Respect the Head Shot? Do you? Really? One of the conundrums in FMA stick sparring is figuring out the realistic importance of the head shot and emphasizing it in a training doctrine. Ignoring the strike (as in “pretending” it didn’t happen and “sparring-on”) because you have a helmet on is training doctrine mistake. Making it “count” in a helmeted world is important and should be a mandatory training doctrine mission.
Quick example. My friend Raoul is power lifter. A brute. In the 1990s, he so wanted to attend one of these stick fight events because…well…just because. He was also an agile guy and total, FMA “nut.” So, he did travel and attend one. The rules? Rattan sticks (Big Raoul has quite a war club). Fencing helmet. Hand gloves. You could wear elbow and knee pads. It’s a world were serious injuries abound and most people over 40-ish have to quit doing it.
Raoul’s fight begins. And within 20 seconds he bashed the other guy in the head so hard…so hard it ‘crinkles-caves-in’ the helmet a bit at the forehead area and the receiver is stunned. The ref stops the fight and asks if the guy is okay. He says yes. The fight continues and in a short time, the fight ends the typical wrestling match on the grass, which is so typical because with gear, rules and CRIMINAL and CIVIL LAW, you really can’t maim-kill off the opponent, no matter how rough-tough the fights are advertised to be. True reality is always gone. Raoul is choked! That is to say, he has to tap out. Losing, he was pissed. They peeled the helmet off the other guy and his face was bloody from the crosshatch pattern of the mask down the left side of his face. Blood.
Raoul shouts: “Who won this fight! I did in first 20 seconds with that head shot!”
Of course he had, but the rules….the rules! These rules affect training doctrine, whether the individual fighters, the instructor or the entire system-art realizes it. It became obvious to me in the 90s that if you train with gear, many people, most people probably, sort of ignore or misread the head shot as if it is any other body shot (they’re all bad), especially when helmeted. The sparring just goes on and on. I do not wish to name names and systems but I studied with a big, organized outfit that routinely stick sparred at the end of every class, No gear, but with rattan. Just for about a minute or two. Light sparring, NO head shots. Over time, this removes the head-shot-methodology from your “muscle memory.”
International competitor, Arnisador Teresa Cronin adds, “Well said Hock. I’ve seen a man get his head split open from a shot to the top of a WECAF helmet, blood pouring down, but the sparring continued like nothing happened. I also noticed in my own sparring I would sacrifice my head, because it didn’t hurt, to close the range.”
And get this – I recall a crazy competitor who tried to develop – follow me now – a way to crash his metal helmet into a stick head shot, so has to cause a painful vibration in the hand of the striker, essentially head butting the stick strike. Dreaming of a disarm?
All this eventually, subliminally de-values the head shot and distorts its importance in a “real” stick fight.
A “real” stick fight? What’s that anyway? Well, it is unlikely that most people will be in an actual life-or-death, stick-vs-stick duel-fight. If so, the head shot is still VITAL. It is instead, more likely in crime and war, that you will use a stick-like object vs. unarmed, vs. knife or vs. some gun threat. Needless to say, the head shot is still VITAL.
The challenge is to create a sparring system and competitions that values and embeds important strikes like the head shot. I organized it all out with the “Killshot” stick fight system since the 90s. If a fighter got clubbed in the head? Bubba, it’s over! The stick arm gets significantly hit? Whistle! “Switch hands!” And so on. But then you are sort of managing a tournament (point-style?) style fight, which of course, also sucks. I know, I ran these Killshots for years.
“I got him! No you didn’t!”
But in training and the organized fights we ran in the USA, Germany and England, a clear club to the head means the receiver officially LOST and “sits down, sits out.” In training, take a break for a second, reward and recognize what just happened and discuss went right or wrong. You have to think of ways to memorialize proper performance like head shots, even with small, training tricks.
“You sit down. You let your head get smashed.”
“Stop! Hey, you did good. You got that head shot in. Continue.”
The head striker is rewarded for getting the head shot. This builds the training structure to recognize and respect the head shot. With this sort of structure, fighters begin to develop head strike strategies and conversely head protection strategies, as a priority.
Remy Presas would frequently when teaching, stop and turn to us and say-remind, “Of course, you could just hit de man in de head with a stick! But, I want you to learn the art.” I found this admission, oddly perplexing, but he wanted to remind us…the difference. It made me think about what I was and was not doing.
(For the record, I don’t run these competitions anymore as they were a pain in the neck to do, and I haven’t made-sold these Killshot shirts shown above for decades. But when occasionally teaching FMA these days, I do cover these head-hunting, stick methods. I am 70 years old. If I sneeze too hard? I might wake up in traction, so I do not stick spar any more either, other than a few seconds to demo something. I can’t beat my gardener up anymore. But I can teach you how to beat up my gardener.)
#fma  #filipinomartial arts  #stickfighting  #sticksparring  #whockhochheim #stickfights  #remypresas

Grabbing The Weapon Bearing Limb – In Fashion – Again

The grab strategy is now deemed possible and “okay.” In the 1990s and early 2000s, I received a considerable amount of trash talk. forum ridicule for demonstrating and suggesting that – if you could grab/wrap up the knife bearing limb, it was good idea. I had suggested that IF you could, you grab the limb and should INSTANTLY fight on. The common criticism back then by the “know-it-alls” was that any and all such grabs were absolutely IMPOSSIBLE!
Ridiculed, my High Home Films videos and the “bigger” TRS “Unarmed vs the Knife” video segment in 2002 were ever so maligned. .
This is a lethal force attack, you grab-wrap and knock-snot out of the attacker’s eyes, face and or throat, etc. I have collected news and news-feeds for decades on knife attacks and totally untrained people have been winning (and even disarming knives) with regularity, world-wide. Today’s times have youtube videos. Grabbing the knife limb is-was a consistent successful factor. As with medieval art attached, if you need to look back-back-back.
Some of you will say “What? We’ve done this grab all along.” But some of you can’t say that. Training is tricky thing. Common sense does not always reign supreme. You see there are always several martial “boys clubs” out there that are rather mindlessly revered and followed, then replicated. They now show the knife limb grab-wrap a lot, thank goodness. They do tend to grab with two hands and maybe, arm wrap and body turn, etc. But some examples I see, I think, spend a bit too much time in the arm-grab-wrestle moment, like pushing the top of their heads into the attacker’s head, etc., when they should be instantly attacking the face-throat. Whatever, at least the grab is deemed okay!
But what of the attacker’s other arm? I have seen MANY (and rather famous) experts doing this grab-wrestle on film and both parties, the attacker and defender frequently ignore the other’s free arm. Standing or grounded. Watch for this next time. Watch these workouts with an open mind, keep an eye on the free hand and think what the attacker could do with it if the demonstrator actually used it. This is why the quick, face-neck strikes are important, to short circuit other free-hand attacks,  
Specifically, the knife attacker gets grabbed, plays along with the capture in training and never instantly buzz-saws in with the free hand to the face and neck of the defender-grabber. Then the opposite, the defender grabs the knife limb and the attacker doesn’t instantly destroy the defender’s face or throat. This works both ways.
Quick Warning-Watch Out! A lot modern double hand limb wrappers like to change from facing the opponent and “drag” the knife arm forward so that they get behind the opponent.  You might get cut, thigh or otherwise during the arm drag.  
This ignorance of the free-loose hand, this miss-step neglect of the other free arm-hand drives me BONKERS-NUTs especially even when watching quite a number of BJJ or any wrestling moves. The free hand of the semi-captured or captured partner often just dangles out there, doing nothing. It is free to tap-out. Or, the free hand does something non-fight-cheat ending so the wrestling can continue and continue and continue.
But, it is only bonkers to me when the instructors claim what they are doing is “street.” Sports-okay, because the free hand cannot cheat. (I don’t do sports so my bonkers filter is extremely low.) And why are sport people doing knife anyway? They are off-mission and their solution-blend is also often, innocently, off-mission.
My ridiculed 1990s formula for “grab knife limb and attack” was:
  • A: Single-hand limb grab and instantly support hand strikes face-throat. Buzz-saw continues…
  • B: Double-hand limb grab, when knife limb seems sufficiently secured, one hand instantly releases and strikes face, throat. Buzz saw continues.
  • Extra! Get your knife limb grabbed? Your support hand instantly busts in on defender’s face, throat.
I could write a small book on this “other hand” subject, but at least the modern boys clubs like the grab again! Defending or attacking, knife or not, the support hand is a both a vital tool and a vital worry. You should not be taught to mindlessly ignore it.


My last two years in the late 90s I wound up back in patrol (I was a real “Adam 12” dinosaur patrolman from the 70s) resurrected back into uniform after some 17-plus years as a detective.

All thanks to some upper-management, “flip-the-applecart” plan. (Lets make the foot-doctors into heart-surgeons and heart-surgeons into foot-doctors.) So, after catching a hitman and filing 12 organized crime cases, I found myself on midnight shift patrol one day, or should I say…night. I had some fun, yes, did some stuff, yes, but it really was a waste of time, grade and experience for me and the flipped others, AND the citizens who rely on expertise.

I had enough military (Army) and quasi-military (policing) in me, to “buckle-up,” “shut up” and go where they sent me. I never once took a promotional exam, (military police or Texas police) wanting to remain in line operations in patrol and investigations. Maybe I should have though? To thwart numerous, deskbound, admin, idiot ideas?

Some of my friends took these tests and remind me they created some ideas for effective change, But me? I was selfish. I wanted to catch criminals, and I spent a blissful 17 years as, what many use to call, a “lone wolf” detective. I was-not, am-not a socially driven public servant by today’s standards, turning and improving agencies into pubic-happy-machines or solving big problems. I just wanted to work cases. Selfish – I confess I used victims as vessels to wrap my hands around the throats of criminals. I mean, I wasn’t rude or dismissive of victims, but I new my mission. Thus, I am-was a dinosaur. 

There are numerous stories about why I eventually retired in the Wolfpack Publishing book with their exciting title Kill or Be Killed. Nowadays, I tell all my police and military friends to NOT be like me. Take tests. move up. Build financial security. Build your family. Yours and their future. Don’t remain powerless, bottom-rung, cannon fodder like I was.


Hock’s email is

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In very generic terms, and with you as the “tosser-thrower-tripper,” in the old-school business of “taking people down,” it would be worthy of mentioning, worthy of thinking about, these two kinds of takedown categories.

  • 1-Going down with him.
  • 2-Staying up or somewhat up as he goes down.

There’s one group of methods were you crash down on the ground with the opponent. The other group is when you chunk the guy down and you remain “up,” as in standing, or at least knee-high.

With the first group, there are way more takedown options, including way easier and even sloppy options for when both of you just crash-tackle-fall to the ground together. Actually, almost any idiot can do that, as witnessed in the world of yesterday and today.

With the second “stay-up” there are less options (and more skill) with remaining “up.”

I had to handcuff people most of my adult life when I fought them. In my professional life, on the sidewalks and streets, rocky roads and the tile floors of life, I always tried to be up, or somewhat up, trying for the knee-high or standing results rather than the full-out, ground-wrestling-around results. Once fully down-down, a whole host lof extra, messy things can happen with size, strength, adrenaline, weapons, etc… 

I say “try” because sometimes the “toss-er” often falls anyway along with the “toss-ee” from the crazy “asses and elbows” mess that is a “fight.” And if things got rowdy with the “toss-ee,” if and when I got them down, I would try to sit on them, squeezing in on their beltline-pockets (weapons) area, in what was once called “Top-Side Saddle” or “Reverse Top-Side Saddle,” if he was face-down, as in “reverse.” The new, cool kids call it the “mount.”

So at times, I got way down there too, lower than “saddling.” And I had to flat out tackle people due to positional and situational circumstances. In this “ground zero” world there was a short, effective, old school bag of police tricks I was taught, (that including hitting) and I get to show this bag in some seminars when the topic comes up. They do work! And in some cases I had to to choke them out a few times. Nowadays chokes are pretty much taboo in almost all police ops, but okay for civilians if reasonably justified.

It might be worth it, to make a list of the easier, “2-man, crash downs” takedowns and the lessor, harder, “stay-up” takedowns. List and experiment with them. Or, at very least know about the two “ways” and that they exist. 

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What does having an epiphany mean?

  • a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.
  • an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking.
  • an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure.

For me, in martial-combatives studies this is quest for that somewhat, magic moment of a new understanding and progress.

Lots of people are addicted to their martial sport or art and for many good reasons like “tribal” friendships, exercise, goal achievement, etc. and they become purposely or naively entrenched in what they do. Which is fine for them, providing they understand what I just said. Where it all fits. But, however, if they were like me years ago, doing all those things, and STILL frustrated, it is a problem. I worried, was I on “on mission” or “off-mission?” I was a soldier. I was a cop. I worried about the real world of crime and war, not martial hobbies, not arts or replicating systems. 

One day in the mid-1990s, I “awoke” with a big epiphany. As I have written here about before, and I went from “mixed-up” martial arts to “mixed martials.” That is what I realized, what I wanted and needed, my real “on mission,” pursuit, which in my case was the maximum, total blend of hand, stick, knife, gun (“gun” as in pistol and long gun).

Following this big epiphany, came smaller ones, like these examples:

Example 1: Finding single skill drills that work with hand, stick, knife and gun. Or as many of the 4 as possible.

Example 2: Searching for things as simple as possible, yet allowing for as little complexity as functionally possible.

Example 3: A format for individual tactics like…kicking. Take the simple front snap kick (to the shin or groin) Do it –

  • Standing, arms down as in a “sucker kick,” work both legs.
  • Standing in a ready position, like a fighting stance, front and rear legs, switch leads.
  • Kneeling snap kicks– experiment with this if you can. Some can. Both legs. 
  • Grounded on your back. Both legs, with and without a “crab walk” lift.  Grounded on your left or right sides. Both legs.
  • All of the above while holding a stick, single-hand grip.
  • All of the above while holding a stick, double-hand grip.
  • All of the above while holding a knife, saber and reverse.
  • All of the above while holding a pistol, one or two-handed grip.
  • All of the above while holding a long gun.
  • Total package of the front snap kick use in reality.
  • Oh, and NOT barefoot!

So, just a simple snap kick? Yes and no. Total use. Of course, all of these have nuances, and it takes a veteran martialist or a smart mind to develop, fix and alter. I still have to teach separate courses for hand, stick, knife and gun.

The simple universal formula of:

  • 1: standing,
  • 2: kneeling,
  • 3: grounded (on back and sides).
  • 4: unarmed and,
  • 5: while holding weapons.
  • Five universal realities-blended. The formula foundation.
  • Run all rudimentary moves through this formula when plausible. 

Most people want to “do their thing,” follow their isolated interests for the reasons listed way above, which is fine. I still have to teach separate courses for hand, stick, knife and gun. I am paid, like a job, to make customers happy and cover these subjects separately. But my real interests lay in the big, generic quest of the blend. This blend pursuit is more important to me, and not at all important to most others. Which is why I will never become so-called “famous” in the martial arts world. I am an outlier. In fact, most people won’t even read this.

There have been movements to martial blend, as in some Krav Magas and Combatives. Certainly handy and productive, but I think many do so without a formula foundation, and therefore with just collections of random sets of things thrown together. Or, the instructors cannot escape their root martial arts, like BJJ or boxing, and overdose their outlines with sport, mini-failures in reality, which leads us back to the “Mixed-Up Martial Arts” world,

Epiphanies. Many mental experts like to suggest, that to have an epiphany, one must leave the “work table” of your problem and like, “walk in the woods” to free the mind. Answers will manifest? However one of my favorite neuro-heroes, the great Gary Klein, with a resume too long to list here, has written “What Others Don’t See,” his case history studies on epiphanies-insights-discoveries, and he lists another 4 big ways these lightening flashes of ideas arrive adding a few more strands of other ways too.

How does the quest begin? Inventor Charles Kettering suggests, “A problem well-stated is half-solved.” I de-construct all problems by investigating the “Ws and H.” Who, what, where, when, how and why questions. This helps me. Helps you?

Discoveries change the world in many big and small ways. Search for epiphanies.


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#garyklien #epiphany #charlesketterly #combatives #martialarts #martialartstraining #kravmaga #preparedcitizen #counterbladetactics #PoliceDefensiveTactics #defensivetactics #selfprotectiontraining #selfdefensetraining


The mistake? Ignoring the successful moves. I could write a ton about this point and its unintended after-effects in hand, stick, knife, gun survival training and related, muscle memory. But, I’ll just leave this shorter essay here.

The specific point of this is about misguiding mission, misguided training doctrine. This is about the training ignorance, the naivete of people – students and instructors, not to recognize this. Failing to recognize the devastating, simulated, tactic-technique, failing to “blow the whistle” and say,

“STOP! Okay, George, you probably won that one!”

This is a doctrine problem in any system, stick fighting, knife fighting. Any one. For one example, two stick-fighting guys bash each other’s helmets in, yet the fight ends with a grounded submission hold or choke? Nope, that fight ended 80 seconds earlier. Think about that. I have seen a lot of floor tap-outs by partner A on partner B, yet B had actually won that hand, or stick, or knife fight a minute earlier, first standing or maybe on the ground, simulating doing something vital-devastating, that was-

  • a) simulated for safety (and move totally ignored)
  • b) didn’t count in the rules (and move totally ignored) , or
  • c) Partner A was protected by safety gear (and move totally ignored). 

Not recognizing this point, not rewarding this “winning move,” makes for  incorrect, off-mission, survival doctrine and bad muscle memory. But listen, this is just fine for sports, arts, hobbies, exercises and fun, in which case it is NOT a terrible mistake. Know what you do and what you want. Know your mission. Stay on mission.


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Hock the Filipino Gringo of FMA

Okay folks. Bare with me. I have a few martial ranks through the years, (like a FMA, guro BB test in Manila). So, this is a joke but not a joke. I have a joke-meme I’ve passed around for years with two loaves of cut-open bread, a “white bread-brown bread” meme.

The idea is that “Joe Jones,” white boys will hardly ever achieve respected status in FMA. (I know a RARE few are, yes, yes, but most people look to and seek, foreign sources, certainly Filipino in FMA, but often settle for any American in the states with a “Spanish sounding” name. Or at least foreign sounding name. Exotic. Same is true for the rest of the planet. Think about it. Make a list and really think about it.

“The ‘hierba’ (grass) is always greener….”

And bland, white, Joe-Jones-Gringos (like me) take a back seat. This is not new, it’s a martial arts “universal.” Who wants to learn BJJ from a white boy from Finland? NO! Brazil! Or at least have a cool Hispanic or foreign surname! I’ll fall for that!

Eventually you will have to settle for a …”Gaijin”  in your neighborhood. He or she may be fantastic, just not as well known, (and will remain unknown, which is actually the whole point of this essay).

All this is just the subliminal (and overt) marketing of life and what we seek out, like Chinese food, or Italian pizza and who makes makes the best cars? Germans or Japanese? Are ex-cons the best street fighters? Do the Israelis have the best military fighting system? Is Silicon valley the best source for all things tek? Why pick the Marines over the Army?  People should recognize natural and man-made…”lures.” Who has the “best” story for what? And why? What then, catches our fancy? What do we gravitate to?

In fact, when I think about it, I have felt like a white boy (and-or wrong religion) outsider in most martial arts I’ve ever down, with all the real leaders always from elsewhere, Japan, Philippines, Indo, Russia, Israel, China, the sewers of Spain (gag)…the popular systems and arts are always from elsewhere. And me? Always the…gringo. This though I expected, it’s just an observation on martial life.

Anyway, there were numerous viewers of that “bread” meme on various pages, some very smart and substantial folks, and they laughed and liked it when I half-joked that I might therefore just call myself “El Gringo,” as part of an FMA business nickname, (I still teach FMA here and there around the world along with mostly combatives.) Just a fun, name-game and partly a bit of satire on all those grand, tuhon-guro-supremo-GM master titles that keep inching up like bamboo. For 26 years now, I just tell everyone I teach to call me “Hock” and remain on an equal, friendly footing as I believe system-head-worship is confining and not good for evolution. Bad for some of my business, but good for your evolution and freedom.

Some attendees-students still insist on titling me. It’s a tradition, you know. If you must call me something? Truth is, I’m just a gringo, a white boy, outsider from Texas who knows a few tricks of the trade. Tongue in cheek? A satire on the name-game? For FMA…call me…”EL GRINGO!”  

“Out of the night, when the full moon is bright, comes the stickman known as Gringo. This bold renegade carves a “G” with his blade, a “G” that stands for Gringo.”

(Sung to the Zorro TV theme with apologies thereto. I realize the great young, unwashed has never heard the Zorro theme song. Never saw the old show. Too bad. Then feast! Feast on this video!    


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The Quandary of Training Stick vs. Stick, versus Combatives

A Bigger Picture. In the martial arts world, stick fighting is most closely associated with the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA). A huge chunk of many FMA systems is indeed about the stick-versus-stick duel and closer-in stick versus stick events.


(Using a stick as an easy and fast target, as with developing the smart fanning strike shown here, is not necessarily learning how to stick duel.)


The stick versus stick dueling battle is really a pretty rough game of checkers if done right. Next inward, getting in closer is often called by many, loosely “stick trapping.” Many FMA-ers have turned this closer-in range, this “stick trapping,” into a complicated, chess match with copious options to train…forever. Many FMA-ers obsess about this closer-in, back and forth above other vital skills. To me, it’s simple math turned into unnecessary calculus. (I remind all here that I have been “doing” FMA since 1986 and I know a bit whereof I speak.)

Is this calculus necessary in the real world?
First with dueling. No. Almost all of us are highly unlikely to get into the proverbial 28” stick versus (coincidentally?) another 28” stick fight in a real world, dueling “street fight.” A study of the stick in common self defense should not be centered around mirror-image, stick-versus-stick material. Second with stick trapping? No. Not this much. Obsessing with stick dueling and stick trapping should be relegated more into a category of (fun) art, sport, hobby or exercise, with only abstract benefits to self defense.

Through my decades of policing, training, cases and rather obsessive research, I have personally run across a few impact weapon “duel-related” battles like drunken, softball bat fights at tournaments, or crowbar versus tire iron fights. Things like that. Still, they are rare in comparison to the messy, mixed weapon world that actually exists in crime and war. While dueling helps various attributes, there are indeed smarter things to do, to prep for a fight in crime and war. When you remove stick-versus-stick dueling and the calculus of stick trapping from FMA systems, there is so much less to worry about and train for. It’s vital to some extent in FMA, but even in FMA, there is always other stick things to work on like stick-versus hand, stick-versus-knife, even stick-versus-various, gun threats.

I am asked to teach FMA and I do so with a great big smile as it is one of my fun interests, but I always make this quick “really?” lecture. As readers know by now, I preach the “hand, stick, knife, gun, mixed weapon, matrix.” And while my Force Necessary: Stick course must touch a bit on the impact weapon duel because it has and can happen in, I in no way emphasize it. And a great many folks emphasizing self defense and combatives agree with me on this.

Watch out! These “reality” people are “window-peepers, peeping in your windows, watching you on Youtube.” quick to judge what you are doing and pigeon-hole you as artsy and off-mission for reality. Which leads me to the quandary. For self defense combatives, can you train stick versus stick?

Yes. Some. It seems so, and not just for the rare event when dueling might happen. For the so-called, reality based training, the trainer and trainee, the work-out partners should still both often hold sticks sometimes. Sometimes? In stick training, it is much easier and faster for both partners to hold sticks for various goals. Ease, target practice and stick blocking to name three. 

  • Ease – You do it. Partner does it. You do it. Partner does it, whatever you are working on. This probably is best done when the attack is with any weapon, could be a stick or a knife, or many empty hand attacks. Just be aware of the purpose of the exercise. Easier and faster with both holding sticks. Both are holding sticks. It looks like stick versus stick training.
  • Target practice – As displayed in the photo above and below, often stick strike training is best done by hitting another stick. You can use a kicking shield, yes, but it might be faster and easier switching sides by both partners using sticks. And you can hit his stick hard. Again, both are holding sticks. It looks like stick versus stick training.
  • Blocking practice. Learn to block just about ANYTHING coming in with great force, the force that a stick can produce.


(Target practice! And you can hit hard. He can learn to block well too.)



So even if you are a self defense, combatives person you might find yourself looking like an FMA-er and appear to be doing “too much stick versus stick” to short-term window peepers. But dueling is not your real, end mission.

In summary, a few quandary warnings to think about…

  • Will reality-based “window peepers” blasphemy you as artsy? (Hey, I know I will hear from many of you that you don’t care what others think. But, I am “just sayin”…)
  • Is a “reality” person getting too use to subliminally seeing too many stick attacks? Remember to replace that stick with a knife. A lot. (It’s still FMA to go stick versus knife!)
  • Use the other guy’s stick for safe, quick target practice.
  • Once in a while, worry about impact weapon dueling in combatives.
  • Be “on-mission” in practice and doctrine. Doing FMA? Do FMA. Doing generic combatives? Do that. 

The self defense, Force Necessary: Stick matrix…

  • Stick versus Hand.
  • Stick versus Stick (not too much).
  • Stick versus Knife.
  • Stick versus some Gun Threats

Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.


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Martial Art Taproots Taking Your Money

Palace Intrigue Report #87: Taproots in Martial Arts Business
(This essay causes me trouble, even among friends)
Is your instructor, system, art, tribe, etc. a negative taproot?
Are you a negative taproot for your people?

No one ever said that all martial artists people were good business people. Usually they are not. Dreamers still dream of making local, national or even global networks. It’s an old-school dream that never dies. With my fifty years in the martial world, running my own school in the 1980s and 90s, and knowing hosts-owners and “students” all over this world, I’ve learned some of the biggest reasons why people quit training and why they leave martial organizations:

  • Natural life habits and occurrences. Finances, marriage, kid’s soccer, golf, apathy, sickness, families, jobs, interfere with martial arts business. So much so, you might say that is “planned” obsolescence, in that you should seriously plan for these natural occurrences. 
  • Another big one is dues, and-or tithings, be they local or distance-franchise. What is the price-break point in your neighborhood, not in Beverly Hills, your neighborhood. The “Gee Willikers Martial Arts Business Association” always tells you to charge more, regardless of where you are.
  • Stupid, insider politics.
  • On the list also? Economic downturns in general and of course Covid-lockdown related economic downturns.
  • On the list too, people signing up for something they didn’t know was not what they wanted (like those folks seeing a Steven Seagal movie and then they hurry-sign up at the local Tae Kwon Do outfit)
  • Fake background discovered. 
  • Married owners that fool around with opposite sex student. (Is there any long-term martialist reading this that isn’t aware (or guilty) of this imploding story?
  • How’s about the ol’ alcohol and drug addiction albatross?
  • Yeah. Yeah, there’s more. Keep a list going.
There are lists of “why people leave,” and “why schools fall,” and “why martial organizations fail,” lists that every martial business should develop. Warning – real success is not simply countering that list because there is so much else involved. The formula, the recipe for big success some dream of is a tricky one beyond these three lists. But, I give you today, just one in particular to think about! The “martial leader, money taproot” problem.
The Martial Money Taproot. I have long warned about “system worship” and “system head-leader worship.” They cloud people’s minds, and this essay covers one of the ugly list subject of…dues. fees, tithings.
Of course everyone pays for training. Lord knows I have. Hey, I am a capitalist. But I am not an idiot. If you are an instructor you need money for the full spectrum of business needs. You may have a training building and you pay somebody rent and/or utilities, etc. Then the martial owner must also make a living so he-she needs your support to even try to teach. (My advice for most? Don’t quit your day job.) But many martial organizations operate under a longer-distance plan, collecting payments from affiliates, instructors, groups, etc. sometimes around the world, and here’s where you get into taproot troubles.
Here are some stories I am aware of about taproots:
  • Why have one? Instructors feel they need a never-ending affiliation to a “grandpa” or a “tribe.”
  • Instructor pays a lot monthly and gets nothing or next to nothing in return.
  • Instructor finally makes a little profit but then must send it off to the taproot.
  • Taproot reluctantly grants a time-off break during bad times, but taproot demands it all paid up later.
  • Taproot demands a long-term connection contract with many restrictions and ridiculous monthly fees. Think of the original Premiere contract – 10 years, one thousand a month (which turns you into a kid factory). Also think of the 1990s surge of “Los Angeles” based Krav Maga ($$$$).  Should you fail with these payments? Payments stop? Lawsuit follows. I have a friend who left his state and filed bankruptcy to escape these contracts. But, if you want a study of what not to do? Take a deep dive into that 1990s Krav organization business plan based out of L.A.. Did these geniuses not see the inevitable future?
  • Taproots take advantage of fads, fads, fads. Are you weak in the fad department? Susceptible?
  • Join “Puhon-Maiki’s” school with dues AND additional plans. Get weekday, afternoon phone conversations with him for an extra $50 more a month. Get TWENTY-FOUR-SEVEN phone access to Puhon for $75 more a month! (I NEVER understood this need to phone-thing. It’s like what? A poison control center you need to call at 3 a.m.?”)
  • “Jimmy Taproot was my good friend. But when I fell on hard times, I couldn’t pay him the association dues. Jimmy got mad and now we don’t speak after all these years.”
  • Even the “Gee Willikers Martial Arts Business Association” taproots monthly dues to make you a success.
  • Taproot has an annual fee-license for your black belt. Fall to pay? Your black belt license is revoked and goes away. 
  • Here is a big warning “bell” for me. Should be for you too – if a martial franchise has melted into it’s freakin’ logo the words, “Become Certified”…in it’s logo! It’s little more than a business franchise and potential taproot. If not in the logo, then you should detect from a brief examination of its mission statement, if it’s little more than a pyramid scheme. All systems have ranks and instructorships, sure, but what is the thrust of the mission statement. Teaching? Educating? Or money pyramids? These organizations run through people like mad and live on seducing new suckers. (Do yourself a favor and read this paragraph twice.)
  • And so on…
Are you really getting what you are paying for? Unpalatable, organizational fees drive people away. Many leavers often change-alter the abandoned name brand of a system a bit and pay no one. As a side joke I always remark, “You pay a fortune for ‘I Love Kickboxing.’ Why not change it, create and advertise ‘I REALLY Love Kickboxing…A LOT,’” and do the same universal kickboxing things no one owns and not pay a taproot. Remember, it’s a joke because they will still harass and sue you. But you get the basic concept, why pay a crippling taproot? Think of a name to where you won’t get sued. In this case, you could just use a generic “Fitness KIckboxing” class and not pay anyone.
In the years past and to date I have seen the innocent and naïve, and some not-so-innocent and not-so-naïve seduced into, and fall for, expensive and stupid fad fighting systems, paying ridiculous fees on top of their ignorant choices. 

In the mid-1990s I left all martial organizations for freedom to innovate but also to stop distributing money to some negative taproots. I have been around, full time – no day job – on my own for 26 years. I have regular practitioners and instructors as far as China and Australia and I have no tithings, or monthly dues. In the end I more successful and longer lasting than 90% of the others (and that still ain’t saying much). I might suggest that if you want to succeed big, you might also try to “be what everyone else isn’t,” for one thing. For example, in the USA now, about every four blocks is a Krav school or a BJJ school, (or both combined) most likely with a happy taproots in another state sucking money. Chances are you will not grow or excell in such a crowded environment. Hey, if you are happy with a “corner store?” I am happy for you. Great. I want you to be happy.

For bigger dreamers? Also, build an organization, an association, so creative that no one has reasons to leave. No business reasons that is, because people are people, and apathy and interests wane and switch, as listed in the beginning here. Don’t add to the natural distractions of life by constructing unplanned obsolescence with bad pricing, stupid rules, politics and signing ten-year contracts with taproot pyramid schemes.

I think I could write a whole book pontificating on this subject with many so sad, detailed examples, but there are some old westerns I have to watch on TV and my 2 o’clock nap is coming up. Meanwhile, think about this – is your instructor, system, art or tribe a negative taproot? Are you a negative taproot for your people and wonder why you aren’t local, “national” or “global?” If you’re that ambitious? Check your goal, your recipe, your compass and your taproot quota.


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NLP in Martial Arts and Shooting – A Brief History

I was doing a seminar in early 1990s and an attendee approached me during a break and said,
“I see you’ve studied NLP.”
“No,” I said.
“Oh, you use NLP methods. I thought you did.”
In England years later, another guy said the same thing. I said no again. And then a host there said that I “used NLP.”

Neural Linguistic Programming. What then exactly, precisely was NLP “methods?” I was just “doing my thing.” Saying “my thing.” Of course, I had a vague idea of NLP because some pop instructors of the day were using it as the next sales pitch magic, promoting it to sell their courses. “Learn NLP!” Was it a form of hypnosis? Svengali-manipulation?

So, I had to look this up to see what I was doing naturally that was so NLP-ish. After a library visit I deduced that EVERYONE was “using NLP” to some degree. Using your words to influence, to teach and sway (and hopefully improve) was not new. Selecting and understanding wordings and the nuances thereof, reaching and influencing people, did not and does not have to come from NLP.

 Common, related NLP topics were told and old:

  • Stress inoculation (not new even then).
  • Crisis rehearsal (not new even then).
  • Visualization (not new even then).
  • Advanced learning methods (not new even then). 
  • Special, catchy language (never new.)

I am going to talk about the base NLP methods only and NOT the vast majority of people’s problems the base methods must be fine-tuned for. The raw, overall solution-methods were “camp-fire old” in many ways. In another whim-follow-up years later in 2018, I downloaded several newer concept NLP books via audio (by actual doctors NOT martial arts guys). I listened to them, which expounded the evolved additions of the NLP world, yet still dense while shallow, (one of the NLP complaints is that they use vague language – see inside the link below). I still remained unimpressed.

It’s the gun-guy, Dave Spaulding’s old, wise line again, “It’s not new, it’s just new to you” that holds true over and over. And by the way, speaking of guns, there was an NLP influence within certain firearms crowds too, back then. So, why the martial arts and shooter fuss ages ago?

Being in and around the martial arts, military-policing and guns since the early 1970s, I have seen many fads come and go. Oh, they might last a while, but still are a fad. We are in the middle of a few right now. The influence of how NLP had some voodoo magic in the 1970s, 80s and even the 90s martial artists and other folks is an interesting business study. First off, martial artists, shooters, police, military being human, can fall for any sales pitch. Business people use faddish sales pitches to increase sales. NLP can be by itself, its own manipulative sales pitch about a sales pitch about a sales… (the circle continues).

The Death of Marcus Wynne (February 2022) Army vet. Air Marshal vet. Creator of courses. Why am I thinking about the faded away NLP? Wynne’s recent death made me re-reflect on those NLP-times, because with his passing his old friends mentioned the things he taught. And for some, they say Wynne somewhat-somehow changed their lives! They recall he taught things mentioned above like “crisis rehearsal,” visualization and the magical – NLP. In fact, Wynne was revered by some folks, as some sort of “Jedi” in those days gone by. 

Jedi? Star Wars? The timing for such lingo was perfect, as the army and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) were looking into any and all ways to enhance soldiers “brains” and performance. The book, The Men Who Stare at Goats, which I read years ago was described as – “a non-fiction work by Jon Ronson concerning the U.S. Army’s exploration of New Age concepts and the potential military applications of the paranormal. The title refers to attempts to kill goats by staring at them and stopping their hearts.” But, known by most folks, this storyline was satirically covered in the movie version with George Clooney. This was an era for insider, mind-expanding stuff. NLP seemed like one of the magic paths, especially with the underway, whispered “goat-army” connection.   

I knew at the time Wynne was teaching here and there. I saw him in some training films, but I just…I just didn’t care as many of us were also “looking around” at science, sports, medical and psychological incorporations for fighting and performance. For others, Wynne seemed to be their introduction to progressive ideas, which was a good thing. Everybody learns stuff from somebody else. Plus, Wynne had an engaging personality (which that in and of itself is NLP-ish). Then his popularity seemed to shrink away into a, not-quite oblivion through time, as will we all. And after all, he survived a serious near-death cancer back then, taking him “from the scene,” for a time. I am pretty sure Wynne moved on from NLP. Anyway, his recent death brought all this up from my memory. You “rookies, young-ins” will find some martial folks and firearm old-timers lamenting his passing and now you know why.

           All goats aside, I highly, highly              recommend this investigative book.


And now back to NLP itself… for quick examples…

  • Crisis rehearsal, new? I mean just look at old football practice and old shoot-room training. Are they not crisis rehearsal? Sometimes you are already doing what you have been told is new, and have not made the connection.
  • Visualization, new?  In Ed Parker’s Kenpo Karate classes in 1972, there were discussions on the power of visualization training. Sort of rehearsing in your mind katas, techniques and fights in a quiet room or moment. For me, a believer in the tenant of “reduce the abstract,” when feasible, I will never grasp significantly replacing this closed-eye, sit-down with physical action. There is much science today that proves such visualization-meditation has only fractional results in comparison to reality, or smart steps toward reality. My point is not the success ratio, but rather that the practice of visualization already existed in martial arts. Take shadow boxing. It can be be quite shallow without visualizing an opponent. I am sure readers here will and could list this martial, mental rehearsal practice going…back…ages.
  • Advanced learning, new? No. There’s always more learning. In the “mind-game” you have to keep up with the ever-changing  improvements. I have a friend in Australia who is a double-doctorate in psychology, a working counselor and college professor. He told me that a psychology doctorate must be completed within two years because that’s how fast the world of neural-plasticity changes! (Psychological therapies are VERY complex, the training complex, and require a customized, deep-dive into clients with careful scripts.)

Trained psychologists and motivational speakers were teaching these generic principles of speech, motivation and improvement, here, there and everywhere. I mean, Zig Zigler or any business guru said more or less the same things. The Power of Positive Thinking was a 1952 self-help book by Norman Vincent Peale. Age-old common speech classes produce verbal influence methods. Books and speakers have preached the copying of successful people’s habits, their messages and ideas were-are very much language influencers. They all use and preach the nuance of language to communicate, focus, sway and improve. President Lyndon Johnson would write speeches, then hand the crude outline to his speechwriters and say, “Here, put the music to it.”  The music to it. To really work, you need the soundtrack.

So, I walked out of the library in the 90s, and finished the books in 2018…remaining unimpressed. I am a skeptical, hard-sell by nature anyway. I did suspect early on that learning this NLP stuff from actual veteran, certified psychologists would be smarter than from some martial arts guys or gals who may or may not have graduated high school? 


Any-who, here are some fast facts about the old and new NLP:

  • Linguistics is the study of human speech including the units, nature, structure, and modification of language.
  • NLP was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, who believed it was possible to identify the patterns of thoughts and behaviors of successful individuals and to teach them to others.
  • NLP originated when Richard Bandler, a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, was listening to and selecting portions of taped therapy sessions of the late Gestalt therapist Fritz Perls as a project for Robert Spitzer. Bandler said that he recognized particular word and sentence structures which facilitated the acceptance of Perls’ therapeutic suggestions. Bandler then approached John Grinder, then a linguistics lecturer. Bandler and Grinder say that they studied Perls’ utterances on tape and observed a second therapist, Virginia Satir, to produce what they termed the meta model, a model for gathering information and challenging a client’s language and underlying thinking.
  • NLP tries to detect and modify unconscious biases or limitations of an individual’s map of the world.
  • NLP is not hypnotherapy. Instead, it operates through the conscious use of language to bring about changes in someone’s thoughts and behavior. (Some naysayers call it “covert” hypnosis.)

Camp-fire old? Many experts (and little-ol’ me) believe that your world – as in your personal predilections, and our world as in history, governments and religions, are totally built on, and re-enforced by, fiction and non-fiction stories. Mine was. Is. Story-telling from the campfires to the upcoming “Metaverse” has shaped and is shaping the world. And these stories are made up of single script lines…single sentences. Phrases even. Verbally, spoken, these sentences are bolstered by intonations, gestures and facial expressions. Lyrics without music. Poems without rhymes. How somewhat engaging they all are, somewhat hypnotic…how…NLP-ish sounding, but not NLP.? 

Oh, the everlasting, simple wonder of manipulative words! Monks chant. Writers write. Poets poet. Singers sing. Preachers pound the podium. Speakers-talkers sway and influence. Oh, the pulse, the orchestration of words to create positive (or sadly, negative) emotional, intellectual bonding and states of mind. 

NLP was a martial arts and shooter fad. Since…oh…2003-ish, maybe earlier, NLP has not been in the martial arts, shooting world vernacular. The universal training topics were there before NLP and remain after. Today, you have to be careful about NLP though. I don’t think it comes up much in modern discourse. Despite being around for nearly half a century, NLP is currently not recognized in mainstream psychology. It seems like today’s NLP business wants to make “life coaches” out of just about anybody, high school grads or not.  And, the old “NLP” initials are easily confused today with a modern approach for computer, language programming for A.I.. ( I await the hate mail on all of this.)

Thanks to the internet, today’s citizen, police, military, martial studies are diverse and wide-open to new worlds of modern science, sports training, medicine and psychology. Look around. Be conscious of fads and sales pitches. Oh, and this genre talks about being a “hard target?” Also be a “hard-sell,” skeptic.

And I now hereby conclude my manipulative words for today…

For more…

Six ways you can tell someone is using NLP on YOU

The Men Who Stare at Goats Movie Trailer


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