Monday, June 22, 2015

Handshakes and Fighting

     In the old Vietnam War days of the 60s, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) had an expression that “a westerner could not resist a handshake.” And that if a Viet Cong (VC) could shake a soldier’s hand in a surprise encounter, the troop could be somehow ambushed.

     Back in World War II, the Japanese Army declared that if their soldiers could get “belt-buckle-to-belt-buckle” with any American, get that “toe-to-toe” up close, they could beat the American in close quarter, hand-to-hand combat. A handshake ruse was also suggested.

     So the handshake and attack trick goes way back., more than these two "recent" examples. Now these are not hardcore, battlefield suggestions. Of course not. They are ambush and trick suggestions.

     In the 1990s several police training programs connected with police science and criminology colleges tried to research a host of info on physical encounters. One endeavor was trying to determine how we “hit the ground” in a fight. There was accidentally tripping and so forth, and one major way was being punched down, and furthermore, one listed punch was the "sucker punch."

     The sucker punch. There are numerous sucker punches and a few important setups and tricks to know. I cover them in Level 5 of my Unarmed Course. One such sucker punch, one way to get buckle-to-buckle and toe-to-toe is the aforementioned handshake trick. A handshake with the right and a punch to the face or neck from the left hand, was such a common one.

     Getting the "irresistible handshake" ties up one of the enemy’s or suspect’s hands. Usually an important idea. Now, 90% or nine out of ten people are right-handed. The handshake is right-handed. And more often than not, the right-hander keeps his weapons on his right side. So for a brief few seconds, his right hand is locked in and busy. So too is yours, but you have an ambush plan!

     There is way more than punching. A few hand shake set-up tricks are used for a number of  throws/takedowns on someone by first establishing a “handshake” move or a “handshake-like” positional grab. This is found in "old-school, original" generic, Jujitsu and other grappling systems. As shown in the photos below for an example, you can fake the handshake, lower your thumb, pass his hand and grab the forearm.

      For myself, being a Texas police officer for decades past, that meant being trained and tipped off by veteran officers from even further "way back when." I am told that an old western lawman would approach a dangerous suspect, smile, shake his right hand, and with his left hand reach over and disarm the outlaw’s right-side gun. Yank the gun right out of the open-carry holster! In the 1970s, an old Chicago P.D. detective told me Chicago policemen did the same thing “in the big city.” Shake a hand, then reach with the left hand under a jacket or coat and pull a pistol from a waistband or a knife from a pocket. You obviously need a solid hand grasp and to be fast on the grab of the weapon.


The normal approach for a handshake. Thumbs up!

And, handshake complete!


Now look at my thumb. It's down.  

This allows me to pass the thumb/hand and grab the arm 

Supported by the other hand for further grappling

Or, the other hand can disarm a knife from a carry site

Spot and get the knife!

Or maybe grab his gun from that carry site. 

Here are some old World War II Combatives photos of Fairbairn doing the classic handshake, then stabbing with the concealed knife in his other hand. This stab was once taught as a pretty instantaneous death stab, but it isn't really. 

      There are numerous take downs and arm controls starting from the handshake. Some people appear rude when they refuse to shake someone’s hand. Most won’t do it, like Donald Trump, so as to not spread nasty germs around. "People's hands are filthy!" they declare. But we know there are more problems with handshaking than just the germs!  

     I have denied the handshake when I felt the situation was suspicious. So should you. Just think of something to say that is appropriate for the situation.
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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Never Judge a Fighting System by Its Best Athlete...

Judging fighting systems and rating fighting systems

     One of my old and favorite adages -

"Never judge a fighting system by its best athlete. He will make everything look good. Conversely, never judge one on its worst athlete, he will make everything look bad."

     Think about how many systems are sold by the superstars doing their amazing stuff. Super champs make a system and sell it,  often doing things that we mere mortals cannot do. The question is what can normal people - the median, the high percentage of us - do with this superstar's system? This material? Often we aren't as athletic or don't have the time to train as the superstars did.

     We operate in a "mixed person's" world, with people of all kinds of shapes, sizes, weights, ages, strengths, etc. A good system of so-called "reality" fighting or self defense, and not sport, is a system that recognizes this common-sense truth as a foundation.

     Each person is different. But if you have an excellent trainee of superior mental and physical skills? Then the definition of "simple" is different. The definition of "complicated" is also different. Your fine-tuned motor skills are his gross-motor ones. The norm is not the common norm. A good system doctrine must challenge, help, and encourage these special people to do the special things they are capable of.

     And it should always make all people "push the envelope" of their perceived capabilities, too. A little push every day. 

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Value of a Tactic? How Many Counters Are There?

The Value of a Tactic: How Many Counters?
by W. Hock Hochheim

     I start off every seminar with the disclaimer, "everything we do will have a counter." Surely more than one. This brings a smile from a veteran and a dropped jaw from the rookie. Rookies are often looking for a magic bullet. The magic tactic.
     On face value, a so-called "tactic," or "technique" is a step or a series of steps to accomplish some level of diminishment of, or victory over, your opponent. On face value, you might really like a certain tactic because it seems easy and successful to you, based on who you are mentally and physically or your skills and expertise. However, there is another level to review before you list this move in your “personal top ten” or if you decide to teach it to others for their personal top ten. You should conduct a study on how many practical counters exist for these favored tactics. There really are two types of counters - natural and trained.

Type 1: Natural and reflexive counters 
     Need we define these natural movements? Can we spend that amount of time? Like for one example, if you feel you are falling or being taken down, you usually step in the direction of the fall to counter the fall. Or another example, a shoulder shrug or a rising arm are very natural ways people protect their heads.

Type 2: Trained counters
     Obviously, the natural and reflexive counters are your worst problem. Everybody does them and perhaps thoughtlessly. Most of the population is untrained and will react to you in these spontaneous manners. Trained counters are different. They may be efficient responses that aren't necessarily so instinctive or intuitive, but rather learned, smart, and effective. In some cases, these trained counters at first even seem like foreign or strange movements. 

     For example, if you are caught in an ambush firefight, one major counter is to charge the ambush while firing. This sounds crazy, but this is a trained response for several good reasons and hardly natural, yet vital when solving the common military rat-trap called an ambush.

     An enlightened study is required. This means getting with various experts and grilling them subject by subject, tactic by tactic. If your favorite tactic has eight easy, reflexive counters and five trained counters also, that is a bit high; and maybe that move shouldn't be in your top ten favs!

     The good news is when working on these lists with research and development, you are processing a lot of material, interacting with experts, and becoming quite savvy about tactics, their counters, and evaluation. This type of pro-and-con testing makes for a broad and unbiased spectrum of hand, stick, knife, and gun knowledge. When I get with experts, I usually have very specific questions to ask and work on. And one more note - this approach takes a complete neutral and open mind. This process transcends systems and their innocent, clannish mindsets. I think most know this point by now, but it still bears reminding once in awhile.

     And there are really three times for a counter: early-phase counters, mid-phase counters, and late phase counters; but all that is the subject of another essay.

      Pick a move. Make the lists. Natural counters. Trained counters. Start investigating.
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