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!)
Attacking the Neck for Restraints, Takedowns and Chokes
A martialist must have a working knowledge about the anatomy, physicality and the law when it comes to wrapping arms around the neck for any reason, a walk-away, takedown and/or any choke. Here is quick, mandatory report on what you should know on the subject in general.
First, I would like to establish my anecdotal experience. I am from an era, starting in the 1970s in martial arts and police work where chokes were very popular and roughly trained. A choke was a go-to, common enforcement move and in 26 years I have choked out about 10-12 or so people. That is not a lot, As an obsessive martial artist, training and experience has helped me use alternatives to choking. But I have witnessed and partaken in some 40 or more. Every suspect quickly recovered as we were taught to monitor the suspect’s responses. And I have been attacked by a few chokeholds, most during during arrests (read on for the worst). And in those olden training times, it was not uncommon to be accidentally choked out (and knocked out) sometimes in class. Times have changed.
Chokes were treated very flippantly in those olden times. Sadly, in the recent decades that followed, for whatever reasons – be they a lack of knowledge-training, etc., simple chokes have caused damages and deaths that have enraged into socio-political, national and international uproars. You do not want you or your students, compatriots and-or employees to be a part of such uproars. Results may include imprisonment these days, by ignoring the facts. Chokes are risky yes, but, still, a martialist must have a working knowledge of chokes and non-choke, neck grabs.
While such sport-choke and related sport neck takedown methods are useful to practice and know, they are small in comparison to self defense, crime, law and war problem-solving. So, this subject-study will include civilian, enforcement and military realities, as well as generic, applications of arm wrap, chokes and neck grabs.
Due to popularity and fandom of martial arts sports, most of the neck-related, training attention, time-hubris is spent on sport tap-out chokes down on the mats to win matches and pro fights. This sports version eats up “all the oxygen” (if you will pardon the pun) in youtube videos and internet searches. Several martial arts will claim there are “100s” of chokes, but no. Instead, there might be hundreds of chess-like approaches and situations to inch into these chokes. The choke itself is “checkers simple.” Blood and air.
And important – all neck attacks are not chokes…however, neck attacks are loosely, flippantly called “chokes” or “chokeholds” by many. We’ll be looking at the common arm-related ones not crushing-hand chokes, but crushing hand chokes might cause similar injuries as arm wraps.(It should also be noted here that choking by the hands not arms is a very big domestic violence problem. That’s another essay. But generically speaking, the injuries are very the same.)
The big two… for our rear arm wrap attack and takedown essay and yes – as well as grounded problems, here are two main neck arm-wrap-grabs for rear chokes and takedowns. See the drawings below, single arm and double arm wraps. You will find there are numerous nicknames for chokes. Some do help identify the move-position. Blood chokes are often called “sleepers” because the “chokee” thinks he is really just neck-uncomfortable and still okay… and… and… he’s out. While an air choke will probably cause the chokee to “air swim,” like he is drowning on dry land.
What are the legal and medical definitions? Law Insiderdefines a neck restraint as “the use of any body part or object to attempt to control or disable a person by applying pressure against the neck, including the trachea and-or carotid artery with the purpose, intent, or effect of controlling or restricting the person’s movement or restricting the person’s blood flow or breathing, including chokeholds, carotid restraints, and lateral vascular neck restraints.” (For the record, a “Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint® (LVNR®) is a control technique applied to the sides of the neck, using a combination of physiological factors to restrict blood flow to the brain which may cause the subject to lose consciousness.)
Dr. Google defines choking as a strangulation. “Strangling cuts off the flow of oxygen to the brain in one or more ways. Strangulation compresses the carotid artery or jugular veins, resulting in cerebral ischemia. Cerebral ischemia is caused by disruption of the blood supply, and thus oxygen, to the brain, particularly the cerebrum. Global ischemia is caused by cardiac arrest, shock, carotid occlusion,hypotension, asphyxia, or anemia. Focal cerebral ischemia is usually related to cerebral vascular atherosclerosis. Strangulation is defined as asphyxia by closure of the blood vessels and/or air passages of the neck as a result of external pressure on the neck.”
Non-choke neck grabs, restraints and takedowns can look like attempts at unconscious choking, but can be just temporary control measures. You can just remove-escort or takedown people via the neck area without choking them. Or you can follow up a takedown that includes a choke. With your decision to squeeze-choke the neck, your legal and medical strangulation clock is ticking…
Tick-Tock…. In May, 2023, a former U. S. Marine interrupted a disturbance and threats on a New York City subway with a choke, one that according to witnesses the hold lasted 15 minutes. The person died. The Marine disputes the time length and denies lethal intent, but nonetheless the man died. This caused a serious socio-political incident and put the Marine under indictment for murder. One must be very cautious when doing any neck wrap choke-contact for criminal and civil problems. Did a restraint slip into a prolonged blood choke or an air choke? Did the hold last too long?
Very Well Health reports that, a “A medical evaluation is crucial if someone’s been strangled. An injury to the trachea may not appear to be serious right away, but swelling in the tissues around the trachea can lead to a secondary restriction of airflow a few minutes after the neck is free.”
So how long can you squeeze? Police files report officers that have blood-choked suspects held for 30 seconds have died. That’s a short time. But shorter times are on record. There are other times the suspects hang on, struggling for longer. The old and general advice with a blood choke is to monitor the opponent. You can feel when someone “goes to sleep.”
How long is long then? “A 17-member panel of submission experts (including BJJ black belts, experienced grapplers, former MMA athletes, and medical professionals) analysed 81 UFC matches between 1993 and 2020 that ended in strangulation submission due to a LOC (as opposed to tapping). Each examiner reviewed each film (blinded to the other’s interpretation) to determine the time between full application of the technique and LOC. The mean time to LOC was 9.0 seconds, with a standard deviation of 2.5s. (Note: this had to have included ground chokes and this section of Level 2 takedowns is only covering standing rear arm wrap chokes. Still we can glean related information.) These results were consistent with previous studies in compliant volunteers, indicating that skillful application of a choking/strangulation technique will cause LOC regardless of defense mechanism…the triangle choke (probably down on the mat) displayed a significantly faster time to LOC of 7.2 seconds.” – Sam Gilbert
Crushing the trachea can cause death. There are incidents on police records of officers who are relatively untrained in this subject matter and they have accidentally crushed the trachea. The damage can range from minor vocal cord weakness to fractures of the larynx or trachea. These fractures can cause air to escape into the neck and chest, leading to significant respiratory compromise and even death if not treated quickly.
Basic neck structure injuries too… As I have mentioned not all neck-related, rear pull takedowns involve blood and air restraint, choke-to-unconsciousness intent. In terms of using the neck for takedowns and counters, in some cases you must worry about damaging the neck skeletal structure. But non-chokes are not without some medical, legal and civil law dangers.
The most damaging neck takedown I have seen and had done on me, thankfully incorrectly, is what was once called the “Ranger Takedown.” In the remote northern areas of South Korea, a criminal Army Sergeant snatched up my throat from behind with a single forearm across my neck and jumped back, as diagrammed here to the left. In the taught move, the Ranger lands on his chest. The enemy soldier lands on his back. Neck? Snapped or very badly broken. I landed instead down on my side, saving my neck, with his forearm across my windpipe. he continued to choke me. Since his hand was somewhat next to my chin, I broke a finger on his wrapping arm causing him to release me. For such escapes, always breaking a finger is not possible and will not always work, but it did for me that time.
I tell you this to explain the worst-case scenario of what a single arm, (or double arm,) rear neck-wrap takedown can do at its most “bone-damaging.” You can still single or double arm throat pull, slower, and NOT land flat down into this death move, but rather make space and pull him slowly down on his back, with you remaining bent-half-standing or kneeling. Blood choke if you must, but let go at the right instant.
Other related neck structure injuries? I know of a few rather world famous, life-long MMA champs that have stents placed in their trachea due to decades of rough training simulated chokes, and real competition chokes. This operation is called a tracheostomy.
Dr. Earl Morgan, Forensic medicine (and a Judo Black belt) adds…”In all of the combative grappling sports the “choke” hold rules require varying degrees of cervical spine protection. Of course, what makes repetitive chokes in combative grappling so safe (in class) is the health and conditioning of young martial artists. My college judo coach cautioned me to seriously consider allowing chokes in anyone over the age of 40. At the time I was in my 20’s and had no idea what the big deal was. He also spoke of the ‘40-year syndrome.’ This is where you turn 40 and suddenly you have all the aches and pains from all the ways you abused yourself when you were young, whether with drugs, alcohol, athletics, manual labor or other factors, it doesn’t matter. He was a much wiser man than I realized.”
Worrying about the counters… Through the decades in training various counters to chokes and side neck guillotines, I noticed that complying savvy workout partners, always let go of their friend-trainee’s necks when they are flipped or tripped. I don’t think many real-world opponent’s will let go of your neck, instead they reflexively hang on (to anything!) as they lose their balance. This means serious neck cranks, not seen or warned in training class. This innocent-helpful, classroom, “let go” practice leads to misleading and dangerous reality results. There is a lot that can happen between step 3 and step 4, in the drawing to right-above. After issuing similar safety concerns publically about this in the past, I received numerous reports of minor to major injuries from people countering chokes in classes. (I also heard from macho, low I.Q., half-wits denouncing me as a wus. Do they denounce Bass Rutten as a wus too?)
Even MMA great Bass Rutten wisely warns on record and on film, after demonstrating counter-choke flips like the ones shown on the right and above, that you might break your neck if the choker holds on as he flips. Needless to say a taller, stronger, heavier enemy probably won’t be so easily flipped over you. And, your body drop to flip him over could leave you… “hanging.” All practitioners should examine suggested choke counters for neck safety.
Banning chokes...I have been paid by some police agencies through the years to write subject-matter-expert studies on the validity of neck restraints and chokes. In some jurisdictions worldwide police agencies have continued to defend the use of the carotid restraint hold for decades, claiming that it is safer and more effective than using a police baton, taser, or pepper spray. Other jurisdictions have banned its use entirely while still other jurisdictions have ruled that it may only be used in extreme situations where deadly force is justified.
Most enforcement agencies worldwide have banned this “choke’ tactic (or any neck contact for that matter) for many years now. Some allowances exist for when the officer is faced with deadly force. Yet, in a strange Catch-22 circle jerk, these last-resort, life saving choke options are still NEVER TAUGHT, for fear of…being publically seen-caught just teaching the dreaded chokes!
There are some departments that allow these no-choke, neck-grabs and even neck-squeezing controls on unruly suspects and detainees, and a tiny percentage of people continue to suffer temporary and-or grave injury and death. Due to these virtually devastating socio-political problems from these “I can’t breathe” accidental deaths, and due to the rodeo-like wrestling of suspects, a blood choke can often accidentally twist and slip into a throat choke-crush. Because of this slipping mishap, I must warn police administrations against the common use of chokes in less-than-lethal situations. This usually translates to an admin – “leave the whole neck alone unless you are being killed” policy. Don’t blame me for my warning. Train your troops!
At least think about this...In a military context, other than when trying to capture prisoners, a choke is a strangulation meant to kill the enemy. But for citizens? These same legal-test concerns hold true for citizens. Civilians must be justified under a reasonable dire threat to windpipe choke someone. If you can’t comprehend the facts here, or be able to consider, discuss, teach and articulate them, you and yours might someday be in moral, ethical and legal (jail and lawsuit) dilemmas.
(This essay on non-choke and choke related neck wraps rear takedowns appear in Level 2 of my Force Necessary:Hand course, thus the essay here, which appears in the outline and my upcoming Unarmed Combatives book in 2024.)
In an era of “words count” and “language precision,” how one defines “Grappling” today is indeed important for system doctrine. Does the noun “grappling” officially and unofficially mean as it once did – “all close-up, hands-on struggling standing and ground?” Or is it now just ground… wrestling? Is all grappling just wrestling now? Is all wrestling just grappling now? Can you punch and be “in” official grappling or not? Does “old school Jujitsu” – full of stand-up moves – still count as grappling? Apparently not…
For many decades, perhaps centuries in some cases, the definitions for “grappling” have remained in place. Grappling was once defined in the books and history as a:
“close hand-to-hand struggle” or,
“to take a strong hold of somebody-something and struggle with them,”
Both standing and grounded. Anything goes, like hand strikes and kicking. Sports, point-scoring and arts were hardly mentioned, and if so in some cases, were not mentioned in the opening generic, dictionary lines but down a bit like in an addendum with samples.
But today! Thanks to the popularity of many modern martial arts, the word grappling has been redefined in many sources only as a “wrestling submission contest on the ground.”
Soooo, grappling is now nothing but a wrestling submission contest on the ground? What does this mean for ground n’ pound (Gn’P)? As a general rule, you can’t punch in wrestling, Judo, or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, whether it’s in a competition or a training session.” So, that’s it for grappling? Just wrestling?
Sure, scholastic and Olympic wrestling has helped reshape this definition. And we can assume that the latest widespread rise in Brazilian Jujitsu (a BJJ school every three blocks, which is an overall good thing) has also influenced this redefining. In a way, “Brazilian Jujitsu” has hijacked the word “Jujitsu” in popular consciousness. Ask anyone remotely interested in martial arts and under the age of 40 years-old what “Jujitsu” is, not just Brazilian Jujitsu, but just Jujitsu, and they will automatically think of Hispanic wrestling. I don’t since I am way older, and since I did Jujitsu-Jujitsu, and Aiki-Jitsu, well before the marketing miracle of the UFC. (Say “UFC” and I presume people think “MMA.”)
Nowadays, many schools advertise and call themselves just plain old “Jujitsu” when they are actually “full-monty,” Brazilan Jujitsu. The two have become so synonymous. In fact, if you ask Sensei Google any question about Jujitsu on the net, or if even quantifying a Japanese Jujitsu question, Google will usually respond with lines starting, “In Brazilan Jujitsu…” Search on Jujitsu images and I would estimate about 95% of the images are wrestling on mats.
Thats what you might call a martial monopoIy and brilliant advertising added to the fact that pure wrestling is very addictive. And that BJJ domination, along with wrestling and Judo runs deep, and has effected the term and understanding of “grappling” today. But, this redefinition to “ground submission contest,” has shrunk the original meaning. The word has evolved or actually de-evolved, into a fraction of what it once generically was.Bigger picture to smaller picture. One subject in the shrinking is about takedowns. Do you always fall with the person being dropped? Or not?
Sacrifice Falls and Accidental Falls. Wrestling of all kinds start with Stand-Up fighting-grappling, even if Stand-Up isn’t found within most popular definitions anymore. Inside these old and modern submission-wrestling based approaches, they must have ways to get opponents down on the mat to begin their ground, sport submission contest. Some BJJ folks just drop right on their backside now to start fights “at the whistle,” but ordinarily there’s a few stable takedowns and throws. How one takes down is a tribal definer – do you fall down willingly with the opponent or try to stay up? The fall-withs or “sacrifice falls” are easier. The stay-ups to remain standing or knee-high are a tad harder. They’re called by me “Sacrifice Falls” and “Accidental Falls”:
Sacrifice Falls: The submission-school of takedowns use what we all still call, and we worry about – survivalists try not to do – “sacrifice falls.” Falling together, takedowns that involve the thrower using his or her own bodyweight with or without a little tripping and “sacrificing” their own balance to take the opponent down to the mat. Willingly falling, because well…. this is wrestling. They need to be on the mat. The submission is down on the mat. It’s what they live, and are, and what they do.
Accidental Falls. We survivalists don’t “sacrifice fall,” instead we try to remain up or at least knee high as we try to avoid the cement, glass, swamp, Astroturf, asphalt, tile, carpet, rocks, furniture and human accomplices of surrounding life. Having arrested people outdoors and indoors in urban, suburban and rural areas for many years, I-we know even untrained people can freak out scrap and and scramble, powered by isometrics and adrenaline and be a problem, all shapes and sizes of them, on the floor-ground. Here, citizens and soldiers should instantly resort to some or all of a ground n’ pound – MMA , priority-mentality. (There are always situational exceptions, some discussed here later.)
Both “Sacrifice Falls” and “Accidental Falls” can go three ways. For what you do, what fallen, follow-ups would be best for what you do?
1- Wrestling. Of course for wrestling, they will only wrestle, or,
2- ground and pound (GnP) or,
3- a mix of both if open-minded and free.
Back to the Definitions. I use the older, bigger definition for my Force Necessary: Hand course, the unarmed course. In my doctrine, “grappling” is the “close hand-to-hand struggle standing and on the ground” with no rules, just the laws for crime and war. And “with, without and against mixed weapons,” priority. The study will partially remain in the “MMA-like, kick-boxing-like, stunning set-ups via strikes and kicks, takedowns and throws, and primarily MMA-like, ground n’ pound, (and with choke finishes). (MMA really is the closest sport to reality.) Joint lock-cranks are certainly studied, standing and on the ground for general “martialist’ knowledge, and of course much joint-locking is inside takedowns and throws. All martialists must know how all joints of the body twist and bend, no matter what system they do, this knowledge breaches into ground fighting. They are also used to keep people “still” for awhile, like your drunk uncle…
Still For Awhile? – Submitting Drunk Uncles... In survival combatives, we look at and dissect a few, super basic, simple submissions for those times when our “drunk uncles, other relatives and-or nutty friends” must be contained temporally. Captured, not hurt, because you will see cousin Charley again at next year’s bar mitzvah. But, submissions (other than chokes) for us, are not the over-emphasized-main mission. Not… “king.”
In wrestling, the submissions are king. The end game. The mission. In combatives, these self defense submissions are… well… the prince? Or maybe the spare prince after the prince, like Prince Harry. The backup prince to the prince. Obsessing, over-prioritizing sport submissions for tap-outs are off-mission for us in fighting crime and war. They’re fun. Interesting. Athletic. Addictive. Great exercise. Great folks. Proud hobby. But off-mission. So, what then about law enforcement?
Submissions in Police Work. When you get a bruise on your ass, from the badge in your wallet, in your back pocket, you know you’ve really been real ground-fighting. These experiences, investigating cases have worroied me, helped me “set a bar” a stage, for reality in ground doctrine. What’s works? What’s sports-art. I’ve had to arrest some people. Best records I can amass since 1973 is about 900 people in the field as a patrol officer and detective. Not too many arrests really in all that time. Some resisted, some fought, and a rare few tried to kill me.
Checkers versus Chess. My physical end “checkers move” was to handcuff them. A very large majority of submission-tap-out material were “chess-like, sports-art” and not a priority ending. Handcuffing was. The fight doesn’t end with a tap-out, and you cannot go about your life breaking everyone’s bones to end fights. First off, you should not toss EVERYONE on the ground, all the time. You don’t have to. But standing or ground, if you joint crank-lock someone, and they cry “Ouch! You got me!” when you let them go, they continue fighting or continue to run away. Trust me on this. If down and leg locks? Too far away from handcuffing and not a police priority, In general, I have found old school Jujitsu with a lot of Stand-Up grappling way more valuable.
Chokes were always an intrical part of early police training and “street” use. I have choked out about 10 people or so, maybe 9 or maybe 11? Not exactly sure how many, That’s not many. Standing and downed chokes are a survival priority for all to use (and a prominent place in the Force Necessary: Hand curriculum.)
I scratch my head every time I hear that “all police should be purple belts in BJJ.” Ahhh…no. A world of sacrifice falls? Submissions? Leg locks, Chokes (remember chokes are now taboo)? Wrong world. Maybe an orbiting moon? But not the planet. Just…just no. Reduce the abstract. Police need a customized, unbiased – repeat UNBIASED – course of 100% mixed-weapon, police stuff, dressed in police uniforms. BJJ? Just…just no. Police ground fighting is very different animal and it is a mistake to think pure BJJ or any art should be police-mandatory. Remember the Gracies even started a G.R.A.C.I.E. Law Enforcement course, seperate and much different than BJJ, further proving that pure BJJ is not suited for police. (I hear only mixed reviews and am ignorant about it. I plan on attending someday to investigate. Take note that there are numerous police grappling courses “out there.” Don’t take one given by martial artists. Take one owned, operated by cops or ex-cops who were-are also martial artists.
The military needs it’s own highly customized courses too. Don’t get me started on that fiasco.
Submissions in Civilian world. How does all this blend with civilian self-defense-survival? When civilians wrestle on the ground with unarmed and armed rapists, robbers, muggers, drunks or bullies, I wonder, “What is their perceived end game?” The bad guy says, “Ouch! Okay, I quit!” You then…let go? The once controlled thug will re-continue fighting. Or, will you lay locked on the ground indefinitely until help arrives? If help does or can? Again, the real fight doesn’t end with a tap-out, and you cannot go about your life breaking everyone’s bones as some half-wits might suggest. It’s all very situational and legal-problematic. A very large majority of submission-tap-out material were “chess-like, sports-art” and not a priority ending for normal people, in our real world and circumstances.
So…No More Striking? If grappling means “ground submission contests” and ground submission contest systems deny striking…one-plus-one-equals-two…are strikes and kicks (knees too) no longer allowed in official “grappling?” For me, no. I stick with the older definitions and “ground n’ pound.” Speaking of Gn’P, remember the old Gracie quote?
GnP is a mandatory priority for ground survival. Roger Gracie once said that, “80% of BJJ is usless in MMA.” Rickson Gracie said it was 75% useless. Many people think I am useless and dumb, but in all my years of doing, watching, investigating, experimenting, classes, seminars, working out, arresting people, I agree with these icons’ opinion. I am not alone.
(Quick mention: My old friend and Green Beret Greg Walker said – “While editor of Full Contact magazine I interviewed, did some training with Rickson Gracie. One of my questions of him was this. “What is your favorite technique?” His reply, which we published in our ground-fighting issue was this. ‘My SIG 220.’ “)
Looking at the UFC, ESPN reports the headline: “How MMA Fights End: Submission Victories Way Down” “Less time is spent on the ground overall,” they report. Gn’P way up. Chokes are catagorized in the submission category numbers, so how many of the vanishing submissions were chokes? Take away the many choke stats and what’s left in the shrinking submission sucess category?
There are of course splinter groups with some strikes, “grappling” with wrestling-only problems and trying to introduce realities. Like Eddie Bravo’s Combat Jujitsu that allows for hand strike slaps. “Strikes can only be done with an open palm. Palm strikes to the body, the face and the side of the head are considered legal. No closed fists allowed. Standing grappling is only permitted for 1 minute maximum. After 1 minute of standing, a horn sounds and the referee enforces the “Get Down” rule. There is then a coin flip and the winner decides whether to be on top in their opponents butterfly guard with double under hooks or on bottom in the same position reversed. If the one standing has clearly been the aggressor then they automatically win the coin flip.”
Okay! That’s kind of complicated, but as I said, there are splinter groups. Even the Gracies had to start “Gracie Combatives.” Why? If it was so perfect in the beginning as advertised, Why? Just…just stick with today’s generic MMA, I think. It’s the closest you’re gonna get. It is interesting that when wrestling systems add so-called “self-defense,” offer self defense versions, they start losing their origin dogma-doctrine, their original “look,” and become… well… combatives. (Ahhh – that’s my planet.)
Speaking of the UFCs of the world, I must quickly mention that I have a process in my evaluation of a hand-to-hand tactics-techniques. I have two questions in that vein…
Question Test 1: Have I seen this move work consistenly, full speed in the UFCs of the world?
Question-Test 2: Should I even consider the UFCs because they have rules. They are not the end-all test, crime and war are.
In summary, fighting system doctrine, not dogma, guides the system. Mission. Martial I.Q. studies the ways and mean to develop doctrine. Definitions really count. They they might change “right under our feet” (yes a pun). People do what they do for a variety of reasons. Know your reasons, the definitions and the doctrine. Be happy. Be educated and content on your planet. Know why you’re there. Or? Hop a spaceship.
Part 2: Smart Ass, Dismissive, Gaslight Remarks
BREAK! OKAY! STOP! You Can Stop Here If You Wish! Now This Essay Has a Two-Fold Mission. One mission with this essay is to examine the meaning of grappling and how it’s changed to suit marketing and the times. And the other subversive mission is using the public definitions for – well – a long, long awaited response to the occasional ignorant criticism of me and what I chose to do, my courses. My mission. I usually ignore these biased critics, but when some reach arrogant, ignorant asshole levels it just becomes harder to ignore.
Though I have worked “hand-in-hand” with Catch (my favorite) and BJJ people, I do still seem to aggravate a small percentage of doofuses. I sometimes hear the smart ass, dismissive remarks that…“Hock knows nothing about grappling.” Another classic retort is the advice that since I am so utterly dumb and blind that I just need to join a BJJ school to finally understand what real “GeeeRAPPLING ” is. (As if I have never had explored all this.) These critics rely on their smaller, definition of the word “grappling,” the “submission ground contest” version, and they have no idea about me, my past and my mission. They read a short something I written or said… and… assume I am dumb. You see, for them, I haven’t joined their tribal church, seen “their light” as they know it. But, I am not quite as dumb as you think.
The occasional half-wit, hyper-sensitive assholes even type this, “You wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the UFC MMA ring.” Dear Idiot-boy, I am 70 fucking years old, I wouldn’t last one minute with 30 year-old, 6-day a week, fight-athletes in the ring. But here’s another secret your peanut brain hasn’t figured out. About 95% or more of martial arts instructors and students in the whole planet wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the UFC – MMA ring, young or old.
I am rather familiar with their matted landscape. In police academies and waaay back when in, in-service training there was much control and contain ground fighting, with strikes, kicks and chokes. Once very brutal, the police doctrine got paranoid by around the 90s and the more rough-stuff disappeared. As I said, chokes are pretty much gone. The old police stuff was Catch, Judo, Jujitsu, even old-school Karate. I enjoyed the regular Police Judo classes the military police offered, which were all of the aforementioned, but much situational police-problem-solving also. (They called it all police JUDO back then because “Judo” was a popular word.) In the 80s I started with Jujitsu, Aiki-Jitsu and JKD which was always “up and down.” In 1986 I started up with a deep dive into the Inosanto Family which was already hooked up with Gracies and Small Circle Jujitsu. I was a Larry Hartsell fan and regular attendee of his chock-full-of-Catch-Wrestling and other “grappling” moves. I got to a Level 5 in the Inosanto Family system which included Nakamura “Shooto” shootfighting-shoot-wrestling. Fantastic stuff. High grade MMA. Also luckily for us, there was a famous clan of BJJ guys in the DFW area that put on seminars and open mats in the 1990s. Great people and great stuff. Meanwhile, I studied Aiki-Jitsu (A.J.) to Black increasing my time at throws and takedowns. (Once an A.J. uke was grounded though, A.J. hits or stomps him, as with Parker Kenpo which I started out with in 1973. Little ground time-stuff there, and all stand-up grappling and throws-takedowns… which I guess, doesn’t count anymore? In the newer, “contest-ground-submision” grappling definition?)
The Resisting Opponent…Thing. The nice advice also comes in. “If you just would wrestle for “a year” against resisting opponents, you would build your “Spidey Sense.” This “resisting opponent” is a sales pitch thrown out to others and to me and my presumed dumb self. (My accumulated experience in this subject is already well beyond “the theoretic year.”) My “resisting opponent” in “combatives” is also trying to punch, elbow, face maul and possibly kick me too. Their resisting opponent will not, does not, won’t punch, maul, elbow, kick or cheat. In the end whose “spidey sense” will be smarter for survival? Whose muscle memory will be “better?”
Muscle Memory- The Lost Strike – Forgetting Ground and Pound. Through all the wrestling-related materials I worked on, I worried about “muscle memory.” That if I just did that too much, I might forget striking, blocking and kicking. I had numerous friends in Judo and later BJJ, who, essentially, literally, forgot to punch, to hand strike. I’ve seen this type of loss many times over the years. Striking is not in the doctrine-dogma. I worried about me missing survival opportunities and would from, well, brainwashing forget striking and opt instead to roll and roll around.
I recall one time when a batch of “new kids on the block” were doing a seminar involving unarmed fights inside cars. These guys are biased BJJ-ers. Car fighting is logistically hard to teach-show because car interior wrestling destroys the insides of cars or they have to “hold back” from reality to save the cars. After a few sessions, I commented that there was not a punch, elbow, or palm strike, head bouncing off window-dashboard or door post in the whole somewhat, cooperative car wrestling match. None were taught either in isolated, outside-the-car possibilities. One of the hyper-sensitive instructors responded, “You know nothing about grappling!”
Oh? Huh? In 26 years in police work I’ve had to climb into and remove and fight people inside cars. Palm strikes, hammer fists and elbows were VITAL. That gaslighting angry instructor? He sells insurance and has a commercial BJJ school. So as not to embarrass him, I said little in reply. I so wanted to say though – “And YOU know nothing about fighting inside cars, bubba.” Shoulda. But I didn’t. As I am not that type of public asshole. (And you know otherwise, that guy is great BJJ-er and a very nice guy, but I guess, just hyper-sensitive.) But, there was that classic line again. Make a comment about the limited, inherent inefficiencies of wrestling muscle-memory? Bingo! You get the standard gaslighting remark. It’s like a rehearsed line from a passed around script. That line the best you got?
Simulated strikes on friends in training aren’t felt or recognized at all, and these things become worthless in “pressure testing” and “resistance experience.” You always end up in wrestling matches because ignored simulated strikes don’t count and slowly, innocently, disappear, de-evolve away. The ignorant, shallow person with a low martial I.Q. can’t recognize this training problem-conundrum. In MMA matches, this is not a problem. They strike “when the iron is hot” for real. When the hole is open, and the hole opens a lot. In combatives this concept is not a problem either. If there’s a hole? They hit it. We must recognize and reward these in simulations to ensure proper doctrine. Real reality training can at best, sometimes, involve acting. Say that last line aloud twice.
One flippant daushbag said once that he bet I’ve never had someone really grab me around the neck. Well, Ding-Dong, I have. The guy damn near broke my neck and killed me in South Korea. I broke his finger to survive. I have been put in the hospital and I have put people in the hospital. But ding-dongs don’t know me.
Seemless Fightng, Not Segmented. In my hand, stick, knife and gun courses, I have a motto, “everything you do standing, you should try and do on the ground.” Constant experimenting. We are constantly, consistently doing combatives on the ground. Striking, kicking, trapping-pinning, choking, drawing weapons, shooting, slashing, stabbing, even taking this or that joint lock-crank…on the ground. I am committed to the seamless application of all good moves, from standing through the ground.
I still work closely with Catch and open-minded BJJ guys in seminars, seeking, searching for any aspects of self defense and escape material I can use and teach. Look at my schedule. Look at who I ask to appear with me. Who I ask for help and admire. These people will vouch for my looooong time interest and investigation in….”GERRRaaapling.” I REALLY want to learn the 20% and 25% that Roger and Rickson Gracie mentioned above.
In my hand, stick, knife and gun courses, I have a motto, “everything you do standing, you should try and do on the ground.” Constant experimenting. We are constantly, consistently doing combatives on the ground. Striking, kicking, trapping-pinning, choking, drawing weapons, shooting, slashing, stabbing, even taking this or that joint lock-crank…on the ground. I am committed to the seamless application of all good moves, from standing through the ground. What do you think I’ve been exploring-doing for the last 51 years? I do know something. I am not as dumb as you think.
But gaslighters? It’s just I don’t look like you, dress like you, think like you, act like you, seek what you seek, we don’t start like you, or finish like you and our middle is different. I… have… a… different… mission. Just because I don’t worship at your church, doesn’t mean I’m a heathen.
Summary. So in a world where “words count,” precision language is important. If your only definition of a grappling expert is just being a dedicated master of tap-out, submission ground contests? Then maybe you are right about me. I do not know the tons and minutiate about your fractional, smaller definition of “ground sports contest grappling.” Maybe in that regard, you should get all uppity-superior on me. Go ahead, but try not to be too much of an asshole? I might just agree with you. I am always looking for tidpits I can alter, process, use and teach. And counters. Counters to everything. When I am there to learn, I am not there to replicate systems, I am there only to learn how to beat systems.
Oh, and to the asshole, hyper-sensitive commenters with ignorant, snap, gaslight judgements, with no internal filters bordering Tourette Syndrome…who really don’t know shit about me. Fuck you. Fuck you and the horse you road in on – remember in the very big picture of hand, stick, knife, gun crime and war? Your horse is really defined as a very small, one-trick pony.
A lot of American football coaches and players watch game films. I instead, have watched hours of football “how-to” training films to see how these players TRAIN. If you have ever spent time with me, you’ve heard me brag for years, decades even, on how American football training methods can be diced and altered to enhance, inspire and supply power-contact exercises for martial fighting. You’ve heard me say that a knife fight might not look like a movie duel, but might instead look like “football with a knife.” Same with sticks.
Hand fighting! Lord knows football takes from us and you’ll see Chinese, JKD and Filipino hand drills are used to develop what football already called “Hand Fighting,” (To the left, Tim Tackett is showing Cowboy great Randy White some classic hand drills decades ago. Tim is one of the earliest martial artists showing the NFL these types of work-outs.) You’ll also recognize some of the hand drills in the below videos I’ve listed. There’s also a drill in Football called by many, the Karate Drill, where one player tries to strike the chest at random of another and the other guy tries to slap the attempt away. One or two hands.
To me the offensive and defensive line of scrimmage, football battles cover some Aikido (because they are dealing with real powerhouse collision energy) on up to the UFC and MMA…and…yes, within it, ”trapping hands.” Trapping exists. I get a kick out of a lot of people dissing trapping because I guess they watch too many Jackie Chan movies? I don’t know. But the pinning, passing, pushing and pulling of trapping exists and I look for it in Football, boxing and MMA-UFC world. It might only go “one deep,” as in one beat trap clearance so to speak, maybe two. Three? Three might be pushing it. I started trapping in 1986 with the Inosanto family of instructors and FMA, but through the years I look to combat-contact sports as a foundation for reality trapping. What works? What can work? Boxing, Football, MMA-UFC. Fast, Short. Furious.
As with Football, line collisions are violent, with very quick trapping hands within. In the boxing, MMA-UFC world there are arm clearance, raw, ugly traps. Since I am obsessed with mixing-blending hand, stick, knife and gun wherever possible, I prefer to call them “invasions,” or invading____ . Like, “Invading Hands,” “Invading Sticks,” “Invading Knives” and, “Invading Guns” ( pistol and long gun). What pinning, passing, pulling or pushing of arms work in those realms. How are they alike? How are they different?
So, I take a hard look at football, hand drills-methods that enhance all that. The of quality football players, starting at college on up, is record breaking incredible now. These increases come from several methods, but two methods are clever drills and exercises for functionality.
One Quick Observation in and around on this subject. Australian football – or “Footy” is tough as hell, and like Rugby, sort of like soccer, are “chase-games” without the consistent line of scrimmage collision battles that can be reminiscent of, and can resemble a common collision in a fight, crime or war. Every football play starts with what a chiropractor might call, a small car crash.
Speaking of chases, I might add here that a high percentage, arrest-fight problem for law enforcement is chasing. Foot chasing suspects and tackling them down. Virtually no police academy or training covers or practices a Footie-Rugby-USA Football, chase and tackle. In my Defender-Police Judo course I do, but rarely because I need a matted runway and the “suspect” suited up for safety. And still, chase tackles are crazy and it is not very safe, especially due to the lack of conditioning and physicality missing in today’s new or even established police officers. Cops who’ve played, and still play with contact sports are better cops at this.
Second Quick Observation in and around this subject. A fad move today is teaching an arm drag to get outside of an opponent’s arms and then pivot around them to get a rear bear hug. In demos and seminars, many “show-ers” just…just end right there with the rear bear hug. They show no more. Huh? They stop there, as if, with the bear hug it’s…over? Nope, it’s just getting started. Yet naïve rookie, seminar attendees (usually gun guys exploring unarmed combatives) think its manna from heaven. Some instructors will show a follow-up. They demo a bear-hug follow-up solution and they will lift up and body slam the opponent to the ground, of course falling with them too, to enter into the world of non-stop, one-dimensional wrestling. Such is their brain-washing. Usually both these demo people are 30ish-year-old athletes. But when we look around at ourselves, at each other, differing sizes, ages and strengths, is a 150 to 250 pound body lift and body slam of the enemy practical for the masses? Hell no. I can’t pick up, least of all, body slam a 175 or 200 pound person! And anyway, I want to remain up as much as possible.
When pivoting to the rear, one could pass on the ubiquitous rear bear hug. Instead maybe try a whole variety of rear hits, kicks or takedowns where we might remain standing or at least knee high. I bring this topic up here because there are great, rough defensive line drills that use things like the “D-Line Chop,” (a trap) instead of a grabbing arm drag. In the movement there’s a follow-up shoulder hit, and quick pivot to the rear. And these are practiced in football-game-“hike”-tough drills that martialists should investigate. And, batting, zipping past, and around folks are also handy skills versus multiple opponents, where I add “imagine you are a running back” advice…(okay, okay, enough on rear bear hugs, that’s another big subject…)
A Third Quick Observation in and around this subject. American football obviously deals with face-to-face, frontal to frontal tackles, and not always chase tackles. They also cover power drills with pads to counter tackles, done in clever ways that any citizen should try and would enhance the subject, beyond typical martial arts classes.
In Summary, The Problem Is, His Arms! They are almost always are in the way. And they have muscles and seem to have a “mind of their own!” Here is a fast, short list of some football training drills I have collected on trapping and the “Football-Hand-Fight.” I can’t put videos in a book so I have to share them here. They incorporate Stop 3 Forearm Collisionmaterials, and Stop 4 Shoulder Linecollisions. Would you watch them for training ideas, adaptations, and inspirations?
For more diverse training…
Top 3 Exercises To Improve Hand Fighting For Football Lineman -video Click here
Football Drills – Defensive Line Workouts and Technique – video Click here
Don’t be Afraid to Teach Your Defensive Linemen the Chop-Spin Trap Block – video Click here
“Dear Mr. Hoochmeins, I am looking for suburban combatives. I see ads for urban combatives but I do not live in an urban area. I live in the suburbs. I would even settle for rural combatives as the country is closer to me than Detroit, near to my house. Can you help me?” – Ambiguous
“Dear Ambiguous, it is a bit odd yes, that there is an urban combatives in name, but there is no suburban or rural combatives. I think you should be looking for ‘generic’ combatives to cover all geographic problems, but the name ‘Generic Combatives’ is very boring and no one calls themselves that. Urban conjures up something …well …’urban’ and …’cool?’ Not for me, but for some. So go to any combatives one near you anyway.”
Not for me? I am a business-name-nut. Geography in a business name can mean something right away, but what exactly and for whom exactly? People often use the word “global” with aspirations of eventual world reach and fame? Or they call themselves exactly what turf they want to cover. Like Piscataway Karate – they don’t want to expand into Trenton, they are happy just in their little demographic, section of Piscataway. Geography involved in the title or not, business names really do count.
Like Mr. Ambiguous, I live in the outer reaches of the ever-expanding Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex in north Texas. This geographic term “DFW” just continues to grow and grow, but up north here we are still surrounded by farmland and ranches. Around here, it looks like an occasional housing addition, then a ranch, then a strip center, then more farmland and ranches. That breakup is what I like about the area. It’s still very much country and wide-open spaces. I am a good judge of what is rural, suburban and urban because I grew up in the thick, dense New York City area. Basically, I know city and I know country, and today’s cavalier, tossed around term “urban,” as in appealing to everyone everywhere, confuses me.
There’s a new, small business building in the cow pasture near me. The first business in this isolated place and roadway is called Urban Nutrition.Brick wall, graffiti, art sign. That ubiquitous claw ripping through the brick art, too. Urban is a big city name suggesting, well, what exactly? Real, inner city … ahhh…inner city eating? Inner city, muscle growth? Inner city…vitamins? What exactly does it mean, Mister Franchise Owner? Who is it supposed to attract? Because, last I read, and for some years now, urban areas were having trouble getting available fresh food and good nutrition. Food deserts! So…copying urban nutrition plan is not much of a goal.
“Food deserts are geographic areas where residents have few to no convenient options for securing affordable and healthy foods — especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Disproportionately found in high-poverty areas, inner city, urban areas. Food deserts create extra, everyday hurdles that can make it harder for kids, families and communities to grow healthy and strong.” – Professor Google
A store as we see it, with cows walking around it, in open fields, would capture the very dichotomy of that name in that place. “Wazzup, Farmer Jones?Howdy, neighbor! Learn how them inner city boys get real big and muscular?” (Wouldn’t you rather be a big strapping country boy? Eat fresh country food?)”
Sure, sure, sure, in the next 20 years a few things will pop up all around the nutrition store, but I will never say that it will look remotely urban, or any urban city around here. It will look suburban at best. The name sends an odd, off-mission message. It’s just odd to have an Urban Nutrition store in the middle of a rural farmer’s field. Shouldn’t the sign read, “fresh farm food?”
Aside from food deserts, what of the urban, the suburban and the rural? The U.S. Bureau of the Census defines urban as a community with a population of 50,000 people or more.” The dictionary says that – “Rural areas are referred to as open and spread out country where there is a small population. Rural areas are typically found in areas where the population is rather self-sustaining . Suburban areas are references to areas where there are residences adjacent to urban areas, like those between urban and rural.” There is a marked difference between the three. We all know this?
I see a lot of urban stuff marketed these days and, of course, even the rather ubiquitous urban combatives is a name dropped here and there in system names and school system descriptions around the whole planet. I do wonder why that? I find this title curious, too. Urban Combatives. A sales pitch might be …
“… all these techniques have been tested … in, you know … urban … ahhh … areas.”
“Wazzup, suburb boyz? Country boyz! Fight like inner-city, urban boyz! Word!”
“Fight like Boyz in the Hood.”
“No crime, no fights happen in the suburbs or out in the country, you stupid rednecks, just so you hicks know, down in the projects is where you really learn how to fight.”
“Are your punches and kicks all kinda’ …urbanized? Or country stupid? Run through that special, ‘urban” filter’ of urbanized special fighting that only urban thugs can do.”
“Here in the deep city, we cheat!”
Seems to me urban people have no monopoly in elite fighting. Have you investigated the UFC champs for example? You know Matt Hughes is a farm boy from southern Illinois. Brock Lesnar is from Webster, South Dakota. Randy Couture is from Cornelius, Oregon. There’s a long list of country boy (and girl) champs. I could go on and on with this country champ list. And, champion training is conducted everywhere, not exactly an inner-city or in an urban majority.
We know what “Urban Combat-Urban Warfare” means for the military today – fighting with firearms inside cities, as opposed to say – “Jungle Combat-Jungle Warfare” “Desert Combat” or “Forest Combat.” Each theater is different. At a very core it’s the same, but geography varies and tactics must vary.
Is Urban Combatives really about fighting big city crime? It is said by many bean-counters that if one were to subtract gun crime stats from some sections of some 10 big, liberal major U.S. cities, the American gun-crime-homicide rate would be the about the same as Japan’s per capita. Maybe real Urban Combatives best be about guns then?
Anyway, crime and/or fights will occur anywhere. Rural, suburban, or urban. Some of the worst crimes and baddest fights have occurred behind the barn in Idaho or on a side street in Branson, MO. .
Let’s talk about the martial business. Yes, fights, crime and war occur in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Indoors and outdoors. A comprehensive fighting program, appealing to the most customers, must include all these turfs. Generics at first, specifics later as the “who, what, where, when how and why” are developed and explored. Picking one name like “urban” is actually quite limiting as far as a smarter business plan goes, unlessyou are teaching in THAT specific urban zone, teaching specific urban people, to solve specific urban problems. Just like the military jungle fighting school teaches jungle fighters to fight in the jungle.
Let’s flip urban around a bit and look at it this some opposite ways, which always helps me think about things:
Will “Georgia Barnyard Combatives” work in Manchester or Prague?
Will “Harvey’s Suburban Combatives” work in Philadelphia?
Will “Jimmy Bob’s Hearth of the Homeland Combatives” work in Detroit?
Will we ever see “Outer City Limits Combatives?”
Is there even a “Rural Combatives class anywhwere?”
Is there even a “Suburban Combatives class anywhere?
The marketing name of something, and advertising catch phrases, count both overtly and covertly and are major influences in the success of business. (Hey, businesses can be tricky and are tough to name. I fully empathize.)
I am kind of a nut for busines names. (I don’t really like mine that much either. I first wanted to be “When Necessary? Force Necessary,” but it was too long and clunky and I had to shorten it. Again I empathize with the struggles to name things.)
Funny thing is, many rural and suburban people that don’t otherwise like the “big city,” don’t like the laws, politics and restrictions, some still embrace the term “urban” this or that, despite where they are and what they need.
Exceptions to geography? Always are exceptions. The road to business success is more than a name for sure. Yes, it’s hard work and with a splash-dash of like winning a lottery ticket. The path is usually a strange one and tough, and if not impossible to replicate the paths of others. Would we know of Bruce Lee if he never made any movies, never was Kato on TV? Steven Seagal? Geographic naming came into play with Brazilian Jujitsu. Must we be in Brazil? But their lottery-ticket-path was the popularity of the UFC. In the martial arts, where the “grass is always exotic and greener,” elsewhere, places like Israel, China, Japan and Brazil have a mythological lure. It seems THAT sort of geography can count a bit, but still, geography is a harsh mistress.
“Urban.” It’s a big city geographic word, but not a big potential word if you actually think about it. It’s restrictive and at the same time a very small, confining word in many ways. I guess “urban” sounds just innocently, naively cooler to some people? It’s not cool to me. I grew up in New York City. Not cool at all.