I stumbled upon yet another character on the web that criticizes knife instructors (in general) and their various titles. I was not mentioned and someone else was the real, make-fun-of target.  How dare we teach knife tactics and not be Jim Bowie? How dare you call yourself a knife “expert,” is the theme.

Lots of titles in topics, basic, advanced, expert, subject matter expert, master (lots of pros use that acronym “SME”– I do) etc. The complainers like to ask, “how many of these guys have ever been in a knife fight?”  Many of these complainers also like to say that knife trainers are not needed. “Just stick the pointy end in. Ha-ha.”  This ignores the myriad of laws, situations and skills. I am reminded of some of the 1960s and 1970s police ground fighting training we received that was summed up with,

“Tackle. Punch. ‘Swim’ to a choke. Handcuff the unconscious suspect.” Oh, it’s just THAT easy?  Then why all the time and grade training. That’s like the “just stick the pointy end in” easy?

Anyway, frequently these “pointy-end-in” complainers are so often  dedicated gun guys, who should then be content with just “sticking the pointy end of a bullet in.” Right? But instead, they spend fortunes on never-ending, redundant before-during-and-after shooting courses from…instructors who have never been in any gunfights either. Famous yes? Maybe? Close – but no real-world, cigar. Then they get certified from non-gunfight teachers. People think of the title master as a martial arts rank only but there are gun programs that create gun masters, gun experts and even gun grandmasters.

Which is my point (pun intended). Declaring that all knife instructors must have been in numerous knife fights to teach, is like asking the same of gun instructors. Same-same, yet the U.S. is chock full of very busy shooting instructors who have never been in gun fights. Chock, chock full. What about all these combatives and “Kuraty” black belts and instructors who have never been in so-called “real” fights (not talking about ubiquitous, average tournaments here. If you want to be a sports champion, there are many experienced sport champs around to learn from). But, the “must have been in” rule is either a broad rule for all, or not much a rule.

In the big picture, not many people have “been in” anything they teach. For example, we know that many business expert, college professors and economists have never run a single business. There are many trained expert astronauts that have never been in outer space. There are many trained Chinese history experts who’ve never step foot in China. Should I go on and on with this never-ending list? You know what I mean.

So, what about the “Next Best Thing” rule? Most of the world has never “been in” a hand, stick, knife and gun fight. Most of these other topic instructors never have either. And folks do like to learn from those that have been “in.” But such sources and contacts are hard to find and expensive. So instead, most of the world meet downliners and this is where we get the titles “first generation, second generation” instructor nomenclature and why such designations might actually be important. And folks learn from researching the field. After a period of time of one or both study sources, these thirsty downline folks can become smart, subject matter experts. Oops, there’s that “expert” word again. 

I myself have spent a lot of time and money traveling far and wide to train with really experienced people. I see and feel the experience. The advantage. The military and policing life have offered up these connections to me. But I would NEVER automatically belittle anyone who has never “not-been-there, not-done-that.” Some of the smartest people I know have never “been-there, done-that,” yet have the intelligence IQ and emotional IQ to excell, and are even smarter than the original, real-world experienced pros. Oh, yes. It’s like a genetic crapshoot, a macabre dance with nature-nurture and chance. That whole topic is called, “picking the right instructor!” (Find someone smarter than you.)

So why just pick on knife teachers? As I suggested I often waste my time by looking these knife complainers up. This particular aforementioned chap, works in a bread company, a bakery-factory. Oh sure, he has the prerequisite long beard and covered in tattoos for sure, but he makes bread. And…yes, he is a gun instructor. According to his resume, he’s never been a cop or in the military and I would bet, odds are then, never been a gunfight. Otherwise, he looks to be a great guy and a patriot and dedicated family man. Thumbs up, dude.  And he might be, could be still be a fantastic gun instructor, even sans a gun fight – yet still an expert handler of the material. But he is exactly like that knife instructor, sans a knife fight, he throws stones at. The saying “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” comes to haunt.

How important is “Have Been In?” How important is “Been-There, Done-That?”  How important is the “Next Best Thing?” Well, source-important is vital, yes, but the sources are a tiny minority in all fields and they’re hard to find and usually expensive. You learn from the best you can find and the majority of the time, it’s from those first, second, third or more generation sources. Let’s not be ignorant complainers and loudmouths living in glass houses about these first, second or thirders. They might be smarter than you. You “learn up the ladder.” Life, learning and skill is lot more than just sticking the pointy end in. Learn up.


Coming soon from Piccadilly Publishing in Great Britain…



Force Necessary: Hand Level 6 Strike: The Elbow Strike

Yes, the popular elbow strike is number 6 in the strike list. Not that it is 6th in importance, it’s just that everything cannot be number 1, and things need to be stretched out for digestion. Remember our mission is not to create champion kick or Thai boxers, but develop self defense, survival skills.

The elbows are very close quarters strikes. Sport applications can easily be confused with survival applications by naive instructors within the spinning worlds of self defense and sport. I have heard various self defense system instructors regurgitate a lot of sport doctrine. Survivorialist borrow (some like to say “steal”) from sports and shouldn’t automatically, completely replicate them. So what’s different? 

Cutting AND Smashing? Take for example the generic instruction that the elbow is used for both cutting and smashing. Suffice to say that the best smashing impact deliveries are the striking surfaces just a bit below and above the elbow. 

The Striking Version. Many experts suggest incorporating your big bones as much as possible. You might say, “elbow-area” striking for self defense and elbow tip striking possibilities for sports cutting. It’s more than semantics.

The Cutting Version. Hitting with the very tip of the elbow may cause pain and bone chipping injury to the striker (and yes and damage to the receiver). Ever walk through a doorway and nick the tip your elbow? Your elbow tip is nicknamed the “Funny Bone,” but the sharp pain comes from the Ulnar nerve that is near-surface at the hard elbow tip.  This hurts in an odd way. Merely cutting the opponent’s face with your elbow tip is a sports assignment to mostly cause bleeding. Such is a “clock move.” A street survivor cannot, should not count on, or watch the clock tick-tock away for debilitating bleeding into the eyes. There’s no time for that. And also there are no refs studying the intensity of medical injuries to call the fight. I believe if you took a survey, Thai fighters would probably be hoping for, working toward smash hits and not little,  superficial cuts when striking the head zone. Cutting is an after  thought when a full smash failed. (Also, classic boxers will try to “cut” the face with twisting boxing gloves and maybe illegal, sneaky elbows to cause bleeding. Once again in boxing the clock and rounds and refs count for a lot strategy.)

Never an elbow tip? In being comprehensive, I would be remiss not to mention this “blocking” move. Some systems suggest stopping-blocking an incoming face punch with an elbow positioned in front of the face. Very Filipino. Standing or on the ground, this involves raising your bent arm up quickly, getting your elbow aimed at an incoming bare fist. Yes, this can damage the incoming fist. Some people have the wrong impression about hitting the incoming fist with one’s elbow in general – they think it’s like hitting a bullet with a bullet. “Chasing the fist.” The supporters say the attacker is punching your face, and your mission is to position your elbow up into the line, the punch’s common path. You are not chasing anything. You are placing not chasing. But, when upright, standing there are a lot of ancillary skills like prediction, athleticism and situations involved with this whereas simple dodging and blocking basics might be way more reflexive, comprehensive and simpler. And actually it’s easier on your back, on the ground. Less…”geography.” We report. You decide.

Better to Give than Receive. When in elbow delivery range, you are in elbow reception range, a common Thai Boxing theme.  Where does your support hand and arm go? Inexperienced practitioners, especially those who have played American football often innocently go fist-to-fist, or fists-near-fists, striking in what sometimes looks looks like an overly-done torso upper body pivot. This is an unsafe in that it  leaves the head exposed. Elbow striking Thai boxers usually put their support arm forearm up and somewhat straight up. Some Thai systems will place the back of their thumb on their the top of their foreheads as a matter of routine, creating a vertical “bar” in front of their face.

Catching-Trapping. Then at times the support hand might be used to capture targets like the head, and even the arms. And the thrusting elbow can be used like a strike for elbow hyperextensions and for shoves inside takedowns. 

Note: Thai boxers often deliver horizontal and near horizontal incoming elbow strikes with that arm’s wrist bent and hand pointing down. This allows for the deeper range and penetration of the strike, whereas the straight wrist and hand inhibits that deeper strike because your hand hits your torso. In big gloved Thai fights, this hand position is hard to observe. The bent wrist might not matter much. This is just what I was taught in the Master Chai Sirisute Thai Boxing system. We report. You decide.

The Basic Elbow Smash List:  The old saying is, “if you have a good hook (punch) you have a good elbow (and vice-versa), as the body dynamics are somewhat similar. The combinations seem endless and class time should be spent working on them. Do these standing, kneeling and on the ground (as in top, bottom, right side, left side), all where feasible.

Horizontal or mostly horizontal elbows.
– right traveling left.
– left traveling right.

Vertical or mostly vertical elbows.
– mostly downward direction, including diagnials.
– mostly upward direction, including diagnials.  

Thrusting elbow.
– to the front, sides and back.

Spinning elbow.
– mostly horizontal.
– 1/4 or 1/2 or 360  spins. Requires some foot and torso set up that at times can be similar to spinning kicks.
– should you feel uncomfortable spinning, you still need to see them used on you and defend against it.

This Level 6 Elbow Module includes all this and elbow scenarios, tricks and skill drills, all too much to to list here. Level 6 also includes the Level 6 kick – the Thrust Kick Module, the Level 6 Emergency Medical Module, and the 6th Stop of the Stop 6  Program which is the survival ground fighting module. Ask for the new and improved Force Necessary: Level 6 Requirements Outline. It’s free and available after 15 February, 2024. 

See all the free full training films on Hock’s Combatives TV Channel, click here.


I have been around FMA since the 1980s. FMA was very popular in the late 1980s, 1990s and growing, but there was a stutter-step that lasted years, two surprises what is called “Black Swans” and their application to the martial arts. You know that Black Swans are surprise, rather unpredictable events. Randomness. 
Two main events occurred in the 1990s, 2000s that led to a decline in the growth and popularity of Filipino Martial Arts. One event was of course the cleverly orchestrated UFC and it’s “More Real” fighting. The second, separate proclamations from some “real-deal-rough-guys” that FMA was mostly full of “Dead Drills” that didn’t relate to really-real-deal-tough-guy fighting.”
These two events put FMA on the side shelf for years. The demographic of the time (what? 18 to 35 year-olds?) of macho boys fell for this hook, line, sinker. Even Inosanto-world,- which we were doing Thai and Shoot – was included in this disparaging.
But alas…“More Real” fighting, as it turned out, is-not, was-not just wrestling-BJJ, but actually “MMA” that had to evolve with an emphasis on kickboxing and ground n’ pound atop wrestling. Still though, through it all there was this lingering stigma-idea that FMA-ers were dancing, prancing around in abstract, dead drills.
But time passed. Decades. A new crop of young macho guys appeared in the marketplace of the same demographic of old. They missed that early FMA Black Swan. They saw the evolution of MMA-UFC was not just BJJ submission fighting. They saw weapons in a weapons world, a whole new breed of folks. They ignore the FMA dead drill commentary because they understand the learning progression, the concept of…drills.
I and a few others back then, with a little influence in the martial magazines and the growing internet, spoke out against this FMA Dead stigma. I began a name-game change when I simply publicized a semantic name title switch, from “Drills” to “Exercises.” It was not speed, flow and skill DRILLS, but rather speed, flow and skill EXERCISES. All fighters run, or weight lift, or do all kinds of support exercises vital to their performance, yet such would be declared “dead” and ignored in the definition of knuckleheads in comparison.
The word “exercise.” Calling them ALL merely exercises sort of changed the “dead drill” mindset name-game and shut some of these people up. All kinds of exercises improve and in many military, police and martial worlds, lots are called “__________ Exercises.” In fact, big themes are often called “________ Exercise Week,” etc.
While the words drill and exercise are interchangeable, using the term exercise is an all-inclusive, mind-changer. Big mind, if you will. Small-minded experts would declare “FMA Dead Drills,” then turn around and introduce their own drills that were in theory and practice, essentially the same ’dead’ as what they were just ridiculing. This displays a mental and intellectual detachment. One dead drill mastermind had to publicly backtrack a bit in a film, admitting that all performance exercises were…“okay.” This had to shake up their minds with inclusive definitions.
Through the decades, the most publicly recognized stick fighters were-are the Dog Brothers started by Eric Knaus, Arlen Sanford, Burton Richardson, et al. I have been close with many of these guys and done some minimum safety gear stick sparring myself until age limits healing time. As bad-ass as that gets, in the actual classes? Skills are slowly, carefully, professionally developed in progressive drills that would-be, officially have-been, declared “DEAD” by knucklehead standards.

(Ray Medina on the left, me on the the right.)
Martial drills of all kinds are bits and pieces of a fight (or sports) that enhance individual moves and puts them in a “before and after” action puzzle piece, all with progressing levels of speed with inserts. The only 2 major things to worry about are:
  1. Is the core movement-mission subject important enough? and,
  2. Do not over-drill and become mere “drill-masters” unable to freestyle fight. (This is important)
ALL drills to some extents are a bit dead, even sparring is, as they are not a real fight in crime and war, but, it’s probably a good idea to ignore these few remaining, “dead drill” hypocrites. Apparently, a whole bunch, a new breed of tough guys, a new wave of FMA interest these last ten years or so, agrees.
Check out the many free, full hour training films on Hock’s Combatives Youtube channel. Click here.


Standing – Upright Footwork Routine #14: The Footwork Run
Number 14 in my Force Necessary courses. Many people just run laps, which is fine. Fighters will do their road work with shadow boxing. Moving forward. Fighting. Smart. I have incorporated fighting footwork into the process along with some balance exercises and what I nickname “gyroscopic” exercises.
First, one has to define a lap. Whats is a lap? The classic, universal track has 4 laps covering a mile. Inside and outside many gyms, with space constraints, covering a mile usually takes many more laps than the classic 4 – maybe something like TWENTY laps may accrue a mile in some places.
I find this more multi-lap-to-a-mile handy because I change “themes” on each lap and easily remember to do so. I don’t think I have the time and the mojo to do my whole workout listed below, changing themes every classic quarter mile on the big boy track. If you did one of these chores as one full lap, and four laps make for a mile…it would be a long (and exhausting) many-mile day.
If you are on such a classic 4-lap-track, you might define in your mind quarters, halves and so forth for points to change your footwork. For the purposes of this explanation I will use the simple term lap – but such is flexible based on your location, your “track” and your health-endurance.
These are for inspiring, not confining. Note that every other lap is “regular” running (intermingled with shadow boxing and wind sprints).
  • Pre-Lap: You might stretch a bit? Warm-up speed. Up to you. 
  • Lap 1: Regular running with a warm up in mind.
  • Lap 2: Side-to-side pendulum-style footwork, facing out.
  • Lap 3: Regular running.
  • Lap 4: Side to side pendulum-style footwork, facing in.
  • Lap 5: Regular running.
  • Lap 6: Run backwards.
  • Lap 7: Regular running. Start incorporating segments of wind sprints.
  • Lap 8: Moving forward with “zig-zag” footwork, (Do you have painted lanes on your track? I usually use them to guide control my zig-zag forward stepping)
  • Lap 9: Regular running, with some wind sprints and now some shadow boxing.
  • Lap 10: Moving forward with zig-zag footwork, leap-step and turn in (with a hop) with each advancing step and shadow box a punch (one or two?) when facing inward. Very practical.
  • Lap 11: Run backwards with shadow boxing.
  • Lap 12: Regular running, with some wind sprints and shadow boxing.
  • Lap 13: Three lane leaps. Traverse-hop three lanes while still moving forward in a bigger zig-zag, right to left, left to right. You may turn (or hop) inward and punch again, (I’m not to sure how practical the turn and punch is after a THREE lane advance, but you can still do it. The two-lane, turn-in seems to be more practical in a fight.)
  • Lap 14: Regular running with wind sprints and shadow boxing.
  • Lap 15: Run heel-to-toe on one painted stripe to build agility and balance.
  • Lap 16: Experiment with some kicks while moving forward, even if you have to stop for a second to do it. See which ones work or don’t work on the mover.
  • Lap 17 and Beyoooond. Continue on and create variables for your laps or segments of your laps. Some people add hand weights. Whatever. Review your footwork drills and see you can do them on the move. Experiment. Customize. Improve. Swing sticks and knives on the way. Try a few steps drawing out pistols, or carting long guns. The world is your violent oyster. Just don’t get arrested running with weapons in your hands, bubba! You will freak out onlookers.
I usually do this indoors because I can’t count on the weather and as my mind wanders, the shorter laps help me remember to change. Plus, much of Texas is blistering hot for months and one should not let weather interfere with your plans to conquer the universe. On average I cover a meager 15 miles a month.
Running will always be smarter than walking. Walking will always be smarter than “couching.” Couching will always be better while watching television with a handy coffee mug full of Merlot.


I have been going to and teaching in Australia since the 1990s, a chain broken by Covid. Often twice a year. I have friends in many cities that hosted me coast to coast. I have a very special place in my heart for the people I know there and Australia in general. I knew that I had to get my then wife Jane down there to meet them and see Oz. She went with me several times for a month and one year, a two-month long trip. These trips were adventures in rental cars and sometimes we had to fly. Jane called much of it “Windshield Tourism“ because we had had drive from city to city, weekend to weekend. We “freestyled” saw…a…whole…lot.
One year we went in October and November and over a Thanksgiving. Being that far away from the USA, the American holidays don’t loom. On Thanksgiving Day, we stopped in a smaller town and stayed in a rather primitive, worker’s-style hotel that had a hot plate, a fridge and a microwave, all in the short hallway of the single room. With that were a few crappy, dishes and silverware.
We had enough time to walk about the downtown area and wandered into a grocery store where Jane got the idea that while we could not have a turkey, we could at least have chicken and some vegetables for Thanksgiving.
I said, “How can you make all that with a crusty old hot plate and that nasty old ancient microwave in the small hallway of our room?”
She knew how. She proceeded to buy the ingredients. We returned to the motel, and she started in with milk, eggs and flour she breaded chicken thighs and prepped the vegetables (by the way, the veggies in Australia are science-fiction-huge!) We bought some Australian wine, which y’all should try.
When it was all done, we had our Thanksgiving dinner in this little motel room. It was way more than delicious. It was amazing, as she was amazing. I declared then and there that this was my best Thanksgiving ever. It wasn’t turkey, but it didn’t have to be. We even had to eat in bed because there were no tables or a desk. But it was still so special, spontaneous and perfect. Years later, it was and still is my best Thanksgiving ever. A magic day in a magic time and place with a magic person.
I lost Jane last July from a sudden heart attack, after 30 unforgettable rich, adventurous, deep years. Are there enough adjectives? I’ll run out of them. I was ripped from reality. I am very close to her daughter Sherry, and we worried about the upcoming holidays of which Jane was always such a brilliant foundation. Sherry asked me was there anything special she could make for me, for our upcoming Thanksgiving. I am not a desert guy, and I just couldn’t think of anything at the moment. But a day later, I thought about this…the baked chicken memory. Of course! I told her. She looked at me funny at first, but then she remembered the story I have told probably way too many times. So, yes, at her house many are coming and there will be the usual turkey and sides, but she is also also making me breaded chicken thighs.
Thanksgiving Day will be a real tough one. Some say they all will be from now on, to some level, no matter what else happens. I could see that. And oh no, not just for me, but for so many who have lost others from age, health, crime and war.
Past, Present. Future. You know Zen is not a religion, it’s a philosophy. Zen wants you to concentrate and live in the moment as much as possible along with solving some riddles. And when folks say Grace before a meal, they are stopping time. Freezing it, slowing things down, and saying-appreciating the moment, the luck, the joy, the irony that we somehow have some damn food in front of us in this crazy world, along with…somehow…at holiday times like these, people we love, like and know around us.
We can stop the clock for just one precious moment. It might be those valuable moments that gets you through life. May you have many such valuable moments, like a simple makeshift meal in a cheap hotel, or a festive gathering, or maybe just days, hours, or minutes of “windshield tourism,” if even just a trip around your town.
And that’s my greatest Thanksgiving story. I suspect it will remain so for the…duration. And hey, do try some of that Australian wine, why don’t cha?

The Butter Knife Cuts Both Ways and The Total Evidence Theorem

I have been in court a lot, military, state and federal, helping prosecutors win cases I brought forth, for three decades. I even worked for defense attorneys in the subsequent years as a private investigator. This process was an incredible legal education. I came to believe that the best patrol officers are former detectives. The best detectives are former prosecutors. The best prosecutors are former judges (especially appellate). Of course, this reverse engineering ladder of sorts, this learning curve is impossible to officially implement.

But, I feel lucky to at least have worked in these worlds. Back then, District Attorney Jerry Cobb and his top assistants were better than most investigation schools on what details gets convictions. (Two such great and dedicated staff minds were Alan Levy and Lee Gabriel.)

(Me atop the Denton County, Texas Court House, circa 1980s. In the distance is the original courthouse on the classic downtown square. )

The law makes you think about all things big and small. The who, what, where, when, how and why.  A police officer asks those questions for the crime report. The detective digs deeper. In the grand jury and trial stage we must dig even deep – deeper because you never what what tiny problem might arise in court.

Law school should export critical thinkers. All lawyers should be critical thinkers. They are often not. But they should be. I know lawyers who are doffusses and some think like criminals.

Juries and Jurors: And Lord knows common jurors… your wonderful peers… have no training in critical thinking. It’s the pot luck, roulette wheel of your freedom and fortune.

When I was an investigator in the US Army and in those court martials, the juries consisted of officers, usually college grads. No guarantee of critical thinking, but on paper at least they appear  probably smarter than civilian “Joe-Shit-The-Rag-Man,” juror, often was-is someone who was never taught civics in school, the law or government or unbiased history. Often was-is someone that when questioned think Abe Lincoln was the first president. Often someone who failed to avoid jury duty and sometimes even fall asleep in the jury box. (Oh yes, I could tell you stories – well, I have, in my book below, actually. Judges are supposed to “wake up” jurors. Naps never happens in military tribunals. Oh no. And in federal court the judges are VERY powerful and sleepers are awakened by “thunderbolts” from the bench. But in state and county courts, not always. To counter the snoozers, I would sometimes fake a loud sneeze into the microphone when testifying and coming to a vital speech point. I would watch the nappers’ heads bolt up. I would wait a few seconds for them to come to their senses. Everyone in the court knew what I was doing, but it was a Oscar-level, sneeze performance with which I could contest any objections.)

One of the many things I learned that for the colonel, the scientist or the carpet-layer to totally draw conclusions, they need to hear and analyze total evidence. Thus…the “Total Evidence theory.”

“There’s a crucial principle in probabilistic reasoning known as the ‘total evidence requirement’. This is roughly the principle that we should always use the most specific evidence available to us. Suppose the prosecution tells the jury that the accused always carries a knife around with him, neglecting to add that the knife in question is a butter knife. The prosecution has not lied to the jury, but it has misled them by giving them generic information – that the accused carries a knife – when it could have given them more specific information – that the accused carries a butter knife. In other words, the prosecution has violated the total evidence requirement.” – Phillip Goff is professor in philosophy at Durham University, UK. Writing in Aeon Magazine 

But then, moments later, the defense is supposed to step up and clear that information up. Fingers get pointed. Phony outrage erupts, “What the prosecution didn’t tell you is, the knife was a butter knife!”
In theory, each side in court – the defense, the prosecution presents their best side of information only, Together the truth is supposed to come out. But, this “halfness” cuts both ways. It does leave a bad taste, a flavor of concealment in the process. You hear, “Well, if that’s the case, why didn’t the prosecution tell us right out that it was a butter knife?” The juror declares, usually with a little or a lot of disdain, and unaware of the give and take process of… “the show.”
“The knife cuts both ways.” Professor Google reports “The 17th-century idiom “cuts both ways” drops a hint at a double-edged sword without mentioning it directly. Once drawn from its sheath, the weapon could cut if driven forward or pulled back—like a saw. The idiom was first used in a book by Edmund Hickeringill titled Priest-Craft: Its Character and Consequences.
The dull butter knife cuts both ways? My next question in the deeper dig would be “why is this knucklehead addicted to his daily butter knife?”

(My book covers much police action and many issues like this. The title was invented by the publisher and not my choice. When you sell a book, titular things like this are out of your control. Ebook or paperback. Click here. )


Kajukenbo Okayama: Hoch, tell us about yourself.

Hock Hochheim: Well, that’s sort of the “Who, when, what, where, why” that I use everywhere. And I do ask that question…“Who?” “Who are you, really?” And in our business, who do you really expect to fight? There’s a psychology where older people think less of themselves, and then younger people think more of themselves, in terms of what they think they can do, and who they can fight and win against. This is so true that there are actual psychological terms for both of those categories, but they escape me now. I have to continually look them up every couple of years to remind myself.

But I’m just a former army, military, police investigator. Then Texas police, and in most of that time, in those 23 years, a detective, about 16 or 17 years of that. And since 1972, starting out at Ed Parker Kenpo-Karate, I’ve been a martial artist, other than a few rare years maybe, while in the army. I’ve just done this every day for…I think the number now is pretty much 50 years, 51 years… Fifty years, fifty-one years of thinking about/worrying about/being psychologically obsessed with these elements of fighting. To a fault, I think. I think it’s a bit of a mental sickness.

KO: (Laughing)

HH: I should be thinking about other things. Which I do, yes. I think about writing my novels, but also my mind wanders back to organizing this martial material…what’s better, what we can cut out, what we absolutely need. And in the terms of hand, stick, knife, gun, war and crime, it’s quite a challenge. It’s still a daily challenge, after all these years.

KO: Tell us more about your martial arts history.

HH: I was in Kenpo-Karate, I guess about a year, and then I went to the army. So, I had this established impression of martial arts. In the army, there was just a couple opportunities to train. Boxing. Police Judo. First of all, I was in Korea, and I wasted my time there, martial arts speaking. I say I wasted my martial arts time there because…I hate to use the word “brainwashed”…but I was so immersed in the idealism of parker Kenpo, and how superior it was, as they told us, that I really did not want do anything else. Now, I should have done Hapkido at least while I was in Korea. I’m not really a big fan of Tae Kwon Do, I like their power kicks, but gosh, I could have done Hapkido! We had opportunities. There were a couple ROK Marines there teaching military combatives classes at another base gym, So I did that.

The military police academy was kind of big on boxing as a support system, which also had its inherent problems. But since I was in Karate, as soon as I got there, I did their boxing stuff. And it’s very hard to take sports boxing with gloves and transform it into bareknuckle fighting and reality arrests. There’re real problems with trying to make those two come together.

And so, anyway, then I got out of the Army, I did Karate and Jiu-jitsu back in Texas…the stand-up, old school Jiu-jitsu. And then, in 1986, I started in with the Jeet Kune Do people. And that was just a big mind explosion. I was very happy to get out of the classical framework, as suggested by Bruce Lee.

So, we’re talking Dan Inosanto and his top instructors. Thai boxing, the Filipino martial arts, Jeet Kune Do, Wing Chun…all the things that they were doing was just a massive amount of cool investigative stuff. And that went on, probably, I guess, until about 1997. Oh, and then of course I picked up with Ernesto and Remy Presas. And that was a huge chunk of time. I got very close to both brothers. They often stayed at my house, which was a fantastic opportunity for me.

I lived in middle of the country, and they needed to stay weekdays somewhere between their weekend seminars, and I was a bachelor, and they just flat out asked me: “Hock, can I stay, you know, Tuesday through Thursday?” Or, “Monday through Friday morning?”

Then about ’97 I really decided to get free of everything, and clear my head, and create exactly what I dreamed of. Y’know, all these decades, I was in the pursuit of the “perfect martial art,” so to speak. Survival fighting with hand, stick, knife and gun in crime and war, standing through the ground. And after I’d done all of these things, I realized there was none. No one perfect thing.

And so I decided to embark on this blend…I guess the best word is “combatives.” A word that wasn’t popular in the ’90s, but I picked that word anyway. It became popular later, to a shaky extent.

KO: Before you got into Jeet Kune Do, I hear you had a run in with Kajukenbo?

HH: Yeah. So, in Ed Parker Kenpo Karate, North Central Texas…which was one of the rarest of official martial arts schools you’re gonna find back in the late 1960s and early 70s. I found one and joined. We had two private lessons a week, and Saturdays was set aside for a group lesson. A couple of hours, and that was your typical group martial arts class in many ways. And at the end of the Saturday session, they had organized…Keith See was the guy, one of the first generation Parker guys…they had organized a sort of open, sparring class with as many other schools as you could find at the time. There was Tae Kwon Do, there was Kung Fu, there were various arts. And since part of Parker Kenpo was very kickboxing oriented, we usually sort of “won-beat” everything against these other people.

It just created a “wow” factor, like some of these folks were really dramatically moving into artsy, unsafe positions (as taught by their arts), and we’re just kickboxing at this point. Not good for them. We were always very friendly. There weren’t any kind of feud problems.

But then all of a sudden, who shows up one of these Saturdays in 1972, but the local, Kajukenbo guys. And all of a sudden, they were like us. They were a mixed kickboxing outfit. And so “Wow!” we said. And so no, we did not overcome them. And y’know, it was very much an equal experience. “These guys are like us! They’re from Hawaii, they’re doing the same things…” So that was my first introduction to Kajukenbo, and these guys. And, as time marches on, we’re all going to seminars, and we get to know each other and stuff. And then of course a long time ago, early 1990s I met Dean Goldade, he was a Professor Gaylord black belt. We worked consistently together for decades. I also got close with another Prof Gaylord guy, great guy, Ron Esteller. I have done dozens of seminars at his place over the years. I’ve done a seminar with Prof. Gaylord in California, so I know all these guys, and it’s just been a gigantic friendship ever since.

KO: What was it like in the martial arts world when you first started?

HH: Those guys were super tough. I joined…I started, in 1972, just after the blood and guts era of Karate training. It was sort of an assumption that this old martial arts training style could not be a successful business, if you have to vomit or bleed every Tuesday night. So, I missed all that. However, those guys were still around with us. And I heard all the great stories, and all the stuff that happened and they still clung to a harder core training. But I think there was a conscious business decision to not be so devastating. Otherwise, you would have no students. You would not have a business, you would not have the franchise plan and so forth.

I saw the same thing happen to Thai boxing. In, oh I guess about, the late ’80s or early ’90s, where suddenly you were not beating the snot out of each other all the time in class. Before that there were just constant injuries, and business problems with that. And of course Bruce Lee had this same problem at his YMCA classes in Los Angeles, which is why he created that YMCA boxing program, which Tim Tackett taught me. There’s a lot of great, hardcore, application drills in that program. It meant that James Coburn didn’t have a black eye when he went to the movie set. And the doctors and the lawyers training with Bruce, y’know, weren’t all busted up.

So, he created this kind of program that was focus-mitt oriented…and you’ve seen bits and pieces of it in the Jeet Kune Do world through time. The little sets of things, strike/counter-strike, sets of three, sets of four…I still use those. But my mission is not to create a boxer or a kickboxer. My mission is to create a bare-knuckle, self-defense endeavor. So, I still use a lot of that Bruce Lee YMCA program.

Seminar at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, pre 9-11.

KO: Tell us more about that program.

HH: Well, everything is called “Force Necessary”. It’s based on using only that force necessary to win and survive. The definition of “winning” is different situationally and personally. I have a couple of rules about what a fight is. “Checkers, not chess” is a motto of ours, and defining what you don’t do, helps you define what you do do. Defining what you don’t wanna’ do helps you define what you wanna’ do.

Is a fight “chess” or is it “checkers”? I believe a real fight under stress is checkers for almost all people. I mean, look at the limited list of techniques you see in the UFC. So I have an internal meter in my head that can spot the chess applications. Einstein said, “Keep it simple but not too simple.” But the definition of simplicity changes with people. So, if you have a super talented martial artist, you should remember that their definition of simple, or “checkers,” is higher than the average person.

Trying to keep things simple and as realistic as possible, in the hand, stick, knife, gun realm, that is really core, essential stuff.

I am not going to create champion kickboxers. Or champion MMA people. Or champion BJJ people. And in actuality, a lot of those people that do advertise they create those champions…they don’t really create champions anyway. Y’know, they just have a program, and they do the best they can with it.

My goal is to create self defense people. And again, there’s of course that large middle realm of “normal” people. But then of course if you have a special athlete in there, you have to make sure you hit their level of simplicity, which is higher.

I can look at people and just decide what they need to work on. For example, here’s one example, I’ve tried to look into the subject matter of the density and size of fists. You can look at a person and say “You shouldn’t be punching people, because look at how tiny your fists are. Switch to palm strikes.” And then I have another friend who’s got fists like cinder blocks. And he needs to be punching everybody.

I just ran across this in Hungary last week, in Budapest. A kid wants to pursue all this information. And I can look at him and say “You need to take a couple studies of, like, how Bruce Lee moved. Because you’re small, you’re thin…ya’ know, you look like him. What’s your arm length?” Etc. “But you, Mr. Tank standing next to the kid, at 280 pounds, you should develop your own “bruiser” approach to this.

I can tell you many great stories. I mean, Dan Inosanto said in a seminar once, decades ago…and he was a high school football running back champion…he was getting the ball, and crashing into the line…and his coach said “Dan, why are you running into people all the time?”

So, he named somebody famous, but it was a giant running back…and Dan said “Well, I’m trying to be like my hero ‘Joe Blow’ (whatever his name was). And the coach says “Dan, Joe Blow is 6’4. You’re 5’ 7”. Pick…another…hero.”

And that’s a great piece of advice for people, so I try to keep everything in this system essentially “core” simple, and in the end it’s up to me and the people to make their own thing that works for them. And not try to pretend to be somebody else they can’t be. It’s the “who” question again. “Who are you, really?”

And then of course you come around to the subject matter of instructors. As an instructor, despite your shape and size or shape, an instructor must know everything. Because he or she is now in front of all shapes and sizes, and ages, and strengths. So there’s the question, is your guy, the attendee, someone who wants to defend themselves, or do they also someday want to be an instructor? Well, the instructor has to learn everything. Two-fold responsibility.

KO: Tell us more about your view on teaching punching in your system.

HH: Well, punching is cavalierly taught in martial arts without any warnings. The big problem is the “bicycle helmet” area of the head. That’s the real hand breaker. Because the jaw gives, the neck kinda’ gives, and you have some chance of surviving that without injury. But when the bad guy reflexively lowers his head…you’re aiming for the nose, you instead hit the bicycle helmet part of the skull…you’ve got a broken hand. Or say, versus a hook punch, they turn their head sideways and down, and you got the split knuckles break.

So that’s why punching is level 5 in our empty hand module, of the 9 training levels, because I think it’s taught way too cavalierly in almost all martial arts. I mean, in those schools you’re punching on day 1 and no one is telling you this could be bad for your hand and how to avoid problems. What about a palm strike instead?

I’m a puncher from day one, and my hands are not that small. And I’ve only had two real problems and one surgery, with a hairline fractured bone because of an uppercut to a jaw.


KO: How does knife/gun/stick fit into the world of martial arts?

HH: Well, I guess it doesn’t in unarmed systems. But it should. It has been connected, if you think back to the samurai. They were shooting guns at each other eventually. Because the human race, psychologically, has been built to kill from a distance. This has been proven and proven and discussed forever. Archery was the big deal way back when, and then guns. And it’s just harder, face to face close, to kill a person. Just, psychologically.

So, today, there are a lot of guns. I don’t teach marksmanship at all. I have interactive/simulated ammo shooting training. In situations. That’s all I teach.

And of course the real challenge is to shoot cold, meaning that you are suddenly attacked…at that point, what is your skill level shooting cold instead of your skill level on the fourth set-round, warmed up on the range…and they say even psychologically, preparing yourself to drive to the range…getting everything ready to go, driving there, entering the place…all results in you not being all that “cold”. All of that is starting to prep you to shoot. Warming you up. Instead of being ambushed. And being ambushed is the greatest trick of all to pull off.

So I try to have situations that are based on reality. And I have very safe, fake guns, and very safe ammo, and we are able to work through many repetitions of realistic problems. You’re not learning gun combatives unless moving, thinking people are shooting back at you. It’s just that simple.

Of course, this approach has been accepted now, by the military and policing, and some smart civilian courses. I started to do this in the 1990s, and people were hesitant about it, thinking the only solution was – “I just need to draw faster” and stuff, and now as time has marched on, anybody with any sense is exploring interactive shooting with simulated rounds.

And of course, everyone’s been fighting with some kind of impact weapon or sword, but I don’t know if these things are officially, classically, “martial arts”.


KO: How did being a police officer connect with all your training?

HH: Well, for one thing, I didn’t shoot a lot of people. Cause I could fight ’em. That was a big deal. There were circumstances where I could have easily, legally, shot somebody, and I knew I didn’t have to. And so, I didn’t. And that’s from all this training and realistic confidence. Of course, that was not popular at the police department, because it set a new standard for these other people.

I do know from the reaction of people that that was kind of a problem. I’d bring a guy in, handcuffed, that I could have shot, and some old timer would be at the police department smoking a cigarette…and he’d say “Why didn’t you just shoot that son of a bitch…?”

And I would simply say “I didn’t have to. I didn’t have to shoot him”.

So that was the biggest thing. My days, the ’70s, the ’80s, and the ’90s,…basically speaking, if you were toe-to-toe, face-to-face with a guy, and a fight really started, we would basically, legally, try to beat the shit out of them until he quit resisting. You can’t do that anymore.

Because here’s the deal…if you arrest someone and wrestle with them…which is extremely dangerous, especially on the ground…and you get them in a “submissions/tap out” hold…they’re not gonna’ tap out, because in most cases they don’t know how to tap out. But you’ve captured them. Because I’m telling you, when you let the guy go, he continues to fight. Or he runs away.

So the goal of submission wrestling in arresting people is really not good. Now, if two or three people show up…your partners…you can try to work that out…and it’s usually still an uncoordinated mess.

And I’m a big fan of catch wrestling. Because as a martialist, we must know everything about the body. And we must know every joint, which way they bend, and which way they don’t bend. It’s our responsibility to know that. That doesn’t mean I have to become a brainwashed wrestler. Judo people forget to punch. If you’re in a system that doesn’t have a complete, competent doctrine, huge chunks are out. And if you exist in that system for too long, you forget many important things.

The old school fighting ways were: you hit the guy, stun the guy, throw him down. And handcuff him. That simple formula did help me tremendously in policework.

Nowadays, it’s a whole different animal.


KO: How about the stick part of your program?

HH: I approach the knife, the gun, the stick, and the empty hand in the same way. In stick training though, if you remove the Filipino stick vs. stick fighting, there’s not a whole lot left to the stick study. A regular person is not going to be fighting with a 28 inch stick by happenstance. By happenstance, you’re standing on a street corner with a 28 inch stick, and you get into a problem with another guy who has a 28 inch stick? Not likely. At the stick versus stick part, that point the stick fighting becomes more of an art, more of a fun, abstract study, a hobby, and a martial art.

If you remove stick vs. stick fighting from the program, there’s not a whole lot of material. So, I work on that for the Force Necessary Impact Weapon: Stick course, we worry about self-defense survival.  A little dueling, yes, but not at all like a Filipino course.


KO: And yet you seem to have a strong interest in the stick.

HH: Well, I started with the Inosanto world in 1986. Like so many people, Dan Inosanto changed my life. With the things that he was doing, and the people that he had. I spent a lot of time with Terry Gibson in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who Inosanto said was one of his top five people. I hosted Terry, I went to his house, I went to the seminars they did up there. I met Paul Vunak, Larry Hartsell, all through Terry Gibson. But part of the whole thing with Arnis is the overabundance of stick work, of single stick work.

As Ernesto Presas would explain, you really have five areas of so-called “play” in Filipino martial arts. There’s

  • 1: mano mano (hand),
  • 2: single stick,
  • 3: double stick,
  • 4: knife,
  • 5: espada y daga. Those are the big five areas of play.

So, sticks appear in three of those. Just naturally there’s an overabundance of it. Espada y daga is “sword” and daga, but it’s become “stick”, mostly. Some people justifiably call it “stick and knife”.

I myself am not particularly obsessed with sticks, ya ’know. I just have a long accumulated knowledge of stick stuff.  And I have a world where customers want to see “stick” stuff. They are magically so interested in it. So, I am happy to do stick material, and it’s kind of fun and so on, but it’s not my main interest or thing to do.

And I’m amazed…I see these people that have weekend seminars, three-day seminars…single stick, seven hours each day. Wow! And they’re just hypnotized, and mesmerized, by stick versus stick. These people really love it.

And as a result of that, I am happy to do stick stuff. And frankly, I do know a lot about it. And Filipino martial. I’ve had lots of exposure, time and grade. Dan Inosanto, at first he was doing Pekiti Tirsia, and then he switched over to Lameco…and in the meantime, he’s still telling you what Johnny Lacoste did, what Serada does, and Illustrisimo…

I was exposed to all these different systems, and I started going to all these others with an open mind. I started going to Remy Presas seminars. Remy was charismatic, he was the real deal…he fought in the Philippines, and had killed people, in stick challenges, that’s not very well known, but I’ve written about it on my pages. So, I was going seminar to seminar. I was just a seminar attendee to him. And then some guy calls me over and says “Do you know about his brother, Ernesto?”

I said, “Never heard of him.”

And so, he said “Well, come back here behind this curtain.” And we started to do Ernesto material, and then I started to do Ernesto material for four years. As well as all the Inosanto material. As well as Remy material.

Then I get a phone call from my guy, and he says “I’m going to the Philippines for a month. You gotta go with me.” So, I’m thinking, I have hundreds of hours of comp time saved up as a detective. And you have to take that time after a while. So I said, “I’m in.” I’m a bachelor, I sold my car, we went. And there was only like 7 or 8 of us that went. It was great. Negros Island and in Manila.

The next thing you know, after about training in the Ernesto system for five years…on the last day, a black belt test and I get this black belt “guru” title, there in Manila. I come back with this lineage and an actual list of system requirements to do that was really elusive with other FMA instructors. Most people just had to spend a whole lot of time (and money) with “Tuhon Joe Jones” and maybe…maybe…you’d get something. I had a list and a lineage line straight to Manila. I said “You do these ten things, and you can get this belt ranking from the Philippines.”

“WHAT?!” they’d say, “You mean these ten things?”

Yeah! I said “I can do that for ya. And if you do these 25 things, you can be a basic instructor, as granted by Ernesto Presas in the Philippines.”


So I started to become popular because I was, I had this connection. Back then, everybody wanted a backyard workout, a garage workout. Some guys rented a space. But everyone had a dream that was financially hard to do as time marches on. And that’s really how I became so-called “famous.” I started touring all over, people started asking me to these 10 things, to do these 12 things.

Meanwhile, I’m still with Remy Presas. Again, at those early times I was just another seminar attendee to Remy Presas, and Remy finds out I’ve been to his house on the Negros Island, that I’m working out in the Philippines, he contacts me. Then he and I became close. He knew I cared that much to do all those things. I hosted him numerous times and he stayed at my house a lot.

Both brothers had similar systems, but they’re different. Ernesto’s is much bigger. Ernesto was obsessed with making the perfect Filipino system, in those five areas of play. And as a result of that, he was tortured, and he never could complete it. He was constantly changing it, constantly messing around with it. Whereas Remy just wanted to do enough so that you could fight well, basically.

Both these guys were Karate black belts, they’re Judo black belts, they spent their entire lives doing martial arts. So. they were very well versed. They could fight anywhere, with anything.

But, back on the stick subject, as time marches on, the obsession with single stick with people is amazing.

So that is my…not a love/hate, but a love/infatuation with sticks.


KO: You’ve written quite a few books, right?

HH: Well, I have a very popular knife combatives book…

KO: (Thumbs up. I love that book.)

HH: …It’s got about 1,400 “how-to” photos. It’s very popular, it sells regularly, and now it’s an e-book.

Then I have an impact weapon book, which is not based on Filipino stick. But it is the blocking, striking, and grappling with an expandable baton, or any type of impact weapon that you have. I’m in the middle of making an unarmed combatives book, which is gonna be another heartbreaker to make…2,000-plus photographs, as much of my knowledge on the subject as possible I can record.

Then I have to do a Force Necessary: Gun” combatives book, which is nothing but all the sims ammo, interactive scenarios that I teach.

Those are the “big four”. The idea of writing a Filipino martial arts books is just overwhelming. I get a kick out of seeing these guys who write a “Filipino Martial Arts Book”, and it’s like a 128 page book. No (laughing), it’s gotta be as big as a damn spaceship manual. Now, I could do a five books on the five areas of play, that is digestible, possible. But y’know, I’m 70, I don’t know if I’ll get to finish ’em. And then of course, I do write novels, and I have a western series, and I have a detective series, and those take up a lot of my time.

KO: With modern technology, how important are books to the modern martial artist?

HH: Well, I guess that videos are superior, because you get to see what’s happening, but historically books are still important. They used to claim there were five ways to learn something, visually, reading, doing, etc. I don’t remember the others…but I’ve forgotten them because other experts have come up with five or more, better, ways to teach and learn. The original “five ways” is kind of an old school mythology that fell out of favor. I do know that you have to have different routes to people’s brains to teach them.

So, videos are pretty important. Sometimes I wish I had a GoPro I could plant, real thin, right between my eyes, and do what I’m doing and show people my (their) point of view, our perspective. And that would be another important way to learn.

But, for many, one of the main methods of learning is a book. And that’s why when I do these combat scenarios in books, I try to do each important step in the photos.

I’ve made about 45 training films. But with the demise of training films and the shortening attention span versions of films you see on YouTube…pretty much, the one-hour training video has lost the ability to be sold. Like Paladin, once a big international martial arts video company has collapsed. Century has bought the Panther videos but they don’t seem to be selling them. Nowadays, if you have an itch to learn…say…wrist locks, you type it in, you watch 17, three-minute YouTube videos on wristlocks, and you are sated. You’re not gonna’ buy a $40 wrist lock video. So, that is the problem with bothering to make movies anymore.

Of the 45 movies I’ve made, many are now free on my YouTube channel. I’ve decided once a month, I’m gonna put a 50-minute to 1 hour video up for free on my YouTube channel. Because of how things are changing. I don’t want the videos to sit and rot. If I was rich, I’d do all this for free anyway. That way at least people can watch and learn something.

KO: Are there any martial artists/martialists/fighters that you look/looked up to?

HH: Well, y’know, I really like Bas Rutten. I wish I could spend about year with that guy. But there are others that are competent fighters. I know that Bas will tend to lean toward the MMA/combatives thing, but he’s a pretty smart guy. Eric Paulson is amazing, the JKD guy. He’s amazing. He doesn’t seem to be hypnotized into wrestling. He knows the big picture. The information in the big picture is constantly on the tip of his tongue. You can always ask him “What about this? What about that?”

Gosh, and through the years, there’s been so many, but in particular categories. Scott Reitz. A founding member of LAPD SWAT…there’s your gun guy right there. Paul Howe, former Delta Force, gun guy, teaching in Nacogdoches, Texas. I guess I tend to lean towards extremely experienced people.

And then, some of the smartest people in the martial arts that you will ever meet, will run a quiet little school in a strip mall, in “Bumscrew”, Wisconsin. And nobody knows about them, but they’re brilliant people. And that’s just the way that it goes.

KO: What are your hopes for fight training, combatives, martial arts, etc. in the future?

HH: The bottom line is that I hope that everyone will be happy doing what they’re doing. Because much of it is a sport or a hobby.

The only thing that I ask for, that I ask and dream of, is that everybody who’s doing their hobbies and sports realize where it fits in survival. How does it fit in? Does it fit in? That’s one of the “who, when, what, where, why, and how” questions.

You have to have a martial IQ. The intelligence quota, to select the right things, and keep improving. If you wanna wrestle the rest of your life, and you still realize that this isn’t the cure for all fighting, and realize you don’t have a stick/gun/knife involved in this, and notice if you have forgotten how to punch and kick, “I just know this wrestling thing, and I love it! Maybe I will do a sports tournament thing someday, wouldn’t that be fun…”

Yeah. Go. Have a blast. Just know where everything fits or doesn’t fit. In the end, I want everybody to be happy with what they’re doing. They’re off the couch, they’re exercising, they’re part of the social aspects of a good school…you have Christmas parties, get togethers, you have kinship…all these great things can happen because of a martial art class, or a combatives class, or whatever. Just have an idea, from someone, somewhere, where your art fits in real life. And then, I’m happy. If you’re happy, I’m happy.


KO: Do you have any advice for martialists or Kajukenbo people in general?

HH: Well, Kajukenbo is, to me, a wide-open system of learning. They want you to exist in those categories and keep evolving and learning. And that to me is the best advice. Keep evolving and learning.

Hawaii was an amazing place, and a transition for so much.I remember Ed Parker saying that he tried to take all the Karate and Kenpo and turn it into an art for a bigger person. To Americanize it, so to speak. I think Kajukenbo did that too. And now it’s one of those martial arts that’s all over the world.

Back then there wasn’t a lot going on. And the arts there in Hawaii were the established beginnings of things. So, it doesn’t surprise me that a lot of guys were in those two arts (Kenpo and Kajukenbo). Nowadays, the popularity to me seems to be with BJJ and Krav Maga. You don’t see the Kung Fu school so often anymore.

To read more interviews like this, be sure to check out Kajukenbo Okayamas recent book, “Blood, Sweat, and Bone: The Kajukenbo Philosophy.



THE SACRIFICE FALL    Pride before the “Fall.”

Pride before the FAIL (or Fall) – meaning “those people who are overconfident or too arrogant are likely to fail” – this quick, popular and easily understood saying is from the Bible’s Book of Proverbs, in a few varied words. But the same message. Now, I am far from a Biblical expert, but its general popularity speaks volumes. Here I would like to rotate the word “fail” to “fall,” – which so many people already do anyway. There are other related phrases to add to this subject, like “you fell prey to,” or “falling prey to,” meaning you have been misguided and “fell” for some such thing that you should not have.

I would like here to produce some ideas and regenerate some martial arts history. The subject? The so-called “sacrifice fall” or another version of the same, “sacrifice throw.” Same-same. 

The word “sacrifice” pops up in many ways in old and new combatives, martial arts and combat sports:

  • You learn that you will sacrifice a lot of your free time to train.
  • You learn that to practice might mean sacrificing your short-term or long-term health.
  • You learn that that when you kick, you temporarily sacrifice your balance.
  • You learn that When you punch, you sacrifice your safer arms-up, shield protection.
  • You learn and train you very often “lose,” a lot, discovering ignorances, sacrificing your ego and pride.
  • You learn that entering into a new art or system, you learn that not only did you sacrifice your time with the last one, you might have wasted a bit of it too.
  • You learn about sacrifice falls. You should be taught about the few pros and many cons of the sacrifice fall. 

Yes, lots of sacrifices in the martial arts and combat sports. And in this category of sacrifices includes the ubiquitous topic of “sacrifice falls” – defined as “purposely giving up, surrendering, your superior standing or knee-high position to end up fighting on the grounds and floors of the world.” I am here to report that once popular warning, is not at all as ubiquitous as it once was. And I would add, numerous popular arts and sports seek the very opposite. Entire systems now live on and for the sacrifice fall. I mean why else call them sacrifice falls for God’s sake! You are sacrificing,

Starting as an adult in the early 1970s in Ed Parker Kenpo Karate, I was taught the old, current and potentials of fighting. A common expression and lessons were about serious warnings on the “sacrifice fall-throw.” It was once very popular to at least warn practitioners about the few pros and mostly cons of sacrifice falls. “Now this technique is a sacrifice fall. You will go down on purpose with your opponent, sacrificing…”  

Much of this early aikido, aiki-jitsu and jujitsu training was down on wooden floors or carpet. Falls were tougher to absorb than on today’s mats. This was educational. To my memory, these instructors never said, “Don’t ever-ever sacrifice fall!” There are indeed oddball times when you should, but they just warned you about the losses. 

Warned you about what exactly? Loss of mobility. Multiple opponents. Hard landings. You know the drill, the usual advice, now so ignored. And like worrying about the varied surfaces of the world include the wood and the carpet, yes, but also cement, asphalt, tile, sand, dirt, water, mud, rocks all found within the vertical challenges of slants, stairs, hills, surrounded by furniture, bars, walls, trees, fences…well…the list is long and in some 26 years of police work in line operations, I have struggled with suspects in many of these horizontal and vertical mixes. (One of my “memorable” arrests was falling and fighting a suicidal guy in the pouring rain, sliding down a long, very slanted hill of mud. We weren’t standing, nor officially horizontal, we were “down.” Is that “ground fighting?)  I once got a bruise on my rear end, fighting down on a parking lot, from the badge inside my wallet, in my back pocket. That’s reality. It does also stand to reason that…I have NEVER fought a suspect…on a mat. the world is not a mat, It’s a tough surface. 

I know this concept-advice is old, but is it gone? It is still rather ignored by thousands, so the drum must be pounded. Recently, I saw a film of one my acquaintances-teachers jump on an opponent in a tackle and they both plummeted onto a very plush, deep (6 inches or more?) gymnastics-style mat. It was blatantly obvious that our hero would have totally shattered his elbow. I said, “damn, and he doesn’t even know that?” He must not have known because he proudly published the film clip. Finally, someone chimed in with the comment, “and you have now totally destroyed your elbow.” Ahhh, just one of the perils of the purposeful, sacrifice fall. The instructor stuttered a half-assed “yeah…we…but…ahhh…” reply. There was no getting around the mistake. He should have just taken the clip down off the web. He should have had the “martial I.Q” to realize that his “cool-breeze” move was a contradiction to the “SELF DEFENSE” verbiage on his storefront window.  

I do not wish to bother you here with list of advantages of being up and mobile, with a solid expertise in kickboxing, facing the mixed weapon world of hand, stick, knife, gun. I do believe everyone knows this on some level, but they do not actualize it, take it to heart and mind. So many arts and sports these days ignore or de-value kick-boxing, and work hard to only achieve a sacrifice fall, only to wrestle on the ground for a submission. Their sport-art training mission is central to sacrifice falling. You must go down with them. There are videos for sale out there proudly titled “The Best Sacrifice Throws.” Yup, for sports and arts, but there is a certain, cancerous, brainwashing, muscle memory about all this. Recipes to fight survival are situational. 

It use to be joke-videos years ago, when we saw submission fighters drop on the ground and shout “Get in my guard!” It was funny! We laughed. Now, this is actually happening in competitions! Why bother with sacrifice falls! Just jump down and get in my guard! What an abstract, rabbit hole.

Old police college researchers tried to compile a list in the 1990s on how we end up on the ground in a fight. It makes some sense. In order they advised:

  • 1: We trip and fall (VERY likely).
  • 2: We are tackled (and usually not by some highly refined sport takedown, but usually by a “wild man” tackle. The sacrifice fall!)
  • 3: We are punched down (via – a: the sucker punch,  b: the haymaker, c: the classic sport punches).
  • 4: We are pulled down (when we try to toss someone, they try not to fall and instinctively reach out and grab something and that means YOU).

Years ago, like in old school ju-jitsu , the priority takedowns were those where you remained standing up or at least knee high. You tried. Even in police work arrests, you tried. These are indeed a little harder to do. It is often easier to sacrifice, to just jump on someone and both hit the mat. I mean ground. As a teacher of self defense, these distinctions are in my course doctrine. Our first line of takedowns and throws involve set-up stunning strikes (it all starts with something like kickboxing) and takedowns where the practitioner remains standing or knee-high.

A defender must fully learn ground n pound, survival, no rules, ground fighting for when one accidentally falls or is taken down by a criminal or enemy soldier sacrificer. All survivalists, all martialists, must learn every joint in the body and which direction that joint turns and bends and which directions those joints can’t-don’t turn and bend. Standing through ground. This general, body-knowledge is required. 

Ends justify the means? In 26 years I have arrested some 900 people and been around for and investigated hundreds more “fight enders”. The martial arts? 51 years and counting. I can predict how these things end. Many students seek the sacrifice fall to seek the tap-out submission, a recipe for sports and arts. Fun for all to know, but when soldiers, civilians and police drop and seek a tap-out submission in a conflict, this is NOT a fight ender. When you let them go, as you eventually must, the fight (or chase) continues. Dumb martial artists claim, “I’ll break their arm then…etc.” Dumb combatives people claim, “I’ll blind them, then…etc.” Then bubba, you’ll probably go to jail, taking an arguably self defense situation into a serious bodily injury felony. By the way, police must be in a limited, somewhat submission position to handcuff. Handcuffing resistors-fighters is hard. They punch, kick and bite. 

Let’s not sacrifice words, in a summary: Have you ever known of, or have forgotten the almost ancient advice-warnings on the idea of sacrifice falls-throws? The tip, the advice still does exist in smart places here and there. Recently the Evolve (a great resource) page warned – “Remember that the sumi gaeshi is a sacrifice throw; an unsuccessful attempt may result in either a pin or a scramble.” The advice-warning still is in existence, but not enough.

Now look – I always run this disclaimer – if you are a happy camper in your beloved hobbies, arts and sports? Judo. BJJ, tennis, golf, etc? Great news! I’m happy if you are happy. All I ask is that you know those are abstract skills relate to reality. Just know precisely what you are doing and where it fits in the real, big picture of hand, stick, knife and gun, war and crime survival. It might not fit much at all (this might mean taking down the self defense sign in your window). Don’t spread the innocent, cancer-brainwashing. Don’t advertise that your mandatory, sacrifice fall, submission, tap-out art is the superior system of the planet. The galaxy. You have then “fallen prey” to short-sighted ignorance. Your martial “I.Q.” is low. Don’t fall prey to the sacrifice fall.

And to back a bit to the bible analogy – “People who are overconfident or too arrogant (about their ground wrestling, who ignore kickboxing and mixed weapons, who ignore crime and war) are likely to fail-fall.” Pride before the fall, the fail. 


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In That Small Café…

In That Small Café…

In my Budapest hotel this week, arranged by my seminar hosts, I stepped outside for the first to look around. Right across the street was the rear of a magnificent classic building. Such sights are not unusual in Hungary. Weather just beautiful, I stepped to the right a bit, and I discovered that this was an art museum and that it was across the street from a giant circle of historic Hungarian statues of heros. And I realized I had been here-there about 7 years ago, not just “I”, but “we”…with Jane. Spent hours there with Jane.

I was suddenly a bit short of breath, and a sense of “wow” and bittersweet came over me.  Bittersweet is what you wish for, a sense of “sadness-mixed-with-great-memory, touch-of-happy-gratitude.” Complicated emotion, huh, once dissected. We’d been inside that museum and on the circle. I walked around the area and saw the sidewalk café we sat in for coffee and a dessert that late afternoon. The café is still there, along the way.  Across. And then the bittersweet turned way more bitter. And bitter. 

I walked past it, gapping at it. A musical phrase rang through my head over and over, “in that small café…in the small café…” What song was that? I knew the rest of the lyrics would pop into my brain when it cleared later.

But I had to pass the café again on the way back. I saw couples sitting there at the tables and I felt compelled, driven to approach at least one pair, and tell them to deeply SAVOR this simple, everyday moment in time, in life because…because, someday only one of them might pass it by, alone like me. Do any of them even speak English? They might think me a crazy bum bothering them? I didn’t try. I left with only deepest sadness. I returned to the hotel.

“In that small café…” What, what was that…

The next day, near the café again the full song came to me like magic. Of course! It is a harrowing song, a heartbreaker sung by many greats. Sinatra. Durante. Many. I had always thought it just a song about a failed love, but it is also truly about a death.

I’ll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All day through

In that small cafe
The park across the way
The children’s carousel
The chestnut trees
The wishing well

I’ll be seeing you
In every lovely summer’s day
In everything that’s light and gay
I’ll always think of you that way

I’ll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the moon
But I’ll be seeing you

I’ll be seeing you…

These “small cafes” are everywhere in my life, in your life. As I have said before, with great love is great catastrophe. For the one left behind. The ones left behind. I await the bittersweet. Will I ever fully feel it? How many of these love-lost songs are also about death too? Can I ever listen to music again? Will I ever get to just smile at such memories and not break down? Experts and well-wishers tell me I will. I just don’t know.

I wish I could be more positive for you here, but I do know at least this, think about this message when you and a special someone sit at that simple, “small café across the way.” It’s never so simple and not so small.


Cross-Ranking Into Kajukenbo

With my recent promotion to 8th Dan in Kajukenbo, in the Prof. Gaylord Family and his 9th Dan Sifu Dean Goldade we have some new opportunities. Cross-ranking and getting recognized in Kaju! As you already know, all Force Necessary course testing is optional. All FMA-PAC testing is also optional. And now, thanks to the Dean of Kajukenbo, Dean Goldade we can add this Kaju option. Pick one, pick two, pick three. Pick none. Up to you.

To Kaju cross-rank, (which means you already have FN: Hand rank,) we are going to have see your own physical construction-demonstrations of the block, strike, kick scenarios, the counter to grab scenarios, and an understanding of the culture and history of Kajukenbo. The way the Force Necessary Hand course is structured, you should be able to do these scenarios virtually…”in your sleep.”I bring you news from the Kajukenbo front.


Professor Gaylord and I did a seminar together in San Francisco in 2003. He has since passed way. Thanks to the Dean I am in the Professor’s family tree. 



The Cross-Over Test Process and Requirements. The cross-over will include some new demonstrations of blocking, striking, kicking and grappling, plus the understanding of Kaju culture and history.

  • Level 1: White Belt beginner.
  • Level 2 Gold practitioner.
  • Level 3 Gold-one stripe practitioner.
  • Level 4 Purple practitioner.
  • Level 5 Purple one stripe practitioner.
  • Level 6 Blue practitioner.
  • Level 7 Blue 1 stripe practitioner.
  • Level 8 Brown practitioner.
  • Level 9 Brown one stripe practitioner.
  • Level 10 Black practitioner.
  • Then Blacks 1- 9 Dan levels practitioners.

Level 1: White belt studies 

  • One demonstration of a block, strike and kick takedown scenario.
  • One demonstration of a scenario countering any grab, headlock, choke, etc.
  • Plus, the Level 1 requirements of the Force Necessary: Hand Level 1. If you have already taken this test, you need not do this part again.
  • A grounding in Kajukenbo culture and history.

Level 2:

  • Two demonstrations of block, strike and kick takedown scenarios.
  • Two demonstrations of a scenario countering another grab, headlock, choke.
  • Plus, the Level 2 requirements of the Force Necessary: Hand Level 2, etc. If you have already taken this test, you need not do this part again.
  • More grounding in Kajukenbo culture and history.

Level 3:

  • Three demonstrations of block, strike and kick takedown scenarios
  • Three demonstrations of a scenario countering another grab, headlock, choke, etc.
  • Plus, the Level 3 requirements of the Force Necessary: Hand Level 3. If you have already taken this test, you need not do this part again.
  • More grounding in Kajukenbo culture and history.

Level 4:

  • Four demonstrations of block, strike and kick takedown scenarios.
  • Four demonstrations of a scenario countering another grab, headlock, choke, etc,
  • Plus, the Level 4 requirements of the Force Necessary: Hand Level 4. If you have already taken this test, you need not do this part again.
  • More grounding in Kajukenbo culture and history.

Level 5:

  • Five demonstrations of block, strike and kick takedown scenarios. Some or all can be versus weapons.
  • Five demonstrations of a scenario countering another grab, headlock, choke, etc.
  • Plus, the Level 5 requirements of the Force Necessary: Hand Level 5. If you have already taken this test, you need not do this part again.
  • More grounding in Kajukenbo culture and history.

Level 6:

  • Six demonstrations of block, strike and kick takedown scenarios. Some or all can be versus weapons.
  • Six demonstrations of a scenario countering another grab, headlock, choke, etc. (Every prior module 1-5 include ground applications, but FN: Hand Level 6 emphasizes the Stop 6 ground crash of the Stop 6 program and now these responses can include solving ground problems.)
  • Plus, the Level 6 requirements of the Force Necessary: Hand Level 6. If you have already taken this test, you need not do  this part again.
  • More grounding in Kajukenbo culture and history.

Level 7:

  • Seven demonstrations of block, strike and kick takedown scenarios. Some or all can be versus weapons.
  • Seven demonstrations of a scenario countering another grab, headlock, choke, etc. These can include ground problems. Plus, the Level 7 requirements of the Force Necessary: Hand Level 7. If you have already taken this test, you need not do this part again.
  • More grounding in Kajukenbo culture and history.

Level 8:

  • Eight demonstrations of block, strike and kick takedown scenarios. Some or all can be versus weapons.
  • Eight demonstrations of a scenario countering another grab, headlock, choke,etc. These can include ground problems.
  • Plus, the Level 8 requirements of the Force Necessary: Hand Level 8. If you have already taken this test, you need not do  this part again.
  • More grounding in Kajukenbo culture and history.

Level 9:

  • Nine demonstrations of block, strike and kick takedown scenarios. Some or all can be versus weapons.
  • Nine demonstrations of a scenario countering another grab, headlock, choke, etc. These now can include ground problems.
  • Plus, the Level 9 requirements of the Force Necessary: Hand Level 9. If you have already taken this test, you need not do this part again.
  • More grounding in Kajukenbo culture and history.

Level 10 Black Belt:

  • Ten demonstrations of block, strike and kick takedown scenarios. Some or all can be versus weapons.
  • Ten demonstrations of a scenario countering another grab, headlock, choke, etc. These now can include ground problems.
  • The Level 10 Force Necessary Black Belt Test. If you have already taken this test, you need not do it again.

I will be doing this for those interested in every seminar I do from now on. Each optional cross-over level 1-9 fee is $100 each.The optional cross-over Black Belt fee is $500.

And, a big opportunity for this cross-ranking will be Dec 9-10 seminar in Copperas Cove (central) Texas – Southwest of Waco and a bit west of Killeen, taught by The Dean, Jim Mahan and myself. Click here for more on this.