Thursday, January 19, 2012

Contact control

Saturday was the first meeting of Taiho Jutsu Minnesota. (See previous blog of the same title for more details)

Check out the O3CT logo

The topic of training was Contact Control
On a typical use of force continuum Contact Control ranges from a touch to guide someone in a particular direction up through escorts, and standing controls (joint locks)

Last blog I wrote “Lots of Officers are being killed because they are missing the signs (pre-attack indicators)”
In preparation for this class I asked myself why that is.

Some of the answers I cam up with were:
This topic is fairly dry / boring. 
Because it is boring it is not trained nearly as much as it should be

Cops and instructors want to get into the “good stuff” so critical skills are given a hand wave or lip service then the class proceeds onto the high speed commando stuff

So how can you train these critical skills in a way that is worthwhile / interesting so that Operators actually spend time training them?

The Contact Control class was an experiment to find ways to answer that question. 

So 1st step – stress the importance of these skills, make them “cool”

You can define an Operator as someone employed to protect others, if need be with force (violence), at the risk of his/her own safety.
If you do you are saying that an Operator uses violence to make money
Just like a resource predator

Fair enough, so using that predator model.  Officers need to approach contact controls like a predator
Officers need to hunt, not fight.

Predators / Hunters stack everything possible in their favor before they engage. 
Assume force will be necessary and set the stage accordingly
The “prey” shouldn’t even know they were in a “fight” until it’s over and they are controlled / physically restrained.

Therefore those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him.
- Sun Tzu

Some reading this may think bullshit; I can’t choose which calls I go to or where those calls are.

Let’s use a domestic assault call as an example.  Of course you will take the calls you get and of course you will go to the location to stop any ongoing violence.  So you have to go into the house / apartment / trailer.  But you don’t have to stand right in front of the suspect with your hands in your pockets and your head up your ass.  Nor do you have to speak to the victim in the kitchen, where she has easy access to the cutlery.  How many Officers reading this have been attacked by the victim when you or your partner made a move to arrest the suspect?  “Just make him stop hitting me, don’t take him to jail!  Get your fucking hands off of him pig!  You’re hurting him!”

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The academic portion of Contact Control addresses a lot of these concerns.  The challenge is finding ways to physically train them.

Fundamental aspects of Contact Control that must be covered before control techniques are practiced:
How you align your body to protect from damage and to deliver force into the subject
Every technique has its own range
  • Reach – how long is your arm
  • Target – hitting through, or hitting into
  • Distance – How much do I have to move to use my reach to get to the target.
Relative Positioning
  • Location – Where you are (GPS)
  • Position – Where you are in relation to the Subject (orientation)

 “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.”
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Safely closing distance and placing yourself in a position where you are relatively safe but the subject is vulnerable to you is an essential skill and needs to be trained
It sends a definite but subconscious “not to be fucked with vibe” which may prevent the need for force.
This also greatly increases your confidence and verbal skills

Moving safely into range, positioning your self for future action, all without giving away your intent to the subject – these are predatory skills
They are also a practical application of Zanshin

Zanshin is a term used in the Japanese martial arts. It refers to a state of awareness – of relaxed alertness. The literal translation of zanshin is "remaining mind".

Zanshin as it was related to me should have the feeling of a cat about to pounce on a mouse

There is no question of who is going to win.  There is no fight.  The cat is positioned to move.  It is relaxed and simply waiting for stimulus to pounce.
Ok Hunter / Predator Operator, what stimulus are you looking for?
When you safely close distance and a obtain a relatively safe position you have actively limited the possible attacks the subject has available to him.
I use the term relatively safe because no position is invulnerable.  However, knowing what you are vulnerable to and where it is likely to come from gives you the stimulus to look for

One drill we worked Saturday that I stole from Marc MacYoung goes like this:

“Show and Tell”

Round 1:
Officer stands right in front “zero” of the subject
The subject slowly attacks
Officer must tell the subject which quadrant the attack is coming from and if possible what specific attack
This is pretty hard to do and should help teach don’t stand right in front of the guy if possible.

Round 2 (relative positioning):
Officer positions himself so that he / she is relatively safe from the subject, but the subject is vulnerable to the Officer
The subject slowly attacks
Officer must tell the subject which quadrant the attack is coming from and if possible what specific attack
This should be much easier

Round 3 (Orientation)
Officer will be “in position” with shields up
The subject slowly attacks
Officer must intercept / deflect the attack -  This will form the basis of tap drill

Other stimulus to look for - Know when he is eager to hit you

Pre-attack indicators
·         Glaring, staring – sizing you up
·         Making unprovoked accusations, threats, demands.  Swearing for no apparent reason
·         Baiting or attempting to provoke an aggressive response from you
·         Moving into range
o       We just practiced doing that to them, don’t think they don’t practice doing that to us
·         Unusual or out-of-place body movements
o       Aggressive gestures
o       Agitated pacing
o       Clenched fists / clenching and unclenching hands
o       Foreward weight shift
o       Straightening of the spine / puffing of the chest
o       Adopting a fighting stance
·         Clearing space to move or draw a weapon *
·         Teeth clenched, or other stiff or shaking body movements

Other subconscious “tells”
·         Sudden face flush (turning red) – adrenaline induced vasoconstriction – fight or flight THREAT DISPLAY
o       When that “Red Face” turns white (ANAEROBIC RESPONSE) is an indication that subject will attack
·         A person looking at you suddenly looks away, or looking away suddenly looks at you
o       Target glance (at gun)
o       Witness check
·         Change in rate, tone, pitch, or volume of a person’s voice
o       Shouter becomes quiet
·         Sudden change in a person’s breathing
[Paraphrased from “How to win a fight” –Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder]

Lots of money has been made selling cops a magic pill that will protect them if they miss all these signs and step on their dick.  Some training even goes so far as to put a bag / blanket over the Officer’s head then remove it and have them deal with a surprise threat. All I am saying is let’s spend more time making sure cops aren’t getting surprised because there is no magic pill that will save them.

So how do you train looking for pre attack indicators.

I’ll get there but 1st let me mention the number 1 pre-attack indicator to look for – Being an asshole!
If you let yourself get pulled into an monkey dance with the subject, if you treat him in such a way that would piss you off if an Operator treated you or a family member that way, your probably gonna get hit.

Don’t be a dick.  Big dogs don’t bark.  The more dangerous you are the least you should need to show / tell it to others.  Lions don’t argue with gazelles.  They just eat them or they don’t

Ok so if you can follow the 1st rule don’t be a dick, you should be cool and calm enough to look for those other pre-attack indicators.

Here is a way to actively practice that skill:

The scenario is an unwanted person needs to be removed from the premises
Role player will pick a pre-attack indicator out of a hat.
Operator will:
  • Safely close distance
  • Have an appropriate verbal exchange (officer presence / communication skills) – practice not being a dick
  • Take physical control of the subject.
  • Recognize pre-attack indicators during any point - immediately take physical control of the subject

Immediately take physical control of the subject.  The pre-attack indicators are the stimulus.  Have a few techniques that control (prevent the subject from being able to damage you) / immobilize the subject.  Train (operant condition) the responses to the stimulus.

Also, practice articulating this.  “His face was bright red, he was clenching his fists and screaming at me.  Suddenly his face went pale white and he was quiet.  From past training and experience I recognized that as an indicator he was about to attack so I moved him into a position where he could not hurt me.”

Why control?, why not just bonk ‘em on da head?  Control allows you to asses and display judgment.  Last blog I wrote about starting at a high level of force and easing back as success is gained.  Quickly moving into a control form the moment pre-attack indicators are shown is a way to do that.  If the control works you can ease back.  If they resist at least you are in a superior position, will not be “sneak attacked” and can clearly articulate why greater force is needed.

Those are a couple of the things we worked on at Saturday’s class.  Its was very successful - great class, great participation, much progress was made.

Some of the feed back received was that officers had never received training on range, or positioning.  Nor had the ever worked on pre-attack indicators.  The DT trainers there enjoyed the training and were excited to bring it back to their departments. 

Mission accomplished!

I didn’t want to get into too much nuts and bolts here on the blog because I don’t want to make tactics and strategy open to any and all readers.  But readers can take these principles and drills and work on their own “hunting methods”

Train hard, Train smart, Be Safe

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