Sunday, February 2, 2014

Hard Hands

In the last year, two law enforcement officers that I know have wrecked their hands having to defend themselves from attack.(They were jumped by people they were dealing with) 

You may be saying to yourself big deal, Kasey is always talking about how cops don’t receive enough training, and too few train on their own.  What else would you expect?

Granted I do bitch about that a lot, and in this blog post I’ll discuss ways to address that issue.

I’d like to use this blog entry to address striking in general and specifically how striking is taught to Law Enforcement, and how it needs to be improved.

However, before we get there I need to mention one of the cops that busted his hand is a top notch operator whom I respect.  One of the few that does train on his own. (With me)

Let me be adamantly clear.  I am not second guessing or Monday morning quarterbacking these officers.  I don’t do that to anyone out there actually facing dangerous situations.  Especially my friends.

If anything the opposite is true.  I consider this a win.  Someone I trained overcame being ambushed and injured and rendered an assaultive subject incapable of doing any further damage.
It is a great story.  But it is not my story to tell.  Maybe later I can sweet talk him into posting a guest blog.

I do want to hit upon how a guy like my friend would even be jumped in the first place.
My buddy is a big dude.  Like the last guy you would want to pick a fight with size dude.  6’6” 290lbs big.
There was a time when a uniform and a badge protected most officers from being attacked.
Now there is a distinct fuck the police culture in and of itself and an ever growing fuck the police attitude in society as a whole.

Like this classy lady

The uniform and badge have gone from protection to a liability.  (A target on your back)

However many officers still rely on the uniform and badge to protect them.  They are unprepared for the increased assaults on Law Enforcement Officers.

If someone is willing to attack a huge guy in uniform like my buddy, what is protecting you?

There are criminals that believe they have nothing to lose by fighting Law Enforcement.  They will earn “street cred” for injuring a cop or they will sue the department and the Officer for excessive force.

Officers are forced into more and higher level use of force incidents than ever before with no additional training.

Officers are rarely taught how to strike because hitting appears excessive to the public and to administration.

Because Officers are not trained how to hit efficiently, when forced to hit they are ineffective and try to compensate for skill with volume, using many strikes which appears excessive and still fails to achieve the purpose of striking in the first place.  That purpose/goal is to end the threat's ability to damage you.

So what can be done?
As I have mentioned in previous blogs training priorities need to be shifted.
It is unlikely that there will be any significant increases in training time or budgets in the foreseeable future.  So what is taught and the order training topics are prioritized are the only realistic changes that can be made to address the problem.

Most new hires have never experienced any type of violence before starting their careers in Law Enforcement. Where this becomes a problem is more cops are being attacked. They are both being forced to use higher levels of force and -- out of fear -- resorting to same when it is unnecessary.

In the past there was an assumption that recruits knew how to fight, and had been in fights.   Starting with that assumption, the hows and whys to control a subject was added.  Boxing and wrestling were common aspects of training progrmas.  Now force on force contact like boxing and wrestling have been removed. New hires clearly don’t know how to fight and have never been in a confrontation.  But training hasn't changed.  That assumed common knowlege that is no longer very common is still the foundation upon which the rest of control tactics is built

We don't want to put “fighting” into a lesson plan.
We DON'T want to teach them to fight, we want them to learn the necessary side benefits that come from having fought.

We need to put the fight in them, but we have the same amount of time to train them.

{Don’t come to me with a bitch unless you also have possible solutions}

This requires a paradigm shift.
The knowledge gained by “Fighting” or “Scrapping”  on the school yard used to be assumed as common knowledge , now it must be taught.

We have to make gaining this knowledge a priority.

We have to start with a means of instilling that knowledge as a foundation and build other skills on top of that. 
We can no longer do it the other way around.

The term -Defensive Tactics implies that you have to be on defense.  A losing strategy.  For defensive tactics to work you have to be 100% successful all of the time.  For offensive tactics to work you just have to be successful once.   Action is always faster than reaction.

Offensive tactics sums up the concepts of:
  • ·         Knowing use of force law and department policies well. 
  • ·         Understanding human behavior and recognizing pre-attack indicators. 
  • ·         Confidently using pro-active force efficiently to end the confrontation quickly.  
  • ·         Intelligently articulating your force options in plain language so that anyone that hears your story or reads your report responds with –“ that seems reasonable to me, guy is lucky he didn’t get worse”

·         Training
·         Admin buy in

You can’t just toss a new hire a 3 ring binder with your use of force policy in it.  You need to make sure he / she  understands it, and knows how to use it.  Competence in this area will lead to confidence in using the correct and justified level of force whatever that may be.

From the previous blog, LEAP leading by example - how do I do that?

I use lecture format / PowerPoint presentation I helped Rory Miller develop for Chiron Training.
If you would like to see this presentation please contact Chiron Training at:

{Side note this program is also excellent for understanding use of force laws for civilian self-defense.  If you are teaching / advertising self-defense at your martial arts school you had better have a solid comprehension of the materials in this presentation}

How to hit
Principle based training must be implemented, so with a few hours training a new hire with relatively no skills can leave that training proficient and capable of delivering force into a control subject rendering him incapable of doing any harm to another.  Learn the principles, not memorize techniques.  Play and improvise what works best for them (wire to the hind brain) not mimic the instructor.

  • ·         Structure
  • ·         Power Generation
  • ·         Anatomical Weapons
      •   Big Bone Theory
      •  Hit with things that don’t break
  • ·         Targeting
  • ·         Follow through into control

How to take a hit
In his soon to be released book ,“In The Name Of Self-Defense: Stuff you don't want to know about violence, the streets & self-defense, but can't afford not to” Marc MacYoung writes:

{P.S. this is a sneak peek available nowhere else so enjoy, and you are welcome}

… You cannot accurately assess where a situation is on the spectrum if you don't have stable data.
A huge stable data point is your ability to take a punch.
You cannot intellectually or emotionally work around this gaping hole in your knowledge and understanding. Without it, you will not be able to accurately assess the danger to your person and act 'reasonably.' (Yeah, remember that pesky legal term?)
Until you
1) develop the ability to take a hit without having an emotional melt down,
2) have firsthand experience that you can be struck and it won't destroy you,
3)  don't get all trauma drama-esque and 'triggered' about being hit in your past
4) you get over the fear of being struck --
a)  have no baseline to accurately assess danger
b) are likely to freak out and emotionally overreact when confronted
c) will be attempting to negotiate and de-escalate from a position of fear or
d) will be attempting to deal with the situation from a position of over-confidence.

Take the numbers from that list and imagine someone who hasn't developed those traits. Now mix and match by attaching the various letters to a number. Pretty much any of those combos have serious potential to go bad. In, what I might add, are some rather predictable ways.

Predictable ways as in your name in either the victim or the offender line of the police report.

This is why I tell people who want to learn self-defense to they're going to have to learn to take a punch. Hell, sign up for boxing lessons for six months. This is critical for something that has been lost in most people's consciousness.

That is: You got hit. So what? A big part of boxing is learning that you can take a hit and keep going.  Yeah it hurts. Again so what? Having stable data that you can take pain and keep on going gives you confidence and an understanding -- an understanding that there is no way to intellectualize your way around if you don't have it.

 Our fear of getting hit is more debilitating than getting hit. You can take a hit. It's not the end of the fuckin' world. It's not going to traumatize your psyche for the rest of your life (unless you go out of your way to define yourself over it).  After you get the hang of it, you discover an amazing fact. That is: You can get hit and still function.

And by function I mean still think. Your brain doesn't just shut down because someone punched you. You can still mentally process -- and most importantly assess the danger and react with appropriate force. Hey remember something I said earlier? You are NOT adrenaline's bitch!...

Only way to learn to take a hit is to take a hit.  Some sort of contact sparring has to be implemented.  Learn what being hit feels like without developing sport strategies / habits for professional force users.

Being able to take a punch and recover is important.
But you know what is better than taking a punch?
Not getting hit!
Remember Danielsan best way to block, no be there.
Don't stand there and be a punching bag

Be able to take a punch and still operate so you don't take more. 

How to prevent being hit

Counter Ambush Training
This is about the 1st contact of an assault.  The critical ¼ second. 
When a threat attacks you, he has a plan and is counting on surprise.  He is expecting you to freeze, allowing him to succeed. 

An operant conditioned response will kick in before that adrenalin dump.  At the speed of nerve.  It will give you one technique with all your speed, power and precision before your fight or flight response kicks in and robs you of your fine and complex motor skill. 

An operant conditioned response will mess up a threats plan, especially if it causes him damage.  It will force the threat to reset his O.O.D.A. loop and have his fight or flight response kick in. 

It doesn’t guarantee victory but it sure helps level out the playing field.

I would go so far as to say that if you have never received this type of training, the majority of your martial arts / self-defense / control tactics skills are moot because you will never be able to use them against an ambush

I understand that is a bold statement to the point of being controversial, even confrontational.

That is not my intent.  It is an easy solve.

Again you can contact me here:
Also this guy does a pretty decent job too:

This is far from style specific, This type of training helps you discover what works best for you.  What ever your background is, counter assault training can help you make 

If we reorganize what and when we teach new hires we can instill in them the formerly assumed knowledge that was once earned in scraps in the school yard.  We can start with Offensive Tactics:
•             Knowing use of force law and department policies well. 
•             Understanding human behavior and recognizing pre-attack indicators. 
•             Confidently using pro-active force efficiently to end the confrontation quickly.  
•             Intelligently articulating your force options in plain language so that anyone that hears your story or reads your report responds with –“ that seems reasonable to me, guy is lucky he didn’t get worse”

Then build control tactics on top of that.  All in the same time we are now currently allotted

How to sell to admin
Administration is going to be afraid of training injuries and public image
Use their fear of litigation to achieve your goals.

There are no acceptable losses.  The danger  of untrained  / undertrained officers getting hurt or killed far outweighs the danger of training injuries.  Training is a controlled environment, for the most part the dangers can be mitigated.  Department liability, and workman’s comp is going to be far greater in the uncontrolled environment of field application.

The flip side is untrained / undertrained Officers will use ineffective force.  Because it will not work they will get damaged, scared or both.  Resulting in skipping over offensive tactics and going to lethal force options that could have been handled with a lower level of force by a better trained Officer.
The cost of excessive force or unnecessary force is way higher than that of training injuries
Better training instills competence.  Competence grows confidence.  Competence and confidence together lowers uses of force and use of force complaints.  Well worth the occasional bruise or scrape endured in training.

Last blog I asked the reader to help keep me in check.  I stated that I will lead by example, and do what I can to increase my influence to more and more people.
This blog is an after action report of sorts.  I held the first Hard Hands seminar on Saturday 2/1/14.  There were Defensive Tactics Instructors there form several disciplines and back grounds.  All of them left with something that they will incorporate into what they teach their guys.
This information will spread and that paradigm shift can begin to happen.

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe.

“Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft.”

- Theodore Roosevelt


  1. "A punch should not hurt you a month before it hit you" -Mas Oyama

    "I will punch you so hard it hurts you a month before it hits you" -Me

  2. Ah, the wonderful feeling when you punch someone in the head and one or two of your knuckles isn't where it supposed to be anymore. Been there, and it's not funny when they use an electric drill to place metal rods into your fingerbones to keep them in place. Actually, it doesn't hurt as bad as when they pull 'em out.
    I read somewhere, can't remember where, that if punching someone in the face with a closed fist was an effective technique, we would see a lot more dead boxers and martial artists. That technique is for the monkey dance.
    Also, it's quite hard to handle a handgun with a few broken, misalingned fingers. One must choose targets and striking surfaces carefully and with the purpose of stopping the threat as fast as possible, meaning right the fuck now.
    And at last, a funny story: Friend of mine had to defend himself, threw an uppercut, connected with the two front teeth of the attacker. When he retracted the fist, said two teeth were sticking out of his knuckles. He froze, staring at it with disbelief. Lucky for him, also did the bad guy :-) Now THAT made a fugly mark. And infections. Brrrr....