Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cross over effect

As promised this blog will finally address reps for mastery.

A book called “Motor Learning” by Doctors Richard Schmidt with Craig A. Wrisberg, is the source of the often used 3000 – 5000 repetitions to mastery quote.

Dr. Schmidt states that it requires approximately 300-500 repetitions to develop a new motor pattern. Conversely, once bad or inadequate habits are already in place, he states it takes about 3000-5000 repetitions to erase and correct a bad motor pattern.

I guess I’ve never counted reps so I don’t have my own statistical data.  But from my own experience I know it is much harder to break a bad habit and rebuild a positive one, than to build a positive habit from the start.

Whether you agree with those numbers or not I think we can all agree on the necessity to get as many quality reps as possible.  We can also agree that when doing those reps we must be aware of unintended consequences and prevent ingraining bad habits. (Brass in the pockets)

If we can agree on those two points then we must also agree on the need to avoid contradictory training.

What I mean by this is that if one aspect of your training tells you to do one thing and another aspect tells you to do the opposite it will cause a freeze under pressure.  Similar to how starting too many programs at the same time causes your computer to freeze.

A classic example of this found in Law Enforcement is shooting vs. defensive tactics.  Most Law Enforcement firearms training is done on a range from a rooted shooting position.  Officers easily receive 300-500 repetitions of standing still in front of a lethal threat and delivering rounds.  These same Law Enforcement Officers are trained to move and use leverage and physics to physically control an arrest subject.

Now when those Law Enforcement Officers need to go hands on the conditioned responses are conflicting each other.  The result is a freeze when action is needed, even to the point of receiving damage from the control subject.  Most officers root right in front of the control subject (the worst possible place to be) and rely on muscle (instead of motion, leverage, and physics) and try to over power the control subject.  Unless they are much larger and stronger this approach fails.  Their back up arrives and does the same thing, repeat as necessary until physics are on their side (keep adding officers until there is enough mass to over power the control subject).  This results in the ever popular pig pile.  

Things are getting better, officers are being trained to move.  Doing Move – Draw - Shoot (mds) drills, move to cover, shoot while moving, etc, but they still need 3000-5000 repetitions to erase and correct a bad motor pattern.

That is why integrated cross over skills are so important.

An example from history is the Samurai.  I’m sure there are other historical examples but I came up through Japanese arts and I dig anime so bear with me.

Depending on the era you are talking about, the primary weapon of the samurai could be a bow, naginata, spear, or even a firearm.

However, during the Edo period, the era most people think of when the think of Samurai, the katana became the primary weapon, since there were virtually no more wars.

So, for the purposes of this blog - The katana is with out a doubt the primary weapon of the Samurai, with the wakizashi as a secondary weapon. 

1000’s and 1000’s of reps were practiced with the sword.

Tameshigiri was practiced to simulate cutting through flesh and bone as realistically as safely as possible, and sometimes unsafely on prisoners. 

Basic motions were deeply ingrained, these motions formed the building blocks for other related skills.   

From Kenjutsu grew Noto, or no sword.  Just like modern operators practice malfunction drills Noto was what to do if you lost your sword, or your sword broke.  Samurai already had these deeply ingrained motions form the sword, so many Noto techniques used those exact same motions.  This eventually evolved into Aikijujutsu and Jujutsu..

For example look at these pictures of a  basic stance from a Kenjutsu manual and an Aikido front stance.

Samurai didn't train Kenjutsu and then something completely different for empty hand.  They had time and budget constraints just like we do today.

It is very difficult to get 100 to 1000’s of quality reps in many different disciplines.

Cross over skill integration starts with the frame work of the primary weapon system then works down through secondary, tertiary, all the way down to empty hands. 

For the most part modern operator’s primary weapon system is a carbine rifle with a large magazine capacity.
Their secondary weapon is a semi-automatic hand gun.  Tertiary weapon is some sort of blade.  Lastly using their hands if all else fails, or if that is what the rules of engagement call for to control a situation.

There are only so many directions and so many ways a body can move.  For cross over effect to work, basic fundamental motions must be similar.  They do not, and probably cannot be identical, but they must be similar enough to be recognizable through out all weapon systems.

If you have a stance you use for your primary weapon, this needs to be the stance you use for all your weapons, and empty hand.

You need to be able to move with your primary weapon.  The way you move, the directions you move, and why you move has to be consistent for all your weapons, and empty hand.

If not it could ( I originally wrote WILL but there are no absolutes in these type of things) cause a freeze under pressure.  Everybody freezes, even the best trained battle hardened spec-ops guys freeze.  However, because of their training and experience for them the freeze has become so brief a pause they may not even notice it anymore.  That level is something we all want.  Contradictory ingrained responses will cause that freeze to last longer and become harder to recover from.

The plus side of integrated training is that once you incorporate it, working on one thing can make you better at all the others. 

As previously stated operators have always had time and budget constraints.  So it is imperative to get the most bang for your buck with every rep.

This concept lays at the heart of what I teach tactical teams.

In order to be on a tactical team they must be able to:
  • Move through a door in a linear motion
  • Move through a door in a circular motion
  • Move directly through an obstacle
  • Move laterally; Move – Draw – Shoot
  • Use an opening motion to let other operators pass
These are the basic fundamentals of any tactical operation.  If you don’t know how, or are incapable of doing these basic skills you cannot be on a tactical team.

These basic motions are deeply ingrained.  These motions form the building blocks for other related skills.  

So I use that foundation for special operation control tactics.  Everything is broken down into:
  • Linear motion
  • Circular motion
  • Direct Entry
  • Lateral Motion
  • Opening Motion
All things these guys all ready know how to do and have 1000’s of reps doing.  No reinventing the wheel, no contradictory training

That’s what I do, big deal – how does this apply to you my beloved readers?

You can apply that same logic to your training

This will take a level of personalization, developing your own operational method.  There are very few people that can teach this to you.

Make your own frame work.  What is your primary weapon system?

If you don’t carry any weapons on you, on a regular basis then it really doesn’t matter.  What ever martial art you enjoy practicing will be your frame work, contradictory training won’t really be an issue.

If you do carry a weapon does your weapon and empty hand training conflict?  Can you transition from one to the other in a fluid manner?

Does your Filipino knife fighting strategy suggest you stay on your feet and maintain a certain reactionary gap, while your BJJ training suggests you close distance pull guard establish a position of dominance and finish the opponent on the ground?

If so do you practice using the right strategy for the right situation?

For concealed carry guys, do either of those platforms have anything to do with the way you shoot?

There are plenty of academies that teach multiple martial arts under the same roof.  That is great, I am an avid supporter of the co-op Dojo.

If you are training in multiple arts for the fun of it, you can disregard most of this blog.
If you are training in multiple disciplines including edged weapons and firearms for self protection or as an Operator it is your responsibility to develop a method that works best to incorporate these skills for you.

It is very difficult to get 100 to 1000’s of quality reps in many different disciplines

You can focus your reps on basic motions that form the building blocks for all your related skills.
Or you will need to spend exponentially more time getting reps in vastly different skill sets which may directly contradict each other

Morihei Ueshiba (The founder of Aikido) said do not abandon the warrior arts of the past. Absorb venerable traditions of the old ways into this Art by clothing them with fresh garments, and building on the classic styles to create better forms. 

Take some time to look at what you do and why you do it.  Build on what you already know and create forms that work better for the way you operate

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ambush (and the return of the "Werewolf")


Bogus 911 call from suspect lured Mpls. park police into ambush
Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune Updated: August 22, 2012 - 10:00 PM

A bogus 911 call Tuesday night lured two Minneapolis park police officers to Minnehaha Creek, where the man who made the call allegedly stabbed the officers before one shot and wounded him.

When investigators interviewed the suspect, Marsenior P. Johnson, 38, he admitted that he called 911 and faked that he'd been robbed because he wanted to draw police in order to attack them. No motive for the scheme was immediately clear, said a police spokesman.

Johnson, of Minneapolis, whose criminal history includes convictions for domestic assault and theft, is currently under guard at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), and it was expected that he would be booked into jail on suspicion of felony second-degree assault when he is ready to be moved. He had not been formally charged Wednesday.

According to police:

Just after 11:20 p.m., two park police officers -- one male, one female -- were dispatched to Minnehaha Parkway at Bryant Avenue S. The caller said he had been robbed at knifepoint by multiple suspects.

The officers encountered Johnson at the intersection shortly before 11:45 p.m., thinking he was a robbery victim.

Johnson then stabbed the male officer in the chest with a knife, but "the officer's life was saved by his body armor, which prevented the knife from penetrating," Minneapolis police said in a statement.

Johnson then stabbed the female officer in the upper back. She also suffered a serious cut to her head when she fell to the street. Her partner then shot Johnson, ending his attack.

Man charged with stabbing two Minneapolis park police officers
A criminal complaint says a 38-year-old man charged in the stabbing of two Minneapolis park police officers told authorities: “I wanted to hurt some cops.”

By: Associated Press report, Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS — A criminal complaint says a 38-year-old man charged in the stabbing of two Minneapolis park police officers told authorities: “I wanted to hurt some cops.”

Marsenior Johnson was charged Thursday with two counts of attempted second-degree murder. The complaint says he attacked two Minneapolis park police officers Tuesday — luring them into an ambush with a bogus 911 call.

The Star Tribune reported that Johnson stabbed Officer James Huber, but hit Huber's protective vest. The charges say Johnson then stabbed Officer Katherine Hammes in the back of the neck and was about to stab her again when Huber shot him three times.

Hammes suffered a stab wound and a concussion. Both officers are on standard leave.

Johnson is being treated for gunshot wounds at the hospital

The reason I posted this news article is because it happened in my own “back yard” and because it highlights some concepts I’ve been writing about lately.

Any time I analyze the actions of an other officer, remember I am not second guessing them, I am trying to learn from their experience.

Also remember how I define a win
  • You and your partners go home         – [Both officers are on standard leave.]
  • Bad guy goes to:
    • Jail
    • Hospital                                   - [Johnson is being treated for gunshot wounds at the hospital
    • Moure
  • You don’t get sued…..successfully

Looks like a win to me.  Obviously the down side being that the Officers were injured.  That’s is where we can learn from their experience

“I wanted to hurt some cops.”

Johnson was seeking pleasure from the crime.  By definition that makes him a process predator.

Asocial violence does not see the victim as a person but rather a resource (a different species to be hunted).  By the time you face a predator attack you must understand that the predator has decided what ever you have (or the attack itself) is more important than you.  Who you are carries no more emotional weight than the wrapper a hamburger came in.

A predator will use tactics he has developed to get what he wants from you in the safest surest manor.  This is in no way a “fair fight”.  The predator will take every advantage using speed, surprise and ferocity to prevent you from responding in any way that could be effective in stopping him. 

Predator Types
  • Resource
A resource predator wants something you have and will use violence to take it from you
A resource predator situation can be resolved by giving up what you have Car , Purse Wallet
(Are they worth dying for?)
  • Process
For the process predator, the act of violence is the reason itself.  The Crime is the goal
Requires time and privacy to “enjoy” the process / act of violence
Will attempt to isolate victim
Home Invasion (comes to you)
Secondary Crime scene (takes you someplace somewhere else)

Do whatever is necessary to end the situation
If not it will likely escalate into rape, torture, murder

In the case of the news article luring the Police to an isolated area with a fake 911 call

Predator Strategies
  • Charm
The predator will use social skills to get the victim into a vulnerable position
A skilled Charm predator will set it up so that every step into his trap is one that the victim not only chose but that she believes that she initiated
Once control has been accomplished the predator will change to blitz tactics especially intimidation

  • Blitz
Blitz will use speed power and position to take control and eliminate resistance
Blitz can also use intimidation to establish psychological control
Intimidation is preferred to violence.  He is a predator but Man is the deadliest prey.  Any attempt at violence puts the predator at risk of injury as well
Crimes that result in injury also carry heavier jail times.  For the resource predator violence is his job.  He knows the stakes

Johnson used social skills to get the victim into a vulnerable position.  He pretended to be the victim of an armed robbery.  He set the Officers up so that every step into his trap was one that they not only chose but believed they initiated.

Once he had them in an isolated area with their guard down he switched to blitz tactics and “hurt some cops”.

This brings me back to my previous blog, about operationally adapting a predator mindset.  Some construed the last blog as indicating that sport arts are worthless for self protection.  That misses the entire point of the blog.  The blog was about how Lise, after over 20 years of martial arts training, the last 7 of which have been with me, can finally “kill me” on a consistent basis.

What I discovered didn’t have much to do with physical skill but with adapting that predator mind set.  Her movement has to be much more efficient than those of a large male attacker.  Adopting a predatory mindset helped her to see that and stop trying to out wrestle people twice her size.
The word predator has a very negative connotation to many, but predatory skills are just tools.  Like any tools they can be used to good or ill.

For the example of this article I would go so far as to say that where your physical skill set comes from (sport arts, traditional arts, combatives, what ever) is irrelevant.

Your mind set is much more important.

Its is very difficult to switch from customer service “officer friendly” mode to lethal force close quarters combat mode in time to do anything useful.

It was very hard for the Officers in the article to switch from helping a victim to ending an assault in time to prevent being assaulted.  No physical technique is fast enough.  No martial athlete is fast enough.  That is why ambush attacks have been so successful through out history.

It is much easier to start at lethal force and down shift into officer friendly.  This is what I have called being a Werewolf in previous blogs.  What I mean by this is adapting that predator mind set and not only assuming that lethal force will be necessary but actively stacking the deck to be able to use lethal force efficiently.  This naturally elevates your level of awareness, and sends off subconscious “not to be fucked with vibes”.  However, as I mentioned in the how to become a werewolf post, those same vibe can also spook the shit out of some people. They might not know why but they may feel the need to fight.  Turning a maybe person into a no person.

So, this is where an Operator uses other predator strategies - charm tactics.
The predator will use social skills to get the victim into a vulnerable position
A skilled Charm predator will set it up so that every step into his trap is one that the victim not only chose but that she believes that she initiated

Being a Werewolf is stacking the deck to be able to use lethal force efficiently while saying the things “officer friendly” needs to say.  Sending the don’t fuck with me vibe without scaring them into fight or flight, and being pleasantly surprised when you don’t have to kill or maim anyone.

This mindset and the ability to use justified lethal force efficiently is what allows Lise to “kill me”.  Nothing in her sport, or traditional back ground gets it done

For the Werewolf to work you have to actively practice it, you can’t just pay it lip service. 
Good news is you can practice it anywhere and it won’t cost you anything.

Here is how:
With everyone you encounter today I want you to work your self into at least a “1 position” extra credit for 2 and 2 ½.

Actively plan how (not if you could) you would take them out. 
So for ladies grossly out sized that includes using a ball point pen to rip the femoral artery in his thigh. 
Just working that out will help break fair fight mentalities, and help alleviate the natural fear of fighting a large man. 
            You don’t fight large men you kill them. 

No matter how big and bad they are, they are just 6 quarts of blood in a skin sack – not nearly as scary.  
At the same time you can’t spook them off or give yourself away, so practice being extra polite

Learning how to “hunt” like this will teach you what predators need to do to close on you as well

So, the second part of the drill is to assume everyone you come in contact with today is trying to kill you.

You need to position yourself to make this as difficult as possible for them
And again you can’t let them know you are on to them – so practice being extra polite, practice being normal.

Have fun, and remember if you or any of your team are discovered the commissioner will disavow any knowledge of your assignment.

I hope because this drill is fun, and free, it will become a habit and help make predator mind set natural.  I believe this predator mindset will help you prevail against an ambush far more than any physical counter ambush technique.  No matter what art or style that technique comes from.

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Violence Dynamics 2012

You can register for the Violence Dynamics Seminar online

Follow this link

And for your enjoyment here is a picture of Cabot smacking the hell out of Jeff from last year's seminar

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Honey, what do you for money?...How do you get your kicks?

The name of this blog is the title of an AC/DC song I was listening to while I was writing it.  It will make sense as you read on, trust me.

Summer (especially in Minnesota) is always difficult for Dojo attendance.  Everyone has somewhere to go or wants to spend as much time at the lake as they can before we get buried in snow again.

That’s fine I understand, and that created some unique learning opportunities.  Lise is very dedicated and has been at every class this summer.  Many times class turned into private instruction.  Because of that Lise has shown dramatic improvement over the last few weeks.  Lise has always been very skilled but recently she has thrown, hit, locked, and strangled me on a consistent basis, in a manner that made me realize holy shit she could fucking kill me.

Awesome, great for her!  So how do I get other 5’ nothing one hundred and nothing pound 50 something grandmothers to be able to kill me (a dead sexy man ape)?

Able to kill me – sparked an idea, so bear with me.

Last blog I promised to pick up with reps for mastery and cross over skills.  But, this how to kill me idea is stuck in my head and I have to get it on paper.  So this blog will largely be stream of consciousness thought process on predatory violence (killing me) to help me answer my own question.

I hope it may also help you

Asocial Violence

Humans are social creatures and have subconscious rules for social violence.  We are also hunters and capable of killing prey.  We are fairly unique in that we can use the tools and tactics that we developed to hunt prey to kill other humans

Asocial violence does not see the victim as a person but rather a resource (a different species to be hunted).  By the time you face a predator attack you must understand that the predator has decided what ever you have (or the attack itself) is more important than you.  Who you are carries no more emotional weight than the wrapper a hamburger came in.

A predator will use tactics he has developed to get what he wants from you in the safest surest manor.  This is in no way a “fair fight”.  The predator will take every advantage using speed, surprise and ferocity to prevent you from responding in any way that could be effective in stopping him. 

Predator Types


For the process predator, the act of violence is the reason itself.  The Crime is the goal

Requires time and privacy to “enjoy” the process / act of violence

Will attempt to isolate victim

Home Invasion (comes to you)

Secondary Crime scene (takes you someplace somewhere else)


A resource predator wants something you have and will use violence to take it from you

A resource predator situation can be resolved by giving up what you have Car , Purse Wallet

(Are they worth dying for?)

A resource predator uses violence to make money

For all intents and purposes I am a resource predator.

I provide for my family by using violence.

I am a professional, because I am a professional I understand that if I am injured, killed, or incarcerated I can no longer provide for my family.

Therefore, I have become very skilled at violence, and very knowledgeable about the laws pertaining to the use of violence.

More importantly I have become very skilled at accomplishing the requisites of my job without using violence whenever possible

See, I told you I would tie it in, that’s what I do for money honey that’s how I get my kicks

Because of that, my operational method has to be predatory by nature.  I have to end the encounter quickly, the most efficient way possible. (Over in 3)

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not suggesting anyone should be unjust.  Even when there are “no rules” there are state and federal laws, departmental policies, personal morals and ethics, and societal rules.

I’m suggesting that you need to know all of those well, and when force ( violence) is just use the most efficient means to end the confrontation as quickly as possible

You and your partners go home safe

Bad guy goes to jail (uninjured if possible) or the hospital then jail, or the morgue (if not)

No one gets sued….successfully

If my operational method is predatory by nature, then what I teach others is logically predatory as well.

There may be similar techniques in sport or traditional arts but the tactics used and the way they are taught are vastly different

Sport arts by their very nature have to give the opponent a “sporting chance”

To help make my point let’s look at a predatory sport – pheasant hunting

The end goal is to kill pheasants, It is a sport because the hunters make it hard work.   There are much more efficient means to kill pheasants.  Setting traps, Poison, Pheasant farms – domestic slaughter, Automatic Shotguns

However, hunters make it a sport by purposefully using less efficient methods.  Just you, and a couple of buddies with shotguns, and maybe a maybe a dog have to walk through acres and acres of thick wetlands to find the bird.  When the pheasant flushes they are very fast.  You have to be a skilled shooter to hit one.  Also when the bird flushes (often right under our feet) you can’t just blast it.  There wouldn’t be much pheasant left to eat.  You have to let it get out a ways.  You have to give the bird a sporting chance.  That is how you demonstrate skill.

The same analogy can be made for sport arts.

It is a sport because it is hard work.  You have to give the opponent a sorting chance.  Weight classes, separate brackets for the different genders, different age categories etc, all to make things as fair as possible.

Skill is demonstrated by gaining dominance over someone in the same “class” using ineffective methods.

Very social violence oriented

 Look at this video featuring martial athletes at the peak of their sport the Olympic Games:

As good as these athletes are Lise could literally kill them.  Not beat them at their own game, but efficiently end their lives with her bare hands

I’m not hating on sport arts.  A lot of very important things can only be learned safely by “stepping in the ring”

So how does asocial violence / predatory tactics allow Lise to Kill me?

Sports make things harder in order to demonstrate skill by doing those difficult things, against an actively resisting opponent, in a fair competition with specific rules.

When you remove the sportsmanship and use the most efficient methods things become much easier

Allowing small statured people to control those outside their weight class

To further illustrate my point, let’s imagine a UFC style match pitting Rhonda Rousey vs. Brock Lesner

Both athletes are incredibly skilled and have a long list of impressive championships to their names.

I would even go so far as to say that Rhonda is vastly more skilled than Brock in MMA, but in a sport match, a fair fight she wouldn’t stand a chance.

So where am I going with this blog?  How do I get other 5’ nothing one hundred and nothing pound 50 something grandmothers to be able to kill me (a dead sexy man ape)?

Fuck fair fights, fuck sportsmanship - get that out of their head. 

A saw a great t-shirt from a tactical shooting school that helps sell this point.  The back of the shirt read “Cheat often – Always WIN!”

Cheat for the purposes of this blog meaning not getting sucked into a fair fight mindset.

Being free of that mentality is far more valuable than any physical technique

If you are paid to use violence you too are a resource predator.  There is no room for fair fights you have to end the confrontation as efficiently as possible.

Social violence in which sport arts and sport mentalities work well is the easiest to avoid and besides being illegal is really just kind of silly

If you are attacked by a predator, the kind of violence a 5’ nothing one hundred and nothing pound woman is more likely to face than a dead sexy man ape, then you have to cheat, win, and end the confrontation as efficiently as possible.

I bet every hardass Military, Cop, Martial Arts Man reading this would have a hard time if ambushed by surprise by Brock Lesner.  Yet that discrepancy in size, strength, and ferocity is what every woman faces with every man they encounter.

What physical skills can you teach that can overcome that discrepancy?

Very few if any, that is just the thing – the answer lies somewhere else.

Physical skills have to be a last resort, and they have to be on the deep end of the use of force continuum

So if physical skills are the last resort what is first?

Knowledge, mental and psychological aspects have to come first.

A thorough knowledge of state and federal use of force laws must come first.  Knowing when force is justified.  Knowledge of yourself, knowing how much force you are willing to use when justified, and giving yourself permission to use it – free of any fair fight sporting chance bullshit.

 Knowing violence dynamics- the difference between social and asocial violence, and how to best deal with each.

 Avoidance, escape and evade, de-escalation and lastly solid proven predatory tactics (physical skills).

A case in point, a success story from the news – look at Lise’s latest blog.

That woman didn’t use any (or if any very little and untrained) physical skills.

Knowledge, mental and psychological aspects saved the day.  “Cheat often – Always WIN!”

Don’t get me wrong women still need physical skills, but don’t waste their (or your) time with stuff that only works in their weight class against women of a similar age.

 Fuck fair fights, fuck sportsmanship - get that out of their head. 

Don’t “empower’” them to believe they are Buffy or Wonder Woman

I am big fans of both, but as cool as they are they are fiction.  Murphy’s 1st law of combat “you are not Superman”.  Empowering women to believe they are “super” will get them killed.

Spend much more time on Knowledge, mental and psychological aspects.  Then help them learn to see “bad guys” as a collection of anatomical weaknesses to be exploited (predatory / Operator mindset).

Not on could I take him, but what is the best way to end him.

Work on physical skills that exploit these weaknesses, very high end use of force skills to end the attacker / the confrontation quickly.  Including the use of close quarters weapons, edged weapons, fire arms ect.

They will never be able to out muscle a predatory attacker so they will need to throughly understand “The Building codes” or what makes physical skills work:

·         Structure

·         Range

·         Subtle power generation

·         Anatomy

They will need to gain competence, confidence and belief in their skills.

Which brings us back to last blog, how is this accomplished?  How many reps until mastery?  How do you achieve cross over skill integration

Stay tuned I promise I will get to those topics soon.

OK, I hope you enjoyed going through my thought process on how to create more Lises and maybe you even learned something.

I’m very proud of Lise.  Now my challenge as a teacher is to take what I’ve learned from training Lise and provide it to others so they too can kill me.  This blog has been an attempt to figure out how to do that in a more efficient manner than I did with Lise.

I’m lucky I have Lise to help me with them as she can lead by example.

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe - “Cheat often – Always WIN!”

P.S. there will be no training this Saturday because I will be at the lake, totally not because my neck hurts like hell on account of Lise choking the shit out of me.

See, I told you an ambush by Brock Lesner is hard to deal with

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ingrained neurological pathways

A concept I refer to often when I teach is developing quality ingrained neurological pathways.  Not just repeating an action over and over again, but conditioning a quality response so it becomes second nature.

Practice makes perfect

Practice does not make perfect, PRACTICE MAKES PERMENENT

Perfect practice (conditioning quality responses) makes perfect.

Before we go much further let’s have some clarification so no one gets hung up on perfect.  I had an argument with my brother  (a Hockey Dad/ coach) over this.  My brother’s point was no one can practice perfectly.  One can only practice the best they can and make small steady improvement.  I don’t disagree with his point.  What I mean by perfect is functional, and likely to succeed, not “aesthetically pleasing” or absolutely flawless.

Don’t let perfect get in the way of good.  The point I wanted my brother to see was that fundamental principles must be understood before repetitious training, especially self lead training should occur.  Otherwise they just get very good at doing it wrong.  Practice makes permanent good or bad.

Install good habits

One of the reasons I refer to quality ingrained neurological pathways so often because everything is training.  Everything you do at training is developing these path ways.  The best way to describe this is to use an example from the range.

Let’s say that the course of fire is; from the low ready on the command of fire you will deliver 2 rounds center mass and one to the head.

Shooter A shoots once, looks over his sights to see if it was a good hit, makes a slight adjustment fires again, looks again, takes aim at the head and fires.  He looks at his score then waits for the range master to tell him to holster.

Shooter B double tapes the chest because he knows his fundamentals are sound and that 2nd round will follow closely to the first, rides the recoil up to the head and fires.  Physically scans for additional threats checks behind him (his 6 for all you sexy commandos).  When the range master tells him to holster, he checks his score for bragging rights.  He knows he made his hits.

Both shooters shot the same score, but one ingrained negative range habits into his firearm skills, while the other ingrained positive combat skills into their firearm skills.

Quality ingrained responses are of paramount importance for practical application.  The strip mall dojo hobbyist and the range weekend warrior can go their whole lives with these bad habits and not even notice.  Those same bad habits will get an operator killed

The stress caused by interpersonal violence, a person trying to hurt / kill you, is very different then the stress caused by surviving the violence of a tornado or house fire (forces of nature)

When you are experience, let’s refer to it as combat stress, your brain functions change.  Your cognitive “thinking brain” functions don’t shut down, but become limited because other parts of your brain are taking over.

This limited cognitive function has been likened to being drunk.  Most of us have not made the best decisions while drunk.  But the conditions that created the combat stress means you will be making life and death decisions with limited cognitive capacity.

Again, that is why it is so important to have quality ingrained responses.  In a gun fight if my gun goes click, I can’t waste what cognitive function I have left trying to remember how to clear a jam, or re-load.  My cognitive function needs to be finding cover, figuring out how to out flank the shooter or coordinating with other Operators.  I need my hands to just take care of the problem without thinking about it.

That is where the phrase – Your thinking is done in training -  comes from.

So do good thinking!  Everything in training ingrains patterns good or bad.  If you have spent as much or more time pulling punches so as not to “hurt” your partner, what do you think is going to happen when you are experiencing combat stress and need to hit someone hard enough to save your life?

Conditioning, especially conditioning over a long period of time is very powerful.  If you are that guy who has been taught to pull punches don’t trick yourself into thinking that when the time comes you will rise to the occasion and deliver the best strike of your life.

Another training phrase – You don’t rise to the occasion, you drop to your level of training…in an adrenalized body.

Still don’t believe me, still think you’re so special you will break through your conditioning when you need it most?

Cops learned this lesson the hard way (like we always seem to do).  Back in the days of revolvers LAPD range policy was to dump your brass into your pocket before you re-load.  This kept the range clean, no one likes cleaning up brass, but it had nothing to do with firearm skills much less combat gun fighting.  Not until two officers involved in a shoot out were found dead with empty weapons and pockets full of brass did training start to change

So, if the strip mall dojo hobbyist and the range weekend warrior can go their whole lives with these bad habits and not even notice, how do we know if we have ingrained bad habits?

The best ways I have found is to induce stress as realistically as is as safely possible.  You will never be able to safely recreate the chemical cocktail pumping through the blood during combat stress but there are things you can do to closely simulate it.

For example let’s take another look at shooter A and Shooter B on the range.

You don’t rise to the occasion, you drop to your level of training…in an adrenalized body.

To mimic the effects adrenalization has on the body you can get the heart rate up to the point where fine motor skills start to degrade.

So let’s have this drill at the 7 yard line.  Their empty weapon and and empty magazine lay on the floor. On go they have to sprint from the 7 to the 25.  At the 25 there are 3 bullets.  They have to pick up one bullet and sprint back to the 7.  At the 7 they have to do 5 burpees then load one bullet into the magazine.  Repeat three times.  Now with fine motor skills degrading they have to load the magazine rack the slide and deliver two rounds to the head and one to the chest.

On top of physical stress you can add psychological stress.  Make it a competition, and make the competition have consequences.  First one finished with the most hits wins.  Loser has to clean the range, or treat at Dairy Queen, or change his face book status to Kasey is the greatest I’m a pretty little princess.  Although nowhere near actual combat stress competition with consequences has a similar effect.  Better to feel those emotions and learn to work through them in training than under fire

Shooter A’s range habits are going to slow him down when speed is critical, a drill like this will shine a spot light on ingrained fundamental flaws

Similar things can be done for combatives training.  I’d refer you to Rory Miller’s book on training drills.  I like to use his one step drill as an efficiency test

Attacker gets one move, say a specific attack we are working that day

Defender gets one motion, ideally this motion:

·         Improved his position

·         Worsened the attackers position

·         Protected him from damage

·         Allowed him to damage the attacker

o   Set up his next motion

o   Prevents the attacker from moving

Attacker gets one motion to counter / escape

If things are going your way the attacker should be so off balance they can’t do anything or if they do, they hand you a finish on a platter (over in 3)

If they can escape / counter / whoop your ass, there is a flaw there that needs to be addressed

No use going further until you figure out what went wrong, and how to fix it.  Don’t get good at doing it wrong.

Again every part of training ingrains responses good or bad.  So be very careful when training like this especially in empty hand combatives not to ingrain bad habits or worse psychological tripping points

The best way to describe this is by another example.  For years a state agency has been using PPCT as their defensive tactics system.  Recently they have been discussing changing it.  Some trainers, trained in one system, some trainers in another, and one trainer was a division 1 collegiate wrestler.  Eventually they developed their own system, unproven on the street, and largely based on wrestling.  Because they wanted “live training” they would end their practice with what for all intents and purposes boiled down to a wrestling meet -  cop vs. cop.  I interviewed a guy I know from that agency about it. He told me lots of people missed work the next day due to injury.  He liked it because he felt it was good to use force against a resistive opponent in practice before you ever have to do it in the street.  He also said you could tell who was in shape and who was weak or would back down.  I asked him, because you won, you learned that you could pull these techniques against a resistive subject?  He said yes.  I asked him what the other guy learned.  He said he didn’t get it.

I told him the other guy learned that no matter how hard he or she tried, these techniques did not work against a resistive subject.  They were embarrassed because they lost.  They will not use those techniques or freeze while attempting to use them because it has been proven to their lizard brain (fight flight freeze) that these techniques did not work and last time they tried them and they got their ass kicked.

As I mentioned last blog you can’t let anyone leave training with this in their head, without something concrete they know (and believe) they can successfully do to control a resistive subject.

There are a lot of ways you can conduct “live” training without ingraining negative responses.

For some examples please refer to my blog with Steven Jimerfield’s essay on taking the negatives out of training.

In training of this sort if you find that you have some sort of glitch / bad habit take the time to fix it.

It is going to take lots and lots of reps doing it the right way to break a wrong habit.

This has been a fairly lengthy blog already so I’ll stop here, but I’ll leave you with a cliff hanger

Next blog we will pick it up right here with reps for mastery and the importance of cross over skill integration.

Until then…

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sensei Giri

Sensei Giri or Obligation of an instructor

Giri (義理) is a Japanese value roughly corresponding to "duty", "obligation", or even "burden of obligation" in English.

The burden of obligation an Instructor has to a student is something I’ve been thinking about lately.

Let’s start with some personal history and work our way back to the topic.  When I first started teaching cops, my classes were fairly complicated.  Not only that but they were mostly text book Aikido and Judo classes.  Even then part of me knew that there was no way I could get these guys proficient in a couple of hours a year.  But I thought they would see how good I am/ how easy it was for me, want to improve, and train on their own time (with me at the Dojo).  Looking back now I can see how arrogant that was.

A hard, but enlightening realization I had was, that if these guys wanted to be skilled in empty hand combative measures they already would be.

Sneaky little secret is that it isn’t all that hard.  Find a good teacher, train regularly, work hard.

(Hell, that is the corner stone of the book I’m writing)

Anyone can do it, so how come these guys haven’t?

They simply don’t want to.  They do not have the desire.  No pounding I give them on the mat, no amount of leading by example, and no amount of encouragement is going to instill them with that desire.

It took me a long time to figure out why.  It was pointed out to me that I am addicted to training, and I can’t disagree.  As addictions go, it’s not a bad one to have.  But I have to understand I am an addict and look at the situation through an addict’s eyes.  I’m an addict wondering why others aren’t addicted and why they don’t act like other addicts

That knowledge was hard won, but knowledge is power and changed the way I teach.

I will never make them like me, I have to help them become better thems.

(I don’t even know if thems is a word just go with me I’m on a roll)

That is my obligation.  Now it is still a burr under my saddle because the people I teach lives may depend on what I am teaching them.  One would think that with the stakes that high it is not too much to ask them to do a little something on their own to save their own lives.

Even so, that doesn’t change the burden of my obligation.  If anything it makes it heavier.  If you are unwilling to do anything to increase your chances of survival, I must do more to make you capable of protecting yourself.

It would be very easy for me to teach skills that only work for young, strong, fit, men.  Easy for me to mock and ridicule those officers that are incapable of doing those techniques.  Then send them back to the streets with the knowledge that I’m awesome and they suck

That would be easy.  In fact because it is easy that is what the majority of cop training is like.  But how could I live with myself if the day comes that the cop that never trains, never works out, finds himself in a violent physical confrontation and they only thing they can do is think I suck at this, I’m dead.

Boy I really showed him right.  I bet he wishes he could go back in time and hit the gym with me, go to the dojo with me.

I’m sure that will be a great comfort to his widow or his orphans.

Two very close friends of mine, both outstanding Instructors have been to the funerals of cops they trained.  That experience has stuck with them, changed them.  All heroes have scars, not all scars can be seen.

Side note

As long as I’m ranting and on a roll there is something I’ve wanted to write for a while.

If you don’t have scars

If all your joints work the way they are supposed to

If you have never cleaned up stuff that is supposed to stay indise a human body

If you have never been to the funeral of a friend or colleage that was murdered

Then you haven’t lived “the life”.  That is a good thing, don’t by any means be ashamed of that.  Many people who live the life wish they didn’t.

Don’t be ashamed of it, but don’t pretend to be something you are not.

 I don’t care how many tattoos you have

I don’t care how much training you have or the cornucopia of martial arts you have experience in

I don’t care how many fights you won in 4th grade

I don’t care how much “door” experience you have at upper middle class suburban bars

Don’t act like some urban commando bad ass.  Don’t teach edged weapons or fire arms defenses because you’ve never done it.  Don’t advertise yourself as some sort of paramilitary guru to make cash.  Because the people you are training trust you.  Can you live with yourself if your bullshit gets them killed, or a life in prison?

I can’t, and that brings us back to the obligation of a teacher

Even if it is more work.  Even if it is exponentially more work than they are willing to do themselves.  You have the obligation to make them competent.

You have to be good enough to see their inherent shortcomings and find things that work for them.

You can’t put them back on the street until their competence raises to the point where they are confident in their skills.

That is a tough burden to bear, if you can’t do it don’t teach operators.

I was tempted to end the blog there, but I’m a positive guy.  I’m not going to end on a negative.

So, how does one go about finding things that work for them?

A couple of things that have worked for me.

Make sure they bhave a through understanding of use of force policy especially Subject / Officer factors

Factors (except for gender) go both ways.




Special Knowledge (like you know this guys likes to fight cops, or he is a golden gloves champ)




With this information they will understand that they will need a much higher level of force to prevail and that they are justified in using that higher level of force.

Make sure they are free of a sport / fair play mindset.  They might say I could never take this guy.  And in a boxing match, wrestling match, or any fair fight they would be right

"I'll kill a man in a fair fight, or if I think he is gonna start one"
- Jayne "Serenity"

So you need to make sure that they never “fight fair”. 

If you can get them to see the subject as a collection of anatomical weakness to be exploited should the need arise, you have given them more practical skills then memorizing any physical technique.

It is a tough burden to bear, but somebody has to do it.

A student gives the teacher a couple of hours a week.  A teacher gives the his student his entire life

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe (try to make it a little easier for those that teach you)