Saturday, September 26, 2015

Guns in the USA...just some questions answered.

Just some USA gun information for other countries if they are interested in reading some. (I do get asked some questions overseas from time to time about our "crazy gun culture.")


     Every once in awhile, someone from England or Australia chews me out or goes on a public rant over pro-opinions of ownership of guns in the USA. They tell me and us a host of angry things in rants and ridicule us. I need to "man up,"  and the "penis-thing," if you own a gun in your house you will kill yourself and your baby by accident." "You Americans think that your founding fathers were perfect." Then you have the folks walking around with the "real men don't need guns" sign. On and on. I could make a list.

     But when you look up these people, you see they have no military or police experience, live in rather cupcake environments. Oh, I'll bet they are not victims of violent crimes either. But my point is they do not understand the history, the culture and the experience of living in USA. Frankly I don't care what you do in other countries. The more educated I become through travel, the more I learn how hard it is comprehend other cultures and societies. That's the same for you in other countries looking in on the United States. So, I keep my mouth shut for the most part about them.
      Instruction? Courses? Yes, the USA has a LOT of guns and gun courses. Even in the most anti-gun states, there are still a lot of gun courses available. You can throw a small rock in the USA and probably hit somebody somewhere fairly nearby teaching a shooting course.

     In the states, there are some places you can go to where you can rent just any gun they have and you can shoot for awhile (and they clean it! My favorite part.) Tons of places, and by and large, I would estimate that most of the instructors for gun courses over here are okay. Just fine usually. Through the years there is an overall, general collection of a good, basic gun knowledge in the USA that everyone seems to know about. (Yes, there are some knuckleheads).

     If I see any problem in the U.S., many are consumed with minutia and love arguing about that small stuff. A lot of discussion is spent not “driving the car,” but rather arguing about “small engine mechanics.” Reviewing experts/psychologist that look into this gun minutia situation call it too much, “internal focus.” (now watch the arguers argue over this point.)

     A number of instructors here are indeed better than others. Sure. As there are with everything. What makes them better than others might be debatable, but we do seem to really favor folks with a lot of police and, or military experience and intelligence (and yes – personality too) like Clint Smith, Scott Reitz, Paul Howe, Dave Spaulding, etc. And there is a batch of military vets finally out there teaching that catch some attention too. Sometimes I think young people naturally gravitate to the younger instructors too, for a host of reasons not related to guns. But really, on paper, they do teach much the same things as the inexperienced or lesser inexperienced ones, despite the hot dog names, beards, tattoos, etc. Because…it just is what it is. The info is just what it is. And that general "is" has gotten around to almost all kinds of instructors.

     Shooting a pistol is a pretty simple process but it still becomes “mystified” in the “rat race of cool.” A lot of young guys trying to re-invent the wheel with new cool, names for old things, and making up new things with cool names and terms that are really not needed. And still, somehow, minus this specialized training and bling nomenclature, somehow totally untrained people can shoot the hell out of you, quite successfully in the real world "streets," close-up (see stats on gang shootings in the USA, and see several of the latest Dr. Lewinski, Force Science research which sadly claim that trained officer performances are about equal to totally, untrained citizens. (I often sit and ponder just what that means.)

     Many of my UK friends have fled to the nearby Czech Republic and Poland for shooting courses. Even South Africa. In Australia, they flee to Thailand or the Philippines to shoot a little. Who are these foreign instructors and what are their resumes and courses about? We here in the USA drive about 20 minutes or so to find a course. You might not like all that they say. Who does? But you did just drive only 20 minutes.

     And yes, what you have heard about the USA is correct, there are millions of legal, concealed carry people here. The US Government awhile back claimed there were about 8 million carry permits in the USA. Could be more now. But, you might not know that most of these people do not want, or do not care for any follow-up training past that initial, simplistic, carry permit course to get their license. (Live fire is next to nothing in those courses). Also, my experience is, as well as many of my friends in law enforcement is, that many licensed carriers do not carry their guns around anyway. I am not religious but, "God bless em all" if anything actually happens. I might add that many do quite well when confronted with crime, but American newspapers do not seem quick to report these incidents. And such small news of thwarted crimes would not be news big enough in foreign countries. Just the stories about crazy people with guns gets spread around. 

     In the USA, we have about 320 to 340 million people, they tell us. There are millions and millions of guns coast to coast. In the U.S. - between 270 million and 310 million guns, according to the Pew Research Center. 8 million people have carry permits. All this in about 3,800,000 square miles. Only the tiny, teeny-ist percentage of us are actually shot or are in shootings. Minuscule, given the vast population and guns. Within this big picture, we have an absolutely, fabulous and amazing track record of safety when you think about it. Liberals would have you think that enormous percentages of the American population are-

   1: blowing their heads off in suicides,

   2: killing off each other in the streets like the Walking Dead,

   3: or we are accidentally destroying tons of children while cleaning our guns.

   4: almost every time someone simply owns a gun,  they wind up dead from their own gun or killing their "uncle."

     No. Not true. No. Shootings, for example in the Democrat-run, severest, gun-control sections of the south side of Chicago, utterly distort the shooting and murder rates of the USA. Just in the last two weekends, ONE HUNDRED criminals were shot there (see below news report). I mention this here because I know Europeans who pick vacations to Canada over the US, just fearing the wild, wild west of guns and violence. Foreign folks read these generic stats, not knowing that a five-square-mile crime zone in Chicago may make quiet Benton, Arkansas seem like a war zone. Or how about ridiculous USA action movies exported around the world? All this plays in the anti-gun, mind game.

     Just owning or using a gun is ever so dangerous? Once again, look at the big picture. 320 million guns, 320 million people. We would have killed off half or more of our population by now. Or more than half, by sheer ownership alone., a very dissecting and unbiased publication reported "chiefly, that a gun is a very efficient means of killing yourself. According to the CDC's National Vital Statistics System, 21, 175 Americans (out of 340 million) committed suicide with firearms in 2013, more than twice as many as used the next most popular suicide method, suffocation"

     Gun suicides, gun crime and gun accidents are an oddity, an anomaly, a rarity in the USA when you consider the big picture of millions, and the billions of small interactions of people and situations every day. There are way more life and death problems in the USA with health issues and car wrecks alone than with guns.

     Yes, bad things still happen. Deaths from cancer. Auto pile-ups on the highways. Heart attacks. Cancer from legal cigarettes sold everywhere. Falls in the bathroom. All the actual, big reasons of massive death in America and other countries too. And yes...people get shot now and then, from situations. A tiny percentage. In all gun training worldwide, not just in the States, along with the live fire basics, it is the gunfight SITUATION that needs to be greater understood and explored. Every gun fight is a trauma and a drama. A story. A legal issue. Not merely a few trigger pulls on a paper target once in awhile. It's war, or crime. And these traumas and dramas can be somewhat replicated and introduced in training (with - brace yourself – oh no – with airsoft, gas guns, or SIMS ammo, whatever) to prep people with various situations. The solution to “internal focus” problems is “external focus” –shooting at moving, thinking people who are shooting back at you in real world environs.

     What instructors can best organize that sort of interactive training, is the next big gun world question and challenge. Many gun range instructors today do not have the creativity to develop these courses, or they feel doing so will destroy the gun range business model and their livelihoods. (This just isn't true, as one will always need live fire training, re-quals and vital re-familarizations.) Numerous stubborn, gun instructors consider anything less than a real firearm as a toy, despite the fact that for more than a decade now, special forces teams have used simulated ammo guns to train for raids, missions and invasions. The same for SWAT, infantry units and the regular police.

     Many attendees do not have the athleticism, the drive or the courage to attend such “active-mobile” courses. (Warning! You will probably "die" a few times in this training, even when following the sage advice from your favorite range master. You still die in the situational chaos). Needless to say, this interactive training is all I teach now- after the range, situation training...or the "external focus" part. The "he-shoots-back-part." It sure changes a lot of stuff.

     Gun collection? Seriously?  People both inside and outside of America (though foreigners just can't seem to grasp the enormity) have to come to the realistic fact that the US government will NEVER be able to collect the preexisting 300 to 320 or more million American guns from hundreds of millions of people covering about 3,800,000 square miles. Run those numbers in your head again. Whether you like the idea or not, it is too late to collect up all the guns. Even if it is tried, it will be horrible on so many levels. Revolutionary. But people with liberal thinking disorders will still suggest, rant and rave about the fairy tale idea of doing so. All their fantasy roads end up in a gun collection nirvana.

     Harvard University's Journal of Law and Public Policy stated, "overall, guns in the United States are used 80 times more often to prevent crime than they are to take lives." Through the years the FBI/Department of Justice have claimed that "about 67% of the time, when a criminal is confronted with a gun (or knife) they leave."

    And finally the big picture. If you are small minded you only see to the tip of your nose. You only see what you see today. History shows, beyond your short nose, that governments and countries collapse. Vicious religions and powers emerge. Good and evil come and go. Times - they change. Horribly.

     If the world does truly fall into revolutionary, religious hell? We here in the States already have that proverbial gun behind that “every blade of grass.” An acute student of world history, politics and war, and a student of the routine stupidity of the humanity race, surely must appreciate this.


 America fears crime increase, but stats prove otherwise 

For second straight week, another 50 shot in Chicago

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Tip Offs He May Attack You

     These last few years, this sort of tip-off information has been such a big deal, and a big selling point for the so-called "reality based" courses. Some younger folks have been considered sheer genius for spouting off these old, classic aspects in seminars as though they were P.H.D.s of some new, modern psychology? But this information is quite old. It was taught to me in the 1970s at police academies. I've collected it all and it is in my teaching outlines since the 90s and in my Training Mission One book published back in 2001.

     Now, I do not want you to over-emphasis this information as some kind of cure. Just read over the list and keep it mind. The list was created and I repeated it here because these events have happened. Many I have seen before dealing with people for 26 years in this upset and angry, drugged or drunk "people business."

     When a person becomes stressed, angry and aggressive, his or her body often has some changes. Here are some of these changes that research, history and experience may be linked to a sudden attack/leap upon you. Many people suggest that in a real fight situation, a person has no time to read this clues. Sometimes, yes, I agree. But, this is not always true. Sometimes, people do have the time to see these tip-offs. Every professional, even every citizen and soldier needs to read this list and at least become aware of these points.

     All fights are situational. Obviously the clues vary from situation to situation and person to person. But, better to know these on the list, than not, or to ignore they even exist.

Head Samples
   His eyes bulge.
   He has that 1000 yard stare.
   He ignores you.
   He squints.
   He assesses your body parts and gear as potential targets.
   His mouth becomes dry.
   His teeth clench.
   His voice changes.
   He actually, clearly voices violent intentions.
   His words become spastic and distracted.
   He twitches.
   His nostrils flare.
   His breathing increases
   He takes one big sudden breath.
   His face color changes, maybe reddens or pales.
   His veins bulge.
   His chin tightens, or drops.
   His neck tightens.
   His jaw juts (dumb but he still does it) 
   He babbles as though his thoughts are not guiding his voice.
   He doesn't babble and vocalizes his plans of attack

Hands and Arms Samples
   His arms swing, maybe with body turns (a big deal & easy cover for a sucker attack)
   His fingers and fists clench (blood leaving the extremities)
   His fingers drum surface tops.
   His hands shake.
   He extends a hand to shake yours. Could be a trick.
   His hands and arms travel to obvious pre-fight postures and positions. He
   positions his hands high on his chest, neck, chin or head. Raises up to
   seemingly innocent, high positions as in a fake head scratch, like a yawn
   or a stretch. Not very obvious pre-fight postures for the novice.

Body Samples
   He raises from seated positions
   He tries to wander
   He gets too close
   His body blades away from you
   He suddenly takes off his shirt, jacket or watch
   He bends at the knees
   He "expands" his chest
   Heel and toe tapping
   Positioning near potential weapons
   He turns away (critical sucker punch set-up)

   I highly suggest you keep adding to this list. The next event - how is he going to fight you? That might be readable too, but that is another essay.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Footwork and Groundwork - Maneuverings!

     Ever been a foot chase? A "foot pursuit?" I have. And with weapons. Numerous times. And it can involve very hairy geographic problems. Being "one with the ground" doesn't have to mean falling face first and loving a ground/road rash. It can mean mentally and physically connecting with the surfaces and surroundings you will have to run on. Same with ground fighting. Real people fight on slanted hillsides, mud, grass, gravel, asphalt, tile and carpet, etc., etc. (I once horizontally fought and choked out a suspect on top of a couch and coffee table - still horizontal, but two feet off the ground, the middle of us in the air.)

   "Lean, mean, hostile, mobile, agile," as the Army told us and services still do is some form or another of advice. “The infantry learns to love the ground!" is another old military expression.  After being on the receiving end of gunfire and lobbed explosives, a ducking troop almost instinctively sees where he can find the best cover. If there is none? He even penetrates the ground with his entrenching tools, or even his fingers will dig down deep, if that is all he has.

    Then as he walks across the next potential hot zone, he reflexively studies the very lay of the land ahead. He doesn't actually "love" the ground in the usual sense. Not really infatuated with it. He just studies it now knowing that even the slightest, natural incline, decline, growth or man-made structure might save his life if ambushed. He also sees where the enemy might be from common sense, training and experience. Like the Infantryman who must learn to love the land, close quarter combat fighters with or without weapons, must learn to see and feel the ground they will do battle on and have the savvy, agility and strength to overcome the variables of weather, surface and space.

     Many think that fighting footwork comes just from the boxing ring, relying on numerous movements like the shuffle-step and the rocker and so forth. All martial arts have some pattern laid out on the floor upon which to dart back and forth upon. I prefer to use the clock as a format for this "ring" part. Nobody forgets the clock.

     But, true consummate trainees also learn to cover air, water and land. Exclusive of parachuting and scuba, for any citizen, enforcement officer or soldier, covering land is done four very generic ways - by crawling, walking, running and leaping, in around, under and over:

        1: urban terrain
        2: suburban terrain
        3: rural terrain (desert, forests, jungle, mountains, etc.)
         (I've never understood the obsession with "urban this-or-that fighting." It is but
         one third of the problem areas.)   

    And study these areas for what reasons? Three, really:    
       1: cover or concealment  (yours or his)
       2: escape
       3: pursuit - chase to catch and, or kill

     These terrains are defined as the outsides and insides of the vast variety of man-made buildings and structures, and in populated, over/under-populated and unpopulated areas. And all this is traversed in differing kinds of weather and lighting.

    Warriors traverse terrain. Nothing replaces running regularly to accomplish this goal. It builds wind, endurance and spirit. Many of my power lifting, more musclebound friends denigrate running, constantly hunting for anti-running articles and news it seems, but I think because they fear a dreaded loss of even an once of precious muscle? The true balance is performance AND / WITH muscle. Covering ground with agility and speed is important for any fighter.

     Experts will say that a regular regimen of jogging and wind sprints are a great combination. Treadmills are nice, but I believe you must run outdoors, and in all kinds of weather, to maximize your potential. Even as I get older and things are breaking down and I use the indoor treadmill more and more, I still believe in this "running in the real world," for active duty personnel and citizens. And of course, eventually, in the training spirit, motto and principle of "reducing the abstract," you must exercise in the very environments of your mission. Customized obstacle courses help hone this goal. Yup, that why the military, police and fire use them. And perhaps the subtle reason why citizens gravitate toward these "Tough Mudder" style races.

Keith Jennings goes airborne at a Spartan Race 

      Combatives movement is an athletic endeavor. Your survival may hinge upon your ability to perform combat footwork. The overall foundation for broad, combat footwork comes from 4 main sources:

    1: Walking and running footwork
    2: Sports footwork  (boxing, kickboxing, and all other common sports) 
    3: Obstacle course footwork
    4: Ground fighting maneuvers and positioning

     And we must add weapons into the topic. There are two categories:

     1: "While-carrying" just means "carrying" weapons - holsters, slung long guns, etc.
     2: "While-holding" just means holding weapons in your hands and arms

  Your overall footwork development includes:

      1: Proper foot wear, socks and foot care

      2: "Jogging"

      3: Wind sprints

      4: Torso, arm and leg strength training for those "climbing" and "leaping" times

      5: Footwork floor patterns

      6: Sport-related footwork practice, such as found in boxing and kickboxing

      7: Obstacle courses

      8: Ground work (the basic ground moves of topside, bottom-side and side-by-side)

      9: All the above done empty-handed and also “while-holding” and "while-carrying" of:
               - edged weapons
               - impact weapons
               - firearms


     Being in better shape will also help you control your heart rate and related, negative, adrenaline problems. Fortune favors the prepared, and agility and speed are vital steps. Fighting footwork itself can be a lot like walking and running, and certainly sports movements like basketball, football, soccer and rugby. Even tennis workouts can improve your footwork. But serious dedicated training must also include movement when carrying weapons.

     You prepare for this by knowing your turf and answering the who, what, where, when and how of your travels.

 - Who? Who will you be chasing? Fittest of the fit? Not? In between?

 - What? What "grounds" will you be traversing?

 - Where? Where will this be? Your work area? You travel area? Where?

 - When? When is your chase? Your run? Weather? Night time?

 - How? How will you handle this specific turf?

 - Why? Why are you even running to or from trouble or, 
    why are you involved and staying in this ground fight?

     I don't think you have to become a Parkour expert - many of us can't - to do work as a survivalist, a soldier/Marine or a cop. Although that would be fine, but even the Parkourist rehearses his or her very specific moves and designed jumps with very specific objects adn equipment. The sport declares that "Parkour includes running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling, quadrupedal movement, and other movements as deemed most suitable for the situation."

     Okay then! It's a hand, stick, knife, gun world, in standing/moving, kneeling/sitting and ground problems stuffed inside the crime-fighting, war-fighting mess. Get and be as fast and agile as you can while carrying and holding the tools you have and need.

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

On Experts, the Term, and the Expertise, Especially with Knife and, or Gun Experts

Just some ramblings on the terms expert, expertise advanced. 

     “It is the quality of the answers to the questions that make anyone an expert, backed by enough time and grade in the subject.”

     Expert or advanced. They can be confusing words to the novice. I get emails everyday from people trying to contact local instructors from our instructor webpage. I quiz them a bit and then send them to the instructors. One odd observation was from a woman who did not want to reach a listed, “advanced” instructor because she was not advanced,

     “I am only a beginner. I need a beginner instructor.”

     What now? She (a regular citizen) completely misread the commonly understood rank listings we all take so for granted. I say “commonly” as in what we insiders inside  “the business” take for granted. I can only imagine what the word “expert” does to some novices? Scares them away? I actually already know what the word expert means to some folks in our business of hands, sticks, knives and guns. Often quite a negative.

     Now this essay is not a personal rant in a debate or revenge. No one of substance has complained about me, to me, about me or you, through me, about anyone or any of this, that usually kicks off a little rant or tirade. I am just thinking about this stuff "out loud" today. Though I do get the occasional email from an idiot, complaining about knife training, claiming things like:

     “No one can be a knife expert,” and...
     “You are a fool because you speak of knife expertise, and...
     "You are fucking clown. You are 100 years too late (to be doing anything with a 
      knife in a gun  world)."
   and so on...etc.

     Oh, and by the way, I have never called myself an expert in anything. Though, I am and have been used as an “expert witness,” on these subjects in court and pre-court, proceedings, but I don’t call myself an expert. I just “know some stuff about stuff.” I know more stuff about certain kinds of stuff than other people. I fall short in a ton of other areas. Tons.

     You can always be an expert in “this or that” subject that “the loudest and/or the most jealous” complainers deem okay. Oddly, for many complainers it's also okay to be a expert or a “Grandmaster” in shooting, as some renown gun schools will dub you after many classes. A Grandmaster of Guns!  Grandmaster of Shotgun. Master of Handgun. Not many really complain about gun grandmasters or masters, or really the term - gun experts. 

     Curiously, coincidentally while writing this, I got my early issue of this month's SWAT magazine and Scott Reitz's article is about gun masters. He articulately dismisses the idea of this kind of master nomenclature with firearms. Everything Scott writes is worth reading, but this was special. I  myself have trouble with the title master and grandmaster. Its a silly term unless its about the card game of bridge, or something. All this supreme, great-great grandmasters...el grando super-supremo- well...anyway. If you use the terms master or grandmaster, you are usually in kind of a real martial artsy mindset and world. Most people in the real world of fighting crime and war won't use those terms. Scott Reitz goes on to explain that when you are a real veteran, you understand just how incredibly situational each fight is, and how easily you can fail or lose.The word "luck" comes to mind, too.
     BUT, to some, using the word “expert” in various other fighting categories is a bloated and hideous mistake and such a weak, egotistical, character flaw. This is especially true with knife training. Using the term expert with the knife subject, or even the term “expertise,” seems to rub some sensitive skin the wrong way.  They will belittle some martial arts grandmaster, but some may bow and dribble from the mouth at a gun grandmaster.

     But back to the more diverse, ubiquitous, English language term -  expert! Expert defined simply in our society:

A person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; a specialist; an authority.”

“Military - the highest rating in rifle marksmanship, above that of marksman and sharpshooter, or a person who has achieved such a rating.”

“Possessing special skill or knowledge; trained by practice; skillful or skilled.”

     In the...“community” or inside many other "communities," you have to survive a good...what? Solid ten years on a subject to be considered an expert. Is ten years some magic number? No, not really, it just seems to be tossed out there for a vague, generalization. A suggestion.

     Ten years of study and work or not, there are indeed some Neanderthals out there think that all knife training consists of absolutely nothing more than...

“...sticking the pointy end of the knife into the other guy.”  

     HA, ha. Well, yes. Yes, it does, Fred Flintsone, in the most caveman sense. But like shooting a bullet into another person? That all you need for firearms training too? “Put the pointy end of the bullet into the other guy?” The same Freds who say that about knife expertise are often the same ones who shoot firearms thousands of hours to improve those skills. They are often the very same Freds that yak on endlessly about gun minutia, travel afar to complete this or that course from this or that “gun god,” all just to stick that pointy end of a bullet into the other guy?  And yet with knives, then they want you to just stick the pointy end in someone, sans ANY and all training on the subject. "That's all you need!"



     Some Freds declare you can’t call yourself a knife expert, or be called one, unless you’ve been,

     a) in a knife fight, and, or,
     b) stabbed, slashed and killed someone with a knife.

      Not the same standard for guns though when you declare someone a gun master or a gun expert, huh? You don’t have to shoot and, or kill someone to be a gun expert or Grand-Pobah. Gun experts aren’t run through those same deadly, experience standards.  

     You can, of course attain an expert ranking in firearms in the military, (or certainly gun courses) having never actually shot or killed anyone, and your military (or police) firearms medals sit proudly in your mental or physical shadow box, and your gun school certificates hang on your mental or physical wall. “Qualified Expert.” “Qualified Master,” etc.

     There are actually many facets to fighting with a gun. Many that justifies much work and skill development surrounding the simple, mechanical use of the "pointy end rule.". The same is true with a knife. There are important things to consider and learn with a gun and with a knife. 

For example, just with a knife there are:
- The whole pre-fight problem-thing
- Threats/verbal skills
- Carry sites on the body, and just off the body
- Stress quick draws, standing, kneeling, sitting, ground
- Saber or reverse grip.
- Right hand grip. Left hand grip.
- Fighting while standing, kneeling/sitting, ground.
- Dodging, evading, blocking skills
- Support footwork “while holding a knife”
- Ground maneuvers “while holding”
- The stab. The slash.
- Support strikes and kicks -“while holding” a knife
- Target knowledge.
- Legal issues.
- Various environments.
- Less than lethal knife options
- Various tricks of the criminal and the enemy soldier.
- Take downs while holding a knife.
- Dealing with opponent's arms
- The thick "art" of dueling." (Not unlike boxing? Stick fighting?)
- Your knife vs. unarmed attackers
- Your knife vs. stick attackers
- Your knife vs. knife attackers
- Your knife vs. some gun threats
- Your knife vs. multiple people with multiple weapons
- Overall, physical savvy, athleticism, mojo (all while holding a knife)

 All bit more involved than the Fred Flintstone remark of - "just sticking the pointy end in." 
      But, I digressed to the knife, I want to get back on the generic, "name/title/expert" subject. So, you can be an expert in fixing cars, or making quilts, fitness, bowling and cooking, praying, just not in fighting and certain kinds of fighting? Like knife fighting? As with guns and knives - if you are going to do something, you learn all the good stuff about the tool and work on those things. I think the practice of attaining various titles of progression run alongside a human brings desire to grow, learn and keep track of this process. In ANYTHING! I mean ANY subject. Look at colleges and degrees. Look at the professional world with things like “plumber journeyman, tradesman welder, etc” titles. Military rank! Need I go on with this? 

     We are completely surrounded by educational achievements and titles. Completely. It is what makes the human race tick along. I mean, if you are a complete monk, floating in a state of Nirvana, then you don’t need any of these markings or tattoos. Then, bully, bully for you! But you know, even the Dali Llama likes his title. Mother Teresa liked hers. And then there’s sainthood, you know. A jury of saints don’t pick saints. Non, sainted, religious ...“experts” do.

     I consider, say…someone like Dwight McClemore a Bowie knife expert, because he has held, worked on and with, bonded with and researched the Bowie/Big Knife for decades. Ask him any question about any aspect on the Bowie use and history. He has numerous applauded books and films. He knows stuff. He knows so much stuff, he is an expert.

Dwight looks hard at a knife 


L.A.P.D. SWAT retired Scott Reitz 

      I would say that retired L.A.P.D. Scott Reitz is an expert in shooting combatives. Plank member of L.A.P.D. SWAT!  I would call Paul Howe an expert in military shooting, Etc.



"Blawkhawk Down," Delta Force Paul Howe 

     Can anyone say Massad Ayoob isn't an expert in guns and legal issues? It's something he has investigated, lectured and written about for ages. For decades. There are more and a few of the modern, pop teachers that might be on your list and might not be on mine, but in every field of endeavor, we rely on the experts like these folks to pass info and things on.

     It seems like on an esoteric level, but one ironic measure, an expert is someone who does not call himself one! How’s that for a Zen riddle. This can be very hard if you are putting a professional resume together and you want to teach or testify on hands, sticks, knives, guns, tanks or missiles or whatever. Without promoting yourself as having some expertise on subjects, you’ll be unemployed, starving and cobbling shoes to eat. The field you are so smart, wise and skilled in, cannot be spread. You are wasted. Wasted because you are busy making donuts or filling a shoe order by morning and have to cancel teaching. Wasted unless you advertise. Wasted unless you advertise properly. 

     Advertising is such a tightrope, a thin line to get jobs and not cross over. You cannot appear braggadocios, or exaggerating. A tightrope I tell you! I have always believed in the old military phrase "the quiet professional," but at some point you have eat food and have a home too. Could luck with that tightrope. Its a challenge to maintain your self respect, respect of your community and eat a steak once in awhile.

      Inside this dilemma of titles is where we often see the somewhat more acceptable term of “subject matter expert.” Some very professional and military worlds use the term, “subject matter expert.” This is also quite universal in many other fields, too. And ordinarily, acceptable lingo. To function as a professional, advertised expert, subject matter expert, expert witness, or master, or grandmaster, you have to deal with factions of people/customers. Beginners, advanced, other veterans in the field (other experts) and finally your own self - your only integrity. The bloody mirror of integrity. Can you somehow advertise these titles and make all of these factions happy?  Can you answer these "who, what, when, where, how and why" questions?

Who?  Who are you really and who are you advertising too?
What? What are you saying? What will all these factions of people think?
Where? Where have you trained? Where have you taught? To get such credentials?
When? When have you done these things?
How? How have you done these things? Hands-on? Book-learning?
Why? Why are you teaching? Money? Ego? Altruism? All of the above?
In the end it is a classic "totality of circumstances" thing, as defined by these questions.

     Answering these questions for myself, and on knives, I have been seriously messing around with knives since about 1986. Shooting since 1969 but officially/seriously since the 1970s starting in the Army. I find target shooting as hollow as just hitting a heavy bag. Got to do both, but its hollow. Many actually say, I might add, that I have written the best book about “knife fighting” out there. I have investigated hundreds of knife murders and assaults my own self, and have been schooled in hundreds more, by forensic e-x-p-e-r-t-s (there’s that word again!).

     Yet, still, I do not consider or call myself a “Knife Expert,” or a "Gun Expert."  Nor do I call myself one in public. While I have some detectable altruism, I also still need money to keep to this operation afloat. The conflicting pressures always exist in this monster I have created for myself. My secret dream of being the consummate, "quiet professional," is rather lost. Most of all, I still like exploring tactics and moves. I don't like the teaching part so much. Teaching seems to be a by-product, a release of my obsession about tactics and moves. Making money teaching affords me the time for my selfish endeavors of filtering through more and more tactics and moves. The vicious cycle perpetuates and boom! Your face is on a cover or a billboard, and you are no longer..."quiet."

     So, to finish these ramblings out, and I thank you for patience to get this far, I like to repeat the aforementioned phrase to the definition of expert or subject matter expert, that I started this essay out with - 

“It is the quality of the answers to the questions that make anyone an 
expert, backed by enough time and grade investigating the subject.”

     And very, very loosely, I like the general, ten-year immersion period on a subject as a generic marker. A starting point for evaluation? There are exceptions to this time of course, as with everything, but “round-about” ten years might make for a good marker. Otherwise one can argue for themselves that they are geniuses after 2 years. This claim could be true, but will be reviewed by…well…you know…other...e-x-p-e-r-t-s.

     In fact all your expert answers? They are, in the end, viewed by other experts. The peer review. And who in hell are they, anyway! Who do THEY think they are! Smug expert bastards!

     And the Zen riddle continues.

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