Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Look At The Left Window...This Is As Close As You'll Get To...

     Back to the 1970s. Just about every day, I’d leave my village in South Korea, get on a "kimchi bus" and take the 30 minute or so ride to Kimpo Air Base, right exactly next to the big civilian Kimpo Airport. There was a small, primitive military gym at the air base – the closest gym to us and they let Army and Marines in, whereupon I would work out. By "right next to" I mean a small parking lot, a chain link fence, a strip of grass and the runway. Planes coming and going were close and very LOUD. We got somewhat use to it.

Kimpo Air Base of the times

     Then, one afternoon I was in there exercising when a most, hideous wave of sound came crashing through the gym and shook my lungs. I swear I wanted to drop to my knees. WHAT? I made for the open bay doors and saw the source. The Concorde! Wow. First time I saw (or heard or felt that!). Later on the G.I. station news I saw where the Concorde had just started flying into Korea and these was the first days. To my memory it was French plane. And yes, we had to put up with the roar coming and, or going, rattling the fillings in our teeth if we were there at the gym working out at those times.

     Back to 2015. Recently on my way back from Warsaw through London Heathrow, while taxiing, the pilot told us all to look out the window to the left and see the "old" British Airways Concorde. Still looking so awesome. There was some display or event of sorts going on at the airport. The pilot said, “this is about as close as you will ever get to a Concorde.” But, I was closer back in the 70s. Eyeball shaking closer.

     At home in Texican land, I found this timely news video. It was a kick to see this plane again. And it took me back to a cool moment in time I'd forgotten, guts vibrating, running out to the lot, and watching the big, beautiful, supersonic, bastard take off.

 See the video clip of the London Concorde action Click here

Kimpo Airport of the times, later and now called Gimpo Airport

Downfall of the Concorde -the 2000 crash video in France Click here 

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Friday, January 23, 2015

The Gunman's False Surrender

You have the drop on the bad guy. His or her gun is not out, or maybe is out. But they decide to surrender to you. Or, so it would seem. Are they are setting you up?

     The following photos are some old school samples of fake-outs and tricks criminals would use, know and pass on to the next generation. In the olden days tricks like this would be passed on to inmates in prisons using wood props or sculpted soap bars, or out in the hang-outs and dens where bad guys swap stories, booze, drugs, and moves.

     These are some of the tips passed down to me from veteran cops from as far back as the 1960s. They have indeed manifested in subsequent years. This is important awareness for police, military and citizens protecting themselves whether home or away.

     Before we start, remember the three carry sites and the time and space it takes to get to the them.

1: Primary carry site: Think quick draw
The belt line. Pockets. Maybe the shoulder rig. The quick access locations.

2: Secondary carry site: Think back up
The boot gun or knife, the neck knife, weapons that require a little time to dig out of their hidey holes. This is good for you because they need a few seconds to deploy. A few seconds pass very fast though!

3: Tertiary carry site: Think lunge and reach
This is when the weapon is off the body, within a sudden lunge and grab.

This is why the old line, “watch the hands, it’s the hands that will kill you,” is so important. It doesn’t mean you stare at their mitts. You conduct your business but keep track of the hands. Hand movements to these sites are your alert systems to take action. Memorize the pathways by having trainers pull weapons tens or hundreds of times in front of you.

Here are some tips-

Consider some of these issues when trying to control, contain and/or arrest.

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 Showdown! Stop 1

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Burned Hands From Holding Firing Handguns

Grabbing the enemy's gun is sometimes an essential, life-saving skill in a close-quarters, survival fight. Hanging on to it through the presentation of the weapon and even its firing is an important part of keeping the barrel off of you and maybe off others, and a major step in disarming.

     A counter to this pistol or weapon-bearing limb grab? It has always been one old-school solution to counter a pistol grab by firing the weapon, if the pistol will still function under the grip - that is if the slide has not been pushed back far enough, or if the revolver cylinder can still turn, and, or the visible hammer's travel can be stopped. 
    The explosion may cause the disarmer to let go of their grab and disarm attempt from the sheer explosion and shock. Various military and police agencies through the decades have at times introduced a training course where people stand to the side of a pistol and hold on to it as it is fired. Sometimes in the programs, people are allowed to wear thin gloves, sometimes not. I did a course once where we had to wear thin, white gloves. This experience preps you for that possible, future, real moment.

    U.K. war vet Alan Cain gave me these photos from some of his British Army training conducted by an American Green Beret. The purpose of the session was to see if the soldiers could develop the fortitude to hold onto various pistols through firing and to examine what if any the damage that might occur.

    As you can see, the teams used both revolvers and semi-autos. If you are new to the gun “bidness” you may not know that the explosion inside a revolver discharges/escapes a great deal more, via the frame openings, than does the more enclosed, semi-auto pistol. (That's Cain holding the pistol top) 

     You can see below the long stripped burns on the palms come from the revolver. Smaller black burns come from the ejection port of the semi auto. Keep in mind the troops were not wrestling with these guns in these test, which might actually move the slide of a semi-auto or freeze the cylinder and stop a bullet from firing. They were just holding on as in the above photo.

     Also you can see some cuts from where the semi-auto slide move cut the flesh. You may also suffer some "erupted skin." They did this for a couple of hours too and this is an accumulated damage. The "open" revolvers did more more damage. I have seen numerous results from semi-auto grabs and no damage was observed.
     Double-action cylinder grab. If a revolver's cylinder area is gripped very tightly, the gripper’s five fingers usually have more strength than the shooter’s one finger pulling the trigger, and trying to turn the cylinder of an uncocked revolver into place. Five versus one. It is difficult. (The trigger finger must turn the cylinder in a double action trigger pull.) The gripper’s five fingers may prevent the cylinder from turning and then. the revolver from firing.

      I have had my head too close to a revolver discharge years ago. I have written before about one event when I push-pulled a magnum revolver from a guy's hand in a struggle. He fired it in the air to get me and other guy's grip off his gun arm. He instinctively seemed to know about this discharge trick as a counter to a disarm or grab. Like a warning shot. I was charging in from the side and was very close. I grabbed the cylinder and frame with my left hand and pulled inward. I pushed his forearm out with my right hand and got the take away, all right in the midst of him pulling the trigger and firing into the air.

     After the stupid disturbance and argument was quelled. I stepped into the bathroom of the office building where this happened. I took a look in the mirror. The right side temple area of my head received a reddish - "sunburn," but the close blast popped some small blood vessels into small star-like burst, patterns around my temple, eye and cheekbone. What? 

     My left hand? Nothing! But, I am not sure where my left hand was at the exact flashpoint. I apparently closed my eyes at the split second of the explosion, as I remember no flash. A good thing I guess. 

     Hearing in my right ear was literally wiped out. Blasted and screeching deeply inside, but at the same time it was like like someone stuffed a whole pillow in my ear. This hindered my hearing and concentration at the scene. My ear was jacked up for days. Frankly, my hearing may have been permanently damaged from that, I don't know. 

     I do not know the caliber of the bullet.
     Anyway, I thought you'd like to see these Alan Cain pictures. Get on Youtube and look for film clips of people holding firing pistols. You see how scratch and burn free they are, especially when they are grasping semi-auto pistols.

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Pistol Disarming

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Fight, Flight or Freeze, Or...

"This fight or flight reaction is not an 'all or nothing;' it is operates on a continuum. A mildly, moderately, or profoundly emotional experience elicits a mild, moderate or profound autonomic reaction, respectively." - Dr. V.S. Ramachandran, world renown neuroscientist

"Fight or flight. Fight or flight. Fight or flight." Heard that tune before? Chances are you have. Chances are every instructor you've ever had has regurgitated that mantra before you. It is quick and catchy, almost like a song really and so easy to remember. A snappy alliteration. You probably have locked the three word, two-prong, catch-phrase deep into your “these truths we hold to be self-evident,” inner sanctum. The special place things go that never get questioned. The doctors we quote here later call it, “ingrained assumptions.”

     Since the early wars with stones, clubs, spears and swords, the militaries of the world have grappled with issues of bravery and fear on the battlefield, but the whole "fight or flight," catch-phrase really seemed to begin as a psychological category in the very early 20th Century. The issue was rubber-stamped into posterity in 1929 by one Dr. Walter Canon with his original formulation of human threat response - the fight or flight.” I repeat - 1929. Canon stated that "when frightened, we flee or fight."

    Fright - defined as fear excited by sudden danger, from something strange, sudden or shocking. Sudden ambush. Some of the greatest armies of the world were defeated by ambush, as well as some of the best solo fighters. The University of Washington uses a popular “angry bear” example to explain this, an example dating back to the 1930s and copied by so many "downliners" to describe the shock/surprise event.

“It is a nice, sunny day. You are taking a nice walk in the park. Suddenly, an angry bear appears in your path. Do you stay and fight OR do you turn and run away?”

    Simple enough as one, two. But, somewhere lurking free in our understanding is yet another, vital, “F-word,” freeze. From the cave-men confronted by the saber-tooth tiger on the prehistoric veldt, to the soldier in Afghanistan, they, and we gathered here, all see and understand the...big freeze. We all intuitively know that we must include “Fight, Freeze or Flight,” in the first milliseconds of an ambush of any type. These three Fs are utterly and intrinsically connected to this. Okay, we know this, so what does the latest research show? Modern experts agree and can also now define and refine that not all freezing comes from fear or fright! You may freeze when shocked for several biological reasons that have nothing to do with bravery, courage or lack thereof.

       I began reading about these other two Fs - Fright and Freeze in the 1990s. I grew impatient with the constant repetition of Canon's lonely two words, Flight or Fight. Also, impatient and tired with the over-simplistic two-prong Fs, in 2004, on the issue on Psychosomatics in the American Journal of Psychiatry, five doctors, specializing in psychiatry (see below list) petitioned peers to change the flight or flight mantra. In an article entitled, Does Flight or Fight Need Updating they began a challenging, yet common sense dissertation on the subject:

    “Walter Cannon's original formulation of the term for the human response to threat, "fight or flight," was coined exactly 75 years ago, in 1929. It is an easily remembered catch-phrase that seems to capture the essence of the phenomena it describes. It accurately evokes two key behaviors that we see occurring in response to threat. This phrase has led to certain ingrained assumptions about what to expect in our patients and, because of its broad usage, what they expect of themselves. It is a testament to the foundational significance of Cannon's work that the term he used continues to shape clinical understanding and to influence popular culture's understanding of stress as well. But the phrase has not been updated to incorporate important advances in the understanding of the acute response to extreme stress. Specifically, the term ignores major advances in stress research made since it was coined. Both human and animal research on the pan-mammalian response to stress has advanced considerably since 1929, and it may be time to formulate a new form of this catch-phrase that presents a more complete and nuanced picture of how we respond to danger."

    They go on: “The phrase 'fight or flight' has influenced the understanding and expectations of both clinicians and patients; however, both the order and the completeness of Cannon's famous phrase are suspect. 'Fight or flight' mis-characterizes the ordered sequence of responses that mammals exhibit as a threat escalates or approaches. In recent years, ethnologists working with nonhuman primates have clearly established four distinct fear responses that proceed sequentially in response to increasing threat. The order of these responses may have important implications for understanding and treating acute stress in humans."

    The article reminds their peers that people freeze in place for reasons other than fear/fright. One might freeze from a hyper-vigilance, and/or by just being overwhelmed by surrounding stimuli, Not fear. Therefore, the act of freezing can be clinically different than fright. You can freeze from fright and you can freeze from being overwhelmed in a sensory overload -which has nothing to do with fear. Many specialists such as Dr. Jeffrey Allen Gray state we all freeze FIRST to some degree! Then react.

    So the experts summarize: “We propose the adoption of the expanded and reordered phrase "freeze, flight, fight, or fright" as a more complete and nuanced alternative to "fight or flight." While we cannot hope to compete with the legacy of Cannon's phrase in the culture at large, adoption of this alternative term within the clinical community may help keep clinicians aware of the relevant advances in understanding of the human stress response made since the original term "fight or flight" was coined three-quarters of a century ago.”

    Medical professionals do use the full, four Fs now, in so many fields from speech therapy for stuttering to post traumatic stress treatment for combat vets. But that common “culture at large” that the doctors mentioned, remains ignorant and still does love to sing the simple two-note song of Flight or Fight. They sing on and on about the two Fs and the sympathetic nervous system and two F-shooting and Two F-fighting and two-F thinking and two-F training on and on. And, like so many blindly accepted principles spouted in martial, police and the military training dogma, ideas like the disproved Hicks Law, and the mis-quoted Startle Reflex, the “fight or flight” catch phrase has not been updated for most of us in 8 decades of steadily, advancing research.

    In your humble correspondent's opinion here, a martial training doctrine might well function with just the three Fs of "Fight, Flight or Freeze. After all, a freeze is a freeze whether it be from a sudden fright or a sudden sensory overload. Just please explain it to your folks. The "Fourth F. of Fright" may only be mandatory in the psychiatric world, in their post-event treatment world, where they grapple with traumatic stress syndromes.

    There are also many small hairs to be split in this subject. Is just backing up just a few steps, also officially called a "flight?" What about under-reacting? Naive TV news viewers complain when they see films of citizens ignoring a vicious assault occurring on the street, or say - on a pizza line before them. They seem to freeze or ignore the crime! Dr. John Leach, author of Survival Psychology teaches an advanced course in survival psychology in Lancaster University in England. Leach has a name for some freezing (and for people who seem to ignore crimes happening before them). "It's called the "incredulity response." People simply don't believe what they're seeing. So they go about their business, engaging in what's known as ‘normalcy bias.' Under-reactors act as if everything is OK and underestimate the seriousness of danger. Some experts call this "analysis paralysis." People lose their ability to make decisions. Leach says the vast majority of us...(80 percent) in a crisis, most will "quite simply be stunned and bewildered. 

     We'll find that our reasoning is significantly impaired and that thinking is difficult. It's OK, and it doesn't last forever. The key is to recover quickly from brain lock or analysis paralysis, shake off the shock and figure out what to do.

    What is hyper vigilance? Is the natural "stop-look-listen" considered a freeze? What is Tonic Immobility? Is there a natural progression to the Fs when you are confronted and does freeze come first? Read the attached links for more info.

Some solutions to the shocking, surprise ambush very briefly are:

1) Train sudden fight responses form ambush and surprise. Many militaries use the term "immediate action drills" to prepare for ambushes. Using the who, what, where, when, how and why questions as best they can to predict ambush, they try to drill good responses. Over and over again until become like a reflex.

2) Train responding from freezes and if needed...maintaining a freeze to remain undetected if that is the smart thing to do.

3) Train orderly 'smart" retreats

4) Work on Fear Management concepts.

     Three Fs or four Fs, there is certainly more than just the two Fs. In today's mental health industry, stress management is a major challenge as well as profitable business. In terms of everyday sudden, short-term and long-term stress, mental health experts can easily refer to simple "flight or flight" in their articles and treatment programs, even despite the above protests of their peers. For them, the majority of problems are marital, jobs, rush hour traffic, raising children, and the like. But, a training and treatment doctrine that includes routine violence and combat cannot function without this Freeze category in its equation. The first group deals with stress, the second group deals with stress AND proper response to sudden and planned combat.

     Fight or flight. We memorize the words, but never understand the music. Just before teaching, just before you take the podium, remember to request that sadly, unique song called:

"What Does the Very Latest Research Show?"


Read the full essay/article by clicking here: The following doctors are mentioned in this article: 
* H. Stefan Bracha, M.D., Tyler C. Ralston, M.A.,
* Jennifer M. Matsukawa, M.A., National Center for PTSD, Department of 

   Veterans Affairs, Pacific Islands Health Care System,
* Spark M. Matsunaga Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii,
* Andrew E. Williams, M.A., Depart. of Psychology, University of Hawaii at 

* Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii,
* Adam S. Bracha, B.A., Biomedical-Research Consultant, Honolulu, Hawaii

More on this subject - Freeze (Hypervigilance), Flight, Fight, Fright, (Tonic Immobility)
Click here

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