Sunday, March 24, 2013

The 4 / 5 split: Control Tactics / Police Combatives

Recently I put on an edged weapons defense class, and then Control Tactics / Police Combatives and Firearms training for some recently hired Police Officers.

Some core concepts were touched in all of these classes which got me thinking.  And generally when I get thinking I write about it here.

Wrote a blog about it, wanna read it?, here it go…

The 4 / 5 split

Before we get into the “meat” (pun fully intended) of this concept, I want to touch on predatory mindset again.

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.

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 is much easier to start with the assumption force is necessary and it’s use imminent, then down shift into officer friendly if / when it isn't

Not only assuming that force will be necessary but actively stacking the deck to be able to use force efficiently. 

This naturally elevates your level of awareness, and sends off subconscious “not to be fucked with vibes”. 

However, those same vibes 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 a professional uses other predator strategies - charm tactics.

The predator will use social skills to get the victim into a vulnerable position
A predator who is skilled at using charm tactics 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

"Good Guys" can use these same skill sets

Stacking the deck to be able to use force efficiently while saying the things “officer friendly” needs to say. 

Using what “officer friendly” has to say (Split attention tasks) to get into an advantageous position.

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.

I like to think of this process as hunting.  However, even though you are using predator strategies, when you are hunting you are only justified to use lower levels of force (1-4).  This is more akin to live trapping for a zoo or scientific research.  You don’t want to kill the prey you are hunting.  You want to take control of it (unharmed ideally) and bring it to where it can be contained.

I don't like the term "defensive tactics".  I feel if you are on defense you are already loosing.  I prefer Control Tactics.  I am on offense, not to hurt the subject, but to take control of him / her and bring the subject to where he/she can be contained.(unharmed ideally)

To help clarify here is a sample use of force continuum again.
1.       Presence
Presentation (do you look like a slob or do you have your shit together?)
Physical Fitness

2.       Verbal commands
Communication Skills
3.       Contact Controls
Touching or Seizing the offender
Escort Compliance
Standing Controls
Pain Compliance
Joint Locks
4.       Compliance Techniques
“Soft Hands”
Take Downs

These are the skill sets used to control a subject.  This is the amount of force you are justified using:
(a) In effecting a lawful arrest; or
(b) In the execution of legal process; or
(c) In enforcing an order of the court; or
(d) In executing any other duty imposed upon the public officer by law

When you are hunting (live trapping), these are the tactics you are setting up.  Whatever physical skills you use, they have to work against someone actively fighting against you.  If you have them controlled (immobilized) before they have time to resist it makes the task much easier.

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.

It’s one thing to hunt prey; it’s another thing entirely to hunt another predator (big game hunting).
Use a level 4 technique in a level 5 situation and you will get damaged
This is why there is a hard split between level 4 and level 5

Level 5 and up is what I call Police Combatives.  Examples from a use of force continuum include:

5.       Disabling Techniques
“Hard Hands”
Impact Techniques
Striking / Kicking
6.       Potentially Lethal Force
3 – 5 – 7
Lateral vascular neck restraints
Cervical subluxation
Weapons Techniques

These are the skill sets used to render a subject incapable of injuring you any further.
This is for when the subject is not fighting against being controlled but actively trying to damage you.

Trying to control someone that is attempting to damage you will get you injured (maybe fatally so).

So you will need solid “disabling techniques”

As I stated earlier, 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.  

If you were hunting “big game” (another predator) you shouldn't be surprised that they attacked.  However, if you got “jumped” you need to turn things around quickly before you take too much damage to do anything. 

Counter ambush.
Not blocking, not evading, but turning the tide.  The Japanese sometimes call this Sen No Sen or attacking the attack.  

You are not defending but actively counter attacking.  That critical ¼ second before the effects of adrenalin start to kick in.  Not defensive tactics, not even control tactics anymore, but combative measures to end the threat's capability to harm you. No matter what the style, you need to find something that works for you.  Something that protects you and allows you to deliver force (damage) into the attacker at the same time.  All while improving your position so the attacker can no longer damage you.  Once you find this you have to drill this into a conditioned response (speed of nerve).

Follow Through 
After your counter ambush action you have to do what it takes to stop the attacker.  What ever it is that you do, it has to stop / shut down someone trying to hurt you.

Whatever it takes
You are no longer trying to control the attacker but to disable him so he can no longer attack you.  A very clear and very important distinction.

This is where the level 5 and higher techniques come into play. 

When level 5 is justified use high end levels of force.  You can’t allow your self to fall into “fighter” thinking– can I take him?  You must think {react} like a hunter – what is the best way to take him?

{Actually when you are in a position where level 5 techniques are justified / necessary you will be highly adrenalized and won’t be doing much thinking at all.  At this point you will be reacting.  Your thinking is done in training.  So make sure you receive quality training before you find yourself in this situation.  You don’t rise to the occasion you drop to your level of training…in an adrenalized body.} 

No matter how big and bad they are, they are just 7 pints of blood in a skin sack, their spinal column is only protected by thin rings of fragile bone, and most things in the environment are stronger than their skull including the planet.

You can not rely on pain to get the job done.  You must disable the attackers ability to do you harm!

A case in point from recent training, a female Officer asked me about using pressure points to control someone on the ground.  So glutton for punishment that I am I volunteered for her to experiment on.  She worked the pressure points she was taught, and she did them well it hurt.  But it in no way stopped me from continuing to do what ever I wanted to do.  Drunk, drugged, demented, or like I was just plain determined any of those D4 can fight through pain.

If it wouldn't work on a predator in nature don’t rely on it to work on a human predator (big game).  Would you  try to pressure point a mountain lion?

I have a distinct problem with self defense in general but especially women’s self defense that focuses on delivering pain.  You see the instructor (usually a man teaching women) having the women deliver ineffectual strikes to pads, or to a guy dressed up in a red man/spartan/spear gear/whatever suit.  

Or scratching his eyes and biting his ears in the “shredder” fashion.   All the while shouting encouragement and talking about empowerment.

I prefer this Shredder  

Putting all the blood born pathogen stuff aside, and looking at it solely from a tactical stand point this shows a distinct lack of field experience to me.  

Don’t get me wrong do what ever it takes to get out of a bad situation but don't rely on pain alone.  Understand, hurting them at best will only slow them down, and is likely to just piss them off.  

Pain may stop an attack in the dojo.  Especially if having the student feel good about themselves and sign up for more lessons is a priority for the instructor.   Pain might even stop an attack on the street if it is used to direct or "steer" the assailant into a disabling technique.  However, pain alone does not stop the drunk, drugged, demented, or just plain determined.  Who the fuck do you think is going to attack women?  Disabling them also hurts them, but it also dis-fucking-ables them!  Meaning they are no longer capable of hurting you!

If it wouldn't work on a predator in nature don’t rely on it to work on a human predator (big game).  Would you try to bite a mountain lion’s ear, or scratch his eyes?

Another way to think about it

Zombies are popular in media.  Zombies are predators.  No one fights a zombie.  You don’t punch a zombie in the gut.  You don’t deliver 17 Krav knees to its zombie nuts.  You render a zombie incapable of hurting you. 

How is that done?
  • Breaking long bones
  • Brain trauma
    • Impact
    • Lack of blood
    • Lack of oxygen
    • Severed spinal column

If the subject is trying to hurt you, you must render him / her incapable of doing so. 
If you are incapable of stopping a zombie, how will you stop a human predator?

It is as simple and more efficient than any scratch bite or kick.  Remember no matter how big and bad they are, they are just 7 pints of blood in a skin sack, their spinal column is only protected by thin rings of fragile bone, and most things in the environment are stronger than their skull including the planet.

Knowing when to stop
This is not cart blanch to start maiming folks.  Use a level 5 in a level 4 situation and you will get sued.
Force has to be scaled as conditions change.
What does that mean?  Totality of the circumstances.

Factors and circumstances.  Except for gender these work both ways, meaning when they are in your favor force can be decreased, when they are not force must be increased.

Inability to disengage 
• Proximity to weapon
• Injury or exhaustion
• Hazardous environment
• Special knowledge (
• Surprise
• Ground level

Operator / Subject Factors
• Skill
• Size
• Strength
• Numbers
• Mental state
• Gender
• Sometimes age
• Physical or mental disability

As control is gained force is lowered.  When they can no longer hurt you the use of force stops. 
For cops this means they are in cuffs or for civilians when you can disengage and get to safety.

Amateurs and assholes continue to cause damage after the opponent is no longer a threat because they cannot control their emotions.

Professionals do not strike a downed opponent because they “might” get back up.  
Professionals make sure the opponent can no longer hurt them, then get cuffs on them or get to safety.

Don't be an asshole be professional.  Don't try to hurt someone who is attacking you.  Disable their ability to attack you

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Monday, March 11, 2013

Swinging big wood

The Chinese use the same word for challenge and opportunity.  Well, that is not actually true but it’s one of those things that is said over and over so often that everyone thinks it’s true.

The challenge I faced recently is that the department is short three Patrol Officers.  Kind of like every Marine is a Rifleman, every Officer is a Patrolman (or woman).  So I am back on patrol for a few months.  No big deal I always kind of liked patrol.  The challenge was making sure I still got all of my training in.  That challenge also created some new training opportunities.

Before we get to the new stuff lets review where I am coming from.  If you will recall the super soldier project, which trans-morphed into Batman by 40.  One of the requisites was training I can do in the morning before work, that increases cardio vascular stamina, works specifics combative skill sets, and doesn't lead to over training when combined with strength training and running.

For strength training I like to do a whole body suspension body weight circuit along with skill specific training.  Looks something like this:
Saturday – Strength & Fundamental Motions Tabata
Monday – Strength & Nage Waza (Throwing Techniques)
Wednesday – Strength and Kansetsu Waza (Joint Locks)

I also run three times a week
Friday – Distance
Sunday – Sprints and Plyometrics
Tuesday – Interval training 

My usual schedule is Monday through Thursday 0630 – 1630.  Thursdays are almost always tactical training days so I made that my rest day (sometimes a not so much rest day depending on the training).  So that meant I needed three (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) A.M. training workouts.

Monday – Atemi Waza (Striking) A heavy bag and jump rope circuit
Tuesday – Fundamental Motions Plyometrics.  Tabata training explosive fundamental motions against the resistance of plyobands.  A longer more intense version of what I do after strength training on Saturdays
Wednesday – Kenjutsu

Even Fridays I got extra training combining elements of Wednesday and Monday.

With the new schedule I work Saturday, Sunday, Monday every other week and on Fridays the opposite week.

So I needed some new A.M. workouts

I didn't want to just recycle the workouts I already do to prevent boredom and repetitive use over training.  So, I needed to develop training that fit my Batman by 40 criteria, and covered other aspects of combatives

Physical Skills Platform (Aspects of Combatives)
A use of force continuum is an example of rules of engagement found in most Law Enforcement agencies use of force policies.
Here is an example of a use of force continuum
1.       Presence
Physical Fitness
Awareness* situational awareness program
2.       Verbal commands
Communication Skills
3.       Contact Controls
Touching or Seizing the offender
Escort Compliance
Standing Controls
Pain Compliance
Joint Locks
4.       Compliance Techniques
Soft Hands
Take Downs
5.       Disabling Techniques
Hard Hands
Impact Techniques
Striking / Kicking
6.       Potentially Lethal Force
3 5 7
Weapons Techniques

If you are going to employ your martial arts skills in the professional use of force you must assure that your own personal style covers all these aspects.

All Operators have to have skill sets at all levels of force.  I like to use this model as a frame work for operators to develop their own operational style.

Most of that is covered with my current training except for Pins (Osae Komi) and weapon techniques.

So I combined elements of the offensive ground work class I teach and transitions into different shooting positions into a workout.

But that’s not what this blog is about.  Maybe the details of that training and what I’ve learned from it will be the topic for a different day.

The title of the blog is swinging big wood.  Sexual innuendo aside what I’m talking about is Suburi.

Specifically how to get a good work out that improves skills applicable to 21st century combatives from swing a big sword around.

Suburi is a Japanese word for practice swings.  Outside of Japan, the word is used exclusively for repetitive individual cutting exercises used in Japanese martial arts such as kendo, aikido, iaidō, and kenjutsu.

I like Suburi but I needed to switch it up from practice swings to incorporate more fundamental motions.

I have been very fortunate with the Kenjutsu training I received in that it tied directly back to the principles of what made empty hand techniques work.  Now, if I can find the sword in the motion then I know the technique no matter what the style.

Most combatives can be traced back one way or another to Jujutsu.  Jujutsu can be traced back to the noto techniques of Kenjutsu.  So it stands to reason that the fundamentals of the foundation would be universal to anything that came from it.

I train fundamental motions so often because they apply to all aspects of combatives.
If you boil it down there really only so many ways to move in relation to another person

Lateral             (Yoko Sabaki)
Circular           (Tenkan)
Opening          (Hiraki)
Entering           (Irimi)
Direct Entry    (Shomen Irimi)
To the rear       (Ura)

No matter what the weapon, no matter what the art, no matter what combative aspect within that art in fits within one of those six general motions.

Cops don’t want to learn a bunch of Japanese terms so when Jimerfield Sensei teaches cops he assigns numbers to the motions.
Lateral             (Yoko Sabaki)             1 & 2
Circular           (Tenkan)                      3 & 4
Opening          (Hiraki)                        5 & 6

He took that from his training in Nihon Jujutsu.

That is cool but it didn't explain other motions that have worked for me.  So in the training I provide I added
Entering           (Irimi)                         7 & 8
Direct Entry    (Shomen Irimi)            9 & 10
To the rear       (Ura)                            0

There is a saying in Judo – When pushed, pull – when pulled, push.  Similarly in Aikido the saying goes when pushed open when pulled enter.

These ideas / motions complement or cancel each other.

Push / Enter                                         Pull / Open
Circular (Tenkan)                                Opening (Hiraki)                    
Entering (Irimi)                                   Lateral  (Yoko Sabaki)
Direct Entry (Shomen Irimi)               To the rear (Ura)

What makes fundamental motions so cool is that they are universally applicable
Those motions are also what makes Kenjutsu work.  

Ok, ok, you may be asking how does this apply to suburi specifically and working out in general?

Suburi training usually consists of standing still and doing a few cuts.  Not great for drilling specific useful motions, more just a warm up or a work out for arms and shoulders.

However, if you use the complimentary motion principle and work opposing motions together you get all the benifits of regular suburi training, plus fundamental motions training, plus good cardio vascular effect because you are constntly moving.

The next part might get a little inside baseball but bear with me take the principles and apply them to any weapons training that you may do.

The Suburi I do now looks like this

OFFENSE                                                      DEFENSE     
7          8          Entering                                  2          1          Lateral Motion

3          4          Circular                                   6          5          Opening
SUIHEI                                                          UCHI OTOSHI SHINOGI   

9          10        Direct Entry                            0          -1         Enemy to the rear
SHOMEN UCHI                                            URA TSUKI 

2          1          Lateral Motion                        7          8          Entering

6          5          Opening                                  3          4          Circular
YOKOMEN UCHI                                        HASSO GAMAE      

9          10        Direct Entry                            0          -1         Enemy to the rear
TSUKI                                                           HILT STRIKE           
ONE MINUTE PER SIDE (left and right) REPEAT X2 = 24 MINUTES              

{Side Note - when you add the number assigned to the motion to it's complimentary motion it always adds up to 9.}  

Now you may ask is this a coincidence?  Isn't 9 sacred to the Ninja?  Kasey are you a Ninja?

Of course not there is no historical proof that Ninja ever even existed, much less still operate today.  But isn't that exactly what a Ninja would say? 

Ok back to the point of the blog...

This motion training not only helps with fitness and Kenjutsu but has positive crossover training effects to empty hand combatives, and firearms skills

It takes about 24 minutes, it's fun, and it kicked my ass.

When you work the complimentary motions together (9) it creates a flow that reminded of Indian Club training.

For those you unfamiliar with club training I paraphrased the following information from

Every workout, there you are, pushing and pulling heavy weights (which is definitely a good thing), but there's more to it than strengthening the muscles alone... You must maintain stronger joints as well. 

After all, when you lift weights, you can only lift them in straight lines...but your body moves and functions in a circular manner.  This is especially true for the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder. Think of how many different directions you can move your arm and how few of them you can reach with "weights" alone.

There's no question that the shoulder girdle is by far one of the most movable areas of the body but it is also one of the most fragile. Regardless of how you use your body, it is very important to keep the shoulders strong, loose, and flexible. 

But many people never fully develop their natural shoulder girdle mobility and muscular balance. Let me tell you about a simple training technique that will help..


Several thousand years ago, Indian wrestlers and warriors prepared themselves for battle by swinging wooden "clubs" to condition their bodies and build upper-body strength. This practice spread amongst many different countries throughout the ensuing centuries - club swinging of various forms can be found in just about every middle-eastern and Asian country.

In the 1800's, British soldiers started practicing "Indian Club" techniques and brought them back to Europe where the clubs became part of the physical culture tradition. 

In time, European immigrants brought Indian Club training to American shores. Club swinging was adopted into American school physical education programs and military physical readiness training. 

In the early 20th century, many students began their day with a few minutes of club swinging to wake up mind and body. 

Utilizing a series of graceful swinging movements, Indian Club training was a simple method for individuals to build stronger, healthier bodies while promoting joint integrity and improving strength and overall vitality. 

You simply need a space big enough to let you swing the clubs with out interference and you are in business.  Keep in mind that just because the clubs are "relatively" light doesn't mean that you aren't going to get one hell of a workout. 

When used correctly the clubs can humble even the strongest of athletes
(As I mentioned this type of training kicked my ass, and I of course am awesome)

This is what Indian Clubs look like. They range from one to three pounds in weight and from 16-1/2 inches to 20 inches in length.

This is what a suburito looks like.  

suburitō is commonly around 115 cm (45 in) in length, with a mass of 1 kg (2.2 lb). However, these bokuto (wooden swords) can vary widely in size and weight.

Look at this maniac swinging around a railroad tie

So bottom line - Work out.  But don't just work out, use your brains.  Find training that not only makes you more fit, but also makes you a more skilled combatant.

Physicality has it's limits, but you can always become more efficient and smarter.

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe