Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Shooting Car Glass in Training

Just some ramblings on our car-related shooting scenarios...

Every time we run our simulated, gun modules around the world, like the Miami-Dade Shoot-out module, the WalMart Madness one, or the VIP Escort one, or the Police Traffic Stop one, etc, the subject of shooting through automobile glass must and should come up. The various simulated ammo we are often stuck with using will not blow and crack auto glass like real bullets. So it effects reality.

For one example - the Miami-Dade Shoot-out “reenactment” (a very basic shoot-out with two heavily armed bad guns in a lead, stopped car versus two carloads of "FBI" agents parked behind them, classically armed). We insist that the side car windows are all down, to suggest the gunfire blew them up. In the many variations of this drill, people are often gut-shot or head shot right through these windows. 

A perfect set up for Miami-Dade Shoot-out training is Simunitions ammo with three junked cars. And I just can’t get that every weekend, all over the world. Instead, I just do the best I can with what I got. Resources, resources, resources. Of course, in our car exercises we are usually stuck shooting Airsoft guns. By the way, common electric airsoft does not hurt cars. Attendees can bring some blankets and drape the front, back or side of their cars if they want to feel better about the whole thing, because even “bigger” Airsoft guns can be more powerful, but they should be fine.
But in the average locations I go too, (back lots of academies and schools) we do not have three cars we can utterly destroy. So we just do the very best we with what we got. People can get some exposure to all the other good experiences and learning with these important modules.  

While the side windows are down, as they would be blown in a gunfight, but, but, but, we cannot do anything with windshields. Just can’t. Invariably, during this and other car simulated shoot-outs, people are instinctively peeping though the windshields at each other, and doing some dangerous, brief, “windshield-related” moves, or even finding  themselves taking sudden, emergency positions behind open car doors. Cover is better than concealment. Concealment can be better than nothing, you know...sometimes.  Gun range lords can critique parts of these parking lot and stopped car performances, grimace at the windshield antics and declare certain, brief events they see as “WRONG!” But, they are not the ones on the ground being shoot at and going and doing very desperate and brief things. All we can do is talk about these “mistakes” in pre and post briefings.  Shooting live ammo through not one but two windshields can have some interesting results.

I have seen “it all” doing these drills, these last 20 years (yes, oh yes, way before it was hip and cool) watching people run through these exercises, with vet soldiers and cops and citizens. (One time a woman who sold Amway products beat everyone, including war vet soldiers who were still on active duty, in the Walmart Madness shootouts. Crazy stuff that worked. Crazy stuff that didn’t. Mistakes you do or don’t pay for. Trips, falls. Dropped, lost guns. Just a lot of stuff that really happen as you fight for your life and, or mission…all in, around, over and under cars and trucks, that you will never see on the shooting range.

Daring live fire range instructors drive their cars onto the range. Shooters get to do a variety of drills shooting from the car windows or launching out of the car and shooting...yes...more paper targets. Never ending paper targets. Oh, the great varieties of targets and their positionings. This live fire version is an important step, but graduation should be interactive combat, with the opposition alive, 3-D, improvising and SHOOTING BACK!  

As with such shooting, you are a far, far, far, far, far  better off running through these interactive  scenarios with simulated ammo of some kind than not, than forever just shooting paper targets. Auto glass plays a part we cannot often replicate with simulated ammo, so witnessing demos of auto glass shooting on the range is a good experience too, and reading up on the subject is good stuff. Some shooting through auto glass info -

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Tale of Two Trigger Guards. With and Without

     Just below is a picture of two training guns. One with a trigger guard and one without. In my travels, I am in all kinds of schools, academies, and gyms. I see lots of gear. In martial arts schools and some Krav organizations, I see rubber guns without trigger guards. I have seen these guard-less, training guns here and there for about 30 years now. The only reason for their removal I’ve ever been told is that during disarm training, the trigger guard “hurts” the fingers of the students. And, of course, the classic story ... "once, one guy had his finger broken" inside the trigger guard by that infamous "overzealous" training partner.

     Shucks. Okay. Well, catching the finger inside the guard is the whole point on that one. How can you possibly practice and experiment with that move without a solid trigger guard? (I have been teaching that disarm for about 30+ years and never had a broken finger. Even with very hard rubber guns and wooden guns.) How?

     But there is something far more important at play here than just disarms. The main issue of this essay. When people are handling these training guns, they simply need to have trigger guards. A solid handgun training program has “students/attendees/whatever” moving around terrain with these handguns. Drawing. Searching. Responding. Chasing, etc., and fingering or not fingering triggers.

     The “rule of thumb” is to keep your trigger finger off the trigger until the very last possible second. This is a safety issue, even a "friendly fire" issue, understood by probably 99.9% of the shooters of the world. You say, 99.9%? Yes, there are few strays that think they can run, jump, fight, sneeze, crawl, climb, and yell with their fingers placed right on the triggers. I won’t bore you here with the numerous tests done for decades and as far away as Germany with pressure sensitive equipment catching people’s trigger fingers, applying unsafe pressures on their triggers while performing various chores and running obstacle courses. (“Sympathetic body movement” is often a named culprit.)

     Also, at times, tested people swore they never even put their fingers inside the trigger guard in these tests, least of all touched the trigger, yet sensors proved they indeed had. So even with trigger guards, there are still plenty of problems.

     It is imperative that students become familiar with, even on a subtle and subliminal level, the feel of their finger on the side of the gun and its relationship with the trigger guard and getting inside the trigger guard, and out again, while running through chores and scenarios. You get this subtly by running the guns and running with the guns.

     As far as a way to practice that finger-catch disarm - my friend, Florida instructor Frank Ehnle, captures a training process well:

     "During some Hapkido disarms, the finger would be broken or seriously damaged during the disarm, the trigger guard is used for that finger attack specifically. Our training weapons are perfectly molded and weighted replicas including the guard. We have students do them at realistic speeds with the trigger fingers elongated and not in the guards (as you would safely carry a real weapon). Then they practice the disarm slowly with the fingers in the guards so they can feel the stress and pain of the actual finger lock that occurs during the disarm. When they feel that pain and stress, they better understand the technique. The training weapon without a trigger guard would be of no use to us." - Frank

     Please cease and desist from clipping off the trigger guards from your training handguns.


     Update:  This little essay has already gotten around the net, and numerous people (a minority) think I am wrong. One said I was "dead wrong." Without much explanation either. Just “wrong.” Also as an aside, some of the people in the FB universe, which is vast, are responding to the idea that you keep your fingers off the triggers until the last possible second - you know, that .01% who think they can and should keep a finger on the trigger all the time. And, by the way, I am not advocating for that particular disarm; it’s just one of many.

     In terms of doing disarms, I can’t see how you can practice that particular pistol disarm without a decent trigger guard to experiment with. How? 

     Well anyway …"hand" people or "Kuraty" people never consider this gun issue and usually don't even know the aforementioned important nuance of the proper trigger guard on training guns. Gun people get it instantly. Hand people just want to do disarms. Hand, stick, knife, and gun people want to do it all.

     But to clip off the guard on the idea based on the principle that “one guy - once - hurt his _____ policy, so we did such-and-such.” Here’s the deal; where else do we use this policy in a school or training course? Is it a real policy? One guy hurt his finger once doing disarms, so we clipped the guard off. This “one-guy policy.” What if this policy were a real policy for everything? What if one guy was hurt doing a takedown,  so we stopped doing full takedowns? Or one guy – once- was hurt by a punch, so we quit doing full punches.

     At any given time, just "one guy" can be overzealous doing anything and hurt a training partner. I mean, if the one-time incident was really lethal or really, really bad, then make changes. Sure. But does this “One Guy Hurt” policy work across the board for ALL training or just for some odd reason, it only counts with one finger and clipping rubber trigger guards off of training guns?

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Mission Death Messages

"If I die before I wake"… Mission Death Messages

     I see these martial-artsy memes with ninja art or samurai art freely talking about dying for the day, the makeshift mission at hand, the ... cause, etc. That death/warrior message thing. Usually posted by people who have never faced death or “near death.” It ain’t like “near beer.” Then I have heard some military guys, but not many, say much the same at times. "If I die today," "I am prepared to die today," “The mission...." "Good day to die," "I will die today, and it is okay,” etc.

     Every time I see that sort of death message? It irks me somehow. I mean, I kinda get it. I kinda see what they are trying to say. But I just don't buy it. I was a cop for two decades. I was in Korea when they sounded the war sirens in the 70s. I know the potentials. The risks when I signed on. The sacrifices. Sure. Sure. But for the generic, quick message of “warrior, mission death,” I like Patton's version best.

     I broadcasted this message, and tons of agreements followed. But one said:

    "Doesn't really explain the dead from WW1, WW2, etc. Is this saying their deaths were meaningless? Yeah, you win by generally killing more of the enemy than they kill of you, I get that."

     Deaths … meaningless? Meaningless? Of course not. Many men died under Patton. War is such hell. They did die for an ov
erall cause. War and crime are always a question of numbers and percentages … and breathtaking loss.

     The message is – no day is a good day to die. No “warrior” should be ever so esoterically dedicated, pleased, proud, and willing to die like these martial arts posters suggest. Just … no. The Patton message is a smarter strategy and simple semantics. A subtle message to outsmart, to out-think. To survive to win as a goal, not die as a warrior. 

     Others talked about their friends taking care of all their paperwork and family business before leaving for war or hot areas. The military will make you do that. They claim their friends said they were "good." And "ready." "Everything in order." Having your “life business” in order before you march off to war is not worshiping death, like in the posters, which is my point. It’s just smart and cautious and realistic to prepare. I am talking about “worshiping death as some glorious benchmark." Instead, worshiping survival is the benchmark.

     Yeah, you might die today as a cop or a soldier. Yeah. Does that mean we are willing to die? Willing? I guess, to some extent? Just don’t be so damned pleased and proud about it. Time and history are fickle. One hundred years of passing time kills off the history of most individual sacrifices. The public is ignorant. Most don’t even know what the "4th of July" means. Or any historical event in any country for that matter. 

     These are the questions that often plague real soldiers and cops who have survived and suffer. Violence can be quite a negative experience. It can hurt the mind and the wallet. But it brews and churns in the blood of 17- to 30-year-olds (thus these posters?). But at some point, ya gotta grow up and face these negative facts. Worry and fight to survive it; don't worship it.

     People will always be interested in crime and war and gear. I am, probably to an unhealthy fault. Maybe like an addict? I don't know. But we do all this to fight the bad guys, whoever they are. It's a necessity. People pour over this stuff and study it to create the better, smarter tactics so that you can "make the other dumb bastard die" for his cause or country. Doing this is not worshiping violence. It's trying to end it.

     There is a lot of psychology here to knock around, essays full, but this blog isn't really so deep. Not at all. It's just about a simple choice between two posters. The Ninja poster glorifying your death or the Patton poster putting off your death for as long as possible with smarter tactics. I think that the folks with these martial arts posters (17- to 30-year-olds?) might eventually close the reality detachment gap as they get older and wiser. 

        That death in combat. There is a lot of talk about partying in Valhalla, all that ale-drinking and maiden-chasing or meeting up with all those vestal virgins. Or the citizenship in the heavens. I hope all that works out for you. 

     If you have to die, die fighting. Sure. Still, no day is a good day to die.

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Good Left Hook

     I made the following comment on Facebook awhile back and it was roundly shared and commented on within my small world of disturbed contacts. (Yes, if you are reading this, you are one of those.) But there is so much more to this simple, zen-like quick message.

"Some people can go thru their whole lives with just a damn good left hook. Live a long, prosperous and healthy life. But in training doctrine, better said is - the theory of "best training doctrine" - you need to box. If you need to box then you must kick box. If you need kickboxing, then you need to know take downs. Then you must ground wrestle. BUT! If you ground fight, you also need to add "ground n pound" to it. Then, of course, you need to really worry about weapons. BUT ... but, certainly ... there are indeed people ... who manage to go through their entire lives, successfully with just a terrific, left hook."
     Lots of laughs and thumbs up because its true. Not one single negative response? Which is actually quite amazing. But, but, but ... one might then ask, why then bother working on all those other subjects when a theoretical "left hook" is all you need? You just need a one-trick-pony? 

     Honestly if all you ever known in life is one left hook and you have hooked some bad guys with it and always won? You are probably quite lucky in life also. I personally have always felt you needed a little stable of trick-ponies, not just one. One of those ponies would be athleticism for example. Athleticism can cover over many sins. But the same could be said for single-studies like Brazilian wrestling, or Aikido, or...whatever it is.  With a little luck, you could live a happy life and survive with all these single study things and single moves.

     But the real end message to the zen-like-riddle observation above is, you need to study all these things mentioned so that you can pick your favorite and functional tricks, based on your world. The above lines are like a mantra. I think that instructors must be free thinking so that they can teach their students a plethora of options, so that in the end, the student selects - out of experiments and experience - their own personal list of "left hooks" for their world.

     Their world? Your world? Your world is based on the "who, what, where, when, how, and why" questions. I don't care what you pick as your favorite survival moves as long as they are educated selections. You might indeed end up with a mighty, left hook after all, but you did it the smart way, not the stupid way, with many side benefits.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Handshakes and Fighting

     In the old Vietnam War days of the 60s, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) had an expression that “a westerner could not resist a handshake.” And that if a Viet Cong (VC) could shake a soldier’s hand in a surprise encounter, the troop could be somehow ambushed.

     Back in World War II, the Japanese Army declared that if their soldiers could get “belt-buckle-to-belt-buckle” with any American, get that “toe-to-toe” up close, they could beat the American in close quarter, hand-to-hand combat. A handshake ruse was also suggested.

     So the handshake and attack trick goes way back., more than these two "recent" examples. Now these are not hardcore, battlefield suggestions. Of course not. They are ambush and trick suggestions.

     In the 1990s several police training programs connected with police science and criminology colleges tried to research a host of info on physical encounters. One endeavor was trying to determine how we “hit the ground” in a fight. There was accidentally tripping and so forth, and one major way was being punched down, and furthermore, one listed punch was the "sucker punch."

     The sucker punch. There are numerous sucker punches and a few important setups and tricks to know. I cover them in Level 5 of my Unarmed Course. One such sucker punch, one way to get buckle-to-buckle and toe-to-toe is the aforementioned handshake trick. A handshake with the right and a punch to the face or neck from the left hand, was such a common one.

     Getting the "irresistible handshake" ties up one of the enemy’s or suspect’s hands. Usually an important idea. Now, 90% or nine out of ten people are right-handed. The handshake is right-handed. And more often than not, the right-hander keeps his weapons on his right side. So for a brief few seconds, his right hand is locked in and busy. So too is yours, but you have an ambush plan!

     There is way more than punching. A few hand shake set-up tricks are used for a number of  throws/takedowns on someone by first establishing a “handshake” move or a “handshake-like” positional grab. This is found in "old-school, original" generic, Jujitsu and other grappling systems. As shown in the photos below for an example, you can fake the handshake, lower your thumb, pass his hand and grab the forearm.

      For myself, being a Texas police officer for decades past, that meant being trained and tipped off by veteran officers from even further "way back when." I am told that an old western lawman would approach a dangerous suspect, smile, shake his right hand, and with his left hand reach over and disarm the outlaw’s right-side gun. Yank the gun right out of the open-carry holster! In the 1970s, an old Chicago P.D. detective told me Chicago policemen did the same thing “in the big city.” Shake a hand, then reach with the left hand under a jacket or coat and pull a pistol from a waistband or a knife from a pocket. You obviously need a solid hand grasp and to be fast on the grab of the weapon.


The normal approach for a handshake. Thumbs up!

And, handshake complete!


Now look at my thumb. It's down.  

This allows me to pass the thumb/hand and grab the arm 

Supported by the other hand for further grappling

Or, the other hand can disarm a knife from a carry site

Spot and get the knife!

Or maybe grab his gun from that carry site. 

      There are numerous take downs and arm controls starting from the handshake. Some people appear rude when they refuse to shake someone’s hand. Most won’t do it, like Donald Trump, so as to not spread nasty germs around. "People's hands are filthy!" they declare. But we know there are more problems with handshaking than just the germs!  

     I have denied the handshake when I felt the situation was suspicious. So should you. Just think of something to say that is appropriate for the situation.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Never Judge a Fighting System by Its Best Athlete...

Judging fighting systems and rating fighting systems

by W. Hock Hochheim

     One of my old and favorite adages -

"Never judge a fighting system by its best athlete. He will make everything look good. Conversely, never judge one on its worst athlete, he will make everything look bad."

     Think about how many systems are sold by the superstars doing their amazing stuff. Super champs make a system and sell it,  often doing things that we mere mortals cannot do. The question is what can normal people - the median, the high percentage of us - do with this superstar's system? This material? Often we aren't as athletic or don't have the time to train as the superstars did.

     We operate in a "mixed person's" world, with people of all kinds of shapes, sizes, weights, ages, strengths, etc. A good system of so-called "reality" fighting or self defense, and not sport, is a system that recognizes this common-sense truth as a foundation.

     Each person is different. But if you have an excellent trainee of superior mental and physical skills? Then the definition of "simple" is different. The definition of "complicated" is also different. Your fine-tuned motor skills are his gross-motor ones. The norm is not the common norm. A good system doctrine must challenge, help, and encourage these special people to do the special things they are capable of.

     And it should always make all people "push the envelope" of their perceived capabilities, too. A little push every day. 

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Value of a Tactic? How Many Counters Are There?

The Value of a Tactic: How Many Counters?
by W. Hock Hochheim

     I start off every seminar with the disclaimer, "everything we do will have a counter." Surely more than one. This brings a smile from a veteran and a dropped jaw from the rookie. Rookies are often looking for a magic bullet. The magic tactic.
     On face value, a so-called "tactic," or "technique" is a step or a series of steps to accomplish some level of diminishment of, or victory over, your opponent. On face value, you might really like a certain tactic because it seems easy and successful to you, based on who you are mentally and physically or your skills and expertise. However, there is another level to review before you list this move in your “personal top ten” or if you decide to teach it to others for their personal top ten. You should conduct a study on how many practical counters exist for these favored tactics. There really are two types of counters - natural and trained.

Type 1: Natural and reflexive counters 
     Need we define these natural movements? Can we spend that amount of time? Like for one example, if you feel you are falling or being taken down, you usually step in the direction of the fall to counter the fall. Or another example, a shoulder shrug or a rising arm are very natural ways people protect their heads.

Type 2: Trained counters
     Obviously, the natural and reflexive counters are your worst problem. Everybody does them and perhaps thoughtlessly. Most of the population is untrained and will react to you in these spontaneous manners. Trained counters are different. They may be efficient responses that aren't necessarily so instinctive or intuitive, but rather learned, smart, and effective. In some cases, these trained counters at first even seem like foreign or strange movements. 

     For example, if you are caught in an ambush firefight, one major counter is to charge the ambush while firing. This sounds crazy, but this is a trained response for several good reasons and hardly natural, yet vital when solving the common military rat-trap called an ambush.

     An enlightened study is required. This means getting with various experts and grilling them subject by subject, tactic by tactic. If your favorite tactic has eight easy, reflexive counters and five trained counters also, that is a bit high; and maybe that move shouldn't be in your top ten favs!

     The good news is when working on these lists with research and development, you are processing a lot of material, interacting with experts, and becoming quite savvy about tactics, their counters, and evaluation. This type of pro-and-con testing makes for a broad and unbiased spectrum of hand, stick, knife, and gun knowledge. When I get with experts, I usually have very specific questions to ask and work on. And one more note - this approach takes a complete neutral and open mind. This process transcends systems and their innocent, clannish mindsets. I think most know this point by now, but it still bears reminding once in awhile.

     And there are really three times for a counter: early-phase counters, mid-phase counters, and late phase counters; but all that is the subject of another essay.

      Pick a move. Make the lists. Natural counters. Trained counters. Start investigating.

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