Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Simple Military Ear Palm Strike They Showed Us

     To hit the side of the head (and ear) with a palm strike?

     What are your end goals? Unconsciousness or inner-ear damage? Or both?

     Will you use:
      - a somewhat flat, slightly curved hand strike, or
      - an oddly-shaped, hollowed-out palm, a canoe-like, curved, suction-cupped hand?

     Both are distinctly taught in various quarters. I think the old official manual word "cup" causes some confusion.

     Ninety-nine percent of the time, I think the primary goal is smacking the head and splashing the brain. I say take a pass on the extra canoe-shaped hand config and use the flatter palm. The flatter, only slightly naturally curved hand will blast the side of the head and some of the face with better force, and also quite probably clap the ear, too. The hollowed-out, like-a-suction-cup, palm hand version will not be this versatile. And remember we are often fighting moving targets.

     Maybe the above photo series helps explain what I mean. The natural palm shape is slightly curved anyway. I have attended martial and police classes where the suction-cupped hand was used to strike not only the ear but the side of the neck, the liver, etc. Why?

     Also, remember that all experts since WW II's Fairbairn state that the inner ear injury at best is only a possibility. No guarantee. You may or might hurt the inner ear, and to then what degree? None of these martial and military instructors are ear doctors. And the doctors treating concussive ear injuries from fights in emergency rooms and in their offices cannot state the exact shape of the striker's hand when their patients were hit.

     When I was in Army basic training way-back-when in the early 1970s, we had a palm-strike and ear-strike pattern to work on in conjunction with eye-attack finishes.

     1.  Right palm strike to the left ear, eye gouge the left eye with the right thumb.
     2.  Left palm strike to the right ear, eye gouge the right eye with the left .
     3.  Double ear strike, double eye gouge with both thumbs.

     Not one drill instructor (mine were Nam and some Korean vets with several tours) ever mentioned an extra effort of hollowing-out and cupping the hand in some sort of special pre-constructed, pre-curved hit position for an attempt at some sort of sealed (?) air bubble attack onto the ear. If you also want to hurt the inner ear? Then just hitting the head and ear with the flat, naturally curved palm will do.

     I still teach this three-part pattern above as an introduction to the idea, standing and ground, too - as I have added it to the ground for topside, bottom-side, and downed side-by-side exercises for an introduction and for familiarization.

     There are both hooking palms and thrusting palms. Thrusting palms usually strike with the heel of the hand, and this may look also like some form of a semantic "cup hand" as in the chin jab or chin push, confusing accolades.

In summary:
     1.  The primary goal of the strike is to blast and slosh the brain. The lessor and secondary goal might be to concuss the inner ear. An added benefit? I don't know. The success of the concussive impact on the ear varies and is way less of a priority.

     2.  Any palm strike that surrounds and seals the ear significantly could cause damage to the inner ear. No special, odd, unnatural hand configuration and extra training is needed to do this. A simple, natural, palm strike will do.

     3.  The added extra-shaped, hollowed-out, cupped position suggested by some is an odd and a bit unnatural position when compared to the simple palm strike. The added hollowed-out hand position requires more training and makes for less of a power shot.

     4.  Cupping. The word, the term. The official "Cupping Hand Strike." Is this really just semantics? I mean, just how cupped do some people want us to go?

     Does this photo contain the real, original "cupped hand"? The true definition? And we somehow have bastardized it through the years into being the curved-canoe hand position for a suction-cup strike?

     Palm strike the side of the head in a natural position. If you get the ear with your palm, you may well still have a shot at the concussive damage. This natural hand position still offers a flatter hand sealing over the ear and is better than an extra-cupped hand where air will escape and which will probably not offer any kind of a seal.

     Pre-constructing a pre-hit, special, suction-cup, hollowed-out hand position for a force-air strike bubble and the extra training for that position is really unnecessary when you spend a few moments to think clearly about it. This is not some kind of myth-busting big deal. This is a small observation, but that is why I don't teach that version of the hollowed-out, "cupped" hand strike to the ear.

     Here's the deal, I think. People who make and market part of the business and draw their fan base from being connected to the marketable mystique of "World War II Combatives" material have to actually "raise the flag" up once in awhile. One way to do this is to teach the cupped hand strike.

Post Script 1: 
     In South Korea in the 70s, my partner and I were on a foot patrol "walking the beat," and he had his pistol snatched right from his hand right in front of me when he decided to arrest an uncooperative knucklehead.

     My partner drew and pointed the pistol, hip-high, at the guy when he decided to arrest this problem child and he resisted. The guy (untrained missile jockey) reached out with two hands and twisted the pistol right out of his hand and pointed it right back at my friend. My MP friend instantly double-ear slapped the guy. The guy fell to one knee and dropped the pistol. His jaw dropped. Eyes went lifeless. He "left the universe"; and if we hadn't grabbed him, he would have fallen over for sure. Like a slo-mo TKO. But I swear the entire thing was about three seconds.

     We half-carried him back to our little security headquarters, where he remained jacked up for some time that night. This was no special, suction-cupped-shaped hand. Just two flat hands to the ear.

     I don't want to get into the pistol issue here, because I have no answers for you. The gun was aimed right at his chest when he ear-slapped the guy! Very dangerous! (But was there a round in the chamber? The rule was "no" in those days. Safety on? I don't know. Should have asked about this but was too dumb to.)

     I can't say I know anything about the guy's medical condition as a result. I do recall he was back in the village creating trouble again and up and running his missile-jockey boards again - I think the next day. So he recovered.

Post Script 2:
     Right after publishing these notes on the palm strike, I received hate mail from WW II Combatives' corners as well as their fan-boys. One described my "ignorance as disgusting." Another declared that he had to take his son to an emergency room once because he was struck with a cupped hand to the ear on a school bus fight. "It works!" he declared.

     Then I asked the dad, "How could you possibly know that the hand was cupped or flat?" No answer, of course. He doesn't know. He doesn't know how shallow his thought process on this is.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

This Illegal Immigrant Thing by W. Hock Hochheim

Immigration and Texas ... with the latest news, I thought I would print this true story from one of my books....

     “Units 61, 63, 64, 69 report into the squad room,” the dispatcher said, interrupting the 3 a.m. calm of a fall midnight shift, circa 1977. 

     “Ten-four,” as unit 64, I answered. This was new to me. Several units called in like this? Such a thing not mentioned in the squad room briefing as a meeting or training? This was still my first year at this job in 1977, so maybe everything was still new to me? I drove across town, parked, and walked into the squad room as ordered. I did take notice of four large buses in the front parking lot of the police station. 

     Our shift Sgt. Jackson and Lt. Blue were in the room with about a dozen or so other men and women dressed in brown and some in black. Border Patrol and Immigration. The Feds. 

     Sgt. Jackson spoke up and said that the Feds were raiding several known illegal alien houses through the city, and we were to offer support. He handed us papers with addresses on them. There were three houses just off the interstate in my south-side district. I recognized them immediately. Very large, older wooden homes that we all knew housed illegal immigrants from Mexico. Many illegal aliens. Lots of them. The Feds were gathered to arrest them, and the buses in the front lot were for transport. 

     The other officers present from our agency had done this work before. As a rookie in Texas, I hadn't; but I gathered the Feds would be doing all the heavy lifting. I noted they were armed and badged up. We all filtered out to the parking lots, and I introduced myself to the guys hitting District 64. 

     “Anything in particular you want me to do?” I asked the senior agent. 

     “No, 'podna.' Not really. Just be there in case something happens. We like to have local law enforcement present.” 

     I nodded. Frankly, anything that didn't involve any extra paperwork was just fine with me. I mounted my squad and drove over to the first house on the list, leading the way. I parked up the street and waited. Several black sedans slowly drove by me, waved at me, and parked quietly by the house. Suddenly they all bailed out, and I followed suit. No car doors were slammed. They flooded the massive house front, sides, and back; and I didn't quite know which way to go to help. I was a professional sore thumb.

     Silence shattered! Doors were kicked in, some windows busted out. Yells. Screams. I heard all kinds of intro shouts, 

     “Federal agents!” 


     “US Border Patrol” 

     I had nothing to say to add to that. I dashed through the splintered and bashed front doors…. 

     Once in the living room - well, it was once a living room - I saw quite a number of people were sleeping on the floor in makeshift beds. Mexican women screamed and children cried as they emerged from various hallways and doors. They were not shoved by the agents. Herded. Some men busted a move for a door or a window. One ran for the front door, and I played a game of side-to-side tag with him until an agent grabbed him. 

     Honestly, it felt like I was in a science fiction movie where they rounded up the people for some reason, like Soylent Green or something. When you are actually part of the process, it's different. Agents outside were still yelling.

     Everyone was handcuffed. Man, woman, but not child. Long lines were formed. Two buses were called in on a handheld radio. I stepped out onto the yard. The buses pulled up in front of the house, making those old, big bus brake-and-stop screeches and gush sounds. The doors were shoved open by levers; and an odd hue of yellow and orange lights came on, peppering the lawn and street. 

     I was surprised at the long line emerging from the house. That many people were in there? Sleeping? Living? They were seated on the buses. A bus and a half of Mexicans. The remaining agents jogged to me and passed me.

     One said, "The second house." 

     Okay then, to the second house we go. I started my car and waited for the agents to get into theirs, and off we went. It was only three blocks away. The same game plan unfolded. The third house. The same again. I drove back to the station along with the last of the buses and agents. The diesel engines of the buses groaned and chugged in the city hall parking lot as the agents said goodbye to us. They climbed into their cars and drove off with the buses full of Mexicans.

     I stood on the lot beside Lt. Blue who smirked at me and said, "They gotta do that every once in awhile." He turned to the rest of us and said, "You all check back into service. Just fill out a general report for the dispatch card." 

     We wandered back to our squad cars. It was about 6 a.m. now, and a red sun was just barely cracking open a new day. I still had a few things to do before shift change. I got behind the wheel of my car but sat still for just a moment. 

     That was weird, I thought. Three houses raided. Crying women and kids. Men. Bus loads of them. Carted off to Dallas where they would be "processed." I had an idea what that meant. Then shipped back to ol' Mexico? Probably see many of them back in three weeks. 

     Weird because about six blocks from the police station, about twenty or more illegal Mexicans would soon be gathering at a well-known street corner looking for day work. Seven days a week. And nobody cared. Not us. We weren’t raiding them. In fact, people needed the help. Nobody would raid them. We would not cram them in buses every single morning for deportation. Not us. I guess not the Feds either because they only came once in awhile.

     I recall every other Texas city I'd been to has these "street corners" of Mexicans; like hitch-hikers waiting for a ride, they waited as construction bosses or whomever drove by and picked up workers. Housewives drove by and picked out guys for landscaping. In all of my years, I can’t recall a single problem from them. 

     In fact, we'd see dozens of illegals every day everywhere. Dozens and dozens of them. In stores. Walking around. Everywhere. Did we arrest them? Why not? 

     The moral of the story, the thing most people wonder about the good ol' days, is why every cop in Texas, every cop in any border state and eventually in all 50 states weren't arresting busloads of illegal aliens back then. Just as the newer laws in states like Arizona suggest, you only arrest them when your paths cross legitimately. 

     Here's how my old agency handled this. Back in the day, we were ... unofficially ... required to do at least "five pieces of work" each shift. That is, let's say 1 ticket, 1 arrest, 2 crime reports, and an accident report. Or any combination thereof of any significant police activity. Too much of one thing meant you were obsessing about one topic. Well rounded was appreciated. There was no "mark," no piece of work for an illegal alien arrest on that basis alone. Such was uncounted and unrewarded. ANYONE could walk out into the street and fill a busload. We simply could not handle the enormous job and could not over-reward some obsessive officer who did five illegals a day to make their unofficial quota. So they simply went unaccounted for. The operative order was leave them alone unless something happens that causes you to take such action (and even then, it didn't count as an illegal immigrant arrest. It was an arrest, plain and simple,for a charge). I certainly did not want to arrest illegals back then. Too much paperwork! You could investigate the immigration status. Sure. But such was used as a tool for some other goal. 

     I think in the late 1970s, the word came down from the Feds that we were to stop arresting them at all for those charges. Like an official freeze. It came from so far up the chain, said to be "the Feds," that we did not know who issued the command. At first, it seemed like a temporary legal issue. But it never went away.

     I became a detective and discovered other related problems. Illegals were afraid to report crimes. Afraid to become witnesses. Fugitives fleeing to Mexico. Lots of problems. We had to work with the local so-called "coyotes" and then some of what might be called Mexican Mafia. These were area people who transported, hired, and housed these people. Some of these guys were taking a percentage of their pay, selling them cars with never-ending payments ... it was much like the old coal mine stories. 

     "You load 15 tons and whatta ya get, another day older and deeper in debt." 

     We had a local kingpin who owned and operated out of a barber shop. I'll call him Mayan Cando here. The shop looked like the northeastern mafia pizza parlor or some such place the Sopranos would operate. Cando had a gaudy mansion in town with very old-school Mexican design architecture. He ran the runners, the housing, the jobs, and the justice. Made loans. Smuggled relatives in for fees. 

     Sometimes he would be a big friendly help to us and other times a real pain in the ass. I dealt with him on a very grass-roots level. A personal level about Hispanic on Hispanic crime. Sometimes to chase down Hispanic fugitives. It was that classic, uneasy, creepy alliance. I never quite knew how I would be treated when I walked into the Cando Barber shop on a case. 

     The USA has big problems now. Security problems. I want everyone to enter legally. I have no great solution to offer to this mess. I do like that expression "tall fences and big gates." This would help some to clean out the underworld, shadow network that prostitutes these poor people. 

     Today in my old city, the Latino groups have constructed picnic grounds, park-like areas for those standing around seeking some morning "pick up" work. This evolved through time. Like a fancy, covered bus stop. Almost daring the authorities to challenge the spot and the cause? It is an uneasy alliance. The cops drive by. They wave. We wave. The employers and housewives stop, hire, and pick up. The Mexicans work very hard in the heat and in the rain and on holidays. It is almost like the people ranted about in the news are not the same hardworking, friendly people I know and we see and like in our neighborhoods everyday down here in Texas.

     Yeah, yeah. I get the big picture. Yeah. It's important to remember, this ain't no "perfect union." The country is just a "more perfect union." One shot full of holes, trying to be more perfect. But anyway, in this old gringo's mind - and I not the least bit religious - if I said, “God bless em all,” I think you’d know what I mean.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Normal/Abnormal? Hey! What's Wrong with This Picture?

     Stay alert! Are you a bit sick of being told that? Be alert for rapists? Be alert for terrorists?

     "Oh! Ahhh, okay," the populace says, your squad says, your family says. Then you move on with your day never really knowing what that phrase truly means or what precisely you should be this alert for.

     "No worries," some leaders say, "why you've been anointed with the "gift of fear!" That ESP! That magic Spidey Sense. You just tingle when you mingle with the scoundrel. Then the concealed bear trap snaps shut on your ankle, and you're in it. In deep. While our brains are natural spotters of the unusual and the abnormal, we need more help and hope avoiding the bear traps than just icky feelings about pending danger.

     One of the key, built-in radars we have in life is spotting the abnormal. Military experts now call it "pattern recognition." This records the normal. That helps spotting even the tiniest things that don't fit properly. Much, much has been written and studied about this subject in the minutest detail. Pages and pages of psycho-techno-jargon and pontification, and even just in the last 5 to 10 years. I can steer you to these sources. You do need to know them and have them on your shelves if even for reference. There are thousands of examples and stories. To save time here, I will simply cleave it down to a few sentences. In our business, our world of safety, crime, and war, we want to spot suspicious people, criminals, and enemy soldiers/terrorists. And we need to spot their dangerous deeds and plans aforehand!

     First, you must become a student of the normal to be a spotter of the abnormal. You might think this is a new discovery by some self-defense instructor, but it's not. It was explained to me, for example, about forty-five years ago in the Army's military police academy. They ordered us to study the neighborhoods we patrolled, so we could become "students of the usual," so we could spot the unusual.

  "... become 'students of the the usual,' so we could spot the unusual."

     Your brain does a lot of this automatically, and I have written about these neural functions in other blogs. The sub-committees in the brain that send messages to the conscious. It helps greatly if you'll add some effort to the cause. Educate the subconscious and conscious of your brain. In shorthand, this time-and-grade-process equals the vital term "experience." But either way, you can't spot the abnormal in its domain, be it the woods, the jungle, the desert, the streets, etc., and their inhabitants without first being a student of the normal.

     Yeah, we have a low-running radar system. Yeah, it's like a gift. But it's not enough. Not by a long shot. You must couple this with intelligence information you glean on the usual, the unusual, and what we call M.O. - the method of operation - of the people we watch for. Do this, and you are breathing life and depth into that shallow, fulfilling term ..."stay alert."

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