Sunday, May 17, 2015

Draw - Don't Draw! Escalating the Escalated Escalation

“If I pull my knife? And he is carrying a gun? Will this cause him to pull his gun out? 
Will I cause the problem to escalate?”

     So often people want Magic Bullet answers to a lot of self-defense questions. There’s always big talk in the self-defense industry about "avoidance."  If too late to avoid, then next up in the event list is what they call "de-escalation." Avoiding and de-escalating a common knucklehead before a fight starts is a cottage industry. Some folks confidently dole out solutions to confrontations in three to five steps or present mandatory checklists.

     “Say these things!”  “Do this!”  “Do that!”  “Stand like this!”   "Don't ever...." 

     Now, I think it is certainly good to be exposed to all these ideas and methods. Sure. Do so. But as an obsessed skeptic, I see the caveats beyond the advice. I don’t know about certain kinds of solutions, magic words, or stances when confronted or attacked.

     I have investigated a whole lot of assaults, aggravated assaults, attempted murders, and murders through the decades; and while there are identifiable patterns and surprises, chaos can sure still reign supreme. But let me summarize by calling it all “situational.” In the end, solutions are situational. Like calling plays in a football game, it depends on the situation. How you stand and what you say or do should be situational. Custom-built. (This essay is primarily about pulling out a knife but does and could certainly relate to pulling a pistol, too. It's just that if this was a "pistol-centric" essay, I would be writing more about pistol situations.)

     So there’s an argument! Then a fight! Given you have already performed all your popular avoidance and de-escalation steps ... you are armed under your coat or in your pocket with a knife or even a gun, and this verbal stuff just ain’t working! The mean man won’t leave! Do you pull that knife out? That weapon out? There are some situational concerns with doing this; and these concerns certainly do involve his possible knives and guns and the overall escalating ladder of weaponry, violence, and legal problems.

Here are a few facts and related ideas on the subject to kick around:

Fact: Some people do leave. For many a year now, 65% to 70% of the time when a knife or pistol is pulled in the USA, the criminal leaves you alone. Simple statement. I have often heard the easy average of 67% used. (Sticks, by the way, are not in these study figures.) I must warn folks that this is not as clean and simple an escape as it sounds. There are many emotional, ugly events that happen in this weapon-presentation/confrontation, even if the bad guy does leave. Trauma and drama. We discuss these details in certain topical seminars and other specific essays.

Fact: Some people don't leave. The good news with the 65%/35% split is you may only have to fight about 30% of the time! So 30% of the time, the opponent does not leave and the fight is on, whether he is unarmed or armed. The bad news is when you are now in that "unlucky 30%," or you might say you are now a 100%-er. You are 100% there and stuck in it. A hand, stick, knife, or gunfight!

Fact: Some people are armed. General stats quoted for many years past say that 40% of the time the people we fight are armed. A few years back the FBI upped that anti to about 90% being armed! A shocking high number for me to grasp. And another gem to add in is that 40% of the time we fight two or more people. Hmmm. So 40% to 90% armed times 40% multiple opponents. Not a healthy equation. Lots of people. Lots of weapons. Lots of numerical possibilities. The "smart money" always bets that the opponent is armed.

Facts: Times and reasons to pull. Logical and physical. Time and reason might seem the same, but defining times and reasons in your mind and for your training is smart. Time equals “when” and reason equals “why.” Two different questions. The motive and the moment to move. Either way, remember there must be some real danger to you and danger to others for you to take weapon action.
     The Why? 2 Reasons to Pull: There are two reasons to pull your weapon out. The first is to stop violence before it happens. The second is to stop violence while it is happening.  
     The When? 2 Times to Pull: There are two generic times to draw your weapon. The first is when you can predict problems and pull before the incident happens. It’s always said that the best quick draw is pulling out your weapon just before you need it. And the second pull is during the incident. 

Some Facts: Pulling during the incident. I have written and lectured in the past about why people do and do not draw weapons once a physical fight has started. They are in this quick review:

1: He is carrying but does not draw because he actually forgets he is armed. Oh, yes, this happens.

2: He is carrying but does not draw because he is smart enough to know that this incident does not deserve the legal and physical consequences of pulling a gun, knife, etc.

3: He does draw when he decides at some point in the fight he is losing. It may not actually or legally be a true life or death fight, but he thinks so.

4: He does draw when he loses his temper inside the fight.

5: Dominant fervor. He draws after winning. He’s essentially won but hates for the victory feeling and moment to pass. He further punishes the opponent by presenting a weapon and scaring him with his glee and threats. 

      Recognizing these five situational events should shape good training drills and scenarios.

What Should You Do?
     Before, during, and maybe even after, when a weapon is drawn in the fight by you, it can definitely stop or escalate the heat with intensity and/or even more weapons. The questions I am frequently asked are:
“I live in a state where ‘everybody’ carries a gun, Hock. 
If I pull my knife to scare someone off? Or I pull my gun? 
And he is carrying a knife or gun? Will this cause him 
to pull his knife or gun out?”

       Ahhh … well, yes. Yes, that can happen. In the same way that your words, your facial expression, your clothes, or even your stance can escalate an encounter. But, yes, that can happen. Should you always pull your weapon with the first blush of a problem? Automatically? No. The problem must percolate to the level that reasonable and prudent people think it is justified. Police deal with this pressure almost on a monthly basis, or maybe a weekly basis, and in some tough places maybe even daily? It’s an acquired skill. A feel.

    “Should I always throw the long pass or always hand off the ball to the running back." No. I can’t answer that on paper or at the lectern. Not even Tom Brady can. How could we? It is situational. It is best to have a few handy plays up your sleeve and wing it. (Well maybe not as many as Brady has up his sleeve as in the nearby photo, but you need some tricks.) So I simply cannot answer that hypothetical question with a "do-don't do." It’s a “call.” A call you must make in the moment just like a quarterback.  HIKE! What's the field look like?

 "HIKE! What's the field look like?"
     I would like to start a list of very specific situations here to help out in the decision making, but then this little essay would grow to textbook size. But just for just one example, there are times that you might best-guess the enemy is or is not armed. One point is the physical assessment of the enemy at the moment - is he acting or dressed in a way to tip off a concealed weapon? This is tricky. I was almost shot one night by a shirtless guy in very tight pants - pants that I swore could not conceal a gun. A "Saturday Night Special" was in his front pocket. He shot someone else with it a moment later. Still, part of your draw/don’t draw decision is based on what you see and think and how well you are trained to think and see. This brings us right back to the “who, what, where, when, how, and why” questions I have used as a foundation for decades now on just about everything we do.

     "Draw-Don’t Draw." Then it becomes "Shoot-Don’t Shoot?" So often people want a quick, magic bullet answer. There is none, and I'm sorry; I have no magic bullets like this for you. If anyone is selling you a box of those bullets? I wouldn't buy them.

Many of these issues are covered in depth in this Stop 1 DVD or download series.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Slash Across The Forehead? And Three Things You Fight When You Fight

     When I was a guest on the old G. Gordon Liddy radio show many moons ago, Liddy made the statement –

     “You know the first thing I would do in a knife fight?”

     “What’s that, G-Man?” I asked.

     “I would slash the man across the forehead. That way the blood would soon pour down into his eyes. Blind him, and then I could finish him off.”

     Since we were live on the air coast to coast, I decided to let that one pass … but no.

     I had heard this little forehead-slash ditty for years before and continue to hear it. Just three weeks ago in California, a seminar attendee asked about such a face attack, saying it was a big strategy in ____ Kali.  Others report that some Italian knife systems promote this strategy.

     Well, again, no.

     Some seem to emphasize it with a backhand slash, as though that attack is somewhat exclusive to a forehead slash. Nope. I guess it could be any slash or even a forehead stab. (In fact, a good stab that hits the skull and slides off to the side can do a lot of rip-up damage.)

     Briefly, let’s look at this touted forehead slash. So ... I am in a knife fight for my life. Every second counts. The heavenly clouds have opened for me somehow! His arms cleared an open path to his head. And I … choose to cut the forehead. I cut the forehead and then continue on with this deadly duel and battle, back and forth, back and forth. Then I wait until sufficient streams of blood work downward like spilled paint from a paint can that flows over the eyebrows and down into both eyes thick enough to blind the enemy, whereby I deliver the death move.

     Huh? If the heavens opened for me? I would rather cut the eye or eyes themselves or the throat, not aim at the forehead. Get a much quicker finish. Why wait for blinding blood flow? Because in the subsequent, post-forehead-cut, seeping blood moments while I am waiting for his total blindness, he could get lucky and ... KILL ME FIRST!

     A moment to bleed? Could be. Yes. Maybe more. Here's why.

     When we fight an enemy, we are dealing with three big problems:

     Problem 1: His athleticism (natural and/or acquired);
     Problem 2: His pain tolerance;
     Problem 3: His adrenaline (which could increase the aforementioned 1 and 2).

     These three important things are at play in a fight and do not make Jack a dull boy. Not at all. They can turn Jack into an overpowering engine. Now I could pontificate on these subjects ad nauseam. All righteous observations, but we’ll stick with the subject here on forehead-slash attacks and select Problem 3: Adrenaline for discussion.

     One of the benefits of adrenaline is it pushes/sucks the blood from the surface of the skin, protecting the body as much as it can from bleeding. Medical history as well as my personal experiences can attest to this. I have seen people slashed with a knife and start to bleed normally a bit later, post adrenaline. This can be different than a surprise, accidental cut on the face. No fight. No adrenaline.

     So if you get a slash across his forehead, you really can’t predict how successful that slash might be, how much blood it will produce, how much and how fast it will "seep" down, and how quickly it will blind. And you cannot and should not waste that "heavenly opportunity" of an opening with a forehead slash and should instead go for a better attack on the eye, eyes, and/or a neck shot.

      Now that I have written this anti-forehead-slash advice here, I will no doubt hear from at least one person, from someone who "knows" someone, who "knows" this worked once, with an anecdotal tale. But, really, in the big picture? Forget the forehead slash. You might accidentally slash the forehead, sure. But, don't fixate on this as a super-secret, insider, "knife-fighter" success strategy. It ain't.

     And you haven't got the time to mess around with this.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, every time I had a new book published, the G-Man had me on his show. He is quite a colorful character and has a great American story.