Monday, August 11, 2014

Fight Start! The Trauma and Dramas of Initial Punching, Striking, and Kicking!

Fight Start! The Trauma and Dramas of Initial Punching, Striking, and Kicking!
Striking and Kicking from Stop 1 Positions of the Stop 6
by W. Hock Hochheim

I invented and teach the Stop 6. The six common stopping/collision points in a typical fight or arrest.  Just about everything good that you have ever learned can be inserted as tools within the Stop 6.

The Stop 1 of the Stop 6 is the standoff or “showdown or interview - even interrogation" range, and we deal with several different topics. You tend to get "stuck" there, thus the official stop. One topic in Stop 1 we loosely call "stances” is about how you are going to stand when confronted or even when you are doing the confronting. This chapter is more about striking and kicking from those stances. You might call it "preemptive strikes."

Here is some basic advice and information about the common positions of initial confrontations.  For the record, I never took so much as one promotional test, and I remained a "line operations patrol officer" and "line operations detective" and investigator for 26 years. I have arrested a lot of people in my time in military and civilian police forces. Well over a thousand. I have investigated decades of assaults, robberies, and murders. This is what I have learned from my mistakes, failures, successes, police and martial arts training, and watching and learning.

In police work, you would be expected to really articulate the reasons for a preemptive strike. Pros are quite good at observing and documenting very subtle verbal and physical tips about the escalation of a crime and/or attack upon them. Obviously, citizens best know their way around these subjects, too, to justify what actions they take.

In Stop 1, for whatever reason or whatever situation, you are standing some meters off with another aggressive person. You can make your own list of the problem topics that caused this confrontation - road rage, bumped while walking, grazed, disrespected, military checkpoint, "messed with his sister,"... you name it. In the military, security, or enforcement positions, you are interviewing, interrogating, or arresting. The sky is the limit in our crazy world of confrontations. But it has happened, and here we are.
How you stand in these moments are important. It either does or does not send a signal and escalates or de-escalates the problem in either very obvious or subliminal ways. It can be a quiet, non-aggressive positioning of your face, your arms, your hands, and your legs. Or if there are physical threats and/or serious movements of aggression coming at you, of course, your hands should indeed pop up like some kind of barrier, like a negotiator or even, if necessary, a fighter.

(I should note here that I am not big on the classical term “fighting stance” and it's over-emphasis and importance. As the old expression goes, "There is no basketball scoring stance or football scoring stance."  When the fight starts there is only balance and power in motion, and the idea of obsessing about standing in one system-approved," statue-like pose and worrying about precise positionings of each knee and elbow ... well, it just doesn't relate in the movement needed in a fight.)

"... there is no basketball scoring stance or football scoring stance."  

In Stop 1, you will either leave, be calm, be angry, strike, or pull weapons preemptively or defensively in the beginnings of this potential fight. The rest is all aggression at whatever level you deem necessary. Force necessary, as we call it. There is much more to discuss in Stop 1, so many topics like verbal skills, positions, enemy assessment, and weapon concerns; but this essay is just about training people to strike out and kick out from these typical, standoff, ready positions. Some of these strikes are very much like sucker punches and some not or sucker kicks to the groin, knees, and shins. A more in-depth look at sucker punches appears in another article.

Zero-to-Sixty Power

There is a method of explosive power from a still position to bolster a strike or kick providing, of course, you make it so through practice and support exercises and training. A more modern martial arts suggestion is to consider an engine of a car spinning in neutral. Revving. Then suddenly you drop into a gear and the vehicle jolts and blasts off. This vision helped me and others generate a concept of explosive power. Of course, there are many more of these methods to investigate. Get them and make a list.

Also like an athlete in a sports game, take care not to tip off your opponent by making faces or moves that telegraph your intent.

Here is one prep trick I used to use as a cop and investigator. When I felt the situation was percolating up to a physical problem or arrest, inside my pants legs, if I could, I would bend ever so slightly at the knees. Not much. All athletic endeavors involve bent knees. This was a great yet unseen, surreptitious prep that can switch on all kinds of important biology. I mean, I wired myself to make it so. We are all capable of this wiring. This bend helped me with a spring for a zero-to-sixty takeoff.

Striking and Kicking from the Stances/Positions

Striking from ...
  1. Strike from the classic catch-term - “bus stop” or arms down stance
  2. Strike from a body turn or twist
  3. Strike from the hands-up and/or surrender position
  4. Strike from a conversational position
  5. Strike from the prayer position (hands up or down)
  6. Strike from a somewhat crossed arms stance
  7. Strike from the lapel-hang stance
  8. Strike from a ready fighting stance
  9. Strike from … other

Kicking from ...
  1. Kick from the bus stop or arms down stance
  2. Kick from any arms-up "talking" stance
  3. Kick from a ready fighting stance position

With all these standing positions, try to keep your body and feet somewhat bladed or angled from the opposition. Somewhat. Not like a complete full-fighting stance, just slightly bladed. Just do not stand in a straight line in front of a problem person. You are more easily charged and knocked over.

It is also wise to keep some distance, unless of course you are planning on charging in for action. I would like to warn you that most people can spring at you very fast and get all over you in any instant. It is very typical to completely underestimate the distance from which a person can suddenly spring upon you. I can't emphasize how important that is.

Do not telegraph your moves. Have your trainer observe you closely for such tip-offs.  In training in all of these when you strike pads/mitts/heavy bags from these positions, hit without telegraph, then drop to a fighting-ready stance because the fight is obviously on now! Then return to the stance or position for more zero-to-sixty strike training. You must give up on the fighting posture and return to the bus stop stance and strike again. This is a problem for the trainer and trainee with short attention spans, because they will follow this format and usually start mentally drifting off ... and start striking only from the fight stance. The trainers must correct them.

1. Striking from the classic “bus stop” or arms down stance. I first learned of this idea in Ed Parker’s Kenpo Karate back in 1972. It is an appearance of total relaxation. Daydreaming even. Every facet of your face, neck, and body posture must represent this false premise. This is a true, utmost, zero-to-sixty, explosive response. 

Some people complain that good law-abiding citizens should not be sucker punching anyone, least of all with their hands way down like this. I think that is completely situational. The situation is not just about countering bullies or muggers or boys in bar fights. We teach all kinds of professionals within all kinds of worldwide problems. They need all kinds of ideas and tools, too. This setup is to look very calm up to the very last second. While it might be best to get your hands up in some manner when a situation gets quizzical, I wouldn't totally ignore this option. At least experiment with it. Practice all your strikes from this position. See what you like or don't like.

2. Striking from a body turn or twist. Turning away with subsequent arm swings has long been a successful method to conceal a sudden strike or sucker punch. Acting is required. Act like you are looking around, turning to implore for help, or leaving. Or just out of frustration. Many a turning sucker punch has laid low many a sucker.

Practice all your strikes from this position. See what you like or don't like.

3. Striking from the hands-up surrender stance. Could there be any more classic suggestion than to give your problem person a "hands-up, what now?” or "I give up” surrender stance?  Showing your palms is like a subliminal animal surrender signal. It also creates a field/shield between the two of you and shortens your intended impending strike, providing you don’t innocently or dumbly retract your hands to do this. 

It is advised by many that when possible, move these “up hands” nervously about a bit. This is said to help disguise your next action in a bit of the same way kickboxers move their hands to disguise their next moves. Others like the still hands and they like the sudden “zero-to-sixty” approach. Up to you. Practice for yourself. Practice all your strikes from this position. See what you like or don't like.

4. Striking from the conversational position. Often sarcastically described through the years as the “Italian method,” this involves having your hands up and in natural motion with your words. This allows for your hands to be up for action. They are usually still when listening, though, and look awkward when up and still. Many resort to the classic “Prayer Positions," which are next.

A classic tip here, but it fits throughout many Stop 1 encounters. While in these positions, it is said to be a good idea to strike in the middle of your sentence or the middle of his sentence. Perhaps within his sentence is better. It is believed that his brain might be distracted while talking or listening. Either way, if it is time for a preemptive strike, do not wait until either you or he finishes speaking to do one.

This could also be your hands-up, "barrier," position, the ones so popular in all self-defense programs. I think if you pop up these palms, it looks to the aggressor that you're thinking of fighting or becoming a pleading victim. But hands up in an obvious barrier is, in and of itself, an escalation of the incident, if even on a subliminal level for both of you. Sometimes you have no choice no matter and have to.

Practice all your strikes from this position. See what you like or don't like.

5. Striking from the prayer position. Palms somewhat together in front of you when your speak. Not too popular but still taught by many, so I must show it here. Not my favorite, either. This is often taught in conjunction with the above "conversational hands" movements. It gives your hands something to do when listening. They are still up and ready.  I think a lot of people find this uncomfortable because it doesn’t appear very natural in comparison to everyday interactions.  Practice all your strikes from this position. See what you like or don't like.

Often police officers interview and interrogate people from the "prayer" or the above conversational hands positions. Part of their problem is the excessive amount of gear on their uniform belts, creating such a girth it hinders their natural arm positions and even movement. It looks and sometimes is resting your elbow atop all the gear you must wear.

If you choose the prayer hands, up or down, practice all your strikes from these positions.

See what you like or don't like.

6. Striking from the cross arms stance. This is also a classic, but cross them “loosely.” Do not let yourself be pinned into a bow tie on your chest. This positioning allows you to block, push, and strike out and to do so powerfully with that lead arm and even pull your weapon with the other hand.

Some people like to cross their arms and put a finger up to their chins, called the “Jack Benny Pose,” based on the very old and golden age TV comedian. The problem is many people today do not know who Jack Benny was anymore. Personally, I find the "Benny-Chin-Stroker" intellectually pretentious and, therefore, possibly antagonistic to many unless maybe the person has a beard. Check out how natural you look when doing it.

Crossing your arms, perhaps tightly, is also a subliminal message of closure to communication, so beware of that stigma. I am not sure that lightly crossing your arms dispatches the same message.

Another advantage with this position is it gets your gun (or knife) side back and away from the problem person. This helps you retain the weapon as well as gives you space for a sudden draw, even some deception for one.

This is one of my favorites. I taught it at police academies to recruits for many years in the late 1980s and 1990s. Then I decided it was best for people (and police cadets are people, too!) to be free to develop their own favorite "stances," based on their size, shape, age, strength, and personality. Practice all your strikes from this position. See what you like or don't like.

7. Striking from the lapel-hang stance. I learned this idea back in the 1980s in a “Plain-Clothes Shooting” class put on by retired FBI agents. These agents worked in the late 50s, 60s, and 70s.

One might casually grip the edges of his sports coat, suit jacket, or outerwear jacket during an interview or the beginnings of a confrontation. Your hands may run up and down the edge as needed and are already in a half-fist position if you need or want to punch.

I want you to really think about this one. Just let the hands fly forward! There are other tricks and advantages to this. Practice all your strikes from this position. See what you like or don't like.

8. Striking from a ready fighting stance. You know what this is. This is your so-called favorite fighting stance, whatever that might be. Develop your own from practice, not mindlessly listening to me or some martial figurehead. Question everything. Test everything.

You are probably practicing all of your strikes from ready or fighting positions. Keep doing so.

9. Striking from other. Other? A nice catch-all. I once worked with a police officer whose favorite ready stance was hooking his thumbs on his gun belt. Too low? Not for him. He practiced from there and was a very fast and an excellent kickboxer. He made this one of his ready stances. Of course, when the fight switch was thrown, his hands came up. But in the early stages of confrontation, his hands were down. He constructed, he made a ready stance by his own will and practice.

Other? How about throwing things that you are holding? Or hitting with things you are holding. This would mean that your Stop 1 stance and body and arm positioning includes maneuvering over to other off-the-body weapons. Arms down might mean your hands are near a hefty lamp? (You can block with some of these items, too - another essay.)

Crime occurs everywhere and in all situations. Potential victims are often holding things when confronted, from groceries and drinking glasses to empty shotguns. Think about the “combat value” of the items being held for possible tools to win.

As a topical aside to this “other” category, as a caveat, some things being taught as weapons should also really be evaluated. There are many fighting systems, martial or “tactical” that suggest the use of, for example, things like small keys on key chains, or scarves, or slim pens. I would rather fight with the full potential of two empty hands – I can do more – than fighting with a variety of some gimmickry and tricks.

For example, this idea of trying to tie up into elaborate knots angry adrenalized people holding knives or smashing at you with scarf moves is a kind of addictive magical thinking for some. If you can actually do this? Wow! But then you have spent way too much time trying to learn how to at the high expense of other faster, simpler, more efficient stuff.
I am sure some martial artists will find this advice shocking because they have seen “Master So-and-So” do it, or they can do it about 80 percent of the time with much practice to slow-motion and half-speed students in a classroom. And unless you are going to get lucky and stick a key in someone’s eye, I don’t think fighting with your car key is worth it, either. These items are low percentage tricks that I would not rely on or advise people to rely on. I am also not fond of these tactical pens, either. Yes, you can stick it in people's eyes. You can also stick your fingers in people's eyes, too, and your fingers are always with you and you are really used to using them.

I would rather just use my hands than hold scarves, keys, and pens. I have seen people teaching entire programs with small flashlights and gizmos using elaborate joint locks. Keys, pens, scarves, small flashlights - all this stuff can be dangerously misleading, oversold, and create misdirected confidence. And if successful once in awhile, don’t let these anecdotal stories fool you. There are plenty of stories where they weren't successful. I would rather keep my hands free to fight or to pick up more sensible, valuable items in the area to fight with. I challenge any scarf master to get in a ring with even a moderate MMA fighter (or coal miner) and try to tie him up in knots. I'll even give him 3 out of 4 or 6 out of 10 chances. I just don't think it'll work out with the scarf.

And lastly, while I have your attention? Your first strike? In those first "critical five seconds" so many advertise? Don't ever, ever think that a punch or strike will automatically work and will "automatically" force an opponent to move precisely into the next position for your next pre-staged, follow-up strike. Too many variables. This type of promise is a crap shoot, hogwash. You can never count on what a person will do when punched, stabbed, shot, or smacked with a stick. You can hope. You can pray. You can think and even dream about it. But you can't guarantee it.  

The Force Necessary: Unarmed! The Complete Strike List

  1. Finger (as in eyes, rips, pulls, etc.)
  2. Palm strikes
   3. Forearm strikes
  4. Hammer fists
  5. Punches - jabs, crosses, hooks, uppercuts, over-hands, sucker punches
  6. Elbows
  7. Body rams (are a bit closer in and relate better to other Stops)
  8. Limited use of the head butt (again, close in and better for closer-in Stop 6 problems

 Kicking from the Stances/Positions

1. Kicking from the classic “bus stop,” arms down stance. I first learned of this idea in Ed Parker’s Kenpo Karate back in 1972. It is an appearance of relaxation. Daydreaming even. Every facet of your face, neck, and body posture must represent this false premise.  This is a true, zero-to-sixty, explosive response.

In training, when you kick pads/mitts/heavy bags from this position, hit then drop to a fighting ready stance because the fight is obviously on. Then for proper training, give up on the fighting posture and return to the bus stop and kick again. This is a problem for the trainer and trainee with short attention spans because they will follow this format and usually start kicking from the fight stance. The trainer must correct them.

Practice all your kicks from this position. See what you like or don't like.

2. Kicking from any arms up and ready fighting stance. You know what this is.

Arms down. Arms up. We discussed these above.  Develop your own "stances" from practice, not mindlessly listening to me or some martial figurehead. Question everything. Test everything.

You are probably already kicking from your fighting ready stance. Kick from non-fighting stances. Keep on keeping on.

The Force Necessary: Unarmed! The Complete Kick List

  1: Snaps
  2: Stomps
  3: Knees
  4: Rear leg hooks
  5: Lead leg hooks
  6: Backs
  7: Sides
  8: Thrusts

In Summary

You should also practice your blocking skills from these very positions and stances! But that is the subject of another essay, isn't it? This was about striking and kicking. Work the training matrix. Pick a stance and then with a trainer holding gear or by yourself using a heavy bag, incorporate the strike and kick and start hitting. Remember, no telegraphing!

      Stance + Strike + Gear + Reps = Explosive 
              Strikes and Kicks from Stance

In the big picture, the full Stop 6 picture of all the 6 stopping collisions, you will strike and kick from standing, kneeling/sitting, and ground positions. This essay is just a study from the Stop 1. And, finally, never forget all this is occurring inside situational family violence, crime and war trauma, and a drama. Striking and kicking in the isolation tank of a classroom or school is less than a complete preparation for life and its ugliness.

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