Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book review - "Becoming Batman"

After recent conversations we have had, and after my last blog (Batman by 40) my good buddy Lise couldn't wait until Christmas and gave me my gift early.

No it wasn't bat-undies to wear outside my pants

Nor was it the life like Jessica Biel robot I requested

It was a copy of E. Paul Zehr's "Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero"

Book Description:
Publication Date: November 7, 2008

Battling bad guys. High-tech hideouts. The gratitude of the masses. Who at some point in their life hasn't dreamed of being a superhero? Impossible, right? Or is it?

Possessing no supernatural powers, Batman is the most realistic of all the superheroes. His feats are achieved through rigorous training and mental discipline, and with the aid of fantastic gadgets. Drawing on his training as a neuroscientist, kinesiologist, and martial artist, E. Paul Zehr explores the question: Could a mortal ever become Batman?

Zehr discusses the physical training necessary to maintain bad-guy-fighting readiness while relating the science underlying this process, from strength conditioning to the cognitive changes a person would endure in undertaking such a regimen. In probing what a real-life Batman could achieve, Zehr considers the level of punishment a consummately fit and trained person could handle, how hard and fast such a person could punch and kick, and the number of adversaries that individual could dispatch. He also tells us what it would be like to fight while wearing a batsuit and the amount of food we'd need to consume each day to maintain vigilance as Gotham City's guardian.

A fun foray of escapism grounded in sound science, Becoming Batman provides the background for attaining the realizable-though extreme-level of human performance that would allow you to be a superhero.

First the cons (what I didn’t like)

The first 3 chapters are very sciency.  Dry and kind of hard to get through, seemed overly detailed.
Na├»ve ideas about violence and the use of force.  It was written from the distinct perspective of a dojo martial artist that has never or very rarely encountered violence out side of training.

Much emphasis was placed on waiting to be attacked then defending, and Batman going out of his way not to hurt criminals.

I have discussed my beliefs on this blog about the need to start with high levels of effective force fast then ease up as control is gained ending confrontations quickly.

Batman is already at a disadvantage by an unwillingness to use lethal force even when completely justified.
As addressed here:
“I'll count the dead, one by one. I'll add them to the list, Joker. The list of all the people I've murdered by letting you live.”

Because of this unwillingness to use justified lethal force Batman has to be punishing at non lethal, to survive and build the reputation that will allow him to accomplish control with simple presence.  If you commit crimes and the Batman catches you are going to be maimed or crippled

As addressed here: 
[Rookie Cop: You've crippled that man!
Batman: He's young. He'll walk again. (But he will stay scared)]

I guess I am just more of a fan of Frank Miller’s vision of Batman than Neil Adams’ because it makes much more sense to me.

Here are some more quotes from Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”

There are seven working defenses from this position. Three of them disarm with minimal contact. Three of them kill. The other-- [KRAKK] --hurts.

No, Joker. You're playing the wrong game. The old game. Tonight you're taking no hostages. Tonight I'm taking no prisoners.

I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.

Thug: No! Stay back, I got RIGHTS!!!
Batman: You've got rights, lots of rights. Sometimes I count them just to make me feel crazy... But right now you've got a piece of glass shoved in a major artery in your arm, right now you're bleeding to death. Right now I'm the only one person in the world who can get you to a hospital in time!.

Ok ok fan boy moment over back to the review -

As detailed as the biology and neurology are, there is very little information on human stress reactions to interpersonal violence.  Tons of information on concussions and the like (how the brain reacts to injury) but nothing on how the brain reacts to violence

I would have liked studies of cops and troops.  Or even references to research by Lt Grossman, and Dr Lewinski would have been very germane to Bruce Wayne’s (or anyone’s) preparation to use force (violence) and dealing with the consequences of a lifestyle in which violent traumatic incidents are a regular occurrence.

(Lt Grossman)  http://www.killology.com/

Now the pros (what I did like)
The 1st 3 chapters are worth it.  Although dry and overly detailed, Zehr references this information in nearly every other chapter in a very interesting way.  It was kind of like Danielsan painting the fence and waxing off (don’t get cute with that).  It was tedious at the time but it made sense eventually and was totally worth it later.  If this was used as a high school biology text book I would have got much better grades.

I really enjoyed the explanations of how the body responds to training.

The type of training that would be needed to be a crime fighter:
  • Base level strength
  • Activity specific power (explosiveness) training
  • Martial Arts training
  • What and how much you would need to eat to accomplish that
  • The effects of sleep depravation and maintaining that high of an activity
  • How best to mitigate those effects as you age

I agreed with Zehr’s assumptions of the type of Martial Arts training Bruce would need to under go and what it would take to maintain that skill level.

So in conclusion, I enjoyed this book very much it seemed to be written specifically for me.
Yet another tool in my arsenal to become batman by 40.

So if you like:
  • Martial Arts
  • Strength Training
  • Science
  • Comic Books
  • Or ant combination of the above

Go out and buy this book

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe and….always be yourself, unless you can be Batman, then always be Batman

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Batman By 40

Merry Christmas readers of the Budo Blog.

Well, it’s that time of the year again when everyone starts making new years resolutions.  I don’t usually follow crowds, fitness is a year round commitment.  But I have decided to tweak a thing or two, and it just so happens that I am tweaking them this time of the year, so I thought I would share them (the tweaks) with you.

The super soldier project has worked very well for me.  Increased strength and mass with injury free training.  The flip side of the project was that to help assure the injury free requirement over all activity decreased (caloric intake did not) and not all of the mass that was added was muscle.

That is fine I am not a bikini model.  As long as I can do all the things I love to do well and exceed all the fitness standards required by my profession, I can walk around with a couple of extra lbs.  I mean I just ran a 8:15 mile on my most recent PT test.  That might not be great but it is the fastest I have ever run a mile.

So, if it aint broke why fix it?  Why make any tweaks at all?

I was looking at the fitness portion of military.com and came across the Spec Ops fitness challenge

I can exceed all of the minimum standards….except run 5 miles in 40 minutes.  I have to bust my ass to run one 8 minute mile, much less five of them in a row.

That did not sit well with me

Fuck that noise, I am the Gorilla King – I can do any thing!

So I decided that I’m going to beat the Spec Ops fitness challenge.  It won’t be easy but nothing worth doing is.  In order to achieve that I’m going to have to tweak some things.  Basically I am going to have to become Batman.

So I started adapting the Super Soldier Project into operation……

Batman by 40

I figure a lighter frame will be easier to move 5 miles in 40 minutes, and Batman is so ripped you can see his abs through his body armor.  So part of the Batman by 40 project is drop from my current 255 down to a lean 225.

In order to do that intelligently, activity has to increase and unnecessary caloric intake needs to decrease.

Increased activity:
Several times when I have been revved up about a project like this, determination has led to over training and set backs.  So I need to be smart about this from the beginning.  Also, although I have set a running goal, I am not primarily a runner, nor do I want to become one.  I want that 40 min 5 mile to be a reflection of my overall higher standard of fitness rather than becoming a wanna be marathoner.

So I need to increase cardio activity to burn calories and help make running easier with out over training or being detrimental to other necessary (Operational) skill sets.  I also need to be able to do this before work with out giving up a bunch of restorative sleep.

That is a big order, this is what I came up with

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
I can work specific martial arts skills sets (striking, evasions, ground movement, Kenjutsu) and get my heart rate up.  The work outs last 20-30 minutes and kick my ass.  Best of all I can do them in my basement in my underwear (don't go falling in love) so all I have to do is crawl out of bed and go down stairs.  

Much higher success percentage than having to wake up even earlier bundle up in winter exercise gear brave the Minnesota winter and run outside.  Plus I’m much less likely to slip on the ice and wreck my self in my basement (injury free mandate)

I developed 3 AM cardio workouts (changing it up prevents repetitive use injuries and makes it more fun)
1 Heavy Bag and Jump Rope
2 Suburi and animal crawls
3 Fundamental motions Tabata

Ok, so activity increased in a way that won’t lead to over training.  What about calories decreased?

First things first, I like to eat obviously.  So I figured eat lots of good stuff so I won’t have room for not so good stuff.  Keep it simple drink more water drink less Diet Dew.  That will be tough for me because I’m hooked on the Dew, but if it was easy everybody would be Batman

Not all that much different than what I am doing now except cutting down (if not entirely out) cheese, egg yolks, and red meat.  Don’t go crazy I still love America.  I’ll will still be eating red meat.  Just not every meal, every day

Mostly the tweak will be in consistent monitoring of intake.  You don’t have to be a weirdo writing down every thing you eat to monitor this any more.  With the my fitness pal app just look it up or take a picture of the bar code and it does the math for you.

Will I be perfect, no.  Will I have a cheat every now and then to stay sane, fuck yes.  But having a plan, knowing roughly what your max intake limits are make it easier to keep to your nutritional goals.

Running 5 miles in 40 minutes

With time restraints placed on running by work and other types of training (AM cardio, strength training, Martial Arts, Firearms etc…) , and to maintain the injury free mandate I can only commit to running 2x per week.  One on a treadmill during the work week and one out in nature on the weekend.

On treadmill days I have developed an interval program.  If my plan works I will increase the speed roughly .1 mph per week over the next 78 weeks.

Bat Man By 40 Summary:
  • 225lbs
  • 40 Min 5 mile
  • 6 min 1 mile
  • 15 pull ups in one minute
  • 60 push ups in one minute
  • 60 sit ups in one minute
  • 20 dips in one minute

Program (action plan)
  • AM cardio
    • 1 Heavy Bag and Jump Rope
    • 2 Suburi and animal crawls
    • 3 Fundamental motions Tabata
  • Suspension Body Weight Strength Circuit Training
  • Goal Oriented Running Program
  • Monitoring nutritional intake
I post this her so that anyone interested can also try to be Batman.  I didn't go into much detail beacuse the training is specific to me.

If you want to figure out a program for your goals I suggest checking out "The underground guide to warrior fitness" by Ross Enamait

And lastly just a warning after I crush the spec ops fitness challenge and am totally shredded I will be unbearably cocky and rarely wear a shirt.

Kind of like this 

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

“Invincible” and other myths.

There was a time in my career when I didn’t own a mourning band for my badge.  Cops getting killed were few and far between (in Minnesota at least)

I started working for a metropolitan area police department and was issued one after the death of an officer (in a surrounding metro area department). Still these happened far enough apart that I would lose the band and have to be issued a new one when an officer fell.

Before I sat down to write this I put on the band again.  It was right wear I left it last time I needed it a few months ago.

Another Officer was murdered in the line of duty.

Police officer fatally shot in ‘ambush’ in central Minn. town; suspect arrested

COLD SPRING, Minn. — A six-year police veteran described as a “hometown boy” has been shot to death in what authorities called an ambush killing.
Officer Tom Decker was responding to a report of a suicidal man late Thursday when he was shot twice after getting out of his squad car near an apartment behind a bar in downtown Cold Spring. He died at the scene.
Ryan Michael Larson, 34, of Cold Spring, was being held Friday on suspicion of second-degree murder. The county attorney’s office was considering criminal charges.
Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner said his department got a call about 9 p.m. from Larson’s family members that he might be suicidal. Cold Spring police went to his home once and couldn’t raise anyone, then returned almost two hours later.
It was on the second trip that Decker was shot. He was wearing a bulletproof vest.
“It’s apparent to us the officer was ambushed at the scene,” said Drew Evans, assistant superintendent of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Police with dogs worked in an apparent search for a gun Friday near the site of the shooting in Cold Spring, about 20 miles southwest of St. Cloud. Brian Moen, who lives about a block from the bar, said officers who came to his door told him they were looking for a sawed-off shotgun.
Cold Springs Police Chief Phil Jones described Decker as a “chief’s dream.” Jones said Decker grew up on a farm south of town, and after graduating from college, worked at several small Minnesota police departments before coming home for what he called his dream job.
“He was a hometown boy,” Jones said.
He described Decker as the “department jokester” on a force with only eight full-time officers. Decker served as the department’s instructor on firearms and use of force.
“Not only did I have no problems with him, but he was the type of officer who accumulated six letters of appreciation and commendation in six years with us,” Jones said. “We lost an officer, the community lost a citizen.”
Decker leaves behind a wife and four children from a previous marriage — two daughters ages 8 and 7 and two sons ages 6 and 5.
Joe Decker, his younger brother, told The Associated Press that Tom Decker loved to travel and be outdoors. Joe Decker said his brother was shy and reserved as a youngster but became outgoing and gregarious as an adult.
“He was one of those people who’d be the life of the party,” Joe Decker said.
His mother, Rosella Decker, told the Star Tribune that the family knew Tom’s profession was dangerous.
“He had a lot of little close calls, and he would tell me about them afterward,” she told the newspaper.
Larson had drawn police attention before in the community of about 4,000, mostly for traffic-related offenses but once in an abuse case.
In 2009, he reached a plea agreement to settle a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge for engaging in behavior that could “arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others.” As part of the plea deal, he served a day in jail and had another three months stayed, but he agreed to undergo domestic abuse counseling. A no-contact order was issued. Court files indicated he violated his probation in 2010.
Civil court records show Larson was sued more than once over outstanding debt and was evicted from a rental property in 2008 for failing to pay his rent.
Larson’s relatives either couldn’t be reached or declined to comment. One said she wasn’t sure whether Larson had an attorney.
Larson is a second-year machine tool student at St. Cloud Technical & Community College, said Heidi Everett, a spokeswoman for St. Cloud Technical & Community College.
Condolences came from fellow police officers in other Minnesota departments and from elected officials, including Gov. Mark Dayton.
“Cold Springs Police Officer Tom Decker was senselessly murdered last night, while acting in the line of duty,” the governor said. “On behalf of the people of Minnesota, I extend my deepest sympathies to his family and to the Cold Springs Police Department for their tragic loss of an outstanding officer, father and friend. Officer Decker died, while protecting his fellow citizens. For his heroism, we will be forever grateful.”
Associated Press writers Brian Bakst in St. Paul, Minn., and Dinesh Ramde in Milwaukee contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

I have posted after action reviews of use of force incidents on this blog several times.
I always start with a standard disclaimer:
  • I don’t second guess Officers from the safety of my key board miles and hours away from the threat
  • I was not there
  • The only information available at this time is from the media (take with salt)

I usually end the disclaimer with something like:
  • I post this here not to judge but so that we all can learn something from the incident.

After some hard retrospection I have to call bullshit on myself with that last one.
It is true I post incidents like this so we all can learn something from the incident.  However, while not being critical, deep down I think all Operators are looking for something to judge.

A friend of my wife’s commented recently that I am an aging cop with a narcissistic personality disorder.
What?, Me?, the only disorder I suffer from is an acute case of awesomeness.

All kidding aside if I didn’t have that cocky swagger, I wouldn’t have been able to do the things I have done and survived.  Because I have survived the things I have done I have a cocky swagger.

All Operators want to be “Invincible” so I have to admit I am looking for something that the Officer did, or a negative quality he possessed.  Something I would never do, something I would never be that would ensure that the circumstances that killed some else doing the exact same job I do would never kill me.

Never second guessing, but a voice in the back of my head whispers, that guy was fat, she can’t shoot, this guy’s tactics suck.  They died, I’d be fine.  I’m Kasey Fucking Keckeisen.  I’m kind of a big deal. (Narcissistic?)

Officer Decker was young (younger than me)
Officer Decker was fit
Officer Decker was his department’s firearms instructor (just like me)
Officer Decker was his department’s DT instructor (just like me)
Officer Decker walked up to the door on a check the welfare call (just like I have done 100’s of times)
Officer Decker was ambushed and assassinated.

So standard after action review disclaimer:
I don’t second guess Officers from the safety of my key board miles and hours away from the threat
I was not there
The only information available at this time is from the media (take with salt)
I post this here not to judge but so that we all can learn something from the incident.

There is no secret flaw to find comfort in.  Nothing I can point at and say I would never do that, but we can all learn from his fatal mistake.

So what can we learn from this?
How do you go on calls like this knowing that even the best of us can fall?

Open ended question really.  No good answers that I can provide.

Basically you go on those calls because someone has to go on those calls.

Chance favors the prepared mind.  Do every thing you can to be the best there is at what you do ahead of time.  Assume you will have to use the highest levels of force on every encounter and be pleasantly surprised when you don’t.

I don’t mean treat a lift assist like a hostage rescue operation.  Remember the lessons of the werewolf.  Hide this readiness and willingness to use force from the people you are helping until you need to show it.  But always have that readiness and willingness to use force, always assume you will have to use the highest levels of force on every encounter and be pleasantly surprised when you don’t.  The other way around is very hard to recover from.

Even with all of that sometimes even the best of us fall.

Chance favors the prepared mind.  Despite the officer friendly, community policing, social worker in body armor many would like law enforcement to be, it is still and will always be a warrior’s profession.

As such you risk death every shift. 
Are you ready?  Do you have your shit together?  Will your family be taken care of financially if you die?  Are you cool with your loved ones?  Are you good with your God if you have one?

If you answered no to any of the above, get your shit together.  Get your life insurance ironed out.  Hug the loved ones you live with before you leave for work, it might be the last time you do.  Do you really want to argue with your spouse about the pile of dishes in the sink?  Do you want your last word to your spouse to be do the fucking laundry? 

Do what you need to do to be good with the people you love. 
If you have religious beliefs do what you need to do to be good with your God.
Not only in the case of your death, but in taking the life of someone else as well.

You have a warrior’s profession and as such death is reality of your job.  Even the best of us can fall.  None of us are invincible (even the cocky ones that have their own blogs).  However, ironically, being ready to die (for lack of a more eloquent term) increases your chances of living. 

Having your shit together lessens the likelihood of freezing in conflict and greatly diminishes the length of a freeze.  Having your shit together, being prepared for death increases your quality of life.  (Don’t sweat the small stuff)

"For those who have fought for it, life has a special flavor the protected will never know"
A few words written by an anonymous Marine, taken from a now famous combat ration box in Vietnam

I remember a great story I read in a book called “Tales of the Samurai” given to me by Tom Moore Sensei.

The story was about a samurai that received a post protecting a Daimyo.  A political appointment as this samurai had very little training.  The samurai was terrified that he would fail his lord so he sought out a sword master and told him his situation.  The master made him tie a sword above his bed by a slim string and fall asleep every night knowing he could die at any moment.  After a certain time the samurai went to the master asking to be instructed in technique.  The master drew his sword and slashed.  The samurai no longer afraid of death simply moved out of the way.  The master wrote out the samurai’s certificate of mastery on the spot.  He said something along the lines of (and I wish I remember this exactly) you know how to die, come back tomorrow and I will teach you the sword.

Paraphrasing – having your shit together is more important to a warrior than any tactic or technique because it allows you to employ those tactics and techniques.  Skill in technique you are unable to do because you are unprepared to die is worthless

Tecumseh wrote:
So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. 

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.

Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

You go on those calls because someone has to.  God bless you for it, and bless the families that support you

None of us are invincible, even the best of us fall

My heart goes out to the family of Officer Decker one of the best of us

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Even though this a solemn occasion, it wouldn’t be the budo blog with out some sort of pop culture reference.  So even though this comes from a science fiction / horror television show Dean makes some good points about “having your shit together” at the funeral of a friend.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

License to kill

Castle Doctrine

A Castle Doctrine (also known as a Castle Law or a Defense of Habitation Law) is an American legal doctrine that designates a person's abode (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as a car or place of work) as a place in which the person has certain protections and immunities and may in certain circumstances use force, up to and including deadly force, to defend against an intruder without becoming liable to prosecution. Typically deadly force is considered justified, and a defense of justifiable homicide applicable, in cases "when the actor reasonably fears imminent peril of death or serious bodily harm to himself or another".The doctrine is not a defined law that can be invoked, but a set of principles which is incorporated in some form in the law of most states.

The term derives from the historic English common law dictum that "an Englishman's home is his castle". This concept was established as English law by 17th century jurist Sir Edward Coke, in his The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628. The dictum was carried by colonists to the New World, who later removed "English" from the phrase, making it "a man's home is his castle", which thereby became simply the Castle Doctrine. The term has been used in England to imply a person's absolute right to exclude anyone from their home, although this has always had restrictions, and since the late twentieth century bailiffs have also had increasing powers of entry.

The Castle Doctrine is not a license to kill

Minnesota man who killed teens in break-in charged with murder
By NBC News staff and wire services

A 64-year-old Minnesota man was charged Monday with murder for killing two teenagers who he said broke into his Little Falls home, shooting them in the head, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Byron David Smith was arrested after he told police he shot and killed two teenagers who he said were breaking into his home on Thanksgiving Day.

"If you're trying to shoot somebody and they laugh at you, you go again," Byron David Smith of Little Falls told investigators, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.

Smith was charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Haile Kifer, 18, and her cousin, Nicholas Brady, 17, both of Little Falls. The teens were shot on Thanksgiving Day, but their deaths weren't reported until Friday.

Brady has also used the name Schaeffel, which is his mother’s maiden name, at times for family reasons, according to the sheriff's office.

In the criminal complaint, Smith said he was in the basement of his remote home about 10 miles southwest of Little Falls when he heard a window breaking upstairs, followed by footsteps that eventually approached the basement stairwell. Fearful after several break-ins, according to the complaint, Smith said he fired when Brady came into view from the waist down.

After the teen fell down the stairs, Smith said he shot him in the face as he lay on the floor.
"I want him dead," the complaint quoted Smith telling an investigator.

Smith said he dragged Brady's body into his basement workshop, then sat back down on his chair, and after a few minutes Kifer began coming down the stairs. He said he shot her as soon as her hips appeared, and she fell down the steps.
Smith said he tried to shoot her again with his Mini 14 rifle, but that the gun jammed and Kifer laughed at him.

"Smith stated that it was not a very long laugh because she was already hurting," according to the complaint.
Smith said he then shot Kifer in the chest several times with a .22-caliber revolver, dragged her next to Brady, and with her still gasping for air, fired a shot under her chin "up into the cranium."
"Smith described it as 'a good clean finishing shot,'" according to the compliant, but also that he acknowledged he had fired "more shots than (he) needed to."

The following day he asked a neighbor to recommend a good lawyer, according to the complaint. He later asked his neighbor to call the police.

A prosecutor called Smith's reaction "appalling."
"Mr. Smith intentionally killed two teenagers in his home in a matter that goes well beyond self-defense," Morrison County Attorney Brian Middendorf said after Smith appeared at Morrison County District Court on Monday morning. Bail was set at $2 million.
Minnesota law allows a homeowner to use deadly force on an intruder if a reasonable person would fear they're in danger of harm. Smith told investigators he was afraid the intruders might have a weapon.

Smith's actions "sound like an execution" rather than legitimate self-defense, said David Pecchia, executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association. Pecchia said his statements to investigators suggest he had eliminated any threat to his safety by wounding the cousins.

Smith's brother, Bruce Smith, told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that the incident was the eighth burglary at Byron Smith's home in recent years.

The only report the Morrison County sheriff's office has for a break-in at the home was for one on Oct. 27. It shows Byron Smith reported losing cash and gold coins worth $9,200, plus two guns worth $200 each, photo equipment worth more than $3,000 and a ring worth $300.

Little Falls is about 100 miles northwest of Minneapolis.
Brady's sister, Crystal Schaeffel, told the Star Tribune that Kifer had broken into her home before. Little Falls police records show Crystal Schaeffel reported a theft Aug. 28, but the department said the report was not public because that investigation was continuing and because it named juveniles.

Tessa Ruth, an aunt of Brady, attended Smith's hearing. She told the Star Tribune she wished the man had fired a warning shot or alerted the police instead of shooting the teens.
"It wasn't right for them to be there and, yes, he had a right to defend himself. But to execute them like that..."

I have written it on this blog many times before, but some things bare repeating, so let’s hit the basics again – IMOP

For the use force to defend yourself to be justified the threat must be immediate.
In order to be an immediate threat, an individual must display (and you must be able to clearly articulate how you  knew) three (sometimes four) things:
  • Intent
  • Means
  • Opportunity
  • Preclusion (civilians)

Intent is the desire to do something bad, e.g. harm you, or a third party; break a law; or refuse to comply with a lawful order.

From the information available it is clear the cousins were breaking a law, but clearly showed no intent to harm Smith.

It seems that the cousins didn't even know Smith was even in the house. 

Why would an unarmed 18 year old girl walk down stairs if she knew her cousin had been killed and the man who just killed him was still down there waiting for her?

Remember self defense is an affirmative defense.  Meaning you are stating yes, I did kill these people, but it isn’t murder because…

Because it is an affirmative defense the burden of proof is on you.  So in regards to intent prosecutors may ask, “Are you a mind reader?  How could you possibly know what was going on in the mind of the deceased?”

We are very good at reading intent but many of us are very poor at articulating intent.  (Another reason why it is so important to include articulation exercises into your training).

You can’t read anyone’s mind but their actions (even very subtle ones)  will display their intent.  (Not unlike a tell in poker).

Did the cousins’ actions display any intent to harm Smith?  Would a reasonable person in the same circumstance shoot someone the moment they saw the potential threat’s legs as they walked down the stairs? 
In a self defense situation you have to ask yourself – Do I need to engage?

If you have time to ask the question you most likely don’t.  If you don’t have time to ask the question you better already be engaging.

When Smith heard the window break he had plenty of time to employ a multitude of other self defense strategies besides the use of lethal force.

If those strategies failed, it would show a clear intent on the part of the cousins to harm Smith.
Don’t read that last sentence as me suggesting to attempt a lower level of force than justified.  Rather reinforcing the need for all to understand what level of force is necessary and the ability to articulate why not only that the force you used was just but also why lower level of force wouldn't have worked.

Generally the level of resistance dictates or greatly influences the level of force appropriate, mirroring the “commensurate harms doctrine”.

If nothing but your feelings can get hurt, you cannot escalate it to pain. 

If no injury is offered, but there is a duty to act (or you cannot escape) and lower levels will not work, ‘commensurate harms’ allows pain, but not injury. 

If injury is offered, injury, but not death, is the answer.

If death is threatened, death is on the table.

Contrary to popular belief someone breaking into your house does not automatically justify lethal force.

A kid that comes home from college, has a couple of drinks and stumbles into the wrong house because all the houses in his parent’s subdivision basically look all the same is a world apart from MS13 kicking in your door to commit atrocities against you and your family heinous enough that they send a message to the entire area.

You will know the difference, we are very good at reading intent but many of us are very poor at articulating intent. 

The threat must have the ability to carry out intent.
A person threatening to shoot you must have a gun to be an immediate threat, for instance.

An unarmed teen aged girl at the top of the steps does not have the means to harm an armed adult man all the way down in the basement.

The threat must be able to reach you with the means.

If an Internet tough guy in a different country doesn’t like this blog and threatens to punch me, he clearly has no opportunity to do so even if he has the intent (threatened to punch me) and the means (because he is so tough)

Again, in both cases an unarmed person at the top of the steps does not have the opportunity to harm Smith all the way down in the basement.

Preclusion generally means if you don’t have to be there get out of there.  Before you use force you have to show that you attempted to leave (remove opportunity).  If the threat prevents you from leaving it helps make your case that the use of force was justified. 

The castle doctrine recognizes that someone does not have to leave their own house and has a right to stand their ground and defend themselves there.  So preclusion does not apply in this case. 

But as I stated earlier in this blog the castle doctrine is not a license to kill.

The use of force ends when the threat is no longer immediate.  The means and / or the opportunity no longer exist.

When Smith shot them and they fell down the stairs the cousins clearly no longer had the means to harm Smith.

Walking over to a threat laying on the ground, suffering from a gun shot wound.  Burying the muzzle of your gun under his jaw to deliver a “clean finishing shot”, “into the cranium” is not self defense.

"If you're trying to shoot somebody and they laugh at you, you go again,"  "Smith stated that it was not a very long laugh because she was already hurting," – That is not self defense.

 You also have an obligation to render aid.  You don’t have to start 1st aid yourself but you at least have to call the authorities so that help can be sent.

You sure as shit can’t just chill out for a day and a half with two corpses in you basement.

Obviously those kids shouldn’t have been in this guys house, but this whole incident could have been resolved so much easier.

It is a tragedy for all involved, and I am sorry for the families.

Castle doctrine is a sound principle.  I hope it’s misuse does not remove it’s protections from responsible citizens.

Knowledge of force laws will not cause you to freeze under pressure anymore than knowledge of traffic laws will cause you to freeze when you suddenly need to change lanes in traffic.

Make sure you know you local laws.

If you teach others to how use force you have an obligation to teach them when force is justified

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lambs and Lions

Lion and Lamb 3 LionLamb.jpg

Earlier this month we had the fire arms qualification, physical agility testing, and stress shoot portions of the of the SWAT test.  This week I sat on the panel for the interview portion of the test.  The reason I mention it is because an interesting discussion / debate occurred between the members on the interview panel that I felt would be educational / entertaining to the readers of the Budo Blog.

The panel had the combined (stress shoot and qualification) shooting score, the physical agility score, and the overall score (combined shooting and physical agility) for each candidate.

Our job on the interview panel was to assign a score based on their response to our questions, and to come up with an overall score.

This overall score would be used to rank the candidates and the top candidates from this list would be asked to join the team on a probationary basis.

The discussion / debate revolved around how weigh the test scores.

Should it be 33% shooting, 33% fitness, and 33% interview?

Should it be 50 / 50 between combined shooting / fitness and interview?

The opinion I gave to the panel is roughly as follows:

For me the physical agility and shooting portion is used to set a baseline and assure that candidates meet a certain level of proficiency.  Basically meaning they are skilled enough to work with.  That we don’t have to rebuild them from scratch.

Ideally these tests reflect the lifestyles and the habits of the candidate.

What I mean by this is that candidates that exercise regularly to maintain their fitness will score much better than someone who just started working out in order to pass the pt test.

I would rather work with someone for whom fitness is a regular part of their life and maybe picked it up a notch or switched a few things up in order to max the pt test as opposed to someone who is already a professional law enforcement officer but doesn’t take that job / responsibility seriously enough to maintain their fitness, and needed the possibility of joining an elite law enforcement unit to inspire them to start doing what I consider the bare requirements of their job.

The same applies to firearms skills.  Candidates that train regularly to maintain their shooting skills will score much better than someone who just started doing things on their own in order to pass the shooting portion of the SWAT test.

The test will also favor those smart enough to seek out help.  Shooting on your own time with your own money is a huge step up over most other law enforcement officers. 

However, as I’ve stated on this blog many times before – practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.

It doesn’t do you much good to go to the range on your own and practice missing.  Much better to seek out the help of someone you know is a good shot, and can help you become better.

[I was very fortunate to know Greg Sullivan through martial arts connections.  “Sully” as he is known is a fantastic firearms instructor.  Before I applied for the team back in the day, he helped me get rid of some bad habits I wouldn’t have been able to get rid of by just training on my own.

“Sully” if you ever read this, thank you.]

Again, I would rather work with someone for whom firearms skill is a regular part of their life.  Maybe they sought out someone to help them pick it up a notch or switched a few things up in order to max the shooting test, but maintaining their skills is something they did on their own as a part of their job.  As opposed to someone who is already a professional law enforcement officer but doesn’t take that   job / responsibility seriously enough to maintain their shooting skills.  They don’t do anything beyond their departments minimum training (which can be as little as 100 rounds per year), and needed the possibility of joining an elite law enforcement unit to inspire them to start doing what I consider the bare requirements of their job.

My thought being if you don’t do what it takes to be the best law enforcement officer you can be at your current position, what makes you think you will be able to hack it at a higher level?

I want guys that are the best at what they do and want to be the there is period.  They are seeking out higher levels of performance to master. Not guys that slack at their current position but will pick it up a notch for something special.

So back to the question, how do you weigh the tests?

I figured 50 / 50.  As I stated the tests will favor the type of candidate I’m looking for.  Those that strive to be the best.

Having said that there are attributes that may or may not show up in the other tests that need to be identified in the interview process.

Not the least of which are:

Can I stand to be stuck in a van with you for hours?
Can we spend a week training together without tempting me to snap your neck?

In all seriousness though there are certain attributes that are needed as an operator.

I need to know you will show up when called, and when called you will do what is necessary to protect the people we are employed to protect.
I need to know you will cover your assignments with the skill necessary to asure we all go home safe.

The interviews should be used to identify those attributes or the lack there of.

I have three beautiful daughters.  If, God forbid any of them were taken hostage, I pray there is an Operator there skilled enough to end the threat and save my daughter from harm, even if that Operator has to trade his life for her’s. 
Because I expect that of someone else, I have to maintain the skills necessary to save someone else’s loved one from harm, even if necessary, at the expense of my own life.

Beyond skills and fitness, the willingness to put yourself in danger to save others, and the confidence – hell cockiness that allows you to go through that door knowing that it is dangerous but you are so much better than the bad guy that you and that innocent, or the hostage, or whatever, will come out of it just fine. Those are the qualities the interview needs to discover. 

As much as those qualities can be discovered through words anyway.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not suggesting using unsound tactics or being some sort of cowboy throwing your life away.  Do everything smart, but even then there may come a time when you need to trade your life to save the lives of others.
Because, it doesn’t do anyone any good to have the best trained and equipped Operators maintain a parameter and do nothing while innocents are being killed inside.
Unused / unusable skill is worthless.
Operators need to be able to get inside and stop the threat from killing.

I can train someone to be a better shooter.  I can train someone to be fit.
But, some things just can’t be taught

I can train you to be a highly skilled predator, but I can’t turn a lamb into a lion.


So the shooting and pt tests should determine who gets an interview

The interview should inditify necessary traights not necessarly idintifiable from the other tests.
The top candidates that display those traights should be given an oportunity for making the team


Train hard, Train smart, Be safe.


P.S.  On this Thanksgiving weekend I am thankful for all the Lions I am surrounded by that constantly push me to be better. 

And all of you out there that put your life at risk to protect others – Thank You




Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What martial arts training has taught me as a Police Officer

Practical Budo Blog – writing about the application of martial arts for contemporary military and law enforcement.  So what has martial arts training taught me as a Police Officer?

Recently I have been working the deep end of the use of force continuum with a couple of different groups.  Up to and including justifiably ending (euphemism for taking the life of) the threat with empty hand skills.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not teaching civilians the gentle art of murder.  I’m not too dangerous to be allowed into the United Kingdom J.  However, there are times when the only way professionals can protect them selves or others from death or great bodily harm is to end the life of the threat.  Also, there may be instances like that where the only means the professional has to end the threat are their hands or what ever weapons they can improvise in time to stop the threat.

I enjoy this class because it re-enforces the werewolf I've discussed previously on this blog.  What I mean by that is smaller stature men, and petite female professionals who have said things to me like – I could never take you in a fight see that yes, that may be true so don’t fucking fight me hunt me and if necessary kill me.

It’s fun to see confidence rise because they could end someone with their hands fairly easily should they have to

It’s scary because even with my training and experience these relatively untrained people could end me with their hands fairly easily should they have to

So what has martial arts training taught me as a Police Officer?

Just how vulnerable I am, just how vulnerable we all are as human beings.

When you look into the abyss the abyss looks back into you.
When you learn how to hurt someone, you learn how easily you can be hurt

The opposite is also true.  If you don’t know how to hurt someone, you don’t realize how vulnerable you are.

Here is an example from a recent incident in Colorado.

Man who nearly severed Auraria cop's finger with samurai sword identified

The Denver Post

Police investigate the scene of an officer-involved shooting involving a sword-wielding man on the Auraria Campus in Denver, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. (Kirk Mitchell, The Denver Post)

A man who was fatally shot by an Auraria Campus police officer, after allegedly attacking the cop with a samurai-style sword near the Tivoli Student Center, has been identified.

Jeffrey Albert Musick, 38, died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner.

Musick was taken to a local hospital on Saturday after being shot near Ninth and Walnut streets on the Auraria Campus. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, the coroner's office said.

The officer confronted Musick, who was wielding a sword in a crosswalk near the Tivoli building, Denver police said.

According to police reports, Musick swung his sword at the police officer, nearly lopping off one of the cop's fingers and the officer opened fire. The officer, who still has not been identified, was released from a local hospital on Sunday.

Musick has an arrest record in the state, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, including a 1999 unlawful carry concealed weapon charge in which he pleaded guilty. In the 1999 case, out of Littleton, Musick was carrying nunchaku, another traditional Asian fighting weapon.

In 2011, Musick was convicted of obstruction of a peace officer in Lakewood and he was sentenced to 59 days in jail. Also in 2011, Musick was arrested in on suspicion of felony assault and menacing with a deadly weapon. The disposition of the 2011 assault case was not readily available.

Kieran Nicholson: 303-954-1822, knicholson@denverpost.com or twitter.com/kierannicholson

Follow this link for a news clip

A suspect carrying a Samurai sword on the campus of Metropolitan State University of Denver was shot and killed after allegedly attacking a police officer. KUSA's Raquel Villanueva reports.

By NBC News staff
A man wielding a Samurai sword at a college campus in Colorado was shot and killed after allegedly attacking a police officer over the weekend, authorities said.

Both the suspect and police officer, who have not been identified, were rushed to the hospital Saturday following the confrontation on the Auraria campus of Metropolitan State University, Denver Police Spokesperson Raquel Lopez told the Denver Post.

The suspect was pronounced dead, and the officer was critically injured.
“His finger was almost severed,” Lopez said.

Auraria police were called to the campus near the Tivoli Student Center at 5:54 a.m. Saturday, Denver Fire Department Spokesman Lt. Phil Champagne told the Post.

Lopez said a caller phoned the police station and said, "'Hey, there’s a guy out there with a sword.’ Anytime you see someone walking around with a sword and swinging it around, you want to take precautions.”

The campus police officer confronted the sword-wielding man in a crosswalk near the front of the student center, Lopez said. The man did not obey orders and swung the sword, nearly lopping the officer’s finger off. The officer then shot the man, Lopez said.
It was not yet known whether the man was a student at the university.
Denver Police are still investigating the shooting, Lopez said.

Insert my standard disclaimer here.  I was not there.  My only source of information is from the news media which I have learned to take with a large grain of salt.  I do not second guess officers in the field from the comfort of my keyboard days later and thousands of miles away from danger.

Having said all of that, the reason I posted the story is not to judge, but so that we can learn from it.

So as I have mentioned, recently I have been working the deep end of the use of force continuum.  Any time you train people to use force you have an obligation to inform them when the use of force is justified (and when it is not).

To do that I like to use the acronym IMOP

I - Intent

M - Means

O - Opportunity

P – Preclusion (For those with out a duty to act)

I – Intent
n      Intent is the desire to do something bad, e.g. harm the officer, self or a third party; break a law; or refuse to comply with a lawful order.
n      We are very good at reading intent but many officers are very poor at articulating intent. 

I have walked through college campuses with a Katana (Samurai Sword).  It was in a nice nondescript bag and I was on my way to Kenjutsu class.  I had no intent to hurt anyone.  Jeffrey Albert Musick wasn’t on his way to Kenjutsu class.  He was waiving his sword around and acting in such a way that students were afraid and called the police.  Musick was showing intent.

M – Means
n      The threat must have the ability to carry out intent.
n       A person threatening to shoot you must have a gun to be an immediate threat, for instance.
n       A two-year old in a tantrum has pure intent but is not big or strong enough to have the means.

Clearly the sword provided Musick the means.

O – Opportunity
  • The threat must be able to reach you with the means.

The officer’s severed finger can attest to the fact that Musick was able to reach the officer with the means

P – Preclusion (For those with out a duty to act)
  • Do I need to engage?
  • Is it safe to just leave?

Preclusion means if you don’t have to be there get the fuck out of there.  Run to safety! 

However, just like the girl in the news clip said “someone has to do it”.  Shit happens, and who ya gonna call?  Officers can’t run to safety.  They provide that safety for others.  They have to run to the danger.  They have a duty to act so preclusion does not apply.

When force is justified - use force and end the confrontation quickly.

How many cops need to get maimed to learn this lesson?

Did the Officer get close enough to lose a finger to a katana because swords are a joke?

I’m sorry this Officer was injured.  But anyone who has ever practiced tameshigeri knows just how lucky that officer is to still be alive.

When you learn how to hurt someone, you learn how easily you can be hurt
The opposite is also true.  If you don’t know how to hurt someone, you don’t realize how vulnerable you are.

I also feel that too many cops being praised for bad, up to suicidal tactics if they are lucky enough that the subject is eventually talked down.
The flip side is too many cops being crucified for good tactics if the subject has to be controlled by other means.

Training in martial arts, hell even a gun, badge, and armor doesn’t give you magical protection you are just as vulnerable as any other mammal on the planet.  Even more so because you run towards the danger the smart people run away from.


Hisako Ichiki is a teenage mutant from Japan that studied at the Xavier Institute before becoming an X-Man. Her mutant power allows her to create psionic "armor", giving her enhanced strength and durability. She is currently enrolled at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.

As “bad ass” as your training might make you feel you don’t have psionic armor
Nor can you turn your skin into organic Steele


So what has martial arts training taught me as a Police Officer?

Just how vulnerable we all are as human beings

Know that, own that, use that knowledge to better articulate why you used force that you did, and  not only why lower levels of force wouldn't have worked, but how they would have put you and others at risk.

When force is justified - use force and end the confrontation quickly.

Lastly I’ll leave you with this quote from Josey Wales

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe