Sunday, May 17, 2015

Draw-Don't Draw! Escalating the Escalated Escalation

“If I pull my knife? And he is carrying a gun? Will this cause him to pull his gun out? 
Will I cause the problem to escalate?”

     So often people want Magic Bullet answers to a lot of self defense questions. There’s always big talk in the self defense industry about "avoidance"  If too late to avoid, then next up in the event list is what they call "de-escalation." Avoiding and de-escalating a common knucklehead before a fight starts is a cottage industry. Some folks confidently doll out solutions to confrontations in 3 to 5 steps, or present mandatory checklists.

     “Say these things!”   “Do this!”  “Do that!”  “Stand like this!”   "Don't ever..."

     Now, I think it is certainly good to be exposed to all these ideas and methods. Sure. Do so. But, as an obsessed skeptic, I see the caveats beyond the advice. I don’t know about certain kinds of solutions, magic words or stances when confronted or attacked.

     I have investigated a whole lot of assaults, aggravated assaults, attempted murders and murders through the decades, and while there are identifiable patterns, surprises and chaos can sure still reign supreme. But, let me summarize by calling it all “situational.” In the end, solutions are situational. Like calling plays in a football game, it depends on the situation. How you stand and what you say or do should be situational. Custom-built. (This essay is primarily about puling out a knife, but does and could certainly relate to pulling a pistol, too. It's just that if this was "pistol-centric" essay, I would be writing more about pistol situations.)

     So, there’s an argument! Then a fight! Given you have already performed all your popular avoidance and de-escalation are armed under your coat or in your pocket with a knife or even a gun, and this verbal stuff just ain’t working! The mean man won’t leave! Do you pull that knife out? That weapon out?  There are some situational concerns with doing this and these concerns certainly do involve his possible knives and guns and the overall escalating ladder of weaponry, violence and legal problems.

Here’s a few facts and related ideas on the subject to kick around:

Fact. Some people do leave. For many a year now 65% to 70% of the time when a knife or pistol is produced in the USA, the criminal leaves you alone. Simple statement. I have often heard the easy average of 67% used. (Sticks by the way, are not in these study figures.) I must warn folks that this is not as clean and simple an escape as it sounds. There are many emotional, ugly events that happen in this weapon-presentation/confrontation, even if the bad guy does leave. Trauma and drama. We discuss these details in certain topical seminars and other specific essays.

Fact: Some people don't leave. The good news with the 65%/35% split is you may only have to fight about 30% of the time! So, 30% of the time, the opponent does not leave and this fight is on, whether he is unarmed or armed. The bad news is when you are now in that "unlucky 30%," or you might say you are now a 100%-er. You are 100% there and stuck in it. A hand, stick, knife or gun fight!

Fact: Some people are armed. General stats quoted for many years past say that 40% of the time the people we fight are armed. A few years back the FBI upped that anti to about 90% being armed! A shocking high number for me to grasp. And another gem to add in is that 40% of the time we fight two or more people. Hmmm. 40% to 90% armed, times 40% multiple opponents. Not a healthy equation. Lots of people. Lots of weapons. Lots of numerical possibilities.The "smart money" always bets that the opponent is armed.

Facts: Times and Reasons to pull. Logical and physical. Time and reason might seem the same, but defining times and reasons in your mind and for your training is smart. Time equals “when” and reason equals “why.  Two different questions. The motive and the moment-to-move.  Either way, remember there must be some real danger to you and danger to others for you to take weapon-action.

     The Why? 2 Reasons to Pull: There are two reasons to pull your weapon out. First is to stop violence before it happens. The second is to stop violence while it is happening.  

     The When? 2 Times to Pull: There are two generic times to draw your weapon. First, when you can predict problems and pull before the incident happens. It’s always said that the best quick draw is pulling out your weapon just before you needed it. And the second pull is during the incident. 

Some Facts; Pulling during the incident. I have written and lectured in the past about why people do and do not draw weapons once a physical fight has started. They are in this quick review:

1: He is carrying, but does not draw because he actually forgets he is armed. Oh yes, this happens.

2: He is carrying, but does not draw because he is smart enough to know that this incident does not deserve the legal and physical consequences of pulling a gun, knife, etc.

3: He does draw when he decides at some point in the fight he is losing. It may not actually, legally be a true life or death fight, but he thinks so.

4: He does draw when he loses his temper inside the fight.

5: Dominant fervor. He draws after winning. He’s essentially won but hates for the victory feeling and moment to pass. He further punishes the opponent by presenting a weapon and scaring him with his glee and threats. 

      Recognizing these 5 situational events should shape good training drills and scenarios.

What Should You Do?
     Before, during and maybe even after, when a weapon is drawn in the fight by you, it can definitely stop, or escalate the heat with intensity and, or even more weapons. The question arises, and one I am frequently asked is:

“I live in a state where ‘everybody’ carries a gun, Hock. 
If I pull my knife to scare someone off? Or I pull my gun? 
And he is carrying a knife or gun? Will this cause him to pull his knife or gun out?”

     Ahhh…yes. Yes, that can happen. In the same way that your words, your facial expression, your clothes, or even your stance can escalate an encounter. But yes, that can happen. Should you always pull your weapon with the first blush of a problem? Automatically? No. The problem must percolate to the level that reasonable and prudent people think it is justified. Police deal with this pressure almost on a monthly basis, or maybe a weekly basis and in some tough places, maybe even daily? It’s an acquired skill. A feel.

     “Should I always throw the long pass, or always hand off the ball to the running back."  No. I can’t answer that on paper or at the lectern. Not even Tom Brady can. How could we? It is situational. It is best to have a few handy plays up your sleeve and wing it. (Well maybe not as many as Brady has up his sleeve, as in the nearby photo, but you need some tricks.) So, I simply cannot answer that hypothetical question with a "do-don't do." It’s a “call.” A call you must make in the moment, just like a quarterback.  HIKE! What's the field look like?

 "HIKE! What's the field look like?"

     I would like to start a list of very specific situations here to help out in the decision making, but then this little essay would grow to textbook-size. But, just for just one example, there are times that you might best-guess the enemy is or is not armed.  One point is the physical assessment of the enemy at the moment - is he acting or dressed in a way to tip off a concealed weapon? This is tricky. I was almost shot one night by a shirtless guy in very tight pants - pants that I swore could not conceal a gun. A Saturday Night Special was in his front pocket. he shot someone else with it a moment later. Still, part of your draw/don’t draw decision is based on what you see and think and how  well you are trained to think and see. This brings us right back to the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions I use as a foundation for decades now on just about everything we do.

      "Draw-Don’t Draw." Then it becomes "Shoot-Don’t Shoot?" So often people want a quick, magic bullet answer. There is none and I'm sorry, I have no magic bullets like this for you. If anyone is selling you a box of those bullets? I wouldn't buy them.

Many of these issues are covered in depth in this Stop 1 DVD or download series.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Inside Hock's Heart! (The Rich Dimitri Interview)

 And now, a different sort of interview of yours truly...the kind only Richard Dimitri would conduct.

 The Hock Hochheim "Inside Hock's Heart" interview by Rich Dimitri:

"Everybody just calls me Hock, even though some are still compelled to call me “sir.” And I feel uncomfortable with even that title, since I had to call numerous knuckleheads “sir” in the military. I am a former military patrolman and investigator and a former Texas patrolman and investigator. After my retirement in 1997, I was then a private investigator for several years. 

 I started Ed Parker Kenpo Karate in 1972 and since, I’ve done numerous martial arts and picked up a few black belts along the way. I currently teach about 40 hand, stick, knife and gun seminars in about 12 or 13 countries a year. I started teaching full time in 1997. I also write novels and non-fiction books."

Question 1. What significant change(s) on a human level, have you gone through over the last decade in direct relation to your work and how has it, if any, changed the way in which you teach/instruct?
     Ten years went fast, but if I conjure up an image of myself teaching somewhere at that time, it seems like 25 years ago. Not being a very introspective person, I think, change-wise, I still hone away at material to its generic core, trying to see what and where that core could fit in the other subjects I try to pass on.

     In these ten years I still try to get people to experiment through options and select their favorite 8 to 10, or 12 favorite ‘self defense” things for most of the problem-solving that fits their world. But as I age (in my 60s), I now tell people to review their list every 8 or so years to see of they can still do their favorites well enough and maybe consider some changes. These last years though, I start all sessions off with a speech that includes,

 “...nothing I, or we will do, will be perfect. Everything we do will have a counter,” 

just to get the right mindset that we are going to exercise though a variety of options, non-perfect, all with escapes. This bit of truth gets a chuckle from some smarter folks and shocks others because they think martial system “heads” and "ringleaders" are supposed to deliver “magic bullets” to any and all attack problems.

Question 2. Is there a particular incident/occurrence/situation you recall having directly experienced/been involved in that has deeply & emotionally touched and/or altered you and your perceptions of the world in general?

      I started out in the 1970s just looking for a job that was exciting and didn’t bore me. The military and police work. There was a slow osmosis in police work, a whole collection of events from crime to car wrecks, that altered me, made me mature up and realize that police work was important. But it took awhile. And then, way too late in life, I realized how important militaries are and could be.

     It would be hard for me to pick one or two deep things, emotional things because so many bad things happened to me that if I try to pick one or two, my mind flips from one to the next, to the next. Ugly, ugly and more ugly. And I dislike visiting the memories, really. Ever see a deuce and a half Army truck flipped over from an accident and about 20 dead guys butchered and laid everywhere? Ever see what a hand grenade does to a crowded room of people? Ever pull a murdered, dead mom and two dead kids from a well? I don’t even want to visit the Army bases and cities I worked in, because there are so many bad memories at so, so many locations. I simply had to write about these things in my newest book though, a catharsis? Which was actually tough. I think I picked up a new face twitch from it.

    A psychiatrist first noticed my new twitch. A student wrote in to me disappointed that I had undergone therapy. He asked, "you have a psychiatrist?" I said ,"yes. One for every lobe."

    So, I have been "touched." "Altered."

Question 3. Have you ever thought of quitting the game altogether? If yes, why? And if you were to at this stage in your life (today) do something entirely different, what would it be? 

     Weekly. I think about quitting weekly, but I can’t because it is a job. My job. Like everyone has a job they have to do. Some people lay bricks. Some deliver the mail. Bod Dylan said, " ya gotta serve somebody." Its a job. People will frequently say to me:

“It must be great, traveling around the world and doing your passion. 
Where is your favorite place to go?” 

Favorite place to go? My quick answer is “home.” And, this stuff? This…ain’t my passion. I do a fair number of interviews and many of them don’t get “published” because my answers don’t fit their anticipated mold. One of the “moldy” questions recently was –

“Martial arts. How did you first discover this passion?”

     Passion? I said that was hard for me to answer that question the way it was posed. It was hard for me to include the word “passion” in with a dead customer on the floor from a bank robbery. Or, a soldier gutted in some trench. Or a wife stabbed in the chest. Somebody’s jaw broken. Is passion a word we should use for death and destruction? It soon became apparent to the martial arts interviewer that I had a completely different view of fighting than what he perceived “passion and martial arts life” to be. So, another interview disappeared off the charts.

     And I do grow impatient with people in the business. You know, now I am in my 60s and I am “60s-stupid.” I was REALLY stupid when I was in my 20s. Whew. I was still stupid, but less so in my 30s. In that progression, I was 40s-stupid. Then 50s-stupid. Stupid about life and fighting. In my 60s, I am still stupid but not as stupid as I was! But, I do know stupid and I can recognize it. I am constantly seeing and hearing stupid stuff, "age-appropriate" though, from the various decades of ages and mouthpieces in this business. Yup, that sounds like a 30-year-old talking. Or -

"...that kid is smart. He's a 35 year old and talking like a 45 year old!" 

And then to, whether the criticisms are right or wrong, hearing all the testosterone-driven, macho, bad-mouthing criticisms about everyone and everything can just be overwhelming through the years.

     Quitting or not, I have an odd and unexplainable interest in…for lack of a better word, “tactics,” or "moves," or strategies. I don’t know why. I am like a hoarder, obsessed, drawn to the ways and means of fighting, big and small. It is not fun. It is not a hobby. It is not a passion. It is unhealthy and I recognize that. But I’ve seen stuff, learned stuff and I know stuff. Next, people asked me what stuff I’ve learned. Next thing, I am teaching the stuff. Next thing, I am making more money teaching that stuff than at police work. Crazy money compared to the low-paying, police job. A fool would not and could not do both. Next thing I know - I am teaching this stuff in Africa and China! Forty times a year all over. I am also addicted to history and psychology. I buy textbooks and eagerly await their arrival.

     I don’t really know how this happened? I didn’t plan it. I didn’t want it. Didn't dream about it. I just kept moving forward week to week. Now, 18 years have passed by. I am really too old to do much else at this stage of my life, except maybe write. Writing is my real dream "job."

Question  4. Do you feel you were proverbially ‘born’ to do what you do, that this was your calling? Is there perhaps another thing you wish you would have done instead, or believe you are just as good at and should have perhaps explored instead?

     I am, I think, first and foremost a writer. Second, a detective. Third, maybe this fighting stuff as a living? I was probably born to be a writer. It’s a music I get. I have an ear for it. And I can stand the painful labor of it all.

     Being a detective, not so much a patrolman but an investigator, was a natural for me, both in the military and in Texas. But it was really exhausting work, with a toll. Through time, I did grow very tired of people’s problems. Day after day, month and year after year, people’s problems. people's problems. After 26 years I’d had enough of it. I never took a promotional test. I just worked in line operations all those years. I never was a social worker type. I use to joke that victims were mere vessels for me to get my hands around the throats of criminals. But it was half a joke. They were. But, victims of various tragedies wore me to a frazzle. They are not complaining about a broken pipe or an electric socket won't work. They have been hurt emotionally and physically. If you let it all in? If you empathize? It will kill off your soul.

     I also must mention that just about all policing contains vast hours of sheer boredom. Vast. I don't want to leave anyone with the impression patrol and investigations are a non stop roller coaster ride. These non-challenging times also influenced me to quit. Burn-out. Money. Boredom when things were...boring.

     I do wish I had just played baseball, instead. I honestly did have potential in my teens. Imagine living your life going out on a green field everyday and playing a slow game of baseball. There is something magic about a baseball stadium, major or minor leagues. I really don’t like to watch baseball on TV, but loved playing ball. Yeah. Yup. Baseball.

Question 5. How has your work affected your personal life in regards to the relationships with those outside our field/profession? (Professional, personal, familial, romantic, etc.)

     Being an obsessive hoarder, I know it has. But, when I was a Army or Texas detective for 17 years, I fit the classic stereotype. Nothing personal stood in my way when working cases. Lots of things fell by the wayside. Lots of things. Here these last 18 years of my traveling and teaching, my kids are grown and busy, and my wife (now 3rd which tells you something right there) is in on this business too, so we are very close and she "gets" the time and the effort.

Question 6. Do you have any regrets at all? If yes, which is the one that haunts you the most?

     Loads. I still have one unsolved homicide from the 1980s! I just helped wrap up another murder case from 1981, so there's hope.

     But, looking back on this particular path? I should have rejoined the Army, in the Army Reserves, a few years after I first got out, and when had a few years of Texas policing under my belt. I should have joined the Reserves. The Army Reserves really bend over backward to get you in and keep you in and be happy. It’s the Reserves! I could gotten Warrant Officer schools, CID/FBI schools, so much and in 25 plus years, jeez, by now? I would be “set” by now. Oh, I would have deployed overseas about 4 or 6 times, but at six months clips and that’s okay with me. You know people can retire from the Reserves. I have a retirement from the police department which is not much, and then that extra Army Reserves retirement on top, to boot, would have been great? Plus, I could have kept a hand in the military and contributed something to the national cause. I really do regret that.

     Then of course, there are a long series of smaller regrets,

     - “WHY did I sell all my 1950s and 1960s comic books in the 70s? If I had simply saved them? I’d be rich!”

     - “WHY didn’t I train martial arts when I was in Korea?”

     - "Baseball? Did someone mention baseball already?"

     ...on and on with the regrets.

Question 7. What are your proudest moments/achievements in both your private and professional lives?

     Solving murder cases, getting convictions, are most satisfying, especially solving the “mystery” ones. So many murders are committed with easily identified, emotional suspects. But ones without this solution are way harder. A mystery. Solving these murders are the big leagues of policing. I have won those Superbowls. I have even caught a hit man, and seriously helped capture two serial killers.

     Getting my second novel, My Gun is My Passport, published, and then getting an award for it was very cool.

     As far as the fighting business? A few small ones in comparison. I guess teaching in the one South African Police Academy was very unique. Kick boxing with, and then being able to beat one of my best, earliest and important instructors Ray Medina back in the 1980s was a personal landmark for me. I did raise two kids into functioning, adults with professional jobs. And that ain’t hay! My Knife/Counter-Knife book is a beauty, I think. The big, over-sized hardcover book, with over 1,000 how-to color photos. I still love the look, smell and feel of that textbook.

     It is important not to let these things go to your head. Never take yourself too seriously. As Julius Caesar first said, then Patton said, “all glory is fleeting.” I believe that it’s not what you’ve done, it’s what you are about to do that makes you vital and important. Kevin Pollak, the actor, comedian, writer and director says, “if you’re waiting, you ain’t creating.” (And…all that kind of talk)

     It was a big personally achievement for me when I beat a case of toe fungus I had awhile back. But you know, like crime, it just keeps coming back and back. Fleeting.

Question 8. How do your friends and family outside the industry/self defense/martial arts world view what you do for a living? What are your thoughts and feelings about it?

     They think I am an oddity. I usually hide it for as long as I can. I am on a whole lot of plane flights and people, like at events and gatherings and parties and so forth, like to ask “what do you do?” If I tell people the truth? They act impressed, but like I am a freak, or super soldier, but I myself, can’t see how they could possibly believe me. I mean, if a stranger told me they did what I did, I wouldn’t believe them.

     So, I dodge it. I started telling people years ago I sold insurance, thinking that was boring enough, but it was a mistake. EVERYONE has insurance problems and this just lead to more and more questions and conversation. Next, I told people that I traveled a lot, scouting locations for Long John Silver’s, for future, fast food locations. This is a going-nowhere conversation piece. A dead end. They look at you, sometimes with pity, and then change the subject.

     I am not a rah-rah person about this fighting stuff, and the related macho crap, which is a huge detriment to my business, I know this. I just enough advertising to stay afloat, do what I have to do to stay busy.

     Now you want to talk about my books and writing? Watch out! Step back! Here it comes! I won’t shut up.

Question 9. How often do you find yourself going against what you preach and teach, after all, we’re all human, we all have our ‘bad days’ and the like; and how often are you aware of it enough in the present moment to catch yourself do you think?

     Low expectations! Seriously, I don’t preach much at all. I don’t expect much of myself or other people either. I have seen human life on the planet Earth. It ain't pretty.

     But, if I suddenly discover an hypocrisy in my doctrine, I fix it immediately. One professional snafu I still get in is that I still teach Filipino martial arts when requested. I don’t push the subject, but I do have a ton of time and grade in it. Parts of all arts can contradict my major battle plan that I preach and teach, creating a "preach-problem?" But, if hired out for the event, I sing the golden-oldies. Like Frank Sinatri, "I sing for my supper." And I realize FMA really is just an interest and a hobby for so many people. It’s fun, addictive and its exercise and makes people happy. The real survival benefits are abstract. But many folks are interested in the history, the look and feel of FMA, just like some people like Corvettes or the Boston Red Sox. So, I am there, happy, with a big smile on, singing the golden-oldies.

Question 10. What now? Where do you go from here? Where do you see yourself in 10, 20 years both on a personal and professional level?

     Probably dead. What’s the average age of death these days? 75? I got about 11 or 12 years left? And the 70s are a rough decline. Whew! I’ll fight it back, but man! I hope to be somewhat "retired" sooner than that, collecting all the money I sent in to Uncle Sam, and writing international, bestselling novels and non-fiction books, made into smash-hit movies, in which I will have brief cameos like Stan Lee.

     But right now, I will continue to chug along. Make the gigs I promised to make. Chisel the material I am obsessed to chip away on, like the hoarder than I am. It seems like I live my life in 6 months chunks, 6 at a time. I see and worry about the next 6 month schedule more than the real distant future. I worry about those upcoming, 20 some-odd gigs I have to go in the next six months. What will I do? What has evolved? How will I get there? How will I advertise them best? What’s the best way to do all these things?

    Personally, in the coming years, I just want to hang out with my wife now and even more so in the future. Unless, you know, all those movie cameos keep me too, too busy.

Hock’s webpage is His email is He currently teaches hand, stick, knife and gun tactics in about 40 seminars a year in 13 allied countries. His latest non-fiction book is Don’t Even Think About It” Confessions and Memories of a Former Military and Texas Lawman, Private Investigator and Body Guard.

Over-sized paperback or Kindle E-Book

Click here
Hock's Don't Even Think About It, Book

Monday, May 4, 2015

Slash Across The Forehead? And 3 Things You Fight, When You Fight.

     When I was a guest on the old G. Gordon Liddy radio show many moons ago, Liddy made the statement –

     “you know the first thing I would do in a knife fight?”

     “What’s that, G-Man?” I answered.

     “I would slash the man across the forehead. This way the blood would soon pour down into his eyes. Blind him, and then I could finish him off.”

     Since we were live on the air, coast to coast, I decided to let that one pass…but no.

     I have heard this little forehead-slash ditty for years before and continue to hear it. Just three weeks ago in California, a seminar attendee asked about such a face attack, saying it was a big strategy in ____ Kali.  Others report that some Italian knife systems promote this strategy.

     Well, again, no.

     Some seem to emphasis it with a backhand slash, as though that attack is somewhat exclusive to forehead slash. Nope. I guess could be any slash or even a forehead stab. (In fact a good stab that hits the skull and slides off to the side, can do a lot of rip-up, damage.)

     Briefly, let’s look at this touted forehead slash. So...I am in a knife fight for my life. Every second counts. The heavenly clouds have opened for me somehow! His arms cleared an open path to his head. And I…choose to cut the forehead. I cut the forehead, then I continue on with this deadly duel and battle, back and forth, back and forth, and wait until sufficient streams of blood work downward, like spilled paint from a paint can that flows over the eyebrows and down into both eyes, thick enough to blind the enemy, whereby I deliver the death move.

     Huh? If the heavens opened for me? I would rather cut the eye or eyes themselves, or the throat, not aim at the forehead. Get a much quicker finish. Why wait for blinding blood flow, because in the subsequent, post-forehead-cut, seeping blood moments, while I am waiting for his total blindness, he could get lucky and...KILL ME FIRST!

    A moment to bleed?  Could be. Yes. Maybe more. Here's why.

    When we fight an enemy, we are dealing with three big problems

 Problem 1: His athleticism (natural and, or acquired)
 Problem 2: His pain tolerance
 Problem 3: His adrenaline (which could increase the aforementioned 1 and 2)

      These three important things are at play in a fight, and do not make Jack a dull boy. Not at all. They can turn Jack into an overpowering engine. Now I could pontificate on these subjects ad nauseam. All righteous observations, but we’ll stick with the subject here on forehead slash attacks and select Problem 3: Adrenaline, for discussion.

     One of the benefits of adrenaline is it pushes/sucks the blood from the surface of the skin, protecting the body as much as it can from bleeding. Medical history as well as my personal experiences can attest to this. I have seen people slashed with a knife and start to bleed normally a bit later, post adrenaline. This can be different than a surprise, accidental cut on the face. No fight. No adrenaline.

     So, if you get a slash across his forehead, you really can’t predict how successful that slash might be, how much blood it will produce, how much and how fast it will "seep" down and how quickly it will blind. And you cannot and should not waste that "heavenly opportunity" of an opening, with a forehead slash, and should instead go for a better attack on the eye, eyes and, or a neck shot.

    Now that I have written this anti-forehead-slash advice here, I will no doubt hear from at least one person, from someone who "knows" someone, who "knows" this worked once, with an anecdotal tale. But really, in the big picture? Forget the forehead slash. You might accidentally slash the forehead, sure. But, don't fixate on this as a super-secret, insider, "knife-fighter" success strategy. It ain't.

     And you haven't got the time to mess around with this.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, every time I had a new book published, the G-Man had me on his show. He is a quite a colorful character and has a great American story.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Knife Surgeon Says...!

These are some comments from a surgeon with martial arts experience on knife injuries he's treated, posted on my old talk forum many years ago. Interesting to read.

    "...anyway, the upshot is killing someone with a blade isn't as easy as it looks on TV. The scene where someone gets stabbed in the belly, then looks shocked, then drops dead is unrealistic. Either a fair amount of damage needs to be done, some very vital structures injured, or a fair amount of time to pass if the wounds aren't horrendous in order for someone to die from stab or slash wounds.

    There's quite a bit of variability as to how folks respond to trauma in general. Some seem to die with minimum injury and others seem to withstand huge blood loss and horrific injuries. I haven't a clue what differentiates these two populations but wish I knew...

    I said it before and I'll say it again. In a conflict for my life, I would rely on a blunt force instrument to the head before a bladed weapon to just about any anatomic structure to most quickly stop a threat. It doesn't matter what level of adrenaline you've got or what drugs you may have in your system. If you're struck hard enough in the head, you're going down. Also, the long term implications of a survived head injury are (in general) worse than those of a knife wound you recover from.

    Trauma and human response to trauma is very interesting. I don't know if I believe that primates and humans in particular are harder to kill. Hunting injuries to animals are typically(hopefully) quite precise and should result in a rapid humane kill. Fighting injuries to humans presenting to trauma centers are less so. I would guess those folks shot by skilled snipers die quickly, similar to hunting wounds.

    Anyway, at risk of being accused of being "disturbing" again, here are some generalities for delivering fatal wounds with a bladed weapon.

     First: the blade must absolutely be sharp. I've operated on plenty of folks in which a dull edge pushed structures away rather than incising them. Arteries are relatively thick walled and elastic, a dull edge will displace rather than cut them.

     Second: All other things equal, a larger blade will be better.

     Third: Relying on a single wound to incapacitate an opponent is a bad idea.

     Anatomic considerations: The body's actually pretty well designed and protects the most important structures. If you want to get to the heart there are two reliable ways: A very sharp and sturdy knife thrust strongly just left of the sternal border around the 4th interspace (about nipple level on a guy) will do it. Otherwise, just go under the sternum(under the xiphoid) and aim at the left shoulder. This is basically how we place a needle in the pericardium to drain fluid out from around the heart.

    The flexor/medial/anterior surfaces of the extremities are where the money is. In the arm, that's the inner aspect of the upper arm, the crease at the elbow, the palmar aspect of your forearm. In the lower extremity imagine a line from the crest of your pelvis to your pubic bone. About 1/2 of the way up(usually a bit less actually) you get your femoral artery and vein. If the weapon is directed back and up into the abdomen a bit, you can get the iliac vessels. These are especially hard to get to surgically and can not easily be treated with direct pressure. The femoral artery goes medially down the thigh (there's a deep branch as well) and then behind the knee in the mid-line roughly. It breaks into three vessels below the knee and is no longer that great a target.

(This was a case I worked back in the 1980s. Road rage. This kid, got cut on the arm, then fought back against the bigger knifer, and disarmed the knife! Swung it back at the guy. The guy fled. I wish I could show the kid's face here. He was smiling a lot in the emergency room. He was totally untrained. I arrested the knifer a few days after. - Hock)

      In the abdomen, you'd be trying to get to the aorta or the vena cava. This would be actually VERY difficult with anything you're likely to carry around. There are some posterior approaches that would work, but I doubt they'd be useful in the middle of a chaotic fight. The liver occupies the right upper quadrant and is a giant target. A large knife and multiple wounds would be necessary and there no guarantee whatsoever that this would end a fight quickly.

    Stab wounds to the chest in general are likely to get the lungs which can result in collapse (by pneumo or hemothorax) and bleed quite a bit in general. Here, you might actually do well with a smaller knife, since if the opening in the chest is big enough, they won't get what's called a tension pneumothorax. In a similar vein, a small wound to the heart, like an ice pick doesn't kill by bleeding. The blood gets in the sac around the heart, and when the pressure builds up the heart can't fill. If it can't fill, it can't pump and that's that.

    The neck is a tried and true target for bladed attacks. A tracheal injury in and of itself may well do nothing. The carotid artery is medial to (on the inside of) the jugular vein and is a good target. Honestly, if I were able and wanted to inflict maximum damage from a bladed attack to the neck I would insert by stabbing where I thought the jug/carotid were and direct the knife to the contralateral side and backwards. When withdrawing, I'd try to pull the whole thing over to the other side. Alternatively you could direct it to the other ear (the back of it.) If you make a muscle in your neck, you'll see your sternocleidomastoid muscle. There's an inverted V formed by this muscle as one head goes to the clavicle and the other goes to the sternum. the hollow at the top of this V is a pretty good shot on the carotid and jugular.

    If you get stabbed or cut and the guy runs off (or if it's an accident, etc) the common treatment is DIRECT PRESSURE. Don't use pressure points above the injury. Get some rags or whatnot and jam them right on the wound and push HARD. Tie that pressure off if you have to. Virtually all extremity injuries and even direct pressure on most neck injuries can be controlled by this maneuver (of course don't choke someone to death).

    Bear in mind that a fatal wound won't necessarily equal stopping your opponent. It does you no good if you get killed and then your opponent dies later in the ED or in the ICU."

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Military "Quick Kills"  Course

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Two Ways a Fight Physically Starts

 I would like to identify two types of physical, attack "starters." But first as for situational starters, when I often say - 

"life is either an interview or an ambush," is in the most broad and generic of terms. Whether in business, marriage, child-rearing or in gang fights, you are either surprised (ambushed), or have a few seconds or even longer trying to figure out some course of action (interview). So, in the most generic sense, most fights, even arrests, start this way. A clever person once added that - "you could have an interview to set up the ambush, or an ambush to set up an interview!" But its still starts with these two terms and situations.

      Having covered that set of two very broad, primitive ideas - the interview or the ambush, let's be even more definitive in a category of two actual physical, "fight-starting movements and moments," because this smaller, refined slice of a fight is important enough to discuss. Very important, especially when it comes to training methods. I have come to believe that many people train one way or the other way, rarely both ways.  

     The confronting aggressor does two common fight starters in the Stop 1 "showdown" of our Stop 6. The Stand-Off confrontation and the Mad Rush attack. You might summarize by saying, "close and not close"

Close - The Stand-Off. He stands before you with his routine, be it the stare-down, the bullying threats, the yelling. Finger pointing? Even stupid, chest bumping. You know what a bully does. You know what the instigator does. The pusher. The prodder. He's the trouble-maker and the sucker puncher.  

     His measured and acquired distance is usually way too close for natural comfort. You try to fix that quickly and you move and he dances in and around with you, trying to maintain that distance. This attack starts too close and tries to stay too close. Lots of sucker punch problems here. Lots of strikes and not from a classic, fighting stance either. 
     I know instructors will bark at you that you screwed up by letting him too close, but let me warn you that this sudden, surprise closeness can and does happen to the best of us in real life situations. In a flash! I should know. I too have been jumped, despite all the warnings I spout.  

Not Close - The Mad Rush. I have coined this term for our training programs back in the 1990s and made some video tapes on the subject, but now the original format is long gone with days of the VHS and I am too lazy to make a new one. But the idea of the Mad Rush remains. This is when the guy is a bit distant, makes a mean face, maybe roars and charges in like a madman.  Think about a road-rager for one example.

     Maybe there was no stand-off argument, encounter, or maybe he steps back from the above verbal encounter, and then charges in on you. But the real action officially starts not too, too close in but from a bit back. He has time and distance to intensely charge in. He creates momentum.

Training for the Stand-Off and the Mad Rush
     So, through the years when we (and all teachers by the way) organize material and training, one phase of the instruction looks like the stand-off.  You have to start somewhere! You have to practice in a digestible progression. Two people stand before each other. Kind of close. He throws. You respond. 

    "And a one, and a two, and a three..."

    Maybe four? Etc. But I think this level, this speed, this intensity, this space, is also the part practiced too much in many systems. We forget to experience the opening mad rush attack. 

     Just one example easy to relate to? This is especially evident to me in the tons of martial arts, and to name one, the martial stick work people do with each other, the key word being with. People spend a ton of time doing these specific stick routines or something like 3-step-encounters with partners, really not registering any real speed or intensity involved. So at that slower, speed level, they "get it." They get good at the move but at that training speed. 

     Not to pick on stick training, because this approach is done by all, wrestlers, BJJ-ers, boxers, Kravers, you name it, everyone digests these things in bits. This is a staple method. Understand that the Stand-Off is an important part of the learning progression. And, usually people get good at that specific thing, at that specific distance and at that rate. But then, are you now done? No.     

     Next, I'll ask one of the two practitioners to take a few steps back, make a mean face and yell and charge in. A mad rush. Very often this other person cannot do what he or she had previously done so well at the stand-off range. Quite often, the first time these people are charged they step back and collapse under the pressure. They loose the plan. 

     I think this Mad Rush training is always a good idea, with just about anything you are practicing. Do the "Stand-Off" version. Do the "Mad Rush" version.  Get folks used to ALWAYS doing the "Mad Rush" version with each set of moves. I know some instructors that will start with the mad rush version, almost like a demo first, and then break it down for skill development, building back up to the fast version. Such is a proven learning method. 

     Plus, without getting too technical, these coaching methods of learning are recorded as tried and true based on a progression of research starting since the 1950s and really enhanced in the 2000s.

     Next, deal with the chaotic, freestyle aspects, and that's another essay - but the chaos still starts either close up or from a rush, so you see that recognizing these two "starters" are important for training. 

    Close and not close start-ups. Learn the stand-off. Face the rush.

The Stop 1 Training Film: Interview or Ambush

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