Friday, December 26, 2014

The Biology of Ambush! Fight, Flight, or Freeze, or....

The Biology of Ambush!
Fight, Flee, AND FREEZE!

     "This fight or flight reaction is not an 'all or nothing'; it 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 Cannon with his original formulation of human threat response - "the fight or flight.” I repeat - 1929. Cannon 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 cavemen 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 Cannon's lonely two words, Flight or Fight. Also impatient and tired with the over-simplistic, two-prong Fs, in 2004 on the issue of psychosomatics in the American Journal of Psychiatry, five doctors specializing in psychiatry (see list below) petitioned peers to change the fight 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 a 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 a 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' mischaracterizes 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 Hick's Law and the mis-quoted Startle Reflex, the “fight or flight” catch phrase has not been updated for most of us in eight 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 a few steps also officially called a "flight"? What about underreacting? 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." Underreactors 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 that of 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 hypervigilance? 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? Yes, according to attached links from experts below for more info.

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

     1) Train sudden-fight responses for 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 they 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 "fight 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. 
      This has all been psychological and biological talk. When fighters/self-defense people talk they like to add several more Fs. They like to add words like "fainting," "falling," "folding," "fronting." "Fake." Sharpen your pencil and make an "F" list. But, some of these things occur after the initial ambush reaction.
     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 have memorized the two 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?"

      I think that it is important for readers new to this Freeze Warning and fighting to know:

1: This declared biological, mandatory ambush-freeze might only be one or more milliseconds (there are 1,000 milliseconds in a second. You will probably not freeze like an ice statue for "about a minute" when attacked.
2: Your reaction time depends upon how alert you were just before the surprise. Think about a UFC fight. Is any one "freezing?" No. they are alert to the fight.


     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 

        Veteran's Affairs, Pacific Islands Health Care System
     * Spark M. Matsunaga Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
     * Andrew E. Williams, M.A., Department 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

- Run, Hide, Fight! Does it mix with Freeze?  Click here

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What is Winning? Which Fight?

     You find yourself in a six-man foot patrol in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War. You suddenly are confronted by an entire battalion of North Vietnamese. Do you stay, fight, and try to win? Or you are a city police officer on patrol and suddenly you are jumped by three vicious men with guns. Or what if you are surrounded by an armed cartel gang in a supermarket parking lot? Must you always stand and fight? Must you win? Must you win every encounter right then and there, no matter the situation? Muster up the mojo to stay on in the face of impossibility and win-win-win? What if you are a citizen in the same mess? What is the definition of winning anyway? Well, it differs.

     There has been numerous police and citizen instructors in the last 20 or so years with the "winning is everything" or a generic "win" message. It is a simplistic message and sometimes even suicidal. And I think this drumbeat misses a lot of typical war and crime-fighting situations.

     This isn't a business negotiation deal, a Sunday football game, an MMA match, a lawsuit in court, or even a one-on-one arrest. I do think a lot of these rah-rah instructors naively seem to view the world – view the only kind of fight you'll fight as sort of a one-versus-one or maybe at worst a one-versus-two alleyway? Or bar struggle? Or in police circles, they only see an officer having a fight with a single suspect. 

     Yet studies for many years have proven that you, as a citizen or a police officer, will be fighting two or more people 40 percent of the time; and now more recently, some say as high as 90 percent of the time! Yes, 90 percent! One FBI study actually hit a 90-percent-high figure! Now let's add the other stat from the FBI that 40 percent of the time, the person you'll fight with will be armed with a gun, a stick of some sort, or a knife. Not good.

     So must you ever and always stand your ground, outnumbered or under-gunned, in the jungle or surrounded in the street to stay and win, win, WIN! As so many modern “Win Instructors" declare you must? As they pound this into your psyche with their winning macho courses? No. I think we need to expand the definition. We need to take a look at situational problem-solving. We need to further define the word "win" and not let it get confused with a Rocky movie.

"We need to further define the word "win" and not let it get 
confused with a Rocky movie or a UFC match."

     In the who, what, where, when, how, and why of this, what exactly is winning?
  • Who are you? Cop? Soldier? Citizen?
  • What is it you are doing exactly? Arresting someone? Fighting the Taliban? Defending yourself?
  • Where is this happening? Home? Out? Battlefield?
  • When is this happening?
  • How is this unfolding? How might it end?
  • Why is there even a confrontation?

     Define "winning" for all of the above. Everyone's definition of winning is really situational. Mission-based, different, and situational. It is indeed situational. It is small-minded, inexperienced, immature, and plain wrong for instructors to preach this simple “must always win” mentality to prep everyone every time and not explore the actual situations and the related responsibilities. Their small perspective isn't from a high enough altitude to see how these win messages spread across the board to police, military, and citizens and can create a generic, confusing, and dangerous message. Missions are different. Daily life is different. Citizens, soldiers, and cops have different goals. Winning means different things to different people in different situations at different times.

     To a police officer, winning usually means arresting the suspect or, at times, just staying alive. To a citizen, it usually means escaping a crime or escaping injury or possibly confining a criminal until the authorities arrive. To a common citizen? Just leaving. Like for one example, escaping a parking lot crime unscathed is win-win. For the officer or citizen, this may also mean killing a criminal. In the USA, there are about 320 million people, and only a few rare times do citizens shoot and kill criminals. Same with the police.

     If you are in the military, winning means winning both small and big battles. And it may mean also winning the hearts and minds of the populace around you. Winning may also mean an escape to fight another battle another day as in the aforementioned Mekong Delta ambush. A prisoner of war wins by escaping, not stopping and fighting and winning/killing every guard and soldier along the way in hand-to-hand combat. Situational.

     For all these groups, we share the temporary solution that discretion may be the better part of valor at times. Live now to fight another day when there is a chance to win. Yes, the orderly retreat! Cowboys have a "get out of Dodge" plan. I know some contractors overseas who jokingly say - 

     "when in real doubt, head for the airport." 

     Colonel David Hackworth always had a "go-to-hell" plan for when all other plans have "gone to hell." (Hack once told me even his "go-to-hell" plan had yet another go-to-hell plan within it.) 

     Discretion is the better part of valor. Have you heard this line before? This idiom officially means that it is often better to think carefully and not act than to do something that may cause problems. Experts say the phrase comes from:  "the better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have saved my life," – Falstaff in Henry IV, Part One. Shakespeare strikes again. Later Churchill would use his own version.

Winning – By the Retreat! This Shakespearean passage is the original sentence-structure-version of “discretion is the better part of valor.” Wordsmiths say this phrase usually means caution is better than rash courage. In my world for decades now, especially in the military business, the phrase is a common rule and guideline for the smart time to retreat. So, despite the rah-rah-must-always-win speeches, all military in combat, big or small, recognize the time to retreat and do so properly. Orderly.

     For example, when Alexander the Great retreated his troops, they remained in the phalanx formations, never turning their backs to the enemy and flat-out running off – this historically causes the greatest casualty figures in war. In retreat, "winning" then and there meant escaping with the least amount of casualties, via the orderly plan. I cannot tell you exactly what to do for every orderly retreat in every aspect of life, combat or crime-fighting. It is way too situational, but Alexander could predict his problems! Orderly retreat in the phalanx. Study the who, what, where, when, how, and why of your life and make "go-to-hell" plans. 

       I myself have been in numerous jams. Once in a drug raid on a military base, I was chasing a dealer in a large building who had escaped the raid, and I was suddenly surrounded by him and five more accomplices. What was I to do? Shoot six unarmed people? Get beaten to pieces by six people in a fight? I shoved my way out and left and got help from the other raiders downstairs. We arrested our target dealer within minutes.

Winning – Taking One for the Team. Sometimes losing means winning. Lose in the short run for a win in the long run? In sports we see a lot of dramatic "victims" overact and fall down and cry out to be noticed. When they are fouled or almost fouled. The fouled players like to be seen by the referee, and they overact their injury. Penalty flag! The other team gets penalized. This is evident in soccer, basketball, karate tournaments, well, in any sports really and in life too! Frequently when police arrest people, the poor suspect screams out for all to witness, to hear how they have been injured and abused by the officers. A very common ploy, but it seems to work a lot, doesn't it?

     Have you ever taken one not for the team? Lose, but for the overall cause? I have been in a few odd situations such as once in a courtroom and in the halls outside. The situation heated up, and it looked as though there might be a fight. There is no question that if I got hit in public, either inside the courtroom or out in the hall with witnesses, I knew it would be smarter to drop like a stone and cry out like a wounded soccer or basketball player! FOUL! The bailiff would have cuffed the puncher, and we would build an even better case for my client and entangle the puncher and the puncher's defense team with even more distracting trouble and another charge to the list to bargain a plea. I was prepared to take one for the team. 

      Taking one for the ... war. In the bigger picture, one has to only think of the 300 Spartans and their loss at the Gates of Fire to see their loss was Greece's overall eventual gain. Same, too, with the Alamo in Texas. The enemy stalled so their comrades could later succeed. 

Winning – And in the End. Remember that for citizens in modern times and civilizations, your willingness to fight, no matter how righteous and defensive your actions might be, may often end with your going to jail with considerable legal fees and maybe with some added doctor bills to boot. You may well be vindicated later but at a physical, emotional, and monetary loss. 

     Who are you and what is winning, surviving, escaping? We all share these same possibilities and goals in the situational combat of crime and war. I warn you to be leery of these one-note, Win-Only courses and teachers. Their attitudes and perspectives are unsophisticated, short, and low. Their messages can be dangerous. Suicidal even. Crime and combat are not like a Sunday football game. In real life, an escape, even a tie, or, yes, even a loss can still be a win.

Winning might be:
  1. Escape from the opponent (using the "Orderly Retreat" concept).
  2. Threats, demands, and actions to make the opponent surrender and/or desist and maybe even make him leave.
  3. Less than lethal injury to the opponent. Injure and/or diminish to a degree that the opponent stops fighting, and/or stops chasing you.
  4. Control arrest, contain, and restrain. Capture and escort the opponent. Or you detain/capture the opponent and await the proper authorities.
  5. Lethal methods. We fight criminals and enemy soldiers. Sometimes we kill them.


         I think the term "innocently" as used inside the above photo ... some people, courses, or instructors just automatically think that the bar fight is what fights just "are." Innocent in that they cannot even detect their material is heavily slanted toward that bar theme. They can't even see the slant themselves. Their verbal skill drills are talking with bully drunks. Some build fake bars to train in. They have seminars in bars. Or worry about the bar bathrooms. In a way, it would be like having all cops train for fights only in traffic stops. Some mechanics of the fight might be universal, yet the overall dialog and surroundings are a traffic stop. There is nothing wrong with training for traffic-stop fights or bar fights once in awhile, just as long as everyone knows the bigger picture. That's what I mean by innocent.

      Yes. We fight criminals and enemy soldiers. Even if your drunk brother-in-law takes a poke at you during the Christmas party, at that very instant he actually, technically becomes a criminal. You will react accordingly based on the situation. But we fight criminals and enemy soldiers. Sometimes we escape. Sometimes we wound them. Sometimes we arrest/control/contain them. Sometimes we kill them.

"Missions are different. Daily life is different. Citizens, soldiers, and cops 
have different goals. Winning means different things to different people 
in different situations at different times."

     (Think this is common sense that everyone must already know? After this essay was first published in a police magazine a few years ago, a rather famous police "WIN" instructor back then changed his program, turning the course title "WIN" into a clever acronym of W.I.N. and switching the message to "What is Important Now" instead of just generic winning. He was able to salvage his old foundation, ad campaign, etc., into this smarter, broader, yet refined approach. You're welcome - though I never heard a thank you.)

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What's Not Real About Simulated Ammo Training

     I teach over 2,000 people a year in all kinds of spaces and places in some 12 allied countries; and we cover hand, stick, knife, and gun material. For the gun subject, most of the time we do not have access to a shooting range; and, frankly, I really don't want to teach live fire. I don't like all the range logistics and well … to be honest, it very quickly bores me to shoot or guide people to shoot endless paper targets all day, all year, for decades. Forever (remember I started shooting in the late 1960s). It just does. You can get that live fire instruction from someone else, which is usually good caliber almost anywhere. I urge you to do that, and I partner with many great instructors who do so. They teach live fire. I teach the simulated ammo, combat scenarios.

     Rather, I want people to explore and learn things about close quarter, interactive shooting. Since 1995 or so, I have used any tool I can get my hands on to develop some interactive combat shooting awareness and skills. Many if not most times, I am stuck inside the confines of a training room of a martial arts school, a hotel business meeting room, academy class, public school gym, or maybe even an open back lot of a building. It is what it is and I adapt. We'll throw tennis balls at you to make an "incoming point," shoot the hard-core Simunitions if we have them, use gas guns, BB guns, Airsoft guns, even rubber-band guns, anything so as to create an experience of an exchange of “bullets” while two or more people are thinking, reacting, moving, and fighting with guns in close quarters inside and around cars, stairways, buildings, parking lots, businesses, you name it.

     One year we had an entire, multi-floor building with an indoor parking lot about to be gutted for remodeling in Cincinnati, Ohio. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. We helped destroy the place with sims and gas guns. As I like to say, you are not really learning how to gunfight unless a moving, thinking person is shooting back at you. It changes a lot of things, and some say – almost everything. I say that is situational. You still need to pull the trigger and shoot.

     Once ridiculed in the mid-1990s for these ideas and tools, I now sell bulk quantities of rubber-band guns to police and military groups AFTER they use them in my training sessions. They get the idea, intent, and plan. (These wooden “toys” fire six to eight times in a semi-automatic fashion; and like the battery-powered, “electric” Airsoft guns, they are cheap, safe, and do not damage people, buildings, or cars.) This allows you to work some aspect of gun material no matter where you are. (Warning - If you use the Airsoft long guns, like machine guns or shotguns, these babies can be charged up to property- and vehicle-damaging levels. We have blown out lights, dented cars, and broken windows and mirrors.)

     When you introduce the gas-powered guns in training, then you have worries about the neighbors, your pick-up truck, and all things that shatter, dent, break, scream, and howl. But the gas guns at least give you some level of explosive sound and a little wave of shock and a dose of pain when you are on the wrong end.

"… you are not really learning how to gunfight unless a 
moving, thinking person is shooting back at you…."

     Unless we are doing special long-gun training, I usually teach very close-in handgun tactics stretching the distance limits to say – one or two car lengths. But at times, gunfights inside buildings in various scenarios like building searches, protection escorts, and the like, we have our practitioners shooting these simulated weapons and ammo at greater distances than very close quarters … topics like “gun-arm grappling.”

     Getting off the "Dime." That's what we used to call it in the old days. Somebody recently called it "getting off the X," and he is treated like a new tactical genius? Like it was a new idea? Anyway, believe in the old “getting off the Dime" or the new "X” when shooting? Try it interactively with simulated ammo and see if you can actually get off anything when the bullets fly.

     Interactivity is the lab you can't find on the gun range. It's on the stairwell, in the parking lot, the store, the restaurant, inside homes and offices, and … well, anywhere and everywhere but not the square range. Lots of live-fire guys dabbling with simulated ammo make the mistake of doing it right on the shooting range. No, sir. You need to make the locations as real as possible.

     In a perfect world, training weapons used should look, feel, and weigh like their real counterparts. But realistically, other than some classic Simunitions ammo or high-grade, paint-marker bullets used in real firearms, all the other so-called “simulated ammunition” will obviously not react like live rounds; and I always make this “what's not real” speech at the beginning of a dedicated training session.

     Here are some examples of “what's not real with simulation ammo shooting” when not using special Simunitions guns or using your guns with special marker bullets:

     No realistic malfunctions
     No real gun blast/explosions in your hands or in front of you
     No realistic weight in your hands (unless you buy such a replica)
     No real recoil or "weapon climb”
     No real pain/wounding
     Each gun is a marksmanship challenge. The more powerful, the straighter the “arrow.”
     No rounds passing through the scenery (walls, etc.) that you use for cover or concealment
     No realistic skips or ricochets
     No real fear
     No real reaction to being shot. You can act like it, which is okay to do, but it is still acting
     Usually no realistic reloading
     Keep experimenting and building this list.

     Now if you have the expensive packages of "Simunitions Gun and Ammo Sets" as well as certain good "marker bullets" that fit into your actual weapons, you will not have half the problems listed above. These are expensive, not easy to transport for travelers like me. Plus, you must train in areas that these bullets won't destroy walls, cars, and just about anything in range. These are the best, but not the easiest to acquire or use.

     Do I sound negative, being a proponent of interactive shooting? Perhaps. But the truth is the truth. These are some of the downsides everyone must know. You still must shoot live ammo. My idea is that once you fully qualify/certify with your live-fire weapon, I believe that all your further shooting practice should be in that special 25 percent/75 percent split or even a 40 percent/60 percent split. Your choice. Or 50-50? That means for the next training trips, 25 percent up to 50 percent of the time is spent for a quick re-familiarization of the weapon with live fire, and then 75 percent or maybe half of the rest of the time is spent in interactive, simulated ammo scenarios and situations.

     To move up and on, you have to break the bonds of the "shooting-paper-target-range mentality only." This does not have to be expensive or dangerous to people and property with gas guns and other types of training guns. And it will extensively enhance awareness, experience, and survival. (Hey, I get rave reviews for teaching this stuff every time and everywhere I go. It's up to you.)

     This looks like a long, negative list. Like all sorts of hand, stick, and knife training, Simulated ammo training is not perfect and, at times, far from perfect. We have to recognize the problems listed above, but there are a lot of benefits. I think it still is a mandatory practice for understanding aspects of human behavior in interactive gunfights in actual locations. It's the next step very few take for a variety of business and personal reasons – but it is a step, the next step in testing your tactics before you see how you might get yourself killed.

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Force Necessary Black Belt Test

Unarmed Combatives Black Belt, Level 10.

Hand versus hand
Hand versus stick
Hand versus knife
Hand versus gun

     Mission statement: We fight criminals and enemy soldiers with and without weapons, standing, seated, kneeling, or on the ground. Sometimes we take them prisoner. Sometimes we kill them. Sometimes we escape. Certain sports are ways to hone parts of these survival skills.

     Before you start reading the test list, here are my thoughts on how and why I constructed the test the way that I have. I did start with the test and worked backward. There are many quick-fix fighting programs on the market. Not that there is anything wrong with the idea, because sometimes that can be helpful, and that is indeed what I try to cover in my Stop 6 program. But I am concerned with the "older" or "old-school" concept of a more complete slogging and slugging it all out in a comprehensive, longer-term, depth-building progression. Where are those long-term-commitment courses? Well, there's mine.

      I say every week -

     "I will never tell you how to fight. We just get together 
and work out. In the end, it is your job to create your personalized little fighting system for yourself." 

     We live in that "mixed person's world," where everyone is a different size, a different shape, age, strength, different physical problems, etc. My job is to adequately expose you to numerous good survival options. You work with them, experiment with them, and either like or don't like them. Build your own thing. Remember, we live in a "mixed person's" of different sizes, shapes, ages, etc., world. Experiment. There are things your students may not like and/or cannot do like you can. And vice-versa. An instructor has a higher level of responsibilities. And don't confuse your hobbies with self-defense fighting. Don't impose your hobbies on people and further this confusion. Be clear as to what is or what isn't a hobby or a sport and in the big picture where it all logically fits. It can often fit together.

     My goal was to create a big system that is like a college-level study into fighting. I am sure that the term "college-level" is not the best term for this, but nonetheless, the overall concept is what I am shooting for. This covers the broad fundamentals of fighting survival, and it is not complicated, not brain surgery or rocket science. This is, in a very, very abstract way, like a black belt in "karate" and "jujitsu," (small "k" and small "j") combined, minus all the dogma and katas, etc. This, too, is not the best explanation either. It seems to me that many courses and instructors today are either doing almost classical or at least the "new classics," like sport fighting or these quickie or quicker solution courses. Who is doing the best of both in the best way? I hope my system does. That is a better explanation.

     In the somewhat shunned and/or ignored advice of yesteryear, they told us that getting a black belt was the very beginning of your learning process, not the end. The core foundation. Now you begin. This advice I do like. Armed with this Black Belt as an overall foundation, you should move on into specific subjects like one pursues a master's degree. Be it sport or whatever, you move on to specific areas. You will discover that I have constructed a foundation here for you to spring forward and create a base understanding of the big picture to help this goal. This is also the best time for the Stop 6 program materials because you are using skills you have previously honed through proper time and grade. Any time is a good time for the Stop 6, but learning the angst and depth of fighting is a major insight and help.

     In this modern world of mixed systems and certifications and so forth, why have a "corny old" Black Belt ranking, you might ask? Well, one reason is that I can. I have tested up in the blacks. But there is a business reason. I still think a goodly portion of the populace recognizes the term. Respects it. Asks for it. Looks for it on your office wall. For that reason, I offer it. If such a rank makes you feel uncomfortable, then just use the term "Level 10." Another reason is that it signifies a certain rite of passage. A ritual for yourself and others. I promise you I will make the passage worthwhile. Ask anyone who has done the whole test. Many people just lie down on the floor when they finish it.

     Boxing? Kickboxing? Kickboxing with takedowns? Takedowns with situational finishes? Yup. Nothing replaces this rough-and-tumble knowledge, the angst, practice, and the precious time spent doing it. It creates depth and savvy and numerous benefits. I am rather oblivious to the whole "combat sports" versus "RBSD" debates. I like to do the more simple and the obvious and support it with the best skill exercises I can find and dodge the dogma. That approach transcends the debate for me. (I still pick those little "sport cancers" that can get into your way.)

     I am not an expert in every aspect of this process. We use many sources and experts, and I fully expect you to use many, many sources to improve yourself. It is, as they say, your journey.

     For the test for the system, I cannot emphasize how very important the Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why Module is, as well as the Stop 6 Module. They are the skeletal applications of everything psychological and physical. They cover use of force, laws, all the popular preemptive tricks, counter-crime, mixed weapons, well, they are simply imperative.

In the Force Necessary: Hand! Course, one studies:
     The Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why Module
     The Stop 6 Module Maneuvers - which includes:
          "kickboxing footwork
          "obstacle course footwork"
          "basic ground maneuvers"
     All good strikes, standing and ground, and their counters
     All good kicks, standing and ground, and their counters
     Good variety of takedowns (which automatically include some joint cranking)
     Some kickboxing that includes takedowns
     Ground fighting and escapes from ground fighting
     How firearms and knives operate and are used
     How impact weapons are used
     Counters to knife attacks
     Counters to stick attacks
     Counters to pistol and long-gun threats
     The 125 Worst Case Scenario Combat Scenarios

Here is the actual FN: Hand! Black Belt Test
     Explain the Stop 6

     Explain the Who, What, Where, When, and How Module
     Satisfactorily complete the first nine levels of the course

The Striking  Review: Review and repetition sets on gear, standing, and on the ground

     Eye attacks
     Palm strikes
     Forearm strikes
     Hammer fists
     Punching - Jab
     Punching - Cross
     Punching - Hook
     Punching - Uppercut
     Punching - Overhead
     Punching - Combination feeds
     Body Rams
     Uses of the Head Butt

             All of these strikes will be done from:
                     * Sucker punch - "bus stop"
                     * From hands-up surrender
                     * Ready stance
                     * While being held
                     * While holding
                     * Ground top
                     * Ground bottom
                     * Ground side by side

The Kicking Review: Review and repetition sets on gear, standing, and on the ground of:
     The Front Snapping Kick
     The Stomp Kick
     The Knee
     The Thrust Kick
     The Rear Round Kick
     The Lead Round Kick
     The Side Kick
     The Mule Kick/Back Kick
     Kick Sparring

             All of the kicks will be done from:
                     * The "Bus Stop"
                     * Ready stance
                     * While held
                     * Ground positions

     Be prepared to demonstrate on demand some Critical Contact, Hand Speed, Flow, and Skill Drills/Exercises

Overview of the Mandatory SFC Big Takedowns and Throws. You have to know what each of these are and do them.
     - Battering takedown
     - Head twist takedown
     - Tornado throw and Half-Tornado-Push
     - Outer leg sweep, rear takedown
     - Inner leg reap sweep, rear takedown
     - Frontal takedowns
     - The big wrap and dumps
     - Wrist crank/arm torque takedowns
     - 3 finger crank takedowns
     - Reverse (back-to-back) hip throw
     - Rear pull takedown
     - Rear choke takedown
     - Wheel throw/bent torso
     - Sheonage-style Shoulder/Bent Arm Throw
     - Clothesline
     - Under-the-Arm takedown
     - Rear "Hammer Lock"
     - Front arm bar
     - Reverse bent arm bar
     - Over the shoulder arm bar/break
     - Foot/Ankle sweep
     - Tackles - and single-leg and double-leg picks and scoops

The 125 Big Worst Case Combat Scenarios
     These scenarios are not choreographed. They are freestyle. The better your partner? The better the test. The partner can, of course, and should wear gear.
     Several rounds of boxing
     Several rounds of kick sparring
     Several rounds of kickboxing
     Several rounds of kickboxing with takedowns and situational finishes

     8 combat scenarios vs stick attacks
     4 combat scenarios, you are knee-high, he is standing with stick
     4 combat scenarios, you are grounded, he is standing with stick
     4 combat scenarios, you are bottom-side ground, stick on top
     4 combat scenarios, you are topside, stick on bottom
     1 combat scenario, grounded, side-by-side versus stick
     1 combat scenario, interrupting a 3rd party stick attacker
     1 combat scenario, interrupting a stick quick draw, standing
     1 combat scenario, interrupting a stick quick draw, ground, bottom
     1 combat scenario, interrupting a stick quick draw, ground, top

     8 combat scenarios vs knife attacks
     4 combat scenarios, you are knee-high, he is standing with knife
     4 combat scenarios, you are grounded, he is standing with knife
     4 combat scenarios, you are bottom-side ground, knifer on top
     4 combat scenarios, you are topside, knifer on bottom
     1 combat scenario, grounded, side-by-side versus knifer
     1 combat scenario, interrupting a 3rd party knife attacker
     1 combat scenario, interrupting a knife quick draw
     1 combat scenario, interrupting a knife quick draw, standing
     1 combat scenario, interrupting a knife quick draw, ground, bottom
     1 combat scenario, interrupting a knife quick draw, ground, top

     4 combat scenarios vs pistol threats
     4 combat scenarios vs long-gun threats
     2 combat scenario interrupting a third-party pistol attacker

     8 combat scenarios vs unarmed strikes
     8 combat scenarios vs kick attacks
     4 combat scenarios vs bear hugs and clinches
     4 combat scenarios vs tackles
     4 combat scenarios, you are knee-high, he is standing
     4 combat scenarios, you are grounded, he is standing
     4 combat scenarios, you are bottom-side ground
     4 combat scenarios, you are topside, ground
     2 combat scenarios, grounded, side-by-side
     2 combat scenarios, interrupting a third-party attacker
     2 combat scenarios vs multiple attackers

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

     And that's the test. If you look good? If you look like you are winning? You got it. Every unarmed thing I teach fits into this test, in a part supported by skill drills like a piece in the puzzle. There is a method to my madness.

     Dropping in for just a short haul? We'll also do the Stop 6. But are you tough enough for the long- term commitment? Plus use everything you've already learned. It'll probably fit in somewhere. This is your route. You do this and from your experiences build your own personalized, custom fighting program.

     Of course, you can always just train for knowledge. This is about you, not me. What you do with it.

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