Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Don’t Artificially Limit Your Options On the Street

When you are fighting on the street, you can’t always say always and you can never say never.

Keep that in mind when training under instructors who are dogmatic in their tactics and techniques. Weird things happen during real encounters that can’t be anticipated nor planned for.

Prompting this thread of thought was an interesting situation I had last Thursday.

I was on a team that was to take down two separate subjects that were involved in a theft ring stealing and selling large amounts of clothing and janitorial supplies. I was designated point and would be responsible for the actual take down of each subject.

Our first arrest was going to be in a public parking lot where our undercover agent was to make the buy of the stolen property. He would give us a certain sign signaling that the goods were transferred to his truck and the marked bills were handed to the subject.

The signal was given and my partner and I (in plain clothes) approached the UC agent and the subject as they sat on the tailgate of the agent’s truck. The subject started to react to our approach and prepared to run. My partner dropped his sunglasses in the parking lot and made a big and noisy display of displeasure over the glasses which briefly distracted the subject and gave me a second to quickly close the remaining five yards.

I grasped the subject’s neck and closest arm and dragged him forward off the truck’s tailgate. Since he was sitting on the tailgate, I could really only approach him from the front. I pulled him forward, wanting to put him on his stomach.

Naturally, he resisted, putting on the brakes by straightening his legs. I countered his counter by stepping into him aggressively and performed a bastardized version of an inner thigh throw that I might be temped to call uchimata if it was cleaner. As the subject’s balance was broken and he was traveling forward again over my thigh, I pushed his upper body forward so that he landed chest down on the pavement and I landed on top of him with my chest to his back.

The sudden stop at the end of the throw and the fortuitous rebounding of his mouth off the asphalt stunned the subject. I established a mount on his back, secured one arm in a half-nelson and my partner had secured the other arm. He tried to get to his knees to resist, but I put one foot on his knee and pushed it down to keep the subject straight and unable to move. We calmly and smoothly cuffed and searched. (Not surprisingly, the subject was armed with a knife).

Team members at the debrief -- to a man -- said the actual take down was very smooth and completely controlled.

OK, so what you ask? What’s the problem?

I really don't like that throw!

I haven’t practiced it recently and I don’t teach it to students. For one reason, I don’t like turning my back toward my opponent during the throw and, for another reason, I don’t like presenting my duty weapon hip toward the opponent either.

Yet, it was in my catalog of techniques and it came to the forefront without conscious thought when I needed it to counter his resistance. If I had trained this throw in the past with the presupposition that I don’t like the technique and, therefore, I would never use the technique, I would have artificially limited my options. But, I know other martial artists that really like that throw and I have drilled it over and over enough that I “know” it when I have to “show” it.

I’ve heard that Olympic-caliber Judo players know something like 250 individual techniques, yet they routinely rely on about 5 of their favorite techniques for competition. If you read that statement one way, you might interpret it to mean that 245 of those techniques are of secondary or little importance to the player. Why not just concentrate on the top 5 techniques and save yourself the time and effort of learning and practicing hundreds of techniques that you never use? This goes along the lines of the “one technique mastered is superior to one hundred techniques sampled” argument.

If you read it another way, you see that they have a huge catalog of techniques available to them, even though they obviously have a strong preference for a handful. This allows them to adapt to different opponents and different styles when an opponent’s strengths negate their “favorite” techniques. This might be compared to the “one hundred techniques mastered are definitely better than only one technique mastered” argument.

I’m also going to push the discussion from the “technique”-based arena to the “concept” and “principle”-based arena.

If you approach your studies with an eye towards finding the concept or principle inherent in each technique, it allows you to cluster them or group them in your memory bank for better recall than just collecting a series of techniques.

When an instructor dishes out a technique, do it. And do it again and again. Try to absorb it and the principle it contains. You may find that after working it a realistic number of times that it is complete crap. But, if you prejudge its usefulness or effectiveness and flush it without giving it a chance, you’ve artificially limited your options in the street.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Martial Arts on the Rise

In the last five years, there has been a 28% increase in martial-arts participants to 6.9 million.

By comparison, tennis saw a rise of 8% to 18.3 million and golf declined 14% to 25.7 million.

Source: SGMA International

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Daily Mind Conditioning

"Believing that you can wait until a dangerous situation presents itself to adjust your mind to survival awareness is a pipe dream. Under stress the mind and body performs the way it has been trained. If you played football through your school years and had a week of hand to hand combat or self defense training, when attacked you will tackle the person instead of utilizing a strike learned in your week of training. The mind must be trained and conditioned as a daily habit to develop true survival awareness.

"If you are a special operations operator or an individual who wants to learn how to better protect yourself you must develop a strategy to prepare your body and mind for any eventuality. We have all heard the adage: “Expect the unexpected”. That sounds great, but, if you do not take steps to truly prepare that phrase may end up as a portion of your epitaph.

"If we all could spend the rest of our lives training for every contingency the performance problem we are examining would be easily solved. The reality is that most of us are unable to spend 50 and 60 hours a week training just for contingencies. This problem can be solved by utilizing visualization. God has created the mind in a unique way with an active imagination. We as people think in images. If someone mentions the word car you have an image of a car that appears in your mind. You do not see the letters C A R you see a picture of a car. What
we picture in our mind is believed to be real to our subconscious.

"With visualization we can gain experience that trains the mind in avenues of reaction without actually physically engaging in the act. To the subconscious the way you reacted to a man lunging at you with a knife, in your mind, actually happened. As you visualize the attack and the positive reaction you are providing a safe opportunity to formulate an effective plan of response. If a similar attack actually happens the conscious mind does not have to examine multiple options of response, because a plan has already been formulated. Thus the spatial correspondence provides a quick reaction that could make the difference between life and death."

Jeff Lee

Lessons learned

1. Train hard;
2. Know your equipment;
3. Never let your guard down;
4. Never underestimate the suspect [opponent];
5. Never give up.

Kurt Brinegar
Terre Haute Police Department

Fear Management

"One method of fear management that all operators, new or experienced, can use is to take advantage of what Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, refers to as “near-life” experiences. He is referring to fear producing situations that occur periodically in our everyday lives. A near-car crash or a loud noise that awakens us in the middle of the night are examples of situations that typically elicit sudden spikes of fear. These situations offer us an excellent training opportunity and a valuable lesson in how we respond to and control fear. However, these situations are only useful if we capitalize on them during the actual event,
when possible, or immediately following the incident while the physiological responses are still present."

Jason Winkle
Director of Combatives
United States Military Academy, West Point

Saturday, December 10, 2005

What's Up After the Assault Weapon Ban Sunset?

Wait a second...didn't the Assault Weapon Ban sunset last summer?

After a number of years of banning high capacity magazines and those evil black rifles that can accomodate a detachable box magazine, the ban lapsed after Congress declined to extend the ban.

The anguished cries and predictions of blood flowing in the streets of America and rampant running gunbattles in every video store parking lot rose to a huge cresendo immediately before and after the ban meekly expired.

Nothing of the sort ever happened.

In fact, crime levels have recently dropped precipitously to below levels seen since 1970!

Furthermore, a report from the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences found (after 3 and 1/2 years of study) that "gun control" measures like one-gun-a-month laws, the above-mentioned Clinton assault weapons ban, waiting periods and utility gun locks have no positive effect on crime levels, suicides or accidents.

Even the Center for Disease Control, which began publicly floating the idea of labeling "gun violence" as a "health epidemic" during the Clinton administration found in its own study (released in 2003) that no proof existed that gun control laws lowered violent crime rates, suicides or accidental shootings.

Don't let the anti-self-defense and anti-self-reliance groups push their propaganda down your throats.

Murder Rates vs. Right to Carry

"[John] Lott argued that murder tares decline after the adoption of RTC [Right to Carry] laws even after allowing for the effect of other variables that affect crime rates. The committee [the National Research Council mentioned above]has confirmed this view of the confirmation of the findings that shall-issue laws drive down the murder rate, it is hard for me to understand why these claims are called fragile."

James O. Wilson
Professor of Management and Public Policy
University of California at Los Angeles

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Confidence in Air Marshals Increased

Don't expect any critical after-action reports from this blog after two federal air marshals aboard an airliner at Miami International Airport shot and killed a passenger who claimed he had a bomb in his backpack.

According to most early news accounts, the air marshals shot the man after witnesses say he said he had a bomb on the plane, then ran from the plane and onto the jetway, and reached into his backpack despite orders by the air marshal not to.

As it turns out, the passenger, identified as 44-year-old Rigoberto Alpizar, did not have a bomb in his bag. According to Alpizar's wife, who was aboard the flight with him, Alpizar was bipolar and did not take his medication.

Witnesses have said that both Alpizar and his wife demonstrated "frantic" and "erratic" behavior prior to the incident.

The two agents, despite having to fire multiple shots, successfully stopped what looked like a suicide bombing in progress and did so in a way in which no other passengers were hit.

Hats off to the two air marshals. My confidence in their training and tactics has been validated.

People do seem to act weird around cars and planes anyway...if it is helpful, take a look at this piece on how to protect yourself from air rage.