Friday, November 20, 2015

Force Necessary: Stick! A Course in Fighting With a Stick

      So-called "stick fighting? We have, I have, organized the Force Necessary: Stick! course two decades ago. Then, inside the other course we have - the PAC Course, the Pacific Archipelago Combatives and Filipino course, there is also more "stick fighting." So, I really teach two different kinds of "stick fighting." A "street" one, if you will and a martial arts one, again if you will. The street one will easily fit inside the martial arts one. However, the martial arts one will not fit inside the street one, and has way more stuff in it to satisfy...well..the art and multi-cultural aspects of the historical use of the stick. This is not something I "love." It is just something I know a lot about and do, and small groups of people ask me about it. Thus, the most efficient doctrine evolves.

     Interested people ask if its all just "stick fighting?" What exactly is stick fighting to you? To a martial artist it is a lot of stick-versus-stick dueling. To a cop or self defense seeker, it is just about survival self defense, or used for arrest, control and contain in the security, police and military world.

This FN:Stick! "street" version is based on:
  Threatening, striking, blocking, grappling
  Stick vs unarmed (occurs a lot)
  Stick vs stick (occurs probably the least)
  Stick vs knife (occurs sometimes)
  Stick vs some gun  threats (occurs...)
  Standing, seated, kneeling and on the ground

Consisting of, more specifically:
  The 1 non-ready and 9 ready positions
  The Who, what, where, when, how and why module questions
  The Stop 6 subjects
  The Management Set: Anger, Fear, Pain
  Combat Clock angles
  Solo Command and Mastery
  Hitting training gear
  Partner training
  Any skill, speed, flow exercises
  Combat Scenarios
   * no flak
   * some flak
   * flak
   * freestyle

     First of all, in the scheme of all pastimes including golf, tennis, baseball, soccer, football, karate, MMA, Krav, knitting...fighting with sticks, street or art, is just not a popular interest. It is much less so than in the 1990s. "Stick fighting" is an obscure oddity.

     Even police stick/baton fighting or "use," is and has been declining - all subjects I have written about here in these blogs, in detail before. Shrinking due to public perception and lawsuits, and fear thereof. The martial "stick" and the "police stick" are just not popular. If you think it is? You are viewing the subject from a small, naive paper tube.

 My PAC/FMA course, like any good, comprehensive FMA course is about:
1: hand,  (mano-mano
2: single stick, 
3: double stick, 
4: knife, and
5; stick-and-knife the five big areas of "play." There are a few one-off topics, sure, but those are the biggies. FMA is not just about the stick.

     The rigors of this 5 subject art material runs deep, deep, deep depending upon the system, and too deep for me, actually. If you really study the subject as an esoteric artist might, the amount of material is almost undocument-able. This may sound strange, but if you do it up really right? It is massive. Creating a fighting art program, capable of covering everything, working out and testing everything for prowess, is a miasma of a project. It is elusive. Redundant. Cross-referenced. The martial art. In the PAC course I do the best I can making it simple given the filters I use, but the real, true expertise in it, is an elusive athleticism, wisdom and knowledge that only people "in the know" can spot in other people. I will never "master" this miasma.

    But the rigors of the street version we do, does not run anywhere so deep because we have no dogma or tradition to follow. We reduced all the redundant angles of attack sets into the simple clock. You may have no idea how this really streamlines things. And we do not spend an inordinate amount of time going stick-versus-stick encounters in slow and half-speed patterns and steps, as so often overdone. Remy Presas understood this process. He was found of saying:

"Of course, I could just hit the man in the head with a stick. 
But I want you to learn the art!" - R. Presas

     Meanwhile, stick dueling must be done for a host of skill and athletic benefits, street or art. I consider it mandatory experience if one holds a stick in their hand. Just cuz....just cuz "nothing replaces ring time," as Joe Lewis said. Even older, police baton courses required stick dueling, hardly dreaming an officer would actually be dueling with impact weapons, but more for the experience and as a rite of passage kind of thing. You can duel stick vs knife. Stick versus chair. Etc.

     But it is my real interest, intent and mission to cover the practical aspects of hand, stick, knife and gun. One cracks many eggs to make this. Therefore I still collect and filter all this stick information. As opposed to the PAC/FMA course, the FN Stick course is very short and simple. Each level is short and simple. Easily digestible. And, as you will find in almost all good fighting systems, if you work these simple basics things a lot, it will really benefit you.

Here is how I break it down. The foundational first 10 levels, then from Level 11 on up - some higher levels for further specialization.
Level 1: Introduction to the Impact Weapon, Impact Weapon Stress Quick Draws
              - "straight stick/baton"
              - expandable

Level 2: Stick Retention Primer, from "while carrying," to "while holding" to "while held"

Level 3: Stick Blocking Primer

Level 4: Single Hand Grip Striking Primer

Level 5: Riot Stick (Double Hand Grip striking) Combatives Primer

Level 6: “Crossing Sticks” Stick Dueling Primer

Level 7: The Push Series Grappling & Spartan Module

Level 8: The Pull Series Grappling & Chain of Stick Module

Level 9: The Turn Series Grappling and the “In the Clutches of” Module

Level 10: The So-Called “Black Belt” Combat Scenario Test

Then the specialty subjects, like...
Level 11: Intensive Focus: Stick Ground Fighting
Level 12: Intensive Focus: Axe Handle Fighting
Level 13: Intensive Focus: Double Impact Weapon Mastery
Level 14: and up...Focus: on higher levels upon request

     I will always teach the PAC/FMA art. I have tried and tried to customize it with some of the above ideas, like using the numbers on a clock instead of the vast, numerous and often incomplete angles of attack. I will teach it because it seems people are interested in the more artful version. If they ask? I will do it.  But I am far more interested in the generic street version - Force Necessary: Stick! 

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Review from Officer Greg Ellifritz::

     "Impact Weapons Combatives looks similar in both form and layout to the Knife Counter-Knife book.  It is a hardcover as well, but isn’t quite as dense, coming in at just over 200 pages.  It covers grips, stances, open and closed mode striking, quick draws, footwork, blocking, stick retention and strikes with the support hand.  It even covers stick take downs and using the stick from the ground. 
     Like Hock’s knife book, I think this is truly the definitive reference for the subject.  Most other impact weapons books lack quality content.  They are thin books that merely describe a few overly complex Filipino stick drills.  That’s not how this book operates.  It starts students at the ground level and teaches all the basic and advanced techniques a practitioner might need to wield a stick effectively in combat.  If you are interested in the somewhat arcane topic of fighting with impact weapons, this book would be a great investment."

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Terrible, Terrible, Mistaken Knife Grips

     About 20 years ago, I wrote some magazine articles about what I dubbed as The Cancer Grip of the knife. Its a saber grip, as in "the sharp end of the knife sticks out of the top of the hand" (you would think people would know this, but some really don't).

     Anyway, I still kept seeing some of the biggest names in Filipino Martial Arts thumb way up, slashing, stabbing in the air like mad, followed by their students, with this Cancer Grip. This is when the ball of the thumb and the thumb is up off the knife (see the photo just below). You can't really stab, you can't really slash, you can't cut a steak this way, and while dueling its an easy knocked-out disarm. Yet many "FMA leaders, even some of the FMA "Gods" were slipping in and out of this grip way too much in photos, films and teaching. There is even an entire Filipino knife system (not a popular one, I might add) that only uses the thumbs-up grip. Not good, and practitioners are still doing this unsecured, simulated stabs and slashes with this grip in their solo and non-contact, light-contact drills. 

     This is an "international" problem. A now somewhat famous American knife guy, (a friend) on the cover of his first knife book years ago was - and unfortunately still is even with newer editions - is shown stabbing someone with this worthless grip - he and others just mindlessly replicating the big boys. The knife will pop right of the top of his hand. He knows better now. Folks, you need the ball of the thumb and the thumb down to hold the knife to stab and slash, even cut a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Later, warnings about this went into my knife book too. I was ridiculed by bringing this up at first. Back then, this was taken as a personal criticism against their leaders and Gods, with no regard for the sensibility I was preaching. I was being disrespectful, they said. I am talking about being internationally chastised. I was not trying to besmirch anyone, just correct a particular silly, mindless thing. A peculiar thing. Next though, some people thought a bit about it and then some stubbornly started making excuses and reasons for such a move.

"We change grips..."
"What Hock doesn't understand is..."

     I really don't want to rehash it all here again today, but there are only one or two very small, very situation-specific moves with a raised thumb such as a wrist hook/catch, and there is no reason to be over-doing and over-showing a ton of moves with a raised thumb. Replicators easily self-disarm and can die when doing these damn things.

     What I do want to do here instead is expose quickly another set of a few silly, saber grip versions I still see all around the world. Look at this these gems. One is almost two full fingers on the side of the blade, and the other almost one full finger on the side of the blade.

Fingers Up On the Blade    

     Can anyone see a problem with this? Raise hands? First off, it is long, commonly known by professionals that stabbing produces the most success in knife attacks. So you stab the opponent with this grip and your knife goes in just a bit and his body hits your one fingertip or your two fingertips. Your deadly depth is now done. And, or - you have maybe jammed your finger or fingers? These one-finger and two-finger, little ditties are not good, yet I still see them in training around the world here and there. 
     I know, I know, I know, you looked so ultimately cool, almost as cool as the thoughtless person who showed you this, the one you so want to emulate and replicate, but it makes little to no sense.

The Surgical Slashing Finger Up On a Blade
I think these one and two fingers-up-and-out deals may originate from the idea of old "surgical slashing thing." You know surgeons need to cut teeny, teeny body parts, so much so they are using lasers now. But before lasers, to get the most precise little cuts, a surgeon needed to work right up near the tip of his scalpel. Now, how's about that kind of teeny slashing in a crazy alleyway fight? No. And if you stab, your fingertip still stops the stab penetration and stops the really needed depth of the stab. I still see a few "name" knife players with their pointy finger up and out, like a surgeon, way up on the knife back, slashy-slashy away. They look cool. They look awesome with their slinky slashes to the novice and the thoughtless, but it is just not a sound idea in the big picture of options.

The Horizontal Serve
At times I have to walk about and actually close the hand of some knife practitioners, graduates of other systems, around their knife handle, as they stab high, center-line and horizontal. Almost like they are serving you a candy bar or something. These are not just rookies. In fact, a rookie would probably never serve up a knife like this. You have to be trained to do this. It is as though they are not even making a remote mental connection to what they are actually doing. This knife will come right out of their hand on body contact, or any contact really, like a reflexive block. As I walk by, I reach up and push their fingers together. They do get the idea when I do this, but their "muscle memory" quickly takes right over again, a moment after I walk away.

Losing the Knife in the Duel
We know from common sense that these finger tricks do not stand the test of contact. Stubborn excusers are quick to say,

     "Well, Hock at the very instant we stab or slash, we fully grip the handle." No you don't. And you are claiming that you "Duel" (posture, move and position) while holding your knife like a handicapped person, then when you actually stab or slash you are savvy and fast enough to fully grab the handle? Watch yourselves. You don't. And yet, practitioners in training are still dueling and simulating stabs and slashes with these handicapped grips. Just building repetition brainwashing with this mess. Another big reason to worry about these open, extended fingers and not even at the split second of stabbing or slashing - these knife encounters often pass through, in and out, of a short dueling phase. Your exposed, elongated fingers are subject to be hit when you are not stabbing or slashing. Impact disarms ensue, etc.

     Given the chaos of a real knife encounter, you could get your knife whacked out with surprise contact with the enemy. Let's not even talk about having this grip "muscle memory" in a ground fight.

     Folks, keep your dang fingers off the blade like this and keep your thumb and the ball of your thumb down on the knife! Get out on a war-post / tree / pell / whatever and slash and stab it for impact and see what happens with your knife and your grip. Folks, when you bang away on a war-post, or get inside a rugby-force knife fight, odds are you will lose your knife if you have the "muscle" memory to grip it in these ..."artsily" ways.

And So, I Leave You With These Gems
I still rarely see these gems here and there, so I will leave you with these knife grips.

The "Jazz Grip" with a customized, mandatory jazzy knife, photo courtesy of Italian Giovanni Di Gregorio

And Jethro from England sends us, the Facebook Knife

But here below, not only do we still see the the Cancer Grip thumb up and the odd "Invaders" pinky straight out, but I have also seen this gem too, where only two fingers are on the handle. If you sneeze on this knife it will come out of the hand. And by the way, this does not just appear from a version of a  "Hawaiian Salute" position from some photo op. People see this grip in photos and training films and use it.


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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ideas on Fighting Inside Cars

     The photo here comes from a photo shoot on car jacking that Rawhide Laun and I did in China, in the outskirts of Beijing for a Chinese auto magazine. We used it for the "cover/banner" of Force Centric 17.

 Photos by Liu Shang.

       Here are some very random thoughts on the car problem. There have been some studies done on car jacking. I have seen some martial systems try to solve the crime. Car jackers usually start on the outside of your car. Most car jacking fights start there or with the door open. But what if he gets inside? Or was inside? Some guys I know of teach what appears to be full out wrestling inside the car's vehicle interior. This problem means that a bad guy was either hiding in your car, or is already in the car and he turns on you. Or, he forced his way completely in somehow. Can happen. Should be considered.
     An interior fight ensues in these demos I’ve seen, and I mean some full-out, rough wrestling - neither participant though, not even the presumed, probably untrained street thug, bad-guy-actor, threw a single blow of any kind. Not an a short elbow or a short punch, hammer fist, etc. Nothing to the eyes or throat, dare I even mention.  
     When I mentioned this to a group once, another guy, a martial arts vet, basically said there was no sense at all in striking because in those close quarters you couldn't get enough force to do any good. HUH? Then he quickly told me that it was obvious I knew nothing about grappling. As much as to say if I knew even an iota of grappling, I wouldn’t raise such a stupid, stupid idea. Class dismissed! 

      Well, I may be a half-wit, but I am a half-wit, only half the time! It seems not even all stand-up strikes have great force either, due to motion and positioning. Does that mean stand-up striking is out too? Even a free-thinking, novice MMA guy would be striking inside that interior car mess whenever he could. I wouldn’t dismiss the idea of striking so quickly. 

     I know this is hard in training, because you are messing around pretty hard and controlled, half-blows in such training give you no obvious results in this format. They go un-felt by the training partner. These types of simulated training blows then can slowly, naturally de-evolve from training. This is the subject of a whole other essay. But, I still urge you to experiment with what modern, MMA (that's grappling AND ground n' pound) might apply into this enclosed situation. Don't forget, real people in the car fighting you will probably be trying to strike you too. You should learn some tricks to block and evade even these in this close quarters, not avoid the issue entirely.

      If you are going to try this car interior training, better use a wrecked car. Strong chance it will wreck the interior, break seats, dash etc. In order to do this properly in a seminar or classes, you should really have several wrecked cars to virtually destroy, but this a luxury most of us just don't have. To get everyone involved in the practice properly, you do need several cars. Standing outside of a car watching two people inside wrestling in a demo is not the most productive of training time, so a lack of cars is a class problem. I guess its better than nothing, but...

      Also introduce knives and then guns. Sometimes the high jacking starts off with weapon threats, least of all weapons getting pulled during the fight when inside the car. The suspect’s weapon may already be out, but the surprised, high-jacked driver's weapon won't be, and he may have to stress-quick-draw a weapon after the crime starts. This draw will be in a condensed space and ugly, much like the stress draws during ground fighting. 


Photos by Liu Shang.

     I suggest when fighting for your life inside a car, or on the tile floor of a hair salon, or anywhere, you should use any and all options - to include striking when possible. And worry about weapons.

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Guns in the USA...just some questions answered.

Just some USA gun information for other countries if they are interested in reading some. (I do get asked some questions overseas from time to time about our "crazy gun culture.")


     Yes, the USA has a LOT of gun courses. Even in the most anti-gun states, there are still a lot of gun courses available. You can throw a small rock in the USA and hit somebody somewhere fairly nearby with a shooting course.

     In the states, there are some places you can go to where you can rent just any gun they have and you can shoot for awhile (and they clean it! My favorite part.) Tons of places, and by and large, I would estimate that most of the instructors for courses over here are okay. Just fine usually. Through the years there is an overall, general collection of a good, basic gun knowledge in the USA that everyone seems to know about. (Yes, there are some knuckleheads).

     If I see any problem in the U.S., many are consumed with minutia and love arguing about that small stuff. A lot of discussion is spent not “driving the car,” but rather arguing about “small engine mechanics.” Reviewing experts/psychologist that look into this gun minutia situation call it too much, “internal focus.” (now watch the arguers argue over this point.)

     A number of instructors here are indeed better than others. Sure. As there are with everything. What makes them better than others might be debatable, but we do seem to really favor folks with a lot of police and, or military experience and intelligence (and yes – personality too) like Clint Smith, Scott Reitz, Paul Howe, Dave Spaulding, etc. And there is a batch of military vets finally out there teaching that catch some attention too. Sometimes I think young people naturally gravitate to the younger instructors too, for a host of reasons not related to guns. But really, on paper, they do teach much the same things as the inexperienced or lesser inexperienced ones, despite the hot dog names, beards, tattoos, etc. Because…it just is what it is. The info is just what it is. And that general "is" has gotten around to almost all kinds of instructors.

     Shooting a pistol is a pretty simple process but it still becomes “mystified” in the “rat race of cool.” A lot of young guys trying to re-invent the wheel with new cool, names for old things, and making up new things with cool names and terms that are really not needed. And still, somehow, minus this specialized training and bling nomenclature, somehow totally untrained people can shoot the hell out of you, quite successfully in the real world "streets," close-up (see stats on gang shootings in the USA, and see several of the latest Dr. Lewinski, Force Science research which sadly claim that trained officer performances are about equal to totally, untrained citizens. (I often sit and ponder just what that means.)

     Many of my UK friends have fled to the nearby Czech Republic and Poland for shooting courses. Even South Africa. In Australia, they flee to Thailand or the Philippines to shoot a little. Who are these foreign instructors and what are their resumes and courses about? We here in the USA drive about 20 minutes or so to find a course. You might not like all that they say. Who does? But you did just drive only 20 minutes.

     And yes, what you have heard about the USA is correct, there are millions of legal, concealed carry people here. The US Government awhile back claimed there were about 8 million carry permits in the USA. Could be more now. But, you might not know that most of these people do not want, or do not care for any follow-up training past that initial, simplistic, carry permit course to get their license. (Live fire is next to nothing in those courses). Also, my experience is, as well as many of my friends in law enforcement is, that many licensed carriers do not carry their guns around anyway. I am not religious but, "God bless em all" if anything actually happens. I might add that many do quite well when confronted with crime, but American newspapers do not seem quick to report these incidents. And such small news of thwarted crimes would not be news big enough in foreign countries. Just the stories about crazy people with guns gets spread around. 

     In the USA, we have about 320 to 340 million people, they tell us. There are millions and millions of guns coast to coast. In the U.S. - between 270 million and 310 million guns, according to the Pew Research Center. 8 million people have carry permits. All this in about 3,800,000 square miles. Only the tiny, teeny-ist percentage of us are actually shot or are in shootings. Minuscule, given the vast population and guns. Within this big picture, we have an absolutely, fabulous and amazing track record of safety when you think about it. Liberals would have you think that enormous percentages of the American population are-

   1: blowing their heads off in suicides,

   2: killing off each other in the streets like the Walking Dead,

   3: or we are accidentally destroying tons of children while cleaning our guns.

   4: almost every time someone tries to use a gun to defend themselves, they wind up dead from their own gun.

     No. Not true. Shootings, for example in the Democrat-run, severest, gun-control sections of the south side of Chicago, utterly distort the shooting and murder rates of the USA. Just in the last two weekends, ONE HUNDRED criminals were shot there (see below news report). I mention this here because I know Europeans who pick vacations to Canada over the US, just fearing the wild, wild west of guns and violence. Foreign folks read these stats, not knowing that a five-square-mile crime zone in Chicago may make Benton, Arkansas seem like a war zone. Or how about ridiculous USA action movies exported around the world? All this plays in the mind game.

     Gun crime and gun accidents are an oddity, an anomaly, a rarity in the USA when you consider the big picture, and the billions of small interactions of people and situations every day. There are way more life and death problems in the USA with health issues and car wrecks than guns.

     Yes, things still happen. Deaths from cancer. Auto pile-ups on the highways. Heart attacks. Cancer from legal cigarettes sold everywhere. Falls in the bathroom. All the actual, big reasons of massive death in America and other countries too. And yes...people get shot now and then, from situations. In all gun training worldwide, not just in the States, along with the live fire basics, it is the gunfight SITUATION that needs to be greater understood and explored. Every gun fight is a trauma and a drama. A story. A legal issue. Not merely a few trigger pulls on a paper target once in awhile. It's war, or crime. And these traumas and dramas can be somewhat replicated and introduced in training (with - brace yourself – oh no – with airsoft, gas guns, or SIMS ammo, whatever) to prep people with various situations. The solution to “internal focus” problems is “external focus” –shooting at moving, thinking people who are shooting back at you in real world environs.

     What instructors can best organize that sort of interactive training, is the next big gun world question and challenge. Many gun range instructors today do not have the creativity to develop these courses, or they feel doing so will destroy the gun range business model and their livelihoods. (This just isn't true, as one will always need live fire training, re-quals and vital re-familarizations.) Numerous stubborn, gun instructors consider anything less than a real firearm as a toy, despite the fact that for more than a decade now, special forces teams have used simulated ammo guns to train for raids, missions and invasions. The same for SWAT, infantry units and the regular police.

     Many attendees do not have the athleticism, the drive or the courage to attend such “active-mobile” courses. (Warning! You will probably "die" a few times in this training, even when following the sage advice from your favorite range master. You still die in the situational chaos). Needless to say, this interactive training is all I teach now- after the range, situation training...or the "external focus" part. The "he-shoots-back-part." It sure changes a lot of stuff.

     People both inside and outside of America (though foreigners just can't seem to grasp the enormity) have to come to the realistic fact that the US government will NEVER be able to collect the preexisting 380 million American guns from hundreds of millions of people covering about 3,800,000 square miles. Whether you like the idea or not, it is too late. Even if it is tried, it will be horrible on so many levels. Revolutionary. But people with liberal thinking disorders will still rant and rave about the fairy tale idea of doing so.

     Harvard University's Journal of Law and Public Policy stated, "overall, guns in the United States are used 80 times more often to prevent crime than they are to take lives." Through the years the FBI/Department of Justice have claimed that "about 67% of the time, when a criminal is confronted with a gun (or knife) they leave."

    And if the world does truly fall into revolutionary, religious hell? We here in the States already have that proverbial gun behind that “every blade of grass.” An acute student of world history and a student of the routine stupidity of the humanity race, surely must appreciate this.

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For second straight week, another 50 shot in Chicago

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Tip Offs He May Attack You

     These last few years, this sort of tip-off information has been such a big deal, and a big selling point for the so-called "reality based" courses. Some younger folks have been considered sheer genius for spouting off these old, classic aspects in seminars as though they were P.H.D.s of some new, modern psychology? But this information is quite old. It was taught to me in the 1970s at police academies. I've collected it all and it is in my teaching outlines since the 90s and in my Training Mission One book published back in 2001.

     Now, I do not want you to over-emphasis this information as some kind of cure. Just read over the list and keep it mind. The list was created and I repeated it here because these events have happened. Many I have seen before dealing with people for 26 years in this upset and angry, drugged or drunk "people business."

     When a person becomes stressed, angry and aggressive, his or her body often has some changes. Here are some of these changes that research, history and experience may be linked to a sudden attack/leap upon you. Many people suggest that in a real fight situation, a person has no time to read this clues. Sometimes, yes, I agree. But, this is not always true. Sometimes, people do have the time to see these tip-offs. Every professional, even every citizen and soldier needs to read this list and at least become aware of these points.

     All fights are situational. Obviously the clues vary from situation to situation and person to person. But, better to know these on the list, than not, or to ignore they even exist.

Head Samples
   His eyes bulge.
   He has that 1000 yard stare.
   He ignores you.
   He squints.
   He assesses your body parts and gear as potential targets.
   His mouth becomes dry.
   His teeth clench.
   His voice changes.
   He actually, clearly voices violent intentions.
   His words become spastic and distracted.
   He twitches.
   His nostrils flare.
   His breathing increases
   He takes one big sudden breath.
   His face color changes, maybe reddens or pales.
   His veins bulge.
   His chin tightens, or drops.
   His neck tightens.
   His jaw juts (dumb but he still does it) 
   He babbles as though his thoughts are not guiding his voice.
   He doesn't babble and vocalizes his plans of attack

Hands and Arms Samples
   His arms swing, maybe with body turns (a big deal & easy cover for a sucker attack)
   His fingers and fists clench (blood leaving the extremities)
   His fingers drum surface tops.
   His hands shake.
   He extends a hand to shake yours. Could be a trick.
   His hands and arms travel to obvious pre-fight postures and positions. He
   positions his hands high on his chest, neck, chin or head. Raises up to
   seemingly innocent, high positions as in a fake head scratch, like a yawn
   or a stretch. Not very obvious pre-fight postures for the novice.

Body Samples
   He raises from seated positions
   He tries to wander
   He gets too close
   His body blades away from you
   He suddenly takes off his shirt, jacket or watch
   He bends at the knees
   He "expands" his chest
   Heel and toe tapping
   Positioning near potential weapons
   He turns away (critical sucker punch set-up)

   I highly suggest you keep adding to this list. The next event - how is he going to fight you? That might be readable too, but that is another essay.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Footwork and Groundwork - Maneuverings!

     Ever been a foot chase? A "foot pursuit?" I have. And with weapons. Numerous times. And it can involve very hairy geographic problems. Being "one with the ground" doesn't have to mean falling face first and loving a ground/road rash. It can mean mentally and physically connecting with the surfaces and surroundings you will have to run on. Same with ground fighting. Real people fight on slanted hillsides, mud, grass, gravel, asphalt, tile and carpet, etc., etc. (I once horizontally fought and choked out a suspect on top of a couch and coffee table - still horizontal, but two feet off the ground, the middle of us in the air.)

   "Lean, mean, hostile, mobile, agile," as the Army told us and services still do is some form or another of advice. “The infantry learns to love the ground!" is another old military expression.  After being on the receiving end of gunfire and lobbed explosives, a ducking troop almost instinctively sees where he can find the best cover. If there is none? He even penetrates the ground with his entrenching tools, or even his fingers will dig down deep, if that is all he has.

    Then as he walks across the next potential hot zone, he reflexively studies the very lay of the land ahead. He doesn't actually "love" the ground in the usual sense. Not really infatuated with it. He just studies it now knowing that even the slightest, natural incline, decline, growth or man-made structure might save his life if ambushed. He also sees where the enemy might be from common sense, training and experience. Like the Infantryman who must learn to love the land, close quarter combat fighters with or without weapons, must learn to see and feel the ground they will do battle on and have the savvy, agility and strength to overcome the variables of weather, surface and space.

     Many think that fighting footwork comes just from the boxing ring, relying on numerous movements like the shuffle-step and the rocker and so forth. All martial arts have some pattern laid out on the floor upon which to dart back and forth upon. I prefer to use the clock as a format for this "ring" part. Nobody forgets the clock.

     But, true consummate trainees also learn to cover air, water and land. Exclusive of parachuting and scuba, for any citizen, enforcement officer or soldier, covering land is done four very generic ways - by crawling, walking, running and leaping, in around, under and over:

        1: urban terrain
        2: suburban terrain
        3: rural terrain (desert, forests, jungle, mountains, etc.)
         (I've never understood the obsession with "urban this-or-that fighting." It is but
         one third of the problem areas.)   

    And study these areas for what reasons? Three, really:    
       1: cover or concealment  (yours or his)
       2: escape
       3: pursuit - chase to catch and, or kill

     These terrains are defined as the outsides and insides of the vast variety of man-made buildings and structures, and in populated, over/under-populated and unpopulated areas. And all this is traversed in differing kinds of weather and lighting.

    Warriors traverse terrain. Nothing replaces running regularly to accomplish this goal. It builds wind, endurance and spirit. Many of my power lifting, more musclebound friends denigrate running, constantly hunting for anti-running articles and news it seems, but I think because they fear a dreaded loss of even an once of precious muscle? The true balance is performance AND / WITH muscle. Covering ground with agility and speed is important for any fighter.

     Experts will say that a regular regimen of jogging and wind sprints are a great combination. Treadmills are nice, but I believe you must run outdoors, and in all kinds of weather, to maximize your potential. Even as I get older and things are breaking down and I use the indoor treadmill more and more, I still believe in this "running in the real world," for active duty personnel and citizens. And of course, eventually, in the training spirit, motto and principle of "reducing the abstract," you must exercise in the very environments of your mission. Customized obstacle courses help hone this goal. Yup, that why the military, police and fire use them. And perhaps the subtle reason why citizens gravitate toward these "Tough Mudder" style races.

Keith Jennings goes airborne at a Spartan Race 

      Combatives movement is an athletic endeavor. Your survival may hinge upon your ability to perform combat footwork. The overall foundation for broad, combat footwork comes from 4 main sources:

    1: Walking and running footwork
    2: Sports footwork  (boxing, kickboxing, and all other common sports) 
    3: Obstacle course footwork
    4: Ground fighting maneuvers and positioning

     And we must add weapons into the topic. There are two categories:

     1: "While-carrying" just means "carrying" weapons - holsters, slung long guns, etc.
     2: "While-holding" just means holding weapons in your hands and arms

  Your overall footwork development includes:

      1: Proper foot wear, socks and foot care

      2: "Jogging"

      3: Wind sprints

      4: Torso, arm and leg strength training for those "climbing" and "leaping" times

      5: Footwork floor patterns

      6: Sport-related footwork practice, such as found in boxing and kickboxing

      7: Obstacle courses

      8: Ground work (the basic ground moves of topside, bottom-side and side-by-side)

      9: All the above done empty-handed and also “while-holding” and "while-carrying" of:
               - edged weapons
               - impact weapons
               - firearms


     Being in better shape will also help you control your heart rate and related, negative, adrenaline problems. Fortune favors the prepared, and agility and speed are vital steps. Fighting footwork itself can be a lot like walking and running, and certainly sports movements like basketball, football, soccer and rugby. Even tennis workouts can improve your footwork. But serious dedicated training must also include movement when carrying weapons.

     You prepare for this by knowing your turf and answering the who, what, where, when and how of your travels.

 - Who? Who will you be chasing? Fittest of the fit? Not? In between?

 - What? What "grounds" will you be traversing?

 - Where? Where will this be? Your work area? You travel area? Where?

 - When? When is your chase? Your run? Weather? Night time?

 - How? How will you handle this specific turf?

 - Why? Why are you even running to or from trouble or, 
    why are you involved and staying in this ground fight?

     I don't think you have to become a Parkour expert - many of us can't - to do work as a survivalist, a soldier/Marine or a cop. Although that would be fine, but even the Parkourist rehearses his or her very specific moves and designed jumps with very specific objects adn equipment. The sport declares that "Parkour includes running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling, quadrupedal movement, and other movements as deemed most suitable for the situation."

     Okay then! It's a hand, stick, knife, gun world, in standing/moving, kneeling/sitting and ground problems stuffed inside the crime-fighting, war-fighting mess. Get and be as fast and agile as you can while carrying and holding the tools you have and need.

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