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The Fight
January 18, 2021
Fights are not static. Things move. People move. Bear-hugs and headlocks and all that stuff happen sometimes in a fight, but they are transitional actions. You do not get bear-hugged just to be held (except by bouncers). A Threat wraps his big arms around you from behind either to pick you up and shake you (disorienting and intended as an intimidating show of strength) or to drive you into a wall. Maybe to throw you over a balcony. If you practice technique-based defense, will they work if the Threat refuses to stand there? If he is using that headlock to slam you from wall to wall?
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.
Simple Drills Worth Knowing
January 30, 2017
The following are important things, some little, some major, that lend themselves well to simple drills or exercises. Backing up is almost never the answer. Unless you are excellent at reading and remembering tactical terrain, you might not know what or who is behind you.
Evaluating Drills—Part 2
October 31, 2016
I get especially annoyed with weapons. Unarmed defense against a weapon sucks. Never, ever, ever practice dying and do not train to be killed. The stakes are too high to blindly imprint a habit, even a habit as simple as handing a weapon back once you have disarmed someone.
Evaluating Drills—Part 1
October 24, 2016
I'm not a big fan of most drills. There is a fine line, but conditioned reflexes are crucial in a fight and habits will get you killed. Conditioned reflexes are things you do without thinking about it. They are essentially trained flinch responses. If something suddenly comes at your eyes you WILL do something: block, move your head or, at the very minimum, blink.
The Three Golden Rules - December 24, 2012
The three golden rules, first written by Dep. Paul McRedmond of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, must be the basis of all officer training. The fact that they exist, that they are explicitly taught, and that they needed to be stated so clearly says something about the profession.
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.
A Police Officer’s View of Scaling Force - September 3, 2012
Fights are dynamic and chaotic situations. A simple escort hold, walking a drunk off the premises can turn into a knife fight or a struggle for your weapon in an instant. Or you and several other officers could be fighting against a large, vicious threat who is acting completely inhuman and have him suddenly go limp.
Interacting with Law Enforcement Personnel - May 21, 2012
The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a attorney and to have that attorney present during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent him.
An Introduction to Force Decisions - April 30, 2012
This book (Force Decisions) is a gift, a peace offering. It is an attempt to communicate across a vast gulf in culture and experience, the gulf that exists between the Law Enforcement community and those whom they protect.
How to Evaluate a Force Decision - April 16, 2012
Fighting is ugly. Killing is ugly. Getting involved in any force incident is dangerous and it hurts. Violence affects humans at a very deep emotional level, and when we see or hear of an act of violence most people are sickened or outraged. And our default assumption is that anything that sickens or angers us so much must be wrong.
Gangs: A Bigger Problem Than You Think - November 14, 2011
Partygoers got nervous as they noticed groups of young men “mugging” each other at the car show in Kent, Wash., a suburban town just south of Seattle. They weren’t stealing anything, that’s not what mugging means
Counter Assault: Surviving Attacks - September 12, 2011
Talking to a friend in a public place, her eyes suddenly focused over my shoulder and went wide. I turned fast, elbow up, spinning and drop-stepping towards the Threat. Didn’t feel the solid contact of a head, but felt an arm brush away and continued.
Counter Assault: Attack from the Front - September 5, 2011
When a threat attacks you, he has a plan and his is counting on your surprise. He is expecting you to freeze in fear and leave him free to do whatever dastardly things he has planned. He expects your own adrenaline to ensure that he wins. An operant conditioned response will kick in before the adrenaline surge that might trigger freeze rather than fight or flight.
Saving Yourself in a Crowd - August 30, 2011
Mobs are dangerous. Highly emotional and impulsive, they often erupt violently. Crowds can turn into mobs if members become indifferent to laws, choose to disregard authority, or take advantage of the perceived anonymity that a large group can provide, and follow instigators into violent acts.
Facing Violence: The Unconscious Stuff-Finding Your Glitches - August 1, 2011
In my own experience, almost everyone hesitates before doing a dangerous or uncomfortable thing. Whether jumping out of an airplane or diving into cold water or singing karaoke in public, very few people can just go for it without hesitation the first time.
A Plethora of Weapons for Self-Defense - June 27, 2011
There are a plethora of deadly objects out there that you may encounter on the street. Knowing how they work can give you a leg up on protecting yourself from harm. Major categories include hand weapons, knives, swords, mass weapons, pole arms, multi-element weapons, projectiles, and unusual weapons.
Fighting Ranges and Danger Zones - June 20, 2011
Once a criminal selects a victim, he must move into a position from which an attack is possible. Always remember that to assault, rob, or rape you, he must be close enough to talk to you. He will attempt to maneuver into this position by stealth (which is defeated by being alert), or by ruse… Positioning prior to the assault is vital to him, as he relies almost totally on surprise for success.
More About Violence Dynamics - May 23, 2011
Social violence can roughly be delineated as the Monkey Dance (MD), the Group Monkey Dance (GMD), the Educational Beat-Down (EBD) and the Status-Seeking Show (SSS).  The MD and GMD were discussed in <a href="/articles/violence-dynamics">part one</a> of this article. We will continue starting with the Educational Beat-Down.
Violence Dynamics - May 16, 2011
Bill and I were talking to the warden in an Iraqi prison, drinking chai. A gun fired. Other than ours and the warden’s bodyguards there shouldn’t have been loaded weapons in that section of the building. I put down my tea, stood and drew my sidearm. I started clearing the building.
Self-defense: Down and Dirty - May 9, 2011
Let's start with one, very simple thing—power generation. A traditional martial artist is taught how to hit hard. Different systems have different methods of power generation, but two of the most common involve a solid connection with the ground and good structure.
Daoism and the Sword (道教和劍, Dao Jiao He Jian) - October 4, 2010
Many people wonder why martial arts are practiced by religions like Buddhism and Daoism that teach about compassion and humility. The idea of a warrior monk seems contradictory because in people’s minds the martial arts are linked with violence.
The Dojang—A Safe Haven During 9-11 - September 6, 2010
On September 11, 2001, I was employed in New York City at a job that I would soon vacate in favor of teaching martial arts professionally. On that tragic but stunningly brilliant morning, I stood on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Nineteenth Street watching the destruction of the World Trade Center unfold before my very eyes.