Monday, January 31, 2011

Lessons learned from recent Reality Based Scenario Training

We had an excellent training experience on Saturday.  I planned on blogging about it today but Lise beat me to it.  So instead of reinventing the wheel I just cut and post her blog.  Don’t worry I’ll add my 5 cents at the end, or interject my thoughts in italics  ( can’t let her have the last word)

Saturday we had an awesome class. We went to an office setting (day off so no one was working) and we worked with Reality Based Scenarios (RBS). Being on location made it that much more realistic. Physically, you have to deal with corners, furniture, small hallways or closets, etc. Mentally, you are dealing with a space where you might not normally encounter violence, where your mind might be on code white instead of being more alert.

Kasey came up with some different scenarios involving scenes that are likely to happen to civilians in their homes or office:  well, more likely to happen as opposed to pretending to be a ninja commando - house break-ins, fake delivery people, disgruntled customers, etc. This is so much better than training for fantasy scenarios that might be cool and fun but unrealistic, and might even train you for failure.

Kasey got suited up and played the bad guy the entire class. He is a very good actor and RBS player. He looked and sounded angry, mean and violent. In case I have never mentioned this before, I would not want to be on his bad side.

Besides being fun being bad, it is important to train against negative energy, ki/chi what every you want call it.  It is different sparring even full out with a friend than being screamed, sworn at, and attacked  buy someone who hates you and really wants to hurt you

The goal of the exercise was to either prevent him from doing bad things or to take him out. If we failed, we got injured and/or died in the process… no fooling around with him. But of course no one ever fails and dies in our school. If we did something that did not work, that would have gotten us killed in real life, we will replay it and tweak a few things until we get it to work so we can leave with the confidence that what we do works and that we CAN be the victor in a violent encounter.

The most critical issue I saw was the defender standing in front of the attacker trading damage – which Lise will expand on

We have practiced drills in the past where we had to diffuse the entire situation with Conflict Communication. Today was about what happens when this fails, when the fecal matter hits the air matrix dispenser.

This was very eye opening and it’s a great way to show you where your strength and weaknesses were. Everyone looked really sharp. It was just as much fun to watch than to perform. The debriefing was a great learning experience for everyone involved. We discussed the moral ethics, the legal implications and the possibilities of other solutions. We explained what we did, why we did it. We asked questions about the things we felt had not gone the way they should. We had peer review and comments.

My weakness was in the office setting. I was a bit too slow at switching mode from professional and courteous to ass-kicking-to-save-my-life mode. And a bit too slow can mean life and death or serious injury. There is a fine line when you know communication has failed and gone out of the window, and when you know violence is about to happen.

Recognizing that moment is a critical skill.  If talking is not working or making things worse – time to stop talking.  Prepertrators of asocial violence are PREDATORS.  If you can’t talk down a hungry bear, why do you think you can talk down a 2 legged predator?  The trick is recognizing that dude is a bear.

From a woman’s perspective, when you are confronted with a dangerous, violent and /or threatening situation, it will usually come from a man (or men) that will most likely be larger and stronger than us (or armed). It is a scary thing. (I have never been seriously threatened by a 7 year old boy playing checkers). I have but the members of my family REALLY  LIKE TO WIN
J  If I think of myself as a weak and helpless person, that will not only affect the way I act but that will come across to my attacker and this will give him fuel. I need to think of myself as a 300 lbs gorilla. But at the same time I have to remember that I am not physically a 300 lbs gorilla and to not try to fight strength on strength with him/them. That is why we work with things like getting out of the way; do not stand right in front of an attacker where he can do the most damage. While it’s a good thing to be able to take a hit and keep on going, it is a better thing to not take a hit at all. A hard punch to the jaw might just knock me out. We also work on basic simple responses that will work on most of the situations encountered (counter ambush).
Violence happens quicker, more suddenly and harder than you can imagine.

There is a fine line to be achieved and I feel a lot more confident in my skills now. Those are things that cannot be learned in a dojo. This type of training is invaluable.
All in all, mission accomplished!

Very nice blog by Lise, now my 5 cents.  Again for the most part every one looked very good.
Here is Lise killing me in the closet

The scenario was you left your house for a soda, pack of smokes, whatever.  When you returned home you door was ajar ( you know you always lock your door)  A smart idea would to be to call the cops.  However, the twist of the scenario was that you left someone you love in the house.  In Lise’s case it was her college aged daughter Kenzy. 

When people got “killed” was when they stood in front of the attacker trading damage.
Ram heads

Not to throw Jeff under the Bus here is an example of what I’m talking about

Jeff Security

I was just touching Jeff’s head to let him know he was exposed, but with intent Jeff would have had a very bad day

Even with all the counter ambush training that we do sometimes people still reverted to this.  Instead of punches swap that for a knife.  How much damage do you want to take.  Motion defeats strength.

Ok, a larger opponent is coming at you with momentum and intent do you want to plant your feet and hope you can hurt him more and faster than he can hurt you ?

Hey diddle diddle right up the middle

How about now?  If the tactic won’t work on a speeding locomotive, it probably won’t work on a larger opponent coming at you with momentum and intent.  Unless you as Superman (NOTE: you are not Superman)

Charles Nelson a WWII era CQB instructor exemplifies this concept.  He chose for his school the symbol of a Mongoose fighting a Cobra.

Mongoose vs. cobra

Notice the angles the Mongoose works.  Avoid, counter.  If an opening presents itself attack

Great day of scenario training, some glitches exposed and worked on. 
McClure Sensei used to say to me if I, or another Sensei comes up to you at a clinic and corrects something be happy because now you have something specific to work on.  Take their advice and improve.  Take your training to the next level.

Some advice to leave you with with – moving out of the way is always a good idea.  Keep doing it until the attacker hands you something you can use.  They will all but throw, lock, or punch themselves.  Trading damage is never a good idea because it means you are taking damage.  Even if you take damage move to where you are safer.

Train hard, train smart, be safe

Here is an example of how traditional martial arts can be awesome when done by exceptional people. 

Alvin protects Suzie

McClure Sensei makes this look effortless, but receiving it was not fun and I was looking for counter attack the whole time (Cobra) McClure took my motion and planted my on my face (Mongoose)  It’s always good when Cobra is defeated – Yo Joe!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

People I admire part 2 - Dermot "Pat" O'Neill

Some ongoing themes you will notice in the people I admire series are:
People who use their skills in the service of others. 

People who have received serious martial arts training and adapted what they have learned for practical application in the feild.

People who are willing to fight to protect the innocent

Dermont "Paddy" O'Neill embodies all of those traights

I stole this biography from

Dermot O'Neill was born in 1905 in County Cork, Ireland. As a teenager he traveled to China, and settled in Shanghai. In 1925, at the age of twenty he joined the Shanghai Municipal Police. This police force comprising of 9000 active and reserve officers was task with bringing law and order to the International Settlement.

While in Shanghai, O'Neill immersed himself in the study of Asian martial-arts. He was a devoted practitioner of Japanese judo, as well as several forms of “Chinese Boxing", these included Tai Chi Chuan, Hsing Yi, and Pa Kua.

O'Neill rose through the ranks of the SMP and was promoted to Detective Sergeant and served as a member and instructor of the famed “Shock and Riot Police" task force of the SMP. He was also considered by many to be the protégé of William Ewart Fairbairn.

In 1938, O'Neill left Shanghai, and traveled to Tokyo, Japan as head of security for the British Embassy Legation there. During this period O'Neill was awarded the Godan, fifth degree black belt by the Kodokan, as well as increasing his martial-arts skills by practicing Japanese style “Kempo". He left Japan shortly before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and made his way to Australia.

O'Neill came to the United States at the behest and recommendation of WE Fairbairn who was at this time involved with the OSS. O'Neill was slated to work for the OSS, but was sent instead to serve as an instructor with the First Special Service Force, a joint Canadian-US commando unit known as the “Devil's Brigade." When the 1st SSF was sent into action, O'Neill refused to stay behind and declared that since he trained these boys he would damn well fight beside them. He held the rank of Captain and one of his duties included the assignment of being the bodyguard to General Fredericks. After he was in Europe was over, O'Neill was tasked with the position of Provost Marshal over Monte Carlo.

As the war with Japan ended O'Neill was sent to Okinawa as a liaison officer. After the war O'Neill served as a consultant on police and security for various Federal agencies, including the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency. In the mid-1960s O'Neill located in the Washington, DC area and began work with the International Police Academy there. This organization was funded by the Agency for International Development and was a cover for para-military operations and training run by the CIA. The Church Committee Hearings on Intelligence Activities brought the close of this academy in the early 1970s.

O'Neill was considered a very tough man in his day and had a reputation for not backing down from anyone. His skill in judo was highly praised even at the Kodokan. O'Neill had studied under Uchijima, renowned old time Kodokan judo instructor. O'Neill was especially known for his grappling skill. The methods of hand-to-hand combat he devised and taught were greatly effective and such was proven in actual battle numerous times. O'Neill greatly influenced military close-combat for both the US Army and Marine Corps.

Dermot O'Neill had been married briefly and had a daughter. He died on August 11, 1985

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

People I admire part 1 - Marc "Animal" MacYoung

In order to help explain the Budo that I teach I feel it is important to show what has influenced it.  To that end I decided to start a series of biographies on people who have effected the way I teach.  I was going to call this series pioneers in ass-kickery but, people I admire sounded better.  So I will start the series with Marc "Animal" MacYoung.  I find myself quoting Marc often on this blog.  Assuming everyone who reads this blog knows who I am talking about.  The following info I blatantly plagiarized from different Internet sources.  If you rip of one person that s plagiarism.  If you rip off lots of people that is "research" ( a quote I also stole from Marc)

Growing up on the gang-infested streets of Los Angeles not only gave Marc MacYoung his street name "Animal," but also extensive firsthand experience about what does and does not work for self-defense. What he teaches is based on experience and has proven reliability for surviving violence. If it didn't work, he wouldn't be alive to talk about it.

He is considered by many to be one of the most on the subject of surviving violence and personal safety today. He has taught police, military, martial artists and civilians around the world.
His message is always the same:
Hand-to-hand combat is a last ditch effort when other, more effective, preventive measures have failed.

For civilians, the best preventative measure of them all is not to put yourself into situations where you need to fight your way out. That is what he teaches, lest people find themselves in the same kind of situations that he did.
For professionals the message is "IT ENDS NOW! -- and of course in your favor." But even there, it's better if you can keep it from physical (if for no other reason than the paperwork).
Although he often jokes "We had a name for murder, mayhem, destruction and despair ... we called it 'Saturday night,'" that's a grim truth. Unlike many martial arts instructors, who claim to have been street fighters, his past is not a marketing promotion. Nor is it an exaggerated list of victories against legions of thugs through use of his 'undefeatable fighting style'. It is filled with tales of ambushes, hit-and-run gang warfare, drugs, alcohol, bad behavior, stupid mistakes, weapons flashing in dark alleys, homicides, funerals and long nights spent in hospital waiting rooms praying  for wounded friends to survive. That is the reality of being a street fighter. It is nothing any sane person would brag about -- much less pretend to be. As he often says It's a whole different ballgame when the other side shoots back...1

Yet, as one who lived despite the blood-splattered streets, MacYoung knows that survival isn’t a matter of how "tough" you are or your ability to fight. Nor is it how many stripes you have on a black belt or how many tournaments you’ve won. Although some physical skill is indeed necessary, survival is more a matter of knowledge and awareness. And that is what he stresses. Without those two key elements, you won’t make it out of a dark and lonely parking lot.

About that "Animal" part of his name... yes, he did all the stupid and dangerous things one needs to do to earn that nickname. It is a lifestyle he no longer lives or endorses. Unfortunately, since Animal is the name he was first published under, like a tattoo, he's sort of stuck with it as a constant reminder of a violent and dangerous youth.

MacYoung grew up among -- and spent the last 40 years dealing with  -- people who used violence and weapons to get what they wanted. Who would, in fact, not hesitate to use violence on another human being for nothing more than a whim. He knows, first-hand, that criminals and abusers are not good people gone bad, but bad people gone worse. These are the people he clashed with, fought, hunted and stopped from harming others. He lived to write about it and to teach what it takes to survive just such situations.
His lifestyle and professions have always put him in danger. Over the years he has worked as the director of a correctional institute, bodyguard, bouncer, cooler and security at events with a daily gate of 30,000 (and entirely too many beer stands). Intermixed with those high-risk occupations came the perils of living in some of the worst areas in Los Angeles and the problems arising from going head-to-head with local gangs, drug addicts, abusive husbands, thugs and bikers. He was first shot at when he was 15 and has since survived multiple attempts on his life, including professional contracts. Some were work related, others were personal, arising from his "somewhat dim" back ground (With hindsight, he wonders if the definition of "dim" refers to "shady" or "not too bright" -- unfortunately, both often applied to his actions).

His main skill, however, is to find the easiest and best way to handle violent situations. His ability to talk down and resolve situations that were about to become violent grew and it became of greater use for surviving in the dangerous situations he often found himself in. That has become his main focus -- over just breaking someone's head open. Which, while he can do that with great ease and proficiency, is not what he is about. His professional standard these days has lead him to the conclusion that if he has to go physical,  he didn't handle the situation correctly. An attitude that has done wonders for saving him from all kinds of paperwork.

Since the age of 10, he has studied several styles of martial arts, including Karate, Wing Chun, Baqua/Hsing-I, Five Family Gung fu, Boxing, Western swordsmanship, Kali and various forms of Pentjak Silat. That's thirty five years of training and application. He has field-stripped and bastardized every style he studied in order to make it street effective. However, out of respect to his teachers and their styles, when it comes to martial arts, he doesn’t claim to teach anything other than the training system he and his wife Dianna have created, Dango Jiro. A body movement and tactical application system that draws from all of those arts (Don't be confused by the Japanese name, it means "Mulligan Stew"). When it comes to street survival and professional use of force he teaches No Nonsense Self-Defense. A combination of formal martial arts techniques and principles and his real life experience, supported by research into the areas of psychology, criminology, sociology and legal use of force.

He is now "retired" from that crazed and dangerous lifestyle. He lives in Colorado with his wife Dianna, where he writes, lectures, teaches internationally. He teaches personal safety and self-defense to the public, making your martial art street effective and knife work to martial artists, defensive tactics to law enforcement and he doesn't talk about what he shows the military. He spends the rest of his time raising his "kid" and trying to convince cattle (the only animal stupider than a gang member) to go from Point A to Point B. 

Occasionally he travels to Minnesota to smoke cigars, drink scotch and beat the hell out of your friendly neighborhood Samurai

Writing and the ability to laugh
Besides all the four through eight and twelve letter words he has been called (and their equivalents in many other languages), MacYoung  has been likened to everything from Doc Holliday in Tombstone, Porthos (Oliver Platt) in The Three Musketeers, Animal-mother in Full Metal Jacket,  to a teddy bear with fangs, to a Care Bear with a hatchet and even a two-legged ferret.
All of which he cheerfully admits are accurate assessments of his  very wide and varied personality. If they aren't accurate now, they were at another time of his life. (One of his youthful mottos was: It's you and me against the world. Let's attack!)

Despite people occasionally trying to play show and tell with his vital organs, he’s managed to keep his sense of humor. In fact, while there were a great many events stemming from his being in the wrong place at the wrong time, just as often altercations occurred when someone took umbrage at something he said -- and the fight was on. (Of course, sometimes he said it to make the guy swing, but that’s another story).
Yet, it is his quirky humor and ability to take such a serious subject and make it funny that has won him and his writing a devoted following (deeply disturbed, but devoted). This wild and weird sense of humor has made his books very popular and easy to read. It also has prompted one reviewer to describe reading his books as if "sitting down with a six pack and an old friend – a very twisted and dangerous old friend."
MacYoung began to write about street self-defense in 1989 when he sat down to make up a small booklet for his students. Fifteen books and five videos later (no they are not all listed in the next column, we ran out of room), he is considered one of the leading experts on the subject of surviving high-risk situations. His works are used by individuals, academies, schools, police departments and military academies around the world. His video Safe in the Street and it’s five stages of violent crime system have become an internationally recognized standard for teaching personal safety.
It should be noted however, that his early writings were street oriented and might offend the sensibilities of more civilized readers.

Wow look at that pony tail (I'm brave on the inter webs :) )

One of the things I really dig about Marc, as good as he is with his hands, he is better with at not having to use his hands

Conflict Comunications -
While in Germany to teach de-escalation to the Rhineland Police, someone noticed Marc MacYoung's habit of looking both ways when passing through a doorway. He was asked why.
"Because of the time a burglar tried to put an ax in my skull,"  Marc calmly answered.
"You're joking?" his host asked incredulously.
"No. I'd come home for lunch. The burglar was still upstairs in the house. I walked through a door, he swung the ax, I jumped away and pulled my weapon. So there we were, both armed and looking at each other trying to figure out what to do next."
"What happened?"
"I talked him out of the house and let him go." Marc answered. "Nobody died. It was a win/win situation."
That incident happened before Marc started working in professions where he regularly had to talk violent people down.

So in summary when I mention Marc this is who I am referring to:

Marc was born in Los Angeles, California, and spent a majority of his childhood in the Los Angeles area. He spent his youth in situational poverty and ethnic diversity. He gained his knowledge of crime and violence on the streets of Los Angeles. He was first shot when he was fourteen. He later worked as the warden of a correctional institute, bodyguard, bouncer, security, all of which put his life into danger. He wrote his first book Cheap Shots Ambushes and other Lessons, published by Paladin Press, in 1989. He later wrote thirteen more books and produced five instructional videos on personal safety / self-defense.

Animal also worked set construction, set dressing, swing gang, lead man, props and FX on several films such as The Hanoi Hilton, Rush Week, Limit Up, Breaking the Rules, Wicked Stepmother, Best of the Best, Seedpeople, Syngenor, Death Warrant and Bad Channels.

In 2009 MacYoung teamed up with Rory Miller ( author of "Meditations On Violence" (2008),"Violence: A Writer's Guide" (2010) and Facing Violence (2011). Based on over five decades combined experience confronting violent felons, intoxicated and deranged individuals and other dangerous people they developed Conflict Communications ( Originally designed for police to de-escalate situations from turning violent, they've expanded they same concepts into conflict resolution and management for business and personal relationships.
Marc currently resides in Colorado where he and his wife, Dianna Gordon, maintain his "No Nonsense Self Defense" Web site, which covers a wide range of violence-prevention and criminal-psychology topics.

Now you know and knowing is half the battle. - Yo Joe!

Over in 3

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

War on Law Enforcement

A Dangerous 24 Hours for Law Enforcement

The past 24 hours have been especially dangerous for U.S. law enforcement with 11 officers shot in five states: Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As of January 24, 2011, 14 law enforcement officer fatalities have been recorded across eight states, with multiple deaths in Florida (5), Texas (2), and Ohio (2). Florida and Texas were among the top five states leading officer deaths in 2010 (along with California, Illinois, and Georgia).

"The devastating spike in law enforcement officer fatalities in 2010 has tragically continued in the first month of 2011," said National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Chairman & CEO Craig W. Floyd. "I have never seen anything like it. The violent events of the past 24 hours in Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Oregon and Washington have been detrimental to America's peace officers, taking the lives of two and injuring several others. We must do everything in our power to stop these senseless and heinous crimes against our law enforcement personnel," he said.
On Monday, three officers were shot — two fatally wounded, and one injured — while serving an aggravated battery warrant at a St. Petersburg, FL, home. On Sunday, four officers were shot at a Detroit, MI, police precinct; two Kitsap County, WA, Sheriff's Deputies were shot at a Wal-Mart while responding to a call reporting a suspicious person; and police officers in both Indianapolis, IN, and Lincoln City, OR, were critically injured in shootings during traffic stops.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund's preliminary 2010 End of Year Officer Fatality Report, officer fatalities reached 162, up nearly 40% from 117 in 2009. Of the 162 officers killed in the line of duty, 61 were shot — a 24% increase from 2009. Tragically, the trend continued with 14 officer deaths in the first month of the New Year, 10 of which resulted from shootings accounting for a 40% increase compared to the same time in 2010. The following nine officers are the most recent gunfire-related fatalities:
  • Clark County (OH) Sheriff's Deputy Suzanne Hopper was shot and killed while responding to a disturbance call at a mobile home park on New Year's Day.
  • Rainier (OR) Police Chief Ralph Painter was killed by a fatal gunshot wound to the head on January 5, 2011 while responding to a call reporting a car theft at a strip mall.
  • Baltimore City (MD) Police Officer William H. Torbit, Jr. was fatally shot during an altercation outside a night club on January 9, 2011.
  • Lakewood (NJ) Patrolman Christopher Matlosz was shot and killed as he approached a suspect while patrolling a residential area on January 14, 2011.
  • Livonia (MI) Officer Larry Nehasil was fatally wounded by a burglary suspect during a shootout on January 17, 2011.
  • Miami-Dade (FL) Officers Roger Castillo and Amanda Haworth were fatally shot as they attempted to serve a murder warrant at a Miami, Florida home on January 20, 2011.
  • St. Petersburg (FL) Sergeant Tom Baitinger and Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz were gunned down and killed while attempting to serve a warrant on January 24, 2011. A U.S. Marshal was also wounded but is in stable condition.

"As recent events show us, there is a more brazen criminal prowling the streets of America and our law enforcement officers — those responsible for protecting our communities — are uniformed targets for these criminals," Mr. Floyd said.

Ok cops, so you read this and you get pissed.  Its easy to get pissed, what are you going to do about it?

The only way to stem the tide of increasing violence to Law Enforcement is to have ever more competent officers skilled in violence.  To be better at violence than those that would do harm to you.

So to all the LEO's out there, let me ask you these questions:
  • Do you work out on a regular basis?
  • Do you get any sort of additional defensive tactics training besides the mandatory minimum 8 hrs a year?
  • What did you score on your last fire arms qualification?
  • Do you practice "range skills" or combat hand gun skills (more on this to follow in future blog)
  • Do you get any additional range time on your own?
  • Do you practice trigger pull, and reload drills outside of the range?
  • Do you carry off duty?
If you don't like my questions, boo fucking hoo go bury your head with the rest of the ostriches.
If you don't like your answers to my questions, then do something about it!

It's time LEO's got their teeth back

About the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
Established in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a private non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers and to promoting officer safety. The NLEOMF maintains the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., which contains the names of 18,983 officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history. The Memorial Fund is now working to create the National Law Enforcement Museum, which will tell the story of law enforcement through high-tech, interactive exhibitions, historical artifacts and extensive educational programming. For more information, visit
To schedule an interview with Memorial Fund Chairman & CEO, Craig W. Floyd, contact Steve Groeninger,

SOURCE National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

Monday, January 24, 2011

On the shoulders of giants

I have blogged about the appreciation I have for pioneers in the field of martial art for CQB.  I have truly enjoyed reading W.E. Fairbairn's "Get Tough", and Col Rex Applegate's "Kill or get killed" and "The Close Combat Methods of Rex Applegate".  Recently I have also acquired:

“Arwology: All out hand to hand fighting for commandos, military, and civilians” Gordon E. Perrigard
“American Combat Judo” B.J. Cosneck
“Charles Nelson’s School of Self Defense: The Red and Grey Manuals” Charles Nelson
“Defendu” W.E. Fairbairn

As to the technical / prescriptive methods, take what works for you (what has been proven to work) and leave the rest.  Setting all that aside, the thing I enjoy the most about these books are the stories about real American heroes. 

Like the G.I. Joes of my youth: A special mission force fighting to defend human freedom.

Men who were called upon to use their skills and experience to stop bad men in the most difficult of circumstances.  Men who often stood shoulder to shoulder with the troops they trained going on missions behind enemy lines.  In this era of internet experts and tactical instructors who have never kicked a door, cleared a room, or controlled a violent subject  - that is very refreshing. 

The word Samurai can be defined as one who serves. 

Using the skills you have developed in the arts of war in the service of others. 

How are you serving others?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blind as a Bat

Most of you who read this know I am a huge comic nerd.  Santa Clause brought the family (yes I let my daughters play sometimes) an X Box 360.  I went out and got “Batman: Arkham Asylum”.  It’s awesome.  So I was taking out a bunch of criminals (a cowardly and superstitious lot) when one of them hit me in the head with a chair.  The screen went black for awhile and when it came back I was seeing double and triple for awhile, then back to normal.  I thought wow that’s really cool.  As a guy who has had his bell rung once or twice I can say that’s pretty close to how it goes.  I don’t think the video game can make snot shoot out your nose (slobber knocker), or make you puke later but it was pretty close.

Batman need to choke a bitch?

That reminded my of some drills I worked with Rory, and some things he has written;

In order for a technique to be valid it must have four elements:

  1. It must have a tactical use.

  1. It must work moving or standing still. If you can’t hit hard when both you and the threat are moving, you can’t hit hard. If you can’t put a bullet on target on a moving target while you, yourself are moving, for all tactical purposes you can’t shoot.

  1. It must work whether you can see or not

  1. It must work when you are scared, under an adrenaline dump. If the technique needs a clear head and pinpoint precision to work, it doesn’t work.

Because violence happens closer than most dojo training I like to work closer than most dojo training.  Close in fighting or “grappling range” fighting can be used when you can’t see. 
Watch the video on this link

Could you tell the Judoka were blind?
Here are some more links to blind judo:

I can here you saying that is great for sport, but isn’t this site about practical application?

Yes, yes it is.  Here is an example of practical application (and poetic justice, which apparently is also blind)

Here is the link –

But for the lazy I have included the article here:
Mugger attacks blind man... who turns out to be a judo world champion
Last updated at 16:53 11 September 2007
The blind beggar was actually a one-time judo world champion
When a German mugger spotted a blind beggar at a train station in Germany, he must have thought it would be the easiest mugging of his career.
The teenage mugger spotted the 33-year-old beggar sitting outside a train station in the south-western town of Giessen and thought he would be easy prey, police said.
Intending to steal his cigarettes, the 17-year-old  threatened the blind man and then punched him in the face.
Unfortunately for the mugger, what he didn't know was that his would-be victim was Michael Esser, a former world champion in judo for blind people.
Before he knew what was happening he had been flipped over and put in a stranglehold.
The blind martial artist then pinned him down until police arrived.

Herr Esser need to choke a bitch?

Ok, so that is great for grappling what about striking?  Well if you train at “sparring” range not a damn thing.  But if you have strikes you can do up close at grappling / in fighting range the same principles that make blind Judo work make blind striking work.

Try this drill:
Cover your eyes with something (make sure you can’t see)
Have a partner strike you (correct form – slow motion)
Recover (counter ambush)– you should be close enough to touch your partner [I know that might sound ridiculous but I’ve seen enough Karate classes “spar” so far away from each other that actual contact much less delivering force into your opponent is impossible]
What strikes are available to you, what targets are open, where are they?  Your tactile senses are faster than your eyes you will be able to feel (almost “sees”) how they are standing and where all their parts are.  Again comic nerd it’s kind of like Dare Devil only minus Ben Aflec, so way cooler
Counter strike (correct form – slow motion) Not only is pulling punches a great way to develop bad habits its impossible to do if you can’t see.  So hit as hard as you can - slowly

Once you get the hang of it there many variations you can play with just remember keep it simple, keep it safe.

So after getting my bell rung as Batman I thought I would play with some of these concepts on my own.

Striking drill - I like to use a B.O.B. (body opponent bag) for anatomical targets but you can do this drill on any bag.
Hands on BOB’s shoulders or against the bag
Close Eyes
Hit BOB as hard as you can in places that hurt

Side effects – besides learning how to strike effectively from close range, and when you can’t see you will learn how to move while dizzy (bell rung) and lots of sneaky little strike that don’t look like strikes which set up your throws and locks (dirty Judo)

"...but my teacher Morihei Ueshiba sensei always had stated that in real fighting occasions 70% of aikido is atemi, and 30% is throwing" Shioda G.

"Atemi accounts for 99% of aikido." was a remark once uttered by the Founder" Saito M.

Counter Ambush drill – If you have a wing chung dummy or something similar this is fun
Hands on the wing chung dummy’s arms or at shoulder level
Close Eyes
Work your counter ambush as hard as you can tolerate
“The board should fear your hand not the other way around”

So – Add some blind training into your regimen.  Beat the hell out of training equipment.  Train safe and smart with your training partners.  Then if you ever get sucker punched, get your bell rung, get into a situation where you can’t use your eyes - it won’t be so scary.   

Remember –
In order for a technique to be valid it must have four elements:

  • It must have a tactical use.

  • It must work moving or standing still. If you can’t hit hard when both you and the threat are moving, you can’t hit hard. If you can’t put a bullet on target on a moving target while you, yourself are moving, for all tactical purposes you can’t shoot.

  • It must work whether you can see or not

  • It must work when you are scared, under an adrenaline dump. If the technique needs a clear head and pinpoint precision to work, it doesn’t work.

Train hard – Train Smart – Be safe

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


At work I was putting together the weekly crime summary.  Basically I read all the police reports for the week, summarize the narratives, crime map the data, and present it to the public.  Sounds kind of tedious right?  Well it is, but it is the price I pay to get to do the high speed stuff I love to do.  So while I’m doing all this data entry I keep myself from going crazy by mining all this data for situations / circumstances I can use for scenario training.  I came across an assault with a knife report.  I think to myself ok I can use this.  As I read the report I come across the victim’s statement.  It read along the lines of:
We were coming back from the casino.  I saw ------ hitch hiking.  I used to smoke crack with ----- and I didn’t want him to freeze so we picked him up.

Hey kids guess what happened?  The known drug using hitch hiker robbed his old smoking buddy of his casino winnings at knife point.  Who saw that coming?

I go back to generating the weekly crime summary when I cam e across another assault report.  This one read:
I was drunk at a party with people I never met.  They said I was talking shit and started hitting me.

Ok some training can be gleamed from that report
Running is a martial art taught to every military from the beginning of time.  Running to the battle, running from danger.
Safely – cover and conceal
To safety (not away from danger)

Counter Ambush
This is about the 1st contact of an assault.  The critical ¼ second. 
·         Fast
·         It must work
·         It must simple
·         It must work on most things with out modification
·         It must be easy to train
·         It must allow for follow up
·         Train to reflex speed. 

Getting out of bad situations can be trained is scenarios.  However as demonstrated by those police reports, the best way out of a bad situation is – DON’T GET INTO THOSE SITUATIONS
It reminds me of my old wrestling coach.  Most of us hadn’t eaten in awhile because we were cutting weight.  He asked if we wanted some doughnuts.  Of course we wanted doughnuts.  So he proceeded with his list of doughnuts

Dough – nut (meaning do not this story is more funny word of mouth rather than typed):
  • Get put on your back
  • Rest on your hip
  • So forth…

So here are some basic dough-nutz
  • Pick up hitch hikers
  • Pick up hitch hikers that you know use CRACK!
  • Get drunk at parties
  • Get drunk at parties surrounded by strangers
  • Get drunk at parties surrounded by strangers and talk shit to the above mentioned strangers

It is better to avoid than run, better to run than deescalceate, better to deescalate than fight, better to fight than die

Avoidance / absencense
Bad things happen in predictable places.  If you avoid the places you can avoid a huge percentage of the violence in the world.  What are those places?
·         Bars – Parties – Anywhere people get their minds altered
·         Anywhere that young men gather
·         Where territories are in dispute
·         Private Places
·         Limited mobility or escape routes 

Train hard – Train Smart – Be safe

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ebb and flow of experience and training.

I am working on a theory.  As I work I’ll add historical references and charts and graphs but let’s just start with the base of my theory. 
For this theory let’s define martial art as a system of techniques derived from field experience taught for the purpose of killing your enemy. 
Having said that I believe all martial arts started with field experience.  1000 years ago Roro went to war with a neighboring clan over farm land.   Roro had the bravery to face the danger (to run toward the leopards) but no real training / experience except for maybe hunting.  Roro engaged in personal combat won and survived to go back to his village.  He remembered as best he could what happened and taught what he thought allowed him to win to the others of his tribe.  Eventually there is another conflict.  Roro’s students go to war with the bravery to face the danger (to run toward the leopards) plus a trick or two that Roro taught them and the confidence that brings.  Those guys face combat.  Learn some new tricks maybe refine some of Roro’s old tricks.  They come back and pass on what they have learned.  And so on and so forth.  Eventually all lands are conquered and enjoy “the kings peace”.  Martial art is taught to the peace keepers (watch, sheriff, whom ever controls the violent with in the village) and to the young men of the village with some changes.  When used on your own tribe violence is different so techniques to kill are supplemented with techniques to control for the peace keepers.  Likewise techniques to show superiority or dominance are supplemented for the young men.  After generations of peace techniques to kill grow into disuse, control tactics and sport is all that is left.  But peace is fleeting.  Now this green generation goes to war with the tricks they have been taught.  Some still work, a lot don’t.  The ones that survive had to re-learn what works in combat through hard earned firsthand experience.  Repeat this cycle le.  Only this time in an effort to retain that hard earned knowledge training revolves around preserving exactly the techniques of that generation.  Students are rewarded for mimicking exactly the movements of the teacher over moving in a way that works for them.  Generations are taught mimicry.  Peace is ever fleeting time to war again.  This generation is confident in the techniques of the generation they mimicked.  Only the enemy wasn’t stagnant they developed new weapons and strategy.  Roro’s tribe is decimated.  The survivors have trouble adapting to a new world.  They teach what they know as means of personal growth as opposed to kill an opponent.
So my theory goes:
The more violent the era or location the more actual experience is earned and the more value is placed on practical application (a few, simple, gross motor skills that work for most situations).
Inversely the more peaceful the era or location, actual experience becomes rare.  More value is placed on sport / entertainment, preserving the system, or self development / “enlightenment”
Sport, Traditional, and Personal development each have ways to preserve their systems.  Sports have rules and competition passed on from generation to generation.  Traditional arts are based on passing everything to the next generation.  Sadly the practical seems to follow a pattern of being earned and then lost.  It is similar to the history of the sniper.  (Paraphrased from Dave Grossman) – In every armed conflict since the advent of fire arms snipers were deployed.  After the conflict the thought of killing from afar seemed “immoral”.  Until the next conflict and the need for snipers rises again.  Only they have to recruit and train from scratch again.  Finally it was decided that a maintained and trained sniper core is necessary to be prepared before the next conflict.
Even in times of peace lawmen still need combat techniques.  It fell to them to preserve the practical for the next generation.  A perfect example of this is W.E. Fairbairn. 
Fairbairn was trained in Jujutsu, Chinese “Boxing” and received a 2nd degree black belt in February 1931 (before Judo was primarily a sport) from Jigoro Kano.  Impressive right?  But anyone can study Judo and Kung Fu what impresses me and helps make my point is
Throughout his over thirty year career with Shanghai Municipal Police., 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.
That is why in 1940 when England was at war with Nazi Germany and was hanging on by a thread, Fairbairn was called to put his talents and knowledge to excellent use training commandos and clandestine operatives.
My theory continues that a martial art follow a natural progression
                Physical –
o   Structure
o   Power
o   Balance
o   Speed
                Mental / Emotional –
o   Awareness
o   Avoidance
o   Escape and Evade
o   Violence Dynamics
o   Body’s response to combat stress
o   De-escalation
o   Counter Ambush
§  *You know by know  I stole all that from Rory right?
After fundamentals are developed, and taught an art progresses to combat proficiency.  Applying those fundamentals in specific categories of techniques
o   Impacts
o   Throws
o   Locks
o   Ground Work
o   Weapons
This phase is personalization.  Finding out what works for you.  Homma Sensei has two sayings that fit well here.  There is no wrong, just move is one.  The other is that we all have our own way of moving.  If you start Aikido training at age 30 you already have 30 years experience in “your” martial art, or “your” Aikido.
The last phase is playing / experimentation.  For those with solid training in the 1st two phases this phase can look like magic.  This is Ueshiba’s Aikido, Mifune’s Judo, or Oyama’s Karate.  Sadly the further society gets away from understanding / managing violence, the weaker the first two phases become or are skipped all together.  How many Aikido schools teach only Ueshiba’s Aikido but none of his Aikijujutsu or Aikibudo?
Even practical application arts are guilty of this the further you are removed from actual experience.  Fine motor skill joint locks and strikes that require you to relax completely, and use “internal energy” against specific, small, moving anatomical targets  rarely work under combat stress against a resistive opponent in real world conditions (the environment) .  Whether those techniques were taught by an Aikidoka in a hakama, or a former Spetnaz trooper in bdu’s and a black t-shirt they still won’t work, no matter the claims of the instructor.
Ok that is my working theory on the ebb and flow between experience and training.  So what is the point?  How does this benefit the reader?
In your training you must first work fundamentals, and develop a core of a few gross motor skills (Impacts, Throws, and Locks etc.) that work for you.  That doesn’t take 20 years of training.  That should happen in the very beginning of your training.  As you learn; Awareness, Avoidance, Escape and Evade, Violence Dynamics, The body’s response to combat stress, and De-escalation continue to refine those techniques to reflex speed to be used in Counter Ambush.  Only after that core has been refined and polished add the “magical” aspects of the martial arts for your enjoyment and enlightment.  You will be surprised what years of solid fundamentals will allow you to accomplish in personal expression.  Dr. Lewinski my Goju Ryu Sensei used this example.  I forget the name of the famous musician, but this musician was known for his free style solos and self expression.  The musician spent hours every day practicing his scales for years.  The most basic fundamental of musical training .  He said only through mastery of fundamentals is  self expression possible.  Otherwise it’s just slop. 
My second point is if you don’t have actual experience with violence (don’t go looking for trouble) seek out training from trustworthy sources that have.  Beware of hucksters living off the rep of buzzwords, or fulfilling fantasies.
If the timeline of your own training hasn’t followed my model, it doesn’t mean you can’t reinforce your fundamentals.  Buy meditations on violence and spend some time at 
Take a hard look at you skills and training.  Understand what you want out of martial arts.  Keep what works for you discard what is no longer needed.
Train hard – train smart – be safe