Tuesday, March 24, 2015

To Punch or Palm Strike

Got this question from John...

     "Hi, Hock; just got your punching module download, busy watching it, have got a question, though. When do you punch? Not talking about before, after, or during his attacks, as you say on the film, but instead when do you punch and when do you palm strike? I think I get it about "the target determines the weapon," but is that all there is to it? Really enjoy your stuff by the way. All the best, John."

     Thanks, John. No matter what I say here, it will be argued over and controversial for some folks. There are people fixated on the palm strike and vice-versa. But here goes. The old rule of thumb is, "hit something hard with something soft; hit something soft with something hard."

      I am not one of these "anti-fist-you'll-always-break-your-hand" stalwarts. Have I hurt my hand punching people's faces? Not always, and I have never flat-out broken my hand. Though I had to have surgery a few years back correcting damage from hitting someone's pointy chin with an uppercut. The chin! (And, no, I could not have used the beloved "chin-jab" from my side position.) I have had numerous friends with broken hands from punching people to the head; most were cops. I suspect they did not "know" how to punch, but some of them did know how and still had problems.

     I think the really dangerous part to punch on the head is the bicycle helmet area of the skull. Lower, the jaw usually does give when hit. The head even gives on the neck when hit. But that skull top, once reflexively dropped or turned down to the side when incoming punches are perceived, are the really dangerous times for the fist. The bike helmet area!

     Another point?The individual's hand or fist. How big is the hand? How solid and tight the fist? Some people are never meant to punch. Some with cinder-block-fists should only punch! I think every student in a class needs to hear this fist/palm inspection and briefing
at least once. (As an aside? Fighter's hands inside boxing gloves are not making tight fists. This is a problem for some people when they suddenly have to go bare-knuckle/glove-less. Remember when Mike Tyson hit that mugger with a bare fist and broke his hand? MMA gloves are so much better. I think people should limit wearing classic boxing gloves to a bare minimum. I understand they are needed for some drills and exercises. I, too, use them for that; but I think people overuse boxing gloves, like when hitting heavy bags. Use MMA Gloves!  Now if you're just a boxer, and you know it? Then sure - use the boxing gloves.)

     Another point?The aim. If you aim at the nose as many systems naively suggest, when and if the head drops, the forehead/bike helmet area is hit instead. BAM! So aim lower. And that high, hook punch? He turns and drops his head, and you have that classic knuckle-splitter problem. So aim lower still.

      Another point? Whenever an arresting fight would begin for me? If I had to get into a ready-fighting-position? I always kept my hands open, as opposed to the option of the fighting stance with closed fists; so I started with an "anything goes," open-hand kind of platform. From there? All options open, to include grappling.


     Another point?Many proponents of the palm strike condemn the fist punch as ever-so breakable. "Use palm strikes only!" they demand. But you could also hurt your hand and wrist doing palm strikes. I have had some serious aches and pains with palm strikes, too. Hyper-extended wrists, etc. So have a few of my martial veteran friends. I know! Desk-bound critics will declare you hit on the wrong part of the hand. But with two parties in motion, stuff happens.

     People will occasionally mention punching the teeth, and what a shame that is. But you can also palm strike the teeth area and get some from injuries. The fact is that when you use your body to hit somebody else's body, you might hurt your body in some manner.

     Yet another point? Fists? Palms? Which causes more damage? Would they be on par to each other for causing injury? Hmmm. Honestly, I don't know for sure. Palms to ears are great (flat palms are fine - you don't need those extra "cupped-palms versions"). But that is another situational question. I worked a case once where a guy was shot in the head four times and walked out of the hospital that night. The rounds did not penetrate the skull and just traveled around the scalp. They plucked the slugs out and sewed him up. After you think about that? How can we effectively list damages and effects on a chart within the chaos of life, bodies, and weapons? If I can't promise that shooting a guy in the head will kill someone? What else can I promise? You never really can predict what a shot, a stab, a punch, a kick, or a palm strike will do to someone. You can hope! You can guess. You may bet, but you really cannot be sure. 
     And more still? There's probably more, but I am just typing away freestyle here with stuff right off the tip of my tongue. No doubt this will kick off more opinionated discussions.

      Looking for that "magic bullet advice" on how to instantaneously decide between the two? I will never be able to tell anyone once in a fight, once over him or under him, or standing before an opponent, in that split instant, when and where they should decide to select a palm strike or a fist punch. That is so situational. 

     I teach and exercise people through both of these strikes. I issue the above warnings and leave it to them as to the "when's and where's" and to their own little personal arsenal they must customize for themselves. If they want to ignore punching? Ignore palm strikes? Hey, I don't care. Just experiment with it all. 

     Think about it. Work it out. Decide. Make that intelligent, informed choice is all I ask.

Email Hock at HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
Hock's webpage www.forcenecessary.com
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Monday, March 16, 2015

What's Left of Bang?

     Yeah, I think everyone must read the non-fiction, "self-help" book/manual called Left of Bang. For those unfamiliar with the somewhat newer military phrase, “left of bang” means time before the fight/problem and trying to predict it. Bang is … well ... the bang. It’s happening. Right of bang is the aftermath. I think we all in the martial training business, as well as people needing/seeking the topics of self-defense stuff, fighting crime, and war, etc., have an obligation to read this book/manual. 

      New? It’s not new stuff, harkening back to the Gift of Fear, but it is new to new people and sort of newly, smartly organized with modern jargon that catches attention. It is a very fast collection of everything put out in like, oh, the last 20-something or so years on prepping for pending violent problems. 

     They advertise that even police are amazed by the prep info, but I don’t see how unless training is really slipping and has changed that much for the worse. It's the same basic alerts to which I was preached back in the 70s but newly packaged. For example, rest assured in the 70s and 80s, we were not talking about "Kinesics" and "Biometrics" under those big fancy titles; but we were still presented with what they meant and how they worked. Much of this was covered in the old Caliber Press police seminars starting back in the early 1980s.  Maybe it's just a great refresher course for cops to read and also attend the seminars? And then they give it a "thumb's up"? Okay. In the spirit of "nice collection," I am giving it a thumb's up here, too.

     The book is actually more about war, with some excerpts dedicated to crime. Detecting suspicious people and places and what happens when you do. The authors somehow pack it all in there. Good, bad, and a bit of the ugly. (Some sour stuff here and there from Siddle-world and Grossman-world  that I and many others always shake our heads at.) 
I guess Left of Bang is like a tabletop reference book for it all.

     I obsess about the training motto we use, "Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why," to prepare citizens, cops, and soldiers for the interviews and ambushes of their lives. For me, obsessed to a really unhealthy degree about all this kind of stuff, I can’t say that there was anything new in this book. Not trying to brag; I just found nothing new for me. 

     For me. For you? If normal, healthy people are not following this type of info (and who is, really)? If you are a rookie? A cadet? A normal person/citizen? You and they REALLY do need to read the book. You might find it all sheer genius. There are people touring the world now trying to teach this material in seminars revered by new rookies, newbies, cadets, and the great unwashed; but this book does a much better, comprehensive job of it. 

     So I will just say, "Please read it." It helps make my life easier as a teacher when the class has a working knowledge of this info. Saves so much time! But you know, read it and do question everything in it, think about it, read more on each topic, which it's always good to ponder anyway when researching stuff. There are in-depth questions and the usual controversies with some topics in the book that the authors just brush right over and accept them and, therefore, expect you to accept, too, at face value.  Don't. Be the skeptic.

Click here for Left of Bang

Email Hock at HockHochheim@ForceNecessary.com
Hock's webpage www.forcenecessary.com
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bar Fights and the Doorman, Bouncer

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     Which leads me to think and pontificate about the infamous "bar fight" and the salivating worship of the popular hero - the bouncer.

     Ever notice just how many fighting systems and instructors innocently base their programs on how they perceive a bar fight to be? They even build replica bars. They make training films in bars. Never two E.R. doctors fighting over a hospital policy. Never two neighbors arguing about the dog poop. Never the angry husband showing up at the factory to beat up the boss. Mostly young men in bars. Even verbal de-escalation seems to be mostly about the hands-up, verbal, and physical dodge of an obnoxious bar fighter.

     "Oh, I don't want any trouble now, sir!"

     And then, how about this utter worship of ... the bouncer! It seems in numerous quarters that bouncers are some sort of revered fighters and doctors of psychology, just from (gasp) "working the door." That magic spot where you learn to fight better than Caine in Kung Fu and fight better than a UFC camp, as well as glean all the wit and complete wisdom of Oxford or Harvard doctorates in psychology and medicine.

     I recall one bouncer who started a fighting system years ago. He worked in (you guessed it) a biker bar! Oh, so tough a place it seems. Bloodbaths every night it seemed if you totaled up his stories; it must have been the bar in the first Star Wars movie? Or maybe Road House?

     The next most dangerous place on the planet? Not in Iraq or northern Pakistan. It's the men's room at the bar. Where all the real, final dueling takes place.

     One night I was at an after-seminar dinner. One chap asked me -

     "Did you ever work the door?" 

     "A bit. In Texas while I was going to college," I answered.

     "I'll bet you have some great stories." And everyone leaned anxiously in.

     Hmmm, I thought. All the stuff and crap I've done and been involved with, and this group knows about this? And they want to hear ... what now? Doorman stories! Really?

     Perhaps the movie Road House added fuel to this fire? But such is the mystique of the doorman. Such is the mystique of the bar fight.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Who Looks Like Charles Bronson?

     “Mr. Lee! Where ya going?” I shouted out to one of our Korean drivers on the dirt road outside of our Army base.

     “Mobie!” (translation – movie) he said and waved. “We go see Charlson Bronson!” (translation – Charles Bronson).

     I laughed. In South Korea at that time, the 1970s, Charles Bronson was the "numba hanna" (translation – number one) movie star. Not only could Bronson sort of pass as a Korean, which really counted, but he was an international action star. But this interesting situation goes even further.

     It occurred to everyone capable of semi-deep thought that if any person looked like Charles Bronson in Asia, on some psychological level, a movie fan would see this look-alike person and may immediately register that the innocent Bronson-looker had some of the action star’s traits and skills. Psychological “projecting” they call in.

     In fact, we all bet that any Korean that looked like Charles Bronson would probably not be considered an easy mark for a mugging or be someone to pick a fight with. Sort of an instantaneous, subconscious decision on the part of troublemakers. A profile. An assumption. A prejudice, if you will.  And we all know that just because someone looks like Charles Bronson, it doesn’t mean he was once a member of the Magnificent 7, or he can beat seven armed gang members up in a Death Wish. We know this, but still….

     Let’s sidetrack just a bit to the movie Death Wish, just for one second. A tale of a normal man taking revenge for the murder of his wife in New York City. The first choice for the part was actually Gregory Peck. Peck could play the perfect, tame, citified businessman transformed into a ruthless vigilante. The crux of the movie is really this transformation. Peck was a perfect choice, like Gary Cooper might have been. But with Charles Bronson, it wasn’t so perfect. We all expect revenge from Bronson. We just waited for it. Yes, the movie made millions and was very satisfying, but the storyline would have been better with Peck. In NYC movie houses back then, with crime a bit amok in that region, when Bronson shot his first thug in the movie, people in some theaters applauded and cheered. Everyone expects something when seeing the face of Charles Bronson, and then to some extent with Bronson look-alikes? Not so much with Gregory Peck.

     Animism is placing/projecting religious significance onto inanimate objects. Sun gods. Tree gods. Rock gods, whatever. Some fancy stones are deemed magical. Rabbit’s foot. Lucky charms. Etc. Placing/projecting/imaging various traits and expectations on people is a bit like that, too. 

     Men see certain women that look like their favorite starlet or just their so-called physical “type.” Women? Often the same motives as men. A relationship starts on these projections alone. Then often … surprise! 

     In the who, what, where, when, how, and why of fighting? Who are you and who do you think you will be fighting? Is the guy you need to arrest or stop or fight off Charles Bronson, or does he just look like Bronson? Does he look like Pee Wee Herman and fight like Bronson? After training with and against thousands of people and arresting over a thousand people, I can tell you that this assumption can be a tricky one.

     Can you take advantage of your own … Charles Bronson-ism? Who are you and who might you look like? I think so. And in many ways merely a uniform (or certain clothes) alone can influence your psychological impact, least of all how you physically look.

     There are so many examples and anecdotes of this, but here’s at least one. My colleague cop was not too tall, just a normal, average height. He said that numerous times while on vehicle traffic stops, he would get into a verbal "snit" with a driver. He would often go back to his car, put on his tall, crowned, police hat with a badge atop it and return. The mere presence of the hat and the 3 inches of height sometimes toned down the altercation and changed the tone. Just the hat. But imagine this concept in street clothes or military uniforms.

     Some people used to say I somewhat resembled Clint Eastwood when I was younger. I don’t think so, and I know other friends who resembled the "Clintser" much, much more than I did or do. I always felt I was plagued a bit by looking a little strange and more like Dick Van Dyke - not hardly an action star! Now as the years tumble by, I am off this look-alike chart and look more and more like an odd canvass sack of loose nickels. 


     But who do you look like? Who do you think your enemy resembles? Does this affect you? I like to say your opponent may fight worse than he looks, or looks worse than he fights!