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.