Grimacing at Micro Expressions

“This guy must hate me!”

I tell a story in my police books about a guy’s mean facial expression that was a lesson in life for me. In the 1970’s on patrol, I did the expected “50-10” thing when I could. Fifty minutes of driving and ten minutes of parking and watching. It was smart to park at busy places. I worked a lot in our city’s “projects” not just in the patrol division, but many years later as a detective too. In the 70s, I frequently began to see this same black guy pass by, whether I was parked or slowly driving around. As he came into view each time, he looked at me with a great disgust, a very angry face. “Wow! This guy must hate me, or really hate cops. Man!” This hateful glare went on for some time when the fates would have us pass each other.

Finally I said to myself, “The next time I see this guy I am going to smile and wave at him and see what he will do.”  About two days later I saw him while I was parked on a street. As he got closer, we looked at each other and I smiled and waved at him. His angry face lit up, he smiled big and waved back. We were still a distance apart and after he did that, I had the time and space to see his face immediately return to one of anger. But then I realized, he wasn’t angry at all. That face – was just his regular, walk-around face! Sadly, it was a mean one. He was the angry man that wasn’t angry. As the weeks and months passed this happened time and time again. We never met. We never spoke. We just smiled and waved. And I thought about how many people are mislead by faces and expressions.

One of my tenets in self defense course is “The face is a mask, he could fight scarier than he looks and look scarier than he fights.” And the self defense, martial arts, security and enforcement business is rife though the years with all sorts of predictors about pre-assault and pre-crimes. (I might add here that pre-crime tips are usually ignored, as martial experts opt to talk about pre-assault tips.) Regular folks on up to professional investigators also want to catch lies and liars. Everyone wants the tip-off secrets, the bible of alarms and alerts from this or that body language master, poker player, psychologist, Navy SEAL or friendly neighborhood, karate guy. In this wanton process is the “Rise of the Micro Expressions.” (Key the exciting music here.)

Dr. Google reports – “A microexpression is a facial expression that only lasts for a short moment. It is the innate result of a voluntary and an involuntary emotional response occurring simultaneously and conflicting with one another, and occurs when the amygdala (the emotion center of the brain.) responds appropriately to the stimuli that the individual experiences and the individual wishes to conceal this specific emotion. This results in the individual very briefly displaying their true emotions followed by a false emotional reaction.[1] Microexpressions express the seven universal emotions: disgust, anger, fear, sadness, happiness, contempt, and surprise. (As you can see, “micro expressions” officially became all one word at some point in my lucky, long life.)

I am certainly not going to dismiss body language or micro expressions. No. I am alive today because of various visual tip-offs within situations. But, being the eternal skeptic, I would like to instead, bring up some warnings and things to think about. I am here to say that while they sell you them for a $1 a piece, the tip might only be worth 75 cents? 80 cents?

Dr. Gad Saad is a respected evolutionary biologist and his new book “The Parasitic Mind” is a must-read. One of the many book’s subjects is victimology with interesting relationship to the infamous Munchausen syndrome. (Stay with me “internet clickers!”) As to reading faces, he recalls on page 103 a piece of research where people were presented a batch of facial photographs and asked them to pick out the “threatening expressions/faces.” Scary faces were picked. Then with new people, the scary faces were slowly removed until the batch consisted of only the neutral faces, previously ignored as non-aggressive and non-threatening. Without any scary faces to pick, the subjects began to pick a number of the neutral faces/expressions as threatening. Pre-conceptions. Looking for trouble. Finding the unfindable. Reading the unreadable. Interesting. Seeing hate where there is no hate.

There is also much ado about the detection of lying in this subject matter. The real frontrunner of this lie-with-microexpressions  subject, Dr. Paul Ekman admits on his webpage – “There is no single, definitive sign of deceit itself; no muscle twitch, facial expression, or gesture proves that a person is lying with absolute certainty. Therefore, most modern-day methods of deception detection heavily rely on a variety of methods to collect, analyze and interpret emotional and physiological data. However, any data collected merely expose emotional clues that may or may not be related to deception. For example, sweaty palms during a job interview could indicate an interviewee’s fear of being caught in a lie about their qualifications. Or, sweaty palms could be illustrating their fear that the interviewer won’t believe their qualifications despite being totally honest on their resume. Or, their palms could be sweaty because they’re worried about something else entirely, like a sick child at home.”

President Reagan was famous for “Trust, but verify.” Unless the speaker already has a terrible record, perhaps. And we fall back to the totality of circumstances again. Situational study. An “investigator,” professional or not, must investigate. We must be very careful in some encounters not to jump to conclusions over a flinch or a twitch, etc. A terrible trait of some detectives I had to work with and around, is “conclusion jumping.” I’ll even go you one worse – some were also stubborn. They jumped to conclusions and then they were too stubborn to face the building, contrary facts. This is double-terrible in any criminal justice system.

I am often amused by people watching the news who claim that this or that suspect or witness is…lying. “You can tell!” they say. Yet these same people are enraptured by actors in convincing roles on TV and in the movies. Folks…they…are…ACTORS! The claimers watch a mystery and predict who the killer is and who is innocents are. Remember the killer and the innocent suspect are people ACTING, who are neither killers nor innocents in real life. They are fooling you.

And, even untrained people can act in, out and around microexpressions. Actors also conceal pending violence (like conmen ambushers) and know how to hide anger and intent or pretend anger to intimidate you into submission.

By the way, all this scares the hell out of me when considering jury trials, as jurors look at the faces, demeanor and clothes of lawyers, judges, defendants and witnesses.

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Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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Rolling Blackouts and Rolling Flashlights

(Or…How I Learned to Love the Hock, Stinky Arm Method!)

Texas got hit with a real pesky ice and snow storm last week, dropping temps lower than North to Alaska. It dropped our power grid and electricity (and water) for about a week. While some folks had none, we were lucky enough to have thee infamous “rolling blackouts.” Thirty minutes of power every two hours or so. Enough to charge your phone battery and fast-cook a hot dog. Now, while everyone is probably familiar with rolling blackouts, what about…rolling flashlights?

Yes, this week I had physical, mental and nightmare  flashbacks of rolling…flashlights. Rounded flashlights that roll. Now look, I am a pretty “long in the tooth” feller and I go way back to the past days of military and police flashlights. Anybody could buy them but we had to use them.  Daily. Starting in 1970s for me. Everybody bought their own when they could. They were ugly and not powerful back then for the common troop. You absolutely needed them at night and even in the daytime, because you never knew when you might have to dash into or investigate a basement or any enclosed dark space. If you were needed to use both hands on a chore, and laid these old-timey flashlights down, most would probably roll.

In the olden days, we were taught never to hold your light too close to your body because it was common knowledge that enemy soldiers and criminals would instinctively shoot at the light. I still believe this. So a typical search-carry would be the old “FBI” method of holding the light away from your body when possible.

Thereabouts, when-abouts those golden-olden days the long, baton-sized flashlight came along. It was essentially a club with extra batteries and a bulb and quickly replaced the nightstick for many coppers. Me too. The light wasn’t very bright, and if you laid it down on anything, a car, table, whatever…it would-could easily roll.

Then the Gods made the super-duper, ultra bright small, palm-sized flashlight. They were and are amazing. But around these times too, came almost a Moses-Mountain-Mandate to shoot pistols with two hands almost ALL of the time. This was a confusing time because how does one hold one’s Star Trek flashlight AND still shoot with politically correct, two-hands?  Ahhh, well, a tactical conundrum!  

But the two-hand shooters invented tricky ways (to sell these flashlights AND “use” two hands. I won’t name them here, it’s not today’s subject, but they were named after rather unknown gun people of the day as though they were doctors inventing special cures for cancer. Edison! Tesla!  Like “The Johnson Method” which holds the light…(blah, blah, blah). The flimsy cures did not support the pistol like a solid two-hand grip, not at all,  but it at least they got that second hand or wrist “over there” to help the terrible, horrible. misguided burden of shooting with one hand. And we older-timers immediately noticed that this puts the light, so often the target, right back in front of your chest or head! But the conundrum! The mandate to shoot with two hands!  And holding flashlights.

I started shooting in 1969 and received all kinds of military, police and private training starting in the 70s, from people who had killed  a lot of people back then.  Especially in the military full of Korean and Vietnam war vets. (God bless em’ all.) And so, we shot a lot back then, A LOT with one hand, as well as two hands too, but a lot of one hand shooting. Again not the subject today’s essay. The subject is rolling flashlights today and most of the Star Trek flashlights were round and rolled a lot when you laid them down.

So then I retired. I have lots of these new Trekian flashlights around, and I love them, and even got another one last Christmas! This last powerless week in Texas, I had my best-est Star Trek, palm-ish sized flashlight with me constantly, in my hand or in my robe pocket. There wasn’t even any ambient light when the sun dropped. And any time I had to do something simple with two hands I had to set the round flashlight down and the damn thing round thing, – you guessed it –   rolled away. 

“I remember that problem!” I sezs to myself, as the little bastard rolled away from the shower and lit up the  corner bathroom sink. As a cop since the 70s I recall the multitude of in-the-dark,  predictable and unpredictable “two-hand chore” police problems and that damn round flashlight would roll off a fence post top, car hood, table, stairstep, whatever. I recalled that I cussed the problem and bought a hand-held, handled, big bulb light with a squarish, high-volt battery as a base. It produced a powerful, portable beam for the 70s and 80s and when I set that flat bottomed, mo-fo down, IT DID NOT ROLL! And a time or two back then, I had to hit somebody, as was-is required in my odd business, and jeez, that big-ass metal, battery was like a brick.  (Something designed like this.)

I really do like these modern flashlights today because they’re like a martial palm stick in terms of fighting, but most of them are round.

 I’ll bet 85% of these headlamps on the market do not match the light power of the new small handhelds. Might be from the required small batteries?  I have a decent one and still cannot read a book well in the dark. With these mentions of headlamps, I can’t help but think about a household of two, three, four or more in a blackout. All four with handheld caliber head lamp lights strapped on their foreheads for 8 hours a day, all avoiding facial contact from a few feet apart to prevent power beams in the eyeballs.  “Don’t you look at me!” Dinnertime! As the headlamp bible suggests they are for “Adults, Camping, Hiking, Outdoors & Hard Hat Work.”

Now I know someone reading this here will do a quick “one-ups-mans-ship” to report  on my ignorance – 

“…well, you should purchased the ‘Tact-9-Blinder’ because its conical delt is a four-sided, 17 ratio, militant square. It won’t roll.”

I don’t know nothing about no 17 ratio, militant delts, I just don’t want my light to roll, okay? According to Dr Google and to ElectroniCast, an estimated 141.6 million flashlights will be purchased in the United States this year and I’ll bet most of them are round. And, I would just like to officially remind people when shopping for a flashlight, try to get one that won’t roll off on you when you’re making pancakes, shaving in a shower, or reaching for toilet paper…or handcuffing a killer.

( A guy in river patrol read this and told me they had a lot of expensive flashlights roll off boats and ‘into the drink.'”) This message is not just for or about rolling blackouts. The point is…rounded flashlight “ends” in general are not good ideas.

In a pinch and I mean a real “pinch,” you might consider the official “Hock Stinky Armpit Method” where you put your rounded flashlight in your armpit and pinch, compress! (Can I get that title-method mentioned in gun magazines and join that infamous boys club? I could go down in gun-lore history! Name-dropped by the insider, educated. And you will only be shot in the shoulder if shot and you know that’s a just a “wingin” in the movies.)

For more on this carry topic, click here

Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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Targets and Political Correctness

Haven’t we all seen through the years, the paper targets of angry men holding guns and knives? Is this a good or bad idea?

If you follow me for even a short length of time, you know I do not teach anything to do with firearm marksmanship. I am too unqualified and too impatient for the job. I always team up with, refer you to, and count on my long list of qualified and patient friends to deliver great marksmanship development. Instead, I am solely interested in situational, interactive shooting with any sort of simulated ammo we can get our hands on, wherever we are. The gear has increased in its diversity and opportunity through the decades. I just called the course starting back then in 1995, “Force Necessary: Gun” (using the gun when necessary).

A number of years ago Dr Bill Lewinski and his collegiate Force Science team collected a whole series of studies on shootings and shoot-outs, and determined that one of the principle reasons for missing targets under stress was too much “internal focus” on the use of the handgun and not enough external emphasis. The internal emphasis was defined as the worrying too much about your draw, hand grip, breathing, arms, sights, etc. The Force Science experts recommended a major prescription for this was to work on more external focus. External being defined as the bad guy, location and situation. A professional psychologist would begin to develop therapies for external focus (which I have already spent years doing.) The problem is shooting at moving, thinking people who are shooting right back at you.

With this Force Science report, I immediately added a new sub-title for my gun course, “Force Necessary: Gun – External Focus,” bolstered by Lewinski’s FS and because that is all I do, my slice-share of the gun fight worries. Bring in the external! As the simulated ammo world developed (with much help from Japan) military and police slowly saw great value in adding it in, but just not enough. 

After a vow of range shooting celibacy (as in teaching as I still practice shooting on ranges) I still have borderline/trespass comments to make once in a while, and one is on paper targets. It is a range thing and such things I order myself to avoid. But… here goes.

Quickly first, an established point – “bullseye target:” the circular spot, usually black or outlined in black, at the center of a target marked with concentric circles and used in target practice. A regular, round, bullseye target or simplistic versions thereof are good for shooting diagnostics, zeroing in and data investigation-collection. Maybe even some fun competitions? 
 
I recall times, and they are recent and recurring, when ignorant citizen groups demanded that all human shapes be removed from targets. Their argument being that this teaches, people, police and even the military to shoot…people! To shoot unnecessarily and ad nauseum at people. Surely – the ignorant claim – surely if these human forms were removed from targets, less people would be abused-shot. Innocent people and guilty people too, as there are post-modernist groups who fail to acknowledge even the obvious self defense shooting of an armed attacker, screaming murder, especially against law enforcement.
 
Quite a number of groups and agencies over the years, ever wishy-washy, by virtue signaling, paranoia or the next level of ignorance, acquiesced. Gone were the official use of armed, ugly men photos and drawings on targets, replaced by the standard bullseye, scoring image. The organizations were applauded by being all-so-modern and all-so-caring and so forth. 
 
The last big, anti-human-form, target scare brought quite a censor of target subjects. Compliers got rid of various popular targets to avoid being denounced. Remember the fad wave of zombie targets appeared? Remember them? Well, they are still around, but not like the censored past and blasting zombies were openly used in protest of the target censors. I mean, even far-far lefties want to kill zombies.
 
I also recall a rash of Bin Laden targets popping up in those tough times. But today in the 2020s, a target printer and-or seller must take care who they portray on a paper target, else they be deemed a domestic terrorist. I suggest you avoid putting any recognizable people on targets, just use generic, mean looking, white guys.
 

So, let’s take a stock for a moment…

  • Bad guys have guns (and knives, etc.) and commit felonies, rob, rape and kill.
  • Citizens can defend themselves and many have guns.
  • Police have guns and uphold the law.
  • Good guys and police are attacked by bad guys with guns (and knives, etc.).
  • The most contrary still accept the fact that gun-carriers need at least bullseye training.
  • There needs to be training methods to consistently ensure that deadly force be used only against deadly force.

I know gun instructors smart enough to tape or glue various pictures of deadly force weapons onto to existing unarmed paper targets. They “get it.” We talk a lot of a sight picture – “the sight picture is the image you see when the sights are aligned correctly with the target.” But another look at the term is the “sight” of a picture of an armed bad guy trying to kill you. One is more internal in processing, one is way more “external.” They know that in your sight, your “external sight picture” it is good to have a deadly force weapon included to justify a spontaneous shooting.

One way to help ensure the proper use of deadly firearm force is the visual identification training of a deadly threat. A mission to so this should be as early, often and regular as possible. Overtly or covertly (subliminal). I therefore believe that a shooting practitioner, new or otherwise should constantly shoot at a target of a dangerous person holding a gun or knife, etc.  Doing so helps build a subliminal use of proper force message in a person’s brain. You are NOT going to shoot unless you are confronted with this sort of…deadly…vision.

This sort of prep education is not available with the flat, impersonal paper bullseye target. Such a bullseye-only target is detached from humanity. Instead, simply putting a scoring target inside the shape of an armed bad guy is so easy and of course, has been done.

I have tried to instruct with the mantra “reduce the abstract. In hand, stick, knife and gun training, you can never recreate the reality situation. It’s impossible, but you can try. Each and every where possible. You can use the “Who, What, Where, When, How and Why” questions to set the stage, and of course, develop the training progressions from isolated to situational. This means a person may start out with just a bullseye target only, if the instructor wishes, and the training will increase with human shapes and forms to situational interactive shooting of actors, then competitors. (Other than zeroing in and other diagnostics (checking the spark plugs), I see no real reason not to quickly start a self defense shooter out with an armed human form target also with bullseye, scoring rings.

With this dual approach, there is still a bullseye and scoring, but inside a bigger legal “message” from the get-go. You get to score, track progress, but with a deadly force backdrop mandate.

Targets and further training with “armed human forms.” Things to think about:

  • Do you think that self defense shooters should only shoot at bullseye targets forever? Yes or no? Why? Why not?
  • Do you think that self defense shooters should be exposed to targets with armed human figures with added bullseye art? Yes or no? Why? Why not?
  • Do you think that an enlarged photograph of a bad guy is better than a flat artwork drawing of one? Yes or no? Why? Why not?
  • Do you think that eventually shooting an actual, armed actor is better than shooting at a drawing or photo of a person? Yes or no? Why? Why not?
  • Do you think that eventually shooting at armed “competitors” in interactive situations are like performance exams? And are a good idea? Yes or no? Why? Why not?

(I guess I would be remiss not to quickly mention these  somewhat common “3D” or dummy targets in this discussion, even though they are a bit pricey and misused as in this discussion. Misused? They are frequently posted up on the range, naked and armless. Armless means no weapons held, defeating that need to shoot now imperative we are reviewing here.  I have seen dummies wearing shirts from time to time, maybe even a hat, but still armless and weaponless. I guess you could slung a rifle over a shoulder?  But usually you are still shooting an unarmed man! Err…I mean dummy. The 3D dummies with arms are rare because they are so expensive.)

You don’t have to answer these questions here. Just please think about them. The questions above are about a training progression. You can never stop working on your marksmanship and the “internal focus.” It’s a never-ending battle of eyeballs and trigger-squeeze. But my real purpose here is to get people to pull the trigger when legal and develop comprehensive training tips and  ideas to implant the subject.

As this essay spreads across the world, I receive more and more reports of agencies and localities disallowing human shapes on targets, as well as ranges that just don’t care what target you bring in.

Back to the first opening question. Armed human shapes on targets. Good? Bad? My answer is good. The next time a political group demands that human figures holding weapons should be removed from training targets, inform them that human figures holding weapons, even in its most primitive form with flat, target-artwork or a photograph, is vital in teaching proper use of force, decision-making. Start that subliminal self defense, legal message from the beginning and keep it going as much as possible.

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Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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Me and the ROK Marines

(My main theme here is usually about combatives, crime and policing, but I would be remiss not to mention my connections with the ROK Marines while in South Korea.)

The textbook manuals will define the ROK Marines as: “The Republic of Korea Marine Corps, also known as the ROK Marine Corps, or the ROK Marines, is the marine corps of South Korea. The ROKMC is a branch of the Republic of Korea Navy responsible for amphibious operations, and also functions as a rapid reaction force and a strategic reserve.”

“Korean soldiers were highly motivated. Because of their own struggle with Stalinist North Korea, they hated communists. They were also tough. Each man was trained in the art of tae kwon do, with 30 minutes’ practice forming an integral part of morning physical training. They were also subjected to harsh discipline. Time magazine reported in 1966, “Captured Vietcong orders now stipulate that contact with the Koreans is to be avoided at all costs—unless a Vietcong victory is 100 percent certain.” – National Interest Magazine

1975. The first days of the first week I was in country, up north in South Korea, HQ asked me to deliver some papers to Camp Red Cloud. They gave me our intrepid KATUSA – Mister Lee as a driver, and together in an old, open US Army jeep we made the long drive east. Once at the base, Mister Lee took us to the Red Cloud headquarters. On the open grounds outside stood a formation of Korean soldiers and a sergeant yelling and beating the holy hell out of a soldier. The troop stood as best he could, arms down and at a wobbly attention. Finally. the blows knocked him off right off his feet. Down, he was kicked.

“What’s going on over there?” I asked Mister Lee.
“Ohhh, ROK Marines. Dey crazy. Dat Marine fucky up somehow.” Mister Lee said.

And that was my first introduction to the ROK Marines, other than having some of them, along with South Vietnamese combat vets, teach a few courses in basic training. Upon my return to our little crappy forward operating base, (FOB) as I was a “cherry” (new) I quickly learned that we also had ROK Marines stationed right with us too!

We, me, the MPs there were to do police work and help provide force protection for this FOB, but the grunt work of guarding was done by KATUSA (Korean Augmentation To the United States Army, a branch of the Republic of Korea Army that consists of Korean drafted personnel who are augmented to the Eighth United States Army), K-9s (dogs), MPs and ROK Marines. One big happy (?) family.

Missile jockeys operated on top of a mountain inside our camp and from that elevation, with binoculars one could see into North Korea and at times watch their knuckleheads doing PT or snaking around over there.

“The beatings will continue until morale improves!” And I continued to see periodic ROK beatings in their morning formations. We never knew what they did wrong, but they must have “fucky-ied up” in some way. The ROK officers and NCOs spoke some English but the typical ROK Marine did not. So while we saw them a lot, and they ate in our mess hall, we never got to know them beyond the occasional smile, a wave, and a thumbs up.

Part of our job description was to also patrol the outside of the base, check the perimeters, etc. and the ROK Marines did that routinely. We MPs did not have to go on every run, but we were supposed to go with some regularity, and keep abreast of the breastworks, so, with some regularity we went. On one trip, they found a cache of buried weapons, hidden by stupid commie sympathizers for North Koreans to sneak in and dig up. (I think a K9 smelled it out, as I recall). The commies were always sneaking in, or building tunnels under the DMZ, etc. Those days, the 60s and 70s were considered very dangerous times in Korea.

(Years earlier, the NKs perpetrated North Korea attempted assassination, “The Blue House Raid,” also known in South Korea as the “January 21 Incident.” It was just one raid launched by North Korean commandos to assassinate the President of South Korea, Park Chung-hee, in his residence at the Blue House. President Park was unharmed.)

Taking us out, taking our missiles out, or sneaking past us to go south was always a problem. We sat in the valley first invaded by the Red Guard back in the 1950s. One part of my MP job I discovered was to run an M-60 machine gun team on the northwest peak of the camp that touched that very valley. (When the feces hits the oscillated blades, we are all infantry.)

On one of these walk-arounds, the ROK Marine Sergeant (also named Lee) mentioned to me that old classic observation, usually attributed to the Japanese.,
“America will never be invaded,” he said.
“It won’t, you think?” I said.
“No, too many guns.”

Some of these inspections were run in the dark, a m. hours. Just cuz. Just cuz they could and really they should. The boogie-men  come out at night. And as we passed a few guard posts, Sgt. Lee would stop us at a distance and stealthfully get near the post. He would at times catch the ROK Marine there asleep and steal something from them, sometimes their M-16s!

The next morning the ROK Marine would be chastised and then beaten in the formation.

I often wondered what these Marines thought when they woke up and saw their M-16 gone!

(Many decades later, a ROK Marine sergeant showed up at one of my California combatives seminars, held at the original UFC Gym. He was sent there to attend and invite me to teach knife combatives over there. The deal was cut, but their unit had to postpone because of missions. I have no great desire to return to South Korea, but I will. Because – “Have Seminar-Will Travel.”)

For more, check out –

Why South Korea’s Marines are such an excellent fighting force- https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/why-south-koreas-marines-are-such-excellent-fighting-force-105452

Shadows of War – https://www.armyupress.army.mil/journals/military-review/english-edition-archives/november-december-2019/anderson-korean-dmz/

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Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

For more stories like this, get Wolfpack Publishing, omnibus called “Kill or Be Killed,” Hock’s two memoir books, on a great sale! Read about the omnibus ebook click here.

 

 

Rituals of Death (Before the Death, Not After)

The rituals of death. Understanding them may save your life. But, when you try to research the term, all you are most likely to uncover are after-death, practices of various worldwide religions and funerals, like tossing a handful of dirt on a coffin to name but one. I guess the trouble with the research quest is the word “ritual” – so quickly associated with religions. Dig a bit deeper (no pun intended) and you’ll find a few ceremonial pre-death rituals like when archaeologists discovered that the Incas got their children sacrifices drunk before their deaths on coco leaves and alcohol. Still after much digging, not much is mentioned about before the death. 

If you broaden your own the definition of “rituals,” of death, it starts you thinking. You might recall the many other kinds of political and religious killings, ones before the flame, the shot, the needle, the hanging, the guillotine, the firing squad, the electrocution, etc. We remember some pre-death, rituals with them. Before such events, we have been exposed to ritualistic habits like, “the last meal.” The “last cigarette.” The blindfold, “any last requests?” “any last statements?”  These are also rituals of death, before the act. Why do people bother with them?

Think about the ritualistic procedures in the United States over a prisoner execution. There are many ritualistic steps and protocols. Think about how people reluctantly gather in to witness the execution. In the olden days, people gathered for the public hangings, nowadays seating is assigned at the prison death chambers to watch a person die. I feel as though any of the death row prisoners would much rather be surprised by a shot in the back at in the head at some late point than go through all that extraneous legal, ritual, nonsense. And, consider this irony, there have been postponements in prison executions because the prisoner was too sick on his death date. Too sick to die? “Let’s clear up that flu before we kill him.”

All these numerous rituals alone, suggested to me that most humans have a certain significance, a regard about death and often do things, also in crime and war to hesitate, postpone, celebrate or commemorate death. A ritual, however slight or small, might be created. It often seems to be in our human nature.

I would like to write about here a very particular situation when someone is cornered, captured, kidnapped and-or taken hostage. Short-term or long-term, and about to killed. As a police detective most of my adult life, and a graduate of a police, criminal profile course, I came across numerous cases, mine and others, of victims executed, or received threats of execution in the final act of rape, kidnapping, robbery, assault and so forth. And what about in war? Such as when someone is taken prisoner, or cornered? What did those last few seconds look like? What small ignored, rituals existed or still exist by killers. If we knew what the killers did, we might better prepare people to read upcoming signs and try to counter them.

In recent times now more than in the past, instructors like to present lists of pre-assault cues with all the anger, tip-offs. That list is long (and far from new – as the first one I saw was back in the military police academy in 1973.) What of pre-crime clues? They are different and largely ignored as people tend to dwell on the pre-assault cues. With pre-crime there might be a no-anger greeting, usually presented by smiling con men criminals setting you up with a minimum tip-offs, or not. Maybe just an overwhelming, sudden ambush? In this same vein of study, but not like the pre-assault, and pre-crime, are the verbal, physical and situational, last ditch rituals of…pre-death. Situational? The overall situation also counts like a ticking time bomb.

So, I became fascinated, in crime and war’s last moments, especially the last few seconds, the last few steps of these killing actions. What exactly went on? And to see if there are any big or small “rituals” even in these instances. They may or may not be spontaneous. The crime may be pre-meditated, but the actual physical act of violence itself unplanned. What happened? Learning this as a self defense, martialist instructor for civilians, police and military, might warn and prepare people for last resort counters to these problems. My real goal here is to inspire and provoke thought on these matters. 

For example, Think of all the pistol disarms taught . Think of the more rare, long gun disarms. Think of the knife disarms. Think of the strangulation escapes. Lots of…”techniques,” as they say. But hardly anyone understands or covers the total “who, what, when, where, how and why” (the Ws&H) the victim wound up in this terrible moment, these terrible, critical last, few seconds. The context. The situation. What last ditch, last resort things could be done to counter the murder attempt?

The techniques? I have told this story for decades as an example of the “classroom disarmer,” of a student who learned two pistol disarms techniques earlier in the day at a martial class. He goes home and tells his friend how great the disarms were. The friend says “wow, show me,” and he gets a “clicker,” replica pistol and stands before the student, face-to-face, gun aimed at the student’s head, execution style. The student and friend stare at each other, like western showdown that actually hardly ever happened. The friend is a live wire, watching anxiously for ANY slight sign, a “tell,” (tip-off or clue) that a disarm attempt is coming. The student tries one of the disarms, j…u…s…t barely moves and…CLICK.  The student tries and tries and can’t do either of the disarms. Disillusioned, he confesses, “I guess they don’t work.” This evaluation could be very wrong because forgotten is the unusual, multi-faceted crime and war situations people are thrust in. Gun men are often preoccupied running their overall crime scenes and rarely if ever, are they in this sterile, “face-to-face,” “anxiously waiting-for-the-disarm” waiting to pull the trigger, classroom situation.

Ws&H questions for examples…

The Who Question? For the purposes of brevity, let’s loosely list a few general “who’s-who” to get you thinking about this topic. (Remember I am not a psychologist and you must investigate these typologies yourself.)   

  • Psychopath. Someone who might kill in an instant, without remorse, without ritual.
  • Psychopath who terrorizes. Someone who might kill and wants to enjoy terrorizing someone. There might be a ritual involved.
  • Realistic actor. Someone who is not a psychopath, but is somewhat “forced” into killing you due to circumstances. He might be resigned to the act.
  • Reluctant actor. Someone who is not a psychopath, but is really reluctant and really “forced” into killing you due to circumstances. He might be angry or depressed and resigned to the act.
  • Impulse actors. Various criminal studies state that many criminals have poor impulse control.

We could of course, slice and dice these very generic characterizations forever. But anyone of these might have tip-off tells of what they will do, verbal or physical. Perhaps your best predictive luck or chances are with the realistic and reluctant actors. If a true, cold-blooded  psychopath decides to kill you, they might well do so in an instant. No rituals. No tells…just boom. Imagine a hostage situation where there is food for 7 people and he has 8 hostages. Boom, a random death upon discovery of the problem. Now there’s food for 7. If a non-psychopath has to kill you, he might say or do something…specifically at the moment…that is ”ritualistic.” 

The What Question? There are numerous examples of what might be said or done.

  • Verbal. A psychopath may say nothing, or in the terrorizing version, enjoy saying extra-frightening things. Their rituals might be very personal and impossible to understand by sane people. A non-psychopath might ask for somewhat ritualistic things like, “Get down on your knees?” or, “Lay face down,”  or “turn-around.” This is because he doesn’t want to fully see or not see your face. It is old military psychology now that you are harder to kill face-to-face for most “normal” people. The reluctant’s voice may get mean with a certain resolve and resignation. This could be because he is actually angry at himself and-or the situation. 
  • Sounds. And this in not just about voice. There is a case in Gaven Debecker’s book The Gift of Fear when a rapist left the victim’s bedroom and turned the volume way up on the living room stereo. The victim realized this increase was to cover the sounds of her murder and screaming. She managed to sneak out of her apartment while the rapist was in the kitchen to get a knife. Translating sounds. What of the sounds of loading or cocking a firearm? Opening a trunk or a van door?
  • Physical. Sudden deep breaths before actions. Serious facial expression changes. Some might easily be read as a resignation that the reluctant has to kill. A terrorizing psychopath might smile with an enjoyment. It has been observed in a variety of situations that someone holding a long gun at hip level, resigned to murder, will grimace and lift the weapon to shoulder height. They might elevate the pistol from low to high. They could just shoot from the hip. These are last second tells.

The Where Question? First off, a rule of survival, never go from “crime scene A” to “crime scene B.” If you can fight and resist at crime scene A when you discover a planned transport? Do so. B is usually a prepared place of torture and-or death. A psychopath might kill you anywhere, or at crime scene B. A non-psychopath might ritualistically march you off to somewhere else, and often for no real reason. It seems to be a ritual of death to do so. The back room refrigerator of a convenience store for just one example. These marches may take you to a place where there are no sight or sound witnesses.

The When Question? The brewing situation should help a victim tell if an execution is forthcoming. Understanding the overall situation can set the clock for predicting your your planned demise. Many victim can predict their eventual doom by just seeing the face of a criminal.

The How Question? How will the murder be accomplished? Are you being marched off to a cliff? The meat locker? Does the criminal or enemy have a stick? Knife, pistol? Long gun? If so, do you know the common striking, stabbing and shooting positions? How close is the killer standing? Where are you standing? Has he approached with an “angry” strutting walk and face? How will your respond?

The Why Question? By keeping close track of your dilemma, can you anticipate why you need to be killed. Whim? Delight? No witnesses? Revenge?  Understanding motives. Think of an on-premise, witness to a crime. Think of a crazed spouse, violating a protective order after many violent threats, showing up at a house with a weapon. Why must things end this way? The killer usually needs a motive, whether you understand the reasons or not. Again, studies show that many criminal have poor impulse control (especially under stressful and emotional situations).

Quick summary I would like for you to think about these Ws&H points. It usually takes about 6 passes of the Ws&H questions to collect satisfactory information. You might get down to the “when” question and you realize you need to reexamine the “who” question again. And we can’t forget that crime patterns, in your region, your city or street, can be a copy-cat ritual. Examine if you will, the many gang shootings in Chicago. How do they unfold?  

What might the rituals of pre-death be?

  • You are cornered, captured, kidnapped and-or taken hostage. Short-term or long-term, and about to killed.
  • Pre-assault cues can be different than pre-crime cues.
  • Verbal clues like tones and words.
  • Visual clues like facial expressions.
  • Sound clues like weapons preps – racking, chambering.
  • Area crime patterns may be involved.
  • Situations that history and common sense lead to executions.
  • Brewing, overall situations.
  • Has he approached with an angry walk and face?
  • Last request questions.
  • Suddenly being treated nicely. A common – “sorry, good-bye ritual.” 
  • Being marched to questionable and isolated places with a lack of help or witnesses.
  • Sudden lifting of firearms into common firing positions.
  • Sudden lifting of sticks, bats, clubs and tool into striking positions.
  • Sudden drawing of weapons.
  • …continue to develop your own lists.

On the rituals of suicide. I have probably worked more suicides than murders through the years and they might have their own meaningful rituals and death scenes. Some organized scenes were fascinating and not appropriate for this essay theme. But, recognizing the organized suicide scene and any ritual evidence is important to classify and conclude the case, but again, suicide ritual is another subject.

But I must mention that in the police world, we are long cursed with “suicide by cop” situations. There is suicide by civilian or military also. Whether cop, citizen or soldier, these suicidal people get you to shoot them by presenting you with these same ritual of death moves we cover here, like drawing a weapon, lifting a weapon, marching upon you armed, with angry walks and angry faces. Perhaps over-acted to get your reaction! Recognizing apparent suicidal situations may save you great grief and expense later on.

My goal here in this essay is not to teach weapon disarms, but rather to translate events, see clues and tip-offs, or “tells,” before counters are life-or-death needed. Of course you must exercise all  unarmed combatives to solve these problems. Standing, kneeling, sitting, grounded on top, bottom and sides. All must include knowledge of weapon operations, yours and his. All positions must include striking, kicking and what might be called “dirty fighting” or “cheating.” These survival topics transcend typical martial arts found everywhere.

The rituals of death. They are not just about what goes in a funeral mass or at the cemetery after you die. It is also about the last things killers often physically say and-or do, just before they try to kill you, and how you must learn them to stay out of the deep end of a cemetery.

(And I remind you again, I am not a psychologist. Keep researching this and make your own lists. I only wish to provoke thought and planning.)

Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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This is an essay in Hock’s Training Mission Two, now available in Ebook, soon in paperback and hardcover, click here

 

Knife Dueling?

Knife-to-knife dueling is a controversial subject. I have come to believe that knife dueling is way over emphasized and over-practiced in these so-called “reality” knife training courses. This is something I have long called – “the myth of the duel.” The “myth of the duel” is complex subject in the splitting and organizing of martial arts and survival training. (You don’t learn how to play basketball to become a football player.)
 
Too many knife practitioners, fooled or ignorantly thinking they are studying realistic, modern or military knife combatives, express themselves through too much knife versus knife dueling. A methodology that is a mythology.
 
If you should escape a prisoner of war camp with a sharpened butter knife, the people who hunt you down have machine guns and dogs. It is unlikely you will be in a Rathbone-Fairbanks duel. Though it has happened in peculiar military circumstances as I have recorded in my Knife Combatives book. It took extensive searching into auto-biographies, biographies and history books, here in the age of firearms, to collect military knife duel events. They are quite rare in the big picture of combat. There are a few more civilian-criminal events than military. The second murderer I caught in the act, in Texas, had killed a rival in a bloody. kitchen-knife duel!
 
We in modern times live in a hand, stick, knife and gun, mixed-weapon world and a stand-off duel of sorts is not common. Still we must practice a proportionate, appropriate amount of knife versus knife dueling because the uncommon event has and will occur. We always need many knife skills in combinations, slashing, stabbing, support strikes and kicks, footwork and many aspects of knife awareness.
 
For example, in the “who, what, where, when, how and why of life”, if you are standing with a knife in your hand, in front of another person with a knife? Why are you still there? If at all possible, an orderly retreat is in order. You better have a good reason to stay!
 
 
I think knife course instructors may knife spar at each and every one of their own classes and seminars for exercise as they wish, as long as they teach and grasp the Myth of the Duel concept. The legendary Dan Inosanto said once in a seminar I attended, “knife dueling is really about developing footwork.” Instructors have different reasons for pursuing the subject. History? Fun? Competition?
 
Reality knife dueling can occur! They have happened. But common instructors usually forget the stress quick draw, the usually complicated, overall situations, and the physical layout of indoor and outdoor grounds/flooring where duels occur. These are overlooked factors in reality dueling training.
 
Strange places? I worked a murder case once where a big-knife, Bowie versus K-Bar, duel occurred between the driver and passenger in the cab of a big lumber truck, traveling down a two-lane highway! Driving and dueling. The driver won!
 
When survival training we should work on the obvious things first, and not spend a lot of time on things less likely to occur. Once this doctrine has been proportioned, we can delve into the less likely, because, as I have said, these things happen too!
 
The same holds true for stick fighting. It is unlikely most people will be in a 28-inch stick fight, duel. Of course, if you do these things for fun, as a hobby? As a sport? Go for it! I am happy if you are happy. I just hope people know what they are doing, and why they are doing what they are doing in the big picture. (As I said earlier, you don’t learn how to play basketball to become a football player.)
 
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Less Than Lethal Knife Fighting

Less-Than-Lethal Knife Tactics

At times, missions, rules of engagement, the law, and use of force standards require the capture, containment and control, not the death of an enemy. This is once called by professionals as “non-lethal” measures, but military and law enforcement specialists recognize that the term “less-than-lethal” is a smarter, and a more comprehensive phrase than “non-lethal” – as various tactics and equipment designed not to kill and called non-lethal, might still actually kill despite the intent, design and name. This renders the term “non-lethal,” into an operational misnomer and confusing liability.
 

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.

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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.

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Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

Get all of his Hock’s films and books here

The “Second (or Third) Round is Yours” Sports Theory

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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Get this Training Mission One book here

Boxing Gloves are for Boxers

“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

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Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

More on this type of info, get Hock’s Fightin’ Words. Click here

 

Chokes are Choked Out of Police Work!

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…

https://bjj4dsoul.com/is-the-rear-naked-choke-a-possible-cause-for-a-rear-naked-stroke-case-study/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5061757/

https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article243664892.html?fbclid=IwAR0t9YE2dLqwOQKInp4t08z73Yw14o03hf2WihcRYxBIRMHR-xlzM0ZDi4

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Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com

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