- Checking the guy’s other hand, or maybe-
- Catching his stick, or maybe-
- Disarming with any of the 5 big disarms, or maybe-
- Going 2, 3 deep to finishing blows or kicks, or maybe-
- Any takedowns-throws, or maybe-
- A standing to ground capture or finish, or maybe-
- Etc., etc..
Fitness and Fighting and Fitness in Fighting Seminars
Fitness is always important and I use the phrase “Gas and Dynamite.” “Gas” for endurance, fighting for a longer lengths of time, and “dynamite,” how much explosive power do you have? Add too much adrenaline in the mix and that messes things up too. Lord knows the subjects are important. Sheer strength is important too, huh?
Percentage-Fighting – Percentage-Exercising? There are numerous martial classes and seminars “out there,” that spend various, sometimes copious amounts of class times just doing common exercises. I noted for one example, that the late 1990s rise of Krav Maga sure had a lot of physical fitness packed inside each class. In those Billy Blanks days, million-dollar, fitness-with-martial-arts videos were very popular and rapidly emulated by wanna-bes. Krav is so utterly diverse now, and nowadays from so many sources unknown, I don’t know what the many, many brands of Krav are doing in this percentage regard.
Remember Tae Bo? But even during the “I want to be the next Billy Blanks days,” so many tried for, I had a rule back when I ran regular weekly school classes (1989 to 1997) that people should try to show up for class in some shape. My mission statement was:
- I’m not here for you to lose weight.
- I’m not here for you to become fit.
- We will be covering fight material.
- You may inadvertently get better fit or might lose weight.
We had fight stuff to do. That meant most basic “gas and dynamite” fitness workouts should be done on their own, off-class time. Give them a gas and dynamite, work-out list. Send them to the internet now. I was not going to run a fitness class along with, within a fighting class. You were not paying me to count reps and me watch you do an assortment of fitness exercises. Our fight time was mission-oriented, precious. Where did I get this idea?
In the 1980s I attended the week-long, FBI Defensive Tactics school for policing. In short, about half of each day was stretching and doing fitness exercises. The tactics material? Minimal time. I was a young, work-out nut back then and I thought, “half of this was a waste of time.” Many of the other officers were in pretty good shape too, and already doing martial arts on the side. I decided that the fitness portion was just…”percentage fitness,” off-mission. This experience made me think about the percentage times. I have no idea what what the FBI is doing now or if they even still ramrod such courses for city, county, state police.
(By the way, I also attended a similar Secret Service program that bypassed all the fitness stuff. Their core system at the time was getting to the deep sides of, and-or behind the suspect. This was in the late 1980s and frankly folks, this looked a whole lot like what the “new kids” grappling proponents are doing today, the arm push, the arm drag or slip-unders, etc. to get to the rear, lest we think this positioning idea is such newborn genius. But I digress. More on that course in another essay.)
Too Much Strain? Through the years, with an eye and ear on police fitness and training, there were-are occasional, regular, exercise-related training deaths. Like SWAT school guys, forced to run excessively in a course, keeling over and dying, for example. Most SWAT guys are just patrol folks rarely called out and not like full-time, big city “SWATTERs” training like pro-football players every day. We’ve seen reports of out of shape, cops dropping dead in tactical classes or on the range. Some in shape, dropping too! Course operators, police or otherwise, must learn that you cannot overload attendees with their personal, lofty ideas of Delta-Force, SEAL fitness that show up for a few days or week-long course! Dear folks, do arrive in as best shape as possible!
When does a quick, 5% class warm-up become a 30% or 40% or more “Cross-Fit” workout? Martial classes are already “sweaty.” There is already a certain work-out, fitness element to doing fight material in a weekly class or seminar. Depending on the subject matter, they can be tough. It is functional and directly related to the physical movements, thus the term “functional.”
Pushing a wheel barrow with rocks in not mission-related, functional. I am acutely aware of a somewhat famous instructor who has seminar attendees spend a disproportionate amount of time pushing wheel barrows full of rocks up and down hills and other similarly torturous endeavors. The actual fight workout time was therefore shortened to less than half a day! And to make matters worse, he offers the same material up year after year after year. I am aware of attendees who won’t go back. Now without a doubt, the wheel barrow trudge is a helleva workout, like pulling or pushing cars, but what if a rookie, middle-aged person shows up, is shoved in front of wheel borrow of rocks and dispatched to the hill for 10 journeys up and down and…has a heart attack? Or dies? This is not like a ten-week, military course or lengthy academy where one builds up to a performance. This is a 2-3-4 day weekend!
I just run seminars now, no weekly classes since 1997, and I will not conduct pure exercise sessions within, because of the aforementioned experiences and problems, precious training time and potential low fitness levels of some attendees. My age range of attendees might be vast sometimes, 17 to…78! In an opening speech, I encourage attendees to “not-do,” and “sit-out,” when they see something they shouldn’t try. But…so…ask yourself, when does a quick, 5% class warm-up become a 30%, 40% or 50% Cross-Fit workout? Does your new customer know this when they get your first sales pitch?
If you sell your classes as part fitness and your customers know they will be extensively running laps, doing push-ups and so forth within, to get fit and in shape as a mission, then the instructors are on-mission with their sales pitch. Bravo. But you still must worry about the students…passing out or…or dropping dead! Some coaches advertise-offer a customized hybrid of fitness, nutrition and some MA for activity. For example how many people are so-called “boxing” as in hitting bags and mitts for weight-loss and fitness and will never, ever actually box another person!
Gas and dynamite. Gas up and keep the powder and fuses handy and dry. Endurance and explosiveness. I think fitness exercise basics should mostly be done elsewhere. Fight class time? Seminar class time? We have fighting to do. I only bring up this topic here, so that I might get you think about it. Who, what, where, when, how and why? The mission statement. The percentages of what equals what?
Hock’s email is Hock@SurvivalCentrix.com
In the big picture of fast and furious, speedy, adrenalized stick fight, where does the single stick disarm exist? How can it? Let’s take a look. An important way I think for starters, is to first examine the overall Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) subject of stick versus stick disarming. I identify really only FIVE stick vs. stick disarm categories…in the universe!
- 1-Impact Disarms (pretty self-explanatory).
- 2-Stick-side snakes (the stick and stick limb circles clockwise or counter-clockwise)
- 3-Support-side arm snakes, (empty hand limb snakes (circling clockwise or counter-clockwise)
- 4-Strip and keeps (because you caught and kept the stick, then push-pull it away from him)
- 5-Strip and sends (because you caught his weapon limb, and push-pulled the stick off-off-off)
- (Note: Collect disarms and stick them into categories for organization)
- (Note: Take note to see if instructors sneak a simulated, stunning blow in, as soon as possible within the disarm steps. Stunning really helps.)
- (Note: Some intermingling gets involved but usually the real core, successful move can be identified by the successful one. You’ll know it when you see it.)
Thus far for me, all the disarms in the universe, the galaxy (!) fit well into one of these 5 general categories above. Impacts and lots of circles and push-pulls, huh? Which is another way to help teach and summarize-explain the subject. List the raw movement concepts within the 5 disarm categories. Here are the three raw movements inside all the disarms categories.
- Disarm Raw Movement 1: Hits! Impacts (a hit to arm, the knee or head, torso, even a hard hit on a stick, can cause a drop),
- Disarm Raw Movement 2: Circles! (both arms clockwise and counter-clockwise circles)
- Disarm Raw Movement 3: Grabs, push-pulls and pulls-pushes. (Grabs on weapon, grabs on weapon-bearing limb)
I have had the opportunity to dissect and teach this list of 5 disarm categories (and their 3 movements within) around the world for years now and some, even semi-famous FMA instructors refused to believe this 5-list rendered, simplicity.
“How can it all be that simple? NO! It can’t be,” they sometimes say, “well then, what about this one?” they ask and show a disarm.
“Well that’s a strip and keep because you caught and keep this stick,” I would say.
“Well then, what about this one?” Demo…
“I would say, strip and send because shipped the stick away.”
And so on and so on, the challenges were fun to explore and always help me refine, refine, refine.
Five categories. Three raw ways to do them. Simple? Complicated? Traditional disarms are often taught and passed on in disorganized ways, usually created by artistic people with no scientific sense or teaching-organizational skills (like so many nutty katas, huh!). As a student in various FMA systems since the 1986, I have seen many of these disjointed disarm lists that miss the opportunity for smooth education, conformity and simple understanding.
For example, many disarms are glued to traditional angles of attack system. “Guro Jose” has 10 angles? And he demands – “Do this different disarm at each angle. And here they are. Memorize!” Many traditional disarms are passed along by doing…say…one mandatory disarm at their angle 5, (6, or whatever angle), when actually an angle 5 attack might be disarmed by 3 or 4 different ways. Best to pick a disarm category first and experiment doing it against all 10 angles. It will work sometimes and then not. One might call that process reverse engineering? This is a way to make your own list. Self-discovery experimentation is great, recognized, retention method.
Anyway, a search for easy, relatable explanations and mental retention must be conducted. But for many FMA systems and instructors, simplicity was-is not their mission, and after all, complexity is the fun – wow factor- cool goal. That fun, wow stuff, and-or then the regurgitation of their historic art is more important than say…the simple, sheer freedom to fix and improve things.
After the list of disarms with the 5 categories, understanding how they are executed with the 3 raw movements, it was time-saving and thorough for me to make the next list of counters to disarms. (For me, the counter study was really related to thwarting the 3 movements. What universal things could be done to counter them?)
- Any early-phase counters
- Any mid-phase counters
- Any late-phase counters
OKAY! Quick Disarm Tip: FMA stick is primarily a play within the Rectangle and-or “X’” box, and-or figure 8 circle, areas in front of your body betwixt the two opponents. Not as many training attacks come down from straight above, or up from low-low (there are a few more low than from straight down, still not enough). How did I determine this? Just examine your system and other system’s angles of attack drills to check this. One or maybe two angles of their 8, 10 or 12 angles comes straight down from above. The rest are side-to-side thrusts or slashes in that rectangle. In Guro Jose’s system, only one angle came down from above, the other 9 were other attacks. This means his system by innocent doctrine, de-emphasizes the common from 12 o’clock high, downward attack! One out of ten. On these high and low problems…
I spent a lot of time with one of Inosanto’s top 5 instructors – Terry Gibson of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who has since passed away. Seminars, hosting him, privates in the 80s and 90s. He is responsible for a very large chunk of my FMA training to name one of the Inosanto Family topics (forever grateful to him). He gave me several disarm tips worthy of passing along versus these occasional high-low, top and bottom stick attacks. Here’s one – move them to the sides:
“Hock, connect sticks high? Then force the contact DOWN to the left or right sides where there are more and easier disarms. Low? Connect sticks low? Then force the contact UP to the right or left sides where there are more and easier disarms.” (Okay! Did Moses bring that tip down on another tablet we didn’t see? It was very helpful, conceptually.)
Okay, back to making your own list and using it in sparring. Free and eclectic. You got your list! Next, can they be done fast? Under pressure? The subject of this essay! We can all do them slow, sure. But so, in the big picture of fast stick fighting-sparring, how does the proverbial stick disarm exist? Can it exist? I know a lot of veteran hardcore stick fighters and they say they hardly ever saw a semi-elaborate move. It seems that in a full-blown stick fight-sparring (but with protection-see below), all semi-elaborate moves and elaborate moves are very hard to do and hard even to see-find in usual stick sparring.
In the same way we only see…ohhh, what? Eight, ten basic, non-elaborate, fundamentals in UFC fights, over and over again, and nothing elaborate seems to manifest, because the elaborate is usually hard to insert in the world of full speed and adrenaline. (I might add the impact disarm is probably the most common?)
I have found that in order to fully understand the possibilities of disarming in full action mode, I had to cut stick fighting-sparring into two categories and understand “stun, no-stun.”
Stun, No-Stun? Protective gear or not, you can do a few more things, go a little deeper in moves, be a little more “semi-elaborate” when an opponent is stunned-wounded. (Some come to you diminished, are naturally slow, untrained, etc. like their stunned!) If very stunned? Then elaborate! Sooo, protection matters!
- Sparring Category 1: Helmeted, protective gear for sport-fun-hobby. Less stun possibilities.
- Sparring Category 2: “Street survival,” for lack of a better term. No protection! I mean, do you really think you’ll be on Johnson street, with your 28” stick and get into a fight, coincidentally with another guy with a 28” stick? The “street” reality of such a dual, 28” stick duel is mostly nonsense for most of us. Odds are in most countries, no. But remember, no helmets, no pads, more stun.
So, single-stick sparring within the Stun, No-Stun universe:
- Stick sparring WITH helmets and gear protect against such stunning diminishments, making disarms and elaborate moves a bit harder to pull off. Less stun factor. Which might explain why you don’t see many. I wouldn’t let this depress you or dismay you much, because it’s not fully a real-deal…
- Stick fighting WITHOUT helmets and gear allow for more serious injury and then that might allow for a bit more elaborate material. Of course you are crazy to train this way, full out, all the time. You and-or your brain won’t make it to 30, 35 or 40 years old? You’ll dribble when eating.
Stick sparring with sturdy helmets and protective gear frequently ends in grounded wrestling matches because of the protection and limited, reality stun factor. Much FMA stick-duel instruction is given under this art-sport umbrella. Stick sparring without any such gear at all frequently ends in an ambulance.
Disarms! Who or what, where, when, how and why…are you? These questions define your training mission, your end goal. They create the important nuances of doctrine (and disarming). I surmise that that many practitioners think about all or any bit of these points and just play around in the art for the wow, the fun, the hobby. Wow! Which is absolutely fine, I only ask folks…just…know what they are doing who, what, where, when, how and why.
Hock’s email is Hock@SurvivalCentrix.com
Notes on Paring Knives, Kitchen Knives for Knife Fighting?
This is my knife, there are many like it, but this one is mine.” – Paraphrasing the rifle creed of a Marine.
“This is my paring knife, I eat food with it in public, I claim to trick police and still kill criminals.” – the creed of tricky, niche knife instructors
To me, (and the law) generically speaking, a knife is a knife. Sure there are many different kinds of knives, some better at some things than others. But in a primitive level, a knife is a knife. So, when some folks pop up “on the competitive, martial market” advertising their niche wares, at times there are arguing that a smaller, paring/fruit knife is really good for knife fighting and for tricking the local gendarmes, my answer is “ahhh…well, yeah maybe, okay…”
I would never have excluded paring knives as a potential weapon. Of course not. Perhaps I have worked way too many police cases where kitchen knives, big and small, mostly bigger, have been used. Of course they can be weapons. Always have been. (One must recall that the size of a knife used when stabbing is a big forensic issue in deaths and aggravated assaults.)
There seems to be a little in-and-out (pun intended) fad/craze about using paring or fruit knives for fighting-killing criminals, instead of toting around bigger tactical knives or tactical folders, if even as some sort of a clever trick played on the local police. The trick you see…is to pocket carry the small, food knife, stabbed in a piece of fruit, all of which may or may not all be inside a plastic, zip-lock-like bag? This MUST be a James Bond trick! Huh? Toting an unsheathed paring knife around is one thing, sticking a pear in the pointy end, in your pocket is another thing.
Fruit Stuck on a Knife, In a Pocket? The hope is to attain some level of “plausible deniability,” which is rather self explanatory, and more of a government public relations expression than a legal definition. “I carry a knife to eat cut-able fruit for a quick snack, Mr. Patrolman.” This will not work for you in many anti-knife, countries, or many cities and-or states in the U.S.A..
You know the paring knife, those little kitchen knives just about everyone has and uses at home? The kind of knife here in the United States and many other countries, you can buy for about a d two or three dollars in the common, Dollar Stores, Walmart, or in every grocery store. One guy told me that when he lands from a plane ride into another state or country, he quickly runs to a cheapy store or supermarket right away, and buys a paring/fruit knife for self defense. No he is not “Gray man” or “Jason Bourne.” He sells car parts and just anticipates brutal attacks on every corner, or hotel room. Is that preparation a good idea? Too much? Too little? Whatever, although I don’t know how he’ll carry the raw blade around, but its good for the hotel room and…thereabouts. I don’t know. Why not?
And I do consider the classic these defense problems too, and at least in hotels, especially in the no-no, weapon-free states and countries I work in. I don’t exactly, often travel to the best and safest places all the time. I was in a motel in Africa one night, and the power went out, various people filled the streets outside and…well, that’s another long story…
But let’s take for a moment an official look at these paring knives. Professor Google defines one as, “… a small, short-bladed knife, used for intricate cutting, peeling, mincing and dicing. The blades are simple, sharp and precise. Length Range: From 3.5-4 inches, although some come in 2.5 inch ranges. Ideal for: Peeling and cutting small fruit and vegetables, even cracking nuts open.” Tons of them everywhere. They are pointy, sharp and cheap and you probably can get them anywhere.
Cheap knives. Expensive knives. Food prep knives. I saw a fixed-blade knife in a big knife show one weekend back in the 1990s. It was very cool and not officially assigned to kitchen duties, but for all around other knife-stuff on up to killing Nazis. It was about $175. Then that same day, my wife and I were in a kitchen store in an outlet shopping mall and they had kitchen knife sets for sale. From a short distance, I saw a set with similar designed wooden handles and blade “color.” I looked closer, I swear, I swear, the middle knife in the set of 8, looked EXACTLY like the $175 knife I saw earlier at the show. The whole kitchen knife set was like $19.99. Sure, probably the knives were made differently. But how much? (Great knives can be obtained, cheap at “Home Depots.”) Now…what does this mean? I don’t exactly know, but I must ask my standard who, what, where, when, how and why” questions:
- and “Why-knife?”
I ask you these same questions every time I start a knife session. While we spend a whole lot on special “fighting” knives, we need to mention it is long known, world-wide, in law enforcement circles that simple kitchen knives of all sizes are used a whole lot, oh like in 90% of all knife-crime attacks in the entire civilized world. The rest of the world? Good chance you are going to be attacked by a knife-like, handy “work-tool” they use in the jungle, woods, garages or farm fields, thereabouts. I have a friend who works security in Mexico who translated a famous, underground phrase into English for me –
“You will be killed by a 5 peso knife.”
And then of course, next there is the use of the “tactical knives” to take up the statistical slack. Small percentage left though, huh? In or out of the field, the military rarely uses a knife in combat, opting for guns and grenades, but rather they are used as a handy tool, and when it does, it won’t be a little kitchen knife. As the one and only wise, Paul Howe, retired Delta Force, war vet likes to say,
“I like my tools to be weapons, and my weapons to be tools,”
Knife Tool-Knife Weapon. Whether 5 pesos or $500, I am not a collector of knives, per say, so I do not collect them just for the sake of admiration and collection, if you know what I mean. And I mean to say that while I really do like the looks of some knives, but to me, they are just tools. I don’t collect pairs of pliers, screwdrivers or hammers either.
Do you see what I mean? That is how boring I am. Simple tools. Use-able. I understand that some people really do love collecting knives. Fine with me. Have fun with it, I say. If you want to spend $1,000 and get a super-duper, steel blade that will stab-penetrate an Army tank? Go for it. If you’re happy? I’m happy. I’d like to look at them too. Hold them for a few seconds and flip them in my hand. “Size” them up, and so forth. But, I’m just not going to buy it. Buy it and then…what? Stick it in a drawer with so many others, Somewhere in my house, waiting for the next tank war?
Instead, I suffer horribly from, my malady is, the collection of simple knife TACTICS. Knife moves. Knife movements, Knife techniques. Knife situations. Knife law. Not the collections of knives.
Kitchen versus tactical. Knives and Names. Worry about the name of your knife and the name of your knife course. Most of you already also know how I feel about carrying knives called like, Close Quarter Combat 7 or, SEAL Team, Throat-slitter 6, or studying knife courses with crazy names. (Remember the more macho you really are deep down? The least you need to flaunt it.) Its all fun and games with macho, militant knives until you actually use your “Klingon CQC De-Bowelizer” in a fight. Or, you have graduated from knife courses with violent names similar to “Beserker,” or “Destructo.” What about that “Prison-Stick em” course offered with special “prison-stick em’ knives? Or, do you like to proclaim yourself some sort of a “bastard child” of some international, “knife mafia.”
Police and prosecutors will, we/they will take a hard look at this and add tour fetishes to the demise of your freedom, or life even. Trust me on this. I have worked these cases. How extreme can this be? I recently saw a webpage banner of one of these out-lander, knife “families” and one wrote a little ditty ON THE TOP BANNER about “cutting someone balls off and sticking them in the newly-knife-emptied eye sockets.” YOU…are a sick fuck. YOU…are why the rest of us carry knives and guns.
The name of your knife and the name of your knife course, like your comments on social media, whack-job tattoos, etc. works against you. If you think you are defending yourself with some macho, knife cult course, how well will you defend yourself AFTER you stab the crap out of someone, with all this mess in your background? (After this essay was first published in 2016, this idiot, or after the idiot group leader’s mandate, this sick idiot took that banner down.)
Back to he pocket-carry, fruit knife. Can you walk around with a paring knife and be safe from police scrutiny and keep safe from self-inflecting wounds? Yes, and you could of course, carry your sheath-less paring knife inside your pocket, for one cool example – with a little clever Origami (folded paper ala Japan) sheath. (See video link below.) It won’t be a sheath-sheath, but you won’t sit down, say, and stab or cut your thigh. Will the knife come out freely from the paper sheath or require two hands to clear the knife in your desperate quick draw?
Will this world of crime-war-law treat you better if you have a cute little, paring knife and not a commando hatchet “in your pocket?” In the real world, a paring/fruit knife is still but a knife. Whatever knife, in the end, a knife is a knife. To a cop who pats you down, a knife is a knife. We all already know about the record high use of kitchen knives.
I am also told the fruit/knife/bag idea was originated some by other people years and years ago. I also heard this idea years ago with walnuts. Stick the small knife tip inside a walnut and have it and some of these nuts loose in your pocket. A walnut is smaller than an apple!
“Oh noooo, London officer, or Sydney officer, (______ insert city officer) I just like nuts and use this illegal knife to crack them open.”
The nut rig might be better in a little paper sack with some other nuts awaiting shell dismemberment? Or maybe better – a metal lunch box? Then you get to look like Charlie Brown walking to school all the time. (Again, where are you walking to and from?)
Using that wet, fruit pocket carry for “plausible deniability?” You know, I just don’t think so. Maybe in some way, rural area of Mexico? Or a picnic area on the coast of Greece? I think these fruit and nut knifers are really S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G this bag, pocket method of carry in a desperate ploy to sound all insider-innovative. To me? Not so much. Being a cop and being around cops for most of my adult life – a cop sees a knife. A knife is a knife. What happens next will all fall into local length laws, knife laws, personalities and the situation, etc.
So your knife has a piece of fruit in the end, maybe in a bag? Anyway, can you:
- wear baggy enough pants for all this?
- stab a guy with such a short knife with its tip already in fruit? When “God made his little green apples,” some of those apples are hard. Better pick a really soft, more squishy-collapsible peach then. Think about that.
- stab, with knife in fruit, all while inside a zip-lock-like bag, you holding the handle outside of the bag? As some “experts” actually suggest? Think about this people! And let’s remember the lesser penetrations and lesser success in using really small, naked, knives, lest of all, ones laden with fruit on the end, lest of all, all of this inside a bag.
- also, plastic bags reduce some slashing effectiveness and knives with stuck fruits severely limit the already limited slashing surfaces and effects.
This fruit-bag trick will probably not fool anyone unless the police deem the carrier is like a certified Forest Gump type. Or maybe the investigating authorities are dimwits? The situation will rule out.
If this paring, fruit knife…is “legal” in size and so forth, you don’t really need the fruit or nut excuse, the plastic bag excuse, or the “hungry-later” excuse. Fruit -on-knife fighting. Review the pros and cons for yourself, and don’t become an ex-con by misconstruing knives and the law. There are many different knives. Which one is yours?
Hock’s email is Hock@SurvivalCentrix.com
Okay folks. Bare with me. I have a few martial ranks through the years, (like a FMA, guro BB test in Manila). So, this is a joke but not a joke. I have a joke-meme I’ve passed around for years with two loaves of cut-open bread, a “white bread-brown bread” meme.
The idea is that “Joe Jones,” white boys will hardly ever achieve respected status in FMA. (I know a RARE few are, yes, yes, but most people look to and seek, foreign sources, certainly Filipino in FMA, but often settle for any American in the states with a “Spanish sounding” name. Or at least foreign sounding name. Exotic. Same is true for the rest of the planet. Think about it. Make a list and really think about it.
“The ‘hierba’ (grass) is always greener….”
And bland, white, Joe-Jones-Gringos (like me) take a back seat. This is not new, it’s a martial arts “universal.” Who wants to learn BJJ from a white boy from Finland? NO! Brazil! Or at least have a cool Hispanic or foreign surname! I’ll fall for that!
Eventually you will have to settle for a …”Gaijin” in your neighborhood. He or she may be fantastic, just not as well known, (and will remain unknown, which is actually the whole point of this essay).
All this is just the subliminal (and overt) marketing of life and what we seek out, like Chinese food, or Italian pizza and who makes makes the best cars? Germans or Japanese? Are ex-cons the best street fighters? Do the Israelis have the best military fighting system? Is Silicon valley the best source for all things tek? Why pick the Marines over the Army? People should recognize natural and man-made…”lures.” Who has the “best” story for what? And why? What then, catches our fancy? What do we gravitate to?
In fact, when I think about it, I have felt like a white boy (and-or wrong religion) outsider in most martial arts I’ve ever down, with all the real leaders always from elsewhere, Japan, Philippines, Indo, Russia, Israel, China, the sewers of Spain (gag)…the popular systems and arts are always from elsewhere. And me? Always the…gringo. This though I expected, it’s just an observation on martial life.
Anyway, there were numerous viewers of that “bread” meme on various pages, some very smart and substantial folks, and they laughed and liked it when I half-joked that I might therefore just call myself “El Gringo,” as part of an FMA business nickname, (I still teach FMA here and there around the world along with mostly combatives.) Just a fun, name-game and partly a bit of satire on all those grand, tuhon-guro-supremo-GM master titles that keep inching up like bamboo. For 26 years now, I just tell everyone I teach to call me “Hock” and remain on an equal, friendly footing as I believe system-head-worship is confining and not good for evolution. Bad for some of my business, but good for your evolution and freedom.
Some attendees-students still insist on titling me. It’s a tradition, you know. If you must call me something? Truth is, I’m just a gringo, a white boy, outsider from Texas who knows a few tricks of the trade. Tongue in cheek? A satire on the name-game? For FMA…call me…”EL GRINGO!”
“Out of the night, when the full moon is bright, comes the stickman known as Gringo. This bold renegade carves a “G” with his blade, a “G” that stands for Gringo.”
(Sung to the Zorro TV theme with apologies thereto. I realize the great young, unwashed has never heard the Zorro theme song. Never saw the old show. Too bad. Then feast! Feast on this video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQnle_3KuOE
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
A Bigger Picture. In the martial arts world, stick fighting is most closely associated with the Filipino Martial Arts (FMA). A huge chunk of many FMA systems is indeed about the stick-versus-stick duel and closer-in stick versus stick events.
(Using a stick as an easy and fast target, as with developing the smart fanning strike shown here, is not necessarily learning how to stick duel.)
The stick versus stick dueling battle is really a pretty rough game of checkers if done right. Next inward, getting in closer is often called by many, loosely “stick trapping.” Many FMA-ers have turned this closer-in range, this “stick trapping,” into a complicated, chess match with copious options to train…forever. Many FMA-ers obsess about this closer-in, back and forth above other vital skills. To me, it’s simple math turned into unnecessary calculus. (I remind all here that I have been “doing” FMA since 1986 and I know a bit whereof I speak.)
Is this calculus necessary in the real world?
First with dueling. No. Almost all of us are highly unlikely to get into the proverbial 28” stick versus (coincidentally?) another 28” stick fight in a real world, dueling “street fight.” A study of the stick in common self defense should not be centered around mirror-image, stick-versus-stick material. Second with stick trapping? No. Not this much. Obsessing with stick dueling and stick trapping should be relegated more into a category of (fun) art, sport, hobby or exercise, with only abstract benefits to self defense.
Through my decades of policing, training, cases and rather obsessive research, I have personally run across a few impact weapon “duel-related” battles like drunken, softball bat fights at tournaments, or crowbar versus tire iron fights. Things like that. Still, they are rare in comparison to the messy, mixed weapon world that actually exists in crime and war. While dueling helps various attributes, there are indeed smarter things to do, to prep for a fight in crime and war. When you remove stick-versus-stick dueling and the calculus of stick trapping from FMA systems, there is so much less to worry about and train for. It’s vital to some extent in FMA, but even in FMA, there is always other stick things to work on like stick-versus hand, stick-versus-knife, even stick-versus-various, gun threats.
I am asked to teach FMA and I do so with a great big smile as it is one of my fun interests, but I always make this quick “really?” lecture. As readers know by now, I preach the “hand, stick, knife, gun, mixed weapon, matrix.” And while my Force Necessary: Stick course must touch a bit on the impact weapon duel because it has and can happen in, I in no way emphasize it. And a great many folks emphasizing self defense and combatives agree with me on this.
Watch out! These “reality” people are “window-peepers, peeping in your windows, watching you on Youtube.” quick to judge what you are doing and pigeon-hole you as artsy and off-mission for reality. Which leads me to the quandary. For self defense combatives, can you train stick versus stick?
Yes. Some. It seems so, and not just for the rare event when dueling might happen. For the so-called, reality based training, the trainer and trainee, the work-out partners should still both often hold sticks sometimes. Sometimes? In stick training, it is much easier and faster for both partners to hold sticks for various goals. Ease, target practice and stick blocking to name three.
- Ease – You do it. Partner does it. You do it. Partner does it, whatever you are working on. This probably is best done when the attack is with any weapon, could be a stick or a knife, or many empty hand attacks. Just be aware of the purpose of the exercise. Easier and faster with both holding sticks. Both are holding sticks. It looks like stick versus stick training.
- Target practice – As displayed in the photo above and below, often stick strike training is best done by hitting another stick. You can use a kicking shield, yes, but it might be faster and easier switching sides by both partners using sticks. And you can hit his stick hard. Again, both are holding sticks. It looks like stick versus stick training.
- Blocking practice. Learn to block just about ANYTHING coming in with great force, the force that a stick can produce.
(Target practice! And you can hit hard. He can learn to block well too.)
So even if you are a self defense, combatives person you might find yourself looking like an FMA-er and appear to be doing “too much stick versus stick” to short-term window peepers. But dueling is not your real, end mission.
In summary, a few quandary warnings to think about…
- Will reality-based “window peepers” blasphemy you as artsy? (Hey, I know I will hear from many of you that you don’t care what others think. But, I am “just sayin”…)
- Is a “reality” person getting too use to subliminally seeing too many stick attacks? Remember to replace that stick with a knife. A lot. (It’s still FMA to go stick versus knife!)
- Use the other guy’s stick for safe, quick target practice.
- Once in a while, worry about impact weapon dueling in combatives.
- Be “on-mission” in practice and doctrine. Doing FMA? Do FMA. Doing generic combatives? Do that.
The self defense, Force Necessary: Stick matrix…
- Stick versus Hand.
- Stick versus Stick (not too much).
- Stick versus Knife.
- Stick versus some Gun Threats
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.
In 1986, I became fascinated by the Bruce Lee’s essay on “the stance of no stance,” idea. Whether hand, stick, knife or gun, I opted for the loose “ready stance,” and the “balance and power in motion” concept, a motion-picture-idea rather than a still-photo-idea.
Thanks to Bruce Lee, the Inosanto Family (and Ed Parker) when teaching since the late 1980s, I organized and demonstrated the Ten Probable Position-Problems to prepare people for the full spectrum of mixed weapon fighting possibilities. I was a cop then and we had to fight on the ground periodically, so even before the BJJ madness-fad, many of us trained in a diverse Police Judo, later re-named Police Defensive Tactics (both very incomplete). And, I was deeply involved with the Inosanto Family and they were deeply involved in “shooto” – “shoot wrestling.”
One might say there are three generics in “street fighting-survival” challenges. 1) standing, 2) kneeling-seated, 3) floor-ground. But inside each there are differing heights and needs, making up the ten. For me a system-art that spends too much time in one of the categories is forgetting the importance of the others. In any fight you may well transition through some of these ten. Investigate them through the Ws and H Questions, the who, what, where, when, how and why questions to best explore combatives. One such “Where” question is…”Where are you?” Standing? Kneeling? Seated? Floored-grounded?
- Problem 1a: Unready Standing unprepared – the “stupid bus top.” This is a concept I learned from Ed Parker Kenpo karate in 1973. You are standing normally (like waiting for a bus). You are probably zoned out and unprepared.
- Problem 1b: Ready Standing Ambush – the “prepared bus stop.” You are prepared but don’t look so to an opponent. (Think sucker punch approach, concept.)
- Problem 2: Ready Standing – “Weapon” Forward or as in a right side lead. (Weapon as in hand, stick, knife, gun.)
- Problem 3: Ready Standing – “Weapon” Neutral or as in hands-torso showing no lead. (Weapon as in hand, stick, knife, gun.)
- Problem 4: Ready Standing – “Weapon” Forward or as in a left side lead. (Weapon as in hand, stick, knife, gun.)
- Problem 5: Knee Height (or seated,) versus Standing.
- Problem 6: Knee Height (or seated,) versus Knee-high or Seated.
- Problem 7: Knee Height versus Someone Below You. This is the top-side of a floor-ground fight. (Might be two knees down, right knee up or left knee up.)
- Problem 8: Floored-grounded On Back. This means fighting standing, kneeling and grounded enemies. Full spectrum, head to toe (think north-south-east-west).
- Problem 9: Floored-grounded on Right Side. Usually this means fighting enemies that are knee-high or grounded too. Full spectrum, head to toe (think north-south-east-west).
- Problem 10: Floored-grounded on Left Side. Usually this means fighting enemies that are knee-high or grounded too. Full spectrum, head to toe (think north-south-east-west).
YOU WILL BE FIGHTING “HERE”… In many a fight, certainly an ambush, you might never get a chance to strike up a defined “stance.” Still, this study reminds everyone that fighting includes all these up-and-down height categories and they should not be ignored or forgotten.
EVERYTHING you learn, must be experimented through these 10 position (stance) problems. Every strike, kick, lock, etc…can you do it there? Can it work here? There? Up and down? Yes or no? This is the goal of the seamless survival fighter. You fight where you fight, where you are. A true fighter-survivor, so-called “combatives” person, fights standing, kneeling-seated and on the floor-ground, in and out of buildings, in rural, suburban and urban areas. Dissect, identify and discard sports and artsy cancers. A combatives fighting system is about doctrine-doctrine-doctrine, the training skeleton which recognizes chaos, crime and war and best prepares people to respond.
I ask again, “Where are you?”
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary,com
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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.)
Get a damn handle on your handles!
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
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- perishable skills (half-life of less than two and a half years),
- semi-durable skills (half-life of two and a half to seven and a half years), and…
- durable skills (half-life of more than seven and a half years).
How were these timetables developed? By whom? For whom? But, organizations have to start somewhere and justify their timetables. We were once inundated with the “10,000 hour to expertise” training-experience rule and this idea was most recently promulgated by Gladwell’s “Outliers” book, but then we quickly learned from about a ton of experts that everyone is different and “hours-to-expertise” differ greatly, person-to-person. Just look this subject up on the web. (And quit quoting the 10,000 hours rule, people!) I too would like to suggest that such time limits are arbitrary and discretionary because all people are different. This established, we might therefore, logically think that “hours-to-perish” is also different too for different people. Everybody is different on both the up and down sides.
Hock’s email is HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com