Less-Than-Lethal Knife Tactics
A comprehensive knife program also covers less-than lethal applications. This is important for the mission and legality. Your knife course must drop all the death cult, over-the-top, violent, macho imagery (unless you are a member of an elite military unit where such imagery is psychologically smart -which is NOT the majority of us). The knife is “just a tool,” as the old saying goes, but a tool with stigma. The following tactics are less-than-lethal and can be substituted for lethal movement.
We know that the knife strikes with:
- 1-the pommel (and or the ends of a closed folder)
- 2-the tip
- 3-the edge or edges
- 4-flat of the blade
- 5-the clenched hand-fist grip on the handle
Less than lethal applications of this are:
- 1-the pommel (and or the ends of a closed folder)
- 2-if single-edge, a dull edge for striking.
- 3-flat of the blade.
- 4-hand grip as a punch.
Less-Than-Lethal 1: Verbal Skills and the Art of Surrender
Your presence, your weapon presentation, your speech, your threats, your disarm, in the onset of a fight may cause the enemy to surrender. At times, getting in and getting the tip of your knife up against the enemy, along with a verbal threat, may coerce him to surrender.
Less-Than-Lethal 2: The knife pommel strike
The pommel strikes, saber or reverse grips are other less-than-lethal strikes unless it cracks the skull. Or, your pommel has a “Klingon-spiked-end” which renders a whole range of pommel use, useless.
Less-Than-Lethal 3: All support hand strikes and kicks
Striking and kicking the enemy are less-than-lethal moves. The enemy has dropped his weapon and is theoretically an unarmed man and in many situations, both military and civilian cannot be killed.
Less-Than-Lethal 4: The knife hand grip punches
The practitioner can turn his knife grip into a punch with the flat of his fist, forgoing the stab or slash, with a saber or reverse grip.
Less-Than-Lethal 5: The closed folder
The practitioner may fail to open, or close his or her tactical folder and use the closed folder as a “palm stick,” impact weapon.”
Less-Than-Lethal 5: Knife slashes on secondary targets
With a working knowledge of anatomy, a practitioner may slash various “secondary” targets like muscles and so forth that may cause an enemy to surrender or collapse, without a fatality.
Less-Than-Lethal 6: The flat of the blade strikes a stunning blow and grappling
Many militaries teach the flat of the blade strike to the head of an enemy to stun and bewilder them, as a set-up for further action. When a less-than-lethal mission becomes mandatory this flat strike becomes an option for striking, as well as a considerable amount of pushing and pulling of grappling.
In Summary… Of course the use of the knife is always stigmatized trouble. It is a nasty weapon, but every one who dares “study” the knife for the military, for enforcement or self defense, one who engages in a knife system, should be aware of its full potential, and that includes the “who, what, when, where, how and why” to minimize its damage.
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
I really enjoy the numerous youtube videos of people being attacked and the victim unleashes a smart boxing combination and the badman drops like rock. The smart integration of boxing, kickboxing, Thai combinations are worthy studies in self defense combatives, not the whole systems remember, mind you, just what’s smart. Just what applies. (Untrained people – mostly everyone – respond differently than trained people, but we can’t go off on that whole topic here.)
“There is no second round in the street,” might be an old and corny expression for some, but some folks need to hear it once, or once in a while, to get them back on track for what they want, and what they are forced to do in classes and programs.
Attrition is defined as – “the action or process of gradually reducing the strength or effectiveness of someone or something through sustained attack or pressure.” It’s a word used in military battles and war, and here in sport fighting “physical attrition” is a strategy.
In sports, it is indeed the coaches job to map out a strategy to your first or next fight, give you a game plan. You know that in amateur and pro fights, where a history and film exists on your next opponent, these histories are studied and strategies evolve. A properly prepped, fighter, MMA, BJJ, UFC or otherwise needs to walk in with a strategy, a plan. And in this process, the plan is made and you might hear from your coach, “Do this, then do this and this, and the fourth round is yours.” “You…make your move,” Kind of talk. Or ideas about tiring him out in among the battle plan. “First round? Check him out, probe. Probe with the jab. See how he reacts. Second round do ‘this or that’ with the discoveries from your probing. Third round is yours, as you will…”
Coaches say – tire him, move around, also deliver body shots too and kicks too in kickboxing, to weaken and confuse the opponent in round one and round two for the theoretical victory in Round 3.
In one example of body shots, there were numerous successful (and unsuccessful) boxers who spent rounds pounding the upper arms of their opponents so that eventually their guard, through multiple rounds, would eventually drop, their beaten arms down for their eventual, head shots, so that the… ” ______ (fill in the blank) round is yours.”
I think it would be odd for a coach to simply say, “knock him cold with a head shot in the first two seconds. That is all. Now go jog and hit that bag.” Fighters do indeed knock people out quickly, but aren’t they always handed an overall, planning, staging, strategy, etc.? Despite the delaying plans, bingo!
For many fighters, this plan is laid out in the first meeting for training for a specific fight. This fighter then and quite possibly gets this message buried in his head for months, “Third round is mine. Third Round is mine.” Even in the first round, he is fixated on the third round, deep in his head.
This type off delay-progression, advice was advice I had been given for decades by various boxing, kick boxing, and even Thai boxing coaches.
The transition of these delay ideas and advice can get blended over and into, for lack of a better term, “self-defense-street-fighting” courses. Training by short-sighted, self defense course trainers and coaches can, have and will get these borders confused. I was told these off-mission tips at times in several self defense courses that included boxing, kickboxing and Thai methods. For examples:
- I was in a very, popular, modern, street-fighting system back in the 1980s, in a course considered a pioneer program back then, that emphasized, “the probing jab.” In fact, the association newsletter was called “The Probe.” The head guy would often take months of money from certain “monied” people and make them study the jab only…for four to six months. The…probe. Yes, jabs only for many months? Imagine that. Then you graduated to the cross punch – for who knows how long – $$$$? People did not stay with him for that long when he tried that approach. Yet, he did many other things too, effective things too, but some of his people got caught in this “jab scam.” Once again that odd mix of overdoing some boxing strategies in with some survival strategies.
- The military police academy boxing coaches, assigned to create a fighting spirit with a boxing program, taught off-mission, sport boxing concepts and strategies that weren’t the smartest things for street survival. I am convinced these instructors did not understand what I am saying here. Despite the generic “toughness” mission, they were immersed in boxing, taught boxing only, with boxing strategies. Wrong place. Wrong time.
- Martial arts can get easily confused, innocently blending sport strategies with self defense themes, and vice-versa as self defense courses can get sporty-artsy.
The “who, what, when, where, how and why” questions arises again.. Briefly, as these questions run deep…
- Who am I, who is teaching and who am I really going to be fighting?
- What do I need to learn? What are they teaching here? What do I really want? What are my real goals? What are they turning me into? What am I wearing? What happens when I am not fighting a mirror-image of myself and regular thug?
- When will I use this? When is this legal?
- Where am I going with this course? Where will I use this training?
- How will it work?
- Why I am doing this in the first place? Why are they telling me and making me do these things?
I called these off-mission, missteps – “sport cancers” to be on the lookout for in all transitions from sports to the non-sports world. This is actually quite hard to dissect, especially buried within small steps. Even after 40 years I STILL spot things that I, or we, should not be doing. Enlightened coaches look for these, but I must tell you I don’t find many such enlightened coaches. Many are so immersed in what they do systemically, via their mindset, via hero or system worship or franchise dues, they will not or can’t detect the discrepancies and will not or cannot rebel against them.
“There was no second or third round in the street fight,”…to use a corny phrase. These street fights/arrests I was in and ones I had to break up and later investigate had little time for the experimental probing jabs, trick footwork or secondary blows to wear an opponent down through time, and other “second-third-or-more round,” ring sport, strategies.”
Upon self-examination, be happy with what you do and know why and what you are doing. I want you to be happy in your pursuits.
Physical attrition. We don’t have time for physical attrition. I hate to use the over simplistic term “street fight” because real encounters occur inside and outside of homes and businesses in rural, suburban and urban locations. But these so-called “street fights” were almost always hard, fast, crazy and over quickly. You were bum-rushed, or wild-man-tackled and, or sucker-punched, hit with chairs and lamps, etc…I was attacked once by a man with a big ax. No time for several probing, experimental sport jabs versus the swinging ax man.
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
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“In Combatives, self defense and Krav Maga we should not spend exorbitant amounts of time hitting bags and mitts with big boxing gloves. It is ‘off-mission.’ We need to take things from boxing, but not with ‘big-boxing-gloves.’ When we fight crime and war we will be bare knuckle. Our bare hands and bare wrists will be unprepared. At very least train with MMA gloves.” – Hock
Any time this boxing glove topic comes up. I always wait for the comments on the open hand versus closed fist punching, etc. Closed fist punching and hammer-fists can occur on the torso, on the arms, on the neck on the lower jaw (because the jaw “gives” and the head can “give” on the neck. The danger zone is really, consistently the general, bicycle helmet area of the head/skull.
And heads drop when one detects an incoming blow. But, history is replete with successful bare-knuckle punching. Even my history (except for an uppercut once to a pointy jaw which led to a small hand surgery years later. Open hand strikes and elbow strikes are not without injuries also.) The sole point of this meme/photo being, when you train with big boxing gloves, you lose and miss a lot of important survival, experience, info and preparation. (Unless you are a boxer-boxer who boxes-boxes. Then the boxing gloves are very important.)
I know people with “cinder-block” hands. Let them hit tanks. I always think it is important for instructors, a system, to examine the hands of a practitioner and make an evaluation of “should they even punch? Should they be much of a puncher?” Rather than throw folks indiscriminately, small and fragile hands alike, into a crowd to punch away with everyone else, like I have seen in many martial arts. Most have no regard for the their student’s hands, and never looked at them, and never mention what might happen where you hit bones/people with them. Just punch, punch, punch away in the air or on soft things. Or, under the guise of self-defense, wrap and strap big gloves on them and let them for 5, 10, 15 minutes a class, let them mindlessly pepper away on a heavy bag, or…or have them hit focus mitts in endless, endless “show” patterns that don’t or won’t remotely match the actual responses of a real opponent. (People who teach kids can’t make these hand-fist assessments because their hands aren’t formed yet.)
You can work on punching impacts for survival short of having hand tumors and arthritis in your old age. Does punching hard things make your hands stronger? “Punching walls could theoretically improve hand strength by increasing bone density over time, but the chance of breaking your hands is extremely high. A better alternative would be to practice hitting the heavy bag bare knuckle, and increase the force over time.” – CombatMuseum.com
Hit smart things. I have come to appreciate these water bag options. To me, they have a “fleshy” feel. Different sizes available.
Boxing gloves are for boxing, but I also use them as a tool to hit-on/distract practitioners while they are doing chores like pulling weapons, be they standing or on the ground, etc. under stress. Specific things like that. They are handy to have around for specific assignments.
MMA gloves are fine. Especially for extended use (and their open fingers allow for grappling). Big-ass boxing gloves are perfect for big-ass boxing. Even “official” bare-knuckle fighters still wrap their wrists. Sometimes I see them run a layer over their knuckles too, but mostly their wrists.
But my mission, the mission of combatives, the mission of self defense and Krav is NOT to create competition boxers or MMA fighters or bare-knuckle competitors. Nor do I make wrestling-only champs. I am not making pro boxers or pro kick boxers, people who square off and exchange blows in multiple timed rounds. In our world, we also kick a few nuts, face maul and hair pull too and throw chairs.
There are seriously off-mission, misguiding doctrines/schools out there. Be what you are supposed to be and not what you are not.
For example, I know a quite famous combatives guy, who spends a few hours covering boxing with big gloves in his combatives seminars. Attendees mindlessly do and accept. Not good. It’s only good if in his fliers, his ads for those seminars, he advertises-
“Self defense combatives AND a very special session on sport boxing.”
Okay then. Explained. Couple that with an intro reminder speech before the boxing session. Then he is on-mission. No mixed doctrines. Or say the lesson plan calls for “classic boxing applications for self defense moves” (in which case, take off those damn big gloves!) Back on mission.
I have attended a few Joe Lewis (the kickboxer) seminars and he has a great line, “Nothing replaces ring-time.” Which I repeat. Getting in there and kick boxing a bit (not just boxing alone) and I agree with this experience. We do that as part of every Force Necessary: Hand test, but again, I am not making pro kick boxers. I don’t expect to see an Olympic sports performance. (I suggest people fool around with MMA over just boxing alone and just BBJ alone. MMA is bigger and better and does both. Take tips from it.)
Worth saying twice, there are seriously off-mission, mindless, misguiding doctrines out there. Be what you are supposed to be and not what you are not. Who, what, where, when, how and why. It is a hand, stick, knife, gun world, inside and outside of buildings in rural, suburban and urban environments.
Popular Science wants to inform you on how to properly, bare-knuckle punch Click here
How to condition your knuckles: A guide to harden your fists for fighting. Click here
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
Since the 1980s I have been training police, rookies as well as “in service” officers in the “mechanics of arrest.” Not just in the USA but as far away as the UK, Europe and Australia. I’ve seen numerous things come and go, in and out, accepted and outlawed. And a big outlaw has been, the “choke.” I was asked this question the other day about…the “police choke.”
“Hock…I had the feeling when I initially saw the Atlanta situation that if the cop behind wasn’t afraid to use some type of choke/neck restraint…the guy might still be alive. Thoughts? I feel like they’re limiting police officers in a way that makes it more dangerous for certain people. If a cop is forced to pull and fire his weapon 10 times, it’s likely that 7-8 criminals will die. If that same cop chooses a blood choke 10 times (currently seemingly banned), it’s unlikely that any of the 10 would die. Again…thoughts?” – Joe Thoele, USA.
Well, yes, Joe. Chokes were a go-to move in my day, when times got tough. But, I have only completely choked out maybe…maybe 10, 12 maybe, 15 people in 26 years and hundreds of arrests. The restraint, capture alone worked many more times, especially when help arrived.
The classic rear choke with leg wrapping “grapevines” is worth a million bucks to me. One example – when a guy was grabbing for my pistol. We were fighting on top of furniture, horizontal, but not an official “ground fight.” He passed out from the choke after I tried to knock him out and just couldn’t knock him out. It was a blood choke. When they go spazzy and-or drop-out limp, let them go, (and by the way, that is one, “street” counter to a choke. Fake unconsciousness.) He, like the others, woke up in handcuffs.
You have, as I like to nickname them in courses. “Electricity, water and wind” attacks to the neck.
* Electricity: Strikes to the back and side of the neck to upset the “electricity” to the brain. No choking.
* Water: blood chokes and strikes to the sides of the neck.
* Wind: air chokes and strikes to the front of the neck (that might crush body parts.).
So far, forearms and hammer fists to the back of the neck are still taught in most police training. Striking the sides and certainly the front of neck are now officially problematic and for most agencies, a “no-go.” This might crush the windpipe or loosen and free up vein plague and send it in the blood vessels to the brain. (This has rarely happened, but rare is enough in paranoid, police work). But police chokes, not police strikes are today’s topic!
We can get kind of sloppy taking about the word “choke.” It means different things to different people. Let’s look at some official definitions…
*Chokehold: a tight grip around a person’s neck, used to restrain them by restricting their breathing.
*Carotid restraint, an officer applies pressure to vascular veins to temporarily cut off blood flow to the brain, rendering the person unconscious. The carotid technique is different from a chokehold, in which pressure is put on the front of the neck and throat, cutting off air.
*Neck Restraint: “Non-deadly force option. Defined as compressing one or both sides of a person’s neck with an arm or leg, without applying direct pressure to the trachea or airway (front of the neck).” A blood choke. (In some places a forearm placed upon the lower neck, high chest, holding someone back, or pulling them back, or taking them down to the ground would be considered a neck restraint.)
*Positional asphyxia, also known as postural asphyxia, is a form of asphyxia which occurs when someone’s position prevents the person from breathing adequately.
Words, huh? Terms. I am reminded that in the old Army basic training, these were all called “strangles.” A few months later in the military police academy these same things were all called “chokes,” as strangles were too rough a term for policing. Now we see the word, “neck restraints” as chokes are too rough a term. But, I think many people just think of and call all of these events, simply, “chokes.” A sloppy, loose nickname for chokes can cause arguments. But fights/arrests can get sloppy, with all the wiggles, waggles, twist and turns of an arrest, wrestling match your neck restraints can accidentally slip into official chokes. You first meant to do a neck restraint/control, you were trying to, but with twist and a waggle, you’re on his windpipe, then you are filmed on the nightly news doing a wind choke. Then it’s…as we use to say, a “Dear Chief” letter, explaining why you air choked someone on TV or phone video on social media, against department policy. Nowadays, you might be fired within 24 hours.
People in martial training like to remind and complain about restrictions by saying that “chokes” are done “all the time in class” without problems. But, remember that martial students (that includes all systems, citizens, police, military) usually acquire the choke positions without truly crushing the neck. It’s practice on friends! Secondly, students in practice feel the capture, a little pressure and “tap-out” before they pass out. Actual, full unconsciousness is not achieved regularly in classes, certainly not anymore, unlike the crush of a real fight or an arrest. Even in UFC fights, the captured frequently tap-out when they know they are caught. (Since the 1970s while I have been knocked out in classes, but I have never once been fully choked out in any JKD, jujitsu or Shoot class or seminar. People around me have, usually accidentally, and they were quickly “slapped” awake.)
Positional asphyxia has also been a well-known in martial arts and in modern, trained police work, for I’ll say, 25 years now. I worked positional asphyxia cases as a detective and private investigator as early as the 1990s. It is surprising to me that police officers anywhere are not aware of these problems. I did a police presentation on chokes once on the growing limitations on police choking, and one officer shouted that his agency still allowed chokes and therefore my whole premise was wrong, as if the Podunk Police Department was the end-all to policing.
“We still choke!”
I quickly checked the web on the next break to find that his department was quite small and quite “country,” and was recently sued THREE times for choking people, one a school cop choked out a teenager. Each involved big, news scandals in the area, especially the teenager incident. Just wait, Podunk. But…so… I am sure there are pockets of the country and pockets of police officers untrained and unaware of the problems with asphyxia, chokes and restraints. Sad. Shocking to me. But so.
Allow me to add one more definition here. Excited delirium is “broadly defined as a state of agitation, excitability, paranoia, aggression, and apparent immunity to pain, often associated with stimulant use and certain psychiatric disorders. “These folks, once arrested have a tendency to die later, in custody. Officers are immediately questioned about what horrible thing did they do to cause the death? “Did you dare choke him? Did you crush him at any point? Are the questions usually asked of the arresting officers.They are usually cleared by the autopsies.
So, worth mentioning, drugs, alcohol, medical conditions, poor health, being overweight contribute to bad results combined with “choking,” Officer Brett Gould reminds us that, “The issue is not just the vascular restraint. The 14 percent of the population that fight the police, thus composing a high percent of the prison population coincidentally, also has the highest rate of alcoholism, substance abuse, high blood pressure and diabetes.“
This news doesn’t really help the “choke” cause for decision makers these days, but rather hurts it. Police admin, lawyers, politicians, insurance backers and media must think, “If that’s who the cops are fighting? Then it’s no wonder they die from chokes. We can’t have all that choking going on.” (I know how they think.) Look at this negative with tear gas –
“Military studies performed in the 1950s classified CS as nonlethal. But experts today say these studies had limitations in design and applicability and should be treated with some skepticism. “Tear gas is designed to disperse and irritate. But it was designed and first used in an era when it was assumed it would be used against healthy, working-age males,” says Dan Kaszeta, who studies protection against chemical and biological weapons and has spent some of his 30-year career in the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps and the Secret Service. Lab studies have not revealed the effects tear gas can have on other demographics or people with preexisting conditions.
So you see, tear gas, like chokes, suddenly becomes a political “no-go.”
And still, “chokes” are not COMPLETELY taboo and illegal. What is still legally mandated, even in President Trump’s June, 2020, “no-choke” order, you will read that a choke, air or blood, can still be used in lethal, threat, self defense, as I did with the guy mentioned above trying to get my gun. (And I choked him out, not killed him!) “Fear of life” kind of deal. All those other chokes I did that I mentioned above were not done in such dire fear, just arrest routine versus the resisting. I tried several “lessor” in the struggle but they didn’t work. And today’s modern admins would expect me to not choke out them and do something else, something which may be more time-consuming and even dangerous. But we’re cops, life is supposed to suck.
And with the optics, the lawsuits, the media, training officers to choke/restraint will disappear, even if legal in lethal force situations. They probably just won’t know how to choke anyone. No will will want to teach the subject. Oh, there probably will be rare, “certified” courses in “Last Resort Choking,” but who will get to go? And, maybe it can “secretly” be taught in official “Escaping Choke” classes? Because after all – to escape chokes you have to learn what chokes are and how the “bad guys” use them? (We have long tricked police admin with this bait-and-switch approach, trick.) I don’t know how it will all work out?
I have been paid to write reports and studies about chokes and restraints for admins through the years. And the end conclusion of chiefs, sheriffs, directors and command staffs is – “any squeezing (and striking) around the neck” sides and front, is already taboo, or rapidly becoming taboo. Media nightmare. It’s just too hot a topic. It’s a no-go. In the end, police agency insurance companies and lawyers really call the real shots. They are always paranoid and timid. They dictate and influence the politics and police leaders. Management fears being fired. Sued.
Decades ago, my agency and a new police chief instituted Community Oriented Policing. It was all based on public perceptions and therefore public relations. Whatever the public perceived is what we had to tackle. It didn’t matter what the real crime rate was, if the perception of crime was high we had to manufacture programs to ease their mind. It didn’t matter what the real safety was, if the perception of safety was low we had to manufacture programs to ease their mind. These same issues count too. Things like “police racism” and with…chokes. Its all about perception. Not reality, just perception. So often junked up by the thinking disorder minds of the media, the unscientific, the emotional and the immature. I am pessimistic now and have been, about perception and police “choking.”
This essay was about police. This has not been about the civilian world…yet. I don’t want to argue with anyone here about air, blood chokes and neck restraints. I will always teach them. Every martialist needs to know them and know how to escape them. I think they are very handy, but they will go away in official, police training and use. Make no mistake, if retired, 68-year-old, civilian me gets into a fight tomorrow that I can’t talk (run) my way out of? Or get away? One thing I will seriously be looking to do is choke the bastard out. Especially if fallen on the ground. I’d like not to kill anybody and the choke is over when the resistance stops, like I was taught about 50 years ago in the first police academy I attended.
For more reading…
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
“I think people need to learn how to hand, stick, knife, gun fight first, then dive into your bobbies, sports and arts later. Get the pure protection, combatives done as a priority.” – Hock
Doing the training process in order that I mention in the above photo and quote has become much easier now than in decades past when a person (such as me) had to slog through 6 or more arts and systems to filter out the real core, generic survival, offensive/defensive material, while adorned in a bevy of different uniforms, rules, hero worship and system worship. Wants and needs. It comes down to a series of “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions.
- Whose the best on the subject and will teach you?
- What materials? What do I REALLY need? Want? Art? Science? Both?
- Where can I go to learn what I want?
- When are these classes and courses available?
- How will I filter this?
- Why am I doing this in the first place?
Wrong place? Wrong people? Wrong mission? In the late 80s, Steven Seagal burst on the scene and broke a guy’s arm in the first few minutes of a movie. I saw “Above the Law” in a theater and knew that very instant that Chuck Norris and Claude Van Damme were done. Chuck went straight to TV and Claude disappeared for awhile to reemerge in B and C movies.
The movie changed and -or motivated a lot of minds. One old friend named Ted for example told me back then, “I wanted to fight like Seagal. I turned my car into the first martial art school I drive by every day and signed up.” But, Ted pulled into a Tae Kwon Do school and very quickly realized he was financially contracted to the wrong place with wrong people, the wrong system for his mission. He had no “who, what, where, when, how and why” going for him. No one there was doing this…this …”Seagal-Fu” as in Aiki-jitsu- Aikido. My point being is that he started something out of an ignorance. What did he want, anyway? And what did he need?
Though I’d been in Parker Kenpo about a year before I went in the army in the early 1970s, the military and police experience really forged my who, what, where, when, how and why mission needs. I needed stuff. Needs that I never saw efficiently fulfilled in one, two, three or more arts. It was a long, hard slog back then to filter. It still isn’t easy really and truth is a daily investigation. But I WANTED what I NEEDED. Not needed to do what I wanted.
Today, Krav Maga is everywhere, though I am not always happy with many versions. It was the genius of Darren Levine who resurrected it into an international business back in the 1990s. He soon lost his “shirt and pants” doing it with insane over-pricing, and he has regrouped a bit since, but you can thank him for your local Krav school, and Krav notoriety, as Krav splintered and splintered and splintered away from him. And, It seems that “combatives” can be found here and there, though again, I am not always happy with the many versions. But, these are groups of folks that have already tried to filter the generics of established systems for you and save you time.
In the same vein, I find the modern-day, MMA of kickboxing, and ground fighting WITH strikes and kicks on the ground, to be diverse, superior and way more on survival mission. No frills. Just winning and what works. Money is at stake! Reputations! It is better than boxing alone. It is better than wrestling alone. But then, still, they have some sport rules and no cheating, no sticks, no knives, no guns!
The overall, international success of Krav, combatives and MMA tells me that a whole lot of people did not, and do not want, to get bogged down in arts, uniforms, abstracts, and that otherwise long slog of off-mission, distracting requirements. I have seen this is the disappearance of, and the slow decline of, old-school, martial arts schools around the world.
Hand. Stick. Knife. Gun. Standing through ground. The laws of your land. Savvy. Awareness. Studies of crime and war. It’s been an evolution I too have been part of, evolving and teaching for 24 years now. A movement. My personal suggestion and advice is one of common sense. Try and get those foundational defense, offense survival stuff first and then move off to more confining hobbies later. Needs first. Then wants.
“Fighting first first, systems second!” Remember that quote? I have used it for 24 years since I emancipated myself from all systems. But, like a college counselor ordering a college kid to take all the college courses in precise order – 101, 102, 103 – and then they simply can’t do that because of filled classes and scheduling, a student takes what he or she can at the time. You too, may have trouble completely doing all unarmed and mixed-weapon combatives first and then arts second. While it is easier these days for you to get right to what you want than in the past, you may have to do this training side-by-side? Generally people are busy with life and can only chip away at this stuff, anyway. Do something rather than nothing. Get off the couch.
Do something. Again, I always say I want people to be happy. Just know where you fit in the big picture. If you told me,
“Yeah Hock, I completely understand what you are saying, but I just want to do traditional ______. I just really love the culture and the country of _______. ”
I am thumbs up with you. Or, one might add to that “love” list,
“Hock, I get it, also just enjoy developing the overall personalities of children.”
Go for it. How about,
“I agree, Hock, but for me, my dream is to be a champ in the UFC.”
May your dream come true! You already know the high regard I have for modern, clean MMA. Unlike the aforementioned Ted, you all get the big picture and can articulate about it. Just know the big picture of “needs and wants.” All martial arts do have abstract benefits. And there are some established, “martial-artsy-named” schools that really try to get survival materials in the curriculum.
So…dance in some kung fus? Throat punch in some combatives? Art? Science? Nuts and bolts? Investigate and figure out what you really need and what you really want to do. Use the “W’s and H” questions. The choices and opportunities are more clear and obvious than ever before.
Finally, a litmus test question – look at it this way. Speaking of college, If you were sending your daughter (or son) off to a big city, college, would you want her to know, so-called “traditional karate?” So-called “Brazilian wrestling?” “Stick versus stick dueling?” Or, so called “unarmed and mixed-weapon, combatives?” What does she really NEED to know, first and foremost? What do you want her to learn, first?
Want what you need?
Need what you want?
(In my true police/detective books, I wrote an essay called, “Most Dead Ever,” a compilation of the calls and cases I went on where the tally was high to horrific. Here is one…)
1970s. North of our Army base in the U.S. was an enormous artillery range. Troops were constantly blowing up all kinds of big and small ordnance. For those not familiar, “ordnance” is defined as:
“All munitions containing explosives, nuclear fission or fusion materials, and biological and chemical agents. This includes bombs and warheads; guided and ballistic missiles; artillery,
mortar, rocket, and small arms ammunition; all mines, torpedoes, and depth charges; demolition charges; pyrotechnics; clusters and dispensers; cartridge and propellant actuated devices; electro/explosive devices; clandestine and improvised explosive devices; and all similar correlated items or components explosive in nature.”
A Dud defined: A dud is all of the above that didn’t go boom.
Now, enter the ordnance, the grenade. And enter then, the dud hand grenade story. Officially also – “DUD-a thrown grenade that failed to detonate after the expected fuze time has elapsed.”
As I said, artillery troops were always out on the northern ranges, blowing all kinds of stuff up. And a small percentage are duds. As the later investigations discloses – One fine morning, out on a said field, a young private stumbled upon what appeared to be a very old hand grenade. He closed in on it and looked it over. No pin. No lever. Hmmmm. A dud, he presumes. What fun!
He threw some rocks at it. His buddies giggling nearby. Nothing. Deadness. He hit it with a stick. Then he kicked it and jumped back. It bounced across the rocky, dry terrain. He picked it up, tossed it up and down a few times and then stuck it in his jacket pocket. What a coup. What a toy.! A dud grenade!
The unit took a long, one-hour bouncy ride in the back of a deuce-and-a-half truck. The private pulled the grenade from his pocket and declared to those around him, “Look what I found!”
The others leaned away, aghast. But it became clear by his manipulations and juggling, it had to be a dud.
Once at their multi-story barracks building, they bailed out of the trucks, unloaded and hit the showers. The private went to his multi-person quarters and tossed the grenade on his bunk. He combed his wet hair, got in casual clothes – civvies – picked up his dud grenade and walked to the day room (TV, pool tables, a rec room, etc.) for some fun and games with his new toy.
He got to the day room door and peeked in. He saw many of his friends day-rooming about in there. Some were with him on the training day, and some not.
“GRENADE!” he yelled. He tossed the dud grenade into the middle of the room, then he ducked back into the hall, just for effect. Big joke.
The so called dud hit the floor and exploded. It blew with all its originally designed and planned intent. BAM! In the middle of the day room.
Our private and other nearby troops in the hall and other rooms ran to the door. The room was a bloody mess. Shreds of the room still floating in the air, they said. One or two seemed dead. Others wounded. Dying. Splinters everywhere. Lots of blood and guts and whines, yells and screams. The first instinct of bystanders was to call for an ambulance. Someone did, and the hospital called the police.
I was one of the units dispatched. I was assigned that day to the patrol district next to this one, or maybe as a rover? I just can’t remember. When I arrived, I was not the first. The district police car and the patrol sergeant’s car were there and several ambulances. At the moment, I was not clear exactly what had happened, nor was our police dispatcher clear either. We only knew that some kind of a “bomb” went off on the third floor.
A sample photo of the actual building, another day.
Hearing of a possible “bomb,” as I parked, I looked up to survey the building. I didn’t know what to expect. Was the huge barracks building bombed? By whom? By what? I saw broken glass in some third story windows and curtains flapping in and out with the wind.
Soldiers were standing outside, looking up too. As I got close to the main doors, someone told me a grenade touched off up there. I entered the building, climbed the stairs to the third floor, and saw the commotion in the hallway.
When I stepped in the room, it looked like some 8 or 10 guys were pretty hurt. Another two or three were slightly hurt. Some laid dead still, mashed and abandoned. The room looked like, well, like a small bomb went off in it! I wandered around and tried to help out where I could, but the paramedics had done their triage assessment and were hard at work. Plus, some of the unit cadre were Nam vets and were already pitching in with the EMTs.
I walked out of the room and asked some Sergeants in the hall what had happened. They pointed to the kid who threw the “dud” in. I spoke with him. Our patrol sergeant walked up and listened to us talk it out. The kid was practically crying and in real shock. The district MP (military police) came over to us.
The Sarge pulled us aside and told the district MP to arrest the kid.
“For what Sarge?” the district MP asked. “What charge?”
“I don’t know. For something. Charge him with something,” he said. “We have to arrest him for this. Manslaughter. Something. Negligent something.”
Then the Sarge’s portable radio announced that, “CID was in route.”
“Ten-four,” he said into the radio, and told us, “Good. Okay. We’ll let CID decide what to do with him.”
We stuck around until two CID investigators (our FBI, more or less) arrived. We filled them in and pointed out the kid. They looked around and marched the kid off to one of the nearby offices. And we were ready to leave. As the Lone Ranger would say, “Tonto, our work here is done.” A few hours later I had to go and give blood at the hospital. Three or four troops died, best I can recall.
I have thrown a few grenades. I have even qualified as expert on the old Army, grenade throwing range. I got the targeting knack quickly. It was like throwing a football only heavier, so I aimed higher than the target to offset the weight, be it a window or whatever set up we were supposed to blow up. I always joke about how cavalier vets and movie actors are about these small bombs hanging off their uniforms, in comparison to the very first ones they hand you and you baby them like they are nitroglycerin.
But they are certainly no joke. Very generically speaking, the grenade kill zone is 5 meters or 16 feet. The injury range is 15 meters pr 50 feet. Shrapnel can go even further. A hand grenade, especially an older one, ’70s and pre-’70s had a varying reputation back then. Some called them as devastating and some didn’t. There are lots of fascinating, jaw-dropping stories. They weren’t all always perfect like the distances above. I guess it was situational.
But that “dud” took a toll on the day room and the unit that late afternoon, and also took a toll on my memory.
“If you did not drop it? Don’t pick it up!”
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
- disarm one side, hit head to stun, takedown.
- disarm both sides, hit head to stun, takedown.
- hit head to stun, no disarms, takedown.
Teaching Seminars Lesson 18
I am entering my 25th year of traveling and teaching seminars. I average 20 to 25 seminars a year in 10 to 12 countries. I tell you this because perhaps you might listen to my advice and ideas on teaching seminars.
I ask, what is the seminar ratio of observing-participating in your seminars? Or the ones you attended?
My point is not just about guns, but let’s say, for a clear example, you are off to the gun range for a shooting seminar. Two, seven hour days. Twenty “gun” people signed up. When you get there, you discover that, after lecture times, only 2 people can shoot at a time. Yet, there are numerous, other, open shooting lanes. Still, the other 18 people must stand and watch the 2 people shoot? And wait their turn? Is this the best use of your 14 hours? You will spend 12 hours observing, and maybe 2 hours shooting, participating. I would say that this format at the gun range is counter-productive and makes for unhappy customers. So much so, when have you seen it at shooting courses? Almost never. There’s a reason for that.
Sometimes you might be forced into this, such as a session with shooting around cars. You might only have one car out at the range and have to rotate people? And, there are occasional, firearm safety issues with various topics. Common sense things that shooters understand. (Take a bunch of newbys at an intro to machine gun class. You can’t turn them loose! They need hands-on oversight. Newbys are often amazed and entertained just watching people shoot fully auto. I am not talking about those situations.)
But understanding or not, I have been in this position many times and I apologize and regret them for the lack of participation leading to, too much stand-around, observation only. I hate to see paying customers congregate and wait. However, being forced into this by circumstances, is different than allowing/planning for it.
That’s with guns. Stand around time waiting with open lanes is usually inexcusable. But this isn’t about guns. Why does “stand-around” time, work then within some fighting, martial seminars? When you attend a hand, stick, knife, self defense, MMA, BJJ, ballet, baseball, whatever topic, do you find yourself stuck in the teacher’s methodology where you are standing around, watching half or most of the training time? How is this different than your impatience at the gun range? Do you mindlessly accept this idleness? Have you even thought about how much time is being wasted?
In the last decade or so there has been an “observational movement” in martial seminars I’ve never seen in the 80s and 90s, that I find distasteful and wasteful – this observe, “stand around and watch.” A situation gets taught. Words and demo. People stand around and watch that part. Okay. Then the situation gets physically exercised, and what then? 8 out of 10 people , or 18 out of 20 people, still stand around and watch as a group of 2, or maybe 2 groups of 2, participate with each other and do the exercise. The rest, just…stand around, with their thumbs up their internal exits. Why aren’t all 20 people doing the drill in groups of two? Over and over again.
Think about this from the lazy and/or small curriculum, instructor’s viewpoint. This is a fantastic stall. Look at the seminar time it takes to observe 5 to 10 groups one at a time, as they go through the drill. Everyone else watches. Maybe the instructor pontificates a bit. When an instructor has only a little material in his repertoire, this kills a whole lot of teaching time. And it kills off the student’s participation/repetition time too. The click keeps ticking.
These observe-instructors have some excuses for this. They will claim that:
“Time spent watching is learning too. And I have even heard that,
“It teaches people to be better witnesses to crimes.” THAT, is a real stretch. S..T..R..E..T..C..H.
Others will say, “well, it adds stress to be watched, and stress is good.”
At what point in a training progression is stress really good? When you are first figuring out how to do something? No, not really. And having 90% of the attendees standing around, 90% of the time is a big WASTE of THEIR time and money in comparison to doing it.
“Watching something is learning,” they will say. Somewhat. Hey, I’ve watched about 40,000 hours of pro-football in my life, but no one has asked me to play, or coach, or even advise an NFL team. Watching is one, very, very limited thing. Doing something is better, having actually done something for real is even better, especially when the subject matter is physical. (Speaking of football, all the football, film footage, play breakdowns on sports shows are always explained by veteran, retired football players. When players watch Monday game films, the coaches are veterans.) Watching/observing is limited learning in the physicality world.
Watching…as the teacher, I try and watch everyone as they work out. I watch. You do. That’s the relationship. I correct if possible. If the problem exists with several groups? I stop and make a point to mention it to everyone. That’s my job. Their job is work out and experiment.
“Counters” to standing around. Having a good facility and some extra instructors is a great plan. For one example, years ago in the 1990s, in Las Vegas, Steve Krystek of Progressive Fighting Concepts and I concocted a great, simulated ammo gun, set-up. We had several rooms at UNLV. We wanted to run a car-jacking scenario outside and a restaurant, robbery scenario inside. We would be running ONE PERSON at a time! But what to with the some 20 people/students not participating in the scenarios? Plus, we also wanted to surprise each practitioner with the scenario topics. So, we ran an interactive, safe ammo, pistol class in one big room with the 20 folks and an instructor, and pulled a person out of that room, one at a time, to go through the scenarios. When done, we swore them to secrecy and shoved them back in the big room to work out some more with the 20. No one stood around. No one wasted time. The teaching and experimenting never stopped. The reps never stopped. No…idle thumbs up exits.
Another counter? Think about what I said here and fix it with planning. Make the observe/participate ratios the best they can be.
As I said a few lines earlier – as the teacher, I try and watch everyone as they work out. I watch. You do. I correct if possible. If the problem exists with several groups? I stop and make a point to mention it to everyone. That’s my job. Their job is work out and experiment. I do not make everybody watch everybody one at a time.
What is the seminar ratio of observing/participating in your seminars? Or the ones you attended? I suggest you shave it to a minimum.
Let’s keep these thumbs busy.
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
Get Hock’s Training Mission One, oversized paperback or ebook. Click here
Funny thing, I was watching the DVDs of the first season of FX’s TV show, Justified and in one episode there was a side character who was a retired football player and Superbowl champ in the plot. There were some photo shots and discussion about his Superbowl ring. Made me think of the story I wrote and published many, many years before the TV show, of a similar situation that happened to me with a Superbowl champ. Funny how these coincidences occur huh? Funny how they wind up in a TV show later. Anyway, here again is the story.
Our city boasted two Superbowl player residents. And the two of them were as different as day and night and as racially typecast as one could imagine. One was a retired white guy in a very big house with many investments. The other was a black guy from what one might call our slums, or projects. He had no such monied investments. And no such home. He was older than most players but still playing ball. And every off season he would return home to Texas. And every season he seemed to get into trouble of some sort. Both these guys wore the big brash and legendary Superbowl ring. I never met the white guy, but did meet the black guy. In fact, he kind of saved my ass one Saturday morning…in a knife fight.
Saturday morning, 1970s. Patrol.
In one “hood” in our city we had a old drinking place called The Wine Tree. It was a bar, but not a bar. It was an open house with a jukebox and the booze flowed (illegally sold) along with the drugs. An old, crippled man named Willie lived in the back room and “ran” it with a henchman or two. Through time you learn, either by emergency calls or by investigation that many of that area’s crimes, at some point started, ran through, or ended up at the Wine Tree. Did Willie have a liquor license? A business permit? No. It was just a house. An open house party 24/7. The neighbors didn’t care. Hell, they hung out there, too. The attendees parked everywhere and the dancing and drinking and conniving and hustling spilled out onto the pounded-down and dry front lawn, and out onto the streets. There was even a jukebox in there.
The next mornings, especially after weekends, The Wine Tree had a hang-over. There were always stragglers still hovering on or about the property. One Saturday morning either a neighbor reported a fight in progress out front of the Wine Tree, or I drove up on this fight. I just can’t remember. I was a young turk back then and worked this district. I was just as fearless as I was dumb. As I drove up to the Wine Tree, I saw at least three men arguing and another two others apparently interceding and peacemaking. The peacemakers weren’t doing so well. In total, five knuckleheads bandied about.
Two of the arguing guys started a sloppy fight. The other three guys started in cheering or jeering. Some in the general area scattered. Some remained at a distance, on-looking, rubber-neckers in the general area.
I got out of the car and tried my hand at this peace-keeping routine too, but these men were charged up on who-knows-what from the night before and pissed off. My Gestalt therapy training just wasn’t working, and the two main men crashed in on each other. I dove in trying to separate them. And wild fists flew. Then a third guy jumped in, and I’ll tell you it was a free-for-all. Everybody against everybody, and I wasn’t winning. I wound up half-wrestling, half-punching with one of them as the other two, struggled off a few feet and bumped into us.
Then one of them pulled a knife. It was a switchblade. He was cursing up a storm, and this whole event was going south very badly. He was not cursing or pointing the knife at me, just the other guy he was originally mad at. Then, to satisfy the arms race, one of the onlookers passed the other unarmed man a knife!
“Put down those knives!” I ordered.
The peacemakers and a few gathering onlookers did bail back about 15 feet when those knives came out. Some did! Some onlookers got involved and grabbed my arms. I think, as if, to stop me from shooting their friends? They kept me away. They tried holding my arms as if to protect their fighting friends from me.
HA! So that “drop it,” command of mine didn’t work and I had this gut-crushing feeling this would end with my gun out, maybe shooting somebody and it all turn, six different kinds of crazy bad, because I couldn’t get a handle on the situation. I pushed back, got free and damned if they didn’t re-grab me.
These two armed goons cursed a blue streak and were dueling as in a comedy of drunks! Slashing and stabbing at each other in uncoordinated, wild lunges and swings. Wild enough for one fool to almost fall over.
Then suddenly a stout black man charged up. From the proverbial “nowhere.” He was not drunk. He hit the guy hanging on my right arm, using his shoulder and we both pushed this pain-in-the-ass off of me. Without hesitation, he pivoted and ran up to one in the knife party dance and belted him in the side of his head, with a fist, a forearm, or an elbow? I can’t say which. It was a blind side, sucker shot. The man did not see it coming and was so stunned, he dropped the knife on impact, stumbled off and fell.
Arm now free, I pulled my Colt Python pistol. The onlookers gasped and cursed and groaned at its sight. I stepped before the other armed man and told him I’d kill him if he didn’t drop the knife. I got in such a position that the other drunk that was first fighting with me, now shared my gun barrel time too.
The guy with the knife just stood there, tip of the knife aimed at my face, his eyes all google-eyed, bloodshot and watering, his lip busted open and bloody. He was wavering before me like a heat wave on booze and drugs. It would have been funny, but for the knife, the jerks around me…well, frankly, I guess it wasn’t much funny at all.
“Don’t even think about it,” I warned him. Good God, was I going to have to shoot this stumbling drunk? I decided I would if he lunged at me.
Meanwhile, this hard-charging citizen hero snatched up the loose knife from the ground and walked right up to the man before me and removed the knife from his hand while the drunk just stared at me. I ordered the two men on their knees. The first was already grounded. The hero stood there like my professional backup! And, I wondered where my official back-up unit was, speaking of backup. They didn’t get there in time.
Don’t let your imagination run wild about this, as if it was a cool, fight scene in a movie or something. These guys were staggering, stinking, drugged jerks. Yeah, yeah, dangerous and all, sure, as the textbooks would remind us, but a lot more low-key than it reads here. Two pair of handcuffs hung on my belt, and I had three men to shackle! I cuffed the bystander guy fighting me with one pair, figuring if he were damn fool enough to fight with me before, I needed both of his hands linked up now. Then I split my second pair of cuffs with these two so-called, “knife fighters.”
“There ya go. Now go on and beat yourselves to death now,” I told the two handcuffed slobs. “See if I stop you again.”
At this point I didn’t care if they clobbered each other down. One cuff to one’s right hand, the other cuff to the other man’s right hand. This way if they both ran off, it wouldn’t be too easy to run. In theory, one faced one way, one faced the other, (but in actuality, one of them could cross their arm over for them to run. Anyway, that didn’t happen.)
Other units arrived, and we carted the men away. Armchair, Sunday-morning quarterbacks would say that I should have waited in the squad car until backup arrived. But how do you do that? Imagine sitting in a police car like a timid, church mouse while men fought with knives for several minutes just a few yards away? Waiting for backup? Impossible. What if one killed the other while the police watched safely in their locked car? No way. No way. No way.
I had to get the name and address of this hero for my crime and arrest reports. I thanked him profusely. He was all smiles and told me everything. I’ll call him “Ray Wilson” here.
At the station, our Patrol Lt Gene Green wandered into the book-in room and wanted the sitrep. After my report, he said,
“Ray Wilson? He plays for the _____________. Ya’ met Ray! Ya’ see his big Superbowl ring? He comes home every off-season and stays with his momma. He gets into some kind of trouble every year.”
“Well, he sure helped me out of a mess here!” I said. “He needs a medal.”
“Just wait,” Lt Green warned. “You’ll see him in here for somethin’ er’ another.” By “in here,” he meant the book-in room.
“He comes home every year and sorta cleans up after his relatives’ and friends’ bad business. He has a helleva’ family. Always in trouble.”
That Wilson clan. Oh, yeah. Those kin folk! Well, I saw his point. What a shame. The guy just charged right in and helped me.
About a month or so later we were on midnight shift, and I walked through the station to the squad room. The old headquarters was situated kind of funny because you had to walk through the book-in room of our jail to get from the front side of the station and into to the back squad room. There on the book-in room bench, sat a handcuffed Ray Wilson. My Wine Tree hero. He was arrested for assaulting some men with a baseball bat! Some kind of a family, revenge/vendetta, just like Lt Green had said.
Ray nodded to me as I approached and passed through. His possessions were laid on the book-in counter, ready for safe-keeping collection. A worn wallet. Some pocket change. An old watch. A belt…and a big, golden, Superbowl ring.
“Take care of that ring,” Ray asked cordially.
“We always do, Ray,” the arresting detective said.
He retired in our city, took over the family’s, older home and then years later died of old age, but a poor man. He was one of the regulars I would stop and talk to through the years.
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@forcenecessary.com