The Lowest Level of Force
December 7, 2020
The Records area at Rusafa Prison Complex in Baghdad is enclosed by a chain-link fence and was almost always crowded. It’s a stressful place, with inmates being processed in and out, Iraqi military, police, corrections, advocates, politicos, and sometimes families of the convicts are present and a small handful of American advisors.
The First Rule of Self-Defense
April 8, 2019
I’m fond of telling my martial arts students that the First Rule of Self-Defense is “Don’t get hit.” After all, how can you be defeated if no one hits you? This rule makes perfect strategic sense from a pugilistic perspective. However, there is a better and more broadly applicable rule that I prefer to stand by: “Protect your best interests.” What is self-defense, really, if not protecting, or defending, your best interests? The advice “Don’t get hit” is simple and unambiguous, and therefore easy to understand.
Your Tai Chi Pelvis
February 11, 2019
Tai chi is a personal development discipline deeply rooted in ancient Chinese culture. One of the most basic tenets of Asian philosophy and of its many traditional mind/body disciplines is that neither the mind nor the body can ever be regarded as entirely separate from the other. This is a belief that I share.
Fighting with Weapons
January 28, 2019
Weapons are simply an extension of the fighter. The Samurai even considered the sword to be an extension of their soul. The weapon assumes the character of whoever wields the weapon, as the weapon is simply a tool that extends the will of the fighter. The principles of fighting with empty hands apply to fighting with weapons. A fight is a fight. But there are some thoughts about these principles that should be noted.
The Value of Differentiated Movement
November 5, 2018
Your ability to move in a differentiated manner is truly a measure of how freely you can live in your own body. Differentiated movement is a foundational concern to all tai chi and martial arts practitioners and is important, as well, to many other sports and movement disciplines.
Tai Chi and Economics - July 2, 2018
Ordinarily the word "economics" conjures up thoughts of money, governments, budgets and expenditures – pretty boring stuff if you're not an economist. However, the word "economy" simply refers to the effects, as measured by the relative advantages or disadvantages, of any causal behavior within any system. The most important and immediate economy in your life has to do not with what's in your wallet, but in how you choose to organize and live in your own body.
Discipline: Keep Cool - May 7, 2018
One of my teachers frequently used the phrase, "Keep a cool tool." Samurai Miyamoto Mushashi expressed this a bit more eloquently centuries earlier, saying, "You must remain calm at all times; in this way you can control the attack."
Perspectives on Tai Chi, Somatics, & Life - April 16, 2018
Live In the Moment, Not For the Moment. One of the great benefits of martial arts practice, and especially internal arts such as tai chi, is the underlying theme of being present to oneself –of being in the moment.
Winning Fights is Based on Principles—Not Techniques - April 9, 2018
Technique is important. But techniques change, adapt, and evolve. Principles are timeless. Bruce Lee recognized this truth, and advised to “absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.” To Lee, there was no single superior style of fighting. He even referred to his methods as the “style of no style.”
Winning Fights - April 2, 2018
Everyone knows that any fighter can win or lose on any given day. There is even a saying among fighters that there is always someone bigger and better. No one can consistently predict the outcome of two fighters facing each other who possess equal skill. The Navy SEALS have the same problem. Men of all sizes, body types and different skill sets wish to enter SEAL training.
A Melding of Philosophies—One for One, & One for All - January 3, 2018
This article will share thoughts on both spectrums – approaches for personalized individual direction, and for social strategies, i.e. codes of conduct if you will. Hopefully, you may find something here worthy of your review and consideration.
Fun with Words, Tai Chi Style—"TRUST" - July 3, 2017
"Trust" is a fascinating concept. Its presence, its absence, or its antithesis have shaped human history on its grandest scales as well as at every increment of human interaction.
Balance and Tai Chi - May 1, 2017
Balance, by which I mean physical balance when upright, is a concern often expressed by potential students prior to taking up their studies at Tai Chi. They want to know: can Tai Chi help them improve their balance? While I'm generally hopeful and upbeat about how Tai Chi can serve students in this regard, there are multiple factors and considerations that come into play where balance is concerned. I feel it is prudent to have a basic understanding of these different factors in order to fashion a reasonable and realistic approach to helping students improve their balance through Tai Chi.
The Players in Self-Defense - February 2, 2015
No matter what levels of force you need, the players stay the same. It is critical to be able to read the players. The threat dictates the situation. You must understand the problem before you can choose a solution. A charm predator is one thing. A drunk wanting to show off for a girl is an entirely different problem. You must learn to read threats and threat dynamics.
Avoiding Workplace Violence - January 26, 2015
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 18,000 people a week are victimized by some sort of workplace violence in the United States. In fact, although industrial accidents abound, homicide is actually the leading cause of death among female workers and the second leading cause of death for men.
I.M.O.P. Principle—Intent, Means, Opportunity and Preclusion - October 6, 2014
How do you know when it is legal to get physical with an adversary? Learn the I.M.O.P. (Intent, Means, Opportunity, and Preclusion) principle. All four of these criteria must be met before you have a good case for taking action. If one or more of these conditions are absent, you are on shaky legal ground.
Account for Adrenaline - September 1, 2014
When I took a defensive handgun course several years ago, I was taught to train for handling the survival-stress reaction commonly associated with actual combat. To simulate the reaction, we had to do as many pushups as we could as fast as we could for one minute.
A Few Fighting Techniques Found in the Dukkha Series - June 16, 2014
Many kind reviewers for Dukkha: The Suffering, Dukkha: Reverb, and Dukkha: Unloaded have commented on the realistic violence, in particular the fight scenes. This is always nice to hear because I work hard to infuse the scenes with authenticity and truth. After spending 30 years around man's inhumanity to man, first as a Military Policeman in Vietnam and then as a street cop for 25 years in Portland, Oregon, I find many authors' and movie directors' depiction of violence to be sadly lacking or simply off base.
The Victim Interview - February 17, 2014
I was parked alongside a major street in downtown Seattle. My hands were full of boxes and the mid-afternoon sun was glaring in my face, making it hard to see despite my polarized glasses, so it took a couple tries to get my key into the lock. I awkwardly dragged the door open, nearly dropping some of my packages, and began shoving my purchases in to the car.
Karate - A Fighting Art: Use Technology - February 18, 2013
I began training in the martial arts in the summer of 1965. Months earlier, I had broken my lower back in a weightlifting contest and the doctor told me to stop lifting weights and to try something less violent on the body. Therefore, I began karate training.
Lethal Force: Firearms - Part 2 - February 1, 2013
Don’t over-romanticize guns. A handgun is a nifty machine that throws a hunk of metal in a straight line. No more, no less. A .45 caliber bullet, unless it hits bone and sends fragments spinning, does just as much damage as driving a blunt 45/100 of an inch-diameter stick into the body.
Lethal Force: Firearms - Part 1 - January 28, 2013
While handguns, shotguns, rifles, and carbines can all be used in self-defense, it can be very challenging to justify anything other than a handgun in court, save for in your home (or some places of business) where castle laws might apply.
Level 6-Lethal Force - November 19, 2012
Gary Fadden was a salesman for firearms manufacturer Heckler & Koch. On February 24, 1984, he and his fiancé were driving their Ford pickup along Route 50 in Virginia. This was before cell phones became ubiquitous and he had no communication device inside his vehicle.
Interlude-On Killing - October 22, 2012
I don’t shoot targets. I shoot men. Honestly, I figure I owe them that much. I know that when I kill someone I am doing to their family-their mothers and sisters and brothers—what the assh*le who murdered my sister did to mine. My mother will never recover all her sanity from that. She won’t ever stop grieving.
Introduction to Violence: Scale of Force Options - October 8, 2012
Even if you have never completed a woodworking project, you probably know that you could pound nails with a drill. You also know that it’s not a horribly effective method of doing it. And it is really tough on the drill.