Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Violence of Action: When force is legally justified and morally necessary, use it

I received this in an e-mail Spartan Cops.  I thought I would share it.

Violence of Action: When force is legally justified and morally necessary, use it
Posted: 28 Mar 2011 04:00 AM PDT

Editor’s Note:This is a guest post from Alan John. Alan’s bio is at the end of this article.

In today’s atmosphere of litigation, officers are becoming more hesitant to use force when justified. Could that be the reason more officers are getting injured or killed? 2011 has started out as one of deadliest years for law enforcement officers in the last decade. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 2010 finished with a 37% increase in officers killed in the line of duty.

The fear of getting sued, fired and or disciplined started to rise after the Rodney King incident. Officers watched in horror as police who were trying to do their job and performing as they were trained, were crucified by their department, the media and eventually the courts. The question that begs to be answered is,”Why were they being trained that way”? Police trends ebb and flow over time, and police use of force philosophy has followed the same path. Unfortunately the path has strayed away from the officer being safe and towards the officer failing to take action and getting injured or killed in the process.
Public opinion has been affected by these incidents and a public that once stood behind law enforcement, now looks at every instance through a dash camera, questioning every move they learned on TV last night. Noted defense attorney and son of the famous Gerry Spence, Kent Spence, routinely and comments on the use of force by officers using a Taser or pepper spray as excessive and unjustified. In each instance the critique is questioning why the officer did not just wrestle the suspect down and or use a “wristy twisty” to magically put him in handcuffs instead of hitting him 37 times with a baton (as counted on video).

The use of force policy implemented is generally sound; the force techniques taught to the officers are sound for the most part. What is missing? The missing link is the lack of training to the officer in the urgency and mode of force application – adoption of the justified violence of action mindset. Officers are applying force with hesitancy of action. They know they are justified, but they don’t want to make a mistake and they don’t want to get sued. Their hesitation makes them use their baton half heartedly, which in the long run means they have to use that half-hearted force longer. Looking through the dash camera, the use of force takes longer and looks worse on TV. People question why it took the officer 30 strikes get the suspect to lie down and stop resisting arrest.

Consider this analogy for the application of force; think about force being applied as electricity. Think of the difference between a rheostat and a switch. When you dial up a rheostat, the light bulb becomes brighter slowly. It takes time for it to light the room. When a switch is closed, the room is lit instantly. Similarly, when force is applied gradually, the suspect is able to adjust to the use of force, alter his pain threshold and resist. When you apply force instantly, the switch it’s much more likely you’ll overwhelm his resistance, compelling him to submit much, much more quickly.

What is the solution to this dilemma? The theory of violence of action needs to be applied to use of force in daily police work. Violence of action is the instant, maximum application of the use of force that is legally and morally justified. The use of force should be applied so quickly that instead of the long drawn out series of strikes we view on the dash cam, we see a blur of action and a final image of the suspect piled up on the ground and cuffed within 3-5 seconds. The use of force justification is based on the suspect’s actions. The duration of force application is short, and the injuries to the suspect are limited to the minimum needed to affect the arrest. The visual impression created by the dash cam, witness cam or other recording device in use is one of minimal and effective control.

Explained in detail, “Violence of Action”, means employing the force justified correctly, instantly, and with full impact. It also means transitioning between and coupling together force responses to achieve the goal - custodial arrest. A correctly applied baton strike may lead directly to a leg kick or knee to the leg while the distance is being closed and the suspect is being forced to the ground with a face-down takedown for cuffing. This article is not attempting to change individual defensive tactic maneuvers. Rather, it seeks to change the mindset of how those maneuvers are employed and how they can be coupled together to end a confrontation quickly and favorably.

How do we accomplish this goal? We change the mindset of the administrator first and foremost. We bring in the prosecutor, the civil attorney for the organization and the training staff, and we expose them to the benefits of ending a confrontation quickly and efficiently. We simultaneously train our new recruits and our line officers in the basic academy and in-service training, respectively. We need to make sure there are front-end discussions with our supervisors and training staff. We cannot change training without informing the people who are responsible to review and critique performance.
Although some might think this a radical departure from the current use of force model, it is really just a course correction in the ebb and flow. The end goals are a greater sense of safety for officers on the street, fewer injuries and line-of-duty deaths, and increased public and media support for law enforcement.

About the Author: Alan John

Alan John is a retired Sergeant from the Jackson Police Department in Jackson Hole, Wyoming after 27 years in law enforcement. Alan started his career in San Luis Obispo County in 1983. Alan was a SWAT team member and a team leader for over 15 years and firearms, defensive tactics and use of force instructor as well. As an administrator he developed, wrote, and trained officers and deputies in use of force, report writing and field training.
Alan is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and currently enrolled in the University of Wyoming to finish his degree requirements. He currently works at the Crucible Training in Fredericksburg, Virginia in the Department of State’s CJPS program as a support manager.
Contact Alan John:
alanjohn614@aol.com or apjohn@team-crucible.com
Post from: Spartan Cops

Violence of Action: When force is legally justified and morally necessary, use it

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kote Gaeshi and “The legend of the great and powerful Sensei”

Great class last night. I define a great class as meeting 3 factors:
  1. I achieved my teaching goals / completed the entire lesson plan
  2. I had fun
  3. I learned something from my students

This blog is primarily about that 3rd one.
This next part is going to be fairly style and technique specific. Take what works for you ignore the rest, or just skip to the next part.
I teach joint locks under the premise of a tree and its branches. The trunk is our basic arm bar Ude Osae in Jujutsu or Ikkajo in Aikido. That is our bread and butter joint lock. If I get hold of an arm I'm putting you on the ground with it. Simple, gross motor and easily applicable from both offense and defense. Every other joint lock I teach is a branch from that trunk. Meaning in order to resist that lock the opponent will hand me something else (make my job easier)

Kote Gaeshi
Joint locks are prevalent in Japanese martial arts. An armored samurai is not very vunarable to strikes. However, in order for the samurai to move he has to be able to articulate his joints. Thus he was susceptible to those joints being moved past where they can move naturally, or opposite of the way they were designed to move.

Kote is the armor that protects the wrist. Gaeshi (or Kaeshi) is reversal.
Kote Gaeshi, wrist reversal, or return the wrist.

Many schools teach this technique using a thumb on the back of the hand.
In order for techniques to be applicable in the field you have to be able to do them when you are adrenalized (losing fine motor skills), and in all weather conditions. When it is hot and things are sweaty and slippery. When it is cold and you are wearing mittens or you can't feel / move your fingers. I like to imagine my fingers are broken. If I can do the technique with broken fingers, I can do the technique.

I teach two variations of this lock. From the arm bar if you lose the wrist you can trap the elbow and lock the joint with your shoulder. If you lose the elbow you can trap the wrist and lock joint with your fore arm.

The explanation of why two ways, was one of the things that made last night's class great.

Saying it is one thing but seeing a student (a professional you respect) understand it is another. Not only was he able to feel uke's resistance to the arm bar and use that resistance to his advantage. But he began to instinctively transition to which ever lock naturally became available due to the specific course of uke's resistance. Riding the horse the way it wants to go if you will.

The legend of the great and powerful Kasey.

I am a Sensei, I have students. I have been Sensei to some of these students for nearly 10 years. There is a student teacher relationship that develops.

The thing is, sometimes respect for Sensei turns into deference when training. Case in point, we were working a multiple attacker drill last night. I pinned down one attacker with my knee. Lise (the other attacker) hit me with a one two combo…to my shoulders. I grabbed her and pinned her on top of the other guy. I thought, wow I was really exposed there. Then I thought why the hell did she hit my shoulders?

Lise came up through a Korean system. In that system everything is yes sir, no sir, right away sir. If you dared to disagree with, let alone strike or defeat the Instructor you would be physically punished and publicly embarrassed in front of the class.

At the end of class I like to go around to every student and ask them to share one thing they learned in the class. What I learned last night was I have to somehow get students to flip a switch. When training I can't be treated like "the great and powerful Keckeisen Sensei" I have to be just a guy. I have to be your training buddy. If you don't smack me when I leave myself open to be smacked you are wasting my precious training time. That is disrespectful. That is saying if I really tried Sensei couldn't handle me I better take it easy. Much more disrespectful than smacking me in front of the class. If you can smack me that is AWESOME! You should be proud of yourself. I am proud of you, and we both learn something. If I keep leaving myself open to be smacked maybe I shouldn't be your Sensei. Even a god king can bleed, but Sensei can't learn if you treat him like one.

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe (and go smack your Sensei)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Training Opportunities

I hope I don't come off as an arrogant ass clown when I write this, but there are very few people in the world I would pay money or travel to train with. 

However, the few instructors I seek out I would walk on hot coals to train with.

I have worked hard to develop training sessions with these gifted instructors.

You don't have to walk on hot coals, you can reap the benefits of my hard work

Fall Training Event (The working title is the science of violence but I'm waiting approval form the fellas)
Sept 25th - October 2nd St. Paul Minnesota

Rory Miller and Marc MacYoung (and me)

This seminar will have both Law Enforcement and Civilian classes.
Some of the topics covered will be:
Conflict Communications
Martial Mechanics / Force Physics
Scenario Training
Edged Weapons
Buki Waza (weapons training)

More details to follow as the seminar develops.  I'm mentioning this now because I want to give a solid 6 month heads up to anyone who reads this blog.  That should be plenty of time to save money and vacation days for training.  If you can make it up to Minnesota for the training you owe it to yourself to take advantage of this opportunity. 

Spring Training Event


Each year, Law Enforcement agencies in Minnesota are required to participate in inclement /cold weather fire arms training, and for good reason as it is a necessary skill for our environment.  However, the majority of law enforcement personnel will never have to use their firearm in the line of duty. Conversely every LEO has to control and cuff suspects nearly every shift of their career including the cold weather months.  But LEOs never receive training in this area. The COLD WEATHER ONE-ON ONE CONTROL TACTICS course is an excellent opportunity for Use of Force Instructors to increase their knowledge base and improve the quality of training for their Departments.

The class is taught by Steve Jimerfield.  Jimerfield is a retired Alaskan State Trooper and a state trainer in law enforcement control tactics. 
Cold Weather One-On-One Control Tactics is a defensive tactics system that was developed by Mr. Steven N. Jimerfield after his partner Bruce Heck was killed by a felon in a hand to hand confrontation. The theory behind One-On-One Control Tactics is that movement defeats strength. Application of this principle will allow you to take and retain control of a non-compliant or compliant subjects. One-On-One Control Tactics is an integrated self defense and control tactics system of managing a subject‘s body from various positions and always following through to a handcuffing position.

The One-On-One Control Tactics system took the best techniques from judo, jujitsu and karate, and developed a system that works on the street for police officers. One-On-One Control focuses on gross motor skills, high percentage techniques that are effective for all Law Enforcement Personnel regardless of their size or gender.  This program is not meant to replace the defensive tactics system you have, but will enhance and supplement your program. These techniques will give your officers confidence in hand to hand confrontations both standing and on the ground.

One-On-One Cold Weather Control Tactics protect LEOs physically, legally and they also project a positive public perception.  Over the last 20 years One-On-One Control Tactics have been proven effective in application on the street and 100% defendable in court.  Use of these techniques have resulted in:
           0 – LEO injuries
           0 – Suspect injuries
           0 – Use of Force complaints
 With the courts looking at every contact police officers have with the public, this integrated One-On-One Control Tactics system has been found to be non-obtrusive to the public, while at the same time maintaining officer safety and giving the officer maximum control without causing injury to the suspect or to the officer. This system has been both court and street proven!

This is a 5 day Instructor (train the trainer) course.  May 23rd – May 27th
The class fee is $250 and includes a certificate, Instructor shirt, and Challenge coin.
Classes will be held at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center Training Facility.
425 Grove St. St Paul MN 55101
Class size is limited to 30 students
40 POST credits
To reserve your spot Contact Officer Keckeisen at 763 717 4078 or at kasey.keckeisen@ci.mounds-view.mn.us

This class is open to Law Enforcement and civilian trainers willing to volunteer their time to train Law Enforcement. 

Again if you have any thoughts about teaching professionals how to use force you really have to go to this class

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Samurai, and Knights, and Cowboys Oh My!

This blog has been a bitch.  Several starts and stops.  Lots of “revelations” cross my mind that disappear or won’t translate into words when I sit down to type.
Some broad strokes of what I wanted to discuss
Casey vs. the Bully (Marc beat me to it and knocked it out of the park)
Firearms are America’s martial art
Purpose of traditional weapons training in 21 century America
Physics, Kinesiology, Kinetics, and the chain of power.  The physics of force
Building bridges to previous knowledge
So I challenged myself to turn 6 half assed blogs into one coherent kick ass super blog.  History will judge if I succeeded J
It is a pleasure to train with professionals.   In April I will be presenting SOCT to the Minnesota Special Operations Trainers Association (SOTA) convention.   I have been putting together an Instructor level course for Special Operations Control Tactics in preparation of that presentation.  Mike is a SWAT team leader, Sniper, and another training coordinator who is helping me with this project.  One of the great things about training with professionals is the perspective they bring to training.  In order to be a better SOCT instructor Mike has also started regular training at the Dojo.  Mike and I had a disccussion about martial arts.  He pointed out that fire arms are America’s martial art.  I had to agree and that got me thinking… 
The world always has been and always will be controlled by the aggressive use of force.  Each area has its own arch typical warrior
Japan has the samurai

European countries have the knight

America has the cowboy. 

The legacy of the Cowboy is a key stone to American culture.  Especially in Law Enforcement. 
Just as I have mentioned in previous blogs the further away you get from the time and place these archetypes existed the more watered down the practical / functional aspects become and the more sport /fantasy (romanticized) aspects creep in.  Bull’s eye targets rarely move and never shoot back.  So actual gun fighting is very different than marksmenship competitions.  Humans have been fighting humans since Kane and Able.  There is nothing new under the sun.  There are core fundamentals that are universal to all warrior archetypes from all times and across the globe.

Weapons Training
If you're not training to win a gun fight you're not a cowboy you are a historical reenactor.   If your Buki Waza (Weapons Training) doesn’t reinforce your Oyo Waza (Practical Application) then you are a live action role player.  
I have has some great self training sessions with weapons lately.  If your weapons training has a direct relation to your practical application then you are training those principles universal to all warrior archetypes from all times.  That is the “good stuff”.  There is a reason those archetypes are still around.  Their shit worked they not only survived but thrived in history’s most violent times.  They made history. 
 This type of weapons training acts as a magnifying glass to your fundamentals.  Especially your ability to deliver force into your opponent, or your chain of power.

When you deliver force into an opponent whether it is a strike, lock, or throw that force has to travel through your body into the opponent’s.  Motion creates power, hips accelerate power.  So you drop step (falling with style as Buzz might say) you start the power generation.  You push off your foot.  Every joint between your foot and your opponent is a link in the power chain, and a possible drain of power.  When you add weapons to that you add more links to the power chain.  If I can effectively extend power through a weapon like a Jo or a Bokken into a resistive object like a tree or a B.O.B. I am strengthening and reinforcing structure that allows force transfer.  The more joints you take out of the power chain the less chance for a drain or leak.  So when I use a motion similar to the Bokken strike but deliver it with my elbow, that elbow strike becomes much more powerful due to the Bokken training. 

It is important that you train a few simple motions over and over.  The physics of what makes an entering block (salt over shoulder) work are the same as what makes a Batto Jutsu draw and cut work, a Kenjustu waki shinogi block work, a Kenjutsu Yoko Giri cut work, an Atemi Waza Tegatana Uchi strike work.  One basic fundamental motion makes you better at 100’s of techniques. 
You want to be a master of a few things that work as opposed to being ok at a 1000 different techniques.  Jack of all trades master of none. 

Bridges to previous learning
OK so Mike is at a Kenjutsu class working these fundamental motions because he wants to better understand SOCT (and because he really wants to carry a “tactical” sword on SWAT operations J ).  We are working on the taijutsu (empty hand) relation of these sword motions.  Mike’s motion is very good but his structure is weak.  He has improved his position but he has not affected his opponent’s position.  He cannot control or damage his opponent.  Mike is not a martial artists per say, but he is an expert gunfighter so I relate the structure he needs to the structure of shooting a riffle (gun fighting not target practice).  I go across the dojo and observe some other students.  When I look back Mike had done the same thing.  I start walking back over to him when I see the expression on his face change.  I literally see a light bulb go off above his head.  Well, not literally but you get what I mean.  Mike shifted, and then he had solid structure which he used to control his opponent.  I asked him, “Mike you screwed up I started walking over and you self corrected.  That’s AWESOME!  What did you do, how did you know how to do it”.  Mike replied that he moved the same way then thought if he had to deliver accurate fire with his riffle to his opponent what would he have to do.  Then he did it.  Martial artists would call it aligning his center.  Mike calls it killing bad guys. The point(s) being  -  humans have been fighting humans since Kane and Able.  There is nothing new under the sun.  There are core fundamentals that are universal to all warrior archetypes from all times and across the globe.  Fire arms are America’s martial art.   It is important that you train a few simple motions over and over, fundamental motions makes you better at 100’s of techniques.  Mike already knew what makes Kenjutsu work he just saw it through Cowboy eyes.  It’s fun to work with professionals because of the perspective they bring.
So what can readers do to create their own training experience?
·         Find the relationships between your weapons and empty hands techniques
·         Discover the fundamental principles that make both work
·         Then train the hell out of those principles
Train hard – Train Smart – Be Safe

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I am very busy with the jobs I actually get paid to do this week.  But, I feel an obligation to have at least one blog a week.  So I am stealing a blog Lise wrote last summer about a training experience we shared and my response to her post.

Lise's Blog:
Kasey and I go running out on woodsy trails, designed for hikers, runners and mountain bikers. It’s a great place to get a good workout with all their convoluted trails. Up and down, sharp curves, rocks and tree trunks for obstacles, trying to avoid the mountain bikers racing around the corners. Never a boring moment and anything but an easy run.
Last Saturday, we were getting ready to set out on the trails when he looked at me and said: “You have a 10 seconds head start then I am coming after you. If I catch you I will kill you. Go. NOW.” It’s amazing the amount of adrenaline his statement alone released. Now while Kasey is a friend and I know he would not kill me (I trust him with my life) I was very well aware that if he caught me, there WOULD be pain involved. And when I say “if” I really meant “when”. If this strapping young officer could not catch a little old women half his size, he doesn’t deserve his badge. I don’t know if you have ever seen Kasey or been on the receiving end of his attacks but let me tell you, it’s not all that pleasant. Trying to outrun a highly trained and skilled SWAT operator as him IS nothing short of stressful.

I kicked it in high gear right off the bat. The adrenaline was flowing, my heart racing. The fight and flight response was in full bloom. When your heart rate reaches above 175 bpm, your capabilities start to disintegrate.… loss of peripheral vision (tunnel vision), loss of fine motor skills, loss of cognitive function. While I knew that technically my life was not in danger (we can all survive pain or injuries), the sprinting alone increased my heart rate and brought me well above that 175bpm mark. After about 1/3 miles I was starting to slow down and I could hear his footsteps catching up with me. I started to look for a place to possibly hide … nothing. No dead branches to use as a weapon. My mind was not seeing the other things I could have used…. rocks, sand in the eyes. Soon I came around a corner and I was facing a steep incline covered with a large flat rock. Yup the typical horror/ thriller movie cliché happened… I slipped and fell. Me!!! I DESPISE those scenes where they ALL fall down, twist an ankle, trip… come on…. All you need is to run… can’t you handle it!!! But I see how easy it is to lose your fine motor skills, You lose your capacity to keep your balance when you are under a high stress. This is where training and specifically training with stress inoculation comes in handy.
This was a great way to add reality to training, how to turn a basic run with the potential of being boring into something exciting and most importantly a learning experience. It showed where my skills are lacking and what I need to train harder with.

My reply:

Kasey Keckeisen August 9 at 9:33am
Great blog!!! Sadly many use of force or women's self defense instructors teach very high / complex motor skill techniques for situations where the defender is highly adrenalized and physically incapable of doing those types of techniques. Many of these techniques have never been tested in the situation they proclaim to be an answer to but rather adapted from sport techniques. On a related note we did environmental training in the park on Sunday. It was 95' and probably around 90% humidity. Judo grips didn't work because no one wore a Gi (go figure) Aikido grips didn't work because everyone was slippery with sweat. Gross motor skill grips / techniques worked every time. Lise made me eat a face full of grass. Good physics work no matter what the weather, or the emotional (chemical response) state of the defender. After training I was physically incapable of opening the wrapper to my protein bar. A complex motor skill that I have done 1000's of times. It doesn’t matter how good I am at opening protein bars in controlled situations(sport / dojo). It doesn’t matter if I have a black belt in protein bar wrapper opening. I was physically incapable of doing a technique I was highly skilled at. Moral of the story get good at gross motor skill based techniques and using physics & gravity (all of those things are constant complex motor skills are fleeting)
Lise and I also had a Pepsi challenge drill. Recently there has been a lot of press for a group teaching sport BJJ for woman's self defense. Situation - Large man grabs small female by arm and attempts to pull her off to secondary crime scene.
Sport Bjj Solution - Throw self on back and kick abdominal / groin area. Lise “pulled guard” and I asked her to kick me as hard as she could (Lise can kick hard) all I had to do was fall down(use gravity) and she was trapped under my weight. Scenario ended with me saying this is where I would rape you because your rape defense was to lay on your back and put your legs in the air.
Other Solutions - Use physics to turn my pull against me and break my balance. Run away, inflict damage, or pin to the ground as appropriate. Scenario ended with me saying please stop kneeling on my head.
The only way to learn these hard lessons is to get out in the world and play with people you trust. Or find a teacher that puts in that work and learn from them.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Forge a better sword (Fitness for fighting)

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 there school 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.”

Tanren is the process during the forging of a sword in which the blade is hammered and folded, reducing the carbon content and eliminating impurities to create a strong foundation for the remaining steps of forging.

If you are a professional, if you are paid to protect the innocent, you are society’s sword.  You cut down evil to preserve life.  If you take on that responsibility, you owe it to your self and the people that place themselves in your care to regularly go through a tanren process.  To routinely hammer yourself to remove impurities and create a strong foundation

A painting of the blacksmith Weyland (Norse mythology)

I like to use a poker analogy.  You have to play the hand you are dealt.  Meaning your martial art has to work for you no matter your age, gender, size or fitness level.  But you should always strive to improve your hand.

Your martial art skill should not depend on you being more fit than your opponent.  Also big muscles don’t mean you are a skilled fighter, or that those muscles are good for anything besides looking sexy.

That’s a picture of my buddy Stephen.  I’ve been encouraging him to come back to the Dojo (he was a Shodan in Aikido and trained in Japan for two years) for the last 5 odd years.  He has sexy big muscles.  We have yet to see if those muscles are good for anything besides getting laid. (Really I’m just checking to see if he ever reads my blog J )

My point is if martial art is not a hobby for you.  If combative skill is a requisite of your job (or your survival) you owe it to your self to be the best you, you can be. 

Martial art shouldn’t be reliant on fitness but it sure can be enhanced by it.  If we use tanren as a metaphor for regular fitness training with the intent purpose of improving martial performance in combat then regular workouts become a process of hammering yourself to eliminate impurities to create a strong foundation for the remaining steps of your martial arts training.

I feel that all Dojo time should be used on martial art training.  Far too many instructors cover their lack of skill or knowledge by filling class time with “conditioning drills”.  Many people are lead to believe that the more intense the training is, the better it is.  Having survived an intense situation creates an emotional buy in to the training.  Sadly this intensity over quality is used to create by ins to training that lacks practical application and is marketed at that 18-24 demographic that will survive despite their training not because of it.  Or to possers and wannabes who want a magic solution to their fears (or fantasies)

I can get conditioning drills at yoga booty ballet boot camp.  But it won’t make me a better fighter

Someone can develop the greatest martial art specific work out program in the world and it won’t do a lick of good if you don’t do it.  So, inversely the best work out is one you enjoy doing, and will actually do.

I advocate Dojo time for skill building.  I encourage regular fitness training with the intent purpose of improving martial performance in combat as a supplement to your Dojo training. 

The first step in developing a supplemental fitness program that you will actually do has to be time management.

Time Management
Make a chart:
  • 7 columns Sunday- Saturday across the top
  • As many rows as you need one for each hour from when you wake to when you go to sleep
  • Block out the must do’s
  •             Work
  •             School
  •             Anything that has to be done and it has to be done at a certain time

Now look at the one hour blocks that are open.  If there are none you are going to have to wake up an hour earlier.  I realize that’s not easy, but being a professional warrior is not an easy path.

Ok so let’s break the topic of performance based fitness into three subtopics
Martial art specific

Three different workouts twice a week (48-72 hours rest between the same workout is repeated) means a six day a week commitment.

I know we can all find an hour a day to train.  The key is to get the most bang for you buck.

If you can dedicate an hour for training you want to use that hour to train.  If you have to drive 20 minutes to the gym and 20 minutes back that only leaves 20 minutes to train.

That is why I am a huge fan of body weight training.

Body weight training:
Is free
Can be done anywhere
Can be done any time
And develops practical strength (Go muscles not show muscles)

Here is a link to a site with tons of great workouts you can try

From that site this is one of my favorites and a great place to start if you are not already strength training.
The Pyramid

If you take a look at one of the pyramids, you will notice that it is numbered on both sides. It goes from 1-5 on one side, with the number 6 on the top, and then 5-1 on the other side. Each number represents a step in the pyramid. Your goal is to climb the pyramid all the way up, and all the way back down. So you can consider each step a "set" of your workout.
At the bottom, you will find "pullups x 1, pushups x 2, situps x 3". What this means is that at each "set" or step of the pyramid, you perform 1 pullup for every step you are on, 2 pushups for each step, and 3 situps for each step.

You start at the bottom of the pyramid, at number one. For each set, you multiply each set number by 1 and that tells you how many pullups to do. You multiply it by 2 to get your pushups, and multiply by 3 for situps. You keep progressing until you get to the top of the pyramid, or your maximum effort at muscle failure. At step six you perform 6 pullups/ 12 pushups/18 situps. Now, you start working your way back down the other side and continue on step 5 on the way back down. So, you'll do 5 pullups/10 pushups/15 situps. Keep going until you work all the way back down to one. Listed below is a number summary of the pyramid:
Go Up the Pyramid:
(or half pyramid workout)

- Set/Step 1: 1 pullups/2 pushups/3 situps
- Set/Step 2: 2 pullups/4 pushups/6 situps
- Set/Step 3: 3 pullups/6 pushups/9 situps (Your first few set are basically a warmup)
- Set/Step 4: 4 pullups/8 pushups/12 situps
- Set/Step 5: 5 pullups/10 pushups/15 situps
- Set/Step 6: 6 pullups/12 pushups/18 situps (Here is where you may fail/max out)

Go Down the Pyramid:
(or reverse order pyramid)

- Set/Step 5: 5 pullups/10 pushups/15 situps
- Set/Step 4: 4 pullups/8 pushups/12 situps
- Set/Step 3: 3 pullups/6 pushups/9 situps (Finish cool down)
- Set/Step 2: 2 pullups/4 pushups/6 situps
- Set/Step 1: 1 pullups/2 pushups/3 situps

For cardio jumping rope and running are also free, and available anytime any where

Martial art specific training is where you need to be creative.  Find training methods for improving your performance of your art.  The book “Best Judo” has some great suggestions for this, so does “Judo training methods”.  For striking all of Mas Oyama’s books have great training drills.  Gyaku Homma's books have fantastic weapons training drills.  Take their fundamentals and work out a program specifically for you.

"Subjecting yourself to vigorous training is more for the sake of forging a resolute
spirit that can vanquish the self than it is for developing a strong body."
~Mas Oyama~

The key point with any of this training is to find a time, place and activity that works best for you to improve your combat performance.  AND STICK TO IT!

If you would like help developing your own program you can click
Or call 763-300-3456

Forge a better sword, cut down evil and preserve life.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Grab and Stab

Let’s start this blog by repeating that real world violence happens:
  • Faster
  • Closer
  • Sooner
  • By surprise

So you need to train the way violence happens

In other words not like this

I have worked a “Hand shake shank” drill with Marc and Rory.  You can read in depth how to do it in Rory’s upcoming drill book.  Not giving anything away bad guy uses social skills to close distance (closer) gets you to shake his hand and stabs you with the other one (by surprise) and continues stabbing you like a sewing machine needle (faster) until he is stopped.  It is an eye opening drill.  As in holy shit I’ve spent 20 years of my life perfecting my best  bai sai dai kata and I got murdered 100 times by a street thug with no training and a $5 steak knife type eye opening drill.

I’m not going to give you solutions to the drill.  You can’t be copies of me.  You will learn much more figuring it out for yourselves.  There are things you can do with the hand shake hand / arm.  Things you can do with the knife hand arm.  Just remember the often quoted rules of efficiency.

Rory Miller’s Golden Standard - The technique should:
Improve your position
Worsen the their position
Protect you from damage
Allows you to damage (or control) them.

Marc MacYoung’s standard of effective technique
Every move you do needs to meet three fundamental standards.
These are:
1) It secures your perimeter (keeps you covered)
2) Disrupts his ability to attack you (stuns him, unbalances him, changes his orientation, undermines what he needs in order to attack you)
3) Sets up your next move.
I bring up the hand shake shank drill because it is similar to the drill in this video

I’m not showing this video because I advocate the solution.  I just want you to see the drill.
I call this grab and stab.  I make the distinction because it is much easier to move against someone pulling you in with a hand shake than someone holding you still to deliver stabs.  Being pulled with a hand shake generates momentum and allows for motion (getting off line).  Being held in place sucks.  If I try to enter he can push me back, if I try to open he can pull me in.  All my motion is telegraphed through his controlling arm.  Any motion that doesn’t instantly disable (end in one) leaves me open for multiple stabs.  You simply can’t take that kind of damage.

Again I’m not going to hand you solutions.  However, I will share fundamental concepts that worked for me.  You can use these fundamentals to find your own solutions that suit you best.
So what worked for me?
I couldn’t get off line.  That controlling arm stuck me in zero.  That forced me to block.  I was able to use my arm as a wedge / plow to protect from damage.  The attacker’s movements were also telegraphed through his control arm. But the stabs just kept coming and it was just a matter of time before the attacker would find an angle of attack I couldn’t block.  So I had to stop the stabbing.  I have two free hands to his one.  One arm a wedge / plow to protect from damage the other arm grabbed his wrist ( I didn’t allow him to stab me through the palm like Snake Eyes did in that video a couple of blogs back, but hey there is only one Snake Eyes ) 

Now instead of having to block multiple strikes the confrontation looked more like a Judo match.  He had a grip on my shoulder I had a grip in his wrist and we were both kind of locked in place.
First motion : Improve your position - secure your perimeter – move off line (out of zero).  But like Mick Jagger said you don’t always get what you want.  I was still stuck in zero.  Mick also said if you try sometimes you just find you get what you need.  If Mohammed can’t make it to the mountain, bring the mountain to Mohammed.  If I can’t move out of zero,  I need to move where zero is.

So now that I have his wrist my wedge hand is free.  I can put that on his elbow to lock the joint (push wrist pull elbow) that gives me some control but it won’t end the fight and he is still holding a knife.  With his elbow locked I pulled his arm through like a wrestling arm drag.  This brought him around, gave me his back and put the knife out of my reactionary gap (bought distance, distance = time).  I finished by grabbing his head and throwing him to the ground (ura nage).  Dude just tried to kill you!, the lethal force variation of this throw is fully justified if that is with in your personal capacity for violence.  If you don't know what your capicity for violence is you better figure it out now.  Wrestling with moral decisions while wrestling a knife weilding assaliant will not end well for you.

It is much easier to remove a knife from someone who just had his head bounced off the planet.  Whatever your capacity for violence is,  do not try fine motor joint locks or weapon removals.  Like the advice from last blog if you can’t avoid, run, or transition to better weapons – pin him to the ground then disable his ability to use the knife.

Summary of the fundamentals that worked for me

  1. Wedge / Plow solid structure between knife and my vital organs

  1. Grab wrist, arm drag.  Stuck in zero?, move where zero is.

  1. Throw that ends the conflict or flows into ground control (that ends the conflict) in one motion

Over in 3

So that’s what worked for me.  Go and try this drill.  Find out  what works for you.

Train hard, train smart, be safe.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lessons learned from wrestling (or how to catch a cobra)

I come from a wrestling family.  Both my older brothers were outstanding wrestlers.  Hell, even my sister Kay pinned me routinely through Jr. High.  I started wrestling in 2nd grade.  I wrestled for 10 years until I dislocated my knee (for the 3rd time) my senior year of high school. 



I wish I could say that I have never been pinned.  But I was…all too often.  However, it’s like that old Aerosmith song – sometimes you need to lose to learn how to win.  

I think if you ask any wrestler or any Judoka who lost via oasekomi that there was a point that they mentally gave up and allowed themselves to be pinned.  If you have never been there you may not be able to understand it.  If you have been there (and are honest with yourselves) you understand it but it is hard to articulate it to others. 

When you are stuck it is very frustrating.  You give every thing you have to get that guy off you but you can’t and you gas out, and you can’t breathe, and you just want it to be over.  It is at that point that a part of your brain has to decide to continue fighting or end the pain, effort, embarrassment and just give up.  The ref’s hand will hit the mat and it will all be over.  Better luck next time



In comparison have you ever been punched?  Maybe you were goofing with a buddy and things got too serious.  Maybe it was a straight up meet me after school behind the rock (that’s where kids from Mankato West fought, and smoked, and sometimes both) toe to toe fist fight.  If you have been punched did it make you want to stop fighting?  Or, did it piss you off and make you want to fight back harder?

I remember getting into a fight in 8th grade at a church lock in.  Kid threw a pillow at me and hit me in the eye.  It made my eyes tear up and he made fun of me for crying.  So we squared off and he punched me right in that same eye.  The punch gave me a black eye.  Was that the end of the fight?  Hell no!  Now I was PISSED.  I shot a double leg (my specialty) he tried to get up and turned over.  I threw in my hooks and beat the back of his skull with my fists like a bongo drum until the Pastor pulled me off of him.  I’m not saying I invented ground and pound, I’m just saying J


So in summary from my youthful experience, being pinned resulted in an eventual mental impulse which encouraged me to give up.  Being struck resulted in an urge to resist and fight back.

If your goal is to control another human being why would you use techniques that encourage the resistance of that control?


To control someone you must close distance.  A sniper can end a confrontation from 100’s of yards away, but they can’t take anyone into custody.

For the purpose of control let’s replace the term striking with impact drive.  The purpose is to help me close distance so I can control the subject, not to inflict damage or punish the subject. 

Think of a stiff arm in football.  The goal is to deliver force into the opposing player to achieve your goal, not an outlet for your anger, or to make an example out of the other guy.  The biomechanics for a jab and a stiff arm are the same.  Their purpose and the effect they have on the other party are vastly different.


To make this point Jimerfield Sensei asks how to you catch a Cobra?
In case you don’t know here is a video

The charmer closed distance (as safely as possible) and pinned the snakes head to the ground.

Impact drives are an excellent tool for operators to close distance as safely as possible to pin a control subject to the ground.

But Kasey, you’ve written don’t go to the ground several times on your blog!!!

Yes, yes I have.

I don’t want this to be read as cart blanch approval for going to the ground.  I hate it when BJJ schools advocate throwing yourself on your back and leisurely taking your time for a tap.  There is a difference between ground work, and battleground work.  A few simple rules of thumb:
  • don’t go to the ground if you don’t have to
  • know what to do if you do have to
  • be able to asses the environment /  get back up ( battleground work) as circumstances dictate

There is a historical reason why Judo spends so much time on throws (and less on ground work / ne waza). The ideal of a perfect Ippon, Ippon is if I throw you cleanly the fight is over, just like a knock out in boxing.  Because in combat if I put you on the ground I would stomp on you until you died.  So Judoka trained on putting the enemy on the ground first then worked on controlling them.

So stay off the ground.

However to control someone who does not want to be controlled you need to immobilize them.  There may not be a wall or car hood available, but the ground always is.


Cops have to take resistive subjects to the ground.  This is the source of the 99.9% of all fights end on the ground statistic that BJJ guys like to bandy about.

 LAPD did a statistical analysis of all use of force incidents. 


Yes that is a high percentage; it’s high because the polling data comes from law enforcement that ended violent conflict with cuffing.

100% of my SWAT calls end on the ground in cuffing.  That does not mean I ram a door, grab a subject, “pull guard” and do my best omaplata.

Battleground work:
Not for sport.  The only rules are state use of force statutes, and the moral / ethical boundaries you set for yourself (bad guys don’t follow rules that’s why they are bad)

You need to immobilize someone before you can cuff them (or effectively control them if you are not a LEO). 

Even the finest motor skill joint lock from the most granola eating, tree hugging Aikido school is exponentially more powerful when the opponent is trapped against the ground and all your energy (physics) is being delivered into the joint you are locking. 

In my humble opinion this is the only place pressure point controls work.

So how do you get there?
  • Close distance safely / unbalance
  • Gross motor skill high percentage (with in policy) take down
  • Tactical pin / hold down (osae komi waza)

So what do I mean by a tactical pin?
Any pin that allows me to deliver all my weight through the control subject and also allows me to:
  • Keep my head up scanning / assessing
  • Quickly transition back to standing address additional threats
  • Access my weapons
  • Keeps my hands free for
·                           Cuffing
·                           Transition to other weapons
·                           Kansetsu waza
·                           Shime waza

All One on One Control Tactics end this way, but the best example is the thigh lock


(that’s me getting my ass kicked)


On that last video you heard Jimerfield Sensei speak about an adrenal dump.  That works as a nice transition to the judicious use of battleground work.

Abuse of ground work is as detrimental to controlling a subject as the misuse of strikes.  If you are reading this because you are a LEO that already trains on a regular basis, that is great.  I wish more people trained in martial arts.  Next time you go to the Dojo look around.  I’ll bet the majority of other students are upper middle class men between 25 – 40 years old.  Now look at your arrest statistics, especially those encounters with actively resisting subjects.  Different demographic?  Where am I going with this?  Is this my plea for “social justice”?

My point is that the people LEOs arrest the most often are those on the fringe of society and in low socioeconomic classes.  They are distinctly different than your training buddies at the Dojo.  The stuff that works at the Dojo on your buddies works differently on the street on society’s fringe members.

As a rule of thumb drinking and use of recreational pharmaceuticals is usually discouraged before class.  So when I throw a lock or a choke on a guy the signal that - ouch this sucks, the cognitive process of what do I need to do to stop this from sucking, and the tap out ( sign of surrender) happens very quickly.

That is why biomechanical control (pinning) first is so important.  When the control subject can’t move due to physics not pain compliance it doesn’t matter whether he can feel pain or not.  Physics are physics no matter how drunk, drugged, determined, or deranged they are.  From there you can use pain to encourage compliance.  But you have to realize that that the pain message and figuring out that cooperation = end of pain will take longer and you have to allow them to comply.

On this point Marc MacYoung told me to quote him directly so I quote “Kasey, the return trip to good behavior is always free”  You can see this clearly in the Thigh lock video.  You can add and release pressure as needed to gain compliance.

Also in street culture (like battle field Judo) going to the ground equals death.  If you are arresting anyone, but especially members of the fringe you have to make that trip back to good behavior free.  If you continue to crank up the pain they will figure no matter what I do he is gong to kill me.  My only recourse is to fight back as if my life depended on it.  There is the adrenal dump Jimerfield addressed.



In social violence there are terms of surrender.  If you violate those terms be prepared to fight for your life.  Social violence occurs between two equals (or near enough) If you continue to fight him you are sending the signal that you believe him to be on the same level as you reinforcing his will to fight.  You are sending the signal that he stands a chance.  You are a professional he shouldn’t stand a chance in hell against you. 

The best explanation of zanshin I have ever heard is that zanshin is like a cat playing with a mouse.  The cat just batted the mouse but it watches it prepared to bat it down again.  The guy you pinned knows you are the cat.  You don’t need to prove you are the cat to anyone.  You want the fight to end?  Give the mouse a face saving out.  No one wants to be a bitch (no wrestler wants to be a fish – someone who flops on their back and gets pinned) but they do want the pin to end.  Let them end it gracefully.  “Hey man you’re a tough guy I don’t want to fight you put you hands behind you back”.  Or as Rory uses “Thank you for not fighting me, I know you could have put up a hell of a fight.  I’m glad you didn’t”

Remember a professional's job is to control violent people.  The goal is efficiency.  If your actions are not leading to that goal but are punishing the violent for being bad, that is assault.  Any asshole can commit assault.  Professionals get the job done.

So now you know and knowing is ½ the battle.  Let’s go catch some Cobras