I tell everyone that when I am evaluating a martial move for myself or others, in one filter I consider a two prong question.
Have I seen it done in the UFC? (or similar venue)
Should I even consider the UFC with this move?
Which leads me to the blocking naysayers. Once in a while you will run across an internet expert who declares “you can’t block” in a fight, you have to just wrap your head up with your arms, or your forearms, because it is impossible to block in a real fight or an MMA fight. One such expert actually declared a challenge in a youtube video that that there is NO, ZERO blocking in fights, and NONE in MMA/UFC fights. Just head covers by forearms. He claims that you therefore must ALWAYS opt for a forearm on the head, or some sort of “turban” head wrap as the only option. He dared anyone to send him a film clip of successful blocking.
So, In 15 minutes I found 26 photos (not videos) of successful blocks versus punches and kicks in the “UFC-ish world.” I just don’t care enough about the subject and about him to bother looking up film clips for him. Blocks that worked are failed strikes and are boring. Such video clips (and photos) are not plentiful because blocks are boring and who films and spreads just them? Who takes the time to cut successful block footage into film clips? There are many, many unsuccessful punches, the ratios are high. Rather they film clip and upload, successful and interesting punches, kicks and knock outs. Cool moves are in film clips. Exciting things are made into video clips. No failed ones.
But some random photos tell another story about the success of blocking, even though they are taken and spread inadvertently.
Despite the fact that Bas Rutten, who I trust WAY more for advice, has said publicly and on film multiple times that blocking punches and kicks is an important skill and to ignore people who say otherwise. Bas is not the only vet-champ to say so.
I will continue to teach blocking methods. There are plenty of photo examples of successful, boring blocking in all kinds of fights. There are successful and unsuccessful blocks. I just don’t need someone telling me (and us) to FORGET them all, and erase the idea from training. To me, this is a thinking disorder.
In the world of “block-don’t block,” what about “over-blocking when it’s not needed or dangerous? Yes, this is sold to you too. Briefly on the Batman-turban-head-wrap-block. While there is a “doomsday block” as a last resort move, reserved for the cornered, or the floored pummeled. Sure. But, must you constantly wrap your head like a turban versus every strike? And 98% of the time, who has the time and skill to spot an incoming fist and wrap their arms around their head, (losing much vision, exposing their torso, also allowing the enemy to step closer in, etc.) then unwrap their arms to strike back. Who has this in-and-out, wrap-unwrap arm speed? If this is an overused go-to, mainstay of a system, then this is a sales gimmick, ad fad. To accept this idea as main response is shallow thinking or a thinking disorder.
I might add that a few of these turban practitioners have been struck on their hands while on their heads and have suffered some broken metacarpals. Military, martial and police vet Loren Christensen adds, “And head shielding hurts the arms when the puncher isn’t gloved. Get punched bare knuckle a few times in the forearm and one or more strikes a nerve(s), the shielding arm becomes useless.” If it were so wonderful you would see it more among the trained. Most of the time it is not needed, nor efficient. And good martial system doctrine is about efficiency.
Anyway, back to “block-don’t-block,” the main event of this essay. I am a little pissed that I now have to load, one-by-one, some of these successful blocking photos. But, for your entertainment I will include just some of the them as a sample collection to file away in your brain and in your notes, or to show naysaying idiots. I have many, many more such photos. How many do I need to show?
Okay, okay, I’ve had enough loading. I am through. I have many more. But I am through here.
Your Signature Moves and the Pareto and the Mental Model?
Mental models are descriptions of reality that apply across every area of our life, usually don’t get outdated, and provide good results by helping you make better decisions. What is an example of a mental model? One of the most famous and valuable mental models is called the Pareto Principle. Use the 80-20 Pareto Rule to create your signature moves
You probably know it as the “80-20 rule.” This mental models says that most of your results are going to come from just a small percentage of your effort or work.
Vilfredo Pareto, the man who “discovered” this principle noticed that 80% of the land in his area was owned by 20% of the people. He looked in his garden, and saw that 80% of the peas were in 20% of the pea pods. Then he realized that this was something like an organizing principle of life.
This phenomena applies across many domains including productivity, happiness, business, health, etc. Here are a few examples:
20% of relationships lead to 80% of happiness.
20% of exercises lead to 80% of health benefit.
20% of items on your to do list lead to 80% of productivity.
You know me, the eternal skeptic, and maybe the percentage might be 18% or 25%? But I do get the overall idea. This model is much more complex and it can be applied to infinitely more, but this basic concept allows you to quickly acquire what counts. In our “fighting world,” just look at the UFC and see what is actually and consistently done, juxtaposed with the total martial arts systems, techniques and methods of the world and history. Who, what, where, when, how and why?
In the “fight world” competition fighters have a small collection of go-to signature moves (and strategies). Opponents study those moves by way of films, personal observations and interviews to win. But what of war and crime? You might say that militaries have overall, signature strategies. But what of defending yourself against criminals? Criminals and the classic bullies have no films to study on you, to prepare for your signature moves.
I am not talking about hobby sports and arts here. Just survival. I would venture to say that you need some personal signature moves that best suit you, compiled after you do an extensive study in the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions. This is why the cookie cutter, martial arts systems are not the best manufacturers of the survival, self defense product, and they can be very one-dimensional. Thai fight Thai. Boxers box. Wrestlers wrestle with no strikes. Etc. One dimensional, offering abstract skills to deal with the harsh, mixed-weapon chaos of the world. (I might add that I do not like the words “self defense” and “fight” or “fighting,” as they can be misleading and hackneyed when discussing survival. Still, I must use them for the lack of more succinct nouns.)
You know me, the eternal skeptic, and maybe the percentage might be 18% or 25%? But I do get the overall idea. This model is much more complex and it can be applied to infinitely more, but this basic concept allows you to quickly acquire what counts. In our “fighting world,” just look at the UFC and see what is actually and consistently done, juxtaposed with the total martial arts systems, techniques and methods of the world and history. Who, what, where, when, how and why?
I resolved this signature concept by insisting that people study to develop their signature moves for their size, shape, strength, age, coordination and predicable situations-and then later, non-predicable situations. It’s the biggest part of the “Who” question.
“Who are you…really!”
“Who do you think you will really be fighting?”
“Who are you legally, as in the eyes of the law? (Pee Wee Herman or Hulk Hogan?)” I frequently confess in seminars that “I can never tell you how to fight.” That is your job and the job of your local instructor, if he or she has sufficient “Martial IQ.” Not my job as a traveling seminar circus. I must shoot for concepts. You must experiment, pick and choose your so-called signatures. That is why in my hand, stick, knife and gun courses, I want to expose people to a college-like, experience-collection of many good things. Work on them, select wisely and collect what you want, need and can do. You cannot and should not embrace them all, because, here is where we get into the age-old debate of “too many techniques.” Too many techniques to choose from and therefore slows you down, it is claimed. I don’t think there is a universal “too many line” to draw because every person is genetically different. in terms of retention and education-ability. I have decided to create an exposure course (like college). You pick your majors and minors. You experience diversity and savvy. Study systems, but study systems to defeat them, not become them. I do think one might become “Martial Sick,” just adding and adding and adding until you vomit. There are indeed some things that are so smart, so simple and universal.
Some instructors will say “get 5 things.” “Come to my ‘5 Things’ school.” But then they one-dimensionally speak of only unarmed things. What of stick things, knife things, gun things? Five, then 5, and 5 and 5 more? What of standing through ground problems? That’s a matrix of mixed things! That’s a whole lot of simple things. I struggle with this numbers games by seeking the drill/exercises that are multi-purpose. Learn one movement, change the position and weapons. I must be ever vigilant in finding these short cuts for you. That’s my job. My mission.
In the end your signatures are also facing perishability. Will you do these things, say…for the rest of your life? Or, will these signature things slowly erode away. Perishability is another topic for another time, but will your signature become dim and unreadable. And in this vein, let me mention quickly that you need to review your signature moves every 5 or 6 years or so because as you age, you may not be able to execute them as well, or at all.
We fight criminals, enemy soldiers and our “drunk uncles.” I could go on with a lot of anecdotal stories, lessons and name-dropping here, but I think you get the point? Please take a deep dive in the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions. Exercise and experiment with unarmed and mixed weapons. Collect things for you, yourself. Improve your “Martial IQ” and your “Martial Savvy”with skepticism and awareness. Don’t get yourself, “Martial Sick.”
This is all about YOU. Not me. Not the perpetual-ization and worship of systems and their god-heads. YOU! Get some signature moves for situations.
I really enjoy the numerous youtube videos of people being attacked and the victim unleashes a smart boxing combination and the badman drops like rock. The smart integration of boxing, kickboxing, Thai combinations are worthy studies in self defense combatives, not the whole systems remember, mind you, just what’s smart. Just what applies. (Untrained people – mostly everyone – respond differently than trained people, but we can’t go off on that whole topic here.)
“There is no second round in the street,”might be an old and corny expression for some, but some folks need to hear it once, or once in a while, to get them back on track for what they want, and what they are forced to do in classes and programs.
Attrition is defined as – “the action or process of gradually reducing the strength or effectiveness of someone or something through sustained attack or pressure.” It’s a word used in military battles and war, and here in sport fighting “physical attrition” is a strategy.
In sports, it is indeed the coaches job to map out a strategy to your first or next fight, give you a game plan. You know that in amateur and pro fights, where a history and film exists on your next opponent, these histories are studied and strategies evolve. A properly prepped, fighter, MMA, BJJ, UFC or otherwise needs to walk in with a strategy, a plan. And in this process, the plan is made and you might hear from your coach, “Do this, then do this and this, and the fourth round is yours.” “You…make your move,” Kind of talk. Or ideas about tiring him out in among the battle plan. “First round? Check him out, probe. Probe with the jab. See how he reacts. Second round do ‘this or that’ with the discoveries from your probing. Third round is yours, as you will…”
Coaches say – tire him, move around, also deliver body shots too and kicks too in kickboxing, to weaken and confuse the opponent in round one and round two for the theoretical victory in Round 3.
In one example of body shots, there were numerous successful (and unsuccessful) boxers who spent rounds pounding the upper arms of their opponents so that eventually their guard, through multiple rounds, would eventually drop, their beaten arms down for their eventual, head shots, so that the… ” ______ (fill in the blank) round is yours.”
I think it would be odd for a coach to simply say, “knock him cold with a head shot in the first two seconds. That is all. Now go jog and hit that bag.” Fighters do indeed knock people out quickly, but aren’t they always handed an overall, planning, staging, strategy, etc.? Despite the delaying plans, bingo!
For many fighters, this plan is laid out in the first meeting for training for a specific fight. This fighter then and quite possibly gets this message buried in his head for months, “Third round is mine. Third Round is mine.” Even in the first round, he is fixated on the third round, deep in his head.
This type off delay-progression, advice was advice I had been given for decades by various boxing, kick boxing, and even Thai boxing coaches.
The transition of these delay ideas and advice can get blended over and into, for lack of a better term, “self-defense-street-fighting” courses. Training by short-sighted, self defense course trainers and coaches can, have and will get these borders confused. I was told these off-mission tips at times in several self defense courses that included boxing, kickboxing and Thai methods. For examples:
I was in a very, popular, modern, street-fighting system back in the 1980s, in a course considered a pioneer program back then, that emphasized, “the probing jab.” In fact, the association newsletter was called “The Probe.” The head guy would often take months of money from certain “monied” people and make them study the jab only…for four to six months. The…probe. Yes, jabs only for many months? Imagine that. Then you graduated to the cross punch – for who knows how long – $$$$? People did not stay with him for that long when he tried that approach. Yet, he did many other things too, effective things too, but some of his people got caught in this “jab scam.” Once again that odd mix of overdoing some boxing strategies in with some survival strategies.
The military police academy boxing coaches, assigned to create a fighting spirit with a boxing program, taught off-mission, sport boxing concepts and strategies that weren’t the smartest things for street survival. I am convinced these instructors did not understand what I am saying here. Despite the generic “toughness” mission, they were immersed in boxing, taught boxing only, with boxing strategies. Wrong place. Wrong time.
Martial arts can get easily confused, innocently blending sport strategies with self defense themes, and vice-versa as self defense courses can get sporty-artsy.
The “who, what, when, where, how and why” questions arises again.. Briefly, as these questions run deep…
Who am I, who is teaching and who am I really going to be fighting?
What do I need to learn? What are they teaching here? What do I really want? What are my real goals? What are they turning me into? What am I wearing? What happens when I am not fighting a mirror-image of myself and regular thug?
When will I use this? When is this legal?
Where am I going with this course? Where will I use this training?
How will it work?
Why I am doing this in the first place? Why are they telling me and making me do these things?
I called these off-mission, missteps – “sport cancers” to be on the lookout for in all transitions from sports to the non-sports world. This is actually quite hard to dissect, especially buried within small steps. Even after 40 years I STILL spot things that I, or we, should not be doing. Enlightened coaches look for these, but I must tell you I don’t find many such enlightened coaches. Many are so immersed in what they do systemically, via their mindset, via hero or system worship or franchise dues, they will not or can’t detect the discrepancies and will not or cannot rebel against them.
“There was no second or third round in the street fight,”…to use a corny phrase. These street fights/arrests I was in and ones I had to break up and later investigate had little time for the experimental probing jabs, trick footwork or secondary blows to wear an opponent down through time, and other “second-third-or-more round,” ring sport, strategies.”
Upon self-examination, be happy with what you do and know why and what you are doing. I want you to be happy in your pursuits.
Physical attrition. We don’t have time for physical attrition. I hate to use the over simplistic term “street fight” because real encounters occur inside and outside of homes and businesses in rural, suburban and urban locations. But these so-called “street fights” were almost always hard, fast, crazy and over quickly. You were bum-rushed, or wild-man-tackled and, or sucker-punched, hit with chairs and lamps, etc…I was attacked once by a man with a big ax. No time for several probing, experimental sport jabs versus the swinging ax man.
“I think people need to learn how to hand, stick, knife, gun fight first, then dive into your bobbies, sports and arts later. Get the pure protection, combatives done as a priority.” – Hock
Doing the training process in order that I mention in the above photo and quote has become much easier now than in decades past when a person (such as me) had to slog through 6 or more arts and systems to filter out the real core, generic survival, offensive/defensive material, while adorned in a bevy of different uniforms, rules, hero worship and system worship. Wants and needs. It comes down to a series of “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions.
Whose the best on the subject and will teach you?
What materials? What do I REALLY need? Want? Art? Science? Both?
Where can I go to learn what I want?
When are these classes and courses available?
How will I filter this?
Why am I doing this in the first place?
Wrong place? Wrong people? Wrong mission? In the late 80s, Steven Seagal burst on the scene and broke a guy’s arm in the first few minutes of a movie. I saw “Above the Law” in a theater and knew that very instant that Chuck Norris and Claude Van Damme were done. Chuck went straight to TV and Claude disappeared for awhile to reemerge in B and C movies.
The movie changed and -or motivated a lot of minds. One old friend named Ted for example told me back then, “I wanted to fight like Seagal. I turned my car into the first martial art school I drive by every day and signed up.” But, Ted pulled into a Tae Kwon Do school and very quickly realized he was financially contracted to the wrong place with wrong people, the wrong system for his mission. He had no “who, what, where, when, how and why” going for him. No one there was doing this…this …”Seagal-Fu” as in Aiki-jitsu- Aikido. My point being is that he started something out of an ignorance. What did he want, anyway? And what did he need?
Though I’d been in Parker Kenpo about a year before I went in the army in the early 1970s, the military and police experience really forged my who, what, where, when, how and why mission needs. I needed stuff. Needs that I never saw efficiently fulfilled in one, two, three or more arts. It was a long, hard slog back then to filter. It still isn’t easy really and truth is a daily investigation. But I WANTED what I NEEDED. Not needed to do what I wanted.
Today, Krav Maga is everywhere, though I am not always happy with many versions. It was the genius of Darren Levine who resurrected it into an international business back in the 1990s. He soon lost his “shirt and pants” doing it with insane over-pricing, and he has regrouped a bit since, but you can thank him for your local Krav school, and Krav notoriety, as Krav splintered and splintered and splintered away from him. And, It seems that “combatives” can be found here and there, though again, I am not always happy with the many versions. But, these are groups of folks that have already tried to filter the generics of established systems for you and save you time.
In the same vein, I find the modern-day, MMA of kickboxing, and ground fighting WITH strikes and kicks on the ground, to be diverse, superior and way more on survival mission. No frills. Just winning and what works. Money is at stake! Reputations! It is better than boxing alone. It is better than wrestling alone. But then, still, they have some sport rules and no cheating, no sticks, no knives, no guns!
The overall, international success of Krav, combatives and MMA tells me that a whole lot of people did not, and do not want, to get bogged down in arts, uniforms, abstracts, and that otherwise long slog of off-mission, distracting requirements. I have seen this is the disappearance of, and the slow decline of, old-school, martial arts schools around the world.
Hand. Stick. Knife. Gun. Standing through ground. The laws of your land. Savvy. Awareness. Studies of crime and war. It’s been an evolution I too have been part of, evolving and teaching for 24 years now. A movement. My personal suggestion and advice is one of common sense. Try and get those foundational defense, offense survival stuff first and then move off to more confining hobbies later. Needs first. Then wants.
“Fighting first first, systems second!” Remember that quote? I have used it for 24 years since I emancipated myself from all systems. But, like a college counselor ordering a college kid to take all the college courses in precise order – 101, 102, 103 – and then they simply can’t do that because of filled classes and scheduling, a student takes what he or she can at the time. You too, may have trouble completely doing all unarmed and mixed-weapon combatives first and then arts second. While it is easier these days for you to get right to what you want than in the past, you may have to do this training side-by-side? Generally people are busy with life and can only chip away at this stuff, anyway. Do something rather than nothing. Get off the couch.
Do something. Again, I always say I want people to be happy. Just know where you fit in the big picture. If you told me,
“Yeah Hock, I completely understand what you are saying, but I just want to do traditional ______. I just really love the culture and the country of _______. ”
I am thumbs up with you. Or, one might add to that “love” list,
“Hock, I get it, also just enjoy developing the overall personalities of children.”
Go for it. How about,
“I agree, Hock, but for me, my dream is to be a champ in the UFC.”
May your dream come true! You already know the high regard I have for modern, clean MMA. Unlike the aforementioned Ted, you all get the big picture and can articulate about it. Just know the big picture of “needs and wants.” All martial arts do have abstract benefits. And there are some established, “martial-artsy-named” schools that really try to get survival materials in the curriculum.
So…dance in some kung fus? Throat punch in some combatives? Art? Science? Nuts and bolts? Investigate and figure out what you really need and what you really want to do. Use the “W’s and H” questions. The choices and opportunities are more clear and obvious than ever before.
Finally, a litmus test question – look at it this way. Speaking of college, If you were sending your daughter (or son) off to a big city, college, would you want her to know, so-called “traditional karate?” So-called “Brazilian wrestling?” “Stick versus stick dueling?” Or, so called “unarmed and mixed-weapon, combatives?” What does she really NEED to know, first and foremost? What do you want her to learn, first?
Preemptive Strikes and Weapon Brandishing, or “Officer, The Guy in the Red Hat Started It.”
Preemptive strikes and brandishing. How are these two subjects connected? In an unarmed preemptive strike, you are detecting an impending attack upon yourself. You are making an educated or uneducated guess, smart or not smart, and you slug the other guy first before he slugs you. With brandishing a weapon, you are detecting an impending attack upon yourself, and with an educated guess or not, smart or not, you somehow display your carried weapon with just a peek or a flash of a jacket or vest, or…do a full pull out of a pistol, knife or stick.
In my Stop 1 Showdown-Standoff training module, and in the Level 1 of the hand, stick, knife and gun courses I teach, we cover sudden, unarmed attacks, and a whole lot of weapon draws. Stop 2 through Stop 6 and Levels 2 through 9 cover the mixed weapon, standing though ground, follow-ups. But…so, in the auspices of the Stop 1 boundaries, and in the Levels 1, it is imperative to discuss these two violence initiating subjects. Who does the physical initiation?
Unarmed Preemptive Strikes The topic of preemptive striking and kicking a pending attacker has always been suggested in martial systems. So many folks think this is the best idea. But there are a few drawbacks. Just a few. “Red hat” drawbacks, I’ll call them. In recent years there have been a lot of YouTube videos of superstar, fad martial artists beating the snot out of a training partner who is just standing still, hands hanging down, before them. Presumably there has been an argument to kick this off? The two are close and our hero springs forward, slaps, pokes, shin kicks and smacks the other guy down in a pile, in one second. The surrounding crowd is thrilled with his amazing skill. So amazed, I hear that he charges some $800 for a two day seminar. Where’s the “red hat” come in? It just helps define whose-who and whats-what. If the superstar is wearing a red hat, witnesses will report to the police,
“Officer, those two guys were just talking, and the guy with the red hat hit the other. He started it.”
Handcuffing ensues. Of you. I am not saying that preemptive strikes are a bad thing, they might be wonderful at times. It just can be tricky in the big picture (especially with witnesses around.)
Weapon Brandishing In simple terms, is just pulling a stick, a knife or a gun always sheer brandishing? When is it? When is it not? Like with an unarmed preemptive strike, what is the pre-draw situation? Federal law defines brandished as:
“…with reference to a dangerous weapon (including a firearm) means that all or part of the weapon was displayed, or the presence of the weapon was otherwise made known to another person, in order to intimidate that person, regardless of whether the weapon was directly visible to that person. Accordingly, although the dangerous weapon does not have to be directly visible, the weapon must be present.” (18 USCS Appx § 1B1.1)”
In Canada, a weapon is referred to in legalese as an “object.” So, one must do a dog-and-pony show on what “object” was used in the situation. Pencil? Screw diver? Tooth pick? Potato chip? Thumb? (Thumb? Actually, few, if any – there’s always one wacky place – regard unarmed tactics as a “weapon,” and the myth of karate-people required to register their hands as lethal weapons is just that – a myth.)
The US Carry webpage says, Brandishing a weapon can be called a lot of different things in different states. – “Improper Exhibition of a Weapon.” – “Defensive Display.” – “Unlawful Display.”
Retired special operations Ben Findly advises, “…‘brandishing’ or ‘improper exhibition’ or ‘defensive display’ or ‘unlawful display’ (or whatever your state and jurisdiction calls it) depends specifically on your state and jurisdiction. Very generally, however, for an operating definition “brandishing” means to display, show, wave, or exhibit the firearm in a manner which another person might find threatening. You can see how widely and differently this can be subjectively interpreted by different “reasonable” individuals and entities. The crime can actually be committed in some states by not even pointing a firearm at someone. In some states it’s a misdemeanor crime and in others a Felony. So, focus, think rationally, know your state’s law, and be careful out there.”
In other words, say you are the one wearing the red hat again. Things go bad and you try to scare off trouble. You pull your jacket back to show a weapon. Or, you pull a weapon to scare off this problem person, what will the witness say?
“Officer, they were just arguing and the man in the red hat pulled out a big ___!”
Fill in the blank. Knife? stick? Pistola? Handcuffs ensue.
A quick review of several state, weapon brandishing laws include words as legal terms like: – rude, (was the gun-toter obnoxious and rude?) – careless (was the knife-toter waving it around?) – angry, (was the stick-toter yelling and red-faced?) – threatening manner…
…threatening manner? What? For many the whole point of aiming a stick, knife and gun at a brewing bag guy is to be threatening! What then is the line between a smart preemptive strike, a smart weapon show or pull and a crime? How can we make it all become justified self defense? As a cop of three decades, I am alive today because I pulled my gun out a number of times, just before I REALLY needed it. This idea can work.
The remarkable researcher and police vet Massod Ayoob says, “When an unidentifiable citizen clears leather without obvious reason, folks start screaming and calling 9-1-1, and words like “brandishing” start being uttered. Thus, circumstances often constrain the law-abiding armed citizen from drawing until the danger is more apparent, which usually means the danger is greater. Therefore, often having to wait longer to reach for the gun, the armed citizen may actually need quick-draw skills more than the law enforcement officer.
A. Nathan Zeliff, a California attorney reports, “Brandishing – drawing your firearm pursuant to a lawful act of self defense should not be considered “brandishing”. However, if it is determined that you drew your firearm and the facts and circumstances show that you drew or exhibited the firearm in a threatening manner, and that such was not in self defense or in defense of another, then you may face charges of brandishing.”
I am not to sure this brandishing topic comes up all that much? Or not enough. So, here’s some collective words of wisdom on the subject. A collection of advice looks like this:
1: Prepare for problems by using the Who, What, Where, When, How and Why questions.
2: Avoid possible dangerous arguments and confrontations when possible. Conduct yourself with smart, self control. Leave if you morally, ethically can.
3: Obtain a valid, concealed carry license for all your weapons.
4: Keep your weapon concealed. Do not open carry it.
5. Do not display a stick/baton, knife or pistol, or threaten deadly force unless you, or others are threatened with imminent death or serious, bodily harm .
6: Do not in any way reveal your stick/baton, knife or gun, point to it, indicate that you have a them.
7: Attend a fundamentals of fighting with and without weapons training and learn the use of deadly force laws in your city, county, state and country.
Witnesses and “pointed-at, victims” can be stupid, bias and vindictive. They have cell phones and big mouths. And, don’t get caught wearing the red hat!
.This is where I have fallen down. Where my knife course has fallen down. Before the fall, in the 1990s there was a “resurgence” if you will, a re-look, re-examination of older knife material (which essential was a lot of knife dueling). Some might call it “knife fighting,” but I don’t like that term. But you are still indeed, fighting with a knife when you are…fighting with a knife. Still, I don’t like many terms, images, messages, logos relating to the knife and knife fighting. By that time in the 90s, I was in police work for quite a while, both in the Army and in Texas, most of that time as a detective. I’d seen and experienced working on a lot of knife crime, as in aggravated assaults, rapes, attempted murders and murders. I myself have been attacked by both knife and ax.
I know the depressing, dark side, the wet side in juxtaposition to all the smiling people having fun, slap-dashing around in gyms playing tag with wooden and rubber knives. Knife training is often treated quite cavalierly. This doesn’t have to be the case as very serious cultures exist, like the culture of pistol training is quite serious and full of foreboding and legal scares. Careful, mature training cultures do exist, and this must certainly become true in knife training also.
In the early 90s, this edged weapon resurgence was sort of an international turning point in knife training. A reboot if you will? It first resurrected the old military knife courses and the semi-legendary names of yesteryear. They weren’t “kuraty” superstars. A sophisticated look at them however, revealed, they weren’t so sophisticated. So several of us, using the newer sports training methods of the time, and bolstered by years in Filipino martial arts or other historical backgrounds, stepped up and made “new” knife courses. Gone was the martial arts uniforms, belts, etc. We wore jeans with pockets and regular clothing belts. Street clothes.
Some of the 90s knife pioneers? James Keating. Tom Sotis. Kelly Worden, Bram Frank, Bob Kasper, yours truly, to name just a few, but there really were only a few of us. Paul Vunak is a late 80s pioneer in many areas. (Still, some of these guys were overdosing on knife dueling.) We wore shirts, jeans and shoes. I even taught at times in a suit and tie. Skeptical, we didn’t trust the old stuff and we didn’t trust the established martial arts either, even the Filipino applications of the knife are often tricky and too “duely”. (Do you want to walk around wearing a vest with 12 knives? Seriously.) Be free. Think free. Be skeptical. Are you a replicator? Or an innovator?
Still, the old just helps the new. This was also part of a bigger “breakaway” from establishments that was going on in that decade. The world was seeing MMA (or at least ground wrestling) on TV like never before. And somehow a collection of old stuff, dressed in athletic pants, painted in the “Israeli mystique” – Krav Maga – was really shoved down the throats of Tae Kwon Do schools as mandatory, by clever (and insidious) shaming, business groups, like NAPA in the 90s.
The “Mixed Revolution” was in the 1990s martial air! Jeet Kune Do was spreading into a heyday. Inosanto JKD/MMA was already doing Thai and ground, and so much more. Ever hear of “Shoot?” But, I guess the Israeli mystique was greater than the Bruce Lee mystique?
Mystique? Yes. Ever so important in advertising, sales and manipulation. That’s how we pick shoes, cars, purses and pistols (politicians, religions and…) Manipulation. More on that later…
My knife course had a few odd, infancy names in 1990 and 1991, but it was quickly called “When Necessary? Force Necessary: Knife!” But that 5-word title was a little long and clunky and it was shortened to just 3 words – “Force Necessary: Knife!” I do prefer the longer, clunky name, as it completely explains exactly what I mean to say. Only use that force necessary when absolutely necessary. But I got around the country and quickly, the whole world doing that knife material. Lots of traveling, lots of seminars. It lead to being voted Black Belt Magazine, Weapon Instructor of the Year and also into their BB Hall of Fame. (back when readers actually mailed in votes.) I also “scored-very well” in the non-arts, growing “combatives” world.
Black Belt. Tact Knifes. Hall of Fames. TRS. Such was the jargon and the martial/political stage of the 90s. Today, it’s hard to grasp that the total, martial world communication back that existed was with a mere 6 or 8 international, martial arts magazines. That’s it! Try and list them. Yes, Black Belt, Blitz, Martial Arts Illustrated, Inside Kung Fu, Inside Karate. Think of some more. Try and list them. They were the filter for us all. Talk forums developed slowly later and now, like the magazines, are almost all extinct.
Now? Nowadays, I don’t know where the martial arts communication filter exists, specifically. The…web…the gazillions of webpages? The gazillions of podcasts? The gazillion of….Instagrams? Facebook? Yesterday’s business card is today’s webpage. And any dipshit can pay to have amazing looking webpages. The battle for exposure takes a business up and down many extremely, frustrating, costly roads.
Of course with all businesses, this 1990s knife movement kicked off a new interest and a fair number of new knife courses popped up through and to, by 2005-ish, often by less experienced, less organized people, and in my opinion doing less comprehensive programs. But this business evolution is to be expected. Invent a new “widget?” There’s a knock-off. Then knock-offs with an “S.” In the big picture of training and education however, not widgets, this can be a positive thing. Awareness. Curiosity. Growth.
So, when did I fall? It happened slowly and then one day you are down looking up. How’d I get down here? Not enough Instagram pictures? Some 25-odd years later, in about 2015, on a popular public forum someone asked me what I thought of Johnny Swift’s new, knife, quick-draw article. Of course it was named something super-spiffy like “Armageddon Instrument Production,” but it’s just knife quick draws. Brand new, Biblical-worthy advice Swift preached, and published in the new amazing world of web-jargon magazines called something like “Organic Micro Evolution of Edged Prophetic Dynasty.” (I just made that magazine name up, but how far am I off? Have you seen these seminars names lately? Aren’t you impressed, or can you see right through the pretentiousness?) Twenty and 30 year-olds salivated!
I read Swift’s ground-breaking, testament as featured in “Retrograde, Skill Supremacy, Fusion Elite Magazine” and I replied on the public forum –
“Oh, I have to like Swift’s article. It is virtually, word-for-word, from my 1992, Knife Level 1 outline.”
My review/remark caused a lot of guffaws and a few smart ass remarks, among the 20 and 30 year old readers, most of whom were so submerged in modern “dynasty jargon” and up to their beards in mystique, and lost in the gazillion web world, they’d never even heard of us older guys from the 90s. I mean, who am I to comment like this on their latest fad-boy genius? I added that I was not suggesting that Johnny Swift plagiarized my outline, as it might have innocently been co-opted, or the older info has become so, ever so embedded into the “knife world” it was deemed as open knowledge. I get that. Sure. That happens. (That level 1 outline is/was free to the public and has been distributed for literally 3 decades, and my knife books have been for sale since about then too.)
I reminded the guffawers that the spread of education is a good thing and that at very least, I only partook in that process. I said that the old just helps the new, and you have to remember the old, so history doesn’t repeat itself. As a great gun instructor Dave Spaulding likes to remind us, “It’s not new. It’s just new to you.”
One guy was clever enough to say, “Well, sorry I missed you when I was 5 years old.” Ha! I told him that was a pretty damn, funny retort. It was. But missed me? Dude, I never left. But actually he never knew I was around to begin with. That is part of the mysterious “fall.”
I added in that discussion with Mr. Wise-ass that the spread of education was a good thing, and I only partook in the process. Seriously, I frequently read as new, many old catchy terms, ideas, expressions I published and advertised decades ago.
My really big mistake in the knife world, training business is…I think, not emphasizing the knife training course only. Alone. My obsession was/is with covering the bigger picture. Hand, stick, knife, gun. That’s “where it’s at” for me (is that phrase too 90s? Yikes, maybe too beatnik 60s?). The 1990s evolved into the 2000s and my step-by-step into what I really wanted to do all along since the 90s. My goal is to create the best hand, stick, knife and gun courses. It’s a mixed weapon world. Each subject I have is a carefully constructed 4-pillar, foundation. But I think when you shoot for this holistic picture, each separate pillar seems to get a little lost, a little less appreciated, a little less noticed. It also makes me appear to be less specialized. This ain’t true. There’s a big mixed weapon matrix:
But anyway, back to the knife! Inside a comprehensive knife course is:
* Knife vs hand.
* Knife vs stick.
* Knife vs knife.
* Knife vs some gun threats.
* Standing, kneeling, sitting and on the ground.
* Saber and reverse grip experimentation.
* Skill developing exercises.
* Knife combat scenarios and situations.
* Legal issues and smarts.
* Who what, where, when, how and why questions
* Criminal history knife stories.
* War history knife stories.
I do get a kick out of the occasional lame-brain who pipes up and says, “Knife training? Just stick the pointy end in the other guy.”Especially when these same complainers spend about ten thousand $$$ a year – plus – shooting at gun ranges. Why not just stick the pointy end of the bullet in the other guy, too, Brainiac? Is it all really that simple?
But, not focusing just on the knife is a marketing problem. I don’t advertise or highlight “just the knife” like other courses do. This is one point where I have really fallen down and why my knife course has fallen down through the years.
Another problem for me? No “flags.” I have no crutch system, no flag to fly, like Pekiti, JKD, Brazil-Mania, Krav. Silat. Arnis. Bruce Lee. UFC. It’s just little ol’ me flapping in the wind. I can’t draw in extraneous-system-people, capture super search terms, as some of those are obligated to attend, even arm-twisted by “the system” they’re in. Brand names are…brand names.
Plus, I avoid and dodge macho, death messages, grim reapers, and death images mystique. I would never advertise that I am “always bladed.” And I am not in any “mafia.” I am life-long cop. I fight the Mafia. I am not in any “cartel,” or a “cult” etc. Look, I can make the distinction between something that is a little fun and ironic and something/someone that is sick and weird. It takes a little investigation too, to not jump to conclusions, but sick and weird is sick and weird.
Various other ultra-violent, whack-job messaging should be reserved as a primer mentality for very serious, military, combat groups. THEIR psychology. Their prep. Not cops and certainly not every day, walk-around citizens. Mimicking them makes you look like a wannabe punk. Look at the lawsuits filed on cops and citizens. Go ahead, have a little death-engraved-logo on your cop gun and see what happens when you shoot someone. Have a patch or tattoo of a grim reaper with a knife, or a skull with a knife through it, and see what happens when you have to use a knife. We the police, the prosecutors search your history when you are in an assault, knifing or shooting. Mature survival is enduring the end game – as in the legal aftermath, is a big part of a well-thought-out, course. (Again, mature gun easily people understand this.)
Not like this silly fucker in New York for example – I read one New York City, very popular, international knife “cartel-liberty” group headline paragraph:
“I love it when I carve someone’s balls off and put them in his empty eye sockets.”
Shit man, you probably work in a fucking supermarket. And you think and talk like this? You need to be on watch list. These idiots give us all a bad name. But images and expressions like this, or near like this, this mystique, does attract a certain sick customer, usually young, or young in the brains anyway. (After my public complaints and comments on this, this moron took that line down.)
No Mystique? Which leads me back to the first paragraph. We know the established advertising fact the “the grass is always greener on the other….” side of the street? Other country? The sewers of Spain. The temples of Thailand. The monasteries of China? The borders of Israel…the…and so on. Me? I appear to be just a bland, white guy with some info. I don’t even have any tattoos! Many well-known knife people are Filipino, just cause, because…they are Filipino. They may have never been to the Philippines, but they have an exotic sounding name.
And the serious military angle? Even with them, take a look at the most sophisticated, revered, respected, top-flight, Special Forces vets and most play it quiet cool like a gray man.
Lackadaisical about making rank and instructors. I don’t really run the classic franchise business as seen in self defense, BJJ and Krav, other combatives courses, and Lord knows, classic martial arts. I am often lackadaisical about promoting people and making instructors. Other systems do this like precision clockwork, where I fail to emphasize this. It does hurt the proverbial martial, business model.
In the same vein, I shun all titles like guro, grandmaster, sensei, etc. “It’s just Hock,” I say, which also does not fly well with some organizations who base themselves on this structure. Also, street clothes please. It’s almost like I am insulting them? I’m not trying to. You do whatever you need to do to survive.
After the fall. However boring, I still do see some “knife people” all around the world. There are “normal” people, martial artists, historians, survivalists and hobbyists, gun people out there, interested in generic, evolved, knife material. There are. And that is who I mostly see when the knife topic comes around. Since I disdain the crazies and the fringers, they usually avoid me too. I know they know, I don’t like them.
I always do a few hours of knife in every seminar and I do have the occasional knife weekend seminars when and where I realize I need to catch up with people’s rank requests. And, normal people can always, sort of, hide their knife interests inside a classic martial arts name. To me the knife is inside of, part and parcel of, hand, stick, knife, gun crime and war, survival education.
So, me. Boring. No mystique. Not isolating the knife enough. Not promoting people fast enough. No skulls. No flags. No carved out-eyeballs. No macho. Just generic methods. Here is where I have shot myself in the…well, stabbed myself in the foot, in the knife training business, even though just a few of us are those innovator pioneers and turned the tide in the 1990s into what it all has become today. For better or for worse. Maybe you young fellers will learn from my mistakes?
It’s always good to mention and/or thank your prior teachers once in a while. I always do. But, before you young knife guys make any sarcastic jokes about me again (and Kelly and Bram, et al?) Keep in mind…your modern instructors might have “peeked” at all my and our long, established materials, and would not confess to it. I might just be your grandfather. Our materials have become such standard doctrine that these young guys don’t even know of us.
I worry about the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions. In my courses and should be in your courses too, part of the “Who Question is “who do we fight?” Well, we fight three “enemies.”
Your “drunk uncle”
1: Who? Drunk Uncles: “Drunk uncle” is a metaphor that means all your relatives, near and dear, near and far. Kin folk or those close enough to be. It is very common in life to fight people that you do not wish to really hurt. Like your drunk buddy or uncle/relative. In police work we are also expected to fight but not really hurt people unless things get really “out-of-hand” and the situation escalates. But in person-to-person, poke your buddy’s eye out, bite off his ear, hammer-fist his throat or neck, smash his face, break bones, shatter his knee, and then see what happens to you. Usually, often, jail and lawsuits. Lots of money and problems. There is a whole lot of domestic violence out there, and violence on, and from, “who you know” is a big problem. (Remember, there are many intricacies in the complex laws of family violence, lest of all assaults and self defense.)
2: Who? Criminals: Essentially speaking, a stranger, (or for that matter even a friend, uncle or not, officially becomes a criminal when they assault you. You could just lump your uncle into this category once in a while too. But, what crime is being committed? Who, what where, when, how and why? The level of crime, the exact situation takes the exact temperature of your hot, lukewarm or cold response. Crime by the way often starts out with a trick ambush, which is a deep dive study also into the “what, where, when and “how” questions.
3: Who? Enemy soldiers: We know what those are. We usually like to kill them from as far away as possible, but often can’t do that either. Consider the military “rules of engagement.”
Civil law, criminal law and the Geneva Convention, as well as human ethics – look at fighting these three “bad guys” categories differently. Our responses and solutions confronting said “uncles, criminals and enemy soldiers” are very situational and may be:
Bargain (talk, show weapon, etc.).
Escape (orderly retreat – you leave or he leaves).
Hurt, on up to maim.
Detain, arrest and-or take prisoner.
Of course, not necessarily in that order. All are worth exploring in training through the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions. All have happened and will happen. I make it a point to cover all of the above in the Force Necessarycourses.
Since we are Force Necessary and not Force UNnecessary, I do not teach sports or arts. I have done sports and arts for decades. I investigate sports and arts. I only borrow and raid from sports and arts for practical applications to solve these “uncles, criminals and enemy soldier” problems. Sports and arts are great laboratories, but it takes constant vigilance to know where to draw the line between art-sports and survival.
Who Fight? What Fight? Where Fight? When Fight? How Fight and Why Fight?
(Or, How I learned to wrestle with my preconceived notions)
I am an old police detective from a time when Community Oriented Policing was going to save the world and cure cancer. One of the main points of said movement was that the “perception of crime” was just as real to citizens as the real crime was. Look at how the murder rates in small parts of Chicago, Baltimore or St Louis effect the opinions of outsider people on those entire states. In other countries, those tiny jurisdictions effect the opinion of the USA.
Usually the perception of crime was/is always way higher than the real McCoy. So, police then not only had to fight realcrime, but had to have an advertising and public relations campaign against the perception of crime. I then sarcastically nicknamed our police agency the “Happy Machine” because we had to also make people… “happy.” I would often walk into the squad room briefing and mutter, “another day at the happy machine,” which would make my fellow officers laugh and chuckle. The first time I said it there was an uproar of laughter. It least that made them happy?
Fact was and is, in the big picture, most people in the USA and other civilized countries will never be victims of crime. But people have fear and a perception of their future crime problem. They imagine a home invader? Rapist? Mugger? Mass shooter. Crazy guy? Serial killer? Kidnapping? Bar fight? Road Rage? Etc. Some even have an imaginary perception of how they will handle it. Gun? Knife? MMA? WWII? Kill? Maim? Contain? Negotiate? Pray? Etc. It certainly would help if their perceptions were as accurate as possible.
Perception, as defined – “a way of regarding, trying to understand, or interpreting something; a mental impression.”
Mental impressions and being impressionable. I recently watched the very first episodes of the 1980’s TJ Hooker cop show, just for sheer nostalgia. I was already a street cop and detective when TJ was on prime time TV. On patrol in a giant squad car prowling residential streets, Hooker lectures his rookie partner – you know, that skinny kid with the weird hairdo – the shame and horror of Los Angeles, how people cowered and hid in their houses, fearing the crime on the streets. That was 1981! They were scaring the BeJesus out of you back then. Of course that was dramatic, but the fear idea fed and still feeds people. Perceptions.
How deep was that paranoid perception of criminals? Has that perception changed? Many perceptions about fighting against bad guys are subliminally shaped by books, movies, TV and even personal fantasy projections.
Same with fights. Remember back when Chuck Norris or Claude Van Damme would kick a bad guy down? The bad guy would crash and the Chucks and the Claudes would just stand there, in a poster-boy, fighting pose, bouncing up and down, waiting for the serial killer or hit-man to stand back up and continue the fight. Art imitates life and life mimics art. How many people actually, waited for bad guys to stand back up up? That was the “movie fight” until Steven Seagal came along and started breaking arms.
We had a champion black belt in our old karate school I attended decades ago, who got into a fight….in a bar…and lost. He came to class and told the school owner, “I was in a fight last night and it wasn’t anything like I thought it would be.” If you are in a non-sport class, your student should return to you and say, “I was in a fight last night and it was just like you told me.” Perception.
Perception is the running guts of training though isn’t it? We martial folks, civilians, police and military train for the perception of what we think our “fight” will be like. If you are sport fighting, you know exactly who, what, where, when, how and why about your scheduled fight. You have a darn good perception of the “Ws.” Even if you are a soldier, you have some good perceptions about what might happen to you and your unit, all from a gathered mission intelligence and assignment history. (This is why God made sergeants.) You know the Octagon fight will happen and you’ve seen enough of them on TV to plan ahead. And you are pretty sure trouble is ahead in a war zone, but what about sporadic criminals versus citizen encounters? That may never happen…
“What are your preconceived notions about fighting?
Your first fight? Your next fight?
I use to complain that so many of these modern fighting systems of recent times inadvertently train for a fight in “the bar,” or on the sidewalk or parking lot right outside the bar? That cursed dark alleyway out back of the bar? Roadhouse movie world? Bars. Bars. Bars. How many training videos were made right inside bars? Young guys teaching other young guys how to fight in bars and they just automatically assume/gravitate to the barroom setting. Meanwhile a soldier in Syria has another location in mind.
Another problem is the “novice” fighter. Or as I like to call him, the stupid fighter. By the way that is the guy walking around the streets today you will probably fight next. You have been working hard to fight the trained fighter in many ways the mirror image of you, the other guy/gal in your school/system. Then idiot boy walks up and hits you with a chair . There’ s that classic Mark Twain observation that that the expert sword fighter fears the novice more than the other expert. He knows not what the novice will do! People perceive their next hand, stick, knife gun fight, based on what they do inside the classes they are taking.
Real people seem to be fighting a whole lot, huh? Somewhere on the planet. Earth is a big place. Police are at least aware they could be fighting absolutely anyway, anywhere – inside or outside houses and business. On tile floor, rugs, cement, dirt, grass, mud, tar. I have never fought anybody underwater, though. HA! Should I train for that too? (Though I know of some cops fighting people on the fringes of oceans and lakes.)
I think I’ve had to struggle, and, or fight, arrest most people on parking lots, streets and inside houses full of furniture more than other locales. And kick boxing and wrestling didn’t completely help me out. One time a crazy guy and I slid down a long, thick, muddy hill, in heavy rain, duke-ing it out, outside a hospital. Almost vertical ground fight. Almost upside-down. You really can fight in weird places in weird circumstances.
People on the planet Earth will fight in rural, urban, suburban areas, inside and outside of buildings at any time of day and regardless of the weather. (The term “urban combatives” always mystifies me. Some of the best UFC champs are farm boys. Would that be “Rural Combatives?”)
Gun instructor and ex-cop Tom Givens reports that through the years his shooting students have had over 60 gun encounters in parking lots (Memphis is a little crazy by the way) so an emphasis on shooting live fire AND SIMS, in and out of, and around cars should be pretty important. Parking lots are indeed melting pots of all kinds of people and places with various temperaments, and where bad guys do go to hunt. Records even show that one in every five vehicle accidents occur on parking lots too. Parking lots then are super-duper dangerous? Once again, in the big picture, if you compare say, Walmart’s total sales/customers, to its parking crimes and accidents, their parking lots are pretty darn safe places.
We see crazy reports on the news about road rage. But look at the millions of cars in the USA taking billions of trips each day, compared to road rage incidents. Road crime and even vehicle accidents stats in comparison tell us the roadways are pretty darn safe too. Domestic and family violence/disturbances are way too high, but in comparison to the big picture of 340 million people in the USA? Not too bad (as far as we know.) There are over 100,000 schools/colleges in the US and a teeny-tiny sliver of school shootings. Add in attendance days and you have millions of safe days. Schools are pretty darn safe places. How about comparing the total number of houses with the total number of burglaries. Oh, and, by the way, the police don’t fight people all that often when compared to the tons of non-violent police/citizen interactions and arrests.
It’s nice to do these big picture comparisons and breathe a sigh of relief, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare and be complacent. And when we prepare, we perceive. You are still left with these guesses, your perceptions and mental impressions of your future fight. We now watch crazy, reality, video clips on youtube and perhaps they do help the real perception of the wacky chaos that will most likely occur in a fight, and not leave us with some Chuck Norris, karate fight scene in our minds.
It’s always a good rule to “reduce the abstract” when training, but there is still a time and place for you, in a sterile room, to learn and exercise some basic, generic things which we hope you can apply under the circumstance, come what may. Sadly, we don’t have Hollow Decks like on Star Trek where we can fight and turn up the knob on resistance and locations, and still go to work the next day not scarred or crippled.
Come, what may. We learn the “come what may” via collecting good intelligence info on crime and war where you are and where you are going. So, we train to fight the fight we perceive and who, what, where, when, how and why we perceive it will happen.
Who will you really be fighting?
What will it be like?
Where do you perceive your fight will be?
When will this happen?
How will it unfold?
Whyare you there? Why are you still there?
Will things happen as fast as you think? Slower? Sporty Non-sporty? Indo artsy? Slinky Systema? Crazy? Hand? Stick? Knife? Gun? Will it start with an interview or ambush? How do you perceive your fight?
In this age of widespread interest in de-escalation and verbal skills to defuse any and all encounters, this is a tale about how convoluted and difficult a quick, on-the-spot verbal solution might be. It’s a short story from a case I worked on.
A driver pulled his truck up into a handicapped parking space to drop his wife off at a post office. He did not put his truck into “park.” She got out and walked away. He reached down, did something for a second, and was about to back out of the spot, when a man walked by the front of his truck, scowling and yelling at him, waving a hand in the air.
The driver rolled down the window and said, “What?”
The man yelled in outrage about the driver parking in a handicapped spot. The driver, aghast at the outrage said, “I am not parked. I am leaving. I just dropped someone off!”
The man started cursing and closing in. “I had to park over there,” and he pointed down the lot. “You can’t park here!” “I’m not parked here!” he said again. But then he now was, as the driver put his truck into the parking gear and got out, telling me later he thought that the man would come over and kick in and dent his truck, or reach into the open window after him.
The driver got between the man and his truck and said, “WHAT is your problem?” (oh, what a classic line! The classic answer is – “you’re my problem” and so on and so on. The very common low-brow script of a fight). And so it goes. You know the dialogue of this bad movie from this point on. You already know it. I often tell you that these pre-fights words are like movie scripts and usually quite predictable.
The complainer swings at the driver. The driver fights back. There are witnesses. The police are called and the man gets arrested for assault. Later this complainer files an assault case back on the driver and it becomes a “he-said, he-said” deal.
My sad part of the story is that one morning in a detective squad meeting, I got both cases dropped on my desk. My CID Lieutenant says, “this ain’t going away.” Meaning these two guys are calling us and complaining about each other and how each were in the right. And of course, one of the two had even called the chief. Another day in Detective Heaven.
I started with this angry man, the complainer. I asked him to come in and give us a written statement, which he jumped at the chance to vent. He showed up for the appointment, loaded for vocal bear, and in a small, interview office I let him unload. The guy was panting when the oratory was over. I did not say a word.
“Okay,” says I. “let’s get that whole story down on paper.” I had to read him his rights and now the story was officially counted. And line by line, we got it all down as I typed his words as he said them. He calmed down and his remarks took a turn to another topic. The real cause and motivation of his complaining. Handicapped people and handicapped parking…
“What’s the ratio of handicapped people compared to non-handicapped people?” he asked. “I don’t know.” Now he was getting mad at me. “Well you should know. People like you in your business should know.” “Hmmm” “I know this much,” he continued. “I know that there are too many handicapped parking places. There has to be too many of them compared to regular people. If you go down to Kmart you’ll see all those good, front parking places are reserved for the handicapped. What a dozen? Dozen and a half? Are there that many handicapped people parking there, compared to others? A regular person has to hike to the store.”
I did not answer. Then I said,” you want me to mention your parking spot concerns in the statement?” “Hell yeah! Maybe someone will read it for a change?”
This theme rolled on. I realized that the guy wasn’t mad at the driver because the driver had pulled into the handicapped slot for a second. He wasn’t protecting the rights of the handicapped. This guy was mad at handicapped people! And how many parking places they got. He was ripping mad because of proliferation of handicapped parking! It would really be difficult, it is really difficult to de-escalate such an encounter without…ESP.
It’s always wise to explore de-escalation. Sure. But, there are a lot of people “out there” teaching de-escalation. In my opinion, most of them (and I know many of them) are very logical, very nice people but have never really stood before face-to-face rage. Real rage and its bizarre twists. Seen its ugly face. Or stood before someone who fights every Friday night, who just wants to fight for fight’s sake, and its Friday night, 11:30 p.m.!