Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why the Elephant Logo?

 Why the Elephant Logo? by W. Hock Hochheim

     Happened again today. A few always ask, "Hock, why an elephant as a logo?"  For starters, I was looking for something different from the usual "fists, sticks...etc. 

     Veteran insiders in the military and police world have long used the expression when talking about experienced operators.

      “Work with him! He's seen the elephant,"
      "Train with him-he's seen the elephant."

      The elephant symbol and expression has come to represent real action and real experience. If you can't live it, then train with the people who have....kind of thing. The training mission is to collect this type of information.

     That is why I selected the elephant as the CQC emblem. We try to be a repository for as much of this type of information as possible. Our books have true stories from all kinds of vets, this talk forum does, etc. It is a never-ending, and somewhat ever-changing process, of course.
The mad elephant is really the symbol of the CQC Group. Shown here on this page, to the left. The SFC Congress - the big umbrella - has the classic eagle, here on the left also. We have other symbols. The knife course has its logo. The PAC course, its logo. The Stick course has two logos actually, the two fists on a stick and the radical Killshot skull logo.

      The elephant in the room. We already know about the "seen the elephant" phrase, but another one of the main reasons I have chosen the angry elephant as the symbol for CQC Group is that is represents the old expression, the "Elephant in the room." The big elephant in the room is symbolic of the unspoken truth that so many know but so few dare to talk about. In one definition, the room is the martial arts room, or dojo if you well, and the unspoken truth is that common martial arts are abstract renderings of realistic fighting in a mixed weapon world.

      Another point is the unspoken and missed aspect of the room itself. Where IS the "room" you are fighting in? You cannot properly train for a fight unless you know where the fight will actually be.

      Missing in the dojo is the real context of the fight. What will be the real, chaotic situation that the fight will actually occur in? There is an elephant in the room when it comes to traditional martial arts.

     I also thought that the "Elephant and the Blind Men" story was such an interesting study. People only perceive what they touch in the story and cannot describe the elephant.

      Soldiers, cops, fighters, train in this small-minded, manner also.

            - each martial art is but a blind man's perception.
            - each martial sport is but a blind man's perception.
            - we forget the bigger picture, often completely naive and ignorant of it. 

     The raging elephant logo represents this issue. Probably, directly, hunting the elephant and getting guides to hunt the elephant has to be origin of the expression. Hunters always wanted a guide that has "seen the elephant."
But it caught on worldwide as having been experienced in something round and/or dangerous.

      It was used for war vets in the Civil War, or if pioneers made it all across the Oregon Trail.
It was somewhat popular in the 1900s on to maybe the 1980s? Or so?  Nowadays people do not use it in their vernacular and it means little to folks without an explanation.


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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The First Time I was Officially Shot At

The First Time I was Officially Shot At 
by W. Hock Hochheim
     Recently, I wrote about the crazy-weird first time I was shot at. And now this month I want to write about the first time I was shot at…officially.

     After graduating the US Army Military Police academy I was labeled and stamped the old 95 Bravo and shipped off to Oklahoma and into what they still call “Garrison Duty.” There are two kinds of duty back then, called Garrison Duty and a Field Duty. Field duty is when you are attached to and police units that are out in the field, or follow these units around when they are in the field. Today, some call them Combat Military Police. This field duty often included guard duties, or what they now call Force Protection. Field duty and Force Protection didn't interest me at all. I wanted Garrison Duty police work- when you are on a regular police force, like in any city. That's the difference between Garrison and Field. What about military and civilian police work? Why, let's ask Tom Cruise?

     In the 2012 movie with Tom Cruise as the famous Jack Reacher, a city cop asks former military policeman/investigator Reacher-

     “so, what is the difference between a city cop and a military cop?” 
     Reacher's/Cruise's answer goes something like, “oh the same, except every a trained killer.”

     Da-da-da-doooom. Yeah, right. That line is a real groaner. Especially for someone who has done both those jobs for real. Very dramatic. But, there are some similarities between the jobs (oh, like the boredom - which would not make for a cool, line in a Cruise movie) It is NOT like Jack Reacher or the famous NCIS TV show.

     Any decent-sized, military base is just like any city. Stores, malls, restaurants, schools, movie theaters, businesses, power plants, housing, apartments, families, you name it. Then the military extras like barracks, ranges, tanks, cannons… Garrison duty is just like working at a police department in a medium or large-sized city.

     Upon my arrival, I started out with a training officer in a patrol car, who was not much older or about as dumb as I was. But, this lasted a short time. Oh, maybe like a week. This was not so uncommon in the 1970s. I very quickly found myself out on my own in a squad car, patrolling a beat with all the aforementioned amenities, in a Class A pretty boy uniform on day shift, and OD fatigues on evenings and nights. I was officially "on the road." In fact, in the jargon of the day, a "road MP" meant you were a Garrison Duty cop working the streets (not deskbound.) In the very beginning that is all I wanted to be - just a road MP.

     My patrol supervisor, a staff sergeant was a cool guy in his late forties, a Nam vet with a great attitude, who we all knew was soon to cycle out for his next assignment overseas. One night we had a dangerous armed fugitive loose and at that squad meeting, he really spoke frankly about taking the fugitive down without hesitation if we had to save our lives. Take no chances. I don't know, maybe because it was the very first time I had “that” speech, for real (and it was not a groaner!) but I vividly remember that night and his intensity. It's a quiet, intense speech I would hear again hundreds of times and make a few times myself. That speech. A speech that shaves off, that rasps off, a few layers of your “laid-back” and replaces it with a raw “get ready.” That fugitive was eventually caught up in Kansas.

     Anyway, things like this made the Sarge A-okay with me and the troops. So, when I heard him one night kind of lose his cool over the radio, I was really curious about why and what was going on?

     THAT speech! A speech that shaves off, that files off, a few layers of your “laid-back” and replaces it with a raw “get ready.”

     That one late night a common domestic disturbance call came over our car radios at a residence way out of my district. The Sarge intercepted the call and started issuing fervent commands over the airwaves. He sounded a bit rattled. It began to sound like a military assault rather than a two-officer, domestic call. He even called me in.

     “Car 11.”
     “Car 11, go ahead.”
     “Car 11, respond to the domestic. Park on the street. Remain outside until needed.”

     Okay. What's this all about? This was different, but then again, it was all different for me – the rookie in his first month. I drove across the base and down the side street where a row of some ten, narrow, really old white houses were. They were all in a line like matchboxes, all on one side of the street and nothing across the street but a fenced-in, industrial looking place. The street was dark. Depressing government housing to live in. Each house had a small front porch in the center of the house front. To my memory there were at least four or five patrol cars parked on the sidewalk curb out front. A lot of cars. I made it about the 5th car there. I came from the furthest, so I pulled up last.

     I parked and got out. All of the MPs present were still on the street side of their cars. The Sarge was shouting to a man. I could see a white male standing on the small, front porch. Arms down at his sides. I was off to his left, at about 4 o'clock and a good, maybe 40 feet away. I remember his visage on the porch, a bright white light right over his head. His face in stark white and black shadows. T-shirt and pants. Silent. No one approached him as yet?

    I started to decipher what the Sarge was yelling, when…this guy lifted his right arm up straight. There was a pistol in it! He started shooting at us. His arms swung the wide span of our cars as he fired away. I dropped down, and fumbled open the flap holster of my .45. But it didn't take long and for the first time in my professional life, I drew out my pistol. With these explosions I also dropped down behind my car. Everyone else did too that I could see. Nowhere in my training was it ever mentioned about using parts of a car as a shield against gunfire. The tires. The engine block. Ricochets, etc. But then again these were stout cars of yesteryear metal. Old 1970's AMC Matadors.

      One of my vivid memories is the metallic sounds of the bullets smashing into our cars. Thumping also describes it. My car! In split seconds he emptied his magazine just as I peeked over my car at him, gutting up to take a shot. No one else had shot yet either! Why? Everyone else was so much closer than me. I could see he dropped his gun arm back down to his side and the Sarge rushed him, gun out and yelling he would kill the man. Other MPs rushed him. The man stood still like a statue. By the time I got around my car and halfway to the house, the man was cuffed. He was yanked off the porch. An MP held the suspect's pistol in his hand.

     Then a women and three small kids barged out of the door. The woman cried, embraced the Sarge. The kids were crying. My friend who had parked right in front of the house said the kids were crying in the front room while the man stood on the porch. And the wife was at the door until he started shooting!

     In a quick sit-rep, no car windows were blown out. Not every car was hit. None of us were shot. Any other rounds the man fired must have landed into the industrial place across the street. Nobody died. It was another good day.
It was apparent the Sarge was very familiar with the “situation” at the house. Another MP told me they'd been dispatched there several times in the last few months and this showdown was really brewing, which was why the Sarge reacted to the call as he did. The man was arrested by the district officer who cuffed him, and I returned to my district. Not even a witness statement was needed. Just one report by the arresting officer covered the whole story.

     At the end of the tour, we turned our car keys over to the next shift with a new story. “You see this hole?” At the station, the Sarge collected up our final reports from the night and thanked those of us at the shooting for responding “so well” to this domestic incident. He thanked us for not shooting at the suspect right away. He told us that the old wooden house was full of people - the kids and the mom, and if we all lit up the man and the house with .45 ammo we could have hit the family inside. And the fact that he took a little time to "debrief us" was another lesson in professionalism for me. He even patted me on the back as we all split up to leave.

     Pat on the back? Hell, I was 40 feet away and the whole thing was over in about 3 seconds. I didn't do anything at all. But it is still a moment I will never forget. Multiple first impressions, really. The way the Sarge deployed us. And, his forethought of worrying about the family inside the thin wooden walls of the house. I mean, I never thought about such a thing. Oh, well, they barked the four basic gun safety rules at us, and the 3rd Law –
“always be sure of your target and what is behind it!”

     Suddenly that rule had real, physical teeth. Flesh. Real meaning. Oh! Is THAT what it means? The Sarge knew the wife and kids were right there behind the target. And who thought about the “suicide By Cop” syndrome back in the 1970s?

     So in the first month on the job, I'd pulled my gun to shoot someone and I was shot at. Was this the life I chose? The career? The expectations? The reality? Yes and no, but I reckon so. No real regrets, but I do regret that I cannot remember the Sarge's name. I didn't know back then that such remembrances were important later in life, if only for yourself. Within a few weeks he was whisked off to his next assignment. He was a cool guy all right. And the next guy was okay too, but I don't remember his name either.

     But wait, this story isn't over yet and I learned the BIGGEST lesson…
Pay day is a big day at a military base, and back then it was all paychecks and cash and carry. The banks went wild with walk-in and drive-thru business. Being the rookie, the lowest of low on the totem pole, I was assigned to direct traffic at one of the banks. I was stoically positioned up on a painted podium in the middle of four lanes of traffic, Class A's WITH white gloves, white hat and the mighty whistle, working the cars in and out and to and fro. I knew little of this process too, but it's not brain surgery and I picked it up quickly. TWEET! Oh, and I do hate it too.

     There were many people and cars cross-crossing everywhere around me. I saw a staff sergeant in his class A's, with a big smile leave the bank and walk across the street right by me. WHAT? It was this guy that shot at us. That was the guy! Right there! He didn't recognize me or even look at me. I have to admit I was shocked. How could a guy shoot at MPs, then three or four weeks later be bouncing around the post, smiling and as free as a bird? That was another big, first lesson for me.

     The criminal justice system, whether military or civilian was a strange, dysfunctional and bizarre place full of imperfect and often incompetent people. Yes. I was now one of them. And the view from atop my little, painted podium that day and for the rest of my life…was not always a pleasant one.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Importance of SHOOTING Ernest

The Importance of SHOOTING Ernest. 

     No, not the importance of being Ernest. Shooting Ernest. Among the literate and even the illiterate here, most people are familiar with a book called The Importance of Being Ernest. That is Ernest as a noun is defined by showing deep sincerity or seriousness. But if you know the classic story, the plot is not about being sincere at all, but rather the opposite, to pretend and trick people that your actual name is Ernest, and only has an ironic twist to the popular phrase. But why would I want to shoot at Ernest? Maybe I am tired of shooting at poor Will?

"Fire at Will!" Poor Will.
      Let's just say I want to give a paper target a name, or give a so-called “threat”,” a real name. Or, make something unsubstantial more substantial, by giving it a human name. So I call the threat –“Ernest,” so as to bring a real name of a real person into common shooting range vernacular and solve a certain disconnect problem I feel is rampant. (Warning! If you are a hobby shooter or a point-trophy shooter, you may stop reading right now and go about your happy business. This is for self defense shooters.)

     Disconnect? Yes. Between paper and flesh and blood. It is very popular for all too many years now at the shooting ranges to fire at - of course - paper targets. What else is there to shoot at, really? Sometimes folks shoot those hard-foam-body-shaped forms, but they are quickly blasted to smithereens, and they are expensive. We are left with paper targets. People have fiddled with these targets through time. They draw big ugly people on them holding weapons, or even blow-up photos of people. They even have zombies printed on them now. Oh, and they move these paper target closer and far away, or make you stand close or far.  

    Sometimes they pull a t-shirt over a target in an effort to recreate a person, but it is still ol flat, Paper Willy. In fact, no matter what they do to a paper target, they always post perfectly still at the other end of a square range (yes, there are some rare ranges where targets are moving unnaturally on some sort of ramp). And we shoot them. We shoot and shoot them. For decades we shoot and shoot and shoot these pieces of paper, hopefully at least some of this time imagining, projecting, fantasizing about the “threat.” What is a threat, exactly? What threat is happening?

      And just about everybody on the planet calls the ubiquitous paper target on the range, the elusive “threat” from time to time. The threat. We hear the word "threat" a lot.

“When the threat appears.”

“I draw on the threat.”

"Shoot the threat!"

"My hands come up when I see the threat."

"I shoot the threat until the threat is over,"

"When the threat is down."

     Threat. Threat. Threat. The pros love that word. But I like to call the threat instead…”Ernest.” Because Ernie is a real guy's name. And I like to think that doing this labeling is the very first toddler step on the long road to reality from the shooting range over to the actual shooting incident…the wounding, maiming and, or killing of a real person. People. The moving, thinking people "what need shooten," all inside an ugly situation.

     The term “threat” is rather innocuous and handy quite actually. It blankets a multitude of sins and sinful people "what need shootin" and fast. We can't be bothered with the surrounding, situational details on range day. We have sights to acquire, breaths to hold and triggers to gently squeeze, squeeze and squeeze! Vests to wear, the right hat and scarf, etc.
Now is not the time to worry about the details of this Ernest guy jumping around like jack rabbit trying to kill your! And, we have to shoot at something on the range! I understand that, but I ask you to take a serious brain check.

     Is your brain stove-piped? Is this all you do? All you think shooting is? All that you think self defense training is? Shooting at one dimension, non-moving, paper targets for the rest of your life?

     What is Ernest really doing that I need to shoot him? I often wonder what people on a range really think their shoot-able, paper threat is? Who exactly is it? What exactly, at that very second, is he doing? Where precisely is this happening? When is this happening? How is this unfolding? And why? Why are you shooting this threat? I mean Ernest. Unless you are being assassinated, the physical act of shooting a person is a short episode inside a situation, a drama. A trauma, an event. Who, what, where, when, how and why? These details, these preparations are every bit as important as your trigger squeeze in the eventual big picture.

     I never really shot firearms for the sheer fun, hobby or a pastime. Maybe it was my job in the Army and police work that spoiled me. I took it all too...ernestly. I was also shot at very early on. Perhaps I started out under this stressful view while too young? I have a serious work ethic about this thing people call "shooting." A certain impatience. I always worried about Ernest. 

     I still worry about Ernie and perhaps this gave me a different perspective on gun training not heard in the rabidly-growing market place. I have what many have called a "reverse-engineering" look at shooting. I like to start at the gunfight and work backwards to see what is really important.

      In my decades of police work I was mostly an investigator and I have worked numerous murders and even way more attempted murders, robberies, rapes and shooting incidents. Atop that, I have been trained by other investigators and medical examiners from Los Angeles to New York about their cases since the 1970s. I am here to tell you that Ernest is a very sick, twisted, clever, tricky, emotional attacker who operates in rural, suburban and urban areas, day or night, inside or out, within an unlimited amount of predicable and unpredictable situations. Yes, our Ernest! He is a criminal, a soldier, a parolee, a pervert. He has impulse control. He is the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, the guy or gal next door. The guy you passed too close in your car. Ernest - the threat - the guy you are eventually going to kill. Well,  I mean, of course..."stop."

     I wonder when classic range shooters are training on a classic range and looking at a classic paper target. I wonder what they think they see. As their eyes flicker back and forth from the sights to the target, from the target to the sights, when the instructor defines the paper target as this intangible "threat,” will he or she student project their version of a criminal upon the paper? A crazy from the Taliban? An abstract concept from last night's TV cop show? Or, perhaps they just see a point-ratio target score to pass the day's events.

     If you are in this for survival and not sport, not a hobby, at some point you have to start really learning about Ernest. But, are you there at the range for the thrill and joy of using a new gun? A new holster? Checking out that new spring? Or, are you there from the fear and hate of a criminal or an enemy soldier, or a craving to survive? Are you just…addicted to range? Just slap-happy to shoot paper targets for decade after decade after decade for the rest of your life? Does the course itself become your end task? Do you lose yourself within it? Trapped within range of the range, not a means to an end. The end is the gun fight, set in "ernest," and chaos with an Ernest, and maybe a few of his buddies?

     People should more want. I am encouraged that there is a newer training movements to solve problems in car jackings and now inklings of a popular push to dissect possible home invasions and shootings right in the actual homes that people live in. Reduce the abstract! But if you look at the chaos of crime and war, there are many other common episodes to cover. The best aspects of our military train to shoot and kill the specific enemy while said enemies are doing the very tactics that they do to us in the field. Reality training. And this practice should be done with... brace yourselves…some kind of simulated ammunition, and off the square range in realistic environments. The range only exists to support the reality. Need I repeat this point? The range only exists to support the reality.

      People understand that if you spend your life punching a heavy bag, you will not really be prepared to handle a real fight.  If you only punch bullets through paper targets, it is just like the perennial heavy bag puncher. You will always need to punch a bag some and shoot live fire some at the range and it will be on paper targets. What else is there? But the range only supports the reality. 

     At some point in your shooting "career," the range becomes a session of weapon familiarization. You have simply got to learn about dealing with Ernest. And you are not really learning how to gunfight unless you fight against a moving, thinking Ernest who is shooting back at you. This is accomplished with interactive, simulated ammo in crisis rehearsal situations, constructed by knowledgeable instructors. It is the next step. The step most can't or won't take, even though simulated ammo, interactive, situational, shooting training has already won the respect of police and militaries around the entire world. What about you?

      One final mention on the ugly word "disconnect." One of the causes of post-traumatic stress is the hyper-leap from shooting paper targets to maiming and killing people. It is a hyper-leap too large for many folks. Training with simulated ammo against shooting, moving, thinking people that are shooting back at you will help desensitize you for this mess in stages, and may help defer PTS. Scored 98 on the target range? Looks good. That's cool. But as the old adage goes, "can they fight?" 

     This is the importance of shooting Ernest. We have been firing at the non-moving, flat, Mister Paper Willy for way, way too long. Give ol Will a break. It is time to implant Ernest and his chaos in your training DNA. They don't call it "crisis rehearsal" for nothing. It is the importance of shooting Ernest. And well, let's not forget Ernestine too, and all their got-damn relatives and buddies.

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