Thursday, December 30, 2010

More history I should have known

By Carl Cestari

DEFENDU is a complete method of armed and unarmed Close-Quarters Combat. The foundation of the DEFENDU method is rooted in the harsh and brutal realities of real world violence. The origin and development of this method rests in great part with the famed Lt. Colonel William Ewart Fairbairn.


Fairbairn's experience is unparalleled in the annuals of close combat. As a teenager Fairbairn enlisted with the British Royal Marines. During his tour of duty he successfully competed in and developed new methods for bayonet fighting, for which annual international military competitions were held. He also served as part of the legation guard for the British Consul in Seoul, Korea. After his discharge from the Royal Marines, Fairbairn made his way to Shanghai, China and joined the Shanghai Municipal Police force of the International Settlement.

Shanghai during this period was considered by most authorities to be the roughest police beat in the world. The International Settlement was an open "port" city that was rife with every imaginable criminal activity and vice. Tong wars, dope smuggling, murder for hire, political assassination, prostitution, kidnapping, and a host of other underworld endeavors made Shanghai one of the most dangerous places in the world.

It was this violent and deadly environment that forced W.E. Fairbairn to develop effective and practical methods of survival. Fairbairn had always been considered by his peers to be a "good man in a dust-up" or brawl. His record established the fact that he was already a rough customer in close combat in bayonet fighting while with the British Royal Marines. In Shanghai however, the odds against him proved greater. While on routine foot patrol assigned to one of the notorious "Red light" districts of Shanghai waterfront he fell afoul of a group of Tong members. The Chinese Tong and their infamous "Hatchet-men" were legend for their brutal and lethal manner of dealing with any opposition. Fairbairn was overpowered, severely beaten, and left for dead.

After a fairly lengthy recovery, Fairbairn was directed to the services of Professor Okada, a Japanese Jujutsu expert & bonesetter teaching in Shanghai, and at one time, personal instructor to the Emperor of Japan. Prof. Okada's school was situated in a dirty alley down which Fairbairn passed for the next 3 1/2 years every day. Fairbairn entered into his new found passion completely, determined to never again suffer a similar fate, in great part because he realized the next time he may not be so fortunate.

In the years that followed he studied and became proficient in Chinese systems under the direction of Tsai Ching Tung, who at one time was employed at the Imperial Palace, Peking, as an Instructor to the Retainers of the late Dowager Empress. In 1918 Fairbairn applied for entrance to and was accepted by the Kodokan Judo University in Tokyo. Fairbairn received a 3rd degree brown belt in January 1919, a 1st degree black belt in February 1926 and a 2nd degree black belt in February 1931. Fairbairn's certificates are signed by Jigoro Kano.

Throughout his over thirty year career with S.M.P., Fairbairn not only made an in depth study of almost every known form of close-combat, but was also able to test these methods in actual combat against determined and often armed criminals who would rather kill an officer and make good an escape than be captured and face almost certain execution.

Fairbairn rose through the ranks and was charged with the duty of instructing firearms and hand-to-hand combat. He revised completely the firearms training previously employed and instituted a method, which reflected actual conditions of real gun-fighting. In 1920, Fairbairn took an extended leave, during which time he was attached as a captain to the New York City Police Department for a ten-week period of observation. During this period he participated in everything from routine patrol duty to major gambling raids, in order to absorb as much as he could.

His innovations in unarmed combat were taught not only to the nine thousand (9000) officers of the Shanghai Police, but also the famed 4th Marine Regiment known as the "China" Marines. He founded, developed, trained, and headed the Shanghai Riot Squad called the Reserve Unit (RU). This was the first ever Special Weapons & Tactics Unit, and served as the prototype for today's S.W.A.T., and S.R.T. teams. Along with his friend and colleague Eric Anthony Sykes (reserve officer in the S.M.P. chief of the Riot Squad Sniper unit, and later Major with the British Army assigned as close-combat instructor for the Commandos and Special Operation), and then Lieutenant Samuel Yeaton (U.S.M.C.), Fairbairn began work on the prototypes of what would become the most famous combat knife in the world, the F/S fighting knife.

Fairbairn's career with the S.M.P. came to a close in 1940. He retired with the rank of Assistant Commissioner. During his tenure of over three decades he had been involved with hundreds upon hundreds of violent clashes between Mao Tse Tungs communist "Red" army and Chiang Kai Shek's "Kumontong" forces. He had seen the invasion of China by the Japanese and the bloody and brutal siege of Shanghai and the surrounding provinces by the Imperial Japanese Army. He had worked closely with the S.M.P. "Special Branch"; an intelligence gathering unit that operated covertly throughout Shanghai. It was with this tremendous amount of experience and real-world savvy that Fairbairn would enter into the next phase of his life.

Fairbairn returned to England in 1940. England was at war with Nazi Germany and was hanging on by a thread. The devastation of Dunkirk, and North Africa, and soon to be felt defeat in the Far East by Japanese forces, would render Great Britain almost incapable of fighting a conventional war. It was the genius and steely resolve of Sir Winston Churchill that would pave the way for W.E. Fairbairn to once again put his talents and knowledge to excellent use.

Churchill's declaration to "set Europe ablaze" was the war cry of the neophyte covert and Special Forces operations that would strike at the Nazi forces with daring and deadly speed, guile, and audacity. Fairbairn was tasked with the responsibility of turning these men into deadly foes at Close-quarters.

Fairbairn and Sykes, as well as other former Shanghai Police officers who were likewise expert in Fairbairn's methods were assigned as instructors to various elite forces and covert intelligence units. These included the numerous Commando units, Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6), Special Operations Executive (SOE), Royal Marines, and the "Paras", as well as giving special instruction to the British Home Guard. Fairbairn and Sykes taught not only unarmed combat, and small arms, but devised a number of nasty methods for dealing with an enemy which were classified under the heading of "Silent Killing".

In March 1942, Fairbairn was ordered to temporary duty, assigned to Canada, where at the behest of the BSC (British Security Co-ordinator) he taught his methods to covert operatives at Camp X, [also know as Special Training School No. 103]. While Fairbairn was at Camp X, Sykes remained in England engaged as a supervisor to SOE personnel engaged in underground action, sabotage, espionage, and assassination in German occupied Europe.

Soon after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States entry into the war against the axis powers, Fairbairn was engaged in instructing U.S. personnel at a secret training camp in Maryland, known as Area B (some suggest that was already taking place before the official declaration of war). This camp was one of several "schools" that were set up to train covert operatives assigned to the Office of Strategic Services. For a time Fairbairn divided his schedule between Camp X, and Area B in Maryland. Soon, however, the O.S.S. would have him full time.

Fairbairn's contributions to the field of close combat are numerous. Virtually every allied military force adopted his methods. These included the U.S. Army Special Forces, Army Rangers, Paratroopers, Marine Raiders & Scouts, (ONI) Office of Naval Intelligence, (CIC) Counter Intelligence Corps), (MID) Military Intelligence Division and the First Special Service Force, also know as the "Devil's Brigade" or "Black Devil's", (taught by former S.M.P. Detective Sergeant and Fairbairn's protégé (Capt. Dermot M. "Pat" O'Neill).

Another driving force in close combat during this period was Fairbairn's U.S. counterpart Colonel Rex Applegate. Col. Applegate was given the specific job of learning all there was to learn about close-quarter combat. Col. Applegate is responsible for numerous innovations in all fields of Close Combat, armed and unarmed. His work at the Military Intelligence Training Center (MITC) which adjoined Area B is legend.

As the war ended, Fairbairn was 60 years of age. In the mid-1950's, he found himself in Singapore, employed by the Singapore Police to create a riot squad. In 1956, at the age of 71 he was employed in Cyprus, by the Cyprus Police, teaching riot work, point shooting, authoring a riot manual, and developing a bulletproof shield he called the "STONE". It was also while working in Cyprus, that Fairbairn introduced a new knife that he had been working on for sometime, to be used for riot work. Fairbairn called his new knife the "COBRA" fighting knife. His interest in this weapon, and the system of knife fighting it supported, continued after he left Cyprus, and returned to England, and occupied his time up until his death. William Ewart Fairbairn died at his home in England on June 20th, 1960.

To put it simply, Fairbairn's methods worked. His system of unarmed combat made it possible for a person of average strength and skills to meet and win against a highly trained opponent in the martial arts. His unparalleled experience with knife attacks and attacks with blunt instruments, unlikely to be duplicated in this day and age, proved a sound basis for instruction in the use of or defense against edged weapons, batons and clubs. His theories of close-quarter use of the gun represent the first systematic approach to combat pistol-craft ever devised, and remains valid to this very day. The same may be said for his riot work, his concepts of countersniping, and his development of the police role in urban combat.

WWII was the Zenith of all methods of Close-Quarters Combat. The contributions made by these men are of enormous value to us today. Methods of close combat that were battle tested and have been proven effective under conditions of actual combat are obviously of great importance to anyone seeking realistic and effective training in personal combat.

The DEFENDU method is an effective & battle proven system of Close-Quarters Combat.
It is NOT a "Martial-Art", it is NOT a "Sport", it is NOT for amusement or recreation!
By Carl Cestari

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What do I call, what I do?

Rory Miller has been blogging about martial art.  Specifically is what he teaches still considered martial art.  For the most part I felt that yes what he teaches (hope I don’t come off as arrogant when I say what I teach) is martial art.  That was until about half an hour ago.  My wife made a nice dinner, I’m still on Christmas vacation so I decided I should go buy a cigar to enjoy.  So I head down to the strip mall to the local tobacco shop.  I pick up a couple gurkhas.  I notice that the “martial art” school a few doors down is all lit up.  So I have to go take a peek.  It’s filled with little kids wearing gi’s punching and kicking the air.  Basically dare care in kimonos.  No different than the soccer, or dance classes my daughter is in. 
If that is martial arts, I don’t teach martial art
So what do I teach?  Martial sport?  No, I feel most martial sports will develop bad habits and glitches that will cause critical failures in actual confrontation.  Now don’t get me wrong, I feel everyone should get some tournament experience.  There are things you can’t learn about yourself without competition.  However, I also feel that the sport aspects of martial arts have been so over emphasized as to ruin the art itself.  Every martial sport started as a training drill designed to work one aspect of an art.  Over time the need for the combat aspects of the art dwindles and all the training revolved around winning the drill or game.  A saying I often borrow from Rory is that quality martial art should kill or maim your opponent.  In order not to kill or maim your partner something artificial has to be introduced.  Drills have rules.  When all that is left of an art is sport / games based on drills of one small aspect, then most of what is left is artificial.  See also, most of the good stuff is lost.  Traditional Jujutsu is a solid complete art.  Most good Jujutsu is gone.  Sport Judo, sport Karate, and Aikido for personal / spiritual development is all that remains. 
So, do I teach Koryu or traditional (before the Meji restoration circa 1886) martial arts?  No, sadly most Koryu guys I’ve encountered spend more time fighting over which school has the most legitimate heritage or the proper translation of Japanese terms that actually fighting.  However, everyone should get some traditional training.  Koryu arts contain the good stuff that sport arts have lost.  The challenge is in getting past the dogma, and learning the good stuff in less than 20 years.
What I teach has to be practical and simple. 
An individual can test the efficacy of any combat method (martial art) by asking himself this simple question “Will this work so I can use it instinctively in vital combat against an opponent who is determined to prevent me from doing so, and is striving eliminate me through means fair or foul?” - Paraphrased from Col. Rex Applegate’s “Kill or be killed” written in 1943:

So do I teach RBSD (reality based self defense) that emphasizes WWII hand to hand combatives?  Well, yes to some extent.  However, just as the good stuff of Koryu training is lost with the emphasis on sport.  The good stuff of Sykes / Applegate combatives is lost with the emphasis on “lethal” techniques as the simple solution to a problem you are likely never to face ( see previous blog on commando wanna be’s, or Marc MacYoung’s blog on the super bowl of violence).  Preying on the fear or fulfilling the fantasy of the uninformed is not martial art or RSBD.  That is martial business, no different from a fad diet.  Take this magic pill and you will get ripped without changing your diet of lifestyle.  Take this weekend seminar (only $1000) and you will become a dangerous antagonist who “fears no man” without training on a regular basis or changing your lifestyle.
You may be asking ok tough guy, we get what you don’t teach so what do you teach?
Fair question, I teach the legal and ethical implications of violence, avoidance, escape and evasion, violence dynamics, de-escalation, and counter ambush tactics.  I teach the good stuff of old Jujutsu.  I teach drills which emphasize small portions of the whole without developing bad habits or glitches.  I teach simple fundamentals that can be used instinctively in vital combat against an opponent who is determined to prevent you from doing so by any means possible.
So if not martial art, what do you call it?
The Japanese term I use is Taihojutsu
Tai: Body - Ho:  Control - Jutsu: Technique. Simply defined, Taiho Jutsu means control techniques.
A better definition of what I teach is Close Quarters Control Tactics.  Throughout history in times of peace or war professionals have had to control dangerous people to protect the rest of society.  Whether or not Close Quarters Control Tactics is martial art is a moot point.  I won’t change the definition of what I teach.  What I teach (what Rory, Mark and Steve teach)is martial art.  All I can do is strive to change the perception of what martial art is.   

Sunday, December 19, 2010

An open letter to the Ostriches

On Saturday we had a great class.  The day before, the tactical knives I ordered finally arrived (that story is a whole another blog in itself, but stay tuned for a product review of the CRKT Hissatsu).  I wanted to rig the hissatsu sheath onto my SWAT vest and work with the training knife before I presented the edged weapon training to the team.  In order to do this I had to stop by the police department and pick up my gear on the way to the Dojo.  At the police department one of the guys asked what I was doing there.  I explained the training I developed for that day.  He asked to see the knife.  This officer started touching the blade with his grubby fingers. (A big no no if you know anything about handling swords).  I warned him that the blade is very sharp and that I don’t want the oils from his fingers on the blade as that could cause imperfections.  A state trooper overheard the conversation and found it hard to imagine that I was training on a day off with edged weapons.  She asked me if I was obsessed with death.
 Remember that scene in “The Terminator” when someone knocks on his hotel room door?  Through the Terminators eyes you see a pop up screen of all the possible responses.  He scrolls down through them and chooses “Fuck you asshole”. 
Well, when this trooper asked me that question in a way that implied that anyone who would train without getting paid for it, or train in close quarters combat must have a mental disorder and be obsessed with death I had several responses pop up in my brain.  I scrolled down to;
Save your breath she doesn’t speak your language anyways. 

You see that trooper doesn’t speak professional, or warrior.  She speaks ostrich.

In case you failed 8th grade biology an Ostrich is a large flightless bird famous for burying its head in the sand as a “survival mechanism”.  Ostriches say things like, “That will never happen here.”  “That will never happen to me”.  “I’m special”  “My 8 hours of PPCT training a year, and once a year firearms qualification will assure that I prevail."  "The bare minimum training will overcome the fact the I’m a 5’ 03” over weight out of shape female in a violent confrontation with a criminal.”  

Ostriches believe that if they can’t see violence or death, then violence and death can’t see them.  They tend to gloss over facts like more law enforcement officers were assassinated, not just died in service but were murdered in 2010 than in any other year in recent history.
Rory Miller writes about the Lizard brain.  The lizard brain believes in myth and ritual.  If burying your head in the sand so death can’t see you has prevented you from dying your lizard brain becomes convinced that burying your head in the sand is powerful magic that keeps death away.  It is very hard to change the lizard’s mind.  The lizard has been 100% successful with this technique throughout its life.  God help the little lizard that lives in the Ostrich’s brain when it finds out the hard way that death can see your ass hanging in the air while your head is buried in the sand.
Ostriches are mediocre at best.  They meet the minimum standards so as not to get fired.  But they do have their pride.  So as to not see themselves as mediocre they have to view anyone who strives for exceptionalism  as crazy, or obsessed with death.
"Out of every 100 men, 10 should not be there, 80 are nothing but targets, and 9 are the real fighters and we are blessed to have them, for they the battle make. Ah, but one, ONE of them is a warrior, and he will bring the others home." -Heraclitus 500BC.

Ostriches in warrior professions seek out positions where the reality of death and violence are the least likely to bite them on the ass.  Thus, proving to their lizard brain that the magic of head burying still works.  You’ll see a lot of Ostriches in administration or day shifts making as little contact with public as possible.
So does Trooper Ostrich have a point?  I’m pissed that she thinks I’m obsessed with death then in the next sentence I write how my brain reacts in a similar fashion to a fictional killing machine J
So am I obsessed with death?
·         I have chosen a profession where I may be called upon to kill.
·         I train hard to be exceptional in the means of killing should the need arise.

“I’m the best there is at what I do.  Sometimes what I do isn’t very nice”
 – James (Logan) Howlett  AKA Wolverine

Ok, so I’m very good at not being very nice, does that make me obsessed with death?  It might. 

However, if anything I’d say I’m “obsessed” with life.

The Yagyu Shinkage Ryu (Yagyu family new shadow style - sexy right?) forms the basis of Aiki Kenjutsu and the “sacred geometry” I’ve blogged about before.

Fundamental motions that have stood the test of time and are the foundation for everything I teach
The Yagyu were the Tokugawa shoguns’ personal instructors in swordsmanship. Arguably the best sword fighters (see also close quarter combat specialists) of their time. 
The motto of these masters was; Katsujinken Satsujinken
“The sword which kills is the sword which gives life.”
Or  more explicitly translated  in English as “The sword which cuts down evil is the sword which preserves life.”
So yes I may be obsessed with death.  But my obsession keeps my killing sword sharp and free of imperfections so that it can be used to give life.
So to all the Ostriches (10 / 100 that shouldn’t be in the profession and the 80 / 100 that are just targets / victims) I write this:
At 0500 you can be snug in your warm bed because the warrior the, 1 / 100, the 1%er will be up training on his / her own time.  You can work the day shifts avoiding interaction with the public (God forbid you come across a criminal) the 1 % will be working nights weekends, holidays and special assignments.  The 1 %er would prefer you to stay out of the way anyway.  Then on that day when your head is buried in the sand and the wolf is sneaking up to bite you on the ass  the 1%er will be there to tear it’s head off and bring you and the other 99% back home.  The 1%er may not talk to you.  Not because the 1%er thinks he / she is better than you (They know they are better than you) but because you don’t speak the same language.  As strange as the 1%er seems to you, you seem even stranger to him.  A 1%er simply can’t understand how anyone would not strive to be the best there is at what they do.  Much less anyone who has chosen a profession where their life, the life of their coworkers, and the lives of the people they have sworn to protect depends on your skill (on your obsession with death)  1%ers are elite but not elitist.  They don’t talk to you because you simply won’t understand what they have to say.  If you want to start a conversation with one, maybe start with thank you.
If instead of thank you, you try to justify your own mediocrity by demeaning the 1%.  If you ever dare criticize the 1% to make your weakness seem normal and the 1% freaks obsessed with death I’d remind you of the words of President Theodor Roosevelt
It’s not the critic that counts.  It’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.  Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.  Who strives valiantly.  Who errors , who comes up short again and again.  Who in the end knows the triumph of high achievement and at worst, if he fails at least he fails while daring greatly so his place will never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither defeat or victory.
Your welcome,


Train Hard – Train Real – Be Safe

"Hasta la vista - Baby"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Unintended consequences

If you are developing a drill, exercise, or scenario to train a specific objective (your goal) be sure that you are not also ingraining unwanted behaviors.

Ok, so what do I mean?  Remember SMAKED? Several Minutes of Ass Kicking Every Day.  The premise is that small habits repeated daily will ingrain quality combat responses under stress.  If that premise is true (which I have found it to be) then it is also true that small bad habits will be ingrained as well.

To illustrate this point a story.  For some reason I’m not sure of, I think it was because of a Batman movie, I got into the habit of twisting my hand on the steering wheel every time I pushed on the gas.  Like pretending my hand was what was making the car go faster (small habit repeated daily).  While cross training in Goju Ryu Karate we were working on mae geri (basic front thrust kick).  The form I was taught was to curl your toes back pushing the ball of your foot forward (striking with the ball of your foot) That motion is similar to pushing on the gas.  Guess what?  Every time I kicked I twisted my wrist for no reason.  Sensei came by and asked why I was doing that.  I asked doing what?  I didn’t even know I was doing it.  Sensei came by again later and told me to stop doing that.  I told him I understand what I’m supposed to do, I agree with it, but my hand keeps doing this with out my permission.  The next day, while driving I noticed the silly bat mobile stuff I was doing and bells went off.  I changed driving like that and after consciously training to keep my hand straight I could finally do it.  Point of the story is that small habits repeated daily will DEEPLY ingrain responses either good or bad.

So when you develop training you have to check your method for unintended consequences.  One of the most startling examples of this comes from Law Enforcement fire arms training.  Shooting is fun.  Cleaning up brass (spent casings) sucks.  So range officers would have students empty their brass into their hands and put the brass in their pockets.  Sadly it took too many dead cops with pockets full brass for law enforcement trainers to realize that lazy range habits were unintentionally training cops to fail in combat (see also die).

I see this in martial arts all the time.  Students are taught to kick with their hands at their side “for Balance”.  Then, at black belt level (if ever) after they have better balance they are finally taught to keep their head protected while they kick.  Like magically the habits they have ingrained from day one through several years until they are black belts will disappear and be instantly replaced by better habits.  Sadly I see a lot of black belts trained in this method get their head taken off in friendly sparring.  You can imagine what would happen in a violent real world encounter.

So before you introduce a training method make sure you have a clear overall training goal.  Then be sure every part of the drill helps to achieve that overall training goal.  Review your existing methods and search for flaws.  Don’t let lazy Dojo habits unintentionally train your students (and yourself) to fail in combat (see also die).

Train hard – train real – be safe

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reality Based Scenarios

The majority of Thursday’s SWAT training was reality based scenario training.  Scenario training can be a fantastic tool.  
 - "Josephus observes that the Romans 'do not wait for war to begin before handling their arms, nor do they sit idle in peacetime and take action only when the emergency comes – but as if born ready armed they never have a truce from training or wait for war to be declared. Their battle-drills are no different from the real thing; every man works as hard at his daily training as if he was on active service. That is why they stand up so easily to the strain of battle: no indiscipline dislodges them from their regular formation, no panic incapacitates them, no toil wears them out; so victory over men not so trained follows as a matter of course. It would not be far from the truth to call their drills bloodless battles, their battles bloody drills.'” Josephus, The Jewish War, 194-5 (III)
If you are going to incorporate scenario training into your repertoire (Train as Romans do) there are a couple things to consider. 
You want to make the training as real as can be safely done.  To do it right you will need to spend at least three hours of preparation  for every hour of training.  The first part of preparation is the development of the scenarios.  I like to start with a few clear training objectives and then work  from there.   What situation would illicit the response we are training for?  Situations the trainees are likely to face – train for what happens most and you can handle most of what happens.
It doesn’t make sense to have SWAT teams run women’s self defense - social violence to set up asocial violence(charm predator) drills.  Nor does it make sense to have suburban moms train high risk narcotic search warrant raids.  If the RBS training being sold to you has you doing commando raids and killing with your bare hands the instructor is playing of the fears of the insecure and offering fantasy fulfillment for profit. (See Marc’s blog the super bowl of violence) That’s not training that’s fantasy role playing.  If you are playing make believe with a scenario that will most likely never happen whether it be commando tactics or a light saber battle with an ork, they are both equally just LARP (live action role playing or dungeons and dragons)

 Develop a core of good scenarios you can adapt to specific training (change as circumstances / logistics / students dictate).  Writing scenarios can be very difficult.  If you were good at writing stories you would probably be getting paid to write stories.  I’m a pretty creative guy but like most good Operators I cheat.  I take calls I’ve been on or situations other teams have encountered that could have ended better and use those as the basis of the scenario.  I also take the “Law and Order” approach.  No I don’t make lame watered down copies if something that was good 15 years agoJ.  I steal scenarios from the headlines.  Truth is better than fiction.
LOGISTICS!  So everything so far has basically been creative writing.  Reality based scenario (RBS) training is like a play.  In order to turn your story  in to a production you will need:
Location – stage
Role Player – actors
Equipment – props
Safety Officer – Director
Trainees – Audience (well an interactive audience like video game players)

Location:  You can modify your regular training location (Dojo) for scenario training.  You can use folding chairs and card tables to create bars, restaurants, living rooms, bed rooms etc.  You can use the Dojo parking lot and the trainee’s own cars for a variety of different scenarios.  If you are just starting with scenario training this is a good a way to start.  Public parks are also excellent and free training locations and also incorporate environmental training (so try to do this once every season both day and night ).  That way your students can work fundamentals against random problems in all weather, terrain and light conditions.
 After you have done dojo scenarios, environmental training, and have gained experience in running scenarios you may want to go off site.  Contact a local business (bar, hotel, warehouse, ect…)or a realtor may have an abandoned property you can use.  This kind of training is fun and very productive but it is also the most difficult to set up.  Even SWAT teams, Police Departments, and Fire Departments have trouble setting this up and are constantly looking for new “cop friendly” locations to train.
[Side note anyone reading this in the greater Minneapolis / St. Paul metropolitan area who has a location I can use for training please contact me]
If you do find a location
Have a waiver signed by all holding you and the property owner free of liability for any injuries
Go through the property with the owner.  Detail what you would like to do and make sure that is cool with the owner.  This is also why it’s important to have your scenarios developed beforehand.  When you walk through with the owner, you can also “scout” the location for training.  What I mean by that is you can figure out how to use the location to illicit the training effects you want.  You don’t want the first time you see the location to be 1 minute before the scenarios starts (the 1st time the trainees see it).  It’s hard to scare someone with a haunted house if you don’t set it up ahead of time.  Also on your scout make sure the property is safe to train in.  Check for exposed nails, broken glass, rotten floors, mold etc.
Only do those things you agreed to do with the owner.  Example if you said you were going to use airsoft but use sims and leave paint on the walls or break stuff you look like an asshole, have to pay for damages, and will likely never be able to use that location again.  Always leaving the training site cleaner than you found it.  Also always send a thank you letter on official letter head worthy of display to the owner after training.  Develop good relationships with people who are willing to let you train on their property.
If any of your training can be seen by the public have signs up that read something like attention/ warning (name of school / organization ) training in progress please stay back.  This way you get free advertising for your school, and don’t have people calling the police on you.  Speaking of…
Notify the police.   Call your local non emergency number.  Tell them that on this day, at this time, you will be conducting self defense training.  Tell them you are posting signs to prevent 911 calls and invite your local PD to attend and watch.
Along those lines, be sure any training weapons you use are clearly and easily distinguishable from the real deal.  Law enforcement industry standard is training weapons are blue or red (neon works too).  Everything else about your training weapons should be as real as possible, as close to the weapons you actually carry as possible.  So if you don't carry weapons on a regular basis you have to solve the scenario with out them.  What good does it do to learn combat handgun tactics if you never carry a hand gun? 

Role Players:
In my opinion Role Players can really make or break RBS training.  I am very blessed that a have a crew of highly trained  (brown belt or higher in Aikido / Jujutsu and One On One Control Tactics Instructors)smart (doctors, engineers, scientists) and dedicated (they put up with me J and the high standards I keep)role players.  They have been working with me and my SWAT team for 5 years and I couldn’t do a lot of things I do without them.  They are the ideal.  I will explain why quality role players are so valued with examples of how “bad” role players can ruin all the hard work it takes to set up scenario training.
At Skills (the Minnesota version of a Police Academy) the last exercise before graduation was a big scenario.  The flaw was that the role players(bad guys) were students from the skills class in Hibbing MN.  The role players weren’t interested in training to make the Mankato class better future cops they wanted to “win the scenario”  You ever play cops and robbers or GIJoe as a kid? (If kids played those games today they would be put into therapy for being violent J )  Remember the kid that when he was shot he would never die?  He would call “force fields “ or claim you missed.  That sucked then and it still sucks if allowed to flourish in scenario training.   During that final scenario I dragged a downed Officer to safety.  Minutes later a student from Hibbing told me I was dead and the scenario was over for me.  I asked her how I was dead.  She said that she was hiding in this (impossible) place and shot me (from 30 yards).  My point being that it is very unlikely even in the ridiculous scenario we were training that one of the bank robbers would have not only to gotten through the perimeter unseen, but crept all the way over there andsneaked into her hidey hole.  Also with no sims or airsoft you are basically just pointing your fingers and yelling bang.  Ok whatever, so what did I learn from the scenario?  That if a gun is ever fired in my general direction I will automatically die?  That I should always leave wounded officers down to bleed out in the street?  You see how bad role players and bad preparation can ruin scenario training?  Role players need to know that they win not by beating the trainees per say but PLAYING THEIR ROLE.  Role players win by getting the training response the trainer is working for.  That’s not to say the role players should go easy on the trainees or not to “kill” them when they make a mistake.  However, role players who are just playing cops and robbers have a very detrimental effect on training.  So trainers have to have clear goals, objectives, specific directions, and even specific dialog for the role players.  Otherwise they will just add lib into ridiculous LARP.  Recruit and cultivate role players you can trust to do the job.
Are you starting to see how difficult running scenarios can be?  Like anything in life anything worth doing is worth doing well.  If you can’t get outside role players (people who are not training and their only job is to help train the trainees) you can rotate trainees and role players.  For example in scenario 1 students a,b, are training student c is playing the role of (insert whatever bad guy you are training against).  Take C into the location away from a and b.  Tell him what you are trying to achieve and exactly what you want him to do.  Make sure he understands, make him repeat it back to you. 
This also allows C to see the scenario through “predator eyes”.  Knowing how you would kill you in a given situation helps you learn how to prevent that from happening
When you rotate through make sure you have a different scenario for c so he doesn’t have an unfair advantage.  Also it is fun to head fake c.  His scenario can be just like the one he was the role player for.  Get him thinking it’s going to go the same way.  Then Bam!, throw something totally different at him.  Cabot is very good at that last bit.  Mike and I are the training coordinators for the team so we come up with the scenarios.  We are also team leaders who need to practice running the team and making tactical decision under pressure and adapting to the scenarios.  Cabot is very good at tweaking scenarios I developed to “mess with” me when it’s my turn in the saddle.  The industry accepted term for that is “goat fucking”.  Used in a sentence  - Wow, Cabot really goat fucked me putting that guy under the bleachers.  Goat fucking = good training, which brings me to my second point.  Goat fucking is a two way street be prepared for it and don’t punish it. 
Whether you’re training SWAT Operators or your Dojo students you want them to be creative, unconventional, and spontaneous under pressure.  Encourage these traits don’t punish them.  If you set up this intense scenario full of peril and danger and the team or your student listens to the brief and goes through a different door or somehow does something you didn’t account for and smokes all your role players because they were set up for something else you as a trainer just got goat fucked.  You can use goat roped if you find fuck offensive.  Remember goat fuck = good training.  Don’t get pissed , don’t stop them , encourage them, learn from them.  At the debrief congratulate them go through the scenario then do it again.  On the second rep you can force them to face the scenario the way you have planned.  For example if you had an ambush set up on the front door and they went through the window, on the second rep you can say that was great but the window doesn’t exists anymore.  You are like the architect in the matrix or more recently inception.  You dictate the reality in reality based scenario training.  Just be honest with the trainees (and don’t compete against them) Hey going through the window is a great idea, however I set the scenario to train a specific skill set.  In order to do that I need you to go through the front door.  So whatever you can come up with to solve this besides going through the front door Murphy came up and pooched it so now go through the front door.   At the debrief you can discuss all the not front door approaches they thought of after you discuss what happened in the front door scenario.
Real life examples of the trainer competing against the trainees, and one of the most outstanding Goat Fucks I’ve ever witnessed.  Ottertail County Minnesota summer 1999.  The training was for Police, SWAT, and EMT for a large incident.  The role players were local National Guard (much more interested in “beating the cops” then helping the cops learn anything).  Administration who set up the cross training wanted to pit the SWAT team vs. his buddies in the Guard in an open field search / gun fight.  The admin had the deck stacked way in favor of the guard.  The SWAT commander knowing that this was going to be a competition to make him look bad as opposed to training contacted a different guard unit and called in air support.  He had tape on the top of his team leader’s helmets so the helicopter could designate friendlies from unfriendlies in the thick brush.  Needless to say SWAT knowing exactly where the bad guys were mopped up very quickly.  Admin wasn’t impressed by quick tactical improvising they called it cheating and were pouty.  That was my first exposure to SWAT training and I’ve been hooked ever since .
OK I went a little off topic there with nostalgia but remember experience is the best teacher of all – back on topic.
Keep your role players involved, treat them well.  Nothing is worse than taking off of work or otherwise rearranging your schedule to help you friend, swat team, dojo, sit around for seven hours being ignored by the operators being used for 5 minutes then sent home without so much as a thank you.  Unless of course you get hurt.  If you are going hands on at speed you need to have protective equipment, and common sense on the part of the trainees.  Which leads to…

Again – Training Weapons make sure they are easily distinguishable from the real thing. 
Protective equipment, red man suit, sparring gear, mats
Safety Vests – Bright neon traffic vests to distinguish safety officers from role players and trainees
“Scripts” – lesson plans with clear objectives of what you want to accomplish and exactly what the role players are supposed to do to help accomplish that
Tupper wear / boxes – it’s nice to keep all this stuff in easy to carry / organize storage boxes.  Especially when you’re tired from 8 hours of training and you can’t go home until everything is cleaned up.

Safety Officers
Run the scenario
Safety check – check all trainees, roleplayers, everyone involved for “live” weapons.  Have many redundant searches / checks.  Repeat on everyone every time they leave the training area.
Scene security – Separate from the trainer.  Provides security for the scenario and keeps passerby’s from walking through or calling the cops
Witness  -roleplayer safety.  These safety officers are in the location to watch and offer feed back in the debrief.  They are also there to protect the role players (trainees will be revved up and may use more force that is safe) and to end the scenario if it becomes unsafe or when the training objective is achieved.    

This is where the majority of learning will occur.  After the scenario go through the entire thing in chronological order.  Then review went well.  After that address what didn’t go well.  What went wrong, what else could have been done.  If you had to do it over again what would you do.  Peer review – get feedback from all the trainees the roleplayers and the safety officers.

Eliminate the negatives from training.  You never want to leave the trainee with a fail, or death in the scenario.  You are training their mind to fail or die.  If they did something that you don’t want them to do in the field you can “Ground hog’s day”.  After the debrief have the trainees run the same scenario again and find a way to win (no Kobiashi Maru scenarios).  Debrief the pros and cons of the changes made.  Usually going home alive is a pretty big pro.
Another way to incorporate scenarios while eliminating negatives is:
Scenarios 1st as skills assessment.  If you do the scenarios first and trainees die / fail you can use the debrief to preview the skills you will be teaching to prevent that outcome.  Their performance will give you an indication of their skill level and what needs to be worked on.
After scenarios work on those specific skills
End the day with the same scenario plus the new skills you taught them.  If you are worth your snuff as an Instructor those skills you taught them better get them through the scenario.

Be prepared to put a lot of prep time in
Use situations you’ve been in or crime stories from the news to develop scenarios
Recruit and cultivate roleplayers you trust
Keep it simple and safe
Train like Romans train

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Six years ago or so a former Chief of mine wanted to implement a new policy he labeled SMOTED or Six Minutes Of Training Every Day.  As you know I’m all about training so I was interested to hear what this SMOTED was all about.  Unfortunately it wasn’t so much about tactics or quality policing.  It was more about your Sgt. reading you one chapter of the policy manual every day.  A concept this Chief learned at a management (notice I didn’t say LEADERSHIP) class.  After your Sgt. read you the policy you had to sign a sheet stating that you were “SMOTED”.  That way if in the course of fighting crime the Chief decided you violated policy in any way it would be easier to take disciplinary action against you.  That’s not training, that’s not leadership, and it was a kick in the balls to moral.  So I started SMAKED.  Several Minutes Of Ass Kicking Every Day.  One topic a week trained for 10 – 15 minutes at roll call or shift change.  Control Tactics, Reloads, Malfunction Drills, these kind of things. 

Recently Jonny Figgis asked me:
With regard to repetitions, you have only eight hours a year to train your guys and you have to make sure they are functional by the time you finish with them. You’ve probably heard the old martial saying “It takes 10,000 repetitions to master a technique but 100,000 to own it.” What’s your opinion on this given your limited time to train people who will no doubt have to use it at some stage in the year. Is the idea of thousands upon thousands of repetitions to be able to use something in the real world a crock of shit?”

Well yes and no.  I think that 100,000 rep line is used by a lot of Dojos who want students to continue to pay year after year in arts that take 20 years to gain proficiency.  If we took that approach in the Military and Law Enforcement communities all rookies would be 40 years old (training from 20-40) before they hit the streets.

However, teaching a few simple, natural , gross motor techniques that work for most situations, with as many reps as possible, in as close to actual conditions as possible has been a proven training method since the Romans (training is bloodless war, war is bloody training)

So let’s do some math to help me make my point
8 hours training per year
- 1 hour lunch
- 1 hour for breaks
= 6 hours or 360 minutes

Let’s say you work an average 3 shifts per week
X 52 weeks in a year = 156
X 10 minutes of SMAKED = 1,560 (roughly 3 x as much training)

Also training for several minutes every day is better for long term mastery of a skill than cramming 8 hours, never studying again for a year then cramming for another 8 hours.

OK so how is this useful for readers that aren’t cops or commandos?  Develop for yourself simple training drills that reinforce quality mechanics of what ever skills you want to master.  Do these drills 10 – 15 minutes every day, no matter what.  You will be amazed at the results. 

Example – the greatest shooters in the world spend exponentially more time doing dry firing drills than they do actually shooting on the range.

If you do this already please leave a comment with the drills you do, and maybe a brief explanation of how you do them.  If you don’t and want to start leave a comment with questions and information on the skill you wish to improve.

Remember the world is your Dojo, always be training.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Marine stabbed in the back on Black Friday

Shoplifting suspect stabs Marine, police say

A Marine collecting Toys for Tots donations at Augusta's Best Buy was stabbed in the back Friday while helping to subdue a shoplifting suspect.
    Tracey Attaway  Richmond County Jail Photo
Cpl. Phillip Duggan tried to stop a fleeing suspect at Best Buy.

Fellow Marines identified the injured man as Cpl. Phillip Duggan, 24, who spent part of Black Friday recuperating at Eisenhower Army Medical Center with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Tracey Attaway, 39, of Waynesboro, Ga., was jailed and charged with armed robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a knife in the commission of a crime.

Orvin Smith, a sales manager at Best Buy, said the incident occurred about 1:15 p.m. when a man was seen on surveillance videos placing a laptop under his jacket. Store staff asked Attaway to return the merchandise, and the situation began to escalate.

"He was really irate. A whole lot of energy. ... he finally let go of the laptop, ran out the front door, knocked one of my employees down and pulled out a knife so he could make sure he could get out the front door," Smith said.

Outside the door were four Marines and seven volunteers collecting donations for Toys for Tots.
"(Duggan) clotheslined him, and after that he kind up got up and started swinging a knife around," Smith said.
Gunnery Sgt. Robert Richie said Attaway "came over the top and got (Duggan) in the back."
Attaway ran again but didn't get far before Richie, several other Marines and members of the store's loss-prevention team tackled him in the parking lot and held him until deputies arrived.
Gunnery Sgt. Sherry Barrera, who also serves as the Toys for Tots coordinator, opted to close operations for the day.
"When a Marine gets injured, we just shut it down, go to the hospital, make sure he's OK and make sure he gets proper treatment," she said.
Barrera said Duggan joined the unit about three months ago. Although she has had the opportunity to drill with Duggan only a few times, she said she had heard wonderful things about him.
"My boss, who has served with him before, did say he was an outstanding Marine," Barrera said.
According to Richmond County authorities, Attaway also tried to steal two digital cameras, an Xbox game, a PS3 game and a PS3 game controller with a combined value of $1,365.

A couple lessons we can learn from this story.  Again before I start, as I have writen in other blogs I'm not second guessing or critizing the Marine.  I'm just using this story to illistarte some basic principles we can all benifit from (So our Marine's stitches won't be for nothing)

This scenario sounds like every brown belts wet dream.  In the right place at the right time with Righteous Indignation you pull your best spinning round kick.  Knock the knife out of the criminal's hand see his eyes widen in terror of your supreme skills.  Kiss the girl and ride off into the sunset.  Sadly that only happens in Hollywood and in the imagination of the uninformed or inexperienced.

Here are some ways you can stop a violent criminal in the real world and not get stabbed
Call 911 get professionals (see also carry guns) involved as quickly as possible
Be a good witness

If you feel you must do more
Follow at a safe distance
    Direction of travel
    License Plate

Get all this information to the professionals as soon as possible.  Stay on line with dispatch.  You just became a great source of real time intelligence (you are a recon scout Yo Joe!!!!)  Recon does not directly engage the enemy.  They call in the artillary to blow the hell out of the enemy.

Edged weapons defense
Ok severel topics to study here

Awareness - Threat assesment scanning
According to the article Attaway brandished the knife and was threatening employees inside the store before our Marine ever saw him.
  Hands - is he holding a weapon should part of every threat assesment scan.  Very helpful for tatical decision making.

If you do see the knife is it worth your life to stop this guy?  Even a short pocket knife to the kidney can bleed you out in seconds.

If you haven't followed the previous advice and you engage a fleeing criminal armed with a knife
Use a tool you're not an ape - (Thanks Marc)
Folding chair
Any improvised weapon that provides distance amd can absorb damage from the blade.  Keep him at bay, delay him until professionals with guns can show up.

If your still not listening to me and your intent on your brown belt wet dream of disarming a knife weilding criminal with your bare hands, end violence quickly - IT HAS TO BE OVER IN 3 MOTIONS OR LESS- if you don't have the skills, competence, and confidence to do that.  Then don't do it
You have do disable the attacker not the knife.  Something along the lines of;
Motion 1 - Get off line
Motion 2 - Destroy balance
if you are really good, mation 1 and 2 happen in just one motion
Motion 3 Smash to ground or otherwise disable attacker

It much easier to take a knife away from a broken arm or an unconsous criminal.

Now you may be asking your self why a trained Marine didn't follow my advice, which leads me to my Brazilian JuJitsu (BJJ) taught to the Military rant.

Let me start by saying that I like BJJ.  It is a fantastic sport.  I also enjoy wrestling.  The difference is no wrestling coach ever advertised wrestling as the be all end all answer to every self defense situation.  You see examples of BJJ instructors teaching women rape prevention by throwing themselves on their back and putting their legs in the air.  Now I've never raped anyone but it would seem to me that getting a woman on her back with her legs in the air is the goal of the rapist rather than a deteriant.

As examples of the all purpose efficacy of BJJ these instructors use the UFC, and more recently that BJJ is being taught to the US military.  What they refuse to see (or admit even if they do see) is that 90% of BJJ will get you killed in close quarters combat.  So why is BJJ being taught to our troops?

1) A generation of fat soft spoiled kids who have never been in a contact sport let alone a fight.  BJJ like high school wrestling is a fantastic way to get into shape and to help develop character

2) Social violence ritual combat is genetically designed NOT to be life threatening.  You have 100’s of late teen early 20 something males all in close proximity to each other pumping with hormones and the vigor of youth.  On top of that powder keg are you going to throw the match of effective close quarter combatives ( see also maiming and killing the enemy in 3 motions or less)?  BJJ allows these young men to play dominance games and establish a pecking order with out injuringing each other.

Effective close quarter combatives look nothing like BJJ.  If you are interested in CQB check out the writing of W. E. Fairbairn, and Rex Applegate.  Guess what their 2nd rule of close quarter combat  is

Granted if you find yourself on the ground you better know what to do.  BJJ can be fantastic for that.  Just remember in the world there are no rules or time limits.  You don't have time to lesiuerly set up a joint lock or choke.  If you find yourself on the ground get up as quickly as possible.

So, God bless the Marines.  God bless a man willing to stand up and do what he believed was right.  Lets be inspired by his example.  And lets learn from this incident in case we ever find ourselves in the right place at the right time.

Train hard - Train real - Stay safe