Decades ago, I was working out with karate expert friend, and I grabbed his arms. He’d never been grabbed like this, and he had the epiphany-realization in that moment he needed grappling. But he then started years of Judo. But, this was yet another sport-art. They are both sports-arts. Combining them is still two isolated segments of sports-arts, each deficient in their own categories. Adding and doubling, tripling up on more sport-arts atop each other is not going to best solve the survival problem. It complicates it. It distracts it. It needs blending, not adding.
I see a lot of Mixed Martial Arts being taught and spread. This morning I saw a school advertisement for a “Boxing and Ground fighting” school. Their attached photos show official sport “boxing” and official sport Brazilian wrestling. I get the idea that the advertisers, as well as the customers must think…
“Wow! That’s so complete. I’m getting both.” “Ready to be attacked by any and all!”
Combatives is supposed to be above all this isolation. But, once you accept the combatives mission-mindset you are faced with the next problem. Collecting and cleaning up the material, material that mostly comes from sport-arts! And you must possess the “martial IQ” to evaluate the material. This process is not as easy as it sounds. It needs blending, not adding.
Try if you must, there is still much sport leakage around. Even in some Krav Magas – present supposedly as a final cure for sport leakage, but I still see…sport leakage, naively, accidentally falling back too far into sport-art. Instructors are often brainwashed from their old art-sport systems. They still think and solve within their brainwashing when there might be a better, faster, unbiased way. Hey, I still find more of this cleansing about every week – “Why am I doing this when I should be doing that.” The process never ends.
Some things the “Ws and H Questions” for you to ask and answer…
* WHO are you? * WHO is the instructor? * WHO do you want to become? * WHAT are you seeking exactly? Precisely? * WHAT – is there a better, faster way? * WHERE do you go to seek your result? * WHEN have you really found the “it?” * HOW will you find “it?” How do you or he dissect “it?” * WHY are you motivated to try?
“Learning different martial arts is pretty much useless in modern MMA. It is now its own sport and anyone interested in learning MMA would be much better served to join an actual MMA gym. Learning separate martial arts before starting MMA would be, quite frankly, a waste of time.” – Sprawl CO.
Modern MMA as we see in the UFC etc, is the closest art-sport you will get to reality. But you still need to add weapons, cheating, delete safety rules and weight classes and worry about trying all the moves of these full time, young professional fighters. I’ll bet you are not a full-timer, young professional fighter-athlete – 99.99999% of us are not – so you probably can’t and shouldn’t try to do what they do.
(And of course people have hobbies and they want to pursue their hobbies for a variety of reasons. They should answer those questions, know what they want to do and its limitations. I just ask, do they know what they are doing? If so? Hobby, hobby, hobby on and be happy!)
Boys and girls! Another episode in the thrilling days of yesteryear Texas Policing….
When I walked onto the Criminal Investigation Division floor to start my evening shift, I could tell something was “up.” The day shift guys were scrambling to get their tactical vests and assorted personal gear and standard-issue, shotguns.
“Hock!” said one, “Hurry up here!” and they directed me up to the third floor meeting room, which was a large room constructed like a small theater.
“We will hit this house….” …and the briefing went on, conducted by a new sergeant who also was a traffic cop at heart promoted to detective sergeant in the foolish card shuffle I call the “admin police fandango.” I’ll just call him here, “Sgt Larry.”
Down in our city’s projects, in an old, two-story wooden, house bound for demolition, a local crack/cocaine dealer, ex-con named Willy Vics was running a dope house. It was a magnet for bad guys and hookers from the region. Our narc guys had a freshly signed warrant in their hands, growing stale by the minute.
“David, Benny, Jeff…you three will enter here and will move upstairs…Tony…you…” and Sgt Larry laid out the plans. There was a somewhat discreet effort to rest the SWAT team a bit in those days. Recently, a certain team had set a house on fire with a flash-bang that – once shot through a window, ignited a curtain, and the ENTIRE house burned down. And, well, there was a movement, you might call it, to tone down militant appearances. Some line operators finally started asking the question, “Do we really need SWAT to do this?”
At some point, someone in the fandango decided regular detectives should do this one, not our SWAT team. This was reminiscent, pre Sgt. Larry and of the pre-SWAT days. We detectives were once the “SWAT team.”
So, his chalkboard was filling up with tactical brilliance. White arrows were laid down aggressively, but there was a bit of a problem manifesting. Call it – “the back.”
You see, the back of the house emptied out to a big yard beside a side street and connected to a neighborhood of other yards. On the board, the arrows ran out of people to cover the escape routes! I would say there were at last six detectives assigned these arrows. Sgt, Larry looked up at newly arrived me, gearless at this point and still in the required suit and tie-
“…and Hock…you take the back.”
Huh? Famous last words. Okay. Me The back. Take it. Pretty big back “take” though. A few of us had run dozens of these deals through the years and we all had “taken the back,” at one point or another. Still, this was a pretty big “back.” Nothing new here, though. Most of the time, the suspect, and or suspects, upon hearing officers at the front door, would then peek outside a rear window, see a troop standing guard back there, and often surrender. Usually. Some hide in the house. We still had had to chase a few. I would often put something across the back door causing a fleeing felons to trip. There’s a few tricks there I won’t reveal. I witnessed one investigator throw a brick and hit a fleeing suspect in the head. Took him right down. He couldn’t shoot him! So he bricked him.
Within a few minutes, everyone hit the streets in their unmarked cars. I threw on my body armor and raid jacket and left the shotgun in my car (too cumbersome in close quarters for me on most deals of this nature). The plan was to give me a minute to park down the street just a bit and trot up to the yard. This was a corner house. Then =once I was ensconced, several cars would skid up to the house front, men bail out, destroy the door, and rush in.
I barely had time to jump the very tall, pre-demolition, chain link fence, when I heard the sound of skidding tires and men yelling out front. The usual soundtrack. It is always tricky to exactly coordinate these things.
There were about six back windows and a back door. The first floor extended out beneath the second story. This extension made for a sloping, large ledge under the upstairs windows. I tell you this now because in an instant, every hole in the back of this building had people pouring out of it, out the first floor door and windows as folks leapt, hung and dropped from the ledge to escape. And here they came!
“Halt! Police! Stop!” I yelled from the middle of the yard, my .45 drawn. HA! I recall at least 10 unarmed people ran by me as though I was not there. Fat hookers, skinny dopers, teens and old fogies. You name it. If I had actually started shooting at them? Well hell, I’d be writing this from the penitentiary right now.
BUT! One of the escapees was Willy Vic himself! He ignored me, too, so I figured since he was the subject of the entire raid, I would chase him. The sprint was on. Willy had to vault a fence, and I was counting on that slowing him down. I holstered my weapon. I couldn’t shoot anyone here anyway.
He jumped on the fence and starting climbing, and I reached up and grabbed him. He clung like bat on the chain link. I reached around, cussed and slapped his face a few times. Hammer-fisted his hands, loosening his grip. He dropped back into the yard.
Thereupon came the scuffle. Willy landed on his back and my mission was to get him cuffed, which he didn’t want either. He still had “rabbit in him” (which was Texican lawman talk for he was a runner).
He was a big guy, but in his mid-50s and these guys are still dangerous when excited, plus I was rather surrounded by his escaping customers and his gang who could double and even triple the odds in Willy’s favor. Ever try to fight a mean, angry, fat hooker while trying to handcuff someone else?
Meanwhile, the “team” was cautiously SWAT-tip-toeing through the house as though terrorists with sub-guns and bombs were behind every corner. I could hear them yelling, “Clear! Clear!” as they secured every empty room and closet in the 2 story house.
One thing was very “clear” to me, I was all alone in the yard, fighting a guy right beside all his buddies, who I hoped were all busy trying to escape. I had to toss a few snappy body punches into Willy, all the while yelling for him to give up. He quickly ran out of gas, and I muscled him into cuffs. His passing help? There was no loyalty among these thieves, and all the escapees got over the fences and were log-gone daddies. Some climbs I saw were comical. I stood alone with the drug dealer, and I was, all at once, a failure and a success in my mind.
I pulled the portable radio out of my back pocket and called Sgt. Larry. I reported that I had caught Willy Vics in the backyard. I hooked his arm, lifted him, and walked him through the house to the front porch where the dopers who were caught in the front rooms were cuffed and sitting on the steps. It made for great front page, local, newspaper photo of about six guys, now Willy among them, cuffed and sitting dejected on the front porch steps and about six of our guys in raid jackets and shotguns towering over them. What a picture. What a photo op!
I stood off from the victory photo-shoot and was a bit disappointed in myself because I had let about, oh, 11 people get away. I was about 29 or 30 years old then and had very high expectations for myself. Hell man! “One riot? One Ranger!” Audie Murphy and Sgt. York took hundreds of prisoners. I couldn’t stop ten dopers and four fat hookers?
But, it all became quickly apparent that, in the end, I had caught the big fish they were after, and there was a tactical mishap in planning. Being me alone…”taking the back” – you know, the place where everyone seems to go when the front gets raided?
This mishap became an “inside joke” with the troops for awhile. For the next year or two there was running joke with CID that anytime we would plan anything, (even a football party), it would finish with, “…and Hock, you take the back!”
Sgt. Larry really was a traffic cop at heart and no Kojack. (This is a common problem in policing, promoting football players into basketball games and vice versa. He returned to that position after much negative ado.) If he heard the rib, he took it with good nature. I guess?
There was an old 1960s comedy bit done by the now disgraced Bill Cosby about the Lone Ranger and Tonto. (I once loved Bill Cosby.) The Lone Ranger would say, “We’ve got to go to town and find out what the gang is doing,” meaning that actually Tonto himself, – alone, – would have to go to town. Whereupon he would routinely have the snot beaten out of him. Bill Cosby said he and his young pals would scream at the TV set,
“Don’t do it, Tonto! They’ll beat the snot out of you!”
Cosby suggested Tonto say instead, “Who’s ‘we,’ Kemosabe?” Which for a while back then, that line become a bit of a cultural, well know joke. You might still hear it a bit now.
But that one day? I was Tonto out back for sure. And Kemosabe was nowhere to be found.
Your “table setting” and “know your table” have big meanings, in the self defense shooting world. Ever shoot from a chair, behind a table at the live fire range? Not often I’ll bet. When done, the seated, range training set up, the “table is set” this way – it takes-makes the assumption that you are the “Lone Ranger,” seated alone, shooting an unidentifiable, abstract somebody (the paper target imagined threat) always shooting straight forward from your seat.
I still some see gun courses on film and in photos with people sitting at tables and drawing and shooting while seated, (even reloading there in the chair! And at times doing really awkward 360 checks while seated.) Or shooters fully stand up exposing most of their bodies. Does the table ever get flipped over in this ‘Lone Ranger’ model? Think about all the calibers out there and the fickle deflection angles and how some flipped tables might help.
But this essay is not just about flipping tables. Sometimes you can’t, but rather about all the probable table situations and responses. “Know your table and the table-setting” shooting training via the “Who, what, where, when, how and why” question checklist.
The WHO questions. Who are you? Who else if any is at the table? Nearby tables? Who is the enemy?
The WHAT questions? What is going on? Robbery? Domestic? Crazy guy? What kind of table? May it offer you some level of protection, even concealment. Shape? Heavy? Metal? Plastic? What’s on it? What kind of gun does the enemy have? What kind of chair are you in?
The WHERE questions? Where is this happening? A home, restaurant, conference, meeting? Gun show? Trade-days? Thanksgiving dinner (don’t laugh!) Where exactly is this armed enemy? Where do you carry your pistol? In a booth – probably some 50% of the time you are in a booth not a table. Where is this table anyway? The table? Where are you seated? Is there space to do this between the table and the wall?
The WHEN questions. When exactly should you shoot in this situation? Or not shoot at all? Flip a table? Stand up? Dive? Finish dessert?
The HOW questions. How do you react? How close are you seated to the table for your draw? Will the chair move easily on the carpet? Maybe flip this table? How do you shoot around it? Will the table completely turn over? How often are you seated alone to flip a table over?
The WHY questions. Why did you go there? Why are you still there. Why are you still seated? Why reload while seated? Why stay seated?
Continue asking and exploring and answer these “Ws and H” quesions.
Set the real table with questions and answers. Hopefully in these live fire range classes, these samples of the “Ws and H” Questions checklist was-is mentioned in the opening lecture to introduce and remind the bigger problems of the table-setting shooting?
I do wonder, do the table-chair courses ever finish the live fire range segment with any of the best training experiences? Doing the simulated ammo situations with actors (just other attendees) in common makeshift table settings. (Sim-ammo is all I do.) Real, vital “shoot-don’t-shoot” decision making, interactive experiences.
Yes, you must shoot some live fire from the chair and table a bit. Yes. And then hopefully, in this ‘Lone Ranger’ range set-up, practitioners might practice a segment of oh…flipping tables over and shooting too, and also worrying about where Tonto is, and work on all the other probable things in simulated ammo situations, rather than completely ignore all the training of many other chair-table probabilities.
How do you set the table for table-related gunfights?
A DEEP HIP STYLE ROLLOVER THROW (Or a standing “Fat Man’s Roll?) This application of an “arm” takedown I have done once in police work in a domestic disturbance. While sorting things out in a house, a man charged me from the rear, having escaped the verbal control of another officer nearby. I heard the officer yell “Stop!” Before he could wrap my torso with two arms (to do what, did he know?) I was able to react.
This reactive move is found a few places but was based for me from high school wrestling from back in the 1960s! (Back then was only some 10 years earlier.) In such wrestling, there are “neutral starting’”positions and “referee positions.” One of the common “referee position’ starting points inside a match was one person was down on their knees, the other atop and somewhat beside him with one arm wrapped around the bottom guy’s torso (rules can differ). No clasping “bear hug” allowed yet at this point. This is not a collegate wrestling course so we will leave it at that.
One of the series of moves we practiced back then was the bottom guy grabbed that wrapped arm and rolled him over. When just freestyle practicing, this also happened when the bottom guy partial stood up at times. I frequently did and saw this work. This complete standing version starts looking a bit like like a classic hip throw, at least in part. Anyway from high school I still had this move, this concept embedded in me.
I remember that the guy rushed me to the point that I might fall over forward anyway. I tried to turn and then this old move from inside me busted out. Stepped back, dropped and rolled. His feet smashed into furniture. We arrested this man and the jailer told me the next day that the man begged for aspirin from a bad headache all night long. I think he hit his head on the floor, possible like in these photos.
Note in photo 1 the one arm grab.
Note in photo 2 the arm blocking his second arm from coming in and clasping me.
Solid grab on his arm in photo 3, which includes capturing his elbow.
Note in photo 5 the man landing on his head (in a perfect world).
Note small photo 6…keep rolling! As you roll over him to get up, an elbow strike oportunity might arise.
I am a proponent of the “double the force” concept – a late phase counter when being taken down. Can you grab the attacker, hang on, join with and add to the force of falling maybe with a turn? Putting him at a disadvantage 1) upon, during impact, or 2) after impact? Sometimes. Yes.
If you are going to practice it, try it a few times about knee high like some Judo (this known as Soto-makikomi) and wrestling does. Watch out for your partner’s head! Don’t forget to hit him at every opportunity, which Judo, BJJ and wrestling does not.
(I only did this one “for real,” one time in my whole life, but I ain’t dead yet.)
My first Guro Dan Inosanto seminar was in 1986 and he told a story about his high school football team. (I forget the pro players he mentioned). He said that he was a running back and kept crashing into the defense. The coach asked him why did he run the ball that way? Inosanto replied,
“I want to be like my hero ‘Joe Jones.’”
“Dan you’re 5’5.” Jones in 6’3”. Pick a smaller hero,” the coach said.
Dan did pick and with that advice and he broke many state-wide, California high school running back records. He also added once that his coach made them run up and down steep hills in practice and to run down the hill as fast as possible. Since it was a hill, you ran faster down than on flat ground. Inosanto said it was “a bit like flying.” The coach told them to “remember that feeling of that speed. Mimic it.” (You usually learn a lot of related things at an Inosanto seminar.)
There are dreams of advancing, then there are tools to become advanced. Who knows those tools? I’d never thought much about these things before then. I also, needless to say, wanted to mimic Dan in terms of his knowledge, teaching and overall “cool.”
Improving. I mean, we all knew back then to weight lift to “get stronger,” and to run for endurance. What else? Well, repetition was important. But then who or what were we repeating? Mimicking? What of dedicated inspirations, guidance? Sure there was the Bible and Zig Zigler back then, but I’d never thought about codifying these diverse training ideas, inspirations and tools before 1986. They came very scattered. I was not alone.
I grew up in the New York City area where one could play baseball and football endlessly through countless organized leagues of all ages. I was playing baseball until I was 18 years old, among guys in their 20s and 30s in money-sponsored teams. (I left the area at about 18.) During these times, I and all others were under the influence of numerous coaches, and none had any real savvy about serious, performance coaching, a “teaching I.Q.,”even in high school where baseball, football and wrestling were big. Sure there were tips and some mistake-fixing yes, but not like today.
They’d say, “Playing is learning,” and we hear similar with martial expressions like “Learn to fight by fighting.” But that tops out too at-with your natural level of athleticism. Remember the prematurely athletic teen that was always the superstar high school quarterback? But 99.999% of them end up working in a factory. They topped out in high school. How to advance? Most coaches back then could not perpetuate such advancement. It seemed like much “mimicry” was a main teaching tool back then. “See how ‘so-and-so’ does it. He’s successful.”
One of my goals was to play third base – “the hot corner” – in baseball. A place known to receive a lot of fast ground balls and line drives. The throw was long to first base. It was a hard position, but I wanted to play there. And I did, especially after my long and lanky teen self had troubles as a catcher, because I was very long and very lanky. Many sports and spots depend on your size and shape. Fact of life. I then mimicked 3rd baseman Clete Boyer of the Yankees and I did well enough. One day I saw Boyer dive full-out to catch a fast foul ball. It was foul! Why not let it go? I realized that inside Boyers mind, at the crack of the bat, he was going to catch EVERY ball that came his way. Every one. He couldn’t stop to think at the hot corner, just – BALL! CATCH! He couldn’t help himself that the ball went foul. He HAD to get it. That idea inspired me. Moved me. An epiphany. No coach ever told me that stuff, told us this stuff. So, I mimicked Clete Boyer, but without step-by-step “teaching technology,” I would never surpass a certain level. It seems epiphanies – those rare emotional, intellectual touchstone, inspirational moments – are rare.
Teaching I.Q.? Teaching technology? Take Willie Stargell for exampIe. I also followed Stargell of the Pittsburg Pirates. I stumbled upon a book about Stargell – there were several – and for the first time this particular writer discussed a performance shift in his aging career. He’d had an amazing career but suffered the usual slowdown with age. The Pirates were looking to move him to first base and maybe even benching him some. But that winter, many, many decades ago, Stargell attended one of the first baseball training camps, which at the time, way back when, were new and ignored, but Willie paid in.
The coaches and Willie identified every single thing in baseball he might face, every little episode, every event. Catching a ball this way or that way. Running from first base to second base, first to third, etc. To my memory they identified some 30-40 specific events, very big and very small. And, during that off-season at this ground-breaking camp, Willie did every one, 100 times each, almost every work day, under their watchful eyes. As a result, he had a rebirth in performance and played several more years successfully. He went back every off-season until other factors, mostly age, interfered. Wow. Another epiphany for me. Tools. Steps. Skill exercises, big and small. Set me to thinking about diverse applications in teaching. Teaching technology, so to speak.
Thank goodness since then, this skill development, this training methodology really caught on, widespread, even down to grassroots, neighborhood league coaching. Officially! (When I coached my kids’ baseball teams I made it a point to take players aside and work on specifics in sessions.) For the last few decades we see this influence in every sport. Records of almost every sort have been broken. The talented continued to improve, The mediocre became better. The lost became at least, found. I also noted such advancements in high school, college and pro football. In the last decades we hear professonal football players talk about the difficult leaps in training from high school, to college to the pros. These methods are all another good form of mimicry too. Mimic the pros’ training methods, not just performance.
Are you way too lanky, tall and skinny to be the baseball catcher? There are reasons most succesful catchers are shaped as they are. We have to remember we are all different. Basic boxing is much the same, but Mike Tyson should not fight like Muhammed Ali, and vice-versa. Dan Inosanto should not run the football like Joe Jones. Don’t over-train in tennis to be a basketball player. Reduce the abstract. Isolate the skill steps and build them. In the Who, What, Were, When, How and Why questions I live for, this is a big “who question.” Who are you? Shape, size, age, strength, etc. Who do you mimic?
Who are your heroes and to what end? Coaches and teachers in these essentially cookie-cutter, sports and martial arts programs must be careful and recognize these differences. Is your “ku-roty” or combatives or self defense teacher a super-star athelete, power-lifter that oh-so does-looks the part? And…you’re not…can you recognize these reaities?
This is why I am obsessed with identifying and teaching the universal, versatile, achievable, core, survival basics foremost. What can most people do? Grasp? Get that stuff done. Work on the probable problems first, then the improbable. Then with good coaching I.Q., recognize natural attributes, steer developments and push people to their private mission success. Its one thing to play a lot of “baseball,” it’s another to excell at third base. At some point, customization must step in.
There are dreams of advancing, then there are tools to become advanced: Two very different things. A major way one advances is with speed, flow and skill drills-exercises. You can’t over do these as many do, else you become a “drill master.” Ask these classic questions:
Who are you and who can help you?
What is your push about and what methods exist for your push? What should you realistically expect?
Where can you work on this push?
When can you do this? (Willie did off-season!)
How far and fast can you, should you, push the envelope?
Why are you motivated?
Continue to ask and answer these and related questions.
I am 70 years old now. I have been training and teaching all over the world, meeting with and working out with all kinds of people. Listen to me for a great and important tip. Your “who” changes with time…oh…what…every 5 years or so? Can you still do your once favorite moves? That high kick? That sacrifice fall on the mats, lest of all on cement? Can you still clearly see that front sight on your gun AND-OR your target as well, or are they blurry blobs? Can you still hit that fast ball? Do you need to alter-evolve, dismiss some of your favorite things? Can your 50 year-old self, mimic your 20 year old self? Take stock every 5 years or so of what you do.
There’s a lot to this “mimicry” subject.
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Usually, one breaks their hand when punching the “Bicycle Helmet,” top area of the head. The opponent ducks or ducks-and-turns his head and you, whether thrusting or hooking, when your bare fist hits the “helmet” area, your hand gets jacked up. But here is an odd story of my busted-up finger not near the helmet. (Here, Tom McGrath of the UK is helping me demo this underarm delivery uppercut in Belgium, the centerpiece move of the essay.)
One night I was arresting someone, and he decided to fight me. And in the tussle he threw a pretty lame thrusting punch or push, or perhaps a bad blend of both at me. Anyway, I wound up in this underarm uppercut position – which is a popular training position – and I punched him in the chin. Pretty decent shot as he was bewildered enough for me to yank that arm around his back and handcuff him.
BUT…I remember the sharp pain in my middle finger. While booking him into the jail, it swelled up and of course I knew the lump wasn’t cancer. I knew it was from the guy’s damn, pointy jaw and the solid position his head was in. Well, the swelling went down in a day or two. Pain went away. Another come-and-go.
Through the years though, cysts appeared and disappeared in that space in the space between the middle finger and pointy finger and up the middle finger. Small-sized and medium-sized. I thought it weird, but they eventually came and went away too. Then one month, one lump got so big that I really couldn’t do much with those fingers. When I couldn’t put stamps on envelopes, I decided to see a hand doctor.
Diagnosis? That punch from many years back put a hairline fracture in my finger bone from the knuckle to first joint. The fracture edges were rough with growing bone spurs and the spurs caused cysts. Cure? Hand Operation! Remove the growing octopus of a cyst and shave the bone. Nothing to fix with the hairline fracture which I gather was naturally, “glued” somewhat together from time. (Yes, the cyst in a jar he showed me looked like a min-octopus.)
We hear a lot about broken hands-fingers from fights, and I have had a few classic hand swellings from punching people on the job, but when punching I never had common breaking problems many other cops (or people) had, which was kind “blind-concept punching,” I guess you could call it. From training I just aimed lower and held a tighter fist (tips from old ku-roty). I just had this lasting one problem, one I think rather uncommon for me, from an uppercut, down below the “helmet.”
I don’t want to start a long scientific punch vs. palm strike dissertation here, nor create the martial hand damage medical list. I am not against bare-knuckle punching. Other than the “helmet area,” heads usually do “give” when struck, jaws give, necks allows for movement, but there’s much less give in that bicycle helmet area. People see…INCOMING! and reflexively drop their face. Where the nose once was is now the “helmet head!
Fists must be tight, not loose as bad habits create inside boxing gloves. (Bad habit, ask Tyson.) When we fight for real, we won’t be wearing gloves and a mouthpiece and bare knuckle fighting is a real-deal, end challenge. Prep for it yes, but I don’t think we should destroy our knuckles and hands hitting hard things that don’t give-way somewhat, as done for decades like with old school karate-kung fu people. (I know old-timers that cannot hold a cup of coffee in their hands today from makiwara boards and the like. There were times when monster knuckles were badges of honor.)
Tone that down! You don’t want to meet the “Situs Brothers – Arthur and Burr” in your 50s and 60s. Rather we have to “strike” a compromise, pun intended.
I also think instructors should take a look at their practitioner’s hands and inspect the size, shape and potential for real-world punching. Some people ae structured to punch tanks, others have little thimbles for fists and should not trust punching anything, despite the endless focus mitt and bag drills they are forced to do. In the end, your job is to build customized, personal success as a doctrine, not replicate cookie-cutter dogma results. One size does not fit all. One system does not fit all. One sized fist training does not fit all.
Anyway, all’s well with that finger now. Hey, remember the bicycle helmet area advice! Aim lower. Tight fist.
With advancing age and advanced age, one’s reliance on “kuraty” wanes. Someday I know I will be limping around with only my snub-nose, hammerless revolver in my jacket pocket as my only and last resort, despite all the years of training. And what of those who’ve never done any “kuraty?” These inevitabilities make one think about handy support, self defense weapons. Like the small handgun and one might be…the mysterious, intriguing…blackjack.
Andre Wong of Police One defines: “The sap, slapper, or blackjack is a heavy leather pouch, eight to twelve inches long, filled with lead and sometimes a flexible steel rod. Unlike a baton, a sap’s size and shape allowed it to be concealed inside an officer’s pocket. Saps may not look as intimidating as a gun or a baton, but thinking they’re not dangerous would be a mi stake. A sap is dense enough to break bones when the user has room to swing, and the leather edge is rough enough to cause a dull, ripping laceration to the face when used as a jabbing instrument. Slappers would be ideal for use in ultra-tight quarters like a fight on the ground against a large suspect.”
I noticed a number of folks selling and teaching these tools of late. And numerous training videos. I see a lot of artistic, photo displays of weapons on Instagram, and most include saps laid amongst knives and pistols, etc. Given the laws of most states in the USA and countries around the world, I am not too sure you want to be “caught” carrying one, or using one. I am not too sure many of these teachers, photographers or makers have ever used a blackjack in a fight? Not that, that is a mandatory rule. Smart people can invent and teach smart things. Or, have they considered the vast legal ramifications of wearing and using a blackjack?
The law? Here’s just one example, from the People’s Republic of California and the many states that swap legal weapons lingo: California Penal Code 22210 PC makes it a crime to manufacture, import, sell, give, or possess leaded canes or batons (or other weapons in this category). The offense can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. A conviction is punishable by up to 3 years in jail or prison. A leaded cane is a: crutch, staff, stick, or rod (later defined as any blackjack) that is weighted with lead so it can be used as a weapon. The statute also applies to short and weighted objects that can strike a person.”
Okay! Then, well, so much for California. You heard it’s illegal, but it sort of “brings it on home,” when you read the actual laws. I fail to see the word illegally “teaching” in there, though. Exponents, fans and sellers say that in most states you can own one (at home), but warn not to carry one or use one. ETSY sells them as “novelty paperweights.” Others advertise them as “change purses with stout handles,” with coinage inserted via a zipper on the striking end for weight. This fools no one.
Police carry. I was officially issued and carried one in Texas policing for many years in the 1970s and mid-1980s, though I rarely hit anyone with it as I was trained and training in empty hand systems so much, I used that first and foremost whenever I could. I noticed that others less trained, whacked the crap out of people with them. I have seen people stunned and knocked out by them, and upraised fists smacked by them – instant, significant reaction. In the U.S. Army Military Police and in Texas we were also issued batons, which again, I didn’t actually use much, though rules were pretty “stick-free-wheeling” in the MPs. (We were even taught to quick-search a body with a stick, rubbing it all around the potential weapon-carry spots, which now…would probably be considered rape of some sort.)
Where did we tote that thing? Believe it or not, in the golden, olden days, usually in our back uniform pocket! Able to be easily yanked out by any miscreant! In my small world I’ve never seen that happen, although stats tell us that lots of resisting people did and do like to grab our stuff and it has probably happened. I have had some attempted gun grabs (one on the ground) and handcuff grabs. Some uniforms had sewed-in sap pockets on the thighs. I hear that some uniform companies still add these “sap pants pockets” (costs more) as a matter of routine…but remain empty.
Empty? Many police agencies, mine included, decided one day in the 1980s to collect up all the blackjacks and hide them away in dusty closets. Night sticks also slowly de-evolved into expandable batons, then for many agencies all “sticks” also completely disappeared (along with those BIG flashlights).
Blackjack Training Issues and Problems. I sometimes consider slipping a “Blackjack Module” into my Force Necessary: Stick course, because it is an impact weapon. I often consider too, changing the name of Force Necessary Stick, to Force Necessary: Impact Weapons. But, it doesn’t “sing” so well as the core, four single nouns, “hand, stick, knife, gun.” Imagine that added, elongated song title of nouns –
“Hand, Stick-Flashlight-Blackjack-Sap-DanBong, Knife, Gun.” That makes for a long album cover name. Even adding the term “impact weapons” replacing the solo word “stick” rambles on, “Hand, ‘Impact Weapons’ (instead of just ‘Stick’), Knife, Gun” is still too long for me. It is hard to replace the simple, message “impact” (yes, pun intended) of single-syllable caveman, “Hand. Stick. Knife. Gun.”
With blackjacks I have other reservations other than just too many syllables and nouns in the title. Mostly those weapon laws, yes, and then “supply and demand” problems. First off, they are illegal to run around with almost everywhere to begin with, lest of all a box of them. But then so are samurai swords and that hasn’t stopped classes on them! Just don’t walk into a Walmart wearing a katana. People like to study all kinds of stuff from esoteric to practical.
If I taught the sap subject, I would need to travel worldwide with a supply of, a bunch of actual saps or training saps at seminars for attendees. You see, no matter how much we ask, people do not show up with the subject gear. Local schools do not have a boxloads of saps in their closets either.
In my world I’d need like…25 or 30 of them. And do you now much stuff I already fly with? Boxes of stuff. Why so many? There’s not much worse than having a specific, weapon-topic seminar, or a session within a seminar, showing up and no one or almost no one has that specific training weapon. I could tell you stories. You are talking to a guy who’s been stopped in Australian airports because I had a box of wooden pistols. What safety, look-a-like, substitute could I fly and drive around with such a box of stuff, that would be blackjack-like and yet, not get me tossed in TSA or the local hoosegow for illegal weapons? Just one real one in my luggage or to and fro the seminar could be legal trouble.
Making the blackjack subject matter a mandatory part of the FN:Stick course, makes these support accommodations on me mandatory too.
The padded knife-dueling tool shown here is an option but it is not perfectly shaped, removing the nuances of the weapon. (This is also a knife problem when trying to emphasize the knife’s edge with a rounded replica.) And…no strap! You have to experience the scenarios with the straps-lanyards.
In the spirit of “reducing the abstract,” Nok – Tak Knife sells a soft cleaver knife, with flat top that might better substitute for a sap. About $40. Again, no strap. And I am quite sure, someone reading this will supply a photo of replica training blackjack, with the quote like, “Dracula’s Obscurities sells foam saps for training!” And of course, more news that John Doe can make them in his garage. Great news for the sap training world.
If I did teach this topic, I would not replicate the mediocre police blackjack material of yesteryear, but rather teach the subject through the basic and advanced “Combat Clock,” I’ve used for 27 years now. The basics? “Slash and stab” at 12, 3, 6, 9 or high, right, low, left. Advanced? All numbers of the clock, standing through ground. And then the nuances, the nuances of that particular weapon. One such nuance would be sap-targeting, another is if you turn the standard, flat top, blackjack sideways, it is more stout and less “giving.” Another is suddenly grappling with one strapped to your hand or wrist – one must experience the “judo” and “jujitsu” moves of the world with one strapped-wrapped to you. I might also add that a blackjack handle within your closed fist helps reinforce your hand a bit when punching. There’s more of course.
Fad or Fad Not? In the big picture, I suspect that the subject matter is a fad. I am not a passing-fad-boy. And, I don’t mindlessly replicate fads or fad makers. Fun, but a fad and at this point, I can’t see it as much of a big, crowd-drawer or a big, crowd-pleaser in the big picture of the so-called “civilized world” – in that the damn thing is illegal most everywhere. Of course, I could be wrong and blackjacks and saps might sweep the globe. And in a “free state,” if asked I guess I would cover the topic.
Despite the legal hassles, still the lore and the look of these little scrappy, tough bastards are intriguing enough to stay alive for “free staters,” collectors, gawkers, historians and self-defenders.
Moving. Still. Parking lots and roads, all involve cars, still and moving, and both places are potential hotter spots for U.S. crime, not necessarily super “hot” spots as you might assume, but “hotter” spots. Parking lots and roads are places where all kinds of people of all types, pass by each other and interact in some fashion, if only visually.
In Part 1 here… I have tried to collect a lot of info on parking lot crime and related shootings for years now. For those of you reading this outside the United States, I hope you can glean some security ideas that may or may not relate to your country, but may help in developing equations for safety. For one universal problem, we all fall prey to the “frequency illusion” which leads us to believe that some things we focus on, or the media focuses on, happens more than others because…because we are looking-focused for that one thing, such as in crime in general and for this topic – crime, shootings, in, out and around vehicles on parking lots.
Usually, in reality, most all research is shallow and fallible. Experts take small samples and extrapolate them into bigger results. Keep this elusiveness in mind when reading what I have collected here. And I warn, this essay is NOT about auto burglaries, or auto thefts, or advising lot owners how to build safer parking lots. It’s about people in, out and around vehicles and shootings. There are attached areas like hallways, stairs and elevators, and if a person has left the immediate area of their autos on lots to these attached locations, they have left the scope of this essay.
Big Pictures. Big Pictures. You can open up any news page or search on the topic “parking lot shootings” and a lengthy list of individual crimes appear. Every shooting is a drama and trauma (and probably a lawsuit). Is this as rampant as this seems? The list is long and if you don’t recognize and dismiss the Frequency Illusion you’ll probably decide to cart a machine gun to MacDonald’s, as all parking lots (and life) are a war zone.
First, as a skeptic, I like to examine the big picture in any topic, so often neglected either by bias or ignorance, starting with the necessary topics to help define the subject:
total teen and adult driver population, (this gives us a comparison, crime versus populations, and numbers of drivers)
total retail transactions, (this tells us estimates of how many people might drive to and park at a retail location.)
total car ownership, (suggests parking lot potential use.)
local gun legal and illegal gun ownership laws.
types of parking lots, residential, restaurants, retail, etc….
reported parking lot crime (actually, parking lot crimes, and out and around cars and shootings.
there are other local, nuanced factors of course…
According to laws in every state in the U.S., an area of the law known as “premise liability,” businesses have a duty to protect its customers from violent crime while they’re on store property, crime that can reasonably predict.
Next, the actual numbers so we can see the big picture. In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau counted 331.4 million people living in the United States and more than three-quarters (77.9%) or 258.3 million were adults, 18 years or older. Out of this figure, in 2023 there are a projected 243.4 million licensed drivers in the U.S., which includes 89% of US adults. Hedges and Company, a popular marketing firm reports that in 2023 there are a projected 243.4 million licensed drivers in the US. In many states, teens under 18 are also driving. The CDC says there are over 8.3 million teen drivers.” Finally, the Federal Highway Administration estimates there are 275,913,237 vehicles in the U.S.. Not all folks drive of course, but can we say so many if not most do.
That’s a lot of big picture numbers so let me list them out:
331.4 million people living in the United States in 2020. (More in 2023.)
243.4 million adult licensed drivers in the US. (in 2022)
8.3 million teen drivers. (in 2022.)
That’s about 252 million total drivers. (in 2022.)
There are estimated 275,913,237 vehicles in the US.
Pew Research reports there are approximately 77.5 million adult gun owners in the U.S.. There are some 436 million guns.
Summary – Lots of drivers, guns, cars and lots of parking needed.
And They All Park, Somewhere. Parking lots and parking garages – do we really need to define what they are? I think not. I think we all know the full range of parking options, those covered and uncovered. How many lots? There is no way to really collect business parking lot and garage numbers in the US with accuracy, but we can surmise there are a lot of them. A whole lot. All these cars, drivers and passengers park and walk to and from vehicles every day. I hesitate to suggest precise, parking lot attendance numbers, other than it must be enormous.
Walmart Parking Lots. One Crime Case Study. The big store system everyone brags they hate…yet go to and and park. Let’s look at one of the most popular retail locations in the U.S. as a big sampling, case study, and use it as a means, an equation and method to consider how we might evaluate all parking lot crime in general. Handily for us, Walmart-haters have produced articles on “Walmart crime.” The numbers sound scary. Sounds like a lot, but the authors never compare crimes to total sales transactions or customers counts – again – the typical ignorance of the big picture, which will ruin their biased message about Walmart crime.
in 2022, Walmart reports on average in their 3,573 Supercenters in the U.S., each serves about 10,000 customers every single day. These numbers come from sales transactions. That rounds out. to 10,000 sales times 3,573 stores = to be about some 3,650,000 sales a day – over 3 and half million customers a day.
Dare we then cipher out 3,650,000 daily customers times 365 days? 1,332,250,000? So many of them equal a vehicle trip and parking as I think we can safely judge that almost all Walmart transactions probably represents a car and parking. That’s a lot of parking on Walmart parking lots. A lot of people and no matter how we crunch those numbers, we can surely assume a whole lot of people parked on Walmart parking lots. Then, were there 5 million crimes? 2 million? 1 million? Millions of shoot-outs? Thousands maybe? Hundred? Murders. Kidnappings, rapes and robberies? Lions and tigers and bears? Not hardly. Read on…
Now…crime at, and-or on, Walmart property? (2016 must have been a bad PR year for Walmart as the haters jumped on for a lot reasons…)
Time Magazine reported in “2016, police in many communities get more calls to Walmart shopping centers than anywhere else. For some stores, police are called multiple times a day. The problem appears to be far larger for Walmart (open 24 hours) for competing retailers like Target. And the crime ranges from mostly standard shoplifting and petty theft to the occasional rape, stabbing, shooting, murder, or meth lab hidden in a 6-foot drainage pipe under the store parking lot.”
This Week magazine reported that “Impoverished communities are more likely to be afflicted by crime in general, and these days a Walmart store is often the biggest retail hub.”
In 2016, Tulsa Oklahoma PD described the violent crimes over several year period – “Most of the calls to the northeast Supercenter were for shoplifting, but there’s no shortage of more serious crimes, including five armed robberies so far this year, a murder suspect who killed himself with a gunshot to the head in the parking lot last year, and, in 2014, a group of men who got into a parking lot shootout that killed one and seriously injured two others.”
Bloomberg reports that in 2016 there were “More than 200 violent crimes (coast to coast), at Walmarts, including attempted kidnappings and multiple stabbings, shootings, and murders, have occurred at the nation’s stores.
Note the highlighted word, “occasional” above. Those occasional violent ones are the ones that could, might involve a potential gun defense. And the… “More than” two hundred violent crimes? When you dissect the “more than” line…is that one more – 201? Five more – 205? If it reached fifty more, 250 would they still say “more than 200″? This bias verbiage to shock you, but whether it’s 200 or 300 crimes, that’s nothing much within 3,650,000 customers in 3,573 locations a day from coast to coast. Is this a real parking lot crime wave?
You can start to see how parking lot crime is reported and presented, minus the big picture numbers. And, in the Tulsa story, armed robberies (parking lot or inside registers? As the interior registers would not officially be parking lot crimes, but fleeing suspects on a parking lot are indeed a problem – they almost always have getaway vehicles desperate to escape.)
3,573 stores X 10,000 sales-customer a day per store = 3,650,000 daily sales-customers.
365 days X 3,650,000 daily sales-customers = 1,332,250,000.
1,332,250,000 = how many cars on the lot?
Bloomberg says 200 violent crimes in 2016, parking lot or otherwise?
What of Restaurants, Businesses, Residentials and “other” Then? Finances On Line, report that 163 million people eat out once a week. Times that by 52 weeks. That is… 32,760,00,000, which includes a lot of varied parking, couldn’t we assume? We can’t say exactly for sure how many, but there are a lot of people parking on parking lots to eat out. How about all the other business parking lots? And we cannot forget the private parking lots of businesses, houses, and apartments.
Statista.com reports that In 2021, that is within this total of millions and millions of parking events, around 16,617 robberies took place in parking garages or parking lots in the United States. No related report if they involve or justify parking lot shoot-outs, being robberies an armed victim, might be motivated to produce a gun.
Finally, The U.S. Department of Justice reports, “it appears thatthe risk of being attacked in a parking facility, is 4 in 1 million,and is really quite low. Interestingly, about 20 percent of violent crime in parking facilities is committed by persons known to the victim.”
This violent “20% known” involves gang wars, revenge, co-workers, affairs, domestic violence and all the other related “known” crimes we see in the news. By the way, where do you fit in this 20%? Is such a thing brewing in your life? Increasing your odds?
(Note: I’ve come across various sources with confusing odd, numbers that didn’t add up and deleted them from my number lists. Some were inflammatory as they sold courses and parking lot safety gear.)
So, On the Subject of Shooting? My purpose with boring you with these massive numbers is simply to remind you that there are lots of cars, drivers, guns and parking, and not a lot of lot crimes in comparison. Miniscule in comparison to many millions of daily parking events. With the Walmart parking lot study and the U.S. Department of Justice’s “4 in one million” chance, parking lots in general are actually, pretty darn safe and there is a lot of daily, safe parking, and safe to-and-fro walking, every day in the U.S.. Can we extrapolate the DOJ and Walmart examination to all parking lots? Somewhat…a bit, for example, there is anecdotal information that in some places like Memphis, TN., or in like some Chicago neighborhoods, parking lots that are extra dangerous. It seems most cities have problem spots. So local geography, local crime and time can certainly be situational (see below advice). But in the big picture and with the below preparation list, odds are greatly in your favor you will not be in a parking lot shooting.
When “Four in a Million” Becomes “One in One.”? Crime numbers change every year and in every location, that includes the numbers I have produced above. If a bunch of lot crime or not, people will still have guns on them and-or in their vehicles. Also, as I asked a few lines above, “Where do you fit in that “known to 20%” category?” What’s brewing in your life that will change the odds? Well, as I like to remind folks, if it is YOU attacked! The “one-in-four-mill” odds no longer count! Then it’s a “One in One” and the word “chance” is gone. It’s happening to you. Are you armed? Can you get away? Can you scare away? Duck, cover, move? Shoot? Shoot to kill?
The “fortune favors the prepared” classic quote was not said by Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Patton, nor Dick Tracy. It comes to us from a French chemist, Louis Pasteur, who said fully, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” In summary, one should go about their parking travels with healthy preparation and real, local intelligence information, not an unhealthy, panting, hypervigilant paranoia. I always resort to the “Ws and H” questions for preparation. Here are some sample questions…
WHO are you and who do you think will attack you on a parking lot you? How might these elements prevent or become a shooting?
WHAT is going on, on the parking lot, and district and city you are visiting? Crime rates? Problems? What is “brewing bad” in your life? What will he do to approach-attack you? What will you do? What are you wearing? What is your job? What are the local self-defense laws? What gun? What and how might these elements escalate into a shooting?
WHERE is this lot, and where on the lot will you park? By the front doors? Under lights? Where are the attack points? Where do you fit in that ‘”known to” 20%” category that you might be “hunted?” Where exactly is your gun? Where might errant rounds go? Where and how might this turn into a shooting?
WHEN are you parking, holidays? Daytime? Nighttime? When and how might this turn into a shooting?
HOW exactly would you be approached-attacked on the lot? How will he act? How will you react? How will this turn into a shooting?
WHY are you going there? Is it worth it, given the questions above? Why and how could this turn into a shooting?
Each “W and H” question is a book chapter, too much to burden this small, generic essay here. I lecture on these in my “Shooting In, Out and Around Cars” seminar. You must continue to answer these big and small, vital, “Ws and H” questions for yourself, your life and locale. Use these and make up your own list of answers. I have been using the “Ws and H” questions for over 27 years to investigate and teach potential problems in crime, war (and life in general). They’ve never let me down as the best way to plan, but you need good intel.
Live Fire and Vehicles. You can train live fire methods in, out and around cars, shooting paper targets. In the end, given some “in-to and out-of” vehicle shooting nuances concerning things like vehicle construction, ricochets, and glass issues, the physicality of shootings with all opponents outside of cars will be much like shooting anywhere else, with the exception that you will be somewhat surrounded mostly by cars.
Live fire – if so, are you training for the realities of your life? I see a fair amount of vehicle-related, live-fire courses were citizen attendees are outfitted as if for a two-week war in Cambodia with auto and semi-auto rifles, pistols, training knives, knee and elbow pads, and gear full of ammo. Such military, SWAT, police, etc. courses are absolutely ten times the fun. I have run some sims ammo ones and everybody just reveals in the experience. But unless you are on the far side of some special operations team or the Secret Service, this will not relate to your trip to the Dairy Queen and the small, hammerless .32 revolver you carry in your pocket.
All the live-fire, vehicle-related courses are a one-way street of early preparation. Vital, core work to experience. And it is also vital to train with interactive, simulated ammo, shooting at enemies who are shooting back at you. It is horrible and shocking for some to see how easily you can be shot, foot, ankle, knee, leg, elbow, arm, head and torso, even after working the best live-fire, range shooting methods in, out and around cars.
United States parking lots seem to be quite safe, when one considers the big picture. But when you or yours are victimized it is hard to respect and swallow the big picture evidence. I understand this, but there is a bigger picture that blankets the realities, training doctrine, laws and policy making. Within all that, within an amazing safety record, bad things can happen. I hope you will never be involved in vehicle-related gunfight.
Road Rage and Shootings, Part 2 of this investigation, coming soon.
The Dangers of Escaping Standing Chokes and Standing Guillotines, A Martial and Military Perspective
The world today is innocently obsessed with wrestling (okay, well, actually it’s BJJ with its own special, great mythology and the important, “tribal” uniforms, etc, and which is an addictive, terrific, fun, sport-hobby). And within the grounded, wrestling world, there are about a ton and a half of grounded chokes, cranks and escapes to study. All terrific to mess around with. If you are new to all this then go look the moves up, but most folks, smart enough to be reading this, know what I am writing about.
This essay is NOT about those things on the ground, but rather specifically, ONLY, stand-up neck wraps and some of the classic, dangerous, commonly taught counters to them. This is a safety briefing about the neck and martial studies.
Standing, your neck is grabbed in some sort of arm wrap. But in the arms of an experienced enemy or a stumbling inexperienced rookie, the grabs with a step or a misstep, can quickly damage and even kill you. And worse…with some of the innocently practiced common escapes, you can damn near kill your own self too in the very same ways the bad guy could do it to you. How? It’s all about the neck.
Physio-Life reports that “Even to a completely inexperienced grappler, it would come as no surprise that grappling can be problematic for the neck. In a sport where the aim is to control, strangle and submit your opponent, the neck is often a key pillar in a wide range of attacks…whiplash to permanent paralysis.”
In the study of mixed martial arts “Risk of Cervical Injuries in Mixed Martial Arts” by T Kochhar, D L Back, B Mann, J. Skinner, they list the guillotine drop as one of the 4 most dangerous takedown maneuvers. Dr. Google says – “What does a neck crank do? A neck crank (sometimes also referred to as a neck lock, and technically known as a cervical lock) is a spinal lock applied to the cervical spine causing hyperextension, hyperflexion, lateral hyperflexion, hyper-rotation or extension-distraction. This happens either through bending, twisting or elongating. Neck cranks-locks can cause spinal injuries. Many martial arts prohibit use of this technique given the potential for student injury.” Many do prohibit and of course, many don’t.
“Yup, already tried to escape one of these standing guillotine chokes, which ended up as a severe prolapse C5 C6 C7 followed by followed by muscle wasting in the left triceps and total loss of pectoralis minor.” reports Bjorn Wagner as one personal anecdote.
What I would like to put under the proverbial microscope here are potential injuries one does to oneself in escaping standing choke chokes and guillotines, as taught by many of the martial arts.
I had the accidental, Youtube experience the other day of watching the Gracie Wonder-Team-Twin nephews run through, oh, like 15 common escapes in 30 seconds from stand-up chokes and stand-up guillotines. My, such experienced, athletic kids the super twins are! They are indeed great, dedicated kids. They live this life daily. Full-timers. I ask quickly – are you? Do you? And yet, about half of the escape moves could get the escapee’s caught neck whip-lashed, broken and-or get them killed, especially the ones where escapees, in layman’s terms, “judo-ize” – flip-throw the chokers’ bodies over them and around into an array of sacrifice takedowns where they both, choker and escapee, happily, willingly, fall down to the mats (not onto the furniture or the hard ground or floors or cement of the real world).
Military Quicker Kills. Rarely taught. Rarely known. Rarely respected. Well, if you flip (or drop down) versus a guy whose got a death grip on your neck? You could hurt or break your own neck. Do most practitioners know how easily the standing choker can kill you, accidentally or on purpose? Or then, how you can damage yourself? It is obvious that these art folks and so many others do not know the list of the old school, rarely-taught-these-days, military quicker-kill, neck breaks. Folks seem to not realize how close their escape moves resemble military neck breaks!
Military Infantry Veteran James Brown adds-writes: “As our host Hock writes: Not many people are taught the really nasty ways to do choke-breaks. In the military, it’s pretty limited to infiltration units. When simply shooting someone in the head with a suppressed weapon isn’t advisable. Or sneaking up and zip tying their neck or stabbing them somewhere isn’t optimal, either. Most knife stuff I learned from military instructors was about sneaking up and making death quiet. A rear choke variation example: Ambush from behind. Arm sinks in around neck. Knee or pelvis lifts targets feet from the ground as second arm sets in. Then a fast and violent body drop by attacker. Target is out in about 3 seconds. Had it done to me. The air lift is critical. It takes away a second of possible response time while allowing a nasty body drop. It can also be done with a rear drag. There are also some front naked choke to neck brake patterns that are basically: One of these 6 breaks should work or buy time to get to a knife.”
These martial arts escapes can work so well “in the dojo” demos and training because:
it’s only learning-training.
both parties know what is going to happen.
There is no radical, chaotic motion that accompanies a real grab.
the martial chokers know how to roll, go with the flow and protect the escapees’ necks as choker is flipped.
the choker loosens-lets go of the trapped neck at a key moment to save his partner’s potential neck damage.
even in freestyle, the trained choker remembers what to do, “not to break the rules.”
when necks are legally caught tight enough, those caught know when to tap, even when standing, and they remain standing once tapped.
Rough Necks. Serious MMA and wrestler competitors’ necks can take a brutal beating. These are dedicated “pros,” are awesome athletes, and most both stretch and work on neck strengthening exercises. Neck strength is well known to be critical! Serious wrestlers have serious necks. Do you? Probably me – no, your instructors – no, your average military – no, police – no, the citizen taking self-defense courses – no. We will be in the 99.99999% percenters that are NOT thick-necked, professionals. (Still, “big” necks or not, there are plenty of “pro” neck injuries with takedowns and wrestling on the mats.)
Killing the Neck! These Military Neck Breaks. In the big picture, unarmed military combatives in general was and is rarely taught to the military. The in-the-field military is a weapons-based, explosives-based, equipment-based, teamwork-based world and very little time is spent on the one-versus one, unarmed topic in comparison to these other vital, more probable topics. This training time, prioritizing reality goes all the way back to the Samurai.
Why are the “military neck killers” somewhat ignored in the military? In a name-game twist, many militaries call anything close-up as “hand-to-hand combat” even with close-in weapons versus weapons. Still lots to do with weapons, just very close-in. Within today’s military combatives, neck breaks are still rarely taught percentage-wise. The methods exist of course if you can find them. Also, insiders know that for many recent years now, the militaries of the world have been hypnotized into a sport, martial arts priority. Plus, there is a real underlying mission-mandate for safe training (!) – not to get the troops hurt in any training, lest of all in the rare, short, combatives training courses.
Still, unless you are capturing a prisoner for interrogation, the military needs to kill the enemy as quickly as possible, and should you get a hold of his neck, you kill him there. There are many quicker ways to kill someone with neck grabs. For example, once a neck wrap or a choke is obtained, the choker can jump-drop back, forward or to the side and pretty much “kill-crack the neck” of the caught enemy. Needless to say a citizen or a cop fighting for their life would need these quicker kills too for survival. Briefly they are:
choker crushes windpipe (this will take a bit longer).
choker very suddenly, violently does situational-positional-directional snapping wrenches and yanks.
choker suddenly does situational-positional body drops.
other than in war, the choker had better be, logically, explain-ably, understandably in fear of their life to execute these moves. Or play dumb?
these can happen with stumbling mistakes in training and sports.
It would be smart for all to learn the military quicker kill ones for critical self-defense, yes. And no matter who you are, learn them also so as to avoid the possible mishaps in training. And when taught escapes and counters to this problem, you must assess these moves to see if they are indeed dangerous to your neck and your people’s necks.
These same devastating moves can happen accidentally in class, in competitions and real world fighting when you don’t seek such severe body damage and death, to your drunk friend or relative. Or, to someone you are arresting! (There are numerous accidental and incidental neck injuries and deaths in police work. You know this from the news.) Unlike in some advertised courses, not everyone you scuffle with is a Nazi commando to be executed!
Solutions to these standing choke-neck problems is a Training Mission 5, Stop 5 problem, neither of which I have filmed or written yet in book chapter form, like a chapter in a TM 5 book with 40-50 photos or more. It will be (I am only amassing TM 3, Stop 3 right now). Can’t do it all here. I got the outlines. Come to a seminar.
By the way, holding a blood choke for too long, standing or ground can be deadly. “How long can the brain survive without oxygen? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. For example, if the brain is receiving a limited supply of oxygen, it can survive longer than a brain receiving no oxygen. According to Medicine Plus a resource of the U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Brain cells are very sensitive to a lack of oxygen. Some brain cells start dying less than 5 minutes after their oxygen supply disappears. As a result, brain hypoxia can rapidly cause severe brain damage or death.”
Oh and lastly and again? Size and strength really does matter, especially when you are flippy-dippy, tossing people around. I know the esoterics like to say they don’t matter, but they matter. As with clothing, “one size does not fit all.”
All martial training can be dangerous. We persevere. I am not and you are probably not a full-time, 5 days a week, “Wonder Twin” – so take a hard look at standing choke and guillotine escapes “out there,” and in your classes. I am only suggesting that when presented with martial moves in and around the neck, see how they might be dangerous and see how many flippy, counter throws, takedowns and ground crashes could damage your neck and the necks of all those non-professional, non-super, non-wonder-twin athletes that you know, which is probably, just…about…everyone.
A Weeks Later, An Addendum: This essay is only about safety issues concerning grappling in and around the neck, and how some of the often suggested escapes might be neck-dangerous especially to the new and medium trained people. This is not about ALL “Judo”-BJJ-wrestling-grappling, not working.” This essay was dispatched a lot of places, very well-sheared, re-shared with thousands of likes. Very well-received. But a rare few hyper-sensitive, hyper-defensive people just “blew up.” Instantly they distort this safety issue and ignorantly leapt to protect their overall, “wrestling,” superiority when obviously, partially reading this essay and jumping to ignorant conclusions. I then, of course am an untrained idiot, a fake with no grappling experience.
Why do I think a bit about the neck? Some of my personal experiences, four for examples.
First: As explained in the essay, I am just not fond of Seoi Nage, the shoulder throw, the over the shoulder throw versus the standing choke. One time, experimenting in class, years ago, being 6’2” I have been grabbed by a 6’7”-er, working on this throw with a big heavy-set, guy and when I dropped a bit, butt extended back, to start this off, he repositioned and he “refused” to bend over. And the blood choke on me only increased. I essentially “hung there” in a worse choke than before. He chuckled. His size and weight and my size and weight absolutely mattered. Plus, I do have trouble with this move versus shorter people too. Height and weight-size is always an issue. (And a strong hesitation to turn my back to an opponent.)
Second: In South Korea in the 70s, I was tricked, and jumped from behind with that single arm wrap choke. He pushed the small of my back, then leapt backwards. He landed on his chest and fortunately for me, I landed on my side, NOT on my back because I am sure he would have broken my neck. We ended up in a north-south sort of position (on a frozen muddy, village road.) I escaped this by breaking his pinky, of all things, which he let go right away at the snap. I later knew this was a trained move, I’d seen it before somewhere and later found it in a 60s, 70s military combatives manual, back then called the “Ranger Takedown.” It is a neck-breaker. A killer! I was very lucky. My left side was severely bruised and sore from that frozen ground landing the next day. Oh, and my neck really hurt. I am not suggesting that all muggers know the Ranger Takedown, but I started thinking that chaotic moves and drops could hurt the neck. Drops like this (or accidental falls) could be dangerous to the neck.
Third: Teaching many years ago in Delaware, I was showing a frontal takedown, a pull-down. A classic. You kick and-or strike the guy to bend over, then grab his neck in a Thai-style forearm-like, clinch. Then yank him face down while stepping back. Since I had spent time with a Chin Na Chinese guy, one thing he showed us was a wavering, side-to-side, of locks and cranks, which really enhanced a bunch of them. In this pull-down, if you yank-jerk the head side-to-side in the takedown, it really accentuates the pull-down. I showed this application, THEN I warned everyone not to do this! For not even half-real, because of the neck damage. If so, try it once in very slow-motion. Well, two guys walked off to their corner, and did it too hard and too fast. The uke guy dropped to the floor, and…knocked out, had some sort of a spasm-seizure fit. Luckily, there was an EMT there training with us, and he took over. It looked really bad. The guy recovered but nis neck was killing him. He was done for the day, sat on the floor pale-faced and watched. He was a no-show on Sunday.
Fourth: In 26 years of police work, I have only choked out, oh maybe…9 or 11 people. Not many at all. The blood choke. Some of them were on the ground – as on floors (well, one was atop a couch and a coffee table, we were flat but not on the official ground-ground) and some standing. People snake around when neck-grabbed and the blood choke intent can become the wind-pipe choke by accident and they are the subject of many injuries and even death law suits. So much so, many (if not most) police agencies have disallowed ANY such neck contact, blood choke or otherwise. Holding these blood chokes for too long is also dangerous. A lot of this info is above, in the essay.
Fifth. Of note, a long-term neck injury. A well-known, international martial instructor (to name one) is getting a stint in his windpipe, having had it partially crushed and crushed too much in all kinds of training for many a year.
Anyway, my only point is – there are safety issues with neck grappling. In a world of early-phase, mid-phase and late phase, counters-escapes, there is little chance of late phase, choke escapes. Plus, research shows plenty of neck injuries exist. This is why I think about the neck and martial arts training.
If you are a FMA “stick versus-stick-fighter,” I think, about…ohhh…80%…85% (?) of the stick material typical taught, thee so-called by many – “fancy stuff,” fancy follow-up stuff is meant for the seconds AFTER your opponent is busted in the head (no soft sticks and-or no helmets) or busted somewhere painfully vital, that will diminish his speed and brains. The head shot (or any real diminishing blow) is the missing link between sparring and the follow-ups.
Do you know this, realize this, can you articulate this as doctrine to the shallow naysayers who belittle follow-ups? I think this “diminished fighter” message should be one of an FMA system’s “Ten Commandments.”
Lots of folks prioritize sparring as the initial, most important encounter (I think it is very important) but then many belittle a lot closer quarter stick moves (the 80%) like disarming, stick grabs, trapping, grappling, etc. as impossible because “oh, you can’t do that when actually stick sparring.”
Some follow-up material examples:
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-
A stunning blow or two sets up everything in the martial world, why not here too? A good stunning, crack on the bare head changes everything, opens up the follow-up world. Stick sparring with protective safety gear does protect against a real, full diminishment. A head shot from a soft stick to a helmet or say – to a hockey-gloved hand is not a real-deal, it’s a practice deal (unless you are playing for points?). And such protected play probably won’t replicate the damage you really need to move in and do the 80% stuff. Folks want to believe that stick sparring is the “realest of deal-ests,” but it fails here at the missing link point. This “diminished fighter” concept must be recognized in FMA stick doctrine so that you can indeed do some of the 80% material against a wounded opponent. Wound him enough you might even tie his shoe laces together.
Some of our great, super-athletic, gifted, obsessed FMA-ers can go deep at “Superman speed” and execute some of that 80% collection without a head shot (of course this depends on the skill of the opponent, a rookie might be easily invaded). But fighting the diminished fighter is an important step to winning-surviving. I am not so gifted, not Superman and probably most of you aren’t either so we would need to (theoretically-simulate) bust some heads to move in and trap, catch, disarm, stick-grapple, etc.
FANNNNN-CY!This missing link which usually allows for a range change and finishes is just common sense but I am not sure all FMA-ers, new or old, know, teach, and proudly pontificate on this commandment. We cannot really hurt our friends in training. We SIMULATE the head shot (or whatever serious blow)! We segment the training. We don’t emphasize or fully recognize enough the missing link between segments that makes the second segment…work.
(Yes, that is tissue in my ears in this photo above. Sometimes I get stuck teaching without hearing protection in a room full of banging sticks. Decades of this banging contributes to a hearing loss, which I have. Warning! Hey, keep score of your ears.)