe heritage?
The Universal Axe. there a culture, or a country on the planet that in their early history, didn’t need and develop an axe of some sort for work or war? Axes were and are everywhere. Thus, it becomes easy for any martial arts maestro to whip a cool, axe-axe, choppy-choppy, course because…because who in hell will actually research-challenge their info, especially those folks enveloped in fads and “system-love” and “system-leader” love. You just follow the leader with the exotic premise that, “the martial grass is always greener elsewhere,” one can conjure/invent/claim any axe course from anywhere.
Different countries. For example, here is a brief, McLemore-ian history of the tomahawk. USA. “The term tomahawk was derived from the Algonquian words “tamahak” or “tamahakan.” The Native American Indians regularly used tomahawks made from stone heads which were attached to wooden handles secured by strips of rawhide. They used tomahawks for general uses such as hunting, chopping, cutting, or also as a weapon.”
It would be odd, at least an eyebrow-raiser for me if a guy in Norway suddenly started teaching “American Indian Tomahawk.” Who from? Viking Tomahawk? Well okay. I also have my suspicions about lifelong FMA teachers who suddenly conjure a hatchet course from thin air, from say, ohhh… “Mindanao (?)” swinging…American tomahawk trainers from Cold Steel? All because it’s a fun fad they want to cash in on.
But exotics aside, having a simple, flat hammer head on one side stout rubber coated ergonomic, handle like a worker’s tool, seems very useful, unlike these classic 1776-like hawks. After all, as with knives, soldiers use axes in the field for all kinds of lifestyle chores. Modern axes tech evolved for problem-solving. (How about those hand axes with the hollow handles? Inside – fishing line, hook, compass, Hersey bars, toothpicks, condoms, whatever!)
Tomahawk-ian Figure Eights? All these flows and motions? Look, I know it’s important to spend time holding a tool, a weapon, swinging it around. Hitting things, etc. Bonding with the weapon. I see films of people by themselves, just doing that work with axes. A lot of things like figure 8s in the air, etc. I get the idea. I also see that the axe or tomahawk is used in hooking-trapping-moving the limbs of an opponent. I get that too. But to me, they seem to do and expect way too much of a performance. When the expert stands before an “opponent” and does 9 steps of buzz saw, figure 8 magic, that would really have ended at step 2 because of the…ka…thump. Jeremy Mayes calls it, “the tomahawk ballet.”
Axe versus axe? We live in a very mixed weapons world, would you always be fighting axe-to-axe? Ever? Nope, I don’t think so. That duel expectation is a little crazy and off the crime and war kilter. But if just a hobby? Who cares, as long as they know it’s a fun hobby. Have fun and exercise with your hobbies. Just don’t forget the kaaaa-thunk reality!
As a European friend and life-long martial artist told me recently – he questioned a martial arts axe teacher at a axe seminar, with these same kathump doubts. “You couldn’t continue after that first chop!” The internationally known instructor actually replied to all present – “but where’s the fun in that?” I once asked a guy about his axe god/hero and how the demos and training would be cut by 2/3rds if they recognized the kathumps as real. He actually said, “Then there wouldn’t be enough material for a seminar.”
And you know, people like to throw axes-tomahawks for fun, sport and hobby. Okay. Fine. Fun hobby. And who knows someday you may have to toss one like our Mr. Tomahawk here, America’s favorite frontier hero!
The soldier’s story.“The Tomahawk was a popular weapon in Viet Nam. Some Spec Op teams still use it today,” is a common, loose comment we hear today. I say loose because of the choice of the words “popular weapon.” It’s a misnomer as opposed to better terms like “popular tool” or “popular carry.” Of course it could be a weapon, and has been used as such within the vast variety of events in the modern combat, firearms age. I think military history proves the hatchet-axe has been carried-used all over the world by ALL of the world’s soldiers for centuries, but I remind, way more enemy soldiers were killed by bullets and explosions in modern combat. And more fires, construction and deconstruction jobs were done with axes. A very brief, short-list of war weapons, use-continuum for combat (not chores) –
in comparison, rare use – knives,
in comparison, then rarer use – axes. But when it’s down to “axe time?” It’s axe time.
“Some argue that hatchets aren’t practical, while others defend their usage — and, of course, the image associated with it. ‘While I appreciate the history of the hatchet, I wouldn’t carry one for any practical purpose,” said Alex Green, a former U.S. Army Ranger who deployed four times with 3rd Ranger Battalion. “For jungle or dense vegetation, machetes are much more practical. For urban warfare, hoolie tools (fireman wrench bars) and bolt cutters are much more useful. In today’s world, I honestly don’t know why I would carry a hatchet.’ ” -Coffee of Die”
Sergeant Wayne Capacillo said. “I used it more than I thought — mainly breaking into gates, doors, and locks.” – Coffee or Die
The axe-tomahawk-hatchet is handy in the field for a multitude of chores. Surely many, many special ops folks carry one today when heading out to the field for whatever comes up, within the weapon’s continuum and the other mission requirements.
Okay. Hang on! Let’s Make Some Ax Courses! What I would do if I invented an axe course? If truly pressed into the fad? The course would be much shorter. So short, the course might only be 60 minutes? No chance for a whole day or a two-day seminar. The scenarios would absolutely include the deadly, flow-stopping, kathump realities. Basically, I would process the axe through the classic Force Necessary formats, with nuance changes specific to the axe, and add mixed weapon fights. And, I wouldn’t call it “Texican Axe Fighting,” just because I am from Texas. Here are some great names for axe courses I’ve invented to catch the attention of fad martial artists…
“Secrets of Monte Carlo Axe Fighting.”
“The Bali Tomahawk.”
“Sudanese Axe Combatives.”
“Tai Chi Axe.”
“BJJ Axe Combatives “(taught by nephews)
“Shit I Made Up, Tommy-Hawk Course!” Well, if it kills people (the whole point right?) I guess it’s okay.
Navy SEAL…Something! (ANY SEAL deal will sell like mad.)
Or, mine – “Kathump!”
Or… I reserve the right to “Toma-HOCK!” You know, just in case someone really-REALLY wants me to convert the SFC foundation to a tommy-hawks.
In Summary. Back on Target.The unrealistic training distortions invented by fad martial artists bugs me, not that people should ignore axes. I support the axe! For fun? For history? For exercise? For hobby? For…self defense? The next time you see one of these axe or tomahawk martial masters do their flash-dance-ballet thing in scenarios? Stop and take a hard look, an examination of exactly who, what, when, where, how and why that edged weapon goes…kathump and ruins the flash dance.
(And that is my somewhat, tongue-in-cheek review of axe fighting courses. Axe-on, axe-off, amigo.)
Frigid to Red Hot Fighting – Fighting Cold from Red Hot No, fighting cold is not about being mugged in Alaska or just a concern for the 10th Mountain Division. “Shooting cold” is a term thrown around here and there by smart people in the gun training business, but also relates the ambush in hand, stick and knife world too. It should be a major concern for all, because generically, it’s really about the ambush, the surprise attack. And you must respond – cold. Usually you hear the term with snipers or hunters. Folks who have to suddenly shoot a long gun from a distance. And from a clean barrel. Once in a while you will hear of a “one-shot” competition-
“Participants will be allotted a single shot, cold-bore (unfired rifle) @ 1000 yards. (30 Caliber & under) Time & hit determines the winner.”
They have those things because, they are challenging. The sin weighs heavy with that icy-cold rifle, but what of the shooter? There’s also an important concept of “cold bore shooters.” I guess you could remove the word “bore.” Cold shooters. I think in terms of training and then real life crime and war ambushes, there might be a nickname, “Frigid Bore Shooting,” or “frigid shooting.” Here’s what I mean.
Chilly? Cold? Frigid? After all, who wants to fight cold or shoot cold in competitions for scores, trophies, money and bragging rights? Who doesn’t want to take a few warm up shots? I know I often like to do a few dry-fires before live-fires. I use to participate in some police shooting competitions and they were often complicated paths, chores and obstacles involved. You had to be briefed on your routes and goals, and this would include a “walk-thru,” or a dry-run,” or even a live-fire run before the official run. Same with police training courses and qualifications. It could be safety issue.
How cold is it, though? Completely frigid? Cold? Or chilly? They call it “cold shooting,” or reverse the phrase, “shooting cold,” and it kind of’ is, in a way. Sadly, oddly, some of the best shooters I know, don’t do as spectacular in their first set, as they wish, and this is one reason why they keep score of this process over time. And often they do about as good as I can when we all start, and I do not shoot as much as they do, nor do I labor and belabor and ponder the art, science, love and dedication to trigger pressure and bulls eye, pistol, target shooting as they do.
They admit, fighting and shooting cold is challenging for most. And, it frustrates some. Then they very quickly get much, much better after a “warm-up.
The subject of cold shooting comes up on the web once in a while. Some regular, range shooters I know and hear about will always keep score of their first set, their “cold shooting” when they first step up to the firing line and shoot a set. A virgin experience of the day? Was it completely virgin? They want to keep track of how well they do after they:
set the time and date, pack their gear at home,
drive to the range,
get out of the cars,
get some gear from the “back” of the car,
maybe sip some coffee, talk about guns,
chat with the “range masters,” and course instructors,
carry their gear to the spot/stand/table/shelf,
If at a class? Listen to the instructors intro, lecture and in some cases.
shuffle up to the target and paste up a new,
wander back to the shooting line and shoot…”cold.”
So a cold shooter on gun day is not “frozen-solid-ambush” when they shoot at a range. Neither are folks starting a gym workout or a hand, stick , knife class. The mind and body are cooking just a little to go train. A hunter has worked on the trip, sometimes insanely so, before departure, going over equipment and plans in his or her head.
I became interested by this idea of shooting and fighting cold. What does it mean in the bigger picture? How does it relate to self-defense, in crime and in war? You know, all the “who, what, where, when how and why” questions I like to kick around. Subliminal preparation? Years ago it was common knowledge in the fitness field that if you packed for the gym and drove to the gym about the same times, your body/brain knew the routine as we are such creatures of habit. You drive, park, walk the lot, climb the stairs. All the while your body/brain is saying, “Okay, okay, we’re coming. We’re getting ready.” Once in the gym, is this moment a true zero? Or, maybe 10? 10 to 60? Last month I parked on my gym parking lot and saw another guy, a bit older than me, park too. He got out of his car, got a gym bag and stopped. He took his ball cap off, looked to the sky and said a prayer. I spied his lips moving. Then he donned his cap and made for the gym doors. He really pre-prepped for a work-out! What did he say in prayer, I wonder?
“Dear Lord, let me crush everything?” “Dear Lord, don’t let me die of a heart attack this morning?” What would your prep prayer be? Have one? Need one?
Routines. Preparation. Getting ready. Not always short term. We have all gone to a shooting class, or a martial tournament that we anticipated and our inner engine was revved up more than just the morning before. Even the night before. Even longer than that. I once took a shooting course, to prepare for the tougher shooting course the following weekend.
How powerful can mental preparation be? Surely you have heard of, or read the studies about how positive this mental approach can be. It is important. I recall even back in 1972, in Ed Parker Kenpo Karate, teachers and students gossiping about another martial arts system and how the system sequestered students in dark rooms, assigned them to imagine the moves over and over in their heads as a basis of performance. 1972! None of us could fathom this being successful. Yet, quite a number of studies say this works! It somehow works for some. So, does the simple act of going to the range to shoot on gun day, mentally prepare you for the target/bulls eye process? I think so. A bit. It is one step back from dry-firing if you think about it.
Just getting dressed for work, be it a guard, or police, lawyer, truck driver, or an accountant starts churning up, the work mind, whether you realize it or not.
Frigid? How about being asleep? It’s especially cold-cold when you consider the old attempts at testing the responses of police when THEY WERE ASLEEP! Yes. They would bed down a series of state troopers in a sleep clinic environment and tell them that they would be harshly awakened at some point and they would have to wake up, grab a nearby gun and shoot a target near the foot of their bed. The results were not so good. Often bad in fact. Another similar sleep-study let tested police wake up on their own and they had to remember this assigned chore of immediately shooting. They were groggy-slow to remember the assigned chore, but most did grab and shoot…and also not too well, but they did remember. Where does this information fit in the “chilly, cold and frigid” charts of our considerations? Frankly, I don’t exactly know, but it’s interesting.
It starts in the mind. When you actual started doing physical stuff on your jogging route, or at the gym, or at the “dojo,” or the shooting range, you are not really, fully working out “cold.” The same is true with getting your uniform on for work, or slinging your vest on in the military. You are not cold-cold (unless of course, much time passes between the prep and action and you “chill out,” which is a whole other set of study we talk about in other essays). And the same mental prep is true of the drive to shooting range, the lugging of gear, the chat with the range master. The inner gears are working. This type of first round scoring, cold shooting is not as frigid as you think. Not like a zero-to-sixty ambush frigid. (Think for a moment about all the mental and physical prep before SWAT arrives on a scene.)
Life is either… My old catch phrase is – “life is either an interview or an ambush” that people hear each week that I teach. I hope they never tire of it. The greatest armies in the world have been defeated by ambush. The simple element of surprise. The greatest fighters too. I get a kick out the internet comments when location cameras around the world catch a criminal jumping a victim in the most “ambushy” types of locales.
It does come back to the element of surprise and the ambush, doesn’t it. There is always a wise-guy, arm-chair-est that comments “that person was not alert!” and the sage advice, “you must always stay alert.” As if he, she, or we all, walk around with enough cortisol scarring our veins and heart, to be scanning EVERYWHERE, ALL the time. We always hear the expression “you don’t pick the time and place of your attack, the enemy does,” so as everyday walk-around folks, or someone on common police and military patrol, you will probably, suddenly be fighting chilly or cold. It is certainly a good idea to worry about and consider “cold-fighting” and “cold shooting,” in your training, even though we simply cannot really replicate that “zero-to-sixty” frigid to red hot, encounter. I don’t think we need a chart the size of a doorway like the new OODA Loop demo diagrams have become, to explain this simple “Boo/Surprise” idea. The element of surprise and reaction to it, can be as simple as a foot fake in football, rugby or soccer.
There are many startle responses to the sudden boo/jump, (one modern textbook counted 30 responses) not just one or two, hands-up, as you might have been sold to believe by martial and gun marketeers. Let’s hope you don’t fall right down or feint, which are two of the startle responses! You instead, have to deal with the attack.
Immediate Action Drills The element of surprise has defeated the greatest militaries of the world. I first learned about all this Ambush/Counter- Ambush in the U.S. Army in 1973, and it was a big deal. They trained us in what was called back then, “Immediate Action Drills,” things done so many times that you may well jump right into that response groove when ambushed. Hopefully. It is reinforced by many, many repetitions. Here are some of my old Army manual notes (minus the small and large unit suggestions they offer) on the ambush drill idea that relates to citizens and police.
“Immediate action drills” are drills designed to provide swift and positive reaction. They are simple courses of action, dome immediately. It is not feasible to attempt to design an immediate action drill to cover every possible situation. It is better to know few immediate action drills for a limited number of situations that usually occur (in a combat area.)
1- Can be designed, developed, and used by anyone, (any unit) 2- Are designed and developed as needed for the anticipated combat situation. 3- When contact/ambush, is at very close range and maneuver may restricted.”
This does work often, and then…sometimes not, because you might be too frigid, or too cold to respond well. Just some notes. As I have stated many times before, when students approach you with concerns about “how-fast” and “will-they” react properly to an sudden attack, you can honestly shove them back on the floor and tell them to do more reps, and explain why. “Fortune favors the prepared.” Build confidence, yes, but darn it, cold is still cold, and frigid is still worse.
But, back to the shooting guns cold subject. One of my friends said after reading this when first published in 2011-
“Hock is right about this. I suck shooting cold, but that is how I am going to shoot, cold, stepping out of the Waffle House and suddenly in trouble, on any given night.”
So, it’s hard to replicate shooting cold or fighting cold in training, because you are never completely cold-cold when you plan, dress and travel and lug-in and gear-up for training. Maybe they should call a real ambush response “Shooting Frigid?” or “Fighting Frigid” instead of just being cold? Frigid bore shooting? Am I getting warm, yet?
Knives have personalities. The generic look. The generic history. Military look. Kitchen look. Slashing look. Stabbers. Think of some more! Even the personality of the person carrying or holding the knife changes the…personality of the knife. The personal attachment look. What is the personality of your knife? I think there are several factors in knife personalities.
I think there are several factors in knife personalities.
Culture of the knife Personality – One is the culture of the knife. Certain edged weapons have a history, a geographic flavor. Just think of the Japanese Tanto. The Kris. The Bowie knife. The Italian stiletto. The medieval dagger. The double-edged, commando knife. One in the martial business, or the knife aficionados, or makers recognize the aura/genre of many knives. This cultural attraction alone might be a main reason someone buys to collect, or buys to carry a knife. Somehow, some way, the look captures one’s fancy, imagination, expectation or whatever connection to books, movies, TV or past affiliation. Sort of a mysticism we mentally project upon a simple inanimate knife. After all, what makes us select the cars, pants, churches or sports teams we do? We are tribal, particular and peculiar from our hats down to our shoes. Hats and shoes as in style that is, not in size. We can’t change the size of our head or our feet. We can change the size and shape of a knife, but will the size be appropriate for our…”heads” and ”feet?”
Slashing, hacking and stabbing personalities – The shape and size of the knife tells an experienced handler what it can do best. Some are better hackers. Some long, thin ones are better stabbers. Some are wide and are better shaped for slicing. Like a carpet layer needs a certain angle for exactly what is needed, so do all knife users. A novice to so-called, knife “fighting,” a new-be to say, construction work, will not know what kind of knife does what best. Experience and education is called for.
Personal, knife personality examples – I knew a Green Beret, Vietnam vet who passed on standard Army/government issue knives and preferred his old own Bowie Knife, replete with a carved stag handle. It was a family heirloom you might say, and therefore more important to him than any generic, legend of Jim Bowie. He said it gave him a certain power, a certain mojo from which he garnered mental and physical strength. This is a personal touchstone, reminiscent of many cultures, such as some of the native Americans might carry a medicine bag of mojo. Same-same.
Another friend of mind sought an old-fashioned, traditional looking (and hard to open) pocket, folding knife with stag handles, with multiple blades, because his dad had a similar one and it was lost through time. Both, more “personal, private” personality, touchstone selections. Still, with game points awarded for symbolic and personal mojo, on the battlefield or for back porch whittling, the knife size, shape and handle must fall within a scope and range of usable practicality and common sense. Switch this over to a parallel concept – you wouldn’t a pack a flintlock pistol around for self defense, just because you love the early American history era. Extrapolate this idea over to other weapons and survival.
What personality knife do you really need? – Not just want for whatever abstract reason, but need? I think we have to return to the classic, Who, What, Where, When, How and Why questions I use all the time to best determine this.
Who are you to need a knife?
Who are you to carry a knife?
What do you really need or want a knife exactly for?
What do you exactly expect to do with this knife?
What training do you have to make this a wise choice? What are the local laws for such a knife? What state and, or country do you live in?
What happens next? You use the knife and what will the police and prosecutors think of the name and look of your knife?
Where will you carry this knife? Job? Protection? Handiness?
Where on your body will you clip, or sheath or cart your knife?
When will you need this knife? Work time? Off-time? Daytime? Nighttime? All the time?
How will you acquire this knife?
How will you use it? Do you know how?
Why will you select a specific knife?
Another, longer “what” question. The chicken or the egg? What came first for you? Or, what will come first, if you are just now thinking about knives? That mysterious adulation of …“the knife,” and then a knife training course? Or did you need a knife first for a task first, then seek a training course? This consideration might help clear a path for your knife selection and proper training. The collector, the historian, the practical user, the adulator? Who are you?
But that last line of questioning…the “why.” Why will you select a specific knife? I suggest that you do not make a selection based on looks, genres, eras and or culture alone. I think you should select a knife on its ultimate practicality. Of course if you are a collector looking for this or that showpiece – “I own one! It’s a beauty!” – have fun! (I am not much of a collector of things so I cannot relate to this, but of course, I do understand a hobby.) Or, if you are fanatic about say, old European sword and dagger fighting. Whatever. Get those weapons and mess around with them. Have fun and exercise. Shoot flintlock firearms (just don’t carry them as a self defense weapon).
Knives have personalities – The generic look. The generic history. The personal attachment. If you plan to actually carry and use a knife? Whether on the job as a telephone lineman, a surgeon, a soldier or a cop, or just a citizen with a hankering for a knife, think of them as tools and well…think of them as shoes. You’ll be wearing them too, and like your hat and shoes, you can change the style, but you can’t change the size of your head and feet. Get the appropriate tool/knife. See clearly, be fleet of foot for the trails and paths of life, Kemosabe. Don’t stumble around with the wrong size, else you’ll trip, fall and fail. And like “running with scissors,” running with the wrong knife can be a minor or costly mistake.
Trauma and drama. Years ago in a seminar in Kentucky, USA, an attendee, someone with zero martial or martial arts experience, just a regular guy attending a gun and knife seminar, asked…
“Someone confronts me over something. Maybe there will be a fight. It’s – you know- getting tense. If I pull my knife to…to scare him away or defend myself? And he is carrying a gun? Or a bigger knife? Will this cause him to pull his out? Have I caused him to escalate the fight?”
“Aahhh, yeah, that could happen,” I said. “That’s pretty messy,” he said. “Yeah,” I said.
And everyone stared at me for follow-up, words of wisdom and some “magic bullet” solution. I have none, except to remind, “Violence will almost always suck.”
People want “magic bullet” answers to a lot of complicated, situational, self-defense questions. There’s always big talk in the self-defense industry about “avoidance.” If too late to avoid, then next up in the event list is what they call “de-escalation.” Avoiding and de-escalating a common knucklehead before a fight physically starts is a small cottage industry of money-making. Some instructors confidently dole out magic bullets and solutions to confrontations.
“Say these things!”
“Stand like this!”
Now, I think it is certainly good to be exposed to all these ideas and methods. Sure. Why not? Do so. But as an obsessed skeptic, I see the false positives of the advice. I have investigated a whole lot of crimes through the decades; and while there are identifiable patterns and surprises, chaos can sure still reign supreme. But let me summarize by calling it all “situational.”
In the end, solutions are situational. Like calling plays in a football game, it depends on the situation. How you stand and what you say or do should be situational. Custom-built.
Other than an ambush, there’s an argument-confrontation. Then maybe a fight Given you have already performed all your pop/psych, lingo-bingo, avoidance and de-escalation steps, is it legally time to pull the weapon? You are armed under your coat or in your pocket with a knife or even a gun, and this verbal voodoo just ain’t working! “I’m singing the wrong song!” “Calling the wrong play!”
The mean man won’t leave! Or worse, the men (plural) won’t leave. Do you pull that weapon out? There are some situational concerns with doing this; and these concerns certainly do involve the overall escalating ladder of weaponry, violence, and legal problems. Even a facial expression and certainly striking a fighting stance can escalate the problem.
Here are a few facts and related ideas on the subject to kick around:
Fact: Some people do leave. You have the lingo-bingo and dodged the fight, or you have vamoosed yourself! (It’s the old, “why did you go there and why are you still there”?) On the flip side- will he leave? Will your pulled weapon make him leave? For many a year, 65% to 70% of the time when a knife or a pistol (sticks, by the way, are not in these study figures) is pulled in the USA, the criminal leaves you alone (old DOJ stats, old as it became harder and harder since the 1990s to find these numbers, as I don’t think the liberals like the message.) I have often heard the easy average of 67% used. But investigating crimes, I must warn folks that this is not as clean and simple an escape as it sounds. You pull, he walks away? Not so simple. There are many emotional, ugly events that happen in this weapon presentation-confrontation, even if the bad guy eventually leaves. In my experience and study, if the criminal is alone he might be quicker to leave, but if he is in or around a group, “his” group, he puts on more of a show before leaving to save face. We discuss these details in certain topical seminars and other specific essays. But a command presence while holding a weapon is worth looking into a mirror and practicing. I am sure Clint Eastwood did. And like actors practice their lines, it’s good to practice some lingo-bingo. Oh, and by the way Gorgo, you can’t shoot everybody.
Fact: Some people don’t leave. The good news with the 65%-35% split that if he will leaves 65% of the time, then you may only have to fight about 30-ish% of the time! So 30% of the time, 3 out of 10 the opponent does not leave and the fight is on, whether he is unarmed or armed, alone or with a pack. The bad news is when you are now in that “unlucky 30%,” or you might say you are now a 100%-er. You are 100% there and stuck in it. A hand, stick, knife, or gun fight! Your 6 out of 10 wins has turned to a 1 to 1 because, it’s you. You!
Fact: Yes, Some people are armed. You read it here! 40% to…gulp…90%? If you pull first, will he pull a bigger one next? General USA stats quoted for many years past say that 40% of the time the people we fight are armed. A few years back the FBI upped that anti. One retired state trooper deep dove into the stats and declared that NINETY percent of the people we scrap with are armed. Wow. 90%! That shocked me and I can’t imagine that. And another gem to add in is that 40% of the time we fight two or more people. Hmmm. So 40% (or 90%?) or more armed times 40% multiple opponents. Not a healthy equation. Lots of people. Lots of weapons. Lots of numerical possibilities. Lots of situations. The “smart money” in the USA or anywhere else is always bet that the opponent is armed.
Facts: Times and reasons to pull weapons. Back to the Who, What, Where, When, How and Why foundation questions I harp on. Time to pull relates to when? And reasons to pull relates to why? Logical and physical. Time and reason might seem the same, but defining times and reasons in your mind and for your training is smart. Be a legal-beagle. You may as well check into the de-escalator cottage industry and evaluate the material. Even I have suggestions on the subject as I know there are “scripts” to life, and criminal-victim exchanges often follow a script. Dialogues. Good to ad-lib. There is a script book to violence and you don’t want to be in that movie. Their movie.
In this age of widespread interest in de-escalation and verbal skills to defuse any and all encounters, this is a tale about how convoluted and difficult a quick, on-the-spot verbal solution might be. It’s a short story from a case I worked on.
A driver pulled his truck up into a handicapped parking space to drop his wife off at a post office. He did not put his truck into “park.” She got out and walked away. He reached down, did something for a second, and was about to back out of the spot, when a man walked by the front of his truck, scowling and yelling at him, waving a hand in the air.
The driver rolled down the window and said, “What?”
The man yelled in outrage about the driver parking in a handicapped spot. The driver, aghast at the outrage said, “I am not parked. I am leaving. I just dropped someone off!”
The man started cursing and closing in. “I had to park over there,” and he pointed down the lot. “You can’t park here!” “I’m not parked here!” he said again. But then he now was, as the driver put his truck into the parking gear and got out, telling me later he thought that the man would come over and kick in and dent his truck, or reach into the open window after him.
The driver got between the man and his truck and said, “WHAT is your problem?” (oh, what a classic line! The classic answer is – “you’re my problem” and so on and so on. The very common low-brow script of a fight). And so it goes. You know the dialogue of this bad movie from this point on. You already know it. I often tell you that these pre-fights words are like movie scripts and usually quite predictable.
The complainer swings at the driver. The driver fights back. There are witnesses. The police are called and the man gets arrested for assault. Later this complainer files an assault case back on the driver and it becomes a “he-said, he-said” deal.
My sad part of the story is that one morning in a detective squad meeting, I got both cases dropped on my desk. My CID Lieutenant says, “this ain’t going away.” Meaning these two guys are calling us and complaining about each other and how each were in the right. And of course, one of the two had even called the chief. Another day in Detective Heaven.
I started with this angry man, the complainer. I asked him to come in and give us a written statement, which he jumped at the chance to vent. He showed up for the appointment, loaded for vocal bear, and in a small, interview office I let him unload. The guy was panting when the oratory was over. I did not say a word.
“Okay,” says I. “let’s get that whole story down on paper.” I had to read him his rights and now the story was officially counted. And line by line, we got it all down as I typed his words as he said them. He calmed down and his remarks took a turn to another topic. The real cause and motivation of his complaining. Handicapped people and handicapped parking…
“What’s the ratio of handicapped people compared to non-handicapped people?” he asked. “I don’t know.” Now he was getting mad at me. “Well you should know. People like you in your business should know.” “Hmmm” “I know this much,” he continued. “I know that there are too many handicapped parking places. There has to be too many of them compared to regular people. If you go down to Kmart you’ll see all those good, front parking places are reserved for the handicapped. What a dozen? Dozen and a half? Are there that many handicapped people parking there, compared to others? A regular person has to hike to the store.”
I did not answer. Then I said,” you want me to mention your parking spot concerns in the statement?” “Hell yeah! Maybe someone will read it for a change?”
This theme rolled on. I realized that the guy wasn’t mad at the driver because the driver had pulled into the handicapped slot for a second. He wasn’t protecting the rights of the handicapped. This guy was mad at handicapped people! And how many parking places they got. He was ripping mad because of proliferation of handicapped parking! It would really be difficult, it is really difficult to de-escalate such an encounter without…ESP.
It’s always wise to explore de-escalation. Sure. But, there are a lot of people “out there” teaching de-escalation. In my opinion, most of them (and I know many of them) are very logical, very nice people but have never really stood before face-to-face rage. Real rage and its bizarre twists. Seen its ugly face. Or stood before someone who fights every Friday night, who just wants to fight for fight’s sake, and its Friday night, 11:30 p.m.!
When was this? This big, “Filipino martial arts turning point” for me? Keep in mind, this is just me and my personal view on things. Don’t hate me cuz I’m viewtiful!
I started doing FMA in 1986, in among other arts like JKD, and had been doing the classic karate and jujitsu (not the Brazilian wrestling version of today). By about 1993 I had covered a lot of FMA material, been to the Philippines twice. Got black belts from both Ernesto Presas and Remy Presas.
The big turning point came with double sticks, of all odd, obscure things. In 1993, a friend called me and said, “Hey Hock, this weekend, Guro ______ is coming into Dallas! He is going to do two full days of the ______ double stick drills. Are you coming?”
Two full days of…double sticks? I guess this phone call had an epiphany moment for me when several ideas flashed through my head. I found myself confessing…
“Two days? Double sticks? Well, I think I’ll pass. I mean, how many double stick drills are there anyway?”
“You’re gonna miss it! A chance to learn THEE _______ double stick drills!”
When we hung up, I examined my epiphany moment. Well, from the Inosanto world, the Remy Presas world, and Ernesto Presas world, I’d already collected about 50 double stick drills according to my anal retentive lists I keep. FIFTY ! I suddenly asked myself,
“Why am I doing this?”
“How many more double stick drills could there be, anyway?”
“How different could they be after a certain basic point?”
“What makes them different and worth knowing?”
“How are they the same?”
How ARE they the same? I realized that it was more important to organize the drills, not from the hero-worship-“who” or the hero worship-“what” fan club systems, but instead how are the drills all the same? (It is counter productive and stifling to worship system-heads and systems.)
How are they so similar. And how and why am I wasting my time collecting endless double stick drills from a nearly endless group of known and unknown system-heads who all think theirs are ever-so-special. Many of which are so much the same and with only one slight different tweak here or there. Rather, smarter, I should instead try to understand the essence of all of them. The essential core. Then, teach the universal core.
I was already contemplating the differences between the Remy and Ernesto double stick programs. Remy seemed to have 5 or 6 basic patterns with variations. Ernesto had the classic “must know” list.
Then…then I asked myself why I didn’t view ALL aspects of the varied FMAs the same way? Why not find the universal core of FMA itself? Find the very of essence…
…in this clean, kind of scientific manner? Study these cores first. Deal with the needed and dismiss the probably unneeded and-or redundant and-or prissy variables.
There will always be happy museum and happy history collectors, who collect ANYTHING from ANYBODY. And then those who like to sort-of, name-drop stuff like – “at this point, Roohan moved his kneecap this way, while Roohan kept his meniscus right here…” I can talk some of that artsy smack too, just from training years osmosis. I can delight the esoteric fanatics with these tidbits of meniscus positioning. I can also tell you that Ed Kranepool played first base for the Mets in the 1960s. Hey! I do know stuff! But how useful is it?)
Annnnd with that idea? I started constructing the generic PAC course. Pacific Archipelago Concepts, an irreverent, skeptical look at the related core of those related arts. This includes all the big systems in the Pacific Ocean. A lot of this work had been done, like with Kajukenbo (karate, jujitsu, kenpo, boxing).
This clean, generic, non-worship approach did not make me popular with some existing FMA entities, (some are cult-like) in fact I was suddenly shunned by some. And in the seminar business, it is still not my most popular or even my favorite course to teach, as I usually cover generic “combatives” for lack of a better term. But hey, FMA is fun to do, good exercise, a hobby with numerous abstract mental and physical benefits. And when asked to, I will happily cover it. I feel like if I can spread the core-foundation. Then anyone can more quickly blend into any FMA system they wish to pursue.
(By the way, I carried this “core” perspective over to combatives. In a way, this “double stick epiphany” in 1993 was an important idea in more ways than one. It gave me a mission. A purpose. A vision if you will. My pursuit, my study, my interest, my goal, is the universal generic.)
Back to 1993! I later asked that friend back in 1993, “How was the _______ double stick seminar?”
“It was great!” he said, “We did 30 drills. Most of them we already do, others just a little different here and there.”