For starters, I am not a knife or gun collector, no more than I would collect hammers, screwdrivers or wrenches. I just don’t care. You get the message. The “tool” message. I guess it comes from my Army and policing time and experiences. I am interested in efficiency. Don’t misunderstand me, I like looking at cool knives and guns, I admire them, I just don’t want them or need them. If you do collect and you have the money and time for such a hobby, then if you are happy? I am happy. The only time that my eyebrows raise is when the lines between pretty and necessary-survival are blurred (and maybe bloody). One problem often blurred is the texture of grips and handles.
Speaking of bloody, Johnny Cash once wrote about the “kicking and the gouging and the mud and blood and the beer.” There’s also guts, water, oils, sweat, bad gloves and other substances that can make life very slippery and your hands and tools very slippery. Legend has it that the Gurkhas would dip their kukris in motor oil and then train with slimy grips. And what if your hands are injured and-or are freezing? I always shake my head when I see slick, metal knife handles and gun handles.
It’s bad enough when people have stupid hand-finger positioning on grips.
A considerable amount of time, money and research has gone into making working tools like hammers, saws, screw drivers etc., very grip-able. Still you will find slick-handled hammers and tools too! But like wise tool-makers, many wise gun and knife makers and sellers have also labored to make your weapons stay put in your hands with textured grips! People like to suggest that textured gloves solve some of these problem, but will you ALWAYS be wearing gloves? 24-7?
“I want my weapons to be tools and my tools to be weapons,” – Paul Howe
I am not endorsing anyone or anything here. I am just making a suggestion, forego pretty and slick, and get the most textured grips on your firearms, knives and sticks-batons. In my Force Necessary: Stick course Level 1, Force Necessary: Knife course Level 1, Force Necessary: Gun course Level 1, I emphasize and display the vital importance of grip-handle textures. (The issue of the SIZE of handles and grips is a whole other important essay.)
Your Signature Moves and the Pareto and the Mental Model?
Mental models are descriptions of reality that apply across every area of our life, usually don’t get outdated, and provide good results by helping you make better decisions. What is an example of a mental model? One of the most famous and valuable mental models is called the Pareto Principle. Use the 80-20 Pareto Rule to create your signature moves
You probably know it as the “80-20 rule.” This mental models says that most of your results are going to come from just a small percentage of your effort or work.
Vilfredo Pareto, the man who “discovered” this principle noticed that 80% of the land in his area was owned by 20% of the people. He looked in his garden, and saw that 80% of the peas were in 20% of the pea pods. Then he realized that this was something like an organizing principle of life.
This phenomena applies across many domains including productivity, happiness, business, health, etc. Here are a few examples:
20% of relationships lead to 80% of happiness.
20% of exercises lead to 80% of health benefit.
20% of items on your to do list lead to 80% of productivity.
You know me, the eternal skeptic, and maybe the percentage might be 18% or 25%? But I do get the overall idea. This model is much more complex and it can be applied to infinitely more, but this basic concept allows you to quickly acquire what counts. In our “fighting world,” just look at the UFC and see what is actually and consistently done, juxtaposed with the total martial arts systems, techniques and methods of the world and history. Who, what, where, when, how and why?
In the “fight world” competition fighters have a small collection of go-to signature moves (and strategies). Opponents study those moves by way of films, personal observations and interviews to win. But what of war and crime? You might say that militaries have overall, signature strategies. But what of defending yourself against criminals? Criminals and the classic bullies have no films to study on you, to prepare for your signature moves.
I am not talking about hobby sports and arts here. Just survival. I would venture to say that you need some personal signature moves that best suit you, compiled after you do an extensive study in the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions. This is why the cookie cutter, martial arts systems are not the best manufacturers of the survival, self defense product, and they can be very one-dimensional. Thai fight Thai. Boxers box. Wrestlers wrestle with no strikes. Etc. One dimensional, offering abstract skills to deal with the harsh, mixed-weapon chaos of the world. (I might add that I do not like the words “self defense” and “fight” or “fighting,” as they can be misleading and hackneyed when discussing survival. Still, I must use them for the lack of more succinct nouns.)
You know me, the eternal skeptic, and maybe the percentage might be 18% or 25%? But I do get the overall idea. This model is much more complex and it can be applied to infinitely more, but this basic concept allows you to quickly acquire what counts. In our “fighting world,” just look at the UFC and see what is actually and consistently done, juxtaposed with the total martial arts systems, techniques and methods of the world and history. Who, what, where, when, how and why?
I resolved this signature concept by insisting that people study to develop their signature moves for their size, shape, strength, age, coordination and predicable situations-and then later, non-predicable situations. It’s the biggest part of the “Who” question.
“Who are you…really!”
“Who do you think you will really be fighting?”
“Who are you legally, as in the eyes of the law? (Pee Wee Herman or Hulk Hogan?)” I frequently confess in seminars that “I can never tell you how to fight.” That is your job and the job of your local instructor, if he or she has sufficient “Martial IQ.” Not my job as a traveling seminar circus. I must shoot for concepts. You must experiment, pick and choose your so-called signatures. That is why in my hand, stick, knife and gun courses, I want to expose people to a college-like, experience-collection of many good things. Work on them, select wisely and collect what you want, need and can do. You cannot and should not embrace them all, because, here is where we get into the age-old debate of “too many techniques.” Too many techniques to choose from and therefore slows you down, it is claimed. I don’t think there is a universal “too many line” to draw because every person is genetically different. in terms of retention and education-ability. I have decided to create an exposure course (like college). You pick your majors and minors. You experience diversity and savvy. Study systems, but study systems to defeat them, not become them. I do think one might become “Martial Sick,” just adding and adding and adding until you vomit. There are indeed some things that are so smart, so simple and universal.
Some instructors will say “get 5 things.” “Come to my ‘5 Things’ school.” But then they one-dimensionally speak of only unarmed things. What of stick things, knife things, gun things? Five, then 5, and 5 and 5 more? What of standing through ground problems? That’s a matrix of mixed things! That’s a whole lot of simple things. I struggle with this numbers games by seeking the drill/exercises that are multi-purpose. Learn one movement, change the position and weapons. I must be ever vigilant in finding these short cuts for you. That’s my job. My mission.
In the end your signatures are also facing perishability. Will you do these things, say…for the rest of your life? Or, will these signature things slowly erode away. Perishability is another topic for another time, but will your signature become dim and unreadable. And in this vein, let me mention quickly that you need to review your signature moves every 5 or 6 years or so because as you age, you may not be able to execute them as well, or at all.
We fight criminals, enemy soldiers and our “drunk uncles.” I could go on with a lot of anecdotal stories, lessons and name-dropping here, but I think you get the point? Please take a deep dive in the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions. Exercise and experiment with unarmed and mixed weapons. Collect things for you, yourself. Improve your “Martial IQ” and your “Martial Savvy”with skepticism and awareness. Don’t get yourself, “Martial Sick.”
This is all about YOU. Not me. Not the perpetual-ization and worship of systems and their god-heads. YOU! Get some signature moves for situations.
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. 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.
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.
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.)
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)
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.
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.
(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.
Now more than ever I see in seminars (and some classes) this odd idea to make participants stand around and watch just two of the attendees fight in the drill. Then the next two. Then the next two. If you have 10, 15, 18 or more people that is a lot of stand around time, watching.
I was recently at a gun range where a terrific expert was running a class of about 22 on a topic. But when it came time to shoot, each shooter stepped up and…shot alone. One at a time. That means 21 students stood and watched as each person shot. Many other lanes were open. This is a magnificent waste of time. Your time.
This is not at all just with shooting courses. In the last ten or so years I have seen this new stagnant version, this “observational emphasis” in combatives classes. I am not talking about the demo part where attendees see an instructor’s demonstration-lecture. That is expected. But when its time to “do it” many “new” instructors have two people step up and “fight.” And everyone else just stands around…and spectates. And spectates. They are paying to…spectate!
I have been doing seminars worldwide for 25 years now and classes years before that, so you might listen to me on this point. I ask you, what is the seminar ratio of observing versus participating in your seminars (or classes)? Or the seminar and classes you pay good money to attend?
My point is not just about guns, but as an example, let’s say 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 one or two people can shoot at a time. Yet, there are numerous, other, open shooting lanes available. 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 (and money) 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, or should if they have any sense.
I understand that sometimes you might be forced into this, into “waiting for a turn.” Such as a session with shooting around cars. You might only have one car out at the range and have to rotate people through the access. And, there are occasional, firearm safety issues with various topics. Common sense things that shooters understand, like taking turns working through a shoot house. Or take a bunch of “NFGs” (New F___ Guys) in an intro machine gun class. You can’t turn them all loose! They need hands-on oversight. And anyway, NFGs are often amazed and entertained just watching people shoot fully auto. I am not talking about these limited resource situations.)
I have been in these limited resource situations numerous times especially with sims ammo courses and I apologize and regret over their lack of group participation and too much stand-around, in “observation-only.” I hate to see paying customers congregate and wait. However…but…being forced into this by circumstances and apologizing, is different than ignoring them or not allowing/planning for them.
That’s with guns. Why should “stand-around” time, work 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 format where you are standing around, watching half, three-quarters or most of the training time? Do you mindlessly accept this idleness? Have you even thought about how much of your hands-on experience time is being wasted?
This unhealthy, “observational movement” in martial seminars that I find to be off-mission, distasteful and wasteful – this observe, “stand around and watch.” Maybe 1 group of 2, or 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. Reps.
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 or more groups of two, one at a time, as they go through the drill. Everyone else watches. Does this pass the time? 20, 30, 40 minutes? An hour? Maybe the instructor pontificates a bit too. When instructors have only a little material in their repertoires, this kills a whole lot of teaching time. And it kills off the student’s participation/repetition time too. The clock keeps ticking.
There is always a warm-up concern too. Martial classes need a little warm up, stretching, etc. for a host of reasons, lest of all worrying about injuries. In an observational-emphasis format, the watchers cool down while watching-watching-watching and that could be for a considerable time, then they are suddenly picked to go into action. Some of these modern instructors think they are teaching the oh-so-real-deal, fighting too, (but often forgo realistic striking and kicking so they wind up, full-out wrestling). This cold-to-hot burst could cause injury.
These observe-emphasis instructors have some handy excuses for this observational-emphasis. They will claim that:
“It teaches people to be better witnesses to crimes.” THAT, is a real stretch. S..T..R..E..T..C..H excuse.
“Well, it adds stress to be watched, and this stress is good.” At what point in a training progression is stress really good? When you are first figuring-learning out how to do something? No, not really. And having 95% of the attendees standing around, 95% of the time is a big WASTE of THEIR time and money in comparison to physically doing it themselves.
“Time spent watching is learning too. “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 superior, having done something is superior, actually having 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 watching Monday’s game films, we hear from coaches vets and their experience. their wizened advice is worth something.) Watching/observing is very limited learning in the physicality world.
“Counters” to standing around. Having a good facility and some extra instructors is a great plan. For one example, years ago in Las Vegas, Steve Krystek of Progressive Force Conceptsand I concocted a great, simulated ammo gun, set-up. We had several rooms at the University of Las Vegas. We wanted to run a car-jacking scenario outside and a restaurant, robbery scenario inside. We would be running ONE PERSON at a time through each! But what to with the some 24 people/students not participating in the scenarios? Plus, we also wanted to surprise each practitioner with the scenario topics by just walking them into concealed locations. So, we ran an interactive, safe ammo, pistol class in one big room with the 20 some folks with an instructor, and pulled two people out of that room, one at a time, to go through the car and then robbery scenarios. When done, we swore them to secrecy and shoved them back in the big room with the 20, to work out some more with the large class, and picked two new people.
Recently inKarl Rehn’s, KR Training in Texas we were challenged with running a weekend seminar of “shooting in, out and around cars.” Karl invented some ingenious methods and car-like inventions to keep separate, small groups busy for the live-fire portions. Small groups at several stations means much less stand-around time. Then with very safe ammo, we had all the cars in play in two-person drills for everyone. No stand around time! No…idle thumbs up those external exits. Make the observe/participate ratios the best they can be.
In any seminar, I watch – as the teacher, I try and watch everyone as they work out.
“I show. You do. I watch. I correct when needed.”
That’s the relationship. I correct if possible. Watching…as the teacher-watching is important. I try and watch everyone as they work out. 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 to work out and experiment as much as possible in the confines of the material, raining time and location. I do not make everybody watch everybody else one at a time as a matter of time-wasting doctrine. This is a magnificent waste of time.
Numerous professional doctrines rail against the observation-emphasis. Alain Cain, old friend and Force Necessary Black Belt, retired British military war vet reported, “they had a lovely acronym in the British Army when I did my NCO course. ‘EDIP.’ It stood for explanation, demonstration, imitation, practice. The key point being as a military instructor, that at very least 50% of the lesson time had to be devoted to practice.” 50%…at very least.
What is the seminar ratio of observing/participating in your seminars? Or the ones you attend? I suggest you shave it to a minimum with inventiveness and ingenuity. Or shave off the instructors who do it mindlessly or on purpose.
Let’s keep these thumbs out of exits and keep everyone as busy as possible.
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.