Friday, May 27, 2016

Tethers and balance

Last week Randy King's "Randy's Rant Tour" came through Minnesota.
Great Instructor, a lot of fun to play with.

I almost got myself in trouble with my wife.

Finding a balance between family and training and the need for both inspired this weeks blog.

A few months back Randy called and told me about the tour.  He mentioned it would be coming through Minneapolis and asked if he could stay with me.

He is my good friend and I enjoy spending time with him so of course I said yes with out hesitation.
I looked at my schedule and I didn't have to work, so bonus I get to play too!

I got on Facebook and clicked going on the White Tiger Martial Arts event page
Then the phone rang.  It was my wife.  She said Kasey (she said Kasey but her tone implied dip shit) remember how you said you wouldn't schedule any training with out checking with me first?

So how come the first I hear of this training on the 21st is from Facebook?
[Smile, bat long eyelashes] Sorry is there something going on that weekend?
YES!, your daughters have their dance recital that day!

OK, sorry.  I won't go to that training.  Randy needs a place to stay.  I'll be sure to keep him and myself out of your way while you get the girls ready.  Jes was cool with that


The girls dance on Saturday, Sunday is free - I know because I asked Jes first this time.
We had not had a inaugural training session at The Harm Farm Mark I yet.
Canadians need the full American experience, what is a trip to the U.S. without blasting off a couple hundred rounds of ammunition?

Sounds like a perfect opportunity for the next installment of the Samurai Sunday Seminar Series - Close Quarters Combatives aka Rando Commando.


Here is the course description:
The morning session will cover the close quarter combative elements of Judo and Jujitsu including edged weapons, blunt weapons and fire arm skills (weapon retention / weapon reclamation).

The afternoon session will be on the range with acclaimed firearms Instructor Cabot Welchlin of Chameleon Survival

Course of fire = 200 Rounds

The class has a maximum 8 student limit and is reserved for individuals that have gone through a vetting process.

1st come 1st serve sign up today!

Sounds pretty cool right?  I'd sign up for that class.

As we got closer to Randy's (and Amy's) arrival another training opportunity came up.
Querencia Fitness ( ) decided to host a class Saturday night.

Awesome!!!  I can play Saturday night  - I know because I asked Jes first this time.

Very excited, a entire weekend of doing things I love with some of my favorite people.

A few days before the big weekend this video from an incident that happened in the metro area was made public

That video made me angry.  My initial response was -  bring that shit to me!
I was going to replay those images in my head at Randy's Counter Assault Class
I was going to replay those images in my head at my CQB class and on Cabot's range.
Anytime I felt like resting on the couch, when I should be in the gym I plan on remembering those images.

As I was writing this blog I saw this article from Conflict Manager with Clint Overland.


The problem with bouncing, corrections, police, or military is leaving work at work. When your job is dealing with people who hate your guts 98% of the time it leaves a scar.

You become bitter, angry and disenfranchised with people. You carry home things you have seen. Things you did. Things you regret. It makes for rough nights and a hard time finding peace. PTSD gets thrown around like an catch all diagnosis. It doesn't cover the true horrors that can and more often than not do stay with you.

As a bouncer you have to try and do your best not to step over the line. You are not protected by any special laws or organizations that will defend your actions.

As I kept bouncing I found myself starting to treat my family like I would the patrons. This caused a lot of problems. I had to step away for a little bit to recenter myself. I found some hobbies that helped me get the anger out. Looking at art, cooking, exercise, heavy drinking. Simple things to help me cope with life. I know too many bouncers that burn out in 10 years or less. But the scars and anger last.

The scars and the anger last.

After watching the video, I must have still been angry.  I must have still been angry when I told my wife to watch it, and that she should remember it every time she feels like I am away too much for training.

... I found myself starting to treat my family like I would the patrons.

Jes replied OK, but you can't live at the Dojo.

Pfft - whatever, yes I can.

Thursday rolled around and it was SWAT training day.
Training topic was negotiations.

The morning session consisted of the Negotiations Team giving a briefing detailing exactly what they do and what skills are required.

My one thing?  Before you can de-escalate the subject, first you must de-escalate yourself.
That is pretty smart.  Almost like I have heard that before.  At a break in training I invited the Negotiations Team to attend Violence Dynamics in October, specifically the Conflict Communications class.

The afternoon session was scenario training working in tandem with Negotiations.
This was my first time in the hot seat as Incident Command.  Running all of the tactical operations, not just my team.  Sounds fun right?  If you like watching instead of doing [insert easy obvious porn joke here]

Not nearly as fun, but necessary.  I am at a point know where it is not unlikely I would be in that chair if a couple circumstances fell into place for an actual SWAT activation.

Someone is sick, another is out of town  - boom you are the man.

Better to have trained it than to try to pull it off on the fly for the real deal.

Things went well.  I was happy with my performance.  I feel I did everything that I want Incident Command to do for me when I am running a team.  Well... I did make them call me Cobra Command instead of Incident Command and I made them clear a basement because it might have been haunted, but besides that things went well.

(I actually made them clear a basement because waiting while Negotiations talks for hours is boring as fuck and you can never get enough reps clearing rooms)

Thursday night after training, Randy and Amy finally arrived.  We got them settled in then enjoyed some whiskey and cigars.

Friday the only thing I had to get done was workout.  So did Randy and Amy so we went to the YMCA, and as it turned out it was invite a friend day so I didn't even have to use any guest passes #gypsylife.

Killed my work out - feeling pretty hard core.

"There's no room for softness... not in Sparta. No place for weakness. Only the hard and strong may call themselves Spartans. Only the hard, only the strong."

SWAT - Lifting - Training
Work  - Hustle - Kill

Inside my head was kind of like this video:

Except maybe swap out some of the Special Forces scenes with cops stuff and Jujitsu.

Its easy to get into this head space
I'm a fucking animal, I am the Beastking.  Stupid sheep don't get it.

SWAT - Lifting - Training
Work  - Hustle - Kill

It's easy to get LOST in that head space...unless you have tethers to the world

Saturday morning rolls around.
No tactical operations, no physical training, no neck cranking...

Just Jes and the girls.  Getting their hair done, getting stage make up on.
Packing different outfits.

We sent Randy and Amy off to their training.
We got to the recital, got the girls back stage, met the Grandmas, and found our seats.

No tactical operations, no physical training, no neck cranking...
Feeling like a tiger in a cage, trying not to spook the sheep
I'm a fucking animal, I am the Beastking.  Stupid sheep don't get it.

Then the show starts.  After a few numbers, a little girl with braces on her legs comes out.  She does the best she can with what she has and gives it her all.  A few songs latter a young woman with Down's syndrome comes out and literally dances like no one is watching.  With out a hint of insecurity or doubt - like a fucking rock star!

More time passes, I finally get to see my kids perform, and instead of waiting to get out of there so I can go...

SWAT - Lifting - Training
Work  - Hustle - Kill

I'm begin enjoying myself.  A gear starts to shift, a realization starts to form.
Kind of like this car commercial, well this commercial if the guy was slightly better looking and drove a 12 year old Ford Explorer

Life is a competition.

Nietzsche wrote - "Anything which is a living and not a dying body... will have to be an incarnate will to power, it will strive to grow, spread, seize, become predominant - not from any morality or immorality but because it is living and because life simply is will to power... which is after all the will to life."

 Relentless pursuit of perfection.  Perfection is impossible, but its pursuit produces excellence.  Excellence creates predominance.

...ok, but you can't live at the Dojo.

What is the point of all the blood sweat and tears, to protect your life....if you can't enjoy your life?
Why "save the world" if you haven't reserved a place for yourself in it?

Tethers and balance.

You need friends outside of "the life"
If everyone you communicate with also works a profession dealing with people who hate your guts 98% of the time it becomes easy to "other" everyone else.

Stupid sheep don't get it.

As Clint wrote that kind of job leaves a scar.  The shield gets heavy .

I can't imagine what I would be like with out my wife and daughters.  How much harder life would be.
They keep me connected to a larger world.
They lighten my burden.  They give me something to fight for, to come home to.
They keep me human.  They make me far better at what I do

They are why I fight.

If you have people in your life that you would kill or die for you are truly blessed.
Never take them for granted.
If you would die for them, shouldn't you do what it takes to live with them?

...ok, but you can't live at the Dojo.
Pfft - whatever, yes I can.  Ok, I get it.


So what did I do after my micro epiphany?
Well, we bought flowers for the girls and we all went out to eat to celebrate their performance.



Did I miss my own point?

Tethers are important.  Because they are important you need to protect them.  Not only from the big scary world, but from you.

Do everything you can to leave work at work.
Find hobbies to get the angry out.

3 hours of Counter Ambush training is a fantastic outlet to burn off the angries.
It is also a great way to develop other tethers.

Sadly, I have lamented several times that far too few people in "the life" train on their time on their own dime.

On the positive side that means that plenty of people that are not in "the life"enjoy training.

If you enjoy hitting, throwing, choking, and locking, we can be friends.

If you get smashed into the planet and grin or giggle because because your opponent's move was awesome, we can be buddies.

Regardless of your political views, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, or creed.
I have more in common with you than I do with  90% of the rest of the planet.
If I have this thing in common with a diverse group of buddies, then it becomes harder to other the rest of the world.  It becomes harder to isolate myself.

It becomes easier to be tethered to it.

So no, I didn't miss the point of my epiphany.  I need and cherish my tethers.
3 hours of counter ambush training protected some of my tethers and helped develop more of them.

A balance must be struck.  I would wager that for the Officer in the first video, those were the longest 5 minutes in his life.  I would further wager that while he was fighting for his life some part of him was wishing he was better prepared to face that level of violence.

That Officer could have been anyone reading this blog.  We need to be prepared to face that level of violence.

'The Only Defense Against Evil, Violent People is Good People Who Are More Skilled at Violence.'
- Rory Miller

The only way for good people to become more skilled at violence is to train.

It is hard for me to be objective on this.  I may even be obsessive / compulsive when it comes to training

So besides keeping us tethered to the world, we need tethers to keep us from tunnel vision.
We need to be driven  - Work - Hustle - Kill.  We need our tethers to remind us to live the life we are striving so hard to protect.  It is on us to find time and opportunities for both.  For the enhancement of both, at the detriment of neither.

Case in point...
When I planned the CQB class I arranged all the logistics with my friend  and teammate Mark.  In the time between when the logistics were confirmed and the class was scheduled (10 days) Mark's wife gave birth to their first child.

Jes overheard my plans.

Hey Kasey (she said Kasey but her tone implied dip shit) you think maybe you want to call Mark and make sure it is still OK to train at the Harm Farm this weekend?


Oh, I don't know because his wife just gave birth and might not want a bunch of people over beating the crap out of each other and having a BBQ.

Oh...yeah...Hmmmm. I better call Mark.

Luckily Mark married a woman way out of his league and far too cool for him.

Things worked out nicely

All things in balance

After Randy's class we gathered at The Lowery.  Because one does not simply train at Querencia Fitness without eating at the Lowery.

At diner  Molly said something that resonated with me
-Isn't Valhalla where you gather with friends, battle all day, feast all night, only to start all over again the next day?

The next day...
Early start for a champion's breakfast at RJ Rich's, because one does not simply train at the Keishoukan with out eating at RJ's (feasting).  3 hours of close quarters combat training (battle) followed by lunch (feasting).
After lunch we had 3 hours of firearms training (battle), followed by a family BBQ (feasting).

An entire day of doing things I love with some of my favorite people.
- Leave work at work.
- Find hobbies to get the angry out.

If Valhalla is the warriors afterlife, repeating days like this would be a fine way to spend eternity.
I got to train all day and feast all night.
I got to spend time with my family - My wife and daughters joined us for the BBQ.  Mark's wife and daughter joined us for the BBQ.
As Dillon is fond of saying - I got to do Kung Fu with my Kung Fu friends.
When all of this comes together, they become the family you choose.

It was a great day.

So when I started this post I intended to review Randy's counter Ambush class and Cabot's firearms / CQB class.  It quickly changed into a way for me to process some of my thoughts from the weekend.

Therefore I will leave you with a cliff hanger.  You will have to wait until the next installment of the Budo Blog for my after action report.

Although this was processing for me I hope it was of some value to others.

If you are reading this and you know, or have now come to realize that you are someone else's tether please be kind to them.

They are focused, but that focus can give them tunnel vision.  Please give them gentle nudges and reminders.  Help them manage their time so they can protect their lives and enjoy a life worth protecting.

Train hard, Train Smart, Be safe.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Predator or Protector? How do you tell the difference?

Surround yourself with the best people that will tolerate you.
I am blessed to have smart friends.
A conversation with one of those smart friends inspired this blog.

Maija Soderholm and I were discussing a CQB and firearms course we have coming up this month specifically, and the demographic of Violence Dynamics in general.

The conversation drifted to...

K - We are the fucking good guys.
Our job is to help you protect yourself against the baddies.
Not make better baddies


K - Having said that we are not angels

M - Motivation separated good from bad
To predate? Or to protect?
Towards life? or towards death?

K - exactly

M- You should blog about that.
I think it's very current in peoples' minds

How DO you tell the difference?

Challenge accepted.

To predate? Or to protect?
Towards life? or towards death?
How DO you tell the difference?

How do you tell the good from the bad?

Let's start with the premise that violence is neither good nor evil, but rather it is simply just a tool.

For more information on CRGI click - Here

 The Only Defense Against Evil, Violent People is Good People Who Are More Skilled at Violence.
-Rory Miller

So it is imperative that GOOD people be skilled at violence.
What does that mean?
For the most part it is helping good people give themselves permission to do what is necessary.

Unless they are competing for the same resources, it is rare for a predator to hunt another predator.

So protection can also be achieved by helping folks remember that they are also predators.  The confidence that brings can remove someone from some victim profiles.


The imagery above is from Terry Trahan's WeaselCraft.  Click here for more information.

At Violence Dynamics West Coast, Terry explained why he uses this for his company's logo.
I have wrote about Lt David Grossman's sheep, sheep dog, wolf analogy, and how I disagree with it.

Terry shed new light on it when he pointed out the sheep dog does not protect the sheep.  The sheep dog just keeps the wolves away so that the farmer can slaughter the sheep.

Not great for the sheep.  The world needs less sheep, and more predators.

Humans are the apex predator on the planet, but from birth those predators traits are labeled evil because people with power over you are afraid of what you could accomplish if you realized just how powerful you are.

It is not hard to damage another human being.  Giving yourself permission (especially if you self identify as a good person) to do so can be very hard.

I see this at the Dojo often with new students.  "I don't want to hurt you".  We make jokes about driving the last once of human compassion out of them.  It is good that you do not want to hurt me. However, you have to be able to hurt me.  Take your time, do it under control.  It will cause discomfort, but I will tap before I break,  You have to be able to make me tap.  If you can't make me tap, how can you break someone when that someone needs to be broken?

For me personally that was a difficult lesson to learn.  I self identify as a hero.  Hell I self identify as a super hero.

There are situations I may face that can not be solved by a hero.

To help remind me of this, I like to listen to this song (click the video)

Any of us might find ourselves somewhere that is no place for a hero.  I don't need to be the hero at that place.  I need to be the Husband that goes home to his wife.  The Father that goes home to his little girls.  I need to get home to be a hero for them.  If I have to be the Devil to do that, then I will be the god damned Devil.

Once permission is given though, it is easy to degrade in to what Dillon has termed torture porn on a stationary threat.

Meaning, you may find yourself in a shitty situation where the only way out is to put your fingers in the threat's mouth and rip their lip off.  You have to give yourself permission to do what is necessary.  However, when training for that shitty situation, if you follow this with a thumb through the eye, stomping on the throat, stomping on the groin, re-stomping the groin, etc...  When does it move away from what is necessary?  When does it move away from what is actually possible / realistic to do on a combative threat?  And if the threat is no longer actively combative when does this just become a series of really horrible things it is kind of cool to know how to do to a human body?

Where is the line when you become the baddie?

What is realistic?  What is necessary?
How am I to tell the good from the bad?

What is realistic?
In martial arts, you will get people who have studied for decades on how to handle an attack from a bad guy, but have never spent a day studying how bad guys actually attack. Would you consider going to a doctor who had only studied surgery and drugs but had refused to study anatomy, injury or illness?

Would you consider taking your car to a mechanic who had every tool imaginable but didn’t know what an engine looks like? Only in martial arts will you get high-level instructors who have memorized answers but refused to look at problems.

But don’t worry about it. Most of the surviving martial systems were designed by brilliant people who lived in violent times. An understanding of Violence Dynamics won’t replace anything you do, it just tends to make it fit better.

Traditionally, martial arts has been about teaching fighters how to fight other fighters. If you are really interested in helping your students be safe, you might need some background on how to help victim profiles evade hunters. It’s not the same problem and, honestly, it’s not that closely related.
- Rory Miller

How do bad guys actually attack?

You may not know, and you will always fear what you don't know

You don't have to travel the world and commit crimes to understand how criminals operate.

If you want to travel the world you can visit Edmonton Alberta Canada 07 / 30  / 2016 - 08 / 01/ 2016 for Violence Dynamics Next Gen.  For more information click -  Here

Or, you could visit Minnesota 10 /20-23/16 - more on that in future posts could but this DVD

A famous Batman quote is "Criminals are a cowardly superstitious lot"

The logic of violence, helps develop an understanding how and why criminals operate.
It is not going to be a nose to nose social monkey dance with fair warning.
It will be by surprise.  Closer, faster, and more intense than most people ever train for.

Lizard brain stuff - rhythm and ritual.  What has worked for them before has kept them alive.  If they keep doing it they will stay alive

When you understand what criminals need to succeed.  When you know what victim profiles your lifestyle puts you on.  When you know where you are most likely to face criminal violence.  Then you have a realistic understanding of the violence you are likely to face.

What is necessary?
Why am I using violence?
Legitimate reasons to use violence / force:

  • Escape
  • Control
  • Disable 

Fight to the goal.  Do what is necessary to achieve that goal.  When the goal has been achieved, the violence stops.

Continuing the violence makes you an asshole.  You can't beat the wicked or stupid out of someone.

You will notice:

  • Revenge
  • Punishment
  • Entertainment
  • Hurt Feelings
Are not on the list of legitimate reasons to use violence / force.  People do use violence for these reasons.  I am paid to use violence on those people.

So, by definition I am a resource predator.

I used that example at Violence Dynamics a few years ago.  One of the students dropped the bullshit flag.  He said that may be true, you do get paid to use violence on those people, but I can tell by the way you talk about it that you love it.  You are a process predator.

Surround yourself with the best people that will tolerate you.

I am blessed to have smart friends.

Violence is neither good nor evil, but rather it is simply just a tool.
How am I to tell the good from the bad?
If I am a process predator, am I the baddie?"

Who do you use violence on?
I am paid to use violence on "those people".

Predators "other" their prey.
How can you tell the good from the bad?
Professionals "other" by behavior.  Behaviors that threaten their safety or the safety of others will be dealt with using the least amount of force (violence) reasonably necessary to resolve the situation.

"Othering" for any other reason makes you an asshole.

  • Race 
  • Color
  • Creed
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Sexual Preference
  • Occupation
  • Political views
  • Gender Identity

Are not on the list of legitimate reasons to "other" someone.

To predate? Or to protect?
Towards life? or towards death?
How am I to tell the good from the bad?

Motivation separates good from bad.

Don't start shit.
If you are in a situation where some one's behavior causes a need to use force, fight to the goal.
  • Escape
  • Control
  • Disable 
Use the least amount of force (violence) reasonably necessary to resolve the situation, to achieve that goal.

Give yourself permission to do what is necessary.  A high level of force may be the least amount of force (violence) that can reasonably end the confrontation.

What ever the level of force you had to use, once the goal has been achieved the violence stops.

We are the fucking good guys.
Our job is to help you protect yourself against the baddies.
Not make better baddies.

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe